29 December 2009


Another webiste has lately suggested that where the bells sound, there poping soon follows. Let me clarify this, once and for all. The use of bells at the consecration was a practice that was employed in Lutheran Saxony in the height of Lutheran Orthodoxy and no more indicates a desire for Rome than singing the so-called "common doxology" indicates an immanent conversion to Calvinism (from which both song and tune originated). [You can download and listen to the Our Father and the Consecration with bells in this Bach setting of the Mass for Epiphany: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0018NKE8Q/ref=dm_dp_trk34?ie=UTF8&qid=1262133296&sr=8-1 ]

Is Weedon a "closet Romanist"? By no means. As a Lutheran Christian and pastor I renounce:

merits of the saints
invocation of the saints
pope as divinely appointed bishop of the church
Rome's incessant confusion of justification and sanctification
buying/selling of masses
a divinely established distinction between presbyters and bishops

Oh, the list could go on. And last time I checked, the Pope wasn't too interested in folks who didn't buy into all that... ;)

I'm a Lutheran because I hold to the teaching of the Lutheran Symbols - and I hold to this even and especially when it flies in the face of current anti-liturgical pressures from American Protestantism. Anyone who thinks that ringing bells during the consecration is by definition unLutheran and papist reveals he hasn't the first clue wherein true Lutheranism (or true papism) consists. How well did our dear Walther grasp this! He wrote:

We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them…. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Papism in outward things. It is a pity and a dreadful cowardice when one sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American sects, lest they accuse us of being papistic (i.e., too catholic!). Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that the sects can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?”

We are not insisting that there be uniformity of perception or feeling or of taste among all believing Christians – neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he is. Nevertheless it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extend that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are addressed or instructed (NOTE: if he were writing today, he’d no doubt add: they look like movie theatres in which the hearers are entertained!), while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world.
(Essays for the Church, Volume 1, p. 194 (St. Louis, CPH, 1992).


Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

So, what are you saying? You're not a "closet Romanist"? But, what about all that "chancel prancing" you do? And, I heard tell that you use incense on occasion, and that you - God forbid! - elevate and genuflect! If that doesn't define you as a "closet Romanist," I don't know what else would. :)

Seriously, brother, you are one of the most Lutheran Lutherans I know, and we are all blessed by the clear and precise articulation and defense of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic (that is to say, Lutheran) faith you offer here and elsewhere.

Thanks for all you do, my friend!

Melanchthon said...

The most evangelical sermons I ever heard came from the mouth of a Lutheran pastor who performed the most ceremony I have ever seen.

He knew the Lutheran confessions inside and out and preached the Gospel loud and clear.

Scott Larkins said...

Naw. Fr.Weedon would never Pope.

Hmmm....Western-rite Orthodoxy? I could see that.


William Weedon said...

That road most assuredly NOT, Scott.

Scott Larkins said...

Tongue-in-cheek Father. You're too Western for the Western-Rite.

William Weedon said...

Now that is exactly right. Or is it, rite? :)

Paul McCain said...

Will, my friend, please do yourself and everyone else a favor and do not, for a nanosecond, give any thought to, or pay any attention to, what that particular loon blogs about.

Keep in mind this is a man who has alienated everyone in at least three or more Lutheran church bodies, and is no left only to post "church services" out of a bedroom of his house in Arkansas.

He is a sick, sad individual and the very best thing we could all do it utterly, completely, and totally ignore him.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be obtuse, pastor, but isn't your critic applying the same "lex orandi, lex credendi" principal that you sometimes employ in arguing (rightly, in my opinion) against the Protestant/Evangelicalism worship practices of some LCMS churches? "Outward things" do matter, and matter very much--even if they don't tell the whole story. Please correct if I'm misunderstanding here.

- Ryan

Scott Larkins said...

I figured the Catholic doctrine of Justification would have been number one on the list.

In the words of Spock.......


Larry Luder said...

My prayers are for GJ, that he edified and appreciate the symbols of His historical church. May we not be nudged away from Jesus' fervent prayer that we be one. Somehow, someway perhaps by his grace we be one unified church again.

Bred Lutheran

William Weedon said...

Dear Ryan,

The lex orandi critique would ask WHAT is being confessed by the use of bells at the consecration? What is being confessed is that the words of Jesus have brought about exactly what they promise and those words and His promise are being highlighted.

If we use the simplistic critique of NOT DOING "what Rome does" as the measure for "true Lutheranism" goodbye to a public confession of sins, to the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Collect and Salutation, the Readings of the Scriptures and intervening chants, the confession of the Creed, the singing of hymns, the preaching of sermons, the offering of common intercessions, the use of the Preface and Proper Preface, the Sanctus, the Verba, the Our Father, the Pax, the Agnus Dei, the Distribution of the Sacrament, the offering of post-communion prayer, and benediction.

Lutherans instead employed this approach: we retain from our heritage whatever is not contrary to the Sacred Scriptures. Hence, all the above remained. And also bells remained. And vestments remained. And the whole heritage of the Church's music remained.

David Jay Webber said...

When our Puritan- and Methodist-minded friends suggest that things like chanting, bell-ringing, and so forth, will make people think that they are in a Catholic church, the best way to respond is to ask, "Have you been in a Catholic church lately?"

Post-Vatican II American Catholicism has been infected, to a very great extent, by a spirit of silliness and frivolity. During the past couple decades some liturgical house-cleaning has been done, so the situation among the Romanists is not as bad as it was, say, 20 years ago. But the chances are that if a priest is from the baby-boom generation, his way of being "Catholic" will not be characterized by much chanting or bell-ringing!

And people who visit one of the few Catholic churches that have made an effort to preserve and restore a more traditional liturgical piety, may leave that mass in confused exasperation, thinking, "That was so Lutheran!"


Scott Larkins said...

David Jay Weber,

"That was so Lutheran!"

Like um Not!

David Jay Webber said...

Two important points of Lutheran ecclesiology is that there is and always has been only one true church; and that Lutherans are a part of this church - indeed that those who confess the faith of the Lutheran Confessions are most purely confessing the genuine faith of that one holy catholic and apostolic church. The basic liturgical policy of the Lutheran Reformers was not simply a matter of sticking with what they were used to, as any conservative-minded person would tend to do. They were also deliberately and consciously making a confession of faith - a specifically Lutheran ecclesiological confession - over against the Carlstadtians, Zwinglians, Anabaptists, and Calvinists.

William Weedon said...

Well said, Pr. Webber.

And Pr. Messer, I forgot to thank you for your kind words, but I do appreciate them.

Sean said...

Actually, I'm more concerned about the singing of that "common doxology." The fact that they "praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" seems almost like an accident. We should sing the Te Deum, the Da Pacem, or Erhalt uns Herr. /rant

Past Elder said...

A double Dresden Amen for Walther!!

And to Pastor Webber's characterisation of the typical post-conciliar RC parish.

The thing that bugs me the most, having once been a Romanist no closets about it, is when I go to an LCMS parish that thinks it is historic and liturgical with our latter-day Vatican II For Lutherans services and I find myself in something not all that unlike what happens in the typical post-conciliar RC parish down the street I am "supposed" to belong to!

Anonymous said...

People thought we were daft for building a sanctuary in the 21st century with a massive bell tower complete with a "new" 135 year-old bell rescued from a defunct Presbyterian church in New York. But our members were quite intent on using the bell in our new sanctuary in the traditional manner you describe. I prepared a paper on the historic use of bells and they were quite enthused. Unfortunately, the installation of a tolling mechanism was delayed for financial reasons, and it is very difficult to use a bell in this way without that facility. But we use it in every way possible and hope to add a tolling mechanism soon. We purposely made the rope hang down very visibly in our entry atrium, and that is one of the most favorably commented on features of our new church.

