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Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship Paperback – August 3, 2002
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"Peterson has researched 160 books in preparation for this project, which speaks to his thoroughness. My guess is that he found every instance of worship in the Bible. Recommend this book to your pastor, worship leaders, and Bible teachers; but warn them that it is deep reading. Each chapter concludes with a summary in laymen's terminology, which helps make it more readable." (Cindy Grabill, Church Libraries, Summer 2010)
Another first-rate example of Peterson's careful exegesis and gospel-centered hermeneutic. (Alex S. Leung, six steps, January 19, 2008)
"The author cuts back through the undergrowth of our inherited traditions to the clarity and straightforwardness of the biblical teaching. . . . Despite the scholarship behind it, all this is done with a beautiful simplicity and clarity that makes the book readily available to a wide circle of readers." (I. Howard Marshall)
About the Author
David Peterson was senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College, Sydney, where he still teaches part time. He served as principal of Oak Hill College, London, from 1996 to 2007. His books include Engaging with God, Possessed by God (both IVP) and Hebrews and Perfection (Cambridge University Press).
I. Howard Marshall (1934-2015) was a world-renowned New Testament scholar and the author or editor of at least thirty-eight books and more than 120 essays and articles. He taught New Testament at the University of Aberdeen for thirty-five years and was a professor emeritus for sixteen years. Among his numerous publications on the New Testament are his commentaries on the Gospel of Luke, Acts, 1-2 Thessalonians, the Pastoral Epistles and 1 Peter and 1-3 John. He is coauthor of Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters and Revelation and coeditor of the New International Greek Testament Commentary series, as well as the author of the series' volume on Luke. He has also authored New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel. Marshall was an evangelical Methodist who was born and lived most of his life in Scotland. He received a PhD from the University of Aberdeen and a DD from Asbury Theological Seminary.
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As can be seen from the section titles, this book is anything but a superficial summary of what the Bible says about worship. It is relatively in-depth. At the same time, it can serve as a detailed introduction to the biblical understanding of worship. I found most of what Peterson says to be well reasoned and plausible.
What has been sorely lacking is a balanced and sound exegetical development of a Biblical theology of worship FROM THE BIBLE, apart from the contemporary rhetoric and 'worship wars' which characterizes so much current thought.
Peterson begins with a thoughtful (though not entirely comprehensive...Carson's seems more thorough to me) definition of worship, and works through detailed examinations of key OT and NT passages of prescriptive and descriptive texts. I found his textual work both defensible and insightful, and his conclusions provocative and resonant with the corpus of the Scriptures.
This book, in conjunction with the recent "Worship By the Book" (edited by D.A. Carson) to be the two most useful materials on worship I have found for my preparations.
Other works which I found more narrowly useful on particular related subtopics include John Frame & Marva Dawn (useful in a David Wells-ish postmodern perspective on worshippers, although a subtle Christian Feminism perspective is noted).
Hopefully, an objective reading of Peterson and Carson will yield similar conclusions in your studies.
A key thesis in this book is:
When Christians become preoccupied with the notion of offering God acceptable worship in a congregational context and thus with the minutiae of church services, they need to be reminded that Paul's focus was on the service of everyday life. (p. 186)
He also worries:
As the century draws to a close, there is generally more interest in congregational life and ministry but a dangerous tendency towards introversion in many churches. Indeed, congregational worship in some contexts can be like `a narcotic trip into another world to escape the ethical responsibilities of living a Christian life in this world (P. 187).
Peterson so proves his case moving exhaustively through the whole Bible one step at a time. D. A. Carson says "Peterson is very persuasive," in Worship by the Book.
The heart of the issue: Peterson sees biblical teaching on worship in a way that rejects the notion of worship as a meeting type. Interestingly, he points out that the New Testament never uses any of the words for worship for a gathering of the church except Acts 13:1-2 (which was a leadership meeting). Instead, the purpose given for gathering is edification, encouragement, and the ministry of the word. The notion of a "worship service" is a throwback to the Old Testament.
Every believer owes it to him or herself to read this book.
Dennis McCallum, author, Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You
While I did not agree with everything I read, this book is very "engaging" and has really stimulated my thinking on the subject.