I have found a new author whom I am going to track. Marva Dawn is a teaching fellow in Spiritual Theology at Regent College (also there is Eugene Peterson). Ms. Dawn has a vast range of interests…at least judging from her books. She is passionate about ecclesiology, especially regarding worship.
She has written Talking the Walk is the same vein as Kathleen Norris’s Amazing Grace. Each chapter is about a different word used within Christendom. Don’t worry, she is not trying to redefine these words, she is actually trying to bring the church back to using the original & intended meaning of them. She writes in the introduction, “My goal is simply to ask what might be good about the original words, perhaps ‘to rectify the names.’”
Often we talk about walking the talk – making sure our actions match our words. This is very important, indeed. Ms. Dawn says, “Do we realize, as well as do the Jews, that our words become events, that how we speak influences what we become & how we behave?”
I feel I have been waiting for this book to be written for a long while now. Last Fall (2004), I purchased a copy of the Jars of Clay album Redemption Songs. It is truly one of the best albums available. As I was listening to it, I noticed the fact that words like sin, sinner, evil, & wretched – all words that are necessary for redemption. I then went back & listened to a number of worship & praise albums put out by other artists (such as Third Day, Caedmon’s Call, Kutless, among others). The difference was staggering. Very few if any references to sin, our need for washing, the darkness of our hearts.
In my meager opinion, the Church has a music problem. We sing a lot of fluffy praise songs. Now, do write me off as a heretic just yet. I have no problem praising God. However, it seems to me, that is the full extent of the music we sing. Shouldn’t we praise God more, you say? Everything we do should glorify God.
I look in the Bible & see many songs of worship. A few even praise God. Most of them are crying out to God for help, asking God what He’s doing & why He’s not helping us, songs of lament, songs of heartache, songs of exasperation. When was the last time you sang one of these songs in your church? Songs that mention the fallenness of this world, songs that remind us of God’s faithfulness in trying & terrible times.
Let’s “come back to the heart of worship” but in a Biblical way. Sing songs about heartbreak, sing songs about God’s greatness, sing songs about God’s faithfulness in terrible times.
Sorry about that tangent. I loved Ms. Dawn’s book. She divides her words into three sections: God (including words such as Trinity, Behold!, King & Word); Why Do Human Beings & the World Need God? (including words such as Evil, Guilt, Judgment & Exciting); & Actions of God (including Wrath, Atonement, Sanctification & Propitiation). I will tell you that my favorite is “Word”. Profound thinking. I highly recommend this book & others of hers. I am currently reading her Morning by Morning – A Daily Devotional from her writings. It provides a good cross-section of her thought. Seek this thinker out.
Purchase this book 20% off here