Liturgy as Theological Norm Getting Acquainted with ‘Liturgical Theology’

Prof. Dr. Joris Geld ho f, Faculty of Theology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium,

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

DOI 10.15/NZST.2010.010


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

Theology as Theology of the Liturgy. 4 . In this context it may be helpful to draw a parallel with the distinction between a philosophy of religion and a religious philosophy. 1). 103 – 109. a possible phenomenon that attracts attention. the study of the liturgy is not an option. Then it means that the liturgy is somehow doing theology. Kavanagh’s. If the phrase ‘theology of the liturgy’ is interpreted in the way just described.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. the liturgy can also function as a subject instead of an object. For liturgical theology. it is a necessary condition for any theology. Something similar is true in the case of liturgical theology. 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. 34 – 36. doxological – inworship. so that we must have theology of liturgy. Vgl. In an article with precisely this title. 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. it implies that the liturgy is an active theological player. in: V O G E L . (Paris: Cerf. 2002). K I L M A R T I N . vol. the liturgy is not primarily an object that can be isolated from other objects and approached separately. resp. according to liturgical theologians the liturgy is the conceptual and existential framework par excellence for any theology worthy of its name. literally theo-logy. That is not untrue of course.” And: “Systematic theology.4 Whereas the philosophy of religion approaches religion as an external object. 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. 108). as systematic theology of the liturgy. it comes fairly close to the thrust of Schmemann’s. Primary Sources (see above. Taft writes: “Not only is liturgy an object of theology. 104 – 105. grammatically speaking. Liturgy is the ultimate norm for theology. but taken in a more radical sense. Le Buisson ardent et les Lumières de la Raison: L’invention de la philosophie de la religion. because. It does not mean that the liturgy contains theological ideas which can thereupon be distilled or derived with the aid of theological-analytical tools. However. 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. Likewise. Rather. ‘The liturgical’ is an essential dimension of all theologizing. 1 Héritage et héritiers du XIXe siècle. and Fagerberg’s liturgical theology. Yet. Jean G R E I S C H . which it moreover considers as unavoidable. There is also a very real sense in which all true Christian theology must be liturgical theology – that is. On the contrary. or to the model which Robert Taft interestingly called ‘theology as liturgy’. it is possible to understand the phrase ‘theology of the liturgy’ in a different way. expressing in its own way God-talk.

”8 Vogel himself realizes that this description remains too minimal. “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. in and through which elements of a positive description of liturgical theology already shone through. there is theology of liturgy. therefore.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. 113 – 117. . Kevin W. in Worship 56 (1982). First. Liturgy is corporate by nature. 5 6 7 8 9 Robert T A F T . gathered and enlivened by power of the Holy Spirit. which he says intrinsically belong together. but it focuses on the aspect or dimension of praise. worship may or may not. n. liturgical theology needs to also be distinguished from both doxological theology and theology of worship. V O G E L .”9 Second. 115. directly or indirectly. Irwin distinguishes between different meanings of ‘liturgical theology’. MI: Liturgical Press.”5 His conclusion is as succinct as it is ‘logical’: “Liturgy. The distinction between these two kinds of theology is comparable to what has been said about theology of liturgy and liturgical theology. Otherwise our theology is not the study of how a living God saves. 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. the idea of ad maiorem Dei gloriam). The reason is that not every act of worship is liturgical and that. especially words and symbols. A more nuanced and comprehensive understanding is provided by the renowned American scholar Kevin Irwin. ultimately contributive to the laudation of God which every Christian believer is invited to (cf. worship is not. Liturgy as Theology. V O G E L . 1). 1). 1994). n. who has offered solid introductions to liturgical theology in several publications. 46. 114 – 115. it is appropriate to present a working definition of liturgical theology – even if it must remain preliminary and limited. 13. Liturgy involves ritual action. 6. Two essential features or criteria have been established. although the definition does what it ought to do.”7 After this threefold negative characterization. I R W I N . “This meaning of liturgical theology concerns how the means of communication and interaction in liturgy. however. again by Dwight Vogel: “Liturgical theology must deal with the liturgy and it must be theological in nature. Dwight Vogel clearly observes: “Worship as a human activity appears in both individual and social expressions. there is theology drawn from the liturgy. the essence of the liturgy cannot be reduced to its doxological aspect. In addition. Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology (Collegeville. 5). Conceptual Geography (see above. Liturgy as Theology (see above. Conceptual Geography (see above. no matter how important it is. namely prevent that it can be contradicted. T A F T . by extension.”6 Third. It does not have to be corporate in nature. n. is theology.

like for instance Romano Guardini did in Germany. Frédéric D E B U Y S T . 46.Liturgy as Theological Norm 159 can be utilized as a generative source for developing systematic theology. for it allows one to better grasp the particular line Schmemann–Kavanagh–Fagerberg. I R W I N . to be realized through an ‘active participation’. and goodness of the liturgy was its major aspiration. successfully propagated a deeper understanding of and a more lively engagement in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. It was an encompassing movement which exceeded the boundaries between generations and denominations and which cannot be reduced to a single series of initiatives. this history involves a quite recent evolution. NY: Vladimir´s Seminary Press. In any case. is undoubtedly the Liturgical Movement. According to Irwin. Context and Text (see above. through the work of the French Benedictine monk and abbot of Solesmes Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805 – 1875). x. I R W I N . 50. truth. and underwent significant metamorphoses.11 II. Context and Text (see above.”10 According to Irwin. Cappuyns. The scholars representing the Liturgical Movement in the first half of the twentieth century had a primarily historical and philological background and interest. 5. Moreover. Cf. n. n. or else they concentrated on pastoral initiatives to foster genuine existential participation in liturgical celebrations. 1990). 2008). due to changing historical circumstances it constantly adapted itself. 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. 9). Thomas F I S C H (ed. Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann (Crestwood. which is to be situated in Belgium in the 1930s.12 The context in which the term ‘liturgical theology’ emerged and rapidly became an incontrovertible one.). L’entrée en liturgie: Introduction à l’œuvre liturgique de Romano Guardini (Paris: Cerf. It is relevant to briefly appeal to this history. The Liturgical Movement is the name for the movement which. The Emergence of “Liturgical Theology” in the 20th Century The specificity of liturgical theology is something which is embedded in a certain historical evolution. 9). Notwithstanding the many vicissitudes it went through. n. Context and Text (see above. . a case could be made that it still persists today. or a single body of literature. a more profound awareness of the beauty. sometimes even reinvented itself. the term was coined and first used in the work of M. a theology drawn from the liturgy additionally entails a moral and spiritual theology.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 . xiv. a single group of likeminded thinkers. It is all of this and so much more. Surprisingly enough. 9).

