Saturday, January 9, 2010

Liturgy Review: Lutheran Liturgical Theology

Kleinig, John. Heaven Now Open: Lutheran Liturgical Theology. Roanoke, IL: Lutheran Catechetical Society, 2009. 4-DVD Set. $40.00 + $5.00 shipping. (LHP)


Christ is present. This is what separates truly Christian worship from that which is not Biblical and authentic Confessional Lutheran worship from a "lutheran lite" rite.

"The Rev. Dr. John Kleinig will lead you through the Christ-centered, historic Lutheran Service and how we have access to the Father through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.

"This DVD set contains over 7 hrs. of presentation from a symposium held in Ainsworth, Nebraska. Included on each of the 4 DVDs are Dr. Kleinig’s session outlines and another accompanying paper.

"Captured in Hi-Def/anamorphic 16:9 widescreen/5.1 Surround.

"*This presentation, due to the amount of digital data, is produced on dual-layer discs (DVD + R DL, or DVD-9). While these discs should play in most modern DVD players, The LCS cannot guarantee it will work on yours. Please consult your player’s manual" (publisher's website).

Approximate viewing times are:

  • DVD 1: 90 minutes
  • DVD 2: 104 minutes
  • DVD 3: 123 minutes
  • DVD 4: 131 minutes

The audio and video is of a very high quality. But it is nothing compared to the quality of the Lutheran Liturgical Theology presented here. It is a theology based in the liturgical context of the Augsburg Confession, especially Article V.
Kleinig extols the gifts of the Triune God and their delivery through means the Lord has appointed for our use. Forgiveness won on the cross is delivered at the font, pulpit, altar, and confessional. Why go to church? To receive the Holy Spirit! God has good Gifts for you in Christ! 

The good professor was a joy to hear after learning at the feet of Ronald Feuerhahn and Norman Nagel.

The theology of worship is at issue in Lutheranism both in Australia and the United States. That is the often unspoken divide in camps fighting the so-called "Worship Wars." Silly distinctions obscure the problem of a different theology of worship (Calvin, Zwingli, and the Pentecostals seem to have won out). Modern worship seems to focus on our work and separates the work of the Holy Spirit from Word. Penitecostal worship is heavily scripted. And folks complain about the history liturgy being the problem!

What does the good doctor recommend?
  1. Reach agreement on the theology of worship. It hasn't been taught well for over a hundred years.
  2. Make sure that the theology of worship (and explanations of how and why we worship as we do) are Biblically grounded and founded (opponents are then arguing with God)
  3. Pastors and congregations should work collegially and corporately, rather than individually and congregationally to preserve the unity of the Church
  4. Consider the pastoral needs of the people
Kleinig faces Lutherans up to Lutheran theology. That could be a jarring experience if they read more "how to" and the latest "Christian" fads than the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. Lutheran theology deals with distinctions rather than separations. Lutheran theology deals with seeming contraditions. Lutheran theology defines its terms. Fine distinctions make big difference. Laying hands on at an ordination is not a Dominical mandate, but an apostolic mandate/precedent. Lutherans know the difference between a Seat of Doctrine, which is proper, as opposted to "Proof Texting"

Lutheran theology deals with the Word for the sake of people. Pastoral care is very important. Dr. Kleinig prefers "Pastoral" to the term "practical." Consider: A secret ceases once you know it. The more it is story, the more mysterious a mystery becomes. Some explain mysteries away. Pastors, as templekeepers, present the mystery.

Lutheran theology clearly confesses the truth of the word clearly and rigorously. He counsels us to clearly teach the Trinity to meet the challenge of Islam.

Heaven is open to us in the Son. Jesus is our Jacob's Ladder. He comes to us. And He delivers His good Gifts. "We use God's Word to do everything in the service, even when it is not mandated." 
I appreciate Dr. Kleinig's clarity, fidelity, and winsome presentation. Order a copy of this 4 DVD set and rejoice in the Gifts God delivers in Christ.

The Rev. Dr. John Kleinig is a part of the teaching staff of Australian Lutheran College in Adelaide where he also serves as Dean of Chapel. He has long served the Commission on Worship of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

"BA(Hons) (University of Adelaide, 1965), ordained 5 January 1969, Christ Church, Murray Bridge SA, MPhil Cantab (Cambridge, 1982), PhD Cantab (Cambridge 1991), DD (Fort Wayne, 1998)

"Head of the Biblical Theology Department. Lecturer in the Schools of Pastoral Theology and Theological Studies, currently teaching Bible Introduction 1 and 2, Psalms, Old Testament Theology, Introduction to Worship, Liturgics, Christian Spirituality, and Preaching and Worship Workshops.

"Special interests: the getting of wisdom, theology and practice of worship in the Old and the New Testament, holiness, Lutheran spirituality, Lutheran theology of worship, theology and practice of praise, theology of Chronicles, theology and practice of blessing, confession and absolution, theology of Hebrews, sacramental theology, ritual enactment" (Australian Lutheran College website).

QBR readers will recognize Dr. Kleinig as the author of the 21st Century Lutheran classic, Grace Upon Grace, and author of the Concordia Commentary volume on Leviticus (and the forthcoming volume on Hebrews).

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.