Charnock on Worship that is Consistent with its Object

One of my hobbyhorses is the concept that our worship–especially our worship expressed through music–must be consistent with the character of God. I’ve argued that the issue of acceptable worship music, though not entirely black and white, is much more objective than is often suggested, and that principles for determining what comprises acceptable worship must be found by studying the character of the God we profess to worship. Here’s an excerpt from one such post:

“The way we worship must be consistent with the God we are professing to worship. And though this is true for every part of worship, I think it is particularly germane to the area of music. Our selection of worship music should really have very little to do with our preferences–what we like. After all, it’s not our “party.” We’re not the ones being honored. It’s all about who God is! Example after example could be cited, and should be considered.

  • Our holy God deserves and demands distinct worship.
  • Our King deserves majestic worship.
  • The Almighty deserves reverent worship.
  • Our Redeemer deserves joyful worship.
  • Our Glorious God deserves glorious worship.
  • The God who is a “consuming fire” demands worship that is reverent and fearful (Heb. 12:28-29).”

Well, I’ve found someone much smarter than me who said essentially the same thing, and did so much more effectively.  Consider this from Stephen Charnock:

“God is a Spirit infinitely happy, therefore we must approach to Him with cheerfulness; He is a Spirit of infinite majesty, therefore we must come before him with reverence; He is a Spirit infinitely high, therefore we must offer up our sacrifices with the deepest humility; He is a Spirit infinitely holy, therefore we must address Him with purity; He is a Spirit infinitely glorious, we must therefore acknowledge His excellency in all that we do, and in our measures contribute to His glory, by having the highest aims in His worship; He is a spirit infinitely provoked by us, therefore we must offer up our worship in the name of a pacifying Mediator and Intercessor.” (Stephen Charnock, quoted in Rawlinson’s Worship in Liturgy and Form, p. 86, then in Give Praise to God, p. 371)

Ditto.  What he said.


Note:  This post has similar thoughts.


One Response

  1. The objective elements of music in worship need to be readily identified. If not, people will not know the boundaries. Kimberly Smith has done a good job with this in her little book, Oh, Be Careful Little Ears. She identifies these objective elements in two appendicies. I don’t think one ought to allow any wiggle room (no pun intended) for sensual music.

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