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Worship II: Emotional Worship is the Goal

Feelings Matter to God
Those who carry the official title of “Worship leader”
(those who lead in musical worship) of all people should understand that the ultimate goal of praise goes far beyond mere singing. Though a lack of vocal participation may be an indicator of a lack of ready hearts, if the people don’t feel a certain way then they sing—they are not worshiping. That’s right. That’s what I said. Feelings matter to God. We cannot be indifferent to the words we sing. Our hearts must be moved as we sing or we offer empty praise. If our singing is not attended with the appropriate emotions of joy, awe, fear, gratitude, contrition, etc., then we are clanging symbols. These emotions are commanded of us in the scriptures. They are not optional.

Emotionalism vs. Emotional Worship – The difference between emotionalism and emotional worship is the difference between emotions which are commanded of us in the scriptrues that are in conformity with truth, and emotions which have their source in somthing other than the truth. To say it another way, it is the difference between finding our emotional high in God by the power of the Holy Spirit vs. finding our emotional high merely in the music.

Emotion is of the Essence of Worship – Nevertheless, emotions have everything to do with genuine worship. Stirring up the emotions is not a bad thing, unless it is either not based on truth, or used for a mechanical manipulation (external conformity) of the audience. Stirring up thankfulness in the heart to God, stirring up tear-jerking joy in God, stirring up contrition over sin, stirring up feelings of awe at the Glory of God, etc. are in fact, the ultimate and highest goal of musical worship, and are therefore of the very essence of musical worship. These are not things you do (joy, awe, contrition, etc.) but things you are and feel in your heart.

Our Emotion Must Be Rooted in the Truth About God – The two key aspects of worship are 1) to worship in Spirit – namely that one worships not just by external conformity (like the Pharisee’s), but in the heart (which involves the affections and emotions–all of our internal activity), and secondly 2) to worship in truth – that our hearts are stirred up by the truth rather than aimless emotion. Again, this is the difference between emotionalism (aimless emotion) and emotional worship. Emotional worship has a defined foundation: the truth about God; and a definite object of affection: the glory of God. Emotional worship (that is, worship which moves the heart to godly emotions based on the truth about God) is the only kind of worship there is. Everything else may be called worship, but it cannot be genuine unless it flows from a state of heart which has been affected by the truth about God.



  1. -mike- says:

    I thought the goal was action, not emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I am charismatic, but our worship should ALWAYS manifest itself in action. Making the world a better place, cleaning up the trash on the highway, giving that homeless guy whatever change you’ve got (even better, taking him to dinner and hangin out with him for a few hours) etc…

    Is this what you meant by emotion? If so, then amen!

  2. Bradley says:

    red hot,

    You make a good point. Before I answer, let me ask you a question.

    How do the saints who have been in heaven for thousands of years without their ressurection body worship God? With no body for visible action, how is it they are fulfilling the very essence of worship–even in a more intense way that we are able to now with our bodies? How is it they can worship God better than we can, yet they have no homeless to feed, no highways to clean up, etc.????

  3. -mike- says:

    Well, I am not dead yet. And that all depends on your personal eschatological views…

    And I don’t believe in heaven the way you do. I believe heaven is on earth. Although I am not a huge Grudem fan, he sums this up quite nicely. Greek paganism invented “heaven”, Christianity promises a New heaven and a new earth, after the ressurecion.

    So, this is not a problem in my view.

  4. Bradley says:


    Sorry. Perhaps I was assuming too much in my question. I was taking for granted that you believed the teachings of scripture. I hope you don’t take offense to this, but perhpas I should now ask you–Are the scriptures your authority? If not, what is? If so, I will respond to your previous comments at length with passages from the scriptures. Aight?

  5. -mike- says:

    I already know what you believe. God is my authority. The scriptures are his vehichle to relay divine truths. My traditions sort these truths. My lifestyle gives life to them.

    I think I had to sign a doctrinal statement saying I believed the scriptures were the words of God when I came to SBTS. I don’t rememember, but I do.

    As for the saints passed, they are in the presence of God. In spirit. There is more than emotion. (And I am emo also!) There is knowledge, but even knowledge comes experience.

    And while we are still on this planet, as it is now, it is our worshipful duty to feed the homeless, clothe the children, clean the water, shelter the tsunami victims, assist the AIDs victims, educate the ignorant, etc… I could go on forever!

    Emotional worship is an aspect of this. And not all emotions are proper in every setting.