then. 97 – 106.160 Joris Ge ldh of Church’s liturgical tradition with a view to coming up with surprising data and insights. who is at present professor of liturgy at Yale Divinity School. a slow process of rediscovering the liturgy can be observed in the time span between 1950 and 1980. Representatives of the Liturgical Movement generally agree that this was due to the influence of scholastic theology. Original French version: La redécouverte de la liturgie par la théologie sacramentaire. and pastoral efforts. That was the birthplace of liturgical theology. . argued and complained as late as 1987 that the liturgy was still an almost forgotten subject matter of theology. 158 – 177. that the German theologian Teresa Berger. However. a search for synthesis and understanding saw the light – or.15 One could legitimately ask whether a lot has changed after another twenty years. scholasticism. In a certain sense. in La Maison-Dieu 149 (1982). philological. the famous French specialist of oriental liturgies. in Studia Liturgica 15 (1983). a new interest seemed to arise. Albert H O U S S I A U . a former professor of liturgy and from 1986 till 2001 the Roman-Catholic bishop of Liège. La liturgie comme lieu théologique. 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. 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. in the second part of the twentieth century. As such. The Rediscovery of the Liturgy by Sacramental Theology (1950 – 1980). became more prominent. at least. The liturgy was something merely practical and unworthy of serious theorizing.14 It is a little strange. and which images on the liturgy prevail among the majority of systematic theologians (in the academy). In view of the apparent lack of (systematic-)theological attention for the liturgy. Irénée-Henri Dalmais. though neither surprising nor unfounded. In addition to the gigantic historical. According to him. in Studia Liturgica 17 (1987). in La Maison-Dieu 78 (1964). and of all those who provided future generations with trustworthy editions of long-forgotten texts. accompanied with thorough introductions and commentaries.16 Strangely enough. from which it is not difficult to understand that it somehow looked down on the liturgy. Teresa B E R G E R . it is moreover interesting to refer to an article written by Albert Houssiau. In this notable article Houssiau discusses the rediscovery of the liturgy in the field of sacramental theology. 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 . This kind of theology was found to have a predominantly rationalistic and deductive approach. 10 – 18. Liturgy – A Forgotten Subject-matter of Theology. 27 – 55. liturgical scholars and representatives of the Liturgical Movement had always been convinced of the theological significance of their endeavors.

13 – 16). See Géry P R O U V O S T . theology. Primary Sources (see above.19 There have been numerous reprints and translations of this work. where he was to spend the rest of his life. and a talented preacher and pastor. 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. After the war Schmemann was ordained a presbyter (1946) and moved to the United States (1951). Introduction to Liturgical Theology. There are obvious traces of this in the work of Schmemann. vision. In the introduction to this book Schmemann himself explicitly discusses the Liturgical Movement (pp.17 established a huge contrast with the first millennium. 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. however. as well as other authors who were broadly . He is one of the most influential Orthodox theologians of the twentieth century and was widely respected for his ecumenical openness. S A L I E R S . in: V O G E L . He was professor of liturgical theology and dean at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. M O R R I L L /Don E. and Bernard Botte. 52 – 53. and expertise. the work was translated from Russian and published under the shortened title Introduction to Liturgical Theology. Jean Daniélou. Kavanagh. that there have been significant shifts in the history and conception of ‘scholasticism’ and ‘Thomism’. there had always been very close connections between liturgy. There is no doubt that Schmemann 17 18 19 It has been convincingly demonstrated. Liturgy as Life for the World. In 1959 Schmemann received his doctorate from the Orthodox Institut Saint Serge in Paris. 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. and pastoral activities. Alexander Schmemann was born in Estonia in 1921 to Russian immigrants but fled with his family to Paris. 52. The Line Schmemann – Kavanagh – Fagerberg III. The title of his dissertation was The Church’s Ordo. 1). in 1966. to which we now turn. NY: St. IrénéeHenri Dalmais. Thomas d’Aquin et les thomismes: Essai sur l’histoire des thomismes (Cogitatio Fidei 195).Liturgy as Theological Norm 161 middle of the twentieth century.”18 Later on. 1996). Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Crestwood. according to the majority of the Liturgical Movement. Alexander S C H M E M A N N . There he became a prominent member of the large community of Russian-Orthodox expatriates. (Paris : Cerf. 2003 [1966]). Vladimir’s Seminary Press. He died of cancer in 1983. Still. New York. n. Bruce T. Among the figures from the French scene that had a special impact on his intellectual development are certainly Louis Bouyer. and Fagerberg.

