Friday, July 3, 2015

Liturgical Prayers are Epistemologically Calvinistic

I think I can offend everyone with this one.  Here goes.  The Humeans at Puritanboard attacked "liturgy" (though despite my repeated requests, they never actually defined that which they were attacking).  It seemed that something to do with repetition is bad and soul-deadening.

Some form of liturgical prayers are inevitable and always operate at the sub-conscious level.  Even people who always pray extemporarenously, usually pray the same extemporaneous prayers.  I for one know how many "Jesus-Weejus" prayers I've prayed.  How often have you heard, "Jesus, we just..."?  Even worse, how often have you heard, "Lead, guide, and direct us" during a prayer? Nothing wrong with those concepts, mind you, but it's not entirely clear how it isn't repetitive and it certainly isn't an advance on the Book of Common Prayer.

Is liturgy soul-killing?  It's an unfair question because any practice can be soul-killing.   So should you stop the practice?

Does extemporaneous prayer really enact a more pure piety?  Well, if it does it puts the Psalter in a rather awkward position.  I think the examples of powerful extemporaneous prayers are from people whose minds are already saturated with Scripture--which is precisely the goal of the Book of Common Prayer.

But doesn't Scripture warn against mindless prayers and repetition?  Yes.  But as I've demonstrated above, many extemporaneous prayers often become repetitive.  Further, the Lord enjoined us to pray a specific, so-called "Lord's Prayer."  Seems repetitive to me.  And there is no reason why my mind can't be focused on the (admittedly repetitive) words I am saying.  The Puritanical Humean has given no reason why that must be so.  He's merely asserted it.

But why are liturgical prayers epistemologically Calvinistic?  They are so because they don't require me, on my own strength, to approach God with something new today.  I get to rely on God. Even more startling, should adherents to Exclusive Psalmody only pray from the Psalms in church?  If the argument, "We can't improve on God's songbook" holds, then why doesn't the argument "We cannot improve upon God's prayerbook" hold?

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