The Original Synod’s view on worship…

From: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/lcmsconstitution.pdf

LCMS_corporate_sealThe original constitution of the LCMS put it this way when considering uniformity of worship within the Synod:

14. Synod holds in accordance with the 7th article of the Augsburg Confession that uniformity in ceremonies is not essential; yet on the other hand Synod deems such a uniformity wholesome and useful, namely for the following reasons:

a. because a total difference in outward ceremonies would cause those who are weak in the unity of doctrine to stumble;

b. because in dropping heretofore preserved usages the Church is to avoid the appearance of frivolity and a desire for innovations; and is, as much as possible, to exhibit outwardly its connection with the Church of all time.

c. because this is also required for the necessary purification of the Lutheran Church in America; that the emptiness and the poverty in the externals of the service be opposed, which, having been introduced here by the false spirit of the Reformed, is now rampant.

All pastors and congregations that wish to be recognized as orthodox by Synod are prohibited from adopting or retaining any ceremony which might weaken the confession of the truth or condone or strengthen a heresy, especially if heretics insist upon the continuation or the abolishing, of such ceremonies. To this belongs the breaking of bread in the Lord’s Supper; the formula of distribution: Christ says; the taking of the consecrated bread and cup with the hands; the use of ordinary bread instead of the host except in an emergency; and others.

Where private confession is in use, it is to be kept according to Article 11 of the Augsburg Confession. Where it is not in use, the pastor is to strive towards introducing it.

The desired uniformity in the ceremonies is to be brought about especially by the adoption and use of sound Lutheran agendas (church books).

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

The Original Synod’s view on worship… — 40 Comments

  1. Greetings!

    I must confess to you, with a bit of sheepishness and shame, that I am just now reading the Book of Concord for the first time. I am familiar with some of it (ie, Luther’s Small Catechism), but I find in myself a fervent desire to understand what makes us all Lutherans.

    I am particularly thankful for whomever put “bookofconcord.org” online. I clicked on the “hosted by” link, hoping it would take me to a page where I could offer my own thanks for this resource. As my finances allow, I will also soon purchase one to go in my home. The more I read, the more I am certain that every Lutheran should have not only the Bible and the Small Catechism in the home, but the Book of Concord as well.

    I was just reading the part, for the first time in my life, LAST NIGHT, Article VII of the Augsburg Confession (I’m sure there’s a cool way to abbreviate that, but I don’t yet know it). I find it interesting that this original constitution says, “We affirm Article VII, but on the other hand…” and then almost states that “in spite of that, we think certain rites, traditions, and ceremonies SHOULD be mandated.”

    So my question is this: While that is the original constitution of what would come to be known as the LCMS, does that make it correct? It seems to me that the part you’re quoting here flies in the face of the confessions. Am I wrong? Did the founding fathers of the church get it wrong in this instance?

    Are we to hold this document up as an example of what the LCMS should be?

    Again, please forgive me if I offend with my questions. It is not my intent to offend anyone. I am ashamed to admit that in my many years on the earth, I am just now learning what our confessions say. Since I swore to the Lord at my confirmation that I would be faithful to them, I have erred in not knowing what they say. With the Lord’s help, I am rectifying that. As I read, I have questions. Your article, Pastor Scheer, was very timely as I was just reading the Augsburg Confession last night.

    I should like to express my appreciation in advance for the answers you are willing to give.

  2. An excellent reminder of the wisdom of generations past. It weaves together the doctrinal affirmations of the Augustana and the Formula deftly.

    It would be good to return to such purity and common confession.

  3. @Scott Dart #1

    Scott,

    I think you’ll find, that as your peruse the Augustana and its Apology, then compare with the Formula, that the original Synod position is precisely in line with our Confessions.

    Blessings to you in your readings!

