All We Have is Christ: The Centrality of Union with Christ in the Church's Corporate Worship
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This dissertation argues that union with Christ gives definition to the church and should thus be central in the church’s understanding and practice of corporate worship. Chapter 1 discusses the functional theology expressed in the corporate worship of today’s evangelical church, contending that it often misunderstands the place of Christ in its worship. Chapter 2 establishes an ontological framework for corporate worship rooted in the perfection of the triune God, who chooses a people for himself in Christ by the Spirit, making possible his presence and action, and giving to the church acceptance and purpose. Chapter 3 explores the theology and practice of John Calvin, evaluating how his doctrine of union with Christ shaped his understanding and practice of corporate worship. Chapter 4 presents a working definition for corporate worship that begins with understanding it as God’s Spirit-enabled and Word-governed gift to his covenant people in Christ. Chapter 5 addresses the activity of the church in relation to God’s preceding and predominant activity, arguing that in Christ by the Spirit the church assembles to witness to the worth and work of God by receiving from Christ, acting in him, and longing for him to come again. Chapter 6 summarizes the arguments and identifies implications and potential areas for further research.