Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.
First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Western World. The reading is easy to work through (and is aided by FOOTNOTES! over endnotes).
Finally, let us turn to the value of Aniol’s work. If you are in church leadership, you have dozens of books screaming out to be read. Or at least, you should. While the Bible is always our first look, we should take in the wisdom of many others. Is this one worth moving to the top of your stack?
It is. The biblical work is sound. The conclusions are well-grounded. In truth, if someone cannot work within the borders laid down in Aniol’s work here, then they are going to land more in entertainment than worship. This also works as a foundation for discussion in church leadership about worship disputes.
In all, this will move the discussion of worship from “hymns, choruses, drums, guitars…” to a better footing of Biblical truth and proper life as strangers and aliens in the current world.
(Book provided by Kregel Academic for review. Click HERE to read an excerpt.)