In Search of Ancient Roots presents an interesting analysis of the perception that the protestant church is anti-intellectual, anti-historical, and unmoored from the longer tradition of the lowercase-c-catholic church. The book addresses the protestant church in relation to history and presents some ideas for how the church could appeal to the disaffected.
As someone who is attracted to liturgical worship (in a thoughtful, historical, James K.A. Smith sense, not in an empty formalism way), and someone who cringes at the “lite” parts of Christian sub-culture, I found this book very interesting. The author (who calls people like me “the liturgical fringe” which made me laugh) takes on evangelical tendencies to chase culture rather than making it, and calls the church to reclaim historical, gospel-focused worship.
The section on music was particularly helpful. Josh and I had a good talk about this quote:
And what do you sing? …our sung praises to God should include hymns and songs of the church at all times and places…What is called blended worship can easily incorporate elements both ancient and modern, provided that we are determined to identify with believers of all ages [and worldwide] when we worship God.
A few weeks ago, a family who serves as missionaries in Tokyo visited our church. They noted that one of the songs we sang was one they sing in Japan, so this family sang it in Japanese. Isn’t it amazing to think of believers all over the world worshipping in different ways? I would love to see our worship reflect “the church at all times and places.”
I hope that the evangelical church becomes more rooted and grounded in the historical church rather than whiplashed by pop culture, while preserving the theological distinctions that brought about the Reformation. I enjoyed considering the different wings of protestant church culture–it’s far from monolithic in many ways–and found a lot to think about while reading In Search of Ancient Roots. I wouldn’t call it a must-read, but if you like considering church culture, or if you’re involved in setting it in any way, I’d recommend this book.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.