As It Is in Heaven: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Introduction to the Traditional Church and Her Worship. By Fr. Paul A.F. Castellano. Tucson, AZ: Wheatmark, 2021. 316 pp. $19.95 (paper).
As It Is in Heaven is a tour de force on why we should worship liturgically. I am a huge fan of this book and would recommend it to anyone. Castellano lays out his book in a very methodical way, going step by step in discussing his reasoning as to why we should worship liturgically, the reason for the Episcopacy, and what it means when Christ says he came to fulfill the law.
There were a few issues I had with the book. As a convert to Anglicanism I agree that liturgy is the correct way to worship, and I also agree with Apostolic succession. However, he leaves a few things in these areas to the imagination and he does not explain in detail the development of the liturgies. He keeps emphasizing that Temple and synagogue worship was corrected in its Christological understanding. This is a great thing to point out, but he does not go into a lot of detail. He goes straight from Temple worship to the various liturgical rites that abound in Christendom, begging the questions of how do they relate to Temple worship? Why did they change? Why is there variety? And how do they look compared to the worship we see in the Book of Revelation?
When addressing the role of Bishops he does a fantastic job of explaining why we need Bishops in Apostolic Succession. One thing he could have touched on is the controversy, from the Roman view, of Anglican Orders. Maybe that was out of the scope of the book, but I think it could have strengthened it from an Anglican perspective. The only other point I feel he could have expanded on is the role of the Bishop in the sacraments. Overall he does a good job of pointing out that you can’t have real sacraments unless you have a real Bishop, although he makes a claim that I find odd: he writes that if you don’t have a Bishop in Apostolic Succession you can only have a conditional baptism (166). I was always under the impression that in the Western theological understanding of Baptism, anyone can perform a valid baptism as long as it is done with a Trinitarian formula and uses water.
I intentionally started with what I found could have been improved upon or was confusing. As you can tell, it was not a lot as he did a fantastic job on the book. Let’s now turn to what was possibly the strongest part of the book. He clearly and thoroughly explains what it means when Christ came to say that he is fulfilling the law. His use of logic and definitions prove that when Christ came to fulfill the law he did not mean to end it. Christ’s point is to its meaning of being brought to completion. Castellano then applies this to scriptural passages for a nice flourish and once again to strengthen and prove his point.
Another very important part of his book pertains to the location of worship gatherings in the early church, when worshiping in house churches and synagogues was most common. This is the part of the book that I feel will come as the biggest surprise to most readers. I am an avid reader of church history and this is the first place that mentions this that I have run across, and the citations he provides more than back up his assertion. It can also be one of the most helpful parts of the book when I find myself in conversation with a non-liturgical Christian, especially when they say we should go back and model the early church. This ties in nicely with his preceding chapters on how the church in its infancy, and especially in the time of the disciples, still worshiped at the Temple (until its destruction) and during the diaspora in house synagogues, seeing themselves as Jewish but in a Christological way. They were the completion of the Jewish religion, the grand fulfillment of it, and as such they did not have to have it spelled out detail by detail on what entailed proper worship.
The appendices add some nice touches to the book. “The Curious Case of St. Jerome” does a thorough job dealing with an objection that comes up regarding the Episcopacy. A great help to those investigating the Anglican Tradition (or any liturgical tradition) is when Castellano goes through the 1928 BCP Eucharistic rite in thorough detail. I know that would have been a great benefit to me when exploring Anglicanism. He explains the benefits of the BCP, which can be applied to all other Liturgical Rites.
Castellano has created a masterful work in this book. He was methodical in laying out why the correct way is to worship liturgically and in a church that has Apostolic Succession. This is a must-read for any serious Christian, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to grow in their understanding of the faith, regardless of whether they come from a liturgical tradition or not.