Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

The worship of our modern Christian culture has become decidedly unitarian.

Karl Rahner, a noted Catholic theologian, is famous for saying:

We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged. (The Trinity, p. 10.)

Unfortunately, the same could be said of much of our modern worship.

This, of course, has not always been the case – nor is it the case everywhere in Christian worship today. Traditionally, Christian worship was explained as either “Glory to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit” or as “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” As a result, the traditional liturgies of worship communities that are rooted in ancient expressions that pre-date the modern decline in Trinitarian thinking about God remain overtly Trinitarian to this day. For most of us in the free-church, Protestant tradition, however, worship has become very unitarian.

This unitarian worship does not, usually, express itself in an outright denial of the Trinity.

Rather, it is usually found in the form of an intellectual assent to the doctrine of the Trinity while the peoples’ hearts – and thus their mouths, which speak out of their hearts – express their worship in one of two unitarian ways:

1. A constant and pervasive language that speaks of “God” but rarely ever speaks of “the Father” or “Jesus” or “the Holy Spirit.”

2. A focus solely on Jesus that rarely speaks of “the Father” or “the Holy Spirit.”

Nowhere is this unitarian worship more evident than in contemporary Christian worship songs.

It is very rare to find any contemporary worship songs that address worship “to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” I have yet to find a single one that addresses worship “to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.” Please let me know if you have one.

Instead, what we find are songs that sing “to God” or “to the Lord” or “to Jesus” but rarely help the worshiper express the fullness of what it means to be a worshiping human who is worshiping through the humanity of Jesus and participating in the Trinitarian Life of worship.

I am thankful for artists such as Vanessa Kersting (I wrote about her back in April) who are creating contemporary music that is more Trinitarian. And I am praying that the Spirit will inspire even more artists to do the same!

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Kimberly on

    You might have heard this one already but I really enjoy “Triune God” by Brian Doerksen.

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    I haven’t heard that one, thanks for telling me about it – I’ll be checking it out soon

  3. Ted Johnston on

    Kimberly, thanks for the song reference – it’s great. You can listen to it at–40374719

  4. Kimberly on

    You are welcome. Paul Baloche also has a song called “Only True God”.

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