Let these Dry Bones Live: Ecclesiology
Hebert very clearly sets out his purpose in writing Liturgy and Society in the preface, saying:
This book is an essay on the Church and her message, particularly as embodied in the actual order of the Church and her liturgy, in relation to the problem of belief and of a true social life in the confused world of today. 1
Hebert’s reflection on the Church is fundamental to Liturgy and Society ; it coexists with, and is bound into, the two other key themes of the book, liturgiology and missiology. Whilst he makes the case that ecclesiology and liturgy both inform each other, it is ecclesiology that is primary because liturgy is principally an embodied and performative ecclesiology. This shapes how the Church learns to be the Body of Christ acting in society and not simply being in it. Therein lies a challenge for ‘gathered’ Churches of any tradition – either those with a preference for ‘fine liturgy’, esoteric or contemporary forms and expressions of Church. The test of the Church is both its imperative to worship God and to function plausibly in the world. This is Hebert’s intention. Hebert’s credibility in contemporary ecclesiology necessitates an interrogation of the cultural memory under which he operates. In Liturgy and Society Hebert goes beyond nostalgia and his conventional upbringing to develop a nimble, reflective and radically traditional approach to the Church and her mission.