When “Liturgy” Is Just a Fad…Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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175 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Duane , well done!
    It occurred to me this morning that many in America have traded their religious identity for a political one.
    Those are more sharply defined these days, as the pretenders have confused what an ecclesiastical identity is…

  2. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Many thanks! I go back to a comment that I made last week… there was a time you could attend church without any sense of people’s politics. The identity that bound us together was that of the church…

  3. Michael says:

    Would you agree that even when we disagree with a given sect of Christianity that having a clear identity should be applauded?

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Absolutely… and that clear identity should be respected. For instance, there is much in LCMS that I would take issue with (as well as much that I agree with), but when invited by an LCMS pastor to participate in communion, I declined – out of respect for what I knew was an aspect of their identity. It’s possible to have a strong self-identity without attacking or compromising others…

  5. Michael says:

    I’m thinking that all the different sects can either bring their differences to the table as a gift to the Body or as a weapon…but they should fully be who they are to the glory of God and the edification of the church.

  6. Michael says:

    I will also add that the desire to flatten out the differences is from the pit of hell and smells like smoke…in my opinion…

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    Weaponizing a theological point of view is seldom, if ever, wise or appropriate…

  8. Michael says:

    Speaking of which…Norman Geisler has died.

  9. Xenia says:

    Good article, Duane but I am a little more hopeful.

    It is true that an icon of Christ- and it’s always the same icon of the stern Christ, never an icon of the Theotokos w/ Christ as a Child- in a non-Orthodox setting needs to be investigated for motive. I’d ask what do they think the icon means? They would probably answer that it’s an artistic portrait of Someone they love. Well, ok, that’s a good start. But the thing is, that icon was painted (or “written”) to be venerated in the Orthodox way with all the theology that goes with it. Do they believe they can ask the Saints in heaven to intercede for them? Probably not, or at least, not whole-heartedly. That’s why you generally only see icons of Christ, someone they are sure is in heaven.

    But for the Orthodox (and I can’t speak for the Anglicans and the Catholics) the icon is a window into heaven (which sounds cool to many non-Orthodox) but much more. It’s a representation of someone who has obtained theosis and who is cheering us on, praying for us that we will make it, too. They are as much a part of the Church as everybody at my parish. Iconography is completely tied up with the veneration of the Saints. When I kiss the icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov each Sunday morning, I am not so much kissing paint and wood as passing the kiss on to St. Seraphim himself, who is in heaven with all the faithful who have reposed. I love St. Seraphim and I’m glad to have him on my side.

    So in a way, seeing icons in a non liturgical setting seems naive, almost like poor Ivanka Trump in her adorable pink dress having her picture taken with the heads of state at the G10 conference recently. She just lacked the history/education/experience/gravitas to be in that group photo. I sort of feel that way about icons in evangelical churches. Without the background, they are pretty props, as Duane said.

    BUT they are a step in the right direction. At least these people have respect for icons, which is a huge improvement over the desecration of the churches as a result of the Reformation in England.

    I have heard that New Life Church in Colorado (Ted Haggard’s former church) has put up a few icons and such. What they think they mean, who knows. It’s certainly better than the days when they used to hire secular figure skaters to put on Christmas ice capades.

    So maybe the goodness of of icons will have a beneficial effect. If they want some prayers to go along with the icons, we’ve got ’em.

    Re: Candles. How about those churches that will not use candles, even for decoration, in their regular services as too Catholicky but they always make an appearance at weddings. When Christ is the center of attention, come dressed in sloppy shorts and a sweatshirt. When the bride is the center of attention, everyone dress up and light up the candles. But even here I am somewhat happy that remnants of traditional Christianity remains somewhere in the back of their minds.

  10. Josh says:

    I disagree with you on almost every point here, but am always glad to read and better understand my own convictions.

  11. Jean says:

    Xenia, we have Baptist churches near me which view stained glass windows depicting Biblical events and persons, such as Jesus greeting Mary M. at the empty tomb on Easter morning, as idolatrous. Would such a stance be an outlier or mainstream conservative Baptist?

  12. Josh says:

    Baptists have a long history with stained glass windows. I haven’t encountered any who believed they weer idolatrous. That would be a very small minority.

    Icons, however, would be completely unacceptable.

  13. Xenia says:

    Stained glass windows are different from icons. No one venerates a stained-glass window.

    They are decorative, beautiful, and useful in teaching and reminding people of Bible stories.

    I like stained glass windows, too. Our cathedral in San Francisco has some. They are not venerated.

  14. Xenia says:

    The only group I can think of that is completely adverse to representing Bible characters in art (or any humans, for that matter) would be the Amish and the stricter Mennonites. That’s why Amish dolls don’t have faces.

  15. Xenia says:

    Jean, would this happen to be a Landmark Baptist Church?

  16. Michael says:

    Duane had to step out for a bit.
    I’m just now investigating the use of icons…I think I find them helpful. I’m in a tradition now where I can buy the whole package…
    Josh,
    What do you disagree with?

  17. Josh says:

    Almost everything 🙂

    1. I think the trend toward liturgy is wildly overblown. The only actual type of church that is picking up new numbers in any kind of mass that considered a trend is the Ed Young type entertainment churches. Everybody hates them. Nobody wants to claim to agree with them…but in the end, it’s where the masses are going. Everywhere else is in decline.

    2. I don’t think the fundamentalist ideal of “keeping our tradition pure” is the right way forward for anyone. I think it will kill your church. Perhaps the idea of keeping pure, while really progressing, would be enough to keep people who were attracted tot he ancient liturgy.

    3. Eh, I could go on. I just don’t see this at all. I don’t even think that our churches should be like 1st century churches (not that any are close, despite the rhetoric). Those churches were a mess, and Jesus has been building his church for 2,000 years now. There should be some progress.

  18. Jean says:

    In the field of Christianity I consider “progress” to be a complete fiction.

    When the writer of Hebrews speaks of the great cloud of witnesses or the spirits of the righteous made perfect, I believe that every one of them had a faith the was not more advanced or backward than any other. Jesus is the same. His Word is the same. Fallen man is the same in relation to God. Therefore, things may be different today than 2,000 years ago, but insofar theology and the Gospel are concerned, these differences do not IMO constitute progress.

