Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: Called to Worship

Called to Worship

Called to Worship
by Vernon Whaley

Hardback: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2009

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Just as the narrative of redemption is interwoven through the pages of the Bible, God's plan for us to worship Him is articulated, explained, illustrated, documented, and applied throughout the pages of His Word. Called to Worship is the story of worship from Genesis through Revelation. It begins with the truth that God is the ultimate creator, and it concludes with the hallelujah chorus celebrating the consummation of God's eternal plan. Throughout, principles of worship are drawn from the lives of biblical heroes, ordinary people, events, Old and New Testament practices, biblical poetry, the wisdom books, the life of Christ, the epistles and prophecy.

This exploration of worship in the Scriptures is a resourceful tool for ministry professionals, as well as seminary students, who are interested in digging deeper into the roots of worship.

My one sentence review: Your time would be better spent in searching the Bible for what it says on worship rather than in reading this book.

Long review: Several years ago, my mother studied the Scripture for what the ultimate purpose of mankind was, and she learned some wonderful things about worship. I did a similar study and thought "everybody ought to do this...but I doubt I can convince many people to try it." So when I saw Called to Worship was a study on what the Bible had to say about worship, I was thrilled that someone had written the results of such study down for others. However, by the time I finished chapter two, I was extremely disappointed and frustrated.

Whaley rarely pointed out Scripture where God tells us how He wants to be worshiped--and there are plenty of them.

Instead, much of Called to Worship was the author's paraphrase of a Bible story (adding in motives that are usually not in the Bible and I often didn't think correct) with a small section at the end drawing lessons that he felt that Adam & Eve, Cain and Abel, Abram, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Elijah, Jehoshaphat, and Job demonstrated about worship.

He asks the reader to trust his often very speculative take on how he thinks God wants to be worshiped instead of looking for what God stated on the subject. (For example, the Garden of Eden supposedly demonstrates that perfect worship is that which is done all alone and totally secluded from all distractions.)

Another thing that distressed me were statements Whaley made in chapters 2 and 3 which directly contradict Scripture. For example, his statements strongly imply he thinks God has no control over Satan and that God couldn't protect Adam and Eve from Satan's influence any more than a father can protect his son from hearing a man cussing in public. He also says that Satan always had dominion over the earth (rather than Adam), that Satan existed "before Creation" (so he isn't created?), that suffering and the curse on the earth came from Satan's actions (instead of Adam's), that all of the resulting suffering was outside God's plan and completely harmful (now here's someone who needs to read If God Is Good!). And, finally, that God lost to Satan--not the war in heaven, but the war on earth.

The author made some statements throughout the book that he later contradicted with a verse he quoted or a statement he made, and I sometimes was unsure just what he believed. I was very concerned about what someone not firm in Bible knowledge would think he was saying. (And, frankly, if you're familiar with the Bible, you won't learn anything new about worship from this book.)

The later sections of Called to Worship looked at books of the Bible (like Psalms, Proverbs, the epistles, etc.) and were better because the author stuck with actual Scripture. The only two chapters of this book that I felt were good were those studying how Jesus worshiped--Jesus is both God and the perfect worshiper so He is a good example.

The book was written in a very conversational style and was like a bunch of mini-sermons loosely focused on worship. While I did agree with some of the points he made, it was because I knew of verses that specifically state the point rather than because of the example.

So, as I said above, your time would be better spent in searching the Bible for what it says on worship rather than in reading this book. Don't bother spending your time or money on this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
It seems as if just yesterday my brother, Rodney, and I stood outside the doghouse of our Siberian husky, Chena, as she gave birth to a litter of six puppies. At eleven and thirteen, we had no idea that nature was simply acting out a normal, God-ordained process. But intuition told us we were witnessing a miracle. We had absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon. We could neither cause nor prevent the births of these canine babies. But we were eyewitnesses of the breathtaking event that is birth.

In her book God's Story, Anne Graham Lotz uses the word eyewitness while explaining how God made the world: "Who was the eyewitness of Creation?" she wrote. "The simple yet astounding answer is God Himself!" God was the one writing, telling, and acting out the drama. He Himself developed the plot, prose, characters, and dramatic tension of a script placed in His heart long before the dawn of creation. And as the ultimate Storyteller, He alone is responsible for the pacing and continuity of the storyline.

No comments: