The Three Greatest Problems in our Synod, Make that Four, and Some Encouragement, by Pr. Rossow

 Our recent discovery of Concordia Chicago’s efforts to improve the campus environment for homosexuals or to sensitize students to the threats faced by homosexuals, however you want to understand it, has prompted me to think back to the “bad old days of the LCMS” before the election of Matt Harrison. Of course I jest about the “bad old days.” The election of a new president is not a denominational panacea, but it certainly can be a difference maker. More on that later, but first let me share the three greatest problems in our synod as I see it.

The recent Concordia social and moral fiasco reminded me of some of the BJS posts from months and years ago. There was the William Ayers controversy on the same Concordia campus, the gay activist music director out west, the woman pastor leading worship for the Texas district youth gathering, and more. This week’s revelation from Concordia reminds us that these things are going to be with us for a while and even more so, the temptation to such compromise with the world will be with us until the Day of the Lord.

There are probably better lists out there but from my perspective our most acute problems are threefold: the Concordia system’s expansion without parochialism, a mission attitude dominated by church growth principles, and a lack of episcopal oversight in parishes and districts.

The efforts to start some sort of STOP program at Concordia Chicago are clear symptom of a university system that has grown beyond its ability to maintain a confessional ethos. This growth of the university student base has been promoted as a way of bringing Christian culture into the world but many rightly understand it to be an attempt to bring in money to keep the institutions competitive and open. A Christian liberal arts education is a good thing but the price we are paying to operate our Concordias is obviously too high when the world is brought into the Concordias as much as or more so as Concordia is exported into the world.

This issue always reminds me of one of principals a few years back. He went to Concordia Chicago to get a Masters in Education. In the entire program he only had one Lutheran professor and that teacher was not LCMS but ELCA. Growing all of our programs for the sake of financing the university but then stafffing these programs with non-LCMS instructors does not qualify as offering a Lutheran liberal arts program.

The second of my three greatest problems is the changed mindset in our synod’s mission work. As in many of our parishes, the material principal for mission work is no longer a Christ-centered, cross-focused, law/gospel balanced approach but is instead fueled by the sociological and psychological principals of the church growth movement. As the poignant “xtranormal” video that we posted a few weeks ago illustrates, this approach to the church says that the Gospel is not enough for our witness.

I was told a few years back that our District Presidents spend as much as 40% of their time outside the district, attending various workshops on the latest fads available to add to the Gospel and other administrative training. I have heard more than one bishop complain about confessional pastors spending too much time on the internet, and they do have a point, but I do not see those same district presidents turning down invites to the latest “whiz bang” training session.

Speaking of which, I do know first hand of a situation where a confessional district president did just that. Our congregation “earned” a trip for two to the annual LCMS Foundation three day party and retreat several years ago. This one was on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (This annual conference by the way, is one of the biggest purveyors of the latest protestant church growth fads into the LCMS.) After a day or two I was having a drink with a synodocrat. I was becoming perplexed by the whole situation and I asked him if I could really believe my eyes that the Foundation actually paid for a people from each district to come to this “Church Growth convention.” He wryly told me to look around and notice which DP’s were not there. Not knowing any but my own bishop he had to point out that the Wyoming District President, to name one of a few, was nowhere to be found.

The third great problem I see is a lack of oversight. Pastors and district presidents (bishops) are not holding the church accountable to right practice. This is also a result of poor catecheses. There are countless congregations where ill-catechized laity have been allowed to follow the lazy, easy and compromising path toward acceptance of the heterodox teachings of open communion, unionism, lay and woman’s preaching among others. Young pastors are then called to these congregations and sometimes are able to patiently teach the word and change the theological culture over time but too often they either unwisely dictate without patient education or are simply chewed up and spit out by well-intentioned but misguided heterodox parish councils and voters assemblies. We need patient courage on the part of pastors and district presidents and a willingness on the part of the laity, to listen to sound teaching.

The encouraging thing in all of this is that the election of a patient, wise, confessional theologian and pastor to the LCMS presidency will make a difference over time. At the BJS conference I got to spend a lot of time around President Harrison. I was very pleased to see that he is a very genuine man. He is humble and gentle but also is a very driven leader. Over time I am convinced that these three major problems in our synod will begin to be alleviated. As I said above, the temptation to follow the world will never leave us, not at least until the Lord returns, but there is good reason to think that in the years to come the LCMS will elect more orthodox-courageous bishops willing to stand up for sound teaching and practice and that more and more young pastors will teach patiently, and have some new found support from the DP.

That reminds me of the fourth great problem that we face as a synod: our own sinful flesh, and among the bags of bones in confessional Lutheranism, I am the chief sinner. May we each confess our sin each day, receive God’s forgiveness and in the power of the new being created in Christ, do our part to preserve and extend the confessional nature of our beloved LCMS.

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 Three Greatest Problems in our Synod, Make that Four, and Some Encouragement, by Pr. Rossow — 92 Comments

  1. TRH,

    I called you TR, but I realized that might be confused with TR…and were not really on initial status anyway…

    True confession: Before reading, I thought you means REED Lessing, and not Luther REED.

    I read the paragraphs that he wrote and it is not exactly convincing. But more importantly, I still don’t understand what you mean by embodiment. Are you saying that because of its age and the organic progression that it doesn’t just proclaim but actually IS our faith?

    Because….that would make no sense to me…

    I just don’t know what you mean. I mean, you say “shared, community understanding of what it means” — but if there are visitors that day, there is not that shared understanding. So…how does that benefit them?

    I really am not trying to be obtuse. Maybe I’m just stuck in something…

    I don’t understand what you mean by embodiment, that “worship is transcendant” or the “re-inviting individuals to become persons”.

    I’m sorry. I just don’t understand what you are saying.

  2. @Mark Louderback #51
    Well, embodiment means to put something into a body. Body. Means. Media. em-bodi-ment.

    Not that the litury is a sacrament, but just to illustrate the word embodiment, Reed says embodiment happens in the sacraments, where means, media, or a body — water, bread, wine — embody a word from God.

    God does sometimes work immediately. This has no reference to time, as our American prejudices suppose. Words are tinker toys. Break them down. Media, the root. Tely, the suffix that make this word an adverb rather than an adjective. Im, the negative prefix, signifying that whatever the root refers to won’t be used. Putting it all together, it adds up to something done without means, body, or media: im-media-tely. Without media.

    While God does sometimes work immediately. That is not his usual way with us. Jesus could walk on water and sometimes did, but usually he used a boat. If you start tallying everything God does with us, you will accumulate a lot of hash marks in the “Through Media” column, and precious few in the “Without Media” column.

    Immediacy as God’s regular or frequent way of meeting us is what Luther calls the dream of the Enthusiasts. Enthusiasm just means immediate experiences of God on a regular basis. There are two troubles with the Enthusiasts’ experiences. First, because the Bible shows us that God usually works through means, we don’t know how, Biblically, to assess the frequent immediate experiences. Second, because the immediate experiences have no definite word of God attached to them that explains their meaning, they are individualistic so that the saints cannot on a corporate basis enter into a shared experience with their understanding.

