Thursday, January 27, 2011

Real Worship

By Larry Beane

I believe one of the reasons we have "worship wars" among American Christians is that it has been a long time since we have had physical warfare on our own soil.  9-11 was close, but even that was dominated not by the theology of the cross of Christ, but rather by a sense of the national therapy of Oprah. 

Consider this poignant picture above of the ruins of a bombed-out church in Germany, where amid all the chances and changes of this life, the one thing that people could hold onto is the liturgy of the Church, the Mass, the real physical communion with the real physical Lord.

Notice what you don't see: entertainment.  There is no gyrating chanteuse working the microphone like a Vegas performer, a spotlight shining on a grimacing drummer, a perfectly-coifed guitarist wearing the latest fashions, or a trendy prancing made-up motivational speaker with gelled-up hair and a plastic smile emoting in overly-dramatic hushed intonations.

Instead, we see a celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, and two servers, all reverently and historically vested, each stationed in his proper order, proclaiming by their very placement that no matter how unpredictable and desperate things may get in this war-torn existence, Jesus is here, week in and week out, in the midst of our pain and uncertainty.  And the Church is here, century in and century out, bearing the Good News by proclaiming Christ crucified, the eternal Word of the cross.  And even amid the rubble and missing walls and blown-out windows, the old stone edifice of the church building, even in its humiliated state, carries a reverent gravitas of which the latest and greatest multi-million-dollar "worship centers" are bereft.

And at the center of it all is the chancel.  There is no stage, big screens, lasers, or sound system paraphernalia, but rather a simple but elegant book containing the liturgy and the Word of God, dignified candles flickering with the soft glow of the flames reminiscent of the Day of Pentecost and silently confessing the Son as "light of light, very God of very God."  And of course, the Holy of Holies is the stone altar, anchored like the rock of St. Peter's confession amid the gravel of a desperate world, the marble slab upon which one finds the Cornerstone, the Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, the mystery of the Lord's Presence for the forgiveness of sins given by means of the simple creatures of bread and wine.

By contrast, "contemporary worship" is a sad and spiritually impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity that is more at home in a sterile strip mall or a vacuous night club than in the gritty real world inhabited by real people who suffer real pain and who need a real saving encounter with the real God.

That is why we need real worship.

138 comments:

  1. Where's the editor in chief? We need to print this as a manifesto. In one page of text and one photograph, Fr. Beane has summed up the whole matter in an unanswerable dictum.

    +HRC

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  2. I think, actually, that this line is the most golden, and worthy of repeating: "Contemporary worship is a sad and spiritually impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity that is more at home in a sterile strip mall or a vacuous night club than in the gritty real world inhabited by real people who suffer real pain and who need a real saving encounter with the real God."

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  3. Yeah - somehow striking up a version of "Shine, Jesus, Shine" doesn't seem to fit.

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    1. Not as meaningful to you as Ave Maria?

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  4. I think I agree with Fr. Fritz. I would simply add, in light of Fr. Beane's thoughtful discourse, that besides the historical and literal, another dimension of this picture strikes me. Namely, I think it portrays the place of the Church vis-a-vis the culture in the modern world. The morbid destitution of the culture has caused much damage to the church. The destruction of the culture has even broken through the walls, and to a great extent the church suffers as a result, and begins to resemble the situation around her. Yet she must keep doing what she does. That is, she must keep being the church. That is the only answer.

    Yet another dimension, I think, is that we have pictured for us the spiritual and eschatalogical battle between the forces of the devil and the forces of Christ. For while this war could be portrayed in its cosmic dimension, with mighty Michael and his angels battling the devil and his, this picture shows us that our flesh and blood world is where the battle actuates. It is really the battle Our Lord fought by His death, and which He wages in the Church today. The way He fights that war is by means of His blood and word (Rev. 12). That is to say, in the Church's simple and ongoing eucharistic life, which is a culture of its own. That, despite appearances, is our victory; it is our trampling of Satan under our feet (Rom. 16) and hence the victory of the Cross.

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  5. Fr. Beane-
    thank you. I am also reminded of the situation your way following Hurricane Katrina. Could churches reliant on the electric guitar, power point, Britney Spears ear microphones and the like even have church without the juice to power their technology?

    I am sure that our brethren in the Middle East, China, and all other locales where the Christ is persecuted by evil men understand the real situation we are in as Dcn. Gaba relates this much more than we. Perhaps the Lord in His grace will smite us so that we can be like those who have gone before; seeking the preaching and the Sacrament alone and the forgiveness and peace beyond understanding delivered by them.

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  6. I appreciated the article and especially the picture but I am saddened by the obvious arrow thrown out at a style of worship. The fact is, even liturgical churches have things that the original church did not. I am highly suspect that the original church leaders wore vestments and lined up ritualistic formations. The fact is David danced, Jeremiah wept,John bowed,etc, in other words the Bible doesn't say what style is biblical and what is not. Therefore whatever is respectful and draws us to focus on God is acceptable. Liturgical believers sometimes assume that a church that has a band focuses on the band. That is hasty generalization, because the same could be said about the organist, pianist or of a parish minister. Can people focus on God with lively music and a band. Yes, and many do. The picture above could have easily had one leader with a beat up guitar and a gathering of war torn souls praising God too.

    Can we get off focus with such band? Yes but the same can be said with any other style of worship.

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  7. Well, doubtless this is a powerful photo. It makes a great statement. It makes an easy argument.

    I don't have a photo like that to show off.

    All I have is lives that have been changed. A bit harder to photograph that. Doesn't look as good in sepia.

    But still, you baptize someone, even if you don't see it, even if it isn't in a bombed out building, there is still change there. Power there. Strength there. The miracle of God there.

    Sure, poke at what I do as kitch-y, frivolit-y, sill-y. I'm ok with that.

    I know that I can't convince you that I do what I do because I want to share Christ with others—who is not frivolous, kitchy, or silly.

    But, it is not how you like it. So, let's show a picture, pull out the superior card and pat yourselves on the back. (Isn't that a standard Gottesdienst post? ;) )

    I'll be sharing Christ. Light of Light. The Cornerstone. Letting Him change lives.

    And knowing that it doesn't photograph well.

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  9. Buzzsaw,

    "I am highly suspect that the original church leaders wore vestments and lined up ritualistic formations."

    How much do you actually know about how the early Church worshiped, and how much of your suspicion is based on how you imagine that the early Church worshiped (or how you think they should have worshiped)? If you were to undertake a serious and objective study of the history of Christian worship, you would find that the Church's worship has always been orderly, ritualistic (as you put it), and according to tradition. There was never a time in the early Church when worship was changeable according to the local leaders' ideas of what was relevant or effective. As someone once wrote, "hold fast to the traditions" and "Let all things be done decently and according to order."

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    1. You can continue your Romish worship service and pretend it's from God. I'll rejoice in the freedom that's in Christ. Beware of the leaven of Rome.

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  10. Not only that, but let's be careful to distinguish between the various devotional acts/actions we see in the Bible and the gathering of God's people in His Presence for Divine Service. The former may come in many different flavors, but the latter is always a reverent, holy, and, yes, ritualistic (very ritualistic, in fact!) encounter with our Holy God. To fail to make this distinction is, in the words of Julia Roberts, a "big mistake; huge!"

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  11. Fr. Beane,

    Powerful indeed. Thank you.

    As to how the early Church worshipped, I'd suggest a peek in the Revelation to St. John. You find white robes, palm branches, hymns of praise to the Lamb, the slain Lamb alive forevermore who was in their midst, the incense that accompanied prayer of the saints, the presence of the holy angels, sometimes silence, sometimes thunderous praise, candlesticks and flames, well...you get the idea. Heaven's worship come down to earth, the gift in the present of the Age that is to come.

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  12. Even before I read Pastor Ball’s comment, the first thing that came to my mind after viewing this photo was our own congregation following hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, we didn’t even have the opportunity to worship in our own church because it had over 13 ft. of water.

    However, my husband very deliberately did everything he could to keep our services reverent and liturgical. He constructed a make shift altar, always vested, and gave his parishioners the sacrament for every service. When people in the most literal sense; have nothing but the shirts on their backs, nothing gives greater comfort than the peace found in Christ, that we find in the liturgy of the Church.

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  13. I've a particular interest in the Evangelical response to the bombing of Dresden, so I'm aware of the images of the Frauenkirche and the Kreuzkirche in 1945. There is an interior image of the Kreuzkirche from August 1945, of a service in which the Kreuzchor are singing. It is a service because the pastor is at the altar. Here is a link: http://www.13februar.dresden.de/en/history-symbol/1945.php
    Interestingly, although the Frauenkirche has been completely (except for the pulpit and the altar crucifix) restored in 2005, the Kreuzkirche was quickly repaired with quickcrete and most of the damage you see in this picture is still viewable in the church today, except all of the altar above the predella has been removed. I was in Dresden directly after the 2005 rededication of the Frauenkirche.
    Apart from the vestments and the several clergy, I do believe this image is still an example of liturgical order, and the repertoire plus the dedicated professionalism of this liturgical choir regularly wakes the dead still today.
    And, even though I know the pews have been burned to bits and will be replaced, I am partial to the open, pewless space as it was in Luther's day. One should sit only in a beichtstuhl. (Just how pristine are YOU ready to be???) ;-)

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  14. Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    The picture speaks a thousand words indeed, as do the pictures of Dresden linked by Joanne. What also stands out in my mind in those haunting images is that in spite of the devastation of the Frauenkirche, notice that the people are dressed in their "Sunday best." In spite of their suffering and want, they still confess that worship is anything but casual. To stand before the holy altar - as clergy or laity - is no time to be flippant in word or in deed. People took the time and effort to show reverence. They know where they are, and more importantly, they know Who is with them in their midst.

    And it's in such times that the familiar rubrics give such comfort.

    Monique's comments are spot on - and her husband is a dear friend and brother in Christ to me, even as our families are good friends. They and their congregation suffered far, far more in Katrina than my family and my parish. And yet, when we were able to gather for worship for the first time after Katrina some six weeks later, to gather around the words that are not only ancient to the Church Catholic but also familiar to the Congregation Local, there was true joy - not a joy expressed as though we were at a football game, but a holy and reverent joy that comes with knowing that our Lord is miraculously present with us.

    What a treasure has been surrendered and scorned by those who have cast their lot with the entertainment model of worship! One can only think of Esau foolishly bartering away his birthright for a little bowl of stew.

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  15. Buzzsaw said, "David danced, Jeremiah wept,John bowed,etc, in other words the Bible doesn't say what style is biblical and what is not."

    Um, not so fast. David danced, but not in the temple. I was dancing around myself the day Pres. Harrison was elected last summer, but not in the chancel. Jeremiah wept, but not as a matter of rubrics. So I too weep sometimes, but so what? And John bowed? I'm not sure what you're referring to here, but if he did, um, so do we. And genuflect too, like the wise men. And to conclude that the Bible does not proscribe certain kinds of worship is to frame the matter wrongly. Consider Daniel, who insisted on worshiping against the prevailing culture of the Babylonians, even at risk of losing his life over it.

    And mqll, if you do what Fr. Beane is poking at as kitchy, and think it was a cheap shot, then you haven't heard his argument: when thrust into a tragic or horrific scene which urgently requires the grace of God, contemporary worship shows itself the more clearly to be the vacuous waste of time it is.

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  16. As a military guy who has a tendency to end up in places like Tikrit, Baghdad, and well, maybe Egypt sometime soon the comfort of Christ's coming to me via a called and ordained Pastor giving to me Word and Sacrament is something I can't quite communicate effectively.

    I can tell you that the worship in this article and the sappy soupy stuff people like to call worship are as far apart as well, heaven and hell. One carries Christ's grace and one doesn't.

    Steve Foxx

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  17. I understand that the "entertainment" form of worship is foreign to some in your faith community. But come on, you cannot claim that just because you do a ritualistic form you are void of those who get distracted with the ritual or the organist or the vestment being worn. That is ridiculous and actually comes across as very arrogant.

    There is no specific instruction on the style of music how it is to be lead. There is also no New Testament instruction on garments that are to be worn by church ministers. What were Jesus' instructions? "....a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth..." John 4:23. What does that mean? Well it isn't talking about style that is for sure.

    I have had many very spiritual experiences in many forms of worship including the ritual styles most of you like. I have also been distracted by many forms of worship and to be honest it has way more to do with my attitude than anything anyone else is doing.

    All I am saying is be fair with you criticism because just because you don't appreciate it or like it doesn't mean God doesn't.

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  18. Dear Buzzsaw:

    What you say is a half-truth.

    The part about people becoming distracted - even at liturgical services - is true. It's because of sin. We are all sinners. We will find creative ways to sin. Because the basest part of us likes to be entertained, we will find a way to be entertained - just as we will find a way to lust and think hateful thoughts during the service.

    But this doesn't translate to "anything goes."

    The fact that men lust after women who are even modestly attired does not grant license to deliberately entertain such lusts by dressing immodestly. The fact that parishioners will still judge a man whether he is vested or wearing an Armani suit does not mean that all clerical attire is created equal. The fact that some may well be entertained by Bach doesn't negate the fact that rock and pop are *specifically designed* to entertain even as Bach's music is *specifically designed* for reverent worship.

    The focus of the liturgy is on Christ: the Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament. Entertainment worship was imported by Lutherans from churches that have a less sacramental theology, from churches that stress emotion and subjective experience more than the objective Word, and churches that lack a belief in the physical presence of Christ at the altar. Entertainment worship focuses on me, and God will just have to bloody well deal with it.

    The accounts of Jesus at synagogue and temple (as well as the apostles in Acts) demonstrate that they submitted to the existing liturgical worship, which included chanting, bells, incense, reverence, antiphonal readings, and postures of prayer.

    And if you really want to know what kind of worship God likes or appreciates, you can find out by reading the Book of Leviticus. God likes beautiful art, reverence, incense, bells, vestments, and the use of ritual.

    "Just because you don't like or appreciate it doesn't mean God doesn't.

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  19. Well Father Hollywood, you jump to great conclusions to suggest I am saying "anything goes". I never said that and I do not believe that. The church I pastor endeavors sincerely to follow God, His Word and worship in a manner in keeping with what I see in scripture. And the original article does suggest that ritual worship prevents worshipers from looking at things other than Christ.

    Our services are Christ centered and I preach from His Word in a similar manner liturgical pastors preach only I speak for up to 45 minutes. Is that too inappropriate?

    While I don't agree that your style is the only form of worship I will not condemn you. Because I do believe you are a brother in the Christ. I believe God has given us some freedom in the manner we worship but of course, within reason. Our worship directs people to focus on Christ completely, we use various art forms we use several styles of music. We even use liturgical reasons at times. If the musicians became the focus of worship I would not stand for that but they don't they are as humble and sincere as any organist you might have in your church. The organ, I might add, was not an instrument used in the early church either. We don't have leaders dancing around in inappropriate clothing to draw attention to themselves. They would consider themselves a failure if they did.

    If you feel I am not a brother in Christ then fine you have a right to condemn me.

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  20. Dear Pastor Buzzsaw:

    Who has condemned you? I have no idea even who you are? This has never been about you, and you were not on my mind when I wrote the article.

    This is a discussion about what is proper worship - and mainly within a Lutheran context. What is appropriate in a church that doesn't share our sacramental theology and historic confession is going to be different than in a Lutheran context.

    If your non-liturgical non-Lutheran service is Christ-centered, thanks be to God. None of my criticisms apply. But what I have seen in my travels in American Lutheran services is a lot of frivolity, flippancy, entertainment, and showiness. In my own denomination and confession, we have clown worship, dancing girls, polka services, and heavy metal worship - along with the typical outdated baby-boomers-playing-maranatha-songs-on-accoustic-guitars services. All that's missing is the Viagra commercial...

    I find such appeals to entertainment to be inappropriate and shallow for divine worship, which is why historic and traditional worship is reverent and focused on Jesus and the cross. And I do think any form of entertainment-worship would have been incongruous in the context of a bombed-out church. Moreover, entertainment-based worship forms violate the common confession that we have made with each other in our Book of Concord.

    We are all entitled to our opinions, and you are more than welcome to post here. If you can make the argument that entertainment worship would have been congruent to the above photo and capable of giving real lasting comfort to souls in true distress, try to convince me.

    I've experienced both, and I find the two as different as a nice cut of steak is from a twinkie. If I want to be entertained, I'll go to a comedy club, a bar, or a rock concert (and I've been to a lot of them!). But if I want the Word of God and the Holy Sacrament, I'll look for a church where the worship isn't about me and the style of music simply a reflection of what I happen to like. The clowns can stay in the circus and the dancing girls can stick with Radio City Music Hall.

    Tradition (as Chesterton reminds us) gives the dead a vote as well as the living - and that says something when we confess that we believe in the resurrection. It isn't about us and our fleeting pop culture. We are part of something bigger, and life is not all about pop-culture, pop-style, and being entertained 24-7.

    That is my basis for defending reverent liturgical worship.

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  21. Well this is the first time I have heard that the criticism is toward Lutheran churches. That, I understand but until you identified that it felt like Lutheran churches had it right and all the rest are wrong. I now have a complete picture to what you are talking about. It is always fair to critique our own denominations but once we go outside of that we can appear to be arrogant.

    It felt like it was about me (that is my denomination and faith tradition) because I was missing some of the context of this discussion which was not identified. We all at times become critical of other denominations without first working on our own, and they all need work.

    I have far greater respect for the postings now. One caution, while the picture is moving for any denomination one must strike a balance. We must endeavor to make sure the content of our message and beliefs is NEVER changed but perhaps adapt to the culture around when possible.

    The picture is sad on another point. There is no one there except the clergy and perhaps their assistants. The message that can be gained is that the leadership can lose touch with God's people, kind of like the Pharisees. We set up our ivory towers and can become elitist, this is not what Jesus did. May none of us, in any denomination, ever do that.

    Thank you for allowing me to engage in this discussion.

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  22. The church is a culture which is distinct from the world. It has its own vocabulary, calendar, festivals, laws, songs, citizens, and King. When people are converted to Christ, they leave one culture for another. It should not surprise the converted that the culture they find in church is completely at odds with the culture they've experienced in the world. In fact, as (pardon me) the Methodist bishop William Willimon put it, and I paraphrase, "we don't reach the world by becoming the world, but by remaining the church." For this reason, I really don't care for ecclesiastical music which mimics the world's music. Singing the Psalms and the great hymns of the church is an important part of the church's culture.

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  23. That is too simplistic because we already have adopted our world within our church. You don't have to look far. Our music totally mimics the world's music it just that it mimics music that is 700 years old. Some of our cherished hymns take their melodies from old bar songs. Much of our church activities comes from culture; weddings, Christmas, Easter, pews, pulpits, organs and pianos etc. All were cultural things we redeemed for the church. So stopping it now doesn't change what has already been done.

    Having said that I agree with your quote.

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  24. Dear Buzz:

    The term "bar songs" sometimes makes people think that church hymnody is basically recycled drinking tunes. Luther gets tagged with that a lot - as if the tune for "A Mighty Fortress" was something the guys belted out in a tavern while getting sloshed and ogling the barmaids. "Bar music" refers to the use of measures (which are notated as "bars" in modern sheet music).

    Church music has always been held apart from the vulgar. The term "holy" means "separation from the common." Instead of offering the world a chance to leave the secular, a lot of "experts" want us to make the church leave its holiness to act and look more like the world.

    Hence, rock music and dancing girls as a way to "reach the utes."

