By Dustin Loehrs, Worship Pastor
What comes to mind when we think about these words? For people who have grown up in church, the word doxology probably brings a tune to mind. A song sang hundreds if not thousands of times in services through the years. The word theology may recall a book or in depth bible studies people attend. These two terms are commonly heard in churches, but there is rarely much connection made between the two. For a long time I made little if no connection between them, but scripture paints a very different picture for our corporate worship services. Doxology is the proclamation of exhortation of praise to God, and theology is the science of God. As worshippers we need to worship with our head and with our hearts. In other words theology runs its full course when doxology is its end.
Worshipping God with our minds matters. Rom. 12 tells us that part of worship transforms our minds and then helps us be able to know the will of God. We need to wrestle with the contradictions of scripture and life and be reminded of our need for God. He wants us to use our minds, not just our emotions (Col. 3:2). In this process we need to go actively engage in worship. We cannot go on autopilot when a service starts. We must think about the words we are singing, what they mean, and how they apply to us. We should meditate on the scriptures that are spoken (Ps 1:2). We need to recognize truth of the gospel and character of God when it’s communicated. Corporate worship is not about the style, the instrumentation, or production value. It’s about clearly communicating, understanding and perceiving the character and works of God.
We must be careful that our doctrine does not become and end in itself; if you’re anything like me it is easy to become overly impressed with theological statements. However, we don’t want to be believers that are theologically orthodox, but emotionally dead. God receives glory when we combine our theology with our doxology.
The affections we desire are not shallow self induced feelings. We don’t get together to have a pep rally for God, and worship isn’t about creating or experiencing a feeling. Bob Kaufflin communicates this well when he said,
“A clear picture of the living God should move our hearts. His transcendence causes us to feel awe. His holiness evokes sorrow for our sin. A view of his mercy leads to gratefulness. The knowledge of his sovereignty brings great peace. Meditating on the price the Savior paid to reconcile us to God leaves us lost in wonder.”
If we favor Doxology over Theology, or in other words, if we favor emotional, personal worship over worship that magnifies and glorifies the character and works of God, then we are out of balance. We need to worship in a way that helps us think deeply about God, and those thoughts and meditations should help us respond with genuine unreserved emotion. Most of all, God desires for us to know that the truth and theology of our worship goes hand in hand with deep emotions. So when we gather may our theology drive us to doxology as we worship together.