    This problem is stated by Paul concerning the immediacy of the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues. “In the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” 1 Cor 14:19. Paul is saying nothing against speaking in tongues per se. He begins, “In the church.’ In other words, his concern here is for the communion of saints. The church is Christ’s body, so it is to be expected that in the church Christ would do things in an embodied way, so as not to dismember the church into parts and to instead keep the body together. They can’t be kept together without means that have definite words of God attached to them. The immediacy of tongues gives no one in the church an understanding of the experience other than the individual having it. Everyone else is an onlooker, not a participant. Five words of understanding are, in the church, better than 10,000 words without understanding.

    The word attached to the water of Baptism is definite and can be understood by all in close enough to the same way as to produce the communion of saints. Like everything else, the communion of saints is created by God’s word, not by experience. The same can be said of the bread and wine of Communion. You cannot produce the communion of saints immediately. By immediacy, you can only produce individualistic Enthusiasm.

    Whatever else the Word of God might be, if it weren’t ink on paper, we wouldn’t have it. Nor could you get anyone to agree what it says, or have any communion of saints in the word. The word is embodied in a codex.

    So Reed says, like Christ is embodied, like the Word is embodied, like the Sacraments are embodiments of words from God, the Church has imitated God’s use of means in its formation of worship by embodying the faith in the liturgy. There is no claim here that the liturgy is on the same plane as the Word and Sacraments. It is only a claim that the Church imitates the way God embodies. The Church was free to do this. The Church is free to quit it. But imitating God’s ways is superior to the alternatives.

    Now as to your question about visitors, Martin Luther already answered the question of seeker sensitivity. He said in his Fruh-Christmas sermom, 1522: “Any one who is to find Christ must first find the church. For how can one know where Christ is, and where faith in him is, unless he knows where his believers are? Whoever wishes to know something about Christ must not trust to himself, nor by the help of his own reason build a bridge of his own to heaven, but must go to the church, must visit it, and make inquiry. Now the church is not wood and stone, but the company of people who believe in Christ; he must keep in company with them, and see how they believe, and teach, and live.”

    There Luther says they must visit and inquire. He is talking about your visitors. Luther is not assuming that you have simplified things to the point that there is nothing to inquire about. Your visitor must visit and inquire, and you must answer him. Next Luther says your visitor must keep company with the church. He’s not going to get it in one visit. He must keep company and see how the church believes, teaches, and lives. Luther is telling you there has to be a teaching process, not an immediate, seeker sensitive, Enthusiast worship service in which the visitor builds his own bridge to heaven.

  3. Andrew Strickland :@Johannes #49 Johannes,I agree with you about the materials, but isn’t PLI entrenched in the seminaries?

    Yes, I suppose PLI may be “entrenched” in the seminaries, one way or another. The point I was making is that the unintended message of PLI, and the very-intended message of TCN and almost every other CG program out there is that “The Gospel isn’t enough.” That there is a need for leadership from the pastoral office cannot be denied, sometimes even in the Kingdom of the Left Hand (but always in the Kingdom of the Righthand). The problem is that the program (“leadership”, “transformation”…) tends to replace the Means of Grace. And so Marshall McLuhan is proved right. You could look it up.

    That PLI is leavening the curriculum at the seminaries is undoubtedly true. And we know what Jesus said about leaven. I grant your point, while maintaining mine.

    Johannes

  4. @Mark Louderback #46
    I’m not sure what you mean by this, as I can’t imagine worship without form.

    Mark,
    He didn’t say you had no form (altho you may change it every week); he said you had no meaning.

  5. @Johannes #54
    Johannes, that is an excellent point. I have never really thought of it that way. I studied Marshall in college pre-Concordia days. While I focused on “the Gospel is not enough” I missed the fact that the show overpowers the Gospel so therefore proving him right.
    Thanks
    Andrew

  6. TRH,

    Ok. I understand what you mean by embodiment.

    What I don’t understand is how the traditional liturgy is any more or less an embodiment than CoWo? Both use words. Both use music.

    Both have baptism and communion, in out Lutheran circles.

    So…how is the one more an embodiment than the other?

    The whole point of CoWo is that God is not immediate and does work through means and we ought to be careful about what those means are.

    There Luther says they must visit and inquire. He is talking about your visitors. Luther is not assuming that you have simplified things to the point that there is nothing to inquire about

    Mmm…I think you get this wrong. People are going to inquire about things because their world is complex and they have questions and doubts and misunderstandings, etc.

    The point of Cowo is to make the answer to those questions clear.

    Next Luther says your visitor must keep company with the church. He’s not going to get it in one visit. He must keep company and see how the church believes, teaches, and lives. Luther is telling you there has to be a teaching process, not an immediate, seeker sensitive, Enthusiast worship service in which the visitor builds his own bridge to heaven.

    Once again, how is the CoWo service “immediate” if it is using Words, music, etc to reach others?

    I understand the point of what you are saying about keeping company in the church. My question is, What ought the service to be like in order that they #1 learn what the church teaches and #2 desire to come back.

  7. @Johannes #49

    I of course disagree with you on this. I’ve been involved in both PLI and TCN and no one would say that the Gospel is not enough. They would say things like “It is not enough to say that you have the pure Gospel message and not share it.” I think that they would agree with Luther’s quote related to the Koinonia ““Where there is no love, there doctrine cannot remain pure”; and I think that there is the question of “How does our congregation proclaim the Gospel to our community? What is the best way to do that?” I do think that there is more to the answer to this question than “Word and Sacrament”

    Don’t misunderstand me: it is not that Word and Sacrament have no power, they do: but we want people to hear the Word and receive the Sacrament. How do we get them to hear it?

    If the answer is “Invite them to church” ok then, how do we do that? How do we teach this to our parishioners?

    So, yes the Gospel is enough—but we still have seminary, don’t we? Why have Sem if all people need is the Gospel?

    You see my point?

  8. @Mark Louderback #57
    Well, Pr Louderback, you keep asking me to answer questions about your CoWo services that I can’t because:

    1.) The embodiment is not described.

    2.) There is no definite word attached to the embodiment.

    Of #1, What does this mean?

    (A) Because your CoWo service does not follow traditional liturgy, I can’t use the traditional liturgy as a source for what your method of worship is.

    (B) You give bits and pieces of the form of your CoWo service. Between bits and pieces, you ask me questions about the whole, but I still have only bits and pieces.

    Of #2, What does this mean?

    (A) Because, from #1, the embodiment is not defined, it is difficult to identify what definite word could be attached to the embodiment.

    (B) Because the embodiment is not the traditional liturgy, the definite word providing the “What does this mean” for the traditional litury (found in such places as Reed), does not apply, or at least, its application to your CoWo service is unclear.

    (C) You decline to write “What does this mean” for your method of worship.

    So, since I don’t know the embodiment, and I don’t know the definite word of “What does this mean” attached to the embodiment, and you won’t give either one of those to me, it is fruitless for you to keep asking me questions about what you are doing in worship.

    Is there any document or something that a person could look at to see what the embodiment is? If you won’t describe it and give the “What does this mean” for it, then, nevermind what you intend to be doing, the effect is the same as if a person were were not asking but testing.

  9. @Mark Louderback #57
    I said:

    There Luther says they must visit and inquire. He is talking about your visitors. Luther is not assuming that you have simplified things to the point that there is nothing to inquire about.

