Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sectarian Worship - Reprise

A brother in the ministry asked me to compile the four posts I had written previously on "sectarian" (aka "contemporary") worship into a single document, so here it is!

One of the biggest misunderstandings in the worship discussion has to do with the term “contemporary worship.” Is a hymn un-Lutheran just because it’s not yet 400 years old? Is music un-Lutheran just because it was composed in the 20th or 21st century? Couldn’t many of the hymns of the Reformation have been considered “contemporary” at the time of the Reformation? What’s wrong with something that’s contemporary?

It’s not about when it was written or composed. Let’s clear that up. It’s not that old is better because it’s old, or that new is worse because it’s new. New can be good, old can be bad. We are not against using worship forms in a Lutheran service that are “contemporary.” We are against using worship forms that are “sectarian.”

What do we mean by “sect” or “sectarian”?

The Lutheran Confessions speak of the “heretics of our time” who “err and teach contrary to our Christian faith and confession” (FC:E:XII:1). The term “sect” was used to refer to any group that, by few or many false teachings, had departed from the truth of Scripture, outlined especially in the Augsburg Confession. Today, examples would include Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals, among others. Technically, even Lutheran churches that have departed from confessional Lutheran (and therefore, Scriptural) theology have now become “sects.” Roman Catholicism itself became a sect long ago when its teaching broke away from the pure truth of Christ, but, perhaps because it formed from within the Church catholic, its adherents are usually referred to as “papists” in the Confessions and not as “sects.”

With the term “sect,” we do not mean to imply that only members of confessional Lutheran churches will be in heaven. We acknowledge and rejoice that the Holy Spirit is able to preserve the faith of believers wherever the Gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered, even though false teachers have introduced the leaven of false teaching. But this leaven is always harmful to faith, and eventually works its way through the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:9). And so we use the label of “sectarian” as a warning to all that these false doctrines are not consistent with the saving truth of Scripture and are to be avoided at all cost.

The sectarian origin of “sectarian worship”

Since it was the Roman Catholic Church that, with its heretical innovations, had really broken away from the ancient, orthodox, catholic (“universal”) Church, the Lutheran Reformers did not feel compelled to abandon the worship forms of the Church catholic. On the contrary, they insisted on using the catholic ceremonies, both because of their usefulness for instructing the common people, and to give a clear confession of their unity with the Church catholic. The Lutherans refused to be numbered among the sects, although Rome still refers to us this way. At some times and in some places during the 16th century, Lutherans did feel compelled to stop using this or that ceremony as a confession against the papists who were trying to compel the use of these ceremonies among the Lutheran churches. But wherever possible, Lutherans retained the ceremonies of the Church catholic, because they proclaimed the unity and collective wisdom of over a thousand years worth of believers from all over the world, especially the Western Church in which the Lutherans mainly lived.

Unlike the confessional Lutheran Church, the sects have broken away from the Church catholic by false teachings. Most of them don’t even wish to be associated with the Church catholic. One of the most widely shared of these false teachings is a false teaching regarding the Means of Grace, that is, how God communes and communicates with men, how God creates and strengthens faith in man, how God distributes to individuals the forgiveness of sins won by Christ for all men. The Lutheran Church recognizes that it is the Gospel alone, in Word and Sacrament, that God has chosen as his means to accomplish these things. (More will be said about the theological underpinnings of sectarian worship forms in the next post on this subject.)

The sects, having abandoned the Church catholic, have developed their own worship forms, their own practices, in keeping with their false understanding of the Means of Grace and how man interacts with God. The “contemporary” worship phenomenon has grown out of this false understanding commonly held among most of the sects. Because of the sectarian origins of these worship forms, we refer to it as “sectarian worship.” “Sectarian worship” is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it confesses (intentionally or unintentionally) a disassociation from the Church catholic.

The confessional Lutheran quest for clarity

Confessional Lutherans strive to be as clear as possible in our preaching of the Gospel of Christ. That not only means teaching the truth clearly, but also clearly distinguishing ourselves from the sects that have severed themselves from the confession of the Church catholic.

