Steadfast in Worship — Three Words about Worship in the Lutheran Confessions

March 22nd, 2012 Post by

 I would like to spend a little time with three words mentioned by Pastor Martin Noland in his response (comment #32) to my previous post.  Thank you (and everyone) for your comments!

In the Missouri Synod’s latest Rite of Ordination (published with LSB), pastors specifically promise to practice according to the Lutheran Confessions.

When you look through the Lutheran Confessions, you find various worship practices set forth.  As you consider these practices, they fit within at least one of three categories:

Prescriptive – The Confessions say: “Do thus.”

Proscriptive – The Confessions say: “Thus, thou shalt not do.”

Descriptive – The Confessions say: “In times past, they did thus and so.”

As you consider all of this, you might make a very natural assumption.  A pastor should practice what the Confessions prescribe, and he should avoid what the Confessions proscribe, right?

I think so. And yet, I have been told many times (by pastors) that a pastor’s worship practice is only bound to the “doctrinal articles” of the Lutheran Confessions.

In other words, there is a widely held view about the worship practices described in the Confessions.  This view is that the worship practices set forth in the Confessions are not “doctrinal”. They are merely descriptions of what happened in times and places that have little (if anything) to do with us today.

To be fair, the Confessions do contain such descriptive passages.  Consider the following example:

“Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence.  Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people” (Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV: 1-3).

Very few of our people today (at least in the States) would be instructed by hymns that are sung in the German language.  This particular practice is one that fit people who belonged to a very specific location.  When you look elsewhere in the Confessions, it does not seem that the confessors intended for the use of German (or Latin) to be binding upon anyone who wanted to adhere to their Confession. Consider this quotation from the Apology (XXIV:4-5):

“For although some more frequently, and others more rarely, introduced German hymns, nevertheless the people almost everywhere sang something in their own tongue.”

So, yes, some of the worship practices that are included in the Confessions are merely descriptive.  They may have been included simply to illustrate a point.  No one should consider himself particularly bound to carry out such practices (like singing hymns in German) today.

That being said, it is also fair to say that there are passages within the Confessions that describe worship practices that should be considered binding.  When we adopt the Lutheran Confessions as our own confession, we do not change the words. We do not say: “Their churches back in the sixteenth century retained the Mass, celebrated it with the highest reverence, and preserved nearly all of the usual ceremonies.”  When we make these Confessions our own confession, we say: “Our churches…”.

Here, if you find discrepancies between what you do and what the Confessions say that you do, it might be a good moment for some honest reflection.  If you find that the Confessions describe somebody else, that they don’t really describe what you are doing – then maybe you should evaluate whether or not you really want these Confessions to be your confession after all.

 






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  1. March 31st, 2012 at 17:29 | #1

    @Mrs. Hume #47

    I appreciate your responses. It is nice to talk to someone who actually answers questions.

    We are talking about two different things here. I also wouldn’t take away from my children all the secular worldly things that are part of their heritage like literature, grandma’s potato dumplings, or even baseball. There is no reason to cut them off from the traditions that have been passed down.

    Eh. I think this is just a personal thing Mrs Hume. My dad grew up in Philadelphia. Birth to college. I say “Let’s go back and visit?” His response “Why?”

    For some, the common heritage that we have is Christ and that is enough.

    Baptists could make that argument, too. But they wouldn’t claim to agree with our doctrine.
    And if you reject that — if you say “Oh what a church growth argument”

    Once again: you have to have some reason to say “I don’t trust it”—if everything about CoWo and Trad are equal, what is the big deal?

    This really is central. It would be good to agree on criteria, define them and document the agreement.

    I’d be game for that. What do you think the Criteria are?

    Can you give explicit examples?

    #1: Every Cowo service I have been to always uses the Word of God and most of the Lutheran pastors actually preach from it, as opposed to something else.

    #2: This Sunday is Palm Sunday and so we are using Psalm 118.

    #3: Scripture does say “Make a joyful noise.”

    I’m not sure what more I can give you on this — I’m not sure what you are looking for. I can only point to the several CoWo services I have been to and the services that I do.

    So, in them, I see the Word of God taken seriously, taught in purity, and proclaimed vigorously.

    The LSB has explicit examples. The synod agreed to them and documented them.

    This is indeed quite correct — LSB is indeed written out and so there is knowledge of what goes on on a Sunday — this is not as true with CoWo. But on the other hand, you have Lutheran pastors who have been trained designing the services. I trust our education system. It turns out a good pastor.

    Can you give explicit examples?

    Once again, 4 years of PLI, traveling and seeing different services.

    Plus my own services. Most of which are on the web.

    That is the thing about CoWo that you do find — because there is the emphasis on technology and video and the like, you find services online. So there is accountability to what is done.

    Can you give explicit examples?

    I have a good friend of mine who does a CoWo service and a trad service right up the street. Every time I hear him speak, he is proclaiming Jesus. It it that sort of encounters that make me see it.

    My attendance at non-Lutheran churches is pretty low — I just don’t get the chance. But when I do — more on TV than anything — I see the legalistic approaches that make them what they are. I don’t see that where I have gone.

    This is not to say that every services, every sermon, everywhere is the epitome of excellence. But once again, the variety of what I have seen looks good.

    Actually we don’t know because these are bald assertions without evidence or agreement.

    But they certainly can be verified. Services are on the internet. They happen every Sunday. It is not hard to check up on this.

    Pastor Louderback, you have not claimed that you agree with all contemporary practices. Assuming some are appropriate, they shouldn’t be documented? I mean, it is unreasonable to ask people to agree to things that they don’t know.

    And once again, they are. Check out the website of any CoWo service and see if they have the service online or not.

    Why?

    This is Why in response to “Western Mass is not for everyone.” Because some people are wired differently. Things attract people differently. People like different music. People are different and it is no surprise that some are attracted to different things.

    Can you explain what you mean? LSB includes variations.

    Once again, I point to my example on women’s suffrage. You don’t see it as relating but I feel as though it does: if we do have to be united in our doctrine — if we allow a little flexibility when it comes to what the Word of God says insofar as women are concerned, and still be unified, then we can have some flexibility when it comes to worship.

    Is that because there aren’t any benefits, or maybe there are but you just don’t see them?

    It probably is a mix of both. Once again though, we allow for differences in doctrine and our Synod has not been harmed. I think the variety in worship is not problematic.

    But yes, that is my opinion. Others might disagree.

    Yes, variation within an accepted range that is documented and agree upon aka LSB and the other service books.

    Well, all I am asking is a bit of an extension to that range.

    DUH! Sorry, but I am just expressing some exasperation. Seriously, that is not an answer. It comes off as mocking. Not addressing the question at all would be more polite than stating the obvious in such a manner. I’ll assume you didn’t mean anything rude by it, but it comes off as pretty rude.

    Sorry. Don’t mean to be rude. But your question is ultimately one of the future: what is going to happen in the future?

    Right? Am I wrong about that?

    Anyway, what value do you place on the importance of traditions?

    I think traditions are important. We are celebrating Palm Sunday after all. But I don’t see them as the end all to be all that some do.

    I take them as I see use for them and incorporate them into our worship and study.

    Using this line of reasoning, we could go back and forth ad infinitum. I mean, others can say that contemporary worship advocates shouldn’t be offended that others complain about their contemporary worship.

    Yes. That is true. Perhaps that tells us something.

    It would be easier to be sympathetic if you explained what your concerns are.

    I have: the desire to reach segments of people.

    How can a person acknowledge reasons that they are unaware of? You say you know these reasons. Please share them.

    The desire to reach people with the Gospel — a loving way of contexual worship that brings Christ.

    I am familiar with the identity property: a=a I don’t see how stating it here explains what you mean.

    It means that if you don’t see any reason for there to be CoWo, then no matter what reasons I give will not really be convincing.

    Does that make sense?

    Even if I knew what the reasons were (which I don’t) it does not follow that anything under the sun would be acceptable in order to address those reasons.

    Yes, but my point is that any reason would never be enough.

    So, again, even if people were willing to use your conclusion as their premise, are you willing to define and document your practice so that others will know what it is? That way there could at least be some hope for agreement.

    My services are (erratically) online. They are completely public for all to see what we do.

    Yes, what is to be gained? Well, there is walking together, harmony, stuff like that.

    Something, once again, that we DON’T demand when it comes to the doctrine of women’s suffrage. Why is the harmony important or necessary here?

    Perhaps a discussion based on actual practice would lead some to agree with you. I don’t know that, but it is more likely that people might agree with what you are doing if you tell them what it is and why than if you keep saying that they are just wrong for disagreeing with you and that there is no reason to try to agree.

    I would not have any problem with that sort of discussion.

    I don’t know if you stopped and read this carefully before you posted it, but here is how it sounds: I want X and you keep telling me, “No.”

    What I want, Mrs Hume, is to be left alone. That’s all. I want to preach the Gospel, teach people, and reach the lost in my little corner of the world. That is all.

    What you want to do is to say “No, you can’t do that. You must stop what you are doing.”

    So, that is the issue here. Right? That is the real, brass tacks issue.

    In order for you to say “You need to stop this” you have to come up with some good reasons.

    #1: I reject the reason that it is Scriptural to use trad co. In fact, I am disturbed by the positions that reject sola Scriptura and insist that human tradition MUST be held to be Lutheran.
    #2: I reject the position that unity is of the utmost importance, when in fact our Synod has been fine to be un-unified when it comes to doctrine—and we’ve been just fine.
    #3: I fully understand that God saves — so, in terms of election, our actions do not create faith. So, that being said, we are really, really free to worship how we will. And CoWo is a good way to be loving to people and bring God’s Word to them in a contextual way.

    That is my argument. Now, if you have questions about it or would like to poke holes, be my guest. I’m not looking for you to concede anything. (other than a lack of Scriptural support for insisting that the western mass be used).

    What does this mean? I have no idea what this means.

    Ok, that is fair: Cowo explains the Gospel in way that is often easier for people to understand. They respond to the music and the language used.

    That way we will all know what we are talking about. Then people can go through it line by line with the same care that they took in evaluating every line in LSB, TLH, etc.

    This will be a bit problematic, because CoWo changes every week. Not every week, necessarily, but enough to not allow the line by line.

    Since you have such great confidence in the practice, I would think you would welcome the opportunity to share it and explain line by line how scriptural, beneficial and edifying it is.

    Anytime. The other day, I showed my fellow pastors exactly what we were doing for Wednesdays. I’m an open book. Once again, services on the internet.

    Okay. Why?

    #1:Because it is not Scriptural. Paul declare that we are free—if we are not free to worship as we want, how can Paul say this and mean it? (especially as he is talking about human traditions).

    #2: Because for me, personally, I have seen the good of CoWo.

    Ok. So, do you understand my position now?

  2. March 31st, 2012 at 18:06 | #2

    @Mark Louderback #50
    “CoWo comes out the same as traditional worship. Both are about Christ.”

    We’ve already agreed that CoWo cannot really be defined, since it is whatever it is today and will have to change tomorrow in order to remain contemporary, and since CoWo is not standardized, but varies greatly from one congregation and pastor to the next.

    So you can’t be sure CoWo is about Christ. At least with traditional worship, even if the pastor preaches an awful sermon, the people still see Jesus in the liturgy.

