Layman, Military Man, Stationed in Iraq and Adding Insights to the BJS Discussion on Worship, by Pr. Rossow

One of our regular readers and commenters is a gentleman by the name of Matthew Mills. He is a layman, in the military, currently viewing the BJS site from Iraq and is quite the accomplished lay theologian. If I am not mistaken, I believe he is an officer in the Air Force. I have had some brief personal e-mail correspondence with him in the past months but that is the extent of his  biography that I know.

Those of you who follow the comments section of this website know that Matthew always provides spot-on commentary on the issues. He and others have had a lengthy exchange on contemporary worship (CW) that grew out of a post we put up a week ago by another bright layman, Brian Yamabe. The latest comment from Matthew Mills is particularly insightful and in true officer form, is clear, concise and pulls no punches. Here is the comment. (Thank you Matthew for your contributions to this website and thank you for your service to this country in defending  the freedoms with which we have been blessed.)

#85 by Matthew Mills — July 30, 2009 @ 12:48 am

Pastor Lauderback,

I am not criticizing you for “Proclaiming the Gospel,” but for changing the proclamation of the Gospel to appeal to the cultural mindset of visitors whom you yourself referred to as “heathens.” (You can of course retract the “heathens” word, but that would make your foray into CW look like “sheep-stealing” rather than Evangelism.)

I hope I don’t need to prove “recent.” One obvious part of what you are doing that qualifies as anthropocentric, anti-scriptural and heretical is the implicit belief that Word, and Sacrament PLUS something else creates faith. The belief that; were you leading Worship in accordance with the Biblical and Christo-centric Western Liturgy (and your public Confessional subscription) there would somehow be fewer souls saved, because our historical Western Liturgy presents a cultural stumbling block that keeps the 21st century Southern Americans (elected by God Himself to be His sons and daughters) away from His life-giving Word and Sacraments. That is anthropocentric in itself even if your self-chosen style were not (and it certainly is.) Anti-scriptural and heretical follow any attempt to make God’s Salvation dependant on the proper style or cultural spin being added to Christ’s Grace in Word and Sacrament.

AC XV requires of you that you observe the usages in the Church ” which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquility and good order in the Church, as particular holy days, festivals, and the like.” The Apology adds “in this very assembly we have shown sufficiently that for love’s sake we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage; but we have judged that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages.” What are you using to trump “the usages of the church,” and “public harmony” if not the apparent effectiveness of CW to fill pews in the South Pastor?

Pax Christi+,

-Matt Mills

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Layman, Military Man, Stationed in Iraq and Adding Insights to the BJS Discussion on Worship, by Pr. Rossow — 6 Comments

  1. Matt,

    Thank you for your service of defending our country and the Christian faith. The peace of the Lord be with you.


  2. Just finished forty-five minutes of reading through all that. Whew. Thought I’d post my two cents here:


    You write:*Using a big screen is just one more way to use visual elements to teach…. I am unconvinced that screens detract from communicating the Gospel. I need a different argument.*

    Please take some time to carefully read Neil Postman’s mid-80s social commentary “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” There is the argument you have asked for. If it is true, as I believe it is, you’re efforts to teach “better” with screens only compounds the damage being done by our culture and the state of knowledge and education for the people in our pews. The end result will not be deeper faith in the objective Word, but deeper ambiguity in the meaning of words at all.

    You also asked for one Scriptural reason not to practice CW. Here it is:

    Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

    The Christian who has the Evangel at heart will not create division by asserting his own “adiaphoric” views at the expense of others’ consciences, super-especially in the midst of a time of controversy over those very views. Unless there is a Biblical mandate TO do it, if it’s causing division, there is a Biblical imperative that we NOT do it. Period. It will (ironcially) create obstacles to true doctrine.

    This is one of the central Biblical proofs that CW ought to be avoided at all costs: since its introduction via Finney 200 years past, it has done nothing BUT cause divisions, dividing even those who ought to share the same confession and spend their time confessing it rather than wounding each other.

    Finally, you also wrote that you pray often that “this would not be about you.” Yet, as I read through the exchange, I could not help by being disturbed by the great prominence of times you spoke about “MY worship service.” If you want your prayer to be answered, please reread all of your posts, and notice just how many of your answers are very much about you. Then, deeply ponder the fact that a great number of brothers here are telling you in all earnestness that the theology driving the wagon you’ve hitched yourself to *is* about you. That is what bothers them so very much.

    +pax Christi+

  3. Thanks for the prayers,
    For whatever reason I didn’t get an answer to that post.
    I’m just about done here in Iraq, and I hope to be back in Alaska before the end of the silver salmon run. It’s always hard on the family, and my job (advisor to the Iraqi Air Force) was occasionally frustrating, but I’ve been kept pretty safe. Please continue to pray for the folks that are deployed, and especially the folks that work “outside the wire.”
    Pax Christi+,
    Matt Mills, Maj, USAF
    Whoever wrote from Ramstein, should climb up to Franz von Sickingen’s castle in Landstuhl (there’s an interesting Reformation era figure) and drink a cold one for me!

  4. Prost Matt! Next time we over to visit the family, that is a will do. Stay safe, S.F. in Christ.

  5. I’ve shared this before, but it’s an apt occasion for sharing it again.
    Attached to all of my pastor’s emails is this little tag:

    A lady said to her pastor, ‘Pastor, the liturgy doesn’t say what I mean.’
    The pastor responded, ‘Dear lady, you must learn to mean what the liturgy says.’

    He doesn’t claim it as his original thought; he may even have told me its source, but I don’t recall. All I know is, it works, and I’m glad he’s shared it so consistently.

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