[Caution: The following is an editorial, that is, in literary terms, an opinion piece. As such it has no points to prove or sources to cite, but seeks only to provoke thought and from thought, perhaps action. Some readers may find it somewhat acerbic and perhaps even a bit caustic in places. Rest assured it is written in love and hope.
I love email. I love email because I can see what I'm saying, run spell and grammar checks, and thus not sound foolish when I speak, though some might find that debatable. I love email because I can read and answer when I want, any time, day or night – on MY schedule. I love email because I can send a "read receipt" as soon as I turn on my computer after my devotions – usually around 5:30 AM or so – and know that some will say when they see the time stamp – "Wow, that guy sure starts work early!" (Cue the sound of one hand clapping!)
I hate the telephone and I always have. The telephone has always seemed to me to be like a Western Union telegram – seldom bringing good news. It interrupts sleep, dinners, romance, movies, and family time. Plus, a lot of people don't know how or when to stop talking on the phone – and thus waste countless hours with inane prattle. I especially loathe cell phones which interrupt all the events mentioned above and numerous others, not to mention causing distracted driving. And don't even get me started on texting!
I despise all phones so much and adore email do much that I think of people who are the opposite as backward fools and dolts. I do not and cannot understand why anyone would use a phone when they could email, and I reserve my special ire for all those who don't check their email at least a half-dozen times each and every day, and reply within the same day!
So, why should you care, and why am I boring you with this? Very simple. I believe this is exactly the way many feel about sectarian worship forms being used in otherwise professing confessional Lutheran churches! Some love it. Some hate it.
But in addition, those who love sectarian worship forms being used in what should be confessional Lutheran churches seem to think that those who hate such and refuse to use them are backward cretins who don't give a fig about sharing the Gospel. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth!
As a confessional Lutheran Pastor, I love the liturgy. I love the liturgy because it proclaims the Gospel from beginning to end. There is hardly a sentence throughout that is not permeated by the message of God's love in Christ! And all this has already been done for me by believers from Adam to Augustine. I don't need to add a thing. Even my sermons are sometimes a rather poor addition. From the Invocation to the Benediction, all the elements of the historic liturgy, and even the titles these elements have acquired down through the centuries, speak volumes about the undeserved love and kindness of God to the world in and through Jesus Christ. In addition, each part is designed and built by the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles to feed the faith of believers in every time, place, and culture. Simply translate the words into any language, and BINGO, the liturgy will still function perfectly! Indeed, in my humble opinion, the liturgy IS the Gospel in all its grace and glory!
As a confessional Lutheran, I hate sectarian worship. Is that too strong? Sorry. I hate sectarian worship because it is, in the final analysis, man-centered, not Christ-centered. I hate sectarian worship because, as someone born into a sectarian (Baptist) family, and surrounded by this errant branch of Christianity for most of my life, I have seen up close and personal the long-term spiritual damage done to souls by such aberrant man-centered, emotion-based, so-called worship, and the theology that created and feeds it.
Yes, Jesus is sometimes there in sectarian worship, but He is disguised as much in sectarian services from the authentic Christ of the Scriptures as He is in the abomination of the Roman Mass! In both cases the service is built around human emotion, and that emotion for the most part is fear. You'd better be dunked – or else! You'd better make your decision for Jesus – or else! You'd better be joyful – or else! What's the matter, why aren't you happy?! What are you, some kind of back-sliding reprobate?! (Just like, you'd better say your rosary, etc... – or else!)
So, the question is – why in the world would anyone who already has the historic, comforting, beautiful liturgy in the truly Gospel-centered, orthodox confessional theology from which it flows and which it supports and proclaims, substitute such for the mostly empty, law-centered, Christ-hiding, and fear-filled sectarian pseudo-worship?!? That's just plain crazy! Kind of like not turning off your cell phone in church!