Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Sam Storms discusses worship in the context of the cessationist/continuationist discussion.

What both groups share in common is their conviction that worship must be theocentric: it is concerned with glorifying God. Where they differ is on the ways and means. Cessationists believe God is most glorified when biblical truths about him are accurately and passionately proclaimed in song, liturgy, and recitation of Scripture. The focus of worship is to understand God and to represent him faithfully in corporate declaration. Worship is thus primarily didactic and theological and their greatest fear is emotionalism.

Charismatics or Continuationists, on the other hand, believe God is most glorified not only when he is accurately portrayed in song but when he is experienced in personal encounter. Charismatic worship does not downplay understanding God but insists that he is truly honored when he is enjoyed. Worship is thus not only theological but also emotional and relational in nature and their greatest fear is intellectualism.

Admittedly this is perhaps a bit too tidy. Cessationists would no doubt agree that God is to be enjoyed, but they see this as primarily a cognitive experience. Charismatics contend for a more holistic enjoyment. God is not merely to be grasped with the mind but felt in the depths of one’s soul. The mind is expanded but the affections are also stirred (and the body may well move!).

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this difference is the way both groups think of God’s presence in times of corporate praise. Think of it this way. When you gather in corporate assembly with God’s people, whether on a Sunday morning or in a small group during the week, what are your expectations with regard to God? Do you view God’s presence as a theological doctrine to be extolled and explained or do you think of it as a tangible reality to be felt. Those hymns that are more traditional in their focus stress divine transcendence. God is “out there,” beyond us, above us, and we sing about him. The songs you hear in a more charismatic setting stress divine immanence. God is “down here,” very near us, close to us, and we sing to him.

1 comment:

Brendt said...

I am created in God's image. Seems to me that if He isn't compartmentalized, why should I be?