    The beautiful thing about the kind of worship shown in the picture above (and note, you don't see the lay people in the picture because you're only looking at the chancel - this is a huge church) is its catholicity and timelessness. Sure, the church changes - but very slowly, even reluctantly. And that's a good thing. Pop culture, by contrast, changes almost weekly. It is dizzying and disorienting - whereas the church stands like a rock.

    Elton John just recently lambasted the Church for not updating its message with the times. "We're not in the stone age," he whined. He also pointed out that young people are leaving the church (implying that we need to change to bend to the will of the youth culture). Aside from the whole gay thing, the biggest gurus of church growth are saying the same thing.

    The church instead has her own culture, as is borne out by our own Lutheran communion. We can go to a mud hut in Kenya, a cathedral in Sweden, a rented hall in Siberia, a brick structure in a big German city, or a wooden edifice in rural America - and in spite of some differences (such a language and amenities), the overall culture is the same. There is a common liturgy, common vestments, common Scriptures, common prayers, even common music. There is a common church calendar, feasts, fasts, the sign of the cross, kneeling, bowing, and a common dialogue between pastor and parishioner.

    The Lutheran Church - Canada's new French language hymnal is being spread all over Africa - and a guy from Montreal could easily feel right at home in a church in Chad (or Haiti or France, or Belgium or western Louisiana). And even with a different language, a Lutheran can feel right at home knowing the liturgy. Its the same western catholic liturgy of Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism as well.

    There is a moving piece of footage on Youtube in which a Finnish Lutheran bishop is being consecrated. Bishops from Sweden and Kenya and elsewhere are all laying hands on his head and praying the Lord's Prayer in at least three languages simultaneously.

    The church's catholicity is an over-aching culture that brings people together, unlike the current American trend of having separate services for the young, the old, the rockers, the bikers, the cowboys, the traditionalists, the country-music crowd, the rappers, and the navel-gazers - all comfortably segregated with people just like them.

    By contrast, the Church is the most diverse and catholic assembly of people in the world's history. And we see a picture of this catholic diversity in Revelation 5.

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  25. Buzz:
    I would suggest that the differences in opinion here are based on different views of what happens during the weekly "gathering-together of the congregants" on Sunday. If you view this in the first place as "worship time" - something we accomplish for God - then your suggestions for music and delivery might eventually become quite acceptable. If, however, you view this time together as a "Divine Service" then you will conceive of music, art and even the arrangement of the worship space quite differently. It will begin to emphasise that we are in church during this time together to receive in the first place, God's gifts to us: union with Christ in the preaching and sacraments. In both cases, one's practice will inform one's theology; aping the world's music and performing it on a stage is a manifestation of the former......
    Blessings,
    Mark Veenman

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  26. And,
    (ahem, pardon me), quoting J. Ratzinger recently, when asked why the Romish church would not alter its traditions and delivery for the sake of growth, he answered "The function of the church is to be transparent for Christ".
    True that.

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  27. Realizing the sweet irony, I post the complete quote here:
    “One might say that a church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for itself, does not work to increase its numbers so as to have more power. The Church is at the service of Another; it does not serve itself, seeking to be a strong body, but it strives to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths, the great powers of love and of reconciliation that appeared in this figure and that come always from the presence of Jesus Christ. In this sense, the Church does not seek to be attractive, but rather to make herself transparent for Jesus Christ. And in the measure in which the Church is not for herself, as a strong and powerful body in the world, that wishes to have power, but simply is herself the voice of Another, she becomes truly transparent to the great figure of Jesus Christ and the great truths that he has brought to humanity, the power of love; it is than [sic] when the Church is heard and accepted. She should not consider herself, but assist in considering the Other, and should herself see and speak of the Other and for the Other.

    Mark Veenman

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  28. Father Hollywood,

    You make a vital point pertaining to our age when you state:

    "The church's catholicity is an over-aching culture that brings people together, unlike the current American trend of having separate services for the young, the old, the rockers, the bikers, the cowboys, the traditionalists, the country-music crowd, the rappers, and the navel-gazers - all comfortably segregated with people just like them."

    Related to this is a danger present even in churches that worship in the traditional manner: not bothering to learn the history and basis for the rubrics of the Divine Service. On the one hand, there are those who've learned only to imitate the entertainment culture. On the other are those who are more traditional but don't know why, except to say that it's the way we've always done it (and, closer to the truth, because we like it).

    Well, what happens? Part of a congregation wants to follow the entertainment model and the only protest is that it's new and we haven't done that before. Resisting change leads to one being labeled a stick in the mud, yet we continue to have difficulty overcoming being called names.

    Ironically, congregations chartered in the latter half of the 20th century that are fully contemporary and entertainment-driven resist any change toward the historic or traditional (to the extent that the closest they come to historic, liturgical worship is "blended" with contemporary, anthropocentric elements).

    Our task of catechesis is never complete.

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  29. So we are no longer considering that culture can have proper influence on the worship service of the church but at what speed it is more acceptable to do so.....interesting.

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  30. Dear Buzz:

    I think you're missing the point. The point is not that the Church should change to be more like the world, but that the church should be Christ to the world. We are to influence the secular, not the other way around. But without the liturgy to anchor you in the bosom of the church, you will become (if I may borrow a term from Led Zeppelin) "a feather in the wind."

    Having pews, or air conditioning, or electric lights, or speaking English vs. Latin is not the point. The point is that the Church is to deliver Christ in Word and Sacrament - not that she provide entertainment.

    Most modern "worship" is just that: crass entertainment, as though we are not already amusing ourselves to death (thank you Neil Postman).

    The early church also lived and ministered in a time of worldly entertainments: the theater (comedy, tragedy, sexuality), the arena (gladiator sports, chariot races, torture), and popular music. And in spite of this, the early church stuck with the synagogue liturgy and the fulfillment of temple sacrifices by distributing Christ sacramentally. Roman entertainments did not encroach on the Divine Service. See, for example, the Didache.

    The early church did not try to out-Roman the Romans. In fact, the early Christians were considered cultural weirdos and were fed to the lions for being different. They worshiped one God, did not ordain women, and refused to burn incense to Caesar.

    Our confession that the church is "holy" means that we're not to just be chameleons and try to look and act like the secular world, to culturally camouflage ourselves.

    That is what I find in churches that have rejected the liturgy. They try very hard to look just like the world. Some will even sing outdated Rolling Stones songs and change the lyrics to say "Jesus" a couple times. I mean, really. Why should anyone want to join such a church?

    Conservatism is by nature a resistance to change. It doesn't mean that things never change (we are heirs of the Lutheran reformation, after all), but unless something is broken, we don't change it. The liturgy delivers Jesus in Word and Sacrament. If some people think it's "broken" because it isn't worldly or entertaining enough, they are free to bring on the dancing girls. Thanks, but no thanks. I give thanks to God every day that our ancestors retained the Mass.

    I think frivolity does harm to the Gospel. I think it cheapens our confession. If we really believe Jesus is miraculously present in the bread and wine, that confession is going to define our worship. We Lutherans don't believe the bread and wine are symbolic, but actually and physically the same flesh of Christ that was born of Mary, crucified, and risen from the dead. It is a miracle, and Jesus is really there in the flesh. Why in the world would I care about drums and guitars when the living Christ has come to me miraculously?

    There is a time for entertainment, but not when the Lord Jesus is present with us in the miracle of the Mass.

    I know other Christians see this quite differently than we do. But I think this is why the liturgy still matters to Lutherans.

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  31. Dear Father Hollywood:
    I accept most of what you say. Since I am not Lutheran some of what you say is unfamiliar to me. But I do believe we say similar things. In our faith tradition we carefully hold to the centrality of the scriptures we not only don't allow women to be pastors we also don't allow them to be elders. We do not allow anyone to be a member unless they are baptized (I know different than Lutherans). These are not popular stands to take. We take very seriously our call to go into all the world and make disciples. Not knowing how you define liturgy I believe it is similar to our statement of faith or the scripture we recite or even the words in the songs we sing. We practice communion too, on a regular basis and we take very seriously the danger of taking it in an "unworthy manner".

    Our worship services are honorable and very serious. We do use modern and traditional music but the centrality of the service is always Christ and NEVER entertainment.

    The definition of "entertainment" is very subjective defined in different ways. I understand that and while I cannot speak for other denominations there is always abuses of what is considered modern music and more traditional music.

    I also agree that the church should be Christ to the world but also bring Christ to the world as Jesus exemplified. This too can mean many things.

    I believe our highest authority is the Word of God nothing else holds authority in our church tradition and on this we likely agree.

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  32. "Roman entertainments did not encroach on the Divine Service."

    If St. John saw and heard our organs, he'd look around for where the gladiators would fight.

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  33. Deartest Boaz,

    I would like to politely disagree. I believe that if St. John saw and heard our organs, he'd look around for the Seraphim.

    Fr. J. W. Berg

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  34. Er, uh, that is Dearest Boaz.

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  35. Yeah, I've seen Gladiator _and_ Spartacus and I don't remember the organ. . .

    +HRC

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  36. Fr BFE,

    And mqll, if you do what Fr. Beane is poking at as kitchy, and think it was a cheap shot, then you haven't heard his argument: when thrust into a tragic or horrific scene which urgently requires the grace of God, contemporary worship shows itself the more clearly to be the vacuous waste of time it is.

    =====

    Ok...hearing the argument, I guess I'll just continue to waste my time as I share Christ to my congregation and community.

    Not only is it a cheap shot, but ultimately not that convincing...

    I don't mind you guys doing what you do. I don't mind the patting yourselves on the back and saying "We're awesome!!' I can live with that.

    It gets a little old to hear this position of "All CoWo is trite and silly." It is just like saying "All traditional liturgical worship is boring."

    Can CoWo "work" in war? Absolutely. It "works" (that is to say, has weight, gravitis, meaning, etc) in people's daily lives. They find Christ there on a weekly basis. It brings people to turn their lives around and walk away from drugs, alcohol abuse, etc. It changes attitudes about life and gives people hope.

    This is what it does in daily lives. If you want to ignore that, fine. But don't expect your words then to carry much weight, you know?

    I think the conversation on CoWo/TradCo in the Synod would work better if there were just a tad more respect on both sides. That's just me though. That's why I'm here on this particular site, you know?

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  37. Fr. Louderback,

    Have ears to hear, brother. I hear you in your warning that a pastor can sleep walk through the Church's liturgy with a droning organ and a mumbling congregation and it will sit there limp and boring. I hear that - it is a danger to be guarded against. The Church needs red blooded men to lead her worship; men who believe what the words say and lead the liturgy like it is really true.

    Now, your turn. Hear what Larry is saying. Think of the imagery. Put the neo-Evangelical stage with the potted plants, the five piece band, and the praise team in their street clothes and handheld mics rocking out up there in that picture. It's different, isn't it? Not the same. It's a different message from a different medium. It's the image of a concert - of a band playing for people to entertain them.

    I think this is why CoWo (how does one pronounce that?) has a hard time doing the Lamentations type work and not coming off as contrived and tacky. It's the wrong message-medium.

    Or, to put it another way, when was the last time you had the praise band lead the funeral of a small child?

    No one expects you to read this blog and become an instant convert to the wisdom of the example of Ap. XXIV.1. But have ears to hear a valid criticism and seek to grow.

    +HRC

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  38. PS: Mormonism also gets people off drugs and gives them a purpose and changes their lives. So what? The point is what is appropriate to the Word of God, what upholds the Church's life together, what is reverent and godly, what avoids "frivolity and offense" (SD FC X). Man and his reactions are a fickle rule by which to measure.

    +HRC

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  39. Part of the problem here is the word "contemporary." For the proponents of the rock/pop praise band (used in worship) to claim the mantle of "contemporaneity" is disingenuous.

    Who says the traditional liturgical form is not contemporary? We have a greater claim to the word than the ephemeral pop scene.

    The liturgy was contemporary in 1000 BC, 40 AD, 325 AD, and 1530 AD, and it remains contemporary in 2011 AD. When our Lord returns, He will find liturgical worship long after nobody remembers who Justin Bieber is (which could be next week...).

    The difference is that pop music is performer- and performance-based. That is why the "praise band" is not in the choir loft. It's up front for people to see - like a stage. They are there to be gawked at. They are there to put on a show, to make faces and gestures and to wiggle around and call attention to themselves. It's a matter of focus.

    The problem is not the use of a guitar vs. an organ - that is to miss the point. The point is that there is a world of difference between J.S. Bach sitting in a choir loft with an organ musically interpreting the nuanced words of St. Matthew's passion as the congregation and/or choir joins in the words of Holy Scripture, vs. David Gilmour cranking out the sublime (in excelsis!) final guitar solo of "Comfortably Numb" on a stage in Gdansk in front of thousands of fans (YouTube has it, it is glorious must-see material!).

    Both are passionate expressions; both are examples of musical virtuosity. But the Bach piece celebrates the passion of our Lord as served by music (and is still being played centuries after the composers death), whereas the Gilmour performance celebrates the passion of the music itself and the performer himself. An organist can replicate the Bach, but rock and roll is tied to the artist himself. There will be no performance of "Comfortably Numb" three centuries from now.

    Or, to put it in the words of the theologian St. Peter of Townshend: "It's the singer not the song that makes the music move along." When I go to see Gilmour play the guitar, I'm there to see that man play music for music's sake; I'm not there to worship. And the inverse is also true.

    Rather than use the word "contemporary worship" I think a more accurate tag is "Entertainment worship" (EntWo?). Because it's not about this instrument or that, but rather the focus of the performance. It's also next to impossible to sing along with a "worship leader" who is crooning and improvising the notes (while the organ is actually a vox humana simulator, as evidenced by liturgists using organ notes to get a pitch).

    Now, it was entirely appropriate for Pink Floyd to join the Red Army Band and perform "The Wall" at the site of the knocked-down Berlin Wall back in '89. It was a poignant moment - and yet, for East and West Berlin to be joined in a pop-music musical celebration was a grand thing. But nevertheless, it was still entertainment.

    It would have been wrong for a church to host the event and call it "worship."

    As the Higher Things folks point out, we Americans worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship. That's the problem of EntWo.

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  40. From the begining He comes to us as a simple baby.Not having anything that we should desire or anything he can give. Indeed He does have something to give and that is salvation.

    As a man he had no home and no place to lay his head and even less to give than before. He speaks and some listen and others only want to clap and dance to a band playing a dirge. But he has something to give salvation, his Word to quicken us and announce forgiveness and his body and his blood to his apostles and now us for newness of life and forgiveness.

    Suffering and dying the world does not want him but he has given all. He rises again on the third day in victory with the further declaration and proof of His salvation! He is risen indeed. Simple gifts that mean so much and no praise band to entertain or convince us

    Transcendance and reverence is what is missing from so much of American Christianity and Christianity in general. All these so called mega church and contempo churches want to declare is a crass fading victorious life on earth and discount that which has been done for us, by saying we already knew that Jesus died for us , whats next? The thing about worship today in most places is that it isn't even Christ Centered but man centered . Man centered worship is built on sand and not on the rock of Christ. Christ is always there as he is the rock and is worthy of our worship and as He is worthy He still gives to us. For many church is no longer trancendent or about Christ;but what fun are we going to have today? What happens when the fun stops? Well Jesus is always there!

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  41. Father Hollywood,

    True confession, removed from any point: I used to roll my eyes every time I wrote your name. Now I love it.

    Anyway, I am always amused at home you guys say "We don't like CoWo, but we love Rock n Roll!" I have seen this more and more spoken by liturgical worship defenders. I guess it is your own way of saying "Look, we're cool dudes who do liturgical worship and not classical music snobs."

    Be that as it may, it got me thinking about TV. Do you like TV Father Hollywood? Let me rephrase that: TV is entirely about entertainment, right? It is all trivial, all fluff, all uh, "impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity..."?

    Is that what all TV is?

    All TV?

    See, the thing is, some of TV is that. No doubt. Fluff, stuff that makes you dumber when you watch it. Trivial stuff of no value.

    But not all TV sucks. No, some of it is pretty moving. Sometimes, you can watch scenes that cut to your heart. Sometimes, you might even cry.

    But in your line of argument, it is all the same: all trivial. MTV cribs and the Superbowl. Gossip Girl and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mad Men and 2 /12 Men. Battlestar Galactica and Battlestar Galactica. All the same.

    They are not. I saw a random episode of NYPD Blue that still haunts me about forgiveness. Did you catch the Law & Order episode with the taped confession in prison? The mom's final monologue?

    You can say it is all trivial...you can make that statement...but that does not ring true at all.

    It is not all the same. You want to paint CoWo all the same (and sorry, my man: you get to choose to use the term "mass" we get to use the term CoWo.) but it is not true.

    I'll use another example: books. We have one book, the Bible, and it makes all other books the same. That is to say, the difference between the Bible and every other book makes the difference between individual books negligible. Right? So, the Confessions is the same as The Diary of Bridget Jones? All books the same? No difference? You can argue about non vs fiction, so, I'll go to Shakespeare: he's just the same as Judy Blume, right? All the same, all entertainment, all frivolous, all empty.

    The argument doesn't hold water for TV or books. You think it would for worship? Especially when -- and wrap your head around this -- there is not a single bit of difference between what really happens in your worship service and my worship service.

    Not one bit of difference.

    In the end, everything you are doing is exactly what I am doing. So, in terms of eternity, there is no distinction, not one, between your service and my service.

    Think about that for a bit the next time you want to pull out the big guns on CoWo.

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  42. HR,

    Have ears to hear, brother. I hear you in your warning that a pastor can sleep walk through the Church's liturgy with a droning organ and a mumbling congregation and it will sit there limp and boring.

    =====

    Or something like:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbqv3MwwVd8

    :)

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  43. HR,

    I hear that - it is a danger to be guarded against. The Church needs red blooded men to lead her worship; men who believe what the words say and lead the liturgy like it is really true.

    =====

    That is not exactly the argument, Father. The argument is "Is it legitimate to label all worship a certain way because of bad examples."

    I can come on GD and I can defend CoWo and I don't have to trash the liturgy. I don't have to mock you. (maybe a small bit, but that is because I am weak).

    What you are raising is a stronger divide of our church. Now, maybe that is because you want it divided, I don't know. But we are not going to be. So in the meantime, since the blood and body that I take is the same that you take, I think a little moderated tone ought to be followed.

    I know there are plenty of example of bad CoWo out there. But your position is one to say "Well, the foot is bad, let's take off the leg." I don't think that is entirely helpful—especially when there are fine examples of bad liturgy out there.

    I shall remind you that the term is "liturgical dance" isn't it? Hmm?

    Because of liturgical dance, does that make what you are doing crap? Does it? That's the argument though, isn't it?

    I think this is why CoWo (how does one pronounce that?) has a hard time doing the Lamentations type work and not coming off as contrived and tacky. It's the wrong message-medium.

    This is funny, because CoWo is pronounced Co (as in Co-chair) - Woe (Woe is me).

    Since you guys are all rockers, does rock music do Lamentation? I'm not a big Beyonce fan, but did you ever hear her single "If I were a boy"? I find it moving. I see the Lament there.

    Pull of the band. Drop one person, with a guitar up there singing, asking why God has abandon him. Maybe a little chorus of "Lord, You are the God who saves me."

    Because you have no, uh..imagination? Delineation? You can't see that this could work.

    More than that, that there would be an entire group out there that would find that work more moving, more touching, that would make sense to them, than a modal chant.

    Or, to put it another way, when was the last time you had the praise band lead the funeral of a small child?

    I've never had the opportunity for this. I hope I never have to find out. If it happens you could watch the video of it and tell me what you thought.

    As opposed to saying "It can't be done" before given a chance.

    The reason people like CoWo Heath is because it reaches the fullness of their emotions. It does this in a way TradCo (Trad, rhymes with rad) doesn't.

