Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Engaging with God: A Review by Ron Man

If you've read anthing I've written, you've no doubt heard me reference David Peterson's book Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Ron Man of Worship Notes recently reviewed this phenomenal work. It's worth your read.

ENGAGING WITH GOD:A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF WORSHIPby David Peterson (InterVarsity Press, 2002)
(originally published by Eerdmans, 1992)
InterVarsity Press is to be commended for not allowing this important book to stay out of print. Harold Best, former dean of the Conservatory at Wheaton college, said in the Introduction to his book Unceasing Worship (InterVarsity Press, 2003), “Every thoughtful Christian should read Engaging with God by David Peterson. . . .I cannot begin to say how much Peterson’s work has meant to me. . . . My hope is that I will quietly and humbly walk alongside him, not so much to add to what he has done as perhaps to say the same things another way.” High praise indeed! And if “every thoughtful Christian” should read this book, how much more every pastor and worship leader! David Peterson, formerly of Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, is now the Principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, England. A careful and insightful exegete and theologian, he has provided the most thorough treatment available of the biblical material on worship. As a “biblical theology,” the book takes the approach of examining the subject of worship as it is revealed and practiced
in each successive period of biblical history and each major section of Scripture— hence the Old Testament, the Gospels, the letters of Paul, the epistle to the Hebrews, and Revelation are all dealt with separately,though shown to be complementary and consistent in their development of the theme of worship:
“Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that he proposes and in the manner that he makes possible” (p. 283).

This is not light reading, but well repays careful study and digesting. The author has written this book, in his own words, because “we have enough how-to-do-it books and not enough reflection on worship as a total biblical idea” (p. 21). Amen! Peterson expresses something of the depth and breadth of worship, in its biblical understanding, in the Introduction:

“The theme of worship is far more central and significant in Scripture than many Christians imagine, it is intimately linked with all the major emphases of biblical theology such as creation, sin,covenant, redemption, the people of God and the future hope. Far from being a peripheral subject, it has to do with the fundamental question of how we can be in a right relationship with God and please him in all that we do. One way or another, most of the books from Genesis to Revelation are concerned
with this issue. “Although there is a preoccupation with what may be termed specifically ‘religious’ activities in various Old Testament contexts, ritual provisions are set within the broader framework of teaching about life under the rule of God. In fact, worship theology expresses the dimensions of a life relationship
with the true and living God. This becomes even more obvious when the theme of worship in the New Testament is examined, Contemporary Christians obscure the breadth and depth of the Bible’s teaching on this subject when they persist in using the word ‘worship’ in the usual, limited fashion, applying it mainly to what goes on in Sunday services.” (pp. 17-18)

Engaging with God has been translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Romanian; and additional translations, including Bulgarian, are underway.

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