As the Confessions say, “We do not want the condemned errors of the factions and sects we just mentioned to be silently ascribed to us. For the most part these groups, as is the nature of such spirits, secretly stole in at certain places…Poor, simple people, in their simplicity (who could not help but feel the clear idolatry and false faith of the papacy), embraced whatever was called the Gospel and was not papistic. We cannot avoid testifying against these groups publicly, before all Christendom. We have no part or fellowship with their errors, be they many or few. We reject and condemn them one and all. They are wrong and heretical, and are contrary to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles and to our Christian Augsburg Confession, which is well grounded in God’s Word” (FC:SD:XII:7-8).

We’re not talking about this or that song that happened to be composed by a non-Lutheran when we refer to “sectarian worship.” We’re talking about a genre. We’re talking about elements of worship that originated as new practices of the sects. “Sectarian worship” is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it confesses an improper association with the sects, as if Lutheran doctrine were similar to sectarian doctrine. Those who hold a quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions must agree with what the Confessions say about giving clear testimony before all Christendom that we have no part or fellowship with the errors of the sects.

So when Lutheran pastors pore over books written by sectarian authors or attend sectarian seminars, conventions and schools to sit at the feet of the sectarian teachers and then bring back into their Lutheran churches or share with their brothers in the ministry the latest and greatest sectarian worship forms, it’s like the shepherd who learns from the wolf how to care for the sheep. It doesn’t serve the sheep. And it fails to give a clear witness to the sectarians that they are in error and in need of correction.

"Embrace your inner Pentecostal!"

It’s time to talk a little bit about the theology of the sects and how their theological assumptions impact their worship practices. It would take many books to do this thoroughly, but for now, a cursory review will have to do, admittedly oversimplified.

Sectarian worship (a more helpful term than “contemporary worship”) is not confined to any single denomination. Much like Pentecostalism itself, sectarian worship transcends denominational lines, being itself a product of the experience-focused worship that characterizes Pentecostalism.

In an article entitled, “Embracing Your Inner Pentecostal,” Professor Chris Armstrong of Bethel Seminary in Minneapolis writes,
Many non-Pentecostal (and non-charismatic) congregations have become "Pentecostalized" in other ways. Contemporary worship style is an oft-noted influence of Pentecostalism, with congregations of all stripes now singing choruses and praise music, even raising their hands in adoration (Chris Armstrong, "Embracing Your Inner Pentecostal".)

You see, this “style” of worship not only has its roots in Pentecostalism, but it carries Pentecostalism with it, wherever it goes. It appeals to all the sects, because it fits in perfectly with the common theology of the sects: that man is not totally helpless before God, and that man approaches God on the basis of man’s feelings, man’s preferences and man’s works.

Sectarian worship and its theological assumptions

(Most of the following summaries can also be found in another fine essay by Prof. Em. Dan Deutschlander, “Reformed Theology and its Threat.”)

For Pentecostals, you’re not a real Christian if you don’t feel the Spirit and even exhibit outward, supernatural signs of the Spirit. Worship is designed to put people in a “spiritual mood.”

For classic Calvinists (Reformed), reason reigns supreme. Everything has to make sense. If something in worship doesn’t appeal to man’s reason, then get rid of it! It’s an “obstacle” to faith! Then there’s the burden of thinking that Christ didn’t die for all men, but only for some, while some have been predestined to condemnation. Since they can never be sure which group they’re in, worship has to be about proving to themselves that they’re among the elect by their efforts to “live right,” “experience” God and “feel” saved.

Arminianism was born in the Netherlands, nursed in the UK, but bred in America. It is the quintessential American religion. It tends to be centered on the individual, entertainment-oriented, superficial, casual, anti-intellectual, anti-clerical, and anti-authority – just like American culture (and not unlike Lutheran Pietism). For Arminians (mostly Methodists and Baptists), it’s about using the right set of methods to climb the holiness ladder. Arminianism is pragmatic to the core: “Whatever works” to get people fired up for Jesus. “Do church” right, and you’ll see the right results. In Arminian theology, man is not thoroughly corrupted by original sin. It’s still up to man to make his decision for Christ, and he has to really mean it, or it doesn’t count. So worship has to be “upbeat” enough to get people in the right state of mind to choose Christ, and informal enough to allow the individual to relate to God on his own terms. This is exactly what American Revivalism was all about. Creeds and confessions, if used at all, have to be rewritten and “personalized” so they become more meaningful to “me.”

All of these sects are represented in modern American Evangelicalism, united by their common exaltation of man and rejection of the Means of Grace – the Gospel in Word and Sacrament – as the way God has ordained to create and strengthen faith in helpless man, and thus distribute to him all the benefits of Christ. For the sects, Baptism and Holy Communion are definitely not the Means of Grace. Even the Gospel preached isn’t necessarily a Means of Grace, because they (especially the Reformed) teach that the Holy Spirit may be absent from the preaching of the Gospel.

So how does man approach God, as far as the sects are concerned? Through man’s prayers, man’s praise, man’s “worship,” man’s emotional responses, man’s devotion, man’s self-chosen, self-defined faith. God’s Word may well be preached in addition to all this. But God’s Word is only a part of the sectarian worship equation. It’s the upbeat musical style, the casual, “real” atmosphere, and the emotional responses of the people that really “bring God’s presence into the room.”

Lutheran worship and its theological assumptions

According to Lutheran theology, man is thoroughly corrupted by original sin, without true love of God or fear of God or faith in God, by nature. The unbeliever cannot praise God, thank God, worship God, love God, trust in God or appease God. On the contrary, he is hostile to God and cannot understand the things that come from the Spirit of God. He is dead in sin, and his heart a heart of stone, unable to be opened, moved, or attracted to God in any way, by any method, through any musical style.

Only the miraculous power of the Means of Grace, as the Holy Spirit’s tool, is capable of changing a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, of giving life to the dead and faith where there was only unbelief. It’s not the style in which it’s presented, but the power of the Holy Spirit that brings this about. The Means of Grace is not a matter of manmade style or man’s preference, but of the Spirit’s proclamation of God’s favor for Christ’s sake. Faith comes from hearing the message, not from being able to relate to how it was presented.

But even once faith is given and dead souls are raised to spiritual life, Lutheran theology emphasizes man’s constant neediness before God, a lifelong beggarliness that still depends entirely on God’s grace for everything. And the Means of Grace is the same for the believer as for the unbeliever. It remains the only source of comfort and strength for believers. It remains the Holy Spirit’s power for God’s people, unhelped and likewise unhindered by its manner of presentation.

While it’s certainly true that believers can read Scripture in their homes and serve the food of the Means of Grace to themselves, God has ordained the gathering of believers and the office of the Holy Ministry for the purpose of serving his people with the Means of Grace. This is a uniquely Lutheran understanding of worship, that God should serve man, and not the other way around. Or perhaps more accurately, that man serves God best when he simply receives the service of God in faith. This is how our Confessions speak about “worship.”
Thus the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive from God gifts; on the contrary, the worship of the Law is to offer and present our gifts to God. We can, however, offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This passage, too, brings the greatest consolation, as the chief worship of the Gospel is to wish to receive remission of sins, grace, and righteousness. Apology V:189

Faith is the divine service, which receives the benefits offered by God...By faith God wishes to be worshiped in this way, that we receive from Him those things which He promises and offers. Apology IV:49.

Most of a believer’s time during the week is spent living out his or her faith, surrounded by opportunities to interact with unbelievers. But when the Church gathers for worship, the Lutheran Church understands this to be the time for faith primarily to be fed, for God to serve his people with the Living Bread from heaven – Christ in preaching and Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Even the people’s thanksgiving and praise proclaims Christ in Lutheran worship.

This is also why the Lutheran Confessions insist on celebrating the Sacrament every Sunday (and at other times as well). Because God’s people always need to be fed, Christ’s Sacrament should always be available to them, right alongside the preaching of Christ. The Lutheran Mass, or liturgical service, has this as its primary goal, not just saying the name “Christ,” but presenting the whole story of Christ, the entire teaching of Christ, and all the benefits of Christ.


Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it denies man’s utter neediness before God.

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it denies the Means of Grace as that alone through which God communicates and communes with man.

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it rejects the very concept that God distributes forgiveness of sins through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament.

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it does not have as its primary goal to bring Christ to his people in Word and Sacrament.

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it starts with the assumption that man is capable of encountering God through his own feelings, praise, prayers and experience.

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it is designed, not to teach men about Christ, but to work men up into the right “spiritual” state to be affected by God.

Since these are fundamental principles of sectarian worship that flow from sectarian theology, why do Lutherans think they can somehow “Lutheranize” that which is diametrically opposed to Lutheran theology? And here’s the real question: Why do they think it’s so important to turn to the sects to learn how to worship in the first place?

