My Son’s Visitation at Concordia – Seward

A guest article written by the Rev. Robert Weinkauf:

 

My son’s visitation at Concordia – Seward.

My son is a high school junior. Just got back from Concordia University, Seward, NE. They held another program for prospective students and their parents. I had never been there.

sewardI was impressed. The faculty I met was first rate. The president was very gracious. The facilities are top notch. Very impressive. The learning environment and students formation appears to be a blessing for any student to attend. Their career placement rate is significant over any university or similar small colleges I’ve looked into. This is a treasure for our Lutheran church and I will encourage my son and other youth in our congregation to visit and considering attending.

Except. The chapel service. A wonderful Methodist service. The Lord’s Table, the Altar where our Lord’s gifts are given, even symbolic of Jesus Himself, looked push back out of the way, behind stage items of the drum set and the prominence of a bass guitarist. The band on stage played 2 songs. Very loud. Of course the songs like most every song of the CoWo genre could be sung by a Muslim, Mormon, Jew, or Mystic and no one would be offended. The guy in the front who preached (might have been a pastor) gave an almost Christ-less message. A little gospel sprinkled in among 10 minutes of Law and story. There was some story about his family, got some laughs, but not sure what this had to do with Jesus. Opening song, sermon, prayers, closing song, go back to classes. Did I mention the music was very loud. You couldn’t hear anyone singing next to you.

And a noticed something incredible. I look around to about 70 students nearby (among 600 there), who no doubt were reading the words on the screen, and no one, not one person I could see was singing. Amazing! I look to the rear and along the back wall of the auditorium with a few students, some faculty, the president, staff members- no one is singing! But no one can tell because the music is so loud.

This is not about style or preference, but the nature of the service. It was Methodist. For example the first (loud) song mentioned “Christ” once each verse in a prepositional phrase, mentions “you” about 50 times in shallow repetitive lines; you are the subject of all the verbs in the song. The Altar of our Lord is treated like insignificant furniture. The band is most central and prominent. It was a performance. Nothing by nature was Lutheran. Lutheran worship has distinctions. According to our Lutheran Confessions, it was unLutheran worship.

Apparently Tuesday, Thursday, Friday morning and Wednesday nights have these Methodist worship services. Lutherans students please avoid these. I was relieved to hear they have Tuesday and Thursday evening liturgy from LSB. Monday and Wednesday chapel have worship from LSB.

I know it would be a blessing for my son to attend there, and if so, he concurs, he won’t be going to the Methodist worship services held at Concordia Seward.

Rev. Robert Weinkauf

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

My Son’s Visitation at Concordia – Seward — 234 Comments

  1. Sam M. :
    @Jais H. Tinglund #42
    I’m confused… So you propose we discount all the beliefs of a person based on the way they decide to worship?

    No.
    I am merely pointing out what our Confessions says, and which to me seems self-evident, namely that those who teach falsehood should not be our teachers, and their false teachings should not be presented and promoted as if they were our teachings, nor should they ever be allowed to actually become that.

  2. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    The people arguing on this site for COWO are saying that the historic liturgy just doesn’t do it for them. They need more feeling, emotion and volume. Many of them have said that the historic liturgy leaves them spiritually dead. That is far different that you saying wherever the word is you are OK with it. That is not what the COWO supporter says.

    And let us not forgot that which it is so difficult not to perceive, at least partially, as the fruit of Contemporary Worship at CUNE:
    The comments with which those CUNE students who favour Contemporary Worship have defended it have consistently reflected fundamental misunderstandings and contradictions of the faith of our Lutheran Church, such as that it is not really all that important whether or not one embraces the Biblical faith our Lutheran Church confesses, and that teachings that contradict the Biblical faith our Lutheran Church confesses are not false teachings, and that the Biblical faith our Lutheran Church confesses is not what the Apostles taught, and that the spirit is something you feel, and that the Spirit cannot work without modern music, and that doing good (social) works is what is edifying, rather than the Word of God, etc.
    To me it seems that this demonstration as to the consequences of practicing Contemporary Worship should be sufficient to cause those responsible for spiritual care at CUNE to not only walk, but rather run from anything reeking of, or even remotely resembling, Contemporary Worship ….

  3. @Jais H. Tinglund #3
    I find it very troubling that individuals spend so much time in this forum arguing over worship style rather than focusing on spreading the Gospel in their communities. Put down your keyboards and get out into your community. This argument does nothing to further the kingdom.

  4. Oh how it pains me to agree with the strident confessionals but here goes

    I think it is fairly obvious that traditional worship regardless of denomination puts the focus on God and his word. COWO regardless of intent puts the focus on the participants and the individual (feelings and enjoyment)

    I don’t know the answer. There are really millions of people who have the attention spans of gnats and need to be entertained. Maybe what we need is a simplified version of the liturgy.

