Torrance on Worship & Christian Theology


I have long thought and taught that the right road into Christian theology is taken by reflecting on Christian worship in the light of the Bible. The Bible is supremely a manual of worship, but too often it has been treated, particularly in Protestantism, as a manual of ethics, of moral values, of religious ideas, or even of sound doctrine. When we see that the worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son's communion with the Father and the Son's mission from the Father to the world, that the unique center of the Bible is Jesus Christ, "the apostle and high priest whom we confess" (Heb. 3:1), then the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the ministry of the Spirit, Church and sacraments, our understanding of the kingdom, our anthropology and eschatology, all unfold from that center. If out of the confessional (kerygmatic) statements of the Bible come doxological statements, Christian dogmatics unfolds from reflections on doxology. True theology is done in the presence of God in the midst of the worshiping community. The "two horizons" of the Bible and our contemporary church life fuse in worship, as at the Lord's Table, when we seek together in a life of communion to comprehend with the saints of all ages the triune love of God in Christ.

-- James B. Torrance, from the preface of WORSHIP, COMMUNITY & THE TRIUNE GOD OF GRACE, InterVarstiy Press, pp. 9-10. Dr. Torrance is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. This book comes out of the Didsbury Lectures, given at the Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, England, in November 1994.

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Stott on Theology & Worship

It is important to note from Romans 1-11 that theology (our belief about God) and doxology (our worship of God) should never be separated. On the one hand, there can be no doxology without theology. It is not possible to worship an unknown god. All true worship is a response to the self-revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who he is and what he
has done. It was the tremendous truths of Romans 1-11 which provoked Paul's outburst of praise in verses 33-36 of chapter 11. The worship of God is evoked, informed and inspired by the vision of God. Worship without theology is bound to degenerate into idolatry. Hence the indispensable place of Scripture in both public and private devotion. It is the Word of God which calls forth the worship of God.

On the other hand, there should be no theology without doxology. There is something fundamentally flawed about a purely academic interest in God. God is not an appropriate object for cool, critical, detached, scientific observation and evaluation. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship, as it did Paul. Our place is on our faces before him in adoration. 

As I believe Bishop Handley Moule said at the end of the last century, we must "beware equally of an undevotional theology and of an untheological devotion."


Today's WORSHIP QUOTE deals with that delicate balance (or combination) of "head and heart" that is needed as we come to worship God. The author is John Stott, author of the best-selling BASIC CHRISTIANITY, and rector emeritus of London's All Souls Church.

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 9/26/2000)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Willard on Ignorant Worship

"We must not worship without study, for ignorant worship is of limited value and can be very dangerous. We may develop "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (Rom. 10:2) and do great harm to ourselves and others. But worship must be added to study to complete the renewal of our mind through a willing absorption in the radiant person who is worthy of all praise. Study without worship is also dangerous, and the people of Jesus constantly suffer from its effects, especially in academic settings. To handle the things of God without worship is always to falsify them."
- Dallas Willard

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.