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Prof. Dr. Joris Geld ho f, Faculty of Theology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Joris.Geldhof@theo.kuleuven.be
This article is meant to be an exercise in critical thinking about a subject which is still surprisingly uncommon in systematic-theological circles, namely liturgical theology. I do not think that I exaggerate when I state that many theologians have certain biases concerning the liturgy, especially when it is held that the liturgy, as liturgy, contains or even ‘is’ theology. Usually, the liturgy is looked upon as a practical field, a field of applications and implementations liable to contingency. Theologians only rarely interpret the liturgy as formative or constitutive for their theoretical enterprises. Nevertheless, there is a strong case to be made for considering the liturgy as theological norm par excellence. That is at least what I aim to do in this paper. My contribution is divided into five parts. First, I elucidate the concept of liturgical theology. This is a first and necessary step to take, because among scholars and commentators there is considerable confusion as to what liturgical theology really means and does and how it operates. Second, I demonstrate how liturgical theology in general became increasingly influential in the course of the twentieth century. This is also an important preliminary step, for it enables me to contextualize what I discuss in the third part, namely a particular line of thought represented by three leading thinkers who deliberately call themselves developers of a genuine ‘liturgical theology’. They are Alexander Schmemann, Aidan Kavanagh, and David W. Fagerberg. In the fourth section I discuss the central themes and concerns of their theologizing and try to point out the uncompromising radicalness of their position. In particular, I draw attention to the reversal of the doctrine-liturgy relation, which can be considered as the crux of their thinking. There is no doubt that Schmemann’s, Kavanagh’s and Fagerberg’s theology poses a huge challenge to contemporary systematic-theological reflection. Therefore, in the fifth part of this article, I propose a critical evaluation of their thought. I will argue that there are many strong points – amongst which, most notably, is an invitation to keep a vital dialogue between systematic theology and the liturgy – but also that it entails possible risks and weaknesses.
NZSTh, 52. Bd., S. 155 – 176 © Walter de Gruyter 2010
Joris Ge ldh of
The Concept of “Liturgical Theology”
With a view to answering the question of what liturgical theology is, it is helpful first to clearly indicate what is not.1 It must be said immediately, however, that the following nuances and distinctions are not agreed upon by everyone engaged in the field. Much more than trying to present the tiny common ground shared by those who have an opinion about or a view on the essence of liturgical theology (if this is at all possible), it is my goal to slowly introduce the reader to the thought-world of the three authors which will be discussed in greater detail. As a matter of fact, this thought-world is no less than the liturgy itself. First of all, liturgical theology is not to be equated or confused with liturgical studies (Liturgiewissenschaften or Liturgik). Whereas the aim of liturgical studies is to gain more knowledge about the liturgy, liturgical theology is interested rather in the meaning of the liturgy. Therefore, liturgical studies can be a necessary condition for liturgical theology (and, actually, it usually is), but the liturgical theologian does not simply accumulate knowledge about phenomena. The difference between liturgical studies and liturgical theology is also reflected at the methodological level. Liturgical studies predominantly use a comparative, anthropological, pastoral, philological, and/or historical-critical method, whereas liturgical theology aims at a much more encompassing approach, which integrates and synthesizes the findings of analytical work.2 Second, liturgical theology needs to be distinguished from a theology of the liturgy. For a theology ‘of’ the liturgy, the liturgy is the object about which one reflects by making use of theological frameworks and interpretational patterns. It is a theology which constructs theological ideas and systems relating to the liturgy. As such, it is honestly convinced of the importance of the liturgy for both the content and the method of theology as an academic discipline. Accordingly, it complains about a lack of attention for the liturgy from the side of many a systematic theologian.3 It argues
A noteworthy attempt at defining what can be meant by “liturgical theology” has been undertaken by Dwight W. V O G E L , Liturgical Theology: A Conceptual Geography, in: Dwight W. V O G E L (ed.), Primary Sources of Liturgical Theology: A Reader (Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press 2000), 3 – 14. In this context it is meaningful to refer to a recent introduction to liturgical studies written by Albert Gerhards and Benedikt Kranemann, who consider this area to consist of three major approaches: a historical, a theological, and a pastoral one: Albert G E R H A R D S /Benedikt K R A N E M A N N , Einführung in die Liturgiewissenschaft (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2006), 45 – 53. The American Jesuit Edward J. Kilmartin is a good example of a theologian who sincerely deplored the neglect of many systematic theologians for the liturgy. He says: “Systematic theologians, working in all branches of theology should consider it a matter of the highest priority to show how their subjects can contribute to a better understanding and practice of communal
and Fagerberg’s liturgical theology. a possible phenomenon that attracts attention. 104 – 105. so that we must have theology of liturgy. However. In an article with precisely this title.4 Whereas the philosophy of religion approaches religion as an external object. Theology as Theology of the Liturgy. Then it means that the liturgy is somehow doing theology. vol. ‘The liturgical’ is an essential dimension of all theologizing. because. It does not deal with the liturgy as something outside itself but takes up the challenges of doing theology from an inextricably liturgical point of view. 4 . There is also a very real sense in which all true Christian theology must be liturgical theology – that is. Likewise. in: V O G E L . 103 – 109. it implies that the liturgy is an active theological player.Liturgy as Theological Norm 157 that the liturgy should be a field of interest not only for liturgists but also for fundamental and systematic – and even moral and pastoral – theologians. Liturgy is the ultimate norm for theology. Vgl. 2002). grammatically speaking. Something similar is true in the case of liturgical theology. as systematic theology of the liturgy. 1 Héritage et héritiers du XIXe siècle. liturgical theology differs from a theology of the liturgy in that it considers the liturgy not as a field of thorough theological reflection and research next to other possible fields of interest. or an area of interest. or to the model which Robert Taft interestingly called ‘theology as liturgy’. Yet. 34 – 36. but taken in a more radical sense. according to liturgical theologians the liturgy is the conceptual and existential framework par excellence for any theology worthy of its name. In this context it may be helpful to draw a parallel with the distinction between a philosophy of religion and a religious philosophy. expressing in its own way God-talk. For liturgical theology. (Paris: Cerf. K I L M A R T I N . If the phrase ‘theology of the liturgy’ is interpreted in the way just described. n. completes its task only when it demonstrates how the liturgy serves in its particular way as transparency for the mystery of salvation” (Edward J. On the contrary. Taft writes: “Not only is liturgy an object of theology. That is not untrue of course. the liturgy can also function as a subject instead of an object. Le Buisson ardent et les Lumières de la Raison: L’invention de la philosophie de la religion. resp. 108). 1). it is a necessary condition for any theology. literally theo-logy. It does not mean that the liturgy contains theological ideas which can thereupon be distilled or derived with the aid of theological-analytical tools.” And: “Systematic theology. Kavanagh’s. Jean G R E I S C H . a religious philosophy is a philosophy which looks at reality from a religious standpoint and takes into account ‘the religious’ in whatever theory it develops. the study of the liturgy is not an option. Primary Sources (see above. which it moreover considers as unavoidable. the liturgy is not primarily an object that can be isolated from other objects and approached separately. it comes fairly close to the thrust of Schmemann’s. Rather. doxological – inworship. it is possible to understand the phrase ‘theology of the liturgy’ in a different way.
