Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lutheran reverence. . .

After Mass, I attended a Lutheran service with my sister’s family and it was more reverent without Jesus’s actual presence!  So went a comment on a Roman Catholic blog that often complains about liturgical anomalies and issues.  The blogmaster's response:  What strikes me in this is your observation that the Lutheran service was more reverent than the Mass you went to.

For now I will skip the part about without Jesus' actual presence and go to the core of his observation.  Reverence.  The truth is that the vast majority of Lutheran parishes (my experience here is almost exclusively LCMS) have a very reverent Sunday morning Divine Service, following the outline of the Lutheran Service Book (even if it is printed out in the service folder).  That IS who we are.  Lutherans have from the beginning been concerned about the Gospel and not about making our encounter with Christ through the Word and Sacraments more homey or casual or easy.  Our concern is for liturgy that reflects the faith and preaching that preaches Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of our sins, for the grace of new life now, and for the gift of everlasting life.  It should not be a surprise that Lutherans are reverent.  It has always been who we are.  Early on Lutherans were concerned that Sunday morning not be a free for all or chaotic but orderly and ordered according to the ancient mass form that we acknowledged as our own as much as Rome's.

That said, the majority of people probably attend an LCMS congregation in which at least one of the options is a so-called contemporary service of one sort or another.  Some of these are less objectionable -- substituting some pop gospel songs for hymns -- but other forms are so adulterated that it is impossible to see anything Lutheran in them -- they are copies of the latest and greatest stuff used in non-denominational or evangelical entertainment services.  So the majority of our congregations use the hymnal but the majority of our people are subject to at least one version of something not in the hymnal (even if they do offer traditional services as well).  I hear this complaint all the time when our members go away on vacation or for business travel or move.  Pastor, where can I find a congregation like Grace?  Of course, they are referencing the seriousness with which we approach liturgy, a reverent service, majestic music, and solid Biblical preaching and teaching (along with a deliberate welcome to new people).  It should not have to be that way, but it is.  Nevertheless, I am heartened that one Roman Catholic noted more reverence among Lutherans than in his own church.

Without Jesus' actual presence is harder to unpack.  Is it that they attended a so-called dry mass or half mass in which Holy Communion was not offered or is it that they are referencing the fact that Rome does not consider Lutherans capable of having the Real Presence, what without apostolic succession and a rightly ordered ministry (by their definition) and the failing of not affirming transubstantiation.  I am not sure what he meant by that comment.  But if it was they he came to a service that ended abruptly at the offering and hastened to a closing prayer and benediction after starting off like the Divine Service, well, then, shame on the Lutherans.  This is not who we are, either.  We are reverent but our reverence is posited toward a vibrant and dynamic life of the Gospel faithfully preached and the Lord's Supper rightly celebrated, on every Lord's day and every other day communicants desire to receive it.  When Lutherans forget this and get into the habit of thinking of Holy Communion as an optional add-on to the preaching service, Lutherans are being false to their identity and confession.  It is not a matter of elevating one over the other (as a few charged in my previous post on the liturgical movement) but of Word AND Sacrament -- the Lord's day, house, Word, and Table!  That is who we are.  Period.

But. . . if it is a matter of a judgment that says Lutherans could not possibly have the real presence since their ministry is not rightly ordered, not in apostolic succession, and they fail to define that presence within the exclusive terminology of transubstantiation, then shame on Rome.  You obviously do not know who Lutherans are.  Our apostolic succession is a succession not merely of priestly order but pastor and people, clergy and community.  It is not that we have no bishops but plenty of them since we have defined the term in the manner of the early church and see every pastor as bishop in that place, finding the distinctions in jurisdiction to be of human origin and not divinely inspired.  Further, transubstantiation is for Lutherans too much baggage added onto the clear word of Scripture that after the consecration the bread, still bread, IS the Body of Christ (the crucified and risen Lord Jesus in flesh) and the wine, still wine, IS the Blood of Christ (shed for us on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins).  I fail to get why transubstantiation has to go with the Real Presence since the East does not define things in that way and their sacrament is valid (according to Rome).  I have no particular beef with transubstantiation except to say it adds too much to the simple word of Christ that this IS My body. . . this IS My blood.  For us Lutherans, the Sacrament is Christmas, Christ incarnate where He has promised to be (flesh and blood and Son of God in the manger and flesh and blood in bread and wine upon the altar).  That Lutherans are reverent should not surprise Rome because, if they knew us, they would know that we are reverent not toward symbol or sign but toward Christ whose voice speaks in His Word and whose flesh and blood are given and received in the Blessed Sacrament. 


