Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Liturgical Ritualism

Here is what I believe to be a good example of the thinking of Federal Vision/High Liturgy men, and its danger. It is a quote from Steve Wilkins in an interview he gave in 2003 about the Auburn Ave. Theology. He is discussing baptism.

It's like a wedding. There is a transformation that takes place because of the ritual. A single man becomes a married man. He is transformed into a new man, with new blessings and privileges and responsibilities he didn't have before. A similar thing happens at baptism. The one who is baptized is transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, from Adam into Christ, and given new privileges, blessings, and responsibilities he didn't have before.

Note that Wilkins here makes the argument that ritual makes a change within you as to your status and to the blessings, responsibilities and privileges one enjoys. For Wilkins it is the ritual that makes one married, not the vows, not the rational consent, only the ritual itself. Also Wilkins then claims it is the ritual of baptism that makes one in Christ as opposed to in Adam. It is the ritual of baptism that actually transfers one from hell to heaven, darkness to light, Adam to Christ. The ritual of baptism saves for Rev. Wilkins. I believe this is one of the major lines of thinking for both the Federal Vision and those who desire a High Liturgy. Ritual saves. The rituals actually convey what they represent. High Liturgy men want a weekly communion because the ritual of Eucharist will convey what it represents by simple eating. For the record Wilkins is a paedocommunist because he believe the infants will receive the blessing from partaking in the ritual. Other aspects of the High Liturgy, besides the sacraments, include such things as the pronouncement of forgiveness. Here the minister pronounces the people forgiven of their sins after they repeat a formal confession of sin, sometimes in the format of a prayer. This too gives rise to a sacerdotalism where the priest/pastor actually has the power to forgive sins. The ritual of pronouncement will convey what it represents. That is what Wilkins argues for in the above quote. That is what High Liturgy conveys, and that is why this is an important discussion.