no matter how important it is. The reason is that not every act of worship is liturgical and that. by extension. 6. in Worship 56 (1982). Kevin W. Liturgy is corporate by nature. V O G E L . 5 6 7 8 9 Robert T A F T . It does not have to be corporate in nature. 46. V O G E L . Conceptual Geography (see above. Otherwise our theology is not the study of how a living God saves. although the definition does what it ought to do.”9 Second. “This meaning of liturgical theology concerns how the means of communication and interaction in liturgy. however. The distinction between these two kinds of theology is comparable to what has been said about theology of liturgy and liturgical theology. MI: Liturgical Press. First. 1). but it focuses on the aspect or dimension of praise. Conceptual Geography (see above.”6 Third. directly or indirectly. 1994). 115. it is appropriate to present a working definition of liturgical theology – even if it must remain preliminary and limited. . Dwight Vogel clearly observes: “Worship as a human activity appears in both individual and social expressions. “This term describes what Christian liturgy is and what it does in terms of actualizing the reality of Christ’s paschal mystery for the Church. 1).”8 Vogel himself realizes that this description remains too minimal. I R W I N . n. Liturgy involves ritual action. gathered and enlivened by power of the Holy Spirit. The reason why there is a difference with liturgical theology is not to deny that in a very general sense every theology is or should be. Irwin distinguishes between different meanings of ‘liturgical theology’.”5 His conclusion is as succinct as it is ‘logical’: “Liturgy. 114 – 115. who has offered solid introductions to liturgical theology in several publications. n. 113 – 117.”7 After this threefold negative characterization. again by Dwight Vogel: “Liturgical theology must deal with the liturgy and it must be theological in nature. therefore. liturgical theology needs to also be distinguished from both doxological theology and theology of worship. especially words and symbols. ultimately contributive to the laudation of God which every Christian believer is invited to (cf. 13. Liturgy as Theology (see above. there is theology of liturgy. worship may or may not. worship is not. In addition.158 Joris Ge ldh of volved with God’s unending saving activity and men’s and women’s prayerful response to it throughout the ages. A more nuanced and comprehensive understanding is provided by the renowned American scholar Kevin Irwin. 5). in and through which elements of a positive description of liturgical theology already shone through. there is theology drawn from the liturgy. Two essential features or criteria have been established. Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology (Collegeville. T A F T . n. the idea of ad maiorem Dei gloriam). is theology. namely prevent that it can be contradicted. Liturgy as Theology. which he says intrinsically belong together. the essence of the liturgy cannot be reduced to its doxological aspect.
or else they concentrated on pastoral initiatives to foster genuine existential participation in liturgical celebrations. I R W I N . or a single body of literature. NY: Vladimir´s Seminary Press. n. and underwent significant metamorphoses. Context and Text (see above. xiv. . n. Context and Text (see above. 5. Notwithstanding the many vicissitudes it went through. Thomas F I S C H (ed. It is all of this and so much more. Surprisingly enough. Cf. 2008). 46.12 The context in which the term ‘liturgical theology’ emerged and rapidly became an incontrovertible one.13 There is no doubt about the invaluable contribution of all those who delved into the history of the 10 11 12 13 I R W I N . for it allows one to better grasp the particular line Schmemann–Kavanagh–Fagerberg. 1990). is undoubtedly the Liturgical Movement. a more profound awareness of the beauty. a theology drawn from the liturgy additionally entails a moral and spiritual theology. 9). due to changing historical circumstances it constantly adapted itself. a single group of likeminded thinkers. n. 9). and goodness of the liturgy was its major aspiration. I R W I N .). It is relevant to briefly appeal to this history. I would suggest that the Liturgical Movement continues its efforts in and through the work of all those who display an active sympathy for liturgical theology. a case could be made that it still persists today.Liturgy as Theological Norm 159 can be utilized as a generative source for developing systematic theology. truth. In any case. x. L’entrée en liturgie: Introduction à l’œuvre liturgique de Romano Guardini (Paris: Cerf. through the work of the French Benedictine monk and abbot of Solesmes Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805 – 1875). Frédéric D E B U Y S T . the term was coined and first used in the work of M. It was an encompassing movement which exceeded the boundaries between generations and denominations and which cannot be reduced to a single series of initiatives. The Liturgical Movement is the name for the movement which. Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann (Crestwood. Cappuyns. which is to be situated in Belgium in the 1930s. like for instance Romano Guardini did in Germany. According to Irwin. The Emergence of “Liturgical Theology” in the 20th Century The specificity of liturgical theology is something which is embedded in a certain historical evolution. to be realized through an ‘active participation’. Context and Text (see above. this history involves a quite recent evolution.11 II. 9). 50. Moreover. The scholars representing the Liturgical Movement in the first half of the twentieth century had a primarily historical and philological background and interest. sometimes even reinvented itself.”10 According to Irwin. successfully propagated a deeper understanding of and a more lively engagement in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.
in Studia Liturgica 17 (1987). then. This kind of theology was found to have a predominantly rationalistic and deductive approach. in Studia Liturgica 15 (1983). a new interest seemed to arise. Liturgy – A Forgotten Subject-matter of Theology. sacramental theology had developed itself as a discipline in its own right which had become increasingly alienated from the liturgical embedding of the celebration of the sacraments. . liturgical scholars and representatives of the Liturgical Movement had always been convinced of the theological significance of their endeavors. and of all those who provided future generations with trustworthy editions of long-forgotten texts.16 Strangely enough. which originated in the Middle Ages and dominated the theological scene – at least in Catholicism – up until the 14 15 16 Irénée-Henri D A L M A I S . a search for synthesis and understanding saw the light – or. In addition to the gigantic historical. In this notable article Houssiau discusses the rediscovery of the liturgy in the field of sacramental theology. a former professor of liturgy and from 1986 till 2001 the Roman-Catholic bishop of Liège. a slow process of rediscovering the liturgy can be observed in the time span between 1950 and 1980. Albert H O U S S I A U . though neither surprising nor unfounded. Teresa B E R G E R . According to him. 158 – 177. Representatives of the Liturgical Movement generally agree that this was due to the influence of scholastic theology. In a certain sense. La liturgie comme lieu théologique. 27 – 55. the famous French specialist of oriental liturgies. and pastoral efforts. in La Maison-Dieu 149 (1982). The Rediscovery of the Liturgy by Sacramental Theology (1950 – 1980). That was the birthplace of liturgical theology. in La Maison-Dieu 78 (1964). Original French version: La redécouverte de la liturgie par la théologie sacramentaire. The liturgy was something merely practical and unworthy of serious theorizing. accompanied with thorough introductions and commentaries. In view of the apparent lack of (systematic-)theological attention for the liturgy. who is at present professor of liturgy at Yale Divinity School.160 Joris Ge ldh of Church’s liturgical tradition with a view to coming up with surprising data and insights. it is moreover interesting to refer to an article written by Albert Houssiau. in the second part of the twentieth century. argued and complained as late as 1987 that the liturgy was still an almost forgotten subject matter of theology. However. that the German theologian Teresa Berger. Irénée-Henri Dalmais. became more prominent.14 It is a little strange. voiced the opinion of many when he wrote in 1964 that the liturgy is and ought to be treated as a locus theologicus of the utmost rank. scholasticism. at least. and which images on the liturgy prevail among the majority of systematic theologians (in the academy).15 One could legitimately ask whether a lot has changed after another twenty years. from which it is not difficult to understand that it somehow looked down on the liturgy. As such. 10 – 18. philological. 97 – 106.
