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by Sue A. Rozeboom
At first glance, Michael Horton's A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship may appear to be just another jeremiad. Having listened too much to the world, Horton charges, believers have come to script their lives and even their worship according to our culture's self-centered expectations. Citing Neal Gabler's Life the Movie, Horton suggests that contemporary entertainment has "conquered reality" by beguiling each of us to think of ourselves as the star of our own show. We take it that God is at our disposal. We assume that worship is the way to get God into our script, and perhaps into that of an unbeliever. No wonder, then, that some strains of worship have become increasingly subjective. No wonder that some have the ring of tv talk-shows. No wonder that some employ any gimmick in order to effect communion with God.
Yes, yes, the reader may mutter impatiently, I've heard this indictment before. But it would be a mistake to dismiss Horton's book as merely a rehash of familiar themes. These habits of contemporary worship, Horton suggests, are the expression of an "over-realized" eschatology. God's transcendence is preempted by God's immanence. Weary of waiting for the fulfillment of a promise, we try to force our future—our eschatological communion with God—on the present "by 'staging' our own spectacle."1 In this way, says Horton, we seem not to trust God's promise to get to us through the ordinary means of Scripture and sacrament. So we contrive extraordinary means, figuring we will get to God through them.
There are also those who hold to an "under-realized" eschatology, who despair of God's inclination and power to do anything about sin and misery, here and now, in this fallen world. Admittedly, says Horton, this is the more likely vice of "traditional" churches, whose worship may be theologically erudite and yet "indifferent to the reality that God has come among us in Jesus Christ and remains with us until the end of the age by his Spirit."