A Suggestion to the COP Regarding their Theses on Worship, by Klemet Preus

Having praised the council of presidents for their recently released “Theses on Worship,” I now offer one suggestion to our esteemed presidents as we continue our discussion on worship. I believe that section IV needs further discussion. Here is what the council of presidents write:

IV. Imposing a certain form, rite or ceremony on the Church  burdens men’s consciences, thereby militating against the Gospel.
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9)

And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Luke 11:46)

The Gospel clearly testifies that traditions should not be imposed on the church to merit forgiveness of sins or to be acts of worship that please God as righteousness or to burden consciences so that their omission is judged to be a sin.   (AP XXVIII, 11)

Therefore we reject and condemn as false and contrary to God’s Word the following teachings: . . . 2) When such ceremonies, precepts, and institutions are forcibly imposed upon the community of God as necessary things, in violation of the Christian liberty which it has in external matters. (FC Ep X, 8, 10)
See also: FC SD X, 15, 21, 27.  

On the face of it the document seems to be saying that any time any rites or ceremonies are imposed then that is wrong even when these rites and ceremonies might, in and of themselves, be benign or even salutary.

But neither the Bible passages sited nor the confessions of the church teach this. Rather, it is not the mere imposition of rites and ceremonies that is condemned, but forcing any ceremonies as if they were necessary for salvation. Listen to the confessions: “traditions should not be imposed on the church to merit forgiveness of sins.” The confessions are primarily interested in protecting souls from the idea that salvation is gained through the observance of ceremonies. After all, know the confessors, salvation was accomplished by Jesus and is imparted by the gospel and sacraments. So don’t make salvation be dependant upon the performance of ceremonies. Notice it is not the imposition alone which is condemned but the imposition of traditions to forgive sins.

When you think about it, the pastor imposes worship forms upon the church every Sunday. If he doesn’t do it then a competent helper does. In my church I choose the hymns with input from our choir directors and music coordinator. I choose the orders of service from the LSB. I am the one who takes flack for it if the people can’t sing the hymns. I’m not sure that anyone has ever said, “Why are you imposing these hymns on us?” But words to that effect have been spoken, “Why do we have to sing these hymns when we want to sing “The Old Rugged Cross?” What happens in my church happens in all the churches. Someone decides and if the people don’t like it they complain. They’ve been imposed upon.

Whenever a decision is made by anyone in the church – whether the pastor or the congregation or a collection of congregations or by the bishop or by a collection of pastors – whenever a decision is made that others must abide there is a type of forced imposition that takes place. We could not function as a church without someone making decisions which are binding upon all – but never for salvation. The question is not about this process but about the value of imposed decisions to our salvation.

For example, our district presidents are chosen by the vote of the convention. Those who may have preferred a different candidate may view the DP as having been imposed upon them. Their views, worthy as they may be, are not considered beyond the election itself. The majority has spoken and a type of imposition occurs. Where we would balk is if, God forbid, someone would say, “You must elect Pastor Smith to be president of the district at the peril of your souls.” In that event the imposition is deemed necessary for salvation and souls are burdened. Such an imposition would be wrong and contrary to the Gospel. The first Lutherans would have abided the imposition upon them of the pope provided this imposition would not have been deemed necessary for salvation or been viewed as a requirement that the church must do to please God.

So we as Christians have willingly accepting the imposition all sorts of things without believing that by so doing we have been wronged. Does the same apply to worship forms? Yes it does.

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.


A Suggestion to the COP Regarding their Theses on Worship, by Klemet Preus — 23 Comments

  1. The Church has never been in a vacuum where there are not received forms of liturgical practice. The COP document does not really acknowledge the wisdom behind the first paragraphs of AC and Apology XXIV.


    Article XXIV: Of the Mass.

    1] Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among 2] 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 3] to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned 4] be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Cor. 14:2-9, but it has also been so ordained by man’s law. 5] The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public 6] worship. For none are admitted 7] except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. 8] [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion 9] toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us.

    Apology XXIV:
    Article XXIV (XII): Of the Mass.

    At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we 1] do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things.

    The COP sets up a straw man. I don’t think even the most regimented pastor would say or suggest that anyone is earning anything before God by such practices. The importance of reverence in relation to repentance, the holiness of God, and real presence deserve more attention. Also the Confessions do also speak of the pastor being responsible for maintaining a right use of the mysteries of God and for overseeing the ceremonies of the church.

