Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 7th, 2017 by Joel Watts

Justo González on Wesley, Böhler and Lex Orandi

Talking to a (for now) friend who seems to dismiss lex orandi. My question to him was,

“What did Peter Böhler say to Wesley?

Now, if you are a Methodist of any worth, you know exactly what he said.

“Fake it until you Make it, Fr. John.” (Watts Paraphrase)

I was truly amazed to see this, what I assumed was a uniquely inspired moment, repeated in the famed Wesleyan theologian, Justo González’s commentary on Luke’s Gospel.

Part of the reason why this surprises us is that we have lost much of the sense of the role of rite and worship in the life of discipleship. We tend to think that the relationship between attitude and action, between belief and rite, is unidirectional: an attitude leads to an action, and a belief leads to a rite that expresses it. But the converse is also true. Action shapes attitude, and rite shapes belief. Historians often refer to this with the Latin phrase lex credendi est lex orandi, “the rule of worship (or prayer) is the rule of belief.” John Wesley was once told by a wise counselor that as long as he did not have saving faith he should preach as if he had it, and that when he did have it he should preach because he had it. In our everyday experience we know that the simple action of smiling often leads us to want to smile. In the life of faith, faith leads us to worship; but worship also leads us to faith.1

I am praying for that friend.

  1. Justo L. González, Luke (ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher; Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 142–143.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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