  5. @Chris #4

    Sure, and go live in our own, tiny independent bubbles/echo chambers. Who cares if we have a communal connection to other Christians, especially those from the past. (you know, they be in heaven, too, even though they only had the eeeviiil traditional worship) IN the American Experiment, original sin as usual corrupted the Gospel freedom, in that we can follow our own paths as we desire in these last days. So much for Moses, Levites, Apostles, church fathers, Martin Luther, or maybe even own own pastors. Who can dare have any authority?, other than Scripture (which we seem intent on bending like a wax nose). The historic liturgy was designed over generations of the BEST minds and theologians (usually so) to reflect Biblical truths. Current CoWo was develop very recently by modern Enthusiasts to appeal to sinful human desires to feel good about themselves, with occasional accidental Biblical concepts to attempt to justify its reasoning. Cart before the horse, which is why it went off the tracks.

  6. Chris :
    @Jais H. Tinglund #3
    I find it very troubling that individuals spend so much time in this forum arguing over worship style rather than focusing on spreading the Gospel in their communities. Put down your keyboards and get out into your community. This argument does nothing to further the kingdom.

    You may want to take a look at the comment to which you respond – or some of the other comments on this thread. The point is, and has been all along, that the concerns go far beyond “arguing over worship style”. This discussion has confirmed that what is at stake is the faith itself, what is communicated to students, what they come to believe is the faith – and yes, it would also have an impact on what Christians are to actually to do out there in your community, what their testimony should be, and which kingdom it is that should be and will be furthered …

  7. What people on the pro-CoWo side (or I would actually suggest “anti-historical/anti-theological” side) of the argument forget is that the theology in your songs actually works its way into the theology of the church. And when your songs turn God into something more akin to a human lover or best buddy about whom little is established theologically, those ideas, like a dormant computer virus, infect the congregation.

    I do not speak from ignorance. I’ve seen this over and over again in evangelicalism. Baptists, Pentecostals, Wesleyans, and even some in the Reformed camp are destroying their heritage through CoWo, and ignorant, envious people within the Lutheran church are eager to follow in their tracks.

  8. @Band Member #18

    Do we really have to play songs that only fit the Lutheran doctrine?

    YES !

    Our confessions fully and accurately teach the true faith. Anything that teaches contrary to Lutheran doctrine is wrong. If a song is written by someone who is not Lutheran, it could still contain correct teaching. See the LSB for examples. However, doctrines that do not fit with Lutheran doctrine are wrong.

  9. Allie :
    It breaks my heart to read through all of these comments and see the hatred and anger spread within the LCMS. How are we to spread the love of Christ, or teach the doctrine, when we are so busy slandering one another?
    This division within the church is not going to be solved through comments on a blog post. It is as simple as that. There is bias and hurt within many of these comments, and talking in circles is only going to exhaust this debate. There are valid points made on both sides of this argument, but it seems we continue to fail to recognize grace, love, and the truth of Christ within this mess. Sarcasm and passive-aggressive remarks only remind us how much we need a Savior, the Savior, Christ our Lord.
    Yes, it is extremely important to examine the doctrine and how it is being taught, but…

    How did such division come about in the first place when everyone in the LCMS has an unconditional subscription to the confessions that require commitment to proper worship in good order so as not to give offense to the weaker brother?

    How did this get started?

  10. It’s strange. You of course have the Confessionals and the CoWo groupies, who are telling each other that the other group is wrong. And any objective person should be able to see that the only group who has a leg to stand on is the group that has been consistently using Scripture and the Confessions, and has been standing on both legs quite well for two millennia.

    But then along come the “enlightened” individuals who claim to be on neither side, and just wish everyone would stop fighting and being so hateful. “Why can’t we all just love?” It’s like the Obama approach to diplomacy: pretend that disagreements are beneath you. War is beneath you. Truth is beneath you. Then apply an abstract solution that doesn’t have anything to do with the argument. Finally, walk away and pretend you have won the argument that you never actually engaged in.

    As Pr. Rossow said, there is no neutral ground.

  11. As Pr. Rossow said, there is no neutral ground.

    What? No fence to sit on? Why that is blasphemy to the postmodern’s ear!

  12. It saddens me how much time people are willing to spend arguing over the differences in worship styles and what is the right/wrong way to worship. Our problem as Lutherans is we have this idea of “Come worship like us so that we can share the Gospel with you.” Unfortunately our worship style turns many people away because it is not welcoming and can be very intimidating for a curious nonbeliever.
    Jesus’ example was very clear, he did not sit in the temple waiting for those people to come and follow the worship rules to teach them. He went out into the community, sought them out, and taught them using often using their lifestyles/interests as teachable moments. We need to learn to do the same, otherwise we are missing out on many opportunities to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it.
    We put way too much emphasis on ourselves as if we have some control over who and how people will come to faith. Our only job is to be a vessel for the Holy Spirit to work through. Share the Word of God in whatever form is effective for the current audience and let God do His thing! And no I disagree with those of you that say Contemporary Worship/Music does not share the Gospel. Because it does. It doesn’t always have to be spelled out in every detail. Within the context of other conversations and experiences the Gospel is made clear. Not because of our actions but because the work of the Spirit. There is nothing we can do, no matter of explanation that can bring someone to faith. No matter how well worded the hymn or well planned the worship service, or how well balanced the sermon, the only thing that can bring someone to faith is the Holy Spirit. So stop arguing get out of His way and let God work through you, in whatever manner or form that might be.

