The "Raw Response" To Theology
class="p1">i wonder what would happen if i came up to you and started rubbing your head, scratching behind your ears and rubbing your belly all while telling you what a good girl/boy you are. then threw a stick and tell you to go get it. would you think i was weird? i mean, unless you're into that kind of thing, i'm gonna guess you might be a little uncomfortable. then i would turn to your dog, toby, and strike up a conversation about the up coming presidential election and his opinion on the best candidate, and then discuss neurophysiology and the new developments on stem cell research and nuclear energy. probably not the best way to interact with my surroundings. but thank goodness, i know what a dog is, what they do and how to respond to them, and i also know how i would interact and respond to a human being. i respond differently to different things because i know better, and i have a knowledge about those things.
so given that random illustration, how should we respond to God? do we have to know God, and know about God, who He is and what He has done to respond to Him accordingly? I'll let you decide that, but i think absolutely!
so this is where theology must come into play. "theo"- God, "ology,"- the study of. put that together and you have the study of God. so in my own words, my general definition of theology is the study of God and who He is, His characteristics and attributes, for the purpose of knowing Him, about Him, and what He has done. and there is a lot to know about an infinite being.
now how might this come to play in worship? i'm glad you asked.
if you have read any previous blogs of mine, especially "Raw Response," or talked to me about this subject, you know the word i often fall back on with regards to worship is "response." worship is your response to God, to who He is and what He has done, and this response goes far beyond music, as a lot of us are trained to go to music at the thought of that word. but life life should come to mind. It is the response to God in your everyday life by the giving of your whole life because of who He is and what He has done. so how can you do that without theology? good question. we cannot accurately and truthfully respond to something with out a knowledge of it that is grounded in truth. so now we know that there is a crucial and ongoing relationship between theology and worship.
but how does it work? is the relationship between theology and worship a two way street or one way? and if one way, which way? in other words, does theology teach worship or does worship teach theology? i tend to think it goes both ways. how can you expect to have a good worship experience with out any kind of theological foundation? and how can worship be grounded in truth without teaching truth about God, for instance, in the lyrics of a worship song? so what i'm saying is that these two things go hand in hand. i think it is tragic when i go to a worship service and everything is driven by our emotions. sure, it feels like something good happened, and perhaps it did. emotions are there for a reason. but it's easy to get distracted by us rather than who God is.
i have a hard time sometimes when i lead worship and there is that person who is just sitting there, starring. my first inclination used to be that they are just "not into it." what does that mean anyway? and how the heck do i know what's going on with them? it wasn't long until i found myself sitting in a worship service. a great one. everyone around me was singing their hearts out and totally in tune to what was going on, why they were singing their hearts out, because of Christ and the words being sung in response to Christ. and there i was, just sitting and starring. i probably looked like i was having a horrible time or something. but i can say in confidence that i was engaged in worship. i may not have been singing like everyone else, but i was listening to the words being sung, meditating on them, because they were teaching me new things about God, a new view of looking at God perhaps, and therefore i had this new knowledge. a whole other reason to worship God because He alone is worthy. therefore, worship also teaches theology. but that brings a whole new responsibility to the worship leader. he needs to be a theologian himself in order to write songs or sing songs to a congregation that are in accordance to who God is so that they can know what and why they are singing. now i do realize that throughout this discussion there are a ton of trails that we could go down and a tone of unanswered questions that could have been asked. there could be a very large book in the theology of worship and vise versa.
if you haven't read my last blog, "for an open door," i would suggest reading it so that this next part makes sense, along with revelation 4-5.
this is from a book i am reading right now by Richard Bauckham. it was cool because he stared talking about Revelation 4-5, and then made a staetment that totally got my attention. i just read this about an hour ago so i had no intention of writing this blog when i wrote the last one. i'll just put up the whole paragraph to put it in perspective. and it's good anyways. here he is talking about the book or Revelation, specifically chapters 4-5.
"Like most apocalyptic visions of the divine throne, John does not dwell on the visible form of the One who sits on the throne. All that is said of God's appearance is that it was like precious stones (4:3): this was one of the traditional ways of evoking the splendour of a heavenly figure. The unknowable transcendence of God is protected by instead focusing on the throne itself and what goes on around it. It is in these features of the vision that what can be known of God is expressed. Especially prominent is the continuous worship by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. It is a scene of worship into which the reader who share's John's faith in God is almost inevitably drawn. We are thereby reminded that true knowledge of who God is is inseparable from worship of God. The song of the four living creatures and the hymn of the twenty-four elders express the two most primary forms of awareness of God: the awed perception of his numinous holiness (4:8; cf. Isa 6:3), and the consciousness of utter dependence on God for existence itself that is the nature of all created things (4:11). These most elemental forms of perception of God not only require expression in worship: they cannot be truly experienced except as worship."
so theology teaches worship so that we can accurately respond to God, and good worship also teaches theology. in a perfect world anyway. thoughts?
-thanks for reading