Worshipping With Calvin (Terry Johnson, EP Books, 2014) seeks to bed what may prove to be the fragile roots of a contemporary reformed and calvinistic resurgence in the liturgical soil of the reforms to corporate worship which occurred during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This is not to say he argues for worship which mimics generations past, but rather makes a case that the theology of the reformation inseparably carries basic principles of corporate worship.
Examining both the bible’s instruction about worship, and the way in which that teaching has been understood and practised by the church throughout history, Johnson unpacks how the theological focus of the reformation came to bring a revolution to the worship of the gathered church. The elements of the corporate gathering are each examined in biblical context, church practice, and reformation expression. The way in which the elements are then brought together and ordered as a means by which God’s grace flows to his people is explored. The concern of the book is that departing from those distinctive patterns of worship malnourishes the theological emphases which they should otherwise nurture.
The breadth of study which Johnson demonstrates the dissertation which stands behind this book. References abound and the bibliography of original and secondary sources is a valuable resource on worship and church history in its own right.
Those who lead and participate in corporate worship will be instructed by Worshipping With Calvin. Perhaps they will come to understand and appreciate the presence and practice of elements that they have taken for granted, or may have considered dispensable. Anyone who holds office in a church which subscribes to the Westminster standards will find the book challenging and encouraging as it seeks to support the work of ministry by reminding us of the biblical means that God has provided for corporate worship to nurture faith.
Those who hold to calvinistic or reformed soteriologies, but who have yet to encounter the worship patterns that were developed from these understandings of Scripture will be led down a pathway of discovery that reveals how those understandings can be expressed in corporate gathering, and in turn how corporate gathering can foster those understandings of Scripture.
Worshipping With Calvin, or a book like it, did not exist when I was training for ministry. Most of its lessons have been learned through time, experience and from a variety of sources. Having a comprehensive resource like this is a gift.
The review copy of Worshipping With Calvin was a kindle edition provided by Cross Focussed Reviews as part of a Worshipping With Calvin blog tour. A positive review was not required.