Excellent Dialogue: District President Forke Replies to Pr. Preus

Editor’s Note: We are honored to have the  President of the Montana District, The Rev. Terry Forke, leave a lengthy and well reasoned  comment on one of Klemet’s posts. So that  our readers do not miss it, I thought I would post it here on the home page. Personally, I still find President Forke’s definition of liturgy too stark and bare but it is gratifying to see these two churchmen dialoguing in such a  straightforward and respectful  way to the benefit of us all – Pastor Rossow.

The comment was left on Klemet’s Open Letter to Rev.Forke. Here it is in its entirety.

 

December 9th, 2009 at 15:35 | #10

Pastor Preuss,
I too have been absent for a time. A little COP, a little BRTFSSG, and a lengthy hunting trip which serves as an antidote to the previous two.

First, let’s deal with the word, “liturgy.” I agree that it is used in various ways in the vain attempt to be correct. (Funny thing, I too like to be correct.) That is why I proposed a definition to keep our discussion on track. The intent of my definition was to recognize the historical roots of the word, (a common or public service), while at the same time making it recognizable to those who use it regularly.

  1. Since the Scripture and the Confessions do not prescribe a form of liturgy, (my definition) I think it is appropriate to admit that all liturgies are manmade.
  2. Since the Scripture, in the context of worship, enjoins us to do all things in order it is appropriate to acknowledge that there should be order to this service. (Something that appears to be lacking in what passes for “worship” in many places.)
  3. Since we are talking about what takes place in the context of the congregation I acknowledge that this is a public, and not prescribing private devotionals.
  4. Since God is always the giver and we are always the receiver it is essential that we acknowledge the service rendered by the use of a liturgy as God’s service to us. This little detail, if admitted by all would help carry the conversation past many disagreements. I am afraid that a large part of the LCMS would be unwilling to confess this. (I fully aware of the argument that we respond to the service of God with prayer and praise. This too we receive, but it is not primary.)
  5. Since God has bound us to receive His gifts through the Word and Sacraments it is fitting to confess that the liturgy is also bound to His means of grace for the sake of its purpose, that is proclaiming the Gospel.

Secondly, the “adiaphora.” I would like to spend some time talking about this, but first let me explain why I wrote the Theses the way I did. I often hear something to the effect, “Worship is adiaphora.” That makes me crazy. Worship is not adiaphora. It is commanded by God. Such a statement betrays a basic misunderstanding of what the Scriptures and Confessions say about worship. I did not want the discussion of worship to get drug in that direction. That is why I said the whole discussion will turn on this distinction between worship and liturgy. Despite what others have written about the Theses a brief summary would run something like this: God commands worship and He draws some fairly strict parameters around the freedom He has given us to receive that worship. In my view we can say that worship and liturgy, (in its simplest sense, an order), are commanded. How the liturgy is constructed, (forms, rights and ceremonies) is not commanded. There are parameters, for the sake of the Gospel, that bound how the liturgy may be constructed. These I have tried to outline in Theses II, III, and V.

Thirdly, the Jesus First comments are abominable. I have not had time to answer them. I hope to get that done this afternoon.

I will have to let Article XXIV go until another time. I have a five hour drive ahead of me. God bless you. I am not adept at negotiating the halls of the blogs yet so I hope to be able to find your answer because I enjoy the conversation.

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