that there have been significant shifts in the history and conception of ‘scholasticism’ and ‘Thomism’. Bruce T. Introduction to Liturgical Theology. there had always been very close connections between liturgy. Alexander Schmemann was born in Estonia in 1921 to Russian immigrants but fled with his family to Paris. There he became a prominent member of the large community of Russian-Orthodox expatriates. Alexander S C H M E M A N N . the work was translated from Russian and published under the shortened title Introduction to Liturgical Theology. The Line Schmemann – Kavanagh – Fagerberg III. After the war Schmemann was ordained a presbyter (1946) and moved to the United States (1951).17 established a huge contrast with the first millennium. (Paris : Cerf.”18 Later on. In challenging times he studied and taught at the Institut Saint Serge and was deeply affected by the evolutions in liturgical scholarship as they were embodied in the Institut Catholique de Paris. in: V O G E L . Liturgy as Life for the World. There is no doubt that Schmemann 17 18 19 It has been convincingly demonstrated. Primary Sources (see above. In the introduction to this book Schmemann himself explicitly discusses the Liturgical Movement (pp. and Fagerberg. 52. M O R R I L L /Don E. 1996). 52 – 53. IrénéeHenri Dalmais. NY: St. The idea and the ideal of a mutual dependence of liturgy and theology as it was practiced in the patristic era became a major source of inspiration and a clear focus for research in the field of liturgical theology. The title of his dissertation was The Church’s Ordo. He is one of the most influential Orthodox theologians of the twentieth century and was widely respected for his ecumenical openness. In 1959 Schmemann received his doctorate from the Orthodox Institut Saint Serge in Paris. and expertise. He died of cancer in 1983.Liturgy as Theological Norm 161 middle of the twentieth century. vision. n. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. and Bernard Botte. and pastoral activities. and a talented preacher and pastor. New York. 2003 ). according to the majority of the Liturgical Movement. Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Crestwood. 1). There are obvious traces of this in the work of Schmemann. Thomas d’Aquin et les thomismes: Essai sur l’histoire des thomismes (Cogitatio Fidei 195). theology. He was professor of liturgical theology and dean at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. S A L I E R S . Kavanagh. Among the figures from the French scene that had a special impact on his intellectual development are certainly Louis Bouyer. to which we now turn. Still. 13 – 16). where he was to spend the rest of his life. however.19 There have been numerous reprints and translations of this work. as well as other authors who were broadly . in 1966. See Géry P R O U V O S T . Bruce Morrill and Don Saliers observe that “it was [from] the great figures of the Roman Catholic theological and liturgical revival in Paris during the forties and fifties that Schmemann learned the principles of liturgical theology. Jean Daniélou.
and afterwards to Trier. The Second Vatican Council had ordered the reestablishment of such a rite and the RCIA was the concrete result of that order. Gregory Dix. he was sent by his superiors first to Ottawa. 1992). Indiana. Germany. and in 1974 to Yale University. and intensively studied in Paris (such as Odo Casel. MI: Liturgical Press. Liturgical Theology (see above. 7.162 Joris Ge ldh of really initiated ‘liturgical theology’ in the twentieth century. F A G E R B E R G . Aidan K A V A N A G H . Kevin W. the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. He became professor of liturgical studies at St. given at St. Cf. Anton Baumstark. http://ancientfaith. F A G E R B E R G . on whose work Kavanagh obviously relies. which in its turn is a thorough adaptation of What is Liturgical Theology?. where he obtained a doctoral degree in theology in 1964. 1990). USA. Liturgical Theology: A Primer (Collegeville. Indiana. He was born in Texas in 1929. In 1984 he bundled two prestigious series of lectures he had been invited to deliver into a book entitled On Liturgical Theology. 20). Cf. Aidan Kavanagh died at the age of 77 in 2006. David W. In the preface to his 2004 monograph Theologia prima. Indiana. USA. n.22 David Fagerberg was one of Aidan Kavanagh’s most promising students at Yale University and got to know Schmemann’s work very intensively under his guidance. and Oskar Cullmann). On Liturgical Theology (Collegeville. Meinrad School of Theology but soon moved to the University of Notre Dame. entered the Benedictine order in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1957. 47. I R W I N . At the same time he stipulates what liturgical received. Fagerberg witnesses how deeply he is marked by the thought of Alexander Schmemann and Aidan Kavanagh. Hitherto unpublished lecture. Kavanagh was one of the most ardent defenders and developers of liturgical theology in the Anglo-Saxon world. He was the first Catholic priest who served as the dean of Yale Divinity School (1989 – 1990) and stayed there until his retirement.23 Fagerberg was born in 1952 to Protestant parents and became a minister in the Lutheran Church in 1977.20 after it had been neglected for so long. MI: Liturgical Press. Meinrad.com/specials/svs_liturgical_symposium (accessed December 16th. Canada. What is Liturgical Theology? A Study in Methodology (Chicago. He knew Schmemann’s work from a very early date and substantially agreed with him. David W. eventually translated.21 The work is dedicated to Alexander Schmemann. 2009). 20 21 22 23 24 . IL: Liturgical Press. Because of his exceptional intellectual skills. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary on January 31st. In 1991 he converted to Catholicism and one year after that an adaptation of his doctoral dissertation was published as What is Liturgical Theology? A Study in Methodology. Aidan Kavanagh was a Benedictine monk from the monastery of St. 1992 ). I R W I N . At the same time. 2009. Kavanagh wrote several seminal studies that profoundly influenced theory and practice of the so-called RCIA. The Cost of Understanding Schmemann in the West.24 At present Fagerberg is Associate Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame.
Finally. or liturgy in the light of theology. Kavanagh. IV. Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? (Chicago/Mundelein. Liturgical theology is furthermore normative for liturgical renewal because such efforts should arise out of the tradition of the Church and not our individual preferences. Fagerberg’s works What is Liturgical Theology? and Theologia prima come closest to what academic theologians are familiar with. The subject matter of theology is God. IL: Hillenbrand Books. and Fagerberg. I consider the richness of their styles momentous and inspiring. He writes fresh. and creation. F A G E R B E R G . The fact that On Liturgical Theology is the fruit of lectures is telling. Schmemann’s original Introduction to Liturgical Theology was a dissertation but there is a significant difference between ‘Western’ academic customs and Eastern Orthodox standards. n. F A G E R B E R G . lively. but also in his other books Kavanagh’s style is something unique. ix. Schmemann’s book is more the development of a well-researched vision imbued with patristic patterns of reasoning than a distanced study about a well-defined object.”27 This quota- 25 26 27 David W. I take the term to mean the theological work of the liturgical assembly.Liturgy as Theological Norm 163 theology is all about: “My working definition of liturgical theology continues to be owed to Alexander Schmemann. It is difficult if not impossible to appropriately categorize these differences in style. but I consider this approach misleading because it leaves the impression that there are two subjects (liturgy and theology) instead of one subject (liturgical theology). ix. I think it is legitimate to make mention of a consistent line of thought between Schmemann. 25). and the vortex in which these three existentially entangle is liturgy. humanity.26 And form and content always correspond. 2004). while realizing that each of these three authors has his own style of writing. Let us now have a closer look at some salient features of their peculiar account of liturgical theology. Apart from the content that these liturgical theologians stand for. One should also be aware that these differences are dependent on the contexts in which the respective works came into being. and Robert Taft. but still he writes in a rich literary style which is quite unusual among contemporary theologians. Fagerberg defines liturgical theology in the following way: “Liturgical theology is normative for the larger theological enterprise because it is the trysting place where the sources of theology function precisely as sources. Aidan Kavanagh.” He significantly adds a typically Schmemannian or Kavanaghian (or Taftian) idea: “It may seem easier to approach the idea as theology considered in the light of liturgy. and engaging prose but is not so concerned about footnotes and references. Kavanagh’s rhetoric writing style is certainly not common among academic theologians. . Theologia prima (see above. The Reversal of the Dogma-Liturgy Relation In the same passage which was quoted above.”25 After this short survey of the life and work of my three main interlocutors. not the work done by an academic upon liturgical material. in particular with regard to the liturgy.
