les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book review : Worshipping with Calvin, by Terry L Johnson

subtitled "Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism".

All through my Christian experience I have hugely appreciated the preaching and writing of Don Carson. Especially his preaching. For me the fact that Don Carson is preaching at a conference is a good reason to attend.

I have noticed certain ... let's say anomalies, irregularities... over the years. Not with Don's preaching. He maintains his exegetical thoroughness, his concern to exalt Christ, his love for his hearers with a consistency to which I aspire sincerely.

No, the anomalies and irregularities have been evident in the circumstances surrounding Don's messages. Especially the times of worship. Let me explain.

An anomaly. I don't know what else to call it, if not a glaring clash. In a conference a few years ago Don spoke on the need for A Biblical Evangelical Spirituality. I think it was that very morning that the group leading the worship announced that all the songs that morning would be accompanied by percussion alone, especially the djembe, which in Africa is highly prized for its healing qualities and greatly used by Christian healers, too.

Um, someone pinch me, please.

An irregularity. On our arrival in France we quickly learned one of the favourite praise songs in our churches. It sets words from Revelation 15 : 3 - 4 to a lively tune in broadly hebrew style. The words are followed by a chorus on "laï, laï, laï" which mounts chromatically. You sing "laï" typically 82 times, depending on the number of times the chorus is repeated. So far so good.

But at one conference where Don was about to speak the music group omitted the verse and just had us sing "Laï laï laï".

Don is a gentleman. His tact and politeness are admirable. He is a model of restraint and control.

But all the same I would LOVE to know what he thought and to hear his views on these things.

Well read Terry Johnson and you'll soon know what he would say! This book is a call to serious reflection on the manner, style, concern, intent and content of our worship. Terry wants to call us back.

Back to a serious approach to worship.
Back to a word-centered approach to worship.
Back to a simple approach to worship.
Back to a Spirit-dependent approach to worship.

It's extremely closely argued. You'll need to read the book slowly, because he does sweeping historical surveys in a small number of pages.

It's very focused on a particular liturgical approach to worship. Not necessarily with set words, but with a certain form and structure nevertheless.

It's strongly paedobaptist, as you'd expect. Baptist friends will not be in total agreement with his historical survey.

There are big bibliographies, notes and references at the back of the book which would make it a useful reference work for students at reformed seminaries.

It would also be a useful book for people wanting to work out the implications of their newly found calvinistic convictions for worship.

It deserves to be read, studied, considered and evaluated widely and deeply.

A review copy in Kindle format was supplied free of charge by Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to give a positive review.

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