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The Church in Act

The Church in Act: Lutheran Liturgical Theology in Ecumenical Conversation

Maxwell E. Johnson
Copyright Date: 2015
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    The Church in Act
    Book Description:

    The Church in Act explores the dynamics of ecclesial and liturgical theology, examining the body of Christ in action. Maxwell E. Johnson, one of the premier liturgical specialists in the field, provides in this volume historical and doctrinal thinking on a diversity of liturgical subjects under the umbrella of Lutheran liturgical theology and in ecumenical conversation. The topics under consideration range from baptismal spirituality to Eucharistic concerns, including real presence, pneumatology, and reservation; discussions on what constitutes liturgical normativity, the diverse hermeneutical approaches to the Revised Common Lectionary, and the place of Mary in ecumenical dialogue and culture (especially Latino-Hispanic); issues of full communion based on a liturgical reading of the Augsburg Confession VII; and specific questions related to liturgy and ecumenism today in light of recent translation changes in Roman Catholic practice. Together, the volume offers a robust account of the liturgical, sacramental, and spiritual practices of the church for scholars, students, pastors, and others who seek to minister in an ecumenical context with increased understanding and insight.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9668-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xx)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  5. 1 Baptismal Spirituality in the Early Church and Its Implications for the Church Today
    (pp. 1-32)

    In an essay entitled “The Sacraments in Wesleyan Perspective,” originally published in 1988, British Methodist liturgical theologian Geoffrey Wainwright says, “ Without the heartbeat of the sacraments at its center, a church will lack confidence about the gospel message and about its own ability to proclaim that message in evangelism, to live it out in its own internal fellowship, and to embody it in service to the needy.”¹ And, second, in an essay appearing originally in 1993, “Renewing Worship: The Recovery of Classical Patterns,” he writes that “[a] deeper replunging into its own tradition will, in my judgment, be necessary...

  6. 2 The Holy Spirit and Lutheran Liturgical-Sacramental Theology
    (pp. 33-66)

    Lutheran liturgical-sacramental theology has always rightly placed a central emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the gracious and saving gifts of word and sacrament. It is “through the Word and the sacraments, as through instruments,” says Article V of theAugsburg Confession, that “the Holy Spirit is given, and the Holy Spirit produces faith, where and when it pleases God, in those who hear the Gospel.”¹ Similarly, notes Luther in hisSmall Catechism, it is the Holy Spirit who “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth,”² and Lutherans have always looked to word...

  7. 3 The Real and Multiple Presences of Christ in Contemporary Lutheran Liturgical and Sacramental Praxis
    (pp. 67-84)

    What would a contemporary Lutheran, or, more specifically, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), liturgical-sacramental practice and theology look like that took seriously the multiple presences of Christ underscored by the above paragraph 7 of Vatican II’sConstitution on the Sacred Liturgy(CSL7)? In attempting to answer such a question, I simply must acknowledge that there is a certain artificial quality about this exercise from the very beginning. To take what is aRoman Catholic“recovery” of the multiple presences of Christ in the church and then apply that “recovery” to a Lutheran—or Anglican or other Protestant...

  8. 4 Eucharistic Reservation and Lutheranism An Extension of Sunday Worship?
    (pp. 85-112)

    In ecumenical conversations Roman Catholics frequently ask Lutherans, “If you Lutherans actually believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as you say you do, how come you do not normally reserve the Eucharist in your churches?” This is, of course, a most legitimate question for Lutherans to be asked by Roman Catholics and other Christians who regularly do practice forms of eucharistic reservation. But there is rather interesting assumption behind this question, namely, that the practice of eucharistic reservation in one Christian tradition can or should be some kind of litmus test for determining whether another Christian...

  9. 5 What Is Normative in Contemporary Lutheran Worship? Word and Sacrament as Nonnegotiable
    (pp. 113-134)

    Within a few days of each other three pieces came across my desk that gave me pause and led me to reflect on the state of liturgical-sacramental life within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Two were written by parish pastors, and the third by a now-former synod bishop. In the first, Pastor # 1, in a short column inThe Lutheran,¹ as part of his attempt to give a greater emphasis to Pentecost as one of the three great but neglected festival days on the liturgical calendar, described his own practice of creating an actual season of preparation...

