Friday, September 11, 2015
High and Low
Yet for all the book’s strengths, it is one thing to demonstrate that a system of thought or group of practices are coherent; it is quite another to demonstrate that they are good. While any fair-minded high-church reader of Ross’s work should be able to finish this book with a greater understanding of evangelical liturgical practices, I am not sure that he will come away from this book feeling more sympathetic to low-church evangelicalism. It is possible, in fact, that greater theological clarity might bring about greater discomfort, as some high-church readers may see their worst fears being confirmed in these elucidating pages, particularly by phrases like “nonsacramental Christianity.” Furthermore, those already suspicious of the excesses of Finney and Whitefield are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise by Ross’s discussion of their role in the formation of evangelical liturgical practices.Precisely. There is a question of which is better, that is to say, which is more good than the other.
My issues with low-church have more to do with the impulses that drive it than the thing itself. It is about ease and comfort; it is about the individual; it is about a lack of discipline, and it is staying where we are instead of calling us forward.
Can one have low church and not have those things? - theoretically yes. But I have yet to experience it.
You know there is physics that everybody knows and then there is physics that you can only understand when you can do the math. That's why some people never get past jr. hi. science. That's fine. Sometimes I wonder if high church liturgy is not the language of faith like math is the language of physics. Sure the person that does not speak the language knows enough to get by, and I have no doubt about their salvation, but I wonder if they are experiencing all that God has for them. I cannot help but think that God wants us all to be advanced in our faith - graduate degree level.
That sounds very egotistical and I do not mean it to. Coming from a high church perspective I have struggled to learn the lessons of low church, the openness to the Holy Spirit and the emotional aspects of faith that are so often missing in high church. Those things are good. And yet, my experience tells me that those that start and then STAY low church miss something vitally important. In high church I have seen numerous mistakes in the name of God. In low church I have seen evil in the name of God. There is a difference and that is what troubles me.
high church liturgy low church