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The God We Worship:
An Exploration of Liturgical Theology

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Eerdmans

In The God We Worship, Nicholas Wolterstorff takes a ground-up approach to liturgical theology, examining the oft-hidden implications of traditional elements of liturgy. Given that “no liturgy has ever been composed from scratch,” Wolterstorff argues that the assumptions taken into worship are key to perceiving the real depths of historical Christianity’s understanding of God. Across the liturgies of the Orthodox, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Reformed churches, Wolterstorff highlights theologically neglected elements of God, such as an implicit liturgical understanding of God as listener. An exploration of liturgy is not only compelling, Wolterstorff says, but crucial for reconciling differences between the God studied by theologians and the God worshiped by churchgoers on Sunday.

In The God We Worship, Nicholas Wolterstorff takes a ground-up approach to liturgical theology, examining the oft-hidden implications of traditional elements of liturgy. Given that “no liturgy has ever been composed from scratch,” Wolterstorff argues that the assumptions taken into worship are key to perceiving the real depths of historical Christianity’s understanding of God. Across the liturgies of the Orthodox, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Reformed churches, Wolterstorff highlights theologically neglected elements of God, such as an implicit liturgical understanding of God as listener. An exploration of liturgy is not only compelling, Wolterstorff says, but crucial for reconciling differences between the God studied by theologians and the God worshiped by churchgoers on Sunday.

This is part of our Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology initiative.
Visit the Kantzer Lectures in Revealed Theology to learn more

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Nicholas Wolterstorff

Nicholas Wolterstorff (PhD Harvard University) is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University.  He is the author of many books, including Reason Within the Bounds of Religion (Eerdmans, 1988), Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton University Press, 2008), and most recently, United in Love: Reflections on Justice, Art, and Liturgy (Wipf and Stock, 2021).

Endorsements

"In his usual graceful way Wolterstorff leads the reader to see what is implicit in Christian liturgy, and to find there a God who listens and hears, who is vulnerable to being wronged and resisted. . . . A major contribution to liturgical theology."

William Dyrness, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Offers a thought-provoking vision of God as an empathetic listener, a vision implicit in so much of what the church does in public worship, but relatively underdeveloped in the church's long history of formal theological reflection. . . . This is the rare kind of book that can simultaneously challenge common assumptions about theological method, make bold theological claims about the character of God, correct readings of significant theologians in the history of the church, and inspire a deeper liturgical spirituality of wonder, expectation, and hope."

John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

"For many years, Nicholas Wolterstorff has helped us penetrate the character of worship, combining the acuity of a philosopher and the wisdom of a lifelong practitioner. Now he brings all this to a head in a superbly written study. . . . Those familiar with Wolterstorff will not be disappointed; newcomers will be greatly stimulated and refreshed. All will be made to think at the deepest levels about this supremely important question: Just who is the God Christians worship?"

Jeremy Begbie, Duke University

"Nicholas Wolterstorff here gives us a true liturgical theology — not a theology about liturgy but, rather, the explicit and implicit theology in the actions and order of worship. The ripple effects are profound, implicating understandings of God, persons, time, prayer, lament, and much more. There is little doubt that this book will be a landmark in the terrain of liturgical theology."

Leanne Van Dyk, Western Theological Seminary

"A good many books on liturgical theology discuss everything under the sun other than actual liturgies themselves. In this timely study Wolterstorff brings his sharp philosophical and theological mind to bear on specific liturgical texts and explores how the church, in enacting the liturgy, hands on its implicit understanding of God. This work will be a crucial text for any serious study of liturgical theology."

Bryan Spinks, Yale Divinity School