"Authentic" Worship

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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I read a critique of John Piper's book, "Desiring God" (especially focusing on the concept of Christian Hedonism) but I wonder if this article misrepresents what Piper means by "authentic" [worship]. The critic actually makes the claim that Piper would mean by "authentic worship" worship that is acceptable before God in and of itself, whereas I would understand Piper to indicate genuine or sincere worship which by no means implies perfection. Here is a reasonably short excerpt from the critique, and I've bolded all the words "authentic", plus I underlined the statement which makes the aforementioned claim.

In the chapter entitled “Worship: The Feast of Christian Hedonism,” Piper addresses the question, What makes worship “authentic”? He begins, correctly, by stating that worship must come from the heart, for which he quotes Matthew 15:8: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”´

A knowledgeable reader of Piper will already be dreading what Piper understands by worship that comes from the “heart,” especially considering his neglect to quote the next verse. The answer follows shortly after: “The engagement of the heart in worship is the coming alive of the feelings and emotions and affections of the heart. Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.” [footnote 1.]

Things get worse: “Now let’s be specific. What are these feelings or affections that make the outward acts of worship authentic?”

The answer, for which he quotes extensively from the Psalms (e.g., 46:10; 33:8; 5:7; 51:17; 42:1-2), is the following list, which “is not intended to limit the possibilities”: “stunned silence” at “seeing the majestic holiness of God”; “a sense of awe and reverence and wonder at the sheer magnitude of God”; “a holy dread of God’s righteous power”; “brokenness and contrition and grief for our ungodliness”; a “longing for God”; “gladness and gratitude.” [footnote 2.]

Words cannot adequately express the deep horror and disgust that all the godly saints must have at hearing this teaching that promotes itself as true piety. Of course, we ought to have the right feelings when we worship God. But has Piper forgotten what the very beginning of godliness is? Has he lost all sense of the majesty of a holy God who demands perfection? Has he become blind to our total depravity? This is a mortal strike at the heart of the gospel: the cross of Jesus Christ!

What is Piper thinking? Has he forgotten that what is required for any of our acts to be accepted before God is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39)? Has he forgotten that “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10)? Has he forgotten that even if we managed not to sin once, we are still guilty in Adam (Rom. 5:14ff.)? The Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, the Perfect One whose eyes cannot behold sin, in whom there is no shadow of turning, is not satisfied with mere emotions and feelings, be they ever so “spiritual”! God requires—demands—perfection!

This is the whole reason that Christ Jesus became flesh:
For what the law [i.e., anything we do] could not do, in that
it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in
the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the
flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:3-4).

That we have nothing to offer to God, that we are totally depraved with no good in us, is why we are Christians! For it is Christ who fulfilled the law in our stead (Rom 8:3-4)—He has become our righteousness (II Cor. 5:21)!

It is in Him, and only in Him, that we are accepted before God—we do not ever keep the law in order to be accepted before God. That is legalism, works righteousness, filthy heresy, Romanism and the end of all true religion.

Of course not one of Piper’s “prooftexts” states that our worship can be made “authentic” or acceptable before God by us having certain “spiritual feelings.” Indeed, if they did, they would contradict the remainder of Scripture. If our worship was rendered “authentic” before God by our “spiritual feelings” or “emotions” or anything else done by us, we would have “whereof to glory” (Rom. 4:2).

Our worship can only ever be acceptable before God if it is done out of faith in Jesus Christ, this faith resting in Christ alone as the fulfilment of the law and trusting in Him and Him alone to satisfy God’s justice.

Footnotes:
1. Desiring God, p. 86.
2. Ibid., pp. 88-89.
 
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CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
My feeble brain thinks Piper is referring to the attitude of worship, not the actual actions of worship. I would venture to say that Piper is saying that we can do all the right "worship" things (sing the right songs, read the right passages, etc), but if our heart is not right we are wasting our breath.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
My feeble brain thinks Piper is referring to the attitude of worship, not the actual actions of worship. I would venture to say that Piper is saying that we can do all the right "worship" things (sing the right songs, read the right passages, etc), but if our heart is not right we are wasting our breath.

