Friday, September 20, 2013

The growing pains of faithful Lutheran identity. . .

I have had a couple of folks over the years who have complained that I seem to be leading my congregation to a more Catholic self-identity.  I deny this; I have no aspirations with regard to Rome.  What I do admit and I confess to is moving my congregation to a more authentic Lutheran confessional identity with its concurrent practice.  Unfortunately, this is not an easy distinction for Lutherans to make.

Confessionally

I grew up in a Lutheranism was which decidedly anti-Catholic.  There was no greater offense than for an outsider to visit the Divine Service (sorry, make that, Order of Morning Worship with Communion) and say "why, that looks Catholic to me!"  How dare you!  But it was easier to be Lutheran in the 1950s.  All Lutherans used the Common Service of 1888 (in our case, on page 15 or ante-communion on page 5).  The music might be different in liturgy and hymnal but we were secure in our Lutheranism and could afford not to take our Confessions all that seriously.  So when our Confessions insisted that we had the Mass every Lord's Day, holy day, and every other day communicants desired to receive it, we could wink at that and continue our quarterly or monthly Lord's Supper.

We had an American culture (on the surface) well integrated with mainline Protestantism so we sought to be a Lutheran version of that mainline Protestant identity.  Lutherans were coming out of their ethnic conclaves in the 1950s and were hitting America big time.  We seemed comfortable enough with an outward facade of Calvinism coupled with a somewhat odd (bizarre?) sacramentality and a predilection for formal, liturgical worship (mostly black gowns with an occasional surplice and stole).  Again, we could ignore our own Confessions and their insistence that we observed faithfully all the liturgical traditions (read that church usages and ceremonies) that did not conflict with the Gospel because all the Lutherans pretty much looked and acted fairly similar.  Who was to hold us to account?

When confessional renewal began and voices like Arthur Carl Piepkorn began challenging this view of Luther and the Lutherans, we had to take sides.  Sadly, the side of taking worship and the confessions more seriously seemed to fall more to those on the side of a decidedly non-confessional view of Scripture and the Gospel.  You know what happened in Missouri and you can also follow the evolution of Biblical inerrancy through Frederick Schiotz and the old ALC through to the present ELCA.  The side of Biblical truth was deeply suspicious of those who sought a more faithful Lutheran confessional identity.

Now we find ourselves full circle.  Those who take Scripture seriously in Lutheranism are generally also those who take the Confessions seriously and do not view them through a predisposition to a dressed up Calvinism, Protestantism, or evangelicalism.  That view has been on the ascendancy since the 1980s and resulted in the election of Dr. Matthew Harrison as President.  Lutherans are being held accountable to our Concordia more now than ever.  This has been primarily a clergy movement but not exclusively so.  Now, to be sure, those who worked to address the Biblical inerrancy issue in the 1970s are still not at home with this and continue to label these Lutherans who believe confessional is not merely a descriptor of what is believed but a cause for practices wholly consistent with what we say we believe.  Whether hypo-Euros or sacerdotalists, it would seem that the Cascione crowd has found an unlikely ally in the Kieschnick crowd.  Now the complaint is clergy dominance -- Cascione believes that lay influence will Protestantize the "Catholic" practice of the some of the Confessionals and Kieschnick believes it will moderate arbitrary and unbending doctrinal adherence and practices of the Confessionals.

Liturgically

I grew up in a Lutheranism which was decidedly formalistic (all our Pastors seemed to stand and sit and move according to an unwritten script) but it was also mostly unliturgical.  They did not do this because they believed the liturgy confessed the faith but simply because this was what Lutherans did and what they were taught to do.  They were rigorous in the way they followed the rules but they always felt a little uncomfortable in the vestments, clerical collar, and at the altar.  They were preachers more than liturgists.

Now we find ourselves at a time in which the call of the faithful (lay and clergy) is becoming more a both and than an either or -- take worship seriously and take the faith seriously.  This has resulted in a division.  There are those who elevate the cause of the lost higher than any other value and who seem willing to dump every liturgical identity of our Confessions and our history in order to convert one lost soul.  There are also those who believe that you cannot have a high view of the Bible and not have a catholic (small "c" folks) view of worship and the liturgy. 

