Thursday, August 11, 2011

We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good...

Let me take just a moment to expound on that phrase:  we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  There are those who hold up a particular bar that must be reached or a standard of excellence that is considered the minimum and who disdain everything that does not meet the bar or achieve that standard of excellence.  I am not one of them. 

Though I would insist
  • that Eucharistic vestments are part of our liturgical identity as Lutherans, 
  • that chanting is shape of the liturgical dialog within the mass, 
  • that pipe organs are not so terribly expensive that they are beyond the reach of the ordinary parish, 
  • that the daily offices are not only for cathedral settings in urban areas, 
  • that the chalice is the ordinary form of distribution, or 
  • that a liturgical choir can be formed with even a few vocal resources (just to name a few),
yet at the same time I would contend that these are not what we must demand but goals part of a long term process toward re-establishing Lutheran confession and practice with respect to the Divine Service and the form of our piety as Lutheran Christians.

I do not look down my nose at those who do not wear Eucharistic vestments or roll my eyes when Pastors do not chant or cringe in shock when there is no pipe organ or sneak out because the sanctoral calendar and daily offices are not practiced or doubt the validity of the Sacrament when a chalice is absent or raise my hands in horror when a Lutheran choir sings "Shall We Gather at the River."  I look for the good wherever I go and am pleased to see good and faithful Lutheran Pastors in parishes where some of the frills may be missing but the Divine Service is present, solid Law/Gospel preaching is heard, reverence for the Sacrament is evident, and the folks there are serious about their baptismal identity and vocation to the royal priesthood.

We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Hear me out here.  When I plead the cause of artistry or beauty, when I insist that Lutherans on Sunday morning do not look like Methodists or Presbyterians or followers of Osteen, Warren, or Hybels, and when I urge us to explore the depths of our liturgical tradition as Lutheran Christians, I am urging us toward a process and not establishing a benchmark that must be met.

Lord knows that I hold my hands wrong and sometimes forget parts of the service and occasionally speak the people's part instead of my own, and I do have off days in the pulpit (more than I care to admit).  We do not do things perfectly here and it is not the perfect I insist upon in this blog.  Yet at the same time, I think that we are at a crucial time in which we must either cut bait or fish when it comes to our Sunday morning practice, our Confessional identity, and the hard work to recover some of what we have lost while at the same time teaching a new generation from the mistakes of me and my generation.  We have received the sacred deposit and it was given to us as a rich treasure of faithful confession, a vibrant liturgical and sacramental identity, a strong confidence of the efficacy of the means of grace, and a deep and wide mine of hymns that faithfully express the faith in different idioms, styles, eras, and cultures (to name just one part of that tradition). 

If you know me, you know that my point here is not to fight for things trivial but to those essential things that flow from our wonderful Lutheran Confessions to frame out our evangelical and catholic practice in the Lord's House, on the Lord's Day, around the Word of the Lord and the Table of the Lord.  We need not look to other traditions for treasure or disdain our own heritage or forget the living legacy that is ours to pass own -- unless we no longer want to be the evangelical and catholic Christians that our Lutheran Confessions insist we are...

I have experienced this good in a host of different places -- some very humble and some fairly grand.  I have also been greatly disappointed in the grand and found the humble also to be an excuse for doing what is quick and easy.  Not every congregation is a cathedral and not every congregation is a makeshift place (like the battlefield chaplain or the mission field open chapel).  But every congregation and every Pastor who are at work building toward the piety and worship life that flows from our Confession is doing the good and essential work that equips the people for their own baptismal calling of worship, witness, prayer, mercy and service AND makes sure that those who come and see have something to come for and something to see in the Word and Sacraments of Christ.

So when I plead for beauty and artistry in the cup of the Lord, it is one way in which I plead for us not to settle for what is easy or effortless but to work with all our ability and skill as people who lead the Divine Service and those who sit in the pews, working together -- ever, only, all for Thee.  The gifts of God that are the center of this liturgical gathering are nothing less than His best and they are what makes possible our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in response.  When I speak against those who give in to what polls well or what seems fitting and relevant within the culture in order to bring in the unchurched, it is only because if we would tell them to come and see, we must have something to offer them and not merely a rehash of what they already have.  The liturgical practices I speak for are not liturgical snobbery or a battle of high culture against low culture.  The liturgical shape of what happens on Sunday morning is and should ever be formed so that it reflects the full measure of our Confessional identity.  The perfect is not the enemy of the good.  Where this happens, whether with all the smells and bells or relative simplicity, Lutheranism is well served.

56 comments:

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

This blog post did not perfectly convey every single thought or inkling I might have had - therefore I will lambaste you for not being ______ enough like me.

Or maybe not =o)

christl242 said...

But there's that little problem of what "Eucharistic" vestments represent -- a "priest" offering "sacrifice". Yes, yes, the Lutheran liturgy offers a sacrifice of praise, but that is entirely different from the "sacrifice" offered in the Roman mass on behalf of the living and the dead.

Alb and stole are just fine with me, a wonderful icon of the seelsorger and pastoral service. Chasubles speak of a different piety. Even at my old Roman parish only the presiding priest at mass wore the chasuble, and the priest who assisted with distribution wore alb and stole.

Christine

Anonymous said...

The parish pastor is called to
faithfulness in his pastoral ministry
by our Lord. Excellence in pipe
organs, chalices, vestments, etc.
often hinge on the financial ability
of the congregation. Rich suburban
parishes can have all the bells and
whistles while the inner city parish
or the rural parish struggles to
survive. Our Lord stills looks to
faithfulness to His Word.

