IVP Academic 2010
“When Satan was cast out of Heaven, he fell into the choir loft.”
This oft-repeated piece of apocryphal angelology is used to bemoan the devastating effect of the “worship wars” on American churches. And while a certain Pastoral Theology professor contended that the Evil One and his minions alighted instead in the sound booth, the net result is the same—God’s people embroiled in conflict over how best to worship Him.
John Jefferson Davis, professor of systematic theology and Christian ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has made a substantial effort to cut through the noise and touch the heart of the worship issue in his book Worship and the Reality of God, an Evangelical Theology of Real Presence (231 pages, IVP Academic). In the opinion of this reviewer, he has done an outstanding job of pinpointing the problem. His solutions, however, while well thought-out and passionately delivered, seem to fall short of the mark.
Pinpointing the problem
In the lengthy introduction (actually the first chapter), Davis relates his visits to churches of varying worship traditions. While styles differ, he identifies a common problem with all of them: the lack of awareness of the very real presence of God. He then goes into a discussion of the three “competing ontologies” he sees in today’s culture: scientific materialism, digital virtualism, and trinitarian supernaturalism. This leads to a discussion of contemporary Evangelicalism and where it is headed. Here he solidly identifies himself as “evangelical” in the Ockenga/Graham tradition, and gives a brief overview of what he considers to be the six major groupings of contemporary Protestantism. These groupings are “the evangelical left, charismatics and Pentecostals, popular apocalypticism, Willow Creekers, emergents and Reformed orthodoxy.” Dispensational fundamentalists are placed—not surprisingly—squarely in the “popular apocalypticism” camp. Read more about Book Review - Worship and the Reality of God