    This is why tradition is given so much deference in some denominations. Tradition in some sense transcends current and temporary trends in culture and society.

  19. Em says:

    Icons are lovely if you are illiterate… Worth a thousand words? Maybe… I can see their appeal to some today… folks whose lives are so stressed, so busy, that meditating on the written word is squeezed out of their routines
    But speaking as a person who has no natural religious bent, i need to be taught – to internalize God’s truths – like a child learning math, seeing truths open is exhilarating and affirming

  20. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am afraid that American evangelicals will screw up liturgy. They screwed up the word Protestant to the point that us Lutherans, the original Protestants can’t call ourselves such any longer. They also screwed up the term evangelical so we Lutherans, the originators of the term in our name can no longer use it.
    The historic liturgy will become unrecognizable. In my opinion

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I know one big impediment to growth in the Lutheran church, is that newbies are scared away when they see the church drop to their knees for confession and the absolution at the opening of the liturgy.
    What was once common, expected and accepted in the past has been identified as archaic or voodoo by today’s moderns.

    Like Josh says, a church like Ed Young’s, where he and his wife will preach about sex from their bed on stage does not attack sensibilities.

  22. Josh says:

    Jean – I write about progress in the sense that Paul rebuked early churches in his letters. He hoped they’d progress past the garbage they were mired in.

    “What was once common, expected and accepted in the past has been identified as archaic or voodoo by today’s moderns.”
    Or discarded as unbiblical. But hey, for some tradition is more important.

  23. Xenia says:

    Tradition is important.

    Without Tradition, groups veer off into all kinds of novelties.

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    Sorry all… had to step out for a couple of hours…

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    I pretty well agree with all that you said concerning icons, As I said, “One might hope that it will lead to something more (as indeed I do) but I have my doubts.” When you engage them in conversations, they have little idea of what icons mean – apart from being “sacred” (with no definition) and “ancient” (again, with no definition). They all agree however that they are “cool”…

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I’ve seen a number of evangelical churches doing: Lessons and Carols; Tennebrae; some having weekly communion; some saying the Apostles Creed together, etc. The vast majority of folk attending Worship conferences or the Webber Institute are, in fact, evangelicals. If you look at websites, you can see this sort of thing all over…

  27. Xenia says:

    Duane, while I agree that many people have no idea what’s going on with some of these ancient practices, it’s still a step away from the fog machine/ light shows we’ve seen. it’s a step towards… well, gravitas. It might lead to something. Could be God is at work! If they are reciting the Apostles Creed, they are going to have to wrestle with the meaning of “descended into hell.” Some people can (like I did) jump into an ancient liturgical Church with both feet. Some need to be enticed. Basically, I think any step back towards traditional Christianity is an improvement. Some will never understand the theology behind it but some will be curious enough to dig deeper.

    It’s like a an overweight person sick with diabetes, high blood pressure, clogged arteries and bad knees who have smoked and eaten junk food all their lives. They have to start somewhere and I would rejoice to see some salad on their plate.

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    I agree, to a certain extent. I think what I’m concerned about is when the Icon becomes merely another “prop” alongside the fog machine/light show (yes this has happened). As with other “props”, people tend to move on to “what’s next”. Yes, anything is better than nothing and may touch a chord in someone, but I remain concerned…

  29. Xenia says:

    Come to think of it, it was the icons that got me.

    That summer when I was visiting all the local churches, looking for a new home, I finally, as a last resort, blundered into St. Seraphim’s. It wasn’t the lyrics of the hymns or the words of the Liturgy that affected me because in those days, everything was in Church Slavonic. It was the icons. I looked around in amazement at all the Saints hanging on the walls or displayed on icon stands. I recognized almost everybody! It was like a family reunion! I’ve told this story before but I was probably in there for ten minutes when I made my decision to become Orthodox.

    So these icons had a *profound effect on me* before I had any notion of correct icon-theology.

  30. Xenia says:

    Of course, encountering icons for the first time in the rather dreamy, candle-lit, incense drenched atmosphere of my parish church, with the choir singing hymns that were not of this world, even though I couldn’t understand the words, probably helped with the *profound effect.*

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    I tagged you on FB with a description you will find interesting…

  32. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am probably closer to Josh than Xenia when it comes to icons. To me they are no more than christianized little Buddha statues / trinkets.

  33. Xenia says:

    Duane, I had never imagined such a thing as a service like that.

    Ok, if that’s the kind of thing you are thinking of, then I have to agree with you. I had something more sedate in mind.

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    I personally have a great reverence for icons, as do the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and the vast majority of Anglicans… and the theology of icons, presented in two ecumenical councils, is profound and speaks to the heart of the Incarnation… as most would know who looked into such matters.

  35. Xenia says:

    I don’t usually talk much here about icons, relics, prayer ropes, the veneration of Saints, etc. because these things are part of the inner life of the Church and when brought into a mixed group usually results in ridicule. So I have said all I am going to say about these precious things for today.

  36. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    Yes, we should consider the advice of Dr. Luther in the Eight Little Wittenberg Sermons – “…yet we cannot and should not condemn anything which is still useful to the devotions of any man.”

  37. Corby Stephens says:

    There is a church in my town that has adopted a kind of liturgy to their service. I can’t recall what it is, but it is a (good) attempt to introduce an element of being more intentionally sacred to the gathering. We attended there for a season. Confession of sin, prayer, scripture reading, it was a good thing. For them it isn’t a fad, it’s a part of their DNA as they had it when they planted.

    Having said that, I think Duane has a point. This is not a slight on Xenia and her Orthodox position, or any other liturgical church; but as much as some, like Xenia moved to it out a genuine conviction on their own part (whether one agrees with it or not), others move to it because to them it is a novelty and people like novelty. To people raised in seeker protestant white-bread churches, litergy is a novelty that is attractive to some. And if it is a successful novelty you can bet that a church that is more driven by marketing than ministry will bring it in so as to get people in the door.

    So, I can easily seeing it becoming a fad. The significant point that Duane brings up, one that has been true regardless of the fad that comes through, is the division in people’s lived between “church” life and everyday life. What may be worse that this division, is a life lived in Christian subculture and not in fellowship with the Lord.

