03 April 2009

When Another One Leaves

It is no secret to anyone with open eyes and ears that Lutherans have lost a shocking number of clergy over the past several years to the East or to Rome. Whenever another one leaves, we sometimes hear quite unrealistic opining over what led them to go. The silliest is that they liked fancy clothes and sweet smelling incense. Please.

The far deeper and harder thing for Lutherans to face is that so many of these pastors have left because they became convinced that Lutherans no longer wished nor intend to BE Lutheran. And so they were drawn to communions where the things that they valued (a stable liturgy, a life of prayer, the centering of the Church's life in the Holy Eucharist, active practice of confession and absolution) were in evidence. And gradually they became convinced by those communions that each one (respectively) WAS the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creed.

So when word comes that yet another has departed our ranks, I'd suggest that the wiser course is to admit up front that Lutheranism is in a world of hurt; that each departure move us to work all the harder toward the repair of what we can. A day ago or so, several Lutheran blogs posted the wise words of Neuhaus:

"If the Lutheran Church has a future, it will be as the Lutheran Church. It will not be as imitation Baptists, Presbyterians, or anything else. If people are to become, remain, and rejoice in being Lutheran, it is because they understand the distinctively Lutheran way of being Christian. Being Lutheran is an evangelical catholic and catholic evangelical way of being in unity with the entire Church of Christ. The present state of American Lutheranism is not just "not satisfactory." It is a sickness unto death. The alternative is not beating the drums to revive flagging spirits, nor is it to move evangelism a few notches up on the bureaucratic agenda. The alternative is renewal -- theological, pastoral, sacramental, catechetical. The alternative is to be something that others might have some reason to join."
Richard John Neuhaus, 1986 (quoted in Forum Letter March 09)

These words need to be taken to heart. I don't know if Lutheranism in this country can be saved or not. But that's not ultimately my job or yours. My task as a Lutheran pastor is to seek to foster that renewal which Neuhaus described: a renewal in theology; a renewal in pastoral practice; a renewal in sacramental life; a renewal in catechesis. He left off what is perhaps the most important of all, for it is where all renewal begins: a renewal in the Word of God and in prayer. These will be LUTHERAN renewal if they are lived out from the joyous "aha" that is AC IV.

It is not ours to judge another Man's servant. Our Lord makes that clear and so does the Apostle. Our task is always to examine ourselves and look to our own repentance. Let us do so cheerfully and with hope. We are indeed sick unto death, but the Lord whose mercy we will be seeking is the Master of raising the dead and restoring hope to the hopeless. Ne desperemus, my brothers and sisters. Ne desperemus - for behold, by the Cross joy has come into all the world (and not merely the Roman or Orthodox corner of it)!

Wishing you each the joy of the Paschal Mystery as we enter into Holy Week!

244 comments:

1 – 200 of 244   Newer›   Newest»
Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

True, if Lutheranism pulls itself together, perhaps so many will stop searching, and then from there, leaving, as I have done.

However, as one who felt conscience-bound to explore all options before ordination, I hardly even realized there was an Orthodox Church until near the end - and even that didn't guarantee I would look at it in it's own light (i.e. it obviously wasn't Lutheran, so it was out).

Still, in keeping with your post topic, when one feels secure where he or she is at, then it can be very hard to explore other options with a balance between open-mindedness and caution.

William Weedon said...

Lutheranism pulling itself together will not accomplish much, my friend. But if the Lord of the Church grants renewal, then there is hope indeed. My prayer is that He will do so.

Pastor Finnern said...

Pastor Weedon

I just spoke to a friend who turned Orthodox and one of his comments was that they truly practiced repentance in worship and not uplifting ourselves. Wow, we probably need to be focusing much more on the confession/absolution, the Kyrie, etc if we are not bringing out the repentance piece of the Christian life.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Benjamin, I hope you enjoy being rebaptized. I'm really sad to hear you go.

Mike Keith said...

Thank you for posting Nehaus' comments. So true. So helpful.

The Lutheran church is not what it ought to be. It is full of sinners. We need to work together.

If one is convinced and rejoices in the truths of AC IV then one must remain a Lutheran - for one will not find the theology of AC IV anywhere else.

One will find other church bodies full of sinners also and one will find those church bodies are not what they ought to be either.

William Weedon said...

Pr. Beisel,

Ben and family will likely not be baptized, but chrismated. That's the standard Antiochian practice. The thought is that this is a concession, an economy, that trust christmation to make up for anything that might have been lacking in the original Baptism. Sigh.

My niece, however, was rebaptized by the Russians. They were having no truck with any Baptism not done by "the Church." How these two positions hold together in a single Church has always been beyond me.

Paul McCain said...

Brother Weedon, while it is important on the occasion of every such departure to do soul-searching and ask what it is about the state of our Synod that caused a man to abandon his post on the walls of our Lutheran Zion and head off to the alleged greener pastures of another communion, you won't be surprised, I'm sure, and I hope you indulge me, when I say that I believe that as much as such introspection is important, we must be careful to lay the blame for a man departing from the pure confession of the Gospel squarely on his shoulders.

He, alone, bears responsibility, and blame. While there may rightly be factors that were used by Satan to tempt him and lead him astray, and God forgive us all for any part we, either individually or collectively, played in that Satanic attack, the reality is that we must hold accountable the man who left.

Many of are struggling, manfully and mightily, and we do not pick up our ball and go home. We are taking our lumps, some more than others.

But precisely when a brother leaves, must we resolve all the more to stand our post and do all we can to believe, teach and confess.

I have yet to fathom the "logic" that seems to underlie the arguments I hear being made by some about the fault resting on our Synod's faults and failings.

"The LCMS is not being Lutheran enough, therefore, I'm leaving to join the Most Holy Ancient Order of XYZ, which is not Lutheran."

Still cant' figure that one out.

And, we also must be honest that there is among some a great deal of fascination with the smell, bells, chausables, and chalices, to the point that they begin to think that it is in liturgical rituals, rubrics and activities that the essence of the Church is to be located. That is a false path too.

So, I do appreciate what you said, and I can certainly find a lot with which I do agree, I offer these thoughts as another perspective.

You and I have spoken and frankly I'm frustrated that the seminaries are not, in my opinion, doing a careful enough screening of men before they go out, or not thoroughly warning/advising and preparing them for a realistic view of parish ministry.

If a man comes out of the seminary and somehow thinks that if his congregation does not do cartwheels at his choosing to wear a chausable, chant and quote Early Church Fathers ad naseum, and then from that experience determines that the Lutheran Church is sick unto death, well, where does he come by such silly notions and why and where did the system fail him in not helping him realize that change takes a great deal of time, etc.

I'm sorry the young man who left was not more carefully screened, counseled, and if necessary advised that he is not ready for the office of the ministry.

I'm sad the young man has left us. I am sad that he felt he had no other options but to leave. But do I lay the blame at the feet of our Synod as much as you do? No, I do not.

I think we have some extremely unrealistic expectations at work here. The ministry does not need idealists, but realists. I fear that for all the good an emphasis on a fuller liturgical life brings, it also leads some astray into thinking that it is in a certain or specific style of liturgical forms that one finally can be assured, "Now, we are being really Lutheran!"

That is a concern I have based on what I've seen for many years.

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts!

William Weedon said...

Paul,

Didn't YOU quote Neuhaus' words that Lutheranism in this country was sick unto death? I agree that the ministry needs realists - God's realists who see things as He declares them to be and who trust in His Word to bring about what He promises. What we don't need is the sort of realist who assumes that the Lutheran Church in our country in her current state is "healthy" and needs no repentance.

The Reformation began it repentance. It can only go on being relevant in repentance.

I do not fault Ben for leaving if he has become convinced that he can no longer uphold the teaching of our Symbols. Then he should leave. Those who serve in the Lutheran ministry should not be slaves to vows they now regret, but joyful servants of a confession that they still hold.

Atychi said...

Dear Pastor Weedon,

A most excellent response to Pastor McCain. Repentance is the key to everything, isn't it? To quote the Elder Zosima of _The Brothers K_: "Each of us is guilty for everyone and everything, but I more so than everyone else." And I don't mean to take sides here; I imagine that I'd be the Pastor McCain of Orthodoxy--cranky and recalcitrant to any sense of my own wrongdoing--perhaps viewing it as fidelity to my faith. But the fact remains, as you've pointed out (and as one need only look to Pastor McCain's blog for confirmation): if Lutheranism is so healthy, then why is Pastor McCain actively campaigning against (or, at the very least, making sure everyone knows the distinctions, if not the differences between) the ELCA "Lutheran Study Bible" and the LCMS version. I don't mean this as a criticism against either version. Heck, I'm an Orthodox who really can't embrace (in fact, maybe "loathes" is closer to my feelings about) the "Orthodox Study Bible" (I imagine we slapped this shoddy thing together for all of our Sola Scriptura converts).

I appreciate your honest approach to the situation, Pastor Weedon. I think it's necessary (and one I imagine Orthodoxy should embrace--not because we have people leaving but because we have people within who would never leave but who will not live a life inside of the Church). We have a name for people who leave the Church (a venerable tradition in Romania)--and I think pastor McCain could appreciate this designation: vampires. May God continue to give you patience and sobriety, Pastor Weedon.

bajaye said...

Pastor Weedon,

I very much appreciated your post. I found it thoughtful and fair.

Blessings to you and yours as we approach Holy Pascha!

Brian

Past Elder said...

I think you're right on the money, PW.

The thing is, it isn't a matter of LCMS isn't Lutheran enough, so I think I'll go be Orthodox which isn't Lutheran either.

The "middle term" is, when Lutherans, not just the butts in the pews like me but the ones in offices, don't seem to uphold what the Confessions uphold, which includes zealously guarding and defending the mass moreso than our adversaries, you wonder if we were on the right track to begin with; then comes the attraction of Rome or the East, not seeing the very real phenomenon Atychi describes, whose Roman counterpart I knew quite well.

You expect the parishioners to need catechesis; you don't expect to see it apparently missing in those who are there to support you in the OHM.

From my perspective, having swum the Tiber out, it is amazing to see the things for which I joined LCMS be the things many in LCMS think need to be shed so people will join.

Paul McCain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul McCain said...

What we don't need is the sort of realist who assumes that the Lutheran Church in our country in her current state is "healthy" and needs no repentance.

Who has suggested otherwise, my friend?

The point simply is that when a man leaves while we do well to consider all the reasons, the "blame" or "fault" rests squarely on the shoulders of the man who leaves.

There is, in this case, as in others, a fundamental lack of integrity and yes, deception.

Look at the congregation's web site.

It has a clear link to Orthodox books and resources.

Let's be realistic about the entire story and picture here.

I'm not denying your points, but I'm also saying lets take care not to treat the man who has left as a "victim."

Paul McCain said...

Here in this message stream we see the degree of naivete at work among us.

Orhodoxy is no more, or less, "healthy" than Lutheranism.

Anyone who actually thinks it is is simply deceiving himself.

Let's stop kidding ourselves.

Past Elder said...

Absolutely Orthodoxy is no more or less healthy than we are, Likewise the other great magnet, the RCC.

Problem is, it doesn't look that way from the outside, and what draws a person is an ecclesiology that appears to be a guarantee one doesn't otherwise find.

It isn't of course, and I know from experience that what lies ahead for the "swimmers" is long periods of denial -- since it can't be so it isn't so. Been there. They haven't, and won't think they are when they get there for a long time, if ever.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Just to throw out another opinion...

I understand the hurt that must come to you, and I mean you especially William, when someone leaves. Because you know exactly what it is like to be drawn away...er...tugged at.

For my part--and I openly admit that it is pastors like myself who are causing the "problems" in our Synod--I just wish that you would be a bit more clear about the "renewal" that you wish for.

Because, I of course agree with you. I think catechesis is necessary, renewal is terrific, and we ought never cease to become Lutheran.

I just think taht to be Lutherans is to focus upin justification, Word & sacrament, Law & Gospel, etc.

I do not beleive that without using traditional worship, you can't be Lutheran.

I mean, that is what you mean, at the core isn't it? You don't want so-called "contemporary worship". You don't want praise bands and powerpoints and de-vested clergy walking around a gym floor...proclaiming the Gospel message of Chrsit crucified.

That is fine. I appreicate your arguements and the discussions you have had. I just wish that you would spell it out clearly.

Because then, you know what? If you woudl ever eliminate contemporary worship in the Synod, then you would have another set of pastosr leaving the Synod. Pastors like me, who honestly are convinced that there is nothing wrong with CoWo, that saying CoWo is "Pentecostal" or "BaptoMethodist" is like saying that traditional worship is Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox; that to forbid a style of worship simply borders on out and out legalism or a rejection of sola Scriptura.

I am sorry that benjamin harju has left the lcms. I am sorry for this because he has left the truth. But I am unapologetic that my proclamation of the truth is what is seen as one of the main issues that brings people to swim the Tiber.

So, I will not repent for what I am doing or for the way I am pushing our synod to go. And yes, I will fight agaisnt those who teach that what I am doing is wrong or corrupting or "not Lutheran" or anything else like that.

But I will join you in saying that we need renewal. And I am open to correction and open to hearing arguments on why I am wrong. I am.

Even from a guy who ended up leaving the LCMS and going to teh Roman Catholic Church. I mean, really, doesn't anyone else see the irony in quoting RJN concerning this topic? Or is it just me?

So...the question is, what are you going to do, what a I going to do and what is our Synod going to do now...and I suppose, what exactly would our Lord have us do?

masonbeecroft said...

Why aren't Orthodox and Catholic priests converting to the LCMS? Why are so few evangelical CEO types coming into our ranks? Why has the LCMS lost some of the finest minds in North American Christianity in the past fifty years? Sure, there are a few examples to be found of others coming our way, but they are rare. We may simply dismiss our losses as the fault of the weak, misguided, or liberal, but this would reflect a destructive pride. If we are honest, then the symptoms of our disease are easy to recognize.

As a convert from evangelicalism to the LCMS, I understand why so many are departing and fewer are entering, despite the absolute purity of our doctrine or our hip efforts to be awesome. The sacramental traditions of the Holy Catholic and Orthodox Church can barely locate the Eucharist in our parishes with the diversity in our worship and our iconoclastic, hyper-textual, and overly cognitive approach. Some might argue they don't look hard enough or look in the right place, but our conduct and liturgy should make it apparent, in my opinion. The enthusiast traditions can hardly find decent dog and pony shows. Have you seen our model contemporary pastors and churches? Laughable. We try to be hip, but nobody wants to see dad with the extra weight trying to be cool in a t-shirt that betrays the need for a bra and $100 jeans, strumming a guitar or prattling on about a cool Jesus. Anyway, we will continue to parade our flag and place the blame on those who leave as being weak, deceptive liars, all to a good back beat or a triumphalist screed about our pure doctrine. The sad reality is we have not been faithful and our need for repentance, personally and corporately, is evident. We need to return to Christ through our Confessions and in the Mass.

If we were more faithful is these areas, "we" meaning congregations and pastors, and I include myself in this accusation, then our ranks would not continue to thin.

In the end, I must acknowledge and confess that Brother Harju has not abandoned Christ, as some would make it seem. For this, I am thankful. The Holy Christian Church is much larger than our confession, yet I remain convinced that our confession is the most catholic and orthodox of all confessions. Otherwise, I would be elsewhere. Still, my struggles must focus on my congregation and its fidelity to our confessions. While I lament the departure of another brother, I am neither surprised nor angered. I must only love my own confession enough to hate our weaknesses. I must repent and pray that Christ would grant me His Spirit that I might have the courage to be more faithful.

Benjamin, may the peace of the Risen Christ grant strength and peace to you and your family.
+Mason

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

If someone proposed this resolution at the synodical convention, would you support it...

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc." ?

christl242 said...

And so they were drawn to communions where the things that they valued (a stable liturgy, a life of prayer, the centering of the Church's life in the Holy Eucharist, active practice of confession and absolution) were in evidence. And gradually they became convinced by those communions that each one (respectively) WAS the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creed.

The Neuhaus who wrote in 1986 had a considerably more optimistic assessment of the state of Roman Catholicism than he did in his later years.

Confession and absolution have fallen into shocking disuse in the Church of Rome (and at the local Russian Orthodox parish in my neighborhood from what I hear).

A recent survey showed that Protestants are more "Catholic" in their thinking than Catholics as regards life issues, marriage, and the importance of the Church. It is not for nothing that nonpracticing Catholics, estimated at around 15 million, are called the second largest U.S. denomination.

As far as Orthodoxy goes the lines are fluid. I know Catholics who have become Orthodox and Orthodox who have left for other Christian bodies and both Catholics and the Orthodox have their share of the uncatechized "cultural" hangers on. If Pastor Harju only became "aware" of Orthodoxy towards the end of his pastorate in the LCMS, the coming years will be interesting ones for him.

I have no more illusions about the Church of Rome nor Orthodoxy. They are indeed no more or less healthy than we are.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor McCain,

I've explained the matter of my former-parishes Web sites, their templates, and the ad for the "Orthodox Marketplace" to the District President and a designated member from the dual parish. I tried to remove it from the get-go, but could not, because it comes with the template. The template is by far the best option for the time and place, and the little ad that you have noted as proof of "deception" is just as good or bad for a Lutheran parish as the Evangelical ads that would come with a different template. Unless, of course, you like the Evangelical stuff better ... You are free to disagree with the decision, of course, but to cry deception or lack of integrity is like claiming one of your seminaries is not Lutheran for selling icons in their bookstore (which is where I learned to enjoy icons in the first place).

As for my feelings or inclinations when I left seminary, I think even the casual reader knows how much you could truly know about that. For the record, I investigated Orthodoxy before leaving seminary (not fairly, I've come to learn) and wrote it off. This is documented among my classwork.

And by now, Pastor McCain, it should be obvious that this young man did not decide to become Orthodox because the LCMS or Lutheranism is so bad. You stay and fight for the Truth, and I was prepared to do so till the end as a Lutheran, no matter what (parish life included). But, as I posted on my blog, the greatness of Christ Himself in Holy Orthodoxy alone is the reason for my conversion/departure. Once a person comes to that conclusion, then he or she must go forward to the fullness of Christ in Orthodoxy. To not do so can only cause great harm to oneself spiritually.

I must say, though, Pastor McCain, I'm really surprised that you still think people like myself join another communion over chasubles and rubrics and such. Again, even the casual reader should be able to tell this is not so. One joins because what is called the Orthodox Church is in fact the sacrament of the kingdom of heaven. If the Eucharist makes present Christ's very Body and Blood, then the communion fellowship gathered around this Eucharist since Pentecost (Holy Orthodoxy) is the manifestation of Christ's spiritual kingdom. We join because we find in her unity the wholeness of Christ and the real-ness of His kingdom in a way that exists no where else, yet has existed since Pentecost with or without my experience of it.

You may say that Satan has temped me to do this. This is no surprise: St. Matthew 5:11; 10:25. May the Lord Jesus pardon you and bless you.

But I do agree with you on one thing: the "blame" lays squarely on me.

Benjamin Harju said...

Oh, in regards to christl242's post:

I am aware that, as far as appearances go or as the world assesses matters, Orthodoxy doesn't measure much better than Lutheran or Roman Catholic adherence. However, this is not the essence of the difference between Holy Orthodoxy and everything else. Just because not everyone chooses to seek and engage what Christ offers in His kingdom does not invalidate the kingdom, nor what Orthodoxy is as the sacrament of that kingdom.

Phil said...

Pr. Mark,

My generation (I am 23) is screaming for authenticity. I have three friends who were involved in the Evangelical InterVarsity campus fellowship and who saw through the shallow doctrine and contemporary worship. Because they are more self-assured than the overly coddled, insecure baby boomers who thirst for "CoWo" (who on earth calls it "CoWo"?) as a means to validate themselves, they jettisoned their impoverished worship and searched for truth. Where did this land them?

One of them is now the vague equivalent of a mainline liberal protestant, without the denominational affiliation.

One of them was rebaptized a Mormon.

One of them is now an atheist.

I articulated the confessional Lutheran doctrine to them to the best of my ability, but by this point it was too late to keep them from rushing to something that seemed more authentic to them.

My brother attends a college affiliated with a conservative Reformation denomination. They have a contemporary service which attracts hundreds of freshmen. But a funny thing happens a year or two later: they graduate from it and move on to something that seems more real to them, whether it's creedal, liturgical Christianity, atheism, or sex.

I am curious how you "will not repent for what [you are] doing or for the way [you are] pushing our synod to go" while at the same time you are "open to correction and open to hearing arguments on why [you are] wrong." I would think it has to be one or the other.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Ben,

Actually, if only I had been more winsome in the LATIN fathers class we had at the Sem, maybe none of this would have happened.

However, I will vouch from what I have known of you the past 9 years that this is not just a simple desire to have cooler vestments against any who say something to the contrary.

Still, I'm saddened to see you go (and of course the various doctrinal disagreements we would get into now).

Dr Matthew Phillips said...

Good now Benjamin Harju is being honest. He prays to Mary and the souls of other departed saints. What other "orthodox" pious notions has he embraced? Does he now venerate relics? That is part of the "orthodox" tradition. Many of the relics in the western church were purchased or stolen from Constantinople, the second Rome. He does not believe in justification by faith alone for Christ's sake. He does not believe the salvation is a free gift. He believes that he himself must participate in the divine energy in order to help Christ save him. Work your way up the ladder of salvation! Good luck. Jesus needs your help. Mr Harju, you have left the truth. You have embraced a lie. You are better off becoming a Romanist, at least, then you'd have the pope to instruct you. Now you are left with as much divergence in "tradition" as American Protestantism.

The condition of Lutheranism had nothing to do with you forsaking the truth. You simply believe a false gospel now.

Lord have mercy.

Phil said...

Prs. Weedon and McCain,

I understand that the event of anyone leaving confessional Lutheranism for Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy (or American Evangelicalism, or the UCC for that matter) is an occasion to examine the faults of our synod and redouble efforts to restore it to fidelity in faith (doctrine) and love (practice).

I also understand that there is no need to make excuses for someone who rejects truth for error, and that we need to "call the thing what it is".

That said, I seriously believe there's something missing here. Accusations fired by pastors and theologians as they walk out the door may be utterly wrong, and this may be clear to you, but they are unsettling to the laity. While the errors of American Evangelicalism may be working to undermine the LCMS, the errors of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy are no less dangerous if somewhat less common. Certainly enough of our seminarians, pastors, and theologians have fallen prey to them that it bears addressing.

Are our theologians appropriately addressing these criticisms of the LCMS by the Eastern Orthodox, publicly admitting the truth and refuting the error? Can they critique the Eastern Orthodox from a Lutheran standpoint as well, beyond a brief comment on a blog or in Logia Forum? Are they able to address these issues in a medium like the excellent Women Pastors? which can help the laity to resist these critiques where they err?

Pr. McCain, you may be completely right in denouncing those who leave, but I would submit that a denunciation alone isn't enough. Screening may help address the problem of which men are pastors, but the core theological disputes remain whether or not we have good seminary candidates. It's not satisfying to those laymen like me who are aware that there are deeper theological issues at stake.

Benjamin, I admit that I hesitate to talk as if you aren't in the room. However, in a sense, you've already left the room.

christl242 said...

Pastor Harju,

I investigated both Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism before I left my Lutheran upbringing (also, half my family, including my father, was Roman Catholic).

Having spent eleven years as a Roman Catholic was a wonderful education in why I needed to return to the Lutheran Church and her historic liturgy.

In becoming Orthodox you are moving into a different corner of Christ's Kingdom, and I hope you find what you are seeking. But that Orthodoxy is the ONLY true manifestation of that Kingdom I must vigorously disagree with.



Christine

Anonymous said...

Bill,

I have another take on this problem. Where I am, within twenty miles of my parish, two different congregations, at the encouragement of their pastors, left Synod altogether and became "independent".
That might be all well and good for the congregation at present, but what happens to a church after the pastor resigns, retires or is called to glory?

I may personally have issues with the LCMS, but instead of joining the Orthodox Church or the RCC, I would be more likely to go back to WELS where I was brought up.
But I would NOT try to convince the members of my congregation to abandon the synod or join WELS with me.

As to what's "wrong" with contemporary worship... I have noticed that in any congregation in which I or my wife Melanie have served which has a contemporary service there is and has always been a lack of depth.

To be sure, there is a lot of emotion, but our youth of today keep telling us in survey after survey that they want more substance over appearance, more meat and potatoes over style and music that entertains.

That's not to say that there isn't good music in the "contemporary" genre that can't be sung in church. As a former Lutheran High School music teacher and a leader of a high school praise band/choir, I know that there are a lot of good songs out there.

But what ever happened to the practice of congregations actively participating in worship over audiences coming to be entertained by the praise band? When the members of the congregation have to go into the narthex in order to receive communion because the praise band needs the room in fromt of church, then they've lost out on what is most important in worship--Word and Sacrament ministry.

Former Vicar

Benjamin Harju said...

Phil,

Other parts of Lutheranism have engaged Eastern Orthodoxy in open and honest dialogue. Believe it or not, in some parts of the world Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, while struggling with their differences, are still able to work together where agreement exists.

One fruit of such dialogue is Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue".

It doesn't have to be bitterness and resentment, even though there are serious differences.

Benjamin Harju said...

Christine said,
But that Orthodoxy is the ONLY true manifestation of that Kingdom I must vigorously disagree with.

This sounds like a black-and-white declaration, and very limiting compared to what I have in mind, but am expressing so poorly. I'm speaking in terms of wholeness, fullness, and existential uniqueness that belongs to Orthodoxy, despite the stupidity of people like me.

This comes down to two competing "experiences" of Christianity. One is that the genuine experience of Christianity is the one that gave birth to Papalism, Reformation, and Protestantism. This is nothing more than the skewing of "visible" and "outward" tradition into a tangent of untrustworthiness and corruption. If this is the authentic Christian experience *in the world*, then your assessment must be completely true, because all anyone is left with is what is hidden and invisible and provable to the skeptical mind.

However, if the genuine experience of Christianity is wholeness and an unbroken existential way of existing in the world that encompasses both the hidden and the revealed, the visible and the invisible (Holy Orthodoxy), then your assessment is skewed in line with the altered Christian experience from which it was born. The only question that then remains is whether or not you will believe it when the un-skewed reality presents itself to faith.

Past Elder said...

Well, the ELCA is not another part of Lutheranism, it is not Lutheran at all.

Re Neuhaus, it should be remembered that before he fell for the RCC he fell for the E?CA.

I'm with Phil. The only thing I don't really like about being 58 is when all these guys thinking they are "reaching youth" or whatever, the churchy equivalent to those who think to have black friends they have to "talk black", are gone I'll be gone with them.

Judas, even the CoWo -- and who indeed does call it that -- standard bearers are starting to see and admit that their, as we call them out here, back end numbers stink.

THe fact is, a mode of worship born of denial of essential elements of what we believe is not capable of having that content restored to it. It is what it is because it meant to leave that content out. This is entirely different than the liturgical fidelity to which FH refers, where it wasn't that the content was left out, but obscured, still there but choked over with weeds.

Karlstadt is alive and well. A lex orandi born of a different lex credendi eventually changes the lex credendi, and is no less harmful than those who mistake the lex orandi for the lex credendi.

How ironic that the ancestors of many of us -- not me, but many of us -- came to this country to escape the government doing to us what we now do to ourselves.

Paul McCain said...

Matt, you ask:

Can they critique the Eastern Orthodox from a Lutheran standpoint as well, beyond a brief comment on a blog or in Logia Forum?

In fact, a number of us have been speaking out on these issues for years, but perhaps you have not noticed. The first major "speaking out" in fact appeared in the journal LOGIA very openly rebuked and attacked two pastors who, at the time, were in the Central Illinois District, and have since left for Orthodoxy. It was a subject dealt with in several issues. It might have escaped your notice, since you were probably in high school or grade school at the time.

This has been a long-running issue among us, so before you appear to be willing so quickly to prejudge and dismiss the efforts of many of us who have been resisting the siren song of the East, even as we stand against the errors of American Evangelicalism on the other hand, you might wish to reconsider your remark.

It is my opinion, and it has been my request for a number of years that Concordia Theological Quarterly address, head on, this certain fondness/longing for the East, and do so in a very open and direct manner. I'm still waiting. It would be good for the Confessions' Symposium to devote itself to an exposure of and refutation of the errors of Orthodoxy, rather than yet have one more symposium devoted to topics of moment among us thirty or forty years ago.


Are "we" saying, or doing enough though? Again, no.

However, there are resources out there to help lay people sort through these issues. First, and foremost, it must be their pastor doing this. And to aid and assist the pastor, I believe that there are good resources out there, for instance, The Lutheran Difference series of studies, which examine a host of key teachings, and in each one, compare/contrast the teaching of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions over against various other groups' confessions.

