19 June 2011

Interesting Info from the Deaconess Conference from Dr. Herl...

...the year was 1616.  Johann Georg, Margrave of Brandenburg, converted to Calvinism and sought to enforce Calvinism on his very Lutheran territory.  What changes did he demand?

All images are to be removed from the church and sent to the court.
The stone altar is to be ripped from the ground and replaced with a wooden table.
When the Lord's Supper is held, a white cloth covers the table.
All altars, crucifixes and panels are to be completely abolished.
Instead of the host, bread is to be baked into loves, cut into strips, and put in a dish from which the people receive it in their hands; likewise the chalice is received by the people with their hands.
The words of the Supper are no longer to be sung, but rather spoken.
The golden chalice to be replaced by wooden.
The prayer in the place of the collect is to be spoken, not sung.
Mass vestments and other finery no longer used.
No lamps are candles to be placed upon the altar.
The houseling cloth is not to be held in front of the communicants.
The people are not to bow as if Christ were present.
The communicants shall no longer kneel.
The sign of the cross after the benediction is to be discontinued.
The priest is no longer to stand with his back to the people.
The collect and Epistle no longer to be sung, but spoken.
Individuals are no longer to go to confession before communing, but rather register with the priest in writing.
The people are no longer to bow when the name of JESUS is mentioned, nor are they to remove their hats.
The Our Father is no longer to be prayed aloud before the sermon, but rather there is to be silent prayer.
Communion is not to be taken to the sick, as it is dangerous, especially in times of pestilence.
The stone baptismal font is to be removed and a basin substituted.
Epitaphs and crucifixes are not longer to be tolerated in the Church.
The Holy Trinity is not to be depicted in any visual form.
The words of the sacrament are to be altered and considered symbolic.
The historic Epistles and Gospels no longer used, but rather a selection of the Bible by the minister, read without commentary.

You can see from what the Elector objected to exactly what Lutheran liturgical practice was like in Brandenburg in his day!  I'm happy to note that the Elector would be distressed with much of the worship at St. Paul's in Hamel.  As Dr. Herl perceptively noted, the Elector believed that the only way to root out Lutheran doctrine was to change Lutheran worship, to get rid of worship that confessed in action what Lutherans believed in their hearts.


Terry Maher said...

All of which is pretty much what you find in Lutheran practice now, so I guess he succeeded.

And, with a little help from Vatican II For Lutherans, we even got communion in the hand and got rid of the traditional "Epistle" (in quotation marks only because the "Epistle" isn't always from the Epistles, just as the haftorah isn't always from the Prophets) and Gospel readings.

So the list is now pretty much complete and it didn't even take a Kufürst (HRE Elector) to do it, we did it to ourselves!

William Weedon said...


I think you'd find the whole structure of Herl's presentation quite of interest. He described Lutheran spirituality as being essentially founded in the Church's public liturgy of Divine Service and Matins and Vespers, a strong sense of de tempore, highly sacramental (as in: the sacraments actually DO something - and that included Absolution!). Then he chronicled a number of threats that arose to challenge this spirituality from the 16th through the 20th centuries: Calvinism, Pietism, Rationalism, Revivalism, Church Growth. What was amazing by the time he got through, was how each one of them attacked the same thing in Lutheran spirituality and sought to wipe it out - often using the exact same words and conclusions. The "we" who did it to ourselves were those from inside Lutheranism who fell into one of the "inside" threats: pietism, rationalism, revivalism, church growth. And yet the stuff they attack is substantially the same list as what the Calvinists attacked.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

My memory tells me that Dr. Scaer described this very episode in our history a few years ago at the Ft. Wayne symposium, not as part of a paper, as I recall, but as a way of introducing the topic for panel discussion. It is very good, however, that you bring it up here and now. An interesting list indeed.

Marinus Veenman said...

Interesting list, indeed.
The pastor's ad populum recitation of the WOI still strikes me as evangelical and very consistent with Lutheran LS theology: God's gift to the people, not our sacrifice to Him, which may be more consistent with a belief in the Mass as sacrifice when the priest turns his back on the congregants.

Terry Maher said...

Quite so. I would just say that a list of internal threats of Pietism, Rationalism, Revivalism and Church Growth is incomplete.

On which way the pastor faces: it is true that as a rule the pastor faces the altar when speaking on behalf of the people to God and faces the people when speaking on behalf of God to the people. At the Words of Institution though, it is more a matter of distinction between the man and the office, since here he is both one of the people who will himself commune and a representative of God speaking the Verba (or a mini-canon too if one is under the influence of one of the unnamed internal threats on the above mentioned list), so he does not in fact turn his back on the congregants but as a man stands with them while in his office he speaks the Verba, also emphasising that it is the power of the Word to do what it says and not some priestly power of his that brings the Sacrament about.

Anonymous said...

"The historic Epistles and Gospels no longer used, but rather a selection of the Bible by the minister, read without commentary."

