The above video recently made the rounds on social media, and in many of the discussions that followed, there was a predictably negative response from traditional liturgical Christians and a predictably positive response from those who have in one way or another departed from liturgical tradition. From the latter, the question is typically why the former are so uptight as to insist that worship be boring and can’t include jumping about like this (whether technically during the service or after it).
This disagreement comes largely because there is so much confusion about what worship is in Christian circles. In much of modern American Christianity “worship” can be just about anything that happens when Christians get together to do explicitly Christian things. But worship has a definite shape for ancient Jews, and it certainly did for the early Christians. Indeed, it has a definite shape for almost all Christians throughout most of history, and that shape is liturgical and solemn. Here’s a typical quote from St. John Chrysostom when addressing the kind of spirit that should be in church:
Nothing so becomes a Church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose.
From his Homily XXX on the Acts of the Apostles
Many proponents of modern Pentecostal-style theatrics in Christian worship often cite II Samuel (LXX: II Kingdoms) 6:14, where David dances before the Ark of the Covenant, and there are of course other references to dancing in the Old Testament.
But neither David nor his priests took that incident as a template for how worship was to be conducted in the Tabernacle, nor was it found that way in Solomon’s Temple nor the Second Temple, nor was it in the synagogues. So Jews didn’t take what happened as a precedent for worship. And the other references to dancing in the Old Testament aren’t in the Temple. And Christians for most of the history of Christianity never took it that way, either.
One of the things I often wonder about is why those who advocate certain things they see in the Old Testament for modern Christian worship seem to ignore the vast, explicit instructions concerning worship that God Himself gave in the Old Testament. They want to see musical instruments and “joyful noise” because there are references to them (though almost never in reference to worship services). They want to see dance because David danced. Yet they’re not interested in liturgics, incense, chanting, priests in vestments, specified times for prayer, pre-written prayers, etc. Yet it is precisely those things which early Christians saw in Jewish worship as worth keeping for Christianity.
What is the basis for wanting to base Christian worship style on references from the Old Testament that the early Christians mainly ignored when formulating their transformation of Jewish worship, while ignoring the very explicit instructions concerning worship that early Christians adopted almost wholesale?
So when thinking of worship, neither Jews nor early Christians used the Old Testament in the way that modern Pentecostal-style Christians do. It’s true that all Christian traditions make choices when it comes to the Old Testament. Those who advocate putting the Old Testament’s non-worship things like dance into worship need to explain why they reject most of the worship things of the Old Testament.
A couple useful comments from Facebook from Eric Jobe, who is a Hebrew scholar:
It’s also worth mentioning the possibility that dancing could have been associated with ecstatic prophecy, which was prevalent in early Yahwism, but faded with the growth and development of the prophetic role in Israel. David may have been acting in a special ritual context which including wearing a linen ephod (liturgical vestment) and ecstatic dancing (prophetic ritual action). In other words, it wasn’t “dancing” like we think of it, the liturgical conga line as in the video. But, it may have been similar to the kind of ecstatic dancing you may see in some Pentecostal churches. The point is, it was a more primitive ritual action that was not maintained in the Israelite temple cult, possibly because of its pagan Canaanite associations.
Also, the main interpretive point of David’s dancing before the Ark, is that he was uniting the kingly, priestly (linen ephod), and prophetic (ecstatic dancing) offices in himself, a prefiguring of the Messiah.
Why does it have to be either reflective or expressive worship. Why not both? I don’t think it’s an either or proposition. Old Testament worship included the raising of hands, singing, shouting, bowing, weeping, etc. The point seems that the heart being spiritually renewed in worship longs to express this reality to God in concrete and physical ways. It seems that in a reaction to the excess and showmanship we see in some churches we shun aspects of worship that God has blessed. The liturgy is a participation of the redeemed in heaven and on earth. If so what do we see in heaven? People standing grim faced with their hands in their pockets? Hardly! We see a liturgy with both/and not either /or. We see awesome and holy reverence. We see shouting. We see physical expressions of worship . We see a place filled with life that is indeed loud according to St John. May his will be done in the liturgy on earth as it is in heaven.
Who said anything about hands in pockets? That said, where exactly does one get the idea that heavenly worship is people jumping around? Citations, please.
In any event, liturgy is of course a both/and business in many respects, but truth also requires an “or.” One can either be obedient to what God has revealed and ordained *or* one can decide to follow what pleases oneself and the spirit of the age.
