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Recalling the Hope of Glory Hardcover – November 15, 2006
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From the Inside Flap
"For any significant change to occur in our worship activities," writes Allen Ross, "we have to get behind forms and methods and changes in style and focus on the biblical theology that informs worship." Out of his concern for worship to be as glorious as it should be, Ross has provided readers with a methodical, detailed study of all the biblical testimony on the subject of worship.
Many "biblical" studies of worship explain Scripture only where it is most applicable to the authors own views, but very few, if any, have attempted an inductive study of worship throughout the entire Bible. Beginning not with early Israelite worship but with creation itself, seasoned biblical scholar Allen Ross uncovers the glories and beauty of worship as it is progressively revealed from its beginning in the Garden of Eden to its climax in the new heavens and new earth. Along the way, the historical development of worship is considered from the religious world in antiquity and worship in the early church to modern traditions and liturgy.
Neither technical, simplistic, nor specific to one denomination, Recalling the Hope of Glory is designed for all Gods people. Pastors, worship leaders, professors, students, and laypeople will find exposition that challenges, informs, and furthers our understanding of glorious worship. Through this study, readers will see patterns and principles of worship emerge, understand more fully our great heritage and its traditions, and discover ways to improve their worship.
From the Back Cover
“The publication of Recalling the Hope of Glory is a splendid addition to the growing number of works on biblical worship. Not only is this work a comprehensive theological vision of creation, incarnation, and re-creation, it is also a genuine work of praise.”
—ROBERT E. WEBBER, author of more than forty books on worship and the church
“Stunning in scope, Recalling the Hope of Glory provides a historical-theological study of worship from creation to the new creation. The logic of Allen Ross’s ranging exposition across the flow of biblical history will challenge every reader and grace every church, regardless of tradition. Here is dazzling substance for recovery of robust worship of our sovereign and holy triune God. Sure to be a standard work.”
—R. KENT HUGHES, pastor, College Church in Wheaton
“This book deals expertly and thoroughly with worship in the Bible. What is most refreshing: it is not at all ideological. People of all persuasions will find it valuable as a reference work. It also gives us a large perspective on worship that is likely to moderate the current discussion.”
—JOHN M. FRAME, professor of systematic theology and philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary
“Allen Ross takes his readers back to the Bible itself to paint a colorful picture of worship that is spiritually vibrant, theologically sound, and focused on Christ. His passion for worship that glorifies God and his thorough knowledge of Scripture are obvious throughout. For the western church, which needs desperately to recover its biblical and theological roots, this book will be an extremely helpful resource.”
—DANIEL I. BLOCK, professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College
“It is remarkable that so many books about worship have so little to say about God. Recalling the Hope of Glory is a welcome exception. Through its patient reflection on specific biblical texts and themes, it evokes a vivid awareness of the God of glory. By developing the theme of glory, this book hones a vision of worship that is at once luminous, transcendent, and inexhaustible.”
—JOHN D. WITVLIET, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
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Top Customer Reviews
Allen P. Ross, a professor at Beeson Divinity School, goes a long way in demonstrating the fallacies of this line of thinking in his important survey of Biblical worship Recalling the Hope of Glory. Working his way from Genesis to Revelation, Ross sheds light on just how much the Holy Scriptures tell us about worshipping the Lord God. Dividing the book into ten parts, each dealing with a phase of development, Ross outlines how God's plan for worship was progressively revealed just as His plan for our salvation was revealed. From the creation to the last trump, we are being led to our true end in the communion with the living God. It is absurd to think that there has not been revealed some level of understanding that is to assist us in moving us toward that final destination.
Ross begins by discussing the purpose of worship. We cannot understand the purpose of worship, the author contnends, until we see its link with the nature and atributes of God. The knowledge we have of God from the revelation of Him in Holy Scripture (i.e., God is holy, God is omnipresent, God is righteous, etc.) all play a role in our understanding the glory of God. Our response to being confronted with the glory of God is to be fear, adoration, confession, commitment, and finally the participation in ritual acts and religious observances that reflect upon God's glory. The observances of God's people have always centered upon sacrifice, proclamation, praise, prayer, and covenant renewal. Each of the ritual acts can be seen from an intellectual, aesthetic, corporate, and moral sense and each of these views satisfies a need of the human spirit. True worship can thus be seen as the celebration of being in a covenant fellowship with the triune God by means of praise, adoration, commitment, and ritual as we have faith that God's covenant promises will be fulfilled.
Ross then examines how the memory of paradise impacts worship. The construction of the Temple with its different levels of access to God symbolically reconstructs the world before the fall while emphasizing that access to God is no longer direct but requires a mediator. The effect both looks back to paradise but also looks forward to reconcilliation with God through the one true mediator Jesus Christ.
Pointing out how, at the time of Abraham, worship since the time of Noah had deteriorated into fertility cults governed by elite priests, Ross shows how God called Abraham and his descendents back to a true worship of Him. An important part of the worship was a sacrifice accompanied by a proclimation of faith in God at the altar. This proclimation was not only through words but also in ritual acts that demonstrated faith in the promises of God throughout the believer's life.
