Smith, James K.A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
Chapter 4, “From Worship to Worldview: Christian Worship and the Formation of Desire” pp. 133-154.
In this chapter, Smith raises the question, “what does worship say about Christian faith?” (Smith 2009, 134). Rather than considering Christianity in terms of specific doctrines, he was finding the reality in the way Christians worship together. Smith observes that the Church was worshiping together before formulating creedal statements (Smith 200, 135). He applies this idea also to the case of children and developmentally disabled adults, who, though they cannot formulate doctrine, can still participate in a life of faith and trust in God (Smith 2009, 136). The way we worship forms our doctrine and life. Smith also points out that worship is sensuous by nature (Smith 2009, 139). It evokes bodily involvement. Smith views the bodily nature of worship as what makes it “sacramental” (Smith 2009, 141). He unpacks the term, defining it as a Calvinist, to indicate any way God uses material elements to deliver grace (Smith 2009, 142). Smith goes on to illustrate this form of sacramental belief in vivid description in the literature of Graham Greene and Anne Sexton (Smith 2009, 144ff).
The embodiedness of the Christian faith is clear. Smith warns, however, that the sacramental view he identifies could erode what is special about Christian worship (Smith 2009, 148). Jesus’ assertion of a “special presence” in communion, for instance, must be guarded (Smith 2009, 149). The liturgy is special by its very nature. It is God’s action which we receive (Smith 2009, 151). Finally, in worship, every church body has a liturgy. The terms used and even the goals may very. But there is always form and structure (Smith 2009, 152). The underlying concept is that worship will form our attitudes.