In this inviting new book, Andrew Wilson describes a vision for fusing two Christian traditions:
“eucharistic . . . historically rooted, unashamedly sacramental, deliberately liturgical, and self-consciously catholic” with “charismatic . . . to expect spiritual experience, pursue and use the charismata [gifts of the Spirit], live and pray as if angels and demons are real and express worship to God with all . . . joy” (18).
He begins (chap 2) by showing how our good Father gives us gifts (the gospel, the sacraments, spiritual gifts) for which we give thanks and become stewards. Wilson then unpacks a bit the fruit of the Spirit of joy (chap 3). Though Jesus was a man of sorrows, and in this world we will have trouble (pain, loneliness, grief), the Christian ought to expect joy in God’s presence. Here’s my favorite quote from the book:
"Like wine, both the sacraments and the Spirit bring joy. Like wine, they lead the church into anticipation and thankfulness, celebration and song. Like wine, they witness to the new creation that is coming, offering us a glass from the early harvest while we wait for the full vintage to be bottled in summer. The early church, we could almost say, was oenologically Eucharismatic" (49).
Next, Wilson makes a case for the importance of eucharistic worship (chap 4). Borrowing heavily from James K.A. Smith’s claims that we are liturgical animals shaped by our loves (75-80), Wilson asserts that liturgical worship practices best fit how God has wired us. He then discusses the relevance of charismatic worship (chap 5). With a faithful survey of the church fathers of the first five centuries who testified to tongues, miracles, and healing, Wilson presents a fine continuationist argument for the gifts of the Spirit (chap 6). He closes the book with a brief proposal for how eucharistic and charismatic worship can be fused (chap 7).
Wilson puts forth a great vision for the compatibility of liturgical and charismatic worship. Indeed, in historic movements of renewal and revival, we do observe traditions crossing (i.e. Moravian Lutherans, Charismatic Catholics) and the whole church being strengthened by the best of each tradition. Why can’t liturgy (i.e. the prayers of the people) get a little rowdy in the joy of the Holy Spirit? Why can’t experiential charismatic worship be rooted in the ancient creeds and framed by collects?
My only quibble with the book is that Wilson seems to run out of gas on p. 124 and admits difficulty pointing to working models of his vision. Interestingly in another new book, Ever Ancient Ever New, Winfield Bevins covers some similar themes (see 141-155) and points to liturgical churches that are also charismatic (Holy Trinity Brompton, UK; Catholic Charismatic Renewal, USA) and charismatic churches that have embraced liturgy (Trinity Anglican Mission, Atlanta; and New Life Downtown, Colorado Springs).
All said this is a well-written, even funny, book that raises vital questions of church life and practice. Pastors, missionaries, and even professors (I did) will get a lot out of it.