    Voting on ceremonies could also suggest a crass understanding of “conscience” and a congregationalism unknown in classical Lutheranism or the early church. Order is also a consideration in the church, which is only an a priori condition for reverence, which is something more than order. We are taught and confess in the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VI:

    For this reason, too, believers require the teaching of the law: so that they do not fall back on their own holiness and piety and under the appearance of God’s Spirit establish their own service to God on the basis of their own choice, without God’s Word or command. As it is written in Deuteronomy 12[:8,28,32], “You shall not actall of us according to our own desires,” but “listen to the commands and laws which I command you,” and “you shall not add to them nor take anything form them.” Furthermore believers also require the teaching of the law regarding their good works, for otherwise people can easily imagine that their works and life are completely pure and perfect [FC-SD VI, 20,21].

  2. Isn’t this exactly what “burdening mens’ consciences” means, that is, adding works to the requirement of salvation? I’m pretty much a Lutheran newbie and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and even I can understand exactly what the phrase means. How could the COP make such an elementary mistake?

  3. Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XV (VIII)

    38] But we cheerfully maintain the old traditions [as, the three high festivals, the observance of Sunday, and the like] made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and tranquillity; and we interpret them in a more moderate way, 39] to the exclusion of the opinion which holds that they justify. And our enemies falsely accuse us of abolishing good ordinances and church-discipline. For we can truly declare that the public form of the churches is more becoming with us than with the adversaries (that the true worship of God is observed in our churches in a more Christian, honorable way]. And if any one will consider it aright, we conform to the canons more truly than do the adversaries. [For the adversaries, without shame, tread under foot the most honorable canons, just as they do Christ and the Gospel.] 40] With the adversaries, unwilling celebrants, and those hired for pay, and very frequently only for pay, celebrate the Masses. They sing psalms, not that they may learn or pray [for the greater part do not understand a verse in the psalms], but for the sake of the service, as though this work were a service, or, at least, for the sake of reward. [All this they cannot deny. Some who are upright among them are even ashamed of this traffic, and declare that the clergy is in need of reformation.] With us many use the Lord’s Supper [willingly and without constraint] every Lord’s Day, but after having been first instructed, examined [whether they know and understand anything of the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments], and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn [become familiar with passages of Scripture]; the people also sing [Latin and German psalms], in order that they may either learn or pray. With 41] the adversaries there is no catechization of the children whatever, concerning which even the canons give commands. With us the pastors and ministers of the churches are compelled publicly [and privately] to instruct and hear the youth; and this ceremony produces the best fruits.

    43] On the contrary, in our churches all the sermons are occupied with such topics as these: of repentance; of the fear of God; of faith in Christ, of the righteousness of faith, of the consolation of consciences by faith, of the exercises of faith; of prayer, what its nature should be, and that we should be fully confident that it is efficacious, that it is heard; of the cross; of the authority of magistrates and all civil ordinances [likewise, how each one in his station should live in a Christian manner, and, out of obedience to the command of the Lord God, should conduct himself in reference to every worldly ordinance and law]; of the distinction between the kingdom of Christ, or the spiritual kingdom, and political affairs; of marriage; of the education and instruction of children; of chastity; of all the offices of love. 44] From this condition of the churches it may be judged that we diligently maintain church discipline and godly ceremonies and good church-customs.

    Here we have Paul as a constant champion, who everywhere contends that these observances neither justify nor are necessary in addition to the righteousness of faith. 51] And nevertheless we teach that in these matters the use of liberty is to be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended, and, on account of the abuse of liberty, may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the Gospel, or that without a reasonable cause nothing in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience. 52] And 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 [all other less important matters].

  4. Let’s remember that in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War it was the Pietists who burdened consciences to say that you cannot wear vestments, you cannot chant, you cannot have a crucifix, etc. And then in America the surrounding pressure from Protestants did the same thing. The COP falls into that trap of not recognizing those movements in history. What we have in the Church Growth Movement is a combination of Pietism, charismatic movement, and non-Lutheran Protestant influences. And this is encouraged on the official level sometimes ignorantly and sometimes quite militantly. The Divine Service is chiefly about the evangel not evangel-ism. It is chiefly the gathering of the baptized.

    But let’s face it most pastors had one required course in liturgy during seminary. And in the majority of seminary history for most pastors on the roster, very little attention was given to the why of it all and sound liturgical theology. Many are simply ill-equipped for the debate.