Here is a link to these excellent resources:

http://www.cph.org/cphstore/Category.asp?find_category=83337&find_description=The+Lutheran+Difference+Series
Let's settle down a bit and focus our energies on addressing the catechetical needs of our Synod, which, if I understand Pr. Weedon, was and is the main point of his post.

As Pastor Weedon said:

My task as a Lutheran pastor is to seek to foster . . . a renewal in theology; a renewal in pastoral practice; a renewal in sacramental life; a renewal in catechesis [and] . . . the most important of all, for it is where all renewal begins: a renewal in the Word of God and in prayer. These will be LUTHERAN renewal if they are lived out from the joyous "aha" that is AC IV.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

I realize that I am treading on dangerous ground here, but...

I think that is important for many of the LC-MS readers here to know that not all of us who have left the LC-MS have done so because we think we have found THE TRUE catholic Church somewhere else. That is not why I left, for that is not the claim of the Anglican Communion.

I did not leave because I thought the LC-MS was some apostate institution that can't get rid of all the contemporary worship gurus. I didn't leave because the LC-MS can't get the Confessions just right and hence they are not Church. I probably left most of all because I felt I could be more fully the Christian that I am somewhere else. I choose not to go into detail here why I left but merely want to make clear I think it is very important to state that it IS NOT the case that all who leave are saying that the LC-MS is not in some way part of the catholic church because we have actually found it located elsewhere.

But I do have to admit as well that for one reason and one reason only, I find it difficult publicly to be so affirming of the LC-MS' place in the catholic church and that is because of the condemnations hurled by so many so vocally on so many blogs against other Christian communions, most notably in this case the Anglican Communion. Call us apostate (as you do), call us heretics (as you do), call us utterly messed up and lost (as you do), post videos mocking our existence (as you do): I will struggle to say, and I do struggle to say, but I will still say: You (the LC-MS) are still part of the catholic church.

I simply hope that this is helpful in understanding why some leave and understanding what work, if any, the LC-MS has in renewing itself. I apologize if it is misplaced or mistimed.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Well, since there is only one holy Church you're either a part of it or you aren't. You are either a member of the Body of Christ or you are not. You are either a believer or you are not. You are either a child of God or you are not. You cannot be "sort of" in the Body of Christ. You are either fully in the Body of Christ or fully out of it. None of this "fullness" B.S. (responding to Benjamin's earlier post).

William Weedon said...

Folks,

Palm Sunday and Holy Week face us, and face me with the task of confirming five youth tomorrow and four adults at Vigil. I have to meet for pictures and practice for the examination in just a wee bit. Which is to say: I will be back in the conversation LATER. In the meantime, please keep it civil, kind and Christian.

Mark,

You really should see if you can answer Larry's question, for that is the exact question I would have posed to you myself. I do not believe that Pentecostal liturgy is compatible with Lutheran doctrine, anymore than the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts can be offered with Lutheran doctrine.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Rev. McCain,

I really don't think the seminaries are to blame for men departing for the East (or for Rome). I think you were dead on when you initially said that the "blame" rests squarely on the shoulders of those who depart. I mean, it is not as though our seminaries fail to teach the errors of Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism (or Americanized "evangelicalism"). And, I don't know what more they could do to "screen" the men before they're certified for a call. Plus, these men, as they are ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry, make vows pledging themselves to remain faithful to Holy Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions.

So, why do they leave, after having been properly trained, and after having made their vows? That's the question.

Certainly there is much involved in arriving at an answer, and I'm sure that the answer varies from man to man. But, as Pr. Weedon notes, what must play a factor, however big or small, is the fact that Lutheranism, as it is being practiced among us today, is desperately ill.

It saddens me to see another brother, like Benjamin, whom I have long respected and admired, depart from us. And, while I can't understand how he (and others) can abandon our Lutheran theology in order to embrace a theology that is, in many and various ways, contradictory to ours, I can understand what led him (and them) to go searching for something else.

I can understand that because I struggle myself. How can I be in altar and pulpit fellowship with brothers who embrace a completely different theology of worship than the one revealed in Holy Scripture and exposited in our Lutheran Confessions? How can I be in fellowship with Pr. Mark Louderback, whose honesty, while refreshing, reveals that he unapologetically embraces "styles of worship" that are anything but Lutheran?

For my part, going East or heading for Rome is not an option. I've studied both extensively and those things I do find appealing about them are not enough for me to embrace the false theology I find. I am, at the end of the day, a Lutheran. But, can I remain in a synod that has become increasingly heterodox of late? Can I remain in a synod where it's no longer just okey-dokey to be closet "methabapticostals," but is now embracing that out in the open and even pushing us to go further in that direction? Am I really in altar and pulpit fellowship with the brother down the road who leads the "worship experience" in his jeans, "gets down with Jesus" each week, and doesn't even have an altar? Can I remain in a synod in which one of its districts (mine) begins the "worship service" at the All Pastors Conference with the contemporary praise song, "Come, Now Is the Time to Worship," which is replete with decision theology, telling us that the "greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you (the generic "god" being addressed, which I guess we are to assume is Jesus) now"?

Of course, I know that you are very aware of all the abuses in our midst, but I do wonder if you and others fully understand the struggles many of us endure. I can't even find a suitable pastor to sub for me when I go on vacation. The only brothers in my area I would trust to fill in are nearly always unavailable. And, that is neither born of arrogance or paranoia, but of what I hope and pray is proper pastoral care for the flock entrusted to me. Things are pretty bad, worse than I think most realize.

All of this is to say that I wonder how much longer we can go on like this. Or, perhaps I should just stick to myself and say I wonder how much longer I can go on like this.

At any rate, what I do know is that we cannot continue to ignore the sickness with which our synod is afflicted. And, when we see men who take their theology pretty seriously departing from us, it should beckon us to take a good look at what is happening in our midst. I'm not saying that what is happening warrants their departure, but it is a factor that should not be ignored, imho.

Sincerely,
In Christ,
Tom

Paul McCain said...

Ben,

You have made a decision to leave. Go in peace.

Folks, this is another case where a pastor clearly was leaving, while hanging on, for whatever reason to his congregation.

But, visit the congregation's web site and you'll see there what my concern is with it.

http://www.stjohns-hastings.org/

Clearly a Lutheran congregation with a pastor who, instead of leaving as he should, stayed and was promoting Orthodoxy via his parish web site.

We've seen this happen before.

Time to wake up. When your pastor puts up on your parish web site a huge icon of Christ [nothing wrong with that, of course], but it is the ONLY image on the site, and then he puts up a link to the "orthodox marketplace" to point people toward for church resources.

Well, enough said.

Let's just be honest here.

It is the fundamental deception and dishonesty at work in these situations that I find most offensive. And that is precisely what it has been: Fenton, Wandrey, etc.

If you are going to leave, then leave, but don't hang around and "play" Lutheran pastor, for whatever reason.

Leave and then work out your issues, or at least be absolutely honest and upfront about what you are going through.

But this deceptive way of leaving, traveling overseas to make arrangements, attending Orthodox seminaries on the congregations' dime, etc.

It is truly offensive.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Dear Pr. Weedon,

Allow me simply to echo the words of my brother priest bajaye.

William Weedon said...

Pastor Messer,

Are you a member of the Augsburg Ministerium? I commend it to you.

Paul McCain said...

Greetings Tom,

I'm not laying all the blame at the feet of the seminaries, but I do not believe they are doing enough actively to confront the issues/problems of guys swimming the Bosporus. I do thank you for your comments which allow me to make this clarification.

Nor, as I believe I made very clear, am I, or do I, "ignore" the very real struggles.

Blessings,
PTM

Jim Huffman said...

"Well, the ELCA is not another part of Lutheranism, it is not Lutheran at all."

Comments like this really aren't helpful. I could make a similar argument about the LCMS: unitarian pastors, women distributing the Body and Blood, lay preaching. Do I need to go on? Or is Luther's first thesis out of 95 one that we don't hear anymore?

Phil said...

Pr. McCain,

Thanks for your response to my question. I readily admit that there are many things of which I am unaware. If you could point me to the initial Logia critique you mentioned, I would be grateful.

"...compare/contrast the teaching of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions over against various other groups' confessions."

If I have the time, I will take a look at that series, but this quotation makes me wonder whether it's taking a helpful approach. I suspect that since the Eastern Orthodox tend to resist being defined by a "confession", many of their objections would sidestep a confessional analysis. This is not to deny that churches are defined confessionally by any means, just that it may not be the right kind of response.

In my thought process, I can attempt to address criticisms like those of the EO by addressing them within their system of thought, which must be possible, if their system of thought is accurate. If their system of thought is inaccurate, though, I will criticize their system of thought as being flawed or incapable of representing reality.

The latter is the harsher method, and it is the method used by the EO when they criticize us and Western Christendom as a whole (in my experience, attacking vicarious atonement). I suspect that we have to do the same in return.

Pr. Weedon, I'm very interested to hear your contribution as you have time. I've been encouraged by the things I've quietly watched you deal with on this blog for the past few years, regarding the East.

Anonymous said...

Permit me to make some observations which I'm sure aren't worth much and will only get in the way. But here it goes...

1. What is of first importance as we lose a former Lutheran pastor to the Orthodox church, is to ask ourselves the question: "How can we suffer this loss in a fruitful way?" I don't think we ought to say much of anything until we can answer this question. Troubles and losses are bound to come. This isn't the first and won't be the last. And in any case it certainly isn't the end of the world. So are we going to deal with these things like gentiles or as those who live by the mercies of God in Christ? Again: How do we suffer such a loss and the pain it brings in a fruitful way?

2. The Orthodox priests and laity ought to ask the question, when they have gained a man like Mr. Harju: "How can this man be received in a way that benefits us and benefits those who have lost him?" But that's their business and I won't press this point.

3. An additional question or two to ask is: "Am I living like the Pharisee or the Publican?" and "Do I even understand what I am praying when I pray the Kyrie?"

If you've ever given or received individual pastoral care in a crisis situation, it is almost axiomatic that before anything fruitful can be done, there needs to be a time of "venting." It ain't fun. Many unfortunate things are said and done during that time. But a good pastor must suffer through it, roll with it, be patient with it, and begin the healing process only after the venting has occurred. Before that, nothing the pastor says can even be heard, so it is pointless to even try to accomplish anything. I trust that after we all vent/gloat/ whatever for a while, and I am chief of sinners in this regard I must confess, that we will "hang in there" with one another and finally have the heart to begin to deal with these losses and gains in a fruitful way.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Pr. Tom Fast

Paul McCain said...

CORRECTION:

In the post I addressed to Matt, I should have addressed it to Phil.

My apologies for the error.

Past Elder said...

Helpful to what?

It is a category mistake to place individual parish practice on the same level with corporate positions.

LCMS has many heterodox parishes which stray from the confessional positions of the synod; ELCA has many confessional parishes which stray from the heterodox positions of that church body.

In the category of corporate positions, the ELCA has demonstrated itself heterodox and not Lutheran.

I came from an environment where represetatives of heterodox bodies routinely congratulated themselves on their "open and honest dialogue", which was little more than heterodox bodies finding points of agreement in, well, heterodoxy. And meanwhile individual people and parishes trying to remain faithful to their respective confessions suffered alike for it.

I'm glad Luther didn't stop at the first thesis and think maybe he should stay home "repenting" and "putting the best construction on things" but out of love for truth and desire to bring it to light wrote them out, posted them on the door, and invited those unable to participate in person to write in.

Would he have been a great blogger or WHAT?

When you say stuff like Here I stand you gotta be real clear about where here is.

William Weedon said...

I'd commend the readers of this thread to the wise words of Dr. Stuckwisch, as well:

http://sword-in-hat.blogspot.com/2009/04/preserving-lutheranism-is-not-point.html

Jim Huffman said...

Those in the LCMS are often quick to make excuses for things in the LCMS that are bad at best and heretical at worst. Such excuses are not usually provided for brethren outside of the LCMS communion.

I'll grant that the LCMS is nominally orthodox, and nominal adherence is nothing to be sneezed at. But when an LCMS pastor is openly (he published books proclaiming his teaching) unitarian for decades (with no official consequence whatsoever), there's a serious flaw going on within the LCMS fellowship. Repentance is often a suggested remedy for such flaws.

I would suggest that nominal adherence has become a means for heresy to stick: those who point out the heresy are quickly reminded of the nominal adherence, and the circle starts again.

What I always ask is this: would we make such excuses for any other Christian fellowship? And if not, why are we making them for the LCMS?

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor McCain,

I will refer you once again to the comments I made earlier in regard to your point of view regarding an ad supplied by a free Web site provider. I'm really surprised that you think it's wrong to have a big picture of Christ alone on a Lutheran Web site. What should be there, fields of wheat or something?

Also, to help bring your comments into perspective:

Do all the other LCMS'ers out there who are using the same Greek-styled template for the benefit of their congregational witness of Christ know this equates with the promotion of EO?

Should the CTS campus be Karlstadt'ed? I modeled my choices off of their use of icons. They trained me, after all. And it is from them that I learned that icons are loved by Lutherans, as part of their embrace of Chalcedonian Christology.

Maybe you just don't like how poor the congregations are, that they couldn't afford more picture aside from the Lord Jesus'? Please consider donating to them. It would help a lot. Maybe then they could have a site that doesn't force ads on them. That's better than trampling on them (us, given the time frame involved) for being poor.

Really, Pastor McCain, given the things you're upset about, it seems like you should turn your ire against the Fort Wayne seminary, because everything I've done as a parish pastor came directly from my time there - icons, materials, sensibilities, and all that.

My conversion to Holy Orthodoxy, though, comes in spite of the Fort Wayne Seminary and its particularly Lutheran view of reality. Glory to God for His mercy to sinners such as I.

William Weedon said...

Terry,

Jim experienced what he writes of here first hand - and bless him for finally making the District officials see what none of them could believe: that it was true. He's suffered for it.

Jim,

The same kindness we extend to ourselves should be the measure we extend to others - and by that I mean especially trying to understand them on their own terms and to put the best construction on their words and actions. In regard to what you had to face specifically, I'd ask if it wouldn't be explaining things in the kindest way to recognize that folks might have been thinking that the man misspoke and that he couldn't have meant really what he said? "Surely not" is the native reaction of any in the LCMS I suspect to hearing of an LCMS pastor who denied the deity of our Lord.

Jim Huffman said...

Putting best construction doesn't involve ignoring open, obvious, blaring (Herman Otten trumpeted this for years) statements. If "surely not" is the reaction to someone openly denying the deity of Christ, perhaps this is yet another problem in the LCMS.

Again, would we do a "surely not" moment if the person in question were Roman, Orthodox, Methodist, whatever? If we wouldn't, why would we do such for one in the LCMS?

William Weedon said...

I, for one, had difficulty coming to terms with the fact (even when you acquainted me with it) because of my lived experience in the LCMS - and especially as a pastor of the same - where if there were one thing that we'd not ever even entertain is the denial of the divinity of the Eternal Word born of Mary. That there was such in our midst came as a shocker for me; and I suspect that's just true for most of our pastors. And finally the District DID do the right thing; for that is not a confession that is in anyway compatible with the Augustana. One cannot BE Lutheran and deny the divinity of the Son and Word of the Father.

Past Elder said...

Well I'd be the first one out of the plane with him on a mission like that, and I commend him for it. Nor do I mean anything I posted in defence of situations like that. Hell, gimme a mitre and a crosier, so to speak, and pastors like that and superiors who won't look will be looking for new jobs to-morrow morning.

Nor do I post anything meaning that as long as the corporate confession is right so are we.

My point was re Mr Harju bringing up a printed product of ELCA-EO "dialogue" as evidence that other parts of the Lutheran world dialogue well with EO so why not us. Because ELCA as a body has by its actions and stands removed itself from the Lutheran world in all but name, that's why. What two heterodox bodies find they do or don't agree on is of utter irrelevance to Christ or his Church.

The point being it is a category mistake to mix those who stray within a body that hasn't with bodies that have strayed, or to remain silent on one because of the other.

Jim Huffman said...

For those not in the loop, my experience was with Paul Bretscher's acolyte, Ted Strelow, whom I had the misfortune of having as pastor for 6 years.

You are correct: there was a heresy trial. The first and only, if I remember correctly, in the history of the LCMS.

His mentor, Bretscher (the published unitarian) never had a trial. After slandering (I use the word advisedly) me and others, Bretscher resigned in a snit over the hubris of the district's dealing with Strelow.

It took 6 years to get Strelow to resign. That was in 1998. It took the district another 5 years -- 2003 -- to deal with him.

This wasn't exactly done in a corner. Strelow -- parroting Bretscher -- taught publicly that salvation is by works, that the Bible has errors, and that Jesus is not God. After he never denied what he had taught and publicly defended himself, attacking from the pulpit those in the congregation who had dealt with him.

District officials were rather less than helpful. The "reconciler" sent in suggested that I should leave the LCMS. (In that he was correct: I should have).

I recount all of this unpleasantry to ask the simple question: am I to imagine that I had the monumentally bad luck of having the only unitarian, works-righteousness, Bible-denying pastor in the LCMS?

Those who came to the LCMS because of doctrine imagine that the LCMS as a whole cares about doctrine. A psychologist would call this projection. What counts in the LCMS is a vague idea of "being LCMS," and woe to those who have the temerity to leave. Those who leave because of what we might charitably call the doctrinal laxness of the synod are mocked and derided.

I actually find it kind of interesting in a bizarre way that heretics such as Bretscher and Strelow are coddled and kept on the payroll, while someone like Herman Otten are kept -- for decades -- off the clergy roster. But it's all very sad, and this is just one out of very many. Each time someone brings up a case like mine, it's dismissed as "one of a kind," but of course, it's not. Others more in the know than myself have spoken of a culture of arrogance in the LCMS clergy. I don't pretend to know where that's from, but as one whose family and congregation suffered mightily from it, I can readily say it's there.

William Weedon said...

Dear Jim,

I would not wish to cast all my brother pastors under the accusation of arrogance. You no doubt suffered it from me, for I am a horribly proud man. May you and Christ forgive me!

But I can never think of my beloved father in Christ, Lester Wolf, as arrogant; nor John Costello; nor my beloved Dr. Nagel; nor so many, many others.

Beware of painting with too broad a brush. One's experience in a given place rarely defines the whole.

William Weedon said...

Oh, and honestly, I knew and know of no other that espoused what Bretscher/Strelow espoused. *I've* not encountered in the LCMS and that explains, perhaps, in part why I (and maybe others) were so reluctant to believe it. Again, forgive us.

Paul McCain said...

Ben, don't compound your situation with disengenuous comments about the innocent nature of your congregation's web site.

Have the integrity at least to admit, yes, you were promoting Orthodoxy on your congregation's site, and to your congregation.

Are you willing to state here that you had no conversations with representatives of the Antiochian Orthodox Church while you were pastor of your congregation?

Further, will you state here that they, or members of it, never advised you to make an attempt to bring your congregation with you when you left Lutheranism?

Listen, we've all been down this path before and the behavior patterns, in nearly every case, are identical.

We know Hogg and his followers circle like vultures when they sense the odor of defection in the air. I've seen it happen, time and again.

Let's drop the pretenses and get real, shall we?

William Weedon said...

Terry,

The book that Ben recommended is actually rather insightful. I've enjoyed it a great deal. My favorite was the work of Puera - the Manermaa left me a little cold. Great stuff though from start to finish - those in dialog with the East here were Lutherans who had discovered in Luther all sort of theotic language and who rightly traced the survival of such into Lutheranism itself.

William Weedon said...

Ack, Paul. I've said this before but I'll say it again: recognize behind Robb's zeal an honest belief. He honestly believes that Orthodoxy IS the true faith. And so, yes, he reaches out to extend it at every opportunity. For that we cannot and do not criticize him. I remember clearly reading on Emily's blog the influence that a single call he made had on her and Ben - it was a simple act of love and concern. He picked up the phone and talked to them.

What if we Lutherans exhibited as much concern and love for each other? What if we were not always "biting and devouring each other"?

I am saddened that I didn't give a better witness to Ben and Emily; that I didn't show the love of Christ as I ought to have when I knew perfectly well the difficult times they were going through. I hope they will forgive me and I hope they will not judge all Lutherans by my own failures. For I know so many Lutherans who do embody the love that is of Christ and who show it with vigor and undeniable truth. I am, sadly, not a very good example.

So please, let's not rush forth with condemnation. Of course the Antiochians wish for pastors to bring parishes; it's been their modus operandi for a long time. But Ben did not attempt to bring his parish; he attempted to be no more than a Lutheran pastor. And when he could in good conscience no longer do so, he left.

Paul McCain said...

Will, let's get serious here and let's stop the games. That's what I'm asking for.

There is a pattern of deception in these situations that is demonstrable via the facts that are available in each case.

I won't rehearse them here.

I've known of only person who was in this situation who handled with integrity, honesty and candor. Only one.

In Ben's case he has left breadcrumbs all over the Internet that can be easily followed, for the past several years, that show a pattern of behavior that, as I've said before, is absolutely predictable. I see a few other situations like this, and I'm wondering what is taking them so long to take the plunge.

And while we can bemoan all the fautlts and failings on our part, or anyone's part, that contributed to the defection, in this case, let's not be so quick to lay the blame elsewhere.

We need honesty, my friend, as much as kindness. That might be the greatest kindness of all.

We'll let Ben answer the questions I've put to him, it would be kind for him at least to be honest.

Did he have any contacts and communications with the Antiochian Church while he was still an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church, or not?

Will, my friend, I do appreciate what you are saying, but there is something more here than a failure on the part of others in this situation.

Chris said...

Why is it that certain Lutheran pastors (e.g. Pr. McCain), every time someone, whether clergy or layperson, leave the LCMS, feel the need to become vitriolic and demonize the person and even sometimes his family (when Fr. Fenton left, there was plenty of denunciation of both him and his family from Lutheran circles)? You pour on words such as "betrayal", "traitor" and even "heretic." I cannot remember a singular instance (and I may well be mistaken) when someone left the Orthodox Church for the LCMS or other western Christian expression and was attacked so vehemently. So, what is it that makes leaving the LCMS or Lutheranism in general deserving of such condemnation?

Do you feel that your denunciations will cause that man to return? Or do you so simply becuase you like to throw tantrums? Why not pray for him, his family and be done with it? He's no longer your concern. He has entrusted himself and his family to the Orthodox Church. It's now the concern of the Orthodox to faithfully minister to them (even if you disagree with how that ministry occurs) and to help them work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Having said that, I will gladly eat my words here and be labeled a hypocrite if I show forth the same lack of charity should anyone leave Holy Orthodoxy for the LCMS.

But you don't see that, except rarely. Why doesn't the LCMS or LUtheranism in general welcome converts from Orthodoxy as much as the ORthodox do from Lutheranism? Is it because there is no consensus with regards to doctrine OR praxis? (Yes, I am aware that different jurisdictions receive converts in different fashions--some by chrismation, some by rebaptism. Such is the nature of oeconomia).

You call these people such horrible names as if they have forsaken the Truth. But neither the LCMS nor Lutheranism seem to have any idea what Truth is, since that rests in the Bible and then you fight over which interpretation is right? Truth has been reduced to an idea and when that happens, you can only find yourself in a hopeless web of theological possibilities, unanchored and adrift. But when Truth is a person, that is our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, then I believe you become less prone to be judgmental and attack. But, of course, I've been wrong before.

William Weedon said...

Dear Chris,

For us, Truth is not an idea, but a Person! In the LCMS Explanation to the Small Catechism, the first question asks:

"What is Christianity?"

The answer?

"It is the life and salvation God has given us in and through Jesus Christ."

He's the Truth and as we come to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him we live in communion with Truth.

Look all, holy Week is the very week when our Lord prayed for unity among all who come to believe on Him through His Apostles' words - it might befit us to spend the week in prayer for that unity which can only be found in union with the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. It's not a time for either Lutheran or Orthodox triumphalism - surely both are odious to our Lord. Let us join each other in kneeling before the Crucified and Risen One and acclaiming Him alone as our life, our hope, and our everlasting salvation.

Pax Christi - to one and to all!

Paul McCain said...

Chris, the facts, in the majority of these departures, involve a great deal of deception of the congregations that have been devastated when their pastor leaves them and announces, effectively, that they are not in the fullness of the Church, that they have no valid ministry, that they have invalid and doubtful Eucharists, that their babies have been invalidly baptized, and it is questionable if there is any sure and certain Gospel proclamation among them at all.

Our people are not stupid. They read Internet sites. They read what their pastor says about their church and their faith. They are dismayed.

I know, I hear from these laypeople. It is out of their pain and their hurt that I speak out as strongly as I do, and will continue to do so.

I never hear Lutherans saying such incredibly offensive things about other communions, including, of course, Roman or Orthodox Christians and Churches. We do not deny their ministry, or their sacraments, but I can show you, and I'm sure you know, that this is precisely what the so-called "Orthodox" have to say about the Lutheran Church, and no so more zealously, than from the mouths of these converts and ninety-day wonder newly chrismated, named and ordained priests.

It is a deep and public scandal and I wish we would get as worked up over that as we do trying to find all the reasons why a man left.

Perhaps you should be a bit more bothered by these realities.

I know what I'm talking about here. I've been in touch with more laity than I care to remember whose pastors left them and left them with the bitter memory of a man who effectively has all but told them they have little assurance of anything they have been taught.

There is the scandal in all this and frankly I care much more about the sheep abandoned by their shepherd, than I do about the shepherd who abandoned them.

Emily H. said...

Pastor Weedon,

Thank you for all the kindness and charity you have shown us. I appreciate your sensitive and caring nature and still hold you in the highest respect. A blessed Holy Week to you and your family.
Love in Christ!

William Weedon said...

Emily,

That means a great deal - thank you, and God bless all four of you.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor McCain wrote:
In Ben's case he has left breadcrumbs all over the Internet that can be easily followed, for the past several years, that show a pattern of behavior that, as I've said before, is absolutely predictable.

Response:
Then why didn't you ever try to help me?

Pastor McCain wrote:
I see a few other situations like this, and I'm wondering what is taking them so long to take the plunge.

Response:
Perhaps you could help them out. It sounds like you don't think Lutheran pastors should engage in this sort of discernment while in the parish. I understand that, but the way things work in the LCMS often leaves little choice in the matter. I encourage you to contact these men and offer to help them get out of the parish, so that they can finish their discernment safely. They may need that sort of help more than you could imagine.

Pastor McCain wrote:
Ben, don't compound your situation with disengenuous comments about the innocent nature of your congregation's web site.

Response:
I can't make you accept the truth.

Pastor McCain wrote:
Have the integrity at least to admit, yes, you were promoting Orthodoxy on your congregation's site, and to your congregation.

Response:
There is no integrity in admitting to what I did not do. In fact, because of my pastoral estimate of the souls of the people, I worked very hard to keep my discernment separate from my duties. You may not understand this nor accept it, but it is what I did.

Pastor McCain wrote:
Are you willing to state here that you had no conversations with representatives of the Antiochian Orthodox Church while you were pastor of your congregation?

Response:
What a weird question. I do have ordained friends among the Antiochians. Did you expect me to stop speaking to them?

Pastor McCain wrote:
Further, will you state here that they, or members of it, never advised you to make an attempt to bring your congregation with you when you left Lutheranism?

Response:
When I spoke with my different friends, I got a mixed response in this regard, though the issue was always IF I left Lutheranism. I have already stated what choice I made regarding my former parishioners.

I have tried very hard to let my yes be yes here. But even if you do not believe me, then what? What comes next? Where does all of this that you are doing lead? Genuinely, what is the point here?

I have tried my best. May the Lord Jesus forgive me for where I have failed, because He certainly sees me better than I do. God bless you, Pastor McCain.

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

If someone proposed this resolution at the synodical convention, would you support it...

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc." ?


==================

No.

I have said previously, to you and others, that the word "Mass" in English is a word that has ceased to be a neutral term refering to the Divine Service.

It refers in people's minds, to the corrupt sacrifice of the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. This resolution would be saying "When we worship as the Roman Catholics worship...." which is nonsensical, because we do not worship as they worship.

When we translate from other languages, we need to remember that the words we use may have connotations, components of meaning, etc, that speak directly against the truth we are trying to explain.

But then, I'm fairly sure that is not what you were asking.

So, let's say the Synodical resolution were as follows:

"In our churches the Divine Service with communion is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc."

The answer would be "No."

Because there are two entirely different purposes from the Confessions to your resolution. The resolution is taking the statement out of context and twisting it in a way that would be quite eligitimate.

That is to say, back in the day, the reformers were showing their connection to the early church, because they were being accused of starting something new.