Yes, but the question was about how Piper thinks God considers "authentic" worship or worship that comes from the heart. I find it absurd that Piper would have forgotten about our total depravity here. I think the critic is just misinterpreting Piper's text. Who on earth would understand "authentic" to mean something that is acceptable before God? No matter how sincere our worship is, it is for Christ's sake that it is perfect and blameless before God.

---------- Post added at 08:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:05 AM ----------

I wonder which dictionary the critic is using.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Maybe he is using Piper's Create Your Own Definitions that are Completely Different from Everyone Else's dictionary.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Piper is a publick man, a well known author, and is open to critique/criticism.
But I think he's due some well-deserved slack from our back-benches.

He should be judged (generally speaking) within his frame of reference.
OK, so he's gained some popularity within a wider "reformed" world;
so he's an Edward's scholar, and Edwards was a Puritan and Puritans are Reformed and...;

The man has been mainly a preacher, a Baptist minister, with no ecclesiastical ties to the Reformed world or history.
He speaks to his own congregation; he cultivates his listener's hearts; he is speaking to one "generation."
Its likely he doesn't even have in mind a language/culture that is intergenerational.
His books reflect his preaching, and they are popular (even outside his own "soil") for the same reasons.
He's speaking to his generation, and its largely an historically illiterate one.

That's not his "fault," nor is it his "fault" that many in ostensibly Reformed churches hear him, and some of them gravitate to what he's saying.
Such an influence can create new pastoral/cultural/linguistic problems for us, but that's our issue to deal with.

We really need to put this in perspective, as we criticize a man. Because it can sound like we are mainly sniping, and could be jealous of his influence.

The man is who he is. If folks have a problem with him being embraced by certain TRs, through conferences or other shared platforms, then save that specific criticism for those guys for being "too inclusive" in your opinion. Stop singling out Piper for not being "Reformed enough," when the man isn't Reformed at all, doesn't have allegiance to a Confession (he came out of a BobJones background, for pete's sake), and he's just a popular pastor/author.

He's near the end of his ministry, after a fruitful time of service and care of souls in his city. He couldn't care less what is said about him by a bunch of internet-critics. But I think God will bring our offhand remarks back to our attention. Mt.12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Piper is a publick man, a well known author, and is open to critique/criticism.
But I think he's due some well-deserved slack from our back-benches.

He should be judged (generally speaking) within his frame of reference.
OK, so he's gained some popularity within a wider "reformed" world;
so he's an Edward's scholar, and Edwards was a Puritan and Puritans are Reformed and...;

The man has been mainly a preacher, a Baptist minister, with no ecclesiastical ties to the Reformed world or history.
He speaks to his own congregation; he cultivates his listener's hearts; he is speaking to one "generation."
Its likely he doesn't even have in mind a language/culture that is intergenerational.
His books reflect his preaching, and they are popular (even outside his own "soil") for the same reasons.
He's speaking to his generation, and its largely an historically illiterate one.

That's not his "fault," nor is it his "fault" that many in ostensibly Reformed churches hear him, and some of them gravitate to what he's saying.
Such an influence can create new pastoral/cultural/linguistic problems for us, but that's our issue to deal with.

We really need to put this in perspective, as we criticize a man. Because it can sound like we are mainly sniping, and could be jealous of his influence.

The man is who he is. If folks have a problem with him being embraced by certain TRs, through conferences or other shared platforms, then save that specific criticism for those guys for being "too inclusive" in your opinion. Stop singling out Piper for not being "Reformed enough," when the man isn't Reformed at all, doesn't have allegiance to a Confession (he came out of a BobJones background, for pete's sake), and he's just a popular pastor/author.

He's near the end of his ministry, after a fruitful time of service and care of souls in his city. He couldn't care less what is said about him by a bunch of internet-critics. But I think God will bring our offhand remarks back to our attention. Mt.12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

Reverend Bruce,
with all due respect, I think you went off topic, but thanks anyway. My intention in this thread was to discuss the meaning of the term "authentic," and more importantly, what Piper meant by it. I was originally reading criticism from various sources about Piper's "Christian Hedonism" and thought the above critique was nice, except for the assumption that Piper necessarily meant perfection by "authentic."

I'm not desiring any more responses to this thread -- I think it is too obvious that the critic made an error.
 
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