    I’ll be honest, I only recently came across the term “liturgical life” but I think it summarizes well what people who really love Jesus do more or less automatically. I’ve been hung up on the utter lack of discipleship (not just training, but rabbi disciple relationships between people) for a long time now. I see now that it is only part of the picture of what’s been missing.

    There are traditions root in control over people and those traditions are bad. There are other traditions that should reinforce relationships with one another and with the Lord, and those are good but also require cultural flexibility. This statement is new but every church has a liturgy whether they call it that or not. The question that needs to be addressed is what is that liturgy rooted it, and where does it take people?

    I should stop there. Many unfinished thoughts. Great article, Duane.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Luther can be wrong – I condemn snake handling, and the gold dust phenomenon which some find edifying.
    But hey, that’s just me.

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    “I condemn snake handling, and the gold dust phenomenon which some find edifying.”

    Well, there’s a stretch from anything that was being discussed… but, hey, that’s just you.

  40. Corby Stephens says:

    Oh yeah, I remember the other thing I wanted to say. I think that what Duane is afraid will happen, “Similarly, while I see some resurgence of interest in liturgical life among some evangelicals, I do not see the embracing of liturgical life, at least not yet.” is the norm already in the churches that may adopt it from a fad perspective. It’s more or less the norm in many churches, large or small.

    One would hope that perhaps there is already a hunger in a given church for the liturgical life and that they want to adopt some for of liturgy to help facilitate that as a church together. But if they see it as another program to adopt and put everyone through (of which there are too many already) then it is just another fad.

  41. Duane Arnold says:

    Corby
    “But if they see it as another program to adopt and put everyone through (of which there are too many already) then it is just another fad…”

    Agreed… and that is at least part of the problem and the concern.

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, no, you threw it into the mix. You tried to use Luther against my comments, trying to insinuate that all things are allowable in church as long as someone finds them edifying.
    But you are in good company, I disagreed with both you and Luther.

  43. Jean says:

    I would suggest a simple rule of thumb for worship practices:

    1. If the Lord Jesus or the apostles teach the practice, then do it.

    2. If the Lord Jesus or the apostles forbid the practice, then don’t do it.

    3. If the practice is neither taught nor forbidden, then do it if it supports or furthers a practice that the Lord Jesus or the apostles teach. However, don’t do it if such practice detracts from or causes confusion or distraction from practices which Jesus or the apostles teach.

  44. Duane Arnold says:

    “…trying to insinuate that all things are allowable in church as long as someone finds them edifying.”

    No, that’s a lie, as usual.

  45. Corby Stephens says:

    Also, having said all of that (sorry, this is all in the same vein as stuff I’ve been chewing on lately), it’s also wrong for a church genuinely looking to go deeper to trust in any format to fix the problem from the outside. Repentance and renewal are a work of the Spirit. The Spirit can and does work in conjunction with whatever liturgy, high or low. That’s what needs to be sought after.

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    An interesting rule of thumb. What would you do with the last 2000 years of Christian tradition in which the Holy Spirit has been active? An honest question, not a gotcha…

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane said “…yet we cannot and should not condemn anything which is still useful to the devotions of any man.”

    How is this different than my summary “…trying to insinuate that all things are allowable in church as long as someone finds them edifying.” ?

  48. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I don’t know that what I said denies 2000 years of Christian tradition. I do know regarding the activity of the Spirit that Jesus said “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

    That, again, is a pretty good rule of thumb regarding the question of whether adiaphora is of the Spirit. Does the practice bring glory to Jesus?

    I see things like the BCP and the LSB and other such liturgical repositories as providing wholesome guardrails to keep worship Christocentric and Trinitarian.

  49. Duane Arnold says:

    Duane said “…yet we cannot and should not condemn anything which is still useful to the devotions of any man.”

    No, I was quoting Luther. Yet another lie, as usual.

  50. Jean says:

    I don’t know the Liturgy of St. James, but I assume it is similarly Christocentric and Trinitarian.

  51. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    “I don’t know that what I said denies 2000 years of Christian tradition.”

    You didn’t deny. I think your answer is similar to my thinking…

  52. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    There are a whole range of liturgies that are very similar…

  53. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “No, I was quoting Luther. Yet another lie, as usual.”

    But you applied it as your own thought / statement when you said “Yes, we should consider the advice of Dr. Luther in the Eight Little Wittenberg Sermons –…”

    Hey, I said Luther was wrong – the least you can do is admit your error.

  54. Duane Arnold says:

    “But you applied it as your own thought / statement…”

    I believe that I said “we should consider the advice of Dr. Luther.” New reading glasses (or a generosity of spirit) might help…

  55. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    If I tell someone to follow someone’s advise, I am endorsing that advise. Don’t tell me that you are one who gives advise and does not endorse such advise.

    But since you seem to be backing away from your initial statement, I will drop it.

  56. Jean says:

    I won’t offer an opinion regarding the veneration of icons, because I do not have any knowledge of the theology underpinning such veneration, since Lutherans do not have nor venerate icons. It would be unfair to judge a practice I have no knowledge of.

    However, I can confidently say that the Decalogue is still in force and therefore an orthodox theology of icons must IMO (1) be consistent with the 1st Commandment (2nd Commandment in some traditions) and (2) bring glory to Jesus.

  57. Duane Arnold says:

    The word is “advice”, not “advise”… and no backing away…

  58. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Look at the Eight Little Wittenberg Sermons… they are really wonderful.

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, then you thought stands – all things are allowable in church as long as someone thinks they are edifying – as that is what you are saying Luther said.

    It doesn’t matter – I still stand by my statement which caused your misstatement. “I am probably closer to Josh than Xenia when it comes to icons. To me they are no more than christianized little Buddha statues / trinkets.”

  60. Xenia says:

    However, I can confidently say that the Decalogue is still in force<<<

    Do you remember the Sabbath Day (Saturday) and keep it holy?

  61. Duane Arnold says:

    “…all things are allowable in church as long as someone thinks they are edifying..”

    Don’t you ever get tired of lying?

  62. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    “Do you remember the Sabbath Day (Saturday) and keep it holy?”

    Yes, the Sabbath still applies, but its true meaning has been revealed in Christ and its observance has changed in light of Christ.

    “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

  63. Xenia says:

    Yes, the Sabbath still applies, but its true meaning has been revealed in Christ and its observance has changed in light of Christ.<<<

    Ditto for icons, thanks to the Incarnation.

