Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Primer on Worship and Reformation (review)

This is the review I submitted to LibraryThing.

I did not know what to expect from Douglas Wilson’s little book, from the title “A Primer on Worship and Reformation: Recovering the High Church Puritan” I actually expected something more historical. Wilson has another agenda in mind. This book is an interesting look at Wilson’s experience of present day evangelical traditions, and as far as observations go, he makes some good ones.

The book begins with some observations about culture and evangelical Christianity, he is not covering new ground here, but he does adequately identify some of the significant challenges of our day. However, he does not stick with his analysis long enough. As Wilson moves to his judgement the language becomes one of manifesto – “we have to fight...” and “we need to see...”. This is not a proposal but a definitive answer to the issues of our time. The problem is that these are Wilson’s answers and he does not have enough critical distance from them to convince anyone but the already convinced. This is a common downfall in such literature.

Another point that troubles me is that this book despairs over other expressions (proposed solutions) within Christianity. The worst of this is the anti-Roman Catholic sentiment. I tried to look past that to see how Wilson validates his claims. But really this is just another call back to “fundamentals”, a proposal that has not worked very well in the past. Despite my disagreement with Wilson’s project, I do think this is a better offering in the genre of manifestos than typically comes out of Fundamentalist evangelical traditions. I think that he does identify issues worth wrestling with. And I think we would agree that the evangelical traditions are in need of reformation, however, we both offer quite different prescriptions to these traditions.

1.5 stars out of 5.

1 comment:

Richard said...

I have also picked this book through LT. I agree, it is not an awful book just incomplete. Not that i would agree if he were to expand but that's another issue.