A page from the Book of Kells
The book Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, or as I think of it these days, Getting Medieval: A faithful tour of the Middle Ages with a little help from C S Lewis, is trying to be born, and I’m trying not to get in the way. I’m struggling to express an argument which will set up the medieval centrality of the Incarnation and Creation as that period’s most important legacy to us today.
What follows is just rough-draft wording of a short passage for the book’s introduction. Arguments and details still seem to pull in opposite directions, but I’m convinced of the truth, at least in outline, of what I’m struggling to express here.
Readers, I’d value your thoughts on this brief, rough, passage. Where can I go from here? How can I refine and add power to this argument? What am I missing? Where am I too negative about the modern church? Too positive about the medieval? Does this argument resonate at all with your experience or does it just seem to you to miss the mark? Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Creation, embodiment, emotion, Eucharist, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Incarnation, Julian of Norwich, liturgy, Margery Kempe, Middle Ages, religious affections, the affections, William Manchester
Can revivalistic emotion and liturgical reverence co-exist? What about spontaneous worship and doctrinal carefulness? Yes, these can be part of the same religious experience–indeed, these seemingly contradictory elements coexisted at the very taproot of evangelical history. I explored this in a post on Christianity Today’s history blog:
Evangelicalism’s Hidden Liturgical and Confessional Past
by Chris Armstrong
The emotional energy of Cane Ridge and other early frontier revivals arose from a strong emphasis on the Eucharist.
Many evangelicals – especially younger ones – are today re-engaging tradition. Other evangelicals worry about this re-engagement. They feel that to move toward a more liturgical form of worship or a more fixed, detailed style of theological “confession” is to give up the freer, more emotional worship style or more grass-roots, straightforward doctrinal and theological style won for us by such evangelical forefathers as the 18th century’s John Wesley or the 19th century’s Charles Finney.
I want to suggest that one way forward to healthier engagement with tradition for modern-day evangelicals is through a look at our own recent past. For American revivalism itself grew on unexpected foundations of liturgy and doctrinal confession. Continue reading
Posted in Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Calvinism, Cane Ridge revival, confessionalism, early republican era, Eucharist, evangelicalism, liturgy, Methodism, Presbyterianism, revivalism, Richard Lovelace, Tradition
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, so’s the advent season (November 29 to December 24). These days our family is doing a wreath and even (when we can find all the bits & pieces) a Jesse tree. No more advent calendars with chocolate behind the doors, though (my wife’s mother used to send these): the kids just drag it into a dark corner and extract all the goodies at once!
I just find it interesting that evangelicals are starting to do this “liturgical” stuff at all! This year even the increasingly Calvinist Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has created a set of faculty-written Advent devotionals. I posted on this phenomenon for Christian History & Biography:
Advent: Close Encounters of a Liturgical Kind
‘Tis the season when even the free-ranging revivalist pulls up a chair to the table of historic liturgy.
I confess: as an adolescent, when my parents tried to impress on my two brothers and me the importance and the intricacies of Advent observance, I could hardly keep from rolling my eyes. In a country that spends its cold Decembers in hot pursuit of food, presents, and parties, the historical niceties of an ancient liturgical season seemed … well … irrelevant. Continue reading