Modernity and the Spiritual Disciplines: Worship (Part 2)

Some time ago I read, Worship and the Reality of God. One of the most interesting contributions of this book was Davis’ duscussion of “ontology,” of what is more or less “real.” Davis describes a “ladder of being” where things with the “highest level” of being are on the top and things with the “lowest level” are on the bottom. Classic Christian philosophy always places God at the top of the latter because He is the eternal, independent, Creator. Humankind is in the middle because we are created and contingent but have immortal (but not eternal) souls. Things like rocks and trees are on the bottom.

Modernity flips this upside down where the purely physical (natural) is the “most real” and things like the mind, morality, and God are either “less real” (because they cannot be known with empirical certainty) or purely figments of our imagination. Worship from this modern context is exceedingly difficult and Christians often try to compensate by appealing to the subjective/emotional response of the worshipper so that, at least, God becomes “real to them.”

Davis then makes the case that God is not only the most eternally real Being with the rest of the created order dependent on Him, but that He really is present with us in our worship. Indeed, God is not only present with us individually through the Holy Spirit but He is also really present when we gather together. Part of the task of the worship leaders (song leaders, prayer leaders, preachers, etc.) is to draw attention to the reality of God and His presence.

Circling back around to modernity – Worship, when it draws our attention to the reality of God and His presence with us, restores in us a right pattern of thought so that we believe not only that God is real, but that the entirety of the universe is dependent upon Him and exists to bring Him praise.

The evidence of the presence of God among His people in worship is the love which God’s people have for one another and the clarity of the Word proclaimed. The evidence of God’s presence, when accompanied by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, is a tool that God uses to bring the unbeliever to faith.

24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

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