I agree. I guess I need to clarify that I wasn’t addressing the issue of dancing specifically. I was talking about other expressions of worship (raising hands,bowing, silence, shouting). All these are just as biblical as alters and incense. There’s always the temptation to think that if Group A does something in an excessive and disorderly manner then if I do anything Group A does I will become like them. The old slippery slope theory. Might there be ways to encourage people to be more engaged in worship in these biblically appropriate and truthful ways? Just a thought.
Father Andrew, i like the brevity of this. I’ve always maintained (as I was taught) to my Pentecostal friends this dancing was never “liturgical dancing” rather it was outside of the services of the church and not in that formalized-ritualistic setting that took place in the Temple/synagogues. It was merely a joyful expressive.
I always enjoy your view on achieving orthodoxia and you have hit upon one of the points that has confounded me many a time when dealing with the protestant fundamentalist. Scripture and Tradition must be taken as a whole, not cherry picked.
From my very limited knowledge of the Old Testament thus far, didn’t King David dance in the streets? He didn’t dance in the temple. We have lots of joyful cultural dancing in the Orthodox church, it could be done for the glory of God or for celebrating feasts outside of the liturgy and outside of the temple/church as well.
There was no temple when David Danced.
Father bless – thank you for your thoughtful words. Question – how to we understand other cultures’ experiences in Orthodox worship, like those in Africa, who do sometimes include instruments and “dance” in their liturgical worship? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hedm2_XOQ1o I have to be honest, as one who grew up in a somewhat Western liturgical church (not very “liturgical” by Orthodox standards – Presbyterian), then spent years in a more charismatic group (which included expressive music and dance in worship), and then converted to Orthodoxy – I look upon the African experience w/ …some longing.
This sort of thing has a different cultural context in Africa than it does here.
There is also the issue that a video on YouTube doesn’t say anything about whether this kind of thing is sanctioned by their bishop. (I am thinking here not of the non-Chalcedonians in the video you link to but of the popular video from Ghana in a Chalcedonian church.)
In any event, if this were attempted in most Orthodox churches in the world, the reaction wouldn’t be longing.
1. What cultural context does it have in Africa that it doesn’t have in USA? Let’s assume the bishop didn’t have an issue.
2. If it did have a cultural difference, should we allow a depraved culture to influence the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? Dare you suggest so !!
3. If the Orthodox Church is remotely interested in condescending in humility to a modern culture rather than imposing an idealized and antiquated culture what implications does this have on how we do church in the USA???
1. Dance functions differently in the (many) cultures of Africa than it does in the US. In the US, it’s much more about emotion and personal expression and performance, while in most African cultures, it is communal, conventional and has a rather different history.
As for #2 and #3, it seems to me that in #2, you are horrified at the idea that culture might affect church practice, while it seems in #3 you are horrified at the idea that culture might not affect church practice. So I’m not really sure what you’re getting at or which side you’re taking.
Regarding your other comment (“??????? Unintelligible Hermenutics 101!?”) in response to Kamil currently sitting in the moderation queue, you should know that we don’t publish comments that don’t contribute in some meaningful way to the conversation.
Is this the video you are referring to? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1qYQQEwPUU I had this one in mind when I originally wrote.
No – regarding your commend that if this were “attempted in most O churches in the world, the reaction wouldn’t be longing” – I am NOT suggesting this would NEED to be part of our liturgical expression in ALL of our churches. Forgive me. I’m just asking is this a valid expression in liturgical practice IF it is culturally relevant – as it may be in some African cultures?
That’s something that the bishop has to determine. Certainly the weight of Christian history goes against it.
According to Fr Mebratu ( http://youtu.be/wU3RQieF55Q ) the Ethiopian Divine Liturgy is usually solemn and what often gets mistakenly identified as liturgical dance are hymns and prayers of the Divine Office (Prayer of the Hours).
Father, for the Ghanaian rendition of Christ is Risen, the particular video seems to be at the distribution of antidoron, so at the risk of trying to categorize liturgical vs paraliturgical (is anything ‘really’ ‘para’-liturgical in light of a liturgical life?), could this particular localized version of Christ is Risen be considered at the end or “outside” the Divine Liturgy proper?
