Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gimme That Ol' Time, Middle Eastern, Reformed Religion!

There are a couple objections on the part of the "contextualizers" that I'd like to address briefly in this post and the next.

The first is that churches with "traditional worship" (a phrase I hate) are simply replacing worship that would be relevant in this culture with worship that was relevant in the culture of Calvin's Geneva 500 years ago.

This is simply false.

As anyone who has studied the history of Christian worship will testify, in no sense whatsoever were the Reformers trying to reinvent the worship wheel. Rather, they were interested in going back to the earliest sources they could find in order to separate primitive Christian worship from its medieval Roman Catholic distortions and aberrations. As liturgical scholar Hughes Old has ably demonstrated in his Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship, the services in all the sixteenth-century Reformed churches were every bit as ancient to those people as they seem to us today. Reformed worship, therefore, is not white, Genevan, or Northern European.

In fact, the early church in the book of Acts worshiped according to the pattern of the Jewish synagogues, which was characterized by set patterns, liturgy, readings, and prayers. This means that the worship of Reformed churches in North America today is not only similar to that of Geneva, but to that of the early church fathers, the apostles, and the people of God during Old Testament times.

If you ask me, that's pretty good company....