When it comes to the word faith, people seem to have opposing interpretations. For instance, some often say, “according to my faith,” or “my faith tells me.” Similarly, when speaking of religion we sometimes use the phrase (though erroneously) “of the so-and-so faith,” as in the Jewish faith; Christian faith; Baha’i faith; Muslim faith; etc. In this sense, faith is seen as a religious system. So then, being a person of faith is synonymous with being a religious person. I have, however, heard some comment that they are not very religious but do have faith. That is, they believe in God but don’t trust religion. There is an obvious contradiction here. What makes matters worse when people talk about faith, religious or non-religious, is that scarcely can they articulate a definition that makes sense. Usually you hear some kind of fluffy answer about an ethereal, indescribable feeling.
Do you ever find it embittering, that when in church deep questions that really should be interesting like ‘What is worship?’ and ‘How do we worship?’ are always met with the same bible verses, the same yawn worthy cliches, and the same lack of ideas? There’s not even a second to blink before someone in any particular bible study spouts off Romans 1:1 and everyone’s agreeing ‘worship God in everything’, it’s not just singing… yadda yadda. Honestly, most of the discussion would read like a poorly written pamphlet from the Watchtower Society. (You know, those Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door?)
That said, I’d like to pose the same questions here. Rather than answering them though, or regurgitating some canned ‘lesson’ at you for compliance as if I were an outdated bible study manual, I’d like to share a perspective to engage, and some of my thoughts, to hopefully provoke some of your own.
What does it mean to ‘worship God with your mind?’ If you’re like most Christians, you instantly think ‘apologetics’. That’s what it is right? We worship God with our mind by being ‘ready to give an answer’, and being able to slap down those hordes of unreasonable, and fiendish atheists who are out to harass and proselytize you into losing faith. Or convince Muslims that they’re adhering to an oppressive and backward religion. If you’re really good, you can write a book with ‘proofs’ of Christianity, and go on a radio talk show.
Dialogue is important, so there might be more to some of that, but if all Christianity has to say for itself is a lame attempt to convince you that the Sunday preacher is right, then Christianity is all sale and no content. It would be intellectually dead.
So maybe worshiping God with our minds is exactly the same as worshiping God in the other areas of our lives. In the same way that someone who cleans can clean as an act of worship, perhaps we can think, reason, invent, and discover. (Proverbs 25:2)
But what does that really mean? What does it even mean to worship in anything at all?
Well, I’m really glad I fabricated that question for you.
It seems to be literally doing whatever it is you are doing for God. (obligatory bible verse: Col 3:23) You can consider this like a little child with a scribbled picture who looks up into their parent’s face with shining eyes and says “I made this for you.” hoping, and yearning deeply to hear their parent’s affirmation, ‘well done.’ I would imagine that there are many Christians who have a similar theological adherence as any of us have gone through their entire lives without that experience. But is it any wonder why Anselm’s Proslogion was addressed to God himself?
I really feel like a philosopher is akin to a little child sitting by a campfire with God looking up at the stars and asking if those are the campfires of angels that are posted watch in the sky.
The unfortunate tragedy of church culture is that unless you’re interested in proving outsiders wrong, you’re politely informed that your gifts of science and philosophy are undesirable. Theology when given to the congregation is a set of doctrines for adherence, not mysteries for discovery. The church want’s it’s door holders, it’s janitors, its Sunday school and music ministries, but for all else, you’re unwanted. You may also be informed that you’re not a Christian, or that if you are, you need to be fixed by learning to have correct theological adherence.
Is there anything left for that child to do, but to go to God all alone, with nothing but their little picture, and through their tears ask, “Are they right? Is my gift not good enough? Do I really not know you like they do? …do you still love me?”
Whatever intellectual projects we might endeavor to perform as worship appear as if they must be done outside the church. I really believe that if the church began to live up to it’s view of worship, it would support many other avenues of expression, and become a centerpiece of culture once again. But of course, it will never listen.