Of them all this stands out the most. Was this stating that the historic lectionary readings of Epsitles and Gospels themselves were to be abandoned or was it broader than that. And do we have any record of what was substituted ?

William Weedon said...

Yes, because (as Dr. Herl pointed out) a lot of things Calvinists would like to emphasize were not found in the historic series of epistles and gospels. This was attempted also in Lutheran Sweden at the start of the Reformation, but abandoned quite early with a return to the traditional readings. I'll note that Luther himself found a thing to criticize with the selections of the Epistles (he thought they emphasized good works a bit much, and downplayed the sections on justification and faith). The Lutheran Church overwhelmingly stuck with them, though. That is, until in America in the 20th century...

Marinus Veenman said...

It is interesting to note that the anti-vestment attitude is today so strongly flavoured by anti-clericalism. Just as noteworthy is the fact that many early church fathers eschewed them, not least of whom some of the church's finest Bishops including St. Augustine.... I suppose this was due to the fact that the earlier vestments were similar to pagan Roman vestments(?)

Chris said...

Just another testimony of lex orandi, lex credendi!

Terry Maher said...

Isn't that amazing -- Luther thinks there's maybe too much about works in the traditional readings, but the originators of the idea of, and the original version of, the three-year cycle, some of whom were my professors, thought there was way to little about works in the traditional readings and way too much miracle stories and me-and-God type stuff, so a greater exposure to Scripture was needed, which would of course break the continuity with the preaching tradition associated with the traditional readings geared to a limited understanding of the Gospel (ie, not their understanding).

America in the 20th century was only taking a cue from Rome and its wannabes in the 20th century.

As to vestments, they were in fact pagan, even civil, Roman vestments. The stole is nothing more than the garment worm by Roman magistrates. The maniple is nothing more than a highly stylised napkin or handkerchief. The chasuble is simply a highly stylised casula (little house) that was the common outer coat for travel in the later Roman Empire. The Eastern mitre derives from the camelaucum of Byzantine court officials (bishops being among them) and the Western mitre was first worn by the Salii, the priests of Mars, then the tiara of the "bishop" of Rome, and spread as a mitre to Roman bishops outside Rome about 1100. The "clerical collar" -- aka Roman collar -- was originally simply a white sweatband inserted around the neck to keep sweat off one's habit. Endow them with all the after the fact theologising one will, but them's the facts.

Not calling for their abolition here -- although I do amuse myself sometimes by speculating on going to sem, which would have me ordained at age 65, and being the only pastor in the whole bleeding synod to not budge an inch from DSIII and the traditional lectionary but preside in the normal attire of a modern male professional, a suit. Not to mention being equally comfortable chanting, and in Latin too if you want, or hooping. So keep the damn things, but with a huge grano salis as to why we see such get ups other than at Halloween.

Pastor DtP said...

Wow - they had cardboard tasting hosts back then as well?

Who woulda thunk it?

Seriously - there are obvious things to challenge in the list, but there are others that are truly adiaphora. You forgot one - Organs were more likely to found in Calvinist churches....

(and note the interesting imposition of the Lord's prayer prior to the sermon.... )

The Rev. BT Ball said...

Is there a citation for this list somewhere?

Joe Herl said...

Is there a citation for this list somewhere?

English translation: Joseph Herl, Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation, and Three Centuries of Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2004), 111.

German version: P. Bronisch, "Versuch einer Verdrängung lutherischer Kirchengebräuche durch calvinische," Monatschrift für Gottesdienst und kirchliche Kunst 1 (1897): 385-87.

Bronisch's source was a manuscript in the Königliches Staatsarchiv in Breslau.

Michael L. Anderson, M.D. said...

Life, and its accompanying choices, are imbued with meaning. Often the nonverbal tellings of what drives us, are more forceful and free, than than what are lips say.

Even a damn thing, like a business suit, communicates a message: "Mr. Leader, your waist-coat, ascot and pocket-'kerchief are stylish, and worthy of notice in GQ. You are into details, and it fits together with your extensive knowledge of the little house and the origins of the big tiara."

Or, alternatively, "Mr. Leader, your blazered attire in the sanctuary is thread-bare, frumpy and worn. Perhaps we don't pay you enough, or maybe we're actually (and miraculously) generous to a fault, and you're just telling us that the ever-empathic-and-symbolic-you shares our pain, anyway. We just want you to know, that we know. Or at least, that we can see, from where we sit."

Clothes make (or better said, broadcast) the man (and so such assessment of appearance is formally part of the shrink's Mental Status Exam); damn things like albs and chasubles may not make the church, but they certainly speak about it and an Office, and not individual tastes. That's a laudable thing, I think.

Even blessed St. John ... if I'm perceiving a hint from Eusebius at all accurately ... skipped the boating togs, and wore the sacerdotal plate of a priest from time to time (Ecclesiastical History Bk 3Sec. 31). I presume that this ancient mariner did so, for purposes related to profound meaning.

