Glenn Packiam, Discover the Mystery of Faith - Book Review
When I saw that Pastor/Songwriter/Author Glenn Packiam (formerly of the well-known Desperation Band) was writing a book regarding the rich tradition of Christian worship practices since its inception over 2000 years ago, I was quite excited!
Discover The Mystery of Faith is that book, and although it is short (just under 100 pages in my review copy), it is full of theological exploration and reflection on how our worship gatherings can be. Presented in popular fashion (i.e. you don’t need a seminary degree to engage the theological propositions Glenn puts forth), Discover the Mystery of Faith can be beneficial for just about any reader, regardless of one’s biblical/theological education background.
Glenn opens the book by sharing his journey toward his current view on Christian worship practices, particularly in the context of congregational worship. The author tells of his struggle with what he perceived as a lack of depth in much of the Christian worship he experienced. As he closes this section he tells the story of a conversation he had with a gentleman named Gary, who introduced him to the Latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi, which, in literal terms, means the rule of prayer is the rule of faith, or as the author puts it, “The way you pray and worship becomes the way you believe,” (16). This statement becomes the overarching theme of this book.
In the remaining five chapters, Packiam unpacks what he believes can and should shape our congregational worship practices. I don’t have space here to address all that he proposes, but instead, I will highlight what I believe to be two of his most important ideas proposed in the book.
In the third chapter titled, “Tethered to the Narrative,” Glenn states the importance of our worship practices to be tethered to a particular narrative. In an ever-expanding pluralistic society, the Church must remain grounded and tethered to her theological and doctrinal foundations, lest she lose her way. He spends a decent portion of this chapter on the Nicene Creed, developed and confirmed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. Packiam correctly points out that this creed, while not designed to be a complete summary of Christian doctrine, is “the only faith confession that is accepted and used by every stream of the body of Christ -- Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox.” (41). He strongly suggests that the reciting of this creed should be a part of our congregational worship.
Chapter 4, titled “Retelling the Story” is my favorite chapter in the book. This is arguably the meatiest chapter. In this chapter, Glenn posits that our worship services tell a story, and he asks these questions: “What does our service say? Is it telling a story? What story is it telling? Whose story is it telling?” (55). He draws from his experience attending an Eastern Orthodox service wherein the liturgy of the service, “everything spoke.” It told a story - the Gospel Story. He goes on to explain what liturgy means - the work of the people - and how it can be useful in telling the Gospel Story in our worship gatherings. Packiam then unpacks how New Life DOWNTOWN’s neo-liturgy is structured, explaining how each part of the service functions in telling the Gospel story.
At a time, such as this, where there is much confusion and aimlessness not only in our world, but even in some of our Christian churches, Discover the Mystery of Faith leads us to the timeless and foundational doctrines of our faith. Glenn serves well as a prophetic voice calling the Church to discover, or rediscover, worship practices rich and deep in theological expression. These practices have stood the test of time, from the inception of the Christian faith to today.
You may or may not agree with every proposition the author puts forth in this book, but if nothing else this is a conversation worth entering and engaging. And, I hope you will as I strongly recommend this book.
God bless you on the journey!Comment on Facebook Comment on Twitter
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