  5. A Quote from the Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, First President of the Missouri Synod on Ceremonies in the Divine Service:

    We know and firmly hold that the character, the soul of Lutheranism, is not found in outward observances but in the pure doctrine. If a congregation had the most beautiful ceremonies in the very best order, but did not have the pure doctrine, it would be anything but Lutheran. We have from the beginning spoken earnestly of good ceremonies, not as though the important thing were outward forms, but rather to make use of our liberty in these things. For true Lutherans know that although one does not have to have these things (because there is no divine command to have them), one may nevertheless have them because good ceremonies are lovely and beautiful and are not forbidden in the Word of God. Therefore the Lutheran church has not abolished “outward ornaments, candles, altar cloths, statues and similar ornaments,” [AP XXIV] but has left them free. The sects proceeded differently because they did not know how to distinguish between what is commanded, forbidden, and left free in the Word of God. We remind only of the mad actions of Carlstadt and of his adherents and followers in Germany and in Switzerland. We on our part have retained the ceremonies and church ornaments in order to prove by our actions that we have a correct understanding of Christian liberty, and know how to conduct ourselves in things which are neither commanded nor forbidden by God.

    We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them. The Roman antichristendom enslaves poor consciences by imposing human ordinances on them with the command: “You must keep such and such a thing!”; the sects enslave consciences by forbidding and branding as sin what God has left free. Unfortunately, also many of our Lutheran Christians are still without a true understanding of their liberty. This is demonstrated by their aversion to ceremonies. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won’t accuse us of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?

    It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive chanting of pastor and congregations is of course still very great with many people — this does not, however, alter the fact that it is very foolish. The pious church father Augustine said, “Qui cantat, bis orat–he who sings prays twice.”

    This finds its application also in the matter of the liturgy. Why should congregations or individuals in the congregation want to retain their prejudices? How foolish that would be! For first of all it is clear from the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 14:16) that the congregations of his time had a similar custom. It has been the custom in the Lutheran Church for 250 years. It creates a solemn impression on the Christian mind when one is reminded by the solemnity of the divine service that one is in the house of God, in childlike love to their heavenly Father, also give expression to their joy in such a lovely manner.

    We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians-neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. Uniformity of ceremonies (perhaps according to the Saxon Church order published by the Synod, which is the simplest among the many Lutheran church orders) would be highly desirable because of its usefulness. A poor slave of the pope finds one and same form of service, no matter where he goes, by which he at once recognizes his church. With us it is different. Whoever comes from Germany without a true understanding of the doctrine often has to look for his church for a long time, and many have already been lost to our church because of this search. How different it would be if the entire Lutheran church had a uniform form of worship! This would, of course, first of all yield only an external advantage, however, one which is by no means unimportant. Has not many a Lutheran already kept his distance from the sects because he saw at the Lord’s Supper they broke the bread instead of distributing wafters?

    The objection: “What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?” was answered with the counter question, “What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers. They were so far removed from being ashamed of the good ceremonies that they publicly confess in the passage quoted: “It is not true that we do away with all such external ornaments”

    (Walther, Explanation of Thesis XVIII, D, Adiaphora, of the book The True Visible Church, delivered at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, Beginning August 9, 1871, at the 16th Central District Convention, translated by Fred Kramer, printed in Essays for the Church [CPH: 1992], I:193-194).

  6. Bubbles,

    The answer that suggests itself, as is usually the case when the obvious is confused, is that there is an agenda to promote freedom in worship.

    I hope to get time to give Bishop Forke (the primary author of the document) a call about this and discuss it and hope that he can see this error and address the COP on this matter.


  7. Pietism and American Evangelicalism as embodied in the Church Growth Movement, CCM, TCN, and the switch between justification by grace alone with evangel-ism (recruitment), have burdened the consciences of many Lutherans.

  8. Would it be fair to say Pietism is enjoying a contemporary resurgence in the guise of self-help and “Christian” self-help programs/books/courses/classes? It seems like every Bible study class that I see, in addition to coming from some mega-church franchise non-Lutheran publisher, seems to have some kind of message like “How can the Bible or God’s Word help YOU improve your life?” or “How can you take inspiration from Biblical stories and figures to make you a more successful person, or make your life worth living?”

  9. Thank you so much for the citations, Pastor Frahm. I’ve read them many times – but not often enough to be able to quote them as I should. Perhaps I need to assemble a “cantors’ catechism” for leaders of the Lord’s song to commit to memory.