    You said:
    Mmm…I think you get this wrong. People are going to inquire about things because their world is complex and they have questions and doubts and misunderstandings, etc.

    Do you mean that they will inquire about the complexities of the world or about Christ. The statement by Luther is about them visiting the church and inquiring so they can find Christ. So, is your reply on the same thing that Luther was talking about, or something different?

    He said they need to keep in company with the church and see how it believes, teaches, and lives. Obviously, part of that is their liturgy, which is why his statement is relevant to this discussiona about liturgy. Had it lacked that relevance, I would not have quoted it. We are talking about the liturgy, are we not?

    Then I made an interpretive statement applying Luther’s statement to visiting and inquiring at your church. I said, “Luther is not assuming that you have simplified things to the point that there is nothing to inquire about.” Because of the focus problems, I should not have used the word “things.” I should have used the phrase “the liturgy.” So let me try that sentence again:

    Luther is not assuming that you have simplified the liturgy to the point that there is nothing to inquire about.

    Now, let’s see how your reply addresses or ignores what it purports to be in reply to. You said they will ask because the world is complex and they have questions, doubts, and misunderstandings. Do you mean to say that they will ask questions about a liturgy that is so simplified that there is nothing to inquire about, because somewhere else besides the litugry, that is, the world, there is complexity, questions, doubts, and misunderstandings. Won’t they be asking about the complex world, then, and not the liturgy? If you mean the world instead of the liturgy, we have once more flown off the topic.

    This is like two trains on parallel roads. They can meet and pass each other in opposite directions, each doing 120 mph, because the roads never intersect. You don’t answer what is said to you, but demand answers to what you won’t describe.

  10. @Mark Louderback #59

    Pastor Louderback–

    You raise some good points, and perhaps my response will answer some of them, at least in part.
    I have a lot more experience with TCN than I do with PLI. My experience with PLI is peripheral and anecdotal at best. Since that experience is not first-hand, let me speak to TCN, since you have experience with both.

    I have been intimately involved with TCN at the congregational and district levels. I have gone thru a TCN self-study, prescription weekend, and follow-up. I have heard district officials “sell” TCN (complete with brochures that promised growth in numbers and contributions). I have sat in on a prescription weekend while a district official presented the TCN prescription materials. I have read Borden’s “Direct Hit,” and visited the LCMS TCN “portal” and watched their promotional video. I have heard pre-TCN sermons, and post-TCN sermons. Thru all of this, I looked for the Gospel, I inquired about the Gospel, I asked for the Gospel, and it was sorely lacking. The best I can say is that with TCN the Gospel is a “given”. The over-riding message is “Jesus died for you, so get to work,” thus “transforming” the Good News into a new Law. TCN, like so many other CG programs, makes the Great Commission the Material Principle, having replaced Augsburg IV (and V) with a truncated version of the Great Commission (“go and make” but no “teaching”). Perhaps the most effective object lesson that demonstrates my point is Dr. Terry Tiemann’s speech to the 2010 Convention, “If you want to walk on water, get out of the boat”. I believe it’s still available on the LCMS website. If that is a Gospel sermon, then I’m missing something. Besides, the Christian life is NOT about walking on water, but treading water, at best (I think I’d best stop this metaphor before I get in over my depth).

    The best I can say about TCN is that it causes congregations to take a hard look at themselves, and some congregations/pastors are able to make substantive changes in the way they relate to those outside the church with whom they come into contact. I’ve seen some of those good things happen. At the same time, from what I’ve seen, even in last couple of weeks, the Gospel is still treated as a given.

    I have not responded to all your points, but my purpose here is to explain more fully the reasons for my assertions re: TCN, if not PLI.

    Johannes

  11. @45 Richard Sutis- STOP YELLING

    Also,
    On Concordias in general- they provide a sub-par education. The biggest issue they have is that they are tied to a backwards synod that gets upset when they teach basic science and psychology but doesn’t support them financially. Instead of embracing the Concordia University System as an excellent opportunity for missions, they are criticized for not producing more homogeneous, traditional Lutherans to be church workers (and a synod with a glut of pastors and enough failing/failed schools needs lots of those!) The LCMS is dragging these schools down- I truly hope that the schools themselves cut ties so that they can finally be the universities they claim to be instead of the metaphorical 40 year old man that lives in his mother’s house and still has a bedtime and a parental lock on the TV remote.

    On the STOP program- like it or not, there is a reason why programs like these exist, and yes, the answer is indeed sin. I am not referring to homosexuality, but rather the overt, cruel, and sometimes violent attacks that take place against people who are homosexual. It does not state that you have to accept that homosexuality isn’t a sin, but it does state that these individuals need to be treated with dignity and have their basic rights upheld. This program isn’t about homosexuality- it is about bullying. It is common sense that you treat the bullies, not the victim, and that is what this program does. That is why it should be embraced.

  12. @Andrew #56
    You’re welcome.

    The phenomenon that the medium becomes the message is, in my opinion, one of the great dangers of CoWo. Having been involved in CoWo (till my hearing went), I can honestly say that this is a very real danger. The very character of a praise band causes the players to lean in that direction. Permit an example:

    Several years ago, I went to an organ concert in a public auditorium to hear E. Power Biggs. The organ was on the stage, and Mr. Biggs’ back was to the audience. As he demonstrated his formidable skills, one could not avoid watching as he pulled out one stop or another, changed manuals, played the pedals with consummate skill, displayed some interesting body language (one can’t avoid it) and, in general, put on a very good show. Did his “show” detract from the music? You bet it did. Frankly, I can remember very little of what he played, but I can still envision him up there on that stage. Now imagine putting the church organ up in front where the praise team usually is, with the organist’s back to the congregation. How can even the least showy organist avoid becoming the center of attraction? Imagine singing “For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest”, or “Behold a Host” and not being distracted by the organist as she/he “pulls out all the stops.” The medium has become the message.

    I’m afraid I’ve run down anothe rabbit trail here–my apologies to you other contributors and our moderator.

    Johannes

  13. Jane wrote: “This program isn’t about homosexuality- it is about bullying. It is common sense that you treat the bullies, not the victim, and that is what this program does.”

    That is a poor argument. I doubt very many have escaped some kind of bullying in their lives. It happens to children regarding red hair, freckled faces, over-weight, underweight, short, tall, smart or dumb, or etc. It happens to white, black, brown, or yellow. It happens to Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindu, New Age, Mormon, or etc. There is nothing special about being gay that merits special privileges, special protections, or special attention. No one has enough time and money to protect every “special” group from real and imagined sins against them.

    Every group has victims in all kinds of crimes that are far worse than bullying. That is why we have laws that apply to criminal behavior. The problem seems to be that simply calling the authorities and reporting a crime would not serve the gay agenda. They need community organizers to infiltrate the campus and spread their propaganda that homosexuality should be respected and blessed.

  14. @Lily 65- I have to say, I’ve not heard an awful lot of stories where children with red hair were beaten, murdered, or taunted to the point of suicide. There are, however, plenty of examples of this happening to GLBT Youth (and the children of racial minorities, since you pointed it out.) Also- I would love to see what you would say if somebody taunted a youth for being LCMS half as bad as gay youth are taunted.
    I cannot believe that a Christian, particularly a Lutheran, would be so sick and disgusting as to dismiss a very real and dangerous issue because you feel it is too difficult/expensive to address, or because you imagine it to be related to some political agenda you don’t like.

