A Liturgy Baptist

Perhaps, before we go any farther, a definition of “liturgy” is in order.  Liturgy simply refers to “a form of public worship.”  In a sense, every gathered body of believers follow a liturgy, “a form of public worship,” a beginning and an end and everything else in between.

However, there’s something of a technical use of the word that has come down to us.  Often when we think of liturgy, we associate the term with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans, many Reformed churches, and so on.  We tend to associate the word with the high churches.

And in this technical use of the word, we expect: (1) A Call to worship (2) Confession (3) Assurance of Forgiveness (3) Apostles’ Creed; and so on.

These are not the usual aspects of your typical Baptist church.  But there are exceptions.  For example, in Worship By The Book, noted biblical scholar and churchman DA Carson relates his experience at a local Baptist church he visited during a Christmas season:

I recently attended a Christmas service in Reformed Baptist church in which there were not only the traditional Christmas Scripture readings and Christmas carols, but the corporate reading, from the prepared bulletin, of the Nicene Creed, the prayer of confession from Martin Bucer’s Strasbourg Liturgy, and a prayer of thanksgiving from the Middleburg Liturgy of the English Puritans” (p. 61).

But this is atypical of local Baptist churches.  However as a ordained Baptist minister, they are things within recent years I’ve come to appreciate and even crave at times.  Something of a shift is already taking placing within my own thinking and longings.

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5 Responses to A Liturgy Baptist

  1. Simon says:

    People are starting to think more about liturgy, this is a good thing I think.

  2. Lon says:

    I can totally relate. I became a christian as a free-wheeling and free-willing pentecostal. I came to see that this approach to worship is unfruitful over the long term. I too, now crave liturgy because it focuses me on the gospel, and as we know, “…faith comes by hearing…” It also calls us to experience a broader range of human emotion in worship – mourning, rejoicing, contemplation, devotion, etc. The pentecostal/seeker worship tends toward a narrower emotional focus: fun/celebration, or intimacy. If I could write the order of worship for next Sunday’s service it would include: call to worship, OT, Gospel, Epistle readings, call for confession, assurance of pardon, recitation of a Creed or portion of a Catechism/Confession, and formal benediction. (And, I’d prefer it all with a huge pipe organ and brass choir, too 😉

  3. jnotestein says:

    I agree with Lon. Most of the worship services I attend seem like either a show to entertain me or a huge pep rally. This assures me that worship is all about me and making me feel good rather than about God and how He comes to us. With a liturgy, I think we can see the whole gospel and have the assurance of forgiveness even when the ‘high’ of the worship service is over.

  4. TC says:

    Simon, yes, a good thing indeed.

    Lon, thanks for sharing this. I feel you, brother.

    J, yes, a liturgy of this nature has its place.

  5. Pingback: From Geneva to Constantinople: Calvinist Converts to Orthodox Faith | New Leaven

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