Engaging with God

In 1992 my study of the theme of worship in Scripture was published as Engaging with God: a biblical theology of worship (Leicester: IVP; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans [now published in the USA by Inter-Varsity, Downers Grove]). I am grateful that this book is still in print and is recommended to students in many seminaries and theological colleges. It has subsequently been translated into Spanish (En la presencia de Dios [Barcelona: Publicaciones Andamio, 2003), French (En Esprit et en vérité [Charols: Éditions Excelsis, 2005), Russian (2005), Romanian (2006), and is due to be published in Korean.

I wrote Engaging with God because of the confusion that I perceived in many churches and Christian publications about the nature of God-pleasing worship. Serious differences continue to emerge in the way that relevant biblical teaching is understood and applied. ‘Text proofing’ is a popular way of confirming denominational traditions and personal preferences! In such a situation, the method of Biblical Theology is particularly helpful because it allows us to put texts into their proper context.  In the unfolding story of God’s self-revelation and engagement with humanity, there has been a development of the way acceptable worship has been expressed. In particular, we need to understand the difference that emerges in biblical thinking about worship with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the completion of his saving work.

Engaging with God begins with a study of the way people engaged with God in Old Testament times. There is a focus in this chapter on the provisions for priesthood, sacrifice, and sanctuary in the Mosaic Covenant. Next, there is an examination of the terminology of worship, to show how this was used by Old Testament writers. Two chapters examine the practice and teaching of Jesus on this subject, with special attention to the evidence of the Gospels of Matthew and John. A chapter is devoted to the Acts of the Apostles, and two chapters to the writings of Paul. A chapter is devoted to the important teaching of Hebrews on worship and another to the perspective of the Revelation to John. A final chapter summarises the argument of the book and the Epilogue considers what it might mean to express this teaching appropriately within the context of Christian assembly.

Worship in Perspective: an overview of biblical teaching


17 thoughts on “Engaging with God

  1. Mr. David Peterson,

    It is an honor to be able to write to you through this medium. I have the privilege of being the director of a new/small school of ministry, with an initial focus on Worship and Music. We have been using Bob Kauflin’s resource “Worship Matters” and he also recommends your book “Engaging With God: a biblical theology of worship”.

    My question is, have you considered publishing the book in “eBook” format? Several of our students, including teachers, are using iPads for downloading books, among other things. I’m in the process of ordering the book on Amazon, but noticed it was not available in eBook format.

    Hope to hear from you soon…

    In Him,

    Josh Ramos | Director
    HTI School of Ministry


    1. Thanks for your encouragement Josh. I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. The publishers have not talked about putting ‘Engaging with God’ in an eBook format, but perhaps I should ask them to consider this. You might be interested to know that I have just finished writing a sequel called ‘Engaging with God Together’, which is focused on congregational worship and is a thematic approach to the topic. This book will be published by the end of the year in England and hopefully also in the USA soon after that. Best wishes, David.


  2. Kevin Perry

    Dr. Peterson,
    I echo Josh’s thought, it would be a wonderful gift to have ‘Engaging with God’ in an ebook/kindle form. Your book has been extremely helpful and influential to me. I look forward with great anticipation to your new book.

    Kevin Perry
    Worship Arts Pastor
    Fellowship Bible Church
    Murfreesboro, TN


  3. Mike Lukens

    I too have been encouraged, challenged and sharpened by Engaging with God. I have read through the book several times both as an individual study and with others. I would love to have an e-version of the book and would love to hear any updated about the sequel. Thank you Mr. Peterson for you study and work in sharing this with others!