    This post, as well as many others like it on this site, betray Confessionals for what they are: hate filled xenophobes that have no interest in the Bible, love, Christianity, or their fellow man (even those that are Lutheran.) You wallow in semantics, legalism, building up a structure so that only you and those like you can participate in your congregations. You are self serving. You are arrogant. You pay lip service to God, but in the end your loyalty is to yourself and your own power. This goes beyond the issues of homosexuality/CoWo/whaterver and strikes at the very nature of your only job on this planet: to bring others to Christ.

    Flame away, but you’ve already shown what’s in your heart, and it isn’t good.

  15. Jane,

    Your arguments showcase a shallow understanding of how bullying affects all groups of people even to the point of some being “beaten, murdered, or taunted to the point of suicide.” There is nothing “special” about how some gays suffer from at the hands of other sinners anymore than any other group.

    Your ad hominem attack upon me speaks volumes about yourself and does not prove anything about confessional Lutheranism. It does seem that I will need my own “special” advocacy group to protect me from you and to re-educate you about your violent verbal attacks.

  16. @Lily #65
    This program isn’t about homosexuality- it is about bullying. It is common sense that you treat the bullies, not the victim, and that is what this program does. That is why it should be embraced.

    If the program is about bullying, it should discuss all sorts of bullying. These days you can read almost every week of a suicide because a little clique got on facebook or text messaged another teenager to death, just for the hell of it. [It is hell if you are on the receiving end!]

    I am fairly sure that for every suicide, there are hundreds of kids made miserable by bullying unrelated to straight or queer. Who’s got a “special interest group” for them? [Yes, I’m sure. When I was a child my hair was red and I was overweight.]

  17. Guess what! Along with the solicitude for “the gay lifestyle” we are getting a never ending barrage from all sources about “obesity”!
    I was only picked on by other kids. These days the “fat” child can expect hell from his teachers, too! And the media! And anywhere else s/he turns….
    BTW, about half of a weight problem comes from choosing the wrong family tree. You should have picked skinny parents and grandparents.

  18. @Jane #66

    You said: “This post, as well as many others like it on this site, betray Confessionals for what they are: hate filled xenophobes that have no interest in the Bible, love, Christianity, or their fellow man (even those that are Lutheran.) You wallow in semantics, legalism, building up a structure so that only you and those like you can participate in your congregations. You are self serving. You are arrogant. You pay lip service to God, but in the end your loyalty is to yourself and your own power. This goes beyond the issues of homosexuality/CoWo/whaterver and strikes at the very nature of your only job on this planet: to bring others to Christ.”

    Bullying takes all kinds of forms. I submit that the language you have chosen to characterize “all confessionals” is just another type of bullying. Let’s see:
    “hate filled”
    “xenophobes”
    “no interest in the bible, love, Christianity or fellow man”
    “Wallow in semantic, legalism”
    exclusive (“building up structure, etc., etc.”
    “Self-serving”
    “Arrogant”
    “Loyal only self, and not to God”
    “Lovers of power”

    I have seen some pretty offensive (and frankly embarrassing) posts on BJS–many by BJS-ers– and several contributors, including myself, have questioned them, even “called out” some of them. However, I fail to see how engaging in similar language & rhetoric furthers your position. You’re obviously very angry, but that hardly justifies such a violent ad hominem attack on Lily or any other contributors here. You have painted all confessionals with a very broad brush, and splattered all of us with your characterizations. Do you really believe all those things about all of us? I hope not.

    Johannes

  19. Helen,

    I appreciate you reiterating my point. It’s not only goofy to single out homosexuals as the primary recipients of bullying, but bowing to the homosexual agenda and allowing them to gain a foothold in our schools and churches. We live in a highly politicized culture with numerous grievance groups vying to have their agendas rule our society.

    I think Molly put it well in another post: “As has been clearly pointed out in the comments on our first post on this matter, the daily preaching of the Gospel and the pastoral resources at the university are sufficient for dealing with this matter.”

    It needs to be recognized that the homosexuals have an agenda to usurp our churches in order to achieve their agenda to normalize homosexual behavior. They have always seen the churches as their greatest obstacle.

    Homosexuals have been writing materials since the 1970’s about their plans to infiltrate churches and deconstruct them from within. They have done an effective job in a number of denominations and in putting themselves center stage in the public square as a victimized group who need special protected rights.

    Perhaps, it would be good for all of us to reminded of what Saint James wrote about affliction and engagement with the world, and keep our priorities straight:

    James 1:27
    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

    When was the last time you saw a grievance group with an activist agenda to help widows and orphans? Widows and orphans unite!

  20. Jane, has a valid point of view.

    I started reading this web site when I started wondering where my pastor was getting such extreme ideas. I propose the following statements with a yes, no or maybe response.

    The confessionals have a burning desire to evangelize the world.
    No. In fact they criticise anyone who does. It violates their take on predestination

    The Confessionals have a charitable outlook on for other christians or even LCMS whom they disagree.
    No. They constantly discount the christianity of other Christians.

    The Confessionals want to free the laity to be ministers of Christ.
    That’s a definite no.

    The confessionals show a charitable attitude toward the former president of the synod.
    No. The best they can show is barely contained contempt.

    The confessionals are willing to destroy the LCMS to have their way.
    I hope not but I would not bet the farm on it.

    The confessionals desperately what to deliver people from sin and oppression like human trafficking.
    No, but the rest of the christian world seems to have decided to do this much like the methodist evangelicals did in the 1800’s.

    The confessionals are the only true christians in the world.
    They seem close to saying this while allowing that a baptist or pentecostal could in their ignorance be saved.

    I could go on but why bother.

  21. TRH,

    I think we are getting somewhere.

    In regards to #1 (“The embodiment is not described.”) it seems as though you are saying that embodiment is not merely a general description, but a specific one.

    Your #52 post seems to imply that the embodiment was simply the fact that God works through means in the worship service, not immediately, as if the Holy Spirit just worked on those there.

    So, going back to my original question: how exactly then does the liturgy embody our understanding of the faith? What are the specifics there?

    I’m not really looking to defend my services per se—I am wondering what this embodiment is and whether CoWo services can have it.

    I still don’t quite understand the definite word aspect—but I’m getting there. What is the definite word of the traditional liturgy?

    You say “You decline to write “What does this mean” for your method of worship.” I thought I did write this: the Gospel of Christ. That is what CoWo is all about.

    it is fruitless for you to keep asking me questions about what you are doing in worship.

    Just to clarify something, I’m not really asking you about what I am doing in worship. You are using terms that I just don’t quite understand and I’m trying to work this out with you.

    I mean, I know what I am doing in worship and I am pretty comfortable with it…

    Is there any document or something that a person could look at to see what the embodiment is?

    Like a short-hand sorta thing? No…I could do that though. I’m not quite sure what it would be saying though: the service speaks for itself for the most part.

