Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Who are we really?

Numbers above do NOT correspond to numbers below.
When Reformed liturgical customs began to be introduced into Lutheran territory, things got hot and heavy quickly.  Wolfgang Amling, leading theologian in Anhalt, began by seeking to remove the exorcism from the baptismal rite in 1590.  When disputes became pointed, everything came to a head in 1616 when Johann Georg, Margrave of the Silesian duchy of J√§gendorf, issued a list of 25 changes to the liturgy and to the church. It comes from my friend Joseph Herl’s book, Worship Wars (p. 111): 
  1. All images are to be removed from the church and sent to the court.
  2. The stone altar is to be ripped from the ground and replaced with a wooden table covered with a black cloth.
  3. When the Lord’s Supper is held, a white cloth covers the table.
  4. All altars, panels, crucifixes and paintings are to be completely abolished, as they are idolatrous and stem from the papacy.
  5. Instead of the host, bread is to be used and baked into bread loaves, cut into strips and placed in a dish, from which the people receive it in their hands; likewise with the chalice.
  6. The words of the supper are no longer to be sung, but rather spoken.
  7. The golden goblets are to be replaced with wooden ones.
  8. The prayer in place of the collect is to be spoken, not sung.
  9. Mass vestments and other finery are no longer to be used.
  10. No lamps or candles are to be placed at the altar.
  11. The houseling cloth is not to be held in front of the communicants.
  12. The people are not to bow as if Christ is present.
  13. The communicants shall no longer kneel.
  14. The sign of the cross after the benediction is to be discontinued.
  15. The priest is no longer to stand with his back to the people.
  16. The collect and Epistle are no longer to be sung, but rather spoken.
  17. Individuals are no longer to go to confession before communing, but rather register with the priest in writing.
  18. The people are no longer to bow when the name of Jesus is mentioned, nor are they to remove their hats.
  19. The Our Father is no longer to be prayed aloud before the sermon, but rather there is to be silent prayer.
  20. Communion is not to be taken to the sick, as it is dangerous, especially in times of pestilence.
  21. The stone baptismal font is to be removed and a basin substituted.
  22. Epitaphs and crucifixes are no longer to be tolerated in the church.
  23. The Holy Trinity is not to be depicted in any visual form.
  24. The words of the sacrament are to be altered and considered symbolic.
  25. The historic Epistles and Gospels are no longer to be used, but rather a section of the Bible [selected by the minister] read without commentary.
Okay, now tell me the truth.  How many of those things are you secretly happy that somebody stopped?  And if these had been long ago removed from your own Lutheran parish, would you be upset if some upstart young pastor showed up to restore them?  Especially if he removed an American flag to put the candelabra and processional cross there.

My point?  We are less comfortable with our Lutheran identity than we are being generic Protestants.  And that, my friend, is a problem for all Lutherans.
                                                                                         HT Brian Hamer


Chris Jones said...

You asked us to tell you the truth.

How many of those things are you secretly happy that somebody stopped?


... would you be upset if some upstart young pastor showed up to restore them?

Certainly not. In fact, our pastor is retiring and we are about to embark on the call process. Please God, send us that upstart young pastor.

Anonymous said...

What you are describing are two situations where the princes of Anhalt and the Margrave of Brandenburg (Hohenzollern) became Calvinists and introduced Calvinist liturgical reforms with the intention of turning Lutheran churches into Calvinist churches.

The question is then whether Lutheranism is defined, as is Calvinism, by certain liturgical commandments, drawn from either the bible (i.e. prohibiting images) or in opposition to errant Roman doctrine (i.e. Corpus Christi processions, vestments, etc.). Here Luther's indifference tends to undercut your argument every time.

In the Invocavit sermons, Luther states unequivocally that Christianity is about faith and nothing else. He states that he personally does not like images, but the Gospel sets us free to have them or not. The same is true of vestments, altars, and so on. They are not biblically commanded, and so are free.