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, Then you must deny the Luther quote you brought up. He said we cannot condemn ANYTHING which someone feels edifying in their devotions.
    ANYTHING! Don’t bust my chops, you are debating yourself – and losing. 🙂

  65. Xenia says:

    Probably Luther never imagined that as the Reformation progressed over the centuries that there would arise snake handlers and fake gold dust.

  66. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, the Roman Church was full of stuff like that – not snakes, but gold, indulgences and anything else the papacy could think of to keep the members entranced in their “devotions.”

    I don’t know about the statement, it was probably taken out of context when it was quoted or as I said, Luther was wrong.

  67. Duane Arnold says:

    “Don’t bust my chops, you are debating yourself – and losing. 🙂”

    “I don’t know about the statement, it was probably taken out of context when it was quoted or as I said, Luther was wrong.”

    You have your own problems to deal with…

  68. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think I will rest in the poets and continue to distrust the professors.

  69. Duane Arnold says:

    All

    Just in case you think this isn’t happening, here’s a post from a Facebook thread that reposted the article…

    “One of our Subway kids invited me to a Saturday night worship service at a trendy old church in downtown Portland. It was packed. I was the conspicuously out-of-place old dude. The music whipped the several hundred youth into an arm-waving, swaying, sock-hopping frenzy that for all the look of it was high school sock-hop. The atmosphere was charged! The preacher was young; college aged at the time; loaded with charisma; articulate and hip. He exhorted the crowd to a personal relationship with Jesus. “We don’t need no stinkin’ rituals like those Catholics. We just need Jesus!” The frenzied rabble (rabble because by now they were hollering amen to anything the dude preacher said regardless of a few drops of obvious heresy tossed into the occasional orthodoxy), including my normally refined Subway kid cheered. Then came communion. Guess what it resembled? Contemporized ancient with the trimmings: icons, incense, and semi-chanted music. Deep reverence cloaked the moment. But that’s where it ended. There was no context; no association with Christ’s supper or with his passion. It was all about giving witness to one’s personal salvation – a mere nod of thanks without the faintest notion of what Eucharist truly incarnates. The theology at the table was lost to a profound moment of individualism among a sea of individuals. Communing was between self and God. On the way home my Subway kid wondered why I was so quiet. “Hey, Mr. D, what gives? Wasn’t that the greatest worship you’ve ever attended?” I remained silent. She saw tears in my eyes. Jesus got honorable mention; but his story was crowded out by their story. He was demoted from Savior, victorious Christ and soon returning King to mere cosmic therapist or cosmic avenger. And his table was merely a nod of gratitude for his kindness. In this place on this night (and many, many more Saturday nights) Duane’s worry was on full display.”

  70. Mudman says:

    Since there are biblically commanded symbols, with the exceptions given to the Jews in the OT, tassels and such, I have to attribute most of not all Christian symbolism to traditions. Since they are not a commandment I often ask the question, why, what caused those who went before us to chooses their representations of the faith and the processes of its gathering to be established.

    But in reference to this thread my question is what is it about people, us, that we need a tangible expression and process, one we can speak, see and get our hands on? Yes I can see the marketing aspect of church and the need to draw people in to make them successful, but why the “ancient” liturgy? Did we get bored with the rock music, theater smoke and disco ball lights.

    What is in our God created DNA that craves a mystery and the unseen? And yet we hide from Him behind bushes when He calls.

  71. Mudman says:

    Correction to:

    “Since there are biblically commanded symbols, with the exceptions given to the Jews in the OT, tassels and such, I have to attribute most of not all …”

    Since there are few biblically… most if not all…

    Typing on iPad with auto correction.

  72. Duane Arnold says:

    Mudman

    “…what is it about people, us, that we need a tangible expression and process, one we can speak, see and get our hands on?”

    It’s a good question. I’ve always thought that it is in some way an extension of the Incarnation.

  73. Josh says:

    Dunae, with respect, that’s just anecdotal from your circle of influence. It’s not happening large scale. People blog about such things, but then go to the hip mega-church.

    See how far you get before you find anything approaching “liturgical”:

    https://outreachmagazine.com/outreach-100-list.html#/list/2018/fastest_growing

  74. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Actually, the story was from someone that I don’t know!

    I take your point with regard to the mega-churches listed. As I said, however, at the beginning of the article this is just a “rumble” at present, but it is very much there. The Lectio Divina, icons, a weekly communion, etc., are trending in some quarters. Walking into a trendy church and seeing an Icon (hung or projected) has happened to me with four different churches. I’m not saying that this is a “mass movement”, but it is something that is happening – often with the encouragement of failing mainline denominations.

  75. Jean says:

    Duane,

    Regarding your 7:11 am comment, there are so many thoughts that could be shared, but for now I would like to focus on one particular observation:

    There is a desire in people for spirituality and for experience. If orthodox churches do not teach and give people an orthodox spirituality and experience, someone will come in to fill the void with what your friend described as “a few drops of obvious heresy tossed into the occasional orthodoxy.” (I place that in quotes, because I am not supposed to utter such things.)

    Orthodox Christianity has a salutary teaching on spirituality, the work of the Spirit, the presence of Christ in worship, and, yes, subject experience. I think those of us who have these teachings should be about teaching and using them without shame or reticence. In the long run, I believe young Christians will be able to discern authentic spirituality from the counterfeit.

  76. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    ” …I believe young Christians will be able to discern authentic spirituality from the counterfeit…”

    I hope that will be the case. Part of the problem is that even really good churches are tempted by the pragmatism of “success”. So, if that means screens and a praise band… bring it on! You are correct that it comes down to catechesis. The worry is that serious teaching (even simple Biblical literacy) is really lacking in many, if not most, churches…

  77. Mudman says:

    “It’s a good question. I’ve always thought that it is in some way an extension of the Incarnation.”

    But, other than tradition developed over the millennia and synchronization with the cultures Christianity landed in, there is basically zero commandments or possibly suggestions to establish them.

    Personally I believe they fill our needs to see and touch something and quite frankly I think church leadership, even back in the day, through various means sought to keep the attention of the people centralized. Maybe they weren’t so different than the modern churches of our day.

    Of course I’m a minimalist when it comes to worship and remember the commandments God gave in the desert to Israel about how the stones to build the altar for worship were to be fashioned.

