Friday, October 11, 2013

Nowhere Else To Go

Thoughts from Thunder Mountain
["Huachuca" - A Chiricahua Apache word meaning "thunder."]

Nowhere Else To Go

A few months ago one of my members attended a WELS church in another city. It was a fairly large congregation, with three ministers and two services on Sundays; one labeled as "traditional," and the other as "contemporary." My member chose to attend the traditional service. However, the service was a big disappointment on two fronts. There were a number of "modern" innovations in the so-called traditional service, and the sermon was all about giving money to the synod in various ways. The member left the service in tears and later ask me, "Pastor, where are we going to go to church someday? Where will there be a place for us?"

Now, to be fair, it may have been this was this church's regular "stewardship" or "synod" Sunday, and the service and sermon for that Sunday may have been planned far in advance or perhaps even provided by the synod. Still, the liturgical experimentation, and the lack of Law and Gospel noted by this individual is to be lamented.

As for the various innovations in the service, they are all too common, even in our congregations which announce that they use a traditional liturgy. These usually involve a more "creative" confession of sins and absolution, hymn verses (very often non-Lutheran, Reformed-style hymns) in place of the regular sung portions of the liturgy;  i.e. in place of the Gloria in Excelsis, etc..., and little mini-sermons that clutter-up the Lessons and Gospel, among many other new-fangled practices. The bottom line was that my member felt lost, out-of-place, and uncomfortable, rather than comforted and at peace while worshipping the Lord.

Now, again, in the interest of full disclosure, the liturgies used at our congregation are also "revised" just a bit. However, the changes in the liturgies are quite minor – expansion of the Kyrie, and an exhortation to Communion taken from portions of the Lutheran Confessions, among them. But nothing is really new, or an innovation, or modern, in the sense of starkly different in tone or style from the liturgies themselves. And even these minor variations have been carefully explained and taught before being implemented. In addition, in the 15 years I have been at this church, I've never had a visitor complain that any change in the service was in any way disconcerting or bothersome to them.

OK, so what is my point here today? Fair question. It is two-fold. First, if our Pastors are going to have a "traditional" service, it should be traditional; that is, they should follow the liturgy in one of the hymnals used among us, with only very slight changes, revisions, or additions that meld seamlessly with said liturgies. Otherwise, the label of "traditional" is false advertising and is only bound to upset, confuse, and distract visiting members who came looking for traditional; i.e. historic, orthodox, confessional Lutheran worship. The personal innovations of the Pastor or local peculiarities of that parish should be kept very much to an absolute minimum.

Second, to seek this type of worship is the right and heritage of confessional Lutherans. Those that want so-called contempo-worship can find it in many places, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, in any city, town, or village in America. But decent and orderly worship, based on the practices of the Apostles and two thousand years of Christianity is starting to become more and more rare among us. If a church body like ours, which claims to hold to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, and to be legitimate decedents of the "conservative" Reformation, abandons such worship, where will our good, kind, generous members, who never did anything to deserve being subjected to profane and vulgar worship forms (in the sense of worldly and common), go to find a place where they can come before their Lord as befits the dictates of their Christian consciences.

Again, let me make my point very clear; this is just about serving the people for whom the ancient and historical liturgies are very precious treasures. Every element of these services contain beautiful and comforting Gospel proclamations in words that have come to us down through the millennia – from Patriarchs, the Temple, the synagogue, the catacombs, the cathedral, and the country church. There needs to always be a place for these good people. They are blood-bought souls too, and their spiritual needs are as important as those of "seekers" or others among the unchurched.

Therefore, I implore my fellow Pastors to think of these people also; to have a heart and some compassion for them and their heart-felt and profound faith and desires when it comes to worship. Give these fine folks a break, please. In many cases, it was they who built our churches, and worked and sacrificed to fund our ministries and programs. All they want is a quiet, peaceful, respectful, awe-inspiring place and manner in which to worship their Lord and Savior in a dignified and honorable way. I don't think that's too much to ask. Is it? Are we so desperate to fill our chairs and pews that we will alienate those who built them?! That's just not right in my book.