23 Fagerberg was born in 1952 to Protestant parents and became a minister in the Lutheran Church in 1977. and in 1974 to Yale University. 47. the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. 20). n. 1990). 1992). The Cost of Understanding Schmemann in the West. What is Liturgical Theology? A Study in Methodology (Chicago. F A G E R B E R G .21 The work is dedicated to Alexander Schmemann. Canada. 1992 [1984]). Meinrad. Hitherto unpublished lecture. given at St. and Oskar Cullmann). MI: Liturgical Press.162 Joris Ge ldh of really initiated ‘liturgical theology’ in the twentieth century. Germany. David W. Because of his exceptional intellectual skills. and intensively studied in Paris (such as Odo Casel. In 1984 he bundled two prestigious series of lectures he had been invited to deliver into a book entitled On Liturgical Theology. He was born in Texas in 1929. Liturgical Theology (see above. He knew Schmemann’s work from a very early date and substantially agreed with him. At the same time he stipulates what liturgical received. In the preface to his 2004 monograph Theologia prima. MI: Liturgical Press.24 At present Fagerberg is Associate Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. Cf. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary on January 31st. He was the first Catholic priest who served as the dean of Yale Divinity School (1989 – 1990) and stayed there until his retirement. Kavanagh was one of the most ardent defenders and developers of liturgical theology in the Anglo-Saxon world. eventually translated. which in its turn is a thorough adaptation of What is Liturgical Theology?. F A G E R B E R G . I R W I N . USA. 7. USA. Aidan Kavanagh was a Benedictine monk from the monastery of St.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. Meinrad School of Theology but soon moved to the University of Notre Dame.20 after it had been neglected for so long. Indiana. Cf. Aidan K A V A N A G H . http://ancientfaith. 20 21 22 23 24 . At the same time. He became professor of liturgical studies at St. On Liturgical Theology (Collegeville. Kevin W. entered the Benedictine order in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1957. Aidan Kavanagh died at the age of 77 in 2006. and afterwards to Trier. Indiana. I R W I N . Indiana. Anton Baumstark. 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. Liturgical Theology: A Primer (Collegeville. David (accessed December 16th. Gregory Dix. he was sent by his superiors first to Ottawa. 2009). The Second Vatican Council had ordered the reestablishment of such a rite and the RCIA was the concrete result of that order. on whose work Kavanagh obviously relies. 2009. Kavanagh wrote several seminal studies that profoundly influenced theory and practice of the so-called RCIA. where he obtained a doctoral degree in theology in 1964. Fagerberg witnesses how deeply he is marked by the thought of Alexander Schmemann and Aidan Kavanagh. IL: Liturgical Press.

The Reversal of the Dogma-Liturgy Relation In the same passage which was quoted above. but still he writes in a rich literary style which is quite unusual among contemporary theologians. . and Fagerberg. and Robert Taft. 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. Theologia prima (see above. Schmemann’s original Introduction to Liturgical Theology was a dissertation but there is a significant difference between ‘Western’ academic customs and Eastern Orthodox standards. 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. The subject matter of theology is God. It is difficult if not impossible to appropriately categorize these differences in style. I think it is legitimate to make mention of a consistent line of thought between Schmemann. 2004). Finally.”27 This quota- 25 26 27 David W. Fagerberg’s works What is Liturgical Theology? and Theologia prima come closest to what academic theologians are familiar with. Kavanagh. IL: Hillenbrand Books. and creation. or liturgy in the light of theology. Kavanagh’s rhetoric writing style is certainly not common among academic theologians. 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. while realizing that each of these three authors has his own style of writing. lively. Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? (Chicago/Mundelein. He writes fresh. F A G E R B E R G . 25). Let us now have a closer look at some salient features of their peculiar account of liturgical theology. in particular with regard to the liturgy. 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). F A G E R B E R G . and the vortex in which these three existentially entangle is liturgy. but also in his other books Kavanagh’s style is something unique.26 And form and content always correspond. I consider the richness of their styles momentous and inspiring. 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. One should also be aware that these differences are dependent on the contexts in which the respective works came into being. and engaging prose but is not so concerned about footnotes and references. ix.”25 After this short survey of the life and work of my three main interlocutors. n. I take the term to mean the theological work of the liturgical assembly. The fact that On Liturgical Theology is the fruit of lectures is telling. ix. IV. not the work done by an academic upon liturgical material. humanity.Liturgy as Theological Norm 163 theology is all about: “My working definition of liturgical theology continues to be owed to Alexander Schmemann. Apart from the content that these liturgical theologians stand for.

39 – 40. “proletarian rather than elitist. […] [I]t is proletarian in the sense that it is not done by academic elites.1. communitarian rather than individualistic or idiosyncratic. On Liturgical Theology (see above. Theologia prima (see above. 135 – 136. 21). that they fall back into the much-despised rubricism of previous ages. According to liturgical theology. it is communitarian in the sense that it is not undertaken by the scholar alone in his study. 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. and yearly round of the assembly’s life of public liturgical worship. On the contrary. their whole enterprise can be seen as a search for the deepest meanings of what steers and motivates these rubrics. 93 – 94. weekly.”29 What this means is further elucidated as follows: “A liturgical act is a theological act of the most all-encompassing. Concrete Liturgies and Rubrics First of all. n. The primacy of liturgy over doctrine is claimed to be both historical and systematic. and it is quotidian in the sense that it is not accomplished occasionally but regularly throughout the daily. and Fagerberg. which shapes both the community itself and the way it reflects on its faith. integral. The last part of this passage is quoted in F A G E R B E R G . there is first the actual celebration of the liturgy. n.”30 As a corollary. . On this point Kavanagh expresses himself as follows: “Liturgical theology. Let me now concretize this general scheme of reversal by discussing several important thoughts which are typical of liturgical theologians. 25). as distinct from other sorts of theology which may be about the liturgy. nor do they aim at a restoration of a quasi-juridical rubric-commenting kind of theologizing. 89. Ibid. Ibid. with particular reference to Schmemann. 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. IV. Kavanagh. and foundational kind. the actual celebration of the liturgy is taken as the point of departure for any theological explication of it. is obliged to begin and end with an accurate perception of what a liturgy is in itself. 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). It is not the case. 28 29 30 K A V A N A G H . according to Kavanagh.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. quotidian rather than random or infrequent. the rubrics and other liturgical prescriptions are of great importance to liturgical theologians. liturgical theology deliberately reverses this relation. however.”28 And the liturgy ‘in itself’ is.

