Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Use of Rituals

One of the questions that becomes exceedingly divisive in the church is the use of rituals. Some are strongly for them, some strongly against, and others fall in the middle. There are those who claim that if we do not approach God with the right rituals, we cannot reach Him. Others would claim that if we indulge in any rituals at all, or any ones other than the narrowly prescribed ones, we endanger our close relationship with God. Where should we really stand?

Scripture teaches us that we relate to God on the basis of grace (Romans 5:1,2; Hebrews 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17). We are therefore told to beware of making judgments of other believers based on the details of what they observe (Romans 14:1-9; Colossians 2:16,17; James 4:11,12) or what group they are a part of (1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:21-23; 4:6,7). This cuts both ways. It prevents us from making a big issue of things being done exactly a certain way. Particularly on matters that are never clearly taught in Scripture.  But it also discourages the idea that we need to be opposed to all physical acts. And we cannot take this to the ultimate extreme without eliminating the ordinances that God clearly commands. Also, if God is at work in all His church, it makes no sense to limit that work to those who do things exactly right (Matthew 16:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 2:19).

Let us face facts. We all have certain ways of doing things, and this includes in the area of worship. Is it a mistake to try to think them through and make them the best they can be? But are we forever to be locked into a rigid practice with no room for creativity or spontaneity? However, that being said, I am not necessarily convinced that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to worship that works for everyone. I believe that many of the different approaches to worship represent different personalities. And I have no problem with this. The problem comes when one group or the other claims theirs is the only right way. I would like to see services that try to incorporate the best elements of all the traditions. But I am not necessarily convinced that this would result in one optimal way of doing things. Rather, I suspect it would result in even more variety, as different congregations picked different styles to fit the personalities and talents of their people. But the key thing is for the different groups to stop looking down on each other.    

No comments:

Post a Comment