Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Which lens?

All this talk about worldview can be somewhat confusing to a people not accustomed to speaking in this way.  But it is not some theoretical or ethereal aesthetic.  It is the most practical thing of all.  Let me give you an example.  A worldview is a set of beliefs or a mental model of reality that influences the way people perceive, think, know, and act in the world.

Depending on your worldview, you will either look at the liturgy (worship) through the lens of the world or the world through the lens of the liturgy (worship).   What is the difference?  If you are looking from the lens of the world, worship is programmatic.  It is something you do in order to obtain a certain result and it is something you change in order to achieve that result.  Worship is like a recipe -- the object is the end and the end that counts is the one that is filled with accolades from people who have judged it tasty, who want to eat it again, and who will pass on the recipe to a neighbor.  Sounds pretty normal, right?  Of course it does.  That is the way everything in the world works -- from the endless customer satisfaction surveys that follow up on our every outing to a restaurant or purchase from a store or online retail experience.  The product is important only because it is important in the eyes of those who seek it.  The temporal governs the eternal because the temporal is that which is most important of all (like Your Best Life Now).

If you look at the world through the lens of the liturgy, the opposite perspective is at work.  The things of the world are judged and valued according to God's revelation, the preaching of the Gospel, and the reception of His gifts (eternal gifts given in time).  What happens in the liturgy (worship) is a given -- it does not change.  It is what changes both us and the way we see everything.  The eternal governs the temporal and when they conflict, it is the our way in the world that changes and not the other way around.  Worship is the core and center of everything -- of who we are and what the world is.  It is our lens which we use to see ourselves in the mirror and see the world around us.  It programs us for the things around us and for the eternal and what we bring to it is responsive and not determinative.  It is not that the response of the people is not important -- it is -- but its importance is to God and not to the people planning that worship.  Of course, we do not get in the way of God by making things purposefully obtuse but neither do we define what happens to satisfy the desires of the people in the moment or for the purpose of being judged meaningful.  God's Word and the gifts of His grace are meaningful whether we judge them so or not -- because they bestow forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Worldview is what defines how we approach worship (well, in reality everything!).  If we view the present through the lens of the eternal, then that will govern how we view pain, suffering, happiness, joy, life, death, truth, lies, and everything.  The worldview rooted in God and the things of God is static -- it is yesterday, today, and forever the same.  This is because that worldview is Christ and He is the lens through which we see, value, and judge everything -- including us.  The worldview that flows from the world is ever changing and you must play catch up all the time because that view evolves and the goal posts constantly move.  If you get where I am going with this, liturgical reformation which returns to sources (ad fontes) is the only legitimate  renewal but the other kind of liturgical change -- the one which reflects things around us, must not only change the form but the content and it must change them over and over and over again.  

Those who advocate worship styles and practices designed to fit the preferences of people not in the Church are using a worldview that posits more weight on the shape of culture than on the cultus of the Divine Service.  Whether you advocate this or not, you cannot deny that the divide between style and substance was created so that worship can change at will while presuming, in theory at least, that the content or dogma does not change.  Lex ordandi lex credendi finds this presumption faulty but what must be addressed is not only what is changed but why.  And that involves a worldview informed by and shaped by the world in which the doctrine and pattern of worship are merely bargaining chips in the larger game of numbers.  Everything from the woke viewpoint of sex, gender, race, economics, and the role of government will find a willing partner with those who begin with a largely secular worldview (even though they claim to be religious) while those whose worldview is shaped by Scripture and lived out within the context of liturgy will object to and battle against the targets of the woke.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Exactly so. It’s the difference in looking through the two ends of a telescope. Through the wrong end, the world/worship seems a minuscule thing compared to where one stands. Seen through the proper end, the world falls away, and the view is enlarged. We are standing on the small end of the telescope. Looking at worship/liturgy without the aid of the telescope (naturally), worship seems small and insignificant. Viewed through the proper end/lens, worship fills all the scope of our vision, and everything else is merely an inclusion in that field of sight.