John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion says, “I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of His benefits induces. For until people recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by His Fatherly care, that He is the author of their every good so that they should seek nothing beyond Him–they will never yield Him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him” (1.2.1). He concludes,

Here indeed is pure and real religion: faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence, and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed in the law. And we ought to note this fact even more diligently: all people have a vague general veneration for God, but very few really reverence Him; and wherever there is great ostentation in ceremonies sincerity of heart is rare indeed (1.2.2).

That last sentence is pure gold. Most may think of it as some sort of repudiation of liturgical worship, but in reality, it castigates many instances of modern evangelical worship as well. Theirs is all ceremony and outward shows of “passion.” The modern worship is all a “great ostentation in ceremonies.” Instead of allowing human and reverent expressions of worship, the show is constructed, not with even the trappings of liturgy, but a showbiz like glitz similar to Nashville or Los Angeles. In this way modern worship has merely invented a new Romanism, but one much more sinister. The feigned love of P&W is worse than the feigned reverence of the Catholic church, for at least the latter has a sense of decorum, and the notion of being connected to something lasting and meaningful.

How much better to have the piety that only comes through regeneration and faith and love for Christ Jesus. As Paul says to Timothy in his first epistle, “The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.”

Advertisements