Convocation 11/13/17: Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead

I really want to be positive about this convocation. Darren Whitehead’s message was very good and the nature of worship is a unique topic for convo (after 4 years, you have heard most of them before). However, I am unable to ignore the intention of the message: to sell more copies of his book.

Today’s speaker was Darren Whitehead, pastor of Church of the City. He was joined by Chris Tomlin, Christian music artist and Whitehead’s partner on his latest book. Whitehead’s sermon was an explanation of the different Hebrew words for worship in the Bible and their unique meanings. He looked at each of the seven words used for worship and compared how they were used in the scripture. He finished his sermon with a call to apply the original meaning of worship to our own worship experience.

I really liked that Whitehead went into the original Hebrew for his message. Guests often read exclusively from the English translation (which is fine), not researching the original language. This is unfortunate, as there is often many layers of meaning to the scripture that are lost in the translation process. As someone who cannot read either Greek or Hebrew, I appreciated Whitehead digging into the original meaning.

I also liked Whitehead’s choice of topic. Worship is something that we often take for granted and don’t consider theologically. This is odd, as Christians spend so much time engaged in worship, but never look at why or how. I had never heard a message on worship in convo before, so I appreciated the unique and relevant topic.

While there was a lot to like about Monday’s convocation, it was hindered by its primary purpose: marketing a book. This is not a unique flaw (many speakers try to sell books), however Whitehead took this to an extreme. Not only was the entire message simply an summary of his book, but they centered worship around his book’s message (Chris Tomlin was good though). They even had the too-common invitation at the end to buy their book (this time with a link to amazon). Convocations where they are trying to sell books irritate me, as we are a captive audience. We don’t have a choice not to listen to their advertising spiel. When I first came to Liberty, an hour-long advertisement was not how I imagined convocation.

My other disagreement with Monday’s convocation was Darren Whitehead’s insistence that there is only one correct way to worship. He ended his message, which advocated an active and physical approach to worship, by stating that the Bible commands this style of worship (interesting that his style of worship is the biblical command). There are two issues with this statement. First, his insistence that this style of worship is commanded is pretty weakly supported. All of his Biblical sources for this “command” came from the book of Psalms, a book of poetry and hymns. Psalms is not a book of theological discourse or ethical commands, but a collection of individual hymns. When reading these verses, we must keep in my the context of the verse. Much like we would not look for theological or ethical meaning in modern worship songs, we should not try to parse theology from hymns. Secondly, Whitehead ignores that other beliefs exist regarding worship. Views on worship vary from person to person and from denomination to denomination. The Bible never lays out a single detailed set of rules regarding how to worship. To argue that your form of worship is the only correct form is not only elitist, it requires a lot of evidence (which he did not provide).

Sorry about how late this post is, I have gotten overwhelmed with schoolwork these last two weeks.

Lightning round:

  • Every year, Chris Tomlin comes and tells the story about himself and Nasser getting carjacked. Even after hearing it three times, it still makes me laugh.
  • He went full “jihad” on them? We just talked about race guys.

Bible verses quoted:7

Total quoted all semester: 72

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Liberty University leadership or administration in any way. This post is solely a matter of personal opinion. The opinions expressed here are solely my own and should be not be taken as the opinion of the University, its staff, or the student body.

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