Posts Tagged ‘Ritual’

Ritual and Typology

This is a follow-on to my previous posting on ritual.

    I have noticed recently that a number of people are thinking of “covenant renewal worship” as grounded in “Old Testament” (whatever that actually is!) or Levitical ritual typology. Perhaps that is so for some, but not for me, and not for those of us who uncovered or recovered these matters in the 1980s.

    Of course, this depends on what is meant by “typology.” If what is meant is the post-Reformation intellectualist notion that types are simply symbolic forms slapped onto reality and designed to teach us things, then no, CRW (“covenant renewal worship”) has nothing to do with this. If what is meant is a Vantillian and arguably pre-modern view that “typology” is a revelation of the meaning of human life as imaging the life of God, then yes, CRW is indeed about that.

   The CRW pattern in common use today (Call, Confession-Absolution, Ascension-Word-Offertory, Communion, Commissioning) had its origin in my reading Dix’s *Shape* and noting that the shape of the communion is virtually the same as that of the covenant making rites in the Bible. From there it was a matter of noticing that the conventional Christian worship service with which I grew up, the Lutheran service of Luther Reed, was but an expansion of the steps of Dix’s *Shape.* From there, in discussion with Ray Sutton and Gary North, who were examining Meredith Kline’s covenant structures from a more Vantillian-creationist viewpoint, it became clear that (a) God’s initial formation of the world in Genesis 1 went through the same steps, and hence this was how the Spirit does things, and that (b) human beings inescapably move through five steps of laying hold, dividing and reforming, distributing with words, sampling, and enjoying. My work in the Leviticus Food Laws in the later 1980s forced me to outline Leviticus and consider all of it, and it became apparent that the sequence of the sacrificial offerings followed the same pattern. And sure enough, this order had been observed by previous liturgists. Jeffrey Meyers’s *The Lord’s Service,* (an admirable treatment of all this) shows how thoroughly this sequence had been observed and considered by previous generations of Christians.


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