  4. @Scott Dart #1

    The other thing to remember, however, is that Art. VII isn’t the last word on worship practices and adiaphora. There’s also AC XV: “Of Usages in the Church they teach that those ought to be observed which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable unto tranquillity and good order in the Church, as particular holy days, festivals, and the like. Nevertheless, concerning such things men are admonished that consciences are not to be burdened, as though such observance was necessary to salvation. They are admonished also that human traditions instituted to propitiate God, to merit grace, and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the Gospel and the doctrine of faith. Wherefore vows and traditions concerning meats and days, etc., instituted to merit grace and to make satisfaction for sins, are useless and contrary to the Gospel.

  5. Good stuff! I was struck by 14.a: “…because a total difference in outward ceremonies would cause those who are weak in the unity of doctrine to stumble”. It reminded me of at least one occasion, with the abundance of Bible translations, being asked, So, Pastor which Bible is the real one? This speaks to Luther’s insistance for good pegagogy to use one translation and I think this is true for the Liturgy as well, that is, one basic form of the Liturgy as we confess in ACXXIV. This constitutional statement reflects sound seelsorge. It seems we hardly acknowledge any longer that there are many “weak in the unity of doctrine”. As has been clearly acknowledged in BJS articles, the introduction of preference and choice, of the Old Adam, into the form of liturgy, “total difference” (almost prescient!), pits believer against believer and so is hard on those who are “weak” as a cause to “stumble”, when again, we have the basic evangelical and catholic form: The Lutheran Service Book.

  6. @Scott Dart #1

    Hi Scott,
    I think that site was originally hosted by Rev. Paul T. McCain, a LCMS pastor who is publisher/editor at CPH. He is the editor of ‘Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord’. You can hear him weekly on Issues,Etc., with Rev. Todd Wilken. They are going over the Large Catechism, 4th Commandment, sometime this week.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  7. Thanks Pastor Scheer for posting this. I’m always looking for a good apologetic for using Lutheran hymnbooks and keeping uniformity in worship.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  8. our congregation is very conservative and we use the old liturgy every week. My grandson of six years has memorized almost all of. If we changed the service every week he would not know near as much as he does. I have been to other LCMS churches that practice the newer services and have found them difficult to follow and understand, my grandsons would be at a complete loss in such a service. True if we did practice the newer services we would learn them over time, but consistency in the DS is truly helpful to the young that is trying to learn our services. Also it is easier on us old timers that find it hard to change.

  9. @Scott Dart #1
    I will give you my $0.02 on your AC VII question.
    This is analogous to the discussion of “good works” we find in the confessions. When theologians insisted on good works for salvation the confessors opposed them; we are saved by grace through faith period. And still, we are not antinomians. Good works are necessary, but out of love, not in order to be saved.
    The confessions speak similarly about church traditions rites and ceremonies. When theologians insisted on the canon of the mass for salvation, or for “membership” in the one holy catholic and apostolic church the confessors opposed them; The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered (AC VII) period. And still, the confessors “preferred” external unity in rites and ceremonies “to all other advantages.” (Apology XV 52). External unity is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary out of love. The unnecessary breaking of external liturgical unity is, confessionally speaking, a sin against love, and therefore sort of a big deal.
    I certainly see our synod’s original view of worship as fully consistent w/ AC VII, and the totality of our confessions.

    @Jack Darnell #9
    The liturgy is the real “children’s sermon.”

    Lenten Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  10. Scott,
    Keep the studying going. Never hurts to keep reading the confessions.

    Here is a paper by Pres. Harrison on the church order books of the Reformation (CPH is publishing one of these this fall I think). The first church order books were very strict about observing the rites in the same way (they were set up per region, so like a german territory would have its own church order, often related to other, but within that territory it was required that all the parishes keep the same uniform ceremonies). Pres. Harrison’s paper does a good job at showing how this neither does away with AC VII (reinforces it actually) nor is it “legalism”. These fathers knew the Gospel better than we do.

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/2009/08/liturgical-uniformity-and-church-polity-in-the-augsburg-confession-and-the-formula-of-concord-a-great-article-by-matt-harrison-for-understanding-the-worship-debate/

  11. Does taking of the consecrated bread and cup with the hands weaken the confession of the truth or condone or strengthen a heresy?  I learn something new every day.

