Is Our Worship Adequately Triune? -- By: Robert E. Webber
RAR 9:3 (Summer 2000) p. 121
Is Our Worship Adequately Triune?
The confusion over worship today runs so deep that some have lost the sense of the relationship between worship and truth. For example, I attended a conference where we sang the chorus, “Father I adore you,” and then the second verse, “Jesus, I adore you.” Our singing ended without the third verse, “Spirit, I adore you.” When the leaders of the conference were asked, “Why didn’t you sing the third verse?” the answer was straight forward and without apology. “We don’t worship the Holy Spirit.” Unfortunately this example of the failure to comprehend basic Christian truth and how it corresponds with worship is altogether too pervasive in the evangelical community.
A phrase in the early church speaks to this concern—lex orandi, lex credendi, est. (The rule of prayer is the rule of faith.) How we pray or how we worship forms how we believe. If our worship is not Trinitarian, we will not pass down a Trinitarian faith, and eventually this fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith will be altered or lost. Therefore, I raise the question, “Is our worship adequately triune?”
It is well to remember how worship from its very beginning was rooted in the confession of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One has only to study the liturgical sources found in the New Testament and the worship literature of the early church. Consider, for example, the Trinitarian nature of the doxologies, benedictions, hymns,
RAR 9:3 (Summer 2000) p. 122
creedal statements, baptismal form, the early church literature of the rule of faith, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the structure of the Eucharistic prayers. These Trinitarian confessions regarding God were formed in the worship of the church and handed down as the living tradition of faith in the liturgies of the church. Triune worship has been attested to by time, by the confessions of the Reformation, and still stands as an essential confession of the faith. It is not that our worship should include statements of the Trinity, but that the very structure and substantive essence of our worship is triune.
This Trinitarian essence of worship relates to the biblical teaching that God is both transcendent and immanent. The transcendence is the unknown essence of God which relates to God the Father as the source of the Godhead. The immanence of God is related to the knowledge we have of God revealed in history and incarnate in Jesus Christ and to the immediate experience of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. My article is therefore limited to a brief excursion into the interrelationship between the very essence of worship and the structure of worship. I suggest that while t...
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