During the design and construction process I found the "experts" think people want a bare "Protestant barn" -- one architect we rejected said very critically to me in a meeting with our building committee, "Most pastors of SUCCESSFUL churches don't want stained-glass or anything like that; they think it just districts people from REAL worship" -- but actually they crave a true sanctuary with all the trimmings. We've just had donations to add two more stained-glass and a pipe organ!

Can't seem to remember my Google password, so I will post as Anonymous.

Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota

Daniel Gorman said...

Has the Pope renounced his blasphemous Sacrifice of the Mass? If not, what does he mean by liturgy as a gift of God? Doesn't the Pope teach that liturgy is a work men do to merit grace? If so, isn't Ichabod's citation of the FC, Adiaphora valid? Isn't the Pope trying to trick us into believing that what he teaches is the same as what we teach?

BrotherBoris said...

Dear Pastor Weedon:

I cannot believe the attacks you are receiving for such minor liturgical practices as ringing a bell at the consecration! Some of your critics simply need to get a life. I wonder if any of your critics have stopped "reacting" and just considered the beauty of the practice rather than thinking "we can't do that because ENEMY Christians do that." GJ's comments on his blog are sad indeed. I know from my own correspondence with you and from hearing your sermons and reading your articles that you are a most faithful, confessional Lutheran. How anyone can think of you as a "closet Romanist" or a "would be Eastern Orthodox" is beyond me. I know you have issues with Eastern Orthodoxy. We have discussed those before. But it doesn't bother me because you are HONEST about it. I would EXPECT a confessional Lutheran pastor to have some major disagreements with the Orthodox Church. (If he didn't have such disagreements, he wouldn't be much of a Lutheran pastor). For your readers you don't know me, I am Russian Orthodox. And I don't think you are going to swim the Volga, the Bosphorus, or the Tiber ever. I think you are quite content where you are.
And, last time I checked, I thought the Lutheran Church had an enormous amount of freedom regarding church ceremonies. Lutherans don't have anything like the Orthodox Typikon that minutely describes how the ceremony should be done. If find it quite ironic that a fellow Lutheran from Arkansas should rebuke you for your use of your Christian freedom in simply ringing a bell during the Divine Service. How utterly legalistic! And its kind of sad too that he doesn't see the beauty in the larger, historic Lutheran liturgical tradition.

Brother Boris

Pastor Peters said...

I grew up in a Lutheran Church on the plains of Nebraska that has all its history and still to this day rings the church bell for the consecration and during the Our Father (7x)...

I have often said that those who critique some of these liturgical practices that express our faith in ceremony are in reality the least comfortable in their Lutheran skin... It is not a matter of have to but which rituals and ceremonies are consistent with and actually flow from what we believe, teach and confess...

J.G.F. said...

As they say in Rome, "Ay-men" :-)

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I am not aware of the blog or the blogger referenced by Fr. Weedon here. I do find funny irony, however, in Paul McCain advising that we pay no attention to a blogger who accuses brethren of Romanism for advocating traditional practices which in fact confess Lutheran doctrine.

Anonymous said...

I find it sad, here, that while so many good and salutary responses fill this page that I see no compassion or prayers or hope for one of your brothers who is not seeing clearly.

Over and over and over again the writers of the Book of Concord emphasized that they were merely trying to restore the Church to true and pure teaching, stripping out the works of man that had crept in...that always seems to creep into our theology and the ways and means of our churches. Frankly, Luther should be called the father of the Restoration, not Reformation. That, to me, seems like it would have been a more appropriate moniker.

But while he had strong words for those lazy gluttons standing in the pulpit each week, lifting not a finger to feed their starving flock with the riches of God's Word, he had compassion for all, not just for some. He knew doubt and despair and confusion and longing for understanding. Such knowledge pervades his writing.

It has amazed me here and in other Lutheran blogs how often Catholic posters seem to attack Lutheranism, as if their brothers and sisters in Christ somehow threatened them. I have always admired that so very often the Lutheran responses have not been returned in kind, that there has been a civility of sorts and an earnest desire to dialogue, to teach what we believe to be pure and good and right.

