Thursday, April 28, 2011

Contemporary Christian Worship vs. the Worship of the Early Church (With Video!)

Following up on my previous post on the Eucharistic theology of the early Church, I just couldn't resist highlighting the difference between what many Christians today call Sunday worship and the Sunday worship of the early Church. I did this once before, but, in light of the previous post, I just couldn't resist mentioning it once more. And, sorry, but I only have video for contemporary Christian worship.

Let me make this real simple. . .

1. Sunday worship in the early Church:

"And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons."
--Justin Martyr, I Apol. 67 (A.D. 150-155)

2. What many Christians today call Sunday worship:

By the way, there's a little joke in here that you need to know Hebrew to catch. The Hebrew tattoo deliberately incorrectly spells God's name. Instead of God's name (יהוה ), it says, ויהי , translated, "And it came to pass" or "And it was so." Beginning Hebrew students often mistake these words for one another because they look similar. Of course the joke here is that people who get Hebrew tattoos really do not know how to read Hebrew at all.



Tito Edwards said...


The video reminds me of one of the many Christopher West Theology of the Body Concerts I've attended in the past.

Funny stuff!

CrownLeaf said...

Oh, my goodness. I couldn't stop laughing. I can vouch for what the video represents -- so true. Before I converted to Catholicism, I attended a "praise & worship", open-the-Word-with-a-PowerPoint-presentation "church", which served grape juice and crackers for "communion".

Thank God that I found the Catholic Church! Now I receive the Eucharist - Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of JESUS CHRIST - in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

Can ya gimme an Amen and a witness, Brother?!! :))

Mars Laurus

Dorandoran said...

Unfortunately, many of Catholic masses are almost this bad.

Find yourself a good Tridentine mass, and that is the guarantee to protect your soul. Why? Because it's been around for almost 2000 years up until the 60's.

Carl said...

@Dorandoran: Thou I do love the Expeditionary Form, it is incorrect to say that it has been around for almost 2000 years. It has been around in a standard from since Trent (hence the name "Tridentine"). I do sympathize, but in doing apologetics, we must make sure our information is accurate.

Michael Fraley said...

I remember going to various churches like this before I entered the Catholic Church, and it's right on the mark. I think the last straw was when I went to one of these services and they facilitated communion by handing everyone a juice box with a straw in it.

That being said, it could be argued that other than the presence of the sacraments (huge things, btw), Justin Martyr would be just as puzzled by a Catholic service as he would be by the megachurch. He knew no instrumental music (organ or guitar), hymnals, or lyrics projected on a screen, incense or smoke machines, as well as printed tee shirts or priestly vestments.

BlueWhiteLion said...

i love a little sarcasm and poking fun at what often are blind spots in what we do--and Lord knows, worship services have a lot of them.

That said . . . I find it a huge misnomer to suggest that contemporvant (!) worship is not at all worshipful, or that "old school" worship is more so.

It is so easy to take potshots. We could as easily have shown a cathedral with white and blue hairs, boring homilies, anemic worship, sing-song-y priestly mass, people doing things because they have to, not because they mean to . . .