I’m reading Robert Webber’s final book “Ancient-Future Worship“. Here are my quick-hit thoughts:
- Webber’s thesis is that “Worship Does God’s Story.” Sounds great, but what does it mean? Webber elaborates that worship remembers God’s past story and anticipates God’s future. We are then shaped by the act of experiencing God’s story. We remember God’s saving deeds through historical recitation (in scripture, song and word) and dramatic reenactment (primarily around the Eucharist). One of the ways that we anticipate the future of God’s story is through holy living that brings the His kingdom into the present. Another way that we anticipate is by practicing a Sabbath lifestyle – by anticipating the rest into which we who are in Christ shall enter
- Webber rails against “neo-gnosticism” which separates the physical from the spiritual. Much of todays Christian spirituality is thought to be an escape from the physical world rather than a calling to live a holy life in this world according to God’s purposes.
- Here’s a passage that I highlighted:
“The contemporary chorus movement is not a theologically sensitive movement. If anything, it is atheological. At first, passages of Scripture, especially the Psalms, wer put to music. The movement was soon influenced by the culture of narcissism, however and the songs became more and more about me and my worship of God. The biblical story clarified in this book has attempted to show that worship is about God: God’s wonder, mystery, and majesty; his wonderful story of rescuing his creatures and creation. The great majority of choruses, however, are about me. How much I love God and want to serve him. How I worship him, glorify him, magnify him, praise him, and lift him up. The focus seems to be on self-generated worship. God is made teh object of my affection, and worship is measured by how strongly I am able to feel this gratitude and express it to God.”
- Webber has a very interesting analysis of the how different groups among the evangelical spectrum have emphasisted one member of the Trinity at the expense of others and the consequences of this. Groups that focus on the Father tend to see God as Creator and emphasize creation, love, mercy but can lose their supernatural Christian distinctiveness and become little more than humanistic values. Groups that over emphasize the Son view God as Redeemer and focus on Christ’s work on the cross. Without the balance of the triune God these groups can tend toward and individualistic “me-centered” worship. Groups that emphasize the Spirit can tend towards emphasizing personal experience above the cosmic story of God in their worship. It certainly has occurred to me that Charismatic churches emphasize the Spirit, but I never looked at fundamentalists as emphasizing Son or mainline churches as emphasizing the Father. What do you think? Is Webber right on this one or is he constructing straw men?
I’m only half-way through the book so there’ll be more thoughts to come! Stay Tuned!