Does not this errant brother deserve the same compassion? Where does Matthew 25 come in all of this? We do unto Christ when we visit the sick and the sad. Where does Matthew 18 come in all of this? Should not his words be forgiven?

I am a miserable, wretched sinner who struggles daily not to listen to the wiles of the devil that seem oh, so much louder than the sweet, sweet call of the Gospel. In the times I have been unable to cling to Christ because my hurt seems too great, He has clung to me through the fingers of those who are willing to look past the fact that I am often a sick, sad individual and show me how merciful, how bountiful is the love of Christ.

Just a thought...

William Weedon said...

And a beautiful and noble thought it is!

William Weedon said...

In that spirit:

In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.
For the peace from above and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.
For the peace of the whole world, for the wellbeing of the Church of God, *and for the unity of all,* let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.

jim huffman said...

"He is a sick, sad individual and the very best thing we could all do it utterly, completely, and totally ignore him." "Loon"? "Alienated"?

8th commandment, anyone? How about praying for someone we think in error?

David Jay Webber said...

But Scripture does also say this (Titus 3:10-11, ESV): "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

Anonymous said...

True, but Titus 3 begins with the charge 3:2-7

It is my understanding that the rest is speaking toward those who are false teachers and are perverting the Gospel.

Is the brother doing that, then is not your reference speaking of excommunication? Even then, even then, he is deserving of prayer and compassion. God desires for all men to be saved. All men, even contentious cantankerous ones.

Paul was once one of those who ardently spoke against the Gospel, who rather zealously persecuted Christians. But God chose him and forgave him. Paul continued to struggle, often doing the things he didn't want to do and not doing the things he wanted. But God chose him and forgave him and used him to spread His precious Word so that I, today, can have God's mercy poured out richly upon this truly undeserving, wretched, awkward, confused, frightened, hurt child who believes in the Lord Jesus when the world screams at her not to, when so little of her life evidences the mercy she knows to be hers.

If that brother is truly self-condemned, has fallen away from the Gospel, he is in need of fervent prayer. If he is merely a pugnacious person, he still is need of prayer and compassion and even love.

I cannot help but think that those whom society cast aside as undesirable were often the very ones Christ sought out. We are still casting them aside because loving them, truly loving them, is a difficult thing to do when there are so many other less difficult things that need doing.

Set him outside of fellowship if need be, but love him still, praying without ceasing for his soul. But do not "totally, completely, and utterly ignore him." He is, after all, still precious in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave His life, spilled His holy blood for even him.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why the reference dropped off...

"to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Jim Huffman said...

If one wishes to correct error or bad behavior, do so. Use specifics. Suggesting that someone "stirs up division" (WRT Titus 3) because of something said on a blog is probably not a path most of us would want to take.

Calling someone a "loon" or "sick" or mocking the design of the Jackson family dwelling is, charitably speaking, infantile. We should expect better behavior from someone in McCain's position.

Past Elder said...

Oh hell, PTM has kicked my butt in the blogosphere a time or two, and a time or two been right.

Man up.

L P said...

Pr. Will,

It is not without reason that the BoC charges Rome of sophistry. ... we can read what they (the RCs) are writing for the sake of informing us, but we should not use what they wrote to influence us, because that sophistry is still present in that system.

Why would you like to constantly pick out the bones and take the meat from such sources? I do not see the motivation for such a project. Why would you say - hey the anti-Christ is helpful here, he said some good things here, we should take heed? This does not make sense to me.

Here is also what I observe lately. In US Lutheranism, one is allowed to disagree with Luther but wait till you disagree with Walther and Pieper, let us see what happens. There were helpful things that Walther said but I also think he overstated his position in certain issues.


Trent said...

St. John Chrysostom believes in Sola Scriptura.
St. John Chrysostom believes in Invocation of the Saints.
Invocation of the Saints is Scriptural.

In the words of Pastor Weedon from another post, "Oh, the list could go on". Also, do the same thing with St. Basil, Sola Scriptura and his insistence on a Holy "capital T" Tradition.

William Weedon said...


I think you meant to post this on the other thread?

The key, I believe, is not whether a man consistently applied and practiced the principle he espoused, but whether or not he espoused the principle. And with these fathers it is very clear that they did indeed believe that everything they taught OUGHT be grounded in the Sacred Scriptures and demonstrated therefrom. It would be most interesting to hear St. John's rationale for invocation of the saints from Scripture, but I'm not aware that he ever set one out. Are you aware of one? Yet he is perfectly clear (as are the rest) that the dogma of the Church must rest on Sacred Scripture. FWIW.

William Weedon said...

Or said even more simply, even the greatest of the saints do not consistently practice the principles they espouse. There is such a thing as blind spots, and what makes them such is that we are not aware they're there.

Daniel said...

Pastor Weedon,

Two comments: First did not Walther and other "Confessional Lutherans" teach that the Lutheran Church is THE CHURCH? This is important because if one embraces the "part of" approach, then a visible church tends to recede into neverland.

Second, perhaps Saint Basil and other Fathers of the Church did not teach on the invocation of saints from Scripture because Scripture does not speak at great length regarding our invoking them. Why? Because it was never a controversy; it was practised from the beginning.

This is why such invocations are scribbled all over the walls of the catacombs from the second and third century-well before Constantine. Also if this practise would have been introduced as a novelty, the Church would have rabidly fought it with an abundance of polemical writing such as exists against Arianism, Origenism and the like.

Also with respect to reproving an erring brother, Galatians says, "if you see a brother overtaken in a fault, go to such a one in a spirit of gentleness and meekness, considering also yourself lest you also be tempted".

William Weedon said...


Did you not ever study Law and Gospel? See the 32nd evening lecture: "The Lutheran Church claims to be the only Church that has the pure doctrine; but does not claim to be the alone-saving Church." Or as Krauth would put it, she is the pillar of truth within the Church.

It is an assumption that saintly invocation was practiced from the beginning. There is nothing in the Sacred Scriptures to suggest it, however. There have been SOME writings in the catacombs that suggest it some early Christians practiced it, but does that show it was a universal practice? Our faith is not built upon hypotheticals, but upon the promises of God delivered to us through our Lord and written by His apostles and evangelists. Without a foundation in the Spirit-inspired Word, your practice of invocation cannot be made in faith - you have no way of knowing if it is God-pleasing. I know, however, that prayer offered in the name of our Lord JEsus to the Father is indeed God-pleasing and received as precious in His sight.

Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...

Mr. Gregory Jackson, formerly a Lutheran minister, is a public false teacher. Let's have none of this Pietistic twaddle about not rebuking and condemning him, publically.

Jackson has devoted his blogging life to doing nothing but savaging any and all in any Lutheran church body of which he was a former member, or interested in, and publishing spurious slander and libel.

Yes, we can have pity on Jackson. Yes, we should pray for Jackson. But we must reject and condemn him in the most clear and uncertain terms possible. I have prayed, and will continue to pray, that Jackson be led by the Holy Spirit to repent of his public sin and error.

His little send-up of Weedon's alleged Romanism is but a minor problem in the larger problem that is Gregg Jackson. He denies the objective nature of the justifying action of Christ's life, death and resurrection. He has a perverted understanding of the very Gospel itself.

What my friend Rev. Webber posted could not be more spot-on. Jackson is warped, and to him the Scripture in Titus 3 applies, absolutely and without question.

The best thing any of us can do for and about Jackson is mark and avoid him and entirely and completely ignore him.

Jim Huffman said...

No one is suggesting that error not be rebuked, publicly or otherwise.

What should be done is that error -- if present -- should be rebuked by name with specificity, and not by insinuation.

