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Four Favorites on Worship

Davis, Wallace, Old, Horton

Reviewed by: Larry E. Wilson

Date posted: 01/20/2013

If anything, the so-called worship wars spawned a flurry of helpful books on the topic of worship. That makes it hard to narrow down a list of favorites. Still, I would suggest that the following address the most basic issues:

1. John Jefferson Davis, Worship and the Reality of God. IVP, 2010. Paperback, 231 pages, list price $22.00.

Davis directly addresses what I deem to be the essential challenge regarding worship that we need to face in our day: do we really believe that the living, triune God is the central Actor in worship, or are we practical "deists"? Davis elaborates on the point—intended to challenge worship of all stripes: "Human actions have now come to occupy the center stage on Sunday mornings, and God is pushed to the margins. Do we hear God's call: 'I am really here among you; will anyone acknowledge my presence, and enter into communion with me?'"

2. Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament. Oliver & Boyd, 1953 (reprinted by Wipf & Stock, 1999). Paperback, 265 pages, list price $27.00

Wallace sees Calvin preeminently as a Bible scholar, so he quotes copiously from Calvin's commentaries. Calvin saw from Scripture what so many apparently fail to see—that the Lord's drawing near himself supernaturally to evangelize and edify by means of his Word and sacraments is the heart, rather than a part, of Christian worship.

3. Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship That Is Reformed according to Scripture. John Knox Press, 1984. Paperback, 208 pages, list price $20.00

Old is a leading expert on Reformed worship. In this book, he shows the deep roots of Reformed worship in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the early church. He makes helpful pastoral suggestions on how to give these biblically Reformed principles contemporary expression (which is quite different from either "traditional worship" or "contemporary worship"). This poses a needed challenge.

4. Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship. Baker, 2002. Paperback, 256 pages, list price $19.00

In this book, Horton seeks to show how Reformed exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology should help us to challenge the status quo in a biblical way, while at the same time leading us to transcend the dilemmas of today's "worship wars."

Reviewed by OP minister Larry E. Wilson.

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