What is a liturgy? A Dialogue with James Smith (1 of 3)
Liturgy is often a highly contentious idea, easily reduced to cold, ritualistic formalism. In this brief exchange, James K. A. Smith and Jay Greener talk about the nature of the liturgy, common tendencies in evangelical suspicion, and important reasons for more thoughtful, theologically proper, appropriation. Besides questioning certain expressivist tendencies within our own traditions, which uncritically promote authenticity, spontaneity, and innovation as essential to the worship service, Smith and Greener suggest many reasons why liturgy is both inevitable and appropriate. The more important question is not whether we should be liturgical, but whether the kind of liturgy we practice is a proper liturgy.
James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, teaching in the Department of Congregational and Ministry Studies and as a Research Fellow of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He has been a visiting professor at Fuller Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary, and Regent College. Originally trained in philosophical theology and contemporary French philosophy, Smith’s work is focused on cultural criticism informed by the Christian theological tradition. He is also well-published (for a complete list, see his faculty page), perhaps most recognized for his Cultural Liturgies project, including the award-winning first volume, Desiring the Kingdom, and the recently published second volume, Imaging the Kingdom.
Jay L. Greener (MA, Yale; MLitt, St. Andrews) is the Rector of Church of the Redeemer (Highland Park, IL), a Canon in the Shyira Diocese of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, and serves as Dean for the Midwest Region of PEAR-USA. He has over 25 years of ministry with churches and Christian organizations in Illinois, Connecticut, Georgia and Colorado. Canon Jay has a passion for worship and and a merciful heart for leading people into a life changing encounter with God through music, proclamation and sacrament, and he continues to lead and teach worship for conferences and other gatherings.