Anonymous said...

Alb and stole are just fine with me...

It may be just fine with you but vestments are not personal taste. The Lutherans until well into the 1700s wore the chasuble. You might just read back a couple of posts in which Pr Peters talks about the Confessions which do not dissent from any doctrine or practice of the church catholic.

Anonymous said...

Another fine entry, Pastor Peters; although, it did seem to me to be bordering a bit on the apology (vs. Apology) side of things. Nevertheless, keep up the excellent work!

And with all due respect (sincerely), any suggestion that the chasuble somehow automatically represents an unbloody sacrifice of the Mass for the sake of the living and the dead is nonsense, and seems to me to reflect an anti-Roman prejudice (too often badly mistaken for "good Lutheranism")rather than fact.

The chasuble was adapted for liturgical use in the fifth or sixth century (a time in the Church's history when there was still ONE Church - and, no, I do NOT mean the Roman Church!) from a cloak worn by officials in the Greco-Roman world (the word comes the Latin meaning "little house"). By the eleventh century it had become the distinctive eucharistic vestment for the Presiding Minister. This being the case, in reference to the Sacrament of the Altar, one needs to remember that there is, in fact, no such thing as a "Roman Catholic Communion," a "Lutheran Communion," etc. There is ONE faith, ONE Lord, ONE Baptism, and there is ONE Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, made so by His Word and promise. In other words, just because some Lutherans, or other denominations for that matter, don't make use of, or choose not to make use of, historic vestments, does not automatically mean that because Rome does it holds "the trademark" on all the historic vestments of THE Church -- just as it does not hold the trademark on the Sacrament itself!

christl242 said...

Er, Anonymous, having a Catholic father, a non-practicing Catholic husband and having been a member of the Roman church myself for over ten years, I think I know the history of her practices pretty well.

The Lutheran understanding of "catholic" is not the always the same as the Roman understanding of "Catholic". As the understanding of the Greek word "presbuteros", which basically means "elder" began to morph into that of "sacerdos/hiereus", the pastoral ministry began to morph into a priestly one in Rome and the liturgy took on a sacrificial character with all its attendant trappings.

Lutherans also had an entirely different church year calendar in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation and used the historic one-year lectionary until we were influenced by the questionable fruit of the VII "common" lectionary.

Anti-Roman? You bet, insofar as I see Lutherans mooning and spooning for practices that have nothing to do with how we understand Word and Sacrament. I almost lost my faith in Christ and the only Lord and Savior after my Roman sojourn and thanks be to God that I made it out in time.

And if you think there is no such thing as the "Roman communion" please present yourself at the local Roman parish, tell them you are Lutheran and ask if you are welcome to receive Holy Communion at their altars. The same situation exists between Orthodox/Lutherans and Orthodox/Roman Catholics and it is naive to think otherwise.

Christine

Terry Maher said...

What? Not a word about the theology of chasubles? Judas H in a dalmatic, we were taught the chasuble symbolised the office of Christ covering the person of the priest, clothing him in his role as Christ's stand-in in the sacrifice to re-present it, literally, make it present in a particular time and place.

The chasuble over time has varied considerably as does any chasuble from its Eastern counterpart the phelonion. And in no case are they any more the casula of the late Roman Empire. That was an outer garment for travel. Is the pastor going somewhere?

It would be well not to mistake actual Roman experience with anti-Roman prejudice.

Total silliness, be it chalices, chasubles, or all the other stuff. Next we'll be on to whether or not to wear a fiddleback.

Jenny said...

Christine, You are smart and well-informed but you consistently seem to miss the point of Pastor Peters' posts. High church practices are something we want to do because we are so grateful for the gifts God gives us that we want to give our best to him in this way too. He doesn't advocate standing on empty ceremony for its own sake! I am a Lutheran with a reformed background. There is so much rich beauty and symbolism in these practices, why wouldn't we want them?! My pastor prepares us when he is going to upgrade to something more formal in church by carefully explaining his reasons and inviting discussion before he implements change. Our congregation winds up with a deeper appreciation for our Lord and a more thoughtful approach to Worship. I think THAT is what it is all about!

Anonymous said...

Christine:

"Anti-Roman? You bet...." I find that affirmation tragic, especially in light of Christ's High Priestly Prayer that all His believers may be one.

I am so sorry for your exerience in the Roman Catholic communion, an experience I know is shared by many others. There are also many others, however, as I am sure you are aware, who through the Christian fellowship they have come to know in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as their participation in the worship life of the Church, have come to vibrant and meaningful relationships with Jesus Christ. Further, the ones I know at least, are more enthusiastic about Jesus and His relationship with them than they are about any Roman Catholic identity. This assures me of the overriding truth that, no matter where we may be in our understandings about ourselves or Christians of other communions/ denominations, God is still in control, and He is and will always be the Head of His Church.

Peace to you on your continuing journey of faith and discipleship.

christl242 said...

Jenny, I don't believe I am missing anything nor am I trying to be "smart" or "well-informed." I am speaking from hands-on experience.

Since you state you are from a Reformed background I can appreciate why you feel as you do. My point in all my comments is to show that the Lutheran tradition is not in essence a "liturgical" tradition but a "confessional" one and that whether we use high, low or in-between liturgical forms is not what defines us. We are defined by our doctrine and beliefs which are still decidedly at odds with both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy and all the glitter and chancel prancing (as Lutherans sometimes refer to Roman liturgy)cannot change that.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a "liturgical" church, uses many of the outward forms of worship as does the Roman church but is now one of the most heterodox, liberal Christian bodies in America. "High" liturgy is no guarantee of orthodoxy.