And yet, I feel like charitably offering you a leg to stand on, an argument for a high liturgical Lutheranism beyond the usual "we preserve the mass" from the Augustana that doesn't seem to sway anyone one way or the other.

Read Luther's "Against the Heavenly Prophets," detailing Luther's battle against Carlstadt's "Calvinist" liturgical reforms of 1522. Luther recognizes that ceremonies are adiaphora, but when Carlstadt made the abolishment of the elevation, vestments, altars, etc. into a new law, Luther retained them all (even though he had considered abolishing the elevation himself). So you could argue that high ceremonial, high church Lutheranism is historically a giant protest against the Calvinist perversion of the gospel into a new law.

What Lutherans are "confessing" by embracing a high liturgy is that in so doing we reject the Calvinist idea that God cares about human traditions, rather than faith alone. It's similar to arguments about baptism, where Protestants may insist that one must be dunked for baptism to be valid. Lutherans cheerfully say, well, baptize in Greek also means pour, sprinkle, wash, and so what is important is not the adherence to one form, but the administration of water with the word of God. Faith in God's word, God's promise is the power of baptism.

Likewise, Lutherans can abandon altars, ceremonies, candles like other Protestants. But we cannot for the same reasons. By doing so, other Protestants are trying to please God through the purity of a minimalist worship style. Lutherans, on the other hand, recognize that worship is all about God's gifts to us through the means of grace, and no richness or poverty of ceremony adds to or detracts from that one bit.

So keep those altars, buy a processional cross, and encourage your pastor to wear a chasuble and chant once in awhile, Lutherans. In so doing, you are being very Lutheran in protesting the misguided legalism of Calvinism, which seeks to regulate our order of worship in ways no less antithetical to the Gospel than that of medieval Rome.

Anonymous said...

Several of these "reforms" seem absolutely nonsensical. Why would anyone object to having the words of institution sung (6) or the collect sung (8)?

Several of them seem very closely connected in denying the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, particularly (12), (13), (18), (24).

(25) is also disturbing. To have lessons chosen randomly at the whim of the minister is to give no thought to the season or to reading a broad, comprehensive selection of the Bible. The instruction that there be no commentary makes the sermon totally disconnected from the lessons by command.

(15) saying that the priest is no longer to face away from the people is oh, so modern! It means that when he leads prayer, he is praying to the people (whom he is facing) rather than God (to whom he has turned his back).

All of these "reforms" would be well received most places today, but they are all rank foolishness!!

Continuing Anglican Priest

Joanne said...

The history of the long decline of the Wittenberg Reformation and the relentless progress of the Swiss Reformation is extremely complex. It often happened when a Prince changed what he believed and then installed practices that reflected the new beliefs, hence these 25 commands on behavior. The House of Hohenzollern (Ansbach, Bayreuth, Brandenburg, Prussia) is the python that swallowed the pig (relentlessly pursued the collapse of the Wittenberg Reformation) over centuries. If you read the Wiki article on the Principality of Ansbach, you will find one of the most resistant of the little piggies. The princes at Ansbach remained Lutheran along with their subjects right up until the last prince actually sold his principality to the Calvinist branch of the Hohenzollern family in Berlin (Brandenburg, Prussia). Then came the relentless demands for Ansbach to become more like the Swiss Reformation. There's an account of one of the larger churches in the Ansbach realm being made to obey the new commands. We see that at some point the church is being sold off piece by piece. Eighty chasubles go on the block (note: the vestments belong to the church, not the clergy person)

Janis Williams said...

As a layperson (and a woman) who has come from being Southern Baptist, through Calvinism (Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist), I have lived on the “other side” of adiaphora. Truly the difference between the Regulative (Calvinism) and the Normative (Lutheranism) principles is huge. They are the difference between Law and Gospel. To find ourselves free to do or not do, rather than have to do is not about we must genuflect, cross ourselves, etc. It is not about the necessity of a pastor who chants and “dresses up” (as my Calvinist friend says). It is about the freedom to do these things.

