A Terse and Poignant Defense of Traditional Worship, by Pr. Rossow

Occasionally a comment on a post rises to the level of an actual post. Here is a comment by BJS writer Miguel Ruiz in response to a critique of traditional worship by BJS reader Gary. (It is over on the post about quitting the praise band.)

@gary #44

why we have selected the 1700’s as the period to base things off of is vague to me.

We haven’t. Nobody has. Bogus straw man. The Divine Service as celebrated today is the result of 2000 years of organic innovation steeped in generational continuity. But you obviously have no knowledge or understanding of worship prior to 1700.

tradition is great and important, but not to the point where the church closes due to it being a foreign culture

This has never happened, this can never happen. Tradition is simply what you do to pass the faith down. Passing the faith down is not the cause of the faith not being passed down.

make a joyful noise, and do it to the best of your ability, do it with respect and love and reverence, make the performance for God, but let the people’s hearts be into it because they understand it, because it is worship from their culture

That is a pietistic, enthusiastic understanding of worship, and utterly non-Lutheran. It is a perfectly acceptable approach if you belong to Calvary Chapel. Word and Sacrament is our worship. We worship through mystery, not understanding or emotion.

don’t stereotype and leave the good behind for the bad

This is exactly what contemporary worship does when it severs all connection with tradition in order to be “understandable” and “culturally relevant.”

there are many forms of worship, many ways of showing respect, many ways of praise.

Many ways that confess a different theology and reject clear scriptural teaching. Worship is not a consumer buffet. If the Word is unchanging, then the Word drives the practice.

churches will continue to close if they continue to be museums presented in a foreign language . . . the future depends on this realization.

The LCMS has ceased from worship in German a long time ago. Sorry, but Christ centered and scripture saturated ritual is NOT a “foreign language,” it is a “foreign substance.” Nobody enters the Christian faith fully understanding everything about it. And if you think the future depends on us, you have a very small God and a very inactive Holy Spirit.

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.


A Terse and Poignant Defense of Traditional Worship, by Pr. Rossow — 4 Comments

  1. The people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

    Because we know best how to worship.

  2. I love that in all of the comments about contemporary worship the threat of closing churches comes up while so many denominations are reviving the old traditions that have been neglected for so long.

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