    At any rate, it reminds me that this really is about love. It is simply unloving for all these churches to abandon our customs and rites. When they hold public worship under the name of “Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod” and promote an alien piety, they are not submitting to their brothers in synod as they called to do.

    That is irreverent whether or not their particular forms are “reverent”.

  10. The point about imposing should not be made only negatively: not for salvation. It’s also a quite positive side about that: for love. In other words, the early Lutherans removed the imposing of all sorts of otherwise good things from the realm of faith and salvation. We’re saved by faith alone.

    But this fact, that we’re saved by faith alone, never meant that there should be no love in the life of Christians. And that love not creatively self-chosen; it is “imposed” in the form of the law as God’s will for our lives. Since we’re not perfectly holy in this life, this imposing sometimes takes the form of coercion, all the way to excommunication (anybody still does that?).

    By excommunicating a person for being an impenitent sinner in words or deeds, we’re not saying: aha, we’re saved by words or deeds after all. We’re simply saying: while faith alone saves, faith is never alone but always accompanied by love in accordance with the Ten Commandments. If that love, as evidence for genuine faith, is absent, we must conclude: there ain’t any faith either. And act accordingly. Just revisit Pieper’s section “Justification on the basis of works” in his Christian Dogmatics, II:541ff.

    In summary: while Lutherans are against imposing liturgies for the sake of salvation; they should be for it for the sake of love and mutual service, for the sake of instruction and “tranquility” in the church, as Melanchthon puts it in the Apology. Luther makes this point time and again when he speaks in favor of liturgical uniformity.

    Let’s not always be against something; let’s be positively for something. Let’s be for love! What can be better?

  11. How can I find a Lutheran confessional church in St. Louis that uses liturgy, is not legalistic, and yet preaches the entire Word?

  12. I’m new here and have enjoyed a lot of what is said. Though I am not as learned as you all, I hope you will not mind hearing from me…..I have been reading the Worship Theses. I think Section IV will lead to more entertainment-driven approaches in worship, frankly.

    As a Christian in the performing arts, I am starved for real, God-centered worship music that has stood the test of time, both in musical and word content. I cling to early services that offer a somewhat more traditional approach, though there is encroachment all around.

    I tell you this: if an unbelieving artist goes to church seeking something different from the world, they often find instead that churches’ worship looks just the same as the world and they do not return. Why should they? I’ve personally seen this happen many times. We preach that we are different from the world, but our worship sounds like something you’d hear in a football stadium with Bic lighters. If ‘anything goes’ in worship, why not have liturgical belly-dancing, or even liturgical pole-dancing? Where do we draw the line on this freedom?

    I would leave LCMS, but the problem is that most Bible-believing churches, regardless of denomination, look the same. Use the same music. Have the same entertainment-driven format. Where is one to go that is either not liberal nor legalistic, uses liturgical worship for God’s glory? This is a difficult dilemma for Christian artists and one we discuss quite frequently. I am disheartened. Thank you for listening.

  13. Christian Classical Musician,

    I would rather hear 10,000 words from you than 10 words from all the stuffy know-it-alls on this site (I would include myself in that list). 🙂

    Actually, I overstated my case. Really, your voice is not only welcome here but coveted. We do a lot of preaching to the choir so it is good to have you chime in. (Let’s see, can I rack up any more cheesy music metaphors?)

    Make sure you check out Norm’s comment above and the website of liturgical churches that he manages.

    I look forward to your further comments.


  14. @Christian, Classical Musician, member of LCMS #11

    Well not knowing where you live in St. Louis hampers me a tad but if you are south county welcome to my home church. Peace Lutheran 737 Barracksview near the Jefferson Barracks bridge. We have two very intellignt and caring Pastors. The real deal of pastors for sure.
    We use the liturgy, get the law and gospel and follow closed communion.

    In south city my former church, Hope Lutheran on Brannon and Neosho streets.

    If you are closer to St Charles county I reccomend Trinity Lutheran in north St. Charles county on Highway 94. It’s out a ways into the corn fields but it is traditional. (and one of the best sausage dinners coming up in November!


  15. Thank you so much for the list of churches, Mr. Fisher, and your kind and humorous words, Pastor Rossow.

    I have written about my heart’s desire for reaching artists for Christ under Ms. Hemmingway’s last post on Oct. 10 about KFUO.

    Please consider reading it, as I think we need to understand the mind and heart of artists as we ponder the complexities of KFUO. Please pray for artists to not become bitter about what is going on. There is great turmoil amongst non-believing artists surrounding the process of the sale and what it means. This is an insightful group. They are angry, and I can understand, even if I can see that we as humans all sin, and that we all need God’s forgiveness, love and grace.

    Thank you so much for your work. Zeph. 3:17

  16. Christian Classical…

    I will add this need to my prayers.

    As I think about this whole thing what really torques me is that Pastor Wilken had it right all along. This should have been done a long time ago and without all the church politics. You are correct, it is is too bad that we LCMS’ers are bringing shame to Christ’s name in the arts community by the way we have handled this.


  17. I’ve just scanned through a recent publication of the Evangelical Church in Germany on worship (sorry, only German). While it is quite erudite, as we would expect it from a German publication, it also shows gaps, some of which are quite similar to what’s absent from the much shorter LCMS-COP document.

    One such hole is the uncritical embrace of “diversity” in liturgical forms and designs and styles. That the reformers, most notably Luther, also had something to say in favor of uniformity is not mentioned at all.

    A surprising coincidence? Or is it that “great minds think alike”? Who knows. What is obvious, though, is that the EKD study is very eager to offer a wide variety of worship forms to reach out to the lost or to the vast majority of its members that come to church only on Christmas eve (only 4-5% of its members attend church regularly). One has found that “target group services” are quite popular in drawing fringe-members in. These are services that are designed for a special target group, e.g., young couples, parents, children. For here, it is stated, people have the impression that this service was designed specifically for them. Is that consumerism in the church?

    Strange: while the EKD, like our own ELCA, is often on the forefront of those criticizing the negative aspects of capitalism in society as a whole, this eagerness has apparently not been translated into a self-critical reflection of “target group services.” For, as is openly admitted in the study, these kinds of services do really nothing for the integration of fringe members (or non-members, for that matter) into the “regular” congregation: one attends those services “designed specifically FOR ME”, but still stays away from those other services that are just for everybody. This only goes to show: a diversity of services will create a diversity of little congregations within larger ones (ecclesiola in ecclesia was the motto of some Pietists: “be a little church in the big church”). That was something the reformers wanted to avoid as detrimental to the unity of the church in the faith. But, as I said, this concept is not even brought up in the EKD study.

    Another interesting thing is this: while the paper points to the centrality of word and sacrament for the worship service (the title page is graced by the famous painting from the Torslunde church in Denmark depicting the means of grace in action), points out that the service is a dialogical thing: God speaks in his word and sacrament; we speak back to him in prayer, praise and thanksgiving; etc., the paper also likes F. D. E. Schleiermacher’s concept of the worship service as a “celebration, feast” (Feier, Fest).

    For Schleiermacher, who described himself as a Moravian of a higher order, the service was not instruction or a work, but “display” (Darstellung). What is displayed here is the impact Jesus Christ had on the life of the believer (just as the gospels and epistles in the NT are records of the impact Jesus Christ had on his apostles). The most eminent form of worship, for S., is thus not word and sacraments (that would be a work, albeit God’s work, and or instruction, albeit by Christ through the minister / the congregation), but praise of God for what he has done. Displayed, then, is not so much Christ’s work for us but Christ’s work in us; not the atonement but faith.

    In other words, to put it simply, the modern praise services can be traced back to Schleiermacher (1768-1834) who played an important role in advancing the (liturgical) church union between Lutherans and Reformed folks in Prussia and sought to reach out to the “cultured among the despisers” of Christianity. Lutherans beware.

    Of course, from a Lutheran perspective, one would have to ask: so, praising God is not a (good) work (Second Commandment)? Where is the solid ground in all this sinking sand of “personal” impressions that are being shared in the service (and in America, we can sure think here of the testimonials of faith; Schleiermacher was, after all, also a Pietist like the American revivalists)? Do we ever get to the real Jesus, not just to the various impressions his apostles etc. had about him, and to the various notions pious pastors might have about those various apostolic notions of Jesus? In other words, do we not here get caught up in the modern proliferation of various “images” of Jesus and God (you have yours, I have my “image” of God)?

    Considering again, in closing, the Torslunde painting that graces the title of the EKD paper, the pastors at work there preaching and administering the various sacraments do not point to themselves but to Christ crucified (cf. 2 Cor. 4:5). It seems, there is a dissonance here between the form of the study (the title page) and its content. Modern advocates of praise service say that this dissonance does not matter, that identical and correct content can be preserved regardless of the forms used. Maybe the study under discussion, its form in relation to its content, puts a question mark behind this axiom. Forms preach too, unless their preaching is relativized, perhaps going back to Schleiermacher, as mere form and “image.”

