Posted by: Johnold Strey | September 29, 2010

C.S. Lewis: Glorification and Edification

I assume … that nothing should be done or sung or said in the church which does not aim directly or indirectly either at glorifying God or edifying the people or both.  A good service may of course have a cultural value as well, but that is not what it exists for; just as, in an unfamiliar landscape, a church may help me to find the points of the compass, but was not built for that purpose.

These two ends, of edifying and glorifying, seem to me to be related as follows.  Whenever we edify, we glorify, but when we glorify we do not always edify.  The edification of the people is an act of charity and obedience and therefore in itself a glorification of God.  But it is possible for a man to glorify God in modes that do not edify his neighbour.  This fact confronted the Church at an early stage in her career, in the phenomenon called ‘speaking with tongue’.  In I Corinthians xiv, St. Paul points out that the man who is inspired to speak in an unknown tongue may do very well, as far as he himself is concerned, but will not profit the congregation unless his utterance can be translated.  Thus glorifying and edifying may come to be opposed.

-C.S. Lewis, “On Church Music,” printed in Christian Reflections

 

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