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Why do Protestants / Evangelicals not kneel during service?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics Forum' started by aspen, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. aspen

    aspen “"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few

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    Acts 9:40; Ephesians 3:14

    Sorry should have been 'why do Protestants/evangelicals NOT kneel during service :)
     
  2. Born_Again

    Born_Again Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I don't have the answer to that actually. That is a really good question. Maybe they don't want to seem desperate.... HAHAHA. I'm obviously protestant but I never even considered it. Odd though, there are times when I pray that I do kneel. I do because when I come to the Lord in prayer, I am humble and I come to Him as His servant. I guess I just never thought about it. When I was younger, to me, it was what Catholics did. Hmmm, good question, brother.
     
  3. HammerStone

    HammerStone Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I think it comes from the focal point of the worship. Protestants are less ritual oriented, meaning many Protestants (myself likely included here) would argue that the service is more about heart than action. However, I know of a number of Protestants who kneel in private prayer because of the symbolism of submitting to God's will in the prayer.

    I suppose the Eastern Orthodox would ask you Catholic folks and us Protestant folk why we don't stand, but there are theological implications behind all of it.
     
  4. aspen

    aspen “"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few

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    It just seems odd to me because some people make such a big deal out of Catholics praying in front of statues - 'bowing before them', but when it comes to kneeling in church in general, it is a non-issue.
     
  5. theogrit

    theogrit New Member

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    It's complicated, and can be made too much so. Generally, Protestants began and remain no more averse to kneeling than Roman Catholics, but 3 factors are perhaps fundamental to ongoing traditions in worship services. Roman Catholicism before the Protestant Reformation was quite big on 'high worship' and a separation of the clergy from the common people.
    So...

    1) The common folk knelt and the clergy leading the prayers did not, generally. Also, as Protestantism developed, the distinctions regarding the Eucharist came into play as well. I won't bring up the terminology, but Roman Catholics held to Christ being actually present in the bread and wine, while Protestants span out in various interpretations on a spectrum where a symbolism of Christ in the 'elements' in at the other end. So one basic theological premise with knelling is how physically present is Christ?
    Protestantism has always been big on the priesthood of every believer - all being equal before God and God being completely holy above all.

    2) Very much akin to that is the factor that the common folk of Protestantism didn't have the finery of fancy kneelers or see the need for them. Two parts of Luther's reforms centered around getting rid of what he accounted as relic or saint worship, and all the fancy extravagances that kept poor folk paying for building St. Peter's basilica in Vatican City, especially where it meant those who could afford "dispensations" could basically pay to sin (or sin as you pay). So, even though many Lutherans and Anglicans and even a few Presbyterians maintained some 'high worship' finery, the more one leaned toward worshiping in tents (or even catacombs, like the early folk) the more one threw out any physical 'holy' accouterments other than one's own heart before our invisible God. That's kind of where Protestant folk began defacing and destroying all church statuary, which they equated with idolatry. In fact, the more 'physical' worship seemed the less spiritual it seemed, to some Protestants.
    AND, God was everywhere, not just in a fancy building, so Protestants kind of carried spiritual kneeling around with them everywhere they went and in every aspect of life.

    To sum up 1 & 2 we have the physicality of worship contrasting with the spirituality of worship, which only became problematic to Luther when it led into idolatry. And, Protestants elevating common folk to the place formerly reserved only for the clergy, but all under a God who must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. It was sort of like putting Catholics and Protestants into a forced dichotomy between James and Paul, works and faith.

    However, as an addendum to 1 & 2 one also has the political quagmire that developed. At first many kings and princes prized some relief the Pope's 'keys on Earth' hanging over them. After all, the king was God's divinely appointed ruler, and so splitting from Rome seemed to give the king rule over the church too, for a while. Then that equality thing kicked in again and the king found the Protestant peoples demanding he share power with them as well. Protestant folk didn't like kneeling to the king anymore than kneeling to the clergy.

    3) As Protestants were left to our own accord, a whole slew of worship styles wondered in. It may still be uncommon for all of them to kneel or even bow when the preacher says "go", but I've been in many a Protestant church where everyone comes down front and kneels around the 'alter'. I've even been in a few where folk will get completely prostrate out in the middle of the aisle. Now, please understand I'm a conservative Presbyterian, and we're often called the "frozen chosen". The church I grew up in would never even hear of clapping in a worship service. But God bless 'em, there's some groups of Protestants today who dance in worship, fall out on the floor 'slain in the Spirit', practise holy laughter, and other forms of worship which might seem strange. Baptists will even dunk in holy worship, usually three times. I haven't seen no one get nekid and dance before the Lord yet, but I can see where from a certain perspective...

    But yes, I do wish we Protestants would kneel more. I think maybe we threw the baby out with the bath-water on that one. Still, I had an uncle who every once in a while would give a strong "Amen" after a particularly moving prayer, and oh the looks he got from fellow Presbys.
     
