Does your worship prepare you for death?

I had the opportunity to hear an excellent presentation this afternoon from a neighboring pastor (Rev. Shawn Kumm of Zion, Laramie) on Lutheran worship.  One of the best points that he made was related to how worship is meant to prepare the Christian for death.

I have often found that all theology finds its best expression on the deathbed.  It is there that Lutheran teachings become so distinct from others that one can really see the pure Gospel versus impure ones.  What struck me about this worship leading to death thing is the difference between liturgical and “contemporary” services.

Liturgical worship seeks through repetition to not only give the gifts of God to the believer, sustaining his faith in the here and now and into the hereafter.  It has an eternal perspective on things, which is reflected in its rich heritage.   It is fitting for those at the beginning of life who cannot read and yet through the constant repetition can still learn, all those in between, and even those at the end of life who have lost their minds in relation to most things but still remember the things which they repeated each week in Church.  Opposite to that, and lacking eternal focus, CoWo tends to feed an always changing “milk” at best (avoiding deeper concepts/teachings which may drive people away), with the goal of making all people feel comfortable and excited about what is going on (certainly striving so that they may never feel bored [where does boredom with God’s Word reside, in a worship form or in an undisciplined, Old Adam loving heart?].  CoWo does not teach the children, it does not help those who have lost their reason or senses.  It is exclusive.  There is not the repetition of the Scriptures as you find it in the liturgy, but instead a constant changing in order to keep relevant to the individual and the whims of the visitor (because if the visitor or age determines the worship, it will have to change).  I often wonder if underlying these two very different things in worship isn’t the focus of God vs. man, the changeless from the always changing, the trustworthy and reliable vs. the unreliable.

There is another key – relevance.  CoWo is meant to be relevant to the here and now, with forms that change and messages that pertain to “real life” here and now.  Liturgical worship is meant to be relevant to the then, here, now, and even times to come.  It prepares a soul to have a full library of texts, tunes, and prayers housed inside of it to be recalled at later times.  These later times could include the deathbed, but also all those steps that we must take in this vale of tears to that point.  One thing the pastor noted today was the question: “how many praise bands have you seen at the nursing home?”

Liturgical worship allows the Christian to be prepared to make his confession.  The Words are familiar, ones which he has been taught and confessed before.  CoWo forces the Christian to say words that he may not believe (or make the spot discernment to not confess something).  Pastors who like to “tinker” with the liturgy, you may want to consider how your tinkering forces your sheep to confess things which they have had no prior warning that they would be confessing.  Does such constant changing instill anything of value to your people? (other than catechizing them to grab onto the new, follow their emotions, and don’t dare to learn anything deeper or ancient)

Pastors who use CoWo, what is your pastoral care at the nursing home look like?   Do you sing them the most popular and relevant songs of the day, or do you then and there return to the solid pattern of words that was taught by the hymnals which these saints have used for years?  What will you do for those young ones now feeding off of constant change when they are experiencing your visit while they await death?  What well can you possibly draw from when all you dug were puddles that changed as the seasons went by?  What does your message sound like when talking to one undergoing great trial and tribulation?  Is it there that you put aside the theology of glory and go back to the cross?  In the end (of life that is) it seems that CoWo falls flat and actually shows a good amount of spiritual neglect in the scope of preparing souls to go to their Maker.

A passage comes to mind  in this: 2 Timothy 3:1-7

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

I think many of those things in that passage could do with CoWo theology, but the one that I have really started to key into is the “always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth”.  With all of the constant changes, there is always learning going on, but no one ever gets something solidly sunk in, so that when they approach death they can have such a vast deposit of knowledge to draw upon.

If you are a layperson under the influence of CoWo teachings, consider what will happen when your reason and senses start to go (after all you are dying too).  What will remain of all the varied and many things that you have experienced?  What will have been engrained into your mind as to remain when various ailments take the things which did not get reinforced in this life?




Does your worship prepare you for death? — 76 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post, Pastor Scheer.

    The line about not seeing a praise band at a nursing home, though falls flat when one considers that the pastor of a liturgical congregation doesn’t take the organ and organist or choir with him, either.

