Friday, August 24, 2018

It must be said again. . .

From the esteemed pen of the Rev'd Dr. Richard Stuckwisch:
The form and adornment of the Liturgy have developed in various ways throughout the Church's history, but its basic integrity must always be guarded and maintained. That is to say, the preaching of the Holy Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles as fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and the administration of His Holy Supper with His Word in accordance with His institution, are ever and always to be the central, controlling, decisive, and definitive factors. The preaching of Christ is always leading to the celebration of His Holy Sacrament, and the administration of His Sacrament always includes the faithful preaching of His Word unto repentance and faith.

The Liturgy is the Ministry of the Gospel of Christ. It is what He does and gives and carries out through His servants for His Church, according to His Word and promises. It is what constitutes the very Life of the Church as the Body of Christ. It therefore also prompts the preaching and confessing of Christ to the world, even as it provides the content of that witness.

The Church worships her Lord Jesus Christ, first of all, by hearing and receiving the Liturgy of His Gospel in faith and with thanksgiving, and so also by confessing and praying His Word in response to Him and to the praise of His Holy Name, and by living in love with one another in Him. When these holy things are replaced with marketing strategies, gimmicks, entertainment, social events, or appeals to human emotions and worldly appetites, then the entire point has been lost. It is no longer the Church, the Body of Christ, but an exercise in self-promotion.

To meddle with the Liturgy for the sake of missions is inherently a self-defeating tactic. For it is not the mission of the Church that determines or drives the Liturgy, but the Liturgy drives and determines the mission of the Church.

The goal and purpose of the Church's mission is to bring the nations into the Liturgy of the Lamb upon His Throne in the midst of His people, on earth even now as it is and ever shall be in heaven forever. The Church baptizes in the Name of the Lord and catechizes with the Word of Christ for the sake of bringing people to feast upon His Holy Supper as Christian disciples, that is, with repentance and faith in His Word. So, if the celebration of the Lord's Supper is compromised, marginalized, degraded, or removed from the gathering of His people, then whatever attempts are being made to bring people into the "church" are pointless, because the very Life of the Church has been forsaken and let go in favor of something else altogether.
My Comments:

When beginning a class on the Athanasian Creed, we spent some time on the fact that the catholic faith is that the Trinity may be worshiped -- not admired or understood even but worshiped.  Couple that with Franzmann's all theology is doxology or St. Vincent's lex orandi, lex credendi and it is apparent that everything the Church does flows from our life together around the Word and Table of the Lord. . . and it better flow back to it as well.  Or, nothing we are doing has any reality or integrity to it at all.  Thanks to the good pastor for reminding us of this and Gottesdienst for publishing this (by the way, why have you not yet subscribed?).


Anonymous said...

Really excellent!! How many, many people need to read this!!

This should be sent to all the mega-churches for their edification.

Continuing Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

Well, since we've been looking at AAC VII lately:

"The adversaries condemn also the part of the Seventh Article in which we said that "to the unity of the Church it is sufficient to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments; nor is it necessary that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by men should be alike everywhere."

"We are speaking of true, i.e., of spiritual unity [we say that those are one harmonious Church who believe in one Christ; who have one Gospel, one Spirit, one faith, the same Sacraments; and we are speaking, therefore, of spiritual unity], without which faith in the heart, or righteousness of heart before God, cannot exist. For this we say that similarity of human rites, whether universal or particular, is not necessary, because the righteousness of faith is not a righteousness bound to certain traditions [outward ceremonies of human ordinances] as the righteousness of the Law was bound to the Mosaic ceremonies, because this righteousness of the heart is a matter that quickens the heart. To this quickening, human traditions, whether they be universal or particular, contribute nothing; neither are they effects of the Holy Ghost, as are chastity, patience, the fear of God, love to one's neighbor, and the works, of love.

"This is the point to be judged in this controversy, and when this is decided, it can afterwards be judged whether to the true unity of the Church it is necessary that human traditions should everywhere be alike. For if human traditions be not acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God, it follows that also they can be righteous and be the sons of God who have not the traditions which have been received elsewhere. F. i., if the style of German clothing is not worship of God, necessary for righteousness before God, it follows that men can be righteous and sons of God and the Church of Christ, even though they use a costume that is not German, but French."

Anonymous said...

Another wise theologian said, "All theology is Christology." Simply stated, aside from the historic Liturgy, we know of no worship forms than so places Christ at the center.

Johnson said...

All due respect, of course, but the Eucharstic liturgical rubrics on display and adocated here, were NOT common through out post-Reformation Germany.
To suggest such is to a disservice to the discussions in The LCMS.

The problem is those who advocate for all the liturgical finery on display here (brought in, I suspect, from elsewhere) and the intricate gesticulations are doing a disservice to the simply aim of getting us all on the same page.

Do the red. Say the black. Use the hymnal.

THAT is sufficient.

Satis est.

It is a wholly wrong view of Lutheran history to suggest otherwise, Pr. Peters, and I'm pretty sure you realize this.

So, stop please. You are doing more harm than good with this kind of post.

Be honest.

Anonymous said...

A question for Johnson:

Do you consider it most important to Lutheran or to be Christian?

Please don't tell me that they are exactly the same thing. There are many Lutherans that are Christian (and some that are not), and there are many Christians that are not Lutheran.

This was a superb post, and one that should be seriously studied and considered by all Christians.


Anonymous said...

Johnson has nailed it. Do Lutherans want to pretend that post-
Luther Lutheranism was high-church? We need honest scholarship
instead of living on Fantasy Island when it comes to the liturgical
heritage of 21st century Lutheranism.

Anonymous said...

4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Galatians 2

Sometimes adiaphora is just adiaphora. Sometimes it’s not.

Pastor Peters said...

Read Ernst Zeedon, Faith and Act. Read Bodo Nischan, Prince, People, and Confession. Read Joseph Herl, Worship Wars. The history is readily available. Luther and his heirs were not anti-ritualistic but only anti the requirement that ceremony must be absolutely uniform or that these were good works that contributed to salvation.

Anonymous said...

No need to pretend, it's not even hard to find examples of how the early Lutherans worshipped online. In fact, Matthew Carver has translated a bunch of documents showing how "high church" we were.

So you people not so subtly implying that Pastor Peters is a false brother and trying to bring Lutherans to high church slavery are doing a disservice.

The Gottesdienst people have made clear they are not trying to force anyone to be liturgical maximalists. I just don't understand why we would want to use our Christian freedom to try to look like Enthusiasts and Sacramentarians.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is suggesting Peters is a "false brothers" but to assert, as he tries to do, that the intricate rituals advocated by some among us were the norm across German Lutheranism is simply FALSE. It is historically false.

If some choose to use the full regalia of certain portions of post-Reformation Lutheranism, fine, but to try to maintain this is the "gold standard" for Lutheramism, again, is just factually wrong and false.

Anonymous said...

Someone literally quoted the Galatians passage about false brothers and it is to that which I was referring. If I misinterpreted its application, I apologise.

Multiple references were provided in favor of a higher level of ceremony, but the naysayers have supplied only assertions that it is false. Martial out all your documentation for that position. Was Bo Giertz a pretentious Romanist sympathiser?

Are we in the presence of the Incarnate Christ on the altar? Do we eat His flesh and drink His blood? Let's act like it. The push is for reverence, not for a forced return to any specific set of rituals for all of the LCMS (as if that could ever even happen). Rituals matter because they confess something.