nor do they aim at a restoration of a quasi-juridical rubric-commenting kind of theologizing. Theologia prima (see above. On this point Kavanagh expresses himself as follows: “Liturgical theology. the rubrics and other liturgical prescriptions are of great importance to liturgical theologians. integral.”28 And the liturgy ‘in itself’ is. Ibid. and it is quotidian in the sense that it is not accomplished occasionally but regularly throughout the daily. .”29 What this means is further elucidated as follows: “A liturgical act is a theological act of the most all-encompassing. 28 29 30 K A V A N A G H . On Liturgical Theology (see above. however. there is first the actual celebration of the liturgy. n. […] [I]t is proletarian in the sense that it is not done by academic elites. weekly. their whole enterprise can be seen as a search for the deepest meanings of what steers and motivates these rubrics. Whereas one tends to give primacy to dogma (contents of faith or faith convictions) over liturgy (the expression of these ideas in a material way). n. communitarian rather than individualistic or idiosyncratic. and yearly round of the assembly’s life of public liturgical worship. 21). quotidian rather than random or infrequent. and foundational kind. the actual celebration of the liturgy is taken as the point of departure for any theological explication of it. with particular reference to Schmemann. as distinct from other sorts of theology which may be about the liturgy. The last part of this passage is quoted in F A G E R B E R G . The primacy of liturgy over doctrine is claimed to be both historical and systematic. liturgical theology deliberately reverses this relation. According to liturgical theology. is obliged to begin and end with an accurate perception of what a liturgy is in itself. which shapes both the community itself and the way it reflects on its faith. according to Kavanagh. Let me now concretize this general scheme of reversal by discussing several important thoughts which are typical of liturgical theologians.1. IV. On the contrary. 93 – 94. The concrete forms and shapes of the liturgy as celebrated by ordinary people in diverse liturgical families and cultures constitute both the origin and the framework for liturgical theology.”30 As a corollary. Concrete Liturgies and Rubrics First of all. 25). “proletarian rather than elitist.164 Joris Ge ldh of tion makes it clear that liturgical theology reverses the way in which one usually looks at the relation between liturgy and dogma. It is both precipitator and result of that adjustment to the change wrought in the worshipping assembly by its regular encounter in faith with its divine Source. and Fagerberg. Ibid. it is communitarian in the sense that it is not undertaken by the scholar alone in his study. It is not the case. 135 – 136. Kavanagh. 89. 39 – 40. that they fall back into the much-despised rubricism of previous ages.
MI: Liturgical Press. IV. On Liturgical Theology (see above. Much has been said about this adage. and not vice versa. but not the whole truth. It is suggested that those who throw overboard the rubrics have not entirely grasped what the liturgy really is. 25). it is the theological interpretation of prayer as the rule of faith. they sharply criticize the attitude of those who want to get rid of the rubrics as a kind of overreaction against a narrow or exaggerated rubricism. . The original context of the adage is a discussion with a group of semi-Pelagians in Gaul. Prosper appeals to the traditional Good 31 32 33 Aidan K A V A N A G H . lex credendi. understood not simply as the expounding of the rules governing the Church’s liturgical life but as the general and basic structure of this life. namely ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. The Adage lex orandi-lex credendi A second line of argument is developed with reference to the famous adage lex orandi. according to liturgical theologians. nor the arbitrary products of crazed medieval bishops who cared more about the shape of a miter than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. K A V A N A G H .Liturgy as Theological Norm 165 Therefore. When explaining the method and task of liturgical theology. 21).’ each containing a grain of truth.2. 83. 19). Schmemann confirms the importance of the study of rubrics in liturgical theology: “A study of ecclesiastical rubrics. Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style (Collegeville. Ibid.”32 Kavanagh and Fagerberg have each in their own way further elaborated the idea of lex orandi determining lex credendi. the concrete always prevails over the abstract.33 This formulation is borrowed from Prosper of Aquitaine. Liturgical laws and rubrics are […] a kind of ‘liturgical proverb. 8. 120. Introduction (see above. a fifth century author and secretary to Pope Leo the Great. n. n. Both Kavanagh and Fagerberg remind us of the original phrasing of the adage. n. In his inimitable style Kavanagh says about rubrics: “They are not booby traps of divine wrath meant to go off should the unwary blunder into them.”31 Apparently. rubrics and laws constitute a checklist of the factors to be considered in the art of putting a liturgy together and celebrating it. What is especially striking is Schmemann’s. must necessarily be a preliminary step in the study of worship” (S C H M E M A N N . 1990 ). Kavanagh’s and Fagerberg’s insistence on the most radical interpretation of this adage. to be used with discretion and not isolated from others of their kind. but it is simply impossible not to say anything about it in the context of a discussion of liturgical theology. Schmemann boldly states: “The theological synthesis is the elucidation of the rule of prayer as the rule of faith. F A G E R B E R G . Theologia prima (see above. 21. 25). In order to defend the position that grace is necessary. […] Taken together.
