Worth a Read – James Torrance’s “Worship, Community, and the triune God of Grace”

James Torrance’s Worship, Community and the triune God of Grace is a readable little book which argues the case that much of what passes for Christian worship is actually unitarian in form and concept, as distinct from trinitarian.

His central argument is that properly Christian worship occurs when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the congregation is recreated as the body of Christ, the Son, to worship the Father. Torrance contrasts this with a mode of worship which focuses on the efforts of God’s people to conjure up appropriate modes of worship by which we “reach up” to the one, distant God.

The chapter headings indicate well the territory he covers:

1. Worship – unitarian or trinitarian

2.The sole priesthood of Christ, the mediator of worship

3. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: the way of communion

4. Gender, sexuality and God.

Along the way Torrance engages with a number of important trends and emphases in modern western culture, and with the impact of these trends for the Church’s sense for what worship ought to be. The last chapter tackles the question of gendered language for God in prayer and worship. This is probably the most controversial part of the text for many, but his summary of how the traditional language should be understood to operate is important.

To my mind the book suffers a little in some places from a turn of phrase and way of summarising the gospel which feels a little “old school”-Reformed, but this does not distract too much from its helpful content.

The book is available in several hard-copy editions from the usual places.