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Michael S. Horton
Third in a series sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, this volume (the fruit of an international conference) draws together an impressive roster of liturgical scholars in order to understand both the origins and future of Reformed/Presbyterian worship. Rare among edited collections, this volume reads smoothly as a unified book. Editor Lukas Vischer, long recognized as a senior scholar on ecumenism and worship (he was director of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission), and series editor John D. Witvliet must be congratulated for having organized and supervised the transitions between such a varied team of specialists. This work is distinguished also in that it brings together the past ("Reformed") and present ("always reforming") impulses inherent in the tradition without privileging one over the other. In this way, it provides a model for transcending polarizing tendencies that often generate more heat than light.
Leading off the historical survey, distinguished Calvin scholar Elsie Anne McKee rises to the daunting challenge of providing a summary that includes the background and development of a general Reformed consensus, turning to more specific traditions (Zwinglian and Calvinist) and exploring their commonalities as well as, in some cases, rather remarkable contrasts. While the Calvinist expression finally came to dominate the confessional and liturgical forms, Zwinglian elements have never been wholly absent as a more radical critique of medieval worship. Professor McKee notes, for example, Calvin's greater appreciation for the sacraments alongside the preached Word, and therefore the frequent (weekly, in Calvin's best-case scenario) celebration of the Supper.
Swiss pastor and liturgical scholar Bruno Bürki takes the survey into the 17th century, concentrating on developments on the European continent. Especially useful in providing a brief account of crucial trends, individuals, and texts that are largely unavailable in English, ...