    No one expects you to read this blog and become an instant convert to the wisdom of the example of Ap. XXIV.1. But have ears to hear a valid criticism and seek to grow.

    This is not a vald criticism any more than saying "Liturgy is boring" is a valid criticism. Do you see that point Father Curtis?

    I think that more would listen to your criticism if it were more fair and valid. I don't think that FH is interested in that.

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  44. HR,

    PS: Mormonism also gets people off drugs and gives them a purpose and changes their lives. So what? The point is what is appropriate to the Word of God, what upholds the Church's life together, what is reverent and godly, what avoids "frivolity and offense" (SD FC X). Man and his reactions are a fickle rule by which to measure.

    Don't Mormons worship liturgically? Don't they wear robes and everything in their Temples? Maybe even they wear hats...

    The point of the matter is that this is why what you and I do on a Sunday morning, is, for all real intents and purposes, identical.

    Identical.

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  45. The difference is that pop music is performer- and performance-based. That is why the "praise band" is not in the choir loft. It's up front for people to see - like a stage. They are there to be gawked at. They are there to put on a show, to make faces and gestures and to wiggle around and call attention to themselves. It's a matter of focus.

    Oh--see that is the real problem isn't it? YOU want to be the focus. That's what TradCo is all about isn't it? The pastor up there, by himself, doing everything on his own.

    TradCo is "It's all about me" and you are just jealous to share the attention with other people. That's the real reason you don't like CoWo. You are just green with envy.

    =====

    So, Fr Curtis, is that "valid criticism"? Hmmm? I would doubt it...

    Father Hollywood, I am of course, kidding. If only you were.

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  46. Fr. Louderback,

    If what we were doing on Sunday morning were identical then

    * CoWo would not have divided every parish it was ever introduced into

    * People would not go church shopping to "find worship they are comfortable with"

    * We would not be having this discussion.

    And I'll believe that the praise band is up front is the same thing as the pastor being up front when

    * You show me where God send praise bands to preach the word and conduct the sacraments in the Bible

    * All praise bands wear the same clothes

    * They all sing the same notes and the same words every week

    * They turn back and forth from facing the altar to facing the people at appropriate times

    I was happy to hear part of what you were saying as a valid criticism from a brother and mull it over. Only one of us is coming off as a turtle within his shell. . .

    But please note, we are not picking on the "worst" of CoWo. I contend that the "best" of CoWo is misplaced in a Lutheran Church. It is a foreign element from the American Evangelical tradition and brings with it the wrong focus, actions and words that do fit our theology, and a general lack of reverence ("lack of reverence" is spelled "casual" or "laid back" or, nowadays, "authentic" in American, as in "Come to the late service, it's more laid back.").

    +HRC

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  47. Dear Mark:

    I understand that we have some sharp differences of opinion, but I'm surprised by your accusation that I express that I like rock music out of some kind of ulterior motive. I mean, come on.

    Please.

    As far as TV goes (you asked for my opinion) - anything worthwhile on it is the exception that proves the rule. Aside from Netflix and Roku, I don't watch a minute of it. This is not to condemn others (by no means!), but as for me, I just can't stomach it. Aside from a clip here or there (as you point out), the folks making the TV shows are unapologetically antichrist. And we're so immersed in it that we just kind of get swept along for the ride. This is why an alarming percentage of the kids at LCMS Youth Gatherings (who are polled on these things) favor women's "ordination," homosexual unions, abortion, and other things that Scripture clearly teaches as wrong. It's all in their TV shows. It's their cultural milieu.

    So, no, I don't watch TV. I just got a note from the Nielsen's rating people who want me to participate in the rating thing. That will be easy: a big fat goose egg. But they did pay me a dollar. Wow.

    Again, the issue is not whether one can find a scriptural Entertainment-Worship song, or that one can find a bad traditional hymn. You can find both. And in both cases, the exception proves the rule. Interestingly, I just learned about this one: Kari Jobe, who was invited to "lead worship" at a Texas District youth event, actually has a song that confesses Patripassionism right in the first stanza. You will be hard pressed to find such a thing in our hymnal. You will also be hard-pressed to find an Entertainment-Worship advocate offer any criticism or call for the song to be rewritten.

    The silence is deafening.

    The world can't deal with life-and-death issues (of which the Gospel is), and so the world defaults to frivolity and entertainment. I recently conducted a funeral and wandered around the cemetery. Many recent gravestones actually have logos of football teams carved on them, as well as things like artwork depicting boats and SUVs. Caskets are now being made with balloons and Disney characters on them. When your coffin actually has the letters "TM" or an "R" with a circle around it, that should tell us something.

    That kind of thing is the worldview of Entertainment-Worship. We don't want to be "bored" - which is what my 12-year old 6th graders say why they don't want traditional hymns. They are used to a steady stream of 24-7 bubblegum entertainment. They don't want to think or meditate. I outright asked my class just a few minutes ago: "Do we go to church to be entertained?" More than half said "yes." They want church to be SpongeBob. The principal at the Lutheran High School I served a few years ago actually had a SpongeBob on a pole as a religious icon in the sanctuary. He also wore a SpongeBob tie during his "sermon."

    At least the Israelites were dignified enough in their idolatry to worship a gilded calf!

    So, SpongeBob on a pole and in the sermon will be something of substance for those kids to meditate upon if they ever grow up and find themselves being imprisoned for following Christ, or when they have a miscarriage, or when they are diagnosed with cancer. Where are the dogs and ponies?

    Thanks, Mark. You are your buds who want to put on shows in the chancel and ditch the liturgy are only making my job as a catechist that much harder.

    Worse yet, entertainment is a false god that impedes the gospel.

    You can keep it, bro! Just keep it the heck away from me! There is a huge difference between entertainment and reverence. You can fool yourself, Mark, but you're not fooling me.

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  48. I have one liturgical question for the Rev. Father Louderback, who loves to "share the stage" with the snare drum, or maybe that apocalyptically loud "little horn," there next to the Fender ... presumably because with that instrument, there's less to envy (maybe):

    Say, do you let your band act in and by the stead of Christ, and pronounce the Absolution? Or do you, with the ordained voice, choose to breath such "because YOU want to be the focus?" I think I see the developing dilemma, though. You are likely concerned about that image projected to the sheep, of "[t]he pastor up there, by himself, doing everything on his own." That Absolution matter is the height of such insulation. It speaks to the Office, sure, but it's kind of off-putting in the Age of Casual. You can have members of the band distribute and lecture, giving you a break; but nothing focuses attention on ol'mqll like a lonesome extending of forgiveness for the sins committed against Aunt Gertrude, by Timmy the Saxophonist ... who better start playing quick as a distraction. The pastor is starting to sweat through his polo.

    "Don't Mormons worship liturgically? Don't they wear robes and everything in their Temples? Maybe even they wear hats..."

    Well, yes. When Satan chooses to appear like an Angel of Light, he'll take on the accouterments of one. He won't generally assume the clownish garb of worldly entertainers, or follow the frolics of those who don't take the revelation of St. John the Seer overly seriously. I think he's got to much pride for that.

    And isn't it psychologically meaningful, that the fast-growing LDS pagans ... desperate to achieve a measure of Christian legitimacy, among their American neighbors ... choose to ape what they see as being, shall we say, "churchly;" the decorum, apparel and behavior of Christ's Bride as exhibited by both the faithfully living and the blessedly resting "dead" in Christ! And according to St. John, the latter folk are pretty much doing what Rev. Louderback takes care to avoid. It's high liturgy, in the highest.

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  49. "I'll use another example: books. We have one book, the Bible, and it makes all other books the same. That is to say, the difference between the Bible and every other book makes the difference between individual books negligible. Right? So, the Confessions is the same as The Diary of Bridget Jones? All books the same? No difference? You can argue about non vs fiction, so, I'll go to Shakespeare: he's just the same as Judy Blume, right? All the same, all entertainment, all frivolous, all empty." -- Rev. Louderback

    ...And all self-referential as well, but of course, that's the beauty of another's "fullness of emotion," on display. Anyway, the argument is specious and amateurish, although nonetheless useful in establishing very clear differences between the worship form used by the Revs. Beane and Curtis, e.g., and that employed by the Rev. Louderback. As the latter notes, the Scriptures level all other "sources" of human wisdom to a vanishing point; an ash-heap. So bolstered, Rev. Louderback hones in and fearlessly hacks away at something known as "books," equating the pondering-usefulness of Aristotle with, oh, say, maybe Alfred E. Neumann. However, there is no need to feel secure with the relative value of other non-bookish "sources" of information ... be it cave-paintings in France or the human brain, as a whole. Compared to Holy Scripture, the executive output of any human cortex will be something on the order of the pineapple.

    You see my point. When it comes to worship, which ordo is suffused more with Scripture, and which one more akin to the synaptic activity of a pineapple? That liturgical form of the Rev. Fr. Beane, or that of the Rev. Louderback? May we have the evidence please, say from last Sunday, posted at this site? My expectations are that a huge difference will be immediately apparent to all, and one ripe for the taking. And I'm not going to say it, but no cheating.

    "The reason people like CoWo Heath is because it reaches the fullness of their emotions. It does this in a way TradCo (Trad, rhymes with rad) doesn't." -- Rev. Louderback

    There you have it, with blazing clarity. The pineapple has been juiced. People like "CoWo," says the cleric (in effect), because it raises them to the level of the Viking berzerker; once shaken and stirred, there is simply no stopping them, and so the monks become air-conditioned with steel, while abbey becomes toasted with staves. How edifying.

    Or maybe "CoWo" serves rather to deify its participants unto the status of the Erinyes -- that is to say, the ever redoubtable Furies. Interestingly, the playwright Aeschylus (but not the plaything Neumann, I should add) linked the Furies to the powers of death, as well as the blinding of man's reason. Essentially, brains should not be running around with scissors. No excuses. That's why Dr. Frankenstein kept them confined to their quarters (usually a bell-jar), in the first place.

    Myself, I think St. Paul had little patience with the "fullness of the emotions," as put on display by the Corinthian church. The chap from Tarsus seemed to be a stolid stickler for order ... and presented God as liking it, as much as He did incense and candles (think Troas, a window, and the details of the what surrounded the breaking of break in early Christendom; Acts 20, and as discussed in Fr. Eckardt's latest). Generally, in my professional experience and through various and sundry contacts, a creature's "fullness of emotion" is not constructive nor desirable. Think matador. He's one with the red cape, running away from the item invested with the "fullness of emotion." Or ask a neurologist, or a shrink. Have you ever witnessed a gelastic seizure? It's all together a disturbing and serious thing to enocunter. But the patient's laughing uproariously, as if he had just read some "serious" logic of mqll.

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  50. I wonder to what extent we are contending here not so much with contemporary music per se, but the post-modern weltbild which underpins it, as Fr. Hollywood has pointed out so poignantly above. You see, Fr. Louderback is approaching church music as a student of post-modernism; the church needs to find an expression also in this era and therefore CoWo (feels weird to type it even) seems to be the logical result. "We need to reach the people where they are". "Worship is in the first place about communication, so why use outdated, irrelevant liturgical forms?" So goes the post-modern logic. And in true John Dewey style, we do not prefer to use anything which is not immediately useful and appealing.
    So the church is contending not with one style or another, but with the spirit of the post-modern era. We have our work cut out for us! The entire modern pedagogical system is based on the one assumption which threatens liturgical worship and hence the means of Grace: for anything to be worthwhile and appealing it must be immediately useful. It must tantalize and titillate the senses. It must appeal to the emotions. This is John Dewey pedagogy. With the dictum "by conjugating Latin verbs children learn how to conjugate Latin verbs" was Latin instruction in the schools of the 1950s overthrown. Is there anything not immediately useful IN SCHOOL? It must be discarded. This is modern pedagogy. And the church must lay an axe to the roots of this philosophical system which undermines the church.
    Change the schools: we are already fighting an uphill battle for two-three hours/week. Against postmoderns you cannot win with postmodern methods. Promote classical education and the liberal arts.

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  51. Fr Curtis,

    So, you say:

    If what we were doing on Sunday morning were identical then...

    And list three items. I'd address each one, but I want to make sure that you understand my point. Even allowing for these, we are still identical. That is, seen in the eyes of eternity.

    Now, I understand that in eternity, everything zeroes out. But that is what heightens the similarity here, because in eternity, worship IS the one place where there are differences.

    The difference between the worship of the Mormon and us is entirely different. The difference between the worship of the Muslim and us will be totally separated.

    But you and I? What is the difference? Same forgiveness. Same salvation. Same body an blood.

    Identical.

    I think that is a point that we ought not lose in our discussion.

    I was happy to hear part of what you were saying as a valid criticism from a brother and mull it over. Only one of us is coming off as a turtle within his shell. . .

    Chuckle. The last sentence needs some more punctuation. I'm not sure which one of us in the turtle...

    But please note, we are not picking on the "worst" of CoWo.

    Well...that is actually not true. On the website, you really don't have any normal CoWo stuff. You find some far out stuff that I've not seen. I mean, I don't see a whole lotta CoWo, but I don't see none. I've never seen stuff like that Jesus rap you posted last year.

    Once again: liturgical dance.

    But here—and I get back to the previous sentence about the turtle—see, there really isn't any attempt here for you guys to correct what are problems within CoWo. You want to blow the whole thing up. There isn't anything good. You don't see baby and bathwater, you just see refuse.

    That is what you mean by this:

    I contend that the "best" of CoWo is misplaced in a Lutheran Church. It is a foreign element from the American Evangelical tradition and brings with it the wrong focus, actions and words that do fit our theology, and a general lack of reverence ("lack of reverence" is spelled "casual" or "laid back" or, nowadays, "authentic" in American, as in "Come to the late service, it's more laid back.").

    Right?

    It is here that I simply disagree with you. I think our theology can indeed handle a little authentic worship that, I don't know, actually brings the Gospel to people. That shows we love all of God's people and His creation.

    And you have no place to critique it. Because you jut want it all thrown away. None of it is good.

    I think that just makes the conversation like this hard. Because there really is no respect for what I do.

    Even though, as I pointed out, what I do is IDENTICAL to what you do.

    Do you understand?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Dear Mark:

    You write:

    "Even though, as I pointed out, what I do is IDENTICAL to what you do."

    Great story, shame about the facts.

    This is exactly what the advocates of homosexual "marriage" say concerning what they do. Problem is, it isn't identical.

    It's a perhaps-well-intentioned imitation of the real thing, but it's not identical by a long shot.

    And neither are Entertainment Worship (which is anthropocentric) and Reverent Worship (which is theocentric).

    ReplyDelete
  53. Father Hollywood,

    I understand that we have some sharp differences of opinion, but I'm surprised by your accusation that I express that I like rock music out of some kind of ulterior motive. I mean, come on.

    Relax! Geesh, "ulterior motive"? Easy. Remember, I'm the cheery, happy, entertaining guy here.

    I don't think you have ulterior motives. I just find it funny that once upon a time, liturgical worship was defended by saying how good the music was and how bad rock was.

    But nowadays, you just don't hear that any more?


    Why? Why is that?

    Because people—like you—like rock music. You enjoy listening to it. It is not all bad.

    Obviously you are not buying the TV comparison—

    And if I may have a moment of tangent here, you are missing out. I really don't think it as bad as you would say it is. On the other hand, I am not ignorant to think it does not influence wrongly.

    But I can't help watch TV and love what I see there that does indeed point to Christ. I'm watching Being Human right now, with a vampire, werewolf and ghost. I love the honest talk about being a monster. Good stuff.

    But on the other hand: with Netflix you can watch anything. So...how much do you watch? What is your favorite show?

    —anyway, coming back in then, the point of the matter I was looking to make was "It is not all bad." It is not legit to paint with all the same brush.

    Whether it is TV, rock music, books, or CoWo—wait, sorry, EntCo (I'll use your terminology. You might think it should be EntWo, but I see it as a rhyming scheme, so it is EntCo.) There is wheat and chaff. it is not all chaff.

    Now, let's get to this entertainment thing:

    The world can't deal with life-and-death issues (of which the Gospel is), and so the world defaults to frivolity and entertainment.

    See, the problem is, I just think that you confuse the message with the means. You see the means and think that the EntCo service is just that: entertainment. Frivolous. Empty.

    The point I am making is that it is not. It is like ranch dressing for vegetables. It takes something good for you, that you might not want to eat, and instead makes it so that you enjoy something good for you.

    You just don't see the thing that is good for you. You only see the entertainment.

    Thus, the point that I am hammering in: your service is identical to mine. No difference.

    You, on the other hand, say stuff like this:

    At least the Israelites were dignified enough in their idolatry to worship a gilded calf!

    And:

    Worse yet, entertainment is a false god that impedes the gospel.

    This is just unacceptable. And not true. Actually, it is not true and that is what makes it unacceptable. It is a lie wrapped in "Confessionalism" and that is why I take my time to answer this here.

    Now, I can understand critiques—we all need them—but you are wrong with your mantra of the exception proving the rule. It is not true in Rock n Roll and it is not true in EntCo.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Dr Anderson,

    Say, do you let your band act in and by the stead of Christ, and pronounce the Absolution?

    No.

    You see my point

    No.

    ReplyDelete
  55. FH,

    Great story, shame about the facts.

    (Shrug) We got time. Give us the facts.

    Do you not have the body and blood of Christ in your service? We do in mine.

    Do you not have forgiveness and salvation in your service? We do in mine.

    Do you not have justification as the foundation of your faith—and proclaim and teach that to your congregation? We do in mine.


    The answer, of course Father Hollywood, is that you do indeed have all of these things. Because yours is a Lutheran worship service, right? Lutheran worship services have all of this.

    Should I write the punchline to this? :)

    But! You say:

    And neither are Entertainment Worship (which is anthropocentric) and Reverent Worship (which is theocentric).

    So...really the question is not one of "Is my worship service Lutheran?" No, the question is "Is my worship service Christian."

    Well, is it FH? Let's lay our cards down. Is what I am doing on Sundays Christian or is it not? In eternity, will I be with the Muslims and the Mormons (not personally mind you, but worship service wise) as opposed with you?

    Is this what you are saying?

    ReplyDelete
  56. Dear Mark:

    The sainted Kurt Marquart often questioned the legitimacy of Entertainment Worship. He did not believe Christ is present when the *purpose* was entertainment. Kind of like how the Reformed use all the same words as we do in the consecration, but don't actually mean them in their literal sense - and thus lack the sacrament of the altar.

    It's a little like the issue of the monstrance. Is Jesus in there? Our confessions say "no" - at least not if the host was consecrated not to be eaten but to be gawked at.

    Many elements of Entertainment Worship are likewise meant to be gawked at.

    I don't know just how "entertaining" your service is (I suspect I would be bored at best). And life on this side of the grave is just too short to waste valuable time being stuck in cheesy religious services. It's like having a visit from Queen Elizabeth and offering her Miller Lite served in a can: cheesy *and* trashy.

    If your service is a show, a spectacle, truly Entertainment Worship (as even you embrace this term!), how is it any different than putting an actor on a stage and having him say the words of institution? The *words* themselves do not magically confect the Mass (ex opere operato), but rather the *Word.*

    Does your service have the Word? If the goal is to entertain people (as you admit to be at least partially true), I have to admit that leaves me with some doubt. Doubt is antithetical to faith. Maybe this is why our Book of Concord is careful to warn us against creating scandal by introducing frivolity.

    There is great wisdom there if we submit to it. Unless, of course, we find it irrelevant and are "chronological snobs" who reject the counsel of the past.

    Entertainment Worship is just that: the worship of entertainment. For anyone to gaze upon the mystery of the Incarnate Christ present in the sacrament, prepare to partake of the Most Holy Mystery, and then put his mind on his fleshly need to be entertained by a backbeat or a puppet show - that is a peculiar form of idolatry.