  78. Duane Arnold says:

    Mudman

    Yes, I think there is a human need to engage the senses – hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste – and worship traditions grew to engage us more fully. I think there are also “human normative” – for instance, we bow to show submission. I think all of this is a part of the mix…

  79. Jean says:

    I think Protestants in general skewed the Reformation in two directions too far. The following are only my opinion:

    First, many Protestants either rejected or seriously minimized the earthly and physical characteristics of Christianity. God in Christ permanently joined himself to creation physically. Jesus touched people (they touched Him), fed people, walked and talked with people. He instituted physical means of experiencing His grace, using common, physical elements of water, bread and wine. God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell Christ’s body here on earth.

    Jesus says: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” and “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” How is He present? Where is He present? For what purpose is He present? For many this has become primarily mental, or, for others, self-induced subjective spiritual experience.

    Second, many Protestants have attempted to rest sanctification from God’s hands and take it into their own hands. They equate sanctification by how much Bible knowledge they have. Christianity becomes a knowledge exercise. Christian maturity becomes how much one knows about theology.

    Paul has an interesting turn of phrase in his letter to the Galatians: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…” What is the key to the Christian life? To be known by God. Do we let Him know us? How does He go about knowing us? I think there’s a physical component to these questions.

  80. Josh says:

    Just imagine for a moment, a couple of things. What if:

    1. God is in control.
    2. All things work together for the good.
    3. the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

    What if we are right where God wants us to be as the church, and He is using us for His purposes, right now, as we are?

  81. Mudman says:

    Jean:

    “Second, many Protestants have attempted to rest sanctification from God’s hands and take it into their own hands. They equate sanctification by how much Bible knowledge they have. Christianity becomes a knowledge exercise. Christian maturity becomes how much one knows about theology.”

    Why is this a repeated theme of yours? Do you forget the theologies, doctrines, dogmas, practices and all the stuff you do as a Missouri Lutheran have their very roots in the theme you seem to reject. Even MLD confesses he checked out your side of the Christian fence by careful bible study and exegesis.

    Your statement, in its simplest form, indicates the ability to state what Jesus said requires a knowledge of the scripture so you seem to contradict yourself.

    Duane

    I think you state it correctly, we are people of this creation and our senses do play a significant part of everything. I also believe it is we who require the tangible because it is how God created us and interacts with us.

    He is the source of it all and I think it is a mistake to say God came down to recognize with us (yes Hebrews tell us Jesus’ understanding of sin and what we go through) as if he had know idea how much His creation suffers or feels. Seems a bit odd the creator of all wouldn’t be able to understand the creation.

    What I see is the God of creation coming in a tangible way that we can recognize with Him, but that really leads to another rabbit trail and rather lengthy discussion.

    I really like what the Gospel of John states, “John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” NASB

    I like this verse and the NASB translation “explained” because it sets the scene for me. By seeing Jesus, how he lived, died and rose, we see, hear and get a feel for the God of Creation as much as our limited abilities can.

    Thank you for the thread.

  82. Duane Arnold says:

    Mudman

    Thank you for your contribution here… that was wonderfully stated!

  83. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    “What if we are right where God wants us to be as the church, and He is using us for His purposes, right now, as we are?”

    I would have to take that on faith alone…

  84. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Mud man, a couple of points, Jean checked out my side of the fence as I was here first. 🙂

    I think Jean’s point, but he can speak for himself, is that one does not add to their sanctification by reading and studying. You don’t add to your Christianity or become a better Christian by work and study.

    In fact, and this is all me, you can’t add to your Christianity or your sanctification by doing anything. God gave us a perfect faith in our justification – how do you improve on a perfect faith?

  85. Jean says:

    I think the rejection of the physical in favor of the mental is why for many Protestant churches the worship service has become primarily a lecture and the sanctuary an auditorium.

    Notice what Jesus says about the good soil:

    “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

    He doesn’t say the word is held in the mind, but in the heart.

  86. Em says:

    MLD @11 am – how do you tie in to your observation, “study to show yourself approved to God – a workman that does not need tp be ashamed…” . ..?

  87. Josh says:

    Jean – I think most would say modern protestants are too caught up in the emotional.

  88. Em says:

    Jean @ 11:13… A caveat from the pew sitter
    Heart is the storehouse, but the mind is a very useful processor – a critique of the thoughts and intents of one’s heart, perhaps… 🙆

  89. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I see both ditches as present. I don’t disagree that emotionalism is present, and particularly a hallmark of the charismatic and pentacostals. What they have in common is an appeal to the flesh, rather than the Spirit.

    The flesh desires to ascend to the divine. The Spirit is sent from the Father, through the Son, to mankind on earth. God brings heaven to earth.

    “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, so if you study more you become a better Christian?
    Doesn’t our study just show that we are already approved of God?

    To my point, hasn’t God given us a complete and perfect faith in our justification?

  91. Josh says:

    “To my point, hasn’t God given us a complete and perfect faith in our justification?”

    If that is the case, then you’d certainly agree with my 10:08 then.

  92. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean/Josh

    I see both sides present, not only in Protestantism but in the RC Church as well – the emotional and the cerebral – but probably not as the two of you see them. Was it an engaging sermon? Was the service heart-warming? Most seem to want something like their favorite Prof. in college sharing his thoughts as he plays with puppies and kittens. Most have lost the mystery and the majesty of our faith…

  93. Xenia says:

    A form of Christianity that doesn’t engage the emotions is not a form of Christianity that appeals to me.

  94. Jean says:

    Xenia, I don’t disagree with you, but I don’t want my emotions manipulated either. And I don’t want to rely on my feelings as a thermometer of God’s love of me.

  95. Duane Arnold says:

    As I’ve gotten older, I find that I have fewer “filters” on my emotions. I am much more easily moved to tears – in both sadness and joy. I also find, however, that my emotions are much less sentimental (for lack of a better word). I now find what moves me is to be “lost in wonder, love and praise” – in the words of Charles Wesley.

  96. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I don’t know if my agreeing or disagreeing with your statement is relevant to my statement.
    My statement, made twice, were to Mud man and Am who seem to believe that our study or actions made us a better Christian or a more complete (sanctified) Christian. My point is we got it all, God’s complete favor, complete faith and sanctification in our justification.