So, if our Pastors want to do these silly, warm-fuzzy, non-sacramental, happy-clappy, unLutheran kinds of services, please, fellas, do them somewhere else. Perhaps you can start your own church body, and your own churches, and compete head-to-head with the "community," non-denominational, Church Growth churches. Good luck with that! I think you'll find that they can do that kind of worship better than you can, and you'll end up with very little in the end. The traditional folks will be driven away, and the contemporary folks will always find something new and different – you won't be able to keep up. I recommend we all stick with what has been handed down to us and leave it at that!  

Deo Vindice!

Pastor Spencer

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

When a Congregation makes the decision, to fill pews & $ (like any good business would) you loose those steadfast & firm attenders (forgive lack of a better word, customers, ug...). You loose, those who were taught & instructed, when you stop what you taught even if it was last year's Confirmand. They remember what they were questioned & tested on, yet they see many avoid & put away, for reasons, none know. We loose, & Ya'll loose, those who know & understand full well, Malachai 3, regarding tithe, Faith, the Holy Ghost, is not a CEO, His job & his actions, do not change. Only until the world hits, harms, or rocks, do you realize, what He does. I've been looking for over a year, I've moved now, and have little options, due to where I live. We had little options, where we used to. If I have to choose betwixt Doctrine/Liturgy/Matins/Vespers, let alone not just a "Pastor", but a true Shepherd, which I have had to do vs/ those who taught & instructed me & my 'home, where I grew up Church', to just be be able to find my feet, that trust is not/ nor do I see a way, it can be placed, in that Office, I was taught to revere & held so dear. That door rotates so does the one in the Narthex, those who knew me & mine, know me,...& mine, those who cannot decide what we believe or agree upon or what to do, most certainly don't. I need a Home/Fellowship/ His House, it should not be this hard to find a Confessional Lutheran, not cookie cutter down the street kind, for my kids & I.
Being a Confessional Lutheran laity (member non gratis) is hard, but not the worst, in the world. I was taught to watch, not just listen, watching this the last decade, even now, is the worse thing. Some of us, listened & remembered what you preached & taught... we can't find you anymore. Thank you for this article, it sounded like ya wrote it, just for us!
Pax Christi!
Dutch

Anonymous said...

My advice, which I practice religiously (pun intended), is to call ahead and talk to the Pastor before attending. Not only to find out if the service is traditional or contemporary, but to verify what the Pastor means by traditional. I started this after attending a service one time when on vacation that left me aghast. It may be a sin but if I have doubts about the service we don't attend. I would rather not go church than expose my children to questionable practices. Poor practice leads to poor doctrine.

Lee Liermann

Joel said...

A couple of years ago, I decided that I didn't know nearly enough about "classical" music (using the term that most people use in discussing the serious music of concert hall/opera house/cathedra despite the fact that it technically only refers to one specific movement within the larger world of music... but I digress). I realized that I remembered the basics of classical music, but wasn't as familiar with it as I wanted to be. So I made use of a pretty good resource book (The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection), my local library, and several internet music streaming services to teach myself. In the process of doing so, I made a number of discoveries: I don't particularly enjoy Mozart. Haydn is da bomb! (That means I really like his music.) I've been an opera lover all my life and never knew it.

One think that was really eye opening was discovering the variety of ways in which people have used music in worshipping God. I've listened to the serious music of the church from every era from Medieval times to the twentieth century. Every era of music, every generation, found fresh ways of expressing the songs of the liturgy. Many times composers incorporated music of already familiar hymns in their liturgies. Beethoven's divine service sounded nothing like Bach's. You learn almost as much about Haydn's personality as you do about the Lord in his liturgies. Janacek fused traditional Czech melodies with the jarring harmonies and key changes of the twentieth century. The liturgy, I found, is not a fixed object on earth, but is a comet streaking accross the sky -- changing and transforming as each generation seeks for a way to praise God and express his truth in its own, unique way.

