The Glory Due His Name by Gary Reimers is a welcome addition to the Bob Jones University Seminary “Biblical Discernment for Difficult Issues” series. Gary Reimers is the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, and a professor of theology at Bob Jones University Seminary. Reimers teaches worship theology to both undergraduate ministerial students and in the seminary, has spoken on the subject in pastors’ meetings around the country, and has made the subject the focus of personal study for many years, well-equipping him to write on this important topic.
Running throughout this short volume is an overarching theme that worship is about God, for God, and determined by God. This refreshingly God-centered, Scripture-rooted emphasis is a much-needed one in worship discussions. Reimers begins, then, by looking to Scripture to determine “true worship’s essence and elements” (Chapter 1, p. 4ff). He starts by describing what he considers “the essence of right worship,” in which he seeks to “present the key principles that form the heart of true worship” (p. 5).
His first principle is that “Right worship must focus on the right person,” a principle he develops from Psalm 135:1–6. He concludes, “Worship is an event where God should be the center of attention and the guest of honor. To accomplish the goal, churches should be designing their worship services with the focus on Him” (p. 5).
His second principle is that “Right worship must accomplish the right purpose,” and that purpose, according to Psalm 96:7–8, is that worship “is the process of declaring, by whatever means God ordains, that the Lord is full of glory” (pp. 7–8). Reimers bemoans that fact that for many people, worship is about what they can “get out of the service.” Instead, Reimers argues that we should be asking, “Did God get anything out of your worship today?” (p. 9, emphasis original). He explains that “churches may actually be contributing” to the thinking that worship is all about us by how they set up their services, stages, and terminology (p. 9). Instead, churches should do whatever they can to demonstrate that God is the primary “audience” of worship (p. 10).
Reimers’ third principle, developed from John 4:23–24, is that “Right worship must conform to the right pattern” (p. 10). The “right pattern” in Reimers’ view is “worship in spirit and truth” (p. 12). “Spirit” indicates that “worship must occur with [an individual worshiper’s] inner spirit” (p. 12). “Truth” indicates that we must allow God’s Word to regulate our worship (Ibid.). Reimers doesn’t use the term, “Regulative Principle of Worship” at this juncture, but the idea that our worship must be governed by Scripture characterizes most of what he writes throughout the book.
Reimers then moves to a discussion of “the elements of right worship” (p. 14ff). While he seems to have some familiarity with the Regulative Principle of Worship, Reimers does not use the term, “elements” in the traditional RPW way. Instead, what he sees as “five distant elements that constitute true worship” are really five categories within which worship elements may be placed.
Reimers’ first category is preparation. He helpfully encourages families to plan and prepare for worship prior to Sunday morning, and encourages pastors to give their people opportunity to prepare before the actual worship service begins (pp. 15–21).
His second category is praise (pp. 21ff). Within this category Reimers primarily places the music elements of the worship service. He encourages believers to sing with understanding and inward joy and thankfulness. He notes the acceptability of music prepared by skilled musicians, but insists that “the biblical emphasis, however, focuses primarily on congregational singing as the heart of this element of worship” (p. 23).
His third category is prayer (pp. 27ff). He uses the Lord’s Prayer and other passages as models for how we should pray in worship, and encourages a deliberate corporate orientation for prayers in a worship service.
His fourth category is what Reimers calls “presentation” (p. 36ff). Here he is writing specifically about giving an offering. He argues that Old Testament tithing presents a pattern for New Testament practice, distinguishes “offerings” from “tithes” as an unspecified amount given with regularity, and suggests that the biblically-mandated element of an offering must be present in every worship service.
Reimers’ final category is preaching (pp. 43ff). He presents helpful arguments to demonstrate that whenever the Word is preached, truth must be presented, and opportunity for response (from every Christian) must be provided.
The title of Reimers’ second chapter (pp. 52ff) may perhaps be a bit misleading. “Multi-Generational Impact: Worship Style and Your Family” at first glance gives the impression that the chapter will be discussing family worship. On the contrary, however, this chapter warns about the far-reaching negative impacts of worshiping in an unbiblical manner, even upon one’s children and grandchildren. The discussion centers primarily on the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4–5), a commandment that targets specifically worshiping the true God in the wrong way (p. 53). Drawing from the two corollaries to this commandment at the end of verse 5, Reimers shows how God has promised to punish worship “unto the third and fourth generation” of those that worship him wrongly, and he has promised to bless them that worship him as he desires. He spends a considerable amount of time defending the view that God indeed does punish the children and grandchildren of those who worship wrongly, a topic that was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. He uses several biblical examples to illustrate each of these promises, and insists that this one warning should cause us to think very carefully about how we worship.
In chapter three (pp. 70ff), Reimers discusses the “Dangers of Deviant Worship.” Looking to Scriptural examples again, Reimers demonstrates that God hates “Worship Based on Imagination (Exodus 32:4–6)” (pp. 71ff), “Worship Based on Innovation (Leviticus 10:1–3)” (p. 74ff), “Worship Like the World (Deuteronomy 12:29–32)” (pp. 77ff), “Worship Marketed for Convenience (1 Kings 12:26–31)” (pp. 81ff), “Ritual Worship (Genesis 4:1–16) (p. 88ff), “Token Worship (1 Samuel 15:1–23)” (pp. 90ff), “Reluctant Worship (Malachi 1:6–14)” (p. 93ff), and “Pretentious Worship (Matthew 15:8–9)” (pp. 95ff). In each of these cases, Reimers provides helpful modern day examples and advice for how to avoid them.
Reimers concludes with a summary chapter (pp. 98ff) in which he challenges the reader that “Nothing is more important that worship, either now or in eternity.”
In The Glory Due His Name, Gary Reimers provides a brief, readable, informative guide for biblical worship that would be helpful for a pastor, student, or average Christian.
Reviewed by Scott Aniol, Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries