Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation by Allen Ross
What is the foundational element of worship from a theological perspective? Why do we worship in the way we do as Christians? All these questions are encountered in the delightful and carefully written book, Recalling the Hope of Glory by Professor Allen Ross. Ross is known for his insightful works on the Psalms (both from Kregel Academic) and his work on Biblical Hebrew. In this book on worship, Allen begins by cataloging the lowly and unsatisfying picture of worship in many of our churches as a mundane affair that is casually done by its participants. Instead, Ross rightly posits worship as “a transcendent meeting with the living God (39).” The reason that so much of our worship is lacking in substance and vision is the deficit of a robust biblical and theological of worship that undergirds all of what we do and say concerning worship (38).
When we come to the fount of meaning concerning worshiping God, where do we start? Ross clues us in on the answer by bringing us back to the Scriptures, specifically Isaiah 6. In Isaiah 6, the holiness of God is in view, and the proper response to God’s holiness is fear and adoration, confession and commitment (52-53). While I thought this first chapter was very illuminating, Ross’ discussion of ritual acts of worship developing our four senses was especially helpful. He identifies in ritual actions in worship four senses which are touched in worship; namely the intellectual, aesthetic, corporate, and moral sense (57-60). These senses taken together include the cognitive apprehension of what is going on in worship (doctrine and ritual), the beauty of the art of worship, the nature of the worshipping community, and the moral formation that is caused by engaging in worship. This is a helpful delineation of worship and our senses because without one of these components, worship does not affect lasting change in our lives.
In the midst of Allen’s discussion regarding the Perversion of Paradise, he looks at some compelling passages that shed light on both God’s grace and God’s remedy for sin. He writes, “When Adam and Eve admitted their sin, God replaced their temporary coverings with animal skins. Clothing thus became a symbol of God’s grace…” (115). Ross connects this idea of clothing with what we find in later Scriptural texts, namely that righteousness and holiness are connected to the garments of holiness, whether white linens or other glorious apparel. The point isn’t so much the apparel itself but the holiness that comes from being in relationship with God and us revealing the holiness of our Savior. As God’s grace was evident in God giving our first parents garments of animal skins, so it is God’s grace which grants us the white linens of holiness as we approach God as witnessed in the Book of Revelation.
This is a beautifully written and well-researched book. I hope you will enjoy it as I surely did.
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.