  3. Rev. James Schulz
    March 31st, 2012 at 18:24 | #3

    @Ted Crandall #52
    Rev. Crandall,

    I believe Pr. Louderback defined CoWo as being about the unchurched. CoWo is designed primarily with the unchurched in mind. There is no Scriptural or Confessional support for that philosophy of corporate worship. Corporate worship in the Scriptures and the Confessions is prescribed and described as being designed primarily for the believer, for the Elect. To design the divine service for the unchurched, the unbeliever, and/or the church shopper leads to un-Scriptural and un-Confessional practices, for example, such as either sequestering Holy Communion or open communion.

  4. April 1st, 2012 at 06:08 | #4

    @Rev. James Schulz #53

    Yes, I suppose he did define CoWo, but not everyone who presents a CoWo performance necessarily agrees with his definition.

    Although I suspect most would agree with his judgment that the “focus of too many “confessionals” is entirely inward. The concern for the lost is not there…”

    This is of course a false dichotomy, since pastors do not have to choose one or the other, but should both feed the 99 in the sheepfold and seek to save the 1 lost sheep.

  5. Rev. James Schulz
    April 1st, 2012 at 06:35 | #5

    @Ted Crandall #54
    It is not only a false dichotomy, but also a red herring and/or straw man argument to say that “confessionals” are not concerned about the lost because they don’t design the Divine Service primarily for the unchurched/unbeliever. “Confessionals” are indeed concerned about the lost, but don’t use corporate worship as just another evangelism program because there is no scriptural or confessional support for such an approach. They invite the unchurched unbeliever to attend a divine service, and they are concerned about making the service “user friendly” and comfortable (easy to follow service folder, HVAC, paved parking lot, etc.). But in the Scriptures, believers gathered to worship and scattered to evangelize. Seems some definitions of CoWo want to turn that around, and along with that introduce practices that undermine the “Gospel rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered” (AC VII:1).

  6. April 1st, 2012 at 07:17 | #6

    @Rev. James Schulz #55
    Good point. They not only gather to evangelize, but with their plethora of “original” “liturgies,” they scatter to worship… Scripture turned on its head.

    Has anyone actually addressed Matt’s point made earlier?
    @Matthew Mills #5
    “LC-MS pastors who are advocating the rejection or abrogation of Lutheran Worship, and the adoption of CoWo are doing it because they assert their new human traditions are necessary to reach the unchurched w/ the Gospel. Just let that wash over your mind for a bit. It isn’t the Confessionals that are saying only the Western Mass can save, or that people who would otherwise be saved are going to hell for the rejection of the Agnus Dei. We are saying that because God works faith when and where He will through the external Word and Sacraments, that we are free to use the Western Liturgy, which is in line w/ our theology, and also serves love and public harmony. The CoWo have picked up Rome’s argument: our human traditions are necessary to save sinners.”

  7. Rev. James Schulz
    April 1st, 2012 at 07:26 | #7

    @Ted Crandall #56

    In Lumpenkönig’s excellent link (http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/old_hymns_for_our_day at @Lumpenkönig #48 ), the Evangelicals talking around the table spoke of worship as if it were just another “program” in the church. For Lutherans the divine service is the source and summit of parish life. We’ve got to get it right because like Luther said about the doctrine of Justification, “in it all the other articles of our faith are comprehended. And when that is safe, the others are safe too.”

  8. John Rixe
    April 1st, 2012 at 09:56 | #8

    @Ted Crandall #56
    @Rev. James Schulz #57

    “Like Judas, we find it so easy to sit in judgment over those who love Jesus differently.  Perhaps their style of clothing provokes scandal.  Their reputation, too, may precede them.  Even their ways of worshiping Jesus may lead us to question their motives.  

    “Yet even knowing the judgment in our hearts, Jesus still humbles Himself in service, intent on cleansing us still.  And before such gentle, persistent love, our criticisms of others fall forever silent.”   Portals of Prayer, March 31

    May the Lord bless your ministries this weekend and always.

  9. April 1st, 2012 at 09:59 | #9

    @Matthew Mills #5
    Free to choose seems like the argument CoWo advocates use as well. Why not use the eastern rite?
    http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/saintsophiaseminary/liturgy.html

    The point is, I have not heard the argument from any CoWo pastor that CoWo saves; I have heard the argument that they may hear.

  10. John Rixe
    April 1st, 2012 at 10:18 | #10

    @Ted Crandall #54

    In many neighborhoods, including mine, there is 1 in the sheepfold and 99 lost. Who doesn’t agree the focus should be on both?

  11. Rev. James Schulz
    April 1st, 2012 at 11:34 | #11

    @John Rixe #58

    How dare you judge me for judging others!!!! “Judge not, lest ye be judged!!”

    ;)

    In all seriousness, those in the CoWo camp have asked for Scriptural and Confessional support for the philosophy of ministry that the divine service should be designed primarily for the unchurched unbeliever. There is none, thus I “judge” (not judgmental) that there is a better way.

  12. April 1st, 2012 at 11:39 | #12

    @John Rixe #58
    “Like Judas, we find it so easy to sit in judgment over those who love Jesus differently…”

    Are you judging us? (By addressing this devotion to us, it would appear so…)

    Did the devotion from Portals of Prayer lead you to repent of your own sin — or to judge others?

  13. John Rixe
    April 1st, 2012 at 11:58 | #13

    @Ted Crandall #62

    Both. I join in judging others all the time. I hope to amend this by judging deeds instead of persons.

  14. Mrs. Hume
    April 1st, 2012 at 16:17 | #14

    What I want, Mrs Hume, is to be left alone. That’s all. I want to preach the Gospel, teach people, and reach the lost in my little corner of the world. That is all.”

    How is that walking together?