    I believe my view accurately sums up the teachings of scripture and it does represent the body of church tradition. Again, as I am sure you are reformed, Grudem has many things to say about this.

    You can show me what you believe, but don’t think that your way is the 100 percent correct in any given situation way. I don’t think even John Piper would go that far…

  6. G. F. McDowell says:

    Sometimes I have visited other churches, say on a trip or something, and felt as though the worship is trying to manipulate my emotions. Cool chord progressions should not be what brings out the emotion, but solid scriptural content. If that is agreeable to your position, I agree with you, but if you see emotional worship as being beholden to a certain type of music, I will state my wholehearted disagreement.

  7. Bradley says:

    1. I think We Agree – Nothing you said contradicts what I said. My post was not about the relationship between emotion and action. You are right to recognize action as part of worship. It is not a contradiction, however, to say on the one hand that emotions are of the essence of worship, and on the other, and on the other to say that worship includes action. You ask, “But isn’t worship about action?” and “but aren’t we supposed to feed the hungry, etc.?” Then you claim to disagree with me. But the point you make only contradicts my own if you assume that because I make such a big deal about the root and cause of action (the internal) that I have no place for action (external manifestation) in my understanding of worship.

    2. You Make A Common Assumption – Serving the poor is necessary, but so is gathering to sing joyful praises to God (both are commanded). I do not have to choose between them. Nor do we choose between godly emotion and action as if one contradicts the other. It seems you have assumed that my understanding of emotions is in conflict with your view of action (you say “I thought the goal was action, not emotion”), but I don’t believe this is the case. It’s a common mistake I hear people make all the time—”Worship is NOT about emotion!” they will say. “It’s about action! commitment!”, etc. I say “It’s about both, but one is logically and morally prior to the other.”

    3. Piper and Jonathan Edwards Agree With Me

    Consequential Misunderstanding – I think this misunderstanding is also why you say that Piper would even go “that far.” But just in case, I will show you that Piper and Edwards both agree with me. In fact, all I am doing in my blog is saying what they say in their books. I won’t quote from all Pipers books, but here are a few quotes from his chapter of Worship in his book Desiring God, and one quote from Edwards.

    Piper – “Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a living)…but true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship” (Piper, Desiring God, Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers Inc, 2003 Edition, 81-82). “As I use them in this book, the words feeling and emotion and affection do not generally carry different meanings. … I use the words synonymously and intend by them what Jonathan Edwards did in his great Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1” (Piper, 85). “All the outward acts of worship are performed by acts of will. … The engagement of the heart in worship is coming alive of the feelings and emotions and affections of the heart. Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead” (Piper, 86).

    Edwards – “And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame that these things have a tendency to move our affections. The same thing appears in the nature and design of the sacraments which God hath appointed. God, considering our frame, hath not only appointed that we should be told of the great things of the gospel, and of the redemption of Christ, and instructed in them by His Word; but also that they should be, as it were, exhibited to our view, in sensible representations in the sacraments, the more to affect us with them. And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that His Word delivered in the holy Scriptures should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching” (Edwards, Religious Affections, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001 Edition, 44). This quote was the chief impetus for this blog.

    4. The Apostle Paul Agrees With Me – “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Therefore I say, “If I clean up all the trash on every highway, give all the homeless guys whatever change I’ve got, or treat all homeless people in my neighborhood to dinner, but do not do it out of love, it has no moral value.”

    5. Sum: Love for God is that without which all attempts at moral action is evil. Love is the greatest commandment, and is the root and cause of all virtuous states of the heart and mind, and all action. Call it what you will, but this love is not an action of the body, but of the heart (although it necessarily leads to external action). Therefore, this emotion/affection of love is the chief concern of God—the ultimate goal of all our singing, worship, action, etc.

    What do you think Red.Hot?

  8. Bradley says:


    I would say that if what you mean by “manipulation of emotions” has to do with their trying to use the vehicle of music (which includes lyrics which are accurate about God) to stirr up your emotions for God, then “manipulation” is a poorly chosen word. As Edwards has argued (see quote above) God has commanded us to praise Him precisely because it stirrs up our godly emotions of joy and gratitude, etc. Thus, if worship leaders are accused of “manipulation” when they seek to help people get emotional over the content of the songs, and they do this through the God-ordained means of music, then I think we should also lay the blame at the feed of God himself for such “manipulation,” since it was His design.

    also, if you read the blog, I already clarified that when music is the root and cause of our emotion rather than a vehicle that stirrs our God-rooted emotion, then it is idolatry, not worship.

