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The Liturgy Trap: The Bible versus Mere Tradition in Worship

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  72 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
We hear all to often that someone has decided to leave the Evangelical Christian faith and to join the Church of Rome, or Eastern Orthodoxy, or High Anglicanism. The lure is liturgy and tradition, and since the Evangelical and Reformed churches so often have such poor worship, it is not hard to understand the pull exercised by those churches that have a heritage of formali ...more
Paperback, 97 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Athanasius Press (first published 1994)
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Jeremy D.
Dec 28, 2014 Jeremy D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted at

Many young Americans (myself included) have become increasingly disillusioned with an American pop-evangelicalism that is an inch deep and 2500 miles wide. Like sugar, it’s fun at first, but at some point you realize if you don’t get something a little more substantial, you are going into a coma.

Enter high liturgical traditions such as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. These traditions are old— defiantly old, excepting Anglicanism. They make
Jacob Aitken
Jordan defines the “Liturgy Trap” as seeing worship as a technique for evangelism (xiv). Whatever else our liturgy may be, it must always be a response to the Word of God. Said another way: The Word of God comes first. The rest of the introduction explains why evangelicals would be tempted to high church traditions. Since that’s is fairly well-documented by theologians and sociologists (Christian Smith et al), I won’t belabor the point.

The Saints

Should we venerate the saints? We should at least
Donald Owens II
Feb 24, 2016 Donald Owens II rated it really liked it
A short warning against protestants returning to Rome, by critiquing their doctrines of 1) the saints, 2) veneration, 3) Apostolic succession, 4) Celibacy, 5) real presence, and 6) tradition. Punchy, profound, blunt. Virtually free from Jordan's typical weird interpretations.
Chris Comis
Feb 09, 2009 Chris Comis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: liturgics
Here Jordan deals with that approch to worship/liturgy which is often described as a "strict regulativist" approach. But he also deals with the more "venerated" traditional liturgies (i.e., Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic and Eastern Rites). Very informative.
Coral Rose
Aug 11, 2009 Coral Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, own
To be honest, when I read a review by someone else on goodreads that said this book was too short, my response was to laugh at the typical Reformed view on everything from sermons to theological treatises - longer is always better. I thought that 100 pages was a nice length to address some of the issues of liturgical denominations. I think I might have been wrong. So many of the little chapters ended just as he solidly stated his point, and more than once, I have frustrated scribbled margin note ...more
May 15, 2014 David rated it liked it
This is a short book where Jordan shares some of the theological and biblical problems he has with conservative reformed folks who want to go toward Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. This is certainly not an in depth treatment of different Christian traditions but I do think he hits on some important points and makes an important plea to hold up all beliefs, practices, and traditions to the judgment of Scripture.
Rebekah Leland
Sep 30, 2013 Rebekah Leland rated it did not like it
This book is unfortunately written in such a condescending tone that I could barely make it through. Straw men fallacies are everywhere (notice, even, the title), as are general misunderstandings and (sadly) misrepresentations of Catholics and Orthodox especially. If anything it pushed me even more toward orthodoxy during a time when I was a very reformed protestant. The odd thing is, the author notes that even though the high liturgical churches have beautiful, meaningful worship, he won't be a ...more
Chris Griffith
Apr 10, 2012 Chris Griffith rated it really liked it
A warning against adopting or participating in unbiblical practices of worship. For evangelicals and Reformed that means to stay away from Gnostic tendencies which would devalue the physical body. For Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholic, Jordan addresses the problems of iconography, veneration of Mary and other saints, etc. I particularly appreciated what he had to say about fellow human beings being a "means of grace" because they bear the image of God. We give and receive tha ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Jonah rated it really liked it
A bucket of cold water that puts out the fires of false worship. A good read.
Vinnie Santini
Dec 29, 2013 Vinnie Santini rated it did not like it
Shelves: theology
This book is the worst of all Jordan's books. Most of it is just plain useless for anyone who wants to be pulled back to Protestantism. This book made me want to leave Protestantism. NOT RECOMMENDED TO ANYONE. DON'T GIVE IT TO A FRIEND WHO IS THINKING ABOUT GOING CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX OR TO SOMEONE WHO IS C/O WHO YOU WANT TO CONVINCE TO BECOME PROTESTANT.
Apr 25, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it
This is a great little booklet on the problematic worship of Catholics, Anglo-catholics, and the Orthodox. You get a taste of what Jordan sees as the Biblical view of worship, but will have to consult his other books to see it fleshed out in detail. Highly recommended...
Jul 21, 2013 Kris rated it it was amazing
Where Thesis on Worship addressed the failure of contemporary worship culture, this volume addresses the ditch on the other side of of the road, traps common to the historically liturgical communions. A great read.
Victor Chininin
Jun 30, 2013 Victor Chininin rated it really liked it
A good essay on how we ought to think about the fallacies of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholic churches as they are appealing to many because of the "liturgy"
Ed Lang
Oct 23, 2009 Ed Lang rated it really liked it
Where are the brakes on this whole liturgical reform? The Bible is always the standard says JBJ. Very important reading.
Job Dalomba
May 07, 2013 Job Dalomba rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, worship
Really good. Wish it was longer.
Jul 16, 2012 Sean rated it really liked it
Helpful and succinct.
Mar 16, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: through-new-eyes
Good but brief.
Douglas Wilson
Feb 22, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Very good.
Steven Hoffer
Apr 27, 2009 Steven Hoffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Very good.
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Apr 28, 2016
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Feb 17, 2016
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James B. Jordan is a Calvinist theologian and author. He is director of Biblical Horizons ministries, a think tank in Niceville, Florida that publishes books, essays and other media dealing with Bible commentary, Biblical Theology, and liturgy.

Jordan was born in Athens, Georgia, and he attended the University of Georgia, where he received a B.A. in comparative literature and participated in Campus
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“I know that the Reformers spoke of the sacraments as “visible words,” but this was an unfortunate choice of words. The Lord’s Supper is not a visible word but an edible one. Baptism is not a visible word but a tangible one. The only “visible words” are human beings, the images of God made after the likeness of the Word of God Himself. In other words, the only thing to look at in worship is other people.” 0 likes
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