This has left some Lutherans with some uneasiness.  They go to a Lutheran congregation in which the Word is held in proper Confessional esteem and with it come liturgical practices that some have rejected as "Catholic" but which were properly and always the practice of the Lutheran Church until the last couple of centuries.  They find their Pastors chanting, wearing Eucharistic vestments, crossing themselves, kneeling, genuflecting at the consecration, ringing bells, etc... and they do not like it.  They were raised to instinctively reject all the frills as adiaphora (translate that unnecessary) or as impediments to the simple worship of Jesus (as much as you can call it that using a hymnal and following some of rubrics).  They wish that they could return to the 1950s when liturgical simply meant using the hymnal, when Holy Communion was a more occasional than essential part of the Divine Service, and when the more catholic practice of Confessional doctrine was more circumspect.

When these Lutheran lay folk visit other Lutheran congregations, they tend to find the neat divisions of the modern worship wars.  The praise band Lutherans (generally larger congregations and those planted more recently) and the pipe organ Lutherans (generally small to medium size and with a longer history).  They wonder what happened to their old Protestant style Lutheranism.  It is gone.  It was a victim of the battle for the Lutheran soul that asks either the Confessions or not.  Sure, you may find it occasionally in the WELS or ELS (or some rural parts of the Upper Midwest), but you can also find in these the same divisions as Missouri -- because this is not strictly a single synod issue.  When they go to the ELCA, they find a different liturgical strangeness -- inclusive language, gay or women clergy presiding, social issues parading as the Gospel, and union with those who disagree with us about many things but seem to agree on others (Presbyterians, Reformed, Episcopalians, UCC, etc...).  This group of Lutherans seems to have lost their church home and they don't like it one bit.  But they don't know where to go, either.

Catechesis

I grew up in the days when catechesis meant simply the memorization of the Synodical Catechism and its hundreds of proof-texting Bible passages -- NOT a framework for piety and practice of the Lutheran faith.  Now we find that the Confessionals who advocate the full Divine Service are also insisting that the Catechism not merely be taught but actually shape the piety of Lutherans.  We have arguments over how the Small Catechism is being translated and about what happens in classes leading to Confirmation and in new member instruction.  The catechism is no longer a hurdle that must be jumped to belong, it is a living part of what it means to believe, confess, and teach as Lutherans -- for parents in the home, for children in the faith, for converts from outside, and for Sunday morning classes (where the Catechism accompanies our study of Scripture).

Some Lutheran lay folk like this but they are also somewhat suspicious of the catechism as if it were being  used to replace the Bible.  They have grown up with the idea that Bible study is good but are not so sure about all this talk of the catechism.  When they read that the Catechism, the Hymnal, and a good Lutheran study Bible are the print resources that support the Christian life in the home, they think this sounds good in principle but they wonder why not just the Bible (along with, say, Portals of Prayer)?  So they like the emphasis upon Bible study but they wonder why their Pastors keep bringing up the catechism or the Confessions.

In other venues, the catechism is completely lost.  Here the mission of the Church is strictly converting the lost and these folks see the catechism the way they see the hymnal -- a distraction at best and an enemy at worst to real, measurable, church growth.  They insist they teach the substance of the catechism but do not use the book, the vocabulary, or the structure of Luther's catechism.  To this, the confessionals cry foul.  How can you teach the catechism without teaching, well, the catechism?

This is where a bunch of folks in my parish fit... or, rather, do not fit.  I suspect it is true of many throughout the Synod...

28 comments:

Pr. Chuck Sampson said...

Excellent analysis. Thank you, Fr. Peters.

Pr. Chuck Sampson

Unknown said...

Why do Lutherans call the pastor who is not preaching a liturgist? That seems so concocted and stale. Why not use what the catholics and Orthodox use for their priests--namely that they celebrate the Divine Liturgy? Isn't that what it is? A celebration of God's divine love for His Creations centered in the Eucharist?

Dr.D said...

To the Unknown:

Could it be that Lutherans do not see the Holy Communion as a celebration? This might explain why they rush through it so fast, so informally, without letting Christ speak to them in the sacrament? I have been in LCMS parishes, one in Dubuque, IA, particularly, where the celebration of Holy Communion usually took much longer for the distribution than it did for the preparation, even when there were relatively few people receiving.

While we are talking about it, I might ask, why do Lutherans, and the LCMS in particular, often have the pastor receive Communion last? I have frequently seen the pastors receive at the end, often with their wives, after everyone else has communed; please explain this to me. As an Anglican priest, I am the first to receive if I am the celebrant (yes, we do view it as a celebration, and take our time doing it), while my wife receives later, with others in the congregation. Before I can bring Jesus Christ to the people, I must receive Him myself.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

Or it just might be liturgist because as the post indicates the services were not regularly Holy Communion but ante-communion (ending at the offering) or Matins, so celebrant (which is a regularly used word in Lutheranism)would not fit. Just guessing but it seems logical.

Gary said...

Amen, Pastor Peters! Keep preaching! Don't pay any attention to the jabs and insults from the pseudo-Reformed Lutheran segment of the LCMS.

Are Lutherans morphing into Evangelicals?

I was very disturbed to recently be told that 70% of the LCMS is non-liturgical, quasi-evangelical. My heart sank when I heard it!

I am a former evangelical. Evangelicalism is an exhausting emotional and spiritual roller coaster with exhilarating highs and profound, depressing lows due to its emphasis on my "feeling" God working inside me as the gauge of my spiritual health.

I was so happy to discover orthodox/confessional Lutheranism and jump off the evangelical carnival ride.

In a liturgical Lutheran Divine Service I recite the same liturgy and repeat the same Creeds every Sunday with millions and millions of other orthodox/catholic Christians around the world. In a liturgical Lutheran Divine Service I sing the hymns of Luther and Wesley, hymns that my grandparents and great-grandparents and their parents sang. In a liturgical Lutheran Divine Service I feel connected not only to the millions of "catholic/orthodox" Christians around the world today but those in centuries past: Christians in Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Lebanon, Syria, India and the churches of Europe. Each Sunday millions and maybe over a billion Christians are reciting the same ancient Creeds of the Faith.

What a rich, rich heritage we Lutherans have!

So why on earth are Lutherans trying to keep up with the new kids on the block---the evangelicals? Just to attract the big crowds? Is that the purpose of Christianity: putting on a good show to bring in bigger and bigger crowds?

If people are looking for a laid-back, casual, folksy style of worship, why would they EVER consider finding that in a Lutheran church??? Why waste your time with the imitation when you can go down the street to the evangelical mega-church and get the "real deal"?

It's like going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering a hamburger!

Why are American Lutherans so ashamed of our "Catholic-ness"? We are NOT the radical Protestants who threw the "baby" out with the bath water--burning icons and crucifixes--- during the Reformation. We are Evangelical Catholics. It was never Luther's intent to destroy the Catholic Church with its rich traditions and beautiful liturgy, but to reform its doctrine which has been polluted by false Roman teachings.

We are not Roman, but we are Catholic! Let's stop trying to imitate the Reformed, and even worse, the "hip" evangelicals. Let's embrace our catholic liturgy and our beautiful catholic style of worship. Let's stop trying to be the imitation and instead be content to be historic, catholic Lutherans!

Anonymous said...

Pastor
I agree with your thoughts about catechism
These students in our catechism classes are tomorrow’s leaders.
They are deluged by conflicting values and views in school, in the media, and by friends and they need a stable base of what they believe
The Catechism provides this foundation
I struggle to find a way to teach so that it becomes more that just memory work, so that it does become an active part of their lives.

Unknown said...

Dear Dr. D: About receiving “at the end”. Some Lutheran pastors, and maybe not only Lutheran pastors, view themselves as servants, even as our Lord did, according to St. Paul in those famous words from Philippians. There is also something in Luke 17:7 ff about who eats first and who eats last. Certainly you realize that the liturgy developed, in part, during times when the clergy and bishops were considered to be lords and masters, and considered themselves in that manner also. Therefore it did not occur to them that our Lord intended them to be servants, who would not only eat last because of some command or tradition, but because of their sincere desire to follow their Lord in being servants.

If your people don’t have Jesus Christ before you bring Jesus Christ to them, they are receiving Him in judgment against themselves. If you do not have Jesus Christ before you bring Him to the people, you should not be a celebrant. Do you suppose He just evaporates without leaving a trace between feedings?

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

Lutheran identity, in its simplest terms, isn't defined by a historic or even confessional solidity -- as it certainly should be -- but in all honesty, it's being defined by those who speak the loudest and have the highest pulpits to badger from.

Whether or not a pastor wears a chasuble, whether or not a bell is rung before the Supper, whether or not one genuflects...these things are not identifying marks of a Lutheran! BUT they are turned into identifying marks by the FEW who, out of their own preferences, opinions, pasts and/or politics make such things to be absolutes: you do them or you're not truly confessional.

Such posturing is not only un-Lutheran, but it is completely contrary to Luther's entire purpose!

Are such things beneficial? Perhaps they are, and perhaps not. Perhaps in a small congregation in the middle of Iowa, where most of the congregation is 65 and older, it's best to keep these things minimal in order to edify the folks and keep the service reverent, whereas, in a congregation in northern Illinois where it has always identified itself as "high church" you employ these things, and more, in order to meet the needs of the people and keep the service reverent.