    It kind of sounds like walking away.

    Also, what about the children in your congregation that you baptised? They aren’t lost. Is worship designed for the unchurched appropriate for our baptised children?

    What you want to do is to say “No, you can’t do that. You must stop what you are doing.”

    I don’t really see people so much saying that in general as much as calling on pastors to do what they should. I hear complaints that elements of the service are being discarded, but there are also specific complaints about particular things that have been added that detract from reverence or proper focus. For example, some might ask how having a rock style band at the front increases focus on Christ. Or how do vague song lyrics help people understand better than clear words of our hymns? Or how does having a bunch of youth dance around with iPads increase our focus on Christ?

    I want to see agreement, aka walking together. That could come from a definition and defense of the actual practices, so that it can be evaluated objectively. You say that services can be viewed online. That really is not what I mean. I am talking about definition and defense. I could go online and look at one of your services and perhaps really like it and hear the gospel and learn something useful, etc. But even if I did, my opinion would be worthless because I am not qualified to evaluate. I would be interested to hear a piece by piece evaluation by some other pastors as to what they think. That would be helpful, especially if upon doing so they would say that they agreed that it was appropriate and in good order, etc. If they complain that it is so vague that much of it could be sung/affirmed by muslims, deists, etc., that would concern me. I cannot agree that training assures us that pastors will do as they should. Their actual practice has to be evaluated by their peers using our BOC confessions as the basis for claiming that they are actually walking together. There is that poor congregation in California that was lead into the ELCA by their pastor. Now it took him 34 years, but he got them there. I do not think that is exactly analogous, however, neither do I believe that pastor was walking together with us.

    Right now we have a loose organization that calls itself a synod, aka walking together. Basically a congregation stays in unless it takes specific steps to leave, like the one described in that other post. If we all had to vote every three years to rejoin, like some other organizations, how many would rejoin? When you say, “What I want, Mrs Hume, is to be left alone. That’s all. I want to preach the Gospel, teach people, and reach the lost in my little corner of the world. That is all.” Does that mean your congregation would vote to join our synod if you weren’t already in? You say you were in a program for four years. How did that affect your view of our synod?

    Anyway, who is not leaving you alone? I thought you were going along unmolested.

    I am pretty sure we are leaving the Nazarenes and Baptists, etc., alone to do their services their way.

    I heard once that people say they want to be left alone, but what they need is to be together. I think there is some truth to that idea. The synod should be a way for us to be together and help and support one another. Isn’t it possible that fellow pastors are trying to offer help and support when they question and evaluate worship practices that seem deficient or that add/eliminate elements?

    “Cowo explains the Gospel in way that is often easier for people to understand. They respond to the music and the language used.”

    What do you mean by explain and respond?

    I hear some say that faith and understanding are not the same because infants can have faith even though there is much they do not understand. I get the idea of people responding to the preaching, but many contemporary worship songs have so little content that understanding is not exactly possible because they don’t really say much or explain anything, although they repeat the phrases many times. Of course, I don’t know which ones you use, but some I have heard and find, let’s say pleasant or appealing, my 14 year old son openly derides and laughs at. He sings them in the mocking laughing way he sings goofy camp songs. It makes me uncomfortable. They don’t evoke some kind of enthusiasm or excitement, rather snickering. He doesn’t do that with hymns. Of course, I can, tell him that doing that with his friends is going to make them feel bad and hurt their feelings, but I can’t change his gut reaction. I can just tell him that expressing it to some people is hurtful, so knock it off. Oops, I am rambling.

    Also, if a pastor preaches the same sermon at a traditional service and a contemporary service, then how is the Gospel presented differently?

    #1:Because it is not Scriptural. Paul declare that we are free—if we are not free to worship as we want, how can Paul say this and mean it? (especially as he is talking about human traditions).

    Can someone explain this? I just feel uncomfortable when people give as their reason for doing something just that it is what they want.

    #2: Because for me, personally, I have seen the good of CoWo.

    What does good mean in this sentence? Can you explain this?

    Ok. So, do you understand my position now?

    Not really. Too vague.

  15. Mrs. Hume
    April 1st, 2012 at 17:58 | #15

    #1: I reject the reason that it is Scriptural to use trad co. In fact, I am disturbed by the positions that reject sola Scriptura and insist that human tradition MUST be held to be Lutheran.

    The defense of the traditional service that I have seen consists in making legitimate points supporting each element. All of the elements are scripturally derived and defensible which is why everyone agrees that it is good and helpful. Those who keep to it ask that those who deviate from it likewise give adequate defense of each change. That way there can be agreement and harmony.

    Why is the harmony important or necessary here?

    That is the question. Do some value harmony, agreement, consistency, walking together while others value their independence/freedom more than unity with their fellow Christians? Do some want to walk together, while others want to walk away?

    LSB is indeed written out and so there is knowledge of what goes on on a Sunday — this is not as true with CoWo.

    Let me explain what I mean by explict example. An explicit example is an example of a song or an element, all of the words, and a defense from scripture as to why it is there. It stands on its own merit without regard to who says it. “I went to the seminary,” is not a defense or an example. “You can see it online” is not an explanation of why it is done that way. Everything in LSB meets this standard. It is all there. It has meet all of everyone’s criteria, and everyone has agreed that it is all scripturally sound. Requiring the use of something that everyone agrees to does not proscribe new or different things, but it does require that we agree that the new and different stuff conforms to the same criteria that the approved materials do. That is why LSB contains new and different things that previous service books did not.

  16. April 2nd, 2012 at 08:19 | #16

    @Ted Crandall #52

    So you can’t be sure CoWo is about Christ. At least with traditional worship, even if the pastor preaches an awful sermon, the people still see Jesus in the liturgy.

