How Should We Then Worship? -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 02:1 (Winter 1993)
Article: How Should We Then Worship?
Author: John H. Armstrong


How Should We Then Worship?

John H. Armstrong

In 1976 the late Francis Schaeffer wrote a little book titled, How Should We Then Live? It was an earnest attempt on his part to address the key moments in Western history which have shaped present culture, and the thinking of people who brought these moments to pass. He then sought to show, in the light of his observations, how Christian man should live in the late twentieth century.

In this issue of the Journal we address some current trends and movements in the church which affect how we do or do not worship God. It is the opinion of the editorial staff that any genuine reformation in our time must be one which recovers the highest priority of the church both in heaven and on earth, the worship of God!

The modern church seems to lean quite heavily in the direction of a worship experience which is anthropocentric. (It must be admitted that this is, in its essence, oxymoronic, for true worship is never anthropocentric!) Reformers and biblical Christians of other eras have always adopted an approach to worship which is entirely theocentric! Worship at high times in the life of the church has never been concerned with, “What will make me feel better?” Or, “What will attract the unchurched to come to our worship service?” It has been concerned, in such times, with “What glorifies God and what does the Word require of me?”

Modern anthropocentricism begins with the needs of man. It is fed by this view, often gained through surveys and the reading and analysis of popular culture. It produces what a friend of mine calls, “MacWorshipers.” The distinctive of such an approach is to take everything that is offensive to the unchurched and remove it. In such an atmosphere hymns are out. So is liturgy of any type. Theological language must not be used, and important concepts of truth must be restated in ways that make them almost beyond recognition to serious students of the Bible. Entertainment becomes the order of the day and applause is a regular feature of the

public service.

The preaching, if it can even be called preaching, which is inherent in this approach is directed at what are called “felt needs.” This leads, inevitably, to the homiletics of consensus. R. Kent Hughes has said that the four distinctives of this kind of preaching are: sermons which are never information laden; sermons which are necessarily topical and not textual or expository; sermons which are necessarily very brief in most cases; and sermons which are filled with stories, personal anecdotes and illustrations.

The question which drives this approach seems to be, “What d...

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