When explaining the method and task of liturgical theology. nor the arbitrary products of crazed medieval bishops who cared more about the shape of a miter than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 83. K A V A N A G H . Ibid. the concrete always prevails over the abstract. In order to defend the position that grace is necessary. The original context of the adage is a discussion with a group of semi-Pelagians in Gaul. Both Kavanagh and Fagerberg remind us of the original phrasing of the adage. n. but it is simply impossible not to say anything about it in the context of a discussion of liturgical theology. MI: Liturgical Press. 120. 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. Liturgical laws and rubrics are […] a kind of ‘liturgical proverb. Prosper appeals to the traditional Good 31 32 33 Aidan K A V A N A G H . 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. What is especially striking is Schmemann’s. namely ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. Schmemann boldly states: “The theological synthesis is the elucidation of the rule of prayer as the rule of faith. The Adage lex orandi-lex credendi A second line of argument is developed with reference to the famous adage lex orandi. F A G E R B E R G .”31 Apparently. lex credendi. but not the whole truth. It is suggested that those who throw overboard the rubrics have not entirely grasped what the liturgy really is. must necessarily be a preliminary step in the study of worship” (S C H M E M A N N . 19). 21. IV.Liturgy as Theological Norm 165 Therefore. according to liturgical theologians. 21). Much has been said about this adage. 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. n. […] Taken together. and not vice versa. to be used with discretion and not isolated from others of their kind.33 This formulation is borrowed from Prosper of Aquitaine. Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style (Collegeville.2. 1990 [1982]). n. Schmemann confirms the importance of the study of rubrics in liturgical theology: “A study of ecclesiastical rubrics. it is the theological interpretation of prayer as the rule of faith. 25).’ each containing a grain of truth. . On Liturgical Theology (see above. rubrics and laws constitute a checklist of the factors to be considered in the art of putting a liturgy together and celebrating it. 8. 25). a fifth century author and secretary to Pope Leo the Great. Introduction (see above.”32 Kavanagh and Fagerberg have each in their own way further elaborated the idea of lex orandi determining lex credendi. Kavanagh’s and Fagerberg’s insistence on the most radical interpretation of this adage. Theologia prima (see above.

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. constitutes. not necessarily the specific prayer texts used. 20). this radical standpoint has been questioned and debated upon. in which the community prays for a variety of people in need of God’s grace for all kinds of reasons. “Thus Prosper’s argument is in the Augustinian tradition about the need for God’s grace to initiate. Review of Aidan Kavanagh. and whether it is not more apt to speak of a mutual dependence between two equal partners. On Liturgical Theology (see above. in Worship 57 (1983).. or at least to severely disapprove of the style and language used. sustain and complete justification. 92. 9). 11 – 17. 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 . Aidan K A V A N A G H . as in the ‘tag’ form lex orandi. Primary Theology and Liturgical Act. For some additional background. 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. lex credendi. Liturgical Theology (see above. Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship. […] The verb statuat subordinates the law of belief to the law of worship in just the same way. Lex orandi-Lex credendi: The Original Sense and Historical Avatars of an Equivocal Adage. grounds. Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T .”35 In the discussions after the publication of Kavanagh’s book. On Liturgical Theology.166 Joris Ge ldh of Friday intercessions. Not everyone agrees that the law of prayer. Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . The basis for this argument is the theology reflected in these prayers. in Studia Liturgica 24 (1994). Text and Context (see above. Wainwright had already exposed the core of his thought in his seminal study Doxology. and Life: A Systematic Theology (London: Epworth Press. 309 – 321. there must always be a bal- 34 35 36 37 I R W I N . see Paul D E C L E R C K .36 More elaborately. and for just the same reasons. He may even be said to overtly repudiate it. 21). I R W I N . in Worship 57 (1983). in Worship 61 (1987). 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. Cf. 321 – 324. A Language in Which We Speak to God. or dogma. as to whether Kavanagh had rightly understood and interpreted Prosper’s text against the background of church-historical evolutions in the fifth century. Doctrine. n. the debate is about whether one could reasonably uphold the systematic priority of liturgy over dogma. 1980). n. 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. Rather. 150. . 5 – 6. The question is not so much a technical one. ibid.37 According to him. or determines the law of faith. K A V A N A G H .”34 With an appeal to the original context and formulation of the adage. n. or the liturgy. 91. 183 – 186. 178 – 200.

