I’m starting to remember what Church was all about

Today Scot McKnight writes at Jesus Creed on why there seems to be a trend that

There is a rise, a burgeoning rise, of young college students converting from low church evangelicalism, with its anemic, unhistorical ecclesiology, to the great liturgical traditions: Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

This is happening at evangelical Christian colleges and seminaries; and, not only that, but seminary professors as well are moving to more traditional, liturgical churches (including Lutheran and Episcopalian).  As someone who was raised Lutheran and who has experienced the failings of evangelicalism for about 30 years, I truly understand why. I’ve written about it extensively here (and here) over the past couple of years.

At first, there was the explanation that people were looking for some kind of mystery, and that liturgy provided that.  While this might be true to some extent, the real trend seems to be more than this.  A couple of weeks ago I visited a local Episcopal service and spent about an hour afterward talking to a couple who had become Episcopalian in college; he had been Nazarene, she Baptist.  They spoke of the depth of theology and meaning, and the sense that they were actually in touch with the historical church.

For me, I’ve found that evangelicalism, for the most part, lacks both theology and historical understanding. You can attend some of these churches and never be sure what they believe.  I suspect that many members aren’t even aware that there are creeds, and may not be able to recite the Lord’s prayer.  They may leave feeling that they’ve failed and need to do better, but have no sense of forgiveness, or even that it’s available.

While I am still uncomfortable with some high liturgical practice (the bowing and kneeling, for example), what I like about liturgical worship includes:

  1. A connection with the historical church
  2. Emphasis on the corporate, rather than individual, worship
  3. Publicly confession of truth, in the hymns, liturgy, and recitation of the Creeds
  4. A reminder that I am a sinner and forgiven
  5. The honor shown to the Word of God
  6. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly with a true incarnational understanding (rather than the weak superstition found in most evangelical communion services)

I am thrilled to have found an evangelical church that has not lost all of the above- they have somewhat of an incarnational understanding of communion, and have just started giving Bible reading center stage – but still plan on visiting local liturgical churches on occasion. I’ve found that more than just leaving Church feeling good or enjoying a sermon, participating in liturgy actually feeds my soul.  I am starting to remember what Church was all about.

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