One does not "force" someone or some church to be reverent, anymore than you "force" someone or some church to throw out reverence. But you TEACH it, and as you teach, you gauge the congregation with regard to THEIR past, THEIR history, THEIR faith. A predominant pastor in Chicago cannot speak for a congregation in Louisiana, and vise-versa. (cont)

Anonymous said...

The ONLY thing needed for unity among the synod and all her churches IS a clear proclamation of the Word of God (Law and Gospel), and the proper administration of the Sacraments. Luther writes: "If the strongest impression that remains after a service is one of liturgical technique, that service has been a failure. Exaggerated concern for precise and perfect observance of traditional detail cannot satisfy the spiritual hunger of souls seeking God." (Luther's Works, vol 53). Remember, also, what Luther said about the German Mass: "For I do not propose that all of Germany should uniformly follow our Wittenberg order." Luther knew that while uniformity among all the churches would be a wonderful thing, it was not necessary, and that it was not worth becoming legalistic and against Christian freedom to achieve it. Luther continued to call the liturgy an external, a thing which SERVES the fellow-man.

You know, it is quite possible to have a perfectly performed liturgical service but still have no Law or Gospel proclaimed. As Luther says, perfect observance of traditional detail isn't enough to comfort souls. The Roman church wasn't always what it was during Luther's time (or what it is today to a lesser degree). There was a time when well-meaning theologians, who loved the liturgy and who wanted to use it correctly, began to drift away ever so slowly and move toward legalism. The theology changed either because of the liturgy (or the liturgy changed because of the theology...probably a little of both). (cont 2)

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to look at the "evangelical wannabe" Lutheran churches and conclude that they are in the wrong, which they are. They do exactly what Jesus speaks against and what Luther condemns: changing week after week and inventing new liturgies day after day. But it's quite another thing to look at a church which has practiced its liturgy consistently for years, comforting the souls of the worshipers, proclaiming a strong Gospel message....but the pastor doesn't wear a chasuble, they don't use incense, they don't genuflect, and they don't chant or use p. 15. Why should they be judged by the "few" as being less-confessional simply because they don't practice a tradition such as crossing themselves, kneeling, bowing at the Gloria Patri, etc? Wouldn't it be better that we thank God that His Holy Spirit is working there, even though they may not have the same traditions as a church like Zion Detroit or Redeemer Ft Wayne?

Rigidity is what we DON'T want; an abuse of freedom is what we DON'T want. Faith in God's Word and a strong love for one another is what we DO want. We don't judge Word and Sacrament ministry using traditions, but rather we allow traditions, whatever they are, to serve Word and Sacrament ministry in the best way possible (even and especially if those traditions are not the same in all places).

Anonymous said...

Rigidity? Where does this talk about rigidity? What it does talk about is how the kind of loosely practiced Lutheranism once possible when Lutheran identity was less challenged is not possible in a world where Lutheran identity is challenged every day. Is this about preferences or is it about viewing practices as extensions of the confession and not as indifferent things? In a world like things were in the 1950s when Lutherans of all stripes were closer in belief and in worship, these things did not matter as much. Now they matter much more because Lutherans are all over the page.

Gary said...

Liturgy is not doctrine.

We Lutherans do not condemn evangelicals for not using liturgy. We lament Lutherans who abandon the beautiful liturgy in an attempt to boost their attendance and keep their congregants entertained, but even with Lutherans we do not condemn them as not following Scripture.

Liturgy, to we liturgical, is extremely important, but it is adiaphora: we should never pass judgment, or condescend as Less spiritual, anyone, including fellow Lutherans, who do not use it.

Lamenting is one thing, passing judgment is quite another.

Dr.D said...

To Unknown George:

Well, I guess you really told me! I gather that you are saying that Christ-like leadership is leading from behind. (Moses, the leader of the first Exodus, would never qualify; he was out in front.) I should have known that, since we are seeing so much "leading from behind" all around us these days.

To Gary:

Are you familiar with the Latin phrase, "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi"?

Fr.D+
Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

I believe our Lutheran Confessions say liturgy is not adiaphora but doctrinal because it confesses doctrine; individual ceremonies may be adiaphora but not the liturgy.

Gary said...

If liturgy is doctrine, then the LCMS is a heterodox church body for tolerating non-liturgical congregations to remain in the Synod.

