Worship (Hughes Oliphant Old)

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by BayouHuguenot, May 10, 2019.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Old, Hughes Oliphant. Worship. John Knox Press.

    This is a good primer on what it means to worship according to the Reformed tradition. In many ways this is more important for “brother Reformed” to read than the latest tract on the 5 Points or Microbrewing.

    The early Reformers understood two vital principles: liturgical reform is at the heart of Reformation, yet the Bible doesn’t provide us with a ready-made liturgy (Old 4). If we don’t have biblical commands in an area, biblical principles are necessary.

    Key idea: Worship is the workshop where we are transformed into his image (8).


    “Baptism with water is the sign and promise of the giving of the Spirit” (10). By the end of the 4th century, baptism became encrusted with ritualism. No longer were converts baptized quickly. The early Reformers countered all of this by translating and revising older Latin rites of baptism, bringing them more in line with Scripture (16).

    For the Reformed, baptism is a prophetic sign for the beginning of life, a life which will unfold in growing in grace (26).

    The Lord’s Day

    Hughes suggests that the frequency of healings on the Sabbath day highlighted the fact that the New Creation in Christ, the Day of Release, had finally come (31).

    Did the Sabbath day change? Hughes connects Jesus’s command: “Do this in remembrance of me” with the fact that he rose on the first day of the week and supped with his disciples (33). Further, it was on the Lord’s Day, the day of Pentecost, the first day of the week after seven weeks, that the Holy Spirit came. Later on we read (Acts 20:7-11) that the Christians gathered together to break bread on the first day of the week.

    The Ministry of Praise

    Formal praise is the beginning of worship (41). This is connected with the confession of sin. While there is a strong emphasis on Psalmody, Old notes “The canticles in the Gospel of Luke are the core of Christian praise” (44). In heaven we will sing the Song of Moses (Exodus 15). As the architecture of the Temple followed the heavenly sanctuary, so the hymns of the Temple followed the angelic liturgy (46).

    It was the Reformed genius that got the whole congregation involved. Evidently, early Reformed psalmody was quite lively, leading Good Queen Bess to sneer them as ‘Genevan jigs’ (53).

    The Ministry of the Word

    The Ministry of Prayer

    While spontaneous prayer wasn’t discouraged, the early Reformers “recognized that prayer forms were needed as well” (99).

    The Lord’s Supper

    The individual shot glasses of American Protestantism is a clear break with the bible and church tradition (110; 1 Cor. 10:17) of a common cup. Similarly, the “celluloid disks used in high church circles” and the chiclets of cracker used in low church services are also a break.

    God reveals his will through signs. The Lord’s Supper is a sign, and sign has a meaning all throughout Scripture (113). Further, Oecolampadius realized that “mystery” in the New Testament didn’t mean mystagogical initiation, but “God’s sending of his Son to establish a kingdom in which all things will be united under his gospel” (130).

    Biblical Hebrew helped the Reformers at this point. Instead of punting to Aristotle and scholasticism to explain “what happened” to the elements, they let the Semitism of the Bible speak for itself. In other words, covenant: oaths, cutting, etc.

    Excellent section on Vermigli’s Eucharistology.

    Daily Prayer

    Old notes how the early Christians took over the Jewish form of set prayers in the morning and evening (145).


    Jesus’s teaching about the giving of alms is found within his larger teaching about prayer.
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  2. B.L. McDonald

    B.L. McDonald Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for another book review Jacob! I purchased this one along with Old's other book titled "The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century." Looks like I'll have to move this one up in my queue and try to get to it sooner than later.
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