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Recommended Books on Worship Theology

The following books have provided me with invaluable resources about the spiritual lives and experiences of others within the Christian community.  I can recommend them with no reservations.

DAWN, MARVA J. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.  [Dawn provides a scathing indictment of those who uncritically reshape Christian worship in the image of popular cultural expressions.  Her insights are on target, but her argumentation sometimes leaves little room for conversation.]

DIX, GREGORY.  Shape of the Liturgy.  New York:  Seabury Press, 1984.  [A modern “classic” of liturgical study, Dix identifies important elements of Eucharistic liturgies that have been repeated throughout the history of the church.  His overall goal was to find a common “shape” to such celebrations.  Recent research, by Paul Bradshaw and others, has seriously questioned Dix’s particular approach, but Dix’s contributions are still relevant, applicable, and worth considering today.]

HOWARD, THOMAS Evangelical is Not Enough [An old but outstanding text from one who had become a Christian in the mainline evangelical tradition, but had come to believe, though non-negotiable about the orthodoxy of a personal faith, that there were big parts missing from within his own personal Christian life and experience.  He chronicles his personal journey of spiritual formation.]

NOUWEN, HENRI The Way of the Heart [A devotional like book that will help those with an excessive cogitative prowess to connect their own Heart to that of God.]

NOUWEN, HENRI The Genesee Diary [The record of an ordinary Catholic priest's time in a monastery.  He came in as a burned out pastor, seeking to know God and there God found him in what were many surprising experiences.  This was not how Fr. Nouwen had planned to discover intimacy with God.]

HILL, ANDREW E. Enter His Courts with Praise: Old Testament Worship for the New Testament Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996. [An excellent text to give biblical foundation for Christian worship especially from the Old Testament.  Dr. Hill also explains much of the topology of the new testament which is shadowed in the Old Testament.]

PECK, M. SCOTT People of the Lie [Not a theologian, rather a therapist, Dr. Peck presents very compelling teaching about the influence of major personality disorders, especially perpetrated by people of great influence.]

PETERSON, DAVID. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992. [An absolutely outstanding scholarly text showing teaching from the scriptures how we are to engage God only on the terms that He decides and that our worship is not about being consumer driven.]

TORRANCE, JAMES B. Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1997.  [A call to allow our worship to become Trinitarian again in focus.  Torrance identifies ways in which our worship has not always embraced the Triune God and suggests ways in which a Trinitarian theology of worship might constructively shape our understandings and practices today.]

WEBBER, ROBERT E., EDITOR. The Complete Library of Christian Worship.  Eight volumes. Peabody, M.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993-1994.  [The basic, foundational library upon which our program is structured.  A set of volumes with signed articles and extensive bibliographies, examining worship from the perspective of its biblical foundations, history, renewal, music and the arts, Christian year, rituals, and various ministries.  Particularly unique are the wide variety of denominational statements found throughout the series in relation to various worship topics.]

WEBBER, ROBERT E. Worship is a Verb

WEBBER, ROBERT E. Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail

WHITE, JAMES F. Introduction to Christian Worship.  Third edition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000.  [A comprehensive introduction to basic components of Christian worship, including time, space, music, prayer, preaching, sacraments, and occasional services.  Important historical and theological insights are highlighted in relation to the topics.]

WHITE, JAMES F. A Brief History of Christian Worship. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.  [A reliable, accessible historical overview of worship practices from the New Testament period to today.  Initiation, public prayer, Eucharist, Christian time, pastoral rites, leadership, preaching, music, and architecture are all briefly discussed in relation to various large blocks of time (e.g., “Middle Ages,” “Reformation Period,” “Modern Times”).]

WHITE, JAMES F. Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989.  [White sketches the emergence of Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Anglican, Separatist and Puritan, Quaker, Methodist, Frontier, and Pentecostal, worship traditions in this volume.  His insights provide useful historical circumstances and understandings that will assist with respecting the variety of theological approaches to worship our congregations exhibit today.]

Link to probably the finest bibliography for worship related texts anywhere.  This is from the Institute for Worship Studies, Robert Webber, President.

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