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What Is a Theology of Worship?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
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  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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A body of beliefs and practices reflecting the proper role of worship within a given belief system is a theology of worship. Many religions, such as those in the Judeo-Christian religious traditions, place great emphasis on worshiping God, while other religious systems are based largely on the worship of other deities. The theology of worship of a given religious system describes the manner in which one should conduct worship publicly and in private. Public worship tends to be practiced at regularly held meetings, such as a Catholic Mass. Expectations for private worship vary significantly; some religious systems require believers to pray daily at specific times, while others encourage private worship without providing strict guidelines.

A theology of worship attempts to provide answers to questions about what exactly worship is and how people should practice it. Some theologians narrowly define worship as actions that are done specifically for the purpose of glorifying God. Others contest that living one's life in a manner consistent with church teachings is a type of worship, because it reflects deference to the ways of God. Some debate exists, even within individual religions, about whether lifestyle or prayer and worship are more important, though most modern religions have a theology involving formal worship, prayer and a lifestyle that is consistent with the foundational beliefs of the religion.

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Many religions have drastically changed their theology of worship over time. Solemn and respectful prayer and music has, in many cases, been replaced by various forms of contemporary religious music and worship that are intended to be exciting and energizing. This form of theology has led some theologians to question where to draw the line between worship and entertainment. While modern, fast-paced music may make church services more interesting and entertaining for some, others fear that they take the focus away from religious worship.

Specific guidelines for how one should conduct one's private worship are contained in some religions' theology of worship. Some may, for instance, require that adherents say specific prayers at specific times of the day every day. Others have a theology of worship that is based more on developing a so-called personal relationship with God, so worship with formal prayers is subordinate to trying to integrate God into all aspects of one's life. Private, spontaneous prayer is another important aspect of the practices of worship and belief in many religions.

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Vincenzo
Post 2

@Logicfest -- that is an impossible question to answer because it is highly subjective. Take the Seventh Day Adventists, for example. That denomination follows the Jewish custom of holding services on Saturday because that is considered to be more in tune with the Biblical definition of when the Sabbath is.

Are the Seventh Day Adventists right or wrong? There are many that will claim that neither answer is correct because the real question is whether the doctrine followed by that denomination are Bible based and considered to be espouse theology (another subjective question).

The point of all this rambling is that Christians approach worship in many different ways. In theory, they all embrace the profession of faith that is summarized in the Nicene Creed (there's even some debate over whether that should be applicable) and how they approach worship depends solely on the beliefs and needs of individual believers.

Logicfest
Post 1

Believe it or not, a lot of people choose their Christian denomination based largely on the style of worship. Fortunately, there is a lot from which to choose -- you've got everything from the very ceremonial Catholic Church to informal, kicked back services featured at such relatively new denominations such as the Cowboy Church (seriously, that is a real denomination that is growing).

People do have strong opinions about worship services, but that raises a fundamental question. What's more important -- the style of worship or the devotion of the believer?l

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