Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Sacerdotalism


I know it is not recommended, 🙂 but I was binge listening to The God Whisperers and came across their discussion of sacerdotalism in episode 234 (~30:30). The discussion came about as a result of an article where Pr. Cwirla was named as one of those guilty of sacerdotalism in the LCMS mentioned. At the 46:30 they call the author of the article and make the beginnings of a dialog. Then in episode 236 (~19:00) a letter from Dr. Paul Schrieber of Concordia Seminary is read commenting on the issue. I found it a fascinating look at inter-Lutheran discussion and really look forward to the episode when there is a full on debate between the Pastors Cascione and Cwirla.

Episode 234

Episode 236


Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Sacerdotalism — 63 Comments

  1. @Carol Broome #49
    Chanting is slower and more measured than speech, and personally I concentrate on the meaning of it more easily when it is chanted.

    I think you have hit on the reason services were chanted in the pre-electric age.

    Unfortunately many Pastors who could chant well are discouraged by congregation members who say, WNDITWB! (“We Never Did It That Way Before!”… meaning everything from “the 40 years I’ve been here” to “since I transferred in, -5 years ago”) 🙁

    Never mind that it’s been printed in the hymnal since TLH and before.

  2. @Jim Pierce #42: It is that sort of guilt by association rhetoric that CN aptly writes and gets “away with this stuff for years.”

    Sort of the same guilt by association rhetoric of “extreme congregationalism,” “radical individualistic congregationalism,” etc., various LCMS writers have used with Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse and gotten “away with this stuff for years,” now that the shoe is on the other foot, huh? 😉

  3. @Carol Broome #50
    First, before I address Frau Broome’s…
    As to Miguel’s “sexist comments”–Well, of course they were meant to be sexist! He was using *humor* (and a subtle form of self-deprecation, at that). Fwiw, I almost put in a “ROTFL” response when I read it. And I wouldn’t trade any of the “old gals” that sing in my 2X-a-year choir for anything. We don’t sound wonderful (I traipse down the aisle and up the balcony stairs during the Gradual on Christmas and Easter–choir chanting–to provide a bass voice, a *6th* voice, sometimes.), but no one ever complains. 🙂

    Now, re: chanting in the 60’s and 70’s. It depended upon where you were. I have the impression that the larger churches in the larger cities were more likely to retain the chanting–better resources, such as more thoroughly trained church musicians to work with the pastors, etc. My dad, when we moved from Charter Member of the LCMS St. Paul, Bremen, IN to St. Louis Gesamtgemeinde “daughter”, Holy Cross (a block from CPH, where the original CSL campus was, and Luth. Hosp.) had to learn to chant the Communion liturgy (the Service of the Word was still only spoken–choir chanted the Introit, some–even the kids’ choir from the school did it a couple of times).
    I serve a dual parish–LSB in the one, and TLH in the other. For “high” feasts (Christmas and Easter), I chant the TLH tones at the TLH church, but don’t chant otherwise. At the LSB church I pretty much always chant (though during Lent, we stop singing almost all of the liturgy, and during the long green seasons, I don’t chant the Collect–little things like that). I almost get choked up sometimes chanting the TLH Aaronic Benediction, remembering my dad doing it in St. Louis. (I like that tone better than the LSB Benediction tones.)

  4. @Rev. David Mueller #5

    oh okay. well these two black guys walk into a bar… no it’s okay, i know a black guy that comes into my church…

    … nah… see, i stand by that i feel the humor was inappropriate. i’m not the guardian savior of mirth, but i recognize sexist jokes don’t help a church body that promotes order of creation. that is also distinct from the commentary on gregorian chant.

    – other note, i’ve been fortunate to hear chant at most places i go to. TLH mostly. occasional psalm tone from the LW. LSB i speak of very highly. my experience with the green hymnal was disappointing to put it lightly.

    anybody else still slip and say “Holy Ghost?”

  5. @quasicelsus #6

    i’m not the guardian savior of mirth

    …yet it is “disturbingly sexist” to compare the sound of an Episcopal priestess to Mrs. Miller? Hmmm…..

