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Saturday, February 10, 2007 

Tozer on Liturgy
Topic: Theology

I ran into this nifty little piece in NTJ.[1] Tozer, one of the great theologians of the Christian Missionary Alliance, was definitely no proponent of a highly liturgical church service. So perhaps his remarks can be taken in a spirit of constructive criticism.

"We of the nonliturgical churches tend to look with some disdain upon those churches that follow a carefully prescribed form of service, and certainly there must be a good deal in such services that has little or no meaning for the average participant - this not because it is carefully prescribed but because the average participant is what he is. But I have observed that our familiar impromptu service, planned by the leader twenty minutes before, often tends to follow a ragged and tired order almost as standardized as the Mass. The liturgical service is at least beautiful; ours is often ugly. Theirs has been carefully worked out through the centuries to capture as much of beauty as possible and to preserve a spirit of reverence among the worshipers. Ours is often an off-the-cuff makeshift with nothing to recommend it. Its so-called liberty is often not liberty at all but sheer slovenliness.

"The theory is that if the meeting is unplanned the Holy Spirit will work freely, and that would be true if all the worshipers were reverent and Spirit-filled. But mostly there is neither order nor Spirit, just a routine prayer that is, except for minor variations, the same week after week, and a few songs that were never much to start with and have long ago lost all significance by meaningless repetition.

"In the majority of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear. But so often there is a dull or a breezy song leader full of awkward jokes, as well as a chairman announcing each "number" with the old continuity patter in an effort to make everything hang together."
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Footnotes

[1]SC88 "Cease Fire?" The Nicotine Theological Journal. Vol. 10, No. 1. January 2006, p. 8. Back



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[Tozer] | [liturgy]

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Hey, what's the story with this The Nicotine Theological Journal that I've been hearing so much about in blogdom? Seems like everyone else is reading it but me. Neither of the two libraries around here carry it (the Lutherans seem too intoxicated with themselves and the Baptists too fearful of nicotine). Can you give me a rundown on it? Is it available online?

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Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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