Skip to main content

Book: Worshipping with Calvin

Today’s Book is one of those big, thick nerdy books. I like those books Smile

I think the first point to be made is that this is Worshipping with Calvin. Not “Worshipping Calvin,” or even “Worshipping like Calvin.” Too often, Reformed Protestant folks are accused of trying to sidle up more with their favorite Reformer than paying attention to the Word.

With that in mind, consider what Calvin and the other Reformers set out to do: recover Biblical practice in the Church at large. Most of them had shortcomings and blind spots in diverse areas, but they attempted to work through the implications of Biblical seriousness on all portions of life.

This includes the “worship” aspects of the Church gathered in community. This is the concept of worship addressed in this book—while there is adequate acknowledgement that worship is in all of life, the focus here is on the Church gathered.

Terry L. Johnson’s work here is clearly intended for extended thought and perusal. This is no summer beach read.

If it’s not a summer beach read, then what it is?

Worshipping with Calvin is a serious look at how Calvin structured and led churches in worship, and how those traditions morphed over time. Some attention is given to the rise of neo-Calvinism in Western Christianity, and this justifies the publication of the book. After all, if a church is embracing a Calvinist direction in its theology, as Capitol Hill Baptist in DC does, then a logical practical question is how that affects the worship gatherings of the church.

The case is made here for a robust worship service based in Scripture. Scripture should drive the content of the songs, Scripture should be read, and Scripture should be preached.

In the music, particularly, care is taken to highlight the value of varied types of music. Though many of the early Reformers had a preference for Psalm-singing only, Johnson advocates hymnody with a strong Biblical content as well. This is valuable.

Overall, I can appreciate the effort here. I think that Johnson is answering problems that affect some churches, but not all, though they are potentially hazardous anywhere people are involved.

I certainly must mention the largest drawback of this book: ENDNOTES. There are explanations and alternate points of view noted some hundred pages after the fact. It’s the publisher, but it’s still a drawback.

Additionally, I would suggest that this is a text for a serious study of worship, and would be a valuable part of a leadership examination of a church’s worship practice. It’s not a Sunday School book, for certain, and probably not one that will hold the interest of those moving quickly through topics.

I am not willing to say that Johnson has given us exactly how every church ought to worship, but he has given some excellent food for thought to the church.

432 pp, softcover, from EP Books. Also on Kindle.

Book received in exchange for the review. Review initially appeared at Learning, Teaching, and Laughing, my personal blog.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.



First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…