The purpose of this resolution would not be to state a connection with the past that Lutheran churches have--rather it would simpyl be an attempt to legislate worship.

Let me ask you this: If someone proposed this resolution at the synodical convention, would you support it...

"It is not enough to be a Lutheran to have worship services that are Scriptural, Gospel focused, and properly divide Law and Gospel. A Lutheran must also follow man-made rules regarding how the service will be done."

Would you support that resolution?

If to be a Lutheran means that sola Scriptura is not good enough, you know, maybe we need to start our reforming there.

And make no mistake: if you want to bind churches to certain forms in order to be Lutheran, that is going to run contrary to saying that the Lutherans church is all about the proclamation of the Gospel, giving of the gifts of Christ, etc.

Now, can I apply that statement to my own church? Well yes. That is what we do. We also do CoWo. So, there you go.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Phil,

I guess the solution is to have worship that is authentic, deep, and solid in its teaching.

I just fail to see why CoWo can't be that.

I mean, I appreciate your examples. I've been to several chruches that have CoWo and they have people who are growing in their faith and living out that life of faith.

Who on earth calls it "CoWo"

Uh...I do...

Mark QL Louderback said...

Phil,

Sorry, I missed one last comment.

I don't have to act or pretend as though what I say is the very truth of God. I think that I am right and I will boldly say that and speak out.

But at the same time, I do not want my boldness to blind me to correction. If I am wrong, then I need to be humble enough for correction.

I'm approaching this discussion to give a witness to why I do what I do. But I am willing to discuss it amicably. I'm not interested in a "I'm right and let me tell you why you are wrong" type of discussion.

I wonder, of course, whether those supporting traditional over CoWo do so with the same attitude. I would say they do not, which is why they are disappointed in the Synod.

Mark QL Louderback said...

William,

You really should see if you can answer Larry's question, for that is the exact question I would have posed to you myself. I do not believe that Pentecostal liturgy is compatible with Lutheran doctrine, anymore than the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts can be offered with Lutheran doctrine.

Yeah...I just don't understand what makes a worship form "Pentecostal" or "Lutheran" or "Roman Catholic."

Can you point out to me some Scripture passags that say "This is how worship is to be conducted, and they clearly speak against contemporary worship"?

Love to see them.

I actually don't know what you mean by "liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts"...

Once again: is it enough to be a Lutheran to confess Scripture and its truth as taught in the confessions? Or must we insist and legislate man-made forms of worship in order to be Lutheran?

Mark QL Louderback said...

Past Elder,

and who indeed does call it that

Me. It makes sense. Contemporary worship is a long phrase; CoWo shortens it in a sensible, easily understood abbreviation.

You ought to try it. Pretty soon all the cool kids will be doing it...

Bill,

One cannot BE Lutheran and deny the divinity of the Son and Word of the Father.

I do agree with you about this.

I just wish that we could agree more on your definition of Lutheran and my defintion of Lutheran...

masonbeecroft said...

Father Louderback,
The grand Idea of the Mass, limited to an unholy sacrifice when uttered in English, floating around the heavens, had never entered my mind until now. I guess I will have to abandon the language rather than understand it in its proper evangelical and sacramental sense. I hope that would not be "elegitimate" (sic). Please. The Sacramental reality of the presence of Christ by the power of His Word demands, requires, and necessitates a certain human response. The Mass, in its range of ritual expressions, proclaims such a redemptive work of Christ in the midst of His people. Dockers, t-shirts, screens, back rubs, big smiles, and "Shine, Jesus, Shine" only testify to our effervescent feelings about some distant Jesus who makes us all feel good when the guitar, drum, and leader come together in just the right way. CoWo is non-sacramental by its very structure and thus rails against our confession as Lutherans.
+Mason

William Weedon said...

Mark,

If you ask the wrong question, you will never arrive at the right answer. :)

The question is not a biblicistic one: "Where does Scripture tell me I have to do X?" Or the horridly reductionistic: "What's the least I can do and still have X be valid?"

Rather, switch the question: What ceremonies most fully confess the Gospel? What ceremonies nurture the reverence befitting our belief that in the Eucharist we partake of the very Body that was born of the Virgin and the Blood that blotted out the world's sin? What ceremonies keep the focus upon Christ and His gifts and His life poured into us?

The traditional Lutheran liturgy does all the above - and in spades! Why should one wish to alter that which so clearly confesses the Gospel? It can only be for that which would confess the Gospel even more clearly, produce an even more profound reverence, and focus us even more upon our Lord as the One thing needful. The liturgy is alive and growing - always has been, always will be. It can take into itself much and bend it toward those Gospel confessing purposes. But I've NEVER seen a Pentecostal liturgy that comes close to doing such confessing - and that's to be expected, for the beliefs of those among whom that liturgy originated simply do not match the traditional Christian beliefs about the Lord's Supper.

William Weedon said...

P.S. Mark, it should have been clear from what I've written, but if not, let me make it so:

I do not believe that the liturgy of the pentecostals is ever befitting in any Church of the Augsburg Confession. And by liturgy I am not talking text in a book, but ordered action. There is an ordered action which Christians have held to from the very beginning that is utterly befitting of what they believe and confess about the miracle of the Lord's Supper; those who do not believe that miracle came up with an ordered action that reflected their view of its relative unimportance. You can't "wash that out" of their ordered action. It's part of its fabric.

Lutherans profess that we do not abolish the Mass. And by Mass, no they didn't mean just the Lord's Supper. They meant, and their opponents understood them to mean, the Divine Service Liturgy - that ordered action which has characterize the Supper from the get go; what Dix could call "the shape of the liturgy." Lutherans have always been most tolerant of variety in human ceremony and rightly called for people not to needlessly dispute about true adiaphora (to swing incense? to chant the readings or to speak them? to elevate or not? to wear alb and chasuble or just surplice? and so on), but the ordered action of the Mass itself was not counted as an adiaphoron in any place where the Lutherans took their Symbols seriously.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Pr. Weedon,

Most excellently stated, my friend - as usual!

Btw, upstream, when you asked if I was a member of the Augsburg Ministerium, did you mean Augustana Ministerium?

Chris Jones said...

Pastor Louderback,

It is a mistake to treat the Scriptures as a service-book or a book of rubrics, because that is not their purpose. It is even more of a mistake to conclude that, because the Scriptures are not a book of rubrics, the Church has no rule of prayer. The Church has always had a rule of prayer, by which she was already ordering her life of worship decades before the New Testament was written and centuries before the New Testament was collected and published as canonical Scripture.

The New Testament writings do not contain or prescribe the rule of prayer; instead, they presuppose the rule of prayer. The worship life of the Church, according to her rule of prayer, forms the context within which the Scriptures can be rightly interpreted. We don't come to understand the Gospel at the deepest level (in the heart) by reading the Scriptures and thinking about them correctly; we do so by praying the Scriptures with the Church in the liturgical assembly. If the liturgical assembly is skewed -- if the liturgical praxis is not according to the Church's rule of prayer -- the right and full understanding of the Gospel will not be imparted.

That is the meaning of the aphorism lex orandi lex est credendi.

Besides, what Fr Weedon said.

christl242 said...

Yeah...I just don't understand what makes a worship form "Pentecostal" or "Lutheran" or "Roman Catholic."

Can you point out to me some Scripture passags that say "This is how worship is to be conducted, and they clearly speak against contemporary worship"?


I can't believe this is coming from a Lutheran pastor. And as for the "Mass", since it is simply a shortened form of "Ite, missa est", "Go, you are dismissed" (to leave God's house nourished by Word and Sacrament to live what you have received) Lutherans, being part of the historic church are entirely entitled to use the word. It is not limited to the "Sacrifice of the Mass" as Rome understands it (I know -- I lived it for eleven years).

When I finally decided to leave the RCC to come back to my Lutheran roots I checked out several congregations nearby. The ELCA was out of the question, I had been a member there before I left for Rome. The LCMS "Mission", "Community" church down the road so deliberately hid its Lutheran identity and emphasis on Word AND Sacrament I knew I couldn't go there either. I'd seen enough of the damage that CoWo has done to the Catholic Church.

When I finally found the LCMS congregation where I now worship it was like coming home to a beloved family I had lost. They were singing the magnificent Lutheran hymns I sang in the LCMS churches I knew as a child, I knew that here the Body and Blood of the Lord were there for me, a forgiven sinner.

Cool kids?? You'd be surprised how much they hunger for meaningful worship. Pastor Weedon has it exactly right.

Christine

William Weedon said...

Pr. Messer,

Oops. Yes.

Anonymous said...

You know, Pr. Louderback, with all your talk of how you are reaching out to the culture of our day, being relevant, blah, blah, and .... blah.

What's going on at your church surely doesn't seem to reflect anything terribly impressive by way of growth.

http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/locators/nchurches/c_graphs.asp?C865222

Dr Matthew Phillips said...

Pr Louderback,

As a historian I wanted to point out that your arguments about worship are essentially the same as Karlstadt and Zwingli.

I'll let your fellow pastors address the theological issues related to liturgy (they have addressed them well.)

I do appreciate your zeal which is most likely founded on your genuine desire to confess your faith in Christ to others. So I rejoice that you do preach the Word. Frankly, we need more honest, open discussions of this type.

Indulge me in a "personal testimony": I am a former charismatic, who by the grace of God, found the true faith and practice of confessional Lutheranism in the LCMS. I was singing the silly songs and dancing around to drums and rock music many years ago. I hear the exact same songs sung among Lutherans now as CoWo. Many of the CoWo congregations look exactly like my former charismatic congregations (minus the tongues speaking for now). It's destructive to true faith, emotionally-laden, manipulative gobble-gook. CoWo and sacramentally-focused preaching do not mix well. Their aims are different. They are oil and water. Eventually one will shallow up the other.

Fearsome Comrade said...

Pr Louderback,

"Style" is not value-neutral. Rather, it reflects the values of those who came up with it. There is something communicated by what you do. Yes, what particularly is communicated is partly dependent on cultural context, but that doesn't mean form is content-neutral.

You simply have to be careful with forms. Even you admit that when you argue against saying the word, "mass." Luther argued for moving the altar away from the wall for theological reasons, and a great deal of the showiness of the medieval mass was reduced.

A lot of "evangelical" worship is born of the sentiment that an emotional high signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit. The layout of their sanctuary has the worship band front and center rather than the altar/table for the same reason. Pastors and worship leaders are celebrities up there to entertain the crowd rather than deliver God's gifts in word & sacrament. Their forms tend to communicate that, which is why Lutherans should be reticent to adopt them...just as we should be reticent to hide the altar behind an iconostasis.

Brian Crane said...

I am a relatively new pastor (Fort Wayne, 2007). My predecessor was also from Fort Wayne. However, I am told that he left to go East. (I don't know him, nor have I spoken with him. However, several people have told me that he did so.)

I love my seminary, and I especially loved the chapel life there. I was also a member of the Kantorei. However, now that I have been in the parish for about a year and a half, I have also wondered whether the chapel life at Fort Wayne is done at such a high level that it doesn't match what you find in the parish.

My congregation is pretty traditional. We use the hymnal (LSB) exclusively. We don't have "contemporary worship." I wear a chasuble and I do a little chanting. We also practice closed communion. For all these things, I am very grateful.

However, when you compare the worship at Fort Wayne with the worship here, there is almost the feeling of a bit of a let down. I don't want to be derogatory toward my congregation. I love serving here and I love the people whom I serve. But, at seminary we would sing hymns like "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands," or "To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord," but these hymns are not familiar to many of the members of my congregation. However, hymns that I never remember singing at seminary (e.g., "Just as I Am," "I'm But a Stranger Here," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus") are among the congregation's favorites.

I don't know what the solution is. Again, I loved the chapel life at Fort Wayne, but I do believe more should be done to prepare seminarians for what they will find in the parish, even in traditional congregations such as mine. I'm learning that "traditional" at the seminary and "traditional" in the parish don't necessarily mean the same thing. If a pastor leaves seminary thinking that the seminary's worship life is what he will find in the parish, then he will probably be disappointed. And, I wonder whether that contributes, at least in some small part, to a pastor's decision to leave the LCMS for another church.

I agree with many of the comments already expressed. Pastors need to be patient and realistic. They need to slowly teach their people the gems of the Lutheran Church that they have not yet been taught. For example, we are singing "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" this Easter. The rest of the hymns will all be familiar ones to the congregation.

It saddens me when I hear that a brother pastor, and especially a recent Fort Wayne grad like myself, has left our church. It saddens me not only because it gives a black eye to my seminary, but also because it hurts and confuses the congregation whom he has left. I have experienced that here. While the responsibility for a pastor's departure rests solely on his shoulders, I agree that these events should cause us all to reflect on our own shortcomings, to ask God's forgiveness for them, and to work together, by His grace, to strengthen our beloved Synod so that we may more boldly and clearly proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Lutheran pastors, we have the privilege to proclaim the message of God's free salvation in Christ, and for a Lutheran pastor to abandon that saddens me even more deeply.

Mark QL Louderback said...

You know, Pr. Louderback, with all your talk of how you are reaching out to the culture of our day, being relevant, blah, blah, and .... blah.

What's going on at your church surely doesn't seem to reflect anything terribly impressive by way of growth.

http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/locators/nchurches/c_graphs.asp?C865222

======

Look at this, a nice anonymous poster, attacking my ministry!

Ah, this will doubtless make me want to chnage my position!

My friend: those data occur before we had our CoWo worship service.

:)

Mark QL Louderback said...

William,

So, you say:

If you ask the wrong question, you will never arrive at the right answer. :)

The question is not a biblicistic one: "Where does Scripture tell me I have to do X?" Or the horridly reductionistic: "What's the least I can do and still have X be valid?"

Rather, switch the question: What ceremonies most fully confess the Gospel?


Look, this is like hitting a moving target.

First, I have to respond to a post that speaks about CoWo not being Confessional. When I respond and say "Where is the Scripture?" the response is "Well, that is not the right question!"

Look: if you are going to say "Scripture says this is wrong and you ought not to do it" that is one thing.

If you are saying "The Confessions say it is wrong and you ought not to do it," that is another.

If you are saying "We ought not to do CoWo, because the liturgy is the better way of proclaiming the Gospel," then that is something else.

But please: can we pick and argument and stick with it?

So: can a person do CoWo and be a Lutheran or not? And if the answer is "No, the Confessions speak otherwise," then the follow-up question is "Can a Lutheran hold to sola Scriptura or not?"

Because if we are going to bind actions and conscience by something not found in Scripture, we ought to be clear about our intent.

Shoot, at least with the virginity of Mary, you got some Scripture to point to.

Listen: I appreciate your other thoughts and I would like to respond, but I just want to sharpen your position to see exactly what it is you are saying.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Chris Jones,

It is a mistake to treat the Scriptures as a service-book or a book of rubrics, because that is not their purpose. It is even more of a mistake to conclude that, because the Scriptures are not a book of rubrics, the Church has no rule of prayer.

I disagree. If Scripture does not speak to an issue, it is wrong to bind a conscience.

You can't say "This is how Christians worship" if there is not Scriptural backing for it.

Now, once again, if you want to say "Look, for good order, this is what we ought to do and the liturgy comes from the early church and so in order to connect to the church and because it has stood the test of time, we ought to do this," then sure.

But say that. Don't say "If you don't worship in X way--even though this is not contained in Scripture--then you are not a Lutheran (which is Synonymous with teaching what Scripture says.)

Make sense?

The New Testament writings do not contain or prescribe the rule of prayer; instead, they presuppose the rule of prayer. The worship life of the Church, according to her rule of prayer, forms the context within which the Scriptures can be rightly interpreted. We don't come to understand the Gospel at the deepest level (in the heart) by reading the Scriptures and thinking about them correctly; we do so by praying the Scriptures with the Church in the liturgical assembly. If the liturgical assembly is skewed -- if the liturgical praxis is not according to the Church's rule of prayer -- the right and full understanding of the Gospel will not be imparted.

With all due respect, this just sounds very odd to me. Why is the Gospel not fully understood except in a liturgical format?

Why can't I say "The Gospel is not fully understood, except in a CoWO format." What prevents me from holding that position?

(Which is a wrong position and one that I don't hold to--but I just don't see how you can make your statement at all.)

Mark Louderback said...

Christine,

I can't believe this is coming from a Lutheran pastor.

I get that alot. But all it means is "I disagree with you." Which is fine.

The word "niggardly" is a perfectly fine word. It does not have any relationship to the N word. It has a perfectly fine definition, not racist or offensive at all.

Would I use the term? No. It causes confusion.

The word "gay" has a perfectly good meaning apart from "homosexual" -- my school song uses the word.

Still: I say I can't use that word and not have to explain things.

There is a reason our church body does not use the English word "Mass" in our hymnals. We ought to stick with that tradition.

William Weedon said...

Mark,

Are you "binding consciences" over the use of the word "Mass"? Surely here again is an adiaphoron, which means it's nothing to get one's knickers in knots over. Mass, Eucharist, Divine Service, Holy Communion, a feast of many names and all of them of some merit.

As to the rest, I am saying that a Lutheran is a person who confesses the Augsburg Confession (which used to be printed in our hymnbooks, by the way - replete with that word Mass!); I am saying that the Augsburg Confession proclaims that we have not abolished the Mass; I'm claiming that Lutherans who DO abolish the Mass and then imagine that they will be able to maintain the Lutheran doctrine of the Sacrament are deceiving themselves and doing a horrific disservice to the people of God they are called to serve; I am saying that the Symbols express what the doctrine of the Lutheran Church IS and what is at variance from them, to the extent it is at variance, is not Lutheran.

I'd note that in your ordination vow, you promised not merely that your TEACHING would conform to the Symbols (and how do you teach AC XV?), but that also YOUR ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS would conform to the Symbols.

My practice is less than Lutheran for I do not examine and absolve every communicant as the Symbols unequivocally say that I ought to do. So I'm not trying to play a "more Lutheran than Thou" sort of game. I have much repentance and work still to do in conforming my pastoral care and practice wholly in line with the Symbols exposition of the Sacred Scripture.

The right question though is precisely this: what best serves the confession of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord? And I'd put the Divine Service of the Lutheran Church (in any of its settings) up against Pentecostal liturgy any day. The Lutheran liturgy was grounded from the get-go (long before it was "Lutheran") in the confession that in the Holy Eucharist the bread is the communion of the Body of Christ and the cup is the communion of His holy blood, which He blesses and reaches us for forgiveness, for life, for salvation. Everything in the Liturgy reinforces and serves this confession.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You wrote:

"There is a reason our church body does not use the English word "Mass" in our hymnals. We ought to stick with that tradition."

Actually, you're wrong about that. LW p. 197 uses the M-word. You're being a little niggardly when you say it is never used.

I know that our Lutheran culture in New Orleans is a little different (like everything else here), but my parishioners quite often use the word "Mass." We have "Midnight Mass" on Christmas Eve. My organist recently called me to ask whether or not we're having Mass on Wednesday after Easter. A parishioner wrote an article for our newsletter a couple months back and shamelessly used the M-word. In fact, our church sign says "Mass" (actually, it spells "Mass," I'm the one who "says Mass" on Sunday). In fact, I use all of the "7 forbidden words" in my preaching and teaching (though not gratuitously) - since they are part of our tradition in the Book of Concord.

So, in my parish, that *is* our tradition. It was like that when I got here. I find it hard to swallow being lectured about "tradition" from someone who sees no value in tradition.

It's no secret that contemporary American Lutherans have been heavily influenced by Protestantism - from our often infrequent communion to the use of Geneva gowns (until pretty recently). Since the LCMS was founded, we've seen chanting, candles, vestments, and traditional Lutheran hymns go by the wayside in many places (Walther himself complained about it) - all in the name of the same kind of Quixotic search for "relevance" as the advocates of today's "NonLuWo" or "HapClap" (I like neologisms as much as the next guy...) are trying to claim is compatible with what Lutherans confess happens at worship.

Of course, actions speak louder than words, which is why the Lutheran confessions not only include the "what" of doctrine, but the *how* of liturgy and practice as a complete package. The Book of Concord is not a cafeteria deal.

Moreover, Americans tend to be kind of provincial and historically segregated. The hymnals used by Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian Lutherans (and the Finns as well, I believe) have *always* used the word "Mass" since the Reformation. They still do. So do our brethren in the Baltics, in Russia, and in Africa. We Americans sometimes see the world with a case of cultural myopia and snobbery, presuming that what is done here among German-Americans is the standard everywhere - even when those "standards" are at odds with our confessions themselves.

At least Ben Harju ended up doing the honorable thing when he could no longer confess the Book of Concord. Pastors who would reject the confessions should resign and be good Christians with integrity in church bodies that do confess what they do. Isn't it something that a man is automatically defrocked for bankruptcy but can reject swaths of the Book of Concord with no fear that his DP will do anything about it?

William Weedon said...

Pastor Crane,

Thank you so much for your posting. I think ALL of us pastors understand what you're talking about. We remember those chapels - also at St. Louis.

But I think in a way that it did a good thing: it taught us of what could be, and not to settle for the status quo in liturgy and hymnody in our parishes. It taught us that there's a world of wonderful music out there for us to introduce our people to. Yes, it must be done with patience and with care. No, you'll never fleece the "Just as I am" out of them. But finally, yes, parishes can grow to love new music when it becomes old music. Schalk nailed it: "People don't know what they like, but they like what they know." Getting them over the hump of knowing is always the key.

Dennis said...

Father Hollywood,

What are the other "7 forbidden" words? I have never heard this reference before.

I like how you say that the confessions are not a bunch of choices. It really holds to the fact that the faith was once delivered to the saints and this is what we have to contend earnestly for. It is hard to believe that people think that Christianity is a buffet line, I will choose a little liturgy, scripture, and sacraments or none of the above. Sad way to see the faith.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Fearsome Pirate,

I thought you were all econ all the time! But a great post!

Listen, I would agree with you that style is not entirely value neutral. Where I would wonder is how value filled it is.

Do you remember back when you were growing up how rock music was said to be non-value neutral? I mean, I remember this from high school, I'm not sure if you had it to the same degree.

That is, that rock is Satan's music, backmasking, terrible stuff, corrupt, etc.

So, you know, 25 years of listening to it and I don't feel as though I have been corrupted.

Well, since I support CoWo, maybe you disagree....

So, now, the question is "What values does CoWo bring to the table?"

Pr Weedon wants argue that CoWo is Pentecostal and too corrupted to be redeemed (and maybe even, why would you want to try if you have something as good as the liturgy?) I would not go that far: I think CoWo can indeed be used in Lutheran Worship.

I appreciate the issues that you bring before. They are true.

Just as true is the fact that having a pastor in front of the congregation, doing everything, can send an unintended message about our theology. (The pastor reads, preaches, presides; the congergation prays and pays)

A lot of "evangelical" worship is born of the sentiment that an emotional high signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I agree and I don't think that is right and I don't run my service that way. So, you know, at some point and on some level, doesn't that matter? Don't people see that this is NOT like every other CoWo out there?

Can't we stamp a Lutheran identity on contemporary worship?

Mark QL Louderback said...

Matthew Phillips,

As a historian I wanted to point out that your arguments about worship are essentially the same as Karlstadt and Zwingli.

Which arguments--that Scripture does not dictate a particular worship? Or something else?

You know, every pig gets an acorn now and then. My own background is not Zwinglian.

It is important to consider these things. Which is why I am here, engaging on the issue. I would hope that we would have more of this (indeed, isn't this exactly what Matt Harrison promises if he is to be elected?) But at the same time, I'm a Lutheran. What I do is Lutheran.

Make sense? Now, you might disagree, and there I would want to know why.

I do appreciate your zeal which is most likely founded on your genuine desire to confess your faith in Christ to others. So I rejoice that you do preach the Word. Frankly, we need more honest, open discussions of this type.

Once again, I agree with this wholeheartedly. Not with my zeal--that is shaky at times--but we ought to be fostering open discussion.

I appreciate your personal history and I respect it, I honestly do. I guess for me, why can't we have good sacramental praise songs? You know, let's start putting some money and effort into that and that will get some results.

That is how I see it.

I'm sorry to be a bit short in my response. But you know, I did pick UNC in my bracket...

Mark QL Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

Actually, you're wrong about that. LW p. 197 uses the M-word. You're being a little niggardly when you say it is never used.

(chuckle) Touche.

But even there, it is used in terms of "Luther's German Mass (1526)". That is, that is what is used then, not now.

And it is used...once?

More to say to your post. Thank you for responding. But basketball awaits.

William

Are you "binding consciences" over the use of the word "Mass"?

Heck yeah!

No: that is my opinion. I am not saying "If you want to be a Lutheran or a Christian, you cannot use the term 'Mass'".

I'm not claiming to have any further support of this. I mean, other than the fact that real Lutherans don't use the word. ;)

Jim Huffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Huffman said...

Having read the very interesting comments on this post, I'm left to wonder: in what does the unity of the LCMS consist?

And in what way is the synod "walking together"?

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Dennis:

I was making a silly (and dated!) reference to comedian George Carlin (now technically an ex-comedian since his death) who spoke about the " 7 forbidden words" you can't say on TV (at least BC - "before cable").

There are some words (not really seven) that are allegedly forbidden for us Lutherans, like Pr. Louderback's assertion about "Mass."

Another such "forbidden" word is "priest" to describe an ordained man (Greek: Presbyter, another word used by our confessions - not to mention the Greek New Testament! - that I heard a Lutheran pastor claim also had no use in our circles).

Admittedly, "priest" isn't a common word among American Lutherans, but in Scandinavia, Africa, Russia, and the Baltics it is common. It is the most common word describing pastors in our Lutheran confessions. We still use it in the LCMS to describe a pastor who must get his paycheck outside the ministry (i.e. "worker priest"), and here: http://www.lcms.org/pages/rpage.asp?NavID=9128 you can read the LCMS Reporter (our synodical newspaper) refer to "Swedish Lutheran priests."

It's not a "Romanizing" word, but rather the language of historic Christianity - of which it was very important to the first Lutherans to assert they had not left - and is just as important today as we are surrounded by even more sects, cults, and splinter groups - especially here in America after the 1830s. The "romanizing" charge is a canard, as Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and the majority of Lutheran bodies around the world (not to mention our confessions) use the word routinely.

Another "forbidden word" is "catholic." Our confessions describe our beliefs and our Church repeatedly as "Catholic" (and in the CPH-published Triglot, the 1921 edition of the Book of Concord, the "C" is upper-case). Interestingly, the word "Proestant" never appears in the Book of Concord. It is foreign to our confessional self-identity.

The (biblical) words "bishop" and "deacon" are also somewhat forbidden - at least if certain writers who are routinely published in Christian News (who believe voters assemblies and congregational polity are by divine right) are to be believed.

I believe the words we use are important. Our catholic, historic vocabulary helps our self-definition and fidelity to our confession. By contrast, I once heard a Contemporary Worship (in some cases, CW is actually neither) pastor in a sermon talk about "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior" - which is decision-theology based language that is not just foreign, but repugnant to our confessions and confessional identity. The lady Pentecostal "pastor" who sang at the Texas Youth Gathering does not speak, pray, worship, or sing like a Lutheran. I don't believe that her "style" can be separated from the substance of her beliefs.

We Lutherans are an Evangelical continuation of the ancient Church in its Catholic fullness. Sadly, we don't always behave like it in our headless-chicken dash for "relevance." And I believe this infidelity to our confessions and catholic identity calls a lot of men into doubt about the LCMS.

And this is why, in Apology 24, in the confessions, we LCMS pastors all swear to in a "quia" manner, we find the assertion that Lutheranism is defined by (among the other matters of doctrine and practice in the BOC): "traditional liturgical forms" such as "vestments." That continuity was important then, and it is important today. And unless we're going to vote to withdraw our subscriptions, we need to have integrity and either confess this and practice it, or leave Lutheranism.

A pastor conducting services in khakis and a golf shirt is every bit as repugnant to our confession as Karlstadt's assertion of the same "relevance" argument was in Luther's day. Karlstadt was perhaps the first "Emergent Lutheran" - and Luther sent him packing to the Reformed Church, where he started the Ablaze!(tm) movement. Well, not quite... ;-)

Unlike the Reformed and the Anabaptists, we Lutherans *retained* the ancient catholic traditions *unless* they were antithetical to the Gospel or proclaimed some false doctrine (hence the Lutheran reform of the canon while otherwise retaining the liturgy).

This is why you cannot have "Reformed" or "Evangelical" or "Emergent" or "Contemporary" or {fill in the blank) style with Lutheran substance. Lutheran substance and style are, by definition, traditional and catholic.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Louderback,

When I was a Lutheran, I noticed that the Scriptures described worship, not legislated it. I prepared a little Bible study on it. Traditional worship - whether Byzantine or Western or Lutheran - by design does not seek to do its own thing, but to participate with the ongoing worship of heaven.

