Religion Roundtable: Can you truly worship by watching TV or online?
May 31, 2013 | 2742 views |  0 comments | 216 216 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nothing should replace corporate worship

The answer to this question depends on why one would ask it. If one asks this question with the hope that he or she will be dismissed from the weekly gathering of believers for the worship of God (especially the whole “giving money” part), allowed to simply sit back in the La-Z-Boy in his or her pajamas while a televised church service plays on the flat-screen, then the most direct answer is “no.” Worship is a verb, a corporate activity, not an event to be passively observed.

If, however, such a question is asked by one wondering if worship can take place outside the scheduled hours of congregational worship inside the walls of a sanctuary, then the answer is “yes.” Also, if one asks such a question because he or she is unable to meet with other believers, whether because of physical ailments or mental or social disorders, then again the answer is “yes.” Worship is not restricted to a particular time or place.

The worship of God can take place by watching TV, listening to the radio, or streaming worship services on your computer (in fact, our church streams services because we believe there are those who worship with us that way). However, that does not mean that television or the Internet should replace the corporate act of worship with the people of God. If one is seeking to simply get out of going to church, then I suspect they are not truly seeking to worship by watching TV or streaming a service online in the first place.

Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams

Worship needs to be a social act

Worship of God is a comprehensive term that includes expressing reverence to God with his love, obedience, fear and care. Congregational worship is a social act. People get together, see each other, talk to each other and learn about each other. No matter how much one is digitalized, humans still need humans.

In the religion of Islam, five times daily prayers are the main worship, obligatory on every adult and sane Muslim. This prayer is combination of verbal, spiritual and physical worship. It is important to perform this prayer in congregation. As it is a daily congregational prayer, it has a social value. If I don’t see my neighbor or any other friend in the congregation, I get curious if he is doing OK. Is he sick? Is he in trouble? I would call the family. If there is a problem, the entire congregation gets worried and everybody will do whatever they can to help the family.

Besides that, worship is a deep meditation and a complete absorption in the Almighty. While worshipping, a believer is praising God with his tongue and denying the worship of anyone else besides God, spiritually so elevated that he is seeing God and if he is not seeing, God is seeing him. Physically he submits to God by bowing down his head. This is all cannot be achieved in front of a screen. It requires an environment of blessings.

Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center
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