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Worship by the Book Paperback – August 27, 2002
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From the Back Cover
'What is at stake is authenticity. . . . Sooner or later Christians tire of public meetings that are profoundly inauthentic, regardless of how well (or poorly) arranged, directed, performed. We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due.'---D. A. Carson Worship is a hot topic, but the ways that Christians from different traditions view it vary greatly. What is worship? More important, what does it look like in action, both in our corporate gatherings and in our daily lives? These concerns---the blending of principle and practice---are what Worship by the Book addresses. Cutting through cultural cliches, D. A. Carson, Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes, and Timothy Keller explore, respectively: - Worship Under the Word - Following in Cranmer's Footsteps - Free Church Worship: The Challenge of Freedom - Reformed Worship in the Global City 'This is not a comprehensive theology of worship, ' writes Carson. 'Still less is it a sociological analysis of current trends or a minister's manual chockfull of 'how to' instructions.' Rather, this book offers pastors, other congregational leaders, and seminary students a thought-provoking biblical theology of worship, followed by a look at how three very different traditions of churchmanship might move from this theological base to a better understanding of corporate worship. Running the gamut from biblical theology to historical assessment all the way to sample service sheets, Worship by the Book shows how local churches in diverse traditions can foster corporate worship that is God-honoring, Word-revering, heartfelt, and historically and culturally informed.
About the Author
D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, where he has taught since 1978. He is co-founder (with Tim Keller) of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.
Mark Ashton (MA, Oxford University; MA, Cambridge University) is vicar of the Round Church (Anglican) at St. Andrew the Great, Cambridge, England.
Kent Hughes was in pastoral ministry for 41 years, the last 27 as senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton. He earned his BA from Whittier College (history), an MDiv from Talbot Seminary and a DMin from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Barbara, have four children and 21 grandchildren. He retired from his pulpit ministry at College Church and was given the title Senior Pastor Emeritus in December 2006. He continues to be involved in training pastors biblical exposition and preaching.
Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cities to date.
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Top Customer Reviews
OK, my knee-jerk reaction to this book was, "Finally, some THOUGHTFUL words on worship!" But let's face it, books on evangelical worship are a dime-a-dozen these days with little new being said and a lack of thoughtfulness (not sincerity). As for books on worship and the theology of worship: the standard has been significatly raised.
Not so with this book! Dr. Carson's introductory essay alone is worth this book. But, there is a lot more that it offers: following some insightful remarks by the editor (Carson) there are three theoretical/applicable studies written by Mark Ashton (Anglican -- Cranmer), R. Kent Hughes (Free Church), and Timothy J. Keller (Reformed).
Each writes from their own tradition (as a pastor), providing a semi-apologetic and a passion for the approach. Further, each writer includes sample services to help show what each tradition "looks like" in practice.
I recommend this to:
1)those tired of reading the same old stuff on worship
2)those unfamiliar with the theology of worship (this is a good intro)
3)those unfamiliar with different doctrinal/denominational traditions
4)church elders and leaders who plan worship
5)those desiring more...
These worship wars are a terrible distraction, for as believers who have access to the New Testament we know that worship extends far beyond music. Worship is to encompass all of life rather than only select parts. Worship by the Book is an attempt by four men, D.A Carson, Mark Ashton, Kent Hughes and Timothy Keller, to unravel the meaning of worship as well as to suggest ways that corporate worship, done as the church gathers together, can be most meaningful and most faithful to Scripture.
The book begins with an essay by Carson entitled "Worship Under the Word" in which he builds a framework around which each of the other authors will write. The heart of the essay is a lengthy definition of worship and a twelve-point examination of this definition. It is an unusually long and detailed definition of worship, yet one that for precisely those reasons is exceedingly useful.
Following Carson's introduction, each of the three co-authors is given one chapter to provide insight about worship within their tradition. The first of these is Mark Ashton, who is vicar of the Round Church at St. Andrew the Great in Cambridge, England. His essay is entitled "Following in Cramner's Footsteps" and he proposes that the Anglican Church recover the principles Cramner used to draft the Book of Common Prayer. He suggests each aspect of a worship service needs to meet three criteria: is it biblical, is it accessible and is it balanced? Despite coming from a tradition that seems far removed from mainline evangelicalism, I suspect the bulk of believers with agree with most of what he writes, at least until the final paragraphs where he writes about infant baptism and presumptive regeneration. I was a little bit concerned about a vague, underlying spirit of pragmatism that seemed to lie under the surface of some of what he wrote. Within the sample services, for example, is an outline of a guest service in which they have dumbed-down their Bible translation, opting for the Good News Bible in place of the New International Version. Despite this, there was much within his essay that was of practical value.
The second essay was written by Kent Hughes, pastor of the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. At the heart of Hughes' essay, "Free Church Worship," were his six distinctives of Christian worship: it is God-centered, Christ-centered, Word-centered, consecration, whole-hearted and reverent. I especially appreciated his emphasis on reverence, as this is sorely-lacking in many contemporary churches. He closed with some useful thoughts on music in corporate worship.
The final essay was written by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City. Keller is seen as a trend-setter within the Presbyterian Church of America, so I looked forward to his essay which was entitled "Reformed Worship in the Global City." Keller contrasted and compared contemporary worship and historical worship and proposed a middle-ground, but not one as simple as an even distribution of elements from each. His essay was built around an examination and defense of the Reformed worship tradition. He examined its variety, sources, balance, core, traits and tests. I particularly enjoyed his explanation of the service structure at their church and the cycles of praise, renewal and commitment.
While it was generally a strong essay, it seemed to come apart a little at the end. The author wrote about the importance of including unbelieving musicians in the worship team as a way to evangelize them, arguing that God's common grace given to musicians brings as much glory to Him as do believers using their talents in His service. I much preferred Kent Hughes' take on this same issue. In the previous chapter he wrote "Musicians must see themselves as fellow laborers in the Word and must lead with understanding and an engaged heart. Those who minister in worship services must be healthy Christians who have confessed their sins and by God's grace are living their lives consistently with the music they lead. The sobering fact is that over time the congregation tends to become like those who lead." I was also a bit disappointed by the content of the bulletin inserts of Redeemer Church that were included within this essay as they seemed to favorably quote Mother Teresa, writing that the most important need of the poor is to be wanted.
Despite a few small missteps, I found this book fascinating and convicting. I would encourage any pastor or worship leader to buy this book and to read it through at least a couple of times. It will provide valuable insight into planning worship services that will lead believers into a time of worship that goes far beyond the music. Worship like these men describe is becoming increasingly rare. I hope this volume can help many churches recover worship that is done by the Book.
One caveat: D.A. Carson's section is weighty and, honestly, can be rather off-putting. What he has to say is important and helpful. However, you may find it preferable to come back to his section after you have read the next two. Wading through Carson's section, if you're struggling with it, may cause you to put the book down and miss out on the rest. That would be a real shame. Skim his section or skip it and return after you are more "inspired."