Monday, June 25, 2007

Worship As You Like It? - Sotirios Christou

I got given a copy of this book, so I thought I might as well read it and review it.

On one level, it's a very strange book. The author's name (Greek for "Christ's Salvation") is cool. The whole book seems to be in black 12pt Times New Roman - even the headers, titles. Even the front cover`uses Times, but that's bigger and blue and makes it look as if WAYLI should spell something.

The first 60% or so of the book is a look at the Biblical theology of worship, but pretty much only using the Old Testament, Hebrews and Revelation. What he says is all true. I'd have thought most of it was pretty obvious to someone who's read the Bible a few times through and was awake. It's odd that he writes in a very academic style, and cites a lot of scholars, but usually only to say things that I think are pretty obvious anyway.

The next 40% of the book is an engagement with contemporary charismatic worship. He's affirming of a lot of it, and makes some good criticisms - for example observing how much of it is centred on the worshipers' response rather than the God they are meant to be worshiping, or the lack of Trinitarian focus.

On the other hand, there are large sections he doesn't critique at all. For example, while earlier he sees the danger of essentially emotional manipulation in worship, at the end he assumes that what is described by worship leaders as "coming into the presence of God" actually is coming into the presence of God. It's an interesting idea, but I have yet to see it adequately theologically grounded in anything other than people's subjective experience of what could look to an outsider like a form of emotional masturbation.

At the end of the day, it was an interesting read, but the first 60% seems disconnected from the next 40%, and while many of his criticisms and useful thoughts are spot on, and his analysis of Wimbur's theology of worship (for example) is useful, there are a lot both of important criticisms he misses and things that he criticises that are fine - for example he suggests ditching powerpoint in favour of hymnbooks - and he doesn't externalise himself enough from charismatic worship to provide a proper description of the underlying theology. Oh, and he desperately needs an editor to spot the spelling mistakes, extra spaces, eccentric punctuation, inconsistent spacing, etc.

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