Friday, May 16, 2008

Liturgy Mania

In the class I'm taking right now, a great deal of discussion (spawned by thought-proboking lectures) is taking place regarding the place for liturgy in church worship. After all, prior the rise and proliferation of church music in the 1800's, churches primarily worshiped according to a pattern. The reason for this pattern of worship (or liturgy - that remained surprisingly consistent for 16oo years of church history) was because that churchmen knew the priniciple of lex orandi, lex credendi ("the rule of worship determines the order of belief"). This principle shows that it is the way in which people worship, not merely the preaching they hear, that determines how they believe. Therefore, if church leaders wanted the belief of their people to remain consistent, the worship had to remain consistent. Hence a consistent liturgy.

On the other hand, if worship forms are all over the map, so will be the belief among Christians. A correlation can drawn between the American abandonment of liturgy and the ensuing splintering in the church of North American since the countries founding. Liturgical elements also contribute to a deep faith that appreciates the most profound truths in Christian orthodoxy. The case for liturgy has been so strongly made in class that the free-church traditions appear somewhat shallow.

Nevertheless, I pastor a free-church with a Baptist affiliation. Most of my people have baptist heritages. This is not an environment conducive to liturgical forms. Perhaps some elements of the ancient liturgy can be enjoyed in a manner that will enhance the worship experience of my church. We can try some baby steps. A little of this..a little of that. Before you know it, we may also enjoy worship that transcends current market trends.

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