  18. Does anyone out there have some good, prayerful responses for me to use pertaining to the following conversation I just had with a senior high school advanced music student, (not a believer)?

    Student: So, what do you think about the sale of KFUO?
    Me: It’s complicated, isn’t it? There’s a lot going on.

    Student: I listen to it(KFUO) all the time. I would miss it. Sometimes I wonder if Christians hate the arts or artists? It sort of seems like it. My dad goes to a church where they just play rock music most of the time. I don’t get it. When I talk to him about why he doesn’t use classical he says that it isn’t Christian.
    Me: I’m sorry about that. I do know God doesn’t hate artists, He loves them. I believe God made us like this, to be called to be musicians, to use music to glorify Him. That doesn’t mean people will understand that, unfortunately.

    Student: I mean, that music (Christian pop) is only for Christians, isn’t it?
    Me: It’s also meant to help some people feel comfortable with learning about God and Jesus, since many never listen to anything else other than pop music. We have a rich heritage of music and sometimes we don’t use it well. Either we fall into the trap of worshiping the music instead of God who created it, or we turn away from it and don’t listen at all to anything but Christian pop.

    Student: I read that KFUO was taking money but they were trying to sell the station, too. That seems wrong somehow, doesn’t it? Isn’t that dishonest?
    Me: All I can tell you is that we don’t know the whole story, and God does. He knows we are all weak and fall short of perfection. But I think you are right. A lot of people are going to have a lot to answer for.

    Student: But aren’t you called to follow the Bible? And aren’t you supposed to pray to God about stuff like this?
    Me: Yes, but we don’t always do that, or we use God to further our agendas, or we simply misread Him.

    That is the gist. I felt like a failure in not knowing how to respond. Any ideas how I can approach this young man about KFUO, his assumptions that Christians don’t like classical music or the artists that play it? It burdens my heart that this young man thinks this about Christians. And yet I can totally understand where he’s coming from.

  19. Short answer # 1 – tell him how the Seminary sponsors the Bach cantata group. Talk to Fritz Baue (pastor across the river in Fairview Heights) and he will tell you how much Lutherans support the arts.

    Short answer #2 – Liturgical Lutheran congregations are still using a variation of Gregorian chant.

    Short answer #3- my congregation has done a Bach and Schuetz cantate with the last two years.

    More to come if I have time…


  20. ClCM newbie,
    Welcome, welcome, welcome!!!! Oooo, sticky wicket with those scenarios, in #19. Don’t doubt yourself too much, if you had a nickle for every time I did that, KFUO wouldn’t have been sold, you would have been able to buy it in cash & bring back Issues Etc. !!! lol. Opportunities like yours, aren’t & can’t be man made, they are a blessed gift from the Lord Himself. Don’t sweat it, pray & let Him give the words. You did it, you opened your mouth & spoke out! Trust Him & let Him do the work you may never know, see or be able to count. We are called to trust as children do, yes teens do still apply, it is the beauty Christ saw in them. They trust w/o question, love w/o limits, but what a painful & grievous thing to watch when their innocent trust is broken. Don’t ever be afraid to say I don’t know, or speak the truth. We here, know what this business looks like, & we have alot more details than that teen did. We don’t know or understand why either. Be honest. Christians are not holy, Christ is. We are still fallen, failable, sin & error. Lead in for…the Gospel & the Good News! When an exposed error, yours or others, compromises Faith, tell the truth, admit not understanding, but tell what you do know & understand, again the Gospel. Be age apropriate, both in years & Spiritual years. If they be a babe in Christ, give milk, & so on. We all fall short in this, all the time, take it, go to Him with it, and trust in Him to give you speech & discernment to give account to where your hope comes from, that’s not Synod (ck’d doesn’t say so lol), it is in the Lord, who is Jesus Christ. So glad your here, hope to hear from you again, keeping you in my prayers, keep coming to BJS & posting, you are an awesome speaker!

  21. You encouragement is greatly appreciated, as is your wisdom. God is good and His mercies are new every morning! My heart is heavy for people in the arts to know Jesus and when something like the sale of KFUO is done, (in the manner in which they chose to sell) it makes it rougher for Christians in the arts. I could tell you many stories just this week about comments I have heard. Because I, too, am angry and confused, I just keep turning it over (sometimes do this many times a day) to God and asking Him to strength to know and do His will, and only His will.

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