Monday, November 5, 2012

Introduction to Christian Liturgy – First Thoughts

I have read the first two chapters of Introduction to Christian Liturgy by Frank Senn and wanted to get out a thought or two on the book.  He does not limit the definition of liturgy to a high form as found in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, etc. traditions but recognizes that all bodies of believers adhere to a liturgy of some form however loosely.

I was struck by the following:
All of the major Reformers—Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, Jean Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Olavus Petri—produced liturgical orders, sometimes two or more in which a development could be seen in their theological commitments and pastoral concerns. (p. 20)
Luther's German liturgy was familiar to me, but I was unaware of others, including that of the Anabaptists as documented by Balthasar Hubmaier.

Another point that jumped out was the legislation of liturgy in England.  These were the Acts of Uniformity which "required exclusive use of the Book of Common Prayer" (20).  Not surprisingly, this resulted in sudden disunity as various denominations rapidly splintered.  The reigning monarch might be the official head of the Church of England as its defender, but when the state oversteps its bounds, it cannot expect the church to continue in subservience.

I do question his heavy attribution of Roman influence in the early church.  He sees their worship designed more from culture than from scripture.  I do not altogether downplay the influence, but he seems to be intent on using that as a springboard to pursue cultural adaptation, rather than the God's word, as the driver for proper worship.

No comments: