Liturgy as theological Norm getting acquainted with 'liturgical theology'

In this article a case is made for considering the liturgy as theological norm par excellence. The case is built up by relying on an emphatic current of thought within the field of liturgical studies, namely the ‘liturgical theology’ as it was developed by Alexander Schmemann, Aidan Kavanagh, and David W. Fagerberg. After presenting the concept of ‘liturgical theology’ and the context out of which it emerged, its major characteristics are discussed. Particular attention is devoted to the radicalness of their position. It can be called radical because the reversal of the relation between doctrine and liturgy is by no means evident for the vast majority of modern believers and theologians. However, ‘liturgical theology’ claims that it is not doctrine which determines liturgy but liturgy which determines doctrine. According to liturgical theologians, the liturgy is not simply the ritual expression of the content of faith, but itself theology, even theologia prima . Correspondingly, liturgical theologians point to the original wording of the famous adage lex orandi lex credendi , which is the following: ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi . Whereas the usual formulation suggests equality and mutual dependence, the original context lays bare a clear priority of the rule of prayer over the rule of faith. In the final part of the article I explore some avenues to the evaluation of ‘liturgical theology’. I argue that there is need for a more profound philosophical underpinning and historical adequacy. But nevertheless the idea that the liturgy constitutes a theological norm stands firmly and should be considered far more broadly and seriously among contemporary systematic theologians
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DOI 10.1515/nzst.2010.010
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