So to say that the Scriptures do not legislate how to do worship is to Pharisee-ize the Bible at best (a rule book).

As no-longer-a-Lutheran, you may choose to dismiss me entirely, but I still think you should reconsider the evidence.

I apologize for plugging my own material here, but it seemed better than taking up a bunch of space.

William Weedon said...

Thanks, Ben. That's it exactly. We're invited INTO that worship that swirls around the Lamb once slain and now alive forevermore. I was reading Hebrews tonight and the whole point of the "pattern" that Moses had to go off: the heavenly reality was what God was offering access too. And even more so (or even BETTER to use Hebrew's favorite word) in Christ. Pax!

Jim, the LCMS as "walking together" has been largely mythological for living memory.

Past Elder said...

"Can't we stamp a Lutheran identity on contemporary worship?"

No.

And why would one even try?

Contemporary worship was born of a different identity, one which does not affirm what we affirm. Why in all free falling Judas would one try to put something into something that was made to leave it out?

Our confessions link our identity to the historic worship of the church and the eternal worship in heaven. Lutheran identity is not stamped on such worship, it is such worship.

We are not an "if it ain't in the Bible we ain't doing it" bunch. It's if it contradicts the Bible we ain't doing it. Beyond that, Christian Freedom or adiaphora is not Do What You Want.

If Lutheran worship is the pastor in front of the congregation doing everything, one has missed what is being done and who is doing it. Unless the pastor himself has missed it, his job is to tell them what that is, not change it into something else.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Jim Huffman

Having read the very interesting comments on this post, I'm left to wonder: in what does the unity of the LCMS consist?

In Christ. In our proclamation of Chrsit crucified. In our clinging to His grace, knowing that we have no other place to turn to. In givign thanks that He provides us with the riches of His grace in the sacraments.

Isn't that enough?

Jim Huffman said...

Fair enough. But then, what's the point of the LCMS? Why NOT go east, to Rome, or for that matter, to Methodism? Why bother with maintaining yet another denominational structure?

And given that is quite obviously not an orthodox unity in the LCMS, isn't it duplicitous to maintain there is one?

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You ask:

"Isn't that enough?"

No.

It sounds good, like Rodney King saying "Can't we all just get along?" But we need to do more than just mouth warm and fuzzy platitudes.

The true unity of the Church (meaning the Church catholic, heterodox bodies included) indeed consists in these things (e.g. "In Christ. In our proclamation of Chrsit crucified. In our clinging to His grace," etc.) - but the elephant in the parlor is that we Lutherans subscribe to the Book of Concord. "Concord" literally means "unity" and "harmony." We Lutherans cannot discuss unity and harmony apart from the Book of Concord. The BOC *is* our unifying tradition within Lutheranism.

But we do have unity in Christ with non-denominational Pentecostal churches and others who use non-liturgical worship forms insofar as we do all believe in the Trinity and in Christ as God incarnate and Savior, and in that sense, it is "enough." But we are not in communion with Pentecostals, and we believe they are in doctrinal error. We should not teach the way they do (and their worship style follows their doctrine). Our confessions themselves point out that church ceremonies teach the people - which is why Lutheran worship and Baptist (or Reformed, or non-denominational) worship are quite different.

The original question was not about the unity of the *Church* but rather about the unity in the *LCMS." That's a very different question.

Our unity with the Roman Catholic, Reformed, Baptist, and Eastern Orthodox Churches is a much different question than our unity with those whom we share communion fellowship and (supposed) doctrinal agreement.

As fellow Christians, we do have unity in Christ with our brother Ben Harju - but sadly, he is no longer welcome to preach at our altars nor take the sacrament in our churches (nor does he desire to) - though there are a lot (and I do mean a lot) of pastors out there who believe all Christians should be welcome at our altars (using your very words).

So, no, all those things are not enough for unity *within the LCMS.* And neither are apple pie, butterflies, warm snuggly socks, the smell of fresh bread baking, and a cold beer on a hot summer day. All nice touchy-feely sentiments (especially the latter, doesn't it make you want to cry, fellas?), but not a source of unity among those who share communion and a commitment to the Lutheran Symbols.

William Weedon said...

Jim,

Why not go to the others? Because the teaching of the Lutheran Symbols simply expresses the truth of God's Word, and to go to other confessions involves always the denial of a part of that truth. Faithful Lutherans have already left the LCMS in despair over her rejection of her own confession and its implications for practice; others will no doubt follow them if the LCMS is not given the grace of repentance. Elijah's words are fitting for the LCMS Inc to ponder: "How long will ye halt between two opinions?"

Jim Huffman said...

But -- as we've seen from this thread -- the confessions are optional. There is no consequence for refusing to affirm them.

We are left with a call to unity in an unidentified Christ who died by crucifixion, though we can't of surety say why, who provides an uncertain grace by undefined sacraments.

And folks wonder why people are leaving the LCMS.

William Weedon said...

Jim,

I honestly don't understand your last post about an unidentified Christ and unidentified Sacraments or grace. Could you explain a bit more?

Pastor Louderback and I certainly disagree on the extent of the authority of the Lutheran Symbols, and he knows that I think he's playing with fire in adopting a liturgy whose origins are foreign and inimical to our Confession of the faith. But do you think he doesn't preach to his people the same Christ, who is true man born of the Virgin and true God from eternity? That the same Christ is not present there in the power of His promise to give to His own the gift of eternal life in the waters of Baptism and to nourish them in their faith with the gift of His true Body and Blood and to speak over them the joy of His absolution? You can't mean that, can you?

Past Elder said...

That's exactly why my wife left as a young woman, when the Seminex thing hit.

As she put it to me later, "If you guys don't believe this stuff any more, why should I?" and "Call me when you decide what you believe."

She was hardly alone. And decades later, it continues. I can't speak for Jim, but if he means in a synod sense rather than the particular pastor who posted here, I absolutely agree. And when they leave, us non-pastor types, you don't hear from them -- they don't go elsewhere, they don't blog on and on about, they mainly just, well, leave.

christl242 said...

And given that is quite obviously not an orthodox unity in the LCMS, isn't it duplicitous to maintain there is one?

I have to smile a bit at this. Substitute "Roman Catholic" for "LCMS" and there you have the reason for the SSPX which split from Rome after Vatican II, not to mention the dissenting priests and laity who either break away and form their own parishes or support the dissenters within the ranks.

Just this past Sunday our local paper had a long article by a theology teacher at St. Ignatius College Prepatory School in Cleveland, run by the Jesuits. He wrote that if the hierarchy doesn't begin to deal with the cafeteria Catholics who are still in charge at the diocesan level the RCC is going to continue to shrink and young people will go elsewhere.

The reality is that just about every Christian body is struggling within among those who maintain an orthodox Christian view and those who want to move in a more "progressive" direction.

Not to downplay the problems in the Synod, but Confessional Lutherans have an obligation to keep the flame burning.

Christine

William Weedon said...

Christine,

You have hit upon the biggy. I think the days of the great Apostasy are well nigh upon us, and the challenge is spread across the face of Christendom, and the disintegration will, I honestly believe, only get worse everywhere. Come, Lord Jesus!

David Garner said...

Pr. Loudermilk writes:

Father Hollywood,

If someone proposed this resolution at the synodical convention, would you support it...

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc." ?

==================

No.


Wow. Just wow.

Mark QL Louderback said...

David Garner,

It's Louderback.

I mean, if you are going to be amazed, you need to be amazed at the right person.

christl242 said...

Pastor Louderback,

On your church website it is stated:

As Martin Luther spoke—an early reformer of the church and where we get our name—“I see nothing in Scripture except Christ crucified.”

Is that your sum total assessment of Luther and what he taught and stood for?

Christine

Mark Louderback said...

Christine,

Is that your sum total assessment of Luther and what he taught and stood for?

Oh, I don't think he actually wrote anything else. Most everything else attributed to Luther is from Q.

;)

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

I know that our Lutheran culture in New Orleans is a little different (like everything else here), but my parishioners quite often use the word "Mass."

Hey, if you want to use it in your own community, at your own parish, where they understand it, that is fine.

Weedon's blog is not a private parish. It is a larger community. We ought to speak clearly about things. It is my opinion that the English word "mass' is to far gone to be salvaged. That is why we see it so seldom in our current publications.

I think that is a good idea and we should keep it that way.

I find it hard to swallow being lectured about "tradition" from someone who sees no value in tradition.

Oh, oh, I see. Because I think that CoWo is acceptable, that means that I beleive taht tradition has no value.

Just as, because I disagree with your interpertaion of a passage of the confessions, that means that I must reject, what, THE WHOLE THING?

Ben Harju, the topic of this post, I guess he either has to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or Satan incarnate.

This is a fine example of polarization that we have in our Synod. No middle ground here! Not when you are dealing with truth! Either right or wrong! You either love tradition or despise it! You can't be Lutheran and hold to sola Scriptura!

I'd like to think that perhaps there are a few middle grounds in this. I'd like ot think that we can have some middle of the road approaches that work out to be a bit more reasonable.

Like a person can respect and enjoy and partake in traditions while at the same time, seeing the value in new things.

Naaaaaaah.

The hymnals used by Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian Lutherans (and the Finns as well, I believe) have *always* used the word "Mass" since the Reformation. They still do.

Well, my point is not that the Swedish word that translates as "mass" is too corrupted. My arugment is that the English word is.

Pastors who would reject the confessions should resign and be good Christians with integrity in church bodies that do confess what they do.

Right...except, right now our Synod agrees with MY position. Right? I mean from CPH to Comission on Worship, to our Seminaries, you can't find the position that you are saying: You can't be Lutheran and do CoWo.

I don't know. Maybe we are all wrong. Or maybe it isn't that black & white.

I believe the words we use are important.

On this, we both agree perfectly.

William Weedon said...

Mark,

My position has been and will be: you cannot do Pentecostal liturgy over any length of time and remain Lutheran in your doctrine. And I don't give a fig whether the Synod, CPH or the Seminaries would argue with me on it or not - lex orandi, lex credendi have never been shown wrong in the long history of Christian worship. As they pray, so they believe.

But the whole point is that Lutherans HAVE a liturgy and a beautiful and wonderful one that is wholly congruent with what they believe, teach, and confess. They needn't be paupers begging at others doors when they have such richness of their own.

Mark Louderback said...

Ben Harju,

Yes. I read your blog and I know of your Bible study. I will look over it and give you my thoughts.

So to say that the Scriptures do not legislate how to do worship is to Pharisee-ize the Bible at best (a rule book).

Uh...is that also true with homosexuality? To say taht Scripture does not legislate how to live in a relationsiip is not Pharisee-ize (ugh!) the Bible too?

I mean...I'm not sure what you are saying. God tells us many things in Scripture. We ought to follow what He sayd. He givesus freedom in many things. It is wrong to command someone to act a certain way when there is freedom.

And it is wrong to say "This is okay," when it is not.

Either Scriptuer commands a style of worship or it does not. it is not a complicated question, or some big issue. It is merely a statement that can be verified.

There might be some debate about it, but we can come to a consensus in our church body, can't we?

Oh. I mean, "my" church body. Sorry. ;)

As no-longer-a-Lutheran, you may choose to dismiss me entirely, but I still think you should reconsider the evidence.

Nope. As above, I don't see you as Satan incarnate or the best thing since sliced bread.

I am, of coruse, sorry that you are leaving the Lutheran church. And I am sorry that I am indirectly/directly the cause of that.

But then, my call is to proclaim the Gospel message as clearly as I can--contextually, relevantly, clearly.

You, in your new church, I am sorry to say, will not. The clarity will no longer be there. Th Gospel is there, but now shrouded with error.

Doubltess you have no reason to listen to me: but I would recommend checking out The Fearsome Pirate ("I love Calipari!")'s blog and his attendance of an Orthodox church.

Or you too, can dismiss me entirely.

But I did pick UNC in my bracket...so, you know, I got one thing right at least...

Mark Louderback said...

Past Elder,

"Can't we stamp a Lutheran identity on contemporary worship?"

No.

And why would one even try?


In order to procalim the Gospel message to those who would not go to a traditional, liturgical worship service.

As Phil wrote, the college has a CoWo that attracts hunders. Is it too much to at least give them a shot of hearing the Gospel and having the option of a Lutheran CoWo service?

christl242 said...

From the "Deutsche Messe" --

A Spiritual Song or a Psalm in German
Kyrie Eleison (three times)
Collect (read facing the altar)
Epistle (sung facing the people)
A German Hymn (by the whole choir)
Gospel (read facing the people)
Creed sung in German
Sermon (on the Gospel)
Paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer
Exhortation to Those Who Will Commune
Consecration of the Bread
Elevation of the Body of Christ
Distribution of the Body of Christ
Sanctus paraphrased in German (or the Hymn "Gott sei Gelobet" or Huss' Hymn "Jesus Christus unser Heiland")
Consecration of the Wine
Distribution of the Blood of Christ
Sanctus or Agnus Dei in German (or the Hymn "Gott sei Gelobet" or Huss' Hymn "Jesus Christus unser Heiland")
Thanksgiving Collect
Aaronic Benediction

If only Dr. Luther were here so Pastor Louderback could get him to stop all that chancel prancing and go CoWo. Gott hilf mir, I do believe that German Mass was even chanted!!

Christine

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Louderback said:
Uh...is that also true with homosexuality? To say taht Scripture does not legislate how to live in a relationsiip is not Pharisee-ize (ugh!) the Bible too? I mean...I'm not sure what you are saying.

Response:
What I mean is that the Bible is not total rules, and where the rules are lacking then there must be total freedom. I'm suggesting that there's more to the Bible than just rules vs. freedom. The Gospel is preached and depicted liturgically in Scripture, and this depiction is presented as an objective reality of the way things are in Christ. The Christian response throughout history has been to seek to participate in that. To dismantle the historic liturgy in favor of what you call CoWo is inimical to the essence of the Gospel revelation in the Scriptures - even the Lutheran gospel ;-)

Thank you for telling me your opinion of Holy Orthodoxy. May the Lord forgive you.

I've read the blog post you're referring to. "Fearsome Pirate" has a way of approaching things that is all his own. The most fearsome part of it is his skepticism that is leading him dangerously close to atheism. As I've said elsewhere concerning him, what he needs right now is prayer.

Anonymous said...

"Mark Louderback said...."


Is that you, Mr. Harju?


Signed,
The Rev. Fr. Michigan J. Frog

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben. First let me say that I still consider you (and Emily) my friends, even though I was troubled to hear of your abdication. I don't understand your reasons for leaving the LCMS or exactly what you see in Orthodoxy.

From my perspective, it seems that Orthodoxy has its share of divisions too. Greek vs. Russian, historical criticism vs. sola scriptura converts, two kingdoms issues, etc. Am I incorrect on this view?

But here's a question. Since you and I were at seminary at approximately the same time, and I don't remember ever being taught that Lutherans support iconography the way Orthodoxy understands it because of our Christology, where do you remember getting it from? You don't have to answer here, if you don't want to. We can speak in private.

Likewise, does your new confession consider me outside the Church now? Just wondering.

In Christ,
Rev. Robert Mayes
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
Fullerton, NE

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Mayes,

Good to hear from you. I'll try to answer your questions here as concisely as I can.

1. I left the LCMS and Lutheranism specifically for Orthodoxy.

2. I see a lot in Orthodoxy, and it would take up more space on Pastor Weedon's blog than is polite to use. We'd have to talk over time in private.

3. Your view of Orthodoxy's divisions is not incorrect (not much). They are all of one communion fellowship, though. As I said somewhere else, the Orthodox Church is not a perfect Church, but is perfectly Church.

4. As for the iconography question, I'm referring to Early Church class, where it was taught that icons, pictures, and statues are appropriate because Christ became truly man. I never intended to give the impression that Lutherans and Orthodox believe all the same things about icons, but rather that their appreciation of them has a common root - Chalcedonian Christology. Orthodoxy simply carries the Christology farther than Lutherans.

5. Does Orthodoxy consider you outside the Church? The million-dollar question. The short answer: yes. But I expect by "Church" you mean a saved believer in Christ. That's not what the Orthodox necessarily mean. Honestly, there are different Orthodox viewpoints on the salvation of those outside of Orthodoxy. Some say yes, some say no, many say we don't know. Some deny that outside the Church (Orthodoxy) there can be grace, sacraments, or priesthood, while others admit there can be. What the Orthodox mean by Church is another one we'd have to take some time talking about. It was hard for me to get, but it can be intellectually grasped as a description. But the real spirit and force of what the Orthodox mean by "the Church" is something that must be apprehended by faith. Sorry if that doesn't help too much.

Thank you for your continued friendship. Please give our best to your lovely family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rev. Louderback. You asked for people to give you any Scripture verses against contemporary worship, and I would like to respond to it. I think it is a fair request. Although I hold that the Confessions are the true exposition of the Word of God, yet still the Scriptures are the true fount and norm for theology (and practice).

1) 1st and 3rd commandments - I once discussed contemporary worship with a Baptist who was in favor of it. I asked, "Which is more important, the Word of God or music?" He said, "The Word of God." I said, "Good. Now what happens, if in your worship, the groove or the feel of the music becomes more important than the Word of God?" He thought about it for a moment, and then his eyes bugged out. "You have a subtle but powerful idol."

2) Jn. 18:36. Since Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world, why is it good if we make His spiritual kingdom of the Church service sound more worldly? Doesn't Christ teach us to be countercultural here?

3) Mt. 11:16-17. Jesus uses a musical analogy in comparison to the differences between he and John the Baptist. In the comparison, "this generation" is compared to whiny children who complain that Jesus does not dance to their tune, nor does He lament when they mourn. Since Jesus uses the example of being countercultural to music if the world finds favor in, we must assume that He will not think the same way of contemporary worship as people do. See also Isa. 55:8.

4) Isa. 55:10-11/Heb. 4:12. The Word of God is living and powerful. Yet contemporary worship argues from the idea that the Word of God is dead and inert, without secular styles of music to make it lively and relevant. Where in contemporary worship is the trust that God's Word alone, without human assistance, will, or a secular style of music, does what God sends it to do?

5) Rev. 3:3. If the church in Sardis thought they were alive but were really dead, how can anyone rightly judge that a contemporary church is alive and growing, while a liturgical church is dead and plateauing? Only God sees faith in the heart. The things that make a church look lively to natural man make it look dead to God. And the Word which man's reason regards as dead, along with the faith that rests on it alone, God sees as living.

There are others, but these are enough for now.

In Christ,
Rev. Robert Mayes
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
Fullerton, NE

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

Look at what you're saying here:

"Pastors who would reject the confessions should resign and be good Christians with integrity in church bodies that do confess what they do.

Right...except, right now our Synod agrees with MY position."

You're not saying "But I don't reject the confessions!" No, you're saying: "Yeah, I reject the confessions, so what? The synod does as well."

I find your honesty refreshing, but I also find this take-it-or-leave-it attitude to our confessions troubling. Traditionalist LCMS members pledge a "quia" (because) subscription. In the ELCA they have the "quatenus" (insofar as). But now, the LCMS seems to have a lot of guys making a "quodcumque" (whatever) confession.

And then we wonder why guys leave.

This is why I believe the LCMS is doomed to a split. We're not talking two different opinions here. There are two different religions here. We cannot even use the Book of Concord as a source of Concord because we don't all confess it.

And that is where integrity comes in. You swore before an altar that you accept the BOC - all of it in a quia fashion - not quatenus, not quodcumque. But when cited a couple paragraphs from Ap XXIV and asked if you would support it as a synodical resolution, you said "no."

It would be like asking a seated Congressman if he would vote for a resolution that said: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" and he said: "No."

Uh, that's part of the Constitution that all members of congress already take oaths to - even if they think they know better than the (founding) fathers.

Then again, maybe the BOC is a "living document." Personally, I believe words matter. If you can start weaseling the BOC, it won't be long before it's being done with Scripture.

Like I said, I have lots of friends and family members who are not Lutheran, who worship using rock music, skits, speaking in "tongues" and watching dancing girls. They do piously believe in the Trinity and Christ as Savior. I believe they are part of the Church in spite of their errors. But they simply can't be Lutherans - at least not with integrity.

The Book of Concord can't be ordered on the a la carte menu: "I'll take a slice of Law and Gospel, but don't want the "traditional liturgical forms." If the BOC is a big cafeteria, what's to prevent a guy from rejecting Law and Gospel but accepting liturgy?

If you reject any of the BOC (such as AC XXIV and Ap XXIV), you simply can't be a Lutheran. It's a definitional thing. It's like saying you're a Communist but believe in private property. And an appeal to a synodocrat or a convention resolution impresses me about as much as a papal decree.

I also think you're putting your own faith in grave danger by adopting a sort-of gospel reductionism by picking and choosing parts of the BOC based on how popular those parts are with unbelievers - all in the name of "the gospel message."

The other thing you forget is that worship is addressed in Scripture, e.g. in the Book of Leviticus. The immutable God makes it very clear by divine revelation what kind of worship *He* prefers: vested clergy, altars, bells, incense, ritual, beautiful artwork, and dignity.

The Book of Hebrews (e.g. Ch. 9) tells us our worship is a copy, though imperfect, of the heavenly worship. God established traditional, liturgical worship and mandated its use among His people - precisely because it is a copy of Heavenly Things. St. John's Revelation of being "in the Spirit" on the "Lord's Day" describes worship in heaven that never ends.

There were no "chancel dramas" or "casual attire" in the Temple. Even Moses removed his sandals in front of the burning bush and prostrated himself. This "come as you are" mantra is a uniquely American form of self-idolatry that suggests God is "too big for his britches."

NonLuWo's biggest problem is the blurring of the line between the sacred and the profane. "Holy" is by definition otherworldly, and "set apart for the Gospel" as Paul says in Romans ("segregatus" in Latin). Worship is by definition, different than the regular culture. And this is the problem with those who see Christian worship as outreach - they are forced to profane the holy - since the unbelievers want that which is profane.

If "worship" looks and sounds secular, it is no longer a copy of heaven, but rather a copy of the fallen world.

Of course, the Church has never used the Divine Service for outreach - until now. This is exactly why we have a push for open communion all over the LCMS - we want to profane the holy and secularize the sacred for the sake of making unbelievers feel welcome. Hell, we don't even use the word "unbelievers" anymore - now we call them "unchurched" and try to make our churches equally "unchurched."

In the end, appeasing the culture is a losing proposition. Ask the Episcopal Church, which lost a million members when the church hierarchy began to "change" for the sake of being more "relevant."

The real solution to church growth is for married people to "get busy" and get rid of the latex. We can't "market" Christians into being by profaning our services and denying our confessions, rather we procreate Christians from our own bodies, baptize them, and raise them in the *holy* faith. That's better than ditching our confessions and trying to push a more populist and *unholy* religion by tickling people's ears.

And the ones who do convert will do so the way they always have: by coming to a church that is holy, where Word and Sacrament (not entertainment) bear the Lord's presence, a church that has integrity, and that actually stands for something other than spinelessly conforming to the culture and appeasing the unbelievers through marketing and schtick.

If you believe the BOC has become incompatible with the 21st century, Mark, the honest thing would be to renounce your subscription, resign from the LCMS, and stop calling yourself a Lutheran.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Larry,

What an awesome response, my friend. Thank you so much for highlighting the fact that Holy Scripture does, in fact, reveal to us a theology of worship. This is, at the end of the day, where the rubber meets the road in this ongoing debate. To embrace alternative, relevant, people-pleasing "worship styles" is to embrace a theology of worship that is completely foreign to Holy Scripture.

God is very clear in His Word about this and it is beyond absurd for Lutheran pastors to ignore what He Himself reveals about worship. The "Yeah, but where is the exact liturgical form put forth for us by God in His Word" argumentation spewed forth by so many today completely misses the point. It's not about some pristine, heaven-sent liturgy; it's about remaining steadfast in God's Word and following the theology of worship He has revealed to us.

And, thank you for rightly identifying the un-churched. They are unbelievers. It is nothing less than a Satanic deception which causes many to use this faulty terminology. Indeed, who could possibly argue that Satan is not behind the methodology which insanely posits that we must seek the counsel and advice of the un-churched (i.e. unbelievers) to determine what should be done during Service in the Lord's House? It simply boggles my mind to hear anyone, let alone trained Lutheran pastors, suggest that we need to cater to the wants and desires of unbelievers. Huh? Find ONE EXAMPLE of that methodology in Holy Scripture! Find ONE!

My pastor of many years ago, who went and got himself a degree in "Church Growth" from Fuller and subsequently changed everything we did in our LCMS congregation, used to make the absurd argument that "hymnals do not appeal to the un-churched." What he meant by that was that the liturgy and hymnody found in our hymnals had to be replaced with relevant styles of worship, replete with "get down with Jesus" songs and dramatic presentations (I can't tell you how many times the sermon was replaced with a "chancel drama" or a video).

Our liturgy and hymnody does not appeal to the un-churched. No kidding (you non-pietists can insert the proper word if you wish), Sherlock! Our liturgy and hymnody is not FOR the un-churched (i.e. unbelievers), but for the churched (i.e. believers). Duh!

I could say so much more, but I've already said more than I set out to say, which is simply, "Thank you for standing up for the truth with this most excellent, and irrefutable, response!"

In Christ,
Tom

christl242 said...

My thanks, too, to Father Hollywood for his excellent summation of why to be Lutheran is to be Confessional.

The irony is that the liturgy was never meant to be a tool of evangelization although it certainly teaches and informs. The liturgy is for the baptized! It is their foretaste of the Feast to Come. That's why the early Church had the Liturgy of the Catechumens and the Liturgy of the Faithful where the Catechumens who had not yet been instructed were dismissed before the Holy Supper. Some who were looking to become Christians were instructed up to three years before being baptized!

It was the Lutheran Confessions that brought me back home to the LCMS. How we worship matters very much indeed.

Christine

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Ben. Please call me Rob. That's what I ask my friends to call me.

1) I understand that you left Lutheranism for Orthodoxy. I just don't get it.

2) I would be interested in talking to you in depth privately. Email me sometime after Easter and we can start. I will gather my thoughts on this matter until that time.

In Christ,
Rev. Robert Mayes
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
Fullerton, NE

Mark Louderback said...

Robert Mayes,

I must admit that I am horrified by your post. Simply horrified.

Not by your content or your Scripture passages--but I am simply horrified by what you see as Contemporary worship.

That is to say, if I were in fact doing what you are describing, then yeah, that would be a terrible thing and it would be worthy of more than reproach.

I would not do what you describe. I do not do what you describe. And I join you in deploring this sinful behavior.

But I don't see what I am doing as that at all. At all.

I was not planning on responding to posts right now, but I am so horrified to be lumped together with such false doctrine that I feel compelled to respond.

So:

1 & 3rd Commandment: if music is the idol, that is a problem. We have fun, bright, great music--but it is no more the center of the wroship service than our tremendous organ, timpani, flute (in my congregation, I have five flute players, all solid, who accompany), oboe, and singers--in my traditional service.

Music can become an idol in either CoWo or Trad. We have to be sure that it is not in either one.

Why is CoWo more susceptible to this than traditional in your opinion?

Jn. 18:36. The Gospel is counter-culture. The Christian life is counter-culture.

The music we sign in traditional worship is culture bound. Name the hymns that we sing that are based upon an eastern tonal system. Hymns like "Greet the Rising Sun" (LSB 871) You can count them on one hand.

The teaching of Chrstianity is counter-cultural--but Jesus used many cultural ways to teach it. He went to Synagogues. He told stories.

You never hear of Jesus doing a mime, which would have been a counter-cultural way of proclaiming the Gospel. Or stuff like that.

So, I do not see an insitance in Scripture that the music played be one that people are not familiar with.

As well: do you have evidence that the music played in OT times was counter-culture? 1st century church? I mean, I'm not up on this sorta stuff--but do we have any data showing that the service has continually been counter-cultural?

Mt. 11:16-17. I think you are importing things into the parable. Jesus is making a comparison to the people of this geenration who are rejecting his teaching and his minsitry. It has nothing to do with whether a certain type of music ought to be used or not.

Yet contemporary worship argues from the idea that the Word of God is dead and inert, without secular styles of music to make it lively and relevant.

This is where my greatest concern is.

In no way do I believe any form of worship enhances the word of God. God's Word does indeed stand on its own and does not need anything to enhance it.

The hymnal committee of LSB when they were chosing hymns, did not simply throw darts at a dartboard. They cared about the singability of hymns; about whether the melody was good or not. They cared about doctrine and teaching, yes, but that was not the sole determining aspect.

Does that mean that they did not trust the Word of God? By no means.

The same is true with contemporary worship. At least, with my contemporary worship--and I base mine on what I have seen at other Lutheran congregations.

But if people don't like the music, then will they want to attend the service to begin with? We can bemoan the shopping culture of the people...but then, what do we do in response?

Rev 3:3 I would never point to a church and say "You are not doing CoWo, so you will decline." That is certainly wrong.

And I know that decline does not indicate a lack of faithfulness to Christ.

But nor does growth mean a lack of faithfulness to Christ. We can't say that a growing church is one that is tickling the ears or watering down the Gospel.

I shall note that I am the one being attacked on this thread for my own congregations lack of growth. So I certainly would not do this to others.

At the same time, for me, I see an opportunity to reach out to the community using a different style of worship. I don't see this as "making the Word more effective" any more than wanting to make sure that our traditional service is done well also.

I gotta go. But I hope that you see that we are in agreement regarding the Word and how deplorable I would see my own worship if I were doing what you say.

christl242 said...

Pastor Louderback didn't address me so I won't respond to him directly but I just can't let this go.

We have fun, bright, great music--

This reminds me of the Benedictine parish where I worshipped when I was Catholic. Now, picture this --banks of candles flickering before the image of Mary Immaculate; an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus solemnly blessing the worshippers. The priests clad in chasubles and processing to the altar behind the processional crucifix.

Then the "contemporary" music director breaks into "Now Is The Time to Worship" with its decision theology as he clinks away on the piano.

It's like being in the liturgical twilight zone. The dazed looks on the faces of the elderly parishioners who still remembered the solemnity of the Tridentine Rite is pitiful and the younger set ain't singing it either.

The reason classic Lutheran hymns are so successful is because they teach, admonish and form our prayer life as Lutherans. They also teach us how to worship in the depths of our hearts.

Our lives are not always "fun and bright." The classic hymns have stood the test of time. Twila Paris just can't compete with "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence."

That's why there's more of them than the "Bright, fun" ones even in the LSB. The problem is the last couple of generations have sought to find the world in the church and have become uprooted from their moorings.

Benjamin Harju said...

Maybe we can cut through some clutter. Two questions for Pastor Louderback (or anyone else who cares to answer, too):

1. Do you believe that the Gospel itself is depicted in Scripture as a liturgical action of Christ, thus presenting the Gospel as a liturgical phenomenon?

2. Do you believe that there should be a direct correlation between what is described in Scripture as heavenly worship and what Christian congregations do on earth as worship?

Past Elder said...

I guess the pastor missed the whole point.

"Worship" is not "reaching out to the community" and "reaching out to the community" is not "worship".

That it is, is a distinctly un-Lutheran idea which, just like the "worship" it is used to justify, comes from those who do not confess what we confess to express what they do confess instead.

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

Sorry. I got time for only a quick comment, but I wanted to be clear about it.

You said:

No, you're saying: "Yeah, I reject the confessions, so what? The synod does as well."

No. I think that your interpretation of what is confessional is wrong.

That is to say, my rejection of your interpretation that the confessions reject Cowo--I don't find that to be non-confessional.

Uh, let me use the example of the ever-virginity of mary. I think a person can reject that and still be confessional. I think that our church body teaches the same. I know that some reject this, but I disagree with them.

So, if everyone believes that CoWo goes aaginst the confessions but we will do it anyway, I certainly don't see that view expressed anywhere. You know what I mean?

That is what I meant.

But even if I DIDN'T mean that, if my confession was indeed "whatever," I would point out that I would be holding to this position, because you would be insisting that I hold to a position that is not supported by Scripture.

That is to say "There is only one proper way to worship, even though Scripture does not state this."

I would indeed be a bit queesy to confess that.

And then we wonder why guys leave.

Well...this would be legitimate if people were leaving for a more orthodox church body. That is, another Lutheran church body.

They are not. So, even if I am a quodcumque confessor, I'm not shrouding the Gospel in falsehood. And I'm not forcing others to do this.

I think this is a distinction that ought to be appreciated.

And that is where integrity comes in. You swore before an altar that you accept the BOC - all of it in a quia fashion - not quatenus, not quodcumque. But when cited a couple paragraphs from Ap XXIV and asked if you would support it as a synodical resolution, you said "no."

Yeah...in my defense, when I was at See, no one said "The Confessions do not allow contemporary worship."

Now that I'm out you are saying "The Confessions forbid this."

That certainly does not seem to be the position our Synod is currently holding.

Now you say:

It would be like asking a seated Congressman if he would vote for a resolution that said: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" and he said: "No."

I would say that it is more like a Congressman saying "You need to be in a militia, therefore, to own a weapon."

That is not how our nation has interpreted the Constitution.

The Book of Concord can't be ordered on the a la carte menu: "I'll take a slice of Law and Gospel, but don't want the "traditional liturgical forms." If the BOC is a big cafeteria, what's to prevent a guy from rejecting Law and Gospel but accepting liturgy?

One of them is Scriptural and the other is not.

I mean, that to me is the core aspect. It is the entire lynchpin of your argument. It is why my position is so easily defended and why your position is demonstratably wrong.

One of those teachings is taught in Scripture and we can point to it. I did not come up with Law & Gospel. God placed that in His Word.

People invtented the liturgy. Talking sometimes about it, you'd get the idea that this is not true, that God handed it down on Golden Tablets, but that is not true.

Men through the ages, put together the liturgy. They decided the order of service. They wrote music to accompany things. They added and subtracted elements.

It is man made.

So...once again, I ask you, are you willing to say that to be a Lutheran means that you cannot accept sola Scriptura? I don't believe that you have answered my question yet...

I also think you're putting your own faith in grave danger by adopting a sort-of gospel reductionism by picking and choosing parts of the BOC based on how popular those parts are with unbelievers - all in the name of "the gospel message."

And once again, I am amazed at the polarization that you seem to have with this.

So, a person rejects the resurreciton, a person rejects the liturgy--all the same thing.

Not so.

My faith is based on what Scripture teaches about Christ. I hold to the Confessions because they are a clear statement of what Scripture teaches about Christ. They teach us as the very Word of God concerning Christ.

But, outside of what Scripture teaches, the Confessions are not entirely trustworthy. "Gott" does not derive from the word "good." Etc.

This is not to say that the Confessions are not trustworthy--but to emphasize that we hold to them because they speak Scripture. Where they do not speak Scripture, we are not bound to their interpretations.

Anyway, I gotta go now too.

You've said some other things that I'd like to respond to.

Not now. See ya.

Chris Jones said...

People invented the liturgy ... It is man-made

Here I think is the heart of the disagreement. This is simply not true. The liturgy, which is nothing less than "the Gospel rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered," is not man-made. It was handed over ("traditioned") to the Church by the Apostles. It is Apostolic, and therefore Dominical.

That does not mean that every jot and tittle of every prayer, hymn, and ceremony in the history of the Church is divinely inspired, the equivalent of Holy Writ. But it does mean that the purpose, the essence, and the fundamental, abiding structure of the Christian liturgy is truly Apostolic. It is something given to us, not devised by us.

And that fundamental Apostolic liturgical rule is not derived from the New Testament scriptures; it is coeval with the New Testament scriptures (indeed, it is older than they). To declare oneself free from using the Apostolic liturgy on the basis of Sola Scriptura is to rip the Scriptures from their proper context, which is precisely a liturgical context.

"Contemporary worship" is orthodox practice only if it can be demonstrated that it conforms to that Apostolic pattern of worship, the Church's lex orandi. It is a pretty high bar.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You wrote:

"Where they [the Confessions] do not speak Scripture, we are not bound to their interpretations."

This is a classic restatement of the "quatenus" vs. the "quia" subscription.

You accept the Confessions "insofar" as they "speak to" (whatever that means) Scripture. So, you can explicitly reject Ap XXIV based on (as you say) "your interpretation" of it not being Scriptural. And Ap XXIV has nothing to do with magnets, vinegar, and etymologies - rather it is the specific theology of worship that the Lutheran fathers derived from Scripture and felt was definitional to what it means to be what came to be known as "Lutheran" - else they would not have confessed it and have given it an entire article.

"Sola scriptura", by the way, is an ablative. It is not accusative. In other words, if we want to use the slogan "sola scriptura" it doesn't mean we believe "(in) scripture alone," but rather we believe "from/by/with Scripture alone." In other words, Scripture (and it alone) is the sole (sola) Word of God.

And yet, just as Luther said about "sola fide," that faith is never alone, similarly, scripture is never alone.

It has sole (sola) status as God's Word, but it is not alone in the way Protestants (and those who feel free to reject the liturgy because it's allegedly not in the Bible) understand it, as nuda scriptura.

Indeed, we confess the Creeds and the Confessions (according to the AC, not having abolished even one Catholic article of faith) - not in place of Scripture but as a confession of Scripture. We subscribe "quia" to them, all of them. Walther pointed out that a "quatenus" subscription is really no subscription at all, as any Christian can subscribe to the Koran in a quatenus matter.

I am perfectly willing to subscribe to the Koran in the same way that you subscribe to the Book of Concord, Mark (which is essentially cafeteria-style based on personal interpretation). And (as Walther would agree), you are as much of a Lutheran as I am a Muslim.

The worst enemy the NonLuWo faction has is the Book of Concord in the hands of the laity - especially the Augsburg Confession. When I first taught it to my congregation at a retreat, it was quite an eye opener - basically a nail in the coffin of Protestantism in our parish. At this point, if I were to show up for Mass without vestments but with a guitar, they would literally defenestrate me (I love that word...) - as they should.

It's a beautiful thing watching the scales fall from people's eyes as they realize that we are bound by a confessional chain to the fathers, to the apostles, and to our Blessed Lord as Catholic Christians confessing the Gospel in its fullness - and that liturgical worship befitting the dignity of our faith and the rigor of our confession seamlessly confesses, expresses, and incarnates the doctrine we teach and the faith we confess.

Making use of "Contemporary Worship" is like taking back your wife's gold wedding band and exchanging it for a plastic mood ring from a bubble gum machine. Telling her that it's only external, that marriage is deeper than the ring, that there's nothing in the Bible that says you can't give her a piece of plastic won't keep you out of the dog house.

Thanks be to God our Bridegroom gave us, His Bride, something to treasure that withstands not only the test of time but something of dignity and love, something that speaks in actions and in words the selfless sacrificial love that He has for His beloved. And when we are faithful to that dignified worship that has been "traditioned" to us, we can in a very small way offer a meager sacrifice of thanks and praise to Him who gave Himself for us.

That beats entertainment any day.

William Weedon said...

Good gravy! How is a man to keep up with this conversation??? From Fr. Beane's words you can see why I so love the Dean of the Society of St. Polycarp. Quite well said, my friend. In fairness to Pr. Louderback, I think the distinction he's attempting to draw is the traditional Missourian one between dogmatic and non-dogmatic content in the Symbols. I recognize the distinction, yet I do regard it as a most slippery slope - and of a piece with the continual shoving over of things that that USED to be regarded as doctrine to the category of "practices."

Chris and Fr. Beane and Ben have pointed to the reality of the liturgy as a gift from God that we get to participate in - the worship of heaven come down to earth. That's fundamental for the Biblical picture and understanding of what HAPPENS in worship, and the Lutheran liturgy is wholly congruent with that understanding - is built upon it - in a way that the Pentecostal liturgy is not.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Harju,

I'm not a part of this conversation, so I hope you don't mind if I ask a question purely for informational purposes. Would you please flesh out what you mean by saying the Gospel is a liturgical action of Christ and so it is a liturgical phenomenon? I think I know. But I'm unsure. Thanks.

Pr. Tom Fast

Father Hollywood said...

Dear William:

Unfortunately, all of this dissection of the Symbols according to "dogmatic" and "non-dogmatic content" has left the moribund patient in a pool of his own blood. In fact, all of the slicing and dicing has almost turned the sanguine carcass of the Missouri Synod into individual cuts of beef ready for the grill.

Melanchthon, in the conclusion to the AC wrote: "nothing has been received among us, in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic. It is manifest that we have guarded diligently against the introduction into our churches of any new and ungodly doctine."

Note the binding of "doctrine" and "ceremonies" - that both are securely and demonstrably "catholic." Also, the use of the word "received" is a forceful statement of submission to tradition. There is nothing more clear from the Lutheran confessions than the fact that innovation was seen as horrific, and that doctrine and ceremony are hand in glove.

The church fathers knew it, the Lutheran fathers knew it, and we know it: innovation in ceremony leads directly to innovation in doctrine. They can't be separated.

This also explains the early LCMS fathers' resistance *by name* to the attempts of other Lutherans to embrace Finney's "New Measures" - which were the 19th century's version of trying to "stamp a Lutheran identity on contemporary worship."

I'm afraid we're like the OT Israelites always repeating the same errors, again and again, generation after generation.

The BOC doesn't address every problem in our synod, but it sure does give us a blueprint by which to move forward - that is if we can all agree that this is what we believe in.

William Weedon said...

Reverend Dean,

I don't disagree one bit, but I just wanted to note that approaching the Symbols in that manner is not what Pr. Louderback was trained in. More's the pity, I grant you. Perhaps it was different at the Fort, I wouldn't know. But at St. Louis the emphasis upon dogmatic content was pronounced; and you are dead right that when we remember that liturgy is prayed dogma, the problem of trying to effect the separation will likely kill the patient. I think we're watching it unfold before our eyes.

The way I have always approached things was to challenge my congregations to live UP TO the description in the Lutheran Symbols: that we acknowledge that we're not living that way and we need to repent and embrace it. You are right about the AC in the hands of the laity. Make that the whole BOC in their hands. They soon will realize that if THIS is what Lutheran is, then we have a ways to go to become what we proclaim ourselves to be.

Pax!

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Tom Fast wrote:
Would you please flesh out what you mean by saying the Gospel is a liturgical action of Christ and so it is a liturgical phenomenon? I think I know. But I'm unsure.

Response:
Christ's sacrifice, resurrection, ascension, and session at the Father's right hand corresponds to and fulfills the role of the OT high priest. Hebrews makes this clear. This saving activity is a liturgical action in itself, happening in reference to the entirety of fallen mankind and in the setting of the tabernacle not made with hands.

This saving liturgical action of Christ opens heaven itself to the believer, so that his life in Christ is always in direct relation to heaven itself. As the Scriptures show, the life of heaven plays out liturgically. We pray, but angels present our prayers liturgically with/as incense. God acts and speaks in Christ, the response is worship and adoration. There's an altar, vestments, etc. Linked with this reality, the believer on earth offers himself as a living sacrifice to God. The Church's worship is structured around referents to the way heaven is described: altar, white robes, incense, reverence, joy (prostrations, icons in connection with the multitude of saints), etc. The Eucharist itself is a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

This is really too quick of an examination. It's better to do this slowly and thoroughly with the Scriptures, but hopefully you get the idea. Christ's saving the world is a liturgical action, which opens up access to the liturgical life of heaven, in which the Christian participates in by virtue of his communion and unity with Christ - and even this is understood liturgically in reference to the Christian's relationship to God.

I hope this begins to explain what I mean by "the Gospel is a liturgical phenomenon."

As an aside, the Orthodox Church knows all about this liturgical relation to God in Christ first hand. If you want to know what the Orthodox faith is, then go to the Divine Liturgy. In Orthodoxy the Liturgy is the faith. Doctrine is commentary on what is experienced in worship. Piety is the outgrowth of what is effected in worship.

William Weedon said...

Let me "amen" Ben's words, but hasten to observe that this is also the very basis of the Western liturgy and thus the grounding of historic Lutheran liturgy as well. Scott Hahn explores it from the standpoint of Western liturgy in his little book on the Apocalypse - quite well done.

William Weedon said...

Here's Luther's swing at it:

For, God be praised, in our churches we can show a Christian a true Christian mass according to the ordinance and institution of Christ, as well as according to the true intention of Christ and the church. There our pastor, bishop, or minister in the pastoral office, rightly and honorably and publicly called, having been previously consecrated, anointed, and born in baptism as a priest of Christ, without regard to the private chrism, goes before the altar. Publicly and plainly he sings what Christ has ordained and instituted in the Lord’s Supper. He takes the bread and wine, gives thanks, distributes and gives them to the rest of us who are there and want to receive them, on the strength of the words of Christ: “This is my body, this is my blood. Do this,” etc. Particularly we who want to receive the sacrament kneel beside, behind, and around him, man, woman, young, old, master, servant, wife, maid, parents, and children, even as God brings us together there, all of us true, holy priests, sanctified by Christ’s blood, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and consecrated in baptism. On the basis of this our inborn, hereditary priestly honor and attire we are present, have, as Revelation 4 [:4] pictures it, our golden crowns on our heads, harps and golden censers in our hands; and we let our pastor say what Christ has ordained, not for himself as though it were for his person, but he is the mouth for all of us and we all speak the words with him from the heart and in faith, directed to the Lamb of God who is present for us and among us, and who according to his ordinance nourishes us with his body and blood. This is our mass, and it is the true mass which is not lacking among us. AE 38:208ff.

Notice the grounding in Revelation!

Anonymous said...

Very well.

Thank you Mr. Harju for fleshing that out a bit. Perhaps I should have looked at your Bible study before asking the question. And thanks to Pr. Weedon for the additional comments.

I'm reminded of some comments Horace Hummel made about the Sanctus, as drawn from Isaiah and Revelation, and how, if we are to believe in the historicity of the Biblical texts, the angels have been singing this same song for at the very least, hundreds of years. The Liturgy is Heaven's song being borrowed by the Church on earth. It is not the Church on earth making up what she thinks Heaven ought to sing. Quite in contrary to what Pr. Louderback maintains.

Even the very best of choirs need practice. :-)

Pr. Tom Fast

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Fast,

Amen. However, as a catechumen in the Orthodox Church, I would go one step further than that. The Church does not merely borrow the Liturgy of Heaven; she belongs to it, and it to her, because of her union with Christ. Such is her new life in Christ - whether in heaven or on earth - because Christ fills all things and makes all things new and is Himself the renewal of all things. In Him even heaven and earth are united as one, having the separating wall of sin and death destroyed.

I can tell that those who use contemporary worship have a great love for Christ. However, I sure wish they'd reconsider. They're missing out. Kyrie eleison.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Harju,

"Amen" back at ya for what you wrote! My language was imprecise. We confess the same in the Preface every Divine Service.

Thanks.

Pr. Tom Fast

Anonymous said...

Mark Louderback: Thank you for responding. Here are my comments.

1st and 3rd commandments - The Catechism on the 3rd Commandment says, "We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it." This includes the Word that is set to music in the Church's hymnody. To hold sacred means to revere something as set apart by God for a holy use, in distinction with the things of this world. Contemporary worship does not treat God's Word as sacred when it sets it to secular soft rock (which is not set apart or distinct from this world). Instead, it treats the Word of God as common, ordinary, and indistinct from this world, giving it a style to match.

The 1st commandment comes into it because it's broken when any other commandment is. An example is in Ex. 32, when the Israelites borrowed the Canaanite style of worship for God. The culture was not neutral then either, but an enemy of God's people, just as it is today. Therefore, borrowing the culture's music in worship is dangerous.


Jn. 18:36 - You wrote, "The music we sing in traditional worship is culture bound." - Not in the way you mean. The Church creates its own culture. The music from traditional worship is bound to that. I, frankly, also think that hymns that reflect a particular human culture miss the understanding that the church is of many nations, yet all reflective of the Word-created culture.

You wrote, "The teaching of Chrstianity is counter-cultural--but Jesus used many cultural ways to teach it. He went to Synagogues. He told stories." Again, not quite. Synagogues were again, part of the religious culture that was created by the proclamation of the Word. And for stories, I assume you mean parables? Jesus is not becoming acculturated, but fulfilling prophecy from Ps. 78:2 (see Mt. 13:35).

You write, "You never hear of Jesus doing a mime, which would have been a counter-cultural way of proclaiming the Gospel. Or stuff like that." Of course not. To communicate the Word requires speaking. Pantomime cannot do it.

You ask, "As well: do you have evidence that the music played in OT times was counter-culture? 1st century church? I mean, I'm not up on this sorta stuff--but do we have any data showing that the service has continually been counter-cultural?"
-Actually, there is some. I don't have as much for the O.T., other than that Ex. 32 involved singing and acculturation from Canaan deities. It's not conclusive, but it does need to be considered.

In the 1st century through the 4th, Christians taught against the pagan understanding of music, who saw that music was a magical influence to control the pagan deities. Calvin Stapert has some on this (A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church", Eerdmans, 2007). Stapert also shows that 2nd-4th century Christians commonly rejected cultural music for their worship, even rejecting instruments because the pagans used them. This is much different from the attitude of the contemporary worship proponents.

Isa. 55/Heb.4 - I understand your concern with my use of these two. But that is my primary objection to contemporary worship. People could not trust that the Word of God would actually work unless they changed to contemporary worship... That outcry against the efficacy of God's Word is still going on, brother in Christ.

What do we do when people stay away? Pray for them. Visit them in their homes. Try to teach. Realize that some will be hardened against it. Entrust their souls to God's mercy. That's about all I can say.

I would like to respond to the others, but I've written too much and need to go. Blessings in Christ this Maundy Thursday.

In Christ,
Rev. Robert Mayes
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
Fullerton, NE

Past Elder said...

Amen as well -- doesn't go any steps farther than this past elder in the evangelical Lutheran church goes.

William Weedon said...

Mark et al.,

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

http://elephantschild.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341e308a53ef0115700d25f2970b-pi

Thanks to Jen for posting this.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Hey kids!

I hope that Easter was a wonderful celebration for all of you! Not just the Sunday itself, but the entire Holy Week.

I'm back--I had much to prepare what with a funeral on Saturday.

And I'm back to respond.

I feeel compelled to do this, because I think that you guys need to understand why things are happening in our Synod. I mean, why do churches have contemporary services? It is nice and clean to say "Well, because they don't care about the Gospel, don't care about the confessions, don't care, don't care," but then, the truth is otherwise.

Just as I don't think that you guys don't care about the lost.

I do hope that we can continue these sort of conversations. We ought to be modeling this behavior and demonstrating just how this is going to work.

Because, really, don't you think the reason that some are leaving is because they can't talk? Sure, we have differences--but actually talking to a real, live person and having to interact with them on their differences is entirely different from painting with broad strokes.

So, I'm going to post a few more things and as you guys want to keep the conversation going, knock yourself out.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

The worst enemy the NonLuWo faction has is the Book of Concord in the hands of the laity - especially the Augsburg Confession. When I first taught it to my congregation at a retreat, it was quite an eye opener - basically a nail in the coffin of Protestantism in our parish.Yeah...of course, what keeps you from becoming a Roman Catholic?

Because that is the other issue, isn't it? Sola Scriptura as an ablative, so it is Scripture with the liturgy? Maybe Scripture with the Confessions?

Maybe, as Chris Jones writes, Scripture with tradition?

Maybe not.

Look, the point of sola Scriptura is to deal with situations EXACTLY like this where someone is saying "To be a Lutheran, you need to hold to this position." Sola Scriptura demands that you point to Scripture to support that.

Being unable to point to Scripture to support the position, you are unable to bind the position.

Look, it is what we Lutherans did with the Pope. We don't have a problem with the Pope per se. But nor is that the only way to structure a church. And you can't compell us to do that if Scripture does not speak to it.

Make sense?

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

I'm breaking up my posts a bit here, rather than one long one. I hope that is okay.

So, quoting Walther to me about quia vs quantenus is sorta funny for you isn't it?

Because you gotta know that Walther was not all about the weekly celebration of the "Mass" was he? I mean, would Walther also approve the quote that you had? Would he want to bind other churches in that way?

He certainly didn't...

So, was Walther then holding to a sorta Confessional position? I mean you quote him against me, but you have to quote him against himself too, right?

William Weedon said...

What "makes sense," Mark, is that you have not bound yourself to the Book of Concord, and because of that, I do not see the point of engaging you in further discussion on this topic at all. "We do not abolish the Mass." That settles it, brother, for those of us who are Lutheran.

Mark QL Louderback said...

And last one Father Hollywood,

Unchurched vs nonbeliever.

The reason I use the term "unchurched" is to distinguish between a person who has never really encountered a witness of Christ and someone who actully grew up in a church but is no longer attending.

I was talking to a pastor who served in Europe somewhere, and i was asking him about what it was like over there. I said that the south was different and he had been to school in Tulsa and said, yeah, that in Tulsa even the drug dealers can share the Gospel message with you.

So, I just use it to make a distinction. But no one who speaks about the unchurched thinks that this situation is fine and dandy.

I do think that we need to be honest abotu the fact that these people were in church and now are not. Why is that? What has brought that about? Sin? Okay, yeah, but how specifically?

I think that is an important question to consider.

Mark Louderback said...

Chris Jones,

But it does mean that the purpose, the essence, and the fundamental, abiding structure of the Christian liturgy is truly Apostolic. It is something given to us, not devised by us.Uh...sorry. But I can't go with you on this. Our liturgy is man-made. Yeah, we use Scripture in the liturgy, but we use Scripture is praise songs as well.

So, this to me is a great divide and a reason why I am a Lutheran and you are not. Know what I mean?

I don't mean that mean--I just mean that your position can't be supported by Scripture. Ergo, it is not Lutheran.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

No, Mark, you make no sense.

"Sola scriptura" doesn't make one a Lutheran. It is not definitional to being a Lutheran.

Baptists, non-denoms, and Pentecostals are also "sola scriptura." And in fact, it seems that the "four solas" were coined by the Reformed, not by Lutherans.

Walther absolutely held to a quia subscription. He insisted that all LCMS Lutherans likewise do so. Walther also held the opinion that a pastor who rejected the Book of Revelation as part of the canon had done nothing wrong. How do you like them apples? Revelation is part of the antilegomena, and is thus not binding upon consciences (neither is Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, James, and 2 Peter, by the way) - and you will be hard-pressed to find a "sola scriptura" table of contents to the Bible.

All Christians (and even some sects that are outside the church) read the same scriptures. It is the interpretive lens (confessions) through which we read those scriptures is what makes us Lutheran.

We believe Scripture is indeed the inerrant Word of God, and nothing else can make that claim. However, we heartily reject nuda scriptura - which is evidenced by the very fact that we have a Book of Concord. Lutherans have never subscribed to the creed "No creed but the Bible."

The ever-relevant Lutheran confessional documents, Mark, is what defines Lutheranism. If you believe in sola scriptura and at the same time reject the BOC, you can (and indeed likely are) a pious believing Christian. You just aren't a Lutheran.

And it shows just how corrupted our synodical fellowship has become where a pastor can publicly distance himself from an entire article of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession without fear of so much as a peep from our synodical hierarchs. Indeed, some of them have actually written against our confessions. What a disgrace and how destructive to the Gospel! The cowboys and hotdogs in our midst are drawing attention to themselves at the expense of the holy faith. At the end of the day, all you will have is a gimmick. But you're making things more difficult to those of us who are trying to be faithful. People think Lutherans are, in Scaer's words, just Baptists who use real wine at communion (and some of "our" pastors even fudge on that).

Without a quia understanding of our Book of Concord, any attempt at unity in the LCMS is doomed to fail. I am all for the now-sainted Kurt Marquardt's idea of a negotiated friendly divorce between those who hold the confessions and those who don't.

Mark Louderack, QL said...

Robert Mayes,

This includes the Word that is set to music in the Church's hymnody. To hold sacred means to revere something as set apart by God for a holy use, in distinction with the things of this world. Contemporary worship does not treat God's Word as sacred when it sets it to secular soft rock (which is not set apart or distinct from this world).Why? Why is it not treating something as sacred by putting God's Word to secular rock music? ("soft" rock? I don't know about that.)

Take the entire secular tune "40" by U2. This is God's Word set to rock music. I don't see one profane thing about that. Not one.

If a secular artist can do this, why can't we do this within the church?

Why? I need to have this explained to me more clearly in order to be more convinced.

I mean, the Israelites did not merely "borrow" a Caananite form of worship. They set up an idol to worship.

And once again, I don't see the distinction that you see: western hymns come from western music culture. What is the difference between that and praise music that also come from western music culture?

The Church creates its own culture. The music from traditional worship is bound to that.And why is the music from contemporary worship any different? Why is that not a part of church culture?

I mean, I just hear these statements: but what exactly backs this up?

Synagogues were again, part of the religious culture that was created by the proclamation of the Word.I mean, is your argument that religious culture is separate from popular culture and it is okay to use religious culture and dangerous to use popular culture and chruch music is religious culture and praise music is popular culture?

What is the distinction that you are using here? And how does that distinction work?

I'm just trying to clarify your point.

Of course not. To communicate the Word requires speaking. Pantomime cannot do it.Jesus is the Son of God. He could easily have communicated the Gospel by mime if He wanted to.

