11 April 2009

On Kissing the Cross

At the conclusion of the veneration of the cross yesterday at the Chief Service, I did what seemed the most natural thing in the world. After getting up from kneeling before our rough-hewn cross, I reached toward it and kissed it. Pastor Gleason did the same. We kiss what we love, and we love the cross of the Savior upon which our Lord offered Himself to blot out our sin and to destroy our death. I'm sure some folks might think that a bit odd (you expect odd with me, no?), but in the context of that Good Friday liturgy it seemed, well, as I said, the most natural thing to do, and it was totally unpremeditated on either of our part. I wondered if the congregation wanted to come and kiss it too - they'd certainly be welcome to if their piety suggested such.


Paul McCain said...

This strikes me as a far different thing than instituting the Adoration of the Cross in our parish, as some have chosen to do. What you do as a spontaneous act, out of your personal piety and devotion, is not, in my view, the same as putting on a "floor show" and then posting the photos all over your blog site and Facebook page, again, as some choose to do.

And, might I say it seems that the time spent on veiling/unveiling/carrying/smooching/lying down on the floor and all the other elaborate layering upon layering of such rituals could be far better spent on offering and receiving the Lord's Supper.

For what it is worth.

WM Cwirla said...

"the time spent on veiling/unveiling/carrying/smooching/lying down ..."

Might make some wives jealous too.

: )

Blessed Vigil.

Phil said...

Isn't the Adoration of the Cross rite already part of LSB's Chief Service?

WM Cwirla said...

"Isn't the Adoration of the Cross rite already part of LSB's Chief Service?"

Yes. Though technically it is called "The Adoration of the Crucified." A rough-hewn cross is processed to the sentence: Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world. Oh, come, let us worship Him."

There is a bit of tension in the Lutheran rite between the rite's origins in the veneration of relics and the proper adoration of Christ the Crucified.

Paul McCain said...

Adoration of the Crucified
Adoration of the Cross

Not an insignificant difference, as I'm sure most of us can, and hopefully do, appreciate.

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

"the time spent on veiling/unveiling/carrying/smooching/lying down on the floor and all the other elaborate layering upon layering of such rituals could be far better spent ..."

Mary of Bethany could probably have found a better way to spend her time, too, than washing the feet of the Savior with her hair. It's funny Jesus didn't point that out to her.

Time spent in devotion to Christ is never time wasted.

Phil said...

In all charity, Pr. McCain, your comments on this post and others make me wonder whether you are not being too much of a minimalist with respect to the liturgy.

My (LCMS) home congregation does not observe a noon service on Good Friday for lack of members, so I did not have the opportunity to attend a Chief Service. My own mid-day devotions included Luther's sermon which you mention (from "Through the Year with Martin Luther", Hendrickson Publishers), and I only found out later that you were recommending it on Issues, Etc. Thank you for calling his excellent sermon to our attention.

I believe you are too hasty in critiquing the received tradition of the West and of our own church's rite in LSB. Outward adoration should not be mocked as "prancing about with veiled/unveiled crosses, lying about on the floor, etc." but should be commended when (and only when) accompanied by faith informed by the kind of meditation to which the Blessed Dr. Luther exhorts.

In a different context, yet still regarding the adoration of the Cricified, Dr. Tom Hardt summarizes Luther:

"In a special book entitled Concerning the Adoration of the Sacrament, Luther examined very carefully the adoration of the Sacrament. The adoration may, according to Luther, be executed in an outward and an inward way. The outward way consists of kneeling, genuflecting and bowing. Luther knows that such conduct has its counterpart in the court ceremony in the presence of princes and that it is thus not reserved exclusively for the King of Kings in the Sacrament of the Altar. The inward adoration which must be added to make the adoration Christian is a veneration or bowing of the heart, through which you from the bottom of your heart confess and show that you are His obedient creation. This inward adoration presupposes saving faith: the hearty trust and the confidence of the true living faith."

Again, it is not that outward expressions of piety are wrong; they are completely proper when they are the outward expression of the inward piety.

Our American Evangelical culture commends spontaneous outbursts of piety (e.g. spontaneous kissing of a representation of the Crucified) but condemns a ritual form of the same action. This may be why the spontaneous form seems more "genuine" than the ritual form. On the other hand, our understanding of "ritual," proper Collects and other prayers tells us that there is nothing necessarily more genuine about spontaneous liturgical acts than ritual liturgical acts.

