We live in a day in which the concept of worship has taken on many different meanings among evangelical churches in America and around the world. The worship services of many so-called “seeker-sensitive” churches are designed to appeal to the unbeliever on his own terms, thus tending to give the worship services of those churches a very distinctive “entertainment” flair. The worship service of the typical charismatic church is long on music, loud, rhythm-driven music that is designed to stir the emotions, but short on the exposition of Scripture which should be the foundation of true religious emotions. Even many of the more conservative evangelical churches include activities in the worship service that make a Reformed believer who cherishes the regulative principle uncomfortable.
Is there a difference between the typical evangelical worship service, even those of a conservative nature, and the worship service of a scripturally ordered Reformed Baptist church?
Our Confession unequivocally affirms that God is “without...passions”(2LCF 2.1). This is an affirmation of the classical doctrine of divine impassibility (DDI) consonant with the unified voice of historic confessional Reformed theology, particularly as articulated in the Westminster Confession of Faith (2.1), the Savoy Declaration (2.1), and the 42/39 Articles of the Church of England (Art. 1). The DDI asserts that God does not experience emotional changes either from within or effected by his relationship to creation. He is not changed from within or without; he remains unchanged and unchanging both prior and subsequent to creation.
The DDI has come under attack within the last century in various theological traditions. Many who would be classified as mainstream evangelicals have jettisoned this doctrine. There are a number of evangelicals who wish to retain some form of divine impassibility while at the same time attempting to affirm that God is also passible. Instead of affirming divine impassibility as an attribute of God that is a necessary consequent of divine immutability, they postulate a God who displays a full array of emotions which are subject to change according to his sovereign will. Rather than saying God does not suffer or undergo any emotional change whatsoever, some wish to affirm that God undergoes change in relation to the created order, just not involuntarily. From this perspective, while God expresses an array of divine emotions, he is affirmed to be in some sense impassible.