    If that is what you are saying, then I guess we agree – KUMBAYA brother! 🙂

  97. Steve says:

    Tradition has its drawbacks. Also I don’t think desiring to flatten out differences is always from the pit. Emphazing differences can lead to the destructive identify politics and race bating. Jesus told us to be one. Don’t exactly recall where he told us to emphasize our differences. In fact it seems the apostle Paul became all things to all people to win as many as possible for the Lord. It seems to me that if we did the same we wouldn’t be so divided. But that’s just my opinion

  98. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    I’m not sure that it’s about emphasizing differences as much as it is about maintaining a sense of identity… But I may have mistaken the thrust of your comment.

  99. bob1 says:

    A form of Christianity that doesn’t engage the emotions is not a form of Christianity that appeals to me.

    Me, either.

    I think the right balance is somewhere between the cold rationalism of a Spock and
    emotionality for its own sake. There’s a heckuva a lot of good space in between!

  100. Steve says:

    Duane, I go to a multi-cultural church. In addition I live in a multi-generational household and in a inter-racial marriage with a bi-racial daughter. Identity in Christ should and far outweighs any other identity I may have. Because of demographics in our church we try to keep Presbyterian and Baptists under one roof. I guess we have a reformed identity but even that is not emphasized so as not to divide.

  101. Em says:

    Xenia, bob1….
    IF learning more about God, what He has revealed to us on every aspect of life and the eternal doesn’t bring an emotional (soul) response, you probably are soul dead or, at the very least, soul sick…
    Or so it seems from here… 🙆

  102. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    I’m not quite in your league… but close. Indeed, our identity in Christ is first…

  103. Duane Arnold says:

    Yet another description in reaction to the article:

    “I went to a Passion event in Atlanta with Bob Webber, Jim Hart (and others, methinks) a number of years ago. It reminded me of what was described here.

    They seemed to want to make much of the “ancient-future” worship connection in what was said in the opening. The room was darkened, a lantern from another era was brought in procession down the aisle to the fore while we all said a less contemporary English version of the Phos hilaron. OK – so far so good . . . But again, no real actual context.

    Then they jammed the gears and went into nearly an hour long songfest where all that could be heard was what was pumped through the P.A. Songs mostly bordered on the unsingable melodically and unmemorable lyrically.

    Then came an hour of very charismatic, energized evangelical exhortation. It all seemed very much like a performance.

    I’m certain many there thought it was the best thing they’d ever experienced. However it left me with the same sadness … voiced above. No context and no real connection. Just a highly immersive, individuated , affective auditory revel.”

  104. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    “Ordinances or sacraments”? Well, there’s a bit of a spread!

  105. Jean says:

    Duane,

    Exactly.

  106. Josh says:

    Agreed, as you know. But did you see his note about that statement at the bottom:

    “The earliest Baptists, among both the General Baptists and the Particular Baptists, used the language of “sacrament” to refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In doing so, they meant to communicate that these ordinances are means of grace utilized by the risen Christ to strengthen and confirm the faith of believers. They did not mean to convey that the sacraments are automatically effective, that baptism is regenerative, or that the elements of the Lord’s Supper become the physical body and blood of Christ.”

  107. Jean says:

    Josh,

    On a few points, what this confession attempts to do is to redefine important words, then claim for themselves to be within the catholic church.

  108. Josh says:

    You do know that I wasn’t posting this as *my* confession, right? I was adding to Duane’s point, that liturgical ideas may be trending in non-liturgical places.

    But do you se something that makes you think they aren’t part of the catholic church?

  109. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    This was great for you to share! Adding it to the files…Thanks.

  110. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I did not read the confession as yours, so if we do discuss it I assume you will not take it personally.

  111. Michael says:

    Baptists aren’t part of the catholic church?
    You can’t be serious…

  112. Jean says:

    I didn’t say that. I was commenting on a confession Josh linked and what the authors claim about their confession. If this is too complicated to discuss, then I am happy to drop it.

  113. Michael says:

    “If this is too complicated to discuss, then I am happy to drop it.”

    Are you inferring that the rest of us are too simple to understand?

  114. Jean says:

    Michael,

    Do you take every single thing someone says in the worst possible light? I’m not even going to dignify that question. You are, like you said on another thread, angry. We all get angry, but it’s not a good place to park too long.

  115. Xenia says:

    “Catholic” vs “catholic.”

    If you are going to grant, as I certainly do, that there are multitudes of people outside one’s own church that are genuine Christians, then you have to say they are (small “c”) catholics, even it they be Baptists. They are part of the body of Christ.

  116. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I’ve learned that it’s best to exercise caution when dealing with Lutherans.

    You wrote the following;
    “then claim for themselves to be within the catholic church.”
    That would imply that they are not part of the catholic church, would it not?
    We await your explanation…

  117. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    Absolutely…

  118. Jean says:

    The confession says: “We affirm the distinctive contributions of the Baptist tradition as a renewal movement within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

    The allusion to the NIcene Creed is unmistakable: “And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

    This is the earliest use of the term “catholic” that I’m aware of. I also think it’s a good place to start when assessing whether a teaching is catholic.

    On that basis I would say, “Does the teaching in question have its origin in the teachings of the apostles and a broad witness in the ante-Nicene fathers? If the answer is “yes,” then I think one is on safe ground calling it “catholic.”

    Perhaps others would define “catholic” differently. If so, let’s bring those other definitions into the discussion.

  119. Xenia says:

    I was pretty angry yesterday when MLD compared icons to Buddha figurines. I had to take a few deep breaths. I typed a few angry replies, which I did not post. I decided to just forget it. Same when Jean hinted I was breaking one of the Ten Commandments. I posted a quick, non-detailed reply and then decided to forget it. I just can’t allow myself to get upset every time Orthodoxy is misunderstood. I used to belong to a group where I was seething with anger every day, practically. It affected my health. Not good.

  120. Xenia says:

    Well Jean, using your logic I can say that you yourself are not in the “catholic” church because you are a schism from a schism and that violates the phrase “One holy catholic and apostolic church.”

    But since I am not using your logic, I won’t say that.

  121. Josh says:

    Gotcha Jean. What in that confession did you find to be non-catholic?

    And no, I’m not upset. Just curious. Maybe I missed something.

  122. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    You can say whatever you want. I understand perfectly what the OE believe about their place in Christendom. We have differences, they’re real, we don’t hide them or be ashamed of them, and as someone else said, we don’t flatten them out. However, although we don’t commune with each other, at least for my part I affirm you as a beloved sister in Christ.

  123. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    What was said about Icons yesterday was simply inexcusable… It upset me as well, as you might have seen. I did not say what I wanted to say under advice from our moderator…

  124. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I’m not ignoring you, but the atmosphere is just to hostile to have a further conversation on the topic. If you agree with how I’ve defined “catholic,” then as a seminary trained theologian, you can apply it for yourself to what the confession says.

  125. Xenia says:

    Jean, thank you.

    It does seem like you are saying the Baptists (and those of similar belief) are not part of the catholic church. I say that *all* Christians are part of the catholic church, otherwise, they would not be part of the body of Christ and therefore, not a Christian.

    I conclude that everyone who in indwelt by the Holy Spirit is a member of the catholic church.

  126. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    In the sense of the invisible Church, yes Baptists are Christian and in that sense catholic. However, what the confession speaks of is “a renewal movement within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” They have taken the term “catholic” and tweaked it, so that for them they are speaking of the visible Church, because the invisible Church is never in need of renewal; she is perfect. These confessors are a movement to “renew” the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Let that sink in a minute.

  127. Michael says:

    “I conclude that everyone who in indwelt by the Holy Spirit is a member of the catholic church.”

    I say the amen…

  128. Michael says:

    Of course, I’m also trying to get my friend to paint me an icon of the harrowing of hell… 🙂

  129. Josh says:

    Jean – I thought that part was pretty great really. They affirm all that came before them, while claiming their branch as a renewal of sorts. Many would say, “all that came before us were not true Christians, we rediscovered the original faith, lost for ages”.

    Is your assertion that the church has never needed renewal?

  130. Jean says:

    Josh,
    No that’s not my assertion.

  131. Josh says:

    Well, what is your issue with them claiming to be part of a renewal within the greater church?

  132. Duane Arnold says:

    If this discussion is going to be pursued (sigh…) it would be good to come up with your definition of “catholicity”… just saying…

  133. Josh says:

    “Does the teaching in question have its origin in the teachings of the apostles and a broad witness in the ante-Nicene fathers? If the answer is “yes,” then I think one is on safe ground calling it “catholic.”

    That is Jean’s definition.

  134. Xenia says:

    I always thought Lutheranism was a renewal movement, and I am not being snarky when I say this.

  135. Jean says:

    Josh, please see my post at 10:15 am. Michael’s mad and Duane is sighing.

  136. Josh says:

    I’m really just curious. Jean seems to be evasive here. He implies that the guys who wrote this aren’t part of the catholic church. He won’t answer me, but tells Xenia his issue is with their use of “renewal”, He then affirms that the church does some times need renewal.

    Just trying to figure it out.

  137. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Try the Vincentian canon…

  138. Jean says:

    Duane,

    The Confession in question wouldn’t fair any better under that formula. In fact, arguably worse.

  139. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I’m calling BS! You wrote: “Jean seems to be evasive here.” I can’t have the moderator pissed at me and his mentor sighing, and then call me evasive. Give me a break.

  140. Josh says:

    Why not just explain the objectionable portion?

  141. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean,

    That’s why I said you have to define the terms…

  142. Jean says:

    Duane, I did at 10:02 am.

  143. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I find nothing objectionable and much that is praiseworthy… for a Baptist 😁!

  144. Xenia says:

    Well, I think I might know what Jean is getting at.

    I was once a moderator for a very large (now greatly diminished) site that hosted forums for all kinds of Christians. They defined “Christian” as someone who held to the Nicene Creed. The Evangelicals balked a bit, didn’t like “One holy Catholic apostolic church” and “One baptism for the remission of sins” so they were allowed to define these so-called Romish phrases to suit their own traditions. Well, what ya gonna do? If you didn’t allow this, the reasoning went, it would only be the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglicans and Lutherans on the forums and the owner was a “everybody’s welcome” kind of guy ,plus he was an Evangelical himself. The thing is, and I wonder if this is what Jean is getting at, is their redefined Creed was not the same Creed as the one produced by the first Ecumenical Councils. The Evangelicals’ creed was not really the Nicene Creed at all, even if they used the same words for the sake of participating on the forum. I am sure there were plenty of Evangelicals who did not choose to play this word game and didn’t sign on.

    So maybe this is what Jean is talking about.

  145. Josh says:

    Jean seems to see something that I don’t. I’m not joining this group. I don’t actually know them. It just popped up on my feed. I’d just like him to clarify his beef.

  146. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    OK, firstly “catholic” has been used earlier. Secondly, I see nothing in your definition concerning universality which is a consistent part of its meaning.

  147. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I wrote something in less than 30 seconds. Then I invited others to offer alternative definitions. If we were having an edifying conversation, we would work through the definition to see if we could come up with a definition everyone agrees with to apply to the Confession.

    The point being, that it doesn’t help at all if we all use the same words, but have different meanings. We could think we’re in agreement but be far off.

  148. Duane Arnold says:

    Additionally, when using the Vincentian canon I’ve always found Newman’s advice helpful – it’s best used to find what is NOT catholic, rather than what IS catholic…

  149. Josh says:

    Xenia, you may be right. Is that what you are getting at Jean? You think there view on baptism goes against the Nicene Creed?

  150. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I understand, but in this particular discussion I think the meaning of “universality” has special importance. With universality there is a breadth that embraces Me, Josh, You, Xenia and other Christians. It is really essential…

  151. Duane Arnold says:

    Incidentally, the Baptist gentlemen issued this not as a “confession” but as a “manifesto”… It is what they hope for, not something written in stone. I think they are to be commended…

  152. Jean says:

    Josh,

    The Confession says: “They did not mean to convey that … baptism is regenerative.” Using my inartful definition or the Vincentian Cannon, what do you think?

  153. Josh says:

    Catholic means universal. How we interpret what that means or encompasses may differ. I would argue that catholic would include pre-creedal Christianity as well.

  154. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I agree universality is important and tried to capture that in what I wrote: “its origin in the teachings of the apostles and a broad witness in the ante-Nicene fathers.” Again it was inartful and offered as a first draft.