    That service I attended in Georgia was a damnable mockery of Christian worship. It had every element of a stage show with a little "Jesus time" tossed it. Disgusting doesn't begin to describe it. Do you conduct the service like that? I hope not. I will never attend a service like that again unless I'm compelled. You can keep that trash. I want no part of it. I will not conduct such a service, and I sure as perdition will not attend one.

    Having said that, there are indeed Christians who do worship in a non-liturgical way - lots of them. You may well be one, Mark. But our self-definitional documents do not simply define what it means to be generically Christian, they describe what we - in doctrine and in ceremonies - do as adherents to those confessions, as churches of the Augsburg confession. I mean, either we believe the Symbols or we don't.

    If we don't, the Methodists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Baptists, or Presbyterians are waiting for us with open arms. It's not a buffet.

    For you to claim that Entertainment Worship to be "Lutheran" is along the lines of a guy who believes in private property and free enterprise looking you straight in the eye claiming that what he believes in is called Communism.

    It just doesn't add up.

    What you want goes beyond tolerance. You want approval. Well, you're not going to get it from me. I find Entertainment Worship to be offensive, a gilded calf for the Direct-TV generation. If Entertainment isn't our generation's most popular idol, I don't know what is.

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  57. Fr. Louderback,

    If I could summarize one of Larry's points: with EntWo, CoWo, EmergentWO, EtcWO., you never know what you are going to get. Maybe we could call them all Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates Worship - Lilabocowo.

    How can I possibly comment on worship in your parish in anything but these general terms about focus, style, jettisoning of the liturgy, etc? You make it up every week. I have your word to go on that you are not inserting (whether by design or mistakenly) errors or heresies every week.

    Are you changing the Words of Institution? Paraphrasing them? Having the congregation sing them to the tune of the Church's One Foundation instead of the pastor speaking them over the elements? I know that all of those things happen, because I was once involved in quite a little congregational conflict trying to stop them from happening.

    You say that all we are doing is criticizing what is the worst about Lilabocowo - well, how do we know what you are doing is not the worst? Because you say so? What's your idea of worst, best, and indifferent?

    Can you see the problem? Every week you know exactly what you are going to get from me and Larry. IT's all down on paper for all to see. The worst we can do is mechanics: chant poorly, look too dour and bored, trip on our albs. The worship in our parishes is orthodox and all the world can see that it is: because we received what the church gave us instead of making it up ourselves.

    I have no such guarantee at your place. All the power is in your hands. And I don't trust you because I don't even trust myself.

    At this point, someone will say: then why let the pastor preach? He might screw that up. Yes, he might: all the more reason to limit the damage with the Church's liturgy - Luther, you will remember, credited the liturgy with saving the Church from the bad preaching of the medievals. What's going to save the EntWo crowd?

    And the liturgy curbs my bad tendencies in other ways: the simple fact of submitting to something that I did not write, week after week, forms me and my preaching. Having a lectionary forces me to preach the whole counsel of God. All the power is not in my hands.

    Power corrupts. Especially in the Church. EntWo allows the pastor to become his own echo chamber using the congregation to repeat back to him what he has written.

    +HRC

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  58. Back to the original point of the photograph and the article, I am edified and encouraged by both.

    The photo shows a bombed out city, with bomb damage on the church building. It shows the body of Christ, broken for me, in the midst of what? A city? Yes. And through the city, I see also in that photo my bombed out life.

    As the author says in his first sentence, the lack of physical warfare on our own soil is one of the reasons we have "worship wars." Too bad it takes physical warfare when the war against our soul goes on, is just as severe, and should be enough to put a damper on "worship wars."

    Unlike the therapeudic snake oil that supposedly would make my life all peace, love, and harmony (read, Oprahism), the facts are more grim. Sin, self, death, the devil, the world, and even the law (though it is spiritual) are alway running their bombing missions on my life. In the rubble, and even while shrapnel is still flying, here is the body broken for me, the blood shed for me, proclaimed and offered by the Church.

    The fact that in this photo only "clergy" are present is no worry. Enough of pastors who prescribe for me what they can't be bothered to do in their own lives. This photo speaks to the integrity of those "clergy" in doing while no one else is watching what they teach.

    By the body and blood of Christ, received often, the Lord keeps them fit to minister.

    The photo is suggestive that at another time, perhaps that same day, but surely during the same week, others will be present, and the liturgy will not change. It will not change because the bombing of our lives will not have changed, and the giving by Christ of his broken body and shed blood will not have changed.

    Please, Church, do not withhold Christ from me. Keep the sacrament pure, entire, and frequent.

    Twin Stone Warden

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  59. Father Hollywood,

    The sainted Kurt Marquart often questioned the legitimacy of Entertainment Worship.

    I'm not asking dead people who can't respond. i'm asking alive people who can.

    If your service is a show, a spectacle, truly Entertainment Worship (as even you embrace this term!), how is it any different than putting an actor on a stage and having him say the words of institution?

    Intent. The actor is merely pretending. He does not intend for anything to occur with this.

    It is just like a marriage on stage.

    With me—and with every other EntCo service—there is the intent. The words are not just being said; it is a promise that we are remembering and trusting in God to be true.

    Does your service have the Word? If the goal is to entertain people (as you admit to be at least partially true)

    Uh, just to clarify, I have not admitted to this at all. I mean, I think that people enjoy singing the songs and the like. I use videos that are humorous and I use humor in my sermons.

    So, I would say that people enjoy the service. But this is just the same as people enjoying a liturgical service.

    I mean, you don't want to have hymns that stink. You don't want to have sermons that bore people.

    I adopt the term EntCo because A. I don't care that much about what we call things and B. because I'm ready to wrestle the meaning that you give it and give it something new and different.

    I have to admit that leaves me with some doubt. Doubt is antithetical to faith.

    Uh...I don't think it works like that. The Word is read and preached at CoWo services—not just mine but all over. You can't just dismiss that and say "Well, I doubt the Word is there because of my preconceived ideas of what worship ought to be."

    Having said that, there are indeed Christians who do worship in a non-liturgical way - lots of them. You may well be one, Mark. But our self-definitional documents do not simply define what it means to be generically Christian, they describe what we - in doctrine and in ceremonies - do as adherents to those confessions, as churches of the Augsburg confession. I mean, either we believe the Symbols or we don't.

    I'm sorry, so you can't tell me what is Christian or not? You are unable to identify whether a certain practice or action points to Jesus Christ or not?

    Either we believe the Word of God or we don't as well. We don't look at Mormons and Methodists and say "Well, I can't tell a difference." We do have standards by which we make judgements about whether religious bodies are Christian or not.

    For you to claim that Entertainment Worship to be "Lutheran" is along the lines of a guy who believes in private property and free enterprise looking you straight in the eye claiming that what he believes in is called Communism.

    I'm more interested right now in seeing whether my worship is Christian or not. I'm interested in whether my soul is in peril and whether I am truly receiving the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.

    I'm not looking for approval. I'm pushing you to answer the question: Is contemporary worship (or as you call it, Entertainment worship) is it outside of the church or is it not?

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  60. Fr Curtis,

    If I could summarize one of Larry's points: with EntWo, CoWo, EmergentWO, EtcWO., you never know what you are going to get. Maybe we could call them all Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates Worship - Lilabocowo.

    Compared to...liturgical worship? Is that the comparison that you are wanting to use here?

    How can I possibly comment on worship in your parish in anything but these general terms about focus, style, jettisoning of the liturgy, etc? You make it up every week. I have your word to go on that you are not inserting (whether by design or mistakenly) errors or heresies every week.

    How does that differ from you? I mean, are you simply saying the black and doing the red week after week?

    You write a sermon every week. Do I just have your word to go on that you are not (through design or mistakes) inserting errors or heresies?

    It is not that hard Fr Curtis. If you did not have a hymnal in front of you, could you lead people in a confession of their sins? Don't you think you have enough confessions memorized that you could actually get something right? Don't you think you could write something that isn't heretical?

    I'm not saying good idea or not: I'm just questioning the agnosticism of whether CoWo is Christian or not.

    Are you changing the Words of Institution? Paraphrasing them?

    Just to clarify something, wouldn't this be a critique? I mean, wouldn't this be a sorta helpful line to draw out there and say "Look, this goes to far..."

    But you don't have that ability do you? You can't say "This is acceptable; this is out of bounds"—so, it is just all out of bounds.

    You say that all we are doing is criticizing what is the worst about Lilabocowo - well, how do we know what you are doing is not the worst? Because you say so? What's your idea of worst, best, and indifferent?

    Well, A. You are pulling out the worst, I think you should admit that and B. Right now, Heath, I would just be happy for you to admit that there IS such a thing as worst, indifferent and best.

    As opposed to a postion of "There is only worst."

    Can you see the problem? Every week you know exactly what you are going to get from me and Larry. IT's all down on paper for all to see. The worst we can do is mechanics: chant poorly, look too dour and bored, trip on our albs.

    I stepped on my stole a lot, that was usually what happened if I got up carelessly. Broke chains that way...

    What is the worship that you are going to do this week? Printed out? On your paper or from the hymnal? Are you modifying what is in the hymnal? Changing parts? Are you saying that I can look at what you did to see if it was orthodox or not? You can do the same thing with mine—there is a digital copy.

    I'm saying Heath, that the hermeneutics of suspicion can get pretty vicious. I don't know what you do Heath. Do you have icons and genuflect before them, because really, that is Lutheran and acceptable (if you go back to the actions of the early church...)

    No. There is no more reason to trust you than to trust me. If that is the way our Synod is going to work—and if that is what you want to encourage—I can't go for that.

    Shoot, you don't even hold to the convention of "Father XXX" on GD—how do I know what you are doing? ;)

    You are right about the power corrupting—where you are wrong is in where the brakes are to be found. They do not come from the "liturgy" because it is open to all sorts of monkeying. It comes from the accountability that you have from your brothers in Christ.

    But if your position is "You are not my brother in Christ," then, yeah, they are not going to listen to what you say.

    Should I be listening to what you say or not?

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  61. Dear Mark:

    You write:

    "I'm not looking for approval. I'm pushing you to answer the question: Is contemporary worship (or as you call it, Entertainment worship) is it outside of the church or is it not?"

    Some is. Some isn't. But that's not the issue I raised in my article. Just because something may be just inside the line of the Church doesn't mean it is necessarily good for people. Sects are inside the church, but are laden with confusing doctrine and practice that are spiritually harmful. Similarly, Twinkies are indeed food. They qualify according to the Webster's definition of food. They are "inside" the concept of food. But they are *junk* food.

    When we can give people spiritual meat, we don't do them any favors offering them a diet of junk. Yes, Twinkies will prevent you from starving short-term, but the long-term prognosis isn't good (see Matt 13:5, 20-21).

    Isn't it funny that nobody has to ask: "Is the Common Service (Page 15) Christian or not?" We are all unanimous that it is, aren't we? Entertainment Worship, well, I mean, if you have to ask...

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  62. Fr. Louderback,

    Yes, all the words we use in worship are right out of DS III, p. 184.

    Sure, we'd love to see a printed copy of exactly what you are doing in worship. Every week. That would at least give you some accountability.

    You see, we don't feel free to just make stuff up every week because we are accountable to our people, the Church, and our Confessions. It really goes to show what different worlds we are from that you just assume that we are monkeying with the liturgy every week. And, by the bye, yes, there is room for local custom - but that is a different ball of wax, as we have discussed before: http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2010/03/on-organic-view-of-liturgical-diversity.html

    So, sure, let us know where you will be posting your DIY liturgy every week (blogger blogs are free) and we'll stop by and take a look.

    +HRC

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  63. Fr. Louderback,

    I hope there is no reason to doubt that your are a Christian. But more on that later. I would actually like to press you on the issue you seem eager to avoid.

    Are you a Lutheran?

    "It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won't accuse us of being Roman Catholic...

    "It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive chanting of pastor and congregations is of course still very great with many people -- this does not, however, alter the fact that it is very foolish. " -- CFW Walther

    Unfortunately, as you have admitted, you don't much care about what dead people, like Fr. Marquart, have to say. But this bit from the pen of our first Synodical President makes it pretty clear how Lutherans should feel about contemporary worship. Our Confession is even clearer about the avoidance of innovations and novelties. Alas, it also was penned by those who, to the detriment of our arguments, are inconveniently dead.

    So, in keeping with your desire to restrict the discussion to the living, I appeal to you. Do you think you are Lutheran? If so, why? You may certainly claim that your theology is influenced by (or based on) the Solas of the Reformation, and you would be blessed in doing so. But you are clearly now at odds with the Symbols to which you bound yourself at your ordination. Has this always been the case? Or did you embrace contemporary worship after your ordination?

    In either of these cases, you are knowingly and willingly breaking your vows. And, if that's the case, your soul may be in peril. For the record, I hope it is not.

    Many of our former priests left the LCMS to join the Eastern Orthodox or even the Roman Catholic Church, and they have done so with flurries of flaming darts at their back. But I applaud their integrity for admitting that they didn't belong where they were. Do you think you should do the same? If not, why? Is it merely because contemporary worship enjoys a higher degree of tolerance in the LCMS than the doctrinal errors of the EO and the RCC? If so, do you think that what we tolerate (and in many cases approve) trumps our confession of faith?

    Oh, this is quite tangential, but I would like to close on a lighter note by responding to your repeated use of the term "Liturgical Dance." I would sumbit to all of the good folks here that Liturgical Dance is a bit like Grape-Nuts, which are neither grapes nor nuts.

    God's peace,

    Mike Green

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  64. You can't address cowo without addressing post-modernism and her sidekicks: American Pragmatism and Modern Pedagogy.

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  65. I think that Mike Green has touched on the heart of the matter. If so-called Lutheran pastors want to mimic the practices of the sects and hold contemporary worship experiences, fine. As Father Hollywood so aptly put it: Let them keep it - and far away from us.

    But they should not pretend to be something they are not. Among the things our Lord taught vehemently against, hypocrisy was right up there. And mimicking the practices of the radical sects by watering down or throwing away the ancient and Christocentric liturgies of the Church Catholic - all while claiming to be in full adherence with the Lutheran Confessions - is nothing short of it.

    It would be much more honest - to the Shepherd and the sheep - to join a church body that does not accept the Lutheran Confessions in their entirety as an accurate exposition of Scripture (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America comes to mind) than to deceptively stay in ones that do.

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  66. Fr. Curtis wrote: "The worship in our parishes is orthodox and all the world can see that it is: because we received what the church gave us instead of making it up ourselves."

    How true. After all, it's not about what *works* but what we've been given. Why on earth would anyone want to tinker with what we've been given? Oh yeah. Sinful man is never satisfied but thinks he can somehow improve it. Make it more *relevant.*

    Having been on the receiving end of both historic liturgy and Entwo I can honestly say, "No, it's not the same thing at all."

    Ditto what Mike Green says.

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  67. FH,

    Some is. Some isn't.

    Cover some bases with that response?

    Hey listen, I wanted to give you a quote from Peggy Noonan's article on Pres Ronald Reagan:

    He didn't see himself as "the great communicator." It was so famous a moniker that he could do nothing but graciously accept the compliment, but he well understood it was bestowed in part by foes and in part to undercut the seriousness of his philosophy: "It's not what he says, it's how he says it." He answered in his farewell address: "I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things."

    I like to think of that as a nice summary of what I see as CoWo. Or EntCo as it is.

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  68. Charles Finney was one of the first, great American revivalists. Here's a bit from his *Revival Lectures*:

    “Without new measures it is impossible that the Church should succeed in gaining the attention of the world to religion. There are so many exciting subjects constantly brought before the public mind, such a running to and fro, so many that cry 'Lo here!' and 'Lo there!' that the Church cannot maintain her ground without sufficient novelty in measures, to get the public ear...”

    Sound familiar?

    Reagan was a class act, as American Presidents go. But the Church has so many prophets that make Reagan look like Dubya: Sts. Peter and Paul, John Chrysostom, St. Polycarp, Justin Martyr, St. Augustine... And all they did was preach Christ crucified and get out of the Holy Spirit's way.

    I can't imagine that St. Paul found any of the Caesars particularly inspiring in his ministry.

    Fr. Louderback, I do respect your fortitude for coming into the lion's den, as it were. And I certainly mean no disrespect by repeating the question from my previous post, but I really would like an answer.

    Are you Lutheran?

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  69. Mike Green,

    Are you a Lutheran?

    I'm not avoiding anything. :)

    Let's get this straight then: because I do not worship using a man-made system—not something that is commanded by Christ Himself—I am asked the question about whether I am Lutheran?

    Because, it is not enough to hold to Scripture and teach according to what our Lord commanded, taught, and gave example enough. That only gets you half-Lutheran status.

    To be a Lutheran it is necessary to hold to traditions of man.

    Is that your question fairly summarized? Unfairly summarized?

    I'm a Lutheran because I see the teachings of Lutherans to be in line with that of Scripture. And so we bring the hope, peace, and joy that Scripture teaches. The comfort of the undiluted Gospel—undiluted by false teachings and commands.

    I'm a Lutheran because I grew up Lutheran and I saw my mom and her faith and the example that she set through trials and difficulties. Because when I was with my evangelical friends in college, I saw that there was a distinction between them and me.

    So, yes. I am a Lutheran. I hold to the teachings of Christ and Scripture. If you can show me where I differ, I'd be glad to hear it.

    This carries over into my worship. It carries over into the desire I have to share these words of comfort. To teach it to my children and my congregation's children. It carries over to making a difference in my community.

    And it carries over to my monologues on GDO. :)

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  70. Mike Green (sorry, I got all chatty on you. Bear with me)


    Unfortunately, as you have admitted, you don't much care about what dead people, like Fr. Marquart, have to say.

    That is not exactly my point with FH. I asked him a question and he said "Well, this dead person thinks..." and my response is "I can't ask a dead person any questions. What do YOU think?"

    That is a far cry from saying "I don't care about what dead people think."

    . But this bit from the pen of our first Synodical President makes it pretty clear how Lutherans should feel about contemporary worship.

    Well, actually no. See, I'm not worshiping as I am worshiping because I don't want to be confused with RC. That is not why I do what I do. It is not out of fear.

    So, I don't see his words applying in this circumstance.

    Our Confession is even clearer about the avoidance of innovations and novelties.

    And that is used as a damn hammer isn't it? No children's messages!!!

    Alas, it also was penned by those who, to the detriment of our arguments, are inconveniently dead.

    Correct. See here is the issue: you want to say 'These people would not approve of what you are doing—not what you believe, but the actions that you take." And I'm a bit suspect about that. Really? Would they really not approve? The whole question is un-knowable. We can't ask.

    But you are clearly now at odds with the Symbols to which you bound yourself at your ordination.

    I don't think that Luther would be happy to hear someone say "It is not enough to hold to Scripture alone to be a Lutheran; we must insist that people also hold to the traditions of men to be a Lutheran."

    You like what dead people think: do you think Luther would say that?

    as this always been the case? Or did you embrace contemporary worship after your ordination?

    Yes. I find this also to be a bit of sticky wicket. That is to say, when I went through Sem, no one ever said "Doing CoWo is against the Confessions." Never heard that.

    And like most Sem guys, I got out and did traditional worship. I did use innovations, like children's messages. But I few up with those in a traditional service, so I never felt it was out of line.

    But here I am now. I don't see myself as having left Lutheranism. After all, I could still throw on a alb — oh, wait, that's another innovation isn't it? — ok, I could throw on a cassock & surplice and hey, even a chasuble and do traditional worship and my theology would not change.