The Roman church is still rooted in sacramentalism and as long as one gives outward obedience to unity with the bishop of Rome and the "magisterium" one can believe pretty much what one wants. Outsiders have no idea how badly divided she is today. She is still in love with the Temple and all its outward forms, but Christ is the true Temple now and how we worship no longer depends on those forms and shadows.

The Lutheran Reformation did indeed want to retain practices of the ancient church catholic but they are not always the same as the practices of the Roman church which were rooted in the Empire.

I am not at all against beauty in worship but we have our own resources as Lutherans, we do not need to look to Rome.

Christine

christl242 said...

I find that affirmation tragic, especially in light of Christ's High Priestly Prayer that all His believers may be one.

A typical reaction.

Yes, that's what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America thought too, that by adopting a "Vatican II for Lutherans" liturgy it would only be a matter of time before they were communing at Roman altars. In the meantime the ELCA and her "ecumenical partners" are more heterdox than ever.

Ain't gonna happen.

Actually, with my background I should have known better but I guess I had to see for myself that (1) the Roman church pre and post-Vatican II are two completely different animals with two completely different theologies, which even my cradle Catholic husband who attended parochial schools from Kindergarten on tried to warn me, that harsh as it was I now understand why Luther called her the Whore of Babylon and I don't care how meaningful Catholic converts find the Roman church and her worship, they are being deceived and should follow Scripture and "come out of her my people."

Hier steh ich, ich kann nicht anders.

Christine

christl242 said...

I should clarify that I am speaking of the Roman SYSTEM, not individual Catholics some of whom, in spite of Roman error, still find authentic faith in Jesus Christ.

I feel nothing but sympathy for the Roman laity who are still being fed so much Pelagianism and don't know it.

Christine

Terry Maher said...

Amazing. Supposedly we are for a Lutheran identity but admire Catholics who put their Catholic identity secondary. Relative to Catholicism, this is the same type of Catholic whose Lutheran counterpart we bemoan here.

There is no unity in Christ when error is maintained, or, overlooked to promote a supposed unity. The tradition based in the Liturgical Movement, whose first flower was the Roman novus ordo and is now with minor revisions here and there the common property of liturgical Western churches, is no tradition at all, but a crazy quilt stitched to-gether from tradition replacing the authentic traditions of the various Western liturgical denominations.

Real oecumenism is not in the look alike modern services -- even their liberal excesses look alike -- crafted from the 1960s on of the various liturgical churches, but for example in pro-life demonstrations, where Catholics, Lutherans, and Christians from all sorts of backgrounds side by side take a stand for a common, once universal, stand of the Christian faith, and nobody is worried about chasubles and chalices etc.

Jenny said...

Christine, I wasn't being sarcastic when I said you are smart and well-informed. I can clearly see that you know a lot more than I do.
These litugical traditions help some of us to better understand our confessional identity and the importance of returning our best to God. They have been sinfully abused by some, but that doesn't invalidate the practices themselves.
I take sinful attitudes with me to church. So do all people, pastors, church bodies etc. If everything tainted by sin were removed from the church, what would be left? Thank God that through Christ he has redeemed us and our poor expressions of worship!
Did you catch this line from the post? "The liturgical shape of what happens on Sunday morning is and should ever be formed so that it reflects the full measure of our Confessional identity."
What I don't understand is why you bother to keep reading this blog when you seem so discontented with it.

Bill S. said...

"The liturgical shape of what happens on Sunday morning is and should ever be formed so that it reflects the full measure of our Confessional identity."

This sentence says it all. I find it interesting that the Jews had their three temples, all of them beautifully decorated with costly metals, precious stones and beautifully crafted vessels dedicated to the service of Yaweh. They had priestly garments, they had specific rites and a language to accompany those rites. And all of this was but a pale imitation of the temple in heaven, glimpses of which we see in Revelation.

And we are going to that temple in heaven, someday. A place with golden lampstands, decorated with all sorts of precious gems, with the air redolent with incense.

Our Christian forefathers understood these two examples of worship to God, and worked to emulate them in the Christian church. Going right along with our confessions they developed a rich symbolism in vestments, stained glass, dedicated vessels for the Eucharist..it was all a symbolical representation of the gospel, that accompanied the verbal presentation of the gospel from the word.

I think it says a lot of a Christians view of God when they no longer care to worship giving their best back to Him. When just any old place will do for worship; when a styrofoam cup will do just find for the precious blood of our Savior; when the altar is a folding table from Costco.

I'm with Pr. Peters that it's time to return to a churchly language, to a churchly liturgy, to churchly vestments and trappings, all as a visual representation of the gospel we are verbally hearing.

christl242 said...

Jenny, perhaps I can make my position a bit clearer.

I have nothing against liturgical worship. What I do have a problem with is liturgical forms imported from Rome since Vatican II. Terry has pointed out very well how "the liturgical movement" informed all mainline denominations since then.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church is my birthright on my mother's side but even that is not enough. I have consciously made my Lutheran identity my own.

Why do I bother to post here? Because I am alarmed at the direction that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the U.S., of which the LCMS is a part, has taken.

As for Bill's observations, Jesus left us no specific form of liturgy, none at all, in fact the early Christian church resembled the worship of the synagogue more than anything, with the pastor taking the place of the rabbi assisted by the elders. Churchy language, churchy environment? At the Last Supper? Or did I miss seeing "Eucharistic prayers" 1, 2, and 3?