not necessarily the specific prayer texts used. Kavanagh clarifies: “[T]he predicate statuat does not permit these two fundamental laws of belief and worship in Christian life to float apart or to be opposed to each other. as our reception of God’s Word is subordinated to the presentation of that Word to us in the act of its being revealed and proclaimed to us. or dogma. Aidan K A V A N A G H . in Worship 61 (1987).166 Joris Ge ldh of Friday intercessions.”35 In the discussions after the publication of Kavanagh’s book. this radical standpoint has been questioned and debated upon. 20). The question is not so much a technical one. 92. He may even be said to overtly repudiate it. The basis for this argument is the theology reflected in these prayers. the debate is about whether one could reasonably uphold the systematic priority of liturgy over dogma. in Studia Liturgica 24 (1994). see Paul D E C L E R C K . “Thus Prosper’s argument is in the Augustinian tradition about the need for God’s grace to initiate. Doctrine. 178 – 200. n. A Language in Which We Speak to God. there must always be a bal- 34 35 36 37 I R W I N . I R W I N . sustain and complete justification. The famous British-American Methodist theologian Geoffrey Wainwright in a book review did not conceal a sense of unease towards Kavanagh’s vision and position. K A V A N A G H . in Worship 57 (1983). 91. Text and Context (see above. Liturgical Theology (see above. On Liturgical Theology (see above. 183 – 186. Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . lex credendi. 11 – 17. Not everyone agrees that the law of prayer. 1980). 309 – 321. and for just the same reasons. Lex orandi-Lex credendi: The Original Sense and Historical Avatars of an Equivocal Adage. Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship. in which the community prays for a variety of people in need of God’s grace for all kinds of reasons. n. and whether it is not more apt to speak of a mutual dependence between two equal partners. constitutes. […] The verb statuat subordinates the law of belief to the law of worship in just the same way. or at least to severely disapprove of the style and language used. ibid. 9).37 According to him. as to whether Kavanagh had rightly understood and interpreted Prosper’s text against the background of church-historical evolutions in the fifth century. and Life: A Systematic Theology (London: Epworth Press. as in the ‘tag’ form lex orandi. Primary Theology and Liturgical Act. n. Rather. Cf. 5 – 6. . grounds. or the liturgy.”34 With an appeal to the original context and formulation of the adage. in Worship 57 (1983). Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . or determines the law of faith. Review of Aidan Kavanagh. 21). For some additional background.36 More elaborately. Prosper’s point in referring to the Good Friday intercessions is that in asking that God’s grace come to various groups of people the Church asserts its belief (against the Pelagians) that it is grace and not works that leads to salvation. 321 – 324. On Liturgical Theology.. 150. In this regard one can additionally refer to a discussion between Kavanagh and Wainwright (originally a lecture by Wainwright to which Kavanagh responded): Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . Wainwright had already exposed the core of his thought in his seminal study Doxology.
The Praise of God in the Theological Reflection of the Church. and the current can flow in both directions between the law of prayer and the law of belief because they each express the abstract faith. […] Worship may provide the existential matrix. but doctrine exercises control over worship because the latter is not theological. Theologia prima (see above. some scholars have attempted to develop a more moderate position. whereby “worship largely led doctrine”. 121. A systematic theology written from a liturgical perspective would certainly bring liturgy and theology into closer conversation […]. in the sense that liturgical practice and images (or Vorstellungen) can never be completely aufgehoben in reflexive-theological contents (or Begriffe). I applaud that accomplishment.”40 As a matter of fact. 25). according to Fagerberg. but he warns against occasions in which “worship may get out of hand. 58. n. Fagerberg profoundly respects Wainwright’s major purpose.”41 In other words. He agrees that there are many illustrations. 121 (italics are mine. Fagerberg concludes on Wainwright’s position: “From the perspective of liturgical theology. W A I N W R I G H T . It opens one to the idea that dogma or vision can precede their expression. which can be done either in a coherent articulation (theology) or a concentrated existential vision (liturgy). a scenario which Kavanagh and Fagerberg argue somehow ends up in theology ruling the liturgy. 62. in V O G E L . But there are differences between the approach Wainwright urges on the individual theologian. […] It leaves the impression that there is a truth to be embodied. n. Wainwright represents a “theology from worship” but not a “liturgical theology”. 112 – 124. mainly historical ones. the latter of which gives evidence of an uncompromising deference to the determining anteriority of communal worship. n. 1). 25). . which consists in “[p]ersuading systematic theology to be cognizant of the Church’s liturgy. who significantly con- 38 39 40 41 Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . F A G E R B E R G . there is a problem with describing worship as an ‘expression’ of the Christian dogma or concentrated vision. and an absolute priority of liturgy over theology on the other hand. which might result in a collapse of intelligibility and the abandonment of theology’s search for plausibility. An excellent illustration of this mediating position is provided by the renowned American theologian Catherine LaCugna. as ‘I’ can precede ‘my body’. In the meantime. F A G E R B E R G . 38).Liturgy as Theological Norm 167 ance between liturgical action and theological reflection. n. trying to find a path between a perfect mutuality and equality on the one hand. Theologia prima (see above. liturgical theology is in one way or another ardently anti-Hegelian. The Praise of God (see above. JG).”39 Wainwright’s position was vehemently criticized in turn by Fagerberg. and the corporate quality of liturgical theology. Primary Sources (see above.”38 A good illustration of such a distortion is provided by the ecclesial revolutions in sixteenth-century Europe: “The Reformation may be read as a doctrinal revolt against a deformed liturgical practice and understanding focused on ‘the sacrifice of the Mass’.
66 – 68). n.. Conceptual Geography (see above. while he sincerely tries to go along with them as far as possible. I presume that liturgical theologians “of the strict observance”46 will continue to resist any kind of equating liturgy and theology. It is what tradition has called theologia prima” (K A V A N A G H .”44 At the same time. n. theology in the first instance. But in the search for truth that theology is called to be. 13. Catherine L A C U G N A .g. it serves to point up the theological nature of the liturgy. 1). Besides this. in his turn. Their growth is a function of adjustment to deep change caused in the assembly by its being brought regularly to the brink of chaos in the presence of the living God. e. fundamental questions remain and the debate goes on. Liturgy serves to prevent the type of theology which becomes fascinated with itself rather than with God. 2) and it is lex orandi” (ibid. 9). I hold that it is theology being born. 109). Text and Context (see above.. its meaning and import were substantially enlarged by David Fagerberg. V O G E L . 9. whereas primary theology is concerned with the liturgical act. 2.168 Joris Ge ldh of tributed to the theology of the Trinity in the wake of Karl Barth and Karl Rahner. Undoubtedly. In any case. and secondary theology. Theologia prima (see above.”43 According to her. Fagerberg. Kavanagh himself employed the opposition between primary and secondary theology to shed critical light on the historical evolution of the relationship between liturgy and theology (ibid. F A G E R B E R G . Interestingly. 1 – 13. This distinction was drawn by Aidan Kavanagh. although it is theologia prima and not theologia secunda.42 LaCugna contends: “Secondary theology inquires into the nature of the liturgy. 42 43 44 45 46 A revealing passage where Kavanagh explains how liturgical theology arises is: “This is how liturgies grow. He moreover joins the concepts of theologia prima and lex orandi: “Liturgical theology’s two defining characteristics are: 1) it is genuine theology. which is the reflexive explanation of it. 8. 74). Ibid. expanded the notions in a conceptual and systematic way (cf. Even if the distinction between primary and secondary theology is somewhat artificial. and that they at the same time will reject any allegation that the theology they aim at is not genuinely theological. On Liturgical Theology (see above. 46). 21). Can Liturgy Ever Become a Source for Theology?. 109ff). Irwin adds a theologia tertia to primary and secondary theology (I R W I N . 25). n. these ideas do not inhibit her from supposing that the liturgy can be legitimately corrected by theology. Ibid.. She recognizes the importance of the distinction between primary theology. n. this is probably not a bad thing.. in Studia Liturgica 19 (1989). Irwin is milder than Kavanagh and Fagerberg. one can also find a similar moderate position in the work of Kevin Irwin on the nature and function of liturgical theology... It is the adjustment which is theological in all this. the liturgy constitutes the “context of theological work: Liturgy provides a constant check on the tendency of theological reason to over-emphasize one or the other dimension of our knowledge of God. . namely the liturgy itself celebrated as a communal rite. Cf. and the liturgical nature of theology.45 In the end.
