Making Sense of Worship with Help from Martin Thornton

My latest piece over at Covenant

7/14/20221 min read

I stumbled upon Martin Thornton's Pastoral Theology and reading it has been a challenge but also deeply rewarding. I've gleaned lots from the text, but one of the most significant take-aways was Thornton's attempt to make sense of what exactly it is that is happening when the Church gathers to worship. He calls this the"Remnant Hypothesis." I was able to write about this on the Covenant blog.

From my article:

"The idea here is that it is not the crowd nor the elite group of parishioners that are most important. Rather — if the parish is a microcosm of the Church Catholic — a small group of parishioners worshiping actually instantiates the body of Christ in a particular time and place so that worship is vicariously offered on behalf of the whole of the Church."

You can read the rest here.

While I didn't get to it in the article, I still want to do some more reflecting on Thornton's theology of rule of life. Essentially, he posits that for Anglicans, the threefold rule of daily office (an objective gift offered to the Father), Eucharist (a objective-subjective communion with the Son), and private prayer (a subjective encounter with the Holy Spirit), is the best means to bolster one for the life with God. I found this really compelling, especially his description of the way the office is a gift. I recognize that since Thornton is writing about the Anglican rule without much reference to the broader Church that he runs the risk of being merely "denominational" or sectarian, but I think his ideas here remain fruitful nonetheless.