Liturgy is for Lovers: Agency, Action, and Christian Worship
There is a deep irony about much contemporary evangelical worship: largely failing to appreciate the primacy of God’s agency in worship, evangelical worship often mimics the problems of late medieval Catholicism by reducing worship to something we do. Of course that was precisely the situation that originally called for reform and motivated the Protestant Reformers. In this lecture, James K. A. Smith calls us to protest contemporary Protestantism and to reform the reformers. Retrieving the Reformers’ emphasis on the primacy of God’s agency in Christian worship will enable us to remember that worship is not merely expressive, but also formative. Recovering a “formative” emphasis in Christian worship engenders a more robust approach to discipleship, taking seriously the power of habit in a more holistic understanding of sanctification.
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.