Alleluia Pascha Nostrum!
Blessings, Pr. McCain.

Anonymous said...

Rev. McCain,

As one who participated in the service whose "floor show" you disparage, I can attest that the Lord's Supper was, indeed, offered and recieved...after we sang praise of the Crucified One who we recieve in His Body and Blood.

I'm sure your comment was made in haste without proper regard for the Eighth Commandment.

Rev. Ronald Stephens

Jane said...

>and perhaps we should spend our >time preaching

In addition, the Word was preached, quite well, first by Pastor Braaten and then by Pastor Stephens.

William Weedon said...

Fresh back from Vigil and its joy - this is not the time to argue or criticize our fellow Christians for their piety and how they express it. No Lutheran adores the cross as a thing unto itself, but always and only for what our Lord accomplished upon it. Glory to Him forever! And glory to Him above all for raising our flesh in incorruption in the dark hours of this night!

Paul McCain said...

What concerns me about the Adoration of the Cross ceremony that has been put up on Facebook and a congregation's web site is the following:

When any LCMS congregation chooses to institute rites and ceremonies that are not in our church's approved hymnals and agendas I believe this does a disservice to all of us.


Precisely at a time in our Synod when we have people moving away from the liturgy and the use of it as it is found in our hymnals, I believe we all need to subsume our personal opinions, tastes and preferences under a common concern for being as united as possible when it comes to such matters.

I am particularly concerned about importing into Lutheran worship practices ceremonies that are outside of our Lutheran liturgical heritage, such as the full-blown Adoration of the Cross as we have seen pictured on Facebook and blog sites from Redeemer, Fort Wayne.

Posting these things with nary a word of explanation, but only, frankly, a passive-aggresive comment from the pastor there, is very unhelpful.

We have a problem.

We have a certain mindset creeping in that unless the liturgy is performed in a precise manner and ritual, with rubrics frankly found nowhere in our worship resources, in a manner as we see it at Redeemer or elsewhere, there is not a genuinely full Lutheran liturgical life in place, or if not done with such layering of ceremony and ritual upon ceremony and ritual there is something "less" or "not as it should be" going on in a Lutheran congregation.

I was speaking with a seminarian recently who informed me that there are classmates of his who have opined, and here they are being serious, not kidding around, that unless a man holds his hands, palm-to-palm, when praying in the public liturgy, he is somehow not performing the liturgy appropriately, that really the Psalms should be prayed aloud in the King James translation, and that use of Morning and Evening Prayer, rather than Matins and Vespers, is not praying with the Church.

There are those among us who are are putting the questionable rubrics of Piepkorn and others on a pedestal and creating the assumption that unless, and until, a Lutheran congregation is performing the liturgy, "just so" as outlined in these kinds of books of rubrics, it does not enjoy a full, and rich liturgical life.

This is troubling to our Synodical fellowship and makes it all the more difficult for all of us who are trying to encourage and inculcate appreciation for, and use of, our Synod's approved worship materials.

I posted a blog some time ago with some very important and helpful comments from Blessed Martin Luther, which I believe apply in this case:


I agree with Pastor Weedon that by using the worship services as we have them in our approved worship resources we are putting a check on our personal opinions, tastes and preferences and also setting a good example for others and offering a visible confession and expression of our unity in the faith.

I do not regard deviating from the rubrics, rites and ceremonies of our Synod, on the "high side" of the equation to be anymore helpful or appropriate than doing so on the "low" side of things.

I'm concerned with the misleading impression such actions are giving young men preparing for the ministry at Fort Wayne and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

putting a check on our personal opinions, tastes and preferences and also setting a good example for others and offering a visible confession and expression of our unity in the faith


--Homer Simpson

Dr Matthew Phillips said...


You make great points. We should think carefully before introducing foreign, potentially false practices. This is why so-called "contemporary worship" is such a problem.

Pr. Cwirla,

We also retain Holy Cross Day. Luther wanted to drop the cross days because of their origins. The adoration on Good Friday revolved around the wood that St Helena discovered in the early 4th century. The church in Jerusalem venerated this wood by the mid-4th century. With the spread of relics of the True Cross this devotion spread throughout Christendom. Fortunatus also wrote his famous hymns Pange Lingua and Vexilla Regis in honor of a relic of the True Cross.