  13. Beloved brother, Rev. Robert Weinkauf
    Concordia Seward is my alma-mater. Allow me to speak as one graduated from that system. I would agree that one of the greatest short comings at CUNE is her lack of an official worship space and solid understanding of her rich liturgical worship laid out in the LSB. This is and has been an ongoing battle. I’m afraid that this all began my first year there and has grown from there. The contemporary worship services were always better attended, therefore it would appear that they won the majority of worship services throughout the week. They only held one morning and one evening service when I was there. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I never quite understood why admissions choose to showcase the Friday contemporary worship as a highlight to the campus life. I much more preferred the evening prayer held in the music building. But then, I guess that only attracted ten students; it is’t very popular to be traditional when you are in the latent stages of adolescence. I suppose something we need to remember is that if we are pointing to Christ, the rest will fall in place, and the same goes for the pointing out of the errors of our churches and universities. We can’t be killing our own by hitting where it hurts, this only places people on the defense, as you can see. Ironically the President of CUNE posted a few days ago a quote stating “people will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is why I do appreciate your comments on encouraging others to visit and consider attending the Lutheran University in the cornfield. I do however disagree with the form that you as a pastor choose to express your disagreement with their worship form. I agree that we need to see some changes. I love my alma-mater and I hope to see her change her direction of worship style. I would hope she might grow into a more traditional and theologically correct form with a rich understanding of what that all entails. I do not however appreciate someone lifting up her skirt for all to see. That is not how we build our church and point to Christ. Perhaps in the future, as one who represents Christ, you might take something such as this before your brothers in Christ. What I mean to say is, and perhaps you did do this; talk with those whom this reflects poorly on and show them their errors as opposed to showing everyone else the errors committed. She is a part of our body, and as a hand reaches for the foot when it is hurt before the eyes have a chance to see, so we do the same for those within the body of Christ. Address these things in private. Your concerns for incorrect worship form could have been expressed without pointing fingers. I believe the University would have been better served in that way, than to have received a public list of pros and cons. Especially since I believe the real issue is not so much if CUNE is a fit university, as much as it is about “What is our confession when we go away from our formulated liturgy?” I pray that God will bless your son in his deliberation process and that you continue to serve the sheep of His flock in such a way that ever points them Christ. God bless you, and thank you for considering my humble concerns.

  14. @Angel #14

    (Dear friends in Christ – I’m able to respond now after a brief hiatus due to other obligations).

    Angel –

    Permit me to address some of the points you raise. I do this not in a holier-than-thou spirit, or out of hostility to you or anyone else for that matter. Rather, I would like to examine what the Word says. So let’s go together in a spirit of humility, and listen to what God’s Word says as our starting place.

    You said, “Our problem as Lutherans is we have this idea of ‘Come worship like us so that we can share the Gospel with you.’ ”
    Answer: God’s Word teaches us what worship is for. And therefore, it is on the basis of God’s Word that we should seek to understand what happens in worship and how it is structured. (I direct you to a helpful summary written by Rev. Sean Rippy, in a link I posted earlier – http://www.christsiouxfalls.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=67:rippy-defense-historical-worship&catid=11:medi&Itemid=9)

    The purpose of worship is not evangelism and outreach to the lost, however. If it were true, St. Paul would never have preached Christ crucified in his sermons, since he knew this was a “stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Greeks” (1 Cor. 1:23). If the purpose of worship was to evangelize and reach out to the lost, then according to Scripture it would be bound to fail, because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him” (1 Cor. 2:14).

    No, the purpose of worship is the ordered giving of the means of grace (which are the “things” of the Spirit as mentioned in 1 Cor. 2:14), for the forgiveness of sins. (See Acts 13:38; Mt. 26:26-28). It is by these things – and these things only that God in His Word has declared to us – that the Holy Spirit works through.

    And that is one of the chief problems with contemporary worship. It sets up a man-made means that God has not promised or given in His Word – namely, the means of man’s contemporary pop/rock music) – and understands this as the means by which the Holy Spirit works through instead. Therefore, the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary worship is actually an unbiblical view in that it understands man’s music as basically a new Sacrament.

    You said, “Unfortunately our worship style turns many people away because it is not welcoming and can be very intimidating for a curious nonbeliever.”

    Answer: Acc. to 1 Cor. 2:14, the natural man or unbeliever is turned away because of the things of the Spirit of God. The Word of Christ’s death for the forgiveness of sins is foolish to him.
    On a more personal note, I have had the opportunity of knowing and witnessing unbelievers of all backgrounds interested in the liturgical Lutheran service, including people from Islamic, Buddhist, New Age, American Indian religions, and more. Routinely, I have heard from non-believers that they are disgusted by the shallowness of contemporary worship and are not interested in it at all.

    You said, “Jesus’ example was very clear, he did not sit in the temple waiting for those people to come and follow the worship rules to teach them. He went out into the community, sought them out, and taught them using often using their lifestyles/interests as teachable moments. We need to learn to do the same, otherwise we are missing out on many opportunities to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it.”

    Answer: Jn. 10:23 finds Jesus walking in the Temple in Solomon’s portico, which was a section partly in the court of the Jews, partly in the court of the Gentiles, where rabbis often taught the Word. Jn. 8:37, Jesus proclaimed a certain Word on the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” Water was a significant portion of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the last great day of this feast, a priest took water from the pool of Siloam along with a pitcher of wine. The wine was poured out as a drink offering to God. The water was an offering kind of like the first-fruits, recognizing that water was scarce and only God gave it.

