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Evangelical Versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy
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Evangelical Versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy


Eerdmans 2014

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Why is there such a deep divide between evangelical and liturgical churches, especially when it comes to worship? How did this unfortunate evangelical-liturgical dichotomy develop, and what can be done about it?

In this book Melanie Ross draws on historical analysis, systematic theology, and the worship life of two vibrant congregations to argue that the common ground shared by evangelical and liturgical churches is much more important than the differences than divide them.

As a longtime evangelical church member who is at the same time a teacher of liturgical studies, Ross is well qualified to address this subject, and she does so with passion and intelligence. Evangelical versus Liturgical? is an important addition to the scant literature explaining nondenominational worship practices to those from more historically established liturgical traditions.

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Key Features

  • Discusses the roots of the evangelical-liturgical dichotomy
  • Analyzes the historical and theological bases undergirding both traditions
  • Explains nondenominational worship practices to those from liturgical traditions


  • Introduction: The Formation of a Dichotomy
  • Pragmatism versus Ecumenism: Rethinking Historical Origins
  • Case Study 1: Eastbrook Church
  • Fundamentalism versus Rite? Rethinking the Scripture/Liturgy Relationship
  • Gnostic versus Canonical? Rethinking Interpretive Paradigms
  • Case Study 2: West Shore Evangelical Free Church
  • Concluding Thoughts: On Defying a Dichotomy

Praise for the Print Edition

Melanie Ross’s Evangelical versus Liturgical? is a highly readable, carefully written, and critically important challenge to a dichotomy that the church has assumed far too easily.

Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology, Duke University

This is a book that many of us have been waiting for. It is winsome without being wishy-washy; critical yet profoundly charitable. Above all it is both sharp and wise. Instead of the usual invitation for evangelicals to grow up and become ‘liturgical,’ Ross empowers free-church evangelicals to see the liturgical wisdom already implicit in their practices—and presses liturgical theologians to appreciate the same. In doing so, she also invites evangelicals to become newly intentional about worship by drawing from the deep wells of liturgical theology. This book is a win-win-win.

James K.A. Smith, author, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works

Drawing upon her careful analysis of detailed case studies, and with keen knowledge of ritual and liturgical studies, Melanie Ross opens up a refreshing new chapter in liturgical theology. Clearheaded, wise, and important, this book is a major resource for anyone concerned about contrasts and convergences in worship practice.

—Don E. Saliers, William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship Emeritus, Emory University

An important work that speaks to today’s churches. . . . The fresh vision provided in this book will change discussions about worship in congregations, in ecumenical groups, and among scholars.

—Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship, Boston University

Focusing more on the connections and less on the dichotomies between evangelical and liturgical churches, this illuminating book by Melanie Ross provides a timely and theologically profound description of evangelical worship. . . . Offers a groundbreaking, fascinating, and balanced understanding of the relationship between evangelicalism and contemporary liturgical Christianity. . . . Brilliant and refreshing.

—Nathan D. Mitchell, associate director for research and publications, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

With biblical studies, theology, liturgical studies, and field research on her palette, Melanie Ross paints a nuanced, insightful picture of worship practices in our day. A tremendous resource for those engaged in ministry for whom worship practices and ecumenical relations are important, this is also a vital book for those who study the contemporary church in North America, offering new categories and definitions for their research.

Todd E. Johnson, professor emeritus of theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

This book is a passionate, heartfelt cry for embracing commonalities among all Christian churches while not ignoring the differences that may exist between liturgical and evangelical traditions. Ross calls for us to seek ‘local middle ground’ in order to overcome the false liturgical/evangelical dichotomy. Her call should resonate with all worshiping communities.

—James R. Hart, president, Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

Product Details

  • Title: Evangelical versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy
  • Author: Melanie C. Ross
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 165
  • Christian Group: Evangelical
  • Resource Type: Topical
  • Topic: Worship

About Melanie C. Ross

Melanie C. Ross is assistant professor of liturgical studies at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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