38). 58. A systematic theology written from a liturgical perspective would certainly bring liturgy and theology into closer conversation […]. 25). 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.”40 As a matter of fact. 1). whereby “worship largely led doctrine”. which might result in a collapse of intelligibility and the abandonment of theology’s search for plausibility. . It opens one to the idea that dogma or vision can precede their expression. as ‘I’ can precede ‘my body’. In the meantime. liturgical theology is in one way or another ardently anti-Hegelian. Theologia prima (see above. But there are differences between the approach Wainwright urges on the individual theologian. n. trying to find a path between a perfect mutuality and equality on the one hand.”41 In other words. JG). 62. F A G E R B E R G . in V O G E L . Fagerberg concludes on Wainwright’s position: “From the perspective of liturgical theology.”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’. […] Worship may provide the existential matrix. who significantly con- 38 39 40 41 Geoffrey W A I N W R I G H T . Wainwright represents a “theology from worship” but not a “liturgical theology”. some scholars have attempted to develop a more moderate position. which consists in “[p]ersuading systematic theology to be cognizant of the Church’s liturgy. n. F A G E R B E R G . a scenario which Kavanagh and Fagerberg argue somehow ends up in theology ruling the liturgy. but doctrine exercises control over worship because the latter is not theological. W A I N W R I G H T . 112 – 124. Theologia prima (see above. 121. Fagerberg profoundly respects Wainwright’s major purpose. n. the latter of which gives evidence of an uncompromising deference to the determining anteriority of communal worship. according to Fagerberg.”39 Wainwright’s position was vehemently criticized in turn by Fagerberg. 121 (italics are mine. mainly historical ones. in the sense that liturgical practice and images (or Vorstellungen) can never be completely aufgehoben in reflexive-theological contents (or Begriffe). 25). which can be done either in a coherent articulation (theology) or a concentrated existential vision (liturgy).Liturgy as Theological Norm 167 ance between liturgical action and theological reflection. and the corporate quality of liturgical theology. but he warns against occasions in which “worship may get out of hand. Primary Sources (see above. I applaud that accomplishment. An excellent illustration of this mediating position is provided by the renowned American theologian Catherine LaCugna. and an absolute priority of liturgy over theology on the other hand. He agrees that there are many illustrations. […] It leaves the impression that there is a truth to be embodied. The Praise of God in the Theological Reflection of the Church. there is a problem with describing worship as an ‘expression’ of the Christian dogma or concentrated vision. The Praise of God (see above. n.

”44 At the same time.168 Joris Ge ldh of tributed to the theology of the Trinity in the wake of Karl Barth and Karl Rahner. She recognizes the importance of the distinction between primary theology. Cf. these ideas do not inhibit her from supposing that the liturgy can be legitimately corrected by theology. it serves to point up the theological nature of the liturgy. n. expanded the notions in a conceptual and systematic way (cf. Irwin is milder than Kavanagh and Fagerberg. 13. Theologia prima (see above. n. 9.45 In the end. 109ff). In any case. whereas primary theology is concerned with the liturgical act. 109). theology in the first instance.. He moreover joins the concepts of theologia prima and lex orandi: “Liturgical theology’s two defining characteristics are: 1) it is genuine theology. while he sincerely tries to go along with them as far as possible. 74). 8. and the liturgical nature of theology.. and that they at the same time will reject any allegation that the theology they aim at is not genuinely theological. But in the search for truth that theology is called to be.”43 According to her. 9). Can Liturgy Ever Become a Source for Theology?.42 LaCugna contends: “Secondary theology inquires into the nature of the liturgy. n. 66 – 68). 2) and it is lex orandi” (ibid. It is what tradition has called theologia prima” (K A V A N A G H . Besides this. one can also find a similar moderate position in the work of Kevin Irwin on the nature and function of liturgical theology. 21). Catherine L A C U G N A . Undoubtedly. its meaning and import were substantially enlarged by David Fagerberg.. although it is theologia prima and not theologia secunda. e. Liturgy serves to prevent the type of theology which becomes fascinated with itself rather than with God. fundamental questions remain and the debate goes on. 46). Irwin adds a theologia tertia to primary and secondary theology (I R W I N . 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. Text and Context (see above. On Liturgical Theology (see above. Ibid. I presume that liturgical theologians “of the strict observance”46 will continue to resist any kind of equating liturgy and theology.. Interestingly. 25). which is the reflexive explanation of it. in Studia Liturgica 19 (1989).. V O G E L . 2. 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. 42 43 44 45 46 A revealing passage where Kavanagh explains how liturgical theology arises is: “This is how liturgies grow. Ibid. Fagerberg. Even if the distinction between primary and secondary theology is somewhat artificial. 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. namely the liturgy itself celebrated as a communal rite. 1). this is probably not a bad thing. . It is the adjustment which is theological in all this. n. F A G E R B E R G .g. 1 – 13. in his turn. This distinction was drawn by Aidan Kavanagh.. I hold that it is theology being born. Conceptual Geography (see above. and secondary theology.

109 – 110. 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. 21). Right worship was ceasing to be the ontological condition of theology. The antithesis of orthodoxy has become heresy rather than heterodoxy. orthodoxy is a notion which encompasses the whole of life. 52. at its deepest levels. at the same time. Liturgical theology is theology. Liturgical theology should certainly be concerned with correct doctrine. n. right believing. “Orthodoxia.Liturgy as Theological Norm 169 IV. he stresses that liturgical theologians deal with doctrinal correctness. aesthetics.3. 25). and ceremonial ritual. 3. 9). He certainly agrees with Kavanagh’s enlargement of the concept of orthodoxy. . becoming instead a locus theologicus in service to correct belief and teaching by church officials and secondary theologians. in both translations and in the mentality which produced them. is a pre-given structure anterior to the participating subject. Kevin Irwin rightly observes: “The first meaning of orthodoxy is ‘right praise’. The Concept of Orthodoxy A third line of thought typical of liturgical theology is the interpretation of the concept of orthodoxy. ‘wrong worship’. or orthodidascalia. it is obvious that liturgical theology aims at a reversal of the way in which one usually sees the relation between liturgy and dogma. Fagerberg does not seem to state things as sharply.50 IV. Ibid. 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. right teaching. Cf. and not merely the investigation of rubrics. 21). 63). right worship. n. and both are by the context centered upon church officials. both in the Roman-Catholic Church and in the churches of the Reformation. n. On Liturgical Theology (see above. n. 82. 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.”48 Again. K A V A N A G H .”49 For Kavanagh. 94 – 95. On Liturgical Theology (see above. has become orthopistis..4. who were using the liturgy as a quarry for stones to set into argument shaped by increasingly rigorous methodologies worked out in academy. Praxis and belief have grown apart. of the proper understanding of the proclaimed Word of God. K A V A N A G H . Theologia prima (see above. Text and Context (see above. and why only second order theology can exercise guardianship over orthodoxy. and because of this it is 47 48 49 50 I R W I N . But is the only form adequate for this theological work an academic one?” (F A G E R B E R G . The Liturgy: Ordo and rite The fourth idea which shapes liturgical theology circles around the profound awareness that the liturgy. ibid.