Then we get the the philosophy of this blog: "The liturgy finally reached perfection in the common service of 1888 and we dare not change it or we are doing a disservice to our Lutheran heritage." Poppycock! Balderdash! Hoohah! Father Spencer, just because you have your members scared of any kind of innovation in the liturgy, that doesn't mean you can stop it. The history of music and the church tells us that people in different locations and times WILL adapt the liturgy to speak in their own language and music style.

Right now, the style of the American people is simplified "form follows function" style. It makes sense that they will write liturgies and church music that is a bit simpler than the European liturgies that their forefathers brought over from the old country. It is not a rejection of Lutheranism, it is a desire to worship the Lord using their own NATIONAL idiom. It is not a "sectarian" form of worship. It is an American form of worship.

In conclusion, the most apropos quotation from the Lutheran confessions on this matter FC SD Article X: Therefore we believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has, according to its circumstances, the good right, power, and authority [in matters truly adiaphora] to change, to diminish, and to increase them, without thoughtlessness and offense, in an orderly and becoming way, as at any time it may be regarded most profitable, most beneficial, and best for [preserving] good order, [maintaining] Christian discipline [and for eujtaxiva worthy of the profession of the Gospel], and the edification of the Church. Moreover, how we can yield and give way with a good conscience to the weak in faith in such external adiaphora, Paul teaches Rom. 14, and proves it by his example, Acts 16:3; 21:26; 1 Cor. 9:19.

Can we start talking about important stuff now?

--Pastor Joel Lillo

Joe Krohn said...

It is important, Joel because ditching the historic liturgy is thoughtless and offensive. And here is why: what replaces the liturgy is culled from American Evangelicalism which is influenced by American culture while being Arminian and etc.... Thank you for the apropos quotation. Personally, I don't see why guys like you don't get this. The church has practiced liturgical worship from the beginning and will into eternity as we see it in Revelation. Form may follow function, but in this case form (practice) changes function (doctrine).

Pastor Spencer said...

Thanks much, Dutch, Lee, and Joe! People like you were indeed those for whom I wrote, in memory and honor of my dear mother and father who lamented intensely the foolish and unnecessary changes in our worship.

And thanks to Joel too - a perfect example of an uncaring and clueless Pastor who made it very clear that he does not give a fig for those he calls "scared." Is this the attitude of a true shepherd of souls? Shameful. I pray that none of us ever comes under the spiritual "care" of such a man. But at least such attitude is now boldly out in the open for all to see. That too is helpful.

There are many WELS Pastors who feel as I do, though they don't like to toot their own horns (or comment on IL - that's ok). There are also many WELS Pastors who feel as Joel does. Yet, it is claimed that our whole synod is "walking together." Strange, eh?

The reason why Joel and his friends can't "get it," Joe is really very simple. It can be attributed to one of two beliefs on their part:

1. Despite their loud and vehement protests to the contrary, they just do not trust the Means of Grace - The Gospel in Word AND Sacraments. They must "fix" these Means, or dress them up, or hide them, or whatever, because on their own, as the Lord Jesus gave them, they just don't seem to "work" very well at filling the pews and chairs.

Or

2. Again, despite their claims of knowledge and understanding, they don't recognize the Sacraments are REAL Means of Grace that REALLY create faith, strengthen faith, forgive sins, build fellowship, etc.... A perfect example of this kind of thinking can be seen clearly in the Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Service of Word and Sacrament in Christian Worship - the Lord's Supper gives only the "pledge" of forgiveness, not forgiveness itself. If that's truly what these fellas think, then what of Confession and Absolution, which the Book of Concord refers to as a "sacrament?" So, it makes perfect sense that they would concoct services without such, and have no problem with hiding Holy Communion, or eliminating it altogether. Form follows thought - or non-thought as the case may be.

Oh, and such men will holler like stuck pigs that they do recognize the Sacraments and do trust ALL the Means of Grace. But then I think it is only fair that we ask them to put their money - in the form of the services they conduct - where their months are! That's only fair, right? Sure seems so to me. But, then, they don't need to "prove" anything to me or anyone else. Their words should be enough. Well, ok, but something sure doesn't smell right, eh?!