Carl Vehse said...

"After Mass, I attended a Lutheran service with my sister’s family and it was more reverent without Jesus’s actual presence!"

The Romanist is confused. The Smalcald Articles straighten things out:

SA.II.II: 1] That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article, and yet above and before all other popish idolatries it has been the chief and most specious.

5] Let [care be taken that] it be publicly preached to the people that the Mass as men's twaddle [commentitious affair or human figment] can be omitted without sin, and that no one will be condemned who does not observe it, but that he can be saved in a better way without the Mass. I wager [Thus it will come to pass] that the Mass will then collapse of itself, not only among the insane [rude] common people, but also among all pious, Christian, reasonable, God-fearing hearts; and that the more, when they would hear that the Mass is a [very] dangerous thing, fabricated and invented without the will and Word of God.

11] In addition to all this, this dragon's tail, [I mean] the Mass, has begotten a numerous vermin-brood of manifold idolatries.

SD.VII.85: To preserve this true Christian doctrine concerning the Holy Supper, and to avoid and abolish manifold idolatrous abuses and perversions of this testament, the following useful rule and standard has been derived from the words of institution: Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum ("Nothing has the nature of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ") or extra actionem divinitus institutam ("apart from the action divinely instituted"). That is: If the institution of Christ be not observed as He appointed it, there is no sacrament.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Strickhert,

The "Romanist" is not confused. He is very much correct. Since Luther denied the character of the Priesthood and the Sacrificial nature of the Mass (it always seemed odd to me that Lutherans have an "altar" since for Lutherans there is no sacrifice. An altar is for sacrifice but I digress....) which renders your ministerial orders invalid and therefore your "sacrament" invalid; ie, no Jesus present.

Also regarding the Real Presence: For Catholics and Orthodox Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity which means that the bread and wine cease to be bread and wine but have become the very Body and Blood of Christ. When Christ says that this IS my body and this IS my blood then we take Christ at his words. For the Orthodox, they don't define how that happens but for them it happens at the epiclesis (correct me if I am wrong you Orthodox readers) and for Catholics it happens at the Words of Institution.

And after Mass or Divine Liturgy, if there is any of the Sacred Species left, they remain the Body and Blood of Christ. They do not cease to be so after the end of the service.

Daniel G.

Anonymous said...

Vehse's Pavlovian off-point salivations not withstanding, it should be noted that one will also find these comments in the Book of Concord, to wit, the Augsburg Confession:

""Since, therefore, the Mass among us is supported by the example of the church as seen from the Scriptures and the Fathers, we are confident that it cannot be disapproved, especially since the customary public ceremonies are for the most part retained." (Augsburg Confession XXIV:40) Also, "We on our part also retain many ceremonies and traditions (such as the liturgy of the Mass and various canticles, festivals, and the like) which serve to preserve order in the church." (Augburg Confession Article XXVI:40) And, "We gladly keep the old traditions set up in the church because they are useful and promote tranquility...Our enemies falsely accuse us of abolishing good ordinances and church discipline...the public liturgy is more decent than in theirs." (Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article XV:38–39) And, "...we do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it." (Apology to the Augsburg Confession Article XXIV:1)And, "We on our part also retain many ceremonies and traditions (such as the liturgy of the Mass and various canticles, festivals, and the like) which serve to preserve order in the church." (Augburg Confession, Article XXVI:40)"

Carl Vehse said...

Anon @ 9:30 AM,

Just what an anti-Lutheran, papish proselytizer would be expected to spout on a Lutheran blog.

Carl Vehse said...

Anon @9:42 AM,

If you didn't have your nonLutheran head jammed so far up your keister, you would realize the Augsburg Confession was written in 1530, the Smalcald Articles were written in 1536, and the Solid Declaration was written in 1577.

