Continuity of Faith Expression

I have been working on this topic for some time, from professional interest and from a practical application. With so much innovation in worship, there seems to be little continuity even within one congregation. But this is really on the tip of the iceberg. The issue affects worship, catechesis, Bible translation, Bible study, memory work, daily devotional life, etc.

Worship: It makes a difference that there is a commonality of faith expression within the same worship community. By having that common faith expression, we can share the Biblical heritage as well as the worship heritage over the centuries. “Homemade liturgies” might be appealing for a while, but novelty doe snot have staying power. The various forms of the historic liturgy provide more than enough variety with the added advantage of continuing the faith expression of the centuries. The latest hymnal from CPH (Lutheran Service Book, LSB, 2006)  is perhaps the best English language resource available because it gives the historic sense and continuity.

Catechesis: Sadly this area is neglected even among Lutherans who confess the Christian faith. Memory work does not have to be drudgery, does not have to be intimidating, and should not be neglected. Luther’s explanations are fine examples of how to compose material for easy memorization (it works in German, obviously, but also in English translation). Pastors are to be encouraged to have parents and children memorize the catechism. In fact, why not have the whole congregation participate in learning the catechism by heart?

Bible translation: In English we have been blessed with many translations… In English we have been cursed with many translations. The latest figure is around 75 English translations available on the marker today. While from a study perspective such abundance is beneficial, from a continuity of faith expression such abundance is actually a hindrance. Sadly many translations have not been focused on the rhythm and cadence of the translation making it usable for musical and liturgical expression as well as understood by the majority of worshipers. For instance, NIV has been used because of its readability, but it is not as useful for liturgical work. ESV fits better into the liturgical framework and historical continuity of faith expression, but in some (many?) places it is not a good translations for the average Bible reader.

I could go on, but the key thought is that every aspect of the Christian life is affected by being “in Christ.” That includes the faith expression of the gathered believers, the devotional life, the catechetical instruction, and the prayer life.


Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian