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Lex Orandi and Lex Credendi — Strange Bed-Fellows?: Some Reflections on Worship and Doctrine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2009

Kenneth W. Stevenson
St Peter's House, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9GH


Easter 1985 in the Church of England was a strange experience, resounding with the controversy which David Jenkins had begun the previous year during a television interview, after he had been elected Bishop of Durham. The scenario has been widely discussed by the media, by professional theologians, and by ordinary church-folk, north and south of the border. For the writer, it was the first Easter he can remember since being ordained when the resurrection was actually being discussed, not just in Senior Common Rooms, but in pubs. I was even taken to task by someone working in my local wine-store. In some respects, the furore was well summed-up in his attitude: he had long ceased to attend church, but shouldn't church-leaders believe in what they are supposed to believe?

Research Article
Copyright © Scottish Journal of Theology Ltd 1986

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page 225 note 1 For full text of Dennis Nineham's sermon at the consecration of Jenkins, David, see Theology 87 (1984), pp. 361367, which alludes in places to the controversy.Google Scholar

page 225 note 2 Seen on BBC TV news, Easter Day, 1985.

page 226 note 3 It was reported that the congregation numbered 800, instead of the usual 400.

page 226 note 4 The Bishops met at Manchester Business School from Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th June, 1985; they worshipped at the writer's Chaplaincy, each morning and evening. On the first morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury presided at the eucharist, to be followed on the next morning by another Scot, Bishop Alastair Haggart, of Edinburgh.

page 227 note 5 See Gy's, P.-M. Foreword in Stevenson, Kenneth (ed.), Liturgy Reshaped, London: SPCK, 1982, pp. 13, which notes the ecumenical character of the work, as well as future paths for historical research.Google Scholar

page 227 note 6 Missale Romanum, Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis, 1970.Google Scholar

page 227 note 7 The Book of Common Order, Edinburgh: St Andrew Press, 1979 (not published in the name of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, but of its Committee on Public Worship and Aids to Devotion).Google Scholar

page 227 note 8 The Alternative Service Book, London: SPCK, 1980.Google Scholar

page 227 note 9 See Buchanan, Colin, ‘Liturgical Revision in the Church of England in Retrospect’, in Stevenson, Liturgy Reshaped, pp. 146156, for observations on the Church of EnglandGoogle Scholar. See also Stevenson, Kenneth, ‘stretching Worship’, Theology 84 (1981), pp. 1217CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a strong critique on this whole process, see Baker, T. G. A., Questioning Worship, London: SCM, 1977.Google Scholar

page 228 note 10 See introduction to Hymns and Psalms, London: Methodist Publishing House, 1983.Google Scholar

page 228 note 11 See Stevenson, Kenneth, ‘On Keeping Holy Week’, Theology 89 (1986), pp. 3238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 229 note 12 See Jagger, Peter J., Christian Initiation 1552–1969 (Alcuin Club Collections 52), London: SPCK, 1970, pp. 257269, for summary of the evolution of the 1969 rites, and their texts, together with vows of Church membership.Google Scholar

page 229 note 13 See Buchanan, Colin, Liturgy for Initiation (Grove Booklet on Ministry and Worship 65), Bramcote: Grove, 1979, for an Anglican Evangelical assessmentGoogle Scholar. On the more recent debates, see Buchanan, Colin, Latest Liturgical Revision in the Church of England 1978–1984 (Grove Liturgical Study 39), Bramcote: Grove, 1984.Google Scholar

page 229 note 14 For an official account of this whole process, see Bugnini, Annibale, La riforma liturgka (1948–1975) (Ephemerides Liturgicae ‘subsida’ 30), Rome: Edizione Liturgiche, 1983Google Scholar. A more personal and whimsical account of some of these operations is to be found in Botte, Bernard, Le mouvement liturgique: Témoignages et souvenirs, Paris: Desclée, 1973, pp. 145198Google Scholar. The tale of Botte's threat to pack his bags and leave Rome for his Belgian monastery after a particularly awkward meeting with Vatican officials about the proposed new ordination rite (ibid. p. 172), became a classic story among the cognoscenti. (Botte got his way.)

page 229 note 15 For a discussion of some of these issues, see Stevenson, Kenneth, ‘Authority, Freedom, and Ecclesial Communion’, in Stevenson, (ed.), Authority and Freedom in Liturgy (Grove Liturgical Study 17), Bramcote: Grove, 1979, pp. 29ff.Google Scholar

page 230 note 16 This is the line taken by T. G. A. Baker, op. cit. (see above n. 9).

page 230 note 17 The Reformed Book of Common Order, ed. Dale, G. M., Edinburgh: National Church Association of the Church of Scotland, 1977.Google Scholar

page 230 note 18 Formed on October 11, 1963, the Joint Liturgical Group is an official gathering of liturgists drawn from the mainstream churches of these islands, including the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. The Roman Catholic Church at first sent only an observer, but eventually became a full member. Publications include The Calendar and Lectionary, London: Oxford University Press, 1967 (with the original proposals for the two-year lectionary which most Churches — except the RC — have adopted in their new service-books).Google Scholar

page 230 note 19 Formed in 1969, its initial meeting is chronicled in Studia Liturgica 6 (1969), pp. 189fGoogle Scholar. It has met every two years since that date; the most recent conference was held in August, 1985, at Boston University, U.S.A., with the theme, the WCC ‘Lima’ Statement on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry.

page 231 note 20 Original text in Migne, Patrologia Latina 50, col. 55.

page 231 note 21 For a discussion of this text, see De Clerck, Paul, ‘Lex orandi, lex credendi: sens originel et avatars historiques d'un adage equivoque’, Questions Liturgiques (1978), pp. 193212.Google Scholar

page 231 note 22 See Holeton, David R., ‘The sacramental language of S. Leo the Great. A study of the words munus and oblata’, Ephemerides Liturgicae 92 (1978), pp. 115165Google Scholar. Leo uses the word ‘sacramentum’ of Easter, but ‘memoria’ of Christmas. That is far-flung from today's romantic piety.

page 232 note 23 See below, on Kavanagh, pp. 235ff.

page 232 note 24 Schmemann, Alexander, Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Library of Orthodox Theology 4), London: Faith Press, 1966.Google Scholar

page 232 note 25 His book discusses the origin of the ‘Ordo’ and its development towards the ‘Typicon’; but his theological-liturgical method is summarised in the opening chapter, pp. 99ff.

page 233 note 26 On Basil of Caesarea and the anaphoras attributed to him, see J. Doresse and E. Lanne, ‘Un témoin archaïque de la liturgie copte de S. Basile’, and Capelle, B., ‘Les liturgies “basiliennes” de saint Basile’, Bibliothèque du Muséon 47 (1960)Google Scholar. This early fragment helped to provide a basis for the 1975 ‘Common Eucharistic Prayer’, agreed by an unofficial group of liturgists representing various churches (including Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran) in the U.S.A. The text is to be found in The Book of Common Prayer, New York: Seabury, 1979, pp. 372375Google Scholar. On John Chrysostom, see the spirited (but not entirely successful), defence of the authorship of the eucharistic prayer, Wagner, Georg, Der Ursprung Der Chrysostomusliturgie (Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen Und Forschungen 59), Münster: Aschendorff, 1973Google Scholar; this is assessed in a review by Cuming, Geoffrey J., Eastern Churches Review 7 (1975), pp. 9597.Google Scholar

page 233 note 27 Wainwright, Geoffrey, Doxology: A Systematic Theology, London: Epworth, 1980.Google Scholar

page 234 note 28 Ibid., p. 279.

page 234 note 29 See review by Power, David N., Worship 55 (1981), pp. 6169Google Scholar; see also Kavanagh's remarks (op. cit., below, n. 37) on ‘absolute certainty’, pp. 125ff.

page 234 note 30 Sykes, Stephen W., The Integrity of Anglicanism, London: Mowbrays, 1978.Google Scholar

page 234 note 31 Sykes, Stephen W., The Identity of Christianity, London: SPCK, 1984.Google Scholar

page 235 note 32 This is an expression much-used by Sykes in lectures and talks, and it is to be applauded in the era of ‘relevance’.

page 235 note 33 Kavanagh, Aidan, The Shape of Baptism: The Rite of Christian Initiation (Studies in the Reformed Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume 1), New York: Pueblo, 1978.Google Scholar

page 235 note 34 Ibid., pp. 142ff. The notion of ‘mystagogy’ is gaining attraction in the Churches at present, because it safeguards the primary focus of worship and religious experience, and avoids the didactic aspects and thematic tendencies of some areas of liturgical reform and experimentation. For a classic statement of this view, see Dalmais, I.-H., ‘Le “Mystérion”, contribution à une théologie de la liturgie’, La Maison-Dieu 158 (1984), pp. 1450.Google Scholar

page 235 note 35 See Kavanagh's, Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style, New York: Pueblo, 1982Google Scholar. A typical mot juste is as follows: ‘Being, like the feast, an end in itself, the liturgy inevitably forms its participants but does not educate them in the modern, didactic, sense of the word. Other media and contexts are available for education. Conflating liturgy and education produces poor education and dissimulated liturgy. The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught.’ (ibid., p. 28).

page 236 note 36 See Kavanagh, Aidan, ‘Liturgy and Ecclesial Consciousness: A Dialectic of Change’, Studia Liturgica 15 (1982/1983), p. 14 (whole article, pp. 2–17).Google Scholar

page 236 note 37 Kavanagh, Aidan, On Liturgical Theology, New York: Pueblo, 1984Google Scholar, passim, where he elaborates the discussion in the previous paper (see above, n. 36) on the meaning and significance of ‘primary theology’, and the (often) destructive consequences of ‘secondary theology’ when it has taken over and dominated spirituality and worship.

page 237 note 38 See Kavanagh, Aidan, ‘Christian Initiation: Tactics and Strategy’, in Made, Not Born: New Perspectives on Christian Initiation and the Catechumenate (Murphy Center for Liturgical Research), South Bend: Notre Dame University Press, 1976, p. 4.Google ScholarPubMed

page 237 note 39 An aside during the delivery of the paper cited above, n. 36, during the Ninth International Meeting of the Societas Liturgica, Mödling, August 1983. But cf. ‘It was a presence, not faith, which drew Moses to the burning bush, and what happened there was a revelation, not a seminar’, On Liturgical Theology, p. 92.

page 237 note 40 See Mark 6.30–52.

page 238 note 41 Cf. what Kaufman, Gordon has to say about theology (in our sense, ‘secondary’!) as an activity of the imagination, in Theology for a Nuclear Age, Manchester: University Press, 1985, p. 19ff.Google Scholar

page 238 note 42 See On Liturgical Theology, p. 10, for example, for some observations on why many social anthropologists have to study terrain foreign to themselves, in order to be ‘objective’, and how a comparable desire for ‘objectivity’ has had a detrimental effect on much theological writing in recent years. Kavanagh would maintain that it is impossible to be ‘objective’ in the cool, uninvolved sense in which that attitude is frequently felt, simply because the Christian believes and worships.

page 238 note 43 See, for example, our forthcoming work on the development of sacrificial language in relation to the eucharist down the ages, in which we plead for much more variety in the early (formative) stages; Stevenson, Kenneth, Eucharist and Offering: A Liturgical Study, (with foreword by Mark Santer), New York: Pueblo, 1986.Google Scholar

page 239 note 44 See On Liturgical Theology, pp. 88ff, for some observations on how the proper interaction of primary and secondary theology could renew the way in which we approach things. Certainly, many of the polemical attitudes of Catholic versus Protestant in recent centuries might have been avoided.

page 239 note 45 See Houlden's, J. L. essay in Harvey, Anthony (ed.), Alternative Approaches to New Testament Study, London: SPCK, 1985, pp. 134ff.Google Scholar

page 239 note 46 See Stevenson, Kenneth, ‘A.S.B. — Five Years On’, in Dakers, Lionel (ed.), The World of Church Music, London: Royal School of Church Music, 1985, pp. 70ff.Google Scholar

page 240 note 47 See above, p. 237, for Kavanagh on ambiguity.

page 240 note 48 These are three areas of liturgical study which are receiving much attention in, for example, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A. One of the saddest features of contemporary British Theology/Divinity Faculties is that there are few places where liturgy is taught and studied in any one of these three fields.