I think, aside from all the argument, the worship wars have it backwards. It is not about the “have to” of liturgical worship. It is about the “get to.” All my life anything that smacked of catholicity was mocked, and my hands were slapped. People born into Lutheranism who complain about being forced to do the Liturgy remind me of Joni Mitchell’s words: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.?”

Chris Jones said...

Luther's indifference tends to undercut your argument every time.

Bosh. Luther's indifference, or any other feeling or opinion of Luther personally, is of no authority. Luther was not a prophet.

The question is then whether Lutheranism is defined, as is Calvinism, by certain liturgical commandments ...

Lutheranism is "defined" as the historic and Catholic faith, only [omitting] some abuses which are new, and which have been erroneously accepted by the corruption of the times (AC XXI). Those few things that we cannot accept from the mediaeval Western Church are detailed in the Lutheran Confessions; all else from the Church's Tradition we gratefully receive. Lutheranism is not defined as "whatever Luther thought best."

William Tighe said...

Well, sympathetic as I am (as a non-Lutheran) to the standpoint(s) of Pastor Peters and Chris Jones, I have to point out (and not for the first time) that those principalities and free cities of SW Germany that embraced the Lutheran Reformation and adhered to the Lutheran Confessions - Wuerttemberg being the most significant one of them - completely abandoned the entire Western pre-Reformation liturgical tradition, and adopted in its place a form of church services in shape and "outline" (although not in content) very close to those of the Swiss Reformed churches, in this following the Reformer of Strassburgh, Martin Bucer, who signed the "Wittenberg Concord" with the echt Lutherans in 1536, and so became a sort of "semi-Lutheranism;" and even when given the choice by Charles V in 1547 after his initial victories in the Schmalkaldic War to become "proper Lutherans" or return to Catholicism they chose "undiluted Lutheranism," confessionally speaking, they retained their own Swiss-ish form of church services. (Bucer himself fled to England in 1548 rather than accept the "undiluted Lutheranism" which Strassburgh was compelled to accept.) I am unaware of any censures of these churches by other Lutherans in later years, decades, or centuries as "unLutheran" for so doing.

Rev. Weinkauf said...

Apparently Lutherans did has a grasp on what IS Lutheran worship. The Lutheran Confessions, 1580, on various matters of worship, that all true Lutherans unconditionally subscribe and vow unto:

Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things. … Since ceremonies, however, ought to be observed both to teach men Scripture, and that those admonished by the Word may conceive faith and fear [of God, and obtain comfort], Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:1

Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if anyone desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV:34

We answer that it is lawful for bishops, or pastors, to make ordinances so that things will be done orderly in the church, but not to make satisfaction for sin… It is proper that the churches keep such ordinances for the sake of love and tranquility, to avoid giving offense to another, so that all things be done in the churches in order, and without confusion. Augsburg Confession XXVIII:53-55.

However, it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of peace, universal ceremonies are kept. We also willingly keep the order of the Mass in the churches, the Lord’s Day, and other more famous festival days. With a very grateful mind we include the beneficial and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a certain discipline. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article VII/VIII:33

Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on other festivals. 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 such things. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XXIV:1

Nothing in customary rites should be changed without a reasonable cause. So to nurture unity, old customs that can be kept without sin or great inconvenience should be kept. Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XV:51

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. Apparently your copy of the Book of Concord doesn't include the Solid Declaration, Article X. The Lutheran Confessions don't end with the Augsburg Confession.

Anonymous said...

I've been a generic protestant most of my life, but now I won't settle for anything less than confessional High Liturgical Church doctrine and practice. I renounce revivalism in all its forms and reforms. I became ill watching contemporary, relevant worship on youtube.com. The confessional wheel doesn't need reinventing and evolution only applies to microbes and fruit flies.

Rev. Weinkauf said...