    These are just two examples of how Jesus used the traditional Jewish liturgy and church year to teach, and therefore was not against using traditional forms. The only difference was, as the fulfillment of God’s promises, Jesus fills the traditional Jewish liturgical forms and customs with new meaning, centering it on Himself and His salvation.

    Did Jesus also go out into the world to reach people? Certainly. That’s not a problem. However, you are assuming that if the historic Lutheran liturgy is used, that outreach is not happening. I can say from personal experience that this is not true. Pastors and many lay people in historic-liturgy-only churches still practice outreach. Just today I spoke with a non-member and gave pastoral care. Regularly I record Lutheran doctrinal devotions for our public local radio station, and a lot of people hear that. I have had the pleasure of teaching adults who were becoming Lutheran from other traditions.

    You said, “We put way too much emphasis on ourselves as if we have some control over who and how people will come to faith. Our only job is to be a vessel for the Holy Spirit to work through.”

    Answer: The historic Lutheran liturgy is not emphasizing ourselves, but is the most Biblical of worship forms. It promotes the means of grace, and not ourselves. If anything, contemporary worship emphasizes man – what man does for God in acts of praise and emotional self-surrender.

    You said, “Share the Word of God in whatever form is effective for the current audience and let God do His thing!”

    Answer: But if the Word of God contradicts the form of contemporary worship (because, say, the contemporary worship misunderstands original sin and justification), then we can’t say the form is neutral. The form of the historic Lutheran liturgy agrees with the Word in all its points. I am hearing from the supporters of contemporary worship on this thread that the songs and worship service of contemporary worship doesn’t have to always be Biblical. That’s not me, that’s what I’m hearing the supporters say. No offense, then, but the form that is less Biblical in its understanding of saving doctrine is therefore to be rejected, and the more Biblical one is to be used.

    You said, “And no I disagree with those of you that say Contemporary Worship/Music does not share the Gospel. Because it does. It doesn’t always have to be spelled out in every detail. Within the context of other conversations and experiences the Gospel is made clear.”

    Answer: But is this the same gospel? Gal. 1:8 says that “other gospels” can be proclaimed as well. And as I have argued, contemporary worship flows out of the Arminian false teaching of man’s original sin and God’s justification. It began originally as a way to emotionally induce people to decide to accept Jesus into their hearts, contrary to 1 Cor. 2:14 and Eph. 2:8-9.

    You said, “Not because of our actions but because the work of the Spirit. There is nothing we can do, no matter of explanation that can bring someone to faith. No matter how well worded the hymn or well planned the worship service, or how well balanced the sermon, the only thing that can bring someone to faith is the Holy Spirit.”

    Answer: I agree completely that God the Holy Spirit is the only One who calls people to saving faith. Thank you for confessing this. This is absolutely right.

    However, Scripture also warns us against error, for false doctrine will lead to the damnation of the people who hear it (1 Tim. 4:16). The reason our historic Lutheran hymns are worded in this way is so that they reject error and confess the pure truth of God’s Word, so that they might be fitting to teach the people of God as is required of church songs in Col. 3:16.

    Let me ask you this. Does the Holy Spirit lead people to saving faith through the preaching of false doctrine? If not, then we need carefully worded hymns and liturgy to avoid false teaching.

    Finally, you said, “So stop arguing get out of His way and let God work through you, in whatever manner or form that might be.”

    Answer: When the truth and clarity of God’s Word is at stake, and when a different understanding of justification is promoted, sadly, we must argue. The church militant can do nothing less. God will work through His Word, but not against His Word.

  15. Friends,

    I am a graduate of CTC (class of 69). I lead CoWo chapels when I was there as I was and am a fairly accomplished guitarist/vocalist. I had a folk group while I was at Seward. I helped start CoWo as an Associate Pastor/Member Assimilator at Fountain of Life, Tucson, Arizona. I loved CoWo stuff for several years but finally discovered that all that was promised of it (i.e., we’ll keep the youth, we’ll attract more unbelievers, will make more of an impact in our community)were assertions that never proved true. Our kids still left at the same rate as ever after confirmation, our “out-going” pretty much matched our “in-coming” members and we lost a good deal of our traditional Lutherans who just couldn’t stomach any more of the “relevance”. I sat at the foot of Carl George time and again and learned all the intricacies of Meta-Church small group ministry and implemented it as best I could only to discover that we had unwittingly managed to spawn any number of mini-congregations with laymen thinking they were mini-church pastors many of whom had little regard for Lutheran theology. I guess I was a slow learner, but I finally figured it out that I was guilty of aiding and abetting of the sheep of our flock to become virtually non-Lutherans. Pretty quick I discovered that some of our members got the message that there was really no difference between Fountain of Life, and any of a dozen non-denominational congregations all around us and so they had no qualms about leaving the Lutheran Church and becoming members of the non-denoms. After a while there just wasn’t sufficient differences between Fountain of Life and the non-denoms.

