A few years back I sent Prof. Donald Macleod, former Principal of the Free Church of Scotland College an e-mail about “the heart of worship.” I was intrigued on his opinions as one of the most respected Scottish theologians in recent times. I also have a strong connection with the Free Church myself.
Here are the questions I asked Professor Macleod:
With regards to Worship Music, how important is it for a musician leading the praises to God to know about a “theology of worship”? What does that look like?
As far as a theology of worship is concerned, the important point is that worship is concerned with acknowledging and proclaiming the greatness of God (the English word ‘worship’ is really ‘worth-ship’: acknowledging God’s worth). Everyone involved in the worship has to remain focused on this: ‘God alone is great’. None of our own ‘performances’ whether as preachers or musicians is allowed to obscure that. It’s also important to note that worship is vertical, not horizontal. It is offered God-ward, and the important thing is not what the audience/congregation thinks, but what God thinks. This is in fact the criterion of all art : ‘God saw that it was good’ (Genesis 1, repeatedly).
How can and should a musician serving in their Church go about studying theology to increase their knowledge of who God is?
With regard to studying theology, there are several inter-related avenues:
- Systematic reading of scripture
- Read the great creeds and confessions (e.g., the Nicene Creed and the Westminster Confession
- Reading commentaries on biblical books (Calvin on Genesis is excellent, especially on Genesis 4, when music first emerges among the Cainites).
- Systematic theologies like Calvin’s Institutes
- Classic works on worship like Calvin’s treatise on ‘The Necessity of Reforming the Church’
Prof. Donald Macleod is the former Principal of the Free Church of Scotland College in Edinburgh. He also the lecturer in Systematic Theology. Born on the Isle of Lewis, he has been in Edinburgh for the past 20-odd years. For more information, see http://www.donaldmacleod.org/ or http://www.freescotcoll.ac.uk/
|Donald Macleod, M.A., D.D|
|Systematic Theology, Homiletics, EcclesiologyDonald began his ministry in Kilmallie Free Church where he served from 1964-1970. The next stage of his ministry was urban, in Partick Highland Free Church in Glasgow from 1970-1978. Ever good with words, he edited The Monthly Record from 1977-1990. He has been a Visiting Professor in Glasgow University since 1999. In 2007, he was honoured with a D.D. by Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.Prior to coming to the Free Church College in 1978, Donald was already highly regarded for his incisive theological mind. During the last 30 years, he has moulded the minds of many students, and published numerous books and articles.Donald and his wife Mary are both from Lewis, and have three sons.|