    But I'd get back into the cool club then.

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  71. MG—and we are done!!!


    In either of these cases, you are knowingly and willingly breaking your vows. And, if that's the case, your soul may be in peril. For the record, I hope it is not.

    Oh my goodness, the drama!

    You don't think I'd be forgiven for that? That I'm walking in grace?

    I obviously don't think what I am doing is wrong. So, if it is, God will forgive me. He does constantly. So, quit worrying.

    Many of our former priests left the LCMS to join the Eastern Orthodox or even the Roman Catholic Church, and they have done so with flurries of flaming darts at their back.

    Maybe they left because we allowed them to be called "priests"....

    They deserve the darts because they are leaving the truth. They are rejecting the teachings of Christ.

    I still see them as brothers and they are forgiven. But yeah, perhaps putting man-made rules about the words of Christ ought to be criticized.

    Do you think you should do the same? If not, why?

    I assume you don't mean go to the orthodox church? :)

    Where exactly would I go? What are my options on this?

    Is it merely because contemporary worship enjoys a higher degree of tolerance in the LCMS than the doctrinal errors of the EO and the RCC?

    I think you misunderstand the truth of the situation: EO and RCC have doctrinal errors. They teach thing that Jesus did not teach. That is why it is not tolerated—you can't believe as a RC and be a Lutheran.

    CoWo does not have doctrinal errors in it. That is why it is tolerated in our Synod. One can be a Lutheran and use CoWo.

    If so, do you think that what we tolerate (and in many cases approve) trumps our confession of faith?

    Once again, I don't see our confession of faith mandating man-made ceremonies. The fact that they are man-made is evidence that they are not required.

    I would sumbit to all of the good folks here that Liturgical Dance is a bit like Grape-Nuts, which are neither grapes nor nuts.

    I would agree with you on this (never actually having eaten grape-nuts, I trust your judgement). Nevertheless, my point with this remains: we don't judge the liturgy on extremities of the liturgy. It is my call to do the same with CoWo.

    Ok: to summarize: I don't buy the argument that you must do traditional worship in order to be a Lutheran. Because to me, the word "Lutheran" means "One who holds to the teachings of Scripture." No more, no less. This is certainly what you see emphasized throughout the Confessions.

    Now, obviously, we read Scripture through the Confessions and I hold to a quia subscription. But I am unconvinced—as are others—that CoWo is inherently non-Lutheran.

    Are you with me on this? Obviously, you can disagree, but that is my position and I certainly don't find it unreasonable.

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  72. MG,

    Sorry, I missed this last part:

    I can't say that I know all that much about the "new measures" that Charles Finney used. I do know that the church can indeed succeed without them.

    I don't do CoWo because that is the only way to worship — and you need to be doing it too! I do CoWo because it is a way of bringing that very Gospel message to people in a clear and succinct way.

    I think it shows love to people, by using what they are familiar with, to communicate something wonderful. I think that it takes human inventions and brings an eternal blessing to them. And through them.

    Reagan was a class act, as American Presidents go.

    But the point is, he was a great communicator. He brought messages to people in a way that they could readily understand and make sense of.

    But he was not "entertaining" as a President. He had been an entertainer and used what he learned, but he was speaking about big important ideas.

    This is why it is properly CoWo and not as FH wants to soil it, as Ent Co.

    Ronald Reagen would agree with me and say to FH "There you go again..."

    (see, that is the problem with using dead people...)

    Fr. Louderback, I do respect your fortitude for coming into the lion's den, as it were.

    You gotta be kidding? How is this the lion's den?

    You are not my enemy. Father Hollywood is not my enemy. You guys are my friends—no, more than that. You are my brothers. We together are assaulting Satan and his gates. Together we will have victory.

    This is not the lion's den. The lion's den is outside of the church, outside of our sunday services, outside of all of this talk—that is frankly, as FH rightly sees, a luxury that we have.

    I'm here cause I like to be here. I think you guys say some good things. I'm trying to push old Fr Curtis to re-think about how he engages with guys like me: rather than writing us off, to actually think in terms of helping to improve and sharpen.

    Well see.

    And I certainly mean no disrespect by repeating the question from my previous post, but I really would like an answer.

    Are you Lutheran?


    The funny thing is, there is much more evidence that you are not the Lutheran than I am the Lutheran.

    I don't see how you hold to your position and not simply reject sola Scriptura. You have stated that holding to Scripture is not enough to be a Lutheran. We have to hold to the traditions of man.

    How do you reconcile that?

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  73. Fr. Louderback,

    Of course we're not *that* kind of lion's den. ;-)

    I simply meant that you're obviously in the minority (in this forum), and it's quite easy to feel badgered in that position and thus abandon any sort of fruitful discussion. So, thanks for your persistence.

    I don't see how you hold to your position and not simply reject sola Scriptura.

    AC XXIV:

    Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved...

    My position is simply that of our Confession. Would you argue that our very Confession is not Lutheran?

    Is not the Divine Liturgy derived wholly from Scripture? As such, it is entirely possible to confine oneself within it and confess Sola Scriptura, and further, we can therefore declare joyfully that the Divine Liturgy is not a tradition of man, but a tradition handed from God to His prophets to His apostles and down to us today.

    The Divine Liturgy is much like the three Creeds to which we bind ourselves. They may have been composed and arranged by men, but they rest wholly on God's Word. And the Athanasian Creed is bold enough to declare that there is no salvation apart from the confession it puts forth.

    So, one can cling to the traditions of men and not abandon Sola Scriptura, so long as those traditions are derived Sola Scriptura. Which, I would argue, is why our forefathers worked so diligently to excise the false doctrines that had encroached into the Liturgy without abandoning it.

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    Replies
    1. The Divine Liturgy is a tradition handed from God? Does it have the same authority as the Epistle to the Romans? Is the BOC equally inspired? The Athanasian Creed condemns when the Bible does not. It's a good thing we had the inerrant early church councils to interpret the Bible for us.

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  74. HR,

    Yes, all the words we use in worship are right out of DS III, p. 184.

    Really? Every week? You don't change it up at all?

    You don't secretly say "catholic" instead of "Christian" in the creed? :)

    Sure, we'd love to see a printed copy of exactly what you are doing in worship. Every week. That would at least give you some accountability.

    This is fascinating Heath. Because once again it implies that your position would have to be something like "I don't like what you said here" as opposed to "I see you are doing CoWo again. This is wrong."


    I mean, is there an opportunity to have this kind of accountability and not have it be a move to cessation? Could you do that—could you make suggestions for improvements and not be moving towards an end result of DS 3? (because that would be my first critique: let's stop using Roman Numbers)

    Is this possible or not Heath? Could you and your brothers simply work towards improving the CoWo that is out there—or is that simply impossible.

    Anyway, can't I just do a video? Would that be acceptable?

    I'm sorta excited by this Heath. You know that I love accountability. You know I think that is important.

    Will you share your evangelism plans with me? And your daily schedule? Can I keep you accountable in that as well?

    We can make our synod better Fr Curtis. Do you see that? We don't have to abandon it. We don't have to write off all CoWo as EntCo. We can do this.

    Are you with me?

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  75. Fr Green,

    I simply meant that you're obviously in the minority (in this forum), and it's quite easy to feel badgered in that position and thus abandon any sort of fruitful discussion. So, thanks for your persistence.

    I know what you mean. :) I just like the big group hug occasionally.

    My position is simply that of our Confession. Would you argue that our very Confession is not Lutheran?

    No, I argue that the way you use the confessions is not Lutheran.

    Scripture clearly states that the early church members sold all they had and all lived out of common. To take that passage and insist that all your members sell everything is not being Scriptural.

    Taking the passages that describe what the reformers were doing and using it as a sine qua non of being a Lutheran seems illegit to me.

    Especially because it runs contrary to our position on sola scriptura.

    Is not the Divine Liturgy derived wholly from Scripture? As such, it is entirely possible to confine oneself within it and confess Sola Scriptura, and further, we can therefore declare joyfully that the Divine Liturgy is not a tradition of man, but a tradition handed from God to His prophets to His apostles and down to us today.

    Uhhhh....no. A tradition handed from God? No. Sorry. Are hymns that have Scripture in them handed from God? No.

    Besides, there is no diff between this and CoWo. CoWo comes from Scripture too, right? Is it handed down by God?

    No.

    The Divine Liturgy is much like the three Creeds to which we bind ourselves. They may have been composed and arranged by men, but they rest wholly on God's Word. And the Athanasian Creed is bold enough to declare that there is no salvation apart from the confession it puts forth.

    And that is fine. I don't mind you saying "You need to hold to the Athanasian creed if you are going to do be a Lutheran." It seems wrong to say "Unless you use the Athanasian creed in every service, you are not a Lutheran."

    See the difference?

    So, one can cling to the traditions of men and not abandon Sola Scriptura, so long as those traditions are derived Sola Scriptura.

    Once again, my point is not to say "We cling to this" but you are saying "Unless you do this, you are not."

    Is it legitimate to insist upon someone following the traditions of men and still claim that you are sola Scriptura? I don't see that.

    Does sola Scriptura really mean "We can enforce you to practice the traditions of men—like fasting on certain days, giving certain amounts, etc"? I mean, as long as they are derived from Scripture?

    Really?

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  76. Fr. Louderback,

    This is the most edifying conversation I've ever had about this topic. Thanks (to you and all involved) for taking the time.

    Let me condense what I think you're saying, mainly to be sure I understand: you take some passages from the Symbols to be prescriptive (ie, legitimate sine qua nons for "membership" as a Lutheran) and others (probably the vast majority) to be merely descriptive (ie, the Reformers are saying to Rome, "We're doing this just the same way you are, so don't accuse us of abandoning this practice"?).

    Is that a fair assessment?

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  77. We don't have to write off all CoWo as EntCo.

    It is not "EntCo," Mark, but "EntWo."

    No, I argue that the way you use the confessions is not Lutheran.

    Nope! The way YOU use the Confessions is not Lutheran, Mark. The fact that you continuously pit Sola Scriptura against our Confessions proves that you do not hold a quia subscription. I don't know why you can't grasp that. It ain't rocket science; it ain't even rock science. For you, the Confessions are merely historical documents which contain a lot of stuff that is only pertinent to the 16th century (you know, like all that silly worship stuff), and a lot of other stuff that is good doctrinal stuff, but only in a general, fundamental kinda way, and only insofar as that doctrinal stuff agrees with your interpretation of Scripture. The Confessions are not, for you, authoritative (except where they agree with your interpretation of Scripture), in the sense that you perform all your duties in accord to them, as you vowed to do. Instead, they're like a good friend you visit from time to time, as you've confessed in the past.

    But, hey, at least you're beginning to admit that there is a real difference between how you and we use/view our Lutheran Confessions. That's progress. It's just that you get it backwards as to who's using/viewing them in the Lutheran way. It ain't you, my friend.

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  78. Mike Green,

    This is the most edifying conversation I've ever had about this topic. Thanks (to you and all involved) for taking the time.

    I find that to be a pretty sad statement. :)

    Let me condense what I think you're saying, mainly to be sure I understand: you take some passages from the Symbols to be prescriptive (ie, legitimate sine qua nons for "membership" as a Lutheran) and others (probably the vast majority) to be merely descriptive (ie, the Reformers are saying to Rome, "We're doing this just the same way you are, so don't accuse us of abandoning this practice"?).

    I will quibble with you "vast majority".

    Creeds: is there anything descriptive there?
    AC: a majority of it is descriptive?
    Large Catechism?

    I think that you and I have a disagreement on the interpretation of about 25 lines in the Confessions.

    Reverse it: the vast majority is prescriptive. There are a few passages that are illegitimate to be used as the sine qua non of being a Lutheran.

    Now, above, you talked about the lion's den. Quotes like this:

    It would be much more honest - to the Shepherd and the sheep - to join a church body that does not accept the Lutheran Confessions in their entirety as an accurate exposition of Scripture (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America comes to mind) than to deceptively stay in ones that do.\

    Are the sorta ones that make coming back here a grind.

    But you see the point of the writer: if I don't hold to how y'all worship, then despite my views on the authority of Scripture, women's ordination, homosexuality, etc, I belong in the ELCA.

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  79. Tom Messer,

    It is not "EntCo," Mark, but "EntWo."

    No, we are going with EntCo. I'm going with EntCo. CoWo, TradCo, EntCo. Sounds better.

    Nope! The way YOU use the Confessions is not Lutheran, Mark.

    Yes, yes.

    The fact that you continuously pit Sola Scriptura against our Confessions proves that you do not hold a quia subscription. I don't know why you can't grasp that.

    Umm...because I am not wrong. That is the reason.

    Look, it is not hard: you want to insist that Lutherans hold to the resurrection of Jesus—hey, Scripture teaches that. You want to insist Lutherans hold to the Trinity—hey, Scripture teaches that.

    You want to insist that Lutherans worship a certain way? Hmmm...Scripture does not teach that.

    So, to be a Lutheran, it is not enough to old to the teachings of Christ and Scripture. You must also hold to man-made traditions.

    And this holds to sola Scriptura how exactly?

    For you, the Confessions are merely historical documents which contain a lot of stuff that is only pertinent to the 16th century (you know, like all that silly worship stuff)

    Once again, the "a lot of stuff"? Really? How much stuff exactly? How many sections speak about this issue Tom? Hmm?

    Did you and I walk through some sections of the confessions that spoke about worship? Didn't I point out what I was doing that was holding to them?

    A lot of stuff? Naaah. You are exaggerating to support your case and I call you on it. Called your bluff. What you got, pair of twos?

    Instead, they're like a good friend you visit from time to time, as you've confessed in the past.

    And you still pull out that passage to attempt to twist it around and have me say something I did not mean to say. Sad.

    You are not beating me on the facts here Tom. Go to the facts.

    But, hey, at least you're beginning to admit that there is a real difference between how you and we use/view our Lutheran Confessions. That's progress. It's just that you get it backwards as to who's using/viewing them in the Lutheran way. It ain't you, my friend.

    Who agrees with you on this point Tom? Hmm? What profs? (Preferably living). I always think that when we have positions that are not supported by those who are training pastors, that we ought to question whether our position is correct or not.

    How many profs actually support your position? Or is this one of the those times that you are the only one but are still absolutely correct?

    Can we name some names here? Or, even off line. E-mail me and let me know (PastorQ at ShareChristArlington net)

    I appreciate your trying to muscle me around with this, but it is not convincing. Not convincing at all. And you have yet to explain the sola Scriptura issue convincingly either.

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  80. I see things are still happening over here. . .

    Fr. Louderback,

    The problem with EntWo is that it is EntWo - I've written more than one paper which you have read about exactly what I mean by that: that it is foreign to out theology, brings in a foreign emphasis, lacks a sense of reverence and holiness of space, fails to show a godly respect for the sacrament, etc.

    You've read the papers and you are not convinced - my hope in reviewing one of your services would be to help you understand these points as they relate to a concrete example of your "best creative work."

    +HRC
    PS: Yup, every week we use the same liturgy, right off of p. 184. Like Lutherans and small c catholics always have. I do not inflict my creativity upon the people.

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  81. Fr. Louderback,

    One final word on this matter (now fronted on the blog) from CS Lewis:

    From Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

    It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain -- many give up churchgoing altogether -- merely endure.

    Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don't go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best -- if you like, it "works" best -- when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

    But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about the worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was "for what does it serve?" "'Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god."

    A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions "What on earth is he up to now?" will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, "I wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try expirements on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."

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  82. Mark,

    I did not have one single prof who taught me to use/view our Lutheran Confessions the way you do. Not one. You want a list of those profs who support my position? All of them (at least, all of the ones under whom I was blessed to learn).

    Look, I'm not trying to muscle you. Good grief, after all the time we've spent going around on this, do you really think me so naive as to think I could muscle you? I'm simply pointing out that the way you break our Confessions down into your own convenient little categories is NOT consistent with a quia subscription. It's just not, Mark. Sorry. Whenever you speak about our Confessions it just screams quatenus. These parts are merely descriptive, those are prescriptive; these are contextual, those are for all time; these were meant only for then, those are binding on us still today; these are Scriptural, those are just thoughts of the Reformers, etc.

    The Sola Scriptura principle to which we Lutherans adhere is not a "me and my Bible" approach, or the Protestant "no creed but the Bible" approach. Never has been. We Lutherans don't look in our Bibles and then go searching our Confessions to see if they agree or not, which is what you do. Rather, we confess that our Confessions are a correct exposition of Scripture. We interpret Scripture through the lens of our Confessions, not the other way around. And, as Lutheran pastors, we have vowed to perform all of our duties in accord with those Confessions. They're not akin to high school diplomas we put away after we graduate only to gaze upon every now and then to remember what we once achieved/learned, but the continuous source of what we believe, teach, confess, and practice, guiding us in how we perform our duties accordingly. If we were mechanics, our Confessions would be both the repair manual and the tools by which we perform our duties; not the old textbook we read when we went through Mechanics School, which gave us the basics, etc.

    And the reason I keep bringing up your statement about viewing our Confessions as a good friend is because I think it actually represents very well how you use/view them. How am I pulling that out of context?

    When it comes to worship, your take is, "Our Confessions merely reveal to us what our Lutheran forefathers thought was a good idea at the time. They give us some good principles, but everything can be reduced to proclaiming the Gospel. As long as that's happening, everything else they said doesn't really apply to us today. After all, I don't look to the Confessions to inform me on how to worship, but to Scripture . . ."

    My take is, "What our Confessions say about worship reveals a theology of worship which is Scriptural, and to which all Lutherans are duty bound to adhere. Our Lutheran forefathers did not mean, 'This is how we choose to worship now, but y'all feel free to worship however you please later, just so long as you proclaim the Gospel,' but rather, 'This is how Lutherans worship.'"

    This leads me to continue to confess, "I do not abolish the Mass, etc." You? Not so much, because, well, the Mass is so 16th century . . .

    And the proof is in the pudding, my friend. Where do modern day "Lutherans," such as yourself, turn for ideas on how to worship? You go directly to Scripture, bypassing our Confessions. The problem is that, in bypassing our Confessions, since you don't believe them helpful on the whole worship issue, you end up with a different theology of worship, based on what Mark believes Scripture says about worship (oh, and what all the really cool, hip, and relevant "evangelical" worship gurus believe), which results in "EntWo" - which ain't Lutheran! And your defense is, "Sola Scriptura," but you prove by your actions that you really do not know what that means.

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  83. The attention called to the dichotomy between sola Scripture and the traditions of men, in a discussion of the worship practices of Christians claiming to be Lutheran, is perfidious.

    The war-cry principle identifies the ultimate Source which governs the beliefs and doctrines of the Church. How, we go about worship is a different matter. How we behave and communicate with the Lord, in that holy setting where Christ promises to be, is most hopefully and prayerfully grounded in the Scriptures which speak of Him; but our speech in practice is is not flooded with such writings only.

    I feel confident that the innovative Rev. Louderback resorts to the traditions of the human brain with far more gusto than Rev. Fr. Beane, any given Sunday and high festival day. Rev. Louderback's lips speak nothing but Scripture, when his congregation meets. His brain's tradition is to craft a new tradition, one lasting all of an hour or so, on a day of rest. But his ordo is not limited to the Word alone, as fatr as can be determined. It would be interesting to compare which Lutheran worship is more suffused, more bathed with God's very Word ... that of the liturgical Louisianan congregation of Beane, or that of the Arkansan gathering which seeks ... according to the public estimation of its own shepherd ... a "fullness of emotional experience."

