The argument is at least several decades old. It has been articulated by some of the more sincere, deep-thinking Christians I’ve known.
I think it is off track, but it is not completely unfounded.
I speak, here, of this opinion: that Christian assemblies should have little or nothing to do with worship.
Now, I suspect that many of you who read those words do not think similarly. Some of you may go, “Huh? How in the Christian world could anyone be so obtuse as to think that?!” There are two reasons I can think of.
First, a heavy proportion of these devoted non-worship-types had gravitated toward a “whole-life” concept of worship — based largely, I’m convinced, on mistranslation and misunderstanding of the thrust and scope of Romans 12:1. These people think that, since the believer’s whole life “was” worship, it was mistaken to segregate certain activities and expressions as worship, specifically.
Second, another cross-section simply rebelled against a responsibility-driven, time-card-punching view of attendance at the “service” (a misnomer for the Christian assembly). I speculate that it was difficult for them to see worship as a positive, heartfelt activity.
On the other hand, not a few Christian practitioners, thinkers, and writers make devoted, lifelong pursuits of worship. At one time, I myself would have said worship was among my top two or three “callings,” and it’s still probably in the top five.
Yet it is true that in the NC scriptures we have strikingly little material that explicitly indicates a strong connection between the Christian assembly and worship.
My intent in two posts on this subject is 1) to acknowledge two opposing viewpoints, and 2) to affirm — although not in the typical contemporary way that can be presumptuous — that it is very reasonable to assume that worship was, and should still be, part of the Christian gathering.
Few will downplay the idea of gathering per se. Like their pro-worship siblings, most of the people who hold that worship is misplaced in assemblies are actually very much in favor of the Christian gathering. It’s just that they believe such meetings are for speaking to one another, not for speaking to God. (Christian worship is, by definition, a Godward thing. Other assembly activities are primarily directed toward others; sometimes, the self can also legitimately be addressed. But addressing others and addressing the self are inherently not worship.)
What are we to do with the relatively small corpus of scriptural material on corporate worship?
To be continued . . .