Worship That Cannot Be Touched: A Theology Of Christian Worship From The Book Of Hebrews -- By: Scott Aniol

Journal: Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies
Volume: JIRBS 06:0 (NA 2019)
Article: Worship That Cannot Be Touched: A Theology Of Christian Worship From The Book Of Hebrews
Author: Scott Aniol


Worship That Cannot Be Touched:
A Theology Of Christian Worship From The Book Of Hebrews

Scott Aniol*

* Scott Aniol, PhD, is Associate Professor of Worship Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.

Synthesizing a theology of worship in the New Testament (NT) has been a struggle for Christians since the early church. In particular, how Christ’s coming, life, death, and resurrection altered—and in some cases revolutionized—the worship of Old Testament (OT) Judaism has been the subject of considerable debate, and missteps in this matter have led to various—sometimes serious—theological and practical errors. Some, such as the Church of Christ, have assumed that Christian worship is entirely distinct from the worship of the OT, and therefore nothing in the OT may inform NT worship theology or practice.1 Others, such as the Romans Catholic Church in medieval times, sought to pattern their worship after that of the Jews detail for detail—including sacrifices, altars, incense, and priests.

Yet this controversy was not something new in the Middle Ages, and it is certainly not new today. Believers from the earliest years of Christianity—especially those coming out of Judaism—struggled with how to reconcile the transition between Jewish worship and Christian worship. In fact, the confusion escalated to such a point that some apostatized from Christianity in favor of the worship of their Jewish heritage.

The book of Hebrews functions as the NT’s supreme answer to this challenging dilemma. As David Peterson suggests:

Hebrews presents the most complete and fully integrated theology of worship in the New Testament. All the important categories of Old Testament thinking on this subject—sanctuary, sacrifice, altar,

priesthood and covenant—are taken up and related to the person and work of Jesus Christ.2

A careful study of the message of the book of Hebrews, therefore, including its well-developed theology of Christian worship, reveals that while NT worship has its roots in OT revelation, worship in and through Jesus Christ is superior to the worship of Judaism since it enables Christians to worship spiritually in the heavenly temple itself.

Hebrews 12:18–29 As A Key To The Argument Of Hebrews

The book of Hebrews has generated more discussion amongst scholars than perhaps any other book in the NT. The book’s author, structure, purpose, and argument are among the issue...

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