K A V A N A G H .3. The Liturgy: Ordo and rite The fourth idea which shapes liturgical theology circles around the profound awareness that the liturgy. has become orthopistis. Fagerberg does not seem to state things as sharply. ‘wrong worship’. 82. Right worship was ceasing to be the ontological condition of theology. “Orthodoxia. The antithesis of orthodoxy has become heresy rather than heterodoxy. who were using the liturgy as a quarry for stones to set into argument shaped by increasingly rigorous methodologies worked out in academy. 94 – 95. n. n. n. right worship. He certainly agrees with Kavanagh’s enlargement of the concept of orthodoxy. both in the Roman-Catholic Church and in the churches of the Reformation. orthodoxy is a notion which encompasses the whole of life. A derived meaning is ‘correct belief’”47 – something which was said a little more pointedly by Kavanagh: orthodoxy “means first ‘right worship’ and only secondarily doctrinal accuracy. as is evident in the following passage: “The question liturgical theology wants to ask is why the raw material of worship must be translated into a second order form before it can be called theology. On Liturgical Theology (see above. and not merely the investigation of rubrics. and because of this it is 47 48 49 50 I R W I N . 63).50 IV. Liturgical theology is theology. Ibid. in both translations and in the mentality which produced them. 21). is a pre-given structure anterior to the participating subject. or orthodidascalia. Kevin Irwin rightly observes: “The first meaning of orthodoxy is ‘right praise’. and why only second order theology can exercise guardianship over orthodoxy. 25). . 52. Kavanagh uses the definition of the original meaning of the word orthodoxy as a hermeneutical key for understanding and criticizing a historical evolution which has marked modern Christianity. at the same time.4. Praxis and belief have grown apart.Liturgy as Theological Norm 169 IV. it is obvious that liturgical theology aims at a reversal of the way in which one usually sees the relation between liturgy and dogma. right teaching. 3.. Cf. right believing. aesthetics. But is the only form adequate for this theological work an academic one?” (F A G E R B E R G . n. 9). and ceremonial ritual. 21). 109 – 110. Theologia prima (see above.”49 For Kavanagh. ibid. of the proper understanding of the proclaimed Word of God. K A V A N A G H . at its deepest levels. becoming instead a locus theologicus in service to correct belief and teaching by church officials and secondary theologians. The Concept of Orthodoxy A third line of thought typical of liturgical theology is the interpretation of the concept of orthodoxy. Liturgical theology should certainly be concerned with correct doctrine. Text and Context (see above. On Liturgical Theology (see above.”48 Again. and both are by the context centered upon church officials. he stresses that liturgical theologians deal with doctrinal correctness.
170 Joris Ge ldh of structurally similar to the concept of revelation. Theologia prima (see above. the ordo has developed throughout the centuries. namely liturgical theology. e. Schmemann takes for granted that there is such an ordo. 25). a chosen people. 38. 19). Group. 25). First.”55 Nevertheless. Theologia prima (see above.51 It is certainly not wrong to suppose that some kind of structuralism has had an impact on Schmemann and Kavanagh. 130). Second. 2008). 41).”54 Hence. S C H M E M A N N . Robert T A F T .. which is extensively quoted in F A G E R B E R G .”53 However. is employed. see F A G E R B E R G . and at least indirectly also on Fagerberg. H E M M I N G . the ordo rather embodies and expresses them. “Does this view of the Ordo – as a Law. or finally as Custom – does this view correspond to the worship ‘in Spirit and Truth’ which is to be offered to God by the Church as the People of God. 99 – 100. certainly not in their material and written form. Pub. n. was a ‘structuralist’ too (cf. K A V A N A G H . Present and Future of Catholic Liturgy (London/New York: Continuum Intl. and in many ways clearly contradicts it. 314 – 329. Introduction to Liturgical Theology (see above. S C H M E M A N N . whereas Kavanagh considers the liturgy to be first and foremost rite. a royal priesthood. 36. as an incomprehensible Rule. the ordo cannot simply be identified with these rules. Worship as a Revelation: The Past. liturgical theology’s major task and concern is to lay bare the meaning of the ordo. no single actually celebrated liturgical ceremony perfectly accords with the ordo. On Liturgical Theology (see above. which does not always coincide with the logic of the Ordo. One of the essential features of the ordo is that it precedes consciousness. and that its consistency and continuity can be shown if an appropriate theological method. Also. in the unity of the Holy Spirit. . “The Ordo is the collection of rules and prescriptions (‘rubrics’ in the language of western liturgics) which regulate the Church’s worship and which are set forth in the Typicon and various other books of rites and ceremonies. Kavanagh amply refers to the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908 – 2009) (see. 25).52 Schmemann consistently emphasizes the importance of the liturgy’s ordo. 79 – 80. n. For the ordo of the liturgy ultimately corresponds with God’s revelation and the salvific work culminating in the Christ event and carried on by the Church through the ages. n. who exerted a great influence on Fagerberg. the Body of Christ? This is the real and fundamental problem of the Ordo. the liturgy is the configuration through which believers are constantly reconfigured in their relationship with God. For Fagerberg’s appropriation of these ideas. n. According to Schmemann.g. 33. it is generally known that Robert Taft. Admittedly. 19). Schmemann is fairly realistic about that: “Quite evidently liturgical practice follows its own ‘logic’. Introduction to Liturgical Theology (see above. Ibid. two things must be clear. The Structural Analysis of Liturgical Units: An Essay in Methodology. it comes as no surprise that the very notion of the ordo is deeply problematic. in Worship 52 (1978). 51 52 53 54 55 An elaborate argument in favor of the revelatory character of the liturgy is made by Laurence P. n. but it has somehow remained the same.
attention must be directed to the social. K A V A N A G H . moral. as its several parts demonstrate. 31). lessons and gospels are not prayers but proclamations. On Liturgical Theology (see above. according to Kavanagh. a prayer. . Ibid. 44.”56 “A liturgical act is not simply a creed. Cf.”57 Kavanagh further specifies “why the liturgy outstrips being reduced to prayer alone.”58 In other words. 31). there is a pre-given structure in the liturgy which shapes our faith. and pastoral relevance of liturgical theology. where almost exactly the same sentence can be read.Liturgy as Theological Norm 171 Aidan Kavanagh undergirded this heavy theological idea with a more anthropological insight. Each of these four issues in one way or another affects the basic claims of liturgical theology. The liturgy is not only Scripture. On the contrary. the points that I mention are merely indicative – they certainly need additional refinement and precision through criticism and research. This is because it may seem that liturgical theologians care too much about ceremony and tradition.1. of laws called ‘canonical’. Promising Ideas and Possible Weaknesses In the last part of this article I intend to give some hermeneutical tools for further investigating into the core of liturgical theology as it has been developed by Schmemann. However. 100. without this en56 57 58 K A V A N A G H . Elements of Rite (see above. V. 21). […] Rite can be called a whole style of Christian living found in the myriad particularities of worship. n. […] It is rite. Kavanagh called liturgy rite. By no means am I aiming at a definitive evaluation. Elements of Rite (n. and in particular ways of doing secondary theological reflection. let alone if one reduces it to words. What would Christmas be like if Christians had only read the beginnings of Luke’s gospel and given it a theological understanding from the perspective of the first chapter of John’s gospel? Clearly. Creed and homily are not prayers but declamations. or worship without qualification. Liturgical Theology’s Broader Relevance First. 44. “Liturgy is not fundamentally prayer but rite. V. I would like in particular to address four issues which deserve further clarification and discussion anyway. and Fagerberg. which is no less radical. of ascetical and monastic structures. Kavanagh. 44. one doesn’t grasp the liturgy if one overemphasizes its verbal character. K A V A N A G H . Sanctus and Agnus Dei are not prayers but acclamations. n. but Scripture embodied in celebration and molded by both oral and written traditions. of evangelical and catechetical endeavors.
