Worshipping in Spirit: Robert E. Webber

bobrobe.jpgLast Friday, April 27, 2007, Dr. Bob Webber entered into the presence of God at the end of a long bout with cancer.  He is now having the time of his life.  If you want to read his bio, click here.

Bob was not a fundamentalist.  In fact, though he began his educational pursuits at Bob Jones University, he actually ended up an evangelical Episcopalian!  Obviously, he and I would see many things–many things–differently.

Bob Webber, however, is one of my heroes.

He is a hero to me because his life was about one thing: the worship of God.  Bob pursued that study with every bit of creativity and energy and intellect he had.  Writing over 40 books on worship, he is certainly one of the most prolific and influential minds in this generation.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Webber back in 2000 at an all-day seminar on worship in the Philadelphia area.  He certainly attracted a diverse audience.  Many denominations were represented.  I was the lone fundamentalist, from what I could surmise.  That afternoon, Bob made an impact on me as he led the group through Luke 24 and the account of the interaction the resurrected Christ had with the men on the road to Emmaus.  He showed us how we could use the biblical text as a model for corporate worship.  It was beautiful.  I think that, other than his passion for the worship of God, looking to the Word itself for models of worship was the biggest contribution Bob made to my own study of worship, which was just starting to blossom in my spirit at the time.

Dr. Webber certainly challenged all of us methodologically as he talked about liturgical dance, symbolism in worship, and the inclusion of ancient practices in modern worship.  I was stretched in every way.  I didn’t “buy in” to everything but I was stretched.

As I mentioned, Bob and I would disagree on a number of things, including modes of baptism, eschatology, ecclesiastical structure, and the role of the Lord’s Supper.  However, God used this very humble, very kind man to direct me to His word and motivate me to also give my life to the study of the worship of God.  He was very generous to a poor seminary student too, giving me a free copy of every book he had written that he had with him at the seminar.  I refer to them frequently.

I can’t imagine anyone beaming more brightly in Heaven on this beautiful eternal morning than Dr. Robert Webber.  Why?  Because he is reveling in the light of the Son of God, finally experiencing perfect worship.  Today, he can bow, not in a sanctuary, but at the feet of Jesus Christ.

Any contributions I will make to Jesus’ church in the area of worship during my lifetime can be credited in large part to men like Bob Webber and their contagious passion for God, His Word, and His worship.  Thanks for your life, Bob!  Can’t wait to see you again!


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