  12. @John Rixe #13
    Hand or mouth reception was discussed in the Reformation, and Luther appears to approve, in concept, with receiving the host in the hand in several cases, but that isn’t the issue here.

    John, the issue here is unity and love. The issue is do you consider your own liberty to be the driving principle, or are you willing to put unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ above your own freedom. Are you willing to continue to “observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage” because you believe “that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages”? Or are you ok w/ sinning against love by capriciously breaking the external unity of our synod?

    Is hand or mouth reception adiaphora? Yes, but unity of practice is not. We are so far from this degree of (salutary) unity as a synod that I can’t see fighting over hand vs. mouth reception today, but for the reformers, as for the founders of our synod, unity in practice was the natural outgrowth of self-giving love. That’s what’s at stake here brother.

    KE+,
    -Matt Mills

  13. @Matt Mills #15

    Matt,

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with a Roman friend years ago. We were discussing the relative freedom of liturgical forms, and within boundaries, we found some surprisingly common ground. He made mention of their various rites and suri juris churches, and even their respect for Orthodox liturgical forms.

    But he pressed me with a question very similar to yours above. If we demand our freedom at the price of our brethren (either on the small scale of individuals, or the gradually larger scales of congregations, dioceses, etc.,) then we sin against our brethren– or as you put it, sin against love. To this, I agreed with him (and with you.)

    His follow on questions were pretty unnerving. He asked if such sin against the brother / sin against love is real sin. And if so, then persistence in such sin, without repentance, would result in what precisely in the heart of the rebel? He was pressing very close to our Confessions’ definition of mortal sin, where any particular sin, when embraced without faith and repentance, separates the Christian from a state of grace.

    I think our early Synod fathers understood this relationship more intuitively than many do today. Rebellion for the sake of self pleasure is real sin. Real sin is damning sin, when left without the faith that receives grace and moves to repentance. Not only for our public unity, but for the sake of those who walk together with us, it is important that we have godly and edifying standards by which we bind ourselves in love one to another… and condemn the narcissistic rebellion of self love that can ultimately lead the unrepentant sinner to hell.

  14. Matt and Pr Brad

    If you are talking about worship, I find it hard to believe that the thousands of LCMS congregations incorporating at least some elements of contemporary style are motivated by the narcissistic rebellion of self love.  

    Respectfully, I can’t find much in the New Testament that puts uniformity of liturgy as a high priority.  Unity and love among my LCMS brothers/sisters doesn’t depend on identical liturgies for me.  I respect (but don’t understand) those for which this is a big deal, however.

    Some standards are probably a good idea:

    “The shape of the Western Mass (the traditional order of the Divine Service, which is rooted in the very beginning of Christianity, and affirmed repeatedly in the Lutheran Confessions) should be maintained (i.e., Confession/absolution, Scripture, Creed, Sermon, Lord’s Supper, Dismissal). Music fluctuates and changes, but Lutherans should keep to the basic order. We want to encourage and foster every move toward the full use and appreciation of the historical treasures we have been given and whatever good things the Lord sees fit to add from the gifts and talents of His people in this day.” – Pr Matt Harrison

  15. @John Rixe #17
    John,
    We’re living in a culture where nearly everything is “motivated by the narcissistic rebellion of self love.” Why would it surprise you to find it was a motivation here?

    If you respect those LC-MS brothers and sisters for whom the incorporation of elements of contemporary style into Lutheran Gottesdienst is a profoundly offensive act, doesn’t love require you to stop doing it and call other innovators to stop doing it? If not, why not?

    Puzzled,
    -Matt Mills

  16. I’m more puzzled over the liturgical nazis (joke) 🙂    and their offensive disrespect…and I’m even more concerned with Norm Fisher over the drop in BJS commenting activity (joke) 🙂

  17. @John Rixe #17

    John,

    I think the confusion comes down to what may be evaluated as relatively good in itself, versus the relative good of its circumstantial use. Variety in worship (within some boundaries) can be relatively good in itself, and our Confessions affirm the same. But historically (and Confessionally) Lutherans have affirmed the need to maintain disciplined uniformity within regions for the good of the people and the coherence of the church’s witness to Christ.

