When We Come Together

Artistic Theologian 6 (2018): 1

Scott Aniol, PhD, is Editor-in-chief of Artistic Theologian and Chair of the Worship Ministry department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in worship, aesthetics, and philosophy of ministry. He has written several books, most recently By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture (Kregel, 2015).

The apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth in large part to give them instructions regarding what they should do “when you come together” (1 Cor 11:17). The corporate gatherings of churches are essential to the lives of believers because of what takes place “when we come together”—the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, singing, prayer, fellowship, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Each of these ordinances of corporate worship are essential in fulfilling our commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19), which is why Paul discusses each in detail in 1 Corinthians and other letters.

For this reason, it is critically important that pastors, church leaders, and indeed all Christians give careful attention to each of these ordinances. Part of the goal of Artistic Theologian is to help with this important task.

This volume is no exception. Articles herein help us think carefully about what we are doing when we come together for worship. First, Charles Huckaby explores what some might consider an unusual perspective on the church ordinances by a Baptist, that of Paige Patterson. Patterson argues that the ordinances are not merely memorials; rather, they are an essential part of the purity and sanctification of the church and its members. Next, I take a look at Paul’s commands to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, exploring scholarly opinions about what these terms mean in order to draw implications for singing in churches today. Robert Pendergraft considers historically what happened when Southern Baptists in the early twentieth century wrestled through what they should be singing in corporate worship. Finally, Courtney Tepera examines through focus group interviews the practice of listening to Christian music devotionally.

We hope that each of these articles will stimulate your thinking regarding these important matters of the church gathered, and we welcome both article and book review submissions for our next volume, scheduled for publication in April of 2019. The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2018.