    I clearly remember going to my Senior class on “Office of the Christian Teacher” taught by none other than Walter Rosin using the text by A.C. Mueller which posited a clearly Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church model for the ministry. (Gratefully, they finally banned the book at CPH and removed the remaining copies destroying them…but I still have my own copy.) It was false doctrine, plain and simple. It made little distinction between the teaching ministry and the pastoral ministry and if there were any it was merely a difference of function. I believe much of this theology still remains at Seward and our other “Concordias” as well.

    My brothers in the pastoral office urged me finally to please re-read the Confessions pointing me to pertinent citations respecting worship, the OHM, and the like. While I had read them at the seminary, this time I actually paid attention to what they said and I was soundly convicted of my errors. When I came to Our Savior, Pagosa Springs, I vowed to do things differently. It didn’t come all at once, but through continued study and contemplation of these things I came to understand that the fruit of the CoWo movement within the LCMS has been nothing but division. Why is it that the last two generations of Lutherans are the first in 2,000 years of Christendom to find the traditional liturgies of the Church to be somehow inadequate? Of what benefit is it for LCMS Lutheran congregations to look like every other Reformed congregation in the neighborhood? Of what benefit is it for our Lutheran youth to see no meaningful difference between ourselves and the Methodist, Calvinist, Charismatic congregations that surround us? Why are we raising whole generations of Lutheran youth to be unable to know the distinctives of our faith and to become functionally non-Lutherans?

    Finally, I began to understand that the reason the Christian Church has been liturgical over the millennia is due to the fact that we want our worship to be reflective of the God we worship! He is unity itself and those who worship Him should do so as the united people of God. Then I noticed that all the worship scenes in Revelation are explicitly liturgical! They are the united people of God speaking with one voice of God’s mercies and magnificence. This is true of each and every worship scene in heaven. And of course, this makes perfect sense! We are the body of Christ and worship Him as one who IS one. On this earth we do our best to imitate and anticipate that worship by seeking the greatest possible uniformity in our worship…not the division of diversity that we now find in our worship in the LCMS. What kind of Satanic thing is it when you walk into a congregation on Sunday morning and the kids head off to “Children’s Church” and the teens head off to the “Head Banger” worship service, and the parents go to the “Baby Boomer” service to sing “Kum By Yah” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “Pass It On” as if they were actually contemporary? We have just managed to divide even our families in what should be the central activity of the Church from which all other activities flow! It just is wrong, and it is not at all a reflection of our One God, His One Body the Church, or the thought of the Apostle Paul who said, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (I Cor. 1:10) Our worship should reflect the same spirit of what Our Lord says, “…that they may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that they world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as I you have loved me.” (Jn. 17:21-23)

    Here is the pattern for life and especially for worship in the Church! It’s not every man for himself. It’s not about personal preference and it never has been! It’s about worshipping in such a fashion as reflects the God we worship. Lutherans worship like Lutherans to keep the message straight and to look as much like the God we worship as possible. End of rant!

  16. Angel : Unfortunately our worship style turns many people away because it is not welcoming and can be very intimidating for a curious nonbeliever..

    This is the same argument I have heard for open communion….. and women’s ordination.
    Need I go on?

  17. Angel : Unfortunately our worship style turns many people away because it is not welcoming and can be very intimidating for a curious nonbeliever..

    Why is it that we so often hear this from lifelong LCMS-members – and from those who have been told to say so in Evangelical churches – and so rarely from those who were actually curious nonbelievers once?

  18. I commented on this board a few days ago, but I’ve taken some more time to think over the debate. I’m not sure how many people are still paying attention to the comments, but here are my thoughts:

    Can we all agree that CoWo and Enthusiast movement are not the same? A lot of CoWo music is enthusiast, but CoWo is very broad term and the enthusiast movement does not encompass all of it. The use of a guitar, or a bass, or drums, does not signify that a song is Enthusiast.

    One CoWo song that I consider to be Enthusiast and should be thrown out is “Furious” by Jeremy Riddle. There is no Scriptural basis for the chorus and it should be thrown out. However, there are CoWo songs which I consider to be doctrinally sound, such as “Christ is Risen” by Matt Maher. It’s actually based on the Paschal Troparion.

    For all the talk that CoWo songs are cookie cutter and un-original, the same could be said for the hymns of the LSB. Normally they are sung in unison (let’s face it, very few people sing the harmonies anymore) and they are accompanied solely by organ. 4/4 time, 4-6 verses, with one verse about the Trinity, one verse concerning Christ’s passion, and one verse concerning nature and Creation. It’s a good formula and doctrinally sound, but we can’t rely on it forever. After a while it can get stale. In comparison, the Psalms mention quite a large variety of different instruments. Another interesting thing about the Psalms, some of them included quite a bit of repetition. (see Psalm 136 and 118: “His love endures forever.” It is worth noting, however, that it doesn’t say keep repeating until you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart. That would be too similar to the Baal worshipers on Mount Carmel.

    Moving on, imagine if Lutherans 100 years stubbornly insisted on singing hymns in German when the entire country was speaking English. Would that have been a wise practice? Somebody had to do the hard work of translating the German hymns into English, knowing full well that some German language hymns would be forgotten in the shuffle, and others wouldn’t carry quite the same meaning. Somebody also had to do the hard work of accepting which Anglican hymns to adopt and which ones weren’t doctrinally sound.

