Baker Academic Blog
An Interview with James K.A. Smith on Imagining the Kingdom (Part 1 and Part 2)
...If you’re going explaining “how worship works,” you need to remind contemporary evangelicalism of something it has tended to forget: that worship is not just “expressive.” Worship is also formative. So worship isn’t just something that we do; it does something to us. Christian worship is not just the upward sacrifice of praise by which we show our devotion to God. Christian worship is also the gathering of God’s people wherein God gets ahold of us—meets us where we are and remakes us in his image. Contemporary evangelicalism has largely reduced worship to its “expressive” side; I’m trying to get us to remember its “formative” side.
Then the goal is to try to explain just how the Spirit forms us through worship practices. This is why we need to think about habit formation, embodiment, the importance of repetition, and why form matters. All of Imagining the Kingdom builds toward a reflection on these matters in the final chapter.
But to explain how worship works—how liturgy works—also explains how “secular” liturgies work. In other words, I hope my account explains the dynamics of Christian worship formation while helping diagnose our deformation by cultural liturgies that want to capture our imagination with a very different vision of “the good life.” If we understand how worship works, we’ll also begin to appreciate how temptation works.