Reforming Worship: According to the Word

This is a great book.  I’m sorry I put off reading it for a few years!  Phil Ryken, Derek Thomas, and Ligon Duncan edited Give Praise to God together as a festschrift for J. M. Boice, as sort of a tribute to Boice’s emphasis on worship according to the Word.  The structure of the book is 4-fold:  1) The Bible and Worship, 2) Elements of Biblical Worship, 3) Preparing for Biblical Worship, and 4) Worship, History, and Culture.

I especially liked Duncan’s first two chapters, which is basically a two part essay on the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW).  Here’s Duncan: “True Christian worship is by the book.  It is according to Scripture.  The Bible alone ultimately directs the form and content of Christian worship” (p. 20).

He goes on.  “The key benefit of the regulative principle is that it helps to assure that God – not man – is the supreme authority for how corporate worship is to be conducted, by assuring that the Bible, God’s own special revelation (and not our opinions, tastes, likes, and theories), is the prime factor in our conduct of and approach to corporate worship” (p. 24).  Duncan explains the RPW from the OT and NT in the last part of this (his first) essay.

He also has a penetrating discussion of idolatry and the RPW.  You’ll have to read the full essay, especially the golden calf section (cf. Ex 32), but here’s where he goes:  “…there are two ways to commit idolatry: worship something other than the true God or worship the true God in the wrong way.

I’ll stop here, and post more about this essay (and Duncan’s other one), as well as a few parts of the fine essays by Ryken and Thomas as well as Terry Johnson.  I may not blog on it for awhile, but to increase your curiosity, Robert Godfrey has a great article on worship and the emotions, Nick Needham has a good one on the church’s worship through the ages, and Mike Horton closes the book with a great discussion of modernism and postmoderism (“Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today”).

You’ll want this book if you need more “training” on the whats and hows of worship according to the Word.  Also, for our RR friends not in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition, I’m pretty confident it would wrestle you around as you consider what God-honoring worship is all about.  Enjoy!

shane lems

sunnyside wa

1 thought on “Reforming Worship: According to the Word”

  1. Yeah – I like this book very much as well. A great collection of very fine essays in honor of a really great man. Though I don’t read a lot of individual-piety type stuff, the chapter in there on “private worship” was really excellent, IMHO.


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