The Effects of the English Reformation on the English People: Outdoors to Indoors?

An interesting summary by Scarisbrick as to how the changes wrought in the Reformation affected the religious lives of the people of England:

It effected a shift from a religion of symbol and allegory, ceremony and formal gesture to one that was plain and direct: a shift from the visual to the aural, from ritual to literal exposition, from the numinous and mysterious to the everyday. It moved from the high colours of statue, window and painted walls to whitewash; from ornate vestments and altar frontal to plain tablecloth and surplice; from a religion that, with baptismal salt on lips, anointings and frankincense – as well as image, word and chant – sought out all the senses, to one that concentrated on the word and innerliness. There was a shift from a religion that often went out of doors on pilgrimage and procession to an indoor one; from the sacral and churchly to the familial and domestic; from sacrament to word . . . ; from the  objectivity of ex opere operato and Real Presence, for instance, to the subjectivity of ‘feeling faith’ and experience.

(J. J. Scarisbrick, The Reformation and the English People (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), 163; quoted in James C. Brooks, “Benjamin Keach and the Baptist Singing Controversy: Mediating Scripture, Confessional Heritage, and Christian Unity” (Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 2006), 39.)

I found particularly interesting the contrast between “outdoors” (procession, pilgrimage) and “indoors” – that had not occurred to me before. So far as the ritual of the church is concerned, I suppose that would hold true. But the Lutheran teaching on vocation, I think, would provide another way that the “outdoors” is connected to one’s religious life. One’s work (“outdoors”) is part and parcel of what God has called one to, and (at one level) involved in one’s worship. And I’m not conversant with how many Baptist churches used (indoor) baptistries as opposed to baptizing outdoors, but certainly there were many baptismal services which were held outside.

This entry was posted in Components of the worship service, Music and the Reformation. Bookmark the permalink.

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