Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Lord's Service (our service to God or his to us?)

I never have any time at the moment, but I figure I can spare a few minutes to share a quote from The Lord's Service by Jeff Meyers. I think I deserve some blogging time, especially as I managed to recently read the entirety of Against Christianity (a brilliant book, and ridiculously quotable) without posting on it. I recently posted on how I could not understand how Meyers could find fault with David Peterson's book on worship. The chapter this quote came from made it clear for me.

'In view of the one-sided emphasis in some Evangelical and Presbyterian circles that the congregation gathers to give praise to God and not to get anything. I must insist on the lopsided, impoverished nature of this posture....The first sentence in John Frame's popular book on worship is "Worship is the work of acknowledging the greatness of our covenant Lord"....This notion must not be permitted to go unchallenged. It is only half of the truth, and the second half at that.

First, and above all, we are called together in order to get, to receive.' (his emphases, p. 93f.)

If you have any problems with this idea a little musing over what we know of OT worship confirms this was certainly the case then, and I do not think there is enough in the NT suggest that this was overturned with Jesus. And to bring Christian Hedonism into the discussion (something Meyers does not do), there is nothing more honouring to God than coming to him to receive. Entering his presence with the idea that you have something to offer to him really is ridiculous.

I am learning a lot from this book, although, Meyers has failed to convince me of many things he believes. Despite this his book asks many questions that English Evangelicalism could do with thinking about. The least effect he would have would be to challenge people to think purposely about what church services should look like; sadly though, I cannot see many in Britain reading it.

I do wonder about a couple of things though. Firstly, what conclusions Meyers would have come to if he had spent his life in a country with centuries of experience with an institutional church that worships much as he suggests. Secondly, why he only seems to think about one sort of church gathering, the main meeting on a Sunday, and how he would apply his insights to the varying church meetings from the very informal meeting of two Christians for coffee, to prayer meetings, to home groups.

...I really would love to sit in on a conversation between him and Tim Chester and Steve Timmis in Sheffield (A conversation with Pete Ward would just be messy).


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