By the way, the Roman church has ordered all her liturgical publishing houses to cease using the term "Yahweh", the Jewish tetragrammaton, in her service books because it is offensive to Jews.

We call it "Divine Service" because God serves us. Romans call it "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" because it is a "good work" offered to God. But by golly, they do have a "churchy language" and "churchy environment."

No one is suggesting Lutherans should use paper cups.

Christine

christl242 said...

One more thing, Bill -- "three" Jewish temples??

How interesting that Jesus predicted of the Second Temple that "not a stone would be left standing." And so it was.

The New Testament is clear that the forms and signs of the Old Covenant were temporary until the coming of the Christ. The priestly sacrifices ceased with the destruction of the Second Temple and now Jews believe that good works take the place of the old sacrifices.

Christine

Anonymous said...

But Lutherans DO use paper cups! or at least plastic discposable cups in those fake silver trays. It happens in my church every week and I bet it happens others too.

christl242 said...

Yep, some Lutheran congregations use plastic disposable cups.

Mine does, as well as the chalice. We collect and pour into the ground any consecrated wine that is left after Holy Communion.

You might get a kick out of this. I was talking to a Roman Catholic co-worker recently, a lovely lady, and she told me she no longer serves as "An Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist" (yep, that mouthful is what they call them in the Roman church which of course also has lay lectors) because it grossed her out to have to consume the leftover "wine" in the chalice (Romans only use chalices, of course) that all those other people had drunken from.

Once again, we are focusing on the means, not the end.

Christine

Bill S. said...

Christine, what is your point? There were three temples..Solomons; the one after the return from Babylon; and the refurbished one of Herod in the time of Christ. Yes, the services ceased in this one. But as Christians, journeying out of this Jewish temple and headed toward the Heavenly temple it was patterned on..why shouldn't we copy much that is in both? Why shouldn't we have a liturgical, confessional form of worship that is a visual record of the gospel?

christl242 said...

Bill, yes, Herod refurbished and expanded the Temple in the time of Christ and Judaism generally speaks of the First and Second Temples. When referring to a "Third" Temple it is the hope of Orthodox Jews to rebuild on the Temple Mount and reinstitute animal sacrifices.

But as Christians, journeying out of this Jewish temple and headed toward the Heavenly temple it was patterned on..why shouldn't we copy much that is in both? Why shouldn't we have a liturgical, confessional form of worship that is a visual record of the gospel?

Visual record of the gospel. What did Jesus say, heaven and earth will pass away but His Word would never pass away?

I am European by birth and have seen the most magnificent churches one could imagine this side of heaven. Most of them now stand empty and lifeless.

I think you are taking Revelation a bit too literally. The New Testament tells us that we walk by faith, not by sight although that certainly doesn't mean we can't use the good things of creation to edify our worship, indeed we do so in the waters of Baptism and the wheat and fruit of the vine that became the Body and Blood of the Lord.

But heaven, classically speaking, is the fullness of the presence of God. The picture language of Revelation is not necessarily what it will look like. As St. Paul says, for now we "see through a glass darkly", then we shall know as we are known.

Once again, I am not against liturgical worship or beauty in worship.

What amazes me is how part of the LCMS is mooning after Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and the other after Rome and Constantinople.

Christine

Anonymous said...

So, is you are pro beauty and artistry and the best we can do, you are mooning over Rome and Constantinople? Well then I guess the only legitimate Lutheran position is the mundane! I do not know any Lutherans mooning over Rome or Constantinople but I do know many who appeal to their own history and heritage and confession for liturgical worship that mirrors the Confessions.

Anonymous said...

dngblst it... it should have said IF you are pro beauty...

Birkholz said...

Christine- Please consider the following:

"At the Reformation….the more conservative Lutherans never rejected the chasuble, especially in parts of Scandinavia, and one notes that their eucharistic theology was more Catholic in tendency than that of the Calvinists and Zwinglians. Later, in the mid-nineteenth Century, some Anglicans began to reintroduce the chasuble. Some of these high-church clergymen even went to prison for wearing it. They knew what it means, even if a few of our priests today seem to have forgotten. The chasuble is the eucharistic vestment par excellence….It signifies the charity with which Jesus clothes [the celebrant’s] weakness at the altar, when indeed we do act in persona Christi."
Msgr. Peter Elliot, "Liturgical Question Box," p. 47

"At the time of the Reformation, Luther retained the chasuble and the ancient vestments. Since earliest days, however, the chasuble has been “the vestment” for the celebration of the Holy Communion Service. It was retained by the Lutheran Church at the time of the Reformation, and is still used by a large section of the Lutheran Church."
Paul H. D. Lang, Ceremony and Celebration, p. 47

christl242 said...

What all of you seem to miss here is that the "fight" is not between who uses chasubles and who doesn't, but who still adheres to the historic faith, which has split just about every denomination there is.

Sweden? Yes, there is a faithful remnant but the state church, with all its smells and bells, now harasses pastors who don't believe in ordaining women or gays.

The Anglicans? Sorry, but the most conservative Anglicans now are those in the Third World, and they are of a decidedly evangelical bent. Oh, you mean his high Druidness, the Archbishop of Canterbury in all his mitred splendor?

I can assure you that the Lutheran services I attended in Germany as a child were faithfully so.
Heavens, we even had a crucifix on the altar, but we never, NEVER referred to our pastors as "priests" nor did they wear chasubles.

