Sunday, May 17, 2015

In spirit and in truth

Rev Paul Manuel is the reason I first thought seriously about the meaning and manner of worship. While a member of our church he taught our adult Bible class. One of our studies investigated what Scripture shows about worship, especially in the Old Testament. The result was not a commitment to a particular style of worship but a recognition of its importance and purpose and a consciousness by both worship leaders and congregation of we are doing when worshipping. After that study we thought intentionally about how to do it.

Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has recently listed ten of the books published in 2014 "that every preacher should read." The first title on that list is For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship, by Daniel I. Block, an Old Testament professor at Wheaton College. I believe Pastor Paul might approve.

From the first review at Amazon:
...[H]e states the two foundational principles of the book; First, true worship is about the glory of God, rather than human pleasure; and second, the Scriptures guide us in how to worship God. Block then brings out the legitimacy of looking at the Old Testament – what he calls the “First Testament” – with regard to this subject, "Although most assume that unless the New Testament reiterates notions found in the First Testament the latter are obsolete, we should probably assume the opposite: unless the New Testament expressly declares First Testament notions obsolete, they continue.." Finally, the author crafts a working definition of God-honoring, Biblical worship: "True worship involves reverential human acts of submission and homage before the divine Sovereign in response to his gracious revelation of himself in accord with his will." ....

Block then goes on to tackle a host of matters in “For the Glory of God”. Each chapter follows a basic pattern of looking first at the Old Testament, moving to the New Testament, and then coming around to how it all helps the reader to think about the facet of worship he has just covered....includ[ing] the object and subject of worship; daily life, family life and work as worship; the many ordinances and rudiments of worship to include hearing and reading Scripture, prayer, music, sacrifice, the liturgical calendar, design of sacred space, and role of leadership in worship. ....
.... Block wants to “recover” a biblical theology of worship. Why does a biblical theology of worship need to be recovered? First, he doesn’t like the pragmatism of much of today’s evangelical worship and believes the pragmatic approach can be remedied with deep biblical reflection on the subject. Second, he observes that many Christians tend to skip over the Old Testament when thinking about worship. Block, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College outside Chicago, believes a true biblical theology of worship must incorporate all of Scripture, including extensive interaction with Old Testament worship forms and principles. In other words, he wants to give people a biblical theology of worship, not just a New Testament theology of worship. ....

Since each chapter tackles a specific element of worship, the book is almost a collection of biblical theologies of worship that helps us think biblically-theologically about each worship theme. This makes it a great reference resource for those needing to think carefully about a certain aspect of worship, such as the ordinances and music. ....
That reviewer, Grant Gaines, also identifies what he considers a weakness in Block's approach, but concludes "The book on the whole is a superb resource for helping the church think biblically about worship in light of the entire canon of Scripture, and I highly recommend it."

The book's contents:

1. Toward a Holistic, Biblical Understanding of Worship
2. The Object of Worship
3. The Subject of Worship
4. Daily Life as Worship
5. Family Life and Work as Worship
6. The Ordinances as Worship
7. Hearing and Proclaiming the Scriptures in Worship
8. Prayer as Worship
9. Music as Worship
10. Sacrifice and Offerings as Worship
11. The Drama of Worship
12. The Design and Theology of Sacred Space
13. Leaders in Worship
Appendix A: Doxologies of the New Testament
Appendix B: Hymnic Fragments in the Pauline Epistles
Appendix C: Sunday Worship in Early Christianity
Indexes

To order the Kindle version (I just did): For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship