Review: Introduction to Christian Worship by James F. White

James F. White draws upon the full range of liturgical and ritual practices of Christians for this combined academic introduction and pastoral and theological reflection upon Christian worship. Unlike many books on this topic, White does not dwell on or pay special attention only to his own tradition (in this case the Protestant tradition, and Methodism specifically) but instead draws on as wide of a swathe of Christian liturgical practice as possible. The result is a very full and quite insightful treatment of the worship practices of the entirety of Christendom.

In each chapter, White examines a different Christian worship practice or some related element. His chapters treat such topics as church architecture, church music, the regular Sunday service in both of its part (the Service of the Word and the Eucharistic Rite), the daily prayers of Christians, and each of the major sacraments of the Church. In his treatment of each, White provides an introductory history that draws on the history of both the Eastern and Western branches of the Church and which draws on both of the major branches of Western Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. He then proceeds to describe current practice and concludes by offering some theological and pastoral insights, drawing on both earlier writers and authorities as well as his own experience as a Methodist minister.

For an objective and fair treatment of the history and practice of Christians at worship, this is certainly the place to begin. Even where I disagree with his assessments in his reflections at the end of each chapter, I find great value in his well-reasoned arguments and the sharing of his personal experience and wisdom. I recommend this book for anyone interested in Christian worship, whether in its history, its theology, or its practice.

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