And oh, don't those Roman Catholic "womenpriests" look great in their chasubles?

Since earliest days, however, the chasuble has been “the vestment” for the celebration of the Holy Communion Service. Which makes absolutely no sense in that the context is entirely different. The chasuble is a priestly vestment in the Roman church precisely because the priest is acting in persona Christi in offering the sacrifice on behalf of the church.

There's tradition and there's Tradition. The two seem to be getting confused here.

Christine

Jenny said...

Perhaps this goes without saying but with all this discussion maybe it is good to remember that even though he allows us to play a small role, Jesus is the one responsible for keeping the church in truth and purity and us in saving faith. He won't fail. We shouldn't be alarmed and anxious because he cares for us!

christl242 said...

Yes, Jenny, and Jesus and the NT also warn us that there would be false teachers until He comes again.

We need to cling tightly to the faith delivered once for all to the saints.

Until one has been inside the Roman church and seen how the hierarchy has lost control of devotion to Mary and the saints it is difficult to comprehend how unbiblical the whole system is.

Christine

scredsoxfan2 said...

Christine,

again, as someone inside the "Roman Church" I clearly don't see what you are talking about and your denigration of Anglicanism, Protestantism etc can also be applied to Lutheranism which has led to all manners of "non-denominational ism"...

Thank you to the rest of you for your comments of charity here and Pastor, again, great post.

christl242 said...

No, redsoxfan, you are a child of Vatican II and it will be very difficult for you to grasp what I am talking about.

If you had had any experience of the pre-Vatican II church it would go a long way to explaining my views.

Unlike the Roman church the Confessional Lutheran Church neither makes the error of Jesuit Karl Rahner's "Anonymous Christian" nor does she restrict salvation to herself but acknowledges that all those who put their trust in Christ's finished work on their behalf will go to heaven -- and with no stops in purgatory, if you please.

Charity is not charity when it is based on error.

Christine

Anonymous said...

If we quit all talking to her she won't have anyone here to argue with anymore!

christl242 said...

If we quit all talking to her she won't have anyone here to argue with anymore!

Right, Anonymous, that's the best you can come up with?

How about addressing the issues?

Christine

christl242 said...

And not as an "anonymous" poster, either?

Christine

BrotherBoris said...

A fine essay, Pastor Peters! Would that the Church of the Augsburg Confession would heed your wise words. I, for one, am glad there are still Lutherans that take the Augustan seriously in what it says in Article XXIV about the Mass.

I wonder if the effects of the Enlightenment (1660-1770 according to most scholars) have weakened the Lutheran approach to worship perhaps as much as or even more so than Pietism? I think that and what C.S. Lewis calls "the desire to be like other folks" drives this attitude in some parts of American Lutheranism to fit in and just be seen as 'merely another' version of suburban Protestant churchianity.

I know I'm no longer Lutheran, but I still recognize good Lutheranism when I see it. Why anyone would be attracted to a generic Lutheranism that turns the history liturgy into a hymn sandwich and hides the Sacraments in a closet as a relic of an ashamed, almost "Catholic" past is beyond me.

I think the evangelical catholic version of Lutheranism has a LOT to offer American Christianity. A whole lot more than Calvinism, Revivalism, Fundamentalism, or Mainline Milquetoastism.

I suppose people will bash me too, but I don't care. Pastor Peters is right people. You Lutherans out there ought to listen to him.

Jenny said...

Well said Brother Boris, Thank you!

christl242 said...

So Brother Boris, tell me, considering that Luther kicked out the canon of the mass with its sacrificial language, how is it you understand the Augsburg Confession?

Christine

Terry Maher said...

Bullroar, bullroar, let us be attentive!

It's not just Die Aufklaerung or Pietism or "the desire to be like other folks"

The fact is, the desire to be like others is what motivates not only a Lutheran version of generic Protestant worship for some, but also a Lutheran version of the 1960s liturgical movement style worship that began with the novus ordo and is now the common property of mainstream liturgical denoms.

In neither case resulting in the "historic" worship, but contemporary worship, some with guitars and such, and some with vestments and chalices and such.

Pastor Peters said...

A generic Lutheranism that turns the historic liturgy into a hymn sandwich and hides the Sacraments in a closet as a relic of an ashamed, almost "Catholic" past is beyond me.

Brother Boris, I am telling you I am going to steal that phrase. Good one! I love it. Hymn sandwich. That is a good one.

christl242 said...

Yep, never worries about a "hymn sandwich" at my old Catholic parish. The cantor could barely get people to sing one full verse. But then why should they. The "historic" mass did not have hymn singing.

Y'all can talk "historic" liturgy all you want, Rome does not recognize Lutheran ordinations nor the Sacrament of the Altar as we understand it.

Thank God for Luther.

Christine

Christine

BrotherBoris said...

Christine, get a life and go rain on someone else's parade! If you don't like what Pastor Peters writes, why do you post here? I find his articles always make me think and reflect, and for that I am thankful. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that Pastor Peters is a prophetic voice in the LCMS. May God raise up more men like him!

Terry Maher said...

"Hymn sandwich" is a good one. Right up there with "I'm no longer Lutheran".

Hymns were added -- added, as Christine notes, they are not part of the liturgy -- to teach the people. (AC XXIV)

Added why? Because ceremonies are needed for one reason alone, to teach people what they need to know about Christ. (AC XXIV)

Added to what? The usual ceremonies, nearly all of which are preserved (AC XXIV) -- preserved, not awaiting a rejection 450 some years later in favour of denominational tweaks of a pastiche mass by a "liturgical movement" of this, that and the other from here, there, and everywhere.

