Harold Best has written a thought-provoking book on worship that will challenge the reader’s thinking and behavior. He writes, “We are, every one of us, unceasing worshipers and will remain so forever, for eternity is an infinite extrapolation of one of two conditions; a surrender to the sinfulness of sin unto infinite loss or the commitment of personal righteousness unto infinite gain.”
His definition of worship is “… a continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do and all that I can become in light of a chosen or choosing God.” Here is what I mean: “God is the eternally Continuous Outpourer. Eternally he pours himself out to his triune self-the Father to the Son to the Spirit to the Son to the Father in unending love, adoration, sworn purpose, holiness, self-revelation and sovereign glory. God created us in his image. We are thus continuous outpourers-finite to be sure, but continuous outpourers… When we come to Christ by faith, we do not start to worship. Rather our fallen, creature-based worship is washed in the blood of the Lamb and turned right-side up. Now our outpouring, driven by faith, hope and love, is back directed where it was intended to be: to God through Christ by the power of the Spirit.”
Best teaches that authentic worship is continuous and not limited to a time and place. He sees the arts not as tools which are to do a job on us or manipulate us by thinking that God is nearer during singing or praying. In an interview he said that the arts have power and we respond to their power, but God’s power takes precedence and is not to be confused by artistic power. Arts are an expression of our faith, not the cause of our faith. His concern is that worship is being compressed not to just Sunday, but even to “music” which in some cases believers are worshipping worship or even worshipping music. That becomes our own kind of golden calf.
I found reading Harold Best almost like reading the late Francis Schaffer. I would find myself saying, “Wow, what a provocative thought!” The ninth chapter, “The Peculiarity Of Music And Its Unique Role” will give the reader much food for thought. There is one caveat at the end of chapter 11 where he refers to icons and wants to “celebrate and encourage their presence…” but he also warns against their being used to mediate the presence of God or stand in his place. That becomes idolatry. One could wish that Best had given some examples of the difference for the reader. It would also have been good if he had developed more of his ideas on how the various arts besides music could be used in corporate times of continuing worship with brothers and sisters. This book should be read and re-read by pastors, music directors, and music/worship leaders as well as elders.