Deborah Moore Clark. Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2003. 252 pp. $18.00. ISBN 1-57312-364-1.
Author Deborah Moore Clark has written a focused and thorough book on the theology and practice of Christian worship. The book lends itself to group study by a worship committee or church staff in that each chapter ends with probing questions that get to the heart of worship priorities.
One of the strengths of this book is the amazing collection of quotes from a host of authors. The book’s sidebars contain a veritable warehouse of interesting, concise, and cleanly researched thoughts about worship, music, prayer, and deep communion with God.
The author often draws on Scripture to plead her case for worship reform. “Scriptural Models for Worship” carefully unpacks the truths of Isaiah 6:1-12; Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 6:9-13, and other biblical passages that give the church instruction for worship.
In “What Worship Is Not” Clark reminds us that gathered worship of Almighty God is not a means to another end, nor is it an entertainment or a substitute for evangelism or the careful study of God’s Word.
While Clark is reluctant to “baptize” any musical style as preferred, she clearly sides with the theology-rich hymnic tradition coupled with historic liturgical practices.
Readers who are committed to the use of inclusive language in Christian ministry and worship will find a strong ally in Deborah Moore Clark. Those familiar with the debate over inclusive language will recognize her arguments and will be reminded of the important biblical passages that depict the Almighty as mother hen, mother eagle, nursing mother, protective mother bear, and so on. However, she chooses not to catalogue the thousands of examples in which the Holy One is revealed in the Scriptures as Father and King and Lord, nor does she reinforce the clear New Testament teaching that Christ is, in fact, the eternal Son of the Father. In spite of this area of concern, I enthusiastically recommend this book to church musicians, worship planning teams, and pastors.