WM Cwirla said...

"We also retain Holy Cross Day."

Right. One is reminded of Luther's quip that in his day there were so many relics of the true cross that half the forests in Bavaria have been laid bare.

We have retained many things that Luther would have eliminated, some for better, some for worse. The "cross festivals" have been retooled somewhat to being "Christ crucified festivals."

Liturgical rites and ceremonies have a certain life to them. They are allowed to grow or are pruned back as needed, much like a perennial (unlike an annual which is simply dug out and replaced).

Paul McCain said...

Were Lutherans found in many places kissing crucifixes and prostrating themselves [well, at least their clergy, apparently if recent photos are any indication], anywhere in Reformation Germany?

I'm not asking rhetorical questions.

Bill, did they do such things in Magdeburg? Does your Order give us any hints/details?

In other words, was it an annual that was torn out and thrown away, or was the Veneration/Adoration of the Cross rituals, as we've seen recently featured on Facebook and blog sites, something that continued after the Reformation?

William Weedon said...


The place to investigate such a question would be something like Gerber's book on the ceremonies of the Saxon Churches - unfortunately, I've only read the bits and pieces that Joe Herl found interesting enough to include in his book. The Magdeburg is basically a MUSIC book - and so it contains no rubrics. It does provide for the Liturgy on Good Friday to include the complete "Sing my Tongue" at the start of the liturgy, alternating between two boys and the choir. This is the song during which the Cross was traditionally venerated.

Gerber does show that certain ceremonies were retained that are never mentioned in the rubrics - for instance, the ringing of the bell at the Consecration of the Eucharist.

Anonymous said...

Rev. McCain, are you sure that you do not see what you want to see in those pictures, instead of what actually occurred?

I visited Redeemer in Ft. Wayne quite frequently 10 years ago and a few times this year and I find that you do not do justice to the service there or to people who worship there. I find that ceremony to be a natural development of the worship life of Redeemer, Ft. Wayne.

One could see anything as much as one wants in a picture and interpret it in many and various ways...

Also the only passive-aggressive comments and veiled attacks I found here came from you, though maybe the intricacies of other attacks and comments were lost on my bad grasp of English...

It really saddens me to see brethren across the pond attack each other over the blog comments instead of following the example of our Lord set in Mt.18.

Christ is risen!

Sasha, a foreign observer

William Weedon said...

The point of ceremonies is to teach. Lutherans have never taught that ceremonies need to be uniform in the Church. What I see when I look at the pictures from Redeemer is a bunch of folks who truly GET that the worship of the Church in heaven and on earth is one - that the liturgy we get to live out here below is an entering into what goes on before the throne of the Lamb. Let me see: incense, the Lamb, prostrations. Revelation 4,5!

Past Elder said...

The Adoration of the Cross takes the place of a liturgy of the Eucharist on the Good Friday service. Mass is not said, the only day on which mass will not be said. There is a liturgy of the Word, then an Adoration of the Cross.

RCs since 1955 have tacked on a Communion service, which is possible in that belief without a mass, since the hosts distributed on Good Friday, which is about the cross, are actually consecrated on Maundy Thursday, which is about Lord's Supper, hence the term Mass of the Presanctified, allowing a Communion service without saying a full mass with verba. That is not possible for us.

The only thing I can find to object to on such pictures as I have seen is that the cross bearer needs a longer cassock.

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...


You wrote:

We have a certain mindset creeping in that unless the liturgy is performed in a precise manner and ritual, with rubrics frankly found nowhere in our worship resources, in a manner as we see it at Redeemer or elsewhere, there is not a genuinely full Lutheran liturgical life in place, or if not done with such layering of ceremony and ritual upon ceremony and ritual there is something "less" or "not as it should be" going on in a Lutheran congregation.

This seems to be a constant argument you employ in discussions across the blogosphere. My question is: Who is actually guilty of this accusation you make? Who is saying, "Unless you do such-and-such, you're not fully Lutheran."

Pr. Petersen, whom you disparage with your remarks, is most definitely not guilty of this. I know. I've spoken with him a number of times over the past several years and he has never, ever - no, not ever! - given me the impression that he believes the ceremony done at Redeemer makes that congregation more liturgically Lutheran than mine, or any other. On the contrary, his advice and counsel on liturgical and other matters has always been pastoral and loving. I mean, I can't even picture anything coming out of Dave's mouth that would fall into the "you better do the liturgy exactly like this or you ain't genuinely Lutheran" category.