Sectarian worship is what it is for a reason. Want proof?

Here are a series of quotes from one of the most famous and influential sectarian worship leaders in America, Pastor Rick Warren. If you’re wondering what Church Growth theology looks like, here it is! His reasoning is echoed to one degree or another by some in WELS who insist that “we have to rethink the way we do church.”

“We want to loosen up the tense muscles of uptight visitors. When your body is relaxed, your attitude is less defensive” (Rick Warren. The Purpose Driven Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995, p.256).
And a less defensive attitude makes conversion “easier.” An “aid” to the Means of Grace. False doctrine!

So a casual atmosphere must be created, because formality is intimidating and doesn’t allow a person to “loosen up in God’s presence.”

“Worship is a powerful witness to unbelievers if God’s presence is felt and if the message is understandable…God’s presence must be sensed in the service. More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence than by all our apologetic arguments combined. Few people, if any, are converted to Christ on purely intellectual grounds. It is the sense of God’s presence that melts the heart and explodes mental barriers” (Warren, p. 241-242).
So the musical style must be relevant enough to the participants and upbeat enough to bring God’s presence into the room and open unbelievers’ hearts to the power of the gospel. “Feeling God’s presence” is an essential part of the “Arminian/Pentecostal Means of Grace.” False doctrine!

“It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart…The most likely place to start (looking for the key) is with the person’s felt needs” (Warren, p.219).
Man’s heart is not dead in sin, by nature, so it just needs to be unlocked, not with the “Keys of the Kingdom” that Jesus talked about, but by addressing the person’s felt needs. False doctrine!

So the Lectionary and the Church Year are abandoned, because topical series are better able to address people's felt needs. (The Lectionary assumes that all people have common needs caused by common sin, and a common solution in Christ, brought to all in common by the Means of Grace.)

There are some types of people your church will never reach, because they require a completely different style of ministry than you can provide(Warren, p.174).
The style of your ministry is the key to saving the lost. The Means of Grace depends on the right style in order to be powerful and effective, living and active. False doctrine!

The style of music you choose to use in your service will be one of the most critical (and controversial) decisions you make in the life of your church. It may also be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach. The music you use positions your church in your community…It will determine the kind of people you attract, the kind of people you keep, and the kind of people you lose. If you were to tell me the kind of music you are currently using in your services, I could describe the kind of people you are reaching without even visiting your church. I could also tell you the kind of people your church will never reach” (Warren, p. 280-281).
This is Church Growth theology in its purest form. Conversion depends on style. Right style = success. Wrong style = failure. False doctrine!

“Explosive growth only occurs when the type of people in the community match the type of people that are already in the church, and they both match the type of person the pastor is” (Warren, p.177).
Not the Means of Grace, but the right kind of people and the right kind of pastor will reach the right kind of people. False doctrine!

“Today’s most effective worship songs are love songs sung directly to God. This is biblical worship. We are told at least seventeen times in Scripture to sing to the Lord. In contrast, most hymns are sung about God. The strength of many contemporary worship songs is that they are God-centered, rather than man-centered” (Warren, p.289).

"I receive notes that say, 'I loved the worship today. I got a lot out of it.' It isn’t for our benefit! When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves…Bringing pleasure to God is called worship.” (Rhoda Tse. ”Rick Warren’s Secrets of Worship.” ).

Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to Him. God is the consumer of worship.” (Rick Warren. “First-Person: The Evangelistic Power of Worship.”).
What Warren means by “God-centered” is that the songs express man’s feelings about God, rather than God’s gracious acts toward men. What he means by “man-centered” is that man is on the receiving end of God’s saving acts.

So for Warren and the sectarians in general, worship ought to be man’s gift to God, entirely (or certainly mostly) “sacrificial” rather than “sacramental.” Man gives, God receives. Man is active, God is passive. Man works, God enjoys. Man expresses his love for God, God revels in man’s great love for him.

Notice how this is a complete reversal of the Lutheran view of the Divine Service (worship), where God is the primary actor and man is primarily on the receiving end. Lutherans call this “God-centered,” because although man is doing the singing, speaking, and administering, what is it, in the Lutheran Divine Service, that man is singing, speaking and administering? The Word of Christ – God’s saving acts in favor of mankind. In Lutheran worship, a believer’s praise includes a proclamation of God’s saving acts, and when a believer proclaims God’s saving acts and receives God's gifts in faith, God is praised! (Praise is proclamation, proclamation is praise.)

