Liturgical Trap: What is the Trap?

Jordan defines the “Liturgy Trap” as seeing worship as a technique for evangelism (xiv).  Whatever else our liturgy may be, it must always be a response to the Word of God.  Said another way: The Word of God comes first.  The rest of the introduction explains why evangelicals would be tempted to high church traditions.  Since that’s is fairly well-documented by theologians and sociologists (Christian Smith et al), I won’t belabor the point.

The Saints

Should we venerate the saints?  We should at least ask, “What does the Bible say?”  Critics might respond, “Yeah, well the Bible doesn’t say anything about the term T rinity, either” (this is a specific quote from Orthodox Bridge).  True, but assuming the Bible to be part of tradition (which I don’t assume), shouldn’t we at least pretend it is the most important part?

Jordan first notes there is no biblical warrant to pray to saints (18).  Since the disciples asked Jesus specifically how to pray, and he gave them a specific template, it is telling that venerating saints is absent.  Jordan then gives the standard biblical arguments against necromancy,  pointing out that Saul was condemned for talking to the dead Samuel.

Interestingly, had the early Christians talked to dead people, the Jews and Judaizers would have had a field day condemning them, yet we don’t see that.

Jordan writes,

The notion that the saints can hear our petitions means that a given saint can hear thousands of petitions coming from people all over the world.  This means that the saint has become virtually omnipresent.  What happens when that saint gets his resurrection body and is once again limited to being in one place at one time? (21)

Of course, and my critics hate to hear this, but this is a movement back towards chain of being and Hellenistic philosophy.

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4 comments on “Liturgical Trap: What is the Trap?

  1. It is often customary for people, when visiting monastic communities, to write the names of their family members on a slip of paper and leave it with the monks so that they may pray for them. I suppose at some monasteries a single monk will pray for hundreds of people in a day and they are still bound by linear time. I wonder what a saint, whose has climbed a chain, ladder, stairway, toward perfect communion with our Creator, and now alive within an eternal kingdom, could accomplish in the way of intercession? It’s a celebration of the promise of life. Abused? Of course. But I think we will keep it.

    • All of that is speculation and to use language like “Bound by linear time” is gnosticism, for it sees God’s creation as a step down of the chain of being (which your language almost explicitly says).

      • Speculation? Maybe. Or perhaps a natural conclusion. We are all called to pray for each other. In fact, intercessory prayer coupled with acts of service, it could be argued, is our greatest calling outside of worshipping God. Knowing this, and then knowing that those who do so will live for eternity, by the grace of God of course, it is only natural to arrive at the conclusion that this intercessory prayer does not end when we enter the Eternal Kingdom.

        Is it Gnosticism to say that our experience of time will be different in Eternity?

        I specifically used that language to acknowledge this idea you call chain of being. Yes, we believe that God wants us to meet His Grace with our own will. We believe spiritual growth is possible and never ending. It is not a special/secret knowledge we are attempting to gain but a greater focus on what has always been in front of us. It is impossible without Grace but also impossible without an act of our will. This is another natural conclusion based on our accepted Christology.

  2. John Bugay says:

    Regarding the statement ““Yeah, well the Bible doesn’t say anything about the term Trinity, either”, critics of this sort of thing divide “development” into two types: the kind like the doctrine of the Trinity, where a word was supplied for a concept that is thoroughly Biblical, and the kind where there is nothing biblical about it (except for the odd proof-text from 2 Maccabees, for example).

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