Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Must-listen mini-gems from Marquart: For whom is the Sunday service?

All it takes is a couple of minutes to listen to this short clip from a longer lecture on Liturgy and Evangelism by the sainted Rev. Kurt Marquart. The full-length audio recording can be found here.

Here's Marquart on the question, "For whom is the Sunday service?"


A few quotes from the above clip:
    "The church meets on Sunday morning in response to the Lord's instituting mandate, 'This do in remembrance of me.' That's how he chose to be remembered. That's why we meet."

    "The Western Mass and the Eastern Liturgy from time immemorial is based on the Eucharistic service, and has preaching and the Sacrament. These are the two high points."

    "That means that the service is not for unbelievers. The service is for the Church. If unbelievers are there, that's all for the good. They should be drawn to it. But the service is not tailored for the interest of the general public. That would be the end of all worship."


Anonymous said...

I especially appreciated Pastor Marquart's comments that God does not need the Sunday service, but rather He does it for us. The Sunday service is for believing Christians to receive word and sacrament. How wonderful to think that the Divine Service is primarily a period of refreshment and blessing from God.

I wonder how exactly Pastor Marquart would respond to a WELS sermon that says Sunday is our service to the unchurched, and that this is God's command in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22. They say that in the Sunday service, we must follow Paul's example, and "become all things to all people so that by all possible means [we] might save some." (v. 22). The conclusion is then that because we live in a culture, not of Jewish Law or Roman Glory, but rather an American culture of Choice (exemplified by fast-food drive-through pick-up and remote-control television channel switching), that therefore the Sunday service must be more entertaining to compete with all the other choices.

In the recording, Pastor Marquart said, this is an "argument, which among Lutherans should not exist." I agree.

Rick Techlin

Anonymous said...

Rick, I would say to that WELS preacher to look more carefully at how Paul started his ministry in a city by finding and preaching at the place where believers gathered. Therefore his missions mindset was to connect with the elect by preaching the gospel, not convince the unbeliever into faith by bait and switch gimmicks.

I think that those who use 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 as justification to use worldly means to reach the lost are coming from an Evangelical/Arminian mindset. The Evangelical/Arminian definition of faith is that man can make a decision to accept Christ as his personal Savior. The Lutheran/Christian definition of faith is that the Holy Spirit creates trust in the heart of the elect to hear and believe the gospel, which is according to Luther "the promises of God fulfilled in our midst."

With that in mind, Paul did "outreach" with the elect in mind. The elect of God always rejoice in the gifts of God, namely, Word and Sacrament when they hear it. "Evangelism" then is to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of sins by using Word and Sacrament, not to convince the unbeliever to believe by using rational/attractive arguments accompanied by worldly means.

On the last day, God will not say to you: "Hey, Rick, great job with winning Bob over there to the faith. Never saw that one coming. You did a great job 'becoming all things to all men.'" Our "job" is to simply sow the seed of the Word and let God determine the results of creating faith "where and when it pleases him" (Augsburg Confession, Article V).

Also, the only possible means of saving some is the Means of Grace. If pastors and churches better understood that passage correctly (among the context of other passages, of course, and the Book of Concord, while we're at it), then they'd offer every Sunday Holy Communion and a renewed practice of offering Private Absolution. But we don't see that very often, do we?

Perhaps we might also say that we aren't clear on just exactly what message it is we are supposed to be preaching. Because there is a foggy definition of the Gospel as God declaring the whole world righteous in Christ whether they know it or not and whether they believe it or not, then there is no need for repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The unbeliever rejects the idea that he cannot save or contribute to saving himself. Repentance means being told "you are a sinner and the wrath of God is on you" (John 3:36, no righteousness of the unbeliever there). After the Spirit of God crushes the heart of the one who has heard that message, only then can the message of John 3:16 convert and comfort his heart. Unfortunately, a less-than-accurate definition of how a person is saved leads to ministry and preaching that softens the preaching of repentance and uses the Word to "convince" people into heaven as if it depended on us.

- Rev. James Schulz

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