"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prayer and Belief: What is the Relationship?

My graduate students always struggle with the relationship between doctrine and liturgy in the aftermath of Prosper of Aquitaine's famous adage lex orandi, lex credendi. It is not a straightforward or one-way relationship, but more complicated than that. The liturgical theologian Dr. Daniel Galadza, teaching in Vienna, just alerted me to a book that may help clarify this question. Forthcoming next month from the well-known and respected liturgist at Notre Dame Maxwell Johnson is Praying and Believing in Early Christianity: The Interplay between Christian Worship and Doctrine (Liturgical Press, 2013), 168pp.

About this book we are told:
What was the impact of liturgy on the development of orthodox doctrine in the early Christian church? With renowned liturgical historian Maxwell E. Johnson as a guide, readers of Praying and Believing in Early Christianity will discover the important and sometimes surprising ways that worship helped to shape what was believed, taught, and confessed. In particular, Johnson considers this relationship in terms of
  • soteriology: What is the role of grace in the process of salvation?
  • Trinity: How did early devotion to Christ and the church's baptismal and eucharistic liturgies help shape the developing doctrine of the Trinity?
  • Christ and Mary: What does the devotional and liturgical term theotokos say about them both?
  • ethics: How does the liturgy contribute not only to doctrine but also to convictions about morality?
  • Johnson also explores the ways this relationship worked in the opposite direction: How did doctrinal developments shape liturgical texts in the patristic period? This is an excellent text for beginning students in liturgical studies at the master's level.

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