Liturgical or Not?
author Michael Horton suggests that every Christian gathering has a liturgy.
LITURGICAL OR NOT?
Liturgy is a word that conjures up different images for different people.
Some, reacting against being raised in formal churches in which nearly every
word was scripted and carefully followed, view that word as a threat to the
Spiritís freedom and an invitation to lifeless routine. Others place so much
confidence in the formal liturgical patterns that they seem to diminish the
role of the sermon and confuse human traditions with divine command. No term
is neutral. Each is inevitably embedded in practices for which those using it
are either grateful or suspicious.
I was raised in churches that were, on the whole, suspicious of forms. The
more extemporaneous the actions in the service, the more genuine we felt
ourselves to be. We were not "playing church" as others were. And yet, we too
had our liturgical forms: We all knew when to stand and sit, and we all could
anticipate what was coming next. Some take spontaneity to the logical
conclusion of simply sitting and waiting for the Spirit to lead, as in Quaker
practice, or sing until members feel led to express themselves in some
manner, as in some charismatic churches. But even these become established
forms and predictable patterns.
Regardless of where we find ourselves on the ecclesiastical map, it can
hardly be disputed that all churches have some sort of liturgy. From the
Latin word meaning "service," liturgy refers to the assembled gathering of
ó Michael Horton, A BETTER WAY: REDISCOVERING THE DRAMA OF GOD-CENTERED
WORSHIP. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002, p. 141.
ISBN 0-8010-1234-1. Horton is president of the Alliance of Confessing
Evangelicals (www.alliancenet.org) and a professor of historical theology and
apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.
Upcoming WORSHIP LECTURES at
THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST
in Louisville, Kentucky
Donald Hustad, author, organist, hymnal editor (The Worshiping Church),
choral musician, and former professor here at Southern Seminary, will present
a series of lectures on March 19, 21 and 26. These lectures are free and open
to pastors, church musicians, and anyone who want to better understand the
history and practice of biblical worship. Please spread the word to your
friends in the Louisville area. For more information, please contact
12:30pm on March 21 & 26
"Worshiping the God of Creation and the Redemption"
2:30pm on March 19 & 21
"Church Music and Worship in Crisis"
Have a great week,
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary