At Home in the House of Wyneken: Put Doctrine into Practice (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)

Happy 200th birthday, Friedrich Wyneken! Well, happy belated-by-a-day birthday, at least. It was 200 years ago yesterday that Wyneken was born, on May 13, 1810. Next to Walther, F. C. D. Wyneken is probably the most important figure in the history of the Missouri Synod, and he served as its second president.

Essays, sermons, letters, and addresses by Walther, Wyneken, and the next three presidents of the Missouri Synod (Schwan, Pieper, and Pfotenhauer) are included in a terrific book called “At Home in the House of My Fathers.” The book has been compiled and largely translated by Pastor Matt Harrison, and is available through logia.org. During these weeks I’m running some samples from the book, so we can hear these esteemed fathers speak to us today.

Before we get to Wyneken, though, let’s hear Harrison’s introduction to this piece:

This address shows a president and Synod wrestling with a number of issues. There were challenges of seminary personnel, school challenges, challenges in the area of worship practice, doctrinal issues, the challenge of small congregations supporting pastors and teachers. . . . Come to think of it, the Synod in 1860 was in many ways similar to the Synod today! Wyneken’s rousing encouragement to the pastors to concentrate on preaching Law and especially Gospel is a good admonition to us here and now.

Here then are two excerpts from Wyneken’s 1860 Synodical Address, under the title, “Justification: Beginning, Middle, and End.” The first excerpt concerns the need to put our doctrine into practice:

. . . we should indeed guard ourselves that we do not sit back and become secure because pure doctrine and our Synod’s banner of the true Lutheran Confessions have been planted, as if that were good enough. Many boast a lot about and know how to talk about pure doctrine (and many know all about it in theory). But they do not know how to put it into practice for themselves and others. It’s not enough that we have the doctrine in our Symbols [i.e., Lutheran Confessions] and that we confess the Symbols, that we fight for them, etc. Rather, they have to really be heard from the pulpit, and from there, enter hearts and lives. In doing this we shall be blessed, indeed blessed, and also a blessing to others.

The second excerpt focuses on the area of our worship practice:

With respect to the order for worship, as a whole, it appears to be as defective as it was previously. Now we obviously know–granted that only orthodox agendas are in use among us–this is not an essential ingredient, but it is still lamentable that such a motley jumble continues to predominate among us. Even though the liturgy itself is something neither commanded nor forbidden, the doctrine of Christian freedom–thanks be to God–is in practice everywhere. And this freedom remains well preserved in all congregations. So the congregations should all the more so consent to a uniform liturgy, in order to allow the unity in Spirit to be expressed externally. The tenacity with which the worst bad taste is frequently clung to in this matter is astonishing. May God improve the situation.

Indeed! Christian freedom, yes. But let’s not let that be an excuse for “a motley jumble” of “the worst bad taste,” as is so prevalent in our worship practice today. A better way, as Wyneken suggests, is to “consent to a uniform liturgy,” “to allow the unity in Spirit to be expressed externally.”


Comments

At Home in the House of Wyneken: Put Doctrine into Practice (by Pr. Charles Henrickson) — 3 Comments

  1. President Wyneken’s call for consent to a uniform liturgy should ring clear through our Synod today as it did in 1860. My prayer for our Synod is we would give first consideration to our neighbor (as in visiting LC-MS members) present in our Divine Service before any alterations to the liturgy were proposed (much less enacted). While the days of TLH everywhere are no longer with us, we can, should and must embrace the LSB for the sake of unity among ourselves. For those among us who cry freedom in and/or from a liturgical worship, I should like to sit with them and discuss what God did at the base of Mount Siani when the Levitical worship was instituted (for a brief taste, see the IE interview with Dr. Kleinig on Leviticus.) On every Sabbath we find our Lord worshiping and teaching in the Synagogue with the ordered service of the liturgy. When I read God’s Word, I find only worship structured by God in an orderly fashion. At the start, the primary purpose was to dispense forgiveness of sins to the people so God could dwell among them (without destroying them.) Then comes Emmanuel and we find Him in the synagogues – forgiving sins and dwelling among His people. The same Word made flesh wish designed and ordered all of creation did likewise with the Divine Service to ensure we would receive the goodness of forgiveness and be with our God. So, for those who wish to go there own way or do a new thing, my prayers go with you but not my spirit nor my body. I choose to remain with a style known throughout our Synod where my neighbor can attend and receive without doubt or confusion for I know my God prefers structure and order. This He has shown from the alpha to the omega for He is both and much more indeed.

  2. Charlie,

    Thanks for doing this. I have not had time to read much of “My Father’s House” so I look forward to more of your posts. If they are anything like these excerpts it will be a real encouragement.

    TR

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