    The important thing about this is that when a flock is liturgical it means that it uses the Means of Grace from the beginning of the Divine Service to the end, and that the shepherd is properly preaching the Word and rightly administering the Sacraments. The flock, in other words is being properly tended.

    I believe that when a flock is properly tended all the sheep and lambs are receiving that which they need.

    We are taught that the Bible is the true Word of God from beginning to end. Why would we even consider, then that the Divine Service be anything less than the Means of Grace from beginning to end?

    The layman must be discerning. The layman (sheep) must ‘seek’ that flock which is first and foremost dedicated to the tending of that flock. All else will follow.

    Jack K

  2. @Jack K #1
    “The line about not seeing a praise band at a nursing home, though falls flat when one considers that the pastor of a liturgical congregation doesn’t take the organ and organist or choir with him, either.”

    It doesn’t really fall flat. That the sort of songs a praise band performs are not heard at a nursing home is the point. In most of my services at nursing homes, I’ve had someone play the piano, if an organ is not available, to accompany the hymns they know and love to sing — even when they are blind and can no longer see the words. Even when their minds remember little else…

  3. Both nursing homes in town have organs, which ARE used for services there. In one case, we used to bring an organist. In the other, the nursing home furnished one (it is a Roman Catholic nursing home and one of the nuns would play for me).

    And it is not just me, or our congregation. Often times when strolling the halls going room to room to visit members, I hear hymns being sung by groups who have come to visit the members. Now, granted, not all the hymns I hear being sung are Lutheran or would pass muster for one of our hymnals, but still….

  4. I’m ONLY concerned that the flock to which I belong, AND its called shepherd tend the sheep and lambs properly. I, as a sheep shall accept nothing less. It makes no difference whether I’m in the pew, or in a bed in a nursing home.

    I know that my pastor will properly tend to me in my last hours. He would not be my shepherd in the event that I had any doubt, whatsoever.

  5. Does our worship prepare us for death?


    Our Shepherd declares Christ and Him crucified!h

  6. Great article, but I think ya (Rev., Pastor, Shepherds) may all, be asking the wrong people. If ya’ll have, those in homes & hospice, ask those who love, visit, & care for them daily. And in joy, relish those few days, they know ya.

    If ya’ll are asking for those who’ve been given the “comin’ Home advanced ticket”, ask them, generally, they don’t have anyone brave enough to ask after them, let alone how to depart this realm, for the one that is promised & shortly, will see their Dearest Savior.

    Ask the shut in’s ya’ll visit (or delegate to others). They dearly miss, what so many take so for granted. Just to hear, w/others, in His House.

    Ask those who have a disease or illness, that has no known cause or cure, ask them & their loved ones. That one, ask me, I’ll answer any question you’ve all got.

    CoWo, does surveys, engages Consultants, marketing, & programs…those who ya’ll are speaking about, talk, boy do they, just only to those who are brave & have the courage to ask. And those who care as our Lord did & those they trust.

    I know kinda, I’ve spent the better part of a year, at 43, on that shut in list & I wasn’t even told I was on it. My husband, kids, family, & friends, see it 1st hand & live w/it every day, & believe me, we’ve chatted.

    I know what it’s like to know your body is dying, having 10 strangers in your home, not being able to talk, & barely see, & knowing the inner monoloque, that goes on. I know what hymns, word & parts of what liturgy, the faces of Pastor’s past, the what I’ve gots & don’ts, the I wish so & so’s, the what will they’s, you think on, in those moments. They are the same, when we & our loved ones, go & listen to Dr.’s, the horrid chats, we must have w/those they/we love, the toll it takes on those who love us & the plans, if granted, ya make, for when ya won’t or may not be here w/those ya love & care for.

    We’ve/I’ve had those sweet & teaching moments, with those I said, “love ya, see ya back at Home” and learned from each & every one of them, sudden or advance tickets. I rejoice, in them & those moments, I dared to ask about, because, it will be each of us & will be us all. Death comes to all of us, what we choose to say, do or not do, and what & how we teach that to those we love, & yes, Pastors’, ya’ll too: matters, more than ya’ll will know, regardin this article. I learned from them all, how to live in/for Christ, and I learned & was taught, how to die in/with Christ, very well indeed.

    Compare notes, it’s vital to ya’ll, but if ya ask such vital questions, to/about every living soul in your stead, start with those, who already have, are, willing & know they are facing such. No survey, consultant, committee, or comission needed, we both of us, already were given One. He paid the fee.

  7. In my experience, those who prefer cowo would be asking the question “does worship prepare you for life?” which is not necessarily a bad question, depending on how it is used.

  8. I’ll have to share your post with one of my members who commented last week that all the hymns in ELH sound like funeral durges. Maybe I should’ve told him, “Yes, that’s just the point.”

    Reminds me of something Dort Preus said, “On your deathbed, you won’t be singing, ‘If I were a butterfly.'”

  9. Pastor Stafford #7,

    When my Papa’s daughters, their kids, & then our little ones, visited was a piano. Some played, the others sang. When we ran out of music, we ran to the “home” chapel & got a hymnal, mind ya, it was just our family & my Grandpa. When we ran out of Hymns to play & sing for Papa, we turned around…

    We didn’t know anyone but Papa heard, enjoyed, or wanted to. But many of the residents did hear, & wanted to be closer!!!! for/of my Papa’s hymns/home away from Home, gathered or asked to be brought to just, simply….hear, what others, call “funeral durdges”. It meant the world for that one day, for my Papa, & those who could hear!!!

    Pastor Stafford #7, you’re right, no, they so very much do not!!!!! They don’t shout to the North & the South, they do not, feel any “felt need”. Felt needs for a moment, mean little. It’s the knowing, as Faith should be, that meant so much to all of them & do for so many now.

    For them & those, they “know”, they have ceased valuing, what others call a “felt/seeker” need.
    CoWo, doesn’t teach, preach, or counsel, with any Wisdom, for that,…let alone for those like them.

  10. @Jack K #1
    “The important thing about this is that when a flock is liturgical it means that it uses the Means of Grace from the beginning of the Divine Service to the end, and that the shepherd is properly preaching the Word and rightly administering the Sacraments.” Spot on and so Christ is taught. As one home-bound woman said to me as the new pastor when I preached and administered the Sacrament for her and her husband: “This is just like Church!”

  11. Rev. Stafford, #8.

    I fell in love with ELH when a member of an ELS congregation. I, now a member of a confessional/orthodox LCMS congregation find Lutheran Service Book to be almost it’s equal. The only thing lacking in LSB? The Bugenhagen.

  12. @Jack K #11
    And some Kingo.
    For the 7th Sunday of Easter, I still print out all the words from TLH of Like the Golden Sun Ascending, and use it as the final hymn. Stanza 6–“For the joy Thine advent gave me…” Wraps up everything from Advent 1 to Easter 7, from His birth, to my Re-birth, through my dying life, to my Living Life forever for which I wait and long.

  13. @Rev. David Mueller #12
    In an article for the March 2012 Lutheran Sentinel (the ELS magazine for the laity)
    I quote verse 10 of “Like the Golden Sun Ascending.”
    “For the joy Thy birth doth give me, For Thy holy, precious Word; For Thy Baptism which doth save me, For Thy blest Communion board; For Thy death, the bitter scorn, For Thy resurrection morn, Lord I thank Thee and extol Thee, And in Heav’n I shall behold Thee” (ELH 354:10)

  14. Pastor Scheer,
    I have been pondering this since my father died in October. Every time the priest came to meet with him as his illness progressed and immediately after he died, were the Trisagion prayers. They were in the Divine Liturgy the following Sunday.

    Why on earth was I, however briefly, an enthusiast for contemporary worship?