SDS

AP said...

Pastor Lillo,

Look, I have noting but respect for all of our men who serve in the ministry of Word and Sacrament, including you. So, I'm sorry if anything I say here causes you offense. Nevertheless, I think a bad argument (and yours is quite frankly a bad argument) has to be refuted directly. Your comments are really quite unfair and not particularly well-argued. Pastor Spencer is asking for truth in advertising--a perfectly reasonable request that provokes from you a tirade of sorts against anyone who defends actual traditional worship. If a church is going to proclaim itself to be traditional and confessional, then it had better actually be those two things. I have run into this problem myself repeatedly--churches that willy-nilly concoct something they try to pass off as a "traditional liturgy", when it is actually nothing more than come cobbled-together, confused mess. If you want to have whoopee-worship, fine, have it. Live and let live I suppose is the best we can hope for these days. Just be honest about what you are doing, and don't try to pass off what is not in any real way "traditional" as such.

The Common Service of 1888 is not the final word on liturgy. No one has made that argument so far as I know. The Common Service in CW is not even a very good version of that service, so of course it is not the "one true liturgy". In this silly argument that we here will only stand for "the one true liturgy" you set up yet another strawman (for the uninitiated an argument that no one actually makes).

Your own quotation also defeats your argument. Thoughtlessness and offense and a lack of good order are exactly the points here. What I have seen of so-called "traditional worship" and most especially of all-out emergent contempo worship are in varying degrees thoughtless, disorderly, and offensive. Moreover, you conveniently ignore the clear statements of the Confessions that declare that we retain the Mass. Perhaps you should also consider Article XXIV of the Augsburg Confession, which clearly explains what the Mass (i.e. Divine Service) is and why it has been retained.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

AP said...

Pastor Lillo,

By the way, I would honestly like to know what you consider the "important stuff" to be.

A.P.

Joel said...

A.P.,

No offense taken. You said, "The Common Service of 1888 is not the final word on liturgy. No one has made that argument so far as I know. " Uh, take a look at Daniel Baker's recommendations to the Hymnal Committee in his comment under the post "Divine Service Explanation #4 -- Invocation." I think that's pretty much what he's advocating there.

A worship service can be traditional, confessional and innovative. Granted, it does take care and work to make sure that the innovations in the service are confessional. As long as a congretation has a service that follows the pattern of the western liturgy -- not necessarily even including all of the parts of it -- I think that it can rightly claim to have a traditional worship service.

And, yes, I think I can defend my assertion that Father Spencer does indulge in scare tactics here -- trying to convince his members (in the expample cited above) and the people who read this blog that they should be suspicious of any church that has any kind of innovation in worship at all. Yes, I think we can speak of our synod walking together even when there are different styles of worship. For the record, I use the four morning services from CW on a rotating basis in our church's Sunday morning services and four different devotional services from CWS in our evening services.

What important things can we be discussing? I think you can peruse Steadfast Lutherans for an answer to that question. Yes, they do talk a bit about the "worship wars" (more like localised skirmishes if you want my opinion on that), but they do also adress matters of ministry, reaching out, sociopolitical issues that impact the church, etc. They are not fixated on the issue of worship.

Let me conlude with the concluding words of Article X of the SD of the FC: Thus [According to this doctrine] the churches will not condemn one another because of dissimilarity of ceremonies when, in Christian liberty, one has less or more of them, provided they are otherwise agreed with one another in the doctrine and all its articles, also in the right use of the holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei; "Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in the faith."

--Pastor Joel Lillo

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

I agree with Pr. Lillo. We should talk more about other topics, like how sinners are justified before God. Because at the moment, the official synodical position of the WELS is that you can only be justified before God if you believe that all people have already been justified before God. And that's not the Gospel of Jesus.

Get justification right, and what happens on Sunday morning becomes much more serious, and the means of grace become much more vital. Continue to get justification wrong, and you can expect the worship practices of the WELS to continue their downward spiral. Either way, worship forms are secondary to the Gospel they are intended to convey. The WELS, as a synod, needs to find the Gospel again.

Anonymous said...

Spence: I wonder if you could put on this site the "exhortation to communion taken from excerpts from the confessions"? That looks like something great to use. As far as liturgy, I disagree that the Western Rite is a europeon tradition or worship form. American Christianity is far more diverse than the standard "community", non-denominational church worship. Innovation in itself is neither good or bad. However all true Lutheran worship is Word & Sacrament, Keys & Confession, creedical and penitential. I no of no service that does this better than the Western Rite. Pastor KH Engdahl (Filed under annonymous for convenience.)

Joel said...

So, is this officially an anti-UOJ blog now?

Anonymous said...

I really like how Pastor Spencer brought up how some don't recognize the sacraments do offer forgiveness of sins. I'll give an example: Last week, I was discussing contemporary worship with a WELS member who goes to a church with only contemporary worship. In the course of the discussion, he asked if those who attend a service without communion are not forgiven because communion wasn't offered. I explained that they are forgiven because of their baptism and since I would assume there was a Confession and Absolution at the beginning of the service. He then seemed to think that I said you *must* have communion every week in church for it to be "God-worthy." I then asked him if communion gives you the forgiveness of sins. He said that it was a "yes and no answer."

I think this shows what happens when we place little to no importance on the sacraments, as contemporary worship tends to do. We end up with members who think communion does not offer forgiveness of sins and that it is not all that important.

Bryan Lidtke

Pastor Spencer said...

Thank you, Bryan, for that additional "testimony." Ken - I think I posted those exhortation a few years back. I'll try to find that post. If I don't, I'll re-post them later today. Thanks.

For anyone who wants to know what our "official" stand is on anything, simply go to "What We Believe" page, and there you'll see it. No assertions or assumptions should be made outside these clear statements. Thank you.

SDS

Daniel Baker said...

"'The Common Service of 1888 is not the final word on liturgy. No one has made that argument so far as I know.' Uh, take a look at Daniel Baker's recommendations to the Hymnal Committee in his comment under the post 'Divine Service Explanation #4 -- Invocation.' I think that's pretty much what he's advocating there."

Not hardly, Joel! I do admit that I believe the Common Service of 1888 represents the Common liturgical heritage of American Lutheranism (hence it's name), but I don't think it's the end-all be-all of the Divine Liturgy. There are plenty of things I would change. For example, I don't care for the omission of the proper Communio chant. I don't like the fact that many of the beautiful Psalms and responsories from the traditional Western rite's Preparatory Service were left out of the CS's Confession and Absolution, nor do I like the way the latter is merged with the Divine Liturgy proper. I also prefer an "expanded Kyrie," something Fr. Spencer referred to in the OP - and for that matter, I'm a fan of Luther's exhortations as well. Of course, this could be because I adore his German Mass. That's hardly the Common Service of 1888.

If you read my comments on the other thread, you'll note that my concern is not that every single manifestation of Lutheran worship is 100% in line with the CS of 1888. Rather, it's whether or not "the basic form and flow of the Mass [is] retained." In those varying settings of Christian worship you cite from classical music, you'll note that the Masses the classical composers were setting to music followed the same pattern - Kyrie-Gloria-Creed-Sanctus-Agnus Dei. There's no innovation there, just variation in music. I have ALWAYS been an avid supporter of variation in the settings we use of the Divine Liturgy. What I want to keep at a bare minimum is the innovation we make to the Divine Liturgy's actual text. There is room for minor changes here and there as local needs may have. But as a general rule, we retain the Mass in its usual form, maintaining all the rites associated therewith for the sake of good order and so that the people may learn.

Also, as someone who has first-hand experience with this, it is more than possible to have doctrinal orthodoxy (with regard to justification and the Means of Grace in particular) from the pulpit surrounded by counterintuitive sectarian worship practices. I think one of the biggest problems we have is a lack of catechesis. No one knows what the Divine Liturgy means anymore. I think once people understand it, generally speaking its more frequent use will fall into place. But perhaps I'm wrong about that. Still, I do think discussions like this have merit toward that end (blogs like this are what taught me, after all).

