The primacy of liturgy in Christianity

Bruce Ellis Benson

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1 Citation (Scopus)


I argue that liturgy is primary to the Christian faith. By 'liturgy', however, I do not mean merely what happens on Sunday morning. Instead, I distinguish between 'intensive' and 'extensive' liturgies, those that occur when the body of Christ meets together and when that body disperses. All of this together constitutes Christian liturgy. My thesis is not that practice is more primary than theory, for that presupposes the possibility of drawing a sharp line between them - an impossible task. Rather, liturgy is a variety of embodied cognition through which we know God and our neighbours. Theology is something that arises from our liturgies and is itself liturgical in nature. We may believe the Nicene Creed, but saying it aloud is performative in nature. I end by examining the relation of phronesis and theoria in Aristotle and then consider the way Heidegger uses this distinction to argue that 'know-how' (Verstehen) is the most basic kind of human knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReligious Studies
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


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