The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity

Given the contentious and divisive issue that worship has been in recent decades, it is perhaps surprising that there are so few books published which look at the biblical basis and nature of worship. R C Sproul’s book is a very welcome contribution to the debate and is, as you would expect from him, firmly rooted in the biblical text. The problem is, as Sproul sees it, that “we are a people who have lost the threshold and have failed to make a transition Sunday morning from the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, from the profane to the holy. We continue, as did the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, to offer strange fire before the Lord. We have made our worship services more secular than sacred, more common than uncommon, more profane than holy.” He sets out to answer the vital question, “If God Himself were to design worship, what would it look like?”

It’s that relentless search for the divine template and model that drives Sproul on; a refreshing change from the current obession with pragmatism, experiences and consumer reaction. It leads him to reflect that “some people in Protestant churches reacted against the traditional Roman Catholic
style of worship. Some of that reaction was theological, but not all of it. Some of it was based on a zealous desire to do nothing in the way Rome did it…The problem was not with the form but with the formalism into which Rome had fallen.”

The other major premise of Sproul’s approach is that worship, as designed by God in the Old Testament involved the whole person and all of the senses with which our Creator endowed us. In the Old Testament “There were things to see, things to hear, things to taste, things to touch, and things to smell, and the same is true in the New Testament. In addition to the reading and preaching of the Word, we have singing and we have the sacraments, which appeal to nearly all of our senses. We need to take a hard look at how we are engaged in the business of worship in terms of the whole person.” This leads Sproul to wonder, for example, whether the Reformers were perhaps too hasty in making a “principial objection to the use of incense in worship.”

Strangely, that last provocative thought brings this fine book to a rather abrupt end. There is a short, nine line epilogue but other than that no overall summary or conclusion which would have been very helpful. As well as considering how worship should impact all our senses, Sproul looks at baptism and communion and, reading as a committed credo-baptist, I found his arguments for baptising infants moving and persuasive but not compellingly so!

I doubt if many will agree with all that Sproul teaches and the book would also benefit from the inclusion of some questions for study and reflection but it is a compelling, thought provoking and heart warming book. I will certainly re-read it before long and reflect further on the insights of this wise and godly man.

For the purpose of review, I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

Reformation Trust Publishing (1 Jan. 2006) Review written in 2011

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