In his "Luther and the Mass: Justification and the Joint Declaration" (Logia, X:4, 2001, 13-19) Rev. Daniel Preus explains:

"By 1533, however, Luther came to the conclusion that 'mass' should no longer be used in reference to the sacrament of the altar. Luther’s Letter Concerning His Book on the Private Mass is very illuminating in regard to his distinction between the two."

"But Luther's condemnation of the mass was not limited to the private mass. He viewed the mass itself as a 'papistic idoI.' When he wrote, 'This is the true and chief abomination and the basis of all blasphemy in the papacy," he spoke not of the private mass alone. It is the mass itself that is the greatest of all abominations, whether it take place privately or publicly."

"Luther was convinced that the use of the terms 'mass' and 'sacrament' interchangeably has resulted in great confusion, and that the only way to provide a clear understanding of the nature of the Lord's Supper is to stop calling it the mass. 'Indeed, I wish and would very much like to see and hear that the two words 'mass' and 'sacrament' would be understood as being as different as darkness and light, yes, as different as devil and God.' Again Luther prayed,

"'May God grant to all devout Christians such hearts that when they hear the word 'mass,' they might be frightened and make the sign of the cross as though it were the devil's abomination; on the other hand, when they hear the word "sacrament" or "Lord's Supper" they might dance for pure joy…'"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Strickhert,

Let's fact it, you can quote your Smalcald, Augsburg Confession, Book of Concord and whatever erroneous Lutheran source you can come up with, all of them private interpretations of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and a gross misreading of the Church Fathers you want but the fact remains that whenever and wherever you go to Divine Service, all you receive is bread and wine at "holy communion'; that is, you commune with bread and wine NOT with Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I have said before, for you a Lutheran, your entire existence is based upon denigrating the Catholic Church without which you would not exist as an institution. Take away the Catholic Church, take away your life blood.

Bless your heart!

Daniel G.

jwskud said...

For those seeking the Lutheran (i.e. historic) liturgy when traveling [without the man-invented trappings of Rome, I might add (Mk 7:7-13)], I highly recommend this website:


It is not as up-to-date as it once was, but it's the best I can offer.

To Daniel G., I suggest you take a gander at 1 Cor 10:16 (bread, body, wine, and blood are all present in the Lord's Supper), as well as Rom 6:10, and Heb 7:27, 9:12, 9:26, 10:2, and 10:10 and its emphasis on "once for all." Consider how the Roman church teaches the total insufficiency of Christ and His work for us.

Anonymous said...


Yes once for all but in eternity. I fail to see how you don't see that. Your theology is insufficient. The Church Fathers always understood and taught that this sacrifice is present in eternity and that when we attend Mass or Divine Liturgy, that sacrifice is made present again NOT that we are re-sacrificing Christ on the Holy Cross but that the eternal comes to the temporal, in our times, that we are present today at the foot of the Cross at Mass or Divine Liturgy.

Anonymous said...

Okay, if we are taking Church Father, then are only 2 Sacraments, no purgatory, no prayers to saint, no pope!, and other inventions of the later church.
So yes, historical, authentic congregations of the LCMS are more catholic than the Romans and desire to only belief, teach, confess, practice as the Church always has without making things up, holding to any teachings of man, or taking things out.

William Tighe said...

"if we are taking Church Father, then are only 2 Sacraments, no purgatory, no prayers to saint, no pope!, and other inventions of the later church."

Which "Church Fathers," can you tell me, said that there are only two sacraments, or that intercessory petitions to saints are forbidden?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous while we're at it then, please tell me where in the Bible it says Bible alone? Faith alone (oh, the epistle of straw is the only epistle where you will find "faith alone" but in the negative sense)? What about private interpretation? If so, then why did the eunuch need elucidation of the scriptures?

Anonymous said...

Continuing his Pavolovian sputterings, Vehse again reveals his fundamentally tragic lack of ability to read and comprehend theology and church history.

The"Mass" which is condemned in the Lutheran Confessions is specifically the Roman Canon of the Mass, which Luther removed from the Lutheran Mass.

The "Mass" praised and appealed to the in the AC is what the subject of this article is about.

Vehse is so blinded by his ignorance he has no ability to make proper distinctions.

The word "Messe" was used in various Lutheran Church orders, and of course, the Swedish Church did not do away with the word as shorthand for the service of Holy Communion.

But right on cue, ring his bells and Vehse lapses into Pavolovian responses.

