We’ve seen in this series that contemporary worship music has become dominated by songs modeled on romantic, experiential, subjective musical expressions. We’ve further seen that , though such songs are a legitimate stream of Biblical worship expression, they have been historical and Biblical worship models (such as the Psalms or the Book of Revelation) held in balance with objective, doctrinal song content.
We then began to investigate how and why such an imbalance has occurred in arriving at such an experiential overemphasis. We began by seeing that the deep alienation between God and mankind engendered by the Fall leads men to see the world dualistically, as split between the “pure” spiritual realm and the flawed and imperfect physical world, a view which is a result of the simultaneous and inescapable knowledge that men have rebelled against their Holy Creator while they attempt to suppress that inescapable knowledge (Romans 1: 18-32).
This split was institutionalized in Platonic thought, which hugely influenced monastic thought, which shaped to a certain extent the way the Medievals viewed Reality, resulting in a Late Medieval and Renaissance perspective which located emotion and instinct in a “religious” zone, while reason and normative life were seen as belonging to the “secular” sphere.
Christian reactions to the rationalism of the Enlightenment fused with Victorian and pietist viewpoints to produce a feminized, experientially-fixated Evangelicalism whose worship music institutionalized these attitudes for that branch of the Church. This was all the easier because there is a legitimate strand of subjective and emotional aspects included in Biblical worship paradigms (for instance, in Psalms 51, 56, 3, 6, etc.).
We also saw, as well, that the Tri-Unity of God speaks to all aspects of the life of the Image-Bearers of God, humanity, including their worship of the Lord, which is to enact both objective and subjective thanksgiving, and to express both change and continuity as the Church gathers before her Maker and Redeemer.
There are further implications for worship in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus, Who, as the Scriptures and the Creeds teach, was both Fully God and Fully Man simultaneously. As we’ve seen before, this Fact has massive implications for the expressions of continuity and change in our worship. His Simultaneously Divine and Human Person, as we’ve seen, means both that our worship is to be both physical and spiritual (as He Himself is both Spiritual in His Divinity as well as His Created Human Spirit, and Physical in His Body) and that our worship should enact both continuity (as Jesus is Eternally Unchanging in His Divinity) and change (as He is also Human, having undergone human mutability until His Resurrection), so that, in both these implications, our worship correctly images the Natures and Persons of Christ.
This last implication, that continuity and change should shape our worship, we’ve also seen as a corollary implication of the Holy Trinity (Continuity in the Undifferentiated Unity of the Essence of God and Change in the Diverse and Variegated Perspectives of the Three Persons of God). These Aspects of the Trinity and the Incarnation are, of course, to be held in balance in our worship, just as they are in the Reality of the Trinitarian Godhead and the Incarnate Lord Jesus. This perspective helps us to hold a balanced value of both continuity and change in our lives and worship.
Last issue, we saw that the Lord Jesus, though Fully God, was also Man simultaneously, and that, in His Humanity, He experienced growth, but in His Perfect and Complete Divinity, had no need of growth, again demonstrating the continuity and change which should characterize our worship of Him.
His Humanity not only experienced change, but grew to a particular point in time, when Christ, having lived a Full Human Life, offered It on the Cross for His People, and resurrected to change no more (as Hebrews 13: 8 tells us). Thus, His Earthly Life was headed toward a particular goal, a Work to which Jesus was called, and which, as He told us, He fully accomplished (John 17:1-4).
The Accomplished Work of Christ was itself aimed at another end: the Apocalypse and Restoration of all things, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Renewal of the Heavens and the Earth (Eph. 2: 4-7; Romans 8:19-23; Rev. 21:1-5). Without Christ’s Accomplished Work, the end-goal of history would not have been accomplished.
The Bible tells us that we worship spiritually in the Presence of Christ with all the saints beyond the end of our time (Heb. 12:22-24; Matt. 18:20): our worship together should reflect the fact both that we worship in space and time, and that we worship spiritually simultaneously at the accomplished end of time, as those who follow the Christ Who both moved toward a Godly Goal and accomplished it. Our worship should always, again, reflect in emphasis and form the One we worship and all that He accomplished.
Every Aspect of the Incarnation of Christ and of the Triune Creator have implications for every aspect of our worship, and this includes the music (in both form and content) which we use to praise Him. The majority of our modern worship music ignores these truths.