    Our Synod founders understood this, and crafted it into our constitution. There are plenty of other Lutheran church bodies out there that regulate their worship differently… which is not wrong, in and of itself. However, since Lutherans are confessionally subscribed to the use of the western mass, and choose to walk together voluntarily, it makes sense that the congregations of our free association would freely walk together in a common pattern of worship. I know this flies in the face of individualized American religious sentiment in general, but frankly, Lutheran Christianity has never been particularly American, even in its founding documents.

    Having a common form of worship in the LCMS is not dividing the Una Sancta– it is making the Synod coherent, and protecting our Confessional doctrine with Confessional practice. There are several Biblically conservative (relatively speaking) Lutheran church fellowships out there that have significantly less defined worship, or very intentionally less traditional worship (LCMC and the AFLC come to mind.) To my mind, LCMS congregations that want broad liturgical variety would be much more at home in one of those synods, where the respective constitution is not so committed to uniformity of worship.

  18. @John Rixe #19
    The question remains John: You say that you respect your LC-MS brothers and sisters for whom the incorporation of elements of contemporary style into Lutheran Gottesdienst is a profoundly offensive act, doesn’t love require you to stop doing it and call other innovators to stop doing it? If not, why not?

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

    (I know you said it was a “joke,” but the Nazis were “innovators” not “traditionals.” Oddly enough, most of the Germans who put their lives on the line trying to kill Hitler were staunchly traditional.)

  19. I believe then that we should work toward a consensus of standards (Comment 17) and use only of synod approved materials. That’s what we do in my congregation, and I feel such a broad consensus is entirely possible. Thanks for the discussion.

    @Matt and Pr Brad

  20. Luther, along worth the authors of the BoC, were dealing with the RCC accusation that they were in rebellion against God’s holy Catholic Church. Thus, they felt compelled to show that they were not seeking to rebel,but were good Catholic Christians. Who is trying to impose their form of “order” upon whom now?

  21. @Delwyn X. Campbell #23
    Well, as I’m old enough to remember a synod when all worship was TLH 5 or 15, that’s an easy one to answer: The innovators are clearly the ones trying to impose their form of “order” on the synod. (How can anyone accuse a group as “imposing” a millennia+ old status quo?? The mind boggles.)

    Still, historically, I read nothing in our confessions that mark our retention of historical Western Christian praxis as having been “compelled” by anyone. We retained historical Western Christian praxis, not grudgingly, but joyously, proclaiming that: “we cheerfully maintain the old traditions made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and tranquility;” and “we have judged that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages.” Hardly the language of compulsion.

    @John Rixe #22
    So the answer to my question is “no” then?

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  22. @John Rixe #26

    They said to him, “Why then did Pastor Harrison command one to subscribe to Synod Inc’s “Creative Worship ™” and to send the LSB away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Pastor Harrison allowed you “Creative Worship ™”, but from the beginning it was not so.

  23. @Matt Mills #27

    HA! That was good.

    However, John points out a clear problem. We are looking for Synodical norms, from a Synod who’s publishing arm continues to provide materials for innovation (i.e., Creative Worship.) I frankly think it’s ridiculous that we have five different service options in the LSB.

    I frankly don’t know if the horse can be put back into this barn. We have so many congregations demanding their own right to do whatever seems appropriate in their own eyes when it comes to worship, it’s hard to see a path back to unity on this.

  24. @Brad #28
    For my money, we should rip the Band-Aid off (use the 51% while we have it.) I think the synod should, through their albeit byzantine-ly cumbersome corporate by-law process, start by requiring all our congregations to use one of the (gazillion) services published in TLH, LW, or LBW by (I don’t know, maybe) 2020. We should then be patient and collegial about the way we work out the practical details of the repristination of our synodical worship life. (Accepting that some will leave rather than return to the wisdom of our ancestors.)

