This post will consist of a few bits of critique of Bob Kauflin’s notes from his address “THE WORSHIP LEADER AND JESUS CHRIST” at the Doxology and Theology conference in Frisco, TX, and the Christian Musicians Summit in Seattle, WA. Please know, before I begin, that I have great respect for Bob Kauflin’s songwriting, his heart and sincerity of devotion.
Kauflin’s first assertion:
“The God of the Bible is Triune, Father, Son, and Spirit”
I prefer to say, for example, that the God of the Bible is almighty, majestic, and beyond description. Just He is only sort-of “He,” He is only sort-of “three.” (He actually transcends gender; He also transcends number, and this “triunity” is more a human formulation than a biblical one.)
Kauflin follows up with this:
“We worship all three persons of the Trinity as God.”
While he is correct for a large number of Christian worshippers today, I have found no biblical example of worship of the Spirit per se.
“We can’t simply interchange the names of the Father, Son, and Spirit in our songs, or necessarily say the same things to each one.”
And in this, Kauflin is right on. Next, he comments,
“The Father is delighted and glorified when we honor his Son.”
The proof-text which follows is “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’” (Lk. 9:35) Logically speaking, I would have to agree that the Father is delighted when we honor Jesus, but I don’t know that there is a biblical passage or principle from which I can draw this. In reading the gospel accounts of this event, one could not necessarily infer worship from the Father’s message. Moreover, honor, as Kauflin exhorts, might or might not come with hearing. What the texts say is that the Father said to listen to the Son; the intent might have included worship, but probably dealt more directly with hearing Jesus over the prophets “seen” at the transfiguration, and/or hearing Jesus’ teaching, in general.
Kauflin’s second major section begins with the statement “Jesus is the leader of our worship.” Hmm. Conceptually, Jesus is central, but to suggest that “He is the leader of our worship” in these times is tantamount to projecting a PowerPoint slide of a Photoshopped Jesus of Galilee, holding a microphone and playing a Roland RD-600 digital piano. ‘Nuff said.
“It’s not our perfect offerings that make our worship pleasing to God, but the perfect Christ.”
Yes, Bob, you are so right on this one.
“Our worship is made one by Jesus.”
I’m not sure what this means, even in the context of Kauflin’s notes. The use of Ephesians 2:14-16 (“For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . .”) is contextless and doesn’t really illuminate anything since most of us aren’t dealing directly with Jewish and Gentile division these days.
Kauflin does share some worthwhile lists — all apt expressions that draw us to Jesus:
The person of Jesus (Heb. 1:1-4; Col. 1:15-19)
1. Radiance of the glory of God
2. exact imprint of God’s nature
3. image of the invisible God
4. superior to angels
5. firstborn of all creation
6. has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
7. heir of all things
8. existed before all things
9. head of the church
10. fully God, fully man
11. King of kings, Lord of lords
The works of Jesus
1. created all things
2. upholds the universe by his word, took on flesh
3. obeyed his Father perfectly
4. made purification for sins
5. became sin for us
6. absorbed God’s wrath in our place
7. rose from the dead
8. ascended to his Father’s right hand
9. intercedes for his people
10. is coming back to destroy death, mete out justice, and live with his bride forever
MIscellaneous Kauflin thoughts and quotations:
We need to find, write, and sing more songs that spell out who Jesus is and what He has done (“In Christ Alone,” “Glorious Day,” “It is Finished,” “The Perfect Wisdom of Our God,” “Glorious Christ”).
Jesus should be bigger in our minds and hearts after we meet to sing his praise.
We need to help our people move beyond catch phrases and Christianese to think deeply about the glory of Christ.
And finally, a quote Kauflin shared from one Sinclair Ferguson:
“The evangelical orientation is inward and subjective. We are far better at looking inward than we are looking outward. We need to expend our energies admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.”
Thank you, Bob Kauflin, for helping us think (and rethink) biblical, Christ-centered worship. Not everything you say is on target or justifiable from a biblical standpoint, but your sincere devotion is unquestioned.