Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63118-3968
CONTACT: Emily Barlean, Corporate Communications
For Immediate Release
Research on C.F.W. Walther a Way to Promote, Recognize His Significance
CPH Announces Project for Commemorating Walther's 200th Birthday
Want to contribute to the body of work on C.F.W. Walther? Want to win $1,200? Read more to find out how: http://pitch.pe/54906
Concordia Publishing House encourages the study of Lutheran Confessional theology, its history, and its application in congregational life through a research paper on the subject of American theologian, C. F. W. Walther, in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth. The winner will receive a $1,200 award.
Saint Louis, MO—The 200th anniversary of the birth of Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, an American theologian and significant figure in nineteenth century Christian history, will be on October 25, 2011. To encourage the study of historical theology, the Professional and Academic Book Team at Concordia Publishing House has organized a way for those interested in contributing to the body of work about Walther to be published in a collection of papers to commemorate this event.
The commemoration of Walther is no small task. Walther was one of the most important Lutheran theologians in America. His achievements include helping to found the log cabin college that became Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, leading publication of Der Lutheraner journal, helping to found The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), as well as being its first president.
"The pastors who really change the lives of their people through Word and Sacrament renew and invigorate the Church, to the salvation of souls and the glory of God," said Rev. Charles P. Schaum, a Professional and Academic Books Editor at CPH. "Walther is a case in point, as shown by the substantial growth of the Missouri Synod during his lifetime."
In honor of all that Walther has done, CPH is asking the public to submit research papers on the topic of C.F.W. Walther. The award winning research paper will be gifted $1,200 and the second place paper will receive a $600 award. There will also be a $200 award for the best commemorative sermon and prayer (see more details at cph.org).
"C. F. W. Walther was called 'the Luther of North America' by those outside the circle of his own church body, but scholars in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have largely neglected him," said Dr. Robert Kolb, Director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary. "The effort of Concordia Publishing House to promote study of his writings and to encourage new attempts to evaluate his significance is an important step toward opening up discussion of this figure who dare not be ignored."
Anyone may enter a 25-page research paper with 3–5 pages of bibliography. Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastors and divinity students may enter a sermon and prayer. Each submission must carefully adhere to the terms and conditions of the award, which can be found at http://bit.ly/adZLGf. All entries must be submitted by October 31, 2010.
Social Media Release: http://pitch.pe/54906
Concordia Publishing House: http://www.cph.org
More about the Reformation Theology Research Award: http://bit.ly/adZLGf
Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod: http://www.lcms.org
CPH Media Room: http://cph.mediaroom.com/
Concordia Publishing House is a not-for-profit publishing company and the publisher of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The company offers more than 8,000 products for use in Christian congregations, schools, and homes. Visit CPH on the Web at http://www.cph.org.
View this or previous releases or download via Word or PDF on Scribd <http://www.scribd.com/cphnews> .
# # #
Walther, C.F.W. Walther, C. F. W. Walther, Research, Research Award, Reformation Theology Research Award, Concordia Publishing House, CPH, award, cash prize, research paper, commemorative sermon and prayer, Lutheran Confessional theology, birthday, anniversary, 2011, get published, Dr. Robert Kolb, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, LCMS
If you would rather not receive future communications from Concordia Publishing House, let us know by clicking here.
Concordia Publishing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63123 United States
One of the complaints I have about churches I visit (both traditional and contemporary) is that the presiders use too many words. I did not always notice this. A friend who had been away from the States for a long time stopped by to visit. He was there over a Sunday and after worship his critique was "too many words, not enough silence." I have tried a million times to make for silence and it is as hard as pulling teeth. Our people are so fearful of silence that they generally spend the silent moments looking around to see who screwed up and did not come in on time (presider, organist, choir, etc...). Though I try, this use of silence is a constant battle. But the critique of "too many words" I have taken to heart and it has shaped my thinking greatly.
One of the things you notice about the creed and about liturgical language is its succinct nature. It is an economy of words that the framers of the creed showed to us and the liturgy has preserved to us. These are compact -- carefully chosen words, filled with meaning, and pregnant with expression of the evangelical and catholic faith. Jesus is likewise compact in His discourses. We would presume more but He gives us more without giving us more words.