  15. Pastor Scheer,

    Thanks for this timely post. Our church is currently going through a split that revolves around these very issues. One thing I would add. Not only do they never arrive at a knowledge of the truth, but what eventually happens is that the very idea of arriving at a knowledge of the truth becomes abhorrent! They avoid truth and certainty as if it is error itself. Today’s primary value of tolerance has made its way into the church through CoWo. When our pastors began to more clearly teach Lutheran doctrine, this was the response:

    “It is our opinion that doctrinal policing has taken precedence over shepherding. In saying this, we do not minimize the importance of clear doctrinal teaching. To the contrary, we are blessed to reflect on those of our congregation of great faith from multiple generations, in part because of the consistency of doctrine. Still, we are Christians first. In the past, we, as individuals, were allowed to quietly, within our own hearts, consider portions of our doctrine for which valid contrary arguments have been made by our Christian brothers. Again, emphasizing quietly, within our own hearts, because we understood the detrimental effect of open contentiousness. We could then, in good conscience, remain a church that was like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

    Translation: We don’t want your doctrinal certainty. We want to believe whatever we want to believe and don’t want to be challenged at all. We want unity and peace at all costs and the only way that happens is if the doctrinal police shut up and go away.

    The letter ended with a plea for those of us who desired to believe, teach and confess pure doctrine to resign from leadership positions. Both pastors have now resigned (one because he received another call and the other because of the outright rebellion and rejection of pastoral authority that this letter represents), and about a dozen families will be leaving the church. Please keep us in your prayers.

  16. Yes, our liturgy and hymns prepare us for death. Consider the hymn of the day for Lent 2, “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart.” What a blessing is this hymn as it teaches the faith and prepares us for death, when we are drawn to the bosom of Abraham in the presence of Christ.

  17. The generalizations in this article destroys any usefulness. You set up a strawman and knocked it down. Once again, you deal only with the stereotype of CoWo rather than actual practice. Good CoWo doesn’t ignore the traditions of the church nor does it as you say give an ever revolving round of “milk”. In our congregation, people are given the sacraments, rightly divided law and gospel sermons are preached, we get into the Confessions and we do so with a contemporary divine service.

    Also, my time in the nursing homes has taught me that people don’t know the good hymns, they know Gaither. And they don’t know individual confession and absolution because anything outside of the DS is too Catholic. BTW, on this point we have it better with the young people because a part of our Catechesis is an emphasis on individual absolution.

  18. Revaggie #18,
    I don’t know what you do or where you go…but I know where I do & what I do & have done. They remember what they began with, not short term memory, regarding things, places, or people. Most don’t know & I had to look up “Gaither”. They do know, do those who ask them, know how to speak….to & with them? CoWo don’t do that, sir.

    I always wonder, as a family member should, is this about the sheep, or those who have something else. Papa was denied, the Sacrament of the Altar, because all he remembered was German. The home called here, they knew we spoke it. We spoke what he knew.

    How is it, so many, from so different age groups, don’t count if they don’t speak, what needs to be heard, to be relevant?

  19. @revaggie #18
    A Lutheran tree will produce Lutheran fruit (liturgical worship).
    A non-Lutheran tree will only produce non-Lutheran fruit (CoWo roots and fruits). It may have some Lutheran veneer, but it is not Lutheran. It’s roots are enthusiasm and revivalism.

    I can’t confirm what you say. Many times I have struck up Paul Gerhard hymns in the nursing home to be joined by the residents. I have also many requests for Luther hymns and the great hymns of the Church Year.

    Could it be that in your parish (which has CoWo) you are already experiencing the fruit of such a practice among your people?

    It is good to teach the young ones about Private absolution. I commend you for that. What songs are you catechizing your youth with? LSB 614 is a good one for Private Absolution.

  20. I can attest to one thing, being in the hospital very sick recently, my pastor came to visit. Before and after surgery he came and talked with me, and then prayed with me. The only thing that I can remember from either visit? The Lord’s Prayer. I can vouch that when your mind is gone and your body is not far off, those things are what you can grab hold of are the consistently heard and repeated gospel truths.

    Count me grateful for a faithful pastor and congregation that know and value the traditions.

  21. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #21
    “Could it be that in your parish (which has CoWo) you are already experiencing the fruit of such a practice among your people?”
    Only if they were doing CoWo since the founding of the congregation, which they haven’t. So, no.

    If we were to chuck everything that had a questionable origin, we would have nothing.

    @Dutch #19
    Maybe it is because it is late and I am tired, but I am not sure what your point is.

  22. @revaggie #24
    Never forget the power of error to wipe away and pervert the truth.