    I don’t accuse my Christian friends who try to encourage me when I’m down of trying to manipulate my emotions away from discoruagement. And if they do provide biblical encouragement, I don’t think it would be fair for someone to accuse me of finding the root of my encouragement in THEM rather than in God. They are the means to encourage me with the truth about God. So is music.

  9. -mike- says:

    That’s quite a statement. Don’t level your views with scripture. I think God is smarter than you. And Piper.

  10. Bradley says:

    Do you offer the “true” interpretation of scripture? What is it? I am willing to learn from you sir. What do you think?

  11. bethy31 says:

    Good word

  12. Bradley says:

    Bethy! Haven’t heard from you in a while. Who’s word are you refering to?

  13. Jugador de Futbol says:

    Oh, I am on it. I passed the Greek midterm. hey, didn’t you skip class this afternoon. Later man.

    Where are the posts man?

  14. -mike- says:

    How do you then equate emotionalism (which I am not against, but I strongly believe it is NOT the goal of worship) with love? That is quite a leap. The Jewish mindset (eg. sacarii) levels love with action. Meditation, contemplation, and emotion are good, but Love is the best. And love is action.

    Until the trash is picked up and the homeless are fed…


  15. -mike- says:

    I like you “B”. You seem like a cool guy, even though I disagree with you.

  16. bethy31 says:

    The message as the word…not Word…but word…

  17. Jugador de Futbol says:

    The message is the WORD. I don’t really know what she meant.

    Did I miss anything really important in class today? Let me know.

    You know who.

  18. bethy31 says:

    I’m talking about this particular post..not in general…it’s for Brad..he said, “Which word’ and i used word to refer to the message…and the Word was contained in the message…ha!

  19. Anonymous says:

    were exactly do you find a “worship leader” in scripture? Maybe apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and preachers, but worship leaders?

  20. Bradley says:


    Thanks. I know your friend Brandt; he’s cool. I actually had seen you around campus before you left. I was going to approach you and ask you if you played electric guitar [we are in need at my church for a second electric guitar player for the youth worship team] once, but the only time I really saw you was in the Founders Café, and you were always in and out before I was able to catch you in a conversation.

    Also, the more I write, the more I’m convinced that if we had this conversation in person, we would probably come to some point of agreement. But as it is, I have already written a response to your last comment:

    Actually…If you review my actual blog, I didn’t equate emotionalism with love. In fact, I specifically devoted two of my four paragraphs (i.e. went out of my way) to keep the reader from equating my view with emotionalism. Maybe you should read it again.

    Where is your Biblical Evidence? – Also, I’m not sure where you are getting your understanding of “Jewish Mindset” if it’s not from the Old Testament itself. I can tell from your site that you read a lot. You seem to be assuming that love is to be equated with action more than you are demonstrating it from the scripture.

    The Massive Biblical Evidence Concerning the Nature of Love – With all due respect Mike, I am honestly surprised that you have read through the Bible and never noticed the crucial distinction which is made over and over between the action of a person and their heart, and the priority which is given to the latter (without the exclusion of the former). Only a casual perusal of the Bible is sufficient for seeing this. I am teaching nothing novel, but only what is in the text itself.

    Just a Few Examples – I don’t have time to rehash so much of the teaching of the Bible as I might desire, so I will only mention what I consider to me the two most important verses on this issue.

    1. The Old Testament places love primarily in the heart.

    The most important thing to the God of the Old Testament (and as we will see, also the most important thing to Jesus) is that we “love” God above all things. But how is love described in the following verses?

    Duet 6:4-5 – “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! [the theme of one of your interesting blogs sir] You shall love the LORD your God WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.”

    Jesus Best Represents the “Jewish Mind” – Jesus was the best interpreter of the Jewish mind (himself being the most pious Jew who ever lived), and the infallible teacher of the scriptures which Jews accepted as authoritative, also having intimate and exhaustive knowledge of the author of those scriptures. He distinguished between action and the root of action. For example, several times he distinguished between a tree and it’s fruit. Good deeds are rooted in a good heart just as much as sinful deeds are rooted in a sinful heart. Here are a few examples.

    Mark 12:28 – “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD Your God WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as Yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mathew’s version adds these words: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37).

