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Ryan Bolger on the Emergent Movement…

September 7, 2007

 Ryan Bolger teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. dawn permalink
    September 7, 2007 9:27 pm

    Emergent: “Christ followers who really want to make their faith real, are doing it in ways that make sense to the culture . . .”

    Orthodox: “Time-honored traditions”

    Emergent: McClendon suggests that “By the baptist vision, our task is not mere replication of primitive Christian behavior, but acting in our own context with an understanding of what we do formed by our identity with Jesus’ first disciples.”

    Tradition: “. . .conceptualization of the [Anabaptist] vision has led to a number of detrimental results . . . and a re-framing of the Christian faith around the distinctives rather than the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” tradition of 2,000 years.”

    “great Christian Tradition”

    The first quote from this clip renewed my ponderings on the difference between an ancient Tradition of faith and worship that supposedly transcends culture and one that tries to find ways to adapt their expressions of faith to the culture. Is this another example of both/and or is there an either/or here I should be figuring out?

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    September 8, 2007 12:50 am

    I would like to throw in my lot with those who see the Church as both/and in regards to the questions you pose. I will seek to be gracious with and inclusive of those who operate with an Either/Or matrix.

    Here is the key question for me–How do we measure relevency? I don’t know if I would agree that Tradition represents some kind of culturally transcendent form of faith and worship. That sounds Platonic. I believe that Christianity is always about Truth incarnated. That is the uniqueness of the Gospel–the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

    Here is where the both/and comes in. The Church is BOTH the Truth that has been incarnated in the present moment over two thousand years, AND it is also now encountering Jesus and the Gospel afresh in our present cultural/historical moment. I don’t seen these two realities as mutually opposed (EITHER/OR).

    The Community of Jesus is both Ancient and New. The integrative motif of McClendon–This is That and Then is Now, does not necessitate a disregard for the witness (and sacramental union!?!) with the Great Cloud of Witness (Hebrews 11) who cheer us on in a cultural context which would seem foreign to them.

    Can honoring the ancient Tradition of faith and worship go together with the more dynamic reframing of the faith–(i.e. The Anabaptist Vision)? Can we envision a many-faceted working of God’s Spirit.

    Inculturation (an excerpt from “Christian Worship: Scriptural Basis and Theological Frame”, Geoffrey Wainwright)

    “The liturgy is probably the area of the churches’ life in which the question of “inculturation” was most discussed in twentieth-century theology, as the essays by Anscar Chupungco and Chris Egbulem in this volume illustrate (see “Mission and Inculturation: East Asia and the Pacific” and “Mission and Inculturation: Africa”). It is in fact a perennial issue in Christian thought and practice: Josef Jungmann, for instance, showed how attitudes and habits shifted in the patristic period before and beyond the Constantinian turn, with Christians usually waiting until pagan words and performances had become ’empty husks’ before filling them with new content and associations. Theologically, the positive diversities among humankind can be viewed as the work of a richly resourceful Creator and providential Lord of history, into whose final kingdom all the treasures of the nations will be brought (cf. Hag. 2:7; Matt. 2:11; Rev. 21:26). Some differences of human culture, however, can be attributed, theologically, to a greater or less present conformity among a fallen and not-yet-fully-redeemed humankind to the will of God and the destiny to which God is calling it.

    In characteristically modern terms, it might be said that the liturgy affords the opportunity for human beings to ‘discover meaning’ and ‘make sense’ of their lives and the world–provided always that the anthropological and cosmological categories be embraced within a divine transcendence that, according to the Christian faith, is the gracious being and action of the Triune God.

    All this is both made possible by an eschatological prospect and qualified by an eschatological reserve. Those ‘upon whom the ends of the ages have come’ (1 Cor. 10:11) live in the overlap of this world and its passing forms (1 Cor. 7:31; 1 John 2:17) with the new creation that has already begun in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). What can now be seen “in a mirror dimly,” perhaps often only as “puzzling reflections” (1 Cor. 13:12) will one day be encountered “face to face.”

    Meanwhile the liturgical assembly is granted in ritual mode an anticipatory share in the worship that, in accordance wiith the inspired prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 6; John 12:37-50), the entire cosmos will one day render to the Thrice-Holy God.

    So in that sense, the full comprehension of this mystery is always beyond our grasp. But we join in the procession.

  3. dawn permalink
    September 8, 2007 1:53 am

    This is a bit overwhelming, but I get the point of both/and. I am curious about one more thing, however, now that you quoted from Wainwright:

    ” . . .it might be said that the liturgy affords the opportunity for human beings to ‘discover meaning’ and ‘make sense’ of their lives and the world. . . embraced within a divine transcendence. . .”

    “Meanwhile the liturgical assembly is granted in ritual mode an anticipatory share. . .”

    I am not sure I am fully comprehending the implications of these two quotes. So, would Wainwright say that there has been a full revelation of the liturgical assembly or can new things be added and used for the “current procession?” (he qualifies it with, “providing . . . within a divine transcendence. . .”)

  4. Leon permalink
    September 8, 2007 10:33 am

    And I wait for the answer to Dawn’s questions with breath breath. I mat also have a comment or two later in the day after I have thought about it for a while.

  5. just an apprentice permalink
    September 8, 2007 11:56 am

    I am not sure I can fully answer your question about Wainwright other to say…

    Geoffrey Wainwright, a British Methodist minister who previously taught in Cameroon and England, occupies the Cushman Chair of Theology at Duke University.

    So, as a Methodist he certainly would be a part of worshipping procession that has added to the liturgy. They have not fixated the liturgy based on a particular moment in history when the Ancient church deemed a full revelation to be given. So, the worship Wainwright participates in (and envisions as true) is not restricted to the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom.

    But I am not proficient enough to provide an authoratative scholarly answer to your question. I can let Wainwright speak for himself with a few more excerpts from his essay in a larger volume of which he is co-editor (The Oxford History of Christian Worship).

    “The long argument in Romans 9-11 about Israel and the Gentiles includes the claim that the word of God is brought near by the preaching of the gospel of Christ (10:14-17), which makes possible the faith in the heart that ‘God raised (Jesus) from the dead’ and the confession with the lips that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ whereby salvation comes–for ‘every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved’ (10:8-13). Those chapters conclude with a doxology to the merciful God whose final purpose it is that all–BOTH Jew AND Gentile (Caps are mine)–may be saved (11:25-36). When faith gains a voice, it becomes a vehicle for the extension of God’s grace to others, and the chorus of thanksgiving swells to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:13-15).

    On the basis of all that is said in Romans so far, the apostle summons his believing brothers and sisters to ‘present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship [logike latreia]” (Rom. 12:1). According to Hebrews 13:15-16, what can now be offered through Christ is ‘a sacrifice of praise to God, the tribute of lips that acknowledge his name,’ without neglecting ‘to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.’ In Romans 12, Paul then goes on to describe Christians, with their varied gifts and ministries, as constituting one Body in Christ, into which they are incorporated by baptism (1 Cor. 12:13). In the light, Christian worship appears as vocal, corporeal, and corporate, embracing both liturgical assembly and mutual service among the congregation.

    In Romans 13:1-7 Paul recognizes the God-given functions of the civil authorities, which grounds the practice in Christian worship of praying on their behalf, not least with a view to the peace that facilitates the course of the gospel (1 Tim. 2:1-7). By Romans 13:11-14 the present age is set in the eschatalogical perspective that marks all Christian worship: ‘Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand.’ That is the fact that grounds Paul’s exhortation in 12:2 and renders the logike latreia possible: ‘Do not be conformed to this age/world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ Such worship is experienced by the Church as a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy adumbrated in the bood of Revelation.

    The need for mutual love, announced in Romans 13:8-10 according to the commandment, is applied in chapter 14 to a controversy in the Roman congregation which the apostle does not consider sufficient to divide the parties in fundamental faith. In chapter 15 Paul prays for them that they be of one mind (to auto phronein), one heart or will (homothumadon), and one mouth or voice (en heni stomati), for only so can they properly ‘glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (vv. 5-6). This indispensibility of mutual love in the celebration of the Lord’s supper is made clear in 1 Corinthians 10-11.