    If everything has a questionable origin, I would say that you need to read the Scriptures and confessions again. Seriously, that is the defense you are putting for CoWo, one which relegates everything to questionable origins. The liturgy has biblical origins, and in that you can be sure. Besides that the focus of liturgy is Christ and His gifts, also without question, a solid ground to stand upon. CoWo with its constant pandering to the next high (focus upon sacrifice and not sacrament) builds such a view. I don’t know which came first, your view of this relative nothingness or your embracing of CoWo, but that is the teaching of it. Lex credendi, lex orendi.

    I don’t know this “we” you speak of, I hold to things with unquestionable origin.

  23. I, a layman, have come to understand over many years that I am a sheep, a member of a flock that has a Divinely called shepherd who swears to tend that flock by the proper preaching of the Word and the right administration of the Sacraments, The Means of Grace.

    The sheep of a flock are to trust that the shepherd of the flock will, first and foremost tend the flock, and that all other things come after.

    Any shepherd willing to allow anything other than the Means of Grace into the Divine Service is not worthy of being my shepherd.


  24. Let’s not forget the Cowo worship hymns that have stained TLH all these years. I see their pietistic fruits now and then.

  25. @Jack K #26

    “The sheep of a flock are to trust that the shepherd of the flock will, first and foremost tend the flock, and that all other things come after.”

    In a world where so many think it’s insulting and beneath them to be sheep, this is refreshing to hear!

    It is also terrifying for a pastor to realize the damage he can do when entrusted so. May we cling to the Word alone as our text! I pray you will continue to be like the noble Bereans, who listened eagerly for the Word — then checked the Scriptures to see if what Paul taught them was true. (Acts 17:11)

  26. Pastor Scheer #25,
    Thank you so much for this post. You “get” it. All Pastors are leaders, but not all Pastors are Shepherds.

    When I read, #24, directed to me, per my posts, he doesn’t, but you do, and state how so beautifully. I tagged along to shut in visits, I’ve been a family member, and I’ve been sick, & almost kicked a few times. My Pastors, knew & know, how they treat, talk, handle, & here it comes:

    Hear vs Listen, to those sheep, makes the difference. Rationals, excuses, & lack of understanding don’t count or matter to sheep. They all assume you’re taught this stuff & how to minister vs manage/schedule. Listen vs hear. Care as agape, teaches, or fill a need or require on a schedule.

    What good or profit is a shepherd, if he doesn’t know, understand, or relate to his charges, no matter what that sheep is.

    Thanks Pastor Scheer, from a very sick little milkin’ lamb. Not all of ya’ll, really learn, listen, or get it. Blest are they, that have those who do.

  27. @revaggie #18
    Very well put sir. I applaud you for commenting and hope you realize that if BJS did not have straw men to attack they would have no one to attack at all. This kind of “confessional” argument doesn’t care if you have a liturgy rooted in the Scriptures or centered around Word and Sacrament, but only cares if it is found word for word in the LSB.

  28. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #25
    Actually the Historic Liturgy has human origins. What is used in Historic Liturgy is Scripture and Scripture has infallible origins. Do not confuse the two.

    Stawman CoWo panders to the next “high.” Good CoWo is centered on Christ Crucified given in His gifts. Narrow your focus, do not remain so global in your statements. Empty words, take them on. Mindless repetition, take them on. Self aggrandizing, take them on. Pure emotionalism, take them on. Just don’t generalize because then it becomes a straw man. Because seriously, not all CoWo services are the same. Not all use empty emotionalism, not all use empty words, not all are self-focused.

  29. @Rev. McCall #30

    Painting “confessinals” as perfectly precise, reciting word for word the LSB, is its own kind of strawman. And FWIW, CPH, synod, etc, try to put a lot of effort into the hymnals to be rooted in Scripture (have you noticed all the Bible passage references?) and centered on Word and Sacrament. Ergo, we trust the hymnal better than a mimicked contemporary from the local methobapticostal church. CoWo supporters really need to come up with way better arguments to sway me.

  30. @Jason #32
    All that effort and we still ended up with “I’m But a Stranger Here” included as an acceptable, theologically correct hymn in the LSB. Hmmmmm.

  31. @revaggie #31
    “Because seriously, not all CoWo services are the same.”

