Worship in Spirit and Truthby John M. Frame
Pub. Date: 04/28/1996
Publisher: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
This fresh, practical study of worship throws needed light on questions about worship content, music, atmosphere, structure, freedom, clarity, recent trends, and much more. Study groups, church leaders, and all seeking to enrich their experience of worship will profit from this insightful look at the kind of worship that pleases God.
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This is a book whose very subject stirs up a great deal of controversy within the Presbyterian Church in America. The assumption is made early on that we are to follow the Regulative Principle of worship; that we are to worship only in those manners that are specifically taught in Scripture. This still leaves considerable latitude of views and this book has contributed to no small controversy within the Reformed Churches where strong opinions have entrenched themselves on how we are to utilize the Regulative Principle in directing out worship. The first seven chapters take us on a journey through the foundational principles of worship, covering the history of worship in both Testaments as well as dealing with basic questions of arrangement and tone. This is followed by five chapters in which these principles are applied to the specific areas of the Word, the sacrements, congregational responses, music and even dancing. The final chapter shifts more to a personal testimony of how the author has sought to apply these principles within his own church setting. Each chapter is followed by a series of discussion questions that would make this book highly useful in teaching a small group or Sunday School class. Considerable weight is made via 1 Corinthians 14 that worship is to be made intelligible by placing it into the cultural language of the day. This includes, not only the sermons that are preached, but the music that is used for worship. One valid point that was made which is usually overlooked by those discussing this subject is that in worship, we should not be so preoccupied with God that we ignore one another (Page 8). Worship is seen to be, not only for God's benefit, but also for our benefit. The fact that three chapters are devoted to music demonstrates the author's own preoccupation with this particular subject. One particularly enlightening point was made with regard to the cultural differences between music in the Old Testament era versus our modern perceptions: In our time, we tend to see music mainly as entertainment, or perhaps 'art for art's sake.' Matters of historical importance, however, like congressional bills and international treaties, are always written in prose. To put them into poetry or music would seem to trivialize them. It would, indeed, be ludicrous for a president of the United States to sing a new treaty agreement. But the use of song for this purpose would not have seemed odd in the ancient world. Then, the most important things were commonly expressed in poetry and music (Page 113). The point is made that music involves making the truths of God vivid and memorable.