Having finished editing and publishing “Footwashers: Following the Jesus Way”, I am now back at work on Catechetics: Fixing Confirmation. I’m on Chapter 15, Catechesis and Church Life II: Liturgy and Ceremony. Much has been said about this in the last few decades. Yet, in the first three pages, I quote from or reference four different papers by one author: Kurt Marquart. I realized that it would look as if I had not read widely on the topic. (“Hmmm, let’s see, Google ‘Marquart liturgy.” Carefully plagiarize, and the chapter practically writes itself!”) This is not the case. But, for some reason, I find Marquart’s comments most helpful in discussing the theology and practice of the liturgy. After some pondering, I realized why this was. So, to explain, I added the following footnote. I think it gives a tantalizing hint of the entire thrust and purpose of the book. Of course, this is only a first draft, and so it may change. But here is what I wrote today:
Dr. Marquart’s various works will be referenced often in this discussion. He was one of the ablest defenders of the liturgy in recent decades, and his work should be required reading for anyone interested in the proper place of liturgy in the life of the church. Unlike many others in the Lutheran church who spent their careers writing and studying the liturgy, Dr. Marquart was not distracted by the attractive promises of Romanistic ideology that flowed into Lutheranism immediately before, and since Vatican 2. Many Lutherans were drawn into thinking that repristinating the allegedly more pure liturgy of a given era (usually the early church) was a worthwhile endeavor. However, as previously noted, it became more a matter of poorly replicating Roman Catholic ideas that originated in their unique theological and philosophical outlook (e.g. ex opere operato, to name but one), than actually reintroducing ideas and customs that are verifiably from the early church. Meanwhile, the actual known customs of the church of the reformation, introduced for the express purpose of living the theology of the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechisms, were often neglected. This is unfortunate for several reasons. The most directly applicable to our situation is that much liturgical insight is nothing more than Romanizing tendencies, and one must read, even Lutheran liturgical scholars, with great discretion. Catechizing using those assumptions and practices does not lead to a better understanding or practice regarding the doctrine of justification. It is for this reason that Dr. Marquart’s writings are so very valuable. They help us to do just that.