This is why we call sectarian worship “man-centered,” because instead of focusing on God’s saving acts, it focuses on man’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

If Lutherans think they can innocently imbibe the practices of the sects without also drinking in the reasons behind their practices, they are sorely mistaken. This is precisely the sheep's clothing that allows the wolf to enter through the gate.

So if you see any books or Bible studies by Rick Warren in your church library, you should first ask your pastor (kindly), “Pastor, why is this here in our church?” Give him a chance to explain. If he says, “You have to know your enemy in order to defeat him,” or “We’re collecting materials to burn in case the heater goes down,” or something like that, then breathe a sigh of relief.

If he says anything like, “There’s lots of good material in there,” or "The benefits outweigh the risks," or “We can learn some valuable strategies” from Rick Warren, then you should (more forcefully) say to your pastor, “Pastor, we called you as our shepherd to protect us from the wolf, not to invite him into our fold. Please remove this immediately. How about something from Chemnitz or Luther instead?”

The sectarian effects of sectarian worship

Sectarian worship is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it has, both as its goal and as its outcome, to further divide God’s people into “sects.”

Numerous examples were given above of the heretical Church Growth theology taught by sectarian Pastor Rick Warren. Church Growth theology teaches that “certain styles of music/worship” (Lutherans might try to Lutheranize that by saying “certain forms of Gospel presentation”) are necessary to reach certain kinds of people.

The practice that flows from this theology, therefore, is to provide various flavors of worship, depending on who the people are whom the worship leaders feel God is leading them to reach in their community (note the Pentecostalism inherent even in that assumption). Sectarian worship targets certain groups of people based on preference (or perceived preference).

In an interview with Mike Harland, Church Growth guru Ed Stetzer insists that a church go about deciding on its flavor(s) of worship by asking the question, “How can we create a setting (in our place and in our community) where people can worship God in spirit and in truth?” His understanding of “in spirit and in truth” revolves around the type of atmosphere that touches a person’s spirit (read “emotions”) so that the person’s worship may be “in truth” (read “sincere”). Harland answers Stetzer’s question with a typical prayer-as-a-means-of-grace response, “You have to inquire of the Lord, like David did in 1 Chronicles 14...You have to talk to God about where your church is going.”

It seems that, in sectarian thinking, God "tells" them what kind of worship to offer based largely on what kind of music the target people in the community have in their personal CD collections. For those who prefer classical music or organ music, a liturgical service is seen as a fine option – "nothing wrong with it, since it’s all a matter of personal preference." For those who prefer Pop music, there may be a Pop music option. The same is true for virtually any genre. Evangelical radio stations offer song choices to fit a broad range of personal preference – "nothing wrong with it, since music/style is all a matter of personal preference."

Likewise, if a “target audience” is perceived to prefer a more formal service, a more formal service may be offered. If a “target audience” is perceived to prefer a more casual atmosphere, a more casual atmosphere may be offered. Worship becomes like a buffet line, with a server on the other side of the table who asks, “How would you like to worship God today?”

I hope the “man-centered” nature of sectarian worship is becoming increasingly clear.

Of course, the effect of all this is that God’s people are divided into age groups, ethnic groups, and cultural groups, under the assumption that each group will have different preferences, and therefore ought to have a worship service that they can “relate to.” So instead of gathering together as the people of God, people are encouraged to split apart to find the style of worship that is “right for them.” In a single congregation, this may mean choosing which service they like better. In an area with various congregations, this may mean choosing which church offers the worship style they like better.

If we return to the Scriptures, none of these groupings based on personal preferences are honored, but rather rebuked. What are the divisions mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1 but factions formed on the basis of personal preference – in that case, a preference for one minister over another, even though the doctrine and content of their message was the same? Instead, God’s people are instructed to see themselves as a single body – the body of Christ, gathered out of the nations of this world to form a new nation, with our minds set on things above, not on earthly things. Human culture is not ignored, but it is intentionally minimized in favor of the common spiritual culture of faith. Personal preferences are not removed from an individual’s life, but are made irrelevant in the corporate gatherings of the Church. The same malady is proclaimed to all. The same promise is proclaimed to all. The same Means of Grace is administered to all. The same Biblical story is told to all, and relevant to all, and efficacious to all.