AP said...

Pastor Lillo,

I will let Daniel speak for himself. I did not get the impression that he or anyone was insisting that we go back to only the "pure" 1888 liturgy. I think the point is rather to get as close as we can to Luther's liturgy and the historic Western Rite. Moreover, who is condemning who here? You accused Pastor Spencer of using scare tactics, implying (or so it seems) that we here would like some kind of liturgical inquisition to enforce what you deem to be some kind of liturgical puritanism.

Moreover, the key phrase from the BoC passage you cite is "otherwise agreed with one another in the doctrine and all its articles." I'm sorry, but I am not in any way agreed with the emergent pseudo-theology that is at the core of Church Growth methodology including much of contemporary worship.

It seems like more often than not we are talking past each other or over each other here. Why can't we just, as a church body, sit down and finally have it out? Let's get all of these issues--worship, bible translation, even the language we use to talk about justification--out into the open and let's settle them once and for all. We have to stop pretending that there are no issues and no divisions. There are, and you know what Lincoln said about a house divided against itself. Well, I suppose we do deal with the raising of issues and questions. We toss people out of the synod who dare to raise any important questions or issues--or at least who do so too persistently and loudly--and then we bury our heads in the sand and hope that the gigantic elephants in the room will just kindly go away. Oh yes, there indeed is the path to a healthy church body!

A.P.

Anonymous said...

A note of support for A.P.'s comment. I have said it before and will say it again, we need honest discussion and an open debate on the issues at hand.

Lee Liermann

Pastor Spencer said...

Lee and AP - Thanks for your comments.

But there is a MAJOR problem with what you (and I) would like to see happen. That is, some of these matters are held to be "settled doctrine" by one side or the other. In other words, there is simply nothing to talk about. We see the same thing going on today in our nation's capitol. i.e. "Sure, let's talk, AFTER you agree that I'm right and you're wrong."

It seems to this observer that if some very bright fellows - or even dunces like me - have some questions, or even think someone else's questions deserve answering, then the issue - whatever it is - is not really "settled." And even if it is settled for me, it may not be for some of my brothers. Thus, I am more than willing to discuss the matter.

Re: worship, for example, simply show me the benefits - real, actual, Biblical, Confessional, Lutheran benefits, to the various kinds of whoopee-worship out there and I'll consider your arguments. I've sat across the table from Pastor Gunn numerous times for many hours. The best we have come to is to agree to disagree. I have not convinced him and he has not convinced me. But since he is seen as "successful" and has the blessing of various of our leaders, the matter is therefore "settled." Therefore, there are more Crosswalks, COREs, Bridges, Victory's, etc..... and less emphasis on the historic rite and Sacraments.

So, no, according to this view, we cannot and should not have a "debate" on such things. It would not display the unity that we are so proud of and wish to display to the religious world. The same is true of other questions.

The result is that even talking about differences, or suggesting there be debate and discussion is seen as rebellious and wrong.
Kind of like, "OK, let's have a trial. After that, we might let you decide by which method you wish to be executed."

It's pretty hard to discuss a matter when everything is already settled. Oh well, majority rules, eh!?

SDS

Joel said...

Why do I want to sing the title of this post (Thoughts from Thunder Mountain) to the tune of "Out on Thunder Island" by Jay Ferguson?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEKZJp-x-Dc

Anonymous said...

I guess what I would ask those, who say this is not that vital or important, haven't walked in a laity's shoes. I was given His Armor for good reason. It protects from fatal/mortal wounds, not from serious or painful ones. Firey darts, are what they are. It's why I want to find what I knew & was instructed. All I needed was to find my feet. That was His Word, His Sacrament, the Iiturgy I knew by 2, & my Hynmal. Alot/& many tends to ride, if your laity are vocal abot their Faith & choose not to compromise it, (confessionals are w/those around us, don't even doubt that). I think sometimes, we get a bit heady & ahead of ourselves, as we all know, these sites are visited by more laity than those who hold the Office. It is vital, it is important, it is not just study or discourse for your laity, It is Life, Light, and at times, the only Beacon we have. I was told it was a wise choice, to be silent, w/what happened w/me. For others, ab fab, for me, not in the slightest, nor for those who watched me, as I am known by them, by what my Denom taught me & what His Word so lovingly teaches, encourages, rebukes, admonishes, and at times, demands. No shepherd can shepherd w/o a flock, & all Shepherds are Pastors, yet not all Pastors are Shepherds. It was once, yet is no more. Because it was vital to them, once long ago, & far, far, away....
Dutch

Anonymous said...