The same could be said of a number of faithful men to whom your charges falsely apply (or, at least, implicate).

I really don't get what you're trying to accomplish, Paul. I mean, I understand your concern. And, if there are guys out there who are guilty of the accusations you make, then I would agree with you. But, I've yet to meet these men whom you accuse of teaching that the liturgy must be done exactly as they do it or it's not genuine.

I really believe that your zeal to protect Lutheranism from the potential evils you fear may be creeping in has clouded your judgment. And, to use examples of wayward seminarians is an exercise in perpetual futility. I mean, come on, if we're gonna go down that road, where would it end?

I really wish that you'd reconsider continuing this apparent crusade you're on, my friend. It doesn't do Christ's Church a bit of good to continue to cast your brothers in a negative light, especially when there is no justification for the charges you bring forward.

In Christ,

Phil said...

Pr. Weedon,

Thinking outside of German Lutheranism, I wonder what Laurentius Petri did with ceremonies like these in Sweden. I don't hear a lot of folks talking about the Nordic Lutheran liturgies; is there a reason or is it just that most LCMS folks aren't Scandinavian?

Jason said...

Well written, Tom. In fact, it strikes me as somewhat ironic that in his very accusation, Rev. McCain becomes guilty of the very thing he accuses Rev. Petersen of: If you don't do it exactly this/my way you don't have a truly Lutheran liturgical life. It is sad to see a theologian of such a caliber as Rev. McCain argue thus.

Jason Braaten

Acolyte4236 said...

Wow, what a world of difference from venerating the corpus on the Cross and venerating Icons!

William Weedon said...


I'm not aware of any description of the veneration in the Petri reforms, but then again I'm not as familiar with them. I wouldn't be surprised if the rite were featured in the King John Red Book; but I don't have a copy to check it out.

Paul McCain said...


The problem is the IMPRESSION being both given and received. I am not making this stuff up. I hear from seminarians and other pastors.

Look for phrases such as "the liturgy in all its fullness" and other such modifiers when some speak of their practices that are not in our Synod's worship resources and rubrics.

If I would see Gottesblog types go out of their way to clarify that they know full well that the practices unique to their congregations are NOT in fact any sort of "richer" or "fuller" or "more complete" or "more deeply liturgical" or whatever else one might think to say, I would be convinced that perhaps I have simply been lied to by the seminarians who report what they report and the brother pastors who report what they report, or this is just all a horrible misunderstanding.

The congregation that plasters photos all over its blog site and the pastor's Facebook page, without a word of explanation, but with only passive-aggresive, "We are going to be attacked for this" is doing a disservice.

Those who choose to engage in rites and ceremonies that are not part of our Synod's worship resources, I believe, at least owe it to the fellowship of their peers and fellow members of the Synod to explain, precisely, why they do such things, where such practices are to be found in our Lutheran liturgical heritage and so forth.

I'm advocating using the worship resources of our Synod as they are given to us. I know that means putting a check on our personal tastes and opinions. Believe me, I catch all kinds of flak from the crowd that tosses the liturgy all together and regards any liturgical orders, forms or structures to be a hindrance.
But then there remains the issue I will continue to raise: unity in liturgical practices, for the sake of our common confession.

Tom, what do you think of Dr. Luther's advice in the blog posted I cited?


I regard it as unfortunate that neither you, nor Pr. Petersen, have chosen to answer the questions I've asked, respectfully, over at Pr. Petersen's Facebook page.

Would you consider answering them?


Jane said...

>sort of "richer" or "fuller" or >"more complete" or "more deeply >liturgical" or whatever else one >might think to say,

Pastor McCain--
What if it isn't those pastors saying these things? Perhaps it is that those seminarians have experienced it and this is their opinion.

As a layperson who has been a member of almost 20 LC-MS churches in 44 years, *I* can see that it IS richer. By itself, there would be little value in beautiful vestments and a well-ordered service, but when combined with our Lutheran liturgy and sound preaching--as it is at Redeemer--it is amazingly rich.

That is not to say that there is anything WRONG with churches who don't use/have the same level of ceremony, ornamentation, etc., but you can't assume that seminarians, or anyone else, are being *told* that something is "better."

