Skip to content

Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship

Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship Paperback - 2013

by Bruce Ellis Benson; James Smith (Editor)

From the publisher

How do the arts inform and cultivate our service to God? In this addition to an award-winning series, distinguished philosopher Bruce Ellis Benson rethinks what it means to be artistic. Rather than viewing art as practiced by the few, he recovers the ancient Christian idea of presenting ourselves to God as works of art, reenvisioning art as the very core of our being: God calls us to improvise as living works of art. Benson also examines the nature of liturgy and connects art and liturgy in a new way. This book will appeal to philosophy, worship/liturgy, art, music, and theology students as well as readers interested in engaging issues of worship and aesthetics in a postmodern context, including Christian artists and worship leaders.

First line

I see now that the first part of my journey through anorexia addresses the issue of determining whether or not something was wrong with me.

From the rear cover

Improvising as Living Works of Art

"This packs a lot of punch for a short book. Yet the tone is gracious, cautious, and often conversational. It signals a new 'turn' in worship studies: a concern for a theologically rich and culturally alert engagement with the arts in congregational worship. It deserves a wide readership and will doubtless provoke a whole series of fruitful improvisations."
--Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology, Duke University

"Jazz music--so creative and free, so grounded and disciplined--provides a vivid and illuminating metaphor for reflecting on the internal dynamics of faithful and fruitful Christian lives and worship practices. This book pushes readers beyond any initial superficial appeal of this analogy to explore how it might radically convert our perceptions about the shape, tone, and sheer beauty of Christian discipleship."
--John D. Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"Bruce Ellis Benson's refreshing book critiques common ideas about art and liturgy that often limit our access to them. Drawing on a wide range of philosophy and theology as well as his own experiences as a musician, Benson engagingly argues that our lives are inescapably artistic and liturgical. He proposes that all art and worship are characterized by improvisation, which responds to what has come before but changes and adds to it. Liturgy as a Way of Life embodies such improvisation as Benson builds on and weaves together ideas from the past and present to create a dynamic, helpful way to see, to know, and to be."
--Ted Prescott, emeritus professor of art, Messiah College

"'Call and response' and 'improvisation' are only two of the many ideas Benson fleshes out in this book. I appreciate these two especially because our culture has so misunderstood the terms 'liturgy' and 'creativity' (which is God's alone). We need a philosopher to set us right."
--Marva J. Dawn, author of Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, A Royal "Waste" of Time, and How Shall We Worship?


  • Title Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship
  • Author Bruce Ellis Benson; James Smith (Editor)
  • Binding Paperback
  • Pages 160
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Baker Academic
  • Date 2013-04-15
  • ISBN 9780801031359 / 0801031354
  • Weight 0.43 lbs (0.20 kg)
  • Dimensions 8.76 x 6.03 x 0.43 in (22.25 x 15.32 x 1.09 cm)
  • Themes
    • Religious Orientation: Christian
    • Theometrics: Evangelical
  • Library of Congress subjects Postmodernism - Religious aspects -, Liturgics
  • Library of Congress Catalog Number 2012031875
  • Dewey Decimal Code B

About the author

Bruce Ellis Benson (PhD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is professor of philosophy at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His areas of expertise include contemporary French thought and philosophy of art. He is the author of Graven Ideologies, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue, and Pious Nietzsche, and the coeditor of several books, including Evangelicals and Empire.