5 Stars Out Of 5
A Breath of Fresh Air!
January 18, 2011
John Jefferson Davis has given the evangelical church a breath of biblical/theological fresh air in his recent book, Worship and the Reality of God! When I heard the author speak at a conference last year and he informed the audience of the impending release of this book, I was anxious with anticipation, and have not been disappointed since receiving and reading the book. Davis is no newcomer to the field of theological literature -- he is a seasoned academic, long-time educator, and has contributed books and articles to a broad field of disciplines, including systematic theology, eschatology, ethics, abortion, economics, and the interplay between science and faith. This book, is far-and-away his greatest contribution so far; and is a must-read for any person who wants to worship God in spirit and truth.
The book is comprehensive in its scope -- it is not an ivory-tower treatment of an abstract concept. Rather, it is motivated by the author's love of God, and the desire to worship Him biblically, completely, and properly. This work was prompted by a sabbatical leave in which Davis visited many churches of every stripe and variety with the intent of observing their worship style and content. His conclusion is that the present evangelical church has missed the mark often in what it calls worship, frequently replacing its own ego for the true object of worhsip, namely, the Lord God Himself. He addresses every ingredient of worship from music to order to prayers to ambiance to technology. He is no prude, not easily dismissing things with which he may disagree. Instead, he seeks to allow for the creative movement of the Holy Spirit in every phase of the worship experience, but with a keen eye to what God really deserves in that experience.
Davis surveys the history of the church, vis-a-vis its worship practices and brings that to bear on his assesment of the changes that have taken place over the centuries. His critique is biblically and historically informed, always fair, and with the goal of finding the proper balance between the extremes. His call to the church is to practice worship as the most important thing we can do, where we meet the trinitarian God, where we offer to Him our very best, and experience His presence in an active, significant, real way. After reading this book, one should be energized, enthused, and passionate about what worship should be -- its message is motivating, encouraging, challenging, and needed given what is being presented as "worship" in the American church landscape.
The resources of the book are worth the price of its purchase -- there is an extensive annotated bibliograpy and helful notes throughout. Dr. Davis is acquainted with the progress of technology and the cultural expressions of our time and he creatively uses them to help us think about our understanding of God and our worship of Him. His corrective to what he assesses to be sub-biblical worship is stated in the following: "At the heart of the application I suggest that some form of an ancient-modern blended worship style be implemented to embody the new paradigm of the real, dynamic, peronal presence of God in Christian worship." He calls for energy, creativity, and passion in our worship, being cognizant of our need to make it trinitarian by not neglecting any Person of the Trinity. Further, he presses the need for more frequent observance of the Lord's Supper and a newer appreciation for liturgical forms.
As one who has grieved over the "worship wars" and the shifts of emphasis that have taken place in the church's worship life, I find this book to be a wonderful resource. Even if you disagree with the conclusions of Professor Davis, your understanding will be enhanced by his careful and reasoned approach to this most important topic.