Brief Book Review: Theological Foundations of Worship

Theological Foundations of Worship:
Biblical, Systematic, and Practical Perspectives
Edited by Khalia J. Williams and Mark A. Lamport

What is this book? The first volume in the Baker “Worship Foundations” series. This series looks to be beneficial for a range of applications from theologically inquisitive lay people to introductory graduate student courses. 

This first volume is arranged into three parts: Part I is “Biblical Practices of Worship: Exegetical and Biblical Theology,” Part II is “Theological Principles of Worship: Systematic and Historical Theology,” and Part III is “Cultural Possibilities for Worship: Practical and Apologetical Theology.” 

Who’s it for? I would recommend this book to someone who comes from an evangelical or Protestant background and is discovering or rediscovering liturgy (or “just” the theology of worship) or someone teaching in a context (academic or ecclesial) with a variety of denominational backgrounds and working theologies present. 

What difference will this book make? This volume and its series will, I believe, promote ecumenism and liturgical theology for the American Church. 

Why is this book significant / important? It represents scholarship from a variety of denominations and “churchmanships” and shows the remarkable points of convergence in the theologies of liturgy and the consensus building on the role of the Holy Spirit in the embodied life of the Church. 

Why is this book useful / practical? Very few collected essays are able to demonstrate coherence in a way that does not seem artificial. This one is able to do so. Throughout its essays, the role of the Holy Spirit and the action of the Church in its various manifestations are highlighted.

Suggestion/Quibble…? Is this a quibble? I’m not sure, of course no volume is (or can be) perfect. With that stated, something that stuck out to me was the lack of African or South American contributors, and the lack of Eastern Christian contributors. Perhaps this is something that can be addressed in consequent volumes. It was not something that necessarily detracted from the volume as much as it represented a missed opportunity for the volume itself. 

Next steps.  I must admit that I’ve not read the second volume in this series, Historical Foundations of Worship (a Pray Tell review of this second volume is forthcoming), nor do I know how many volumes there are planned. What I can tell you is that based off of this volume I will be buying the second volume. The convergence in liturgical theology over the past century or so, and the rediscovery of its importance in Protestant and evangelical contexts is something that will have profound implications for the life and ministry of the Church. 

Williams, Khalia J. and Mark A. Lamport, eds. Theological Foundations of Worship: Biblical, Systematic, and Practical Perspectives. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021. xxviii +290 pages. $29.99.

REVIEWER: David Wesson
David Wesson is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Theology,
with degrees in scripture and liturgical studies.
He is actively involved in Adult Christian Formation at his parish in Atlanta, GA.

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