Your uncharitable characterization of our service on Good Friday as a "floor show" tells us nothing as clearly as it tells us that you were not there. Some folks in the pews didn't even see the prostration until the pictures were posted because it was done so quietly.

Anonymous said...

I probably disagree with everybody here.

"The point of ceremonies is to teach. Lutherans have never taught that ceremonies need to be uniform in the Church."

Exactly. I see two things that follow from this:

1) the only ground to criticize a congregation's ceremonies is whether the ceremonies teach proper understanding of Word and Sacrament. Unity in our ceremonies may be good, but it is not required by Scripture or the Confessions. Pastor McCain is correct though, that if this is true, then it is harder to criticize church growth congregations. But why should we criticize them unless they are improperly teaching about Word or Sacramemnt?

2) any rule requiring uniformity would be legalistic, and therefore impermissible. Pure Gospel does not require any more of Christians than what is stated in Scripture. That is the main point of a large part of the confessions. Rules unsupported by Scripture risk burdening consciences and creating division for no good reason. Divine Service as printed in LSB is truly Divine, and I would not go anywhere that didn't practice it, but a congregation's motivation in using it must be it's love of the Word and Sacrament in the ceremony, not a rule imposed by synod.

Paul McCain said...

This conversation reminds me of another one that took place a whiel back, when, on another Lutheran blog there was, as is to be expected, a lively exchange when a fine Lutheran pastor, whom I count as a friend, suggested it would be appropriate for Lutheran congregations to have a Corpus Christi festival, sans the "bad stuff" associated with it. Aside from any conversation about whether there is possible a "Corpus Christi" festival sans the "bad stuff" given its murky origin in the vision of a Roman Catholic nun seeing spots on the moon, I raised the issue of how none us of, no matter our intention, is really free to haul off and go our own way liturgically, be it to the "high" or "low" side of the equation, but that it would be so much better for us all, to the greatest extent possible, to agree to use our church’s approved agendas, hymnals and catechisms. A person commenting on the subject indicated while he regarded existing resources as containing much good he also believed them to be "deficient" in several respects.

I wondered just who it is that determines what is "deficient"? Him? Some self-appointed group or society of like-minded individuals? American Lutherans, be they high-church or low-church, all share one thing in common: a love of independence. So, when are we not free to use our liberty? Here are some additional thoughts on these issues.

Name the person who wrote the following statement about liturgical uniformity. Who was it that dared to restrict the use of Christian liberty in matters pertaining to worship?

Now even though external rites and orders … add nothing to salvation, it is unChristian to quarrel over such things and confuse the common people. We should consider the edification of the laity more important than our own ideas and opinions … Let each one surrender his own opinions and get together in a friendly way and come to a common decision about these external matters, so that there will be one uniform practice throughout your district instead of disorder … For even though from the viewpoint of faith, the external orders are free and can without scruples be changed by anyone at anytime, yet from the viewpoint of love you are not free to use this liberty…Or how about this one?

It is the cause of much incorrectness… when the external church ordinances, divine service and ceremonies are not held with reverence, or in orderly fashion, or in like manner. Also certain pastors purpose to act in these matters without uniformity. They shall carefully see to it that the ceremonies which have to do with hymns, clothing of the priests, administration of the sacrament … as well as the festivals, be maintained in an orderly and uniform fashion, at one place as at another, uniform and in accord with such as occur at Wittenberg and Torgau, in accord with the Holy Scriptures…*One more:

Ceremonies [should be instituted] which give the external indication that in the congregation great, high, serious dealings are present, so that the ceremonies lead, stimulate, admonish and move the people to join together their thoughts, lift up their hearts in all humility. That there be in the congregation heartfelt devotion to the word, the Sacrament and prayer … Christian freedom has its place in this matter, as the ancients said, “Disagreement in rites does not take away agreement in faith.” It still brings all sorts of benefit that in ceremonies, so much as it is possible, a uniformity be maintained, and that such uniformity serve to maintain unity in doctrine, and that common, simple, weak consciences be all the less troubled, rather strengthened. It is therefore viewed as good that, as much as possible, a uniformity in ceremonies with neighboring reformed churches be affected and maintained. And for this reason, henceforth all pastors in the churches of our realm, shall emphatically follow this written church order, and not depart from the same without specific, grave cause. *To suggest that the better way for the church to order herself is for there to be the greatest amount of liturgical uniformity as possible strikes some ears as a call for a slavish formalism, some even go so far as to use the word "legalistic" whenver this comes up. That never has made sense to me.

I’ve never heard anyone in favor of traditional Lutheran worship say that its use is required for salvation. It seems that some in the Lutheran Church have dismissed discussion of the dangers of liturgical diversity and the blessings of the great possible liturgical uniformity.


Sadly, in an era that has witnessed a trend toward doing whatever is right in the eyes of an individual pastor, or congregation, the blessings of liturgical uniformity are being woefully neglected. We have lost our understanding of the blessing and advantage of striving to have as common a liturgical practice as possible.

The thought that a pastor would, from Sunday to Sunday, reinvent the church’s worship service was an alien thought to the Lutheran Confessors, and hence the Lutheran Confessions.

Rev. Matthew Harrison, some years ago, did a study on the practice of the Lutheran Church in the sixteenth century. In it he uses the "church orders" of the time to demonstrate how one should, and likewise should not, interpret the comments on adiaphora in the Lutheran Confessions. It is quite fascinating and very revealing.

Some might assume that my remarks are directed only toward those who have chosen to embrace "contemporary worship" or "blended worship" with its Sunday-to-Sunday "newness." But that would be a mistake.

I would also direct these remarks to those who choose to "do their own thing" in a more traditionally liturgical direction: that is, those who choose to embellish and otherwise change the church’s received liturgies in a direction that they regard as "better" or "more faithful" or "more liturgical."

I have been concerned for years that some of those most stridently speaking against the liturgical diversity in our Synod turn right around and in their parish create their own little variation on the Lutheran liturgy, claiming that they are doing it better, or more historically, or more traditionally.

I’ve seen horrendous mixta composita of liturgical services slapped together from multiple sources, all of course perceived as being "historically Lutheran" and these undertakings have always struck me as problematic in the same way the cut and paste "services" in contemporary worship contexts are.

I do not see any difference between this and those who chose to go another direction in terms of a sensitivity for the good order of the church. It may be that a liturgy is more similar to a particular 16th century German Divine Service than others, perhaps even more similar than anything in any present hymnal, but I find no justification for deciding, as an individual pastor or parish, to "go it alone" in this direction, any more than I find justification or benefit in creating new liturgies from Sunday to Sunday.

The goal of liturgical uniformity is not repristination of what happened in the Sixteenth Century, any more than it is should be the goal to toss our the liturgy.

My opinion is that it would be a tremendous blessing to our church body if we would all set aside our pet theories, our cherished preferences, and even our favorite hymnals, and embrace the use of one hymnal: Lutheran Service Book.

I believe it is essential for all of us to set aside a fixation on"contemporary worship" [as if there is any worship that is not contemporary"] and stop dividing up our Sunday mornings between "traditional" and "classical grace" or "contemporary" or "blended" and just start having "church," period. It means that we need to stop turning the church into a popular opinion poll from Sunday to Sunday. It means that we use the church’s hymnal. Use the church’s liturgies as they are printed in the church’s new hymnal and use the many opportunities for variety within that structure. I see as little wisdom in trying to mimic some specific territorial German church order, as I do in trying to take our cues from the non-denominational "Evangelical" worship forms prevalent in our nation among many Protestants.

There are some who would like to use the Tenth Article in the Formula of Concord to justify a practice by which each individual congregation in our Church can just go ahead and "do its own thing" when it comes to worship practices. But this is truly a misuse of this article, and was not, by any stretch of the imagination, what the Lutheran Confessors had in mind when they prepared the Formula of Concord.

Here is a very helpful insight into the attitude toward liturgical uniformity that was in the minds of those who prepared, and subscribed, to the Formula of Concord from 1577-1580.

As Rev. Harrison notes in his paper: "The final Church Order here referred to is one of the most significant for interpreting FC SD 10, 9. Duke August I of Electoral Saxony was the driving force behind the Electoral Saxon Church Order of 1580, and Andreae its author. The order came out after the adoption of the Book of Concord. In fact, it calls for ministers to subscribe to the Book of Concord. What FC SD 10 means when it states, ‘no church shall condemn another’, is crystal clear in ‘IX. Regarding Ceremonies in the Churches’."