    In Romans 15:15-16 Paul speaks in liturgical or priestly terms of his evangelizing mission among the nations: by God’s grace, he is a minister (leitourgos) of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest (hierourgountos) the gospel of God, so that the offering (prosphora) of the Gentiles may be acceptable (euprosdektos), sanctified (hagiasmene) by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Gentiles may come to praise and glorify God along with his people of the old covenant (vv. 8-12). The ‘offering of the Gentiles, sanctified by the Holy Spirit’ (v. 16) rejoins the first part of Romans 8 and the Spirit of God dwelling in believers, resembling closely the figure of the temple, which the apostle uses in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body?’ The inclusion of ‘the nations’ hints at the geographical and cultural spread that will positively characterize Christian worship, though the significance of geography and culture will always be qualified by the transcendent fact that the Father seeks those who will worship him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:20-26). Early Christian writers saw the eucharist as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi 1:11 concerning the pure sacrifice that would be offered to the Lord of hosts from the rising sun to its setting.

    …Romans (16:25-27), the importance of which it is hard to overestimate for the understanding and practice of Christian liturgy:

    Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

    ‘Mystery’ does not here refer immediately to God’s incomprehensible transcendence, thouht that–‘the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light’–is the infinite horizon of Christian worship (1 Tim. 6:15-16). Mystery here denotes the divine purpose and plan to bring human beings to salvation, which has now been brought to light as never before through its embodiment in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son. Christ himself is ‘the mystery of our religion: manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed in the world, taken up in glory’ (1 Tim. 3:16). In the Christian liturgical assembly, that mystery is conveyed not only in ‘the prophetic writings’ but also, and more directly, in the apostolic gospel and preaching, as Old and New Testaments are read, expounded, apprehended, and implemented, and in what came to be called “sacraments.” Christ figures at the heart of worship as teh mediator not only of God to man but of human praise and prayer to the only wise God: soli Deo gloria. That glory, as the doxology of Romans instantiates, is to be ascribed ‘for evermore.’ The ‘history of Christian worship’ is the story of its occurrence under the reserve of an age in which, as believers are authoritatively warned, idolatry under many guises still tempts and threatens (1 Cor. 10:10-22; Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:5; Phil. 3:19): ‘Little children, keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21).

  6. just an apprentice permalink
    September 8, 2007 12:10 pm

    Wainwright continued:

    At some point (scholars differ as to when), a separation took place between the agape and the sacramental eucharist, probably on account of abuses recorded in 1 Corinthians 11.

    The sacramental eucharist, its character as a meal having been reduced to minimal proportions, has for most of history been left to bear the weight of symbolically expressing the brotherly and sisterly love to which those who address God as ‘Abba’ are called. Drawing on a possible underlying Hebraic idiom, a creative interpretation of Romans 14:17 may provide a scriptural basis and theological frame for the Lord’s supper as the social embodiment of the Christian community: ‘The kingdom of God is food and drink insofar as eating and drinking express and foster justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ A responsibly celebrated eucharist exemplifies justice because thankful people are welcomed by the merciful Lord into his table fellowship and all together share in the fruits of redemption and in the foretaste of the new heavens and the new earth in which right will prevail (2 Peter 3:13). The eucharist, responsibly celebrated, also exemplifies peace, because reconciled people are there at peace with God and with one another (Matt. 5:23-24). Responsibly celebrated, the eucharist finally exemplifies joy in the Holy Spirit, because the participants ‘do not get drunk with wine’ but rather the cup of blessings conveys to all who partake of it a taste of that ‘sober inebriation’ that the Spirit gives (Eph. 5:18). Having learned and experienced all this in the paradigm of the eucharistic meal, the Christian community is committed–in terms of mission–to an everyday witness in word and deed that will give the opportunity for all the material resources of creation and all occasions of human contact to become the medium of that communion with God and among human beings which is marked by justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, and in which the kingdom of God consists. In that line of worldly extension, some twentieth-century Orthodox theologians took to speaking of ‘the liturgy after the Liturgy.’

    Each local congregation must first be gathered and shaped.

    …for it is at the eucharist that ‘you assemble as a church’ (1 Cor. 11:18) and the presider and people ‘concelebrate.’ (citing Alexander Schmemann). In ancient churches, the very icons ‘seem to take part in the assembly of the Church, they express meaning, they provide its eternal movement and rhythm. The entire Church, the entire assembly, with all its ‘ranks’–prophets, apostles, martyrs and saints–seems to ascend to heaven, elevated and lifted up by Christ to his table in his kingdom.’

  7. just an apprentice permalink
    September 8, 2007 12:20 pm

    Wainwright continued:

    The linguistic philosopher Richard Schaeffler has helpfully analyzed how the doxological dialogue builds up the community of believers. Semantically, grammatically, and pragmatically, the faith is transmitted from the past by the reading of canonical texts and the performance of consecrated actions that allow present experience of reality to be shaped, tested, expressed, and enriched in interpretive interaction with the normative events of salvation. Moreover, this takes place within a fellowship of mutual help among contemporary members, and in the perspective of ongoing renewal through orientation to the definitive sight of God’s glory, which in each generation is anticipated by God’s gracious address and its response in praise. From this viewpoint of the particular worshipers, participation in the liturgy is an act by which they associate themselves with a continuing community; they thereby themselves become carriers of the living Tradition.

    Tradition through time signals the transgenerational character of the church in a deeper sense than the merely historical. Christian liturgy brings to expression in various ways the belief that its social relations are not finally severed by death but rather are enfolded in the eternal keeping of God and to be consummated in God’s final Kingdom.

    The twentieth-century Liturgical and Ecumenical Movements brought a new interest among some mainstream Protestants in a liturgical observance of saints’ days and a recognition that the Church on earth joins its worship of God to that offered by the saints in heaven; but most would still hesitate to extend to invocation of the help of a named saint in heaven the principle that ‘the prayer of a righteous person availeth much’ (James 5:16)

  8. just an apprentice permalink
    September 8, 2007 12:30 pm

    Dawn,
    Throughout Wainwright’s essay I hear that there has been a unique revelation of God in history–Jesus Christ–that elicits a doxological response. This is the vocation of all humans–to offer back up to God the praise of the earth.

    Christian liturgy provides a way for us to process in this praise and prayer in ways that uncover the reality that the Church is not a bounded set of those who are living at this present moment. Rather we join our praise with the praise of those who have gone before us. Continuity.

    I hear your question. I believe I hear you asking–What is fixed and universal about Christian liturgy and what is particular to particular contexts (culture, language, etc.)?

    Jesus has been revealed among us. (Simeon’s prayer). So we do have a fixed point of reference for our worship. Jesus is not a philosophical construct. He is a historical being. So our worship eminates from that locus and also (in light of the Resurection) anticipates the consumation of what Jesus set in motion.

    So how then shall we worship? Ancient liturgy or spontaneous praise? Either/Or …Both/And?

  9. Chris permalink
    September 9, 2007 6:47 pm

    Thank you for these added excerpts! They certainly give me lots more to think about. His view of the Eucharist was especially interesting and begs more questions, however, they will likely remain in the back of my mind or wait for another WATF meeting :-) At this time in my life, I have very few thoughts or conversations that do not get interrupted by children or their care. :-|

    But I do want to say is that I appreciated your commentary, “They [Methodists] have not fixated the liturgy based on a particular moment in history when the Ancient church deemed a full revelation to be given.” Yes, I think you do understand my question and view. I am disturbed – is that too strong a word? – when I hear people articulate a belief that, as you said, restricts Church liturgy to the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom. I have spent the better of two years trying to understand this view and its application. I just cannot resolve the truth that the Church is a living and growing Body of Past, Present, and Future with the idea that the practice of “proper worship” or Divine Liturgy is then, time and culture-bound. No matter how I try to analyze it, (though I concede that, indeed, it is bad practice to attempt to rationalize mystery) I keep coming back to the truth that the early church was young and growing and learning what it meant to be Church of Past, Present and Future. Yes, they were closest to Christ, but even the disciples realized over and over that even BEING

  10. Dawn permalink
    September 9, 2007 7:43 pm

    I am sorry, I hit a wrong key and I see that Chris’ name was still in our comment box . . . . . .

