Interesting book review....


on Christianity Today's website, about worship and its structure: Divine Theater - Books & Culture

Although the author of the book reviewed is apparently protestant (of the Reformed type), these paragraphs from the review make me want to read his book:

According to Horton, Christian worship fundamentally is covenant renewal. That is its function. Not unlike the covenant renewal ceremonies of the Old Testament, Christian worship is itself a ceremony in which the terms of the covenant are proclaimed and its promises are sealed. For this reason, the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments figure prominently in Christian worship, as these are the ordinary means by which God effects the extraordinary work of establishing faith and sustaining it.

"Many evangelicals have a problem with sacraments precisely because they regard them chiefly as human works," Horton notes, "but Scripture presents them as God's testimony to his work." Sacraments are signs and seals of God's saving action for the sake of a community's salvation. They are God's means of getting past our ignorance, dullness, and weakness, says Calvin. "God's truth is of itself firm and sure," he writes, but "our faith is slight and feeble." So our merciful Lord, "according to his infinite kindness, so tempers himself to our capacity that … he condescends to lead us to himself even by these earthly elements" of water, bread and wine. . .

By understanding Christian worship as covenant renewal, we begin to see that Word and Sacrament work as a pair. They are God's accommodation to reach us in our belief—and in our unbelief. Which leads Horton to wonder, why do churches reinvent worship in order to accommodate God further? Why do they excuse the sacraments and sometimes even the proclamation of the Word?

His answer is at the heart of this book:

I am persuaded that one of the reasons why so many churches have gone to drama and other theatrical arts in worship is because the sermon and the larger liturgical setting have failed to provide the sense that something important and dramatic is happening here, now, as we gather before God. Divine and human action easily become "choreographed" by the culture when we do not sense that it is occurring at all.
Rather than reworking worship that is biblically ordained, the "better way," suggests Horton, would be to revitalize our understanding that "when God's people gather for worship, a drama is already set in motion." In worship, a dramatic dialogue ensues between God and God's people, and it comprises, in Horton's estimation, the biblically sanctioned "elements" of invocation and blessing, the reading of the law, confession and absolution, prayer, proclamation, and sacramental celebration, thanksgiving and offering. God summons us, and we, God's people, respond.

It is amazing to me, that in a time when MANY of our protestant brothers are groping toward a more liturgical, sacrament-oriented worship experience, and some are even turning toward a liturgical year structure, the liturgy directors in our diocesan offices and big parishes seemed determined to throw away exactly what the separated brethren are starting to seek.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on August 3, 2004 7:55 AM.

Books 25, 26 & 27 finished! was the previous entry in this blog.

Good editorial from Christianity Today is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.