Pastors and ministers, on the basis of God’s Word, and at the instigation of the declaration published this year (1580), and incorporated in this book [The Book of Concord], shall diligently instruct their flock and hearers in their sermons as often as the opportunity avails itself, that such external ordinances and ceremonies are in and of themselves no divine service, nor a part of the same. They are rather only ordained for this reason, that the divine service, which is not within the power of human beings to change, may be held at various times and places, and without offense or terrible disorder. Accordingly, they should not at all be troubled when they see dissimilar ceremonies and usages in external things among the churches. They should much rather be reminded herein of their Christian freedom, and in order to maintain this freedom, make profitable use of this dissimilarity of ceremonies… Nevertheless, so unity may be maintained in the churches of our land…the following ceremonies shall be conducted according to our order or incorporated church agenda, until there is a general uniformity of all churches of the Augsburg Confession … And it will be granted to no minister to act contrary to the same [agenda] to introduce some revision, no matter under what pretext.Liturgical uniformity and the good it brings to the church’s life is more important than any personal interest in doing it "better" or "different," and that cuts both ways.

By the way, the person who said the first quote, that we are not free to use our liberty in matters pertaining to liturgical uniformity was…Martin Luther. And the second quote? It is from the Wittenberg Church Order of 1542, prepared by Jonas, Cruciger, Bugenhagen, Melachthon, Luther, and others; Sehling, I:202. The third quote? It is from the 1569 Church Order of Brauncshweig-Wolfenbuettel and was prepared by none other than Martin Chemnitz and Jacob Andreae, the chief authors and architects of the Formula of Concord. [Sehling VI.1, 139, 40].

The final quote is from: AL Richter ed, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des sechszehn ten Jahrhunderts. Urkunden und Regesten zur Geschichte des Rechts and der Verfassung der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland, Leipzig, 1871, vol II:, p. 440.

Phil said...

Pr. McCain,

I know that you are firmly convinced that you are right, but it would have sufficed to simply hyperlink to this article on your blog, which says that you originally wrote it three years ago.

Please, for our sake, engage in discussion instead of repeating yourself. Not very many of the issues raised here and elsewhere are answered by your article.

The liturgy in LSB is merely one (well, actually four different liturgies) in a long sequence of American Lutheran liturgy, a longer sequence of Germanic Lutheran liturgy, a yet longer sequence of all worldwide Lutheran liturgy (Scandinavian, Baltic, Ukranian, Russian, and so on), which itself is the faithfully reformed catholic liturgical tradition of the West, which is itself part of the entire Christian liturgical tradition.

To urge the use of LSB as if it is the only liturgy that exists, independent of its context, is ultimately foolish, ignorant, and arrogant. LSB didn't invent the Gloria or the Agnus Dei, the chanting of psalms or the Verba, or the Triduum liturgy. Where LSB is weak, our liturgical tradition still shaking off the hangover of Pietism, we should look to the context to understand it.

If we can really stand with Krauth and assert the catholicity of Lutheranism (and not to do so is sectarianism, in which case we might as well go home), we'd better be able to engage the entire liturgical history of the Church Catholic. Rome and Constantinople ought to have no monopoly on beauty, dignity, or history in liturgy.

Paul McCain said...


You'll have to take up your arguments with Luther and the Confessional fathers. I know that a person such as yourself chafes under the "burden" of giving up your liberty for the sake of unity, but we do well to heed our Lutheran fathers' wise advice.


PS -- Might I know to whom I'm speaking? Thanks.

Past Elder said...

How is unity served by adherence to a single volume that is itself a cut and paste of "Christian liberty" offering five orders of mass, each with internal options, two lectionaries and two church calendars, take you pick? This is not the way of anybody's "fathers", Lutheran or otherwise. Why should not others want to do the same thing, only asking for a wider array from which to take one's pick, take your pick being the order of the Vatican II day, the only question being from what and by whom.

Phil said...

Past Elder,

Note that LSB offers four orders, not five. There are plenty of good reasons to oppose a pluralism of rites, but DS 1 and DS 2 are only different musical settings of the same rite. I still think we'd be better off if we had stuck with five different musical settings of the Common Service.

I still wonder whether Luther would promote liturgical uniformity if all we had was ELCA's ELW for rites. After all, they offer ten different musical settings of the same rite...

Past Elder said...

My point remains. There ain't gonna be no common service or common anything until we, not yet recovered from Pietism, shake off Vatican II For Lutheranism.