Second.”53 However.51 It is certainly not wrong to suppose that some kind of structuralism has had an impact on Schmemann and Kavanagh. Present and Future of Catholic Liturgy (London/New York: Continuum Intl. the Body of Christ? This is the real and fundamental problem of the Ordo. 33. 25). On Liturgical Theology (see above. 36. is employed. 51 52 53 54 55 An elaborate argument in favor of the revelatory character of the liturgy is made by Laurence P. 99 – 100. in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One of the essential features of the ordo is that it precedes consciousness. Also. K A V A N A G H . According to Schmemann. Theologia prima (see above. in Worship 52 (1978).52 Schmemann consistently emphasizes the importance of the liturgy’s ordo. Ibid. Group.. n. Schmemann takes for granted that there is such an ordo. 25). “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. which does not always coincide with the logic of the Ordo.”55 Nevertheless. which is extensively quoted in F A G E R B E R G . 19). Introduction to Liturgical Theology (see above. 2008). and in many ways clearly contradicts it. see F A G E R B E R G . and that its consistency and continuity can be shown if an appropriate theological method. who exerted a great influence on Fagerberg. it is generally known that Robert Taft. liturgical theology’s major task and concern is to lay bare the meaning of the ordo. Worship as a Revelation: The Past. e. 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. the ordo rather embodies and expresses them. Kavanagh amply refers to the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908 – 2009) (see. as an incomprehensible Rule. n. two things must be clear. certainly not in their material and written form. S C H M E M A N N . 130). and at least indirectly also on Fagerberg. n. . the ordo cannot simply be identified with these rules.170 Joris Ge ldh of structurally similar to the concept of revelation. it comes as no surprise that the very notion of the ordo is deeply problematic. 25). the liturgy is the configuration through which believers are constantly reconfigured in their relationship with God. “Does this view of the Ordo – as a Law. Pub. 19). 79 – 80.”54 Hence. For Fagerberg’s appropriation of these ideas. no single actually celebrated liturgical ceremony perfectly accords with the ordo. H E M M I N G . the ordo has developed throughout the centuries. Robert T A F T . 38. 314 – 329. n. Introduction to Liturgical Theology (see above. Admittedly.g. namely liturgical theology. Schmemann is fairly realistic about that: “Quite evidently liturgical practice follows its own ‘logic’. a chosen people. was a ‘structuralist’ too (cf. a royal priesthood. n. The Structural Analysis of Liturgical Units: An Essay in Methodology. 41). Theologia prima (see above. S C H M E M A N N . First. whereas Kavanagh considers the liturgy to be first and foremost rite. 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. but it has somehow remained the same.

which is no less radical. 44. but Scripture embodied in celebration and molded by both oral and written traditions. V. of ascetical and monastic structures. 100.1. Elements of Rite (n. of laws called ‘canonical’. V. Kavanagh. K A V A N A G H . 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. attention must be directed to the social. Cf. “Liturgy is not fundamentally prayer but rite. lessons and gospels are not prayers but proclamations. Creed and homily are not prayers but declamations. there is a pre-given structure in the liturgy which shapes our faith. Ibid. On Liturgical Theology (see above.”56 “A liturgical act is not simply a creed. and in particular ways of doing secondary theological reflection. 44. n. 31). The liturgy is not only Scripture. On the contrary. according to Kavanagh. or worship without qualification. let alone if one reduces it to words. However. the points that I mention are merely indicative – they certainly need additional refinement and precision through criticism and research. Kavanagh called liturgy rite. I would like in particular to address four issues which deserve further clarification and discussion anyway. […] Rite can be called a whole style of Christian living found in the myriad particularities of worship. Sanctus and Agnus Dei are not prayers but acclamations. one doesn’t grasp the liturgy if one overemphasizes its verbal character.”57 Kavanagh further specifies “why the liturgy outstrips being reduced to prayer alone. as its several parts demonstrate. Liturgical Theology’s Broader Relevance First. 44. 21). 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. K A V A N A G H . 31). and pastoral relevance of liturgical theology.”58 In other words. Each of these four issues in one way or another affects the basic claims of liturgical theology. […] It is rite. By no means am I aiming at a definitive evaluation. moral.Liturgy as Theological Norm 171 Aidan Kavanagh undergirded this heavy theological idea with a more anthropological insight. n. of evangelical and catechetical endeavors. and Fagerberg. a prayer. where almost exactly the same sentence can be read. Elements of Rite (see above. This is because it may seem that liturgical theologians care too much about ceremony and tradition. without this en56 57 58 K A V A N A G H . .