    anyway, BEING with Christ didn’t always mean they understood fully what it meant to be Christ-like let alone the Church! To say, in shorter terms than I have heard it explained, that we need to look to the early Church as our model or basis for practice or liturgical worship, I would say, yes and no! The early church fumbled around just as we do today. Life and worship is a continual learning and growing and working out of a process now as it was then, to know how to be Church in a changing context. Why??? Now more strongly than ever, I believe that the Church’s message was and always will be the crucified and resurrected Christ. Christ appointed Peter as the foundation for Her organization and vision. And Peter did a wonderful job of showing how the Church spreads to all nations in a way that keeps the crucified Christ as central. But I believe Peter also received and embraced the message that worship is culturally based. Afterall, it was Peter that explained that not all the Jewish law and practice should apply to the new converts from other places and background. I am not sure, as I have also heard it explained, that the Bible does not specify how the Church worshiped, nor how we should worship today because it was assumed that everyone knew (it was a Jewish culture). I think that the Bible does not specify because the practice was secondary to the focus. The focus was the worship of the crucified and resurrected Christ. There were only a few things Jesus asked us to include in our practice of worship and remembrance of Him and there were a few more mentioned in the epistles (and most of these, are included in the list of sacraments the Church still practices today). But aside from those, I really think the reason practice was left out was not because everyone already knew, but because the ritualistic practice itself is the not key to salvation or honoring God. Practicing worship, commitment to worship, thoughtful and sincere expressions of our worship are essential to fulfill our calling as created beings who proclaim the glory of our Creator and God through our life and worship.

    History is all about perspective and I think it is important to collect and learn from perspectives throughout time and space for we know that our Church body is made up of people of all nations from all time. That kind of worship is diverse!!! And to me, that diversity is what reveals the glory of God, not the preservation of a single Tradition throughout the ages. For in that, we honor the works of man rather than the Living Word who called us to practice repentance and the sacraments. I do, however, appreciate, more than ever, the liturgy of the Church, but I would hope that our liturgical expression can grow with the Church and not be limited to an expression that fit a particular times in history. As Wainwright so beautifully put it, “liturgy affords the opportunity for human beings to ‘discover meaning’ and ‘make sense’ of their lives and the world–provided always that the anthropological and cosmological categories be embraced within a divine transcendence that, according to the Christian faith, is the gracious being and action of the Triune God.”

    And I guess now I’ve said my peace! Brian, thank you for your willingness to bring up things to stretch us in our thinking and giving the space to allow for conversation. Leon, you can speak your peace too . . . I believe some of the things I mentioned I’ve heard were actually things you shared in your class on Church history. On points we disagree, I do so in humility, knowing I still have a lot to learn. I really have tried to put the pieces together and this is where I have come to so far. I sincerely appreciate the voices who are willing to patiently guide and share from different places in the journey.

  11. Leon permalink
    September 11, 2007 12:52 am

    Brian and Dawn.

    Thanks to both of you for initiating this discussion. Dawn I will limit my comments to your portion at this point rather than take on the totality of Wainwright’s essay since I really have not read it.

    Let me begin by saying I really do understand your perspective in that it was once mine. As you both know I now feel quite differently, or put another way, I have grown, through years of study, both biblical and historical, and prayer, to hold a different understanding. I do not assume that my growth is completed, but it does put me in a different place from where I used to be.

    So right now I will think out loud and let you in on my thoughts. A question that has occupied my heart for some years is this. Did the church of the first several centuries have a different role to play in the overall span of church history than the church of our era? As I plumbed the depth of that question I have come to believe that indeed there is a difference. For one thing that era of the church determined how the NT would be shaped; which writers and which writings would be included. That was not our 21st century task. There’s was the task of articulating the faith in a way that you and I have not been asked to do. For example the development of the great creeds, the understanding that both the Son and the Holy Spirit were indeed divine and co-equal with the Father, these teachings that we have taken for granted for more than 1500 years were, not created, but clearly articulated by that era of the church’s history. This was especially true in the face of false teachings that were offered by various groups and teachers of the day.

    Assuming the above to be true, allow me a couple of further observations. In those early centuries of the church, history seems to indicate that Christians believed, taught and practiced one faith all over the world. Some might argue that this is only true because, “as soon as you didn’t believe and practice what was held by those in authority you were put out of the church.” John in his 1st epistle says, and I paraphrase, they went out from us, because they was not of us (1 John 2:19 see also 4:4-6). In other words the beloved apostle did indicate that if one did not hold to the revealed faith (the faith Jude refers to as being once for all delivered to the saints) one was not part of the church. It does not seem that clear anymore, but it did seem to be the way it was back then. This truth was then handed on from generation to generation. And things that were of an apostolic witness were allowed to be collected as the sacred writings of the NT.

