Occasional Thoughts and Links of Interest

Tag: liturgy

On Post-Biblical Protestant Evangelicalism, Pt. 2

 

Spectator Worship

Spectator Worship

I posted a brief essay last week focusing on the obvious neglect of the Bible in many contemporary worship services. In that post I made one particular comment that was probably unclear to readers not trained in historical theology. Regarding worship services that fail to engage the Bible in a substantial way, I said:

“It is a problem of a participatory vs. a non-participatory understanding of human nature in relation to God. Classical Trinitarianism (participatory) vs. nominalism (non-participatory). Much contemporary worship seems to be nominalist at its core.”

I’d like to spend some time explaining this statement because it really is at the heart of the problem. My hope with these next few posts is to demonstrate why the current situation is a problem and also what presuppositions lie at the root of this problem. I’ll address the following questions in turn.

1. What does it mean to know God?
2. How does the Bible mediate or facilitate our knowledge of God?
3. How does worship relate to the knowledge of God?
4. What are philosophical univocity and nominalism?
5. How do these philosophical positions influence contemporary Christians, distort our understanding of God and thus our relationship with God?

On Post-Biblical Protestant Evangelicalism

rocknroll_worship_circus

What has happened to evangelical Christian worship? Several years ago, I had an honors class conduct a research project. We broke students into groups of four and sent them into churches of their own choosing in order to examine biblical content in worship services. All of the groups chose to attend services at large, contemporary churches, which are quite typical (in terms of worship culture) of christian churches across the country.

Although I did not ask them to do this, the students took recording devices and produced complete transcripts of the services. Then, they produced reports describing both the quantity of scripture and the way that scripture was used in hymns, praise choruses, readings, sermons, etc. They asked questions such as: was the bible presented in long sections or in bits and pieces? Was scripture read in context, and did the various passages read in the service have an obvious thematic coherence, etc?

An Introduction to Anglican Worship

I am working with a great group of people to plant an Anglican church in Canton, Ohio where many Christians are unfamiliar with liturgical forms of worship.  The following is thus a very brief introduction for those who are unfamiliar with classic liturgy. It may also serve as a helpful refresher for those who have worshiped this way for some time.

In my mind, these four characteristics of Anglican worship are especially noteworthy.

On Scripture and Liturgy

“The force which drives Jews and Christians to write scripture is the same force which drives them first to assemble for divine worship, and that it is the worshiping assembly which is both the genesis point and ongoing milieu of the assembly’s liturgical ritual no less than of its canonical scriptures. In this perspective the assembly specifies God’s Word in literary and intellectual ways just as liturgical worship specifies the same Word in communal actions and in the affections of the worshippers. From this it seems to follow that what is affirmed of scripture must be affirmed mutatis mutandis of liturgical worship. Thus, if scripture is more than just words about God – that is, if scripture is in some real sense the Word of God – then the liturgical worship of an assembly of faithful Jews or Christians is not merely words and gestures about God but in some real sense the Word and gestes of God. The phenomenon of the common tradition’s sustained need to canonize its liturgies no less than its scriptures stands as witness to this.”

–Aidan Kavanagh, “Scripture and Worship in Synagogue and Church,” (482).

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