  22. Johannes,

    IMO, Jane’s outburst is typical of the effects of a liberal ideology. Liberal ideology offers a feel good magnanimity, but it abhors rules, limits, and boundaries. In a similar way, the same can be said of a liberal theology and it makes it’s adherents more vulnerable to the seduction and deceits of the homosexual agenda (not to mention the world).

    True Christianity requires the backbone to withstand the assaults from within and without that would seek to undermine the church. True Christianity has always been maligned for it’s morality by decadent cultures. In our culture, it’s no longer enough for Christians to love homosexuals and speak the truth to them; the cultural tide has made the message of repentance hate language. The homosexual agenda demands acceptance of their sexual orientation, special treatment, and blessings on their sexual perversion.

  23. @Ready to Lose it #72

    Don’t lose it please. Please see my response to Jane above (# 70).

    Then, if you haven’t lost it, see my post #38 above, for what I believe is a balanced, yet unequivocal response to Pr. Rossow.

    I’m mystified by the attempts to paint all us “confessionals” with such a broad brush, and to engage in the same motive-judging and bashing that we confessionals are accused of.

    Johannes

  24. TRH,

    Do you mean that they will inquire about the complexities of the world or about Christ. The statement by Luther is about them visiting the church and inquiring so they can find Christ. So, is your reply on the same thing that Luther was talking about, or something different?

    And then:

    Luther is not assuming that you have simplified the liturgy to the point that there is nothing to inquire about.

    My point was the the complexities of the world (the law really) drive people to see (hope) that there is more to life than what they have. It drives them to “try” church and there they encounter Christ who changes their life.

    So…I don’t see how a simplifying of the liturgy is going to remove any of the inquiry. What it will do is allow for there to be more inquiry on Christ (“Did Jesus really die for me?”) as opposed to form (“Why do you wear a dress?”)

    Make sense?

    Do you mean to say that they will ask questions about a liturgy that is so simplified that there is nothing to inquire about, because somewhere else besides the litugry, that is, the world, there is complexity, questions, doubts, and misunderstandings. Won’t they be asking about the complex world, then, and not the liturgy? If you mean the world instead of the liturgy, we have once more flown off the topic.

    I mean to say that if people have questions about what you are doing, they might just not show up the next Sunday. I want people having questions about Jesus and His salvation—not so much about the process of our worship.

    I will say, as I always do, that for some people the liturgy would indeed be something that draws him back to inquire and grow in faith. So, Luther is certainly correct in what he says.

    You don’t answer what is said to you, but demand answers to what you won’t describe.

    I…don’t think this tone is appropriate to use with me.

    I have said repeatedly—repeatedly—”I do not know what you are saying.” I have re-read your essay a number of times and there are parts of it that I still don’t understand.

    For example: “it keeps re-inviting individuals to become persons by entering into the communion of the saints.” No idea. I’ve said this a few times.

    On the other hand: what questions have I not answered of you? Where am I not being clear? Lay it out for me and I’ll answer.

    I think that you are misrepresenting our conversation with this statement. I’m not accusing, it just makes me sad. I’m sorry you feel this way. I’m trying to be clear…but I just don’t understand what you are saying.

  25. Dear Johannes, the first thing to go is short term memory. I reread your post.

    I was just implying that if a outsider was to read this website that what I wrote were the impressions that might be gained.

    Of course each individual must be accepted on their own basis, but the impression I wrote about still stands.

    Lily, I fully share your concerns on the homosexual agenda. there is one and it would beat all christians into submission. However since they are out of the closet and in our workplaces, colleges, government we have to accept them as people before we can hope to show Christ to them.

    To show my age, I don’t even think I knew what a homosexual was until college. It was not even talked about.

  26. Johannes,

    A. I am glad that you are speaking from what you know and your own direct experience with this.

    B. You say:

    The over-riding message is “Jesus died for you, so get to work,” thus “transforming” the Good News into a new Law. TCN, like so many other CG programs, makes the Great Commission the Material Principle, having replaced Augsburg IV (and V) with a truncated version of the Great Commission (“go and make” but no “teaching”). Perhaps the most effective object lesson that demonstrates my point is Dr. Terry Tiemann’s speech to the 2010 Convention, “If you want to walk on water, get out of the boat”. I believe it’s still available on the LCMS website. If that is a Gospel sermon, then I’m missing something. Besides, the Christian life is NOT about walking on water, but treading water, at best (I think I’d best stop this metaphor before I get in over my depth).

    I think that there might be some truth to this…it is true that TCN is indeed focused on “Doing something” as opposed to not. And that certainly is Law.

    The issue comes to whether the Law is legit or not. That is to say, it is an issue that pastors and congregations need to repent of and turn away from their actions.

    I think that if you were a Gospel-focused preacher before TCN, you’d be a Gospel-focused preacher afterwards. Borden and others are not Lutheran, and everyone knows that.

    But this is not the same as saying “The Gospel is not enough.” This is saying “It is not enough to say ‘The Gospel is enough’ and then sit on your tail in the boat. Get out of the boat.'”

    Does that make sense?

    I have to say that the Learning Community I am in — and it is TT’s own community, so you figure it is a model — is a wonderful uplifting group. So there is Gospel, mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc. We know the struggles of being a pastor. And we share in them.

    But at the same time, it is a place of holding one another accountable. We have work to do.

    The best I can say about TCN is that it causes congregations to take a hard look at themselves, and some congregations/pastors are able to make substantive changes in the way they relate to those outside the church with whom they come into contact. I’ve seen some of those good things happen. At the same time, from what I’ve seen, even in last couple of weeks, the Gospel is still treated as a given.

    Well, I am glad that you see some of the positive elements of TCN. I think that many of the changes that are made in congregations is not just how they look outside of themselves, but how they deal with issues on the inside as well.

    But having the Gospel treated as a given would be a legitimate critique. And I think that the opportunity we have is to improve the things of our church and help them to be better.

    But this is not the same as saying “The Gospel is not enough”. Does that make sense?

  27. Johannes,

    One more thing. You said (to someone else):

    The phenomenon that the medium becomes the message is, in my opinion, one of the great dangers of CoWo.

    This is the danger with liturgical worship as well though isn’t it?

  28. @Mark Louderback #78
    “But having the Gospel treated as a given would be a legitimate critique. And I think that the opportunity we have is to improve the things of our church and help them to be better.

    But this is not the same as saying “The Gospel is not enough”. Does that make sense?”

    Pastor–I only have time for a short answer. First, thanks for your response–I understand your positions.

    Regarding your last couple of sentences, quoted here. The Gospel as a given is a hallmark of TCN, in my not-so-limited experience. And–“The Gospel is not enough” has been evident in almost everything I’ve experienced in TCN. In point of fact, “The Gospel as a given” is a corollary of “Gospel is not enough”. Once you take it for granted, then works take over, and the congregation ends up being clubbed with the Great Commission. I’m going to leave it at that, for now.

    Johannes

  29. Ready to Lose it,

    I had to chuckle at your confession. I was in my late 20’s before I realized what homosexuality was, but hey! I’m old! 🙂

    I do not have any problems with homosexuals in the public square and encounter them frequently where I live. I do draw the line when it comes the homosexual activism infiltrating the church.

    I am concerned by what I see happening in England. There are growing numbers of incidents of Christians being persecuted there for not giving their blessing to the homosexual political correctness. The tide has turned there and it is the Christians who are being bullied, sued, fined, fired from jobs, and other such ilk because they do not believe homosexual behavior is not a sin. If England is our preview of things to come, it would be good to be ready.