    @Rev. David Mueller #5
    As the choir director, I do get occasional complaints about excessive vibrato in the sopranos. 9 outta 10 times, these complaints are coming from women. I guess that most of the men know better…

  6. @Miguel #7

    hmm indeed.

    “yet it is “disturbingly sexist” to compare the sound of an Episcopal priestess to Mrs. Miller?”

    “At least we’re not ordaining women. Ever heard a warbling old gal try to chant the liturgy of the Eucharist? It’s like “Divine Service, by Mrs. Miller,”
    this is.

    – imagine the policy of the lcms to not ordain a specific race.

    – now substitute with “at least we’re not ordaining X” with a commentary that reflects negatively on X.

    the reasons for not ordaining women are biblical and scriptural – having nothing to do with pitch, tone, register, timbre, or vibrato. to juxtapose a statement in such a way (not to mention “old gal”), is off putting, sexist, and does not contribute to a helpful understanding of the order of creation.

    feel free to have all appreciation for all manner of male and female voices and in which they may be applied aesthetically pleasing to you.

  7. @Pastor Tim Rossow #17
    Interestingly, both laity and clergy belong to the church. I as a pastor am a member of the priesthood of all believers. You cannot pit the laity against the clergy. We are all in this together even though we have been given different offices.

    It’s amazing how many “supreme voters’ assembly” or “congregationalists” forget this.
    Think of it. If your Pastor is not a member of your congregation, where do you assume he belongs to the body of Christ?

  8. @quasicelsus #44
    hop on youtube and give some of them a listen. i think you may find that there are some that have some outstanding male voice arrangements, and some where the female voice is outstanding as well.

    I have tinnitus in the higher registers, (acquired by listening to a brass choir in a church with four stone walls and not having the sense to move when my hymnal began to vibrate!) Perhaps that accounts for my sensitivity to high sopranos, because my aids are calibrated to “help” me in the missing levels, which means I get more of them than I want.

    But enjoy, if you can.

  9. Took a look at the WCA (Willow Creek Assoc) website and found many LCMS churches listed in the US. They were the advent of the “church growth” and the pastor is boss (sacerdotalist) revival. BTW the pastors are listed for each church on the webpage. Interesting to see that many of those pastors make comments denying sacerdotalism or make wry comments that there is no such thing as hypo-euros or ordination/sacrament.

  10. Rev. Cascione has responded about his comments (and future airing of even more) on The God Whisperers in his latest article, “Cwirla Denies He is a Sacerdotalist: to Air Sept. 23, 2013.”

    The article includes some statements by Rev. Cwirla on why he is not a sacerdotalist, from which one can derive a (partial) description of what Rev. Cwirla considers to be characteristics of a sacerdotalist:

    1. Desiring the title “Father” despite biblical grounds opposing such use.

    2. Holding that ordination imparts a personal power or status to the person of the pastor rather than simply a confirmation and ratification of the church’s call, according to the Lutheran Confessions.

    3. Believing that the power of the Office is entirely the Word of God and resides in the person of the pastor, rather than just in the Office.

    4. Holds that the pastor is over the congregation and that a pastor has any greater dignity or status before God than any baptized Christian.

    Rev. Cwirla is also quoted by Rev. Cascione as stating, “Regarding my objection at the 2001 synodical convention to the elevation of CFW Walther’s Kirche und Amt to the level of public doctrine in the LCMS, my objection was two-fold… to elevate Kirche und Amt to the level of binding public dogma in the LCMS would exempt it from critical historical and doctrinal analysis from within the Missouri Synod, a most unfortunate unintended consequence.”

    Contrary to such a statement, the 2001 synodical convention did NOT elevate CFW Walther’s Kirche und Amt to the level of public doctrine (that is, equivalent to the Lutheran Symbols specified in Article II of the Missouri Synod constitution. The 2001 Convention voted to “affirm the above referenced writings of C. F. W. Walther as the definitive statement under the Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of Church and Ministry” and “the official position of the LCMS.” The position is that the doctrine contained in Kirche und Amt is in agreement with Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    The Constitution and Bylaws provide procedures to follow for any synodical member who claims that Kirche und Amt is contrary to the Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

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