    Isn’t this part of the problem? Not all CoWo services are the same or even similar. You don’t know what you are going to get. It’s up to the individual pastor or worship leader. However, the liturgy doesn’t suffer as much from the subjective judgments of each and every individual pastor.

  32. Because seriously, not all CoWo services are the same. Not all use empty emotionalism, not all use empty words, not all are self-focused.

    This is not a selling point. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  33. Wow. That’s it! I cannot think of a better diagnostic!
    At that last, extreme moment, do you really want to be waving and clapping your hands and having lots of fun, or focusing on something else?

  34. @Rev. McCall #33

    Do you have a problem reading/listening? Confessionals never claim to be PERFECT. We strive for best practices and fidelity to Scripture. By trying to argue how ONE hymn is bad, you try to reduce the liturgy to all or nothing. If one small iota is wrong, the whole thing must be chucked.

    Really, your line or argumentation is equivocation. Since we are bad, why can’t you also be bad. If we are not better, how can we possibly have any stading to correct or reprove? It’s piss-poor arguing. An dit borders on the ad hominem, by trying to cast the “messenger” is a disruputable light so that one does not have to argue against the merits of the message. that’s usually employed when the attacker cannot argue well against the point brought up. Try something better.

  35. Just today at a fellow members funeral we sang… The Nunc Dimittis.

    Lord now lettest Thou Thy servent depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world with out end. Amen.

    Words i imagine he had sung all his life with his wife, children and grandchildren…. and I with all of my family for three generations. No CoWo can replace that.

  36. @Dutch #29
    You are welcome.

    @revaggie #31
    see comment #34

    @mbw #36

    @Jason #37
    Thank you for pointing that out Jason.

    @Jim G #38
    Thank you for your example, one of many shared in this posting.

    I visited a couple of folks today (as I do almost every month) who do not recognize me or anyone they used to know, but they both knew the liturgy.

    CoWo advocates can keep on with their “best life now” worship style. Liturgy teaches that the best life is yet to come.

  37. @Jason #37
    I love how you crazy people can draw so many conclusions from so little that was said. Did I say the hymnal must be chucked? Did I personally attack the messanger? (No, you did and said all that) How are those straw men working out for you because you clearly made a couple more there to knock down so that you and Rev. Scheer can go pat each other on the back afterwards and tell one another how brilliant you are. I expect nothing else, but at least you gave me a laugh for the day. You said,
    “Ergo, we trust the hymnal better than a mimicked contemporary from the local methobapticostal church.”
    My point is not equivocation. When you learn how to read/listen try again. Is it not OK to point out that even our own hymnal need be looked at with a critical eye? If we drop every practice or hymn that came from outside the LCMS or LSB what would we be left with? Pretty much nothing. So we examine practices or hymns in light of Scripture and the Confessions and if it is OK then we can use it. A piss-poor arguer like yourself is willing to apply that to Catholic practices, but apparently not methpentabaptist ones. You simply immediately reject out of hand any practice that is associated with a denomination you dislike without bothering to examine it. It’s much easier to regurgitate Pr. Scheer’s dribble than it is to think for yourself though isn’t it?

  38. How to follow a typical BJS argument (done with tongue in cheek of course, but nonetheless true):

    Make False assumption #1: CoWo is all or nothing. If you have one or more “CoWo” songs sung at your church you therefore must sing all CoWo songs, therefore none of your members would know any hymns if you were to come visit them in the hospital.

    Make False assumption #2: If it has CoWo origins (whatever that is or means) it must be bad and therefore cannot be used. Even if the words to the song are theologically correct we dare not sing them or else everyone will think we are Baptist.

    Make False assumption #3: If I don’t know you but if you don’t agree with me you must therefore be a CoWo flaming heretic who must be ridiculed and crushed at all costs.

    Make False assumption #4: All CoWo worship services are so radically different no one can follow them or know what is going on. If I don’t recognize the setting you are using for the Nunc Dimittis it must therefore be wrong.

    Make False assumption #5: BJS are the gatekeepers for all things proper in the LCMS. If you do not have our permission or blessing to do what you do and if you don’t do it as we do it, you are wrong. Period. So stop it.

  39. @Rev. McCall #33
    Yes, Pr. McCall, and perhaps a few more bones thrown in the vain hope that the “CoWo” crowd would do things by the book.

