Evangelical church leaders to examine ancient liturgical practices

A growing number of evangelical leaders across the nation are taking a fresh look at some of the practices of the early Christian church, practices more commonly seen in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Some of those leaders will be in Tulsa next weekend for a Praxis Conference, a two-day conversation to explore how communion, the creeds, common prayer and other ancient practices can revitalize the modern evangelical church.

Evangelicals — a term that includes most Baptists and Charismatics/Pentecostals — are Christians who stress having a personal relationship with Christ, personal piety and evangelism, and who hold a high view of Scripture. Evangelical churches traditionally have downplayed liturgy.

But all is not well in the evangelical camp, said the Rev. Ed Gungor, pastor of Sanctuary Church in Jenks and organizer of the conference.

“Evangelicalism is bankrupt, and by that, I don’t mean that it’s an evil thing,” he said.

“In a sense, evangelicalism is in Chapter 11. It’s not paying all the bills. ... No one wants to jettison the challenge of personal faith, but how can we reorganize to pay the bills?”

Gungor said a symptom of the problem is that evangelicals are orienting more and more to the secular culture. New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July have become more important than Advent, Epiphany and Pentecost.

“In the end, we’re making people better Americans than Christians,” he said.

He said evangelical churches are more subject to secularism than liturgical churches because they are not connected to their historic core. American culture itself is ahistorical, he said, focused on the present and the future, and not the past.

“In some ways we have an Alzheimer’s church,” he said, a church that not only has forgotten its own past but also has lost its sense of identity.

Nonliturgical churches also tend to be divided from each other because people choose to attend churches with people who are politically, economically and socially like themselves.

He said a return to a more liturgical form of worship can help unify the church world because participation in the ancient practices supersedes differences between people.

Gungor said interest in the ancient liturgies began to surface in evangelical churches some years ago, and church leaders across the nation began to talk about it and write about it.

He said he would describe what is happening as a conversation, not a movement, although it could become one.

And he said the so-called neo-liturgical churches are not trying to leave evangelicalism to become Roman Catholics, Anglicans or Orthodox.

“Evangelicalism brings the element of personal piety, ... a transformative reality in the life of a person,” he said, values that evangelicals do not want to lose.

The Praxis Conference runs 10 a.m. Friday through 4 p.m. June 7 at Sanctuary Church, 1015 W. Main St. in Jenks.

Among the 20-some speakers will be Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia Houston, a large Baptist Church that has adopted liturgical practices, and Aaron Niequist, worship leader at Willow Creek, a mega-church in the Chicago area.

Quote: I predict that various evangelical Christians and other non-Catholic Christians are going to convert to the Catholic Church. We have seen this with people like Scott Hahn, Tim Staples, Marcus Grodi, a new convert Ulf Ekham.  The reason for this is that they are beginning to understand that the Catholic Faith is biblically proven, historically proven, philosophically proven, and proven in various other areas.

Here is an interesting quote from the recent convert Ulf Ekham

I discovered how little I really knew about [Catholics], their spirituality and their beliefs. Unconsciously I carried many prejudices and bad attitudes and have been quick to judge them without really knowing what they actually believed. It has been good to discover and to repent from nonchalant and shallow opinions, based not on their own sources but on their opponents, and to discover a very rich heritage, a strong theological foundation and a deep love for Jesus Christ among them.
The problem with this sort of thing is that in the end its all empty – and I say this to my protestant friends. The relation the protestants have with the past, with Tradition, is a very artificial one, and in many ways superfluous: they can simply choose what Fathers to listen to, not only that, but what passages from what books of the Fathers that they want to read; what Traditions and customs they want to adopt: now what is “in” is Lent, but not even a Traditional Catholic or Orthodox Lent – only the giving up of something, ultimately to one's self. And of course, they first did this sort of thing with the Bible.

They will always remain separated from Tradition and the historical Church (and in many cases, God), because all attempts to “recover” anything is just another mask worn by one's will. This is already noted by protestant theologians like James K. A. Smith, but the way he solves this problem is just to impose adopted – not inherited – traditions to wider scales. This might give the impression of reality to an enterprise that is void, and in a post-modern framework this might be good enough, but still there is a remainder: still there is the feeling that all is imitation, still there is the buried truth that they are severed from the body (and how this does not make them another body).

In the end, Evangelicalism (and Protestantism in general) is only yet another religion of nihilism in Christian attire.
I wonder if any of my fellow Tulsans will even consider this idea.  My guess, probably none.  There's a deep distrust of the Universal Church in this town, and when I converted, hardly anyone in the family understood or asked why.
Actually these religions were founded on the rejection of these things which they are rediscovering. I think that it shows that just as the sunflowers follow the sun as it goes throught the sky the truth of the Catholic Claims. On a side note I hear that there wasa group of Pentecostals who did one of these studies and were recieved into full communion with the Orthodox Church. 
(06-05-2014, 05:19 AM)LaramieHirsch Wrote: I wonder if any of my fellow Tulsans will even consider this idea.  My guess, probably none.  There's a deep distrust of the Universal Church in this town, and when I converted, hardly anyone in the family understood or asked why.

Yep. I'm in Tulsa too and I can't see this making a lick of difference, what with all the LifeChurch.tv's around.
How is this anything but exciting news?
This is an exciting development. It shows God at work among our separated brethren, drawing them into union with the fullness of the Truth.

One can only hope that this "investigation" into the historical Church, i.e. the Church of Jesus Christ, will yield authentic results in fostering unity WITHOUT any watering down of sacred truths.
(06-05-2014, 08:04 AM)loggats Wrote: How is this anything but exciting news?

Well, there is this thing called the Emergent Church. They're liberal Protestants but pull para-liturgical aspects of worship -- incense, candles, etc -- into what they do. But it's not really exciting news for a group to take a few things piecemeal and remain Protestant.
I do think it's a good news.

I had been a protestant before, and was converted to Catholicism after I read some books written by Catholics.

God will turn good from evil, I am pretty sure converts will come out due to this event.
I hope these Evangelicals if they discover Catholic truth will be drawn to Tradition ,not the Novus Ordo

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