At our most recent visit to another WELS congregation, the service used was Matins. There was no Confession and Absolution, no Lord's Supper, no creed. Maybe the laity don't understand the significance of these omissions, but what about the pastors? The purpose of the divine service is to receive God's gifts--specifically God's gift of forgiveness in Word and Sacrament. As for the creed, it doesn't take long to say, and yet we so very much need to hear and join with other Christians in the confession of its truths; we will spend the rest of the week with unbelievers who confess anything but! I've been told, "Well, God doesn't say we have to have these things..." When Christ lives in you, you will want these things, and the more you grow up in Christ, the more you will hunger for and desire what he loves to lavish upon us--forgiveness!

Shelley Ledford

Anonymous said...

Sorry about my typos, I sent my note from a hotel computer and had to get off quick. Ken

Pastor Spencer said...

Just an FYI or two to whomever it may concern: My opinion of contempo worship is what it is. I guess I should call it "contemptible," as well as blasphemous, despicable, rude, and just plan annoying, but I kind of like "happy-clappy," and also "warm-fuzzy," along with "trite," "silly," "foolish," "arrogant," "self-indulgent," "man-centered," and in general a stench in the nostrils of God, IMHO. In other words, I'll call such so-called worship what I will. Others may call historic, apostolic, confessional, orthodox worship whatever they want, and same goes for myself and others who favor this manner of corporate praise. I don't mind being called whatever by whomever. I have a pretty thick skin.

I believe IL is a good forum for reasoned debate. The problem is that some of our commenters tend to lack true Christian, Biblical "reason." Reason is all well and good, but I find the rather shallow and very humanistic reasoning used by purveyors of "silly-sing" worship (perhaps that's a better term - or how about "sappy-song?") quite off-putting and usually pointless. I don't think I use name-calling on individuals for the most part. I may lapse once in a while, but usually it is their ideas and how they express them that I label in some critical fashion. If this is name-calling, I'm sorry. I don't think it is - just telling the truth as I see it.

Finally, back on an earlier topic - we seem to have completed the discussion about whether or not there is such a thing as "Blog Fellowship." The consensus seemed to be that such a thing does not exist. All fine and well. However, my last question on the topic had to do with the giving and taking of offence. I never did get any replies on that part of the topic. Here again, I'm left to conclude that when no offence is intended, then the one taking offence for, i.e. a WELS Pastor and non-WELS Pastor sharing the same blog, and the like, is the one in the wrong. If my conclusion is incorrect, I'm sure someone will correct me.

SDS

Pastor Spencer said...

To Ken - Sorry, I forgot about your question. Bad me! Anyway, the "Exhortations" were posted in an article on IL on September 24th, 2011. Go to the Catalog of Posts, and go down to the list of my posts and look for that topic and date and you'll see it. Just got another very positive comment about these this morning in fact. Thanks again for asking.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to a service from Victory of the Lamb in Franklin, WI. Is this where the WELS is headed?
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/39808617

Bryan Lidtke

Pastor Spencer said...

Yes, wonderful quote! Here, here!

Now, here's a little project for our readers: Find a quote making the very same point, but from a WELS, rather than LCMS source; then, also find a quote from a WELS source that expresses the exact opposite viewpoint. I'm curious as to which will show up first. Ready, set, . . . . GO! Be careful out there!

Donald Tilbury said...

Quite honestly it sounds exactly what the Catholics said to Luther when he questioned their authority, "Stick to what has been handed to you."