    Start w/ black and white confessional prescription, but end w/ collegial patience. The (confessional) leadership of our synod appears to want to do that backwards, and they are being taken to the cleaners by the Schwarmeri as a result.

    KE+,
    -Matt Mills

    P.S. If you’ve got a squared away district, do it there first, if your Winkel is solid, start there. I don’t think there’s a silver bullet, but let’s have the faith and courage to do the right thing where we are, and accept that Jesus can sometimes be a sword that divides.

  25. Matt,

    You are correct that our synodical leadership has it backwards.

    In terms of liturgy I would broaden out your prescription to the entire LSB. In the last few years our congregation has learned all five of the main services and the four daily offices (Matins/Vespers, Morning Prayer/Evening Prayer) and we have two other divine services not in the LSB but we would gladly give those up for the sake of unity.

    The LSB is a wonderfully rich book and provides all the unity we need with a substantial variety.

  26. @John Rixe #26

    If you mean that everyone in the Synod had an opinion in producing LSB, no there is no consensus. Quite frankly, I do not want a consensus of everyone now. First, there are pastors, musicians, historians, theologians, professors, etc. who know a whole lot more than I do about liturgy and hymnody. I have to trust their wisdom and knowledge. Second, as I think it was G. K. Chesterton who said that the church is the democracy of the dead: they have a vote. The prayers and praises of the Church throughout time, and in many tongues and languages, and before the Incarnation,that of Israel, has a lot to say about the way we worship, e.g. the Psalms or the Phos Hilaron in Evening Prayer. Like certain recipes, these prayers and praises have met the test of time. So much of cowo is lopping off the past as if everything is only now. Your best worship now?! I remember harvest green refrigerators and orange tuxedoes at weddings considered the best thing since sliced bread. Who would wear that now or have said frig in the kitchen? Like in many American cities, tear down an “old” building, build something new, then it’s discovered that the building which is no more was a treasure. There are new hymns being written, new prayers being prayed and the Lord will see fit as He wills that they should be part of the Church’s worship. Those who produced, say the LSB, looked at all the hymns, liturgies and prayers, old and new, and put it together, and still made a whole new service book. Maybe a liturgist is one who brings out of his storehouse, treasures both old and new.

  27. @Mark Schroeder #31

    I love that Chesterton quote! (“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”) but every time I use it around my pastor he says “sounds like an election in Chicago.”

  28. @Matt Mills #29

    I think the synod should, through their albeit byzantine-ly cumbersome corporate by-law process, start by requiring all our congregations to use one of the (gazillion) services published in TLH, LW, or LBW by (I don’t know, maybe) 2020.

    Wait a moment! Isn’t Synod an advisory body? Are you saying that anything that is not contained in TLH or LW is improper? Does the Lord not find any other forms of worship pleasing?

    I agree that there are many songs in contemporary worship that are theologically inappropriate. I don’t think that you can make the generalization that all contemporary worship is bad. You say the church has been doing this for 2000 years, and maybe in the Roman-then-German church culture, that is correct. I suspect that Pastor Rossow’s friends over in Kenya may have some different worship traditions than do we here in the United States. I know for a fact that Lutheran Christians in Nigeria have very different worship traditions.

    I would urge you, and all the brothers on this board, to not paint such broad strokes with your brush of judgment. There are Lutheran churches in existence today where both contemporary AND traditional worship are celebrated. A couple years ago, I had the privilege of attending Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, TX at Christmas. I attended a midnight Mass that was high church at its glorious finest. I attended a contemporary service the next day. The liturgy was present and the Gospel was proclaimed at both services. The Triune God was worshipped, praised, adored, and thanked in both situations. Confession occurred both times. Both settings were worshipful and, I think, uniquely Lutheran.

    I think it would be a shame to do what Matt Mills suggests. This is not a matter of doctrine, no matter how you slice it. If and when there become specific doctrinal issues that arise in specific situations, then there can be some synodical oversight, but I think we need to start from the position of remembering that Synod is advisory in nature to the individual congregations.

