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Public Worship 101
The folks at RPTS were pretty excited earlier this year upon the arrival of Dr. Prutow’s newly published book, Public Worship 101. You might wonder why anyone other than an RPTS student would want to read a textbook on worship. Well, do you attend public worship somewhere? That settles it then, as this book is a must read for anyone who attends church. I asked Dr. Prutow if the book was basically a summary of his Ministry of Worship class notes. The answer is yes, plus more. Since this quarter was my only opportunity to take a class with Dr. Prutow before his retirement, I registered for PT13 Ministry of Worship and had the privilege to read the book and hear the material presented in class at the same time.
Not surprisingly, if you attend the RP Seminary and take a worship class taught by an RP pastor, the first questions you are going to hear from students will jump straight to the issues of instruments in worship and exclusive psalmody. Such was the case in our class this spring. These inquiries, however, would have to wait as Dr. Prutow would gently remind the students, “We’ll get there!”
The subtitle of the book is instructive: “An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody.” For Dr. Prutow, we must begin at the beginning. What is worship? What is the Church? What is the Sabbath? Who regulates how we worship? These questions must be answered biblically before we can move to contemporary issues such as the worship wars and the place of contemporary Christian music and instruments in worship. And Prutow, both in his class and now in his book, does just that. He begins by helping the reader understand the theology of worship. This is a crucial foundation that must be laid. He methodically presents the material, always asking, “Are we alright here?” He then moves from the theology of worship to the scriptural elements of worship and the sacraments. Brick by brick, he continues to build. Leaning on the podium in class with one foot raised and iPad in hand, he wants to make sure the students understand what he is presenting. “We’re ok there?”
The book is written the same way, and Prutow is always circling back and reviewing what he has presented. You find that you are encouraged because you are learning and understanding and being challenged to take a much more serious look at worship than you have before. Among other important topics, he helps the reader to understand the covenantal nature of worship, the regulative principle of worship, and God’s gracious presence with us in worship.
Parts three and four of the book then move to psalmody and instrumental music in worship. It is crucial not to jump ahead and read these sections before completing the first half of the book. If you are tempted to do so, hear Dr. Prutow reminding you, “Hang in there with me!” This is because the theology of worship and the scriptural elements of worship must be properly understood before moving to the elements of praise and instrumental music.
This book is theological but accessible. Yes, it has Hebrew and Greek and various figures of speech. These help to build Prutow’s case, but they never take away from what he wants the reader to understand - that in Biblical worship, “God renews His covenant with His people as they draw near to Him in the place He prescribes, on the day He prescribes, in the manner He prescribes, with the elements He prescribes, including the praise He prescribes both in content, exclusive Psalmody, and manner, a cappella Psalmody, using an order properly deduced from Scripture.”
Available though Amazon in both hardback and Kindle.
Sharon Sampson, RPTS Bookstore Manager
(Of similar interest is another excellent book by Dr. Prutow called Joyful Voices which focuses on a cappella singing in congregational worship, released by Crown & Covenant Publications in 2012.)
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