    (Dawn)
    “They [Methodists] have not fixated the liturgy based on a particular moment in history when the Ancient church deemed a full revelation to be given.” Yes, I think you do understand my question and view. I am disturbed – is that too strong a word? – when I hear people articulate a belief that, as you said, restricts Church liturgy to the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom. I have spent the better of two years trying to understand this view and its application. I just cannot resolve the truth that the Church is a living and growing Body of Past, Present, and Future with the idea that the practice of “proper worship” or Divine Liturgy is then, time and culture-bound. No matter how I try to analyze it, (though I concede that, indeed, it is bad practice to attempt to rationalize mystery) I keep coming back to the truth that the early church was young and growing and learning what it meant to be Church of Past, Present and Future. Yes, they were closest to Christ, but even the disciples realized over and over that even BEING with Christ didn’t always mean they understood fully what it meant to be Christ-like let alone the Church! To say, in shorter terms than I have heard it explained, that we need to look to the early Church as our model or basis for practice or liturgical worship, I would say, yes and no! The early church fumbled around just as we do today. Life and worship is a continual learning and growing and working out of a process now as it was then, to know how to be Church in a changing context. Why???”

    It is true that there was some “fumbling around” yet we trust these fumblers to have passed on the truth of the revealed Christ that has lasted for 2000 years.

    Do we today continue to add to the NT scriptures or do we consider them to have been completed by the early church (using early in a loose way). Do we trust that God the Holy Spirit moved through our brothers and sisters to determine which writings they should include in the NT? I believe the answer to that question is yes. How were they able to do that?

    Remember that the apostles spent time with the resurrected Jesus listening to him as he taught them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3). Luke even says Jesus gave them instructions in the Holy Spirit. I believe that reality formed the basis of truth from which the church acted from those earliest days onward. To be sure not always perfectly, but with responsibility for and authority to form and shape the church in a way that you and I have not been granted responsibility nor authority to do.

    It seems to me that the church of the apostles, fresh from having been taught by Christ concerning the Kingdom of God, might also have developed the liturgy (patterns of worship) in a way that was consistent with that which our Lord taught them. The liturgy of St. James (the first bishop of Jerusalem) is the oldest I am aware of for which we have text and form. Both St. Basil’s and St John Chrysostom’s liturgies were based upon that of St. James and one can easily see that earliest liturgical form in the later liturgies. All of that rambling romp through history (thumbnail sketch as it is) leads me to another question.

    If we trust the early church to have produced the NT scriptures and that they are complete, can we (should we?) not also trust them regarding the worship patterns and liturgical forms they developed based on the teachings of Christ?

    (Dawn)
    “History is all about perspective and I think it is important to collect and learn from perspectives throughout time and space for we know that our Church body is made up of people of all nations from all time. That kind of worship is diverse!!! And to me, that diversity is what reveals the glory of God, not the preservation of a single Tradition throughout the ages. For in that, we honor the works of man rather than the Living Word who called us to practice repentance and the sacraments.”

    I do believe that God is creative and demonstrates that creativity in a multitude of ways. Certainly there is a diversity of expression within worship from ethnic groups across the world. This would by true of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom too. And Paul speaks eloquently of the “body“ of Christ again indicating diversity. That being said, Paul did not seem to be teaching that congregations could adopt different teachings, doctrines and practices at will. On the contrary, as I indicated above, very early on in the life of the church, the same worship patterns, teachings, and practices seem to have existed all over the known world in a wide variety of cultures.

    I realize that in today’s society this seems like an impossibility. So is it feasible to try and recreate that reality? It seems to me that would be like trying to scoop up the colors of the rainbow and put them back together. Especially in a post-reformation world this understanding of the church is quite foreign. While I do enjoy diversity of culture, I weep for the fragmented body of Christ. Maybe the question for us to consider sometime is: does the diversity of worship you cherish represent what I perceive as the fragmented body of our Lord or is it simply another cultural expression? Another question to explore regarding this might be: What is the nature of history?

    That’s enough for now.

    Peace,

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