Please give generously to research until a cure is found.

Dixie said...

When my priest makes prostrations or kisses an icon I am quite moved to witness such humility. I saw the photos referenced and was equally struck by both the humility and beauty of the ceremony.

I don't agree that "the point of ceremonies are to teach". Sure, I think we can learn from ceremonies but each ceremony has a purpose. We make prostrations before the crucifix because Christ is King...not to teach that Christ is King, although some will surely be taught that by witnessing the ceremony.

Petersen said...

Dear Paul,

If you asked questions I would answer them. So far you have not. Instead you have set yourself up as the accusing attorney trying to expose me with your cross examination - again. I am not interested in such games.

But what you wrote about a conversation with a seminary student is too much. At best, you are reporting gossip and slander. It is blatantly false. I really can't imagine how you could think it true. Either the student you were talking to was lying, you are lying about it and about what he said, or one or the both of you are exaggerating and deliberately misunderstanding things so grossly as to be equal to a bold-faced lie.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Petersen

Paul McCain said...


I'm still hopeful you will answer the questions, I've posted several times on your Facebook site. I know others are also interested in your answer to these questions.


Jason said...

Rev. McCain,

I believe I have answered your question on the Facebook thread, indicating that as to the ceremonies and rites of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Lutherans in Germany I don't know. I do not have a proficient facility with German to investigate it.

What I did indicate was that LSB and LW, while not labeling it as the section "Adoration of the Cross" repeatedly use adoration language throughout, noting that the LCMS, too, is a church of the Augsburg Confession. I also pointed out that LSB and LW contain rites and ceremonies not observed by the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century churches of the Augsburg Confession. I assumed you agreed because you made no further comment. What's more, you yourself have admitted that it is pious to kiss the cross during the rite as a form of adoration of the crucified on this thread.

My further question on that Facebook thread to you was about what you specifically had a problem with if our own rites include such language, as well as other rites and ceremonies not known to our forebears, and now, in light of your post on this thread that kissing the cross is pious: What's itching you with what happened at Redeemer? What was it exactly? I am earnestly trying to understand what has upset you here but to no avail.

Paul McCain said...


Actually, no, you have not, and neither has Pastor Petersen.

Here is what I'm asking, and I'll just quote from what I posted at Dave's Facebook page:

Dave, I would appreciate knowing if, and if so, when and where the Adoration/Veneration of the Cross service continued after the Reformation in Germany. If you could shed some light on this, I'd appreciate it. I would think that you would want everyone to understand better how, and why, the Adoration of the Cross rituals your congregation uses are part and parcel of our Lutheran liturgical heritage. If you could provide this information and more details, I'd appreciate it, and I think others would as well.I was speaking with some other pastors yesterday and they all agree that if/when Pastor Petersen puts up photos of rites and ceremonies that are not commonly used among us, he at least should offer a full and complete explanation of them and also show us all how, when and where these rites and ceremonies are found in our Lutheran liturgical traditions.

I, and others, are waiting for this explanation and hopeful it will be provided.


Anonymous said...

Pr Weedon--Father, and Brother in Christ--

I say that the words below are a scandal and a shame, and do not belong on your blog, whether or not they are true.Sincerely,
--A layman

"Either the student you were talking to was lying, you are lying about it and about what he said, or one or the both of you are exaggerating and deliberately misunderstanding things so grossly as to be equal to a bold-faced lie."

Anonymous said...

Pr Weedon, dear friend, and fellow Christian,

I say that the words which inspired the words below are a scandal and a shame, and do not belong on your blog, whether or not they are true.Sincerely,
--A layman

"Either the student you were talking to was lying, you are lying about it and about what he said, or one or the both of you are exaggerating and deliberately misunderstanding things so grossly as to be equal to a bold-faced lie."

Anonymous said...

"Wow, what a world of difference from venerating the corpus on the Cross and venerating Icons!"

Acolyte: I'm not sure I understand whether this is flippant or not: for clarity, do you mean to say there is no difference or are you highlighting a difference that I am missing? Thanks for the clarification.

Acolyte4236 said...


I was being sarcastic given the recent trashing of all things Orthodox by prominent Lutherans over the past few years.

William Weedon said...

If you look at this site:


you can see the Latvian Lutherans celebrating Triduum, and a long line of Lutherans lined up to venerate the holy cross. FWIW.