Saturday, October 27, 2018

A picture IS worth a thousand words. . .

While some who have ditched nearly everything that identifies Lutherans as liturgical or dismissed it all as adiaphora and therefore matters indifferent and unimportant, pictures from the time around and after the Reformation show a very different spirit.

The whole thing is available here.  Thanks to T. David Demerest and Matthew Carver for making the work of Helmut Schatz available in English.  You can flip to it here and read and look for yourself. 

I have simply made some of the pictures available here.  I think they speak for themselves.  It is hard to dismiss the imagery of chasubles, copes, etc. and the dates that signify this was not simply some stage in a cleansing effort of Lutherans to ditch their catholic identity.  This is who we were, who we are, and, if we have a future, who we will be.

So look and think about it all. . . .

If Lutherans do not look like this today, what is the reason?


Anonymous said...

Historical pictures of the Evangelical Lutheran Divine Service in the LCMS, year 2018, will not look like these at all. Hawaiian shirts, no vestments, bands, screens, stages, and waving hands will be depicted more often than not.

Anonymous said...

Interesting podcast by WELS's Wade Johnston on Flacius and why the Gnesio-Lutherans combatted mass vestments so vehemently in the mid-16th century. Yes, many Lutheran regions of Germany retained the old vestments. Many others had moved away from them, though. By reimposing the surplice under Charles V and Melanchthon, those "other" Lutherans were scandalized that mass vestments, which they had seen go away with the Reformation, returned under the Interim, which signaled to them that Roman Catholic doctrine had also returned to replace Lutheranism.

It cut both ways. In the 17th century, Prussian Lutherans who had retained the older vestments under Duke Albrecht protested violently when Prussia's leaders became Calvinist, and sought to strip the churches of their crucifixes, art, altars, and vestments. For Lutherans again, the importance of adiaphora was not to yield to the impression that changed ceremonies signaled agreement with changed doctrine.

It is true that Saxony had a "middle-high" approach to vestments that was reinforced when the Elector converted to Roman Catholicism to obtain the crown of Poland in the 17th century. LCMS Lutherans, largely from Saxony, retained a relatively (for Lutherans) "high church" tradition inherited from their home region. WELS Lutherans came mainly from Prussia, whose tradition was more "low church," being influenced over the centuries by their Calvinist Hohenzollern rulers. So you get comments in the early 20th century from August Pieper such as, "We're the Wisconsin Synod. We don't make a show like they do in Missouri."

For today's Lutherans, we have the choice between alb and stole, which appear in none of the paintings above and are the product of the historicist 20th century liturgical/ecumenical movement, and casual attire. Neither satisfactorily are historically, confessionally Lutheran.