    That’s fair. So, in my experience — and that is the thing, I have seen many more Lutheran CoWo services than other — they are about Christ.

  17. April 2nd, 2012 at 11:01 | #17

    @Mrs. Hume #64

    How is that walking together?
    It kind of sounds like walking away.

    Well, no, because my brothers are also focused on reaching the lost and proclaiming Christ. So, we are indeed walking together.

    Also, what about the children in your congregation that you baptised? They aren’t lost. Is worship designed for the unchurched appropriate for our baptised children?

    I don’t understand why you focus on the children. What about the adults I baptize? Same thing.

    The same Gospel that creates faith, sustains faith (and the reverse is also true).

    I don’t really see people so much saying that in general as much as calling on pastors to do what they should.

    I believe the entire point of this thread is to say “If you want to be a Lutheran, you can’t do CoWo.” Re-read the opening paragraph and the comments after that.

    For example, some might ask how having a rock style band at the front increases focus on Christ.

    When people are more engaged they learn better. When you have music that keeps in their head, they learn it.

    I mean, I see that with my kids, with the stuff they obviously memorize quickly. The songs they sing when outside of church.

    Or how do vague song lyrics help people understand better than clear words of our hymns?

    They don’t. Which is why we ought not to have vague song lyrics — but poetry is also not prose, so, we need to have some play here.

    Or how does having a bunch of youth dance around with iPads increase our focus on Christ?

    I have not seen this one — but I would point to the getting people involved and using the gifts that God has given them.

    I understand that Gottesdiesnt is passive — we receive the gifts given to us — but I think sometimes the passiveness is overplayed. We do sing hymns after all — hardly passive. So, perhaps some dance ought also to be allowed.

    But I’m not big on it.

    I want to see agreement, aka walking together.

    Then would you be willing to take a stand against congregations that don’t allow women’s suffrage? I mean, do you see my point with that?

    There is that poor congregation in California that was lead into the ELCA by their pastor.

    Yes. And the pastors who try to lead their lock into the Eastern Orthodox as well. it is unfortunate.

    I don’t have any problem with this sort of evaluation. I would welcome it.

    But once again — and this is MY frustration Mrs Hume. I don’t think you are hearing me — I’d be willing to have this conversation with those whose position is “We support CoWo in the Synod and we want to make it better.” As opposed to “We want to eliminate CoWo, so, nothing will be good enough.

    So, do you think we can have CoWo in our Synod and still walk together?

    Does that mean your congregation would vote to join our synod if you weren’t already in?

    The Synod — the Synod provides pastors, teachers, and is a good support for the congregation. Plus, it is the most Scriptural church on earth. So I am sure that we would continue to be a part.

    The Synod is a sinful organization made up of sinners. Not all works well. But it is better than any other church body on earth. (Well, that I know of)

    Anyway, who is not leaving you alone? I thought you were going along unmolested.

    We’ll see what the future brings, shall we?

    Or, we can look at your behavior right? You are using the Law to try and drive me from doing what I am doing, right? That is the whole point of your points on uniformity and walking together, right?

    If they complain that it is so vague that much of it could be sung/affirmed by muslims, deists, etc., that would concern me.

    (chuckle) Like the entire Old Testament? No Psalms! :)

    I am pretty sure we are leaving the Nazarenes and Baptists, etc., alone to do their services their way.

    And the Eastern Orthodox and RC use liturgies — which is why most pastors leave our Synod for those denominations than for Nazarenes and Baptists, right?

    What do you mean by explain and respond?

    By explain I mean “brings to them in a way that they can readily comprehend and understand.” By respond I mean “act in a way that takes what is believed into account into your life.”

    I hear some say that faith and understanding are not the same because infants can have faith even though there is much they do not understand.

    That is true. Absolutely.

    I get the idea of people responding to the preaching, but many contemporary worship songs have so little content that understanding is not exactly possible because they don’t really say much or explain anything, although they repeat the phrases many times.

    You know, when I think about CoWo, I don’t think about the music too much. I mean, I understand it is a part of it, but I really don’t think about that when I think of CoWo. I guess I sorta focus on the parts I do.

    Of course, I don’t know which ones you use, but some I have heard and find, let’s say pleasant or appealing, my 14 year old son openly derides and laughs at. He sings them in the mocking laughing way he sings goofy camp songs. It makes me uncomfortable. They don’t evoke some kind of enthusiasm or excitement, rather snickering. He doesn’t do that with hymns.

    That’s great! As I said, CoWo is not for every single person. Just as Trad Co is not for every single person.

    Flip it around: perhaps there are kids/adults out there who are bored stiff by hymns who like CoWo songs.

    but I can’t change his gut reaction.

    Bingo. Absolutely right. And THIS is why we have CoWo.

    Also, if a pastor preaches the same sermon at a traditional service and a contemporary service, then how is the Gospel presented differently?

    The CoWo sermon probably has visual elements that emphasize the point that the traditional services lacks.

    Can someone explain this? I just feel uncomfortable when people give as their reason for doing something just that it is what they want.

    Paul says We are free. Free. Free.

    The whole point of the Gospel is that there is no person who can say “You must do this this way to be pleasing to God.” Actually, the church has fairly explicitly said at times that if others say “You must do this” it becomes a confessional position to do the opposite.

    For me though, I just see it as a wonderful celebration of the freedom that we have.

    Of course, this is not the sole reason, right? Because I spoke as well about those responding to CoWo.

    What does good mean in this sentence? Can you explain this?

    Standard “good” stuff — baptisms, people returning to church, people talking about how meaningful church is, etc. Normal good stuff.

    Not really. Too vague.

