Archive for the ‘Ecclesiology’ Category.

Christian Worship in Times of Crisis: Escapism or Engagement with the World?

Related Posts: Worship of God and Ways of Man and I Find it Hard to Worship God in Church

 

Without doubt Christians in Malaysia are filled with a sense of foreboding as Islamic authorities seized the Alkitab, the Courts through unreasonable judgments effective curtailed their freedom of religion and the Prime Minister failed to censure aggressive Islamic NGOs for their slander and threats against the Malaysian Church.

It is heartening to see many Christians turning to the Lord in times of social crisis, seen in their fervent prayers in revival meetings. Crisis however brings up the best or the worst from us. Christian worship and revival meetings can become either an avenue of psychological escapism or a platform for spiritual renewal and social engagement.

Escapist Worship
Middle class Christians may be tempted to compensate their sense of social impotence by turning to other-worldly spirituality. Hence, a surreal emphasis on spiritual power in some revival meetings and a tendency to rally around men of charisma or self-styled apostles and prophets, if only that anxious believers may have a ‘touch’ of omnipotence mediated to them. Unfortunately, such focus on ‘touching’ spiritual power can distract believers from building genuine relationships based on shared lives to ensure the members of the community of faith will stand in solidarity with one another in the face of hostilities.

Spirituality then becomes a form of social-psychological pathology as distressed Christians seek consolation in the pie in the sky, resulting in personal resignation, passivity and indifference towards social engagement. Some find solace in cloistered personal piety; others delight in claiming victories in the heavenlies; and still others yearn for abundant material blessings – all without requirements of mutual accountability within the community of faith. Pre-occupation with revival meetings provides convenient excuses to the Church as it retreats from its holistic mission of witness and responsible engagement with an unbelieving, if not hostile world.

These observations are not meant to disparage current revival meetings but to challenge Malaysian Christians to recover the full dimensions of holistic worship adequate for strengthening personal spiritual formation and building community relationships and forging shared vision for social engagement. Given the present crisis I shall focus on holistic worship and social engagement with an unbelieving world. Continue reading ‘Christian Worship in Times of Crisis: Escapism or Engagement with the World?’ »

Worship of God and Ways of Man

Related Post: I Find it Hard to Worship God in Church

Ralph Martin describes worship as “the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his “worthiness” becomes the norm of living.”/1/  Few Christians would dispute with such a concise and balanced statement.  What it means in reality is another matter, however, since we do not worship in abstraction.  Week after week we go to a church and get involved with ¬people in a worship service.  Worship services assume diverse forms.  They appeal to people differently and obviously meet different needs.  People may express disappointments over some aspects of their worship meetings and may even suggest improvements.  Nevertheless, they keep going back faithfully to their church worship meetings.  The reality of God must have been experienced and their needs must have been met somewhat, regardless of occasional complaints.  I shall bear in mind such human expectations as I try to crystalize some thoughts about three different forms of worship. Continue reading ‘Worship of God and Ways of Man’ »