He just can't help himself, the poor old fellow.

Anonymous said...

Following with interest...it should be pointed out that Vehse assumes the word/term "Mass" was not used by Luther after Luther said what he said in the Smalcald Articles. In fact, it was, long after his death. Why? Because they knew what the Augsburg Confession and the Apology of the Augsburg meant when using the word "Mass" and they understood and agreed with what Luther had to say about the "Mass" in the Smalcald Articles. They were able to make proper distinctions, and as Anon has pointed out above, this is not something that is within Mr. Vehse's competence.

Anonymous said...

As I approach the table for Holy Communion, I review what I was once taught in LCMS confirmation class: Examine my heart and repent of my sins; Beg God for forgiveness; Thank Jesus for all He has done for us; and finally, ask Him to strengthen my faith. To me, *that* is an authentic confessional Lutheran Sacrament. It is heavy. It is deep. It is sorrowful, full of remorse, and yet hopeful at the same time.

I have visited enough non-denominational and generic Protestant services to realize that the participants don't consider any of those Lutheran things. They simply tip a shot of grape juice and nibble on the ritz cracker to commemorate the memory of Jesus. I have seen friends and associates of the deceased drink shots of whiskey at a funeral home. Other than that brief reflection, the non-Lutheran Protestant Eucharist is quick and shallow. On to the next praise band song!

jwskud said...

I always find it so interesting when Roman Catholics come to LCMS blogs to tell us (attack us?) that we have it all wrong. If we have it all wrong, please pray for us. I can say with 2000% certainty you will never convince me to swim the Tiber.

Maybe I should find a Roman Catholic blog to go troll?

The simple fact is this: the Roman church teaches the insufficiency of Christ. The Lutheran church teaches the vicarious satisfaction. I'll stick with the latter and not attempt to add to Christ's work.

And for those with questions, since I hold out no hope of convincing you with scripture or arguments, I simply point you to the masterwork "Christian Dogmatics" by F. Pieper. Therein you will find answers to all your questions.

Anonymous said...


Wrong both theologically and historically. It's no use trying to convince the willfully ignorant as that tantamount to throwing "pearls to swine."

Feel free to attack...err....visit Catholic blogs. You would certainly not be the first to do so. We have been enduring yours and fundamentalist vitriol for centuries now so have at it.

Go to Father Z's site. Try if you dare... you may come away Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Btw, Father Z. is a former Lutheran. He saw the light.....

Anonymous said...

Or Fr Z gave over to the dark side...

Daniel G. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel G. said...

JWSKUD for your edification:

“If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ” (Letters 63:14 [A.D. 253]).

“Then, having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before him, that he may make the bread the Body of Christ and the wine the Blood of Christ, for whatsoever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then, upon the completion of the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim we call upon God for the common peace of the churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted; and in summary, we all pray and offer this sacrifice for all who are in need” (Catechetical Lectures 23:7–8 [A.D. 350]).

“When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?” (The Priesthood 3:4:177 [A.D. 387]).

“Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon!” (Homilies on Romans 8:8 [A.D. 391]).

“‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the blood of Christ?’ Very trustworthy and awesomely does he [Paul] say it. For what he is saying is this: What is in the cup is that which flowed from his side, and we partake of it. He called it a cup of blessing because when we hold it in our hands that is how we praise him in song, wondering and astonished at his indescribable gift, blessing him because of his having poured out this very gift so that we might not remain in error; and not only for his having poured it out, but also for his sharing it with all of us. ‘If therefore you desire blood,’ he [the Lord] says, ‘do not redden the platform of idols with the slaughter of dumb beasts, but my altar of sacrifice with my blood.’ What is more awesome than this? What, pray tell, more tenderly loving?” (Homilies on First Corinthians 24:1(3) [A.D. 392]).

“In ancient times, because men were very imperfect, God did not scorn to receive the blood which they were offering . . . to draw them away from those idols; and this very thing again was because of his indescribable, tender affection. But now he has transferred the priestly action to what is most awesome and magnificent. He has changed the sacrifice itself, and instead of the butchering of dumb beasts, he commands the offering up of himself” (ibid., 24:2).

“What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice” (Homilies on Hebrews 17:3(6) [A.D. 403]).