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Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God's Narrative Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

God has a story. Worship does God's story.

There is a crisis of worship today. The problem goes beyond matters of style--it is a crisis of content and of form. Worship in churches today is too often dead and dry, or busy and self-involved. Robert Webber attributes these problems to a loss of vision of God and of God's narrative in past, present, and future history. As he examines worship practices of Old Testament Israel and the early church, Webber uncovers ancient principles and practices that can reinvigorate our worship today and into the future.

The final volume in Webber's acclaimed Ancient-Future series, Ancient-Future Worship is the culmination of a lifetime of study and reflection on Christian worship. Here is an urgent call to recover a vigorous, God-glorifying, transformative worship through the enactment and proclamation of God's glorious story. The road to the future, argues Webber, runs through the past.

Robert E. Webber (1933-2007) was, at the time of his death, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and served as the president of the Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida. His many books include Ancient-Future Faith and The Younger Evangelicals.

About the Author

Robert E. Webber (1933-2007) was, at the time of his death, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and served as the president of the Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida. His many books include Ancient-Fut
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Product Details

  • Series: Ancient-Future
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801066247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801066245
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the first Webber book I have read. I was originally uncomfortable with his ideas (about five years ago) but having recently been dismayed with all modernist Christianities (be they liberal, Evangelical, or some Reformed), and given a recent interest in Patristic thought, I decided to give this book a chance.

Webber defines "ancient-future" worship as "publically enacting God's narrative." The worshipping church tells God's narrative, which Webber carefully defines, following the Eastern tradition, as "Creation-Incarnation-Recreation." Given this, an ancient-future church will proclaim God's Scriptures as "true," but not merely in the Enlightenment style of "proving the Bible."

Ancient-future worship will climax in the Eucharist. The Eucharist tells the story of the Incarnate, who while being in the womb of the Virgin, united humanity to his nature so that he may redeem humanity and the world. The bread and wine symbolize the life of the world; the life being given to the world. Christ is really present. The Patristics, contra the moderns (be they conservative or liberal), saw the reality inherent in a sign.

Conclusion:
I don't have any cons with this book. However, I do have some concerns with the movement. Webber has good ideas and recommendations because Webber brings a tremendous balance and depth to the discussion. Many of the followers, particularly evangelicals who read Christianity Today (sorry; there's no nice way I can say this) will read Webber without the heavy Byzantine spectacles and come up with some very wacky applications. While the Ancient-Faith movement is superior to most of what passes as American Evangelicalism, it more often seems like "there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
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This is a book that I wrestled with as I read through it.

I believe it's the final book in the "Ancient Future" series, but it's the first I've read by Webber. I didn't get the sense that you absolutely have to read these books in order as I immediately engaged with the subject-matter and the approach.

In this book, Webber made me grapple with how the Enlightment and modern thinking has impacted my understanding and approach to the Bible, prayer, worship, and the Eucharist. At numerous times, Webber made me uncomfortable (my modernist mind?!) to wrestle with the mysteries of God.

I'm sure this book is most often used by church leaders and pastors, but it shouldn't be exclusively read by that group. It's an important resource for the laity as well and will challenge you in how you read the Word, how you pray, and in the story of God's interaction with humanity across history.
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This was the first book of the late Robert Webber that I read. I was in the process of doing research for a course that I was scheduled to teach on the history of Christian worship. Webber's book was a true eye-opener. His thesis that we tell God's story in worship was unique and one that I had not considered. The more I read, the more sense it made. I was particularly impressed by the idea that worship is both a remembrance of what God has done in the past and an anticipation of what He will do in the future.

I also found Webber's fairly brief discussion in Chapter 4 of how the telling of God's story in worship gradually was lost to be insightful and fascinating. In this chapter he traces the degeneration of worship from its fulness in the early centuries of the Christian era through the Roman Mass, the Reformational liturgies, the revivalistic services of Methodism and American frontier worship, down to the truncated worship we find today in those churches that have reduced the elements of worship to half an hour of singing praise choruses (or even worse, Christianized rock) followed by a time of "teaching," in which the former is typically a mini-concert and the latter is little more than a therapeutic message with scant emphasis on the Gospel. (I would have liked to have seen him expand on all this in greater detail.)

Chapter 7, in which Webber discusses the Eucharist, is also quite insightful. In it he shows how the Table of the Lord not only remembers the redemptive work of the Son at Calvary, but also anticipates the redemption of all creation and the eternal banquet in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
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Format: Paperback
In his posthumously published book, Ancient-Future Worship, Robert Webber presents a deceptively simple definition of worship: "worship does God's story" (p. 29) by which he means that worship is rooted in God's saving deeds in the past (the "ancient) while at the same time it anticipates God's vision for the world (the "future").

It almost seems too obvious to state--if we have already recognized that authentic Christian corporate worship is shaped by Scripture and is Trinitarian--that worship should be about God's people publically enacting God's narrative. Yet this is a foundational truth.

Moreover, God's story is not simply told from the perspective of an objective observer of ancient history: through worship, the community of God becomes actively involved in the redemption story of God and God's people. Just as the Jews---though separated by many generations--could speak of the Passover as an event in which they had been participants, so we as Christians can speak of the cross and the Eucharist as participants.
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