They’ve got it all wrong–as a matter of fact, we’ve got it all wrong too! In the Church we see many approaches to God, but most can be placed in one of two categories: 1. We have the High Church, those that worship with an emphasis on formality. You see it in their liturgy (order of services and the way people participate) and you see it in their ecclesiology (the role of the church and the people in it). 2. We also have the Low Church, where formality is thrown out and pretty much anything goes. Arguably many non-liturgical congregations are so legalistic when it comes to their services one could argue for their liturgical air, but that’s for another day.
Why do I say “they” and “we” have it all wrong? The finger pointing. The High Church thumbs their nose at the casual approach of the Low Church, while the High Church is criticized for their cold formal approach. Well, I believe there is room for the middle!
Let’s not approach God in rote manner or think of Him as so Holy and other worldly that we cannot know Him. However, we dare not approach Him as our homie or personal genie.
There is something to be said for the formality, after all, we are gathered together to worship our Creator. Still, there is room for a somewhat casual approach because we are worshipping our Father whom we have a personal relationship with. Liturgy can be helpful when it comes to memorization of important themes that make our theology. Catechism is just as beneficial for the Catholic as it is the Baptist! Far too many are ignorant to teachings of Scripture and this is one way to remedy this. Far too many will turn to the book of Hezekiah because of their biblical illiteracy and a little formality could help.
At the same time, I know many people that have let the liturgy and formality act as a barrier preventing them from experiencing God personally. They have let their leaders do the thinking and wrestling for them, they have allowed a church service and/or ritual to stand in as their faith.
There must be a place for the middle–a place where Jesus is our amazing Savior and Redeemer whom we adore, worship, and seek to know; while simultaneously realizing while He is beside us He is also above us, while He is knowable, He is yet unseen. There must be a place where we may approach God in formal and corporate procession and song, while also being able to speak to Him intimately and individually.
There is much more to say regarding this topic but for now…let this get you thinking. Let’s not point fingers, that’s not how this works…let’s learn from each other, let’s sharpen one another, let’s appreciate one another.