Worship as “boundless confidence,” and a note on Paul Tillich
September 28, 2010
Every page from Tozer contains a passage worth quoting, so I’ve exhibited great restraint since this is only my second post on Tozer.
Now what are the factors that you will find present in worship? Let me give you a few of them as I go along. First there is boundless confidence. You cannot worship a Being you cannot trust. Confidence is necessary to respect, and respect is necessary to worship. …
Then there is admiration — that is, appreciation of the excellency of God. Man is better qualified to appreciate God than any other creature because he was made in His image and is the only creature who was. This admiration for God grows and grows until it fills the heart with wonder and delight. “In our astonished reverence we confess Thine uncreated loveliness,” said the hymn writer.
[A. W. Tozer, “Worship: The Normal Employment of Moral Beings,” from The Best of A. W. Tozer / Book One, pp. 218, 220.]
He goes on to describe other factors in worship (such as “fascination” and “adoration”), but I am most impressed by his grasp of the importance of confidence. I’ve been reading Paul Tillich again lately, which is always enlightening, but I’m convinced that Tillich’s conception of faith as “including doubt”* was/is a toxic seeped into the mainline churches, slowly poisoning their ability to worship. “You cannot worship a Being you cannot trust. Confidence is necessary to respect, and respect is necessary to worship.” You cannot have confidence in a God whose existence and attributes are uncertain, nor are you likely to worship, with awe and reverence, an uncertainty.
*In Tillich’s estimation, the more doubt, the greater the faith. Such doubt reveals a greater concern for faith’s object. Moreover, doubt is virtuous because it requires the casting aside of idols (finite projections) which were once considered God. For Tillich, the quality of one’s “ultimate concern” is at the center of theological reflection, instead of the perfections of God displayed in classical constructions based on divine revelation.