There are few issues in the contemporary and worldwide church that generate more heat than the topic of worship. Confusion and disagreement dominate our environment whenever principial questions are raised. What is worship? How should it be done? Who is the audience of worship? Is there a norm to consult for such questions? The answers Christians give are not even consistent across denominational and church family lines. In this day it may seem preposterous, if not arrogant, to suggest that the “worship wars” we find ourselves engaged in could be significantly quelled by answering a single foundational question: What kind of worship is pleasing to God? Certainly all Christians will not give the same answer, and many will conclude that we cannot know the answer because God has not revealed his preference for worship offered to him. But if God has revealed what kind of worship pleases him, all Christians should agree such information must be foundational to all subsequent questions (which must also be secondary and derivative by necessity).
This essay will assume that the reader accepts the statement that God’s revelation defines Christian doctrine. This is just another way of stating the classic Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone). Other sources of authority to which Christians yield when formulating Christian doctrine (e.g., tradition, reason, experience) are always subservient to the Word of God (inscripturated revelation). Only the Old and New Testaments are the supreme authority in this regard. So our question is, as with Christian doctrine, does God’s revelation define Christian worship? Christians have historically answered this question in ways that basically say either yes or no.
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