The very writers of the Formula X put in very strict liturgical orders in the congregations. Also, no individual congregation could ever, ever do their own thing. Why and how could the FC writers do that? Hum? FCX properly distinguishes law and gospel in regards to liturgical worship and church ceremonies. The liturgy itself, which is God's very Word, is NEVER a matter of indifference, an adiaphoron, and FCX never states that. FCX is addressing the abuses of man-made ceremonies and false teachings to merit God's forgiveness and favor; also those things that limit our freedom in the Gospel. Note too the Scriptural citation of FCX address false teachings and twisting law/gospel.

Jesus worshiped using ceremony, ritual, historical liturgy. I too want to worship in the pattern worship in the OT, NT and the Church throughout the ages and as seen in Revelation. Worshiping as the catholic church always has, as the Disciples did. That's historical liturgy. What true Lutherans do.

Rev. Weinkauf said...

Oh and pulling out FCX to support non-liturgical worship is like our Roman friends pulling out James 2:24 to speak of faith and works. Did you not read everything that came before it in Bible/BOC?

Anonymous said...

See William Tighe's comment above for insight into the diversity of Lutheran liturgical practice by those who signed the Augsburg Confession. Brenz even had trouble getting his pastors to wear a surplice. South Lutheran and Saxon liturgies were simpler than Bugenhagen's. Yes, the liturgy is adiaphora, the gospel is not. Having church every Sunday or on Thanksgiving, or including the Nunc Dimittus or not is up to Christian freedom. Parading as a liturgical storm trooper doesn't change that.

26] 1. Therefore we reject and condemn as wrong when the ordinances of men in themselves are regarded as a service or part of the service of God.

27] 2. We reject and condemn also as wrong when these ordinances are by coercion forced upon the congregation of God as necessary.

31] Thus [According to this doctrine] the churches will not condemn one another because of dissimilarity of ceremonies when, in Christian liberty, one has less or more of them, provided they are otherwise agreed with one another in the doctrine and all its articles, also in the right use of the holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei; "Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in the faith."

So, agreement in doctrine and right use of the sacraments = Lutheranism

15] Likewise, the article concerning Christian liberty also is here at stake, which the Holy Ghost through the mouth of the holy apostle so earnestly charged His Church to preserve, as we have just heard. For as soon as this is weakened and the ordinances of men [human traditions] are forced upon the Church with coercion, as though it were wrong and a sin to omit them, the way is already prepared for idolatry, and by this means ordinances of men [human traditions] are afterwards multiplied and regarded as a divine worship, not only equal to the ordinances of God, but are even placed above them.


William Weedon said...

Anon’s point is very important. No confessional Lutheran would regard any humanly devised ceremony as being divine worship or even a part of it. We must be able to state this with the clarity of the Confessors. But it is also true that the writers of the Formula absolutely never conceived of a situation where individual congregations would be doing their own thing. As Pr. Weinkauf pointed out, the very church orders, often authored by the same men, preclude such a read of the Formula. Yet as Bodo Nishan observed, at times these human ceremonies can become “bigger” than are by signalling a doctrinal position to the believing community. Thus, the fight to keep the exorcism in Baptism or the elevation in Brandenburg. All because the refusal of the use of the ceremony signalled a Calvinist doctrine; while a tolerance (and in Lutheranism in many parts both were reluctantly tolerated) was a sign of the Lutheran confession of the efficacy of Baptism or the actual body and blood of Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. Thus, intrinsically indifferent ceremonies can achieve in certain contexts a signalling weight. The houseling cloth would be another example. No Lutheran would believe you HAD to have one; but, as Chemnitz once described such things, they are “reverent and fitting additions.” Ceremonies that compliment the doctrinal confession. Similarly, there ARE ceremonies (human ceremonies) that in a certain context can undercut the doctrinal confession. Serving up our Lord’s blood in plastic throw away cups can undercut the belief that what Christ is reaching us under the form of wine is His very blood. Lutherans walk, once again, a lonely way, in such matters. We ought never stop with “you have” or “you don’t have to” when it comes to the human ceremonies; we ask instead: “what does such a ceremony communicate? What does it confess?”

One final Schmemann story that has some bearing. One day he watched a young priest employ a ceremony that was not usual in Orthodox practice. He asked the young priest about it, and was told: “But Father, you taught us that that was it was anciently done.” Fr. Schmemann then asked: “Did it never occur to you that the Holy Spirit might have had a good reason for changing it?” Worth pondering.

William Weedon said...

Sorry, “that that was HOW it was anciently done.”

Anonymous said...

Rev. Weedon, I don't understand the refrain of "congregations can't do their own thing," when Saxony had a church order (based on Luther's German Mass of 1526) that looked like this:

Saxon Church Order (1539): Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect, Epistle, Hymn, Gospel, Creed, Sermon, Lord's Prayer, Consecration, Distribution with Agnus Dei, Thanksgiving Collect, Benediction.

and the LCMS has a church order that looks like this:

LCMS Worship

Confession and Absolution
Hymn of Praise
Word of God and Sermon
Words of Our Lord
Agnus Dei
Nunc Dimittis

We've added an invocation, confession and absolution, offertory, sanctus (all present in the medieval mass but missing from the evangelical mass) and nunc dimittis (borrowed from the Calvinists).

If we should ask, as you say, what do ceremonies confess? then I am afraid we end up closer to the Calvinists than Rome. What does an altar confess? That we are resacrificing Christ again in the mass? What do vestments confess? That an ontologically changed priest mediates ex opere operato between God and the laity? What does elevation confess? That the priest holds the body of Christ to be worshipped? No, Luther redefines elevation as "a good way to remember Christ." Chemnitz is not asking Lutherans to make confessional judgments about the why of ceremonies, but insists the congregations not condemn each other for having more or less, as long as their doctrine is pure and the sacraments rightly administered.

Anonymous said...


churches doing their own thing does not refer to the official order in the hymnal but what they do in actual practice. . . many of whom do NOTHING like what you have listed there. besides the church orders in Germany were not about what one congregation did but a whole jurisdiction (like a district)

William Weedon said...

The altar confesses that upon it sits the very body and blood of Him who upon THE altar of the cross has redeemed the world (shown also by the fair linen with its five crosses for the five wounds). The vestments show that the man himself is not what matters but what he is put there to do (a uniform) and that they are for “beauty and glory” as the OT vestments were just invites us to remind us that we worship Him in the beauty of holiness. The elevation confesses that the body of Christ is indeed to be worshipped and particularly by being proclaimed as present for our forgiveness in His body body and blood: Here is the Savior of the world whose very body and blood, present beneath the outward forms, have blotted out all your sin! Let us join saints and angels in falling down before Him. While denying adoration to the elements qua elements, the Symbols carefully add: “However, no one—unless he is an Arian heretic—can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, is truly and essentially present in the Supper. Christ should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the Sacrament, as well as in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled.”

Anonymous said...

Very well said! Would that our Lutheran laity knew it as well!


Now, therefore, let me describe in order four groups of people. The first are those whose entire interest is in the words of this sacrament, so that they feed their faith; they receive the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ as a sure sign of that Word and of faith. These are the most secure and the best. They probably seldom descend so low as to bother themselves about worshiping and adoring, for they pay attention to the work God does to them and forget about the works they do for the sacrament.

The second group are those who exercise the right sort of faith, and then descend to their own works and worship Christ spiritually in the sacrament. That is, they bow inwardly with their hearts and confess him as their Lord, who does all things within them; and they prove their inward worship by outwardly bowing, bending, and kneeling with the body.

The third group are those who worship him inwardly only. The fourth group are those who worship him outwardly only. These last are completely worthless, and I have already said enough about them. Nevertheless, you can see that adoration of this sacrament is a dangerous procedure if the Word and faith are not inculcated; so much so that I really think it would be better to follow the example of the apostles and not worship, than to follow our custom and worship. Not that adoration is wrong, but simply because there is less danger in not adoring than in adoring; because human nature tends so easily to emphasize its own works and to neglect God’s work, and the sacrament will not admit of that. But what more should I say?