  10. 6 Ordinary Time? The Time after Epiphany and Pentecost Celebrating the Mystery of Christ in All Its Fullness
    (pp. 135-162)

    In the Roman Catholic “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar,” the following description of what English-speaking Roman Catholics now callOrdinary Time, and what is calledTime after EpiphanyandTime after PentecostinEvangelical Lutheran Worship(ELW), is provided:

    Immediately, we are confronted here with a problem of translation, which in turn reflects and continues to foster, the common, even officially accepted, Roman Catholic way in English of referring to this liturgical season asOrdinary Time. The problem is this. The Latin original of theOrdo Lectionum Missae(hereafter,OLM) doe s not use anything akin...

  11. 7 The Blessed Virgin Mary and Ecumenical Convergence in Doctrine, Doxology, and Devotion
    (pp. 163-194)

    The influential Lutheran theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg once said that “Mary is more important in the history of Christianity as a symbol than as an historical person,”¹ a statement reflected also in the work of Hugo Rahner, Karl Rahner’s lesser-known brother and fellow Jesuit, in his comment that “Mary the mother of Jesus, in virtue of the ineffable dignity of being the Virgin Mother of God made Man, became the essential symbol of the Church, our Mother.”² And, more recently, the late Jaroslav Pelikan also wrote in his wonderful book,Mary Through the Centuries,

    It is probably safe to estimate that...

  12. 8 The Virgin of Guadalupe in Ecumenical Context
    (pp. 195-220)

    The event and image of the Virgin of Guadalupe,La Virgencita(“the dear—or little—Virgin”), orLa MorenaorLa Morenita(the “dark one”), are obviously Roman Catholic in general and clearly part of the self-understanding of Mexican and Mexican-American Roman Catholics. Why, then, would Protestants of any stripe, whether Anglo or Hispanic-Latino, want to celebrate or pay any attention whatsoever to her and to her story? That is the question I sought to address in my 2002 study,The Virgin of Guadalupe: Theological Reflections of an Anglo-Lutheran Liturgist,¹ and this is the question, I am pleased to note,...

  13. 9 Satis est Ecumenical Catalyst or Narrow Reductionism?
    (pp. 221-240)

    Prior to 1997, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was to vote on various full communion proposals both with The Episcopal Church (the formerConcordat of Unity, as the defeated document was called), and with various Reformed churches in the United States, as well as theJoint Declaration on Justificationwith the Roman Catholic Church, I wrote a short article in theLutheran Forumin which I suggested that the phrasesatis estfromAugustanaVII would be cited over and over again at various synodical assemblies both in favor of or in disagreement with these proposals. I...

  14. 10 Christian Worship and Ecumenism What Shall We Do Now?
    (pp. 241-264)

    Both prior to and in the now fifty-plus years since the overwhelming approval of theConstitution on the Sacred Liturgy(December 4, 1963) at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), liturgical scholarship has been and clearly is an ecumenical endeavor with multiple liturgical pastoral implications. This is seen especially in theRevised Common Lectionary, in the very shape and contents of the Eucharistic Liturgy, in the renewal of the Rites of Christian Initiation, and surely, among other elements, in the revisions of the liturgical year and calendar, including the Three Days and the Fifty Days of Pascha. In specific reference...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 265-278)

    So what? Other than offering my random thoughts on various ecumenical-liturgical issues over my career, is there anything that draws these chapters together into some coherent or logical plan? In other words, is there a point to all of this? Let me suggest that the essays updated for publication in this volume, while originally written at, and sometimes for, various occasions over the past twenty-plus years of teaching and writing, are directed toward several liturgical-sacramental issues actually being raised and addressed today within the ELCA, as well as in some other churches and communions. The first of these issues, addressed...

  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)