Volume 01, Number 01 May 1971

The Celebration of Christian Marriage

Professor J J von Allmen

J J von Allmen notes that the opportunity to revise existing marriage liturgies is one that is being taken up in many churches. This opportunity is one that is linked to the renewal of Biblical theology which, given the absence of any established liturgical order, has led to the renewal of the spirituality of marriage. Von Allmen seeks to establish “under what conditions the members of the early Church could contract marriage”. Thereafter, he establishes the following: 1) “the fiancés must not be of the same sex” 2) they must marry “in the Lord” with a member of the Church 3) the relationship should not be incestuous, and 4) ‘they must be free to contract a marriage’. Von Allmen affirms that, theologically speaking, the Church ‘is entitled to solemnize marriage’, and, given the absence of a narrative of institution, the Church requires to frame its liturgy so that it reflects what she believes about marriage. Thereafter, von Allmen offers a reflection on the sacramental character of marriage and links this to a discussion on the indissolubility of marriage. Further, von Allmen affirms that the liturgy ought to emphasize the Christian character of marriage to its fullest extent.

The Breaking of Bread

T F Torrance

In a sermon by T F Torrance, based on the text of Acts 2: 42, he identifies a renewed understanding of Scripture that has emerged as a consequence of ecumenical engagement, and he particularly records his indebtedness to the Orthodox tradition. Thereafter, he seeks to expound the text ‘through the eyes of the Greek Orthodox Church’, in relation to three themes: 1) ‘Fidelity to Apostolic Doctrine’ 2) ‘Communion of the Holy Spirit’, and 3) “Eucharistic Worship of the People of God”. He affirms that the worship of the Orthodox Church is ‘the most biblically grounded worship’ known to him, and he contrasts this with contemporary Protestant worship which he regards as essentially an expression of the human self.

Is it still the same Mass?

John Symon (with Response by Rev John Heron)

John Symon identifies the liturgical reforms and developments that took place during the first century of the Christian era as being the most significant and extensive to have been witnessed in Justin Martyr’s Apology I (Chapters 65 & 67) and in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus we see a far-reaching and radical interpretation of the New Testament experience. He regards these reforms and developments as being far more radical than those witnessed in the sixteenth century Reformation or in the twentieth century within the Roman Catholic Church. Thereafter, Symon takes up the impact of the latter which have come about as a consequence of theVatican II reforms as evidenced in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963). The most obvious of these reforms is the movement from the Latin Rite to the vernacular, but Symon identifies the significance of the theological basis which underpins the reforms insofar as “the liturgy is deservedly regarded as being the exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ… In it complete public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Christ, Head and members.” In terms of the reforms intimated in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Symon notes that the intention is to preserve the substance of the rites whilst simplifying them. (Article 50) Symon suggests that in Scotland there had been very little preparation for the reception of these reforms, in contrast to much of Continental Europe. Nevertheless, he contends that the reforms have been widely received and welcomed. In terms of the doctrinal implications of the Vatican II reforms, Symon contends that the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church remains essentially the same. Nevertheless, there are new emphases which are, in certain respects, akin to those of the Reformers. Thus, for example, the sacraments are signs of faith, with less emphasis on their ex opera operato character, and a clear stress that the Mass constitutes, in no sense, an additional sacrifice. Equally, the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament is understood in terms more explicitly Biblical. John Heron responds to Symon by suggesting that, whilst the emphasis on the sacraments as ‘signs of faith’ is an integral part of our understanding, it must be set within the context of our prior affirmation of the grace of God. Further, he suggests that the Scottish Reformed tradition, as witnessed in Robert Bruce and D M Baillie, has preserved an understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in a manner more acceptable than the Roman Catholic teaching on transubstantiation.

List of Plates

Illustrations in this volume

A. Ladykirk Parish Church (exterior) facing page 38 B. Victoria Park Parish Church (interior) facing page 39 C. Scotstoun West Parish Church (interior) facing page 54 D. Symbolism used in Church Architecture facing page 55