    The same thing needs to happen now with CoWo music.

    -The easy thing is to insist on only using hymns from the LSB during service.
    -The hard thing is to incorporate a mix of the old and the new and write new CoWo songs and hymns that are rich in doctrine. “Sing to the Lord a new song.”

    -The easy thing to do is eliminate drums and guitars from the service.
    -The hard thing to do is to keep the band positioned to the side or the back of the congregation and teach them to play in a humble and reverent manner.

  19. David H.,

    Thank you for the thoughtful post.

    It is not just the lyrics. It is the entire movement. Ask any COWO supporter why they prefer it to the traditional liturgical approach to worship and they will tell you it is because they like the COWO music and the traditional liturgical approach does not move them emotionally. It is this need for emotional titillation that is just as significant and actually more fundamental to the issue than enthusiastic lyrics.

  20. @David H. #20
    “Can we all agree that CoWo and Enthusiast movement are not the same?”

    Music means something. Music does something. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have music, would we? It is not a simple matter of preference. I’ll use a CoWo example from the LSB.

    Consider “What is this Bread?” The lyrics (which I believe leave a lot to be desired) aside, the music is more fitting for that great theatrical production, “20th Century Pietistic Minnesota Lutherans – The Musical.” It’s stirring, it’s dramatic. Just as you have literary devices in written composition, you have musical devices in written composition. It is meant to stir the emotions, it is written to stir the emotions and therefore music of the enthusiast. I think it would be OK in a theatrical production, but not the worship service.

    What of Bach? Does he not stir the emotions? Yes, music of such beauty can stir the emotions, but that is incidental to the composition. He wrote to complement the text. As we hear the law and the gospel we are often stirred emotionally, but it is incidental, isn’t it? We cling to the objective truth of Christ for us, not, as “Gilbert and Sullivan” put it, the “feely goody feelingness with which he feels it.”

    So I do not agree that CoWo and Enthusiasm are not the same. I suppose it is theoretically possible, but I have never heard of a situation where Enthusiasm was not intrinsic to CoWo.

    ” “Sing to the Lord a new song.””

    Does that really mean invent a new song, or is this a metaphor for the Lord who makes all things new? That’s a question for the theologians.

    Consider, we have very few good composers these days, at least for the purpose of writing worship music. Bach, Calvisius, Crüger, Starke…guess which one is not like the others? Granted, there’s nothing really wrong with Starke, but he is not in the same class as our best composers. He can’t be. So why incorporate lesser quality music just because it’s “new?”

  21. If you are saying that Enthusiasm has already infected the LSB, then where do we draw the line? All music is intrinsically emotional. If we really want to completely purge music of enthusiasm we would have to sing monotone dirges without accompaniment, which means it would cease to be music. It’s clearly important to worship God in a humble, organized, reverent, and theologically sound manner, but God has also given us the freedom to worship Him creatively. The music of Bach is a good example of this. I don’t believe that God has ceased to bless His church with gifted composers.

    Your thought process concerning which music is acceptable and which is Enthusiast is extremely subjective, and seems to be really be based on what you consider beautiful. I love Bach as much as the next German Lutheran, but why are “stirring” and “dramatic” primary characteristics of “What is this Bread” and only incidental things in the music of Bach? Shall we make a list of musical devices which are Enthusiast and which are acceptable? To me that is a fruitful task and puts an unnecessarily heavy burden on the church. There are some extreme examples which it would best to avoid, but it’s ridiculous to try and ban, let’s say, all crescendos.

  22. Dave H.

    If you wish to play the devil’s advocate and skeptic you can win any argument. Why do you wish to be the devil’s advocate on this matter?

    You keep equivocating “Enthusiasm” which is a theological category with “enthusiasm” which refers to an emotion.

    Some of Bach’s music is enthusiastic. Some of the Taize (Eat this Bread) music is enthusiastic. I have a lot of experience with both of them. The Taize music if done in traditional Taize style can really easily be used in an Enthusiastic (capital E) way. Bach can be to but it us much harder to do it than with Taize and actually, Bach’s church music is not so easily abused in an Enthusiastic way.

    Our church routinely does mid week services that are entirely Taize but we handle the music and the rest of the liturgy very carefully so that it does not become a feeling fest. Most confessionals probably would not do such but it can be done in the right hands and with the intention to keep it from becoming a feeling fest.

    Now a word about the handful of COWO pieces in LSB. They are a very small lot and with good reason. If handled properly and if they are not the entire service they can serve well. Like all liturgical hymnals LSB has some recent works in it. I can guarantee you that they will not all be in the next LCMS hymnal. some of them will. Those that stand the test of time (one of which tests is that they can be handled in a non Enthusiastic way) will make it in the next hymnal.

    So who exactly are you? What exactly do you know about the liturgies of the church? Again, playing the skeptic and devils advocate is easy to do and sophomoric.

  23. @Pastor Tim Rossow #25

    “So who exactly are you? What exactly do you know about the liturgies of the church?”

