Insights into Biblical Worship from three very different churches

Worship by the Book – D A Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Ashton, R Kent Hughes

I enjoyed this book, although parts of it were slightly outdated (from 2002, you would have thought it would have kept pace, but I don’t think so, quite). There is an introduction by Don Carson (typically thoughtful) and then three chapters describing worship at the Round Church CambridgeCollege Church Wheaton IL, and Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in downtown Manhattan, New York.   Tim Keller’s chapter is worth the price of the book alone and I loved his thoughts about Postmodernism and Calvin’s ideas of how worship should be conducted. Worth quoting:

Calvin’s corporate worship tradition resonates with many of the concerns of postmodern people. They have a hunger for ancient roots and a common history; Calvin emphasises this through liturgy in a way that neither traditional Free Church worship nor contemporary praise worship does. They have a hunger for transcendence and experience; Calvin provides awe and wonder better than the cognition-heavy Free Church services in the Zwinglian-Puritan tradition and better than the informal and breezy “seeker services.” Postmodern people are much more ignorant of basic Christian truth than their forebears and need a place to come and learn it, yet they are also more distrustful of “hype” and sentimentality than older generations. Calvin’s worship tradition avoids the emotional manipulation that so frightens secular people about charismatic services, even though they desire the transcendence that contemporary-praise appears to offer.

Thank goodness too, that Keller finally puts paid to the notion that musical form and style are completely neutral – some music is simply inappropriate for worship. However he also shows that style boundaries are much more elastic than traditionalists would have you believe. You can read the book on Google books, here.

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