but rather to the sacrament of the Eucharist and to the Church. it is telling to recall that the first part of On Liturgical Theology is entitled ‘Liturgy and World’. 1987). On Liturgical Theology (see above. with leaving this adulterous and sinful world. No ideological fuss and bother. which was published posthumously. NY: St. Schmemann himself explicitly tackles this problem in the preface to his work on The Eucharist. I propose that we turn our attention not to its various aspects. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. And I do believe. Gordon W. JG). 4. I do believe that precisely here.”62 Therefore. Interestingly. the third part of his book Holy Things is an elaborate pastoral liturgical theology. 1998). Ibid. He is aware that “it is difficult to see the application of word and sacraments to the universe we currently know and to the aching and complex needs of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. science and . 21). the American theologian who received and elaborated Schmemann’s thought and. in response to this crisis.63 59 60 61 62 63 Alexander S C H M E M A N N . we need it if its explanations of the assembly intend to make life-orienting symbols newly available to us and to the circumstances of our time. Schmemann continues: “Perhaps many people will be astonished that. Ibid. Kavanagh also addresses the issue of liturgical theology’s pastoral relevance.”61 But he deliberately adds: “We urgently need liturgical theology as we seek bearings for both public thought and personal hope. He discerns a serious “eucharistic crisis in the Church. 9. in this holy of holies of the Church. in this ascent to the table of the Lord in his kingdom. the source of her service. factual. is the source for that renewal for which we hope. but a gift from heaven – such is the vocation of the Church in the world. He contends that liturgical theology “involves disciplined reflection on the present and actual state of life in the faithful assembly due to the liturgy’s quality of canonicity – which means that a liturgical theology is inherently pastoral” (K A V A N A G H . 11). Besides this. In this regard. italics are mine. n. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology (Minneapolis. The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood.”60 This reaction to the modern world and religion’s fate in it may be strange but it is nevertheless supported by Gordon Lathrop.” which “consists in a lack of connection and cohesion between what is accomplished in the Eucharist and how it is perceived. that this upward journey begins with the ‘laying aside of all earthly cares’. 10. MI: Fortress Press. and impersonal objectivity presents serious difficulties for one whose object of study is the faith in which one put one’s trust and to which one has dedicated one’s life” (ibid. whose very life flows from that sacrament. 4. understood and lived. L A T H R O P . Kavanagh is particularly critical towards the modern world with its hectic life in great cities and the bond between state organization. . 144.”59 There is indeed a deep spiritual crisis. liturgical theology in the Lutheran Church. as the Church has always believed. That is. where Kavanagh realizes that “it is clear that the modern demand for total. Yes. as a consequence.172 Joris Ge ldh of abling them to face the real problems with which contemporary Christianity is struggling.
particularly with regard to liturgical theology. 38).2.Liturgy as Theological Norm 173 V. one must mention the many ecumenical contacts and efforts of many a liturgical theologian. There is little doubt that this started with Schmemann’s sharp polemic against scholastic theology and in particular the approach to the sacraments in the Middle Ages (mainly in the West). one should not underestimate liturgical theology’s potential for the future of ecumenism. but that Protestant theologians also are deeply influenced by it. i. one could object to liturgical theology that its “thick” or robust vision on the liturgy and its ritual embodiment expresses certain biases and sensitivities which are not shared by all Christians. Liturgical Theology’s Ecumenical Potential Second. 124. Clearly. Liturgical Theology’s Historical Claims Third.e.64 but I don’t think many Catholic services are more doxological than catechetical either. and Protestant believers have a different attitude towards rite and ceremony – Geoffrey Wainwright speaks of “the preponderance of the didactic over the latreutic in Protestant services”. I think it is indispensable to question the historical accuracy of many claims made by liturgical theologians. it is “in worship alone” that “the church [is] gathered in the closest obvious proximity to its fundamental values” (ibid. according to Kavanagh. On the one hand it might be true that Orthodox. documents. W A I N W R I G H T . In 64 65 business (ibid. V. Catholic. IL: IVP Academic. it is noteworthy that. Simon C H A N . i. 30).e. Schmemann’s Introduction to Liturgical Theology reads as a justification of the Byzantine tradition’s loyalty to the legacy of the Fathers of the Church. 62). and that this causes ecumenical difficulties. through scholars’ and officials’ debates about doctrinal statements. but one could equally think of Simon Chan for the evangelicals.65 In addition. I see that the work of Alexander Schmemann has not only been continued in Orthodox circles and warmly received among Catholics. declarations. It is imaginable that the longed-for reconciliation will happen instead through primary theological acts. . through the common celebration of the mysteries of faith.. Personally. the three liturgical theologians I discussed tend to idealize the patristic age to the detriment of other epochs. 2006). Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community (Downer’s Grove. On the other hand. Basically. Finally. etc. The Praise of God (see above. I have already mentioned Gordon Lathrop in the Lutheran tradition.. I am very careful not to generalize the matter. I think this is a delicate issue. An intelligent case could be made that the ultimate reconciliation of the Christian Churches will not in the first instance be realized through secondary theology.. n..3.
there is a strong continuity to be traced between the liturgical ‘ordo’ (lex orandi) of the earliest phases of the Christian religion and the way in which the Orthodox Churches actually celebrate (and venerate) the liturgy. As it stands. In the case of Kavanagh and Fagerberg. and critique. It is not true that scholastic theologians were silent about the liturgy. he reproaches its “one-sidedness. scholastic theology reduced the meaning of the liturgy to the moment of consecration. but there is a similar tendency to focus too one-sidedly on patristic thought and patristic liturgy. 31.”69 but it is telling that this reproach could be made. does not in any way discuss the (liturgy of the) Middle Ages. for his part.68 V. Schmemann’s stance needs to be put under critique. or whether he had somehow taken them over from authoritative voices in the Liturgical Movement.”67 It is unclear whether these were Schmemann’s original ideas. Fagerberg. or that they were unable to see the symbolic character of rites and rituals.” and even “depravity.” “insufficiency. According to Schmemann. etc. 66 67 68 69 S C H M E M A N N . n. . but this very silence is revealing. n. interpretation. that they operated with an exclusively deductive rationality. 27 – 28. the Church Fathers were pastoral theologians par excellence (K A V A N A G H .4. Review (see above. but one only has to know a little bit of hermeneutics to understand that such appeals necessarily require nuance. 59). Ibid. one sometimes has the impression that liturgy and tradition are all-encompassing. On Liturgical Theology (see above. W A I N W R I G H T . Geoffrey Wainwright certainly went too far when he suggested that Kavanagh’s position runs the risk of “liturgical fundamentalism” and “isolationism. not only because of its probable historical incorrectness but also because it may undermine the claims defended by liturgical theology. I think that the philosophical solidity of liturgical theology needs to be improved. 39. The Eucharist (see above. In The Eucharist a thoroughgoing critique of ‘scholastic theology’ intersperses Schmemann’s discourse – a critique which was not so dominantly present in his early work. 183. an idea which is almost certainly meant to be at least partially critical of posterior evolutions. 17 – 18. 160. According to Kavanagh.66 Therefore. In any case.174 Joris Ge ldh of Schmemann’s eyes. 49 – 50). 21). nor does he engage in reflections of or about scholastic theology. Liturgical Theology and Philosophy Fourth. it must be said that they do not seem to argue with scholastic theology as grimly as Schmemann did. liturgical theologians do not attach great weight to a philosophical underpinning of their theoretical endeavors. 36). n. which is known to have been fascinated above all by the fourth and fifth centuries. When reading them.
