Sunday, July 17, 2011

Can we still confess this with a straight face?

From our Lutheran Confessions:

1] Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among 2] us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added 3] to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned 4] be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Cor. 14, 2. 9, but it has also been so ordained by man's law. 5] The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public 6] worship. For none are admitted 7] except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. 8] [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion 9] toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us.
+ The Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV,1-9 +

At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we 1] do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord's Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things.

+ Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV,1 + 

When fore fathers confessed those words, they did so because they were accused by the Roman Church of having forsaken the liturgical tradition -- the ceremonial and ritual side of the verbal confession.  In response, they not only denied the charge but insisted that the mass was more devoutly celebrated among them than it was by their adversaries (the Roman Church).  This was serious business.  The recognition of the catholic church was, in part, due to a recognition of the mass with its accompanying ceremonies and church usages.  The Lutherans were intent upon retaining the visual image that was faithful to the verbal confession.

Today we find ourselves in a very different boat.  There are those who insist that substance (confession) and style (music and liturgy) can be separated so that we can worship in many different ways while holding on to the same confession or faith.  This artificial distinction has been used to justify forms of worship which abandon the mass and its ceremonies and adopt the prevailing style and form of non-denominational and evangelical "churches."  In addition, the artificial distinction between mission (making the church friendly to those outside it) and maintenance (the sacramental care and liturgical life to feed and nourish Christians) has led many congregations and their Pastors to ditch the distinctive worship form of the mass in order to grow their church.

The war is certainly not lost but the side of the liturgy is clearly on the defensive.  There are many things that we need to recover in our churches and our confidence in and comfort level with the liturgical identity that accompanies our Confessions are clearly a couple of things on that recovery list.  What was once something we could confess with conviction has become a confession which is only partially true.  It is the hope and prayer of so many within the pews and pulpits of our church body that this will once again be something we can say without reservations but we are clearly engaged in a fierce debate with those who would rather Melanchthon had not written those words.


Anonymous said...

The distinction between Mission and
Maintenance is between parishes who
reach out into the community with
a vibrant witnessing program and
those who are content to maintain
the status quo by catering to their
own members and have no outreach.

Your definition of Mission and
Maintenance in the context of LCMS
is a new one. You can look at the
budget of a parish to identify them.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Fr. Peters' distinction is necessarily "new." If it is "new" it is only so on paper, though I seriously doubt that. Evangelical Missology has essentially become one that says you must be friendly to get people in the door of the church. Then you could speak of Christ. It is my understanding that Lutheran Missology places emphasis on I Peter 3:15 and Acts 13 where God has ordained who would be a part of his elect. This is what our Lutheran forefathers had done with the Confessions.

That being said, it is most shameful that Lutherans refuse to have their Confessions describe what they do. As far as I can tell there is NO good reason not to have the Sacrament every Lord's day, as they describe. You want to be more friendly? Be more friendly. You want to be more understandable? Explain and teach the people. Reducing communion frequency might get more people in the door, but if they neglect and despise the Sacrament, can we call them Christians? Reducing communion frequency will reduce my attendance at church. I can read the Bible at home and find good sermons online. I cannot have someone consecrate the Sacrament online and have bread and wine ready for that. The Lutheran Church is one of the Word AND Sacraments. Today's situation is more descriptive of a "Word and sometimes Sacrament(s)" church. Apeing the Evangelicals and Protestants has done us absolutely no good. The Romaphobia in Lutheranism has to stop.

Okay...rant over...for now.

Janis Williams said...

I'm sorry, but coming from the 'friendly' Baptist church, I can tell you that I felt finally at home the first time I attended the Liturgy. (Also, at least at Grace Lutheran, people were warm and, well, friendly.) Generally, those raised in non-Liturgical traditions unhappy with their services are looking for Liturgy.

Of course, all denominations really have a Liturgy. Every single church you attend will have a FORM to which they adhere. It might be 45 minutes of praise band, with almost no sermon, or 45 minutes of Christ presented in everything said, sung or prayed.

As far as friendly is concerned: There is a big difference in being friendly but different, and being friendly while trying to hide what you really are.

Terry Maher said...

No we cannot still confess this with a straight face.

When Jesus was asked to teach his followers how to pray, they wanted some new and catchy thing like all the other teachers gave their followers, and he gave them the traditional Kaddish, in a version better known as the Our Father.

When the Apostles went to preach, they did not devise attractive services but went to the traditional synagogue to offer their Christian drash.

When the proverbial early church went to worship, they did not devise attractive services either, but adapted the traditional synagogue service with Christian hymns, prayers and Scripture. And the Christian Seder, the Eucharist, was for believers only, which is why the terms Mass of the Catechumens and Mass of the Faithful persisted for centuries after.

When non believers were encountered directly, it did not begin with "telling them about Jesus", but as with St Paul, starting exactly where they are.

Who outreaches more than the Mormons or witnesses more than the Jehovah's, uh, Witnesses. And who does not make sure to not open the door when they see them coming, or want to be accosted by someone "telling them about Jesus".

Preparation for the sacrament is not a service of CCM, screens and praise bands with happy people, but catechesis. That is why the Service of the Word (Mass of the Catechumens) is open to all, but the Service of the Sacrament (Mass of the Faithful) is open to believers only though all may remain in church these days.

In no case does one see a NT precedent for making sure Cnristian worship is user, or seeker, friendly.

