Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traditionalism vs Reforming Tradition

Another great article from a friend:

Something Old, Something New: Combining liturgy and postmodern culture leads to fresh forms of worships in the U.K.

A few choice quotes:

"...the goal isn't to be trendy. The gospel always comes to us wearing cultural robes, speaking the language of its own time and society."

"the contemporary worship movement structured itself around bands that led blocks of singing followed by preaching and responses. In the 1970s and '80s, this movement was an exciting recovery of freedom of expression in worship. But over time, in many places, contemporary worship has gotten stuck, and what once felt radical and alive now feels a bit past its sell-by date."

"Communion is another precious old gift in the treasure house. We have improvised by putting Communion back in the context of a meal in homes or around tables in a café."

I also liked the part about NT Wright's example of "faithful improvisation," and us being in the middle of the fifth act of the Bible. Discuss.


Joe B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe B said...

(Tidied up version of the deleted comment.)

I think the whole issue of worship styles and forms (and the discord it causes) reveals our inexorable tendency to reduce the reality of the Spirit to symbolism of religious forms. When we pander to that tendency, we lead people into (gasp) idolatry, and the result is disorder.

Is Joe B too harsh, as usual? Consider that (in Ex. 32) the people complained that Moses was too long up on the mountain with God. So Aaron, their legitimate high priest took an offering and with it he made a golden idol (yes, it was him), because that is what legitimate religious authorities do. Reduce infinite spiritual reality to finite symbols they control.
Now we get to the real, searing irony of this. As Aaron smelted and hammered, he was working by day in the shade of God's presence in the pillar of cloud, and the calf worshippers danced in the light of God's presence in the pillar of fire (Ex. 13). It was right there, manifest and visible as he snacked on Manna. But carnal man is more stirred by his own interpretation of God than with the reality of God. "This is the God who brought us up out of Egypt", they said...with their backs to the fire and their faces bowed to the work of their own hands.

When the Moses, the first reformer, challenged it, Aaron suggests that his interpretation of God, his new "calf orthodoxy", was the Institute of God: "So they gave [the gold] to me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." (Ex. 32:24)

I think this bears strongly on our religious observances, not least the communion table.

Why do you suppose I would say that?

Joe B said...

Sorry, that kinda ruins the fun of talking about whether to play drums or burn candles in church.

scott said...

What's the correlation you're looking at re: communion?