Monday, March 2, 2009

Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views - Review Part 5

Dan Kimball is the last essay we will be looking at and on the next post I will offer some general comments on the book as a whole. Kimball begins with a brief look at worship in Scripture. He shows from Acts 2:42-47 the following practices were part of early Christian worship: teaching, fellowship, prayer, miracles and healing, sharing of life and eating meals together in homes. (p. 291 He later identifies these as the “essentials of worship.” p. 294) Kimball believes that the Scriptures themselves “have limited information about what a worship gathering originally looked like and what was supposed to happen.” (p. 293) He does say that our architecture and design of worship spaces “reflect our values and even our theology.” (p. 293) Kimball goes so far as to say “one really cannot make a case from the Scriptures for what a worship gathering should specifically look like.” (p. 294) Scripture tells us what must be part of our gatherings but it does not direct us how to do them. This leads Kimball to say we “should be more concerned with how people’s lives are being changed by the Spirit as they encounter God in worship than the ways we actually practice worship.” (p. 295) Emerging worship is “simply expressions of worship that are culturally sensitive to our emerging culture.” (p. 298) Along with Wilt’s comment Kimball says none of us are worshipping the way the early church worshiped. Kimball explains that since people have different learning styles therefore our worship should be cognizant of that and adjust accordingly. He uses a painter’s palette as an illustration of how the various elements of worship can be “painted” with different colors. Communion and baptism are not part of the palette because they are not simply colors rather they are a holy sacrament. The responses each had a different concern. I’ll focus on just one or two from each. Quill says “one cannot simply appropriate desirable bits and pieces in an eclectic manner as if going through the line in a cafeteria.” (p. 339) Furthermore, he questions if the church is still emerging “what will finally emerge? It is a dangerous thing to experiment with the church of God as if she is one’s personal plaything to shape according to one’s own desires.” (p. 339) Duncan, I think, doesn’t believe Kimball takes seriously enough the sinfulness of people’s hearts. But Duncan leaves this comment hanging in the air without further comment. Since Kimball is not satisfied with enough direction from Scripture he turns to an old Chinese proverb. Duncan is firm, “I cannot fully express my concern over turning to pagan literature to better worship the Living God.” (p. 341) Wilt’s greatest concern is “being converted by the culture.” (p. 345) Wilt is careful to note that while he “is a strong proponent of rampant creativity in the church and in the culture, I still sense a high degree of novelty, experimentation, and ‘let’s try this . . . now, let’s forget this . . . “ occurring in emerging worship streams.” (p. 346) Lawrence and Dever take issue with Kimball’s comments about different learning styles. They assert that “pedagogy and doxology are not the same thing. So even if Kimball’s observation is correct (and we think it is), it does not automatically follow that our public worship must give expression to the various learning styles.” (p. 350)

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