    I am an LC-MS Lutheran who was raised in churches using the Divine Service but who has also over the last 7 years had a lot of experience with Contemporary Worship. I have played contemporary music in praise bands and other settings, although I am not currently involved with a praise band. In high school I had several friends who were Methodists, and I can honestly say that I see the danger in their style of worship. There were repeated choruses, often times shallow lyrics, an emphasis on feeling the Holy Spirit, and the like.

    My view is this: I respect the Divine Service, but I believe that contemporary music, including some rock, can be used correctly in worship.

    “You keep equivocating “Enthusiasm” which is a theological category with “enthusiasm”
    which refers to an emotion.”

    My mistake there. Modern “Enthusiasm” does seem to be centered on “enthusiasm” and positive emotions, but there is a clear difference between the two terms.

    “Why do you wish to be the devil’s advocate on this matter?”

    I used those tactics because I wished to show that some of the criticisms of contemporary music can be brought against traditional music as well. Some of the commentators on here seemed to be implying that modern instruments should be outlawed, and that the LSB has remained the same for 400+ years. Of course, the organ was at one time a new instrument in the church, and anyone who owns several editions of the LSB can see that songs have been added and removed for various reasons. There is a sad trend of people switching to other churches because of a better praise band, but I have also heard of people switching churches because of a better organist and hymn selection. I don’t condone either of those situations.

    “Our church routinely does mid week services that are entirely Taize but we handle the music and the rest of the liturgy very carefully so that it does not become a feeling fest. Most confessionals probably would not do such but it can be done in the right hands and with the intention to keep it from becoming a feeling fest.”

    Sounds great. Now could that be done with CoWo music as well? Of course, some CoWo songs are clearly Enthusiastic in their lyrics, but others are only Enthusiastic if they are played in that manner. I think if we prohibit all CoWo we run the risk of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” It makes it appear as if we are promoting pietism instead of fighting Enthusiasm.

  24. @David H. #23
    David H.,
    I’ll repeat: just as you have literary devices in written composition, you have musical devices in written composition. This is more than simple subjectivity.

    You apparently also did not read anything of the incidental emotional response we humans have to worship music. I get so tired of the following because I’ve heard it time and time again:

    “All music is intrinsically emotional. If we really want to completely purge music of enthusiasm we would have to sing monotone dirges without accompaniment, which means it would cease to be music.”

    I’ve found the common denominator for such arguments is low reading/listening comprehension in addition to a lack of meaningful study of music. Your on again-off again does not count for meaningful study of music.

    “I think if we prohibit all CoWo we run the risk of “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” It makes it appear as if we are promoting pietism instead of fighting Enthusiasm.”

    Yeah…no. CoWo lends itself to pietism, my friend.

    “and anyone who owns several editions of the LSB ”

    Wow! Several editions? When did those get printed? I’d like to see them.

    “LSB has remained the same for 400+ years”

    Yeah! Since 2006!

    “If you are saying that Enthusiasm has already infected the LSB, then where do we draw the line?”

    Yeah…like the English Lutheran hymnals have like contained junk for at least like the last 100 years (I can’t speak for before that as my collection does not go back further). Since we don’t have a better hymnal even though we should, you sidestep the landmines. That’s how you deal with that. (or tear out the offensive pages)

  25. @ David

    Hi, David. You certainly are passionate about your viewpoint. I’d like to respond to you, and I am praying that you will listen, and take an objective stance to what I am going to say.

    You said:

    Some of the commentators on here seemed to be implying that modern instruments should be outlawed, and that the LSB has remained the same for 400+ years. Of course, the organ was at one time a new instrument in the church, and anyone who owns several editions of the LSB can see that songs have been added and removed for various reasons.

    I would like to point out to you the guitar had been in existence for THOUSANDS of years now in an evolutionary path. The sound of this musical instrument has changed (some…less than you would believe) though the concept is not new. Nearly any musical instrument is not new, rather they have had a parent.

    You said we should chant in a monotone voice. I agree! In more traditional service we begin with the introit. And you mentioned you are an LCMS member. You should hear the men sing the introit in the chapel at our Fort Wayne seminary. It sounds like something out of a Gregorian chant. If I could describe it in a word, I’d like to use: Reverant.

    And that’s what the music should always be: Reverant. The problem you run into with the other instruments is they are simply not reverant.

    I’d ask that you spend some time reading church history and musical history to gain a more comprehensive understanding of why reverence is what matters. They will point you to God asking that we worship Him a certain way, so He can be revealed to us. If we change what He asks of us, we change the outcome, and we miss out.

    He loves you, David. He just wants to give you the very best.

  26. Big Boy,

    I took your words into consideration and decided to research the history of music today now that I have time to better answer your question. I followed the history of music all the way back to Genesis chapter 4.

    “His brother’s name was Jubal; and he was the father of all who played stringed instruments and pipes.” Genesis 4: 21

    Thus, both the guitar and the pipe organ can trace their roots back to this man. Being that Jubal was the sixth descendent of Cain, I was a rather worried that all instruments came from the wrong side of the family tree, and maybe the singing-only movement is right. However, it is also worth noting that harps are mentioned in Revelation as accompanying singing in heaven. Harps are the only instruments explicitly mentioned in Revelation for worship; trumpets are only mentioned in announcements.

    Revelations 15: 2-3 “They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb.”

    As you said, it is important to be reverent in worship, but there are also numerous calls to be joyful in worship as well. Both are important because we should fear and love God.

    Deuteronomy 16:13-14: “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast- you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless, and the widows that live in your towns.”

    Deuteronomy 16:10- “then celebrate the Feast of Weeks… and rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name”

    There are dozens of references throughout the Psalms to singing or playing with joy, or in a joyful manner. Along with these references are calls to rejoice, be glad, and even shout for joy, or raise jubilant songs to Him. I won’t bother mentioning all of them here, except for one as an example:

    Psalm 33:1-3- Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous: it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

    Here’s one example from the NT as well:

    “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” – James 5:14

    The temple music of the OT was clearly a well organized and elaborate affair, as 1st Chronicles chapter 25 attests to. There were huge choirs of male and female singers, along with harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and tambourines. I thought it was worth noting that every basic instrument group is listed in the Psalms as a way of praising the Lord: wind, brass, strings, and percussion. (Psalm 155 is the most concise example of this)

    However, there is no mention of musical instruments being used in worship by early Christians in the NT. Which means nothing good or bad was said about them. My personal opinion is that the early Christians were not able to form large bands or choirs while being persecuted, nor was creating huge performances necessary for their gospel. Instruments, if they were used, must not have been an important subject in the early church.

    Because of this absence, many Christians a few centuries later concluded the use of instruments in worship as a weakness of the Jews, and that a capella singing was a far more pure and reverent way to worship the Lord. This webpage includes a large list of quotations from church historians and church leaders (some even before 400 A.D) speaking against the use of instruments in worship:

    http://www.bible.ca/H-music.htm

    Here’s a good, concise link on the use of instruments in church through the ages, and the views of different denominations on the subject.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/nov30.html

  27. In conclusion, I don’t think it is right to prohibit contemporary music or its’ associated instruments. Even cymbals, and therefore drum sets, can have their place if used correctly. Instruments are perfectly fine as long as they don’t take over and become the focus of the service. Many on here are of the opinion that it would be better to remove drums and guitars, but I believe to do so is dangerously close to Pietism. I suppose Enthusiasm could lend itself to Pietism as well, but I think Modern Enthusiasm more easily lends itself to Universalism. Both Enthusiasm and Pietism are works-based, but in many ways they are complete opposites.

    Pietism makes sins out of thinks which are not in themselves sin. To quote this very website: “A pietist is someone who takes all of the fun out of life in the name of religion. They believe that they are pleasing to God because they do not smoke, drink, gamble, play cards, dance…” It was the Pietists who kept the fiddle out of the church in Scandinavia because they believed it was “the devil’s music. The subheading “The Hardanger Fiddle and Religion” on this Wikipedia page talks about it: (and since this is a comment board and not an academic paper I’m allowed to use Wikipedia)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardanger_fiddle

    In all my research, both today and before, I haven’t found anything that led me to the conclusion we should condemn CoWo as a genre but retain the organ. I think it is wrong to have separate “traditional” and “contemporary services” however. In churches where there are both styles we should combine them, and the contemporary music should be incorporated into the Divine Service. I do believe it is possible to use both styles of music in worship, provided we follow this advice from Scripture:

    Colossians 3:15- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

    1 Corinthians 14:26,31-33 “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church… for you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” v. 31-33

  28. @ David H

    Hello, David! It was nice to see such a well researched response. Let me point out a couple things to think about:

    There is a difference between joy and Enthusiasm. Example: It is truly joyful to be saved, but I take no credit for it. All glory be His!

    There is a difference between praise and worship. It is truly, good, right and salutary to give Him thanks for all things in all places. Praise Him well, David. Worship him in reverence.

    I would like to point out Paul sung hymns (probably of Psalms) when he sat in jail. Those hymns of the early church were likely Psalms as well. As is often the case with many hymns in the LSB today.

    You easily point out that the harp and organ are pointed to as proper worship instruments. Let’s keep it at that.

    It seems like you have a lot of opinion, and some facts you like to skew to suit your desires.

    The facts are we are shown throught scripture, what is the definition of proper worship. CoWo as it exists today does not fit the bill. Until such time as it has been refined to fit proper worship, you should not attend it.

    Peace

  29. @David H. #29

    David H. –

    Know this thread is old, but hopefully you notice this.

    I responded to a thread like this some time ago on BJS. The discussion was on music and instruments in the Bible. I refer you to this post and the comments. http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=33213#comments

    One thing that you may not have realized is that the instruments described in, say, Ps. 150 for worship were those that were countercultural at the time. Pagans of the time used double-reed instruments to create an emotional response. Believers therefore did not use the instruments that their neighbors did, but completely counter-cultural ones. Therefore, to argue from the sense of Ps. 150, we must conclude that our instruments in worship also should be counter-cultural too.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  30. @David H. #30
    In churches where there are both styles we should combine them, and the contemporary music should be incorporated into the Divine Service. I do believe it is possible to use both styles of music in worship, …

    Where the “two styles” (wrong; it’s more than that) have been combined, people rapidly find that all they have is CoWo …and they “can like it, or leave.” By invitation, often enough! That’s the way it works out, in practice.

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