Definitions of Worship

Zac HicksWorship Theology & Thought1 Comment

I was recently perusing my binder from my church music class in college, when I came upon this list of definitions of worship.  There are other such lists online, but this particular collection, I’ve found, is very good.  Thank you, Dr. Lock!

Karl Barth, Worship: Its Theology and Practice:
Christian worship is the most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life.

Evelyn Underhill, Worship:
Worship is the response of the creature to the Eternal.

Ralph Martin, The Worship of God:
Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in his supreme worth in such a manner that his “worthiness” becomes the norm and inspiration of human living. Worship is that exercise of the human spirit that confronts us with the mystery and marvel of God in whose presence the most appropriate and salutary response is adoring love.

Paul Hoon, The Integrity of Worship:
Christian worship is God’s revelation of himself in Jesus Christ and man’s response; it is the dialog between man and God through the Word.

R. A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches:
Worship is the soul bowing itself in adoring contemplation before the object worshiped. To worship God is to bow before God in adoring contemplation of Himself.

Donald Hustad, Jubilate:
Worship is not a self-centered obsession with our sins, our experiences of God’s grace or even with our holy desires. Worship is “preoccupation” with God, whose attributes qualify him to forgive, and to cleanse, and enable him to regenerate and to transform.

Ron Allen and Gordon Borror, Worship:
Worship is an active response to God whereby we declare His worth. Worship is not passive, but is participative. Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response. Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration.

William Temple:
To worship is:
To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,
To feed the mind with the truth of God,
To purge the imagination by the beauty of God,
To open the heart to the love of God,
To devote the will to the purpose of God. 

A.W. Tozer:
Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner, admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery and that unspeakable Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause but which we call Our Father which art in heaven.

Franklin Segler, Christian Worship:
Worship is an end in itself; it is not a means to something else. When we try to worship for the sake of certain benefits that may be received, the act ceases to be worship; for then it attempts to use God as a means to something else. We worship God purely for the sake of worshipping God. Worship is not a human invention; rather it is a divine offer.  Worship is both revelation and mystery. Worship is essentially the celebration of the acts of God in history.  Worship is not limited to acts of devotion and rites and ceremonies. Worship is practicing the presence of God in ever experience of life. Worship is both revelation and response. God takes the initiative in revelation and man response in worship. Worship is more than conversation; it is also encounter. Worship is primarily the offering of our total selves to God. Worship is the eschatological function of the church. Worship is not mere preparation for action. It is the “Opus Dei,” the adoration of God as man’s highest privilege. Christian worship is man’s loving response in personal faith to God’s personal revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. In essence, worship is man’s communion with God in Christ, this conscious relationship being effected by the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the worshiper.

James White:
Christian worship is the deliberate act of seeking to approach reality at its deepest level by becoming aware of God in and through Jesus Christ and be responding to this awareness.

Herbert Carson, Hallelujah:
Worship is the declaration by a creature of the greatness of his Creator. It is the glad affirmation by the forgiven sinner of the mercy of the Redeemer. It is the united testimony of an adoring congregation to the perfection of their common Lord. It is the summit of the service of the angels and the climax of the eternal purpose of God for His people. It is man’s supreme goal here and the consummation of his life in heaven.

Henry Sloane Coffin, The Public Worship of God:
Worship is appreciation. It is the awed and glad spontaneous response of the spirit of man confronted by the God of Christian revelation – the God of creation and of redemption. This response is itself God-initiated.

William Lock:
Christian worship is any appropriate response of a believer to the revelation of God through the living and written Word of God.

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