Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My 95 Thesis - Point 13 - Temple Worship


Here's my 13th Point in My 95 Theses. Another topic I'd love to see the church dialog around is our view of special places of worship, special people who lead the worship, and special actions done as worship.

When you look at the Old Testament model it is easy to identify the temple, priests and sacrifices of worship. There are specific holy places, holy people, and holy actions.

When you look at the modern church practices and beliefs it is a bit confusing.

Some may see similarities between the Old Testament Temple and our current Church buildings.

Some may see similarities between the Old Testament Priests and our current clergy who go by a variety of titles (Bishops, Priests, Pastors, Ministers...).

Some may see similarities between the Old Testament sacrifices made for worship and our current practices of worship music (or for others the Eucharist or sacraments).

But lets be clear.

According to the New Testament...

What/who is the temple?
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. " (Acts 17:24 NIV)

"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" (1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV)

"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 2:5 NIV)

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV)
"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV)
"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. " (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

Who are the priests?
"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
...
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
(1 Pet 2:5,9 NIV)
What are the sacrifices of worship?
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Rom 12:1-2 NIV)

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV)
These ideas are not new. The protestant reformation included the belief in the priesthood of all believers. Yet I know many people practice a form of Christianity that elevates special buildings, special people, and special worship activities.

I fear there are many who get confused.

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3 comments:

sattler said...

This is a very interesting piece. In many ways there is a parallel between equating leadership and priesthood, as between church and temple.

Curiously, in the response I received to one of my most critical posts ( http://radref.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-i-cant-celebrate-remembrance-sunday.html) in which I described the Church as a 'conscript temple for militarized civil religion' in the context of Remembrance Sunday, most hostile response came not from anti-pacifists but from people who thought I was being 'disrespectful to the house of God'. I thought that was revealing.

Al said...

I've been thinking about worship over the past few days. One of the definitions of worship is worth-ship--the idea of proclaiming the worth of what we are worshipping.

I think that if we worship God as Creator, we should first of all honor his creation, and his gift of creativity in others.

I think if we worship God as Merciful, we should be merciful ourselves.

The same goes for any of the other attributes of God that we honor--it should affect our actions much more than our words (or songs).

I was singing "Your love is amazing...Your love makes me sing" a few weeks ago and it hit me--if I really think that God's love is amazing, the most appropriate response is to imitate that love, not sing about it. Most of our 'worship' is talking about something wonderful, not trying to follow its example. If we really believe that Jesus is worthy of our worship, we will try to follow his example. An hour spent in church on Sunday is the least likely place to be doing that.

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the comments.

Salter, yes I think Christians all believe God dwells in us individually and as a body at large. Yet there are enough people who call a buildings a "house of God" or part of the building the "sanctuary" that I suspect many are confused.

Al - I agree. God doesn't primarily want lip service as worship, he wants our whole lives to reflect our love for Him, and His love through us.