BrotherBoris said...

Terry: You make a good point. And perhaps I have misunderstood you. I think we may agree with each other more than we realize. As much as I defend the evangelical catholic interpretation of Lutheranism, I do agree with you that American Lutheranism needlessly aped and followed far too many of the Vatican II "reforms." I think Lutheranism would be better served if it stuck to the texts and form of the Common Service. The new textual additions to the LBW/LW version of the liturgy, in my opinion, were most unfortunate. I am sure some people will want to shoot me, but I think "This is the Feast" was an unfortunate addition to the liturgy. The Gloria in Excelsis needs no improvement or replacement. Period. If "This is the Feast" is desired, put it in the Hymn section and sing it during the Distribution. But don't violate the Common Service by adding a text written in the 20th century full of Vatican II language. Ditto for the hideous "Let the Vineyards be fruitful" text and the "Thank the Lord and sing His praise". Again, those banal additions were not needed. The sad thing is that those new texts actually replaced texts from the Word of God itself. The "Create in Me" text from Psalm 51 was far better, and coupled with the moving Freylinghausen tune to which it was set, was very much beloved by the people. Sadly, there was no valid reason to change it whatsoever. And as far as the text of "Thank the Lord and Sing His Praise", it is just pitiful and shallow compared to the glorious Nunc Dimittis which it replaced. A bolder confession of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist than that hymn of St. Simeon you simply will not see. Again, it needed no "improvement" and should have been left alone.

Other Vatican II things that Lutheranism copied uncritically, such as freestanding altars, celebrating facing the people instead of ad orientem, and the three year lectionary, were also unfortunate innovations.

When I read Article XXIV of the Augustana, I see a call to celebrate, keep and observe the historic liturgy of the Western Church, as embodied in the Common Service. I do not see there a call for the Church to keep inventing new services, new texts, and new forms of worship.

I think the Lutheran Church would do well to ponder the words of Article XXIV and serious consider returning to the practice that Article XXIV recommends with these words:

"We are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. Actually the Mass is retained among us and is celebrated with the greatest reverence. Almost all the customary ceremonies are retained."

Terry Maher said...

Indeed Brother Boris.

Was this the way of St Jerome? Did he assemble his Comes, and then another in case some thought a greater exposure to Scripture was needed, as if he were compiling a Bible Study curriculum rather than a selections to go with the march of the church year, a Gospel reading to replace the Law as the torah portion, and a reading from elsewhere in the Bible, usually the Epistles, to replace the haftorah portion usually from the Prophets?

Was this the way of St John Chrysostom? Did he fashion a liturgy with two or three ways to pronounce Christ's absolution, four or more eucharistic prayers, a couple of ways to announce the dismissal, or the sending, if you will, alternate versions of the Our Father. etc?

One of the most profound experiences in my conversion to "Lutheranism" was, while reading the Book of Concord, envisioning the implementation of the liturgical reforms presented there, as against the liturgical reforms of the 1960s which I experienced from the start and eventually ended up in one of the hotbeds that produced them.

Not even close.

So yes, I'm not arguing against the historic liturgy at all. It has value nor because it's historic; it's historic because it has value. But I am saying it's just nuts to advocate as "historic" against a pastiche drawn from "evangelical" Protestantism what is in fact equally "contemporary worship", a pastiche drawn from various historic liturgies but not historic liturgy itself.

Which makes the latter more dangerous than the former. The former are clearly apart from liturgy, but the latter bear a superficial resemblance in externals and structural generalities that can seem historic when it is not.

christl242 said...

Hymns were added -- added, as Christine notes, they are not part of the liturgy -- to teach the people. (AC XXIV)

Thank you, Terry.

And for a further thought of "hymn sandwiches" I love the hymns in TLH and LSB. Lutherans are so blessed to have hymns that are, as my pastor pointed out during Divine Service, prayers set to music. When Lutherans sing we really do, as St. Augustine pointed out, pray twice.

Some of the songs I have heard in the Roman and Evangelical churches contain far too much "I, I, I" and what we think it is WE are doing for God. Oregon Catholic Press is a good example and I noticed the longer I was Catholic I was becoming just like the people in the pews around me, not singing.

Brother Boris, please take your own advice and kindly get your own life. Like Terry I have living experience of the Catholic church pre and post-Vatican II and I will continue to protest the foreign values that have been imported into Lutheran worship from the postconciliar Catholic church, which in no way resembles that of my childhood.

I am not making this personal, but you seem to be.

Verstehst?

Christine

BrotherBoris said...

Christine: The irony of this particular situation actually amuses me. You, the Lutheran, are apparently scandalized by the "Romanizing" opinions of the Rev. Larry Peters, an LCMS pastor. I, the Russian Orthodox, find the opinions of the Rev. Peters to be quite reasonable and based on the confession of his Church, a confession he swore to uphold and teach when he was ordained. Part of that confession says "Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. Actually, the Mass is retained among us and is celebrated with the greatest reverence. Almost all the customary ceremonies are also retained." (Augsburg Confession, Article 24). All Pastor Peters is doing is calling the Lutheran Church to return to her origins and her birthright. He is, rather prophetically, reminding the Lutheran Church that she has developed some bad habits over the centuries and needs to correct them. He is not, I assure you, trying to create some kind of Vatican II for Lutherans. It absolutely bewilders me that you, the Lutheran, seem so offended at what Pastor Peters is advocating. I just think he makes sense. He wants the Lutheran Church to put her best foot forward and to act and worship in a confessional Lutheran manner. Why does that so offend you?

