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In The Splendor Of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century Paperback – October 1, 2008
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Jon Payne has given us a gem in his new book, In the Splendor of Holiness . Cutting through the forest of opinion on worship, Dr. Payne gets to the heart of the matter in a brief but succinct account of what constitutes the heart of corporate worship. Nothing is more important than the public worship of God, but our age has yielded to the gods of flippancy and utilitarian- ism. It seems all too obvious to ask, what has God commanded that we do when we gather together for public worship? The answer? Here it is in his book! I cannot recommend it too highly. It deserves to be in every Christian home. --Dr. Derek Thomas, Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson
In the Splendor of Holiness is clear, well-reasoned, practical, and, above all things, thoroughly biblical. And it is as needed as it is helpful. I will consider this as essential reading for officer training classes, and it is suitable for distribution to prospective new member classes. Through Jon Payne's work we hear the voice of our Good Shepherd on a subject that has become part of the ruins of evangelicalism. Thankfully, with pastors like Dr. Payne, our Savior's church will be fed and led. This is a tool that every Reformed pastor should want his people to know and love. ----Dr. David W. Hall, Senior Minister, Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, GA
... In the Splendor of Holiness by Jon Payne is an excellent instrument to communicate the elements of true, biblical worship as well as a training manual for both the leadership and membership of a local church in fulfilling God's call to exalt in the praise of His glorious grace. --Dr. Harry L. Reeder III, Senior Minister, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, AL
About the Author
Jon David Payne was born and raised in Santa Clara, California. Dr. Payne is a graduate of Clemson University, Reformed Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh, New College. He has been serving as minister of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Douglasville, GA since June 2003.
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Leaves you wanting to dive into his suggested resources.
First, In The Splendor Of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century is an extremely practical book. In logical order, this is not "first," but this is certainly the thing that most commends the reading of this book in my opinion. I said that it is a one hour read, but I would actually recommend blocking out about four hours with your wife and reading it with a pen and notebook in hand. Dr. Payne doesn't just make a biblical case for how congregations should worship; he gives specific suggestions for how congregants can best participate in biblical congregational worship. This book should be read with the intent of implementing it (If the worship at your church isn't biblical, plead with the elders to make it so. If they will not, find elders who will and ask that you might be entrusted to their spiritual oversight and care instead.)
Second, it is an extremely Biblical book. The great majority of the book is reasoned from the Bible--both simply and convincingly. It explains from the Bible why worship must be only according to God's instructions. It makes statements that are corroborated by Scripture references that clearly teach exactly that point. The correctives that he ends up making are devastating to what passes for worship in most evangelical churches today but is not congregational worship by biblical standards. This is a great starting point. I say "starting point," however, because there are several instances in which I think his own biblical argumentation could lead to a further reformation of worship even than he is arguing for. But, for those who are directionless about what the Bible commands for worship, this is a necessary and eye-opening read.
Third, this book has several sections that are especially superb. These include a section on why man-made liturgy is idolatrous (pp16-20) and especially on how every church has liturgy whether they acknowledge it or not (p18). The point about "style" and "preference" on p22 is excellent, as is the interaction with so-called "Christian liberty" arguments on p24. And I could continue like this throughout the entire book. I do want to mention, however, that the discussion of Baptism on pp91-93 is one of the clearest and most convincing Biblical explanations that I have ever read or heard on how circumcision looks forward to and is superseded by covenant baptism in the Bible. Likewise, the biblical view of the Lord's Supper (the "real, spiritual presence" view) receives an absolutely superb treatment on pp95-99.
In sum, this is a brief, easy, practical, biblical read, with some concise sections that are the best I have ever read on that particular subtopic. I heartily commend this book to you.
One part of the book I did not enjoy was the music portion. I'm not an advocate for all contemporary services and it's heartbreaking and unbiblical for a church to break over musical preference. Payne gave great reasons to sing Hymns and Psalms, which I whole-heartily agree with. What he neglected was "spiritual songs." He argued that there should be a certain awe within the music we sing, and in his defense writes "there is a great difference between music which one makes to entertain men at the table in the houses...(and Psalms and Hymns) Many of our most favorite hymns use folk tunes and popular melodies to carry our Christian lyrics. A mighty fortress was a pub song that was sung throughout the 15th century. Bar songs are now filled awe? I would say yes, but that's another topic.
I love hymns for their four part harmonies, rich teachings and the fact that they encourage congregational singing. But, the hymn style in which we sing in is nothing like what earlier church sang, so we can't logically say "hymns melodies are more biblical!" Tersian harmony (harmony built upon intervals of 3rds) wasn't widely used until the 17th century. Before that, madrigals (which in no way was congregational singing, because they couldn't keep up or they were literate), monophonic songs, unaccompanied songs and chants were used. Beleivers have always sung in the style of their day. I would argue, WHY NOT!?
Many praise songs like "the power of the cross," "be unto your name," and "Wonderful merciful Savior" are full of great reformed theology and can be sung in four part even with a band. These songs promote the awe and worship of God that is worthy to Him. To make a point, if the words are the most important part of the church's music, there are many hymns I wont sing because I think they lack theological integrity. These accusations shouldn't just be against modern Praise songs, because we'd be guilty of a double standard. Have unbiblical/unedifying praise songs and hymns been written in the past. YES! It is our job as believers to sift out the gems and to throw away the dirt and mud (not the genre of music itself because of preference).
I wish Payne hadn't brought up these types of points within the music section of his book. I wouldn't say his options soured my outlook upon his views in the remaining chapters, but did leave a bad taste in my mouth even after I completely my reading.