The Glory Due His Name: What God Says About Worship, by Gary Reimers. Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2009. 100 pp. $9.95.
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 Professor of Theology at Bob Jones University Seminary. Reimers teaches worship theology to both undergraduate ministerial students and in the seminary, speaks on the subject in pastors’ meetings around the country, and 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 the 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 by looking to Scripture to determine “true worship’s essence and elements” (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” (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” (5).
His second principle is that “right worship must accomplish the right purpose,” and this purpose, according to Psalm 96:7–8, “is the process of declaring, by whatever means God ordains, that the Lord is full of glory” (7–8). Reimers bemoans the 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?” (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 (9). Instead, churches should do whatever they can to demonstrate that God is the primary “audience” of worship (10).
Reimers’ third principle, developed from John 4:23–24, is that “right worship must conform to the right pattern” (10). The “right pattern” in Reimers’s view is “worship in spirit and truth” (12). “Spirit” indicates that “worship must occur with [an individual worshiper’s] inner spirit” (12). “Truth” indicates that we must allow God’s Word to regulate our worship (Ibid.). Reimers does not use the phrase, “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.1
Reimers then moves to a discussion of “the elements of right worship” (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’s first element 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 (15–21).
His second element is praise (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” (23).
His third element is prayer (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 element is what Reimers calls “presentation” (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’s final element is preaching (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’s second chapter (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 (Exod 20:4–5), a commandment that targets specifically worshiping the true God in the wrong way (53). Drawing from the two corollaries to this commandment at the end of verse 5, Reimers shows how God has promised to punish those who worship him wrongly “unto the third and fourth generation,” 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.2 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 (70ff), Reimers discusses the “Dangers of Deviant Worship.” Looking to scriptural examples again, Reimers demonstrates that God hates “Worship Based on Imagination (Exod 32:4–6)” (71ff), “Worship Based on Innovation (Lev 10:1–3)” (74ff), “Worship Like the World (Deut 12:29–32)” (77ff), “Worship Marketed for Convenience (1 Kgs 12:26–31)” (81ff), “Ritual Worship (Gen 4:1–16)” (88ff), “Token Worship (1 Sam 15:1–23)” (90ff), “Reluctant Worship (Mal 1:6–14)” (93ff), and “Pretentious Worship (Matt 15:8–9)” (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 (98ff) in which he challenges the reader that “nothing is more important than 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 Christian layperson. I have minor quibbles with a few statements throughout, such as Reimers’s claim that “there is no biblical precedent” for reciting pre-written prayers (28). He argues that prayer in Scripture is “the product of the moment” (29), while singing pre-written texts is somehow more appropriate. Reimers seems to ignore the fact that the distinction between prayer and singing made today was not held so strictly in ancient times. However, neither this one point, nor other minor issues, weaken the strength of Reimers’s overall argument concerning the need for God-centered worship.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, TX
- “The so-called ‘regulative principle’ of worship, the concept that worship must follow the guidelines that God has established, is inherently biblical” (98). [↩]
- Gary R. Reimers, “The Significance of the Visitation of the Sins of Fathers on Children for the Doctrine of Imputation” (Ph.D. diss., Bob Jones University, 1984). [↩]