Anonymous said...

Right on, Brother Boris!

christl242 said...

Well here's even more irony, BB. Earlier you wrote that perhaps you and Terry are not so far apart and yet I stand with the exact same postions that he does.

Now, that's ironic.

What's even more intersting is a former Lutheran who is now Russian Orthodox coming here to critique my understanding of authentic Lutheranism.

For what it's worth, my parish uses the Common Service as laid out in DSIII in the LSB. I have no compuctions about making the Sign of the Cross at the beginning of Divine Service, kneeling for Confession and Absolution and following all the time-honored practices of my Lutheran forbears.

What is NOT authentically Lutheran is having parallel services that have been imported from the Revised Common Lectionary/Vatican II liturgy. That is just as foreign as the fact that the historic Roman mass of the ages is now the optional "Extraordinary Form" of the mass while the novus ordo retains preeminence.

But then, I don't go to Orthodox or Catholic blogs to gauge their "authenticity".

Christine

christl242 said...

from the postconciliar Catholic church, which in no way resembles that of my childhood.

And just to be clear, here I am referring to the Roman church, not the Lutheran church of my childhood (not a perjorative term at all, the Roman rite is the largest of several in the Catholic church.)

Christine

BrotherBoris said...

Christine: I am delighted that we agree on so much. I was particularly impressed by this statement you made:

What is NOT authentically Lutheran is having parallel services that have been imported from the Revised Common Lectionary/Vatican II liturgy. That is just as foreign as the fact that the historic Roman mass of the ages is now the optional "Extraordinary Form" of the mass while the novus ordo retains preeminence.


I thought that was magnificent.

It still seems to bother you, though, that I post here. I am sorry that it does, for there is much within Lutheranism that I believe is good and true. When I see what is good and true within Lutheranism being advocated, I tend to express my support for it. Just because I left the Lutheran Church does NOT mean that I demonize it, or that cannot recognize the good that it does and the truth that it contains. There are far too many converts (of all stripes and denominations) who demonize the church that they came from and who will admit no shortcomings or faults in the new church they belong to now. Not me. As hard as it may be for you to believe, I can still RESPECT the Lutheran Church without being Lutheran. And I can still have valid opinions about it, just as you still have valid opinions about the Roman Catholic Church in which you were raised. And just as you realize the phony spirituality of the Vatican II 'reforms' because you were taught real, true, historic Catholicism, as expressed in the old Tridentine Mass, so can I recognize changes and distortions to the great Lutheran tradition because I was trained and catechized in historic, confessional Lutheranism.

I am not here to judge anyone. Certainly I am not here to judge Pastor Peters, you or anyone else. But any fair-minded person, even a fair-minded atheist, if he knew Lutheran doctrine. history and the Lutheran confessions, could tell you that Pastor Peters is simply advocating a return to Lutheran practice as defined in the Lutheran confessions, and not trying to create some exotic liturgical smorgasbord patched together from bizarre and rarefied sources and then pass it off as a Lutheran version of Vatican II.

Christine, if you would like to come to an Orthodox forum sometime, I would gladly invite you. We don't proselytize and you can ask any questions you want and critique us as much as you like. I have been a member of the Lutheran Forum for several years now, and I enjoy it. I have had very fruitful discussion with many Lutheran pastors who have taught me nuances about Lutheranism that I did not know. Our discussions are always civil and respectful.

It would surprise you what you could learn from other people.

Terry Maher said...

Borisula -- of course it is not being passed of as a Lutheran version of Vatican II; it isn't even recognised as such, and its use mistaken for some sort of Confessional fidelity when the Confessions knew something quite different than the 1960s style pastiches liturgical denoms now offer in place of their respective traditions.

christl242 said...

Terry, bingo! My mouth almost dropped open when I heard my poor deluded sister, who is still a member of the ELCA state that since Vatican II for Lutherans "we worship just like the Catholics!"

Gott hilf mir!

Brother Boris, a couple thoughts. I am not "offended" that you post here, I just don't see the point. A couple of clarifications -- I was not raised Catholic, I was raised Lutheran, my mother's tradition but my father was Roman Catholic and through him I had exposure to the old Roman Rite.

When I married my lapsed Catholic husband I became Catholic for all the wrong reasons and was under the delusion that the Catholic church still worshipped according to the old norms. I think after the second week I realized what a mistake I had made but I slugged it out for over a decade.

My husband attended parochial schools from kindergarten on and after Vatican II saw no point in continuing in a church that, in his own words, "no longer practiced what I (my husband) was taught."

To say that my Catholic experience ultimately proved very disappointing is an understatement. I couldn't believe some of the things I saw and heard.

To make a long story short, no church this side of eternity is perfect but like the prodigal, I realized the treasure I had had in my Lutheran upbringing and am now back where I belong.

However, the cut and paste influences in the LCMS, whether from an "evangelical" or "Catholic" source, are not the Lutheran tradition I knew growing up.

Terry Maher said...

I was raised Catholic, and it is the contention of the framers of the novus ordo -- some of whom were my professors -- that "real, true, historic Catholicism" is not at all expressed in the Tridentine Mass, but that rather it was a retreat into late mediaeval triumphalism against the Reformation, a blind alley unfortunate in its time and unneeded in ours, and that the Mass of Paul VI in fact, due to the greater resources and scholarship available to-day, fulfills the goal of the Pius V Mass better than the Pius V Mass itself.