  21. Bradley says:

    Let the Text Speak for Itself – These passages are our biggest clue to understanding exactly what the nature of true love is. Is love here described as in internal reality or as action? If this is the greatest commandment, is it a stretch of the text to say that all true religion/spirituality/biblical Christianity is rooted first in love for God? But these texts emphasize the INTERNAL nature of this word “love.” Love is herein virtually equated with something which is internal, of the soul, of the heart, etc. These (soul and heart, etc.) are part of the immaterial makeup of man, and therefore cannot be equated with actions of the body.

    Qualifier – I still think we might be just saying the same thing with different choice of emphases. I agree that without actions, we can make no claim to true love. Godly actions are that without which one’s claim to know Christ is deemed a lie (I John 2:4). Action is necessary to Glorifying God and demonstrating love. Yet having said all that (which I think you would agree with), I still don’t think that love can be equated with or reduced to mere action.

    Sorry for always writing a book…..I’m just not cut out for the blog world of sound bites….

  22. Bradley says:


  23. Bradley says:


    I once heard a preacher say (John Cross) in light of his cessationist understanding of spiritual gifts and so forth: “Today, if we want a word from God we have to get our word from the word. Word?”

    I’ll probably never forget that (it was a very clever way of propagating cessasionism).

  24. Bradley says:

    Mr. Anonymous,

    The term “worship leader” is not in the Bible. I never said it was. That’s one of the reasons I am trying to refine our understanding of “worship leader” as one who worships the living God, and leads others to do the same (which would not restrict the term merely to those who help lead us in praises and song). That’s biblical.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It still stands to reason that unless those “leading” in worship are not specifically acting with the purpose of teaching, preaching, or evangelism in mind then they are acting in an unbiblical capacity in the local church. (Granted I do not think the other offices are in operation today) It also stands to reason that if worship has become everything (picking up trash, driving, etc…) then worship has lost its definition and is nothing. You can worship while driving, sure, but driving is just driving. You can worship while picking up trash, but you are still picking up trash.


  26. Bradley says:


    So do you think ushers, deacons, greeters, technitions, etc., should not serve in their respective capacities in the church?

    Worship is that state of heart which sanctifies God as supreme in all it’s affections, and all acts of the body which are motivated by that state of heart. All our actions have the potential of being acts of worship. This would include driving, if your motivation for driving is the glory of God.

    Don’t forget that we are supposed to do all things for the glory of God (I Cor 10:31). That would include certain activities which are in and of themselves morally neutral (like driving), but when they are done for the glory of God, they become acts of worship.

    What do you think dave?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I would say your definition of worship is everything and therefore nothing. The distinction must be made between the affection and motivation of the heart and the action itself. Worship can be expressed through action but that does not make the action itself worship. There are certain actions in the new testament that are considered worship, giving, preaching, baptism, Lord’s Table, etc… it ruins the definition and the point of worship if driving becomes worship. God may receive glory from driving but that is no more worship than God receiving glory from the death of pharoah and his army. I agree with your premise that the idea of worship needs to be understood correctly and that affections are a part. But please do not broaden the definition to the point that it no longer carries any true meaning. True Worship can only be done by believers so how can the act of driving itself etc be worship?Great Discussion by the way.


  28. G. F. McDowell says:

    “I don’t accuse my Christian friends who try to encourage me when I’m down of trying to manipulate my emotions away from discoruagement.”


  29. Bradley says:


    Here is my definition of worship: “That state of heart which sanctifies God as supreme in all it’s affections, and all acts of the body which flow from such a state.”

    Here is what you seem to say my definition of worship is: “Everything anyone does.”

    I’ve Been Misrepresented – These are two radically different definitions of worship. Your criticism is a misunderstanding of my view.

    The Distinction You Asked For Was Already Made – The distinction which you say “must be made” between the affection and the action itself is made in my very definition (notice the “and” in my definition).

    No Action is Automatically Worship – It is clear that you have misunderstood also by the way you assume that by my definition the act of driving a car is automatically an act of worship. Thus you ask, “True Worship can only be done by believers so haw can the act of driving itself ect. be worship?” You do well to recognize that unbelievers are incapable to true worship, but if you go back and read me, I never said that any action of the body is automatically worship.

    No Action of an Unbeliever Fits My Definition of Worship – Since an unbeliever is unregenerate, without any true affection for God, his act of driving could not possibly come close to fitting my definition, because my definition requires all actions to flow from such affection if they are to be counted as acts of worship.
    But you have attributed to me an entirely different definition which makes worship “everything” (i.e. all actions in and of themselves are acts of worship). But again, that was not my definition of worship.