Another thing that has been a real issue about this website in a whole.
Being a confessional Lutheran doesn't mean knowing the confessions front to back. Being a confessional Lutheran means reading scripture and defending it to the last.
I've heard people misquote the confessions so often that it actually sickens me to hear them using it to defend adiaphra issues such as this ridiculous waste of time with worship styles.

If you can't defend your point with scripture is it worth defending with just your opinion? Why then are the confessions dragged into a matter? There's quite a bit of opinion concerning worship in the confessions, but at least they say it's their opinion.

If you want to call yourself a confessional Lutheran, then stick up for scripture not your opinion.

Donald Tilbury



Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Actually, Donald, you're quite wrong about the definition of a confessional Lutheran. That word there, "confessional," means that we have a series of confessions to which we subscribe, and that accurately describe our doctrine and practice. If we claim to be "confessional" Lutherans, then the one who visits our Mass should be able to expect that we practice what we say we practice and teach what we say we teach. It's a position of honesty.

Pastor Spencer said...

Thank you for being a reader, Donald, and for your comment. It gives me an opportunity to make my point once again.

Unfortunately, you missed the point I was trying to make. Don't feel bad, many do the same. My bad. Let me try again.

My point is not to "force" anyone to do anything, or to "slam the door" of the Gospel on anyone. In fact, just the opposite. If people do not like liturgical worship, and do not want to follow the worship practices outlined in the Lutheran Confessions, I don't say they are unChristian or unsaved. They are very welcome to find a church where they feel they can worship as their conscience dictates. There are most certainly believers in non-liturgical churches, just as there are in the Church of Rome; however wrong they may be on various teachings and practices. Though it may shock some to hear this, one does not need to be WELS in order to go to heaven! WELS is not the only true visible church on earth. Thinking that would indeed make us like the Romans.

No, kind sir, my point was not to shut anyone out, but to keep what we have in, and be a witness to the full truth and beauty of the kind of worship that believers have enjoyed since the days of the Patriarchs. If, in our rush to fill our chairs and pews, we eschew this kind of worship, just where will our sheep, whose consciences tell them this is the way to come before God for corporate worship, go then? Would you suggest they go to the Church of Rome, and have their souls tormented with work-righteousness? Or to the Episcopal Church or ELCA, which aren't even Christian anymore? I think you would admit that would be cruel.

In addition, it is also a matter of honesty and integrity. As many an adult in instruction class used to ask me in my early days of the ministry - if the Book of Concord plainly describes "our" (i.e. Lutheran) churches as celebrating the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day, and of practicing Private Confession, and, in general, of keeping all the things which the Church (c)atholic has practiced down through the centuries, why is it that we (then, in that place) observed Holy Communion only once a month, made no provision for Private Confession, and many other of our churches had little or no liturgy at all? Excellent question, for which I had, at that time no answer. As one reader put it before, it looks as though we are ashamed of our confessional heritage. Are we so desperate for new bodies to fill our churches, that we will offend and perhaps even drive away the souls God has already entrusted to us? Do we truly believe that we are the only saving church; that those who worship in the contemporary style of the community churches, etc.... will not go to heaven, so that we must entice them through our doors with non-Lutheran practices? Are we really that arrogant and self-absorbed? I certainly hope not!

So, Donald, et al - it is NOT a matter of making anyone do anything, but of being who we are, and who we say we are; of honoring Dr. Luther and the Reformers, who sacrificed so much to hand down to us the beautiful truths we show forth to the world on Sundays. If folks can't handle being confessional Lutherans, fine, let them go where they will. If Pastors are uncomfortable with historical worship, fine, let them go into a church body where they can do as they please. If we say we follow the Bible, and yes, the Book of Concord, then let's do so, with relish!

I hope this makes my point much clearer. If not, oh well, I tried.

God's blessings on your worship today!

Deo Vindice!

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

"Being a confessional Lutheran doesn't mean knowing the confessions front to back. Being a confessional Lutheran means reading scripture and defending it to the last."

I don't see a conflict between those two things at all--especially if one believes that the Confessions are a true exposition of God's Word. Which Confessional Lutherans do by definition... Right?

Mr. Joseph Jewell

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