"What is at stake is authenticity. . . . Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due."--D. A. CarsonWorship is a hot topic, but the ways that Christians from different traditions view it vary greatly. What is worship? More important, what does it look like in action, both in our corporate gatherings and in our daily lives? These concerns--the blending of principle and practice--are what Worship by the Book addresses.Cutting through cultural clichés, D. A. Carson, Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes, and Timothy Keller explore, respectively:· Worship Under the Word· Following in Cranmer's Footsteps· Free Church Worship: The Challenge of Freedom· Reformed Worship in the Global City "This is not a comprehensive theology of worship," writes Carson. "Still less is it a sociological analysis of current trends or a minister's manual chockfull of 'how to' instructions." Rather, this book offers pastors, other congregational leaders, and seminary students a thought-provoking biblical theology of worship, followed by a look at how three very different traditions of churchmanship might move from this theological base to a better understanding of corporate worship. Running the gamut from biblical theology to historical assessment all the way to sample service sheets, Worship by the Book shows how local churches in diverse traditions can foster corporate worship that is God-honoring, Word-revering, heartfelt, and historically and culturally informed.
Worship by the Book – D A Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Ashton, R Kent Hughes
I enjoyed this book, although parts of it were slightly outdated (from 2002, you would have thought it would have kept pace, but I don’t think so, quite). There is an introduction by Don Carson (typically thoughtful) and then three chapters describing worship at the Round Church Cambridge, College Church Wheaton IL, and Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in downtown Manhattan, New York. Tim Keller’s chapter is worth the price of the book alone and I loved his thoughts about Postmodernism and Calvin’s ideas of how worship should be conducted. Worth quoting:
"Calvin’s corporate worship tradition resonates with many of the concerns of postmodern people. They have a hunger for ancient roots and a common history; Calvin emphasises this through liturgy in a way that neither traditional Free Church worship nor contemporary praise worship does. They have a hunger for transcendence and experience; Calvin provides awe and wonder better than the cognition-heavy Free Church services in the Zwinglian-Puritan tradition and better than the informal and breezy “seeker services.” Postmodern people are much more ignorant of basic Christian truth than their forebears and need a place to come and learn it, yet they are also more distrustful of “hype” and sentimentality than older generations. Calvin’s worship tradition avoids the emotional manipulation that so frightens secular people about charismatic services, even though they desire the transcendence that contemporary-praise appears to offer."
Thank goodness too, that Keller finally puts paid to the notion that musical form and style are completely neutral – some music is simply inappropriate for worship. However he also shows that style boundaries are much more elastic than traditionalists would have you believe.