  30. Lily, Albert Mohler the leading Southern Baptist says we are going to be surprised and shocked at the good denominations and churches that are going to capitulate to the homosexual agenda.
    He also says we need to work on teaching our christians how to live in a world where the normalization of homosexualty is complete.

    Just one more reason why the confessional lutherans should not be so quick to fight their fellow christians. We are all going to find ourselves in an anti biblical christian society sooner than we dare to think.
    Canada is also beginnning to punish christians. An baptist professor at a canadian college lost her job just for saying she thought traditional marriage was god’s plan. She said nothing negative but she was accused of hate speach.

  31. @Mark Louderback #73
    You said:

    “You say “You decline to write “What does this mean” for your method of worship.” I thought I did write this: the Gospel of Christ. That is what CoWo is all about.”

    So, just saying “Gospel of Christ” explains what your CoWo liturgy means. It will explain why the liturgy has:

    Introit
    Kyrie
    Collect
    Gradual
    Agnus Dei
    Etc.

    You also said:

    “The service speaks for itself for the most part”

    The service explains to a first time visitor how you get from “Gospel of Christ” to Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Agnus Dei, Etc.?

    This first time visitor, you have to assume, even knows what “Gospel of Christ” is. Even if they can get what “Gospel of Christ” is from one service, they might not know what it is until the service is over. Do you contend that they will then reflect back and get why the service had Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Agnus Dei, Etc.

    But then, I don’t know if your CoWo service has Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Agnus Dei, Etc., because you won’t tell me. Instead of telling me, you keep asking me to explain why CoWo doesn’t embody. I can’t see the body, that’s why I don’t know if it embodies. How can I state this any more simply. I can’t see your CoWo body, that’s why I don’t know if it embodies.

    Admitteldy this demand repeatedly put on me to answer whether your CoWo service embodies while you steadfastly refuse to show the body is frustrating. Complaining about my tone of frustration is not the same thing as you discharing the Office of Public Ministry by teaching”What does this mean” of your liturgy, or at least saying what is in your liturgy.

    I suppose it is possible that a person could obtain an advanced degree from a seminary or university qualifying him or her to enter, through a regular call and ordination, into the public ministry in a Lutheran church without being able to understand the basic notion of the Lutheran liturgy. I say, understand, as an issue aside from whether the person agrees with it, or prefers it. Just understands its basic notion. Possible. Probability? Not so much.

    If the process you are using to explain your CoWo service to me is the same process you use to explain it to your visitors, how is that seeker-sensitive?

    I’d like to explode the myth of seeker-sensitivity being more inviting than Confessional, and traditional Lutheran liturgy. I’ve never met a pastor who supports and uses the traditional Lutheran liturgy make some one pull teeth to get an explanation of the liturgy such as you are doing. They have all been glad for the inquiry and have proceeded to offer to the inquirers all the information about the liturgy the inquirers seemed to be ready for or want. The on-ramp to traditional Lutheran liturgy has a much lower angle of incline than does the on-ramp to CoWo because of the willingness to carry out the Office of Public Ministry by teaching, “What does this mean?”

  32. Ready to Lose it,

    Thank you for letting me know that Al Mohler has written on this. I did find a good article he wrote in 2004:

    Courage and Compassion on Homosexuality
    http://www.albertmohler.com/2004/03/22/courage-and-compassion-on-homosexuality-3

    In that article he hits both nails on the head: The courage to speak the truth in love. I do not know anyone who does not understand the love part of interacting with homosexuals. It is the message of repentance that seems to rankle and cause discord between some Christians.

    I see no difference in dealing with homosexuals than I do with unbelievers or a fellow Christian entrapped by a sin, with two exceptions. 1) Most unbelievers or Christians caught in sin do not have aggressive political activism groups seeking to change the status of a sinful behavior to a blessed behavior. 2) This is the first time I have had to prepare to bear witness to Christ with the possibility of arrest, law suits, being fired from my employment, and other such consequences.

    I think the book of Jude explains our dilemma well. Kyrie eleison.

  33. Would somebody PLEASE tell me just WHAT LCMS “conservatives” agree on, OTHER than that “the synod has problems and something should be done about them”? WHAT are the “problems”? WHAT do Scripture and the Confessions say about them and how to deal with them? Could it be the fact that LCMS “conservatives” THEMSELVES can’t seem to agree on what the “problems” are and how to deal with them that is the BIGGEST problem in a synod which claims to be “conservative” but DOESN’T seem to know just what “conservative” itself even MEANS? What is “liberal” and what is “moderate,” as contrasted with what is “conservative”? If there can’t even be agreement on what these terms mean, WHAT is being done about the synod’s “problems”? I’ve posted before in other threads about the obvious changes in LCMS doctrine and practice regarding (1) fellowship; (2) Church & Ministry; and (3) the role of women in the Church, but NO ONE–pastor OR layperson–will tell me what the CURRENT “conservative” position even IS in these areas, so I am left wondering “Do THEY even know?” The “conservative movement” in the LCMS has been around for 49 YEARS now, but NO ONE seems to be able to publicly say in this forum just WHAT “it’s all about”! Why not?

  34. Mark Louderback :Johannes,
    One more thing. You said (to someone else):
    The phenomenon that the medium becomes the message is, in my opinion, one of the great dangers of CoWo.
    This is the danger with liturgical worship as well though isn’t it?

    To be sure, that danger is present no matter what form the worship takes: Pure liturgical, “blended”, or CoWo. Having assisted with worship over the years, I can attest that the temptation to a performance mentality is very great. So, to that extent, I will agree with you. When I directed the church choir, we had to remind ourselves over and over again that we were not performing, but giving glory to God.
    However, I maintain that putting a group of musicians (instrumental and vocal) in front of the congregation, with mikes, amps, etc., has been the greater temptation in my experience. I’ve seen it happen: gradually increasing the volume, adding more repeats to the choruses and songs, and adding more songs. I also believe that the more casual atmosphere is a temptation to the pastor to become an entertainer rather than a preacher.

    Johannes (been there, done that)

  35. @Ready to Lose it #77
    “I was just implying that if a outsider was to read this website that what I wrote were the impressions that might be gained.”

    I have re-read your post (#72), and see no reference to outsiders–these appear to be your impressions. But rather than pick at nits, I’ll take you at your word.

    You make a valid point–this is why it’s so important to choose one’s words carefully, and to let one’s contribution “compost” before hitting the “Submit” button. It sometimes helps to create one’s post in Word and edit it before copying and pasting into the blogosphere. There’s no reasonable excuse for resorting to ad hominem attacks on this website (or any other, for that matter). There’s every reason for the give and take here to be cordial and polite, even if we disagree vehemently with other positions presented. Once posted, our words cannot be taken back–more than once, I have had to ask Norm to delete one of my more vitriolic posts. So I will grant your argument–and hope that you will be able to keep from “losing it.”