That is why the Word has both Law and Gospel, and why the Law has three uses, not just a curb and a mirror, but a guide to action.

Christian worship, Word and Sacrament, is not attractive. We are sinners and by nature none of us wants it. We are not the seekers. God is.

It is absolutely true that apeing the "Evangelicals" and the Protestants has done absolutely no good, and only made us seem like just one more version of them.

Which has nothing whatever to do with Romaphobia or weekly Communion. Those who aren't apeing the "Evangelicals" are totally drunk with Rome, no less abandoning what the Confessions confess, in their case for a Lutheran version of Rome's new order -- rite, lectionary, calendar and all, and similarly doing no good but only making us seem like one more version of them and the mainstream Protestant liturgical wannabes who have done the same.

In either case, a vain attempt to infuse a non-Lutheran form with a Lutheran content the form was evolved to exclude. And in the case of the latter, unable to convince the former, since they have done exactly the same thing only differing in whom they ape.

Janis Williams said...

Terry, wow. If I may, I'd like to copy your comment to send to a friend.

As I think it's been said on this blog, "I wish I had said that."

Terry Maher said...

Bitte greifen Sie zu!

Send away.

Ted Badje said...

What Anonymous said feeds into stereotypes, and overreactions to stereotypes. Being confessional does not mean giving up evangelism. We can proclaim the Gospel to outsiders without appealing to Decision Theology. There are so many settings that can be used for the Divine Service that you can't say we are happy with the 'status quo'. I also think that just because a church uses a few new songs in its services, it is not neccessarily going to MethoBaptoPentecostalism. Most of the LCMS churches I have gone to have retained most of the liturgy.

Anonymous said...

Not that he needs my approbation, but I value Terry's insights because what he describes is what I experienced in novus ordo Rome as well and his assessment of the nature and purpose of the liturgy and how that leads to authentic evangelism is right on the mark.

If we would only return to our authentic Lutheran roots we would once again be true evangelical catholics with no need to measure ourselves against the latest from Rome or Willow Creek.


Janis Williams said...

Thank you very much, Terry!


scredsoxfan2 said...

Who declares what "true evangelical catholics" are and should believe?

ah, my a priori questions again...;)

In Christ

scredsoxfan2 said...

how do you know that "confessions" are neccesary?

how do you know that the Trinity is neccesary?

Anonymous said...

Scripture and Tradition?
The Faith delivered to the saints?
The Teaching of the Apostles?

Terry Maher said...

Well sir, as this is a thread about an intramural Lutheran controversy, why do you bother to ask?

How do YOU know the Trinity is necessary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is necessary, usw.

scredsoxfan2 said...

but it is precisely that it is intramural that makes it problematic. You can't claim the Trinity as neccesary for Christianity anymore than you can claim that you are right about the "mass" or "confession" or any other host of issues. Ironically you have done away with that by claiming your own teaching authority through Luther, whether you recognize it or not is another matter.

Why do you accept the first seven councils?

I put my faith in the Magesterium, the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church Christ set forth and built on Peter, the Rock.

Btw, the Catechism per se is no more neccesary than Mere Christianity but it surely is a helpful guide to understanding what the Church teaches.

Terry Maher said...

If it is not intra your murals then why is it problematic for you?

The post is about whether we can still confess a section of our Confessions with a straight face.

You make it clear you are not part of the "we" who did, does, or will confess this or any other section of the Lutheran Confessions.

The standard RC position wrt to this subject is, Lutherans could and can not confess this or any of the Confessions with a straight face, because they have rejected the Teaching Authority which Christ left on earth and substituted for it another of their own invention.

Which is about as relevant to this discussion as me jumping back to when I was RC myself and telling you that if the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a useful guide to what the Catholic Church teaches, then the Catholic Church it represents is a rather different Catholic Church than taught me what it teaches before the Catechism of the Catholic Church even existed.

The fact is, we do not claim a teaching authority through Luther nor did he claim one for himself.

The fact also is: Christ built his church on a rock, and the rock is not Peter personally nor a supposed Petrine office, but the confession Peter confessed; the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is not the Roman Catholic Church; the "Magisterium" thereof is pure fantasy defined by the Roman Empire for its new state church.

Whether you recognise it or not is another matter.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I'm betting my two cents that redsox fan is a convert. He/she writes like one.

Been there, done that.

By the way, redsox, Luther was careful to point out that "the teaching is not mine, I have not been crucified for anyone."

Luther was as catholic as they come.

You go right ahead and put your faith in the "magisterium" which says that the Catholic church is the Catholic church because the Catholic church says so.

I sure am glad to be away from that circular sophistry.


scredsoxfan2 said...

I'll ask again, how do you know that the Trinity is neccesary?

and how do you even define the "we" you speak of?

Btw, it's an important discussion to me because i am working to better understand the true differences between us and also because it's baffling that you could proclaim one side to be right or wrong even on the matter of this interpretation because you have no authority.

In Christ

scredsoxfan2 said...

Also, I dont mind stating that I am a convert to Christ and His Church. Are you not a "convert" yourself?

In Christ

Terry Maher said...

A better effort for a Catholic might be to read Pascendi, Mystici Corporis Christi, Mediator Dei and Hummani generis and see if the RCC can still maintain that with a straight face now.

Terry Maher said...

Damn, typo, Humani generis. The "I know what you meant" function appears to be off on this computer.