Morality As Worship

And while we’re on the subject of acting rightly…!

“Why should Christians act morally? Because if they do they will go to Heaven and if they don’t they will go to Hell? Surely that can’t be the answer. For as the New Atheists rightly point out, a morality based on self-interest is no morality at all.

It seems to me that the Biblical answer is that God demands worship and that acting morally is a form of worship… We are all baptized as priests, and I believe this is the key thing: we are called to give God right worship through our entire lives, including through right living.”

Source: Morality As Worship

I agree, and I think one of the keys, here, is the word “worship” itself. Originally stemming from “worth-ship,” it was something you gave another who deserved it: to “give worthship,” later contracted to “worship,” meant that you gave them the honour, and the behaviour, which was their due. You accorded them worth, and behaved accordingly.

Nor was it originally limited solely to the Deity: knights swore fealty to their lords “of life, and limb, and earthly worship,” and the old Prayer Book marriage service had the husband-to-be pledging to his new wife, “with this ring, I thee wed; with my body, I thee worship; with all my earthly goods, I thee endow.”

But God, of course, is uniquely deserving of worship, since He is the Source of all that is, and even when we give (whether it be worship or other forms of offering), “of Thine own have we given Thee.” So it makes sense that, as part of our “worth-ship” given to God, we include living and behaving in those ways which we are told in the Scriptures are pleasing to Him, and to refrain from those things that are un-pleasing.

If you truly love and give worth-ship to your wife, you would intentionally do things you knew were displeasing to her, would you? And if you were a knight, you certainly wouldn’t intentionally do things you knew were displeasing to your lord! The same holds true, or should – and if anything, even moreso – when it comes to God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and also the Bridegroom of His Bride, the Church.

Of course, this is an ideal which we, as humans, are incapable of perfectly living up to. That’s where penitence comes in! But we can certainly make the effort.

The Liturgy As The Union Of The Three Transcendentals

Source: The Liturgy As The Union Of The Three Transcendentals

“… one idea that’s struck me and that I want to doodle on here is based on the rediscovery of the Three Transcendentals of ancient philosophy (which has so greatly shaped Christian Tradition): the True, the Good and the Beautiful. To destructively compress Plato and the Neoplatonists, all truth points to the transcendent Truth; all good points to the transcendent Good; all beauty points to the transcendent Beauty; and in turn, the transcendent True, Good and Beautiful is the One, the source of all being, which classical theism identifies as God, and is in turn identified with the God of the Bible by orthodox Christianity…

“If we see the Liturgy as an encounter with God and if we understand this ancient knowledge about God, we understand that beauty is not an ancillary aspect of the liturgy; not a nice-feeling part of it, but an intrinsic part of it. God is the union of the True, the Good and the Beautiful–and so, therefore, must be the Liturgy.”

The relativism, utilitarian aesthetic — if it can even be called an aesthetic! — and general “good enough” approach of the modernist and, even more, post-modernist world has, sadly, infected even the liturgy. This is a short but excellent treatise on why it’s important to strive not only for the Good and the True, but also the Beautiful, in the liturgy as in all other aspects of life.

As St. Paul put it in his letter to the Philippians,

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 RSV).