    The focus of Lutheran worship is not on expressing the "fullness" of the brain's limbic lobe; that's the stuff of the Zwickau prophets. It's not about limiting the faithful to the "now," and the ephemeral fashions of today's dying world; in our worship, centered around Word and Sacrament, we link with the eternal and Reality itself. We transcend time, as God comes to us to serve that which apostles, confessors and martyrs see.

    While I do feel emotion at Zion at Detroit, or St. Paul's at Kewanee, the Service of God drives me more to my knees, than to a waving of my hands. It's what the Magadalene and healed lepers did. Smoting of the breast is what the repentant publican did, in a worship that left him justified, at the end of the day. The atmosphere and the liturgy Lutheran church is conducive to such. The point of God's coming is not to answer curiosity, as to what the clever Rev. Louderback has concocted this week; rather, it is to assure me of the blessed forgiveness of sins, from the very present Lord's lips and His fingers.

    Lutheran worship has not been devised to supply a convulsive "fullness of emotions expression" to the sheep, as assisted by that praise band rockin' with the 80's; that's not the sacrifice of human neurons, sought after by God. Using Word alone, "the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken an contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Ps 51:17) How seriously that is taken, will fashion how a church greets a just, but gracious and merciful God.

    The creative stuff with the loin-cloth and fists pumping is best saved, I think, for outside the Temple, as was the practice of St. King David. After all, Scriptures again and again speak of the pious worthy things of the past, as being examples for us to follow (e.g., 1 Cor 10:6; 1 Pt 2:21). We're Lutherans of the conservative reformation of the dear Church (cf. C.P. Krauth); not neo-Carlstadtians.

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  84. "Rev. Louderback's lips speak nothing but Scripture, when his congregation meets..."

    I'm truly sorry. This is my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault. The image, if appealing, is false and the result of ham-handed fumbling at the keyboard, which is why I don't do appendices. Anyway, the cleric's talking point, which touches on sola Scriptura, would have to be taken far more seriously, were his behavior so. But he doesn't; he relies on his own traditions and acquired reflexes, which differ from those of the catholic Church's in that they have a life of maybe days.

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  85. Where are your kids for half of their waking hours?
    http://wilderdom.com/experiential/JohnDeweyPhilosophyEducation.html
    Do you still wonder why the boomers and their kids are demanding CoWo? You can crab about TradCo all you want for 1 or 2 hours per week. Don't worry. The teachers have the kids for 6 hours/day. What hope do you have when they're marinated in a post-modern worldview all week?

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  86. Marinus,

    What hope do you have when they're marinated in a post-modern worldview all week?

    Our hope is in Christ, who has overcome the world.

    One of the additional benefits of the Divine Liturgy in our post-modern era is that we get to step out of it and into eternity for that hour or two each week, joining with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven.

    It's nice to get away from the football stadiums and movie theaters and kick it old school.

    Is it legal to home-school in your neck of the woods?

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  87. Fr Curtis,

    I see things are still happening over here. . .

    I know. I'm persistant, stubborn, idiotic in that matter...

    The problem with EntWo is that it is EntWo

    No, it isn't.

    Look, Heath, there are a lot of people who like seeing a priest wash their hands, display incense, etc. They enjoy that in a service.

    That does not make it entertainment.

    What about hymns? Organ introductions? Additional musical instruments? Harmony?

    People like this as well. All worship — all — is enjoyable at some level.

    What CoWo does is that it makes it enjoyable for a set of people who are bored and disinterested in a traditional service. Lament away about the wonder of the service. Some just don't enjoy it.

    And, the real reason it is not entertaining, is because it is bringing a message of life and death.

    Now, do I use movie clips, TV clips, etc, to demonstrate points? Sure. But I never learned that a sermon illustration was "entertainment" and verboten. Did you?

    Now, do you want to say that some CoWo is entertainment? Sure. But then, I repeat, liturgical dance. Does that make ALL liturgy bad?

    I'll keep going around and around on this Heath: because you are at the core, wrong. And that wrongness allows you to be dismissive. And that is not legitimate. It is battling against a straw man and winning: not much of a victory.

    I've written more than one paper which you have read about exactly what I mean by that: that it is foreign to out theology, brings in a foreign emphasis, lacks a sense of reverence and holiness of space, fails to show a godly respect for the sacrament, etc.

    Ummmm....the paper I read that you wrote said that it doesn't matter how we worship. So, we should use whatever floats are boat.

    I'd read other stuff you wrote on it. Send it to me. (oh please, don't force me to use that website you posted your paper to...please, please...)

    You've read the papers and you are not convinced...

    No....I am convinced. Nothing I do changes anything in eternity. So I may as well worship in a way I like. After all, it makes no difference, right?

    Like Lutherans and small c catholics always have.

    I didn't growing up. We used two services. Sometimes matins.

    Once again, I think that you have gathered around yourself a group ho simply like what you are doing. No harm in that, but we should admit it. Not all would like doing the same thing week in and week out.

    God did not make us all the same and pushing the position that we should act that way doesn't speak the truth.

    Oh: it is too bad the liturgy didn't keep CS Lewis from questioning the bodily resurrection, eh? A weakness in the teaching...

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  88. Tom,

    I did not have one single prof who taught me to use/view our Lutheran Confessions the way you do. Not one.

    That's not what I asked Tom. I asked "Did any of your professors hold to the position that unless a person worships using traditional liturgy, they cannot be called a confessional Lutheran." That is what I asked.

    Who holds to that position Tom? Anyone?

    It is odd that I never read that in any journal articles. I've read plenty of critical comments of CoWo in both journals. But I've never read anyone say "And of course, it is impossible for someone who does CoWo to make the claim that they are confessional Lutherans."

    So, I'll push you on this, in the hope that you will actually answer my question, or you will realize that you are simply making a personal statement: who supports a position that states a person cannot hold to a quia subscription and do CoWo?

    Look, I'm not trying to muscle you.

    Mmm...feels like it.

    Good grief, after all the time we've spent going around on this, do you really think me so naive as to think I could muscle you?

    I keep talking to you, thinking that I will convince you of my positon...so, if I am that dumb... :)

    Whenever you speak about our Confessions it just screams quatenus. These parts are merely descriptive, those are prescriptive...

    Because the point of quia subscription is to say the Confessions are an accurate representation of what Scripture teaches. When the Confessions are speaking about issues outside of Scripture, they are no longer binding.

    And you know all of the examples on this: derivation of words. Science. Etc.

    There is nothing in Scripture that says "Here is how you must worship." Nothing. Ok, there is "Do this in remembrance of me." "Baptize." And have pastors. That's it. That's all.

    You want to say "Holding to Scripture is not enough..." And, yes, I reject that position.

    And it is a legitimate rejection. I'm not saying "I don't lik the 4th commandment" or something goofy like that. I'm not using Gospel reductionism to eliminate words of the Law.

    I am saying "It is not legitimate to bind a conscience to something that is not in Scripture."

    The Sola Scriptura principle to which we Lutherans adhere is not a "me and my Bible" approach, or the Protestant "no creed but the Bible" approach. Never has been

    Groan. You always respond this way when we have this discussion. And my position is "I know." I said "We read Scripture through the Confessions." The Confessions are the lens through which Scripture is read. We do not have "No Creeds except the Bible."

    The confessions ARE an accurate statement of Scripture. But there is no Scripture that says "Use the Western Liturgy for worship." There simply is not.

    If you want to say "The Western Liturgy is best" fine. If you want to say "We ought to do as the church has done" fine.

    But to say "We hold to sola Scriptura and we also insist that there is only one possible way for Lutherans to worship" is not legit. It simply is not.

    And the reason I keep bringing up your statement about viewing our Confessions as a good friend is because I think it actually represents very well how you use/view them. How am I pulling that out of context?

    Because my point was to say how much I loved the confessions and how much I enjoyed reading them. It was not meant to say "I don't really hold to quia."

    You ought to stop using it. Because I simply now regret being honest with you and wish I were more guarded saying things like "I read the confession; I feel they agree with my position."

    When I read the Confessions, I read me and what I am about.

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  89. Tom M (cont)

    When it comes to worship, your take is, "Our Confessions merely reveal to us what our Lutheran forefathers thought was a good idea at the time. They give us some good principles, but everything can be reduced to proclaiming the Gospel. As long as that's happening, everything else they said doesn't really apply to us today. After all, I don't look to the Confessions to inform me on how to worship, but to Scripture . . ."

    Now that is a good expression of my position.

    I would quibble a bit with "Proclaiming the Gospel"; I understand that as "Proclaiming Law and Gospel". I don't want you to misunderstand my position as some Gospel reductionism.

    Most guys who reject WO, homosexuality, etc, can't really be accused of this, but some guys on GD think I'd be happy in the ELCA, so I gotta parse words like Bill Clinton.

    My take is, "What our Confessions say about worship reveals a theology of worship which is Scriptural, and to which all Lutherans are duty bound to adhere. Our Lutheran forefathers did not mean, 'This is how we choose to worship now, but y'all feel free to worship however you please later, just so long as you proclaim the Gospel,' but rather, 'This is how Lutherans worship.'"

    Right. And my question is "How can you bind someone to something that is not in Scripture and still hold to sola Scriptura?"

    Seriously. How?

    This leads me to continue to confess, "I do not abolish the Mass, etc." You? Not so much, because, well, the Mass is so 16th century . . .

    Once again Tom, don't make me say things that I don't say. I've always been supportive of those using liturgical worship. I've never criticized it. Shoot, I did it for years.

    So don't argue with someone else. You are arguing with me and my position.

    And the proof is in the pudding, my friend. Where do modern day "Lutherans," such as yourself, turn for ideas on how to worship? You go directly to Scripture, bypassing our Confessions. The problem is that, in bypassing our Confessions, since you don't believe them helpful on the whole worship issue, you end up with a different theology of worship, based on what Mark believes Scripture says about worship (oh, and what all the really cool, hip, and relevant "evangelical" worship gurus believe), which results in "EntWo" - which ain't Lutheran! And your defense is, "Sola Scriptura," but you prove by your actions that you really do not know what that means.

    A lot to unpack on this. I question whether my view of worship is really different from yours. I question whether the Confessions do not inform my position of worship--since I am reading Scripture through the Confessions. And the fact of the matter is that our Synod is working towards a Lutheran theology of CoWo.

    Ok. Have I convinced you? ;)

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  90. Marinus,

    My daughter went to Lutheran school, K-5th grade.

    Dr Anderson,

    that of the liturgical Louisianan congregation of Beane, or that of the Arkansan gathering which seeks ... according to the public estimation of its own shepherd ... a "fullness of emotional experience."

    I'm in Tennessee Dr Anderson. Arlington, TN.

    You point seems to be that real worship is more about making people "feel" a certain way and not having people "feel" another way.

    I think that worship is worship and people will feel differently at different times because, well, people are different.

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  91. Mike Green,

    Hey, listen, I was thinking about something in the shower the other day, where I do all my thinking. Thus, I think for very short periods of time.

    Let's go back to the early church: would you be in favor of a position of a person who says "In order to be Lutheran, you need to be circumcised."

    "Now, I'm not saying that they need to be a Christian to be circumcised; but to be a Lutheran: yes."

    "After all, I went to the future and I read this:

    Is not the Divine Liturgy derived wholly from Scripture? As such, it is entirely possible to confine oneself within it and confess Sola Scriptura, and further, we can therefore declare joyfully that the Divine Liturgy is not a tradition of man, but a tradition handed from God to His prophets to His apostles and down to us today.

    "Ha! Circumcision is commanded by God in the OT. It is much more of a 'tradition' than Traditional Worship."

    ====

    Would this be legit? Would it be acceptable to insist to be Lutheran means that one holds to the tradition of our past and thus we are circumcised? To insist upon it and require it? If this would not be appropriate -- and once again, I'm not arguing a position contra Paul that circumcision is necessary for salvation. I'm saying that circumcision being necessary to be a Lutheran is the same thing as having traditional worship necessary for a person to be Lutheran.

    With me?

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  92. Circumcision is a covenant that was fulfilled in Christ - and so we can disregard it and be uncircumsized and be part of God's people. We have freedom to be either/or.

    Reverence is not something that was fulfilled in Christ so that it can now be disregarded. Being reverent or flippant is not an equivalent either/or situation.

    The Book of Leviticus doesn't command us how to worship (we don't have Levitical priests and animal sacrifices any more), but it is a beautiful window into how the Lord sees worship. He prefers beauty, reverence, and order. And our worship is a copy of the heavenly things, is it not?

    I find this shows the flaw in your argument, Mark. To ask the question "how much foreskin do I need to be a Lutheran?" is to miss Christ. If you believe church is entertainment, than church will be as hollow as a Seinfeld episode. But if you confess what we confess about the miracle of the Lord's physical presence, then you won;t do things like burp, wear flip-flops, use McDonald's napkins for purificators, and drink the Lord's Blood out of a Daytona 500 mug.

    Reverence is a confession of the Lord's presence, and it has nothing to do with circumcision.

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  93. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  94. "Could you and your brothers simply work towards improving the CoWo that is out there—or is that simply impossible."

    You can put lipstick on a pig...

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  95. Dear Tina:

    You can, of course. But what message does it send to the world when our Divine Worship is a pig wearing cosmetics? What does it confess to one another?

    Would anyone be content to put lipstick on a pig at, say, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

    Why shouldn't Jesus get the fine china and the treatment that we would give, say, the president of the United States?

    There is just something not quite kosher (pun intended) here...

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  96. FH,

    Mmm...sorta a shift there. You move from "Lutherans do TradCo" to "Lutherans worship reverently."

    The insistance is not worshiping reverently. It is that the worship is liturgical. Right?

    So, burping, wearing flip-flops, using McDonald's napkins for purificators, and drinking the Lord's Blood out of a Daytona 500 mug are not really touched upon with the command of the Confessions.

    See my point? I can buy "our worship needs to be reverent" as a command. But that does not equal "To be Lutheran, you need to worship a certain way".

    Of course, I have never seen any liturgical worship with burping, napkins, etc. But then I've never seen any CoWo like that either.

    So, the question is still one of "How can one hold to sola Scriptura and insist on something that is not commanded in Scripture?"

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  97. Dear Mark:

    Traditional worship is reverent. That's why people are "uncomfortable" with it, "bored" with it, or that they "don't get anything out of it" and why they clamor for drums, dancers, and drama.

    For we live in a culture that not only has a short attention span, but is irreverent, coarse, and self-centered. We are used to 24-7 entertainment. Our American aristocracy is the entertainment class. Entertainment is the American Idol.

    That's why "contemporary" worship is entertainment worship.

    It is a focus on the self and on its tastes rather than focusing on God and His gifts. When the focus of worship is God (whom we fear, love, and trust above all things, and who is the giver of forgiveness, life, and salvation), suddenly casualness just seems out of place - whether flip-flops or khakis, whether with burping or just cracking jokes.

    Is there is a line that one can argue is a universal border that ought not be crossed in worship? If not, then why not flatulence jokes and sexual innuendo (par for the course in the entertainment world - even kids' movies)?

    It was almost surreal to have a military guy in a crew cut attend my Bible class and argue that Ozzy Osbourne music can indeed be "reverent" and that reverence was a completely subjective matter. I disagree with his premise. If reverence is subjective, than why not have the Holy Eucharist flip-flops, burping the verba, playing guitars, having a few dancing girls and clowns, a drum soloist, and a stuffed SpongeBob in the sanctuary? It's all subjective, right? I'm sure in some cultures, the well-executed belch is seen as high praise, so let's all burp the Benediction, shall we? (Actually, there was a district wide youth gathering a couple years back in my district in which there was a "Mass Event" (not what I would call it) in which the kids were encouraged to see who could belch the loudest in the sanctuary).

    Great, huh?

    This is the problem with non-traditional worship: to defend it requires the acceptance of an anything-goes hermeneutic.

    Hence the wisdom of Article 24 and the conservative reformation.

    I think God that Luther and the reformers took the high road when it came to these matters - and I am glad that Article 24 is there even if other guys see it as nothing more than a historic relic.

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  98. Fr. Louderback,

    Your shower should have reminded you of Holy Baptism, which supersedes circumcision. ;-) But I see Fr. Beane has already knocked that grapefruit out of the park.

    You did get me thinking, though. Could the Reformers have insisted on circumcision for Lutherans? Yes, they could have. They could have insisted on any number of requirements to be Lutheran. So long as they didn't create any new requirements for being a Christian, they really could have insisted on just about anything that came to mind: funny hats, silly walks, etc.

    Being a Christian doesn't necessarily make one a Lutheran. But being a Lutheran (in faith, not just by lip service) necessarily makes one a Christian. Mathematically speaking, Lutherans are a subset of Christians. Does this make Lutheranism superior to Christianity? Of course not! But, by the grace of God, our Confession is error-free and, therefore, the best one out there. And, while it is certainly much more than an employees' handbook, there are some similarities.

    Lutherans can insist on any number of requirements to be Lutheran. Actually, it would be more correct to say the founders could have insisted. But they could not insist that those requirements were necessary for salvation (membership in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church).

    Even amongst Lutherans there are different requirements. Polity and hierarchy differ quite a bit from Synod to Synod. And each congregation enjoys a great deal of autonomy (perhaps too much). But all Lutherans must adhere to the Augsburg Confession (though sadly they do not).

    So, while I can say with certainty that Liturgical Worship is required to be a Lutheran, I cannot say that Liturgical Worship is required to be a Christian (even though it is meet, right and salutary for Christians to use it). I can argue with a Baptist all day about baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence, but I cannot bind his conscience with the Liturgy. We can, however, bind yours, though obviously you disagree.

    Imagine I was hired at one of Initech's local offices. The office manager, Mr. Lumbergh, shakes my hand, welcomes me aboard, and tells me that mandatory core hours are 9am to 3pm. He also lets me know that his employees use the new cover sheet to fax their TPS reports. I report for work at 8am every day. But I can't stand the TPS cover sheet. It's bland, it's in a dated font, and everybody else is using it. I gotta be me. I mean, I'll wear the Hawaiian shirt on Friday, but I can't abide with this cover sheet. So, I make my own cover sheet for my TPS reports. It's hip, trendy, and vibrant. In short, it's one avant garde cover sheet. Lumbergh comes by my desk every day to remind me that I need to be using the new cover sheet. And he sends me memos. I feel Lumbergh's stodginess about this matter is absurd, so I check the "Policies" section of the corporate website. Sure enough, there's mention of the core hours, but there's nothing in there about TPS reports, so Lumbergh can go hang. I mean, he didn't even command (prescribe for) me to use the new coversheet. All he did was describe his employees' behavior in regard to the cover sheet.

    Like it or not, Lumbergh is the boss. So long as he doesn't countermand or contradict corporate policies, I must submit to him. And while I perhaps shouldn't compare Lumbergh (who is the devil) to the Augsburg Confession, that's the gist of the analogy. We do business like the Augsburg Confession says we do business.

    Fortunately, it was not the founders' intent to load us up with unnecessary requirements. They were, on the contrary, trying to right wrongs that had overburdened consciences for centuries. But at the same time, they clung tenaciously to all traditions that were helpful, namely the Liturgy.

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  99. Mike Green,

    Your shower should have reminded you of Holy Baptism, which supersedes circumcision. ;-) But I see Fr. Beane has already knocked that grapefruit out of the park.

    Uh...I disagree.

    Lutherans can insist on any number of requirements to be Lutheran.

    I can't agree with this. I mean, I just cannot hold to this.

    If this were true, then what exactly does sola Scriptura mean? It means nothing.


    When you live by the law, you die by the law. You want the law to say "Confessional Lutherans only worship with traditional liturgy according to the Confessions." Fr Beane has turned this into "Confessional Lutherans only worship with reverent worship."

