Saturday, February 15, 2014

Liturgy, Creed, Church Year, etc... the cure for what ails you...

You would have to have lived your life under a rock not to have heard of the scandal that took down evangelical giant Ted Haggard and left his congregation, New Life in Colorado Springs, devastated.  What you may not have heard about is that the congregation is being reborn and its rebirth from the ashes of its former self is taking shape by the restoration of classic Christianity and catholic form.  In other words, those who have worked to rebuild New Life have turned to the liturgy, every-Sunday communion, the church year, the Nicene Creed, and old fashioned pastoral care.  And it is working.

Read about it here and also here.

I will let others chronicle the rise from the ashes of their defeat.  What I want to know is why it is that some Lutherans (LCMS, ELCA, and WELS) still seem to think that their future lies with the kind of generic, non-denominational, non-liturgical, contemporary music, entertainment worship style of Sunday morning which went down the Ted Haggard at New Life?  Why is it that we Lutherans are still drinking the kool-aid of evangelicalism at odds with our confessional heart and identity while they are drinking from the living springs of liturgical, creedal, and catholic Christianity?  Now, I am not ready to grant that a liturgical New Life Church is the same as a regular old Lutheran, Word and Sacrament, confessional congregation.  But they may very well be closer (in appearance, anyway) than some of the Lutherans (of various acronyms) who have fallen out of love with the Lutheranism of our confessional presumption and practice and in love with the latest and greatest of evangelicalism.

The sad truth is that we Lutherans are our own worst enemies.  We disdain what we have for those that others are already abandoning.  We were still singing the Peter, Paul, and Mary kind of "contemporary" Christian music while the rest of that kind of Christianity had moved on.  We were still trying to entertain people with a religious variety show with a moral to the story while that kind of Christianity was beginning to rediscover the liturgy.  We were still trying to shed our image of a liturgical and catholic Christianity while the evangelical community was thinking about trying to become it.  Maybe if we wait a generation or two, we Lutherans might rediscover the liturgy?

Now those attracted to the evangelicals wearing a liturgical mask are discerning enough to figure out of the liturgy is real or just for show.  It is clear that the young have had enough of an empty, casual, and entertaining Christianity but it remains to be seen if we are confident enough about who we are to offer them form and substance.  We could be.  We should be.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Another good example of this is Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchidvijian. From himself being a "normal" evangelical to being what Gene Veith calls a "closet Lutheran" and bringing Gospel and Word/Sacraments to Coral Ridge Presbyterian church (D. James Kennedy), the changes are hope engendering.

Why, indeed would Lutherans want to become evanjellyfish? The evangelical churches being resurrected from ashes across the map are jumping into Liturgy and what detractors call 'high church.'

When Baptists become Lutherans, it's NOT because Lutherans look/act so much like what they're leaving.