Where Do Greatest Affections Occur -- Private or Public Worship?

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Staff member
Where should the most profound of our religious affections occur: in public or private worship? Realize this question does not exclude one or the other and is prompted by an author who dedicated his life to teaching men to shepherd Christ's church.

I had long assumed public worship had preeminence in our experience because Jesus promises his special presence there among His covenant people; and I had assumed the more profound encounters I had experienced in private worship contrasted to public worship because of my having a self-consciousness tempering of my emotions during public worship along with a strong sense of decorum.

Geerhardus Vos seems to emphasize religious affections in our private dealings with God to a greater magnitude than in our public experience. This is from an article I was reading this afternoon from Princeton Theological Review Jeremiah's Plaint and its Answer. Granted Mr. Vos' primary focus is upon the extremely personal way God gave revelation to Jeremiah, but he definitely considers the life of the individual believer:
"The collective character of God's dealing with Israel can be easily overemphasized ... Religion has been enabled to grow in the same degree that it has become conscious of its own direct encounter with God ... Since the fruitage of all religion is ultimately in the human consciousness, where it becomes wholly transparent as a reflector of the divine glory, the normal goal of the entire religious movement must lie in the individual, for there alone can it be transmuted into clear surrender and adoration."
Thoughts please?


Puritan Board Senior
Private in my experience. This passage comes to mind ;

John 3:8Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

So I suppose it could go either way.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
Public. Ephesians 3. "With all saints." This doesn't appear to me to contradict the point of the deservedly esteemed Prof. Vos. His point relates to individuality in religious development. There must be a sense of self, "the soul," as the recipient and respondent of grace; but there is a confirmation and consummation of this development when it takes place within a corporate context. We should be naturally suspicious of any development which glorifies oneself above others or independently of others.
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