    Johannes

  36. Johannes :
    @Mark Louderback #78
    “But having the Gospel treated as a given would be a legitimate critique. And I think that the opportunity we have is to improve the things of our church and help them to be better.
    But this is not the same as saying “The Gospel is not enough”. Does that make sense?”
    Pastor–I only have time for a short answer. First, thanks for your response–I understand your positions.
    Regarding your last couple of sentences, quoted here. The Gospel as a given is a hallmark of TCN, in my not-so-limited experience. And–”The Gospel is not enough” has been evident in almost everything I’ve experienced in TCN. In point of fact, “The Gospel as a given” is a corollary of “Gospel is not enough”. Once you take it for granted, then works take over, and the congregation ends up being clubbed with the Great Commission. I’m going to leave it at that, for now.
    Johannes

    Well, I disagree. I see this as taking a person’s position, making an extrapolation (that may or may not be accurate) and saying “Well, this is what they are saying.”

    If TCN is guilty of anything, it is that they are saying “You know the Gospel. You are pastors. You want to Sem. You studied. You know it. Now…why exactly are you not telling others this wondrous message? Let us help you do this.”

    And then focusing on the telling and communicating.

    That is not the same as saying “The Gospel isn’t enough.” Perhaps in the idea that the Gospel isn’t enough to know, it needs to be proclaimed, but I generally don’t think that is what is meant.

    But, I appreciate your thoughts and conversation on the issue.

  37. @Johannes #80
    Johannes said:

    “The phenomenon that the medium becomes the message is, in my opinion, one of the great dangers of CoWo.”

    Pr. Louderbak said:

    “This is the danger with liturgical worship as well though isn’t it?”

    I’d like to use an analogy to tie together what the two of you have said about medium and message. The analogy is to fatherhood.

    We hear it said, “I wish his father would be an influence in his life.” But the father is an influence, and a powerful one. Fathers don’t have the option of whether they will be influential on their children. The influence of fathers is built in to nature by our Father in heaven. The option is, in which direction will the father be an influence? The influence even of sheer absence is mighty. Maybe I should have said, the influence ** especially ** of sheer absence is mighty.

    In the same way, we hear it said, “I am concerned that in High Liturgy, the medium might become the message.” Again, “I am concerned that in CoWo, the medium might become the message.” There is no option about whether the medium will become the message. The option, in the case of fathers, is not whether to influence or not, but in which direction. The option, in the case of forms of worship, is not becoming the message or not, but which message.

    If that proposition is true, then we are ready to state in a simply way why the worship wars exist, in only two propositions:

    1. In forms of worship, the medium cannot help but become the message.

    2. The form of worship is worth “fighting” over because it inevitably becomes the message.

    You could test the first proposition by trying to design a form of worship that has no meaning.

    Discussing the meaning of High Liturgy is at once difficult and easy. It is difficult because so much meaning is packed in that there is a lot to talk about. Nevertheless, it is easy for two reasons. First, since we know its form, we can discuss its meaning. Second, the “much” that is packed in to it is an unfolding of a few simple things. Like the Trinity that resolves the ubiquitous problem of the one-and-many, so High Liturgy has a many-ness, but also a oneness. It is both complex and simple.

    The trouble with trying to discuss the meaning of CoWo is that, unless its form is disclosed for discussion, we don’t know what the form is. While High Liturgy varies somewhat from congregation to congregation, the degree of variation in High Liturgy is nothing like the degree of variation in CoWo. It is necessary for the CoWo of a particular venue to be disclosed before we can see what message that medium becomes. Without the disclosure, discussion is difficult by infeasibility.

    The span of CoWo can be breathtaking. Within that spectrum, I have been in congregations where I wondered why the pastors wanted to be Lutherans. The liturgy in use spoke the doctrine of Infused Grace, which is rejected in Lutheran theology. The sermon said one thing, but the liturgy said another.

    The message that some CoWo forms have become is this: accessorize. Americans accessorize everywhere else, so to make the church more accessible we ground our forms on what Americans already believe, the value of accessorizing. This draws people, but only to what they already were. The church, the service, and even Christ become accessories of a secular “spiritual but not religious” social class.

    In some incarnations of CoWo, there is a desperate attempt to keep Christ at least in the periphery of Americans’ lives. Understandable. But Christ won’t stay in the periphery, he won’t be an accessory.

  38. TRH,

    If the process you are using to explain your CoWo service to me is the same process you use to explain it to your visitors, how is that seeker-sensitive?

    Just to clarify something: where exactly did you ask me for this? I mean, in your first response to me you say “I am not asking you have this explanation for me, but for your parishioners.” And now you ARE asking it for yourself?

    I mean, I am barely holding on to what you see as embodiment in the liturgical service. I don’t need to defend what I am doing–I am just looking to hear what you are doing.

    But: because I believe in clarity, here are the elements of my service

    Songs
    Confession & forgiveness
    Scripture Reading
    Children’s sermon
    Sermon
    Prayer
    Communion
    Creed (Apostles & Nicene–but also we use from Small Catechism)

    Those are the elements, not necessarily in that order. The order can shift.

    Do you have any questions about what these elements are? I’d say for most they are readily apparent. Which is what I want.

    Now you say It will explain why the liturgy has:
    Introit
    Kyrie
    Collect
    Gradual
    Agnus Dei

    Do we have a Introit? Well, during Lent we will have a reading from a Psalm. And I will call it that, A reading from Psalm XX. It won’t be chanted. So, is that an introit? Well…I dunno. But it serves the same purpose, to bring God’s word to people.

    A collect is a prayer. Do we have prayer? Yes. Written out? Sometimes. Is that a collect? I dunno. But we do pray.

    So, the elements are certainly there, because let’s be honest, there is only so much we do: we hear God’s word, we respond to God’s Word. We celebrate the sacraments. There you go.

    The service explains to a first time visitor how you get from “Gospel of Christ” to Introit, Kyrie, Collect, Gradual, Agnus Dei, Etc.?

    No. See, the point of CoWo is that you don’t have to explain. “We are going to pray to God now, our Loving Father in Heaven, who listens and hears us always when we pray. The God of All Creation sets aside His work and listens to us as if we were the only person alive on earth when we pray. So, let us pray, Gracious God…”

    That is prayer. I say why we pray and express the love of God for us.

    What is isn’t is saying “The Collect for the Day. What is a collect? Well, a collection of thoughts that we bring up together. It has a certain pattern to it. Why do you call it a collect, why not just call it prayer? Well, because…

    That is talking about why we have a collect. Not why we pray. I’d rather skip calling it a collect and explaining that and simply speak about prayer.

    This first time visitor, you have to assume, even knows what “Gospel of Christ” is.

    My assumption is that they don’t. That is why we explain things. Which the liturgy often does as well, using Bible verses from 1 John before confession for example. I would use that and emphasize the teaching.

    I’m not spoonfeeding; but there is the opportunity to walk through this.

    And yes, there is jargon that is used that a non-Christian won’t get–you can’t help that. But I just try to minimize it.

    Instead of telling me, you keep asking me to explain why CoWo doesn’t embody. I can’t see the body, that’s why I don’t know if it embodies.

    I thought I was clear in asking “Why does the liturgy embody?” What would be your summary of that question?

    I’ve never met a pastor who supports and uses the traditional Lutheran liturgy make some one pull teeth to get an explanation of the liturgy such as you are doing.