  155. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Yes, Vincent specifically cites antiquity… and he was in the 5th century.

  156. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    That’s helpful…

  157. Josh says:

    Oh good Jean, thanks for the kind more direct answer.

    Yes, I think that Jesus and the apostles taught and displayed believer’s baptism. There have been disagreements on that throughout the history of the church. But now I get why you think they are not catholic.

  158. Josh says:

    That being said, there are obvious issues with Vincent’s method, right? “All have agreed on”? When have we ever seen that?

    (Also, I just googled “Vincentian canon” at 11:01 am today, so I’m not exactly an expert on the subject.)

  159. Duane Arnold says:

    The concept of universality in the early Church was widely debated in terms of the extent of its breadth – did it include Montanists… Yes; did it include Pelagians… Maybe.

    There was a differentiation between heretical groups and schismatic groups… and even here there was disagreement. Most opted for a wide embrace in terms of universality, while some sought greater exclusivity.

  160. Josh says:

    I do appreciate the direction these guys have taken, and think it offers an interesting paradigm for Baptists to see the historical church. It could be helpful, I think. One of the main guys is a Proffesor at Anderson College, which is close to hear. I have two friends on faculty there, so I may be able to meet up with him and see what he has going on.

  161. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I agree it is interesting. I’d delve into Vincent a bit (in all your spare time 😁). As I said above, I think J.H. Newman was right in his assessment – oh yes, he’s worth reading as well!

  162. Josh says:

    You already turned me on to Newman a while back. Good stuff!

  163. Jean says:

    Duane wrote:

    “To enter into and embrace a tradition involves submitting yourself to that tradition. It is not about you as the pastor or priest. It is not about your charisma, your preaching, or your particular ideas. It is recognizing that you are part of a continuum. It is more than simply having a weekly communion service. It is more than wearing a clerical collar, or stole, or other vestments. It is more than what you call yourself. It is about the life that you lead within that tradition and, it should probably be said, conforming to the requirements of that tradition. Perhaps with time, experience and knowledge, you may wish to present that tradition in a more contemporary manner. In my view, however, that requires a remarkable level of maturity and skill. Most especially, it is not to be done in an off-hand manner.”

    This resonates with me. There are few things in theology more humorous to me than dabblers and especially those with little to no understanding of a tradition thinking they’re going to dust if off and renew it.

  164. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    It can be humorous, but most of the time (as we look around us) it’s tragic. Some people mock what has happened in the Episcopal Church over the last thirty year. I simply weep. The great men who gave of their lives to build up congregations and care for generations of believers have had their work destroyed. It’s a tragedy and it is repeating itself in both my tribe and others…

  165. Josh says:

    Every single person who picks up a tradition is dabbling. If it becomes meaningful to that person, they will keep it and continue to explore the meaning and history. But we start as dabblers.

  166. Jean says:

    Duane,

    True. We have that in the LCMS as well, not to the same degree.

    Josh,

    I would distinguish between an individual Christian searching, and a pastor or church modifying their tradition based on one or a small group’s discernment that hundreds or over a thousand years of tradition is lacking.

  167. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I recently looked at PEW on LCMS. I believe this was done in 2014. There is cause for our concern…
    https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-denomination/lutheran-church-missouri-synod/

  168. Jean says:

    Yes, different issue, but very concerning.

  169. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I can tell you of a certainty – from my own experience – these numbers would have been very different 30 or so years ago… All of us are facing similar issues to a lesser or greater degree.

  170. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I’m part a generation which placed self-attained financial security, secular lifestyle, personal convenience ahead of the promises and blessings that God offers in child bearing and being open to God’s fruitfullness. Now the church is reaping what my generation sowed.

  171. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I think the survey is actually related to the article. What I noticed (and TEC is much worse) were the numbers on reading the Bible (Biblical literacy); Ethics (Situational) ; Church attendance (knowledge of the liturgy). It all combines to create not only a decline (those who leave) but the search for survival (among those who stay). At that point it becomes, “What will work?”. Screens, Praise Bands, hipster pastors, trendy liturgy… you name it… Someone will be there to say, “This is how you bring in people”.

  172. Jean says:

    Yes, desperation. But in my denomination our traditional primary source of new members is through child birth. Our retention could improve as well. Again, parents play a role in retention of youth.

  173. Duane Arnold says:

    A reflection on the article from a Facebook share:

    “‘As Bob Webber once said to me, “People who want to mess around with the Book of Common Prayer – adding this and taking out that – really don’t believe in the liturgical life of Anglicanism. Rather, they believe in themselves and are only using the Prayer Book as a prop. It’s standard American evangelicalism by a different name.”’

    Initially – I had huge skepticism about Anglicanism because of this very thing – finding it “faddish,” seeming to be the kind of thing trendy people would do – but also part of my desire / interest had a faddish sort of quality to it.
    This takes time. This takes discipline. I encourage young Anglicans, but I do not trust them in the same way I trust Anglicans who have a different, longer kind of formation.
    I had to learn a lot of things I did not WANT to learn or even realize were important.
    I had a lot of attitudes about the importance of liturgy that were dead wrong. If I spoke up too much, I’m sure I would have tilted the churches I was involved in toward “outreach” and inhibited the quiet, important work they do in helping parishoners toward spiritual maturity.
    I would have been saying “irrelvant, irrelvant” all the time and talked a lot about “powerful” things and stuff you quickly see results from.
    “Young Anglicans” also often barely understand how to respect others with proper formation, intellect, patience, and seem very eager to please and to “do outreach.” Those with proper formation are often seen as obstacles, nit-pickers, or somehow “standing in the way of the gospel.” They may have qualms about certain forms of outreach, but if you neglect them too much – your church will almost definitely become a place unable to adequately help its parishoners toward maturity. Even though such churches are tremendously “popular” today.
    I have tremendous doubt over places with tendencies of setting up churches which will be dominated by “young Anglicans” and would encourage such parishes to please do your best to encourage your parishoners to visit churches NOT doing liturgical innovations or trendy stuff.
    I would never have matured as I did if I remained in a parish of “trendy Anglicans” without visiting parishes where the ethos was established by, and predominantly maintained by people who had had the adequate formation – this means many years.”

  174. Michael says:

    Amen and amen…

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