Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

Plantinga on Sunday Irreverence

Cornelius Plantinga laments lamentation’s absence from fashionable evangelical worship music. But I’d say that it’s not primarily a somber sense of our sin which is the most notably and disastrously absent thing in much modern evangelical worship, but rather, a sober sense of the infinite majesty of God. Thus people now act all too often as though they are welcoming a rock star or some celebrity comedian in church, instead of meeting the God in Whose hands are all the corners of the earth, and Whose also are the seas. Too, in order to correctly confess sin we need to grasp its immensity, and we cannot truly do that unless we are first schooled in a profound sense of the infinite majesty of God.

I think the distinction I draw here is important for two reasons. First, if people think the remedy to this kind of slovenly irreverence is simply increased emphasis on our sin, they have still kept the objectionable emphasis on ourselves and our feelings, but have just switched from major to minor key. Second, there is a latent temptation in that kind of proposal toward a Romanist sort of sensibility which suggests that the Cross is not enough, and that Sunday is somehow about new propitiation. The better way is just to recover a proper orientation and comportment toward God, which will express itself liturgically in greater dignity and greater beauty. Plantinga is right that confession of sin will be part of that better way, but it cannot be all of it.

By Peter Escalante

Peter Escalante is a founder and editor of The Calvinist International. He holds a MA in Philosophy.