Hi Father, here’s a direct quote from the transcript of the video discussing the Ethiopian Orthodox rites:
“The other non-Eucharistic service is called The Divine Offices or the Cathedral Offices. These services are conducted by cantors, in Ethiopia you can find two kinds of clerics, the people simply called colloquial priests, we call all of them priests but not all are priests, there are special cantors who usually serve in these non-Eucharistic service which is conducted in the first ambulatory of the three divisions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. And this service is called Divine Office.
For this service the Cantors use special drums and they have priestly staffs or cane and sistrums. European scholars who saw these services who paid a visit to the Ethiopian Church called them Liturgical Dances. Of course we don’t use drums in the Eucharistic service because that is very solem. In this Divine Office service they use Choir Canes, Drums, and sistrums.”
Thanks Maurice for the helpful clarifications on Ethiopian practices. However, we have to be careful about what we take as our authorities here. The Ethiopian Church is technically not Orthodox — even though it calls itself such, it does not accept four of the seven Ecumenical Councils. (On a slightly different note, the Coptic use of small instruments such as triangles in Church cannot be considered authoritative, because they are also technically not Orthodox.) And regardless of their dogmatic status, their liturgy as whole is substantially different from all the other eastern churches, so its customs cannot be directly compared with those of the Orthodox or even those of most of their sister monophysite churches.
Also in response to Barbara’s question: we should remember the old proverb “One swallow does not a spring make” (or summer in more northern climes). It was quoted by St John of Damascus against iconoclasts who found one or two precedents for their position in early church history.
This is even more relevant if we remember that the African Churches are quite young. While they often put us to shame through the enthusiasm with which they have embraced holy Orthodoxy, they still have a long way to go to become mature and established churches. As they grow they struggle to keep up with catechetical and ministerial demands — often one priest has five or ten parishes dozens of miles from each other and he has no car, only a bicycle — and the challenge of sifting their cultural practices for what can be retained and what must be discarded. The eastern European nations did this many centuries ago — and even then they didn’t manage to get everything right!
I thought that the Orthodox churches in Africa were ancient.
Gail: With the exception of those in and near Egypt, most of the churches in northern Africa were wiped out many centuries ago by the Muslim invasions, and the presence of Orthodoxy in the majority of the continent is less than a century old.
As a witness to this, there was actually some controversy early in the 20th c. over whether the Patriarchate of Alexandria actually had jurisdiction in Sub-Saharan Africa, precisely because it had never really had a presence there before.
The Coptic Church does NOT believe or consider itself Monophyhsite but rather Miaphysite. As to the reason as why the Church doesn’t believe in 7 councils, you can retrace history and find out that there were many issues after Chalcedon, also the Coptic church wasn’t in attendance at anything after Chalcedon. Outside of Egypt and Ethipoia, all other orthodox churches in Africa are very young!
I have only been to Ethiopian and Kenyan Orthodox liturgies, so I cannot speak for the entirety of the African or the non-Western liturgical experience, but in neither service was there dancing. In fact, all the dancing took place after the service, sometimes in the church building, but not as part of the liturgy itself. Hence, the title of the linked video was a “para-liturgical” dance. The dance and drums are connected to the people’s faith, and certainly an expression of their its of the Lord, but it does not factor into the actual service of the liturgy.
Helpful – thank you!
Let’s remember that the dance of David was a prefiguration of another dance – dance of st. John the Forerunner in the womb of Elisabeth upon the sound of the greeting of the Mother of God. This is the reality to which the shadow was pointing. The truth of David’s dance was not revealed in the liturgy, but in the coming of the Ark of the New Covenant, who interestingly is not very much appreciated by advocates of liturgical dance in general.
Kamil, this appears to me to be “checkmate”. Well spoken, Brother.
I will second Father Damick’s keen observations on the cultural differential re: African versus Western dance. I will also add that one will meet many serious African Christians of the Apostolic traditions who appreciate and promulgate more traditional forms of liturgy. I imagine at least some of them are conscious of the common notes that such religious dance, even unintentionally, shares with their continent’s pagan past, just as Semitic and European religious dances once did.
With regards to rock-worship music and liturgical dance, at least in the West and certainly in North America, however, I would go one further and point out that the style of music and dance referred to in Pentecostal congregations (and to a lesser extent in congregations held by their sympathetic but somewhat less eclectic Evangelical covenant brethren) directly calls to mind the sorts of acoustics and gyrations one tends to hear at a nightclub or at Woodstock. Rock was born and bred out of rebellion and sensuality and such sentiments are not compatible with religion, especially Christianity. A good Christian may well appreciate rock music but only with great difficulty (if at all) produce good rock music, and certainly not “Christian rock.”
As for Chris’s question on why not both reflective and expressive worship, the answer is that there is indeed a place for expressive worship in an ordered yet spontaneous and sincere context, well within established and millennia-long Christian traditions, as anyone who has seen the processions in Little Italy, Manhattan for the Assumption or in Latin Quarter, Paris for Corpus Christi Sunday can attest.
It can get worse. Here’s what you might experience were you to visit my sister’s church on a Sunday morning. It is Southern Baptist, but, as it is with so many these days, you have to dig deeply in their webpages to find out they are Southern Baptist. Generic is so trendy.
I don’t desire to change the tradition that has been handed down to us, but I have to admit that I always feel a certain cognitive dissonance when I hear Psalm 150 chanted in an Orthodox service. You know, “praise Him with harp and lyre”, and “praise him with resounding symbols”. I just don’t know what to make of that. I try to take the words metaphorically and appreciate the spirit in which they were written. I’m not sure I find that entirely satisfying however. Is that the proper way to understand them?
A couple of things:
1. Just because we are encouraged to do something in the Bible doesn’t mean that we are encouraged to do it in church. That we have to put everything religious into the church building is actually a result of secularism. (Ps. 150:6 says “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.” But I don’t see too many Christians forming church choirs of pigs and oxen.)
2. Musical instruments in particular were the subject of much discussion in the early Church, and the consensus that emerged is that the worship of the New Covenant was superior to that of the Old, and that the purity of the unaccompanied human voice was the only worthy instrument for church services.
Holy Scripture says that there is a time and place for everything and praise and worship should be an “all the time and in every place” thing, yet it would not be appropriate for me to loudly chant the psalms in the middle of the night in a motel room while others were trying to sleep, that would be against our Lord’s teachings on humility and respect for others. Likewise it would be very inappropriate to bring secularized performances into the Church even if they are dedicated to Christ and his teachings because they may lead to heterodoxia, and the Church is for orthodoxia.
Statement #2 of your reply to Jeremy really speaks to my Church of Christ beginnings.
Thanks for your helpful response, Father. You make a really good point regarding secularism. So then we ought to live a life of praise to the Lord throughout every day in countless different ways. One way is with musical instruments, however, the proper context for that would not be the liturgy but rather, I suppose, the concert hall.
The beginning of this Orthodox Jewish liturgy reminds me a bit of some of the processional aspects of Orthodox Christian worship, but then it works its way into a bit of dancing similar to that in the Anglican video above as well:
I don’t know how this compares to first century Jewish worship, but just thought it was interesting.
When we come together for corporate worship I think it is important that we engage with God with more than our minds. However I am not convinced that the youtube example given is indicative of worshiping God with heart, soul, mind and strength. Our Apostle Paul reminded the Church at Corinth that everything should be done for the building up of God’s people and that this should be done decently and in order (1 Cor.14:40).
Perhaps there is a tension that we hold together, it is one that as an Anglican Priest I am certainly aware of anyway.
1. We can approach God in worship boldly and confidently due Jesus atoning sacrifice on the cross for our sin.
2. We are to worship God with reverence and awe.
3. As an Anglican priest at my ordination I vowed that I would not deviate from the prescribed pattern of worship as expressed in the BCP and other authorised liturgies (I am writing from an Australian context, so we have several prayerbooks other than the BCP).
4. However Article XXXIV is very helpful in that there is liberty in adapting forms for the culture that one is in.
I am assuming that the youtube video is from the USA? I have never been to the USA and in some ways Americans are very different from us Aussies who live across the pond (we spell colour properly, pronounce aluminium correctly also [hehe]), but in same ways our cultures are the same. And I wonder if the average Non-Christian American walked in on a Anglican service seeing men on stage wearing robes dancing would be creating a stumbling block in such a way that they would deem the church to be an irrelevant anachronistic joke. Unless of course in American, men wearing robes and dancing is something that American men do all the time. It is certainly not something that is done by Australian men here.
Actually, as I write this something comes to mind that Pastor Mark Driscoll said, not that I am a fan of his, but he said that we should aim to be ‘seeker sensible’ . It may not be wrong to dance in church, but is it something that could add a hurdle for people?
My desire is for the only culture shock that people will encounter when they come to our parish is the culture shock when they encounter ‘ Gospel-culture’; peoples who lives have been transformed by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another trap I think we can fall into is to do the non-Christians thinking for them, so I am mindful that we should not present Anglican-lite or Diet-Anglicanism where we dumb down our services. I have a hunch that when it comes to Christians relating to non-Christians, we do the thinking for them. We assume that the non-Christian will:
1. Be offended
2. Not understand
3. Experience discomfort
4. Combination of all three
We assume this in our gathering together to worship God in Word and Sacrament, we assume this when we invite them to an outreach event, and sadly we assume this before we even testify of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I remember a few years ago now an article was produced by a well known Evangelical Anglican body (here in Australia)and the article stated that we should in essence drop any language that may be deemed too exclusive. So words like lecturn, pulpit, pew should go. The reason is for the sake of the outsider feeling comfortable.I don’t think de-churched or even unchurched people are going to be that confused by terms such as ‘sermon’, ‘lecturn’. Non-Churched people are not stupid (not that I am implying that the article was suggesting this), they will expect things to be different. Just as I suspect that most non-Christians expect church to be on Sundays.
Thankyou for this post though, good food for thought for me and helpful for me to put it out there.
Blessings from across the pond
Thanks for the note from Eric Jobe because it brings up the issue that plagues western protestant apologia about music and dancing. Granted that there was instruments in the Temple and David “danced”, it seems that few want to learn and discern how music was used liturgically in ancient Israel. It was nothing like the praise band in contemporary worship. And as Mr. Jobe has pointed out, David’s “dancing” was nothing like the hopping around the church and altar as we see in the video. Do we have any example in the book of Acts where the Apostles “danced in the Temple” or brought in their own harps and formed a praise band? I am afraid that we have an example of projecting our own culture practices on ancient times and believe we have the right to do so because the Bible mentions instruments and dancing.
Reblogged this on The Modern Monastic Order Of Saint Simon of Cyrene.
i have come understood the ‘make a joyful noise’ as a personal command; that God knows perfectly well that He didn’t bless me with the abilty to carry a tune, but that He has no desire for me to use that as an excuse to keep from singing (albeit softly) during Liturgy…my voice may not create beautiful music as we generally understand it, but He really digs my praise and that makes it a joyful noise to Him.
i also expect that if i sound terrible, He’ll just let the Heavenly Hosts drown me out. in fact, i once had a lady come up to me after Liturgy and ask if i was the one with the great voice. i told her if she heard a great voice coming from where was standing, that she experienced a miracle as ‘that would have been my Guardian Angel singing over me’.
I used to go to a charismatic AOG chuch before I became Othodox so I have a certain perspective on this. First I want to say these people are as sincere in their faith as any I’ve met. I think this articl misses the point entirely. These groups are expressly NOT liturgical nor do they claim to be. Their worship is based solely on personal/corporate sharing of personal experience. It’s totally irrelevant to them where the dancing happened. The point is David was loved by God. David personally expressed himself before God. Therefore they believe to be intimate with God necessitates personal expression. Obviously I’m Orthodox so I’m liturgical in worship. But do we believe in a personal relationship with God? We do. How they worship is more understandable as not liturgical so attempting to explain or understand non liturgical worship from the standpoint of litugics means you are going to send a lot of time convincing your own group how right you are and no time talking to them because they are not trying to be liturgical. They are about personal expression as a path to personal relationship and there is a whole historical reason for this based on the post reformation. Liturgical worship is misstrusted by them out of fear they will lose personal intimacy if they embrace it and that is the issue you must overcome. They need to know there is personal intimacy with God in Liturgical worship and Liturgical worshipers don’t look to intimate with God to none liturgical worshipers making arguments which are not relevant to them. Don’t be surprised if the response you get from them is something to the effect of “So what? Why are you picking on us? We don’t care about that or really anything else you say because we are all the body of Christ and we can be different.” In short you’ll never win anyone this way.
These are Anglicans. They are most definitely and explicitly liturgical Christians.
In any event, this isn’t just about liturgical vs. non-liturgical worship, but rather about how the Bible is used to justify particular practices in church. (Every Christian is liturgical, actually, in the sense that there are deliberate choices about what constitutes proper worship.)
Some of the discomfort on both ends of this discussion seems to come from finding a place to stand on the continuum of “God as present in a very intimate and ordinary way in daily life” versus “God as majestic, holy, infinite and incomprehensible.” When church services lean far towards the first view, they tend to try to make church feel “like home” by bringing secular or common things into it, by emphasizing that it is not shockingly different from the things we do day to day. The impulse can be that of trying to show that God is here, now, in ordinary life. When church services lean towards the second view, they are emphasizing a time and place set aside as special, a recognition that God is powerful, bigger than us, worthy of a very special kind of attention, different than our day to day.
It seems to me that although the impulse of the first view is not false, it fails to encourage the same kind of transformation that the second view offers. The second view could be criticized as making God seem distant or inaccessible, but in fact when we engage with and surrender into that kind of formal liturgical practice it offers a means to transform us in unique ways. We can come to see that this holiness, which might initially strike us as unattainable by the formality of presentation, is actually something we can be drawn into and indeed find in every moment of daily, ordinary life. The weakness, as I see it, in the first view is that we can tend to “transform God” instead of asking Him to transform us. We can make an image of God that is comfortable to be with. And comfort is…well, comfy. We don’t see the need to change to meet God on His terms if we can (pretend) to change Him to meet us on our terms.
Just some thoughts, some derived from my own experiences with a range of styles within the Catholic Church (from progressive “help yourself” communion to Tridentine Mass). I tend to favor formality, myself, as might be evident from my comment. Thoughts?
On a slightly related topic…can priests dance? Does it depend? Can a priest waltz with his wife? If the answer is no, could you provide a good explanation?
That’s a question handled between a priest and his bishop.
I don’t know to what extent you consider the Roman Catholic Church to be worth listening or taking as an example on this blog, but I saw a podcast of Francis Cardinal Arinze explaining how even what is said to be a dance during Mass in Africa (and more exactly in some parts of Africa) has nothing to do with what we define as dance in the West, since it is more of a “graceful” movement naturally showing joy in those peculiar cultures.
That, plus the fact that His Eminence Panteleimon of Ghana declared in a interview in French that Africans are authorized to dance and play instruments in churches only after Liturgy.
I love the fact that St. John says, in the homily quoted, that _public processions_ are definitely places for noisy stuff like dancing and jubilation of the “clap your hands, shout out to God with the voice of triumph” type.
I think that our public processions (the triumphal ones, anyway, not the funereal ones) are precisely the place where that kind of thing could/should be encouraged.
I’ve been part of many “triumphal processions” (e.g. Palm Sunday, particularly) here in the States that could easily be mistaken for a funereal one.
When I read Psalm 149 and 150, and the other such “triumphal” passages, I do not think of the liturgical worship at all, but of these types of processions, of which, frankly, the procession of the Ark before which David danced was one.
Now that doesn’t mean I think we should go “hog-wild” with things — a certain amount of decorum is still called for — but a triumph is a triumph, is it not?
I think a great representation of what I have in mind would be something like (scaled appropriately) the celebration sequence at the end of The Phantom Menace. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTDeA313H80)
Of course, some would say the triumph in the Roman style as portrayed here (https://youtu.be/duCYRgqxJvk?t=140) might be more fitting (and also would be the reason Michal despised David’s dancing as foolish), but celebration is palpable in both.
Would it be entirely inappropriate to make our public processions affairs of such jubilation as well?
NB: I do NOT allow that this would be in the building, or for those processions that are integral to the divine services, such as the Entrances.
I just stumbled on this website while seeking information for an essay I am presenting as a requirement for the award of an MA in Ministry.
My topic for the paper is “Dancing In Corporate Christian Worship: An Examination of its Appropriateness.” My reference point is the Regulative Principle of Worship and in my literature review I have noticed how divided the church is on this subjective. And most advocates of dancing points back to the Old Testament citing the Dance of Miriam, David and other dances recorded in the OT. Almost all of the advocates of dancing do concede there are no instances of dancing in the New Testament. However, they stretch their OT texts into the NT to suggest dancing is an aacceptable element of worship.
Of greater surprise in my study is a Reformed Theologian, John F. Frame who affirms dancing as an element of worship in today’s church. He says in his book Worship in Spirit and Truth that “God wants body as well as spirit to be engaged in his worship. Clapping expresses joy, lifting the hands is a way of drawing toward God as the object of our worship and the source of our blessing.”
I believe dancing must not occur in corporate worship and my conclusion is heading that direction.
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