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  6. Born_Again

    Born_Again Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    My last church was Presbyterian. We were a little more open. We would clap if the situation demanded it. Our pastor got cancer in his late 30's, eventually passed away, but even in paint, he would still move around, away from the pulpit. We still didn't kneel though. He would, when he would come out for service. We didn't have any extravagant dancing or anything but we were a bit more laid back.
     
  7. Axehead

    Axehead New Member

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    The emphasis in the NT by and large is the internal posture of the heart and individual liberty to worship the Lord. Even as a Catholic, long ago I never liked kneeling. I was too tall and the pews were too narrow and if the person in front of me chose to sit (which did happen), I would be breathing down their neck. Today, my knees would probably not be able to take it, though the "kneelers" did have leather covered padding which was nice. :rolleyes: They obviously tried not to make it uncomfortable. I guess I have never liked it when someone tells me to kneel, stand, or raise my hands, wave my hands, clap my hands, speak in tongues, dance or anything else. My family and I were visiting her parents one time, we went to church with them and the Pastor was "orchestrating" the people during the worship time. For some reason I was put off by his spirit and I was standing about halfway back, away from him (Maybe 10 rows or so) in the midst of a very crowded congregation. Of all the people in the church he noticed I was not clapping or raising my hands and found a point in the service to directly confront me about it. That's right! He was only talking to me. Most of his questions were rhetorical and meant to shame me. I did not say a thing as the "spotlight" was on me. But, I think he made a fool of himself. That's kind of how I feel about these topics of questioning why people of other faiths don't do this or that (outwardly speaking).

    Reminds me of when I was in Japan in the service for two years. The Japanese would greet each other on the street and start bowing to each other and they would try to outdo each other by progressively bowing (and talking at the same time) lower and lower. The person that could bow the lowest was showing the most respect.

    Why don't we all just lay prostrate on our faces in church the whole time? Some of us would appreciate the nap.

    I wonder what God thinks about all of this "comparing ourselves among ourselves"?

    2Co_10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
     
  8. IanLC

    IanLC Active Member Encounter Team

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    You can kneel on your knees and your heart still stands in pride. I don't knock anyone's expression of worship as long as the heart is pure from which the worship flows that is all that matters! Some may stand in the physical yet be kneeling in their heart! I personally do both however the Holy Spirit unctions me to do!
     
  9. Angelina

    Angelina Prayer Warrior Staff Member Admin

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    Me too :). Sometimes us Pente's prostrate themselves in worship. It really depends on what God is doing within my heart....
     
  10. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
    36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. - Acts 20

    I find increasingly in the Christian world the reluctance to kneel down and pray in church. We use to do this much, as told in the following story by the old Methodist writer George Clark Rankin...

    After the team had been fed and we had been to supper we put the mules to the wagon, filled it with chairs and we were off to the meeting. When we reached the locality it was about dark and the people were assembling. Their horses and wagons filled up the cleared spaces and the singing was already in progress. My uncle and his family went well up toward the front, but I dropped into a seat well to the rear. It was an old-fashioned Church, ancient in appearance, oblong in shape and unpretentious. It was situated in a grove about one hundred yards from the road. It was lighted with old tallow-dip candles furnished by the neighbors. It was not a prepossessing-looking place, but it was soon crowded and evidently there was a great deal of interest. A cadaverous-looking man stood up in front with a tuning fork and raised and led the songs. There were a few prayers and the minister came in with his saddlebags and entered the pulpit. He was the Rev. W. H. Heath, the circuit rider. His prayer impressed me with his earnestness and there were many amens to it in the audience. I do not remember his text, but it was a typical revival sermon, full of unction and power.

    At its close he invited penitents to the altar and a great many young people flocked to it and bowed for prayer. Many of them became very much affected and they cried out distressingly for mercy. It had a strange effect on me. It made me nervous and I wanted to retire. Directly my uncle came back to me, put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I did not want to be religious. I told him that I had always had that desire, that mother had brought me up that way, and really I did not know anything else. Then he wanted to know if I had ever professed religion. I hardly understood what he meant and did not answer him. He changed his question and asked me if I had ever been to the altar for prayer, and I answered him in the negative. Then he earnestly besought me to let him take me up to the altar and join the others in being prayed for. It really embarrassed me and I hardly knew what to say to him. He spoke to me of my mother and said that when she was a little girl she went to the altar and that Christ accepted her and she had been a good Christian all these years. That touched me in a tender spot, for mother always did do what was right; and then I was far away from her and wanted to see her. Oh, if she were there to tell me what to do!