    There was a joke that the “fluff” stuff ended up in the electronic version where it wouldn’t offend conservatives because they wouldn’t see it and that that would be the “CoWo” hymnal.
    [Can’t say; I’ve never seen it.] 🙂 I think it was a joke?

    So we examine practices or hymns in light of Scripture and the Confessions and if it is OK then we can use it. [You are] willing to apply that to Catholic practices, but apparently not methpentabaptist ones.

    I suppose the church must have been examining reformed literature in that light (and alt. some of it) since there are more than a few hymns in LSB, not of Lutheran origin. So why not use that, instead of going off on your own?

    [I have a friend here (baptized Christian, he says) who thinks he is in the same league with Daniel and Solomon, and so he is off looking for “truth” in the eastern religions and islam, but he doesn’t condescend to belong to any Christian church. Some “CoWo” enthusiasts I’ve read seem to have egos to match his. “I can do this better than 2000 years of predecessors” seems to be what it’s really all about. Oh, yes, my friend thinks it’s neat to be “paid to be a Christian” so maybe he’ll try the ministry one of these days… don’t say I didn’t warn you.]

    Kyrie eleison!

  40. @Rev. McCall #41
    Make False assumption #5: BJS are the gatekeepers for all things proper in the LCMS. If you do not have our permission or blessing to do what you do and if you don’t do it as we do it, you are wrong. Period. So stop it.

    Not BJS, that promise you made…
    “to use only doctrinally approved hymnals and worship materials.”

    Remember that one?

    I know there has been/(is?) an attempt to get around that by approving material that doesn’t square up with Scripture and the Confessions, but really… is that intellectually honest?

    [If you call that an ad hominem, you should see the one I thought better of and deleted.] 😉

  41. Helen I love your posts! And just to be fair I do love the hymnal.
    I don’t think all good songs or hymns were written prior to 1600. If a song was written by a Baptist two years ago and set to “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, does that still mean the words are wrong? What if those words were theologically great and I change the tune to be a little (OK, a LOT) more appropriate and then we use it in worship? Now someone hears we sing that song and the assumptions begin. They assume that church must be totally and completely CoWo. That they must not sing any real hymns, but rather all CoWo songs. And on and on. Just look at all the straw men and assumptions on this thread!
    You are right, and I agree 100% with you, it is not intellectually honest to use material or songs that don’t square up with the Scriptures or the Confessions, but I will say it is just as wrong to say someone can’t use a song that IS square with the Scriptures and the Confessions simply because Michael Card wrote it and not Martin Luther and because they use it at the CoWo Baptist church down the street.

  42. Rev. McCall :@Jason #32 All that effort and we still ended up with “I’m But a Stranger Here” included as an acceptable, theologically correct hymn in the LSB. Hmmmmm.

    Just wondering, how is “I’m But a Stranger Here” not theological?

  43. The more I think about it, the LCMS had the answer long ago. When our forefathers decided to include in the LCMS constitution that all members must use only synodically approved hymnals and resources they got it right.

    It is not an ideal solution but there is no ideal this side of heaven. The Scriptures are clear that we need doctrinal supervision. Having a hymnal that is approved by the synod is the way to go.

    It will certainly cramp the style of the COWO folks because they live off the immediate (and no Rev. McCall that is not a BJS exageration but is the fact of the matter) but there is no urgency to use the latest, greatest, bit of Hossanna Integrity praise and worship music. As a matter of fact, doing such does not square with the sober judgment that the Scriptures call for in these weighty matters.

    Is there room for adding hymns and songs composed in the last 25 years? Of course and LSB does just that. Can we use newer, fresher chant tones? Yes, and LSB also does that? Can we sing fresher melodies in the psalms (introits, etc.). Yes, I think LSB does that. We do so at our traditional parish but if it is decided by the synod that such is bad practice we will give it up.

    Our church fathers in theLCMS were nto stupid. They were battling the same things we are today but without top 40 music, the internet and they did not have the overwhelming power of the 1960’s/1970’s anti-establishment movement to deal with athough the cultural romanticism of the 19th century was strong in its own right. They had the answer. It is still our answer today even though so many ignore it as if they can and still walk in synod.