    Mike Lukens
    Pastor of Worship
    Fellowship Bible Church
    Winchester, VA


    1. Mike, An e-version of the new book Encountering God Together should be available in the US soon through P & R, who are publishing the book. I am not sure if InterVarsity intend to put Engaging with God into an e-format. Thanks for your encouragement. David


  4. Oladipo Shoyoola

    Dr. Peterson,
    I want to add my voice to the request above that your book Engaging with God be made available in Kindle or other electronic format. I look forward to reading your new book.
    Oladipo Shoyoola
    Bethel Nairobi Worship Center


    1. Oladipo, An e-version of the new book Encountering God Together is available in the UK and British Commonwealth through Inter-Varsity in Nottingham. I am not sure if they intend to put Engaging with God into an e-format. Thanks for your encouragement.


  5. James Lim

    Hi Greetings from Singapore

    I am intrigued by your book and I look forward to reading a copy. I hope you can respond to my question before I read your book. The primitive church sang acapella. What role does instruments play in church worship in the New testatment era? Thanks in advance


    1. James, I have not done any research on this particular issue. There is no evidence in the New Testament about what instruments were used, but I suspect that as Christianity spread across the Greco-Roman world, churches began to use the instruments that were common to them in their local cultures. David


  6. Abraham Paniagua

    Dr. Peterson, I am currently doing an internship at CHBC with Mark Dever. Your book was one of the best books I’ve ever read in Worship and it has been one of the best books i’ve read during my internship here. I praise God for the job you do, through biblical theology, studying God’s Word on this great and amazing subject of the Bible.

    My first language is Spanish so I’ve been looking for your book but I can’t find it. I can’t share it with my friends because they don’t speak english. Do you know if CLIE or Andamio will put it in Amazon for sell?

    Thank you,

    Abraham Paniagua


    1. Abraham, thanks for your encouraging words. Engaging with God has been published by Andamio as En la presence de Dios (2003). I suggest you email them with your question (andamio@arrakis.es) or contact editorial clie (libros@clie.es). It would be great to have the book more readily available for Spanish-speaking people in North America.


  7. Adam Anderson

    Greetings in Grace, Dr. Peterson!

    I love ‘Engaging with God’. Your work as a biblical scholar is tremendously helpful and edifying. I can always count on you as a reliable source of solid teaching (I use your stuff all the time for my church!).

    One question as it relates to worship–there has been a recent movement afoot known as the “Hebrew Roots Movement” which claims to get people back into a truly ‘biblical’ way of life and worship through Yeshua the Messiah. I have a family member who has been getting involved in it, and seems to be more divisive about very basic tenets of Christianity, to the point of doubting the authenticity of the Greek manuscripts that we have. Do you know anything about the movement? Do you have any experiences of this kind of thing? And, do you have any comments or advice for how to deal with those involved in it?



    1. Adam I am not familiar with this movement, but any attempt to downgrade the significance of the New Testament on the basis of manuscript studies is really out of touch with the scholarly work in this area. The challenge for Jews is to accept Jesus as the Messiah for the nations and not just for Judaism as historically expressed. The Old Testament prophetic literature is very clear about this and the New Testament is consistent with those prophecies.


  8. Dr. Peterson,

    Thanks for your excellent contribution to the understanding of the Biblical theology of worship in our time. Your book has been significant in my Masters work and now as I am pursuing a Doctorate in Worship Studies. I am an American currently also teaching at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kiev, and would like to use Engaging with God with my students. Russian is the language used, but IVP in the US had no record of the Russian language publisher. Would you be so kind to give me the information? There is a dearth of this kind of study among Protestants especially in Eurasia, and I’m eager to see this better known. Thank you again!

    Fred J. Heumann
    MusicWorks International | theworshipservice.com
    Franklin, Tennessee, USA


    1. Fred, I have a copy of the Russian version of Engaging with God, but have no way of deciphering who the publisher is! All I can tell you is that it was published at Odessa in 2005. However, if you contact Inter-Varsity Press in London, they should be able to tell you who the Russian publisher is.


  9. Wim Moreels

    I found that the book now has been made available in e-book form on OliveTree App… makes it easy to jump from the verses right a way to your (favorite) Bible translation

    greetings in the risen Lord,
    William, Belgium


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