    By and by I yielded to his entreaty and he led forward to the altar. The minister took me by the hand and spoke tenderly to me as I knelt at the altar. I had gone more out of sympathy than conviction, and I did not know what to do after I bowed there. The others were praying aloud and now and then one would rise shoutingly happy and make the old building ring with his glad praise. It was a novel experience to me. I did not know what to pray for, neither did I know what to expect if I did pray. I spent the most of the hour wondering why I was there and what it all meant. No one explained anything to me. Once in awhile some good old brother or sister would pass my way, strike me on the back and tell me to look up and believe and the blessing would come. But that was not encouraging to me. In fact, it sounded like nonsense and the noise was distracting me. Even in my crude way of thinking I had an idea that religion was a sensible thing and that people ought to become religious intelligently and without all that hurrah. I presume that my ideas were the result of the Presbyterian training given to me by old grandfather. By and by my knees grew tired and the skin was nearly rubbed off my elbows. I thought the service never would close, and when it did conclude with the benediction I heaved a sigh of relief. That was my first experience at the mourner's bench.

    As we drove home I did not have much to say, but I listened attentively to the conversation between my uncle and his wife. They were greatly impressed with the meeting, and they spoke first of this one and that one who had "come through" and what a change it would make in the community, as many of them were bad boys. As we were putting up the team my uncle spoke very encouragingly to me; he was delighted with the step I had taken and he pleaded with me not to turn back, but to press on until I found the pearl of great price. He knew my mother would be very happy over the start I had made. Before going to sleep I fell into a train of thought, though I was tired and exhausted. I wondered why I had gone to that altar and what I had gained by it. I felt no special conviction and had received no special impression, but then if my mother had started that way there must be something in it, for she always did what was right. I silently lifted my heart to God in prayer for conviction and guidance. I knew how to pray, for I had come up through prayer, but not the mourner's bench sort. So I determined to continue to attend the meeting and keep on going to the altar until I got religion.

    Early the next morning I was up and in a serious frame of mind. I went with the other hands to the cottonfield and at noon I slipped off in the barn and prayed. But the more I thought of the way those young people were moved in the meeting and with what glad hearts they had shouted their praises to God the more it puzzled and confused me. I could not feel the conviction that they had and my heart did not feel melted and tender. I was callous and unmoved in feeling and my distress on account of sin was nothing like theirs. I did not understand my own state of mind and heart. It troubled me, for by this time I really wanted to have an experience like theirs.

    When evening came I was ready for Church service and was glad to go. It required no urging. Another large crowd was present and the preacher was as earnest as ever. I did not give much heed to the sermon. In fact, I do not recall a word of it. I was anxious for him to conclude and give me a chance to go to the altar. I had gotten it into my head that there was some real virtue in the mourner's bench; and when the time came I was one of the first to prostrate myself before the altar in prayer. Many others did likewise. Two or three good people at intervals knelt by me and spoke encouragingly to me, but they did not help me. Their talks were mere exhortations to earnestness and faith, but there was no explanation of faith, neither was there any light thrown upon my mind and heart. I wrought myself up into tears and cries for help, but the whole situation was dark and I hardly knew why I cried, or what was the trouble with me. Now and then others would arise from the altar in an ecstasy of joy, but there was no joy for me. When the service closed I was discouraged and felt that maybe I was too hardhearted and the good Spirit could do nothing for me.

    After we went home I tossed on the bed before going to sleep and wondered why God did not do for me what he had done for mother and what he was doing in that meeting for those young people at the altar. I could not understand it. But I resolved to keep on trying, and so dropped off to sleep. The next day I had about the same experience and at night saw no change in my condition. And so for several nights I repeated the same distressing experience. The meeting took on such interest that a day service was adopted along with the night exercises, and we attended that also. And one morning while I bowed at the altar in a very disturbed state of mind Brother Tyson, a good local preacher and the father of Rev. J. F. Tyson, now of the Central Conference, sat down by me and, putting his hand on my shoulder, said to me: "Now I want you to sit up awhile and let's talk this matter over quietly. I am sure that you are in earnest, for you have been coming to this altar night after night for several days. I want to ask you a few simple questions." And the following questions were asked and answered:

    "My son, do you not love God?"

    "I cannot remember when I did not love him."

    "Do you believe on his Son, Jesus Christ?"

    "I have always believed on Christ. My mother taught me that from my earliest recollection."

    "Do you accept him as your Savior?"

    "I certainly do, and have always done so."

    "Can you think of any sin that is between you and the Savior?"

    "No, sir; for I have never committed any bad sins."

    "Do you love everybody?"

    "Well, I love nearly everybody, but I have no ill-will toward any one. An old man did me a wrong not long ago and I acted ugly toward him, but I do not care to injure him."

    "Can you forgive him?"

    "Yes, if he wanted me to."

    "But, down in your heart, can you wish him well?"

    "Yes, sir; I can do that."

    "Well, now let me say to you that if you love God, if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and if you love your fellowmen and intend by God's help to lead a religious life, that's all there is to religion. In fact, that is all I know about it."