    It is not the same. They are two different things.

    I had a dream last nigh —seriously, God was obviously speaking to me—where I was at a liturgical service and pastors (who I knew—I mean, like they were real live people in my wife) were doing some dancing in their albs. Not liturgical dance, more like Elvis.

    So...I feel as though you guys are wanting me to hold to the EXACT wording of the Confessions. Then when I push you on it, you take a position of "Well, what this MEANS is this..."

    Well...what is the diff? I'm saying that.

    You did get me thinking, though. Could the Reformers have insisted on circumcision for Lutherans? Yes, they could have. They could have insisted on any number of requirements to be Lutheran. So long as they didn't create any new requirements for being a Christian, they really could have insisted on just about anything that came to mind: funny hats, silly walks, etc.

    Ummmm.... doesn't that bother you? Aren't you bothered by a positon that says "To be a Lutheran means that we almost had to wear funny hats and walk silly walks and we also hold to sola Scriptura."

    I mean...surely you see my point.

    Even amongst Lutherans there are different requirements. Polity and hierarchy differ quite a bit from Synod to Synod.

    That is not the same thing. In fact, it is evident of my point. Because those things do not matter as to be a Lutheran. We need to have some polity though and so we come up with something and we all agree to work with it.

    But the very fact that a person can have a completely different polity and we still recognize them as Lutheran illustrates my point: being a Lutheran is not to follow a bunch of rules that the reformers set up. It is to hold to what Scripture teaches. That is why we follow the confessions and that is their strength. To say that we follow whatever they say just because they say it once again goes against sola Scriptura.

    So, while I can say with certainty that Liturgical Worship is required to be a Lutheran, I cannot say that Liturgical Worship is required to be a Christian (even though it is meet, right and salutary for Christians to use it).

    I agree.

    We can, however, bind yours...

    You can try!!!! :)

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  100. Mike Green (Round 2)


    Like it or not, Lumbergh is the boss. So long as he doesn't countermand or contradict corporate policies, I must submit to him. And while I perhaps shouldn't compare Lumbergh (who is the devil) to the Augsburg Confession, that's the gist of the analogy. We do business like the Augsburg Confession says we do business.

    Well, you wouldn't be missing any work, I'll tell ya that.

    The issue here is quia subscription. I mean, quia doesn't mean "We hold to what they teach no matter what it is." That is not what it means. That is not what confessional Lutheranism is.

    No, rather we hold to quia because the Confessions ARE an accurate statement of Scripture.

    Your position is that we hold to it because we agree to submit to its authority. But that is not what quia subscription is.

    Fortunately, it was not the founders' intent to load us up with unnecessary requirements. They were, on the contrary, trying to right wrongs that had overburdened consciences for centuries. But at the same time, they clung tenaciously to all traditions that were helpful, namely the Liturgy.

    Yes. Because that was their context. They were reaching out to Roman Catholics.

    Once again, I gotta ask you, What does sola Scriptura mean to you? How can you say that you hold to that on the one hand and say that the confessions would indeed bind us if they taught something not included in Scripture?

    What does sola Scriptura mean?

    We do business like the Augsburg Confession says we do business.

    By the way, I actually agree with this. Because if you read the Confessions, you see exactly what I learned in PLI: connecting to Christ. The Confessions are all about Jesus Christ and exalting what He has done and proclaiming it clearly for all to understand.

    That is what I am all about. That is my business.

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  101. Fr. Louderback,

    How is it that you are certain that the Lutheran's clinging to the traditional forms was merely irenic?

    When all the dust settled after the split, when it was clear there was to be no reconciliation with Rome, the Lutherans changed very little about the Mass. These guys had every reason to hate everything Romish. They'd been through hell. And yet they clung to the traditional forms, all while non-Lutheran "reformers" were abandoning those forms.

    Imagine that there was a Lutheran version of the Discalced Carmelites. Are you saying that you would have no problem joining their Order and then parading around with shoes on your feet? And when called on it, you'd have no problem using Sola Scriptura as your defense?

    Or would you say that the monks of St. Augustine's House are not Christians, because they honor extra-Scriptural (but non-heretical) vows?

    Sola Scriptura means that there is no salvation apart from how the Scriptures deliver it. It doesn't mean that I'm free to break any vows that I've made and use it as a defense.

    "Your position is that we hold to it because we agree to submit to its authority."

    No. I submit to it, because it contains a faithful exposition of Scripture. But then I really submit to it (except where I sin and fall short).

    You, if I understand correctly, bound yourself to the parts that appeal to you, ignored what doesn't, and hide behind Sola Scriptura.

    By the way, I actually agree [that we do business like the Augsburg Confession says we do business].

    You started holding to the traditional forms? You must have had quite an epiphany in that shower. ;-)

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  102. Mike Green,

    So, are you Fr Green? I mean, as long as we are chatting like this, I'm a pastor in Arlington, TN, went to Concorida, StL, graduated 97, this is my third parish.

    You ask:

    How is it that you are certain that the Lutheran's clinging to the traditional forms was merely irenic?

    I'm not. He's dead. I can't ask him.

    That is the problem with talking about what dead people think. You can't really ask them.

    When all the dust settled after the split, when it was clear there was to be no reconciliation with Rome, the Lutherans changed very little about the Mass.

    Yes. Why?

    Did they do that because of their love for the liturgy? Because they were all about the reverence? Or because they loved the people. And they knew that the people would be most comfortable and hear the Gospel in a modified liturgical situation.Not one where they just threw it all away.

    So...who knows? We can sorta argue about what they might think, but ultimately we just don't know.

    Imagine that there was a Lutheran version of the Discalced Carmelites. Are you saying that you would have no problem joining their Order and then parading around with shoes on your feet? And when called on it, you'd have no problem using Sola Scriptura as your defense?

    I have not the faintest idea what you are talking about. Hold on why I Google Dicalced Carmelites.

    (Pause as he googles)

    Ok. Got it.

    I guess my question is "Do the Dicalced Carmelites claim that not wearing shoes is Scriptural?"

    Why do we have a quia subscription to the Confessions? Because the teaching of the confessions is a accurate teaching of Scripture. Not in so far as it is accurate.

    I don't know why they don't wear shoes. But if they said "Because God commands it" well, I could certainly ask where, couldn't I?

    Is it your position that holding to the liturgy simply is not Scriptural and is not a part of quia? (how can it be if it is not Scriptural?) But there are parts of the confessions that we simply hold to that are not Scriptural?

    Is that your argument?

    Sola Scriptura means that there is no salvation apart from how the Scriptures deliver it.

    No. it means that the teachings of the church are based solely on Scripture and not on the traditions of men. It means that the source of our teaching is Scripture. Not men,

    The Roman Catholic Church holds to your position of sola Scriptura, don't they?

    No. I submit to it, because it contains a faithful exposition of Scripture.

    Ok. Where does Scripture refer to the Western liturgy? Where does Scripture insist we worship a certain way?

    You, if I understand correctly, bound yourself to the parts that appeal to you, ignored what doesn't, and hide behind Sola Scriptura.

    Yeah....I don't think this is an accurate re-statement of my position. Would you try again? Perhaps being able to re-state my position with accuracy would be helpful in the discussion.

    I myself can't state what your position is. I admit to that.

    But I do see that you would say that t is not enough to merely hold to the teachings of Scripture in order to be a Lutheran. In order to be a Lutheran, we need to pledge to hold to the teachings of Scripture and to certain traditions of men.

    I think that is close to your position.

    You started holding to the traditional forms? You must have had quite an epiphany in that shower. ;-)

    (Chuckle) No, I just started being more reverent in my CoWo. I wear socks with my flip-flops now.

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  103. Father Hollywood,

    Traditional worship is reverent.

    Oh, that is not true and you know it. Traditional worship can have all sorts of funky stuff added to it. Liturgical dance is a part of traditional worship, right?

    Or are you making another definition? Are you defining "traditional worship" as something like "Traditional worship is worship that follows the Western liturgy and is done in a referent style" or something like that?

    That could be. But the Confessions still hold us to worship only as the Western Mass right? It does not say whether it can be done "reverently" or "casually"? Right?

    That's why people are "uncomfortable" with it...

    You know, I love that you admit this. I love that you see that people see your worship and think that it lacks something. That it is deficient.

    What I don't like is that your end position is "You guys are just wrong." I am not convinced that this is the case.

    That's why "contemporary" worship is entertainment worship.

    Ummm...that actually does not follow. Why isn't "Liturgical worship" entertainment? You state how our society is and then make a proclamation. But the proclamation is not based upon the information given.

    I mean, just because ou society is based on entertainment doesn't mean that you are based on entertainment. Why is that reasoning any different from yours?

    A little logic would be helpful. That's all I'm saying.

    It is a focus on the self and on its tastes rather than focusing on God and His gifts....suddenly casualness just seems out of place..

    See, here is the issue: you say that "casualness" is out of place. But the fact of the matter is, when Jesus met people, He did not care about how they were dressed. He didn't insist on any special clothes at all.

    No, in fact, He specifically condemned the Pharisees for dressing "oh-so-right" and being whitewashed tombs.

    I don't care about how I dress, FH, because God doesn't care. He doesn't. He does not give a hoot about what I am wearing during the week. Or on Sunday.

    The only person who cares about this is you.

    And I am not dressing to please you.

    Only other people care about how people are dressed. They are the only ones who judge. Who look down on. Who look with distain. Scorn.

    God does not. He expressly looks to the heart of the individual.

    That is why I don't care about what I wear. Not because I don't care about God. But I don't care about your opinion. God loves me as I am. His Son died for me as I am. I don't have to pretend I am someone different. I don't have to put on a mask or dress in a costume.

    Did you remember earlier about talking about meeting with Pres Obama? I am sure that I would dress differently in speaking to him. Because people would be watching. People care about that sorta thing. They are shallow like that.

    But do you remember when Pres Obama had Henry Gates and James Crowley visit him? Do you remember what they wore? Does anyone care what they wore?

    I don't mind that you want to wear a robe to worship God. That is fine. I do mind that you seem to think that it is the only proper way to worship God. I find that objectionable.

    Burping on the other hand? Once again, you describe things that I have never seen....

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  104. FH (Cont)


    Is there is a line that one can argue is a universal border that ought not be crossed in worship?...

    See, here is the thing Larry: I would like nothing more than to sit down and have this sort of conversation with you. I think it would be a good idea.

    But it is sorta sitting down to talk to a anarchist about civil liberties versus national security. Because at some point, the anarchist is simply going to say "There ought to be no government." And that sorta ends the tension.

    We can talk abut this border—but won't your position ultimately be "Unless you are wearing a robe, it is not Lutheran"? So what is there to talk about? You postion is simply "It is only right to do what I am doing."

    That is not much of a discussion.

    I mean, once again, is there any give in your position? Is there any flexibility? Can a person do CoWo or is it simply impossible?

    Because if your position is "CoWo can never be Lutheran" then no, I don't think I'll bother trying to come up with some line that ultimately does't matter. There will never be national security issues for the anarchist. Why bother trying?

    It was almost surreal to have a military guy in a crew cut attend my Bible class and argue that Ozzy Osbourne music can indeed be "reverent" and that reverence was a completely subjective matter. I disagree with his premise.

    So do I, but who cares? It is not that Ozzy is not reverent. It is that anything other than LSB (and a handful of other hymns) is not reverent.

    It is the position that drums (other than tympani) are not reverent.

    Great, huh?

    And even if I oppose it, that would not be enough would it? Our agreement would NEVER be enough until I was doing what you were doing.

    Only then would it be reverent enough.

    I don't think reverence is the waxen nose that others make it out to be. But nor do I believe that reverence can only be defined as what you do in worship and only what you do in worship.

    And anything else is simply not reverent.

    (And I don't mean YOU as in you. I could say Heath. Maybe a few others, I don't know. One of the societies out there.)

    That position is simply not defendable.

    This is the problem with non-traditional worship: to defend it requires the acceptance of an anything-goes hermeneutic.

    Actually, that is not true. The problem with your position is that it is a "Only this goes". And that is not true either.

    A government does not have to be a dictatorship or non-existent. There are not merely these two extremes when it comes to how our lives are governed.

    Why is it different when it comes to how we worship? Why are there only two extremes that are acceptable?

    I think God that Luther and the reformers took the high road when it came to these matters - and I am glad that Article 24 is there even if other guys see it as nothing more than a historic relic.

    What is important is that you speak of this as "the high road." You don't say "The Reformers did what God said for them to do."

    Once again: is it possible to hold to sola Scriptura and be a Lutheran? Or is your position of sola Scriptura simply "The Bible teaches us about Jesus"?

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  105. For those of you who are still reading at this point:

    Father Curtis says:

    But please note, we are not picking on the "worst" of CoWo.

    That is what he says. Then, we see all of the following descriptions:

    In my own denomination and confession, we have clown worship, dancing girls, polka services, and heavy metal worship

    Some will even sing outdated Rolling Stones songs and change the lyrics to say "Jesus" a couple times.

    They are there to put on a show, to make faces and gestures and to wiggle around and call attention to themselves.

    The principal at the Lutheran High School I served a few years ago actually had a SpongeBob on a pole as a religious icon in the sanctuary.

    then you won;t do things like burp, wear flip-flops, use McDonald's napkins for purificators, and drink the Lord's Blood out of a Daytona 500 mug.

    It was almost surreal to have a military guy in a crew cut attend my Bible class and argue that Ozzy Osbourne music can indeed be "reverent"

    Actually, there was a district wide youth gathering a couple years back in my district in which there was a "Mass Event" (not what I would call it) in which the kids were encouraged to see who could belch the loudest in the sanctuary).


    I have seen nothing like this. Through PLI I went to two churches a year for 5 years ( bit fewer). All had CoWo services. Never did I see anything like this. I saw pastors robed and unrobed yes. I heard praise songs—some that really did rock.

    But never anything even close to anything that is described here. Nothing close to it.

    I don't doubt that Fr Curtis believes what he is saying. And I don't doubt that these happened. But there is a difference between exceptions and the rule.

    I believe that Fr Curtis is simply wrong in his statement and it colors the discussion.

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  106. "Did they do that because of their love for the liturgy? Because they were all about the reverence? Or because they knew that the people would be most comfortable and hear the Gospel in a modified liturgical situation..."

    One thing I do not need as a poor miserable sinner is a comfortable feeling. My old adam is one tough SOB.

    Familiarity is not necessarily *comfortable*.

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  107. Brother Louderback,

    You continue to want your cake and eat it, too. You want to be Lutheran in doctrine, but not in practice. The way you conveniently make this arrangement work for yourself is to consistently make the claim that what our Confessions confess about practice does not apply to us today. You can sift the doctrine out of our Confessions, while ignoring what they confess about practice. It's a neat trick that's been tried for as long as there have been Lutherans. But, it fails.

    That's because, contrary to your opinion, our Lutheran forefathers knew what they were doing. To make the claim that we can't talk to them because they're dead is as silly as it is absurd. They have left behind for us a testimony of what they believed, taught, confessed, and practiced. Just because you choose to ignore them doesn't mean that they haven't spoken. They have.

    The idea that their retention of the Western Mass was purely contextual, since "they were reaching out to Roman Catholics," shows forth ignorance regarding the true historical context. The truth is that there were already people in their day doing their own version of "CoWo." And, those "radicals" used many of the same arguments you continue to use: The Bible doesn't tell us how to worship; God doesn't care what we wear; Jesus accepts us just as we are; the only important thing is that we proclaim the Gospel, etc.

    Our Lutheran forefathers rejected them outright. "That's NOT us! We do not abolish the Mass, etc."

    The idea that we cannot know what our Lutheran forefathers would say about the "EntWo" being done by those who claim to subscribe to their Confessions ignores the fact that they've already spoken out very clearly on this issue. "That's NOT us! We do not abolish the Mass, etc."

    It is really hard to fathom how anyone claiming to be Lutheran would even try to make the case that our Lutheran forefathers would be supportive of those who borrow and employ the worship practices of those whom our Lutheran Confessions condemn. But, then again, as I said above, it's something that's been tried for as long as there have been Lutherans. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

    When I see the "EntWo" being done by Lutherans (and I see a LOT of it in my particular District), I, as a Lutheran, confess, "That's NOT us! We do not abolish the Mass, etc." And this is especially so for me, personally, considering the fact that what I see being done is the same theology at work among the Protestant denominations to which I used to belong. In the words of Wyneken, as quoted by Pres. Harrison, "I don't know if it's of God or the devil, but it's definitely not Lutheran."

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  108. Brother Louderback,

    I'll just add that the fact that you continue to bring in the "like" factor to these discussions reveals that, for all your talk about being a Sola Scriptura guy, you're not basing your argument purely on Scripture. Where, pray tell, in Holy Scripture, does God EVER take into consideration, or give the impression that we should take into consideration, what people like about worship? Where? Show me.

    This one aspect of your argument is enough to bring your house of cards tumbling down, but I'm sure you'll have some fascinating way to escape from the trap you've set for yourself. It should be most interesting. :)

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  109. Karlstadt tried that whole down-with-the-peeps "emergent" thing when Luther was at the Wartburg. When he returned to Wittenberg, Luther told Kontemporary Karlstadt to ST*U and GT*O. The Luther movie portrayed this very well.

    As the Messer Motto reads: "That's NOT us. We do NOT abolish the Mass!"

    Indeed, one of the purposes of the Augsburg Confession was to differentiate ourselves from the other reforming movements with whom which Eck and company were quick to tarbrush us - including the advocates of non-liturgical worship.

    Which is why we have all subscribed to this:

    "Nothing has been received among us, in doctrine *or in ceremonies,* that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic."
    ~ AC Conclusion 5.

    "Learn it. Know it. Live it."
    ~ Brad Hamilton, *Fast Times at Richmont High*

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  110. Fr. Louderback,

    "So, are you Fr Green?"

    I am not. I see now that you referred to me as such on one prior occasion. Sorry if I inadvertently implied that to be the case.

    "I don't know why they don't wear shoes. But if they said 'Because God commands it' well, I could certainly ask where, couldn't I?"

    You certainly have every right to ask whatever you will about the Rule of the Discalced Carmelites. And you have every right to ask whatever you will about whatever organization you are interested in joining.

    But to join an organization and then reject its rules is dishonest. If we take our heads out of...the sand, we see overwhelming internal and external evidence that the Lutheran fathers had no tolerance whatsoever for contemporary worship and that the passages in the Confession that deal with worship, although occasionally couched in descriptive language, are prescriptive for those that bind themselves to the Symbols.

    "Is it your position that holding to the liturgy simply is not Scriptural and is not a part of quia? (how can it be if it is not Scriptural?) But there are parts of the confessions that we simply hold to that are not Scriptural? "

    No, but this does seem to be your position. If you think that the liturgy is Scriptural, how can you refuse to use it? If you think it is not, then your subscription is quatenus by definition.

    "The Roman Catholic Church holds to your position of sola Scriptura, don't they?"

    Not really. Many of their theologians try to turn Sola Scriptura on itself by contending that that premise cannot be proven from Scripture.

    "But I do see that you would say that [i]t is not enough to merely hold to the teachings of Scripture in order to be a Lutheran. In order to be a Lutheran, we need to pledge to hold to the teachings of Scripture and to certain traditions of men."

    So long as those traditions are not contrary to the Gospel. God might not command or forbid Liturgical worship, but we certainly see that he approves of it. We see no such approval of contemporary worship. You seem to use "traditions of men" always in a negative sense. Admittedly, our Lord uses this phrase negatively, but I would submit that he's talking about some specific traditions, namely those empty ceremonies that were placed around the Law in order to "ensure" that we could uphold it. But there are other traditions of men in which He gladly participates. Like dinner. And weddings. And, most importantly, worship. When Christ stands before the Jews in worship, He...strikes up the praise band for a rousing rendition of "Shine, Jesus, Shine" to thumb his nose at the Pharisees and Sadducees, right? No, he participates.