One post suggested "manning up." Good point. We should act like men, and not engage in infantile name calling ("loon," "sick," etc.)

Suggesting that those who demur on name calling are "pietistic" is just continuing the practice.

Paul McCain said...

Mr. Huffman, the Scriptures are filled with examples of the harshest of "name calling."

Are you willing to reject all that as well? Are you going to refer to this as "infantile"?

Mr. Jackson has repeatedly and continuously slandered and libeled people on his blog site in a manner that can only be regarded as sick and the behavior of a warped person.

I think you do well to take Past Elder's advice.

It is more than a little curious that your only contribution to this post is school-marmish scolding.

Do you reject and condemn Mr. Jackson's public false doctrine?

Do you reject and condemn Mr. Jackson's slander against Pastor Weedon?

Anonymous said...

I don't read Greg Jackson's blog.

I don't read Cyberbrethren much either.

Is it necessary to label a person "Pietist" because he disagrees with you, Pr. McCain?
I do wish you wouldn't practice here the rudeness that you do not allow on your own blog.
Please be consistent.

Now to get back to the topic:
Pr. Weedon,
Do you use the church's main bell during the consecration or something smaller in the chancel?
(I grew up with the sounding of the bell during the Lord's Prayer but not the consecration.)

William Weedon said...


We don't actually use a bell at all. We use a chime. It is rung from the organ console. The difficulty of using the Church bell is that the rope is completely out of any visual line from the altar...

Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...
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Paul McCain said...

Oh, now Helen. I've seen you in action any number of times over at LutherQuest. Pot calling the kettle black time.

I think we can do without your passive-aggressive snarkiness.

William Weedon said...


Now please. Helen and Jim are both dear friends - as are you. Let's rejoice in our common confession of the saving faith - especially today in our Lord's bloodshed on our behalf - and leave behind in the old year all grouchiness with each other. Peace and joy to you ALL!

Daniel said...

Pastor Weedon,

Walther taught, "If the Ev. Lutheran Church has the marks of pure Gospel-preaching and unadulterated administration of the holy Sacraments, then it is THE (My emphasis) true visible Church of God on earth.

It seems that he did not teach "part of", for in his mind anyone part of this visible church would needs be Lutheran. For only those with pure doctrine and practise could be the visible church.

Of course he saw salvation as being worked out in other bodies; this is the fortunate inconsistency. Despite their error in ignorance sufficient is their simple belief in Christ.

As for intercession of Saints, which was never seriously debated on a widespread scale (although written on catacomb walls and prayed in Christmas liturgies of the church of Alexandria in the a200's); I will rest by faith on the Paradosis (of which Scripture is within); otherwise things such as Liturgies [Basil, Chrysostom], making signs of the cross, fasting, etc. become optional in a sea of constantly recreating new traditions based on only drawing ones faith from one's own interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

William Weedon said...

And such is the difference between a Lutheran and the Eastern Orthodox approach to the faith...

As to Walther, again your original question asked whether he taught that Lutherans were THE Church? He never taught that. He taught the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the true visible Church, for it has the true Scriptural doctrine unadulterated, but he never claimed that the Evangelical Lutheran Church was THE Church, the alone-saving Church, outside of which there is no salvation. In fact, he specifically denied that.

Paul McCain said...

Grouchiness aside, may I please have some assurance that Helen and Jim both utterly reject Mr. Jackson's attacks on Pastor Weedon? And the false Gospel that Mr. Jackson continues to push on his blog site?

Jim Huffman said...

No, Paul, I'll have to demur on this one, given that it seems to be about something besides doctrine for you and I'm certainly not privy to what that is.

I would call you "Pastor McCain," but knowing that the said appellation originated within Pietism, I wouldn't care to trouble you further on that score.

Paul McCain said...

That's quite a revealing answer, Jim.

So, you'd rather grouse about my "style" than deal with Jackson's substance.

Interesting, and sad.

Jim Huffman said...