I was acculturated into Christianity in an old covenant, legalistic culture and remained there until around 1990. This was certainly not a miserable life. We had lots of fun, read the Bible and could not be considered to be Biblically illiterate, even if the presence and works of the Holy Spirit were scarce amongst us. While our version of Christianity may have lacked the illumination and works of the Holy Spirit and our collective being was confined to an old covenant straight-jacket, we did not draw an artificial dichotomy between the anointing and theology and the teaching of the word
as some do. None of us were ever sanguine about not reading the Bible or being ignorant of its teaching since we believed the Holy Spirit read with us to enlarge our minds with Christ's grace and truth.
I am thankful for the Godliness and genuine Christ-likeness of my parents and many brothers and sisters of the denomination I was socialized into, despite its shortcomings. There was quite a lot of Jesus there, even if He was rather diminished and we were made smaller because of it. But we need to live in what God has done rather than in what we merely think He has done.
I have since learned that many paralyzing religiosities, senseless pieties and mistaken views of the Lord's intentions for us were not peculiar to our version of belief. They were part and parcel of the degradation of the apostles doctrine and occurred pretty much because Believers do not know the scriptures or the power of God. What I know now is that in all respects, only in Jesus are the veils taken away.
A debilitating veil throughout the Body is an ignorance on the part of many sincere Believers of what was accomplished for us at the cross together with a hazy view of what the new covenant is and what it means for our everyday union with God and the polity of our living together and being the church. We do ourselves a great service when we stop finding our identities in veils and worshiping them and begin to find meaning, purpose and spiritual formation in Christ our life. This is our genuine re-birth in contrast to a notional one that has us dragging around traditions and shibboleths in the name of God.
Sadly one of these is found in what has become known as 'praise and worship.' Praise and worship is not bad. A lot of praise is done in heaven. Praise is joyful, liberating and destructive of the flesh - particularly when not done in the flesh! But when it is a work, or done in the mistaken belief that we can do it to 'bring God,' or when we mistake the feeling is 'us in a trance' for the presence of God, we are setting ourselves up for weakness, defeat, delusion and the influence of the religious spirit.
Regarding the book by Stephen Crosby, 'Praise, Worship and the Presence of God', Mark Setch writes,
'Finally ... someone has had the courage to call it for what it is! So
many followers of Christ experience so-called "free worship that is
anything but free. It's imprisoned in Old Covenant doctrine and
shackled in legalism and a conditional works theology: If I worship,
then God will accept me.
With amazing clarity and thorough exegesis, Steve Crosby hits this
stuff right between the eyes. He carefully articulates the New
Covenant framework for understanding worship. Anyone who truly
reads this with an open heart and discerning mind, will not see a
kybosh on worship, but the very opposite. One will feel totally
liberated to sing, dance, shout, kneel, lay prostrate ... not out of the
hope of winning God's favor, but rather as a response to His favor,
purchased for us all on the cross of Calvary. What a reason to
worship! What a much better way to worship!'
Mark Setch, D. Min.
Peace Christian Community
In 'Endorsements,' Dr Stephen Crosby, Praise, Worship and the Presence of God.