  44. @Rev. McCall #44
    because they use it at the CoWo Baptist church down the street.

    Isn’t that the only reason some of the ‘Lutheran’ churches use it!? 🙁

    I’m a simple minded Lutheran. Once upon a time I could go through the radio dial and tell what the church was by the music they played. I don’t think that was a bad thing. 🙂
    I’m afraid the same music gives people the notion that we and the Baptists are the same church, believing the same things. So why not move over there? 🙁

    Both churches contain Christians, we concede, but our understanding of the Sacraments is seriously different! So why ape those we consider to be in error?
    (Even if Michael Card is pretty good, sometimes.)

  45. @Lifelong Lutheran #45
    Perhaps incomplete theology is a better term. Is heaven really our home? We don’t believe being a disembodied spirit is really the ultimate end, but rather a bodily resurrection and a new heavens and a new earth.

    @helen #48
    I agree to an extent. Back in the time of Luther many people complained hard that Luther still used Roman Catholic hymns and kept the mass. They thought people were going to think they were just like the Catholic church down the road. But Luther said, no, a good hymn is a good hymn and a good service is a good service. Let’s not throw the whole thing out just because it looks or sounds Catholic. Why don’t we apply that to everything? Our knee jerk reaction is to not use what may be a perfectly acceptable song just because it may make us look Baptist. There are still plenty of people who won’t come to my church because we look to Catholic. Yet I’m not going to throw out our liturgy or hymns just so someone who doesn’t know any better isn’t confused.

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #46
    We can and should use synodically approved materials. But let’s be honest, we have hymns that have been synodically approved and yet are not the greatest theologically. So simply having the synod’s stamp of approval on it does not guarantee it is theologically correct (how’s that ABLAZE campaign working out for you eh?). Nor does lack of having synod’s stamp of approval mean it isn’t theologically correct. Your argument only works when it goes your way and synod approves what you like. When it swings the other way we all cry out and tell others NOT to use the synodically approved material. All Synod means is that we all walk together, but that can mean we all walk together in error (allow me to bring up ABLAZE again here as an example). And as long as we are sinful human beings, good luck in getting perfection in that walk. So how strict are you here? I have had BJS folks tell me I am a heretic because I do a children’s message on Sunday. I have had BJS folks tell me to leave synod because I won’t publicly go after other fellow pastors not in my circuit or district who may or may not have questionable worship practices. We used Michael Card’s song about Joseph as a solo by a choir member during Christmas and we’ve used the non-hymnal approved song, “Because He Lives” at Easter. Apparently that makes me a bad pastor as well according to BJS standards. To me that’s not acceptable and way out of bounds. You’re not a barking dog pointing our error, you’re like my terrier who barks at everything and anything that moves in our yard (leaves, grass, birds, you name it). I’ve come to realize he just likes to bark and that he really isn’t able to distinguish what is and isn’t important anymore.

  46. @Rev. McCall #49
    I’m not trying to poach Helen’s deer, but there are some real problems w/ this approach Pastor.

    First off, confessionally we ARE catholic, and have never intended to be anything but catholic. We don’t borrow the mass, canticles, pericope, vestments, or ancient hymns from Rome, they are our patrimony as catholics. That is not the case w/ stuff borrowed from the radical reformation churches. We aren’t methobapticostals, and I’d give you Luther’s answer from Marburg: “we have a different Spirit.”

    Secondly, again from the confessions, Lutherans value public harmony in worship to all other advantages (Apol XV). What advantages do the CoWo folks value above public harmony when they borrow from the radical reformation churches? To break unity in practice is not Lutheran.

    That brings up the third danger, and it is the biggest. The implied CoWo answer to my question above, (though it isn’t often said openly) is: “by giving up public harmony we bring in a wider group of people, and we save those who would otherwise be lost.” It always comes back to Article IV. As the CoWo folks are saying that their new non-Lutheran/non-catholic human worship traditions justify, that puts us firmly into the state of confession from the Formula: and unity w/ those who assert that their human traditions save “can in no way be done, as has been said, without violence to conscience and prejudice to the divine truth.” (SD X)

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

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