Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The God We Worship: Liturgy and Theology

Image from Wikipedia
Following my reading of +Robert Atwell's book on leading liturgical worship, today I came across Nicholas Wolterstorff's latest project in the form of the Kantzer Lectures: The God We Worship. The videos for each lecture last about an hour, and are really interesting to listen to. So far I've had time for just two of them, but they are quite enticing both because of their peculiar approach to theology and also for the depth of their content.

Wolterstorff sees his project as something similar to Barth's Dogmatics, which he argues is grounded in the proclamatory activity of the Church (which is essentially, he argues, about preaching). For Wolterstorff, liturgical theology is about making explicit the implicit theology of the liturgy, articulating that, and then defending it. It is at the core of the Church's life because worship is a core activity of the Church called and purposed by God. Drawing on the work of Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmeman he develops his thinking around the claim that "The Church actualises herself in the act of performing the liturgy." Liturgy, here, means not a particular traditioned set of practices, but the points of liturgical convergence between several major ecclesial traditions (RC, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian), and hangs on the broad definition, "Christian worship is liturgical when it is the scripted performance of acts of worship." 

Whatever you think of liturgical worship, these lectures are really worth listening to. They are thoughtful, theological, and full of love for God and His Church. I already feel challenged by how easily I manage to ramble through the liturgy some Sundays, without taking serious time to think about what I'm doing and what I'm leading others in.

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