I love the liturgy. I will only attend a liturgical church, but I would never condemn an evangelical or fellow Lutheran for using a contemporary worship style. I will strongly lament their non-liturgical practice, but would not condemn it as unscriptural.

Style of worship is not dictated in Scripture, the final authority for Christian doctrine and practice.

Gary said...

However, I am a big believer in following the "club's rules". If the LCMS rules state that the liturgy must be used, then this rule should be enforced.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the folks that complain about the church heading toward a Catholic self identity are not complaining about the liturgy, confessionals or catechhism, but rather about the presentation, the statues, the adornments and the Pope-like appearance of the pastor.

Anonymous said...

Isn't worship the primary place where we show and proclaim what we believe and teach? So what happens in worship can 't be something unimportant. If different congregations do very different things in worship that ends up being different faith?!

Dr.D said...

To Gary: The second Anon (just above this comment) came close to what I was pointing to when I asked if you were familiar with the Latin prhase, "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi." When you change the form of worship, you necessarily change the faith. When the LCMS abandoned The Hymnal 1941, and when through its rapid sequence of subsequent hymnals, each one represented some degree of change in the faith. (Of course, 1941 represented a change from whatever had come before, as well.)

You cannot change the form of worship without changing the nature of the faith expressed in that worship. Therefore, the praise band congregation is not expressing the same faith as the congregation that worships "by the book," with pipe organ and traditional hymns

Fr. D+

Unknown said...

Dear Dr. D: I do not know how you gathered what I was saying from what I wrote, since I wrote nothing about what you gathered.
The question, “Before I can bring Jesus Christ to the people, I must receive Him myself,” sounds so pious and reasonable that one dare not cast doubt on it. There is nothing in Scripture or anywhere else that claims a celebrant cannot bring the sacramental Body of Christ to the people unless He has received It first. Are you saying that those celebrants who choose to receive last have given something other than the sacramental Body of Christ to the people? Does the sacramental Body of Christ loses its essence when handled by a person who has not first received it?
The only reason that the celebrant receives first is that this is the tradition that has been established. But nobody can point to the time when this happened. Certainly Scripture does not speak to it. But it does speak extensively about humility and servant hood, both in the words of our Lord and in the words of His Apostles.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Gary said...

Elevating liturgy to the same level as doctrine, in my opinion, is a very dangerous, slippery slope. The end result is that any pastor or congregation who changes the liturgy in even the minutest detail, can then be declared as being unfaithful to Christ, sinning, a heretic; thereby placing his/their eternal salvation in jeopardy.

I don't buy it! And I don't buy it because it is nowhere to be found in Scripture, but only found in the traditions of men.

If the Lutheran Confessions or specifically, the LCMS, demand compliance with the Lutheran liturgy as a rule to maintain Church order...I have no problem with that. I like good order, and I love the liturgy.

But don't make rigid compliance with the liturgy equivalent to sin. If we liturgical Lutherans insist upon doing as such, then it will certainly then be accurate to refer to us as "Romish".

Anonymous said...

It is not the doctrine of the liturgy but the doctrine e IN the liturgy - confessed in words and actions

Anonymous said...

There is a line here that MUST be recognized. Lex Credendi, Lex Orandi only goes so far, and it is not meant to be taken as a law in and of itself. Shoot, of course our beliefs reflects our prayer and our prayer reflects our beliefs, but that's not to say that a chasuble in and of itself has some magical power which makes liturgy more liturgical. That's not to say that the TLH hymnal is some God-send where drifting away from it is unChristian or unconfessional.

Do you see what's going on here? We are making the assumption that the "truest" and "purest" faith and confession was during the time of Luther, and ever since then we have slowly drifted away. Then the conclusion drawn is that to be really, truly confessional, we need to go back to this "golden age" of confessionalism. And we think that adorning ourselves in all sorts of high church will bring it back. (cont)

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm here to tell ya, as one who DOES wear a chasuble every week, doing so does not make me more confessional. The MOMENT we start judging our brethern by what they WEAR or how they posture themselves is the moment we've drifted away from true confessionalism. Confessionalism is a VOCABLE, not an aesthetic. I wear a chasuble because my congregation has always had a pastor who wears a chasuble. But I also preach Law and Gospel to them and I assure them that whether or not a pastor wears one makes no difference to faith. Faith and the confession comes first. Because if "lex credendi lex orandi" were always true, then there would never ever be a person who says "Lord, Lord" who wasn't a Christian. Only Jesus says otherwise: "Many will call me Lord, Lord, but I will say,'Depart from me, I knew you not'" This is what EXTERNALS and adiaphora do. It is MUCH easier to put faith in experiential things like incense, clothing, tunes, etc, rather than believing in the Words of Christ. That's the sinful nature. Are we to tell our people "because you genuflect, you are certain to be saved"? NO! That would be nonsense, but indirectly that's what's going on here. We may not be saying it outright, but we're implying it. Roman Catholicism at one time affirmed such things! THAT'S the fear! The fear is that pastors who become overly-zealous over these things will find themselves returning to the papacy and telling people to buy indulgances, to crawl up stairs, to kiss relics. (cont2)

Anonymous said...


