A Suggestion to the COP Regarding their Theses on Worship: Reconsider your Statements on “The imposition of Worship Forms,” by Klemet Preus

Just as DPs are chosen in a manner which seems proper even though all in the church may not concur, so also our churches have had a history of liturgical decisions being imposed upon us by others.

Martin Chemnitz was the primary architect of the Formula of Concord and Jacob Andreae the man who through sheer force of will and political savvy negotiated the process behind of production of the Formula. These men produced, in 1569, “The Church Order for Braunschweig Wolfenbuettel.” This was written a mere seven years before the Formula of Concord, the document which advocates liturgical freedom so forcefully:

And while indeed the Christian church is not bound everywhere to one certain form of ceremony, rather Christian freedom has its place in this matter, as the ancients said: Disagreement in rites does not take away agreement in faith; but because it still brings all sorts of benefit that in ceremonies, so much as it is possible, a uniformity be maintained, and that such uniformity serves to maintain unity in doctrine, and that common, simple, weak consciences be all the less troubled, rather strengthened, it is therefore viewed as good, that as much as possible a uniformity in ceremonies with neighboring reformed (that is: Reformation) churches be affected and maintained. And for this reason, henceforth all pastors in the churches of our realm, shall emphatically follow this written church order, and not depart from the same without specific, grave cause.[1]

Two years later, in 1571 Chemnitz authored the “Articles to be subscribed by those received into the ministerium of this church.”

Let him retain the rites in use and received ceremonies of this church, and not presume to change anything by private decision without a common decree.[2]

David Chytraeus, another of the formulators of the Formula of Concord, was responsible for “The Wismar Address of 1572.”

Second, no one, be he who he may, whether superintendent or preacher, shall take it upon himself to change, improve or order a single thing in the church, no matter how necessary it may be considered, without the foreknowledge, consideration and approval of the entire ministerium, nor may any unknown preacher enter the pulpit without the knowledge and consent of the entire pastorate.[3]

Who imposes?

The challenge of today is really not whether or not customs should be imposed but who has the right to do so. During the sixteenth century the bishops, the theologians, the superintendents of the churches, or the ministerium (the pastors of a given place) did so. Throughout the history of the LCMS the synod as a whole imposed the customs, ceremonies and practices and there was a high degree of uniformity with the church. What has changed of late is not the idea that worship forms, rites and ceremonies are imposed. They always are to some extent. Today it seems the inalienable right of each congregation and each pastor to do the imposing while refusing, in the name of liberty, any imposition upon themselves. A radical pastoralism and radical congregationalism have begun manifesting themselves in our synod. It is a time when everyone does what is right in his own eyes and anyone who imposes anything is viewed as sinning.

What is needed is not only cautions against imposing forms of worship but the considered words of Martin Luther as he wrote to a situation not dissimilar to ours encouraging people to suffer the imposition of worship forms. But that can wait until next time.  


[1] Die Evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, herausgegeben von Dr. Emil Sehling. Leipzig: O.R. Reisland, 1902, Sehling VI.1, 139-40.

[2] Sehling VI.1, 471,

[3] Sehling V, 313.

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.

Comments

A Suggestion to the COP Regarding their Theses on Worship: Reconsider your Statements on “The imposition of Worship Forms,” by Klemet Preus — 5 Comments

  1. Brother Klemet, your statement noted below could not have captured the situation more appropriately or succinctly:

    “Today it seems the inalienable right of each congregation and each pastor to do the imposing while refusing, in the name of liberty, any imposition upon themselves. A radical pastoralism and radical congregationalism have begun manifesting themselves in our synod. It is a time when everyone does what is right in his own eyes and anyone who imposes anything is viewed as sinning.”

  2. Pastor Preuss, I have been waiting a long time to ask the following questions. I think this may be a topical question now. I am just a pew sitter (3 generations of servants & Faithful Believers in the Lutheran Church) but before we left LCMS for WELS, some odd things occurred in our last LCMS churches (saw it in 3 others, but we were quite naive, to the situation at hand now). Are Pastors allowed to: charge a fee for starting a Bible study, to “encourage a qualification course, not discouraging, encouraging with a fee for a small group CW air?) Are Pastors allowed in the LCMS to bring folks in, that teach eastern meditation, Roman Catholic contemplative prayer(st teresa), or centering prayer (ancient fathers)? Are Pastors allowed to bring someone in who teaches redefined Biblical terms like sin (divinely designed flaw, see Carl Jung) to allow the board of elders to believe & state “the Bible means different things to different people”, to fudge numbers in the bulletin, while posting numbers differently in the books (w/me it was VBS attendance, to prove more success than was due) when asked for advice on an serious issue, (women in the Offices) which the person counseled was not Lutheran, only could give, pat answers from the Cat., (Luther doesn’t work well w/non believers or non Lutherans). Or to inplore other members, to “encourage” rather “guilt”, us members who opposed these items from leaving in “good faith & concern”, and to encourage pitting a husband against his wife, privately meeting a spouse at their place of business & encouaging division in that marriage, to enable false doctrine to be allowed,( shotty shepherding I must say), (one agreed one did not), if you know what Sweet, Bell, & Kimball have been engaged & paid by the LCMS to speak & teach, you will know what was brought in. Pastor Preuss, we were all taught to trust, respect, and look to Pastors for our lead, our instruction, and to guide our steps. This, which has infected the LCMS, is doing this opposite, teaching the opposite, and encouraging that which leads many away from the Faith & from the Trinity. (no need for the Holy Spirit, this trains members to take His place.) What advice do you give to those who encounter this in their congregations? My better half & I are content, with our explainations, actions, our confrontations w/board of elders & Pastor, and our request for a “peaceable release”. We could not abide, the Roman & worldly way, being so willing embraced, when Luther, decried it so long ago. I KNOW we are not alone, what do you advise those of us pew sitters to do in the face of such heresy? The Office is Divine, not the man who holds it. To my mind, knowing what Synod is peddling, w/TCN, the Fuller grads, & their minions, knowing full well, that should you protest or raise the call of alarm, you are effectively “shunned” as the Amish do. There are so many like my husband & I, we read this site & post, it was a steadfast (no pun intended) help during our trial. What, should those like us, do, when these heresies are brought into their congregations? I ask only to prevent & encourage others & give them something to look to, which we did not have.

  3. “Today it seems the inalienable right of each congregation and each pastor to do the imposing while refusing, in the name of liberty, any imposition upon themselves. A radical pastoralism and radical congregationalism have begun manifesting themselves in our synod. It is a time when everyone does what is right in his own eyes and anyone who imposes anything is viewed as sinning.”

    At the same time synod leadership seeks to centralize their power so that the individuals at the top can run things and make the synod “work.” Synod, Inc. doesn’t do this as a reaction against the increase in individual liberty, but in order to give individuals more liberty to carry out their individuality.

    The rest of us poor schleps, who desire to be united in Christ under Holy Scripture with its Lutheran doctrine and practice, are kicked in the teeth and told, “you are your dead faith are no longer welcome here, thank you.”

  4. Greetings ,

    I cannot imagine such an abomination,
    I offer prayers that you repel the devil in your midst.

    From that which I’ve read, I know that you are in need of comfort and guidance.
    I am a member of a Lutheran liturgical congregation at Emmanuel Lutheran, DEarborn, MI.
    Do not settle for any thing but Luther’s works and liturgical norms.
    Please feel free to ask for further guidance.

    God loves you!
    A. Heise , Elder

    http://www.emmanueldearborn.org

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