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A Taste of Heaven by R.C. Sproul

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Any time I set out to write a review of a book by R.C. Sproul I feel compelled to begin by lauding his accomplishments. But surely I can dispense with that formality this time. I am confident most of my readers know of Sproul and have benefited from his ministry and from his almost unparalleled teaching ability. We talk these days about a Reformed revival and about “Young, Restless, Reformed.” No discussion on the modern revival of Reformed theology can ignore the role of Dr. Sproul. While perhaps less visible in ministry than in days past, he continues to be profoundly influential.

Though he has written more than 60 books for a variety of publishing companies, A Taste of Heaven is Sproul’s first for Reformation Trust, Ligonier Ministries’ own publishing imprint. Subtitled “Worship in the Light of Eternity,” this book “examines the key components of prayer, praise, and sacrifices that God gave to His people in the Old Testament.” It turns to the Old Testament to find there principles that can direct our worship even in this New Testament era. Of course Sproul is insistent that we cannot simply import Old Testament worship into the church today or we might be guilty of missing the shadow for the reality, the elements that pointed forward to Christ rather than Christ Himself. Yet in the Old Testament we find God’s clearest teaching on how we are to worship Him and what kind of worship pleases Him. To simply reject these words out-of-hand would be to leave ourselves impoverished.

Dr. Sproul ranges through a variety of topics, from sacrifices to prayer, symbolism to baptism. One of the most interesting (and probably most controversial) subjects deals with using all five senses in our corporate worship. Old Testament worship was, after all, much more multi-sensory than we are accustomed to as Protestants. Jewish believers of old would experience sites, sounds, tastes and scents that are foreign to us today. Sproul suggests that perhaps the Protestant rejection of elements such as incense is little more than an over-reaction to Roman Catholic worship and something we may do well to recover. The rest of his suggestions are perhaps a little bit less surprising to a Protestant reader, but no less challenging.

My only complaint (if we can even call it that) is that the book seems to end rather abruptly. One moment Sproul is discussing the use of incense in worship (a practice he feels we can not ignore based on his studies of Scripture) and the next moment the book is done. A brief two-paragraph Epilogue provides a very short summary of the book’s major point, but doesn’t quite wrap things up. It seemed to me rather a strange way of end a good little book.

A Taste of Heaven was an enjoyable read and one I’m glad to recommend to others. I’m not sure that any one Christian will agree with all that Sproul teaches or suggests, but I do know that the book will cause every reader to pause and consider. If Sproul can cause the reader to worship with just a bit more of a sense of the eternal nature of worship, I’m sure he’ll consider the book a success.

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