The Theses on Worship Of the COP, by Klemet Preus

Inasmuch as others have seen fit to comment on the Theses on Worship issued last month by the Council of Presidents, it occurred to me that I should as well.

I am very pleased to see these Theses on Worship. Why?

First, their issuance indicates a recognition on the part of the district presidents that we have a problem in the synod. The unprecedented nature of the document (how often have the council of presidents seen fit to issue such theological statements to the church?) shows that the DPS believe that our worship problems are pervasive, long-lasting and continue to worsen. Parts VII and VIII show an awareness that our church is divided and that we need to continue discussions. The district presidents clearly see the polarized condition of the church and want to address it. And they see that the “worship wars” need special attention. Thank you to the district presidents.

Second, the Theses on Worship, according to President Kieschnick’s cover letter, are part of a process of continuing conversation that needs to take place within the church. Such discussions need to take place not only among the council of president but within the congregations, circuits and districts of our church. The admonition to continue talking is well said and should be heeded. Too often new worship forms have been introduced or cherished forms discarded with little or no conversations between the pastors and congregation of the synod. So the plea to talk about these matters is welcome.

Third, implicit in the discussion is the clear notion that worship must have some standards. A basic principle of discussion is that when something doesn’t matter you don’t talk about it. It doesn’t matter if a man preaches with a Minnesota accent or a Tennessee accent so there is really no discussion. It doesn’t matter if the choir wears blue robes, white robes or no robes so we don’t discuss it much. It doesn’t matter if pastors wear beards so we don’t need papers from the COP on pastoral facial hair (although the capacity to grow facial hair might be a helpful criterion in considering one for the office). But some things actually matter. They matter because there actually standards which we need to discuss and upon which we need to agree. The District Presidents should be commended for spending considerable time and effort on an issue where standards clearly need to be reasserted and reestablished.

Fourth, there are sections of the document which are, frankly, very helpful to our ongoing discussions. Section V particularly paragraphs D and E are a helpful and necessary reminder that the purpose of ceremonies is to teach the faith. How often do we ask what this or that hymn or propers are actually teaching the people of our churches? This section is, in my opinion, particularly strong.        

Are there facets of our discussion that are not addressed by the Theses on Worship? Of course. Are there statements in the Theses which could be stated more clearly or completely? Yes. Are the Theses the last word on the subject? Obviously not or I would not be writing. Will more be said? I kind of think so. In fact I intend a follow up blog or two which will offer some food for thought to those who want the discussion to go on.

The Council of Presidents should be commended for what they have done. The church needs to hear from all quarters and those who lead our districts are especially worthy of our attention and our considered responses. Thank you to the District Presidents.

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

The Theses on Worship Of the COP, by Klemet Preus — 14 Comments

  1. Too often new worship forms have been introduced or cherished forms discarded with little or no conversions between the pastors and congregation of the synod.

    Unintentional Typo of the Day Award!

    It doesn’t matter if pastors wear beards so we don’t need papers from the COP on pastoral facial hair. . . .

    Believe it or not, the COP has weighed in on pastoral facial hair! And Jerry Kieschnick, when he was Texas DP, actually issued a directive against pastoral facial hair!

  2. Charlie-
    if that were the case, I would have been compelled to grow a nasty CFW neck beard.
    BB

  3. if that were the case, I would have been compelled to grow a nasty CFW neck beard.

    After Texas DP Kieschnick issued that directive against facial hair, one pastor I know grew a long, ZZ Top-like beard, simply as a matter of confession!

  4. “Believe it or not, the COP has we”Tighed in on pastoral facial hair! And Jerry Kieschnick, when he was Texas DP, actually issued a directive against pastoral facial hair!”

    I hope this information will act to encourage all of you pastors out there who are delegates to the 2010 LCMS Convention to grow a beard for the occasion. 🙂

    “The Council of Presidents should be commended for what they have done. The church needs to hear from all quarters and those who lead our districts are especially worthy of our attention and our considered responses. Thank you to the District Presidents.”

    I am not so ready to thank my district president who promotes CW. He may be glad to discuss things, but from experience he supports the ‘whatever you want to do church’ while chastising Confessional Lutherans.

  5. After praising the Liturgy with the right hand, they take it away with the left. “Whoever desires to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith. Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled will without doubt perish eternally. And the cathoic faith is this, that we worship on God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” ‘Whole and undefiled’ indicates a maximalist approach to faith, worship and the Christian life; not the minimalist view of the COP. The Confessions do not ask, ‘what is the least common denominator?’ but what is the faith once for all delivered to the saints? The elephant in the room is how can you present Theses on Worship and not mention Article XXIV??

  6. Paul,

    I do not have the time to check – do they really not reference AC xxiv? That is amazing.

    TR

  7. You might want to read the document a little closer. Apology XXIV is quoted twice on page 2. AC XXIV on page 7.

  8. Did anyone notice how the COP document did not cite the first paragraphs of Augustana or Apology XXIV? Evidently in the view of some “adiaphora” (which does not mean ‘idea-for-a’) trumps the catholicity of the church, continuity, or what is said in the beginning of Augustana or Apology XXIV. What is der Hauptartikel, evangelism or the evangel?

  9. I think it is unfair to complain that the short document produced by COP does not include everything. I think people are missing the point of this post by Pastor Preus. Read it again. Read the “Theses on Worship” again (or for the first time) before setting out to rip it to shreds. Is it complete? No. Is it perfect? No. Can it be improved? Yes. Can it serve as the beginning of meaningful discussion in the LCMS? Yes. Will this lead to changes for the good? Only God knows.

    Be thankful that the COP is willing to discuss the issue based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Isn’t this what we want?

    I read this website often because it is packed full of useful information. I was hoping it could be a forum for education and positive discussion, not just another place where unhappy Lutherans whine and complain about everything.

  10. Good point Anthony but the $50 question is, “Will the COP be willing to complete their work?” The problem is that we most likely will never get an answer to that question because genuine conversation about these matters is dissallowed in our synod. People have picked their sides and that is it. I fear that the COP has picked its side and that side is diversity and openness which is not in keeping with our confessional position.

    I will be calling Biship Forke in the next few weeks to explore this matter and hope that I can have a serious conversation with him and that he will see the problem with the vagueness of his theses.

    TR

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