Matthew Myer Boulton, lecturer

Event time: 
Monday, November 10, 2008 - 4:30pm
Event description: 

I Hate, I Despise Your Festivals

Christian Worship and the Divine Polemic

Part of the 2008-2009 Liturgy Symposium Series

Institute of Sacred Music Great Hall

409 Prospect Street, New Haven

Refreshments for the mind, body, and spirit will be served. Free and open to the public.


Christian worship has always been a blend of sin and salvation, earnestly extolled by admirers, but as murky in practice as the rest of human life. Even at its best - and arguably, especially at its best - Christian worship is a study in theological ambiguity. In other words, though worship practices are highly exalted among Christians, there are good grounds for taking a much more critical, ambivalent view. These grounds are empirical, to be sure, since Christian hypocrisies are only too easy to find. But the grounds are also scriptural and theological.
For as it turns out, the trouble with Christian worship cannot simply be chalked up to human weakness, as if the root problem is our unfortunate failure to meet liturgy’s impeccable standards. On the contrary, those standards themselves are open to question, and subjecting them to scriptural and theological lines of critique can be an illuminating, humbling, and ultimately liberating discipline for Christians today.

Matthew Myer Boulton is an Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School. In his teaching and research, he explores ways in which Christian worship founds and forms Christian life. This exploration draws together his interests in the history and practices of Christian liturgy; theology and public life; biblical interpretation and proclamation; and the performing arts, including theater, music, and film. He has published on Reformed liturgical theology in dialogue with social science, Christian lamentation in dialogue with biblical studies, and is the author of God Against Religion: Rethinking Christian Theology Through Worship (Eerdmans, 2008) and a co-editor and contributor to the volume Doing Justice to Mercy: Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice (University of Virginia Press, 2007). He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).