Archives For Worship

 

Singing The Lord’s Song
in Our Homeland

 
A Feature Review of

Bowing Toward Babylon: The Nationalistic Subversion of Christian Worship in America
Craig M. Watts

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by James Matichuk
 

This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog.
Reprinted with permission. 
*** Visit his blog for many other insightful reviews!

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is living water for our dry, thirsty souls. Nationalism poisons the well.  For citizens of the Kingdom of God, our political, national affiliation is not the most significant thing about ourselves. And yet, America has a long history of co-opting Christian language and worship for nationalistic, political ends.  Craig Watts, the pastor at Royal Palms Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Coral Springs, FL,  probes the reality of American Civil Religion that has permeated our churches in Bowing Toward Babylon.

Several practices of American civil religion have permeated Christian worship in US churches: The placement and honoring of American flags in the sanctuary, celebration of national holidays, the singing of patriotic songs, etc. Watts makes the case that, “rather than being innocuous practices, expressions of nationalism in worship constitute manifestations of misdirected worship that lead to the spiritual malformation of worshippers” (11). In other words, the symbols and story of America (or any nation) is at odds with the Christian story, where Christ calls a new humanity from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  Drawing a long prophetic tradition, Watts calls America, Babylon— a metaphor for an empire or nation where God’s people are tempted to succumb to majority practices and the worship of national gods.

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Withholding Maps?

 
A Review of

Worship in the Way of the Cross: Leading Worship for the Sake of Others
John Frederick

Paperback: IVP Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Kirk Cowell

 

One day, while driving with my wife in the mountains of southern New Mexico, I had a moment of inspiration. My grandfather was famous for taking off down roads he had never seen before, eager to discover some homey restaurant or uncrowded woodlands. On a whim, I decided to emulate him. I turned off the main highway onto a road that seemed to go more-or-less the direction we needed. In those pre-GPS days, we were taking a risk, but for a short while, my spontaneous move worked wonderfully—we passed several gorgeous waterfalls we would have never glimpsed from the highway. But then the road turned the wrong direction. Pavement turned to gravel, then dirt, then mud. My little pickup bogged down, then stopped. As I opened the door and stepped out to assess the situation, Sandy asked, “What do we do now?” “All I know,” I said, “is that we are spinning our tires and home is somewhere off that direction. I don’t know how to get there from here.”

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Marva-Dawn

Today is the birthday of Marva Dawn, one of the theologians who has been most influential for our congregation at Englewood Christian Church.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to her most significant works.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

 

 

1) Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church

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Experiencing  the Now-But-Not-Yet
of God’s Kingdom

 
A Brief Review of 

The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World
Sandra Maria Van Opstal

Paperback:  IVP Books, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Leslie Starasta
 
 

In her most recent book The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, Sandra Maria Van Opstal presents a convincing case for why diverse or multicultural worship must become normal and expected in our churches rather than reserved for special events.  Van Opstal does so using biblical evidence, leadership resources, engaging metaphors and her own personal experiences as a worship leader and trainer.

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Tapping into the “Aesthetic Know-How” of the Worshiping Bodies

A Feature Review of

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed By Jasmine Smart

 

In 2010, Christianity Today awarded Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation a book award for the category of Theology/Ethics. Englewood Review of Books, similarly, awarded DTK as the “best theology book” of 2009. With these accolades, it is not surprising that the second volume of this three-part series of “cultural liturgies” has been highly anticipated.

 

Smith aims to be both accessible and scholarly in Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, but recognizes doing so may get him critics from both camps: “Such is the fate of a hybrid book: too many footnotes and references to German philosophers to qualify as ‘popular’; not enough footnotes and too many creative asides to be properly ‘academic’” (Imagining the Kingdom, xi). Originally, ITK was supposed to be aimed at a more specialized audience of scholars, but thankfully for us non-specialized readers, he has changed his plans and will continue to go the hybrid route for volume two and three.

 

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“Single-minded Devotion to God’s Kingdom”

A review of
??Sanctuary of the Soul:
Journey into Meditative Prayer

by Richard J. Foster

Review by Craig D. Katzenmiller.


SANCTUARY OF THE SOUL - Richard FosterSanctuary of the Soul:
Journey into Meditative Prayer

Richard J. Foster
Hardback: IVP Books, 2011.
Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

“Sometimes I wish these stinking monks would get out in the world and do something!” My friend’s outburst caught me off guard. Kyle and I had visited the Abbey of Gethsemani together two times prior to this trip, and the experience had always been refreshing. On this day, Kyle, who has been accepted to work with a peace organization in Palestine, was trying to understand what good monks offered to the real world. “I don’t think I could live that way,” Kyle confided to me. The cloistered paradise of rural Kentucky just didn’t jive with his desire to “be the change.” I tried to defend the monks’ vocation by saying that they offered prayers for the world and offered the world a place to pray, but Kyle wasn’t buying it. He barked in frustration, “They’re just running away from real life.” Thus was the subject of conversation on our third pilgrimage to Gethsemani. But the vocation of prayer should not be considered as flight away from the things of this world, and many authors have affirmed this claim.

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“Easter Communion”
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu’s; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o’er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

 

An excerpt from

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist:
Unlocking the Secrets of The Last Supper
.
Brant Pitre.
Hardback: Doubleday Religion, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Read our review above…  ]

 

838400: The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus

A Review of

The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor:
Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus

By Mark Labberton
Hardback: Inter-varsity Press, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Laretta Benjamin.

“What seems most pertinent, however, is the overriding confidence that even all of what is now so tragically and horribly wrong in the world, including all of the darkest and most pernicious forms of injustice, will in the providence and purpose of God come to their right end, namely, to be remade to mirror the reality, the glory, of God’s own life and character.  The greatest hope for the human heart is the heart of God” (216)

I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Mark Labberton at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley in Berkeley, California, where he was, at the time, senior pastor.  A friend and I attended a conference on AIDS the church was holding there and then the following year, I attended a conference on Human Trafficking that was also held there in Berkeley.  I have read his book The Dangerous Act of Worship (which I greatly appreciated) and was delighted for the opportunity to read and review this new writing.  From what I have seen, heard and read of Mark Labberton, his passion for justice, mercy, grace and for God’s people to live the reality of the kingdom of God is true and sincere.  I find him to be an encouragement and an inspiration.

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An excerpt from one of the books to be featured in our
first print edition…  (Have you subscribed? )

America’s Four Gods:
What We Say about God–and What That Says about Us.

Paul Froese and Christopher Bader.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]