I mean, every time I point to something and say "Look, God uses common cultural elements to proclaim the Gospel. Why can't we use music?" you are either redefining it as religious culture or saying that Jesus is fulfilling Scripture.

I will check out the book you recommend.

People could not trust that the Word of God would actually work unless they changed to contemporary worship...Well, yeah. And some traditional worshippers don't give a rip about the lost.

That is because of sin.

My position is that the Word if effective and cowo is a good idea. So, I'm not at all convinced that my position is one that undermines the efficacy of the Word.

No more than having traditional worship undermines the efficacy of the Word. I just don't see the distinction.

But then, that is part of the whole reason I have trouble with your argument. I don't see the distinction.

What do we do when people stay away? Pray for them. Visit them in their homes. Try to teach. Realize that some will be hardened against it. Entrust their souls to God's mercy. That's about all I can say.Yeah. Because YOU can't say "Have a service that is contextual for them." Why not? I don't see the issue with this. I want to procalim the Gospel message to them. I want them to hear the Word.

It is not they who need to change in order to come and hear the Word.

Mark QL Louderback said...

William,

First, you are on vacation I thought. Take it easy.

And second, you are on twitter are you not? Are you actually tweeting or not? Hmm?

What are you doing right now?

Third then, when I was in Sem, I did gravitate more to the exegetical. I had had enough dogmatics at that point in my life.

But I will say that when we were taught quia, we were not taught that it was quite the absolute that some want it to be.

And currently, I don't see that either. What professor right now is saying "You cannot be a Lutheran and have contemporary music"? I have heard plenty of criticism--but nothing along what Father Hollywood is saying.

Perhaps that is because everyone understands full well that saying "It is not enough to hold to Scripture alone in order to be Lutheran; you need to hold to man-made ceremonies as well in order to be a Lutheran" is just inherantly problematic.

But hey, if you want to write me off as not being a Lutheran, you are writing off a pretty big chunk of our current Synod.

It must be pretty rough right now, to have to be toeing a line that says "We will not discuss this with half of our Synod."

Fortunately--for me--I am perfectly willing to yak at you and hopefully change people's mind about my being Lutheran.

We do not abolish the Mass. CoWo proclaims the Gospel message, celebrates the sacraments, brings the Word of God in a contextual way to the people of this place, right here right now.

And that is not enough? I daresay that I am fairly positive that Christ is on my side on this.

So, as Luther says, You quote the confessions against my Christ, and I'll quote my Christ against your confessions.

After all, only one of them rose from the dead. :)

Chris Jones said...

Dear Pr Louderback,

a reason why I am a Lutheran and you are notI am a communicant member in good standing of the Lutheran Church of the Savior (Missouri Synod) in Bedford, Massachusetts. I may not be a good Lutheran and I do not call myself a "confessional" Lutheran (because a quia subscription to the Confessions is not required of the laity, and I have not made such a subscription), but I am a Lutheran, and that is a fact.

I won't deny that there are some points on which my theological opinions are at variance from the Lutheran Confessions -- but this is not one of them. (In the interests of full disclosure, those points of difference are the legitimacy of the invocation of saints, the legitimacy of the monastic life, and the relative importance of canonical, episcopal ordination.)

your position can't be supported by Scripture ...I don't agree that my position cannot be supported by Scripture, but even if I were to grant arguendo that such is the case, I lose nothing. My position is a simple description of the nature, the practice, and the self-understanding of the Apostolic and sub-Apostolic Church, and as such is a matter of verifiable, historical fact. The Church's rule of faith and rule of prayer (what St Irenaeus of Lyons called "the canon of Truth") historically and (more importantly) logically precedes the canonization of Holy Scripture. Indeed, without the canon of Truth the primitive Church would have had no standard by which to judge and to recognize the canonicity of the New Testament books.

... Ergo, it is not Lutheran.That does not follow, and you can make it follow only by adopting a distinctly un-Lutheran understanding of Sola Scriptura. The Apostolic rule of faith and rule of prayer, the standard by which the canonicity of the New Testament was recognized by the primitive Church, did not go away or lose their relevance once the canon of Holy Scripture was established. They continue to be the context and the hermeneutical lens by which Holy Scripture is to be understood. When the Lutheran Confessions explicitly disclaim any departure (or any intention to depart) from the Catholic Church, whether in doctrine or in ceremonies, they are acknowledging the continuing relevance and authority of this Apostolic rule.

Sola Scriptura (a phrase which does not appear in the Confessions, BTW) does not mean, for Lutherans, "anything goes" as long as I can satisfy myself that it comports with Scripture. We continue the faith and practice of the Apostolic Church, using Scripture as a rule to exclude innovation and corruption. It's not "if it's not in Scripture, we can do what we want"; it's "we do what the Church has always done, unless Scripture forbids it." I contend that this is a far more "Lutheran" position than yours is.

Mark Louderback said...

Chris Jones,

a reason why I am a Lutheran and you are notI am a communicant member in good standing of the Lutheran Church of the Savior (Missouri Synod) in Bedford, Massachusetts.I apologize. I honestly thought I had read something in your description or something else that said you were not Lutheran.

So, I am very sorry. I certainly did not intend to say "Well, since you disagree with this, you are not Lutheran." I really just thought that you were not.

So sorry. I am embarrased.

William Weedon said...

Mark,

This discussion reminds me rather much of when a Lutheran and Reformed are discussing the Sacrament. They're convinced we're making too much of what they call "the mode" of the presence. You're convinced we're making too much of the "mode" of liturgy.

Mark "quodcumque" Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

"Sola scriptura" doesn't make one a Lutheran. It is not definitional to being a Lutheran.No...denying it makes one not Lutheran though, wouldn't you say?

Walther absolutely held to a quia subscription. He insisted that all LCMS Lutherans likewise do so. Walther also held the opinion that a pastor who rejected the Book of Revelation as part of the canon had done nothing wrong. How do you like them apples? Revelation is part of the antilegomena, and is thus not binding upon consciences (neither is Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, James, and 2 Peter, by the way) - and you will be hard-pressed to find a "sola scriptura" table of contents to the Bible.Hey, I got no problem with that. I am, after all, Lutheran.

But you'll note that Walther did not say "It is legit to bind someone's conscience with something non-Scriptural."

A nice example of this is his position on birth control. Walther thought the Scripture spoke against birth control--but not so much that this would divide him from those who did not. So his position on birth control was a private one he held to--not one he insisted the church teach.

Now, you say that Walther held to quia--but did he by your definition? I don't think he did....

That is the issue and the problem with your position.

And in fact, it seems that the "four solas" were coined by the Reformed, not by Lutherans.That indeed may be so, but Luther himself taught the very core of sola Scriptura--the very core of which I am trying to represent today.

It is the interpretive lens (confessions) through which we read those scriptures is what makes us Lutheran.This is equally true. I in no way disagree with this.

Which is why I can claim to be a Lutheran. Because I read Scripture through our confessions. The confessions is the road map, the lens, whatever metaphor you would care to have.

But where the confessions do not speak concerning Scripture, they are not authoritive. Our church has always recognized that.

You claim this is a slicing and dicing of the Word and indeed a quantenus subscription. Maybe. Find me someone of authority who agrees with your position on this and I'd listen more carefully.

As it is, it is hard to insist on a position that Luther himself worked against.

And it shows just how corrupted our synodical fellowship has become where a pastor can publicly distance himself from an entire article of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession without fear of so much as a peep from our synodical hierarchs.And once again, I point out the polarity that you push here.

I can point to section after section of the confessions that I teach and that I believe and hold to.

You have one passage--one passage--that you are attempting to use a club to hinder the freedom that I have to worship as Scripture teaches.

One passage.

A position, that I note, Walther did not hold to either.

Will you claim that he too tossed aside the entire Apology?

You can try to paint me as some wild-eyed Fundamentalist, non-Lutheran, whatever.

But the evidence suggests that my position is correct: namely, our Sems are not teaching what you claim is a quia subscription.

At some point, that evidence has to mean something.

I am all for the now-sainted Kurt Marquardt's idea of a negotiated friendly divorce between those who hold the confessions and those who don't.I don't mind that. But let's be clear: the Seminaries stay with my group.

Look, the point of the matter is this: the confessions are a lens, a roadmap. They are not the Word. There is a great distinction between the two.

So, yeah, to be a Lutheran is to teach infant baptism, as the confessions do. But the confessions teach it because the Word teaches it.

Being a Lutheran is not wearing a robe in a service. Nothing wrong with wearing a robe. But no where does Scripture teach "You must wear a robe in a service."

The distinction is pretty clear and pretty clean. Which is why you are not going to find the Synod opposing my position...

William Weedon said...

Taking the long view of Lutheran history, one realizes that the loss of the liturgy among us has happened before. And that with that loss, we also lost the dogmatic content of our Confession - it was simply shoved aside as being irrelevant. The Lutheran Church has never been able to sustain herself in any kind of healthy ecclesial life without her liturgy. I suspect what we're witnessing is just another of her sad cycles: she'll go down to a remnant again.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I will jump in at the end with just a few brief propositional statements.

1. One cannot safely say that to abandon the historic liturgy automatically forfeits one's status as a Lutheran.

I say this because it is conceivable to completely redo the order of worship in a way that is doctrinally correct -- whether this is done is a different point entirely. But we are not bound to an order of worship a la the Book of Common Prayer. Worship style is not "fundamental".

2. The Historic Liturgy is more safe than a contemporary style of liturgy.

The reason for this is that the Historic Liturgy has been handed down and has been viewed by multiple, multiple theologians instead of merely the individual.

3. Contemporary in the above makes reference both to "Contemporary Worship" contemporary styles and also to Liturgical changes that are more historical-romantic in nature where older abandoned styles are brought forward.

There needs be caution exercised in the reintroduction of rites that have fallen out of usage, just as well as in the creation of new . . . stuff. Just because some place X years ago did Y doesn't mean that it is a good and salutary practice.

4. Hence, in whatever changes one wishes to introduce (and here let change be things different than were being done 50 years ago), let one be cautious - making sure of the orthodoxy and catholicity of the practice (so we are not a law unto ourselves). This is not a matter of Law, but of wisdom, for while all things may be permissible, not all things are profitable.

5. Changes to the liturgy are not profitable when done to scratch itching ears - whatever those ears are itching for.

Lord have mercy upon us all!

William Weedon said...

good article on the topic:

http://steadfastlutherans.org/blog/?p=4594

William Weedon said...

P.S. HT on the link to Pr. Hall!

William Weedon said...

Eric,

I merely observe that historically it hasn't happened that Lutherans have lost their liturgy and remained confessionally sound. Since the liturgy is prayed confession, they go hand in hand together, standing and falling together.

Now, if you mean that Lutherans needn't use the Western rite, I would agree with you. I'll be the Lutherans in the Ukraine will be strong and thriving confessionally for years as they use their version of the St. John Chrysostom liturgy. But ultimately either the Western or Eastern rites ARE the same service that has passed through different historical developments; the same cannot be said of the Pentecostal liturgy whose use is espoused by Pr. Louderback.

Mark @pastorsalem Louderback said...

William Teewtdon,

This discussion reminds me rather much of when a Lutheran and Reformed are discussing the Sacrament. They're convinced we're making too much of what they call "the mode" of the presence. You're convinced we're making too much of the "mode" of liturgy.Mmm....the Reformed do not believe that Christ brings forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through the bread and wine.

Dickering about the presence of Christ is shifting around deck chairs. The important fact is, there is no forgiveness.

This is because of Scripture. It is what Scripture teaches and that is what we hold to.

My comments are entirely directed towards the issue of "What does Scripture teach concerning worship" and "What do Lutherans beleieve concerning worship?"

I'd like to think the two were the same...

William Weedon said...

Forgiveness without Christ is nothing, Mark. Forgiveness is so that Christ's COMING to us can be the advent of life and not of death and destruction. Forgiveness is not a thing apart from Him; its the manner of His coming.

The Bible gives you all the data you could ever want about the Church's worship joining into that of heaven. Read Hebrews. Read Revelation. It's all there. Find that worship where the Lamb slain and His shed blood is the CENTER of all rejoicing, where saints and angels join together in raising prayer and praises, where people bow and prostrate themselves before the Lamb and where there is, let me see, white robes, incense, palm branches, and well, you get the idea. The worship of heaven touching down on earth and transfiguring and transforming us. You don't believe that's what the liturgy is about - about heaven's life being given to us as our own - do you? You speak of it running from us to God; but that's not the Church's experience (which the Bible witnesses to). We can talk about it till we're blue in the face, but there IS no peace that can be had between those who enter worship with the vision of the historic liturgy's understanding and vision (which is the Bible's) and that which arose from the Pentecostals, who can't tell you WHERE the blood of the Lamb is to save their souls.

William Weedon said...

Oh, and I left out, where the whole Church is always gathered as ONE and so none of it is cut out, where we of the present are privileged to join the Church of all ages (including whatever ages God may yet have for us). So Paul can say that he is PRESENT when the man is excommunicated in Corinth, though he was far away (for when the Church gathers, she gathers always as a whole).

Mark Louderback said...

Benjamin Harju,

Sorry. I missed your earlier question. Obviously, not cutting through the clutter enough. :)

1. Do you believe that the Gospel itself is depicted in Scripture as a liturgical action of Christ, thus presenting the Gospel as a liturgical phenomenon?No. I mean, if one expands "liturgy" to simply mean "action" or something like that, then yeah. But I don't think that is what this means.

The Gospel is not depicted as a liturgical action as much as it is depcited as the salvation of God breaking into the story of (sinful, lost) mankind. Christ comes and proclaims the reign of God. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the reign of God." This is not a liturgical act. It is a reality for us sinners to recognize, accept, and give God thanks for.

2. Do you believe that there should be a direct correlation between what is described in Scripture as heavenly worship and what Christian congregations do on earth as worship?Yes. And that direct correlation is the proclamation of the Gospel message. It is the celebration of the sacraments.

I do not believe that the Old Testament priesthood is THE form by which our worship must follow. Christ has set us free or He has not; we are free in Christ or we are not.

So, did Paul preach in a robe? Did he wear a stole? Did my namesake Mark write out all his prayers and read them?

You know, we just don't know here. I think that the church should have the opportunity to adapt its worship to the community in order to proclaim the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Because, I agree completely with William Weedon in this. If traditional worship is the very best way to proclaim the Gospel, then that is why we do it.

Not because it is traditional. Not because it is what has been done. But solely because it is the best way to do what worship should be all about: proclamation of the Gospel.

My contention is that traditional worship is not always the very best way to proclaim the Gospel message.

I believe that when the Gospel message is proclaimed, that God rejoices--no matter what the worship style is.

Would you agree to that?

I have not read over your Bible study yet. I will.

Thank you for telling me your opinion of Holy Orthodoxy. May the Lord forgive you.And I *am* forgiven. I am poor in spirit. God's reign is for me.

And because of that, I mourn the division between us.

I've read the blog post you're referring to. "Fearsome Pirate" has a way of approaching things that is all his own. The most fearsome part of it is his skepticism that is leading him dangerously close to atheism. As I've said elsewhere concerning him, what he needs right now is prayer.Mmm...I think you should ask yourself "Why is this leading to atheism?" I think his words are pretty cutting on this...

I don't think he needs your prayers. I think he needs you to take him seriously.

Read what he wrote again. It is not too late to see the truth in what he says.

I don't want this to be some spitting contest between us, Ben. So, I'm not going to continue to say "You are wrong, I wish you would re-think your positions." But I cannot help but wish that you would see the error of your ways.

I mean, you doubtless have the same attitude for me too, right? ;)

William Weedon said...

P.S. Mark, do take to heart Chris Jones' words - he described exactly how Scripture actually FUNCTIONS in the Symbol's critique; not as warrant, but as check. They didn't ask: "Where does the Bible say I have to do X?" They ask: "What are we doing that is contrary to the Bible? What are we doing that obscures the Gospel?" You're advocating the sola Scriptura approach of the Reformed; not the Lutherans.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

One term that you keep using is illustative: "Gospel message." Non-sacramental churches often use this kind of lingo, because they primarily see the Gospel "as" a message (i.e. data, information) instead of a flesh-and-blood reality.

This is why Protestant churches for the most part look like auditoriums, why the pulpit is central, and why information flashed on big screens, communicated in skits, and an overall lack of reverence is common in these churches(and "contemporary" churches claiming the adjective "Lutheran").

But if you believe the Gospel is much deeper than a "message," that it is an incarnational reality rooted in Christ's physical presence, that it is an ever-present reality instead of just information, then the font and the altar take on a much more prominant place. The emphasis on the sacrament of the altar isn't treated like an embarrasing drunken uncle we put up with once a month. The Mass is a Divine Service of Word *and sacrament* celebrated weekly, instead of an entertainment-based information session with infrequent celebration.

There is indeed a "message" of the Gospel. But unlike our Protestant brethren, we don't just talk about Jesus, but rather proclaim Him in a very real physical way that makes a church service holy (meaning unlike any other thing on earth) vs. profane (meaning worldly, secular, familiar, and common).

I've been to many "contemporary" services over the years, and I have found that absolution is often omitted or terribly watered-down, the creeds are often butchered or left out entirely, the liturgical actions surronding Holy Communion are cut back to the bare minimum and celebration is infrequent. I have found the reverence to be almost universally lacking as the emphasis is on entertainment.

In fact, it was attending one of these mockeries that first implanted the idea into my head of my being called to the ministry in the first place. I was scandalized, my wife (a new Lutheran) was scandalized, and were it not for my steadfast belief in the Book of Concord, I would have concluded that Lutherans were just a white suburban country-club of whitebread cafeteria Christians who like to play church and listen to effenimate weak tinkly music and salesman pastors with fake plastic grins on their faces who eschew theology in favor of marketing.

Thank God for the Lutheran confessions, and for the churches and pastors who are truly bound by them!

And you will not get the seminaries without a fight Mark! Besides, you now have the "instant pastor" program and laymen (and women) usurping pastoral functions - so you won't need all that "book larnin'."

I asked one of my classmates (who has a "heavy metal" church) if he were going to symposia one year. His response was that his church was following a "purpose-driven" model, and so the symposia would do him no good.

Sad, isn't it? Who needs biblical and confessional theology when one sees the ministry as being a rocker, comedian, or salesman.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

William. . . Bill. . . Billy. . . um. . . I haven't met you in person so I don't actually know which you go by. . . um. . . Pastor Weedon,

You point out (wisely) the historical fact that when one abandons the liturgy generally doctrine follows - and I would agree (hence, it's not wise). However, the point that I would disagree (perhaps) is the simple distinction that is made between Western and Eastern Rite. In theory there could be additional rites developed and created that would be quite good, right, and salutary.

I think this is an important distinction to be made - new additions can be brought into the Church catholic. We can't simply say that new=bad or that different=bad. The point of examination has to be the doctrinal implications - and the danger is when we are doing something new we don't have the perspective to judge or see the ends -- every human is subject to fads, and fads can be dangerous. (Note: I do not think that modern incarnations of "Contemporary Worship" deal with the creation of a new rite but rather a spurning of established rites.)

The reason I think this is an important admission to make is that it makes our critique of divergent worship styles sharper. The fact that they are new or different isn't what is the problem, the problem is how it treats the matters of doctrine and faith. Then we can move beyond the discussion of freedom/legalism things like that and get to things that have strong theological implications. . . like the idea of a "gospel message" or an approach that takes the Incarnation as incidental to forgiveness (which given John 20 - see My hands and side, behold My resurrection - now go forgive) that become more serious.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Hollywood,

Whose got the Heavy Metal Church?

Man, I need to talk to people other than Stinnett and Mackey.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Louderback said,
Christ comes and proclaims the reign of God. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the reign of God." This is not a liturgical act. It is a reality for us sinners to recognize, accept, and give God thanks for.Response:
Christ preached about the kingdom. Your description of our response is nice. However, the Gospel is not merely a message. It is also to what the royal proclamation refers: the act of its accomplishment, and the result of that act. What is accomplished is a liturgical act, namely the spiritual fulfillment of the OT high priestly role (among other OT things). Hebrews is explicit about this. The result is seen in what is depicted, for example, in the heavenly worship of the Bible.

Pastor Louderback said,
And that direct correlation is the proclamation of the Gospel message. It is the celebration of the sacraments.Response:
Since, as a Lutheran, you do not believe that the Church herself is a sacrament of the kingdom, I won't go there with you, though I think there is a strong connection between this truth and the nature of the Divine Liturgy.

By "direct connection" I do not mean as a sacrament. By "direct connection" I mean that since Scripture describes worship in the heavenly kingdom a certain way, and that this worship depicts the heavenly result of Christ's redeeming work, to which we are all expecting to become participants upon falling asleep, and that this worship is ongoing ceaselessly night and day, should not our earthly worship at least show that it is one in nature and substance as this heavenly worship, rather than be turned into something that knows very little of this heavenly life. The question, then, is not, "Is Scripture forcing me to do it this way or that?," but "Does Scripture - even the very Gospel itself - draw me into this way of worship with the whole company of heaven?"

It is my opinion that those who can only act when compelled to by force do not yet know the Gospel as they should, for the Gospel imparts to us the Spirit who needs no law, but fulfills all law without compulsion, from love and an intimate relationship with the Redeemer. Rules have their place against man's weakness and short-sightedness, certainly. But the Gospel gives to man a new heart that sees with new eyes and follows eagerly with new desires. This is the antithesis of being compelled by force.

Pastor Louderback said,
I do not believe that the Old Testament priesthood is THE form by which our worship must follow. Christ has set us free or He has not; we are free in Christ or we are not.Response:
Christ has set us free to live in the fulfillment of the OT. For instance, within this fulfillment Christ is our High Priest standing at the right hand of God. In worship form and substance are not divided, because Christ does not divide the proclamation of salvation from where that preaching ultimately leads: His very particular and present kingdom. Freedom is not that you get to do whatever makes sense to you. Freedom is to be released from the delusion of sin and death in the world and to live in Christ in His kingdom.

Pastor Louderback said,
So, did Paul preach in a robe? Did he wear a stole? Did my namesake Mark write out all his prayers and read them?Response:
Please do not think that these things make up the essence of "traditional worship." A vine has branches that grow and live from it. Certainly if you attack the branches it does violence to the plant, but the vine can still live. So if you wish to get to the core of the issue, focus on the vine rather than the branches.

Pastor Louderback said,
But solely because it is the best way to do what worship should be all about: proclamation of the Gospel.Response:
As a Lutheran, I am sure you know that your symbols say that rites and ceremonies have the purpose of proclaiming the gospel. If the Gospel is but a message of forgiveness, then anyone can do whatever seems best to them, so long as forgiveness is offered. But I say the Gospel is the invitation to take up a new way of life, even a new life itself - the Life of Christ. The Liturgy must conform to that new life, especially if it is to evangelize those who come from outside in the world to the inside of the ark of Christendom. [As an aside, in the Orthodox Church, if you want to know what the Christian faith is, you participate in the Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is the faith.]

Pastor Louderback said,
I believe that when the Gospel message is proclaimed, that God rejoices--no matter what the worship style is. Would you agree to that?Response:
No, because the way you arrive at this conclusion is way off base. I will let Christ Himself say what He thinks of man's tinkering with His gifts when He comes on the Last Day, knowing He will be far more fair than I could ever be.

Pastor Louderback said,
I don't think [Fearsome Pirate] needs your prayers. I think he needs you to take him seriously.Response:
Okay, I read it again. I'm surprised he believes anything at all. It's interesting how selective his skepticism is. If I took him seriously re: Orthodoxy, then I'd have to apply the same standard to Lutheranism (which he doesn't do). In the end it would be impossible to be a Christian.


Pastor Louderback, re: the question of "worship style," I think the question boils down to at least two issues:

1) What is the Gospel? That in the LCMS there are two competing views of worship says that there are two different beliefs about the Gospel, and two different ways of reading the Scriptures.

2) To whom is your worship service geared toward? CoWo is geared toward reaching out to people with a heavenly message. TradWo is geared toward participating in Christ's kingdom and drawing people into that. These are two radically different actions.

Pastor Louderback, what do you think worship is? Where does the Eucharist fit into your answer to this question?

Mark Louderback said...

Chris Jones,

Well, I am getting over my embarrassment now enough to respond to your post.

Actually, that is a lie. I'm still embarrassed. But I can't avoid you forever.

Or can I...

I may not be a good Lutheran and I do not call myself a "confessional" Lutheran (because a quia subscription to the Confessions is not required of the laity, and I have not made such a subscription), but I am a Lutheran, and that is a fact.I find this interesting...I tend to think that a quia subscription is required of the laity...I mean, that is what we pastors believe--and I myself still consider that I hold to qui despite what other might say--

But this is a long distance from the point at hand.

The Church's rule of faith and rule of prayer (what St Irenaeus of Lyons called "the canon of Truth") historically and (more importantly) logically precedes the canonization of Holy Scripture. Indeed, without the canon of Truth the primitive Church would have had no standard by which to judge and to recognize the canonicity of the New Testament books.Er..ar...ehh...

Well...my position is that where the apostles claimed to be speaking the Word of God, they were. Where there was not that claim, they were not.

Our church recognizes the Word of God from the disciples. They performed miracles and we trust in the Word they wrote.

I'm sure that Paul wrote more letters in his lifetime. We only have a few of them because those are the ones which are inspired.

Early church fathers wrote a lot of stuff--but we do not consider them inspired.

So...you know, I don't buy that the Apostolic rule of faith and prayer formed the Scripture. Scripture formed the rule of faith. Either the OT, or the very words of Christ. We have them written down now, the very inspired Word of God, and it says nada about how we are to worship.

When the Lutheran Confessions explicitly disclaim any departure (or any intention to depart) from the Catholic Church, whether in doctrine or in ceremonies, they are acknowledging the continuing relevance and authority of this Apostolic rule.No, I completely disagree with this, although I know that in some Lutheran circles, this is all the rage. But then, those Lutherans tend to leave, so what does that tell you?

No: the connection that our church body makes with the path is one to make a connection with the past--not to say that the Apostolic rule has authority.

Sola Scriptura (a phrase which does not appear in the Confessions, BTW) does not mean, for Lutherans, "anything goes" as long as I can satisfy myself that it comports with Scripture.Well...why not? I mean, obviously we hold to what Paul speaks about acting in love, but tht being a given, why not?

I mean, am I not free in Christ? What about that freedom? Does it not have meaning?

The early church is described clearly as being socialist -- do we have to do that today? That is what the church was doing then.

So no, we are free in Christ. We don't let our freedom lead to sin, but nor do we allow others to put a yoke upon our freedom.

Make sense? From one non-Lutheran to another? :)

Mark QL Louderback said...

Eric Brown,

1. One cannot safely say that to abandon the historic liturgy automatically forfeits one's status as a Lutheran.WHOOO-HOOO!!! I'm a Lutheran again.

Chris Jones forget what I said. I'm Lutheran again!

2. The Historic Liturgy is more safe than a contemporary style of liturgy.

The reason for this is that the Historic Liturgy has been handed down and has been viewed by multiple, multiple theologians instead of merely the individual.
I actually agree with this. Andy Bartelt said at one of our PLI conferences that when we do CoWo, we become our own theological review.

I have no doubt that CoWo is harder to do right--and the various examples we can give of bad CoWo is certainly evidence of that.

There needs be caution exercised in the reintroduction of rites that have fallen out of usage, just as well as in the creation of new . . . stuff. Just because some place X years ago did Y doesn't mean that it is a good and salutary practice.I'm with you on that...but then, the attitude you get there is "Does another person's lack of catechesis control my own behavior."

I use this rule in evaluating the term "Mass".

Others use it in looking at CoWo.

Once again, whatever ox is being gored...

4. Hence, in whatever changes one wishes to introduce (and here let change be things different than were being done 50 years ago), let one be cautious - making sure of the orthodoxy and catholicity of the practice (so we are not a law unto ourselves). This is not a matter of Law, but of wisdom, for while all things may be permissible, not all things are profitable.I agree with this...but then, at the same time, at some point, change sometimes does have to be made.

I mean, my predecessor introduced communion every Sunday. You can talk about it and reason about it--at some point you have to pull the trigger and make a change. Not everyone likes that.

If you tag yourself at the lowest common denominator-- "We will not do this until all agree" then once again, is that legit?

Same thing with Cowo. I don't think that I am ever going to convince William that this is the thing to do. But does that mean that I never do it because he objects? Is that legit?

I don't think so either. The weaker brother can't use that argument to hold back others, making the claim "I'm weaker; you can't do that."

Changes to the liturgy are not profitable when done to scratch itching ears - whatever those ears are itching for.Yeah! If their itching ears want to hear the Gospel, let them find another church who will share it with them!

I find this position...a tad problematic...

