Great post from Rusty about the tendency in modern evangelicalism to focus on Jesus exclusively in worship today. This is a fascinating insight. Being in a little bit different worship tradition than a lot of other folks in the Christian world today, I don’t tend to see these things, so I appreciate the perspective here.
I’d argue that if we worship Jesus to the exclusion of the other two persons of the Trinity, then we’re not even really worshiping Jesus. How can we worship the Son without knowing the Father who sends Him? And Jesus said Himself that He must go away, so that the Holy Spirit can come. How do we know Jesus except by the Spirit?
What is it about our culture, here in America, that motivates us to emphasize a personal relationship with this Jesus who loves us? Do we tend to overemphasize this aspect and, as a result, the person of Jesus in our worship?
Perhaps our fear of actually dealing with the real God makes dealing with the man Jesus appealing? Perhaps by cutting off two persons of the Trinity, I’m really cutting off all three, and thinking really of Jesus only as a man, and therefore creating a relationship that I can control?
Perhaps our un-confronted rebellion makes us hesitant to accept the need to submit ourselves to the judge and king, and so this romanticized, feminized relationship is appealing for its nonthreatening nature?
4 thoughts on “Worshiping only a third of the Trinity”
You are making some grandiose charges based upon assumption and innuendo. John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Our Lord was very clear with Philip. Don’t you think that our finitude drives us to the human nature of our Lord? The average Christian doesn’t enjoy the depth of teaching found in the RCUS. Since the finite cannot contain the infinite, Christian’s have always gravitated toward the humanity of Jesus.
“What is it about our culture, here in America, that motivates us to emphasize a personal relationship with this Jesus who loves us? Do we tend to overemphasize this aspect and, as a result, the person of Jesus in our worship?” Wow! I don’t think we emphasize “this Jesus who loves us” enough. Without personal relationships there would be no church. I realize we have been Billy Grahamed for over half a century, but don’t you think the better question relates to our understanding or lack of understanding of who “this Jesus” is and what He has done for us rather than the “isiness” of our culture. If we swing the pendulum to the other side of the spectrum from Billy, we end up all the way in England hanging out with the likes of N.T. Wright. Colossians 1:19-20 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
“Perhaps by cutting off two persons of the Trinity, I’m really cutting off all three, and thinking really of Jesus only as a man, and therefore creating a relationship that I can control? Perhaps by cutting off two persons of the Trinity, I’m really cutting off all three, and thinking really of Jesus only as a man, and therefore creating a relationship that I can control?” This charge of “systematic modalism” gives to much credit to American evangelicalism. The gist of the charge I will grant you all day long: Humanities rebellion and denial of the Trinity as the Creator and the Authority. The Church needs to be instructed from God’s Word to submit to the Lordship of the Trinity in every aspect of person (thoughts, actions, words) and life (relationships).
Peace in Christ (or should I say Trinity),
Thanks for the comments. As I implied, if someone comes to the true Christ, then it’s impossible to overemphasize Him, since in Him dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily. But it seems frequently that the person Jesus is divorced from His deity, including being divorced from the Father and the Spirit, and no, I don’t think I’m giving anyone too much credit. I think it’s possible for anyone to slip into very sophisticated heresies without knowing the name or history of those heresies.
“The gist of the charge I will grant you all day long: Humanities rebellion and denial of the Trinity as the Creator and the Authority.”
Thanks. That’s pretty much all I was saying.
Thanks for the link, Matt.
Let me clarify, for those taking issue with my post, that I believe that we Christians do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. My concerns are that we tend to focus so much so on that aspect of the Christian life, that we come away with a misunderstanding of the Godhead. There are three Persons that make up the Trinity – the one true God. Do we, evangelicals, preach a personal relationship with God the Father? God the Holy Spirit? If this personal relationship with Jesus is so important, then why are New Testament prayers typically addressed to God the Father? I remember, years ago, hearing a Christian singer, who is Catholic, remind evangelicals that it “wasn’t just Jesus,” but that there was God the Father and the Holy Spirit as well.
While we certainly cannot divorce ourselves from our feelings, we must always be aware of the fact that we serve God with our minds also. Worship songs that feed off of the emotions of personal experience should be tempered with a good foundation of rational theology. Is it not reasonable to conclude that, if we are to properly worship God from the depths of our soul, we should strive to know who it is we are worshipping?
Perhaps we’ve been lured a bit too far down an emotionally based experiential path, and a good dose of theological training is in order… or else we might just become Unitarian Jesusites?
I appreciate you post. I think Matt helped clarify the gist of your concerns. My point, simply, is that if a person has a relationship with Jesus Christ, then he has a relationship with the Trinity. That of course is by God’s grace realized through the God given gift of faith. I think your concern taken much farther ends up being just as tenuous as the point of contention. The finite cannot contain the infinite. Let us remember that by worshipping Jesus Christ, in spirit and truth, we worship the Godhead. If we were to give an explicit place in worship to the Holy Spirit (and ingnore the complete Trinity) a la Benny Hinn, then we do something that goes against the very task of the Holy Spirit, which is to point the sinner to Jesus and apply His work to the sinners heart and thus bring order out of chaos. And as for emotionalism, we cannot divide ourselves; orthodoxy must lead to orthopraxy and doxology. I’m not sure I know what you mean by “rational theology.” If you mean we must hear from God by His Special Revelation and then by the work of the Holy Spirit we respond to the Trinity in worship, ok. Worship must be dialogical and must begin with God speaking. And when God speaks to a man, woman, or child, let’s face it that is an experience (e.g. Abraham, Moses, Paul…..)
Peace in Christ,
p.s. God bless all the men and woman who serve in harms way for our great nation!
p.s.s. Let us remember that the freedom we enjoy as Americans as well as the greater freedom we enjoy as Christians was secured through warfare.