Thursday, May 25, 2023

The liturgy is not a toy. . .

It is a well-known phenomenon that Evangelicals are attracted to liturgy and the traditional liturgical ceremonies as a means of attracting younger folks who seem to like things liturgical and traditional -- in worship anyway.  The problem with this is that the liturgy is not simply a set of clothes you can wear or a role you can play or a way of decorating.  The liturgy is not a tool.  It is the form that mirrors in worship what is catholic in doctrine.  

The liturgy is not a toy.  Sadly, the liberals who like to play church but who refuse to believe the doctrine of the faith have turned it into just that -- a plaything.  It is the saddest thing of all for these folks to be so solemn and serious about liturgical things but who refuse to let the words define what is believed and confessed.  The liturgy is literally just Scripture said and sung and when it is done by people who refuse or refute what Scripture says it is the highest form of hypocrisy.

The other side of this is on the side of those who say they believe what Scripture says and then treat how they worship as if it were merely a preference.  Evangelicals and Protestants who originally cast aside everything from Lent to liturgy are now adopting the Church Year and things liturgical and using these as gimmicks to attract folks no longer won over by a worship diva, a professional praise band, and repackaged secular entertainment.

The preaching and teaching is a sure place to see the conflict between what is proclaimed and what is practiced in worship.  You resurrect ancient forms and practices only to reject what they confess.  In this respect, those who seem to be more conservative on the Evangelical side of the equation end up using the liturgy without the integrity of what is believed and taught just like those on the liberal side of things.  It is a trend or fad that will just as soon be dropped in favor of something else that seems to work better.  Unfortunately, the progressives seem intent upon holding on to the forms while emptying it of anything close to what it confesses -- both in words and in deeds.  Even worse, they eat away at the historic words and ceremonies by inserting within the liturgy little bits and pieces of modernity.  One example is the name of God and how the Son of God is addressed liturgically but that is not the only one.

It ought to be a selling point for us that we combine both the confession and the liturgy as one seamless reality of doctrine and practice.  They are consistent and faithful at the same time.  Even Rome cannot claim this unequivocally since Rome seems to accept most of modern higher criticism that begins with skepticism over what Scriptures say and who wrote them.  If the younger generation is looking for authenticity of form and content, then conservative Lutherans fill the bill.  Episcopalians may have more expensive accoutrements and are better rehearsed but they are empty doctrinally.  Rome is all over the page with some masses worse than Protestant excesses and others as close to Trent as possible -- with differing levels of success.  Missouri Lutherans need to step up and claim the ground.  We have the form but we also have the content.  We have the historic ceremonial (if we are willing to do it) and we trust the words to mean what they say.  Our Achilles' heel is that we seem reluctant to practice as we believe.

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