Not to mention, the Tridentine Mass (which in my younger days needed no adjective, it was just Mass) did not even exist at the time of the Lutheran Reformation and its liturgical reforms.

I will tell you, Boris, that one of the great experiences of my life was in Miami, quite some years before I became Lutheran but after I had quit Rome, when I attended a Melkite Rite service down the street. Despite a language I do not even remotely know, a music quite foreign to my experience, etc, that this was recognisably Mass was clear as a bell, something that has yet to strke me about any novus ordo celebration, even those in Latin.

The only thing that stumped me was the little loaves offered on the way out -- at the time I didn't have a clue about them and not knowing whether to take one or not, to avoid giving offence I didn't though I wasn't sure that not taking one would give offence!

We have a wonderful version of the Common Service now living incognito amid pastiche services in LSB -- I have yet to find an LCMS parish that uses it, and doubt I ever will, but I am Lutheran by belief and remain where the faith I confess is at least possible to confess regardless of the aberrations one finds everywhere, be they "evangelical" type worship or Lutheran versions of the 1960s style pastiche services so common now.

Where I live, DSI is effectively the new Common Service. Well hell, if you gotta re-Greek up the Kyrie, as the liturgical movement is wont to do, at least it does it better offering a mini Readers Digest version of the First Litany, than the novus ordo which hacked the bleeder over into a penitential rite, or Christian Worship of WELS that relocated the Western Kyrie before the Absolution!

Pastor Peters said...

We have a wonderful version of the Common Service now living incognito amid pastiche services in LSB -- I have yet to find an LCMS parish that uses it, and doubt I ever will...

Terry, I do not know where you have been, but the majority of parishes in the Nebraska District continue to use the Common Service (Divine Service III) and, unless I am mistaken, I would say that between 1/3 and 1/2 of the parishes using LSB use DSIII either exclusively or at least as one of their regular options.

Honestly, I am surprised that you find it so rare...

Pastor Peters said...

Funny..."My mouth almost dropped open when I heard my poor deluded sister, who is still a member of the ELCA state that since Vatican II for Lutherans 'we worship just like the Catholics!'"

When the first English mass hit the Roman Catholic parish near my home town, Irish Catholic Bill Kirby complained to my Lutheran Dad at the businessmen's breakfast at the cafe in town, "I was so disappointed to find out that the Latin was not any different in English than what those Lutherans have been saying for 400 year!"

The Common Service was kin to the Roman Mass in form and text long before Vatican II or LBW.

Anyone going to the LBW forms (also in LW and LSB) immediately recognizes the relationship to the Common Service. The differences are more subtle than some on this board would say.

Terry Maher said...

That is a complete misperception. The English you hear in a Roman Mass now is not at all a translation of what was formerly said in Latin. The English is a translation made from a new order of Mass, hence the term novus ordo, promulgated after Vatican II and written in Latin, then translated. And now recently re-translated, as the original translation in use for now over a generation would not have been worthy of even my second year Latin class with Sister Colleen. But in neither or no case is it a translation of the "Latin Mass" (which is a misnomer; the novus ordo is a Latin Mass too but rarely said that way, almost always in translation).

The Common Service is based on antecedents of even the Tridentine Mass, so it would be more accurate to say the Tridentine Mass is kin to the Common Service. In fact the Pius V Mass deliberately proscribed any rites less than 200 years old at the time so that none of the errors of the Reformers would ever infect the Mass, ie one should never hear in the Roman Mass what one hears in a Lutheran or other Protestant service despite any formal similarity, and if one does, one either did not know the old Roman Mass (which always had translation of the facing pages of missals) or does not know the novus ordo, or both.

The resemblance of the orders in pretty much any liturgical denoms service books since the 1960s to each other is clear, as is their contrast in anything but general outline to their respective predecessors.

christl242 said...

The Common Service was kin to the Roman Mass in form and text long before Vatican II or LBW.

This has nothing to do with English versus Latin, it has to do with the structure of the rites themselves. That's why the "new mass" is called the Novus Ordo.

I have no use for either pre or postconciliar Catholicism but there's solid reasons why Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre protested what happened at Vatican Council II resulting in the Society of St. Pius X. He was no mere disgruntled "traditionalist" but knew very well that one changes what people believe by first changing how they worship.

He (and Pius no doubt as well) would be astounded that the Feast of the Assumption was not a "holy day of obligation" yesterday because it fell on a Monday, and after all one can't expect Catholics to show up for mass yet again after having attended Sunday.

My sister, looking only to the externals of the LBW, hasn't got a clue as to the differences in the Eucharistic canon of Rome compared to the usage in the LBW, which not all ELCA congregations use anymore since the publication of the ELCA's new service book, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, not to mention that the memorial acclamation that still exists in LBW has now been kicked out in the new Roman Missal so the ELCA/LBW will be using an outdated version as far as Rome is concerned. My poor deluded sister also thinks that because her pastor uses incense and all the external goodies that that makes her parish's worship "Catholic".

Not to mention the irony that whatever the ELCA does or doesn't use, having now taken the step of ordaining women "bishops" makes whatever liturgy they use entirely irrelevant.

christl242 said...

The resemblance of the orders in pretty much any liturgical denoms service books since the 1960s to each other is clear, as is their contrast in anything but general outline to their respective predecessors.

Terry, spot on!

Christine