Skip to comments.To Raise,Or Not To Raise...That Is the Question (An Act of Worship for Some)~Imported from Mod-Blog
Posted on 02/07/2011 8:31:01 AM PST by SeanG200
....I come from a conservative background of the Protestant church tradition. My friends and family tend to be non-demonstrative lot at church, with little more than the occasional A-men! when we are REALLY moved. So, it has bothered me to see a particular phenomenon from the charismatic/pentecostal tradition starting to appear in church the raising of hands. This action, usually done during singing, always seemed showy to me and distracting. But, it is important to separate it bothers me from it is wrong. So, I decided to do some research into the phenomenon, and see what the Bible had to say.
First, I found an amazing number of defenses of the practice online. The best explanation of why people lift their hands in worship came from here.
- Lifting the hands is a symbol of surrender. Lifting the hands is a symbol of trust. Lifting the hands is a symbol of openness. Lifting the hands is a symbol of affection.
The surrender symbolism is especially significant, it seems to me....
(Excerpt) Read more at religiopoliticaltalk.com ...
Another activity of the church is worship. Whereas edification focuses on the believers and benefits them, worship concentrates on the Lord. The early church came together to worship on a regular schedule, a practice commanded and commended by the apostle Paul. His direction to the Corinthians to set aside money on the first day of every week (I Cor. 16:2) intimates that they regularly gathered for worship on that day. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers not to neglect the assembling of themselves together as was the habit of some (Heb. 10:25). Although worship emphasizes God, it is also intended to benefit the worshipers. This we infer from Pauls warning against prayers, songs, and thanksgivings that fail to edify because no one is present to interpret their meaning to those who do not understand (1 Cor. 14:15-17).
Worship, the praise and exaltation of God, was a common Old Testament practice, as can be seen particularly in the Book of Psalms. And in the pictures of heaven in the Book of Revelation and elsewhere, the people of God are represented as recognizing and declaring his greatness. In this aspect of its activity, the church centers its attention on who and what God is, not on itself. It aims at appropriately expressing Gods nature, not at satisfying its own feelings.
It is important at this point to note the locus of the various functions of the church. In biblical times the church gathered for worship and instruction. Then it went out to evangelize. In worship, the members of the church focus on God; in instruction and fellowship, they focus on themselves and fellow Christians; in evangelism, they turn their attention to non-Christians. It is well for the church to keep some separation among these several activities. If this is not done, one or more may be crowded out. As a result the church will suffer since all of these activities, like the various elements in a well-balanced diet, are essential to the spiritual health and well-being of the body. For example, worship of God will suffer if the gathering of the body becomes oriented primarily to the interaction among Christians, or if the service is aimed exclusively at evangelizing the unbelievers who are present. This was not the pattern of the church in the Book of Acts. Rather, believers gathered to praise God and be edified; then they went forth to reach the lost in the world without.
(Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed, pp. 1066-1067)
That's the answer.
I don’t raise, generally, though I will see your raise and call if I’ve got the cards.
And then we have the story of the proud Pharisee praying in front with uplifted arms/hands.
Yet, God was more pleased with the sinner who was standing in back with bowed head and striking his breast.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am a sinner.
I’ve been seeing the raising of hands in church for 20 years. Didn’t bother me at first, just was something different. Of course, the Bible does speak of it a bit, though for me then it was a case of separation between Bible days and current days.
Didn’t David dance before the Lord? He probably didn’t keep his arms still while doing it :)
The people who are concerned about worshipers raising their arms at church are probably the same people who go to secular concerts and wave their arms in the air. It’s OK to raise your arms to the Black Eyed Peas, but don’t you dare move those arms an inch while worshiping the God Who made them!
I don’t think it was the raised hands that was the problem in this story, but drawing attention to yourself as you offer your service/offering. Similar to fasting & drawing attention to yourself as fasting.
Sports (possibly the greatest religion in the US) uses ‘raising hands’ as the highest praise. If you make a basket, great...but a 3-point basket - you get ‘hands raised’. Same in football - scoring a point is recognized by the ‘raising of hands’.
I have been to churches where you have to do a lot more than raise your hands to draw attention to yourself.
I still maintain that the raised hands were a part of the Pharisee’s pride. But that is how they prayed in those days.
The pentitent sinner in back did not have raised hands, but rather, a bowed head.
Which one did God like?
Mark 3:29 -- but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.
I was raised in an A of G church, and I was always taught to be very careful not to 'make fun' of anyone who was moved by the Holy Spirit to rejoice, raise hands, etc., because that is an unforgivable sin. Even if you are right and they are wrong, it is too great a risk to take.
It wasn’t the raising of hands that made the Pharisee wrong, it was the coldness of his heart.
I do appreciate your concern for my soul, however. Thank you, and be blessed.
I would say that God ‘liked’ the humble one.
Even today, we have people who set themselves apart by dress and deed. I don’t think God doesn’t like’ them. Churches have bricks with donor’s names inscribed on them. All of these things ‘draw attention’ to themselves, and I believe that is what God was talking about.
I didn’t read this whole article, but the first couple paragraphs talk about the lifting of hands in the bible.
Lifting the hands can also be a symbol of joy and celebration.
Try attending a black church some time.
My wife and I were honored to be chosen godmother and godfather for a wonderful little girl. We were invited to the family’s church for the committment ceremony.
The best word to describe it was intense. The pastor got everybody worked up and delivered a message that went from quiet conversation level to high powered witness. The congregation was responsive and appreciative and friendly.
As your typical “white bread” Protestants, we were somewhat taken aback - we weren’t used to be exhorted to “Hug the person on your right ! Hug the person on your left !” and the fervor with which the pastor spoke.
While it was different, and a little uncomfortable, it was also a great service. I agreed with everything the pastor said, the sermon was right on target. The singing was worshipful and joyous. Both the congregation and the deacons and pastor couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly.
So even though the service was out of my normal experience, it certainly was a joyous, Christian experience.
What version of the bible are you reading that says the Pharisee prayed with uplifted arms/hands? I checked several versions and it never mentions his arms or hands.
That is how they prayed. It was in a commentary on Scripture. Don’t remember where.
Oh, a commentary, but not in scripture. Thanks for clarifying.
I will point out a few verses from the bible where lifting hands is mentioned:
Psalm 28:2 "Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place."
Psalm 63:4 "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."
Psalm 134:2 "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD."
Psalm 141:2 "May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice."
Lamentation 2:19 "Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner."
1 Timothy 2:8 "Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing."
The Bible does speak of it in a derogatory way in the story of the Pharisee and the commoner.
The Pharisee stands in front with his hands raised and claims I am such a good person, thank goodness I am not like the poor man in the back (my paraphrasing.)
The commoner in the back, bows his head, strikes his breast repeatedly says, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am a sinner.” (Again my paraphrasing)
And Christ’s take on this parable is that the commoner is justified while they Pharisee goes home empty handed and empty hearted. (My interpretation of Jesus’ words.)