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Introduction to Christian Worship [Paperback]

James F., Jr. White
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 Mar 2001
"Introduction to Christian Worship, 3rd Edition" traces the development of the major forms of Christian worship, and includes discussion of the newest service books of the principal churches of North America and the British Isles. This staple of liturgical history is used widely in Protestant seminaries and is read by clergy and laity alike as an accurate, informative, and accessible introduction to all aspects of Christian worship. This revision keeps pace with the latest scholarship and includes more maps, tables, woodcuts, and photographs.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (22 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687091098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687091096
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book 10 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
bought as required course reading enjoyable well thought out Maybe more for for studying however than a casual read through
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive and ecumenical view of Christian worship 9 Feb 2002
By Vic Bernales - Published on
For many of us knowledge of our Christian heritage goes back no further than the beginning of our own local church or particular denomination. This is a sad state of affair because it leaves people unappreciative of, even feels disconnected from, their own rich history and heritage. In this book, Professor James F. White does a very fine job of providing his readers with a comprehensive view of how and why Christians worship God throughout Church history. Aside from the fact that the book is teeming with reliable materials on the history and development of Christian worship, White also has some good insights about Christian worship in every chapter. His survey on the definitions of Christian worship by famous theologians from the main branches of Christianity is truly helpful for someone who tries to work on a definitive explanation of Christian worship. Those definitions are good places to start with in understanding the concept at hand. The author's discussion on the various Biblical and non-Biblical words that relate to and express worship is also enriching. Every word opens up an aspect of worship that deepens one's knowledge and understanding what it means to worship God in Christ. One can find also some real gems in this book in terms of quotes and concepts that describe and explain the nature and purpose of Christian worship from the works of the Church Fathers, some Medieval scholars, Reformers and Post-Reformation writers. Likewise, the author is quite keen in pointing out the historical turning points and existing variations of these particular acts of worship among Christians in a pastoral and sensitive way.
I think, this book's major feature, which is the presentation of many facts and ideas, is its one unavoidable weakness. Any author who decides to survey such a large amount of material must necessarily limit his discussion of each topic. While the book offers excellent introductory surveys of the history and development of Christian worship within the main branches of Christianity, it cannot go into great detail to include all the varieties of practices of almost all groups, especially within the Protestant tradition where thousands of denominations exist. For example, a Southern Baptist minister or an Evangelical Free layman may not be able to appreciate thoroughly the author's discussion for the fact that his denomination is not well represented throughout the book.
Another feature of the book that may also become its liability is the author's view of and tendency toward ecumenism. There are instances that leave the impression that the ultimate norm which Professor White follows in the practice of Christian worship is not the Holy Scripture but the consensus of the community of believers in a given denomination or tradition. Rather than passionately calling his readers to seek to reform their services to continually conform them to the rule of Scripture, for several occasions in his pastoral challenges he summons his readers to make decisions according to what is acceptable in their traditions. I understand that sensitivity in issuing challenges in the area of liturgy to people with diverse traditions is a virtue, yet I feel that he should have issued an equally strong challenge to his readers to evaluate and restructure their worship practices not only according to the cultural and denominational approval but more so in a Biblical manner.
For the most part, I like the way Professor White has written this book. I admire his desire to provoke some sense of pride and appreciation among Christians of different backgrounds through his comprehensive introduction of the history and development of Christian worship. I would suggest though that readers should examine his books with critical mind because of his bent toward ecumenism. Ecumenism has a place among Christians but it should be one that seeks to promote the truth of the Scripture and upholds its authority in matters of doctrine and practice. Christians, especially ministers, who read carefully this book must be enlightened of the richness of the history of Christian worship. Since this book opens up streams of information, I would not be surprised if they would start to reflect and evaluate their own worship practices. Hopefully, they would learn to appreciate and understand the liturgy of Christians outside their tradition. Best of all, through this process they would be able to synthesize the historical and conceptual data presented, come up with brilliant conclusions that are Biblically informed in order to make one's acts of worship more meaningful to the congregation and glorifying to God.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Much Needed Book 14 April 2004
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Someone in my church went to watch The Passion of The Christ recently. When he returned he said, "So that's what communion is all about." This is an extreme example, but do you know WHY your church worships in the way it does? or do you just worship that way because it feels good or because that's the way everybody wants to do it?
In INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN WORSHIP, James F. White presents a much needed theology of Christian Worship. This is a great companion book to, A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP, and his book on early worship documents.
These books are easy to read and you will find them to be eye opening. Worship may never look the same way again, but you will grow deeper in the practice of your faith.
One word of warning, your new insights may challenge the denominational box you find yourself in, whichever one that might be.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great comprehensive introduction to Christian worship 12 Feb 2010
By Brian L. Hedrick - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There a reason that this book is considered the leading textbook on Christian worship in English-speaking North America. Dr. White is extremely articulate in explaining the comprehensive scope of Christian worship, across the centuries and across denominational lines. Those from a "free church" tradition (pentecostal and most baptists) need to keep in mind that their tradition is only a small and relatively recent part of denominational history. Also influencing his perspective is the fact that Dr. White taught at Notre Dame, a Catholic University, Southern Methodist University, and Drew University, with Wesleyan roots. Much of the value of this book is exposure to other denominational traditions, making the reader more "kingdom-minded."

In my opinion, the best thing about this book is Dr. White's ability to succinctly communicate a huge amount of information, with an economy of words, and without all the "fluff" that so many writers on worship feel obligated to use. It is an extremely readable and most valuable resource.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Christian Worship book 30 Nov 2007
By Daralene L. Pondo - Published on
I used this book as an extra for my Christian worship class, and found that this biook is very good for the investigation of the history and evolution of worship in the church.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good resource 10 Dec 2008
By Nathan Rousu - Published on
I found this book to be an excellent resource for the topic of Christian worship, specifically relating to worship through the history of the church. I can easily see how and why this book has been a staple text book in so many different Christian ministry post-secondary education programs. The book does a great job of giving a brief overview of Christian worship through the ages. It is not overly detailed, but does a good job at giving enough detail to get a good picture of our worship history.

White breaks down worship practices into some good and manageable categories, or 'worship languages.' Through each of the categories, White takes you through a journey through the ages and how each of these worship expressions has been birthed and evolved through the ages. His provision of historical perspective on the causes of these changes was good, albeit (necessarily) brief.

I found that in places that the book was a little dry as there is a straight forward, factual retelling of both the history and the practices themselves. But in others moments, White really brings the subject matter alive and communicates the ideas vibrantly. I particularly cared for his chapter introducing sacramental actions.

One place where I believe that the book it a little weak is in the exposition of the contemporary worship movement that we have seen rapidly adopted by a large portion of the church. However, given the span of history that this book does cover, it is understandable that a few decades of time vs. two millennia do get such little air time.
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