Liturgical theology can and needs to be substantially supported by philosophical theorizing. n. Fagerberg – even more so than Kavanagh – refers and appeals to Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. 25). 84). . whereby rational critique is not unlikely to be excluded. In the final analysis. but if the adherence to and conformity with a given community is the ultimate horizon of the liturgy.71 It did so because of a so-called ‘contextualism’. 2 – 3). ‘communitarianism’ – positions according to which one can only absorb an identity on the condition that one is immersed in a certain group or context. vol. Hence. I. n. If the liturgy is the “ontological condition. liturgical theology risks giving rise to particularism(s). this means that one can only grasp it by participating in it. At Yale. like the effect of philology upon language. This does not imply that liturgical theology should betray itself or that it needs philosophy because the liturgy is somehow insufficient. whereas Christian faith is always called to universalism. 537 – 541. On many other occasions. Much more could and should be said about this. For a nice illustration of this. if the aspirations and ideas developed and promoted by liturgical theology really bear truth – which I think they do – then they should not only rely on philosophies of language but also on sound metaphysics. II. 4). For the liturgy indeed forms the matrix for theology and can be considered as the ultimate norm with 70 71 It is striking on how many occasions Kavanagh compares the nature of language with the nature of the liturgy. but let me finish with a suggestion. it implies that it is only meaningful for insiders and that a reasonable comprehension of it is not a guaranteed option. 68. As for Fagerberg.70 The cross-fertilization between Wittgenstein and theology sometimes resulted in a kind of fideism. It might also suggest to us that liturgy and language have more in common with each other than either of them have with doctrine and philology” (K A V A N A G H . and Kavanagh and Fagerberg repeated – then metaphysics is not to be rejected but included. The philosophical import I suggest is not meant to fill a gap but to assist in a more convincing and encompassing way the work of clarification and understanding inherent in any theology. this is not untrue at a social and practical level. Kavanagh might have come into contact with a version of Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language which had a strong impact on the philosophy of religion and fundamental theology. 21). of which he explicitly says this notion is borrowed from Wittgenstein (F A G E R B E R G . I think that systematic theologians would profit from taking the liturgy more seriously. Of course. n. G R E I S C H . On Liturgical Theology (see above. see the following passage: “All this might suggest to us that the effect of doctrine upon liturgy.Liturgy as Theological Norm 175 In this context one needs to be reminded that the philosophical current which most profoundly influenced Kavanagh (and Fagerberg) was without any doubt Wittgensteinianism.” and therefore the norm for theology – something which Schmemann said. Theologia prima (see above. is a truth but not the whole truth. Cf. I suggest that. Applied to the liturgy. More specifically. Le Buisson ardent (see above. one can suffice with a reference to his understanding of the “grammar” of the liturgy. vol.
Fagerberg. Ich argumentiere dafür. die besagt. vorgestellt wurden. ‘liturgical theology’ claims that it is not doctrine which determines liturgy but liturgy which determines doctrine. and David W. sogar theologia prima. und diese Grundposition sollte in umfassenderem Rahmen und auf ernsthaftere Weise von gegenwärtigen Systematischen Theologen diskutiert werden. legt der ursprüngliche Kontext eine klare Priorität der Regel des Gebets gegenüber der Regel des Glaubens offen. werden ihre zentralen Charakteristika diskutiert.176 Joris Ge ldh of which it must be in accordance. I argue that there is need for a more profound philosophical underpinning and historical adequacy. Aidan Kavanagh. However. liturgical theologians point to the original wording of the famous adage lex orandi lex credendi. Die Liturgischen Theologen meinen nämlich. It can be called radical because the reversal of the relation between doctrine and liturgy is by no means evident for the vast majority of modern believers and theologians. und dass sie zudem historisch präziser arbeiten sollte. sondern dass die Liturgie vielmehr selbst Theologie ist. dass die Liturgie eine theologische Norm darstellt. Die Radikalität liegt darin begründet. It is in any case not normal for theology to ignore. Dennoch bleibt ihre Grundposition mit guten Gründen erhalten. . The case is built up by relying on an emphatic current of thought within the field of liturgical studies. After presenting the concept of ‘liturgical theology’ and the context out of which it emerged. namely the ‘liturgical theology’ as it was developed by Alexander Schmemann. In the final part of the article I explore some avenues to the evaluation of ‘liturgical theology’. But nevertheless the idea that the liturgy constitutes a theological norm stands firmly and should be considered far more broadly and seriously among contemporary systematic theologians. According to liturgical theologians. Correspondingly. dass es für die breite Mehrheit der modernen Gläubigen und Theologen keineswegs offensichtlich ist. Die Radikalität dieser Position wird besonders betont. Während also die gewöhnliche Formulierung Gleichheit und wechselseitige Abhängigkeit zwischen beiden nahe legt. the liturgy is not simply the ritual expression of the content of faith. dass die »Liturgische Theologie« in stärkerem Maße philosophisch untermauert werden muss als bisher geschehen. dass die Liturgie nicht einfach der sich im Ritual vollziehende Ausdruck des Inhalts des Glaubens ist. Fagerberg entwickelt wurde. Im letzten Teil des Aufsatzes werden einige Wege erforscht. which is the following: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. Whereas the usual formulation suggests equality and mutual dependence. indem auf die »Liturgische Theologie« als eine wichtige Bewegung innerhalb des Feldes der Liturgiewissenschaften rekurriert wird. die von Alexander Schmemann. dass nicht das Dogma die Liturgie. Das Argument wird entwickelt. die Liturgie als die theologische Norm schlechthin anzusetzen. the original context lays bare a clear priority of the rule of prayer over the rule of faith. or reject the liturgy’s embodied wisdom and its primordial theological relevance. even theologia prima. welches lautet: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. aus dem heraus sie entstand. neglect. its major characteristics are discussed. SUMMARY In this article a case is made for considering the liturgy as theological norm par excellence. Particular attention is devoted to the radicalness of their position. but itself theology. dass die Beziehung zwischen Dogma und Liturgie umzukehren ist. Doch die »Liturgische Theologie« betont. Nachdem der Begriff der Liturgischen Theologie und der Kontext. auf denen die »Liturgische Theologie« bewertet werden kann. sondern die Liturgie das Dogma bestimmt. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Artikel argumentiert dafür. Entsprechend verweisen die Liturgischen Theologen auch auf die ursprüngliche Wortwahl des berühmten Adagios lex orandi lex credendi. Aidan Kavanagh und David W.
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