Book Review: Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace

Worship community triune god grace james torrance paperback cover art

Hello again friends!

So I thought for the first edition of the new focused JBlog we would tackle a book review, partly because this book hits in three of the four focus areas for the blog, so we can boost some of those numbers up there!


A few weeks ago my professor for Spiritual Development taught a class that was based largely on this book, so I wanted to pick up a copy so that I could get a better grasp on what was going on. The essential premise of the book is that our worship (and by that, Torrance means way more than just the singing, he includes things like communion, baptism, prayers, liturgy, etc) must be rooted much more than it is in the idea of a Triune God, not just a Unitarian (a poor choice of term, as I found myself confused a bunch with the Unitarian Church) view. Do you get your revelation directly from God? And if so, how would you know if it was truly a revelation from God? Is your worship purely a reaction to the cross, rather than an inclusion of what Christ is alive and doing in your midst right now? If so,  you might have a more Unitarian view of worship.

What I liked

I really resonated with the idea of "participating" in the Trinity. Torrance argues (rightly) that in Christ's baptism, he becomes us, and through his cross we become him. And so Worship isn't just a response to what has happened 2000 years ago on the Cross, which would deny the presence and active leading of Jesus Christ in our lives. Rather, worship is all about claiming our place in the Trinity, of actively participating in the love of God. His baptism is our baptism. His death is our death. And gloriously, his resurrection is our resurrection. This, is the heart of the good news.

What I didn't like.

This book has an extremely scholarly tone, but that shouldn't come as surprising at all anymore to me. I'm slowly getting up to speed at reading this type of book, but I could see how it might be a bit difficult to just pick up and run with.

Read this if:

You are a worship leader or other church worker, particularly if you are in the reformed tradition.

Don't read this if:

You want a how to guide for worship. Torrance isn't about the HOW of worship, but more the WHAT of worship. So while you won't find a step by step guide for your next worship gathering, I think it will shed some light into why we do the things we do already.