    Mrs Hume, CoWo does not have a liturgy. It does not have a set order to follow that you can point to and say “This is CoWo.” It is the opposite — it is much more “in the moment” as far as what is said. Not all of it — and there is practice involved and experience — but there is nothing that I can hand out and say “Here is what will be said next year at a CoWo service” the way I can with Trad Co.

    That is simply how it is. Now, I know that for some people they question whether this can be Christian or not — how would you know?

    For me, I tend to work from a standpoint of trust. I trust the guys coming out of Sem. And until I hear something that makes me think differently, I trust that they are doing good Lutheran CoWo.

    But I have no problem with any critiques or feedback or anything along those lines. Once again though — if this is merely a disguise to say “Eliminate it” then I’m not so keen.

  18. April 2nd, 2012 at 11:11 | #18

    @Mrs. Hume #65

    The defense of the traditional service that I have seen consists in making legitimate points supporting each element.

    Once again, I point you to the beginning of the thread.

    Defense of the Trad service is un-needed anyway — why defend it? It speaks for itself. It is a blessing to the church and a wonderful thing. That is why most churches that do CoWo also have TradCo.

    Those who keep to it ask that those who deviate from it likewise give adequate defense of each change.

    Well, no, they go further than that. They say things like “It is not enough to hold to Scripture alone to be a Lutheran; you must hold to Scripture and human traditions in order to be a Lutheran.”

    The defense is simple: trad co is great, but it doesn’t reach everyone; having another service style will reach others, who like your own son, have gut reactions.

    “I went to the seminary,” is not a defense or an example. “You can see it online” is not an explanation of why it is done that way.

    O, let me give you an example between CoWo and Trad Co: this is the benediction I used during Lent:

    Benediction
    Pastor: Then the Lord said to Moses,
    People: “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing:
    Pastor: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’
    Pastor: Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name,
    People: I myself will bless them.” (Number 6:22–27 NLT) Amen.

    Now, the Aaronic Benediction is used all of the time in TradCo. What is the difference? Pointing out the context. Showing people why we do this and how it is spelled out in Scripture.

    Now am I using this any more? No, I’m done. It is time to move to some other teaching moment. So, I think that there can easily be explanations to what is said and done.

    If your question is “Well, why don’t you do that for the entire service” my response is “I’m more concerned about the rejection of sola Scriptura.” If I had but all the time, this coyness would be no crime. (to paraphrase)

  19. Matthew Mills
    April 2nd, 2012 at 11:18 | #19

    @Andrew #59
    If we are free to choose to worship with our Lutheran brothers and sisters in love and unity (because external traditions do not save), and instead we choose individualism, titillation, and atomistic congregations because that’s what blows our skirts up more effectively this week, then our “liberty” has morphed into “license,” and we are sinning against love and unity. We are sinning against Christ’s bride the church to whom our pastors vow away some of their freedom out of love at their ordination.

    The CoWo Pastors’ conflict is not w/ me, or those who like me freely choose love and unity in accordance w/ the confessions, but w/ their own ordination vows. This is black and white: In their confessional subscription they have vowed to practice adiaphora w/ us out of love, and they don’t. How many times do we need to catch them breaking their vows to the church in spiritual adultery (and be branded as “unloving” for our “legalistic” insistence on their monogamy to cap it off) before we divorce them?

    Trying to nail their theological Jello to the wall just gives them credibility they do not deserve. It’s more than time to give them the Tit 3: 10-11 answer.

    Lenten Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. Mrs. Hume
    April 2nd, 2012 at 14:58 | #20

    Yes. And the pastors who try to lead their lock into the Eastern Orthodox as well. it is unfortunate.

    Wow, I hadnt’ heard about that. Got a link?

    I don’t have any problem with this sort of evaluation. I would welcome it.
    But once again — and this is MY frustration Mrs Hume. I don’t think you are hearing me —

    What I hear is that you really like what you are doing, although, I am not sure why.

    I’d be willing to have this conversation with those whose position is “We support CoWo in the Synod and we want to make it better.”

    Yes, well it is much easier to agree if everyone is willing to agree just because you tell them they should. It is harder when they ask you to give actual reasons with examples and a thoroughly explained defense. Anyone who supports something without carefully considering it, may not the most worthy ally.

    Anyway, surely some people in the synod support contemporary worship. Are they advocating guidelines to make it better? What to they want to do to make it better?

    As opposed to “We want to eliminate CoWo, so, nothing will be good enough.”

    This is just unfair. It is up to the advocates and practitioners themselves to come up with some reasonable guidelines and document them and defend them. I mean, do you want to have the guidelines written by those who don’t even do contemporary worship? Because they already have. It is called the LSB. If you want approval in advance of anything under the sun just because… well I can see how folks are going to resist that.

    So, do you think we can have CoWo in our Synod and still walk together?

    That is the question and it is the one that brings me back to the children. A little kid growing up will learn whatever he is taught. If he is taught the traditional, he will learn it. If he is taught the contemporary style, he will learn that. So we are creating two traditions. Two different groups. From here on out, it will be ‘us’ and ‘them’ not we. I think that is kind of sad. It is not the kind of walking together that we had before where there was unity in doctrine and practice. It is also entirely our fault. We can’t blame our children for what we teach (and don’t teach) them. Our own children form the vast majority of those we are teaching. Their position as our children and the fact that they are such a large proportion of the future of our synod means that they are very important to consider as we seek to teach and pass on a practice that supports community and faith. Now, another possibility for (temporary) agreement about practice is to abolish our traditional service among our youth. When I see the direction of our national youth gathering, I wonder if some are trying to go that direction. Due to the mutability of contemporary worship, this could just lead to more and more innovation until there is little the same anywhere. I am just not seeing how this is going to be the good order so esteemed by our confessions as being beneficial to help teach and proclaim the Gospel. It seems very weak structurally and easily can go off in various different directions. So, I am not really a “let’s wait and see what happens” kind of person. I am more of a “let’s analyze what has happened before, learn from it and carefully plan for the future” type of person. I like to do the best job I can given what I know. Right now, I am looking at strong arguments from the traditional side and pretty weak ones from the contemporary advocates. So, my point is just that honest lay people not committed to either side could end up being more persuaded to the traditional position when it is all laid out there.