Pastors are sinners too, and they can be just as easily led astray by "mute idols" (thinking they're doing it for the right reasons). Generally speaking, reactionism does that: it creates idolatry; a reason to elevate what should never be elevated and to bring down what should be elevated.

We instead must continue to make our confession of faith by turning to Scripture alone for the necessary words, to Christ alone for the necessary comfort, and to grace alone for the necessary assurance.

Pastor Peters said...

I guess I am not as good at communication as I thought.

"a chasuble in and of itself has some magical power which makes liturgy more liturgical...." Did I say that?

What I said was, again:

In the 1940s-1950s the range of what Lutherans believed and how they practiced it on Sunday morning was much narrower. We could get away with a less than Confessional monthly or quarterly Eucharist and follow the order of the liturgy without paying much attention to why.

Today, we have Lutherans all over the page -- not just the lunatic fringes either. Lutherans no longer can presume anything. So what is done on Sunday morning is a much more significant expression of faith than an article in our church's constitution. Why? Because Lutheran identity is confused and Sunday morning is the primary place where a congregation expresses it. In other words, we live at a time when what we do on Sunday morning is even more critical so what we do had better be more connected to our Confessions and less connected to culture, preference, etc...

The point was, catholic worship is itself a confession of the catholicity of Lutheran Confession and faith. The point was, something other than the catholic worship which everyone believes our Confessions describe is, may be, can be a confession in conflict with the Confessions. Example. When what we do on Sunday morning does not flow from the Word and Table, follow the outline or ordo of the Divine Service (nobody is insisting upon a page number here), we are making a confession that says, in effect, we are not Lutheran -- at least not the kind of Lutherans the Confessions themselves identity.

I know of LCMS parishes without any hint of the Divine Service on Sunday morning, no Eucharist, and a seeker/praise service virtually indistinguishable from any big box evangelical or non-denominational church. The choices of what to do on Sunday morning carry consequences for what we believe, teach, and confess. In the 1950s we might have gotten away with less frequent Eucharist because in theory we still regarded the Eucharist highly. We cannot presume that the Eucharist is still valued highly and therefore its lack on Sunday morning is more significant today than in 1950.

Again, the point is this. The liturgy is not a law but it we have bound ourselves to the Divine Service. The ceremonies you use or do not use may be free but that does not mean the ceremonies do not themselves confess doctrinal truth. It is not that they do not matter but that uniformity cannot be a condition of faithfulness or salvation. That is what adiaphora means.

No one is saying that chasubles make you better. That is ridiculous. What I am saying is that the landscape has changed. The loose approach to liturgy and catechesis of one era cannot be afforded in an era like today.

Gary said...

If a Roman Catholic walks into any Roman Catholic church in the world, the mass and liturgy used will be virtually the same as in his home parish. I believe that this uniformity helps to solidify a Roman Catholic's identification with and loyalty to his Church. I think Lutheranism suffers for not having the same uniformity of worship.

I personally feel bewildered when I attend an LCMS church in another city that barely uses the liturgy and has the feel of an evangelical worship service. I have trouble identifying with the people present as "mine"...they just don't seem Lutheran to me. I feel like an outsider, I don't feel like a belong. I've never heard a Roman Catholic say that after attending a RCC parish in another city.

However, that said, I am not willing to support elevating liturgy to the level of doctrine, or labeling those who refuse to use it as sinners.

Sue Stone said...

As a former Catholic I find all the entrapment's like vestments, roman collars and divine liturgy very upsetting in the LCMS church. We are not Roman Catholics!!! so why try to be like them. Our faith is solidly based on Scripture Alone, Faith Alone and Grace Alone. There is NOTHING HOLY about the liturgy, only God is HOLY. Please remember the liturgy is man made and borrowed from the Catholic church. The Lutheran church was suppose to be a return to the church of the apostles. They certainly didn't have organs, vestments, or divine liturgy. Let's NOT confuse ourselves with all the Roman church's trappings!!