Yes. the third part of his book Holy Things is an elaborate pastoral liturgical theology. NY: St.”61 But he deliberately adds: “We urgently need liturgical theology as we seek bearings for both public thought and personal hope. Schmemann continues: “Perhaps many people will be astonished that.63 59 60 61 62 63 Alexander S C H M E M A N N . Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Interestingly. Kavanagh also addresses the issue of liturgical theology’s pastoral relevance. And I do believe. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology (Minneapolis. 11). liturgical theology in the Lutheran Church.” which “consists in a lack of connection and cohesion between what is accomplished in the Eucharist and how it is perceived. 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 . with leaving this adulterous and sinful world. He discerns a serious “eucharistic crisis in the Church. it is telling to recall that the first part of On Liturgical Theology is entitled ‘Liturgy and World’. Besides this. That is. in this ascent to the table of the Lord in his kingdom. science and . Ibid. where Kavanagh realizes that “it is clear that the modern demand for total.”59 There is indeed a deep spiritual crisis. whose very life flows from that sacrament.”62 Therefore. On Liturgical Theology (see above. 21). in this holy of holies of the Church. understood and lived. Gordon W.172 Joris Ge ldh of abling them to face the real problems with which contemporary Christianity is struggling. 9. MI: Fortress Press. Kavanagh is particularly critical towards the modern world with its hectic life in great cities and the bond between state organization. which was published posthumously. that this upward journey begins with the ‘laying aside of all earthly cares’.”60 This reaction to the modern world and religion’s fate in it may be strange but it is nevertheless supported by Gordon Lathrop. but rather to the sacrament of the Eucharist and to the Church. the source of her service. 1987). 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. JG). as a consequence. factual. Ibid. 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. No ideological fuss and bother. is the source for that renewal for which we hope. In this regard. I propose that we turn our attention not to its various aspects. 4. 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. 4. in response to this crisis. The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood. . 144. italics are mine. 1998). n. but a gift from heaven – such is the vocation of the Church in the world. I do believe that precisely here. 10. the American theologian who received and elaborated Schmemann’s thought and. L A T H R O P . Schmemann himself explicitly tackles this problem in the preface to his work on The Eucharist. as the Church has always believed.

e. I see that the work of Alexander Schmemann has not only been continued in Orthodox circles and warmly received among Catholics. 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. Personally.e. . one should not underestimate liturgical theology’s potential for the future of ecumenism. On the other hand. documents.. declarations. 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. I think it is indispensable to question the historical accuracy of many claims made by liturgical theologians. V. On the one hand it might be true that Orthodox. 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”. Clearly.3. Finally. W A I N W R I G H T . but that Protestant theologians also are deeply influenced by it. etc. 2006). It is imaginable that the longed-for reconciliation will happen instead through primary theological acts.65 In addition. and that this causes ecumenical difficulties. it is noteworthy that. according to Kavanagh. 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). Liturgical Theology’s Ecumenical Potential Second. i. 124. 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. 62).. The Praise of God (see above. In 64 65 business (ibid. particularly with regard to liturgical theology. Simon C H A N . the three liturgical theologians I discussed tend to idealize the patristic age to the detriment of other epochs. IL: IVP Academic. n. I am very careful not to generalize the matter. one must mention the many ecumenical contacts and efforts of many a liturgical theologian.2.64 but I don’t think many Catholic services are more doxological than catechetical either. Liturgical Theology’s Historical Claims Third. I think this is a delicate issue. Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community (Downer’s Grove. Basically.. through the common celebration of the mysteries of faith. 30). i. it is “in worship alone” that “the church [is] gathered in the closest obvious proximity to its fundamental values” (ibid. through scholars’ and officials’ debates about doctrinal statements. I have already mentioned Gordon Lathrop in the Lutheran tradition..Liturgy as Theological Norm 173 V. but one could equally think of Simon Chan for the evangelicals. 38). Catholic.

n. W A I N W R I G H T . etc. or whether he had somehow taken them over from authoritative voices in the Liturgical Movement.66 Therefore. 27 – 28. n. 21). not only because of its probable historical incorrectness but also because it may undermine the claims defended by liturgical theology. Geoffrey Wainwright certainly went too far when he suggested that Kavanagh’s position runs the risk of “liturgical fundamentalism” and “isolationism. When reading them. and critique.”69 but it is telling that this reproach could be made.4. he reproaches its “one-sidedness.” “insufficiency. In any case. On Liturgical Theology (see above. The Eucharist (see above. n. As it stands. the Church Fathers were pastoral theologians par excellence (K A V A N A G H . 183. According to Kavanagh. one sometimes has the impression that liturgy and tradition are all-encompassing. or that they were unable to see the symbolic character of rites and rituals. 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. 36). interpretation. I think that the philosophical solidity of liturgical theology needs to be improved. which is known to have been fascinated above all by the fourth and fifth centuries. Review (see above. Liturgical Theology and Philosophy Fourth. 59).”67 It is unclear whether these were Schmemann’s original ideas. According to Schmemann. 39. but one only has to know a little bit of hermeneutics to understand that such appeals necessarily require nuance. an idea which is almost certainly meant to be at least partially critical of posterior evolutions. Ibid. 17 – 18. In the case of Kavanagh and Fagerberg. but this very silence is revealing. 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. 66 67 68 69 S C H M E M A N N . for his part. 31.68 V. It is not true that scholastic theologians were silent about the liturgy. nor does he engage in reflections of or about scholastic theology. but there is a similar tendency to focus too one-sidedly on patristic thought and patristic liturgy.174 Joris Ge ldh of Schmemann’s eyes. Fagerberg. . 160. does not in any way discuss the (liturgy of the) Middle Ages.” and even “depravity. it must be said that they do not seem to argue with scholastic theology as grimly as Schmemann did. that they operated with an exclusively deductive rationality. liturgical theologians do not attach great weight to a philosophical underpinning of their theoretical endeavors. 49 – 50). scholastic theology reduced the meaning of the liturgy to the moment of consecration. Schmemann’s stance needs to be put under critique.

