Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Cool Lutheran Stuff

I have come to appreciate in the last six months the dynamism of Lutheranism, not least due to this magnificent commentary on Leviticus which I have mentioned before. The marriage of solid biblical scholarship and exegesis with a sacramental sensibility corrects the two big blindspots that exist in our time among the rank and file of the Catholic Church on the one hand and of Protestant Evangelicalism on the other (N.B. I did say the rank and file- this is not a blanket statement by any means). It makes it all the more tragic that Luther felt the need to turn his reformation into a revolution, setting up his own authority in opposition to that of the Church of God. What all that energy and zeal, that towering intellect, could have achieved if wedded to the virtue of obedience and directed to the support and edification of the servants of God and not to opposing them!

But I digress..

What I meant to draw attention to was a couple of excellent posts at Pastor Wheedon's blog. First, there is an able and biblical defense of Christian liturgy. A breath of fresh air. I like biblical explanations of the liturgy (I appreciate historical explanations as well, being an incurable amateur historian, but these often seem rather arbitrary- we do this because somebody else did this a while ago and somebody did something similar before them, etc.- whereas taking it back to Scripture gives a surer foundation and makes the whole thing come alive in a quite unique way to boot). It makes ample sense, given that the liturgy is absolutely saturated in Scripture (in fact, at St Benedict's, we're in the process of saturating it even more by cutting back on hymns and restoring the Psalms the Church recommends be sung at the Introit and during Communion each week). So why not go to Scripture to justify it? Defending biblically a thoroughly biblical approach to worship is utterly appropriate and contrasts the liturgy starkly with its alternative (not to mention answering those who either favour or reject it for aesthetic reasons or those who, ironically, think of it as mere dead ritual and an obstacle between the individual and true worship). It makes a lot more sense than the reinvention of the wheel that obtains at many churches, where the structure of the service is revised and recast anew from week to week and year to year, and where Scripture occupies a minor place, all but crowded out by endless songs (not Psalms) and the interpretations of the preacher (which may be good or bad but remain in either case interpretations and not the Word itself). Pastor Wheedon's post is, as I say, a breath of fresh air.

There's also an excellent poem from John Updike there.

And I can't help but mention also this whimsical post, where it is observed that our Lord, unlike many of us (mea culpa), set an example by making His bed after the resurrection.

Definitely worth a look.

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