A great article by D.G. Hart (someone I do not agree with often) highlights the divide between denominational loyalty to the city and the needs of rural congregations. Dr. Hart makes excellent points that I highly recommend you listen to and meditate upon while sipping your latte.
Here is a snippet.
Lost in this understanding of ministry among cosmopolitans is the sense that one might be trying to elevate one’s own status by hobnobbing with the influential, that the church’s egalitarian streak has a preferential option for the meek and lowly, or that touting pastoral success in New York City leads to a generation of prospective pastors who will not remain in rural communities once they have seen the lure of church life in the cosmopolis – not to mention that the scale, anonymity, and standard of living in places like Manhattan skew church life in ways that may not be compatible with the agrarian imagery that comes straight from the pages of holy writ.
Of course, the reasons why evangelicals fawn over the city may stem from sources other than the obvious appeal of bright lights and big buildings. One of them may a born-again infatuation with celebrity and the disillusionment that follows when public figures like Mark Sanford or Miss California, Carrie Prajean, fall from grace. Evangelicals are disposed to understand grace and faith in extraordinary categories and so overlook stories of ordinary believers, routine piety, and even rural congregations as insignificant…
This is the course I am taking at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Our main texts for this class include: With Reverance and Awe by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether, Worship Reformed According to Scripture by Hughes Oliphant Old, and The Lord’s Day by Joseph A. Pipa, and Old Light on New Worship by John Price. These works are to be read for the class in the order that I have them listed here. One thing is for sure about this term, while I have less “work” to do per week the reading has doubled. This thankfully, does not present too much of a problem for me as I am a quick reader with the uncanny ability to comprehend what it is that I have read. The book I am most looking forawrd to read is the book by Joey Pipa on the Sabbath. I have always had misgivings about the laxity that most treat the Sabbath and would like to receive a more thorough understanding of Christian Sabbath. Also of interest is the work by John Price, especially since RPTS is the seminary for the RPCNA. It will be very interesting when we get to the part of the course where the professor explained in the first class he will present a defense (using the Price book and some of his own writings on the subject) of Exclusive Psalmody and non-instrumentals in worship. This should be a fascinating class.
Here, as promised, is a couple selections from a main text:
“We worship God because God created us to worship him. Worship is at the center of our existence, at the heart of our reason for being. God created us to be in his image-an image that would reflect his glory. In fact the whole creation was brought into existence to reflect the divine glory.”
Hughes Oliphant Old, “Worship Reformed According to Scripture” pg. 1
“If you listen carefully to current debates, you will encounter rhetoric that is strange for Reformed Christians. Here are some comments we have heard, none of which is terribly unusual:
- “I like a church thats is casual, where I know I can go and relax during worship”
- “I don’t always enjoy my church’s worship, but that’s okay. I know it will be different next week.”
- “I’m tired of the barrenness of worship-I’m looking for something with more beauty.”
- “Worship is ultimately a matter of taste, and there is no accounting for that.”
- “If there is one thing you can say about our worship, it’s not boring!”
These popular sentiments all remind us that there is significant confusion about the nature, purpose, and practice of worship. This confusion extends to the Reformed community, and it underscores the urgency of recovering a biblical view of worship.
D.G. Hart and John R. Muether, “With Reverence and Awe” pg.11-12