What Is Liturgy, and Why Do We Need It?

A recent post by Peter Leithart questioning the role of high liturgy in sacramental theology has already sparked two responses on this site, and I wish to add to this collective response, though perhaps taking a different angle, specifically one that is surprisingly non-theological. Liturgy is as old as religion itself.  Sacrifices, altars, incense, priestly vestments, and so on, have all been found in…

“Born Again” Experience or Baptismal Regeneration?

 Soon after the Berlin Wall came down many American Evangelicals saw Eastern Europe as a mission field ripe for the Gospel.  However, they overlooked the fact that Orthodox Christianity had already been there for over a thousand years!  Mihai Oara wrote “Conversions and Conversions: Romanians between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism” which describes how Evangelicals sought to evangelize Eastern European Orthodox. The typical narrative…

Is Liturgy Magic? A Response to Peter Leithart’s Puritan Sacramentalism

I must admit that it always bugs me a bit when someone tells me what I believe, especially when I do not actually believe it. And so the bug in my bonnet buzzed again a bit when I read Peter Leithart’s latest musings on liturgy over at First Things. In this piece, Leithart lets the Orthodox, Roman Catholics and other “high church”…

On Leithart’s Puritans and the Purity of Sacraments

Introduction In a recent article at First Things, Peter Leithart laments the “high-churchism” of non-Protestant celebrations of the Eucharist. For Leithart, the essential difference between “high” and “low” liturgies is that of the preparatory rites—not necessarily the external ornaments of incense, bells, and vestments. Beyond mere simplicity, the Protestant or “Puritan” sacramentalism was one that eschewed excessive and unnecessary foreplay: The low-church Reformers…

Infant Communion, Revisited

By Fr. Gregory Hogg Commemoration of the Holy Innocents, 29 December 2014 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. John 6:51 The young children ask for bread, But no one…

Original Sin and Ephesus: Carthage’s Influence on the East

In my last post, I argued that the doctrine of original sin as defined at the Council of Carthage in 418 is just as authoritative in the East as it is in the West because of the inclusion of the canons from Carthage in Canon 2 of the Council in Trullo (692, also known as the Quinisext or Penthekti Council). At first…

Church History and Same-Sex Marriage

Relevant to several recent postings here on same-sex marriage is this May 2012 piece from the Roads From Emmaus weblog. It is mainly a clearinghouse of links to other resources on the position of same-sex marriage in the history of Christianity. It has been slightly edited for this publication. There have been several postings online in the past few days of various…

Same-Sex Pair Uses Orthodox Wedding Service

[HuffPo] Manhattan saw many couples married that day, but one wedding was different, not only because it was two men being married in a Christian church, nor because they were joined by 80 supportive family members, nor even because it was a fully legal marriage of a same-sex couple, but also because two thinly handcrafted silver metal hoops, seven inches in diameter,…

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Orthodox Church

Does the Orthodox Church believe in “transubstantiation” (μετουσίωσις in Greek) with regards to the Eucharist? Or is that only used in the Latin (Roman Catholic) church? There’s certainly a lot of confusion and conflicting information out there, so let’s take a closer look. As a long-time blogger, I can vouch for the necessity of extending grace towards a writer when they are…

A Tale of Two Bishops: St. Cyprian and the Novatianists

For the previous post in this series, see A Tale of Two Bishops: An Introduction Via Ravenna. The history of early Christianity is replete with persecutions, and the time of St. Cyprian was no different. After thirty-eight years of tolerance, AD 250 began another persecution of Christians at the hand of the emperor Decius. At his command, all imperial inhabitants must sacrifice to the…