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Rick Warren Meets Gregory Dix: The Liturgical Movement Comes Knocking at the Megachurch Door

Patrick Malloy


The movement commonly called “the emerging church” arose out of the evangelical megachurches, where members--especially younger members--increasingly sought an affective, symbolic, and non-dogmatic style of worship. The emerging church arises out of postmodernism’s suspicion of truth claims and its trust in experience. This has led to a liturgical style that embraces experience but, as some within the movement acknowledge, lacks theological grounding. As they have turned to the early church for models of authentic common prayer, emergent Christians are building a liturgical style that is often described as “ancient-modern.” Episcopalians, like emergent Christians, value enacted over confessional theology yet claim a theological tradition that situates the liturgy within what Phyllis Tickle calls “a grand framing story.” An “ecumenical” conversation with emergence holds great promise, will happen primarily at the parochial level, and will require Episcopalians, especially clergy, to be not only rooted in the great sweep of the Christian Tradition but also open to the insights of postmodernism.

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