Done With Anything Else

“The Bible teaches that the basic division in liturgical worship is not between high and low or between traditional and contemporary, but rather between acceptable and unacceptable. And the only thing that can make it acceptable is pure, unfeigned, evangelical faith in Jesus. Anything else is on its way to the Bad Place” (Against the Church, p. 15).

Theology That Bites Back



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  • Matthew N. Petersen

    I’m still having trouble understanding what you’re saying here. For the individual, one of the most important questions is whether we are living in accord with our conversation with God, and whether our conversation with him is actually spoken, or is pantomimed, or, in some other way, not spoken. But surely what we say is nearly equally important to how we say it? And second, I’m not sure that this follows so easily on the congregational level–otherwise we run into the problem with saying that it is holiness of the minister or congregation which makes Christ present, rather than the Sacramental action of God, a sacramental action which calls the congregation back, and does not forsake the congregation. Rather, the congregation, as congregation, is the Body of Christ, since it receives the Sacraments, and so is, as congregation, holy (though the individuals in it may not be). On the individual level, the people we are worshiping physically near are going to influence me, and I will be like them, and so it may be dangerous to worship physically with them. However, the table is One, and the Baptism is One, so whether we like it or not, we are worshiping with them, since we eat the same bread they do, are baptized with the same baptism they are, and hear the same Scriptures they do, and physically separating ourselves from them does not change that–indeed, is very close to being schismatic. Perhaps I’m missing something though, and would appreciate clarification.

  • Douglas Wilson

    Matt, I do believe in the objectivity of the covenant. I am not Donatist in my thinking at all. At the same time, the collective church in Ephesus was in danger of having her lampstand removed because she had fallen from her first love. That is what I am talking about here.

  • Matthew N. Petersen

    I’m still not sure what you mean by “lampstand removed”. Does that mean cease to exist, or does it mean enter apostasy? If the first, then why do you apply the category to Orthodox and Catholics, who have definitely not ceased to exist? If the second, does that mean that the Presbyterian Church has had its lampstand removed? The Puritan church of Massassuchetts? And more seriously, how is that different from the claim that the Church is identified by the personal holiness of the members?

    But that wasn’t the question I asked here. While as an individual it is important that I worship rightly (which includes saying good things, not just saying things rightly), I am worshiping with Catholics Orthodox and even liberals every Sunday, since we are eating the same food. So why push against worshiping with them?