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Why We Need Christian Liturgy

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

We believe we can achieve dominance through science and technology. Religion may be helpful for private life, but it cannot deal with the external world. “…We can safely set God-talk aside and focus on technique.”

This practical atheism isn’t limited to unbelievers; it is equally problematic for professing believers. Gay surveys the work of dozens of thinkers who show how this radically secularist mindset is embedded, “in institutional arrangements that we probably take largely for granted.” He goes on to ask:

What if the ‘the world’–and hence worldliness–is not personal immorality as such, but instead an interpretation of reality that refuses to see God actively working in the business of life?”

Such an interpretation relegates God to myth. In the language of Schaeffer, He isn’t there in any real sense. That sounds eerily familiar: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21, ESV). We’re caught in the Matrix, but not in the way the movie’s makers thought.

This functional atheism, this radical secularist mindset embedded in the fabric of our human structures, is far more difficult to escape than we might imagine. Whatever will free us must penetrate to the depths of heart and mind; it must redirect the course of our interpretation of reality. The Holy Spirit working through the word of God is capable of the sort of radical reconstruction we need. That’s why we need Christian liturgy to reshape us.

Myers’ discussion points specifically to the fundamental importance of Lord’s Day worship, and more specifically, explains why need Christian liturgy. The power of a liturgy saturated with Scripture, the preaching of God’s word, and the sacraments, is that it shapes us vigorously in an alternative reality. It forms us in true reality (or does it form that reality in us?) where God is really there. He is, in fact, the central truth who defines everything else-including ourselves.

As Myers notes, form matters. If cultural forms nourish us in the atheistic life, the biblical form of liturgy nourishes us in the Christian life. Christian liturgy shapes us not for one day out of seven, but in that one day for the other six. If our worship assumes the cultural form, how can we be reshaped? How will its impact be any different from any other institution? We need a form of worship that draws us out of the Matrix and enables us to live in the real world where God is there. That’s why we need Christian liturgy.

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