    I don’t understand why you focus on the children. What about the adults I baptize? Same thing.

    Not the same. Children don’t have background in any particular style. They learn what they are taught. Teaching all the children in our churches the same way leads to more harmony and unity. Adults have been greatly influenced by all kinds of styles and worldly traditions, etc. Probably in the past people focused more on children because there were more children. Our culture is more preoccupied with the present and what suits adults because most households don’t have any children than in the past when most households had children.

    When people are more engaged they learn better. When you have music that keeps in their head, they learn it.

    But again how does the rock band at the front do it better, especially when they are engaged in learning vague near meaningless lyrics? So they got engaged and memorized something that has almost no meaning. How is that good? How does it turn the focus on Christ?

    You know, when I think about CoWo, I don’t think about the music too much. I mean, I understand it is a part of it, but I really don’t think about that when I think of CoWo. I guess I sorta focus on the parts I do.

    My son reads the hymns and thinks about them, and I remember reading them and thinking about the words in them, too, when I was a teen. Then I wonder what it must be like for kids now who don’t get to read them because someone assumes they won’t like them. They don’t have the opportunity to read them or think about them. I think I understand your point about focusing on what you do because you have to come up with lots of original stuff every week. Is that right? Still, those who wrote those wonderful and inspiring hymns wanted to offer them as help to all of us. It seems sad to miss the opportunity for our children to benefit from their considerable talents and the beautiful phrases they created.

    He sings them in the mocking laughing way he sings goofy camp songs. It makes me uncomfortable. They don’t evoke some kind of enthusiasm or excitement, rather snickering. He doesn’t do that with hymns.

    That’s great! As I said, CoWo is not for every single person. Just as Trad Co is not for every single person.

    Flip it around: perhaps there are kids/adults out there who are bored stiff by hymns who like CoWo songs.

    but I can’t change his gut reaction.

    Bingo. Absolutely right. And THIS is why we have CoWo.

    I think we are talking about different things. He mocks them because their content doesn’t make sense like goofy camp songs don’t make sense. As for people getting bored, well people get bored when they don’t understand. Like little kids get bored watching the evening news. They can’t understand it, so they are bored by it. Now, I really don’t like saying that because it sounds like saying that folks are too dumb to understand, and I don’t want the discussion to descend into pejoratives. Some have noted that such music appeals to emotion instead of thought and some people respond to that. I have to wonder whether people just don’t like the objective truth or even reject it, but are able to engage in a worship that is more emotional. Now that is the argument I have seen. Also, there is the question of whether some songs are sufficiently reverent. If they aren’t then you can see a teen guy is going to see the whole thing as a joke.

    For me, I tend to work from a standpoint of trust. I trust the guys coming out of Sem. And until I hear something that makes me think differently, I trust that they are doing good Lutheran CoWo.

    I was in the ELCA for ten years. That used up much of my meager capacity for trust. Having been stabbed in the back and now also having my children to consider instead of just my donations, I am asking many more questions and teaching my kids to do the same. When I was in the ELCA, I didn’t have children, so the worst they could do was take my donations and misuse it to the detriment of other people’s children. They also assured me that they were right, blah, blah, blah. Of course asking some questions carefully revealed who they really are. So, no, I don’t trust and I do question.

    More to the point, why do you trust some and not others? Coming out of seminary, there are those who like contemporary and those who criticize it. Why is one group’s opinion more trustworthy than the other? How is it they go to the same seminary and come out with such opposing views?

  21. April 2nd, 2012 at 16:05 | #21

    @Mrs. Hume #70

    One quick note:

    Yes, well it is much easier to agree if everyone is willing to agree just because you tell them they should.

    You misunderstand: I don’t mind chatting about CoWo with those who disagree with it and see it as a blight to be cured. Shoot, I’m here on Steadfast. :) But I would not be interested in sitting down with them to talk about improving CoWo, when what they want to do is remove it.

    That would be like sitting down with an anarchist to talk about making government laws. (and I’m not comparing supporting traditional worship with being an anarchist or anything like that)

    Do you understand my distinction?

    And one more quick comment:

    More to the point, why do you trust some and not others?

    I trust all the guys. I trust Joshua Scheer for example. He disagrees with me on any number of things, but he is an upright, pastoral guy.

    But the arguments — like the one by Pastor Higgins above — are the things I disagree with.

    Blessed Holy Week. I have to disappear until after Easter.

    Oh, one last one:

    As for people getting bored, well people get bored when they don’t understand.

    Exactly. Which is why I do CoWo. ;)

  22. April 2nd, 2012 at 16:06 | #22

    @Matthew Mills #69

    How many times do we need to catch them breaking their vows to the church in spiritual adultery (and be branded as “unloving” for our “legalistic” insistence on their monogamy to cap it off) before we divorce them?

    Seven times? :)

  23. Matthew Mills
    April 2nd, 2012 at 16:19 | #23

    @Mark Louderback #72
    Two- Tit 3: 10-11

  24. Mrs. Hume
    April 2nd, 2012 at 16:59 | #24

    As for people getting bored, well people get bored when they don’t understand.

    Exactly. Which is why I do CoWo.

