After analyzing Ælfric’s kerygma, I’ll make a few statements. It basically comes down to two main concepts, one from God’s side, one from ours. The divine initiative is alysednysse, redemption. This is how God acts; this is who Jesus is. Now, this ain’t justification by faith through grace. Instead, redemption for Ælfric is God’s act that makes it possible for us to attain our salvation. How? Well, that’s the other concept: gehyrsumnysse–obedience. This is our response. God created humanity to dwell with him and the angels because of the disobedience of the tenth angelic host, now the demonic order. Despite a really low bar, humanity failed through the devil’s deceptions. In being obedient to the devil rather than God, we swore allegiance to the wrong overlord and are now getting hell for it. Literally. God’s redemptive acts zero everything out. We can start again. Thus, we must determine our true overlord–God or the Devil–and act accordingly.
For Ælfric, worship, faith, and obedience are all tied up in a big package together. In a moving passage on the foundation of idolatry he portrays humanity falling on its knees before the demon-possessed idols and crying out: “You are our gods and we set our faith and hope/trust in you!” Simultaneously, he is giving us a picture of idolatrous worship and of the oath-taking service between an Anglo-Saxon retainer and his lord. Worship is allegiance. Allegiance is obedience.