M. Anderson SSP

Michael L. Anderson, M.D. said...

Seriously - there are obvious things to challenge in the list, but there are others that are truly adiaphora. -- Rev. Dustin Parker

Excuse me, dear sir. I don't wish to appear overly cantankerous, but those "things" in their historical context are not "truly" adiaphora, if we elect to speak like Lutherans and are true to the convictions of our confessing fathers. They may well not be "truly," either, in the contemporaneous setting of America, where the margrave's religious descendants hold a pressure-cooker sway.

The Lutherans, in the 17th century, were being bullied yet again, if not this time by bishops constipated as to the release of churchly ordinations, then by the schemingly delirious heads which periodically convulse the bodies of state. Review the initiating post of Rev. Fr. Weedon again, dear reader. Lutherans were being forced to give up behaviors and items which the authorities considered to be distinctive to Lutherans and their practice of the faith. There was suffering and persecution going on. Read about Gerhardt, the great hymn writer and dear Lutheran pastor in Berlin, and what he struggled for and against. Then talk easily and lightly, about the "truly adiaphora."

I'm afraid that the grasp of the contextual situation by the lawmen of Brandenburg exceeds that of a few of our Lutheran clerics. The Symbolical books of the Lutherans are clear: in times of persecution, that which pertains to the true teaching and confession of our religion (sic) is not optional. That confession is not to be limited to words, but to actions and deeds. The actions of the Lutheran (i.e., catholic Churchly) faith are made distinctive, by certain appurtenances which Margrave Johann Georg desired to throw in the ash-heap.

In times of confessional confusion and challenge, the Confessions oblige us to view "adiaphora" in a stronger light, without They have meaning, they say something valuable and uplifting, they clarify with "line-in-the-sand" pugnaciousness, they finally "confess to true teaching." Confessing entails more than just words, in Lutheran thinking. Our behaving, and the Temple's utensils, speak volumes, too.

Source: "We also believe, teach and confess that in a time when confession is necessary, as when the enemies of God's Word want to suppress the pure teaching of the holy Gospel, the entire community of God, indeed, every Christian, especially servants of the Word as the leaders of the community of the God, are obliged according to God's Word to confess true teaching and everything that pertains to the whole of religion freely and publicly. They are not to do so only with words, but also in actions and deeds. In such a time they shall not yield to the opponents even in indifferent matters, nor shall they permit the imposition of such adiaphora by opponents who use violence and chicanery in such a way that undermines true worship of God or that introduces or confirms idolatry." FC SD X, 10; K+W p. 637 (Emphasis supplied)

Note that a political chicanery is equated with the violence, to which margraves might subscribe. Note that the evangelical catholics are suspicious of what is fashionably introduced, so as to promote idolatry. Accordingly, that which mindfully if shallowly forces us to look to ourselves and to our emotions as an expression of religion, instead of what God mercifully and magnificently brings to us in the true worship of the Name, is suspect.

Paul McCain said...

Just a word of caution...

The liturgical practices and customs in Brandenburg were not standard practice across Germany, so we should be a tad careful in trying to suggest that these practices were "typical" in Lutheran congregations throughout Germany in the Reformation era.

Paul McCain said...

On the other hand, to be fair, liturgical life in Lutheranism was much better than it was today where a guy can put on a flower print clerical and bang away on an electric guitar and gin up his own liturgy week-to-week and try to justify that as being within the greater consensus and witness of Lutheran historical liturgical worship.

William Weedon said...

When Dr. Herl presented typical Lutheran practice, he actually chose (very wisely) Chemnitz/Andrea's order for Braunschweig. That's about as centrist as you can get. The whole story of Brandenburg is given in Bodo Nishan's great works on the subject - and he shows how ceremonies that were essentially adiaphoron became hugely symbolic for the people there against the Calvinist attempt to destroy Lutheranism.

Paul McCain said...

Will, yes, that's true, but your blog post is quoting him citing practices in Brandenburg.

The practices in Wittenberg and Brandenburg were more typical, as you say.

William Weedon said...

You know, though, in looking over that list, the only thing that I am not aware of being the same in these ceremonies between Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and Brandenburg is the reference to the sign of the cross with the benediction - and that may well have been there too. But certainly houseling cloths are specifically mentioned, the chanting of the readings and collect and the Verba, Mass vestments and such.

Robbie F. said...

Pr Weedon,

Can you verify for me that no mention was made of chanting the Gospel? If so, what significance would you attach to this? Was it OK to chant the Gospel in the Reformed church? Had that already been discontinued in the Lutheran church?? Very interested in your take on this, for reasons I'll discuss with you "off list."

William Weedon said...

I think it safe to assume the gospel also was being chanted. That really was common practice in the Lutheran orders and well into Bach's time. It was, to my knowledge, never done among the Reformed churches.