    Ooh, that is a scary thought. It sounds like eliminating content. My kindergartner doesn’t understand the news, so I let him watch cartoons. Good analogy? Bad analogy? I mean I don’t like to think that the contemporary worship crowd can’t understand plain English. So, if they can read like the rest of us, then why can’t they understand? If they can read, why do you think they can’t understand?

  25. Matthew Mills
    April 3rd, 2012 at 10:34 | #25

    @Mrs. Hume #74
    We know why they “can’t understand” Mrs. Hume (1 Cor 1:18, and 1 Cor 2:14) the real question is why a pastor would choose to pander to their ignorance rather than teaching them.

  26. April 3rd, 2012 at 20:17 | #26

    @Mrs. Hume #74

    Interesting that you see it as eliminating content. I think the question you want to ask is “Can the concepts of the nightly news be brought to a kindergardener in a way that keeps his attention and that he can understand?”

    Right?

    That is not eliminating — it is bringing the same content to him in an understandable way.

    Sound familiar? :)

    So, if they can read like the rest of us, then why can’t they understand? If they can read, why do you think they can’t understand?

    Because they can’t read like the rest of us, Mrs Hume. When you read Scripture and the liturgy, you understand it. You been raised in it. It is familiar with you. You understand the jargon.

    That’s why people can read and not understand.

    @Matthew Mills #73

    The problem is, of course, you don’t really want to follow through with this, right? You would not leave. You want to force me out. :)

  27. Mrs. Hume
    April 4th, 2012 at 13:22 | #27

    When you read Scripture and the liturgy, you understand it. You been raised in it. It is familiar with you. You understand the jargon.

    Just for clarity, I wasn’t raised in it. I became a Christian at 15. My neighbors gave me a ride to church. That was a baptist church. I didn’t attend Lutheran church until I met my husband when I was 19. I understood the liturgy directly by just reading the words on the page. Obviously, I had been to church before, and was a baptised Christian, but I was not familiar with the liturgy as there was none in the baptist church.

    You know, as I was writing that, it just now occurred to me that the use of the traditional liturgy in that ELCA church is probably what obscured their false teaching from me for so long. I didn’t like going to bible class there because it never seemed to make any sense, except for one lady who once taught a short class for just a few weeks. Turns out she and her husband were actually believers unlike one of the pastors and tons of the other folks there. I mean, it was pretty stunning to me when I figured out what the ELCA’s leaders did and did not believe.

    What about Mills’ suggestion as to why some don’t understand? To whom does that refer? Those who never enter the building? Those who come but leave and never “get” it? Those who come but don’t like hearing certain things or doctrines? Honest question. Not being snarky or trying to imply anything. Just looking for an honest answer.

  28. Rev. McCall
    April 4th, 2012 at 13:43 | #28
  29. Rev. McCall
    April 4th, 2012 at 13:50 | #29

    @Mark Louderback #76
    Your answer assumes two things. First that a kindergartner cannot understand something like the liturgy (I have four children between the ages of 3 months and 8 years who would easily prove that wrong). They already, just from repetition each week, are able to join in with the Lord’s Prayer, some parts of the creed, and the confession. By taking time to explain it to them they even are beginning to grasp why they need to confess their sins and receive forgiveness. So certainly if it is not hard for them then any adult should be able to grasp it.
    Second, you assume that God’s Word, the basis of the liturgy, somehow needs to be altered in order to be effective. That on it’s face suggests that God cannot work through His Word unless we somehow tweak it. It’s that second little “and” that CoWo likes to sneak in there, “Word and Sacrament AND…(catchy music, flip-flops, roaming preachers, etc.)” On some level I would say it displays a lack of trust on our part to assume God can’t work through the means He has said He will work through and that somehow we must do our part in order to make it palatable for people. There was a great article titled, “P.S. I hate you” Check out the link http://thehighmidlife.blogspot.com/2011/01/ps-i-hate-you-part-1.html Caution, it is brutally honest!

  30. April 5th, 2012 at 14:24 | #30

    @Rev. McCall #79

    Your answer assumes two things. First that a kindergartner cannot understand something like the liturgy

    I’m always curious where you guys get this stuff. What exactly did I say that makes you think this? What would be the line indicating this?

    Cause I don’t believe this. Growing up, I learned the liturgy. Probably when I was in Kindergarten I did not understand all of it — I only learned the distinction of Sabaoth and Sabbath when I was in college.

    But I don’t think this at all.

    Second, you assume that God’s Word, the basis of the liturgy, somehow needs to be altered in order to be effective.

    I think it needs to be proclaimed in a way that is understood, yes. If that is what you consider to be “altering” then yes, that would be correct.

    I’ve read Pr Fiene’s article and where he is wrong is confusing Einstein with Newton as Prof Voelz would say.

    @Mrs. Hume #77

    Just for clarity, I wasn’t raised in it. I became a Christian at 15.

    Ok. I gotacha. Since 15…still a chunk of time.

    What about Mills’ suggestion as to why some don’t understand?

    There are two distinctions we need to think about:

    The elect and those who are not the elect
    The non-understanding and those who understand

    We can’t do anything about the first — but we can do something about the second, so that is where my emphasis is. If the Holy Spirit does not create faith, I can do nothing. But if the person doesn’t understand what is being proclaimed, then I can act. Through their understanding, faith may be created — but if it is not, that does not mean that God is not good.

    That would be my honest answer. Does it make sense?

    The interesting thing is Matthew Mills post:

    We know why they “can’t understand” Mrs. Hume (1 Cor 1:18, and 1 Cor 2:14) the real question is why a pastor would choose to pander to their ignorance rather than teaching them.

    He, of course, sees the opportunity to teach them. So, obviously, even to him, the ignorance is not necessarily a permanent situation.

    Once again — I want to catechize them — that is why I do CoWo.

    Blessed Maundy Thursday.

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