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.
In the Lord Jesus’ Incarnation, in His Humanity, He experienced growth, as Luke tells us in his Gospel (2:40). Jesus had no need to grow in His Divinity, Which had never changed from eternity; however, in His Humanity, Jesus did grow, and was “perfected,” (Hebrews 5:9; 7:28), not in a moral sense, because, as an UnFallen Man, He was Sinless (Heb. 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:21), but rather in terms of being fitted to offer a full human life to atone for our sins (the Greek word teliotes, which means something like “to be made mature” or “to be brought to maturity” or “to be perfectly fitted for a designed purpose,” is used of Christ throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews).
This was a process which took time, occurring across the Life of Jesus, and which prepared Him to be our Savior. We rightly value not only His Incarnation and Birth (in Advent and Christmas), but also His Death and Resurrection (in Lent and Easter), as both Poles of His Life, the Perfect and yet still Immature Potential of Christ in His Humanity at Birth, as well as His Fully Mature and Completely Fulfilled Human Actuality in His Passion, Resurrection, and Ascended Rule from the Father’s Right Hand.
Thus, our seasonal worship reflects what should also be true of our corporate worship Sunday to Sunday, that we worship not only the State in Which Jesus was born, but also the State in Which He died, and into Which He has been Resurrected to rule, States Which represent Continuity (His Original Immature Human State) and Change (His Fully Matured Human State).
Besides this, the Fact that Christ Jesus is Simultaneously Both the Unchanging God and the Humanity Which underwent Change and Growth means, again, and on a further level, that He also, in the Difference between the two Natures of His One Incarnate Person, embodies continuity and change, again a reality which should be reflected in our corporate worship of the Lord Jesus.
Once again, this underscores the importance of our worship (including, of course, our worship forms, such as our songs and music) reflecting both continuity and change in balance (as Christ is balanced in His Simultaneously Divine and Human Natures in One Person), so that our worship reflects and balances both the continuity of worship expressions from the past and the change of new worship expressions from the present. This practice (which should be reflected and embodied in our worship music) will faithfully speak to the worshipper as to the Lord Jesus’ Incarnational State and Redemptive Work, and symbolically represent that State and Work in the Presence of the God Whom we worship.