Item description for Praying Shapes Believing: A Theological Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer by Leonel L. Mitchell...
Overview Praying Shapes Believing is both a contribution to ongoing scholarly dialogue about how to do liturgical theology and an exposition of the liturgical theology of the Episcopal Church, the church which more than any other church sees its own identity in terms of its liturgy. This in-depth look at the Book of Common Prayer systematically gives a theological answer to the question, "What does it mean that we act and speak these particular words of liturgy?"
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Reviews - What do customers think about Praying Shapes Believing: A Theological Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer?
Dry but worth the effort Jan 24, 2004
My guess is that most people who have stood for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church since this book was published have been required to read it as part of their training. In just a bit over a decade, it's become THE book on the Book of Common Prayer.
Mitchell's basic assumption is the old "lex orandi lex credendi" proviso: how we pray influences what we believe. Since the Book of Common Prayer is the center of how Episcopalians corporately pray, it follows that an examination of it can reveal the theology to which it gives rise. Looking at every aspect of the Book of Common Prayer, Mitchell examines the connection between liturgy, scripture, prayer, and theology. The examination is thorough, running through the liturgical calendar, the Great Vigil, baptism, Holy Eucharist, pastoral offices, and ordinations.
In all fairness, two points need to be made. The first is that Mitchell is one of the most uninspiring authors you'll every run across. The topic about which he's writing is interesting, but be prepared to slog through prose whose academic dryness will challenge your determination. Second, Mitchell's examination is broad but not terribly deep. Historical roots of many aspects of the Book of Common Prayer's liturgy are barely tapped. Dom Gregory Dix's wonderful book on liturgy is a good supplement here.