    And, I may not remember my history too well since I was in Jr. High when the LW and LBW came out, but I would guess that a majority of the folks that subscribe to this board might have a problem with LBW.

  29. @Scott Dart #33
    Mr. Dart,
    I’m not saying that anything that is not contained in TLH or LW is “improper,” I’m saying that, confessionally speaking, breaking the external unity of synod is selfish and unloving (AP XV). Confessionally, external unity is not necessary for salvation, but it IS necessary out of love. The unnecessary breaking of external liturgical unity is therefore, confessionally speaking, a sin against love, Mr. Dart, and therefore it IS a matter of doctrine.

    I’ve written this before, but here’s what this comes down to: Lutheran Pastors who abandon the historical Western liturgy are breaking their ordination vows (AP XV). Why are they doing that Mr. Dart?

    If they are breaking external unity “to save souls” then this is a huge matter of doctrine (AC IV and V!), because we believe, teach and confess that human traditions (whether new or old) are not necessary for the justification of the sinner. (If you believe we can “save more people” by changing our service, you aren’t Lutheran any more.)

    If they are breaking external unity “because we like the new stuff better” then that seems like a frivolous and frankly selfish reason to break external unity, offend their brothers and sisters, and create hostility to the Gospel (AP XV 51 & 52.) We’re back to selfishness: a flagrant sin against love.

    What’s left? Sheep stealing? I hope I don’t need to come up w/ a reason why it’s bad to care more about butts in pew (or stadium seating) and bucks in the plate than love of and unity w/ your Lutheran brothers and sisters. Just in case though I’ll throw out Philippians 3:19.

    Again, Mr. Dart, What possibly acceptable reason for breaking love and unity am I missing?

    KE+,
    -Matt Mills

  30. @Matt Mills #34

    So, it is your position that if we do not follow one of the orders of service in LSB, LW, or TLH, then we are breaking external unity?

    I’m curious. I just went back and re-read AP XV, and in particular 51 & 52. How do you see that differently from me? I think AP XV speaks of preferences, not requirements. Indeed, AC VII 2-4 specifically states “Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc.”

    Where I would like to be further convinced, is how you reach the conclusion that Contemporary Worship breaks liturgical external unity. Who decides what does and doesn’t break it? I could easily follow your position to the extreme that we should all use the same exact order of service every Sunday morning, listen to the same sermon, and sing all of the same hymns.

    I am not arguing to get in your face here, as I am often accused. I’m trying to understand the leaps that you’re making with your presumptions here. I’m not seeing where using a contemporary worship format which includes Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication would be the breaking of liturgical external unity. Please share how that is the case.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that it would be sinful to care more about number of butts in the pews and/or bucks in the plate than about love and unity. However, I’m not sure that I can make the leap with you that a Contemporary liturgical worship setting demonstrates that. Can you help me see what you’re seeing that I’m clearly not?

  31. @Scott Dart #35

    It IS my position that if an LC-MS congregation does not follow one of the orders of service in LSB, LW, or TLH, they are breaking the external unity of the LC-MS, just as it was Luther’s position that all Lutheran congregations in the same territorial church should have a uniform liturgy and rubrics. (See the Saxon visitation instructions, AE vol. 40.) For Luther, we SHOULD all use the same exact order of service every Sunday morning. The church in our place and time (the LC-MS) has given us a bit more leeway by publishing a hymnal w/ a few different services though, and FOC X acknowledges their right to do so. (The same hymns and sermons were never required, even by Rome, and are clearly “red herrings.”)

    What you’re missing is the history of the church. Without that you can’t see how aberrant and sinful your hyper-individuality is. Your focus on atomistic individual free congregations is the antithesis of the confessors’ and fathers’ focus on the one holy catholic and apostolic church. It is very American, but it isn’t at all Lutheran. Stop looking for loopholes to “do it your way,” and come back to the bride of Christ.

    Here’s what I would say on AP XV: By length, the preponderance of AP XV is focused like a laser on refuting the RC teaching that the cannon of the mass is “necessary” for salvation (that is, it merits justification, grace, and the remission of sins.) Not true said the Confessors, and not true say the confessional Lutherans of today. But, AP XV doesn’t end at line 50. It goes on to say that although the “customary rites” [“usitatis ritibus” that is “commonly used religious ceremonies”] are not “necessary” for the justification of the sinner, our churches will follow them unchanged where they are not anti-scriptural “in order to cherish harmony,” “for love’s sake,” and to foster “such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences.” To change the Divine Service does break unity, not because it is necessary for salvation, but because a common liturgical life fosters love and unity. What possible justification can you produce for LC-MS churches that are doing precisely that? (Unnecessarily changing non-sinful “customary rites”)

    Don’t worry about “getting in my face.” I flew fighter jets in the USAF, and if you aren’t standing on my chest talking smack about my mom, I’m not offended by your tone.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills (B.A. Univ. of Minnesota, Reformation History)

  32. Here is where my, most likely minority, voice, returns to the table: I come from a culture that has a rich music culture, one that the dominant culture has mostly either borrowed or stolen from. The one aspect that they have mostly left it alone is Gospel music. We have a beautiful, vibrant history of producing songs for congregational, choral, and group singing, all to the glory of God. Because we were not exposed to Lutheran Doctrine for much of our history here, it is not overtly reflected in those songs. However, what IS reflected is the life experiences of a people who’s story tracks on a remarkable path with that of Israel, and therefore, who came to, and according to many surveys, still does, see itself as “the people whose God is the LORD.”
    Unlike the Germans in the 16th Century, our music culture was not an attempt to make Rome comprehensible to Germans, it was simply our “sacrifice of praise to the God who delivered us from slavery, preserved us amongst our foes, and opened doors that no man could shut. We learned how to sing the songs of Zion is a strange land.
    Upon discovering Lutheran Doctrine and hymnology, I was both blessed, and made sorrowful. I was blessed because I found the doctrine that was on one accord with God’s Word, but, with the exception of a hymn book called “This Far By Faith,” which was basically produced “By Us, For Us” by an assembly of LCMS and ELCA African American pastors and hymnologists, there is NOTHING in the LCMS hymn stream that reflects our existence. Then, as an added stroke, most of you seem to take the attitude that my concerns reflect a lack of love on my part. I thought that love meant “bearing with the weaknesses of the weak, and not trying to please ourselves.” Is there no room at the inn for the songs of my people in our worship, in our choirs, in our “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?”

  33. @Delwyn X. Campbell #38
    Not a lot of time this morning Mr. Campbell, but the short answer is “yes;” when one honestly looks at the culture of the one holy catholic and apostolic church they will see gifts and treasures that have been added to our worship by many lands and cultures, and there is room for the best from many more cultures. That’s why it is a huge error to call the historical liturgy of the West either “German” or “Roman;” it is neither. It is “catholic” (geographically and culturally universal) and timeless. That’s also why any attempt to make it culturally unique to our time and place breaks unity and love–it’s an attempt to take something that belongs to the whole Church of all times and places, plant our own cultural flag in it, and put up a fence to keep others out. In the case of the CoWo innovators the unique culture they are imposing is generally a white-bread suburban 21st century American one, but it would be equally problematic to try to impose an exclusive African-American culture, or a 19th century Northern European culture, or a Native Central American culture on the Divine Service. The result of that sort of thing is sectarian worship: worship that identifies so closely with a given secular culture that it excludes those who do not share it.

    In the end, the church has its own culture. The culture of Christ’s Church will, and should, always offend the surrounding secular cultures; we are told directly that “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:22-23) and “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). As Christ’s Church we are called out of the world, and our own secular cultures. Though the culture of the Church is one that can grow to embrace the best of the secular cultures it touches, it must always stay distinct, and distinctly universal.

    Lenten Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  34. Thank you, Bro. Matt. You understand my heart, unlike some, and have answered me with an answer of peace. May the God of all grace continue to sustain you by His mighty power, that you may be filled with all grace in believing.

    Grace to you, and peace+,
    Delwyn X. Campbell

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