  30. Bradley says:

    The Error Which Occasioned Jesus Teaching on Worship – You also say, “There are certain actions in the New Testament that are considered worship.” You give the following as examples, “Giving, Preaching, Baptism, Lord’s Table, etc…” Based on your misunderstanding of my understanding of worship as “everything,” you swing your pendulum so far the other direction, you desire to limit acts of worship merely to these things (which, by the way, are all external actions). You are convinced this is the “biblical” view, but you are surely mistaken in this also, for this would rule out all acts of the spirit, unless they manifest themselves in the particular forms you allow for (giving, preaching, Lord’s supper, etc.). But (just to rehash), when Jesus talks about the essence of worship, he teaches that it is primarily an act of a man’s spirit: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Just as you desire to limit worship to what takes place in the church walls, even so the woman at the well had a similar false understanding of worship as only taking place in the temple—but this is precisely the great error which occasions Jesus words in this passage!

    Exhibit A: John 4:19-24 – “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth'”

    Exhibit B: Matthew 2:11 – The wise men were not engaged in those things which are a part of your list, but the Bible says that what they did was worship: “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2:11). Notice that they gave AFTER they worshiped.

    Exhibit C: Matthew 14:33 – When Jesus calmed the raging sea, his disciples worship him. “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!'” (Mt 14:33). But this wouldn’t fit your definition of worship Mr. Dave, for they are not engaged in any of those things which you say are the only things the Bible calls “worship.”

    Exhibit D: The Bible in General – There are many more examples of verses which have people simply bowing at the feet of Jesus or at the throne of God (without preaching, baptism, Lord’s supper, etc.), and the Bible calls it “worship” (like Mt 28:9, 28:17, Heb 1:6, Rev 5:4, 7:11, 11:16, 19:14, and I’m sure there are more).

    Where Do You Get Your Understanding of Worship? – I think the problem here is, if I may say so Mr. Dave, that your definition of “worship” seems to be derived more from modern usage than biblical usage. In today’s modern lingo, the word “worship” is typically used only when we are talking about a “worship service” (which would include all the things you mention as “worship”). But, I wonder also why you didn’t mention singing as part of your list, for we are also commanded to sing at our gatherings (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16). That’s why we also call our time of singing and praise, “praise and worship.”

    The Final Exhibit: I Got if From Paul – Ultimately, I cannot take credit for this particular view of worship I have which broadens worship to all of life, rather than limiting it to our corporate times of worship (i.e. our church gatherings in which we participate in giving, preaching, baptism, Lord’s supper, etc.). I have to give the credit to the Apostle Paul, from whom we have the imperative to live our entire lives as sacrifices of worship: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

    P.S. (my typical apology) – I know this has been quite a lengthy response, but there were so many things in your short paragraph that I felt should be adequately addressed…thanks for reading (If you read all this) 🙂

  31. Anonymous says:


    If the bible includes giving as worship, does that make giving worship or not? If the Bible includes singing as worship is that worship or not? If the bible includes the Lord’s Table as a part of worship, is it worship or not? Again you can worship while driving a car by singing in your heart to God, trusting in his provision for your safety, honoring his commands to love your neighbor by forgiving instead of road rage. But you are still DRIVING A CAR!

  32. Bradley says:

    I don’t think you understand me. I’ll repeat myself once more. Driving a car is not worship–UNLESS it is done for the glory of God, motivated by love for God.

    Driving a car is like drinking a glass of milk. I agree that in and of themselves, they are not worship–but if they are done, as they should be, for the Glory of God, they are act’s of worship.

    I Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

    Everything we do is worship FOR THE ONE WHO OBEYS THIS VERSE, and Romans 12:1 (see above).

  33. Anonymous says:

    not to bemone the point, but just because something glorifies God does not make it worship. Pharoah was not worshipping God yet he drowned in the sea “to the glory of God”. This may better illustrate my point. We will not be turning out church tommorrow so that the congregation can “drive together down the street to the glory of God as an act of worhsip” that seems rediculous, however praying, singing, preaching, giving, done together are worship as they are all ordinances that were prescribed in tne New Testemant specifically as acts of worship.
    As Benjamin Keach writes “Ordinances were witnessed by the miraculous gitfs of the Holy Ghost, in the Aposltes days; and so likewise they had extrordinary gifts to charge those duties respectivley.” So the ordinances in the New Testament that would be considered proper modes of worship were established by accompanying signs, wonders, or miracles. Nothing else has been established as forms or modes of worship.
    We may give God glory in everything we do, but that does not mean that everything we do is worship.


