What was the impact of liturgy on the development of orthodox doctrine in the early Christian church? With renowned liturgical historian Maxwell E. Johnson as a guide, readers of Praying and Believing in Early Christianity will discover the important and sometimes surprising ways that worship helped to shape what was believed, taught, and confessed. In particular, Johnson considers this relationship in terms of soteriology: What is the role of grace in the process of salvation? Trinity: How did early devotion to Christ and the church's baptismal and eucharistic liturgies help shape the developing doctrine of the Trinity? Christ and Mary: What does the devotional and liturgical term theotokos say about them both? ethics: How does the liturgy contribute not only to doctrine but also to convictions about morality? Johnson also explores the ways this relationship worked in the opposite direction: How did doctrinal developments shape liturgical texts in the patristic period? This is an excellent text for beginning students in liturgical studies at the master's level.
Finally! A renowned historian of liturgy explores at length the creative interplay between liturgical practice and theological reflection. This has been a desideratum for some time now, especially given the fresh readings of early Christian sources and the glimpses these provide of liturgical practices. In his new book, Max Johnson offers a nuanced, carefully argued, and expertly corroborated look at how doctrine shaped liturgical prayer and how prayer shaped the church's faith in the early centuries. Mapping the interplay between praying and believing in a multidimensional way, Johnson makes an important and much needed contribution to the ongoing conversation about the relationship between worship and doctrine in the church's life. I highly recommend this book.
Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School
Professor Maxwell Johnson of the University of Notre Dame has written a short but fulsome account of the influence of the liturgy on the development of the doctrines of grace, Trinity, Christology, and Mariology in the ancient Church and on early Christianity's moral practices. Entering into current debates in liturgical theology, Johnson challenges claims about liturgy and prayer as primary theology (lex orandi) and disagrees with the understanding of orthodoxia as right praise' (it is right teaching'). Rather, he sees a simultaneous development of both liturgy and dogma in the early centuries in which one should look for the theology embedded in the liturgy and doxology and supplication expressed in theology. While Johnson aimed this book at master's level students, it will be of interest also to his peers, who will find points to challenge precisely because they are so engagingly made.
-The Rev. Dr. Frank C. Senn, STS,
Pastor (retired), Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, Illinois
Assembling ample documentary evidence from the early Christian centuries, and drawing on supportive argumentation from recent scholarship, Maxwell Johnson here demonstrates the prime role of worship and devotion in shaping the Church's doctrine and ethics; and then in turn he signals the recurrent need for the classical faith to inform contemporary liturgy and the moral life. A tightly reasoned book, with many illustrative examples!
Robert Earl Cushman Professor Emeritus of Christian Theology, Duke Divinity School