Friday, November 11, 2005

A WEEK WITH D. STEPHEN LONG- day 5

STEVE LONG AND "BEING" AMONG EVANGELICAL AND LIBERAL CHRISTIANS:

In modern theology both Evangelicals and liberal Protestants often do this move. It comes out of the Middle Ages, and it says that the way I know God is by knowing myself—God's being and my being are on the same plane. If you really want to know God you need to know who you are, then you have a direct, unitical access to God. What becomes crucial is experience. In evangelicalism you've got to have an experience. But liberal Protestants do the same move—if my experience as an individual can give me access to God simply by my being I don't need community, church, or another language. I don't need to be formed into by catechesis. All I need is this experience. It does all the work. I think that the experience becomes a commodity—a fetish. There are churches which exist to fabricate that experience. But it doesn't sustain us.

MY THOUGHTS
i wonder how seriously we take the liturgy that we have that's in our um book of worship and the um hymnal. one of the gifts that i see that the wesley's gave to us was there poetic sensibility through charles' hymns and the anglican tradition that shines through our liturgy.

our baptism liturgy is very communal in nature- not the least bit individual (personal- yes, but not private) ; our sevice of word and table- very communal.

the rich liturgy that we contain in our tradition has the possibility of shaping and forming us into a distinct denomination that can be both open and welcoming to human diversity AND adhere to scriptural authority. we just have to allow space for the liturgy to inform our worship and way of life.

thoughts?

3 comments:

Zoomdaddy said...

"It comes out of the Middle Ages, and it says that the way I know God is by knowing myself—God's being and my being are on the same plane."

I don't think this presupposition is inherently wrong if we understood ourselves as made in the image of God. I think the problem arises when that becomes the dominant or sole means of apprehending our knowledge of God. Does Long throw out the entire idea? Or is this excerpt simply serve to characterize modern theologies that rely too heavily on this?

"...we just have to allow space for the liturgy to inform our worship and way of life."

I agree with this statement, but there is also more than liturgy at work in the process of formation, though it is vital and integral. If liturgy was all that was needed, we should've all been formed to perfection ad nauseum.

jason said...

zdaddy

i think persuasive arguments could be made on either side of how much of the "self" is involved on how we know God - what most of us can probably agree on is that the pendulum has to swing toward communal for most of us in our culture

regarding your second comment - if you read an earlier long post (day 3) where long defines liturgy - it seems that he wants the liturgy to be the structure(?) where God meets us

i'm still trying to understand the difference between God meeting us and us experiencing God and what the practical applications are for us in church leadership

Thunder Jones said...

I've always been a fan of high church Methodism, but it's about as rare as a albino cow. I tried really hard to be a Methodist for a while, but after seeing liturgical practices skipped for the sake of time (specifically the congregation's response during a baptism), I went Episcopalian.

I just think there's too much of American Holiness tradition in the UMC for it to really embrace the communal and liturgical ideals that you and Long advocate. Like Long said in his NPR piece the other day, the UMC is a holiness sect in the church catholic. That's its identity. The question is what it can hold within that framework.