This post was first published on June 24, 2017 for my former blog, The Liturgical Theologian, on Patheos.
There’s no good way of classifying those who are liturgical snobs by virtue of being low liturgy or low(er) church. I do not have in view those belonging to churches who lack a historical liturgy or connectivity. This is not an anti-liturgy, contra-liturgy, or alternative-liturgy list (that might be another blog post for another time). I know a significant number of people who are Low Liturgy and who deeply appreciate the liturgical tradition of the Church even if they hold said tradition in a less-than-high regard and draw different conclusions.
This list is predominantly based on my personal experience as an Anglican, although certain substitutes can be made (Calvin’s Institutes in place of the 39 Articles, etc.). Do not be fooled, friends, those who are low church and low liturgy are every bit as snobby as those from my list from yesterday. Their views are held with as much fervor and information as Liturgy Snobs.
Here it is: you might be a Low Liturgy Snob if…
- Use the 39 Articles as your guide for liturgical and sacramental theology.
- Believe the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to be the only prayer book. Extra points if you’ve uttered, “We don’t use an epiclesis because 1662 doesn’t.”
- Consciously—and perhaps even with pen in your prayer book—you replace the word “priest” with “presbyter.” Bonus points if your title is Sr. Pastor instead of Rector. Extra points if you avoid being called “Father” because no one can be called Father but God the Father.
- Translate High Church as Catholic and Anglo-Catholic as Anglo-Papalist.
- Differentiation between sacraments and sacramental rites is of the utmost importance to you.
- Who needs liturgy when you have the Solas?
- Think that 1552 was Cranmer’s first prayer book. A snobbier position would be in thinking that 1552 reflects his mature theology and is therefore more complete and authentic than 1549.
- Wear your preaching tabs or academic hood more often than your collar. Extra points for referring to your collar as a “dog collar” or “flea and tick collar.”
- Reject the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday believing it to be superstitious or works-based.
- You insist upon using a Table rather than an Altar for Communion (you definitely don’t call it Mass or even Holy Eucharist).
If you’ve made it to the end of this list and are guilty of the majority of these points, then you are likely a Low Liturgy Snob. You draw your positions on the sacraments, liturgy, and more from the documents and theological milieu of the 16th century Reformations. Low Liturgy Snobs are highly informed and well-read; their positions come from thoughtful study and reflection. Even as I write this list in jest, please be assured that I think you are a valuable part of the Anglican family. I may not agree with you on all points, but then again I don’t agree with anyone on every point.
Here’s the secret to differentiating between Liturgy and Low Liturgy Snobs:
Liturgy Snobs will likely believe that the law of praying shapes the law of belief. They may believe in a two-way street as well.
Low liturgy snobs will definitely believe that the law of belief (doctrine and theology) shapes the law of praying.