Geneva or Rome?


Should we avoid worship externals that look or feel Roman, simply for that reason?

I've started reading Tim Challies' blog a lot, and his links are usually very good. So I was interested to see him link to Rachel Miller's article, "If It Looks Like Rome..."

Her contention is that Reformed folks are adopting worship practices that are more Roman than Reformed.
Three of her six targets I'll fire away at with her: Intinction, monastic retreats, and contemplative prayer.

The other three seemed off base. Maybe just because I take part in them at some level, or advocate them.
1. Eucharistic liturgy
2. Vestments
3. Observing Lent

Here, the logic seems off to me. These things are done or required by Rome, so we should avoid them. For example, because Roman mass involves transubstantiation, we should not use certain sentences they use. Sounds obvious, but what Ms. Miller objects to is this: "Minister: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
All: Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again."

Huh? She admits there is nothing false about the words, but we still shouldn't use them, because Rome does. The same could be said of the Apostles' Creed!

On vestments, people are sorely ignorant of the long presbyterian history of wearing vestments. It isn't just for Rome. Presbyterians stopped wearing them when their theology became more baptist in the last 100-150 years.

On Lent, Miller argues that since Lent is obligatory to work off your salvation to the Roman church, we should avoid it. I agree we want to avoid an extra-biblical obligation and the appearance or feel of doing something penitentially to earn brownie points with the Lord. But Lent is an opportunity (like Advent, Christmas, Easter, and Ascension Day) to observe an important aspect of the life of Christ and its implications for our own life in Him. Namely, His faithful self-denial, obedience to the Father, and suffering for us. Churches need not shame folks into observing it, but they can observe Lent liturgically on Sundays and in others ways without "going to Rome."

Calvin wore vestments and baptized babies. Both look and feel Roman to most evangelicals. But both were (are) Reformed and Lutheran practices, too. When you realize you're west or north of Geneva, and you starting heading that way, it can look to others like you're on your way to Rome.

Calvin and Luther certainly simplified the cluttered calendar and elaborate rituals of Rome. But they also largely rejected the "strip-it-bare" mentality. Simple, yes. But not "non-liturgical."

No comments:

Post a Comment