Five common objections against liturgical worship from the radicals
There are five common objections against liturgical worship from the radical Protestants, especially amongst the East Asians. Here are our sensible answers for them:
1. "As Christians, why do we need to follow the liturgy and traditions? Didn't Jesus come to abolish all the laws and traditions?" The answer is that Jesus did not come to abolish tradition but to establish a new covenant tradition. Christian liturgy is worship in the form of the new covenant. It is no longer in the tradition of the old covenant that Moses taught, but new covenant tradition that was taught by Jesus given to the Apostles.
2. "The liturgy you all perform is like Chinese pagan worship, such as using candles and incense, therefore, it is pagan worship, not Christian worship." This is bad logic to discredit and object against Christian liturgy. For instance, there is a logical fallacy similar to, "Cars are born in the garage, therefore, the child that walked out of a garage is a car." Likewise, the logical fallacy here is, "Since Chinese pagans worship with candles and incense, therefore, Christian liturgy is pagan worship." Very bad logic. In fact, incense was used in both Old and New Testaments as mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 13:11 mentioned God instructed the use of incense. In the New Testament, St. John saw the heavenly vision of worship using incense in Revelation 5:8. In Church history, incense was not so widely used during the great persecution in the early Church because incense was an expensive item for persecuted Christian to afford it. But it was revived and more commonly used amongst Christians after the 4th century when Christianity became accepted in the Roman Empire.
3. "Christian liturgy is Roman Catholic. We are Protestants, not Roman Catholic." This is another bad logic and radicalized doctrine of Christian Church history and theology. Christian liturgical precedes the tradition of Roman Catholicism. Just because we worship in Christian liturgy does not make us Roman Catholic. In fact, the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther and his followers (the Lutherans) worship in Christian liturgy. It was the radicalized Protestants who distorted Luther's teachings and formed their innovative theology.
4. "The Bible wrote that Jesus told us that we should worship in spirit and truth. We do not need Christian to worship God in such manner." When Jesus said in the Bible that God the Father desires to worship in spirit and truth in John 4:24, Jesus did not mean removing ritual or liturgy. Worshipping in spirit did not mean we could do whatever we wanted or worship however we wanted it to be. The Bible says the Spirit of God leads us into the fruits of self-control (Galatians 5:22) and orderly life of worship (1 Corinthians 14:40), not going free and wild and doing whatever we want.
5. "There is no evidence in the Bible that early Christians had a liturgical life or worship. Neither there was any instruction in the Bible to tell us how to worship in the new covenant." Evidence in the New Testament Bible shows that the early Christians, especially the Apostles, continued to worship in the liturgy. In Acts 2:46-47, the Apostles and early Christians continued to a liturgical life by going to the Jewish Temple. In Acts 13:14, the Apostles continued a liturgical life in the Synagogue. In Acts 13:42, the word liturgy was used. The usual English translation was “worshipping,” but the Greek word was λειτουργούντων (leitourgonton [liturgizing]). Our Lord Jesus was also worshipping in the liturgy as mentioned in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus read the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue, meaning Jesus followed the Temple pattern. The evidences in the Bible and Church history are overwhelming, but the radicalized Christians in the 17th century distorted the intepretation of the Bible and orthodoxy theology. And the New Testament was not written as a manual instruction but compilations of letters and Gospel account with various circumstances. However, St. Paul did rebuke the disorderly form of worship against the Corinthians, which means the Apostle did have instructions about Christian worship, but was done through oral instruction and tradition, not written in textual document.