Fonts for Function and Meaning: Some Worthy Examples

Once the theological rationale for the design of the font has been established, artists, architects, and craftspersons face the challenge of shaping a font that reflects those convictions. This article describes three thoughtful examples of recently constructed fonts.

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An Anabaptist Theology of Worship

Anabaptists see the church as a radical body of believing disciples. Worship arises out of this community of faith and is simple and egalitarian. It recounts God’s story of redeeming love through the ongoing experience of the community of faith.

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Puritan Worship in the Post-Reformation Period

A number of Protestant churches trace their descent from the Puritan heritage. In their worship, these groups share a commitment to a common principle: worship must be ordered according to the Word of God alone. Puritan worship is also characterized by covenant theology and an emphasis on prayer.

Confirmation in Scripture

Confirmation is the historic rite of initiation into the full fellowship of the body of Christ. Christian initiation in the early church apparently consisted of two actions, baptism followed by imposition of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The sequence of events was governed by the early disciples’ personal experience of salvation in Christ and the endowment of his Spirit. Paul, reflecting theologically, brought out the underlying spiritual unity of the two rites.

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Biblical Roots of Baptism

Christian baptism has its origins in the various Jewish rites of ritual purification and in John’s baptism of repentance. Christian baptism differs from its antecedents, however, in important respects. It is baptism in the name of Jesus, signifying belonging to him, and is associated with the gifting of the Holy Spirit. Baptism symbolizes participation in Christ’s death and resurrection and the believer’s incorporation into the new covenant people of God. The New Testament does not lay out a specified order for the rite of baptism.

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Elements of New Testament Worship

Though the New Testament does not give any detailed information on the structure of the first Christian services, it leaves little room for doubt concerning the basic elements of primitive worship: prayer, praise, confession of sin, confession of faith, Scripture reading and preaching, the Lord’s Supper, and the collection. Early descriptions of Christian worship, such as that in Justin’s Apology, reveal a close similarity to the practice of the synagogue. Even without the synagogue model, however, the fundamental elements would surely have found a place, and distinctive Christian features would have their own origin.

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