  34. Anonymous says:

    sorry about the spelling I slept in fifth grade 🙂

  35. Bradley says:


    There is a reoccurring pattern with your responses, and my response, therefore, is much like my first one.

    Here is my definition of worship: “That state of heart which sanctifies God as supreme in all it’s affections, and all acts of the body which are motivated from such a state.”

    Here is what you seem to say my definition of worship is: “Everything that glorifies God.” (last time you said it was “everything”)

    I’ve Been Misrepresented Again – These are, once again, two radically different definitions of worship. Your criticism, again, is a misunderstanding of my view. With the definition you ascribe to me, you would have no way to distinguish between blasphemy and worship—for even the blasphemous acts of men will ultimately glorify God (as did the rebellious act of Pharaoh, which you give as an example, and the blasphemy of the crucifixion).

    I agree that not everything which Glorifies God can be called “worship.” If this is the definition for worship, then we could say that Pharaoh and those who crucified our Lord were worshipping God in doing what they did. This definition of worship would be virtually the same as the one you misrepresented me with the first time; that worship is “everything anyone does,” because ultimately, everything will turn out to the Glory of God. Though you consistently misunderstand me, at least you are being consistent in your misunderstanding.

    You seem to be limiting the term “worship” to what we typically mean by it in our culture, which is “corporate worship.” If you were more familiar with the Reformed Tradition, you would be more familiar with my understanding of worship. The Reformers made a distinction between the more narrow sense of “worship” (the kind you seem to assume which refers to our corporate gatherings) and the more broad sense of worship which encompasses all godliness. If you want to familiarize yourself with a brief summary of this Reformed distinction, you can just read the chapter on Worship from J.I. Packer’s book, “A Quest For Godliness.”

    Our difference may be a semantic one. The limitations you place on “worship” look similar to the one’s I would place (by means of the regulative principle) on corporate worship. However, as your limitation stands, it is on a collision course with the passages of scripture I have appealed to. If you are to convince me of an understanding of worship which rules out everything we do outside of corporate worship in church, you must reckon first with the passages I have mentioned, then the many more I would bring up afterward.

    Thanks Dave

  36. Bradley says:

    p.s. – dn’t worry to much about your speling, I make enoug mistakes of my own

  37. matthew christopher davidson says:


    I was shocked to read this:

    Emotion is of the Essence of Worship – Nevertheless, emotions have everything to do with genuine worship. Stirring up the emotions is not a bad thing, unless it is either not based on truth, or used for a mechanical manipulation (external conformity) of the audience. Stirring up thankfulness in the heart to God, stirring up tear-jerking joy in God, stirring up contrition over sin, stirring up feelings of awe at the Glory of God, etc. are in fact, the ultimate and highest goal of musical worship, and are therefore of the very essence of musical worship. These are not things you do (joy, awe, contrition, etc.) but things you are and feel in your heart.

    The essence of worship is not being or feeling. The essence of worship is offering. Offering is action. Offering is WORK.

    Emotion is part of us, and should not be divorced from the actions, the ‘movements of mind’ or ‘shifts in posture’ we do as Christians in church: gathering together, acknowledging God’s holiness, recognizing our own sinfulness, giving thanks for the grace of God in Christ Jesus, extending love to each other as ministers of reconciliation, singing words that reflect the ancient but living faith of the Church in the gospel, breaking bread together in communion, hearing the Word, going out as a group of people joined together in faith and sent by God to represent Him in the world.

    All of these things should be done with joy and attentiveness. We need to be present to what we are doing. Otherwise we cannot really be said to be doing them at all.

    But, Christian worship has been called ‘liturgy’ for two thousand years because it is the work that the people of God do.

  38. Bradley says:


    Thanks for reading my blog. I would take the time to give you a thorough rebuttal, but it has already been done. Your objection has been duly considered above; in fact, it was the very first objection (see first comment by Red.Hot and read the correspondence).

    If you wish for me to take serious your claim that the “essence” of worship is action, you must interact with the several arguments I have made from scripture while also offering texts which you think support you own claim. Scripture is my authority. Thanks.

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