Seriously though: the change is made to bring the Gospel in a contextual way to others. That is not itching ears. It is good Lutheran theology.

Chris Jones said...

Pastor Louderback,

I tend to think that a quia subscription is required of the laityThen I am afraid you are mistaken. A quia subscription is required of those who would become members of the Missouri Synod; but individual lay persons may not be "members" of the Synod. Congregations may be members of the Synod, and ordained and commissioned Church workers may be members of the Synod, but individual lay persons may not.

Individual congregations may (and do) impose doctrinal requirements on their lay members. The standard in my congregation is to affirm that the doctrine of the evangelical Lutheran Church, as it is presented in Luther's Small Catechism, is faithfully drawn from Holy Scripture. I believe that this doctrinal standard for lay membership is customary in many LCMS congregations. It is a quite different standard than agreement with every jot and tittle in the Book of Concord.

... in some Lutheran circles, this is all the rage. But then, those Lutherans tend to leave, so what does that tell you?It tells me that "those Lutherans" recognize that the Confessions, rightly understood, are an expression of the authentic Apostolic Tradition, but when they find out that their own Church body no longer believes that, nor practices accordingly, they become discouraged and start looking for a Church body which is loyal to the Apostolic and Catholic faith. It doesn't mean that "those Lutherans" weren't really Lutheran; it means that the Missouri Synod wasn't authentically Lutheran.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

One term that you keep using is illustative: "Gospel message." Non-sacramental churches often use this kind of lingo, because they primarily see the Gospel "as" a message (i.e. data, information) instead of a flesh-and-blood reality.Uh yes...becaues we see that in Jesus Christ.

Who, in fact, began to preach and proclaim "Repent, for the reign of Heaven stands near." The Gospel is indeed something that is proclaimed.

That is why there is a difference, say, between our worship service and a Roman Catholic worship service, where communion might be celebrated every Sunday and baptism is mentioned--and oh, what reverence!

But the, uh "incarnational reality rooted in Christ"?

The Gospel is the Gospel. it is proclaimed. Do we celebrate it in the sacraments? Yes. But the sacraments are means of grace, which is not the same thing as saying that they are the grace themselves.

Otherwise, we wouldn't call 'em means.

Yes: I do see the Gospel as "data, information" but it is more than that. Because it is data and information that brig salvation. Something that no other data does.

The Gospel is indeed the proclamation of Christ. When I hear phrases like "an ever-present reality" I just don't know what that means. What does it mean?

So...you know, I think that my Cowo service--where we celebrate the sacrament weekly--unlike Walther, the quia subscriber that you mentioned earlier, who did not--does indeed bring the message of the Gospel to the people who are there.

THAT is what reverence is. Not being silent when others are talking or folding your hands the right way or wearing a robe or not wearing a robe. Reverence is hearing that you are poor in spirit, believing Jesus' words to be true, and trusting in His grace for salvation.

That is what reverence is. Your own opinion about what makes a worship service reverent or not is simply that: opinion.

I have no doubt that you didn't like the CoWo service that you attended. But...some did. They liked it. They came back. These white suburban country-club of whitebread cafeteria Christians returned to that service.

And you know what? Maybe they heard that Gospel message. And it freakin changed their life. Forever.

At the core of it, that is why I don't have a problem seeing Lutheran in a different way from you. Because I see that the Gospel message does indeed change lives. That is something I want to be a part of proclaiming.

And you will not get the seminaries without a fight Mark!Hey, you want the Synod to divide, not me. So, you need to take with you what you brought. That seems fair, doesn't it?

And you know as well as I do that plenty of pastors who practice CoWo go to Symposiums. There is not any monopoly on "book learning" by traditional over non-traditional.

I understand that you don't think CoWo is Lutheran. But I don't see why you have the need to paint this in terms of everything evil/everything good debate.

Some CoWo is terrible. Some traditional is just as bad. Some Cowo pastors eschew learning--and so do some traditional pastors.

My CoWo service is filled with reverence. You might not see it, but I do. We celebrate communion every Sunday and I don't know what the Gospel as incarnational reality actually means--but people who come to my service certainly get a good dose of Law and Gospel.

Yeah: by screen, play, and preached.

But this is not enough. Not enough. And that is too bad.

Mark Louderback said...

Benjamin,

What is accomplished is a liturgical act, namely the spiritual fulfillment of the OT high priestly role (among other OT things).Well, with Jesus playing that part of the Lamb...

You are taking Hebrews and running it roughshod over the rst of Scripture. I find that problemtic. Where does Paul speak about the Gospel being a liturgical act? Where does Jesus speak of it in these terms?

The book of Hebrews is written to Hebrews (I believe former priests) and there is indeed a great deal of emphasis there concerning priests.

What about Romans? Mixed group, Jew, Gentile. Show me this "Gospel as liturgical" activity there.

Since, as a Lutheran, you do not believe that the Church herself is a sacrament of the kingdom,Uh, no, I don't know what you mean by this.

But the term "sacrament" is a human term that we use to explain something. So, if you mean that in the Church, we receive forgiveness of sins, and that makes the Church a sacrament, I could go along with that.

I mean, you know, we can actually discuss stuff and be understood, right?

By "direct connection" I mean that since Scripture describes worship in the heavenly kingdom a certain way, and that this worship depicts the heavenly result of Christ's redeeming work, to which we are all expecting to become participants upon falling asleep, and that this worship is ongoing ceaselessly night and day, should not our earthly worship at least show that it is one in nature and substance as this heavenly worship, rather than be turned into something that knows very little of this heavenly life.I guess, right now, not really having studied this much, I tend to think that the description of Heavenly worship is thin. I don't think we have a great deal of example to work on.

We have examples of worship in Scripture. Liturgical and non-litugical. We have the Words of Scripture that we base our worship on.

And we have very core of worship itself: Christ. With all the worship ever described, Christ is the center, the foundation, the core.

To me--and this is very important to my argument--to me, contemporary worship brings one of the best opportunities humanly possible to proclaim Jesus Christ to others.

So...what we are doing now is exactly what we will be doing in the future. For eternity.

It is my opinion that those who can only act when compelled to by force do not yet know the Gospel as they should, for the Gospel imparts to us the Spirit who needs no law, but fulfills all law without compulsion, from love and an intimate relationship with the Redeemer. Rules have their place against man's weakness and short-sightedness, certainly. But the Gospel gives to man a new heart that sees with new eyes and follows eagerly with new desires. This is the antithesis of being compelled by force.And yet, Father Hollywood would seek to compell me by force to worship a certain way...

My position is, if you are going to compel someone to do something, you ought to have the Scripture to back it up.

I am filled with God's Gospel and desire that it be proclaimed to the world. That is why I do CoWo. Does that make sense to you?

In worship form and substance are not divided, because Christ does not divide the proclamation of salvation from where that preaching ultimately leads: His very particular and present kingdom.This makes no sense. Why does the fact that Christ does not divide cause and effect (Gospel=salvation) mean that we do not divide form and substance?

Form is not the cause of substance. Nor is substance the cause of form. They certainly influence one another, but not to the extent of cause and effect.

Take church buildings. The architect is different in them--even in the Orthodox. The different forms that the churches take speak to a different reality that they might be trying to teach--but that does not mean that there is really only one proper church form.

Does that make sense? (because I'm unsure if it makes sense to me...)

My basic point is, I still don't see what Gospel=salvation has to do with Christian worship=OT form of worship.

Please do not think that these things make up the essence of "traditional worship."What does?

Serious: what do you see as the plant then?

To me, it is the proclamation of the Gospel message. All else is a branch.

What is your vine?

As a Lutheran, I am sure you know that your symbols say that rites and ceremonies have the purpose of proclaiming the gospel.Yes. Absolutely. I think that for some, the traditional worship is the absolute best way in which teh Gospel is proclaimed.

If the Gospel is but a message of forgiveness, then anyone can do whatever seems best to them, so long as forgiveness is offered.Uh, the Gospel is but a message of forgiveness, but that does not mean that we can do whatever we want.

Shall we go on sinning so grace might increase?

No: love God, do what you want.

But I say the Gospel is the invitation to take up a new way of life, even a new life itself - the Life of Christ.I agree. It is not just the invitation, but it is, in fact, the very power that we have to do this in the first place.

The Liturgy must conform to that new life, especially if it is to evangelize those who come from outside in the world to the inside of the ark of Christendom.And why must the new life in Christ be the Liturgy? Once again, serious question.

I am following your logic till this point. Here you are making a jump that I don't quite get.

[As an aside, in the Orthodox Church, if you want to know what the Christian faith is, you participate in the Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is the faith.]Yeah...what about vocation?

No, because the way you arrive at this conclusion is way off base. I will let Christ Himself say what He thinks of man's tinkering with His gifts when He comes on the Last Day, knowing He will be far more fair than I could ever be.So, conversely then, you think that even if the Gospel message is proclaimed, that this is not enough for God? He is pained when the Gospel message--which is His ultimate gift--is proclaimed in certain circumstances?

Forunately for me, God won't be fair--He'll be gracious. Being fair would be most problematic for me...

Okay, I read it again. I'm surprised he believes anything at all. It's interesting how selective his skepticism is. If I took him seriously re: Orthodoxy, then I'd have to apply the same standard to Lutheranism (which he doesn't do). In the end it would be impossible to be a Christian.I think there might be more to that than you think...

Did you see though the distinguishing issue that separates his belief from doubt? Scripture.

1) What is the Gospel? That in the LCMS there are two competing views of worship says that there are two different beliefs about the Gospel, and two different ways of reading the Scriptures.I disagree with this. In football, there is only one way to score a touchdown (ball over goal line). That some teams pass and only run occasioanlly and others run and pass occasionally, is not evidence that there is a disagreement on what a touchdown is.

Nor does it indicate that there is a disagreement on the interpreting of the rules concerning a touchdown.

But on the other hand, yeah, I do sorta agree with you. My Gospel is fairly narrow and these additions of liturgical response and lived out reality make me a bit quesy.

The Gospel is simple to me: the poor in spirit are blessed because the reign of heaven is theirs.

2) To whom is your worship service geared toward? CoWo is geared toward reaching out to people with a heavenly message. TradWo is geared toward participating in Christ's kingdom and drawing people into that. These are two radically different actions.The Gospel is a message for both the saved and the unsaved. I need to know that I am poor in spirit and yet the reign of God is a present reality for me now. Each and every day I need to be reminded of that.

All Christians need to have that proclaimed to them.

And indeed, that very proclamation brings salvation to the unbeliever as well.

So, I disagree that CoWo does not bring participation in Christ's kingdom. The poor in spirit do indeed hear that the reign of God is for them.

Pastor Louderback, what do you think worship is? Where does the Eucharist fit into your answer to this question?"Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into thsi thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God." (Lutheran Worship, intro)

Does that make sense? So, worship is about the proclamation of the Gospel. The Eucharist (as an aside, I also was taught that the term Eucahrist is too corrupted also for Lutherans to use. I disagree with that.) is the bringing of that Gospel message in a real, concrete form. "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

I'm curious to what your response is going to be. I find that some of the time, talking to Orthodox people is just very confusing for me, because I just don't understand what they are saying. I mean, I just don't get it. (like the whole liturgical aspect of the Gospel. I'm unsure still I know exactly what you mean.)

So...use small words. And try to explain youself. We Cowo types don't have much book larnin' as you know.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You're right - it isn't enough.

We subscribe to confessions. This isn't just a ceremonial formality or a quaint ritual. It is a vow that is as solemn as a wedding vow. There is no "wiggle room" in either one.

You shouldn't make promises you can't, or won't keep.

When you refused to endorse Apology 24 because it doesn't suit you, you are the one who walked away from the faith that you vowed to uphold at your ordination.

Everything you said after that point became only so many smoke and mirrors.

I can't convince you of your errors, but the beauty of the Lutheran confessions is that all I need to do is make sure my congregation reads and studies the Book of Concord as a confession of Holy Scripture and they will be inoculated against the anti-liturgical poison.

They see the contradiction between how you worship and what we confess.

I can't control you, Fort Wayne, St. Louis, the Purple Palace, the "Emergent" experts, the bureaucrats, or the hierarchy - but I'm not called to. I'm to be faithful for the sake of my flock and confess the truth to anyone who cares to listen.

And make no mistake, Mark, I have parishioners who have been utterly scandalized by what you consider to be "reverent."

When Luther debated Zwingli, he kept repeating "Hoc est corpus meum" ad nauseum - for that one point made Luther and Zwingli incompatible.

So this is why you and I cannot both be Lutherans:

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc."

This is either "most certainly true," or it is not. We both confessed the former at our ordinations. People can say what they want about my classmate Ben Harju, but as a pastor who could no longer confess the Book of Concord in its entirety, he resigned.

I would have the utmost respect for you were you to do the same.

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

Well...Walther stayed in the Synod. I think I will as well.

I don't mean to be flippant, but I just don't see others holding to yuor position. Those that do, seem to leave Lutherandom.

What does that tell you abotu their own understanding of the Gospel? The Gospel loses the main point. And so the Liturgy becomes the main point.

I can't find profs who hold to your position. Profs who I respect at Sem don't say what you are saying.

Our Synod in convention does not hold to your position.

At some point...at some point you've got to see that your interpretation is not gathering in support. I understand your point: but your own interpretation is individualistic.

If you are not listening to the church at large, exactly why ought I to listen to you?

Once again, I'm not advancing my own position. I mean like the "Confessional" guys at Sem. At some point, you have to ask yourself whether your are in the right to act as if I am not Lutheran.

And make no mistake, Mark, I have parishioners who have been utterly scandalized by what you consider to be "reverent." Will they be scandalized by the lives changed through the Gospel? Won't that melt their hearts and their opposition?

Maybe not yours, what about theirs?

Lives are changing through the Gospel message. If I cease to be a Lutheran because of this, well, there are worse things that could happen.

I'm going to stay Larry. I've left my Synod once, and that was enough. If in the future, the tide turns and I'm asked to leave, then I will.

Until then, I refuse to hold to a position that says "In order to be a Lutheran, it is not enough to hold to what Scripture says. You must follow these man-made rules."

That is most certainly not the Lutheran church that I entered into and serve within.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

Neither Walther, nor any of my seminary profs ever denied this:

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc."

You did.

If the above isn't true, go find a church that agrees with you. There are many.

Otherwise, you're simply living a lie. And all the gospel reductionism in the world can't counter a lie.

Your understanding of the Reformation and of the Church sounds very close to that of Reformed Christians - and there are many for whom I have a profound respect and affection. They are good Christians, just not Lutherans - and the BOC is not binding upon them.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Yeah! If their itching ears want to hear the Gospel, let them find another church who will share it with them!

I find this position...a tad problematic...

Seriously though: the change is made to bring the Gospel in a contextual way to others. That is not itching ears. It is good Lutheran theology.
You made a huge jump. . . if their itchy ears *want* to hear the Gospel.

Then you talk about contextualization in order to bring the Gospel. . . those are two different things and vitally different.

There is a difference from people who say "We long to hear the Gospel, but we do not hear it here" and people who say, "I don't like this style." Two different things entirely. Also, your description of why a change is to be made - not when the Gospel is being obscured (i.e. people who want to hear the Gospel are prevented) but changing the context of delivery. At that point, the change isn't about "GOSPEL", it's about what you think will make people understand the Gospel better.

That is neither good Lutheran Theology nor good Lutheran practice. It is not good theology because our thrust is that God works through the Word - so if I must dress it up or contextualize it, this de facto takes the locus off of the Spirit working through the Word and moves it onto my contextualization (and yes, this can be applied to whatever "contextualization" you wish to say is good).

Second, it isn't good Lutheran practice, because the Reformer's approach was never "If I think it is good I ought do it" but rather, "What is bad about this now that we ought remove and change?"

The first view is more creative - where the impetus is placed upon the Pastor to get things moving. The second is more a penitential - where if I have been hindering and blocking the Gospel, I repent and remove the things that are blocking the Gospel.

This is why I think the typical movements made in CoWo are. . . poorly done. They are not made in a repentant fashion, but they are made in an effort to improve Gospel effectiveness or some such other materialistic/marketing approach. That is where there is a disconnect.

Now, I can be critical the same way with non-contemporary practices and changes - and the evaluation would be the same -- is this change removing something that hinders the proclamation of the Gospel? If not, one had better be careful that we aren't simply introducing novelty - the Gospel is not novel but timeless, eternal, and thus beyond just our own cultural whims.

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Louderback,

You said,
You are taking Hebrews and running it roughshod over the rst of Scripture. I find that problemtic. Where does Paul speak about the Gospel being a liturgical act? Where does Jesus speak of it in these terms? The book of Hebrews is written to Hebrews (I believe former priests) and there is indeed a great deal of emphasis there concerning priests. What about Romans? Mixed group, Jew, Gentile. Show me this "Gospel as liturgical" activity there. Response:
I love arguments from silence. Show me St. Paul excludes this in Romans :-) It's the same thing. Romans specifically treats the problem of Judaizing and Pharisee-izing, and does not give the end-all-and-be-all explanation to the Faith. However, even in Romans St. Paul speaks of Christ making propitiation for our sins - something that makes little sense outside the context of OT liturgy - offering yourself as a living sacrifice - which happens both in Christian life and the Eucharistic liturgy, and casts the Faith in the context of the life of the heavenly throne room - and even St. Paul considers his ministry to be a priestly service in which he offers the nations as an acceptable offering (ch. 15) - which offering happens in the Eucharist and at the end of time. So, again, show me St. Paul excludes this in Romans.

St. Paul also talks all about this throughout Hebrews :-) where he interprets the saving act of Christ in liturgical terms. If I am running roughshod over the Scriptures, then so is St. Paul in Hebrews. As for Christ, He says not one jot or one tittle of the Law will pass away until all is fulfilled. He also says that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. And St. Paul (in Hebrews) says that the Law is a shadow of the good things to come in Christ. So once the Law passes away, it may leave us with the freedom of the Holy Spirit and love, but we are also left with that which cast the shadow of the Law (or Torah): namely, Christ. The reality and the shadow have some semblence between them, yes?

Your eyes may not see this in the Scriptures, and your ears may not hear it, but it is there nonetheless. The authors of the Scriptures wrote from having known this fulfillment first hand, and what is written and described is that which comes from having seen and heard and handled this fulfillment first hand. Holy Orthodoxy knows this. "Traditional" Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans have an underlying sense of this. This may seem like running roughshod over the Scriptures, but to me it seems like reading the Scriptures within the Eucharistic context from which they arose.

I wonder, though: as a Lutheran, do you think it's okay to draw your doctrine from a "disputed" book like Hebrews? You guys still call it antilogumena, right? You and I might be wasting our time here if this is so.

You said,
We have examples of worship in Scripture. Liturgical and non-litugical. We have the Words of Scripture that we base our worship on.Response:
It sounds like you have had to invent your worship from scratch. Traditional worship, at least as Holy Orthodoxy knows it, existed before Scripture and is the home in which Scripture was born (NT, at least).

However, I know what you mean. Honestly, I think that what you are doing as a Lutheran minister springs directly from Lutheran theology. It may not measure up to a descriptive obedience to the Book of Concord (i.e. the BoC describes what you do), but it does come from the way that Lutherans have chosen to do theology. However, Lutherans have also worked like Fr. Hollywood and Pastor Weedon. It's been a tug of war over almost 500 years. On my end, I think your side simply takes the opposition between law and freedom way too far and even out of context. Hence, If there is not a word compelling me, then I am free to do it how I want (in love, of course).

You said,
And yet, Father Hollywood would seek to compell me by force to worship a certain way... My position is, if you are going to compel someone to do something, you ought to have the Scripture to back it up. I am filled with God's Gospel and desire that it be proclaimed to the world. That is why I do CoWo. Does that make sense to you?Response:
Regarding Fr. Hollywood's position, it then means either he's a Pharisee, or you aren't filled with the Gospel quite the way you think you are.

I'm glad you are proclaiming Christ's forgiveness, even if it's through CoWo. I'm glad that forgiveness changes lives for the better. However, you have been shown in Scripture the nature of things, but you have rejected it - because you look for a command, a new law - rather than the fulfillment of the Law. Rather than meticulously follow every external rule and add extras, you refuse to do anything "external" unless compelled to. The freedom you claim goes too far.

You might be benefited by reading St. Irenaeus (one of Luther's favorites). He had the task of showing how the Scriptures were to be read in a particular way (and not in the Gnostic way - I'm not accusing you of gnosticism!) Your method of reading the Scriptures isn't anything I recognize from those who first received them. In fact, it seems quite new and recent.

Really, as far as Lutherans and Lutheranism goes, the two sides can get nowhere, because you do not read the Scriptures the same way. Both claim "Scripture alone," but for some reason the two sides cannot agree on what they say. In my useless opinion, I think both sides should sit down and figure out how best to read the Scriptures and whether or not the Book of Concord is a description of Lutheranism or just a book of theologies for Lutherans.

You said,
Form is not the cause of substance. Nor is substance the cause of form. ... My basic point is, I still don't see what Gospel=salvation has to do with Christian worship=OT form of worship. Response:
The two live together. Alter one, you alter the other. They are interdependant.

It's not "OT form of worship," but the fulfillment of OT worship in Christ.

You said,
Serious: what do you see as the plant then? Response:
The plant/vine is what you reject as running roughshod over the Scriptures.

You said,
And why must the new life in Christ be the Liturgy? Once again, serious question. I am following your logic till this point. Here you are making a jump that I don't quite get.Response:
The new life in Christ finds its home in the Liturgy, and is given birth from the Liturgy, because of the Eucharist. The Liturgy and the Scriptural witness agree as to what's going on (and when I speak of the Liturgy, I'm not separating the Eucharist out from it). Teaching and Eucharist happened together among the first Christians - even before the NT was written.

You know, when CoWo was my only encounter with Christianity (and it was for some years), I had a hard time with this, too. But at that time I did not have anything formal that made me think CoWo was okay or not okay. Why don't you get what I'm saying? Maybe I'm not doing a very good job talking about it. That's probably at least half of it. However, I think you have adopted a way of using the Scriptures that is different from the way they are supposed to be used.

You said,
So, conversely then, you think that even if the Gospel message is proclaimed, that this is not enough for God? He is pained when the Gospel message--which is His ultimate gift--is proclaimed in certain circumstances? Forunately for me, God won't be fair--He'll be gracious. Being fair would be most problematic for me...Response:
If you are just laying out a message of forgiveness only, then you are cutting out part of the kingdom that Jesus preached. Your Gospel is truncated. I'll let God decide how He feels about your use of the message of forgiveness. When I said He will be fair, it means He can see the issue better than I. God is always fair. And God is always gracious. Both are integral to His righteousness.

You said,
Did you see though the distinguishing issue that separates his belief from doubt? Scripture.Response:
This is why his skepticism is selective. It doesn't apply to Scripture.

You said,
So, I disagree that CoWo does not bring participation in Christ's kingdom. The poor in spirit do indeed hear that the reign of God is for them.Response:
You just disagree that the Gospel has a liturgical setting - both in the manner Christ makes it the Gospel and in the manner it lives in the Church. Or do I misunderstand you?

You said,
The Eucharist ... is the bringing of that Gospel message in a real, concrete form. "Taste and see that the Lord is good."Response:
So the Eucharist is an appendage to the preaching of forgiveness?

Pastor Louderback, I'm not trying to confuse you. I'm just not doing a good job explaining things. I just see that in the Scriptures Christ is the High Priest, Christ is the Victim, Christ ascends as both into heaven to intercede and reign, and that this is our salvation. When the OT high priest prefigured these things, it was a liturgical act. When Christ did these things, it was likewise liturgical, because these are the terms Scripture presents it all in - unless Hebrews doesn't count and the Old Testament doesn't show forth Christ.

Why isn't St. Paul as explicit as you would like? Because he wasn't addressing the problems we are speaking about. Because the Christians to whom he writes knows these things first hand through their own liturgical celebrations. His teaching explains what they know through the Liturgy.

William Weedon said...

Ben and any other Orthodox readers,

May your Pascha be a blessed one: Christ is risen and Forgiveness shines forth from the grave!

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Weedon,

Thank you! As of right now the church we attend is starting their Paschal Divine Liturgy. We live pretty far away, and at this late hour it's just beyond our ability to attend. But at least there's Agape Vespers tomorrow morning!

Al Maseeh Qam!
Christ is Risen!
Death is annihilated and the evil ones are cast down!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You write:

"And yet, Father Hollywood would seek to compell me by force to worship a certain way..."

This is absolutely untrue. First of all, I have no power to "compel" anyone. What, do I have an army? Second, you are free to worship as you see fit. I would never compel anyone even if I could. My Baptist and Pentecostal friends and relatives would be the first to say that I have never tried to "compel" them to do anything.

All I am saying is that words means something. Vows mean something. The Christian faith is not a postmodern cafeteria, and neither are the Confessions.

Words mean something. If an animal has fur, has lungs, and is warm-blooded, it is *by definition* not a fish. It isn't a matter of compulsion, but rather a simple submission to reality.

Similarly, if a person doesn't believe in the Westminster Confession, he can't be a Presbyterian. If a person does not believe the pope is the head of the Church, he cannot be a Roman Catholic. It isn't about compulsion, but rather about integrity and honesty.

Lutherans are defined by the Book of Concord. Lutheran pastors take oaths and make vows of fidelity to those confessional documents. In the LCMS, we even go so far as to make a "quia" subscription. So, a "Lutheran" who denies those confessions (or parts of them) is like a Presbyterian that denies the Westminster (or parts of it).

The Lutheran Confessions are not "proscriptive" - for no-one can compel belief. But they are "descriptive" - look at the wording that so often comes up: "In our churches..." The confessions describe what we believe *and* how that belief is demonstrated, confessed, and put into practice "in our churches."

It was so important to the Lutheran fathers that no-one get the idea that we have abolished the Mass (including traditional liturgical forms) that Melanchthon goes so far as to call it a "false accusation" when someone suggests this to be the case!

In fact, in Apology XXIV:40, Melanchthon argues that we should not "be condemned as heretical or unchristian" because "no novelty has been introduced which did not exist in the church from ancient times, and since no conspicuous change has been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass."

But you've already taken Article 24 off the table because, well, you don't like it, because bureaucrats and professors don't like it, because unbelievers don't like it, etc.

Again, it isn't a matter of compulsion, but of honesty. Ben Harju was honest. He could no longer confess the Book of Concord, so he resigned his ministry and found a church body that he can confess with integrity.

Mark Louderback said...

Ben Harju,

Quick question: do people call you Ben-Har? I woul dif I knew you better.

So, check it out dog: Bible study often shows the text that we carry around with us more so than the text that Scripture says.

We read our text into the text and see things that we want to see, but are in fact not there.

So, when you say in Daniel 7:14 "Countless thousands served Him (a liturgical reference)." where do you get this?

The ShMSh doesn't mean "liturgical actions" as far as I can see. Where do you get that this is a liturgical refernce?

Mark 15 minutes are over Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

BTW, I liked your previous headshot better. I am amused that you've got the whole Pop-Art pic going on this discussion.

Obviously, you use it to communicate something. And not something negative...

Neither Walther, nor any of my seminary profs ever denied this...Really? I think this is a fairly easy thing to prove. Facts are facts, they are, they are.

So, did Walther insist that pastors commune every Sunday?

I mean, if he didn't, it would be hard to say that he was holding to this line. If he allowed our churches to not celebrate the Mass every Sunday, then, he didn't hold to this.

So, he and me, both are quatenus subscribers, in your view.

And I can live with that.

Because, of course, I know that quia doesn't quite mean what you want it to mean.

So, I am not in fact, some general Christian. I am a Lutheran.

Your understanding of the Reformation and of the Church sounds very close to that of Reformed Christians.And yours sounds like the Roman Catholic position. And I have the evidence to back it up.

See, rather than saying "We can rely on Scripture," you have to bring in the Confessions and use it in a way that it was not meant to be used.

The next move, to say that tradition itself is on par with the Word, is not that far.

Shoot, I think that Chris Jones has alreayd gone too far in saying that the liturgy is not man-made.

Many of our positions are defined in opposition to something else. So yeah, in opposition to a position that says "Holding to Christ's Word is not enough to be a Lutheran; you must obey man-made law as well," you know, I'm not willing to go there.

Mark Louderback said...

Eric Brown,

You made a huge jump. . . if their itchy ears *want* to hear the Gospel.Well, I think they do. That is the whole point.

There is a difference from people who say "We long to hear the Gospel, but we do not hear it here" and people who say, "I don't like this style." Two different things entirelyWell...is there?

I mean, perhaps the person desires to hear the Gospel and does not hear it--not because it is not there, but just because they can't hear and understand it in a way that makes sense to them.

