Give Praise To God is a Festschrift for the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice, former senior minister at historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Personally, I don’t know of any minister who hasn’t been influenced by Dr. Boice in one way or the other. He was a teacher, defender, lover, and preacher of the Reformation gospel, and longed to see churches reforming with truth and power of the biblical gospel. Moreover, according to the people who knew him dearly, he was a passionate worshiper. In fact, he labored in writing, lecturing, teaching, and preaching so that churches would abandon anthropocentric worship to theocentric. For instance, Dr. Boice is quoted in the book with these words: “To worship God we must know who God is, but we cannot know who God is unless God first chooses to reveal himself to us. God has done this in the Bible, which is why the Bible and the teaching of the Bible need to be central in our worship.” Hence, various contributors such as Drs. Ligon Duncan, Edmund Clowney, Al Mohler, Hughes Oliphant Old, and others have dedicated their essays echoing for biblical worship in today’s churches. In fact, the subtitle of the book is “A Vision for Reforming Worship.”
This 516-page volume is edited by Drs. Philip Ryken, Derek Thomas, and Ligon Duncan. These men are all Presbyterian pastor-scholars (PCA) though few contributors include Baptists. The book is divided into four parts, each addressing substantial issues. The following is the outline of the contents:
Part 1: The Bible and Worship
- Does God Care How We Worship?
- Foundations for Biblically Directed Worship
- The Regulative Principle: Responding to Recent Criticism
- Corporate Worship: A Means of Grace
Part 2: Elements of Biblical Worship
- Expository Preaching: Center of Christian Worship
- Evangelistic Expository Preaching
- Reading and Praying the Bible in Corporate Worship
- Baptism: Joyful Sign of the Gospel
- The Lord’s Supper: An Overview
- Hymnody in a Post-Hymnody World
- Restoring Psalm Singing to Our Worship
Part 3: Preparing for Biblical Worship
- Private Worship
- A Call to Family Worship
- Worship in All of Life
- Worship and the Emotions
Part 4: Worship, History, and Culture
- Worship through the Ages
- Calvin’s Theology of Worship
- Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today
Although many of the contributors come from strong scholarly background, the book is relatively easy to read. However, this book is not a lightweight by any means (both qualitatively and quantitatively speaking). It contains thorough citations, helpful bibliography, and well-organized index of Scripture. Most of all, each essay contains strong biblical and theological persuasions.
In this day and age when churches are filled with a notion that “It doesn’t matter how you worship” or “God doesn’t care how you worship as long as you worship God and really mean it,” this book offers sound arguments as to why such a theological framework that people operate are erroneous and dangerous. In fact, the Old Testament records that many people were killed as a direct result of acting out such a faulty assumption. At the onset, this book strongly argues that God does care how we worship. In fact, Scripture reveals unacceptable way of worship and acceptable way of worship. But most of all, we don’t decide on how worship should be; God does. This is what theologians call “the regulative principle of worship.”
The only criticism of this book (very minor) is having to look at the back of the book for each notation. Having the footnotes on the same page is much easier.
When there is so much confusion in our day about worship and endless talk about frivolous styles, this book is a must read to those who desire to worship God in ways that he would be pleased.