Worship as Divine Encounter
Christians, worship functions almost sacramentally. The author is John
Witvliet, a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary and the director of the
Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (www.calvin.edu/worship).
WORSHIP AS DIVINE ENCOUNTER
Worshipers in nearly every Christian tradition experience some of what
happens in worship as divine encounter. Differences in Christian worship
arise not so much whether or not God is understood to be present, but rather
in what sense. Those who mock supposedly simplistic theories of sacramental
realism at the Lord’s Supper wind up reserving sacramental language for
preaching or for music. Speaking only somewhat simplistically: the Roman
Catholics reserve their sacramental language for the Eucharist, Presbyterians
reserve theirs for preaching, and the charismatics save theirs for music. In
a recent pastors’ conference, one evangelical pastor solicited applications
for a music director/worship leader position by calling for someone who could
"make God present through music." No medieval sacramental theologian could
have said it more strongly.
—John D. Witvliet, "At Play in the House of the Lord: Why Worship Matters,"
BOOKS AND CULTURE, Volume 4, no. 6 (November/December 1998), p. 23. As quoted
by Lester Ruth in "A Rose by Any Other Name: Attempts at Classifying North
American Protestant Worship," chapter 2 in THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN:
WORSHIP AND MINISTRY IN THE 21st CENTURY, edited by Todd E. Johnson, Grand
Rapids: Brazo Press, 2002, p. 48. ISBN 1-58743-032-0.
Have a great week,
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary