Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.
Chilton wastes no time evaluating the heavenly worship of the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4. In stark contrast to the idea that God "needed to create", Chilton takes the Orthodox approach to the creation issue.
In their divinely sanctioned worship, the elders have proclaimed the truth: The creation exists, not because God needed to create, or is dependent upon His creation in any way, but simply because it was His will to create; it pleased Him to do so. God is sovereign, utterly independent from the creation. The Scriptural distinction between the Creator and the creature is absolute. (DOV, 75).
It is nice to hear this from someone else for a change. I have grown accustom to seeing confused or blank faces when trying to explain to people the meaning of God's holiness. God is holy because He is "set apart". And the deceleration of "Holy, Holy, Holy" by sinless but created beings (Isa 6:2-3) is best understood as the ultimate deceleration of separation between God and His creation.
Building up this heavenly scene, Chilton provides three simple points of consideration for earthly worship. Far from being controversial, they simply reflect the origins of Christianity.
First, worship must be corporate. Biblical worship is not individualistic, quietistic, or solely internal. This is not to say that there is no place for private worship; but it does mean that the Biblical emphasis on corporate worship is a far cry from the bastardized “worship” of many evangelical, who see individual worship as having a priority over corporate worship, and who even conceive of corporate worship as simply an aggregation of individual worshipers...
Second, worship must be responsorial. We will see more of this as we proceed through the Book of Revelation – which is about worship as much as anything else – but this has already been the case with the passage we have just studied. The elders and the four living creatures are shown singing musical responses back and forth, carrying on a dialogue. And, in the worship of the Church on earth, that is what we do (or should do) also. We respond liturgically to the reading of Scripture, to the prayers, to the singing of Psalms and hymns, to the teaching, and to the Sacraments...
Third, worship must be orderly. The elders and the living creatures do not interrupt each other or attempt to upstage one another. While worship should be corporate, involving the entire Church, it must not be chaotic. A basic standard for worship is laid down in 1 Cor. 14:40: “Let everything be done decently and in order.” Charismatics tend to have certain correct instincts – that worship should include the whole congregation – but their actual practice tends toward confusion and disorder, with everyone individually “worshiping” all at once. The solution, recognized in both Old and New Testaments, and by the Church throughout history, is to provide a common liturgy, with formal prayers and responses, so that the people may intelligently worship together in a manner that is both corporate and orderly. (DOV, 75)
There is a lot to be said from these brief paragraphs. I do feel that the church quite unknowingly is slipping into a postmodern form of worship. I love a new song as much as the next person but at what point will we begin to exclude people from corporate worship over a lack of knowing the songs? Many I think have been convinced that our slides, etc have made it possible for people to sing no matter what. But I'll venture to guess that type of thinking is the result of existentialism and not genuine reflection of our corporate sensitivity.
With Revelation 5 on the horizon, I'll look forward to future posts.