    Then he repeated several passages of Scriptures to me proving his assertions. I thought a moment and said to him: "But I do not feel like these young people who have been getting religion night after night. I cannot get happy like them. I do not feel like shouting."

    The good man looked at me and smiled and said: "Ah, that's your trouble. You have been trying to feel like them. Now you are not them; you are yourself. You have your own quiet disposition and you are not turned like them. They are excitable and blustery like they are. They give way to their feelings. That's all right, but feeling is not religion. Religion is faith and life. If you have violent feeling with it, all good and well, but if you have faith and not much feeling, why the feeling will take care of itself. To love God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, turning away from all sin, and living a godly life, is the substance of true religion."

    That was new to me, yet it had been my state of mind from childhood. For I remembered that away back in my early life, when the old preacher held services in my grandmother's house one day and opened the door of the Church, I went forward and gave him my hand. He was to receive me into full membership at the end of six months' probation, but he let it pass out of his mind and failed to attend to it.

    As I sat there that morning listening to the earnest exhortation of the good man my tears ceased, my distress left me, light broke in upon my mind, my heart grew joyous, and before I knew just what I was doing I was going all around shaking hands with everybody, and my confusion and darkness disappeared and a great burden rolled off my spirit. I felt exactly like I did when I was a little boy around my mother's knee when she told of Jesus and God and Heaven. It made my heart thrill then, and the same old experience returned to me in that old country Church that beautiful September morning down in old North Georgia.

    I at once gave my name to the preacher for membership in the Church, and the following Sunday morning, along with many others, he received me into full membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was one of the most delightful days in my recollection. It was the third Sunday in September, 1866, and those Church vows became a living principle in my heart and life. During these forty-five long years, with their alternations of sunshine and shadow, daylight and darkness, success and failure, rejoicing and weeping, fears within and fightings without, I have never ceased to thank God for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was registered in the Lamb's Book of Life.

    I am also thankful for that autumnal day in the long ago when my name was recorded in the lambs book of life and I was received into fellowship in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, South. __________________
     
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  11. Born_Again

    Born_Again Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    That really was a good story. It hits the nail on the head. If you can not face all your convictions how can you walk with Christ? I'm not really sure how to better describe it than he did. That was so on it!!! I skimmed the story the other day but this morning (being about 3 am my time, couldn't sleep and decided to just go into work) I read the whole thing and completely understand what he was saying.

    I think a lot of us can learn something from that whether you are Pentecostal or not. I don't claim to be a Pentecostal, I was actually raised Lutheran and now a Presbyterian but I have the same moments of hitting my knees in praise and crying out to God for guidance and strength. The Holy Spirit has consumed me and when I stumble it is a matter or minutes before I feel Him tap me on the shoulder and build me back up. Even in my current tribulation I am repeatedly told be strong and have faith. God openly shows me He is there and has the situation under control. As a matter of fact, last night He told me I was in one of the hardest times of this trial and keep the faith....

    It's an amazing and humbling feeling to feel the actual presence of Him with you and know He is holding you. Thank you Rockytopva for sharing that.
     
  12. HammerStone

    HammerStone Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Good first post theogrit!


    I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, as humanity is prone to do, we tend to run from one extreme to the other. I think the Reformers would be rather shocked at a number of the practices that developed out of the Reformation and would quickly assert that they never wished for things to go in that direction.

    You see it more so in Baptist, Pentecostal and Nondenominational settings, but a lot of the iconoclasm that continued to smolder after the Reformation led to a doing away of anything with ritualistic value. Thus, you get the oft caricatured preacher holding up the black leather Bible with gold lettering proclaiming "no creed but the Bible!" This is the school of thought that I think the majority of Protestantism sort of lazily ascribes to where the music, pulpit, and prayer are the focus. It sounds rather faithful in a romantic sort of way, but it leads to viewing anything that might be "religious" or "ritual" as a negative. In fact, every Protestant church has creeds, liturgy, icons and other symbols whether they'll acknowledge it or not!

    Our Reformed poster above remains in one of the traditions that did not go quite so far, but as he alludes to in the last sentence, each branch has its certain tenants - sacred cows to use a religious analogy.
     
  13. pom2014

    pom2014 New Member

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    One only kneels before his/her regent.

    As The King is inside our hearts there is no need to kneel until he is physically present.

    So kneeling is not a requirement. If you like it, do it. Just as it's not a requirement to raise your hands in the air, sing particular songs or hold hands in a circle to pray.

    These are all traditions of man. They are for the comfort of man.
     
  14. Born_Again

    Born_Again Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I feel, that when I kneel in prayer, I am showing reverence and being humble before my Lord. When I come to Him in prayer, I should kneel before him, as He is my king and deserves the honor and respect, especially after all He has done and sacrificed for us.
     
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