Doxology By Chris Wolfe
Almost every Sunday morning, myself and other volunteers walk up on stage and ready our voices or instruments to lead and encourage everyone to engage in something called “doxology.” I discussed in my previous writing that all worship is liturgical, meaning that all worship has a specific or planned form. In that piece I took the time to explain why we form our worship the way we do, but I avoided an even greater question which I'll be trying to answer this time: why do we worship at all? To answer that question, we need to understand another big word, Doxology: “...an expression of praise to God.”
“Theology is the study of God and it's very important; Doxology is an expression of praise to God. So, the point here is that all theology should ultimately lead to doxology. If theology doesn't lead to doxology, then we've actually missed the point of theology. So if you have theology without doxology, you just have dead, cold orthodoxy; Which is horrible, right? On the other side, we have people who say: "Ugh! Forget theology; I just wanna praise!" Right? But, if we have doxology without theology, we actually have idolatry! Because it's just a random expression of praise; but it's not actually informed by the Truth of who God is. So, God is concerned with both! He's concerned with an accurate understanding of Him; And that accurate understanding of Him, leading to a response of praise, adoration and worship towards Him.” - Shai Linne, Doxology, Track 1
The words quoted above are from the opening track to an album titled Doxology by the christian rapper, Shai Linne. If I were to try and explain the meaning of doxology myself, it likely would have been far more confusing and far too long. My answer to the question “why do we worship?” is to engage in doxology, or express praise to God. In my opinion, Shai Linne’s explanation of doxology is spot on, but while I certainly couldn’t have explained it better myself, what I can do is try to explain the biblical truths that lead me to agree with him.
Ephesians 5:15-21 (CSB)
Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
When asking the question “why do we worship,” a lot of us would answer by saying “because we are commanded to” or “because it causes us to grow” or even “because it’s an encouragement to one another.” These answers are all correct and are confirmed by these verses, but they don’t answer the question as well as they could. In order to find the best answer, we need to know the heart behind the question. That’s the reason I like the answer “to express praise to God.” This answer gets to the true heart of worship: God!
If you read the quote carefully enough you probably already realized that doxology doesn’t work on it’s own. Doxology comes with a partner, theology. This relationship is the key to why this answer really gets to the heart of the question. As the quote states, theology, or the study of God, is meant to be where our doxology comes from. If we don’t know who we worship, then it doesn’t matter why we worship. I used the verses from Ephesians to talk about this topic because of how it tells us to be “making music with your heart to the Lord.” Take note, that phrase does not end by saying “with your heart,” but rather “with your heart to the Lord.” These three words may not seem to be that big of a deal, of course it’s “to the Lord.” What these three words actually do is confirm that worship must be “to” God.
Here is the truth regarding doxology. We can be super engaged in our worship, we can be completely filled with emotion, we can sing loud and lift up our hands, but if all these things are not directed at GOD, then it is not really worship. In order to worship rightly, it must be directed towards God. In order for it to be directed towards God, we must know God. If we don’t know God, then even the most engaging and emotional doxology will be nothing more than idolatry.
Once again, this is my hope and prayer for us all at City Church; that we would worship with the knowledge of who God is in our hearts, so that we can know God is the only one truly being worshipped.
About the Author:
My name is Chris Wolfe. I've been involved with worship ministry in some capacity since I was 14 and I now serve as the worship director for City Church. I've had an affinity for music for as long as I can remember and God has used that to His glory pretty much everywhere I've ended up. Even when I've tried to take a break from worship ministries, God has a way of getting me back on stage anyway. Over the years I have come to passionately love God, and as a result, I passionately love to worship Him. When I'm not playing guitar and singing into mics, I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, games, and most important, spending time with my wife.