Ross then turns in successive sections on the details of how sacrifice and praise were integrated into the worship of Israel. The combination of prayer and ritual are not in opposition as commonly believed by many but are complementary in true worship. The author follows the development of Jewish worship from Sinai to the Temple and how the two formed a cohesive plan for the Jewish liturgical celebration.
Even with the establishment of worship ordained by God, the fallen nature of man still led yet again to corruption. The author covers how, on different occasions, Israel fell into pagan idolatry. Even when not turning to pagan beliefs, there was also the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be holy but bore bad fruits as injustice and immorality reigned. In such times, God chose prophets among His people to rebuke them and announce both punishment and eventual redemption.
Then turning to the New Testament, Ross shows how Jesus continues the prophetic call to Israel to turn from the hypocrisy of its religious leaders but also now institutes the New Covenant worship. New Testament worship is worship of Christ that is done in Christ as the believers are identified with as His Body. Worship was transformed by Jesus at the Last Supper where He identified His body with the bread of affliction and identified His blood as to be poured out as He pointed to His coming sacrifice on the cross. The institution of the Holy Communion serves is not a mere memorial in the modern Western sense but serves to keep alive the New Covenant promises for the believer.
The author then points out how the New Testament Church would build upon the existing Jewish liturgical tradition with this new ritual. Jewish concepts were reinterpreted through the New Covenant with Christ. All aspects of worship became Christocentric with both Word and Sacrament an indispensible focus of the liturgy.
Ross goes into much detail on the structure of the early Church liturgy, its reliance upon Jewish precedent, and its subsequent development to reflect the new Christian covenant. Many Evangelicals might be surprised and perhaps uneasy by the "Catholic" appearance of early Christian worship. It should be pointed out, however, that all Christian worship until recent centuries followed this basic form. The worship of Israel was always liturgical as was the early Church and all churches that can trace its history from before the Reformation. Among the Churches of the Reformation, the Lutherans, Anglicans, and many Reformed also retained the basic structure of the historic Christian liturgy.
One element that has until recently been downplayed is the eschatological ends of worship. As we come together to thank God and praise Him we should also be reminded of His faithfulness not only in our past and present but also in the future as His plan will be fulfilled. Ross shows how the views of Scripture about the end of days are brought into the liturgy and how elements of true worship point to the coming eschaton. Just as the liturgy and the structure of true woship has always pointed back to paradise, so it also gives us a glimpse of the coming day when we will experience the full presence of God in His glory.
Ross finishes with a list of principles for more glorious worship. These serve to transcend the "worship wars" that too often center on passing styles that are peculiar too a particular generation and places the focus squarely on Christ and how we may proclaim His glory. The implementation of these principles would call for a change among worshippers of the "megachurch" or "emerging church" movements but also among many Evangelicals whose liturgical outlook was formed by earlier "revival" movements that sought emotional experiences at the expense of losing a sense of God's transcendent glory.
Rarely has a book dealt so frankly and honestly with the issue of liturgy and its implications for Evangelical Protestantism. Allen P. Ross has given us a rich and powerful evaluation of the essential elements of true woship that is deeply rooted in the Holy Scriptures and communicates how the true worship of God has developed in response to the progressively revealed state of God's Word. Recalling the Hope of Glory is a challenging work that should be read by anyone concerned with the worship of the God of Glory.
The Bible has much to say about worship and Allen Ross has written an excellent book examining this topic throughout the whole of scripture. His approach is an inductive study of worship beginning at Creation in Genesis and progressing through the history of God’s people ultimately culminating in the new creation in the book of Revelation. Dr. Ross is a scholar of very high caliber but he writes in a style that is warm and inviting. This book has become to me an instant favorite.
Here are a few of the reasons that I found this book to be among my favorites:
1. Dr. Ross’ high view of scripture.
Sometimes when someone is an expert in the original languages, it seems to erode their confidence in the veracity of scripture. Although Dr. Ross is an expert in Hebrew, his writing shines with the certainty that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word.
2. The doxological nature of the book.
After reading the introduction (which is an extended doxology), I found myself in an attitude of Thanksgiving to this great God who has revealed Himself to us in His Word. And that was just the beginning. I found myself putting the book down often to reflect on God’s glory, majesty, and holiness. If this book did not bring me to such worshipful meditations, I would have finished it much sooner. I found myself relishing every chapter.
3. The encompassing scope of this book.
This is truly a biblical theology of worship. I found myself transported to creation, Mt. Sinai, and the temple (to name a few) as Dr. Ross helped me to think deeply about what worship looked like and what principles I could draw from those experiences. Worship is the business of God’s people and it unifies us with those who have gone before as well as those who will come after. It is the business of eternity.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants a fuller understanding of what it means to worship God. Thank you Dr. Ross and Kregel for this aid to God’s people in knowing and loving Him more.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Kregel in exchange for my unbiased opinion.
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This book is overwhelming and complex .. and a fascinating read.