liturgical theology risks giving rise to particularism(s). 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. but if the adherence to and conformity with a given community is the ultimate horizon of the liturgy. Hence. is a truth but not the whole truth. 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. ‘communitarianism’ – positions according to which one can only absorb an identity on the condition that one is immersed in a certain group or context. 25). it implies that it is only meaningful for insiders and that a reasonable comprehension of it is not a guaranteed option. I think that systematic theologians would profit from taking the liturgy more seriously. Theologia prima (see above. 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. Applied to the liturgy. Fagerberg – even more so than Kavanagh – refers and appeals to Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. For a nice illustration of this. of which he explicitly says this notion is borrowed from Wittgenstein (F A G E R B E R G . On many other occasions. like the effect of philology upon language. Liturgical theology can and needs to be substantially supported by philosophical theorizing. n. On Liturgical Theology (see above. Much more could and should be said about this. I. but let me finish with a suggestion. this means that one can only grasp it by participating in it. .” and therefore the norm for theology – something which Schmemann said. Of course. vol. one can suffice with a reference to his understanding of the “grammar” of the liturgy. I suggest that.71 It did so because of a so-called ‘contextualism’. G R E I S C H . 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 . 84). Le Buisson ardent (see above. 68. 2 – 3). More specifically. II. n.70 The cross-fertilization between Wittgenstein and theology sometimes resulted in a kind of fideism. In the final analysis.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. n. this is not untrue at a social and practical level. At Yale. vol. As for Fagerberg. and Kavanagh and Fagerberg repeated – then metaphysics is not to be rejected but included. see the following passage: “All this might suggest to us that the effect of doctrine upon liturgy. Cf. whereas Christian faith is always called to universalism. 537 – 541. whereby rational critique is not unlikely to be excluded. 21). If the liturgy is the “ontological condition. 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 does not imply that liturgical theology should betray itself or that it needs philosophy because the liturgy is somehow insufficient. 4).

Aidan Kavanagh. Fagerberg. Correspondingly. dass die Beziehung zwischen Dogma und Liturgie umzukehren ist. neglect. indem auf die »Liturgische Theologie« als eine wichtige Bewegung innerhalb des Feldes der Liturgiewissenschaften rekurriert wird. even theologia prima. dass die Liturgie eine theologische Norm darstellt. sogar theologia prima. 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.176 Joris Ge ldh of which it must be in accordance. auf denen die »Liturgische Theologie« bewertet werden kann. ‘liturgical theology’ claims that it is not doctrine which determines liturgy but liturgy which determines doctrine. namely the ‘liturgical theology’ as it was developed by Alexander Schmemann. die Liturgie als die theologische Norm schlechthin anzusetzen. welches lautet: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. dass es für die breite Mehrheit der modernen Gläubigen und Theologen keineswegs offensichtlich ist. sondern die Liturgie das Dogma bestimmt. legt der ursprüngliche Kontext eine klare Priorität der Regel des Gebets gegenüber der Regel des Glaubens offen. 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. Fagerberg entwickelt wurde. . the original context lays bare a clear priority of the rule of prayer over the rule of faith. und diese Grundposition sollte in umfassenderem Rahmen und auf ernsthaftere Weise von gegenwärtigen Systematischen Theologen diskutiert werden. die besagt. Während also die gewöhnliche Formulierung Gleichheit und wechselseitige Abhängigkeit zwischen beiden nahe legt. dass die »Liturgische Theologie« in stärkerem Maße philosophisch untermauert werden muss als bisher geschehen. its major characteristics are discussed. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Dieser Artikel argumentiert dafür. Die Radikalität dieser Position wird besonders betont. aus dem heraus sie entstand. but itself theology. werden ihre zentralen Charakteristika diskutiert. and David W. Aidan Kavanagh und David W. Die Radikalität liegt darin begründet. I argue that there is need for a more profound philosophical underpinning and historical adequacy. According to liturgical theologians. vorgestellt wurden. dass die Liturgie nicht einfach der sich im Ritual vollziehende Ausdruck des Inhalts des Glaubens ist. It is in any case not normal for theology to ignore. liturgical theologians point to the original wording of the famous adage lex orandi lex credendi. Das Argument wird entwickelt. Whereas the usual formulation suggests equality and mutual dependence. or reject the liturgy’s embodied wisdom and its primordial theological relevance. Dennoch bleibt ihre Grundposition mit guten Gründen erhalten. After presenting the concept of ‘liturgical theology’ and the context out of which it emerged. SUMMARY In this article a case is made for considering the liturgy as theological norm par excellence. dass nicht das Dogma die Liturgie. In the final part of the article I explore some avenues to the evaluation of ‘liturgical theology’. Entsprechend verweisen die Liturgischen Theologen auch auf die ursprüngliche Wortwahl des berühmten Adagios lex orandi lex credendi. sondern dass die Liturgie vielmehr selbst Theologie ist. Ich argumentiere dafür. The case is built up by relying on an emphatic current of thought within the field of liturgical studies. Doch die »Liturgische Theologie« betont. die von Alexander Schmemann. the liturgy is not simply the ritual expression of the content of faith. Particular attention is devoted to the radicalness of their position. Die Liturgischen Theologen meinen nämlich. Nachdem der Begriff der Liturgischen Theologie und der Kontext. Im letzten Teil des Aufsatzes werden einige Wege erforscht. which is the following: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. und dass sie zudem historisch präziser arbeiten sollte. However.

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