    Liturgical dance! Sorry, but it's been a while since that phrase was used. ;-)

    I'm going to bow out now, on the assumption that you only want to continue this discussion with clergy. But, before I go, here's another group hug. I truly do hope that your ministry is as Christocentric and edifying as the Liturgy. Because, when a Synodical President insists that there is no salvation apart from the Western Liturgy, I'll be transferring my membership to your congregation. And I'll be bold enough to say that I think that's in perfect keeping with the spirit of the Symbols. Until then, I'll use my Christian liberty to engage in liturgical worship only, as real Lutherans always have.

    God's peace!

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  111. Tina,

    Familiarity is not necessarily *comfortable*.

    A distinction without a difference. You walk into an unfamiliar situtaion--like a church doing a worship service that you are unfamiliar with and you get an a, uh, unfamiliar feeling. You are uncomfortable.

    Maybe it does not last. Maybe you end up loving it. Or maybe you decide not to come back.

    I'm not making a theological point about your old Adam not wanting to be drowned. I am making a point about whether you are willing to wade into an unfamiliar pool.

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  112. Tom Messer,

    You continue to want your cake and eat it, too. You want to be Lutheran in doctrine, but not in practice.

    This is where I feel as though you are "muscling" me. You start out with this statement. But there is not fact backing it up. Have we agreed already that what I am doing is not Lutheran in practice? I certainly don't think so. I think that doing CoWo—bringing the Gospel message to people in a contextual way—is at the heart of what it is to be a Lutheran.

    So, right from the start, you assume something and start from that position. But I don't buy your starting point.

    You want to say "I think I can hold to Lutheran doctrine and not worship by the Western Liturgical Rite" the answer is "Yes."

    The way you conveniently make this arrangement work for yourself is to consistently make the claim that what our Confessions confess about practice does not apply to us today.

    And then this exaggeration. (Actually an interesting admission: earlier Larry said that our position on worship was actually a Scriptural position dealing with reverence. Now you say that it is a position dealing with practice.

    Which is it?)

    My position is not that every single statement on practice ought to be ignored. My positon is that if we are saying that quia means it teaches what Scripture teaches, then how can we be bound to something that Scripture does not teach? That doesn't make sense to me.

    That's because, contrary to your opinion, our Lutheran forefathers knew what they were doing.

    My claim is not that they did not know what they were doing; my claim is that what they were doing is not what you think they were doing.

    And, those "radicals" used many of the same arguments you continue to use: The Bible doesn't tell us how to worship; God doesn't care what we wear; Jesus accepts us just as we are; the only important thing is that we proclaim the Gospel, etc.

    I think you would find that the radicals in those days didn't really care about the context of the people they were looking to reach. They just wanted to throw away what the RC church did. They did not care about whether the people liked it, understood it, wanted it, or not.

    That is not my argument, is it?

    The idea that we cannot know what our Lutheran forefathers would say about the "EntWo" being done by those who claim to subscribe to their Confessions ignores the fact that they've already spoken out very clearly on this issue. "That's NOT us! We do not abolish the Mass, etc."

    Well, no. Because now we are in a different situation, different context, and the change is being made for a different reason.

    It is really hard to fathom how anyone claiming to be Lutheran would even try to make the case that our Lutheran forefathers would be supportive of those who borrow and employ the worship practices of those whom our Lutheran Confessions condemn.

    Once again, a little bit of muscling going on here...

    The reason they would be supportive is because they would see 1. That we are doing what we are doing because of where people are; the changes nature of the situation. 2. Because they would know that worship is about Christ and not about form. That is confessed endlessly in the Confessions.

    When I see the "EntWo" being done by Lutherans (and I see a LOT of it in my particular District), I, as a Lutheran, confess, "That's NOT us! We do not abolish the Mass, etc."

    Yes. And my position is that if you are doing this and connecting it to a quia subscription, I don't see how you can also support sola Scripture, except to gut sola. Or reject it.

    In the words of Wyneken, as quoted by Pres. Harrison, "I don't know if it's of God or the devil, but it's definitely not Lutheran.".

    Well, once again, if to be Lutheran is to hold to man-made traditions as opposed to only what Scripture says, it is awful hard to have that be Lutheran.

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  113. Tom Messer,

    I'll just add that the fact that you continue to bring in the "like" factor to these discussions reveals that, for all your talk about being a Sola Scriptura guy, you're not basing your argument purely on Scripture.

    Now at least this is a real challenge!

    Where, pray tell, in Holy Scripture, does God EVER take into consideration, or give the impression that we should take into consideration, what people like about worship? Where? Show me.

    Well, look at the evangelical actions of Paul:

    1. Paul begins evangelism in synagogues. But there in this worship, he brings Christ.

    So Paul is starting once again from a familiar style of worship and bringing Christ to that.

    2. His preaching certainly changes depending upon the audience. His language and content differ quite radically from Athens to Jerusalem. Not that it is a different Gospel; it is the same Gospel--but still, he changes it on behalf of the hearers.

    3. Look at his words on speaking in tongues in 1 Cor. What is the whole point with that? Worship needs to be understood. I'd rather speak five intelligible words. This too is the point of Cowo--taking out the jargon filled aspect of the church and shifting it to plain english.

    Is this enough? You want more?

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  114. Father Hollywood,

    Karlstadt tried that whole down-with-the-peeps "emergent" thing when Luther was at the Wartburg. When he returned to Wittenberg, Luther told Kontemporary Karlstadt to ST*U and GT*O. The Luther movie portrayed this very well."Nothing has been received among us, in doctrine *or in ceremonies,* that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic."

    I hold to this. Nothing in CoWo is contrary to the church. The ceremonies done—baptism, communion, etc, are all what the church has always done. Proclamation of the word, reading of the word, singing, et.

    Nothing is contrary to what the church teaches.

    Diligent that no new doctrine creeps in? Absolutely.

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  115. Mike Green,

    I am not. I see now that you referred to me as such on one prior occasion. Sorry if I inadvertently implied that to be the case.

    Mind you, I dont think less of you or your arguments because of this, I just don't want to call you something or not call you something you should be. My own mom is a lay person and she was always one to speak and challenge.

    So when you say: I'm going to bow out now, on the assumption that you only want to continue this discussion with clergy. that is simply not true at all. Not true at all. If you want to bow out because there is no end in sight and I seem to be unteachable, I would understand. But don't think that just because you are not a pastor I don't want to talk about these issue. Not true at all.

    If we take our heads out of...the sand, we see overwhelming internal and external evidence that the Lutheran fathers had no tolerance whatsoever for contemporary worship and that the passages in the Confession that deal with worship, although occasionally couched in descriptive language, are prescriptive for those that bind themselves to the Symbols.

    Well, I question this. I question, first of all the statement that they had no tolerance for contemporary worship, since they were never exposed to any. I don't think anyone thinks the actions of the radical reformers including Karlsbad had anything to do with wondering about where there people are.

    And in addition, a quia subscription is not simply a statement of "Whatever is found in the Confession, I hold to as if from God Himself." That is definitely not what I subscribed to.

    I guess if this were true, I'd expect that more people would make this argument. But the argument is not made. Why is that? Why don't we see this stated in our journals? Why does it just come on websites?

    I simply do not accept that this is what is made by confessional subscription. I'd need to be shown by some of my profs that it is.

    No, but this does seem to be your position. If you think that the liturgy is Scriptural, how can you refuse to use it?

    Circumcision is Scriptural.

    Many of their theologians try to turn Sola Scriptura on itself by contending that that premise cannot be proven from Scripture.

    Mmm. I just opened up my handy-dandy RC Catechism (never far from me) and I'd direct you to paragraphs 74-82 which speak about the transmission of Divine revelation. I think that you definition fits this position of Sola Scriptura fairly well.

    But look: I don't see your positive definition and explanation of how holding to traditions can be matched up with sola. I don't. Could you explain it?

    God might not command or forbid Liturgical worship, but we certainly see that he approves of it. We see no such approval of contemporary worship.

    Actually Psalm 150 covers a lot of bases...

    You seem to use "traditions of men" always in a negative sense.

    I don't mean to. I see it as neutral. In distinction to "from God." Lent is a tradition of man. It is a good thing. CoWo is a tradition of man. So there are plenty of traditions that are blessings.

    Shoot, I think that the liturgy is a blessing. I've never said it isn't. I just don't think it is the ONLY way to worship and still be a Lutheran.

    Isn't how our conversation got started between you and me? Am I a Lutheran?

    He...strikes up the praise band for a rousing rendition of "Shine, Jesus, Shine" to thumb his nose at the Pharisees and Sadducees, right?

    Fortunately, like Jesus, I never have to sing Shine Jesus Shine.

    I truly do hope that your ministry is as Christocentric and edifying as the Liturgy. Because, when a Synodical President insists that there is no salvation apart from the Western Liturgy, I'll be transferring my membership to your congregation.

    I do appreciate this. Thanks.

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  116. mqll,
    You said: “Did they do that because of their love for the liturgy? Because they were all about the reverence? Or because they knew that the people *would be most comfortable* and hear the Gospel in a modified liturgical situation…”

    The point I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make is that the historic liturgy was around long before I experienced it. And if God sees fit to tarry, it will be here long after I’m gone. I was using the term 'familiarity' in regard to the quotation by C.S. Lewis.

    You said: "I am making a point about whether you are willing to wade into an unfamiliar pool."

    The historic liturgy *was* unfamiliar to me until about 10 (or so) years ago. I grew up with EntWo, and you are right. I will never go back.

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  117. "Once you go trad, you can't stomach bad."

    Groan.

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  118. Tina,

    The point I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make is that the historic liturgy was around long before I experienced it. And if God sees fit to tarry, it will be here long after I’m gone.

    Well...you could have simply said that. I would have agreed. :)

    The historic liturgy *was* unfamiliar to me until about 10 (or so) years ago. I grew up with EntWo, and you are right. I will never go back.

    I think this is a somewhat standard position. There are many who grew up with CoWo and once they were exposed to TradCo, did not want to change.

    I, of course, do not ask that.

    My position is that there are those who grew up with TradCo and don't really like it. Don't like the repetition. Don't like the sameness. They want something different.

    What for them?

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  119. So anyway, I am in search of a name.

    Since I really can't be called a "Lutheran" on GDO, what then ought I to be called? I mean, what is the proper name to call a person who holds to all of the doctrines of Scripture, who believes as Christ Himself taught, but does not hold that the only way to worship is by the Western Liturgy?

    What exactly ought I call myself? What name would you kids suggest?

    The issue is that Father Holly wood and I are identical on our theology. If we were writing down what we believed, there would be no distinction.

    If we were in a Bible class, nothing would be different about the two of us. A person listening to our (computer altered) voices would see us as virtually indistinguishable.

    Even with music: at the church I only listen to the highest form of music: minimalist classical. I call my Pandora station "Gorecki". Everyone else was a warm-up getting to him. (I do listen to a fixed rock mix at the gym).

    The only way to tell us apart would be to watch us worship. Or listen to us talk about worship. That is just about it.

    You could not even tell if we spoke about the confessions, since I would say stuff like "My quia positions holds this..." and the like. The sections we differ on would seldom come up.

    So...what exactly is the name for someone like me? What exactly would you kids id me as?

    I'm curious.

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  120. "What for them?"

    Whatever you do, don't let them read or pray Psalm 136 or Hebrews 13:8. One of God's attributes is "immutability." Our modern culture's worship of "change" is not rooted in worship of the True God. It is a different kind of "lust for domination" - the kind that desires that the whole world to conform to me (in the form of my tastes) instead of what we know from Scripture that God Himself prefers. To choose the satisfaction of the self over submission to God is what the First Commandment addresses.

    The idea that worship must be "liked" is most certainly to attempt to make God submit to us, to our whims. The ultimate religion of change is Hinduism. When you get bored with Krishna you can just fire him and worship Kali.

    How boring to worship the same God all the time!

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  121. Fr Louderback,

    "So...what exactly is the name for someone like me?"

    A Christian, dear Father. A Christian. Like the many others we hold as Christians, even though they hold to some felicitous inconsistencies (and I know it is your opinion that it is we who are inconsistent).

    But, please understand, how can we expect others to understand how important the Liturgy is if we don't speak with zeal, even if it is a bit "muscular and edgy" at times.

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  122. mqll,
    You wrote: "My position is that there are those who grew up with TradCo and don't really like it. Don't like the repetition. Don't like the sameness. They want something different.

    What for them?"

    Like it? Are you serious? I I like popcorn shrimp, french fries, blizzards and cotton candy. But is it good for me? It will keep me alive, (for a while) but I wouldn't want to live on it.

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  123. That reminds me of a quip by the lady preacher with the tattoos about how incongruous the word "Awesome" is to describe God. It just doesn;t seem right to describe God using the same adjective that you would a pizza.

    This does remind me of spoiled children who won't eat vegetables or do homework because they "don't like it." My sinful flesh doesn't like to repent either.

    And this is the problem with entertainment worship - it is, by definition, incurvatus se. It's navel gazing for people with attention deficits.

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  124. Tina,

    Like it? Are you serious? I I like popcorn shrimp, french fries, blizzards and cotton candy. But is it good for me? It will keep me alive, (for a while) but I wouldn't want to live on it.

    Yes. But the body and blood of Christ are different, are they not?

    So what for them?

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  125. FH,

    And this is the problem with entertainment worship - it is, by definition, incurvatus se. It's navel gazing for people with attention deficits.

    (Shrug) I guess it all depends on how you see the Gospel: what it is for and the difference that it makes.

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  126. Dear Mark:

    I think this is the crux of the problem: the holy body and blood of Christ are holy. They are not to be treated as something "fun" or "to be liked." It is a profanation (making common) of that which is holy.

    The argument is that our culture is irreverent and me-centered, and so offering a worship "experience" that is irreverent and me-centered is somehow akin to translating the Mass from German to English.

    It is a slight-of-hand that I just don't buy. We all know that in life and death situations (which is what taking the holy sacrament is), such as deathbeds or at funerals - cracking jokes and making things entertaining cheapens (profanes) matters.

    Lack of belief ultimately reduces the eucharist to an experience of fun and games. I'm sure it is a matter of degree (some are more irreverent than others) - but I've seen some real trainwrecks in LCMS churches.

    Liturgical services are far more likely to be reverent than entertainment-based models. Exceptions (if there are any) only prove the rule.

    Which is the wisdom of our forbears inserting Article 24 into our confessional documents.

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  127. So, we come to the end of the words here on worship and I'll just sum up my thinking:

    1. What does it mean to be a Lutheran? For me it means to hold to the teachings of Scripture, to the very words of God, to the salvation that Christ has won for me and for all. This is why what we do is Word and Sacrament ministry.

    I reject that being a Lutheran also means holding to certain traditions of men. There is nothing wrong with being ordered and the like and following rules—but these are not indispensable to being Lutheran.

    2. Reverence is not the highest form of worship. Too much emphasis is placed on being "reverent" as if that all that God would ask for. This is is mere opinion and personal taste masquerading as pious behavior.

    3. Worship is a continuum and not a binary. Obviously, whether you are worshiping the true God or not is binary--you are or you are not. But outside of that, worship varies. Some is good and some is bad. Some Western liturgy is poorly done, poorly executed and not good.

    This does not make all western liturgy bad. The reverse however seems to be taken for granted: bad CoWo makes all CoWo bad. This is equally ridiculous.

    What is sad is the lack of recognition of this fact on the site.

    4. If the Confessions outlaw CoWo, then why has no one mentioned this in a Journal article (FtW or CSL)? I mean, you figure somewhere the factoid would come out.

    That fact that it has not put an ax to anyone holding that the position is "obvious".

    5. The reason people do CoWo is because they want to bring the Gospel to all of God's children. They joy that you receive in someone coming into a church and hearing the Word and being changed is wonderful. There is nothing like it.

    That's all. Thanks for the conversation guys & gals. I'm sure we'll chat about the exact same things some other time.

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  128. Larry,

    I appreciate your conversation and your efforts. I hope that you continue to be a good Lutheran pastor wherever you are.

    Remember my promise that on your deathbed, I'll be glad to wear whatever you want to commune you.

    In the meantime, me and all the other "exceptions" will just keep "entertaining" with Word and Sacrament ministry in a way that will not meet your standards.

    Whether it meets God's standards or not...well, one day we'll know.

    God's blessings. Last word is yours.

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  129. Dear Mark:

    Given that today is the feast of Blessed Philipp Melanchthon, I'll pray the collect from the Treasury (p. 1214), followed by a quote from the good doctor:

    "Almighty God, we praise You for the service of Philipp Melanchthon to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in the renewal of its life in fidelity to Your Word and promise. Raise up in these gray and latter days faithful teachers and pastors, inspired by Your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to Your Church and proclaim the ongoing reality of Your Kingdom; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord."

    Bl. Philipp gets the last word, as he taught us to confess:

    "In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc."
    ~ Apology 24:1

    Amen.

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  130. Great photo, and a good post to accompany it. Still...

    The argument in the post is that liturgy demonstrates the continuation of sacred life through devastation and calamity. Fair enough. And it also argues that the reason American evangelical worship has been able to atrophy into entertainment is because we have not suffered such calamities in this country. That seems like a pretty good argument to me. I'd certainly like it to be true.

    But what about those who *do* suffer calamities in this country? What about the impoverished, living in rural squalor or urban blight? What about those living in real disaster zones - certainly not nationwide, but bad enough in their local places, like New Orleans? What sort of worship do those people seek out? I can imagine it probably isn't suburban amplified worship music, but is it really high church liturgy? I'd like to think that my preferred form of church culture, emphasizing tradition, continuity, and stability, would be able to give them what they need most, but does it really?

    I expect that it would be possible to find out the facts of the matter.

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  131. Dear Ethan,

    The article's author serves a congregation in the New Orleans area and was smack in the middle of the madness during Hurricane Katrina.

    I think that, during disasters and calamities, that the continuity of the Liturgy is of especial comfort. While homeward bound after Katrina, my family and I attended Mass in Baton Rouge. Most members of my band of refugees had suffered emotional breakdowns along the way. It was during that Mass, specifically during the second stanza of "A Mighty Fortress" that I had mine. That Mass certainly did way more for me than a bunch of witty anecdotes or movie clips ever could have. That Mass, at a time when we were coming to terms with the fact that we might have nothing left, reminded me that in Christ, I have everything.

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  132. Thanks Fr.Beane!!! Great article.

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  133. My Dearest Fellow Christians.

    I would first like to say as an Anglo-Catholic, High Church liturgy when done well, can draw one into a beautiful and wonderful experience of God through worship. As an Evangelical/Charismatic, Contemporary worship, when done well is able to do just the same.
    It saddens me how members of both sides are unable to see the value in each. 1Cor. 12:21 "The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” We are all different; Eph. 4:11-12 "The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" Whether Roman, Orthodox, or Protestant, We are all members of one body. Just because prefer different styles of worship, does not make the other styles invalid. Sure, Contemporary worship can take the form of a "show" when not done well, but High Church Mass can do the same. Both can become idols and the worship itself can be worshiped.
    This is an age old fight from the beginnings of the Church, when the East and West argued about who's liturgy was best. Isn't it time to set this aside, acknowledge one another and our differing worship styles as being valid, and come together under one banner to be the hands and feet of our risen Lord?

    Peace be with you all,

    Kenn

    Candidate For Holy Orders 2014
    Virginia Theological Seminary

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