Thursday, July 19, 2012
Descriptive.... Not Prescriptive...
The ELCA position affirmed that the historic Christian tradition and the Lutheran Confessions recognized marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. However, they also affirmed that this was not necessarily definitive for a Lutheran jurisdiction looking at the whole question today. In other words, the Lutheran Confessions were descriptive and not prescriptive of Lutheran doctrine and practice. In any case, those with bound consciences to disagree with this judgment were supposedly protected in their disagreement.
Taking a cue from the ELCA, nearly every Lutheran in Missouri practicing some form of contemporary worship, as well as many who use the Hymnal, would say the exact same thing about the witness of the Lutheran Confessions about worship -- they are descriptive and not prescriptive. So, when we claim not to have abolished the Mass or commend church usages (Lutheran speak for ceremonies, rubrics, and the like), the claim is made that these words cannot be forced upon Lutherans today. They were not intended nor can they be used to prescribe what Lutheran teaching and practice is or should be. They were merely descriptive of what Lutherans were doing then (and thanks be to God we are not the same kind of catholics today that they were then!!).
Why, who would have thunk it! The ELCA in official teaching and the LCMS in practice believe pretty much the same thing about the Lutheran Confessions. We can read them as historical documents, as reflections of Lutheran teaching and practice at the time, and they do contain core Christian teaching, but we cannot use them prescriptively to say what Lutherans believe, confess, and teach nor can they norm Lutheran practice on any level.
Hmmmmm... news to the Confessors, I would think! What point is a confession if it merely describes -- like a snapshot of a particular church at a particular time facing a particular circumstance? What ends up happening is that we will view the Confessions as we do old family photos -- laughing at some (the naivete of those people them), teary eyed at others (wasn't that sweet), sad at others (wish we were back there), and oblivious to others (can anyone remember who that was, oh well, doesn't matter)... Either what we confess prescribes who we are and how we live out this confession or it is hardly worth having those Confessions at all -- except for nostalgia sake! When we confess that we keep the Mass more rigorously and zealously than our opponents and when we address church usages in those Confessions, we Lutherans are binding ourselves to a common faith and practice which goes to the heart and core of what it means to be Lutheran. We cannot raise up against others whom we believe to play fast and loose with those Confessions in certain areas and then justify our own decision to ignore or abandon confessional teaching and identity in other areas. When we do this, we are making Missouri out to be the same kind of church body and hold the same kind of confessional subscription as those we love to condemn - namely the ELCA. We have to awaken to the fact that the means used to justify so much of what is going on during Sunday morning in Missouri is in plain and direct opposition to what we say we believe, to what we insist we confess, and to the practices to which we have bound ourselves before the Lord and the world.
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So what you're saying is we need to actually uphold our quia subscription? And to be shown the problems that come from a functional quatenus subscription?
Setting the confessions to the side the ELCA is in rank rebellion against God's Word and its authority. The rest is small potatoes next to that.
David Gray: "...the ELCA is in rank rebellion against God's Word and its authority."
Indeed! In its Response to the XXXA's Human Sexuality (HSGT) document, the CTCR has stated:
“The ELCA has now taken this step, embodying apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints.”
This is not a carelessly chosen statement. The CTCR attached to it a footnoted statement from Richard J Niebanck (colloquized in the LCMS, May, 2010): “Of the blessed union of Christ and the church, the marriage of one man and one woman is the matchless icon. The willful departure from this norm is an offense for which ‘heresy’ is too mild a designation.”
While there may be people who still hold onto their Christian faith within the XXXA, the CTCR statement means that a person who truly replaces their faith in Christ with faith in the apostate doctrine of the XXXA would be damned to hell.
Furthermore, if the 2013 LCMS convention accepts this CTCR conclusion that the XXXA is now “embodying apostasy,” those people, including young children in families, who leave the XXXA to join a LCMS congregation would need to be baptized by the pastor prior to being accepted as members. Their XXXA counterfeit “baptisms”, like those performed by the Mormons, would be spiritually worthless.
Again, perhaps there truly is reason for everything. Without the ELCA (oops, sorry, the XXXA), how would Missourians know they were so fully assured of their salvation?! "Father, I thank Thee that I am not like other men..."
Aren't the ELCA splinter groups (NALC, LCMC) the ELCA minus the endorsement of homosexuality.
Ain't deconstruction grand?
Let me make it clear that I take no delight in mess of the ELCA any more than Missouri's messes. It is withe the deepest regret and greatest sadness that I mention any Lutherans who trade away their sturdy legacy of evangelical and Catholic confession and liturgy for the empty chaff of mainline Protestantism or the confusing contradictions of evangelicalism in any of its forms. Pastor Peters
I am not a fan of some of the happy-clappy stuff of contemporary worship, or its tendencies toward decision theology, but linking CW with the decisions the ELCA made is too broad a brush. A lot of CW in the LCMS pre-dated the 70's controversies and the ELCA merger.
A lot of CW in the LCMS pre-dated the 70's controversies and the ELCA merger.
What is the real history of CW in the LCMS? Who was the first pastor to use it or promote it? What was the first congregation to have a CW service? Who followed? Where? It would be interesting to know its history and the the people involved etc.
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