Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JBTM 8:2 (Fall 2011) p. 161
Perspectives on Christian Worship: Five Views. Edited by J. Matthew Pinson. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010. Pp. 352, $24.99 paperback.
Books are frequently released in the evangelical community on the subject of worship. Unfortunately, many of these monographs focus on the narrow confines of music, technology, or similar issues. J. Matthew Pinson’s Perspective on Christian Worship: Five Views offers much more. While it is one of many edited volumes in Broadman & Holman’s “Perspectives” series, it is as relevant and timely as any.
Matt Pinson’s introductory essay is a well researched overview of the history of Christian worship. He offers two salient observations: First, “worship in the early church was relatively simple” (1). On the basis of many early church studies, he asserts that it was not until the fourth century that Christian worship became more ornate, complex, and highly acculturated. Second, the underlying dynamic that has characterized, and to some extent still characterizes, many of the differences among worship traditions is the tension between fidelity to Scripture and tradition, and the desire to be relevant to outsiders. It is these two observations by Pinson that help the reader to evaluate the five approaches to worship that unfold over the next 300+ pages.
Timothy Quill offers the chapter on liturgical worship. Quill says the Liturgy consists primarily of two elements: 1) The Service of the Word, and 2) The Service of Holy Communion. All other elements of worship accompany and flow out of these. Quill asserts with confidence that while some aspects of worship today could be considered adiaphoron (non-essentials), this historic vision of worship is biblical, fosters reverence, creates unity, and performs other functions that stems the tide of what he sees as the shallowing of Protestant worship (29). Quill responds to this trend by outlining a vision of the worshipping church as a counterculture—“a culture unlike any other” (30). The structure and content of the liturgy achieves this. Quill shows how the tradition has related various liturgical elements of worship to Scripture. He strongly defends the formality and ceremonial nature of Liturgical worship. These ceremonies “have faithfully given expression to the pure doctrine and faith revealed in Christ” (31). The historic liturgy is a superior approach due to its benefits (which he enumerates), and also because it represents a tradition that is richer than worship that quickly concedes to passing trends. At the heart of liturgical worship, in Quill’s view, is Christ. For him, “the Liturgy and the sermon are evangelical—gospel or gift-centered” (55). They are the place where the Lord gives out His gifts to the worshipper....
Click here to subscribe