Also, your description of why a change is to be made - not when the Gospel is being obscured (i.e. people who want to hear the Gospel are prevented) but changing the context of delivery. At that point, the change isn't about "GOSPEL", it's about what you think will make people understand the Gospel better.Sure. But I would say that this is the same thing that goes on, no matter what you do in worship. Traditional worship is the same thing--I mean, look at what William Weedon says about the Gospel being clearly proclaimed in trad worship.

That is why he does it.

I don't think it is so clear to some.

It is not good theology because our thrust is that God works through the Word - so if I must dress it up or contextualize it, this de facto takes the locus off of the Spirit working through the Word and moves it onto my contextualization (and yes, this can be applied to whatever "contextualization" you wish to say is good).Naah. We put a lot of effort into our last Hymnal. Page numbers, not hymn numbers. Psalms at the beginning without page numbers.

I don't buy that the LSB guys didn't trust God or something like that.

It is an entirely legitimate operation to ask "What do people hear?" Not just "What am I trying to get them to hear," but "What do they hear."

We should care about that. That is not bad theology.

I think God's Word does indeed work in spite of our mistakes, but that does not mean that we don't care to try and proclaim the Gospel clearly.

The first view is more creative - where the impetus is placed upon the Pastor to get things moving. The second is more a penitential - where if I have been hindering and blocking the Gospel, I repent and remove the things that are blocking the Gospel.This is funny to me, because of course for most, CoWo is based on the second and not on the first!

....I don't think that I am answering your real question here...but I am a bit unsure as to what it is.

We have a Hispanic service at my church. The pastor speaks in Spanish. He preaches in Spanish. He reads the Word in Spanish. We have spanish bibles.

I can sit there and get a sermon Now, I can't speak Spanish, but I can follow a few words and get an overall point of what he is saying.

But it would be better if the Word was brought in my own language.

CoWo is the same thing. Not a foreign language, sure, but it does involve translation.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

You wrote:

"[Your understanding of the Reformation and of the Church] sounds like the Roman Catholic position. And I have the evidence to back it up."

Thanks!

I agree completely with the Lutheran fathers (you know, those out-of-touch old guys who wrote those confessions that we're apparently free to pick over like a Denny's buffet...) when they wrote:

"As can be seen, there is nothing here that departs from the Scriptures or the catholic Church or the church of Rome, in so far as the ancient church is known to us from its writers."

"This teaching... is not contrary or opposed to that of the universal Christian church, or even of the Roman church (in so far as the latter's teaching is reflected in the writings of the fathers)."

"Our churches dissent from the church catholic in no article of faith but only omit some few abuses which are new."

"Nothing has been received among us, in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic."

"We have introduced nothing, either in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Holy Scripture or the universal Christian church."

"No novelty has been introduced which did not exist in the church from ancient times, and since no conspicuous change has been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass."

Unlike that of the Reformed and the Anabaptists, the Lutheran Reformation was conservative, in full continuity with the Western Catholic Church. It was not a revolution, a breaking away, or some kind of innovation.

Krauth's writings demonstrate this difference in ecclesiology between Lutherans and, say, the Reformed.

Our problem with the Roman Church's ecclesiology isn't with vestments, crucifixes, candles, and the order of liturgy, but rather with the claims of the papacy and the dogmatization of Roman polity.

Unlike the Lutherans, various Protestant groups opposed the liturgy, vestments, the Mass, the divinity of the office of the ministry, the use of private confession; they allowed laymen to preach and officiate, and repudiated any vestige of their catholic heritage. Sounds familiar today. And this isn't the first time Reformed doctrine and practice have seeped into Lutheranism. That's why the Saxons left Germany in the first place. That's why the Castle Church in Wittenberg is no longer a Lutheran church today. That's why we never joined the General Synod. That's why we're so sensitive about unionism. That's why Walther strongly discouraged Methodist hymnody. That's why the first LCMS constitution repudiated Finney's "new measures" and its appeal to emotion-driven music and "felt-needs" centered worship.

History is simply repeating itself.

This confusion about the reformation is why the Augsburg Confession was written. We were being lumped in with these other groups (Reformed and Anabaptist). That's why we considered it a malicious lie to suggest that we have abolished the Mass, private confession, the vestments, the traditional liturgy, ordained presbyters, etc.

And this is why those who today embrace TV screens, rock bands, infrequent communion, the lack of private confession, the ditching of vestments, and other things that would have been considered repugnant by the Lutheran fathers, have no choice but to cut holes in their Books of Concord (or, like some guys, actually brag about how they never crack the cover after leaving seminary).

If you don't believe in the Lutheran confessions, the honest thing to do is to leave. I respect the guys who have "gone east" or "swum the Tiber" when they could no longer confess the BOC. But isn't it funny that no-one ever leaves the LCMS to become a Baptist, a Pentecostal, or a non-demon mega-church pastor? Why? Because you can be just about any kind of Protestant in the LCMS - even if it means openly repudiating parts of the BOC.

Again, Mark, you vowed to norm your preaching and teaching thus:

"In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc."

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

BTW, there is nothing profound about my little picture.

It's just a joke.

There is a website that you can upload a picture and make it look like Obama's campaign portrait.
It's just tongue-in-cheek humor - just like my screen name.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Mark, a few things.

I mean, perhaps the person desires to hear the Gospel and does not hear it--not because it is not there, but just because they can't hear and understand it in a way that makes sense to them.Note how quickly this becomes a subjective matter - what they hear, what they can understand, what makes sense to them. A response above you note that Harju sees Daniel 7 as liturgical - but that may not be. You note he takes a subjective approach to Scripture and warn against it -- then you want to take a subjective tact on worship. That's the inconsistency I see whenever anyone says "This is the way I must present the Gospel for it to be heard".

Also - I'm not sure if I buy the idea of they want to hear the Gospel but don't "understand" otherwise. Some of traditional worship is cultural - there is a meaning behind "The Lord be with you/And also with you". One isn't going to understand it - just as a person watching their first football game doesn't understand all the things. But you learn, you are brought into a culture bigger than your own.

I think your lack of understanding isn't an inability to understand, but a lack of interest, perhaps a desire for more ________ rather than "I don't hear the Gospel there." It's not the problem of the objective Gospel, it's the subjective I - it just doesn't do anything for me.

Now, you do try to make this a bit more objective by comparing contemporary worship to foreign language: CoWo is the same thing. Not a foreign language, sure, but it does involve translation.Let us say that I will yield and give you, for argument's sake, that it is a matter of translation, pure and unadulterated with no element of trying to be a pleaser of men.

Translation is a hard thing. It's tricky. It's easy to mess things up. Plus, when you have multiple people doing multiple translations, you get a mass of confusion. You also get false doctrine thrown in quite often due to poor translation.

Thus I tend not to think that it is in general a safe practice to avoid the historical. There is too much room for errors in translation, or things to get lost in the translation. I will mention translation issues in bible studies, but only rarely and with great care (and this is even with having a B.A. in Classics with a focus on the Greek Langauge).

Thus, I am not going to take as harsh a position as Father Hollywood does - but I am going to say that much of what CoWo does seems to come from a problematic motivation and problematic enactment. If you tightrope walk this (I have not seen what you do so I will not assume either way - if you would like me to critique it you can e-mail me a bulletin... zionlahoma at yahoo), so be it - but I still worry about too much being lost to accomodate modern culture. . . like losing the quality of home cooking for processed fast food.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Benjamin Harju,

BTW, the comment I made about your bible study is not the end-all-be-all. It was just a quick question/statement.

Mark QL Louderback said...

Ben Harju,

Hey. I have printed out our dialogue here on this blog and re-read throuhg it in its entirety.

I felt as though we were just responding to what was immediately said and losing a bit of the big picture. Or at least I was doing that.

So, I've seen some things that you have said that I now understand better--some things that you have said that I agree with compeltely--and some things I have said that I now would retract.

And I also have questions.

So, to start with the key question: what do you mean by "liturgical"?

I think this is what is getting me and catching me. When you say "liturgical" I see that in comparison with my CoWo service which is "nont-liturgical".

But what exactly does that mean?

That is to say, what is the distinction between saying "liturgical" and "worship"?

I'm not exaplainig this well either--but when you say:

Christ's saving the world is a liturgical action, which opens up access to the liturgical life of Heaven...You can find this in your response to Tom Fast.

Now, what exactly is the difference between saying this and simply substituting "worship" for liturgy.

There is no doubt that the death and resurreciton of Jesus Christ occurs within the context of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

But what makes this "liturgical" exactly?

And here is the upshot of this: both you and Tom talk about the sanctus and about how we sing what the angels are singing.

But I don't object to the singing of "Holy, holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty" in a worship service. There are plenty of praise songs that echo Isaiah.

See, you want to be saying that God has instituted that we sing Isaiah 6 right after the preface, right before we do the prayer of thanksgiving.

Do you see the distinction?

So...there is no doubt that the Gospel is understood properly in the context of the sacificial worship of Israel.

What makes this worship "liturgical"? That is to say, what makes this worship distinctive from Contemporary worship?

I see this as a foundation issue for us to nail down.

As I said, I have other things to nail down, but I wanted to start here, where when i read through, I realized I did not understand what you meant.

So, now when I read you saying:

By "direct connection" I do not mean as a sacrament. By "direct connection" I mean that since Scripture describes worship in the heavenly kingdom a certain way, and that this worship depicts the heavenly result of Christ's redeeming work, to which we are all expecting to become participants upon falling asleep, and that this worship is ongoing ceaselessly night and day, should not our earthly worship at least show that it is one in nature and substance as this heavenly worship, rather than be turned into something that knows very little of this heavenly life. The question, then, is not, "Is Scripture forcing me to do it this way or that?," but "Does Scripture - even the very Gospel itself - draw me into this way of worship with the whole company of heaven?"Well, I find myself agreeing with this completely.

But I find myself saying "This is what my CoWo worship is..."

Finally, I can't help but think that our worship on earth is, in a way, distinct and different from worship in Heaven. In such a way that Heaven simply cannot be the model for our worship.

For in Heaven, there is only praise and thanksgiving. There is no longer any sin, no longer any need for forgiveness. On earth, we have that need.

So, when I said (in response to your bold question):

2. Do you believe that there should be a direct correlation between what is described in Scripture as heavenly worship and what Christian congregations do on earth as worship?Yes. And that direct correlation is the proclamation of the Gospel message. It is the celebration of the sacraments.I don't think that is right. I understand what I mean, but I think it is wrong.

Christ is the center of our worship. So, in Heaven, we have the forgiveness of sins. I don't think that the proclamation of the Gospel is the same. And nor will the celebration of the sacrament be the same either--right now, celebrating the sacrament, we don't see Christ. In Heaven, we will.

So, there is a distinction between what happens here and what occurs in Heaven. At the same time, the two are not completely unrelated.

Okay...are you following me?

Mark Louderback said...

Fater Hollywood,

Two clarifications:

1. Would it be better if I said "Father Hollywood would compel me to worship in a certain way or leave the Synod"? Is that better?

2. When I say "Roman Catholic" I refer to the church post-Reformation. The early church is the Lutheran church. Ours was a reforming of the church. Since the reformed church is now the Lutheran church, that means that the early church ought to be called the Lutheran church.

So, when you say:

Our problem with the Roman Church's ecclesiology isn't with vestments, crucifixes, candles, and the order of liturgy, but rather with the claims of the papacy and the dogmatization of Roman polity.I mean, our problem is with their doctrine.

Our problem--and the problem that I specifically mention--is objecting to their having tradition on the same level as Scripture.

That is why issue here.

Oh, I do have a three: see I knew that your picture had something to it!

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

One more things. The other day while scampering around the internet, I found this quote by Walther:

"The fact that a truly Lutheran congregation needs neither a definite organization nor a fixed ceremonial instituted by men is attested by Article VII of the Augsburg Confession"

Now...you know, I'm not all about pulling quotes out of context. But at the same time, I do think that your position that I am just tossing out parts of the Confessions needs to be balanced by the fact that your position is certainly not one we see pushed by Walther.

Walther didn't leave. I don't think I should be compelled to leave. Or compelled to worship in a certain way.

Not without a Scripture mandate. (Sorry Ben H--I still have not changed my mind on this. Not yey anyway...)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mark:

Walther wrote:

"The fact that a truly Lutheran congregation needs neither a definite organization nor a fixed ceremonial instituted by men is attested by Article VII of the Augsburg Confession"

Walther is saying the same thing I am. I have never argued for a specific liturgical form - only as our confessions say, that form be "traditional" and "liturgical."

There are even Lutheran congregations that use the Greek (Eastern) liturgy instead of the Latin (Western) - but they do not toss out the liturgy in its entirety.

And in Walther's day, all congregations used the same hymnal and liturgy. He was opposed to the "contemporary" worship and hymns of his day. And yet, even with the hymnal, there is room for great variation in ceremony. That's the point. "Variation" however, doesn't mean "abolition."

There is no "fixed ceremonial instituted by men" that is required. There is indeed flexibility. One can most certainly chant the collect or speak it - but getting rid of it all together is not what Walther had in mind.

People cross themselves differently according to local custom - but those who look down their noses at tradition tend to eschew the sign of the cross all together.

Your attempt to conscript Walther in the Contemporary Worship Rebellion is an example of twisting him out of context. Walther would be appalled that you are trying to enlist him to argue that the liturgy is optional or having a big screen and a drum kit is somehow "Lutheran." Remember, Walther considered even using traditional Methodist hymns to be unacceptable.

Can you find any quote from Walther where he abolished the collect, or any part of the Mass, or the Mass itself? How about the traditional vestments to which we are committed? Did Walther ever ditch the stole and just wear casual attire in the pulpit?

No indeed.

Flexibility doesn't mean license. And this is the problem with "contemporary" worship that reflects "contemporary" culture. "Freedom" in our contemporary American context means "license" - and instead of opposing the culture of license, some would have us embrace it.

As we pray in the traditional liturgy: "From sedition and rebellion, Good Lord, deliver us."

Benjamin Harju said...

Pastor Louderback,

Perhaps I'm overconnecting "serve" to "liturgical service." Maybe not. It depends upon what matrix you think is at work. That little word did not convince me of all the rest.

What do I mean by liturgical? That's hard to nail down, because I've been using it as something self evident here, and it clearly is not between you and I. I guess I don't mean CoWo. I guess by liturgical I mean that which revolves around the notion of direct fulfillment of the OT, which happens in the unity of form and substance. I do not mean the rather loose and undefined notions of world-shaped praise and thanksgiving that CoWo displays. I mean that there is a definite, heaven-learned form with our Christian substance. And I mean something that has a definite sense of ritual.

Liturgy itself (as it is used nowadays, at least) refers to order, so even CoWo services have a liturgy, and so do football games. However, CoWo looks to the world for its order - for the sake of the message, while Liturgical Worship (as I'm referring to it, at least) finds its body and soul in the unity of the two Testaments. Even if worship is something we do, we do not do it as people of the world, but as those in Christ. Worship reflects Christ, for He is the one who offers worship, and we in Him. We are in the world, but not of the world...

When I say Christ's saving work is a liturgical action, I mean it is a ritual activity that happens in the context of the worship of heaven - with all its forms and such - and thus locates salvation in such a context. It would be wrong to say that Liturgy means the Sanctus must be here or there, or that this or that must be worn in order to be God-pleasing or correct, just as it would be wrong to say 'I can do whatever pleases me.'

You said,
Finally, I can't help but think that our worship on earth is, in a way, distinct and different from worship in Heaven. In such a way that Heaven simply cannot be the model for our worship. For in Heaven, there is only praise and thanksgiving. There is no longer any sin, no longer any need for forgiveness. On earth, we have that need.Response:
I think your analysis is the direct result of Lutheran ecclesiology (not to mention an overly narrow view of the Gospel). In Lutheranism there is a wide breach between heaven and earth. Heaven and its life is distinctly different than that of Earth. The Church Triumphant is distinctly separate from the Church Militant. In Orthodoxy this is not so, and neither was it so for the first 1500 years of Christendom. Heaven and Earth are united, because Christ fills all things, fulfills all things, and in Him we are located and renewed. Worship arose as it did because of the Christological experience of the Eucharist. Lutheran CoWo arises because of the need to proclaim a message and to give prayer and praise. The two kinds of liturgies themselves are their own roadmaps - just read them. There is no need to offer symbolic explanations or anything like that; just read the liturgies and see for yourself what they say they are all about. In the end, it comes down to ecclesiology.

The traditional Lutherans should be the ones to answer your questions about traditional Lutheran liturgy, not I. However, I will say that when I was a Lutheran I read the Scriptures and they told me "traditional" Lutheran liturgy was the way to go (hence the Bible study). You read the Scriptures and find something else. That is how Lutheranism works anymore. That is where Lutheranism ultimately leads (imho).

If you really wish to know why the Orthodox see worship the way they do, I invite you to read a book. You can't learn everything about Orthodoxy from books, or everything from a single author, but you can learn some things. Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann is a good spot to delve into Orthodox teaching on the Liturgy. I could point you to his book called Eucharist, but maybe that's too much Schmemman. Either way, it's still a good read.

Pastor Louderback, thanks for taking up the conversation with me. If you have more questions about Orthodoxy, and the book doesn't do it for you, I encourage you to take your questions to Lutherans Looking East. There are more experienced and wiser people there than I. As for me, I don't think I can keep up with the dialogue right now. I'm very sorry about that; please don't take it personally. I just can't keep this going right now.

Strider said...

"2. When I say 'Roman Catholic' I refer to the church post-Reformation. The early church is the Lutheran church. Ours was a reforming of the church. Since the reformed church is now the Lutheran church, that means that the early church ought to be called the Lutheran church."

The above claim merits comment at the very least for its audacity and perhaps helps to explain why some have felt it necessary to leave the churches of the Reformation for one of the two communions that enjoy manifest historic continuity with the Church of the Apostles.

One does not need to read a lot of the Church Fathers to realize that whatever else they were, they were not Lutheran. This much is clear. Perhaps they were not Roman Catholic either, but one thing is certain: the Church of the Early Fathers did not teach the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith.

Now I do not know what one does about this historical fact, and I certainly do not know what Lutherans do about it. Perhaps it does not matter at all. But perhaps it does help to explain why some Lutherans--as well as some Anglicans and Reformed--have reached the conclusion that the catholicity of the Reformation churches cannot ultimately be sustained.

Here is the strength, power, and lure of Orthodoxy--manifest liturgical and theological continuity with at least one large segment of the early Church.

William Weedon said...

Dear Anon,

That is exactly where I would think you show you have NOT read the Fathers, for I hold that they DO teach as Lutherans do regarding precisely justification by faith; and it is from the Fathers that the lingo of "by faith alone" comes:

"Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." - St. Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)

“But when the Lord Jesus came, He forgave all men that sin which none could escape, and blotted out the handwriting against us by the shedding of His own Blood. This then is the Apostle's meaning; sin abounded by the Law, but grace abounded by Jesus; for after that the whole world became guilty, He took away the sin of the whole world, as John bore witness, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Wherefore let no man glory in works, for by his works no man shall be justified, for he that is just hath a free gift, for he is justified by the Bath. It is faith then which delivers by the blood of Christ, for Blessed is the man to whom sin is remitted, and, pardon granted.” (Ambrose, Letter 73, to Irenaeus, a layman)

"Indeed, this is the perfect and complete glorification of God, when one does not exult in his own righteousness, but recognizing oneself as lacking true righteousness to be justified by faith alone in Christ." - St. Basil the Great (Homily on Humility, PG 31.532; TFoTC vol. 9, p. 479)

“But we all escape the condemnation for our sins referred to above, if we believe in the grace of God through His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who said: ‘This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins.’” – St. Basil the Great (Concerning Baptism, TfoTC vol. 9, p. 344)

"They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed." - St. John Chrysostom (Homily on Galatians 3)

“But he calls it their 'own righteousness,' either because the Law was no longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he calls God's righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case, not by labors, but by the gift of God.” – St. John Chrysostom (Homily 17 on Romans 10:3)

“Here he shows God's power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans – St. John Chrysostom

"For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law." - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

“'To declare His righteousness.' What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores (katasapentaj) of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth (endeiknutai) Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in?” - St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

“But what is the 'law of faith?' It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God's power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 3

“For the Law requires not only Faith but works also, but grace saves and justifies by Faith. (Eph. ii: 8)

You see how he proves that they are under the curse who cleave to the Law, because it is impossible to fulfill it; next, how comes Faith to have this justifying power? for to this doctrine he already stood pledged, and now maintains it with great force of argument. The Law being too weak to lead man to righteousness, an effectual remedy was provided in Faith, which is the means of rendering that possible which was "impossible by the Law." (Rom. viii: 3) Now as the Scripture says, "the just shall live by faith," thus repudiating salvation by the Law, and moreover as Abraham was justified by Faith, it is evident that its efficacy is very great. And it is also clear, that he who abides not by the Law is cursed, and that he who keeps to Faith is just. But, you may ask me, how I prove that this curse is not still of force? Abraham lived before the Law, but we, who once were subject to the yoke of bondage, have made ourselves liable to the curse; and who shall release us therefrom? Observe his ready answer to this; his former remark was sufficient; for, if a man be once justified, and has died to the Law and embraced a novel life, how can such a one be subject to the curse?” - St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 3

“God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

“Gain for yourself the pardon coming from faith, since he is his own worst enemy who does not believe that he is given what the very generous Bestower of mercy promises in all kindness.” St. Peter Chrysologus – Sermon 58 (On the Creed), par. 13 (TFOTC, Vol. 109, p. 224)

“Give yourself, O man, pardon by believing, since you fell into all the sins by despairing.” St. Peter Chrysologus – Sermon 62 (On the Creed), par. 16 (TFOTC, Vol. 109, p. 245)

“We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.” - Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 4

“And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, Homily on Philippians 3

Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned.

Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.

This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins.

All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.

What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now the justice of God has been made manifest apart from the Law.” But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering. Chrysostom on Justification, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6-II:1:

Now if any man had it in his power confidently to declare, “I justify you,” it would necessarily follow that he could also say, “Believe in me.” But it has never been in the power of any of the saints of God to say this except the Saint of saints, who said: “You believe in God, believe also in me;” John 14:1 so that, inasmuch as it is He that justifies the ungodly, to the man who believes in him that justifies the ungodly his faith is imputed for righteousness. - St. Augustine, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sin, Chap. 18

"Christ is Master by virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of His incarnate life. For He creates man from nothing, and through His own blood redeems him when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has given His grace. When Scripture says, 'He will reward every man according to his works' (Matt 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but our Creator and Redeemer." St. Mark the Ascetic (ca. 425), On those who think that they are made righteous by works.

What is meant by mercy? and what by sacrifice? By mercy then is signified, Justification and grace in Christ, even that which is by faith. For we have been justified, not by the works of the law that we have done, but by His great mercy. And sacrifice means the law of Moses. - St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 23

Be not troubled when thou meditatest upon the greatness of thy former sins; but rather know, that still greater is the grace that justifieth the sinner and absolveth the wicked. Faith then in Christ is found to be the pledge to us of these great blessings; for it is the way that leadeth unto life, that bids us go to the mansions that are above, that raises us to the inheritance of the saints, that makes us members of the kingdom of Christ. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 40 on St. Luke.

To be pleasing in the judgment of human beings derives from superior human virtue and achievement; in the sight of God, who examines hearts, to be righteous does not derive from human achievement, but from a divine gift. -- St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 89, par. 5

“Why then are you afraid of drawing nigh, since you have no works demanded of you? Why are you bickering and quarrelsome, when grace is before you, and why keep putting me the Law forward to no purpose whatsoever? For you will not be saved by that, and will mar this gift also; since if you pertinaciously insist on being saved by it, you do away with this grace of God.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Romans 10,11

“After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of blessings, he has not kept to the same order: for he does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift of God: to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for the better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them more than before, and that through His Son.” - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to the Romans, Homily 12, Rom 6:23)

“And if any were to cast in prison a person who owed ten mites, and not the man himself only, but wife and children and servants for his sake; and another were to come and not to pay down the ten mites only, but to give also ten thousand talents of gold, and to lead the prisoner into the king’s courts, and to the throne of the highest power, and were to make him partaker of the highest honour and every kind of magnificence, the creditor would not be able to remember the ten mites; so hath our case been. For Christ hath paid down far more than we owe, yea as much more as the illimitable ocean is than a little drop.” - St. John Chrysostom, Epistle to the Romans, Homily X, Rom 5:17

“Is it possible, Scripture says, for one to repent and be saved? It is absolutely and most certainly the case. What, though, if I have wasted my life in sins and then repent: will I be saved? Yes, indeed! What source indicates this? The philanthropy of your Master. Can I take courage from your repentance? Could it be that your repentance has the power to wipe clean so many evils? If it were only up to repentance, then assuredly be afraid. However, since repentance is mixed together with the philanthropy of God, take courage. For God’s philanthropy is immeasurable, nor can any word provide the measure of his goodness. Your wickedness is measurable, but the medicine is immeasurable. Your wickedness, whatever it may be, is human wickedness; but God’s philanthropy is ineffable. Have courage because it surpasses your wickedness. Just think of one spark that fell into the sea; could it stand or be seen? What one spark is in comparison to the sea, so wickedness is before the philanthropy of God; not even this much, but much more so. For the sea, even though it is vast, has limits; but God’s philanthropy is unlimited.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church FOTC: vol 96, p. 112,113

“Well done, O Christ, O Wisdom and Power and Word of God, and God almighty! What should we resourceless people give Thee in return for all things? For all things are Thine and Thou askest nothing of us but that we be saved. Even this Thou hast given us, and by Thy ineffable goodness Thou art grateful to those who accept it. Thanks be to Thee who hast given being and grace of well-being and who by Thy ineffable condescension hast brought back to this state those who fell from it!” - St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, Chapter 4

“And so the power is conquered in the name of him who assumed human nature and whose life was without sin, so that in him, who was both priest and sacrifice, remission of sins might be effected, that is, through the ‘mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus’, through whom we are purified from our sins and reconciled to God. For it is only sins that separate men from God; and in this life purification from sins is not effected by our merit, but by the compassion of God, through his indulgence, not through our power; for even that poor little virtue which we call ours has itself been granted to us by his bounty.”– St. Augustine, City of God, X, Chapter 22

William Weedon said...

And a few more:

“After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of blessings, he has not kept to the same order: for he does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift of God: to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for the better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them more than before, and that through His Son.” - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to the Romans, Homily 12, Rom 6:23)

Of faults thus grievous, Christ proved them guilty who professed to be skilled in the law; the scribes, I mean, and lawyers; and for this reason he said unto them, Also to you lawyers, woe! who have taken away the key of knowledge. By the key of knowledge we consider that the law itself is meant, and justification in Christ, by faith I mean in Him. For though the law was in shadow and type, yet those types shape out to us the truth and those shadows depict to us in manifold ways the mystery of Christ. -- St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 86 on St. Luke

Mark Louderback said...

Father Hollywood,

Walther is saying the same thing I am. I have never argued for a specific liturgical form - only as our confessions say, that form be "traditional" and "liturgical."Yeah...which is arguing that it take a specific form.

I mean, do you think that Walther really just meant that it can be any flavor as long as it is vanilla?

One can most certainly chant the collect or speak it - but getting rid of it all together is not what Walther had in mind.Thta might be true, but I would question whether if one did, if he would say that this was a breaking of a quia subscription. That is my point here.

I don't have the luxury of being able to speak with Walther and explain to him why I am doing what I am doing and try to convince him it is the right thing.

But I do have his words that speak as to whether one can compell me to worship in a certain way in order to remain Lutheran.

As we pray in the traditional liturgy: "From sedition and rebellion, Good Lord, deliver us."Mmm...lumping my position together with armed rebellion is a great act of moral equivalency that I natural take issue with.

But then, once again, there is no middle ground in this discussion. One is eother holding to the confessions, worshiping only in one way, or one is tossing out the entire confessions, picking choosing whatever they want.

Once again: Walther's statement means something. Walther was a big believer in sola Scriptura and would be appalled that so many Lutherans are tossing aside the primacy of Scripture and placing tradition on equal footing. He would in no way countenance a view that a quia subscription has to naturally lead to a rejection of sola Scriptura.

Whether he would have agreed with my worship style, I would hope that he would have given it a hearing.

Right now, our Synod HAS. And the decision that is has come to is that one can hold to a quia subscription not be forced into a fixed ceremonial instituted by men.

You deny this. Once again, who else in our Synod holds this position? Who else agrees that this is the proper interpretation and understanding of the confessions?

I'm pulling out Walther. His words agree with my own. I'm pulling out our Synod which clearly agrees with my position. I can point to our Seminaries, which also support my position.

....At some point, this has to matter. At some point, I cease to simply being someone practicing sedition.

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