    And once again, where exactly did you ask this? If you had said “Mark, will you explain what you are doing” I would have answered immediately.

    I shall note I’ve asked about “it keeps re-inviting individuals to become persons by entering into the communion of the saints.” a couple times and gotten no answer…so, you know, if you are going to complain about pulling teeth, you ought to be quick on your own responses.

    I’d like to explode the myth of seeker-sensitivity being more inviting than Confessional, and traditional Lutheran liturgy…The on-ramp to traditional Lutheran liturgy has a much lower angle of incline than does the on-ramp to CoWo because of the willingness to carry out the Office of Public Ministry by teaching, “What does this mean?”

    On this, I have to say that a lot of the proof is in the pudding, is it not? There is a reason why the fastest growing church in my district is doing CoWo. Is it not a silver bullet, but it is an easier on-ramp.

  39. @Mark Louderback #90
    After a few preparatory responses two questions you asked, I believe there is headway ahead.

    You said:

    “Just to clarify something: where exactly did you ask me for this? I mean, in your first response to me you say “I am not asking you have this explanation for me, but for your parishioners.” And now you ARE asking it for yourself?”

    Yes, at first, in the paper on Google Docs, writing to everyone, including you, I asked CoWo pastors to write “What does this mean” for their method of worship.

    Discussion develops, though, and later you asked me questions about your method of worship. A couple examples:

    “How is the one more an embodiment than the other?”

    “Once again, how is the CoWo service “immediate” if it is using Words, music, etc to reach others?”

    The words, “Once again,” convey that the question had been asked before.

    In response to those questions, which had not arisen by the time I wrote the paper, I said I could not answer without a disclosure of the service. This I have repeated, which itself also constitutes a request for the information.

    BTW, I never said your CoWo service is immediate. As Helen mentioned, I never said your method of worship has no form. I said that as long as I don’t know what the form is, I don’t know what the meaning is. This isn’t metaphysics. This is worship. I need a physic before I can get to any meta.

    Thank you for providing the outline of your CoWo service. That’s a start, and a good one.

    It is an embodiment. What of, we shall see.

    It might or might not have an Introit or a Collect. I pick out these two because you gave me some information about them, so that I could discuss them. As I learn more about what you mean by your Introit and Collect, the assessment might change. I can only go on the basis of what is revealed.

    Your order of service looks like it could be seen as falling into the overall outline of the traditional service. In the traditional service, there are three overall parts:

    Service of Preparation
    Service of the Word
    Service of the Sacrament

    These parts are theological. They are also dramatic, historical. They re-enact Christ coming to Israel the way He did, and his coming to us the way He does.

    First, John the Baptist, prepare ye the way of the Lord.

    Israel was not ready for Jesus. When we come to the congregation, we are not ready. We need preparation.

    Second, Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is here.

    Jesus both preaches the word and is the Word

    The word: Repent, be baptized, and believe the Gospel, for the kingdom of heaven is here.

    The word: do this, as often as you eat it, as often as you drink it.

    So, third, the sacrament.

    Once we have been prepared for the Word, and then when we have been united in the Word, we enter into two communions:

    Communion of the Saints. Communion with Christ.

    Although there is more to the communion of saints, the services expresses the communion of the saints when we confess the faith as a shared faith that we can say with our understanding. The Word creates the communion of saints, and the service dramatizes creation. There is motion, action, a plot, change.

    The service has the elements of drama: characters, conflict, plot (motion, action, change), and resolution. The conflict is our un-readiness. Without staging that, the story is lost (pun intended).

    The word Introit just means, “he enters into” It’s Latin, and I would have no objection to changing it into English for English services. Call it, Entry, or We Enter, or some such, if you like. But the point is, it goes between Preparation and Word. Without preparation, we don’t enter the Word. The drama, the story of Jesus shows us that. First John, then Jesus. Also, just calling it Entry without having portrayed the earlier parts as Preparation saps the word “Entry” of meaning.

    Many years ago the faithful would meet outside and then proceed into the church. The preparation was outside. The Word was inside. On entering, that’s when the Introit happened. In the traditional service, the Introit is the first part of the Service of the Word.

    The service needs to re-dramatize our condition of not being ready for the Word. It needs to re-ready us, so to speak, and then we Enter. The service needs to make us conscious of this. There are many ways this could be done, but if it is not done, the service does not re-dramatize how God came to Israel nor how He comes to us. This misses a weekly opportunity to portray paramount action-facts.

    You said, “What is a collect? Well, a collection of thoughts that we bring up together.”

    The Collect is in the Service of the Word. It comes just before the lessons are read. It collects thoughts from the lessons of the day into a prayer. It is not just a prayer. It is a prayer with a purpose in the Service of the Word, to collect thoughts from the lessons of the day into a prayer. If it’s a prayer about other stuff, it’s not a Collect. If it is so remote in the service from the reading of Scriptures that congregants would not associate it with the reading, it is not a Collect.

    Your order of service looks like it could be seen as falling into the overall outline of the three parts. A key part of the Service of Preparation is Confession and Absolution. Your order does locate Confession & Forgiveness second, and before either Scripture Reading or Communion. Your order does proceed to Scripture Reading and two Sermons before Communion. The skeleton is there.

    Pastor, please consider this: think about expressly raising the consciousness of the congregation about why the service is ordered this way, what the drama is.

    This is the most pretentious thing I’ve done yet, and that’s saying a mouthful, but trusting to your grace, let me suggest a measured enhancement of your order of worship:

    Preparation for the Word
    – Songs of Preparation
    – Confession & forgiveness

    The Word
    – Prayer for the Lessons
    – Scripture Reading
    – Children’s sermon
    – Sermon
    – Prayer

    Communion with God and the Saints
    – Communion
    – Creed

    This:

    a. Says expressly, but in English and simply, what the three parts of the service are. It gives you markers to show the dramatic progression of the service.

    b. It shows the need for preparation, that when we come, we are not ready to dash headlong and unfocused into the Word.

    c. It shows that the reason for the first songs is preparation. (Songs that really are preparatory would need to be used for this to make sense and require less explanation.)

    d. It shows that the prayer is about the lessons of the day (not that there aren’t other prayers during the service, but the one you listed in the order you posted).

    e. It shows that confessing together the Creed is a part (not everything, but a vital part) of the communion of the saints.

    f. It shows more obviously how through the service we undergo dramatic change from being unready to being in communion with God and the saints. Something really happened.

    There are problems with my phrasing “Preparation for the Word” if it sounds like preparation is something we do. God prepared Israel by sending John. God prepares us in the Service of Preparation. I was thinking of saying, “God Prepares Us for His Word,” but that’s a bit bulky. But maybe the theological clarity is worth the bulk. Experiment with it. See what better ways there might be to say it.

    Also, the preposition “for” in “Prayer for the Lessons” might be wrong. But try some words that indicate that the prayer is about today’s lessons. (And then, of coures, for this to make sense and require less explanation, the prayers would need to really be about the lessons of the day) It would then be a Collect never mind whether you call it one.

    By restoring some key parts of the plot, and by inserting a few “chapter headings” in your novel that is the service, I think you can help yourself accomplish what you are trying to do.

    One more caveat: if anything I have said conflicts with what the LC-MS seminaries teach, obviously, scrap what I said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.