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On Strange Liturgical Bedfellows

David Koysis note a phenomenon that has also stumped me for some time:

The tendency for North American evangelicals to defend the fundamentals of the faith while largely abandoning the older liturgical traditions is something that not enough observers have managed to find puzzling. On the other hand, it is also true that the major part of evangelicalism in this continent, though affirming a vague orthodoxy, lacks both a robust ecclesiology and a strong confessional identity, with only a very few exceptions. Perhaps then it is not surprising that distinctive traditions of worship should long ago have been set aside as well.

Indeed, rather than leading them towards Rome, along with their mainline brethren, or towards the Reformation traditions, as one might expect, many evangelicals have instead subordinated worship, in utilitarian fashion, to the felt imperatives of church growth and reaching the so-called nonreligious. The result is worship that is not only deracinated but amounts merely to “one damn thing after another,” as one of my favourite liturgical scholars once put it.

So why is it that mainline protestants, who are scarcely less deracinated than their evangelical brethren, are increasingly reciting the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed during worship?

Why, indeed?



  1. perhaps because human beings are not renowned for their consistency? 😉

    ps. “the subordination of worship to utilitarian ends” is to get worship utterly arse backward, it is supposed to be pleasing to God, not whomsever might wander in today! but then i am preaching to the choir here, i suspect.

    pax vobiscum


  2. Darrell Pursiful says:

    Indeed you are, Jonathan.

    et cum spiritu tuo


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