Review of “Orthodox Christianity Volume IV: The Worship and Liturgical Life of the Orthodox Church” by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY VOLUME IV: THE WORSHIP AND LITURGICAL LIFE OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. By Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. Yonkers: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2016. 382 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0-88141-522-0. In this fourth volume of his encyclopedic work Orthodox Christianity, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has provided especially for us Orthodox Christians in America what just may be the most readable, comprehensive, and informative book on…

The Rejection of Universalism in the Triodion

One of the big problems with an Orthodox Christian embracing universalism is that he has to reject a large portion of the liturgical tradition of the Church in order to do so. The eternality of the punishment of the wicked is ubiquitous in the services of the Church. This may be less apparent if one does not have access to frequent church…

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…

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”…

“Show us the Father” – How The Father May or May Not be Depicted in Orthodox Iconography

Read through any collection of Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoons, and you will doubtless come across a cartoon image of God as an old man, usually gigantic in proportion and surrounded by the clouds of “heaven.”  This kind of cartoon image has become the popular depiction of God within our popular culture, from the Sunday morning funny papers to popular films such as Monty Python…

“I Don’t Worship God by Singing”: So Why Bother Going to Church?

A reader alerted me to best-selling author Donald Miller‘s Feb. 3 post “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere,” and I was immediately struck by both the rightness and the tone of his critique: I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all. I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s…

Do Atheist “Mega-Churches” create the same effect as Christian ones?

Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an “inspirational talk” about forgotten — but important — inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy. During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of “Lean on…

If King David danced, should Christians dance in church?

The above video recently made the rounds on social media, and in many of the discussions that followed, there was a predictably negative response from traditional liturgical Christians and a predictably positive response from those who have in one way or another departed from liturgical tradition. From the latter, the question is typically why the former are so uptight as to insist…

Dancing Bishops Greet the Pope (and Other Such Nonsense)

Even if I were somehow able to be convinced of Rome’s unique dogmas, stuff like the above is one of the main reasons I could never become a Roman Catholic. I have been told by Rome’s apologists that these kinds of things are really just “abuses” and that the “true” culture and worship of Rome shouldn’t be like this. But if a…

Is There Really a Patristic Critique of Icons? (Part 5 of 5)

Editor’s Note: Following is the final entry in a 5-part series by Gabe Martini addressing the claim by Presbyterian pastor Steven Wedgeworth that there is significant patristic testimony against iconography. The response is necessarily more in-depth than the original post it responds to, because numerous quick claims are made there without much in the way of examination of their context or historic character. A…