Saturday, February 26, 2005
Liturgy and the Postmodern Culture
I just got back from an up/rooted collects gathering, which is a quarterly gathering of people from the up/rooted community for a discussion led by a special guest "expert". This was the first time and our guest was Dr. Ed Philips of Garret Theological Seminary. He was leading a conversation about the relation of liturgy and the postmodern culture. One of the questions that Geoff, our coordinator, led off with to introduce the topic was "How do we balance the historical and the cultural in our worship? Where's the balance between contextualizing and maintaining traditions?"

Some interesting thoughts that emerged from the discussion:

- Liturgy and worship are not primarily about personal expression but about spiritual formation.

- Liturgy and worship are always evolving, but in the Modern era we have become aware of this process and we seek to manipulate the evolution. Thus our worship gets tied into consumerism, where we are trying to market worship to the masses (e.g. Willow Creek).

- Liturgy is both performance and catechesis. It teaches us how to be Christian, and yet at the same time it is already an active expression of Christian living.

- Christianity and Christian worship has a history of validating local cultures in a way that many other religions do not. For example, to be truly Muslim one must become culturally Arabic; to embrace Judaism one must become culturally Jewish. But Christianity has a legacy (though not a perfect one) of adapting itself to local cultures, so that one does not need to become Jewish or Greek (or white suburban American?) in order to be truly Christian.

- Worship is an act of joining into the continual worship that is always going on before the throne of God led by the saints and the angels. We don't create acts of worship, we enter in to what's already going on.

Some good quotes:

"My definition of heresy is anything I don't like." -Ed Philips
Reply: "So you are an evangelical!" -Geoff Holsclaw

"It isn't worship if you can't smell sweat!" -Ed Philips, on the necessity of physical proximity with other believers in worship.

""Not everyone can be a monk; but seeing a monk be a monk positively informs my own experience of the faith." -Tripp Hudgins

"Evangelicals are the Christians most interested in reaching postmoderns, but they are also the least equipped to do so." -Stanley Grenz (as quoted by Geoff Holsclaw, Stanley wasn't there)
posted by Mike Clawson at 1:52 PM | Permalink |


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