Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: "Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views"

In the tradition of many recent works on various controversial topics, Perspectives on Christian Worship: 5 Views is a "debate in a book." How do we worship God properly? That is a big question for which there is much disagreement today. This book seeks to contribute to the debate by allowing five traditions to be heard in their own words and responded to in an orderly way.

Pinson sets the stage for the book in the introduction, where he presents a brief sketch of the history of worship. He makes note of the "tension between the need to remain faithful to the gospel and the Christian tradition while at the same time faithfully communicating that Evangel in a changing and complex cultural milieu that presents mammoth challenges to the continued witness of the Christian church." It is, in general, this tension that each contributor addresses in their essay. Five views on worship are presented by leading pastors/theologians in their various traditions: liturgical (Timothy Quill), traditional evangelical (Ligon Duncan), contemporary (Dan Wilt), blended (Michael Lawrence and Mark Dever), and emerging (Dan Kimball). After the presentation of each view, the other contributors are given a chance to respond to the said view. Below is the conclusion of my review followed by a link to the review:
In conclusion, this book is an excellent introduction and addition to the worship debate. There are a few things we would have liked have seen in it. First, while it is admitted that this book is not a complete coverage of the spectrum of worship traditions, a charismatic view would have been an excellent addition, particularly if the chapter included some information about their view of gifts in worship. Second, we would have liked it if each contributor had been given a chance to do one final response to the rebuttals. Of course, both of the previous desires would have added considerable length to the book and probably more time to its construction, so it may not have been feasible. Third, we would have like some kind of wrap up from the editor—something that would pull major strands together and emphasize points of agreement. A final chapter of this sort could have potentially added to the overall contribution of this book to the worship debate. 
Those who would like to read this book might find it helpful first to read H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture. Some of the underlying issues of the debate in this book stem from a theology (conscious or not) of how Christians should engage culture. Niebuhr’s five views would be helpful in thinking about the philosophy that drives a representative’s theology of worship. Of course, that adds a lot of extra reading.  
We would recommend this book for pastors, seminary students, or any other believer who wants to thoughtfully consider their worship of God. The views set forth, while not representing the complete spectrum of Protestant worship theologies, give a great introduction to five of the major theologies of worship extant in the Protestant Church. In addition, the endnotes of each chapter provide an excellent resource for further study on a particular topic, if the reader is so inclined.
You can read the whole review here

By His Grace,

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