Wednesday, November 09, 2005



Liturgy is made of those human acts we do which open us up to receive the Gift that we can't contain. It's not like liturgy guarantees anything. It's not a fetish, like, you hold of the bread and say, "behold your God—and I dispense God to you.." It's not a particular thing. Liturgy is learning the skills, language, and postures to be open when God comes and meets us. God promises to meet us! Liturgy gives us the language to know how to speak God well. Without it we'll get confused, and we'll think God is Thor or Dionysus. In philosophy there's a thing called "the linguistic turn." It says that metaphysical questions can't be answered, but if we think of them as questions about our language, then we can answer them.

I think he says what I was thinking yesterday. Only he says it so much better. Without a common language we don't have words to describe the God of the Church. It is liturgy that shapes the people of God and gives us a common language of which to speak.

I wonder if the UMC is in such disrepair right now because of our lack of a meaningful liturgical language out of which we can talk and communicate with one another...

In fact the breakdown that we have was recently manifest at Locust and Honey as we began to discuss whether or not Methodists ought to subscribe to The Apostles' Creed. The Creed itself is not a litmus test to use as a tool for witchhunting but is a way for a particular culture to have a common language. There has to be a set of beliefs that we hold in common with one another or we run the risk of making our faith meaningless and falling away into nihilism.


Craig Moore said...

I would love to know what our common beliefs are, that would be a good exercise for a Methodist blogging community to pursue. I would love to know what common ground I have with liberals and post-moderns and try to develop a relationship at that point instead of always focusing on differences. I had a great relationship in the last community I pastored in with pastors who were Calvinist, Baptist, Pentecostals and Roman Catholic because we found our common ground and stayed there. A great relaitonship and friendship was enjoyed by all.

Zoomdaddy said...

It's a fine line between a "litmus test to use as a tool for witchhunting" and a "set of beliefs that we hold in common with one another," and I think it has less to do with the language we use than the attitudes we express toward those who are outside that set of beliefs or in danger of lapsing away from them.

Zoomdaddy said...

BTW, Thor's been very good to me (the comic book hero, not the pagan deity).

Joel Thomas said...

Yes, but we significantly weaken and in fact distort the Apostle's Creed by usually leaving out "descended into hell." The Creed has far less meaning without that phrase.

Without that phrase, there is a tendency of the church to believe in "immortality of the soul" which I don't think is a Christian concept. To me, what the church teaches, instead, is resurrection of the dead.

Zoomdaddy said...

amen, joel

St.Phransus said...

good thoughts everyone. thanks for the great conversation.

John said...

This may be hair-splitting, but I would describe the purpose of the Apostles' Creed, originally, was to discern Christian from heretic.

The modern use may be different, but it's original is still appropriate for today. We live in a Chistendom abounding with heresies. I think that the UMC in particlar would benefit from "You believe in this? Sign on the dotted line."

St.Phransus said...

i'm not sure i'd be for a "sign on the dotted line" denomination. part of wesley's wonder and gifts was his view on grace. sanctifying grace is grace that works in a "process".

so i would not exclude someone for not signing on a dotted line because they do not wish to sign.

however, i do believe you are right that the original intent was to help sustain the christian community (community being a group of people with shared values and shared culture).

i think its important to have a shared identity, but to do so realizing that we are all "works in progress" from different backgrounds, traditions, etc..