The one dividing factor among peoples found in Scripture and recognized by the Church of all ages is not musical or even cultural. It is the language factor. People are still divided, to some extent, by language. The Holy Spirit himself overcame that barrier miraculously on the Day of Pentecost. He has overcome it at various points in human history by governing the nations in such a way that there has always been a more or less commonly understood language (Aramaic, Greek, Latin, French, English). And he has overcome it by gifting his people with the ability to learn foreign languages and proclaim the gospel in other tongues.

The goal of Lutheran worship is certainly not to be unlikeable, but neither is the goal of Lutheran worship to be likeable. Historic, liturgical, Lutheran worship has always emphasized the sameness among human beings rather than their differences, and the sameness of how God deals with sinners, no matter what their culture, no matter what their background or preferences. Even when Christians have been divided by a language barrier, they have found the liturgy to be just as relevant in any language and on every continent, because the liturgy does not seek to satisfy the preference of anyone, but merely to convey the Means of Grace that transcends both culture and preference, using art forms that are intended to serve the message rather than art forms that are intended to please the people.

Sectarian worship starts with a false premise – that the presentation of the Gospel can or must be molded to personal taste in order for the Holy Spirit to attract a person or get through to a person. In effect, this divides the people of God into sects. In essence, this is nothing but the idolatry of self.

(Originally posted as Let's call it what it is - "Sectarian Worship" - Part 1, Let's call it what it is - "Sectarian Worship" - Part 2, Sectarian Worship - in their own words, and Let's call it what it is - "Sectarian Worship" - Part 3.)


Anonymous said...

Pr. Rydecki,

Thank you for your and Interpid's insightful posts. However, your contradiction in the first three paragraphs show the difficulty that always appears in discussing this topic.

Your first sentence you claim contemporary and sectarian are the same thing: "I had written previously on "sectarian" (aka "contemporary") worship into a single document, so here it is!"

Yet at the end of your third paragraph you appear to try to differentiate between the two: "We are not against using worship forms in a Lutheran service that are “contemporary.” We are against using worship forms that are “sectarian.”"

This seeming contradiction almost always appears when the topic is discussed. I would agree with you that a blanket acceptance of anything "old" or rejection of anything "new" is far from the correct approach.

Thank you again for all your work in preparing your articles.

Josh Wilsmann

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


Thanks for your comment. In the first paragraphs, I'm trying to make the initial point that there are two (at least) regular uses of the word "contemporary" among us.

Definition #1 = "modern, new, of recent origin"

Definition #2 = "sectarian, a style and/or content invented and used by modern American Evangelicals"

So the point is, we are not against using worship forms that are contemporary (Definition #1). What we are against is using worship forms that are contemporary (Definition #2).

To avoid further confusion, I'm suggesting that, whenever we refer to this style of worship, we stop calling it "contemporary" altogether, and simply refer to it as "sectarian."

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

"To avoid further confusion, I'm suggesting that, whenever we refer to this style of worship, we stop calling it "contemporary" altogether, and simply refer to it as "sectarian."

I did not find this confusing but, yeah, that's fine by me...

Unknown said...

If "It’s not that old is better because it’s old, or that new is worse because it’s new. New can be good, old can be bad. We are not against using worship forms in a Lutheran service that are “contemporary.” We are against using worship forms that are 'sectarian.'"

And "The “contemporary” worship phenomenon has grown out of this false understanding commonly held among most of the sects. Because of the sectarian origins of these worship forms, we refer to it as “sectarian worship.” “Sectarian worship” is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it confesses (intentionally or unintentionally) a disassociation from the Church catholic."

What would be an example of, if it is possible, contemporary, non- sectarian Lutheran worship?

Matt Eich

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...


Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you with an answer.

One example: Christian Worship: Supplement's (CWS) "Divine Service I." All the melodies and the settings for the liturgical canticles were composed very recently. They are arranged for both piano and organ.

I think that Kermit Moldenhauer's new tune and setting for "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" (CWS #720) is a wonderful example of "contemporary" (read, "of recent origin") music. I realize that some will argue about unwedding the historic tune from this Luther hymn, but I think Moldenhauer's tune supports the text very well.

Stephen Starke (LCMS) has written some solid new texts.

I could give many more examples, but will start with these few.

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