Contemporary worship services (the homemade versions) tend to be wordy -- very wordy. Like Taylor's Living Bible, they say in ten words what Jesus, the creeds, and the liturgical texts say in two or three. It is not that they say more, they say it with more words. They provide wordy bridges between different elements of their "liturgy" and they introduce everything with anecdotes and explanations that grow tiresome to ears already too filled with words. In the end the Words of Christ become just additional words in the great soup of words that is the contemporary Christian service.
"Traditional" liturgy can also be infected by this bug. I have heard Pastors add words to the most compact and elegant of liturgical prose -- and their words do not help it all. For example, I have been told repeatedly we make our beginning In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Such additions do not add to the classic invocation but turn it into the language of a rubric or explanatory text for the footnotes. They introduce hymns even though numbers are posted and directions printed out in the service folder. They try to bridge the elements of the Divine Service much the way presiders in contemporary worship do -- even up to the end when they solemnly tell us: Receive the benediction of the Lord and then benedict us. Such words are not only NOT necessary, they clutter up the service and the ears of the people gathered there.
Sermons also are areas where an accumulation of words is confused with clarity of words. Again, those who tend to preach "how to" sermons (about happier marriages, better kids, more successful work, etc) and those who preach Bible studies (not really text expositions but actual Bible studies) are also too wordy.
There are nations who revise and amend their constitutions ad nauseum while the US constitution is compact in language and, for the most part, has been resistant to this incessant need to add words. There is everywhere elegant and eloquent language that is compact and succinct. It is, however, the hallmark of liturgical language and creedal language that it takes this call to compactness most seriously.
Take a cue from the hymnwriters of the Church. They have left us with a marvelous poetic gift in which the few words of a stanza can say what paragraphs must say in prose. Learn from the hymnwriter by reading and memorizing hymn stanzas to see how it is that they craft these phrases so pregnant with meaning, so filled with rich imagery, and so elegant in sound. Sure, we have some 15 or 20 stanza hymns and some of you might think these mitigate against my point but they say so much in those stanzas it is impossible to replicate their message in prose without adding page upon page of words. Let the hymnwriters teach us how to use language well. And, if you will grant me this, read good secular poetry and good secular prose and it too will teach you the craft of language that speaks much without saying too many words.
If we paid attention to the rubrics, if we taught the liturgy as we teach so many other things, and if we allowed a little silence for people to think for a moment and soak it all up, we could get by with fewer words and not need to constantly add to what is there. So I urge the Pastors of our church body to think clearly, to let the liturgical language speak without commentary or explanations or introductions or bridges between the various elements. People will soon learn to appreciate this. Everywhere in this life we are bombarded by words and more words and even more words. What we need are not more words but words filled with meaning, elegant prose and poetry, eloquence of vocabulary, all that speak clearly without speaking just more words.
This is a good idea!
Due to the — well, how else to put it than this? — spectacular success and reception of The Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House is launching an effort to place the hymnal into every home. Traditionally, for Lutherans, there have been three core books that have shaped and formed their faith and life: Bible, Catechism, Hymnal. Why the hymnal? The hymnal gives voice to faith, by means of the hymns that are beautiful poetic expressions of all aspects of our life as God's people. Hymns give voice to our hope and fears, our sorrow and joy, our thanks and praise, that transcend any one of our ability to do so. Truly, we sing "with the whole people of God" as we use our hymnals, privately or alone, or in small groups. And so, in order to increase the use of the hymnal in this way, Concordia Publishing House will be featuring a regular series of articles on various aspects of the hymnal and encouraging our pastors and congregations to make a concerted "push" in their parish to get the hymnals beyond the pew racks and into the homes of our people. You can read more about this emphasis by visiting the CPH web site for the special Hymnal in Every Home campaign underway.
More thoughtful meandering…
Some years ago I was asked by another Lutheran Pastor what I "did" on Easter. He was thinking that things were beginning to get a little routine and dull and said, "We need to spice it up a bit..." Maybe some of you have thought like this as well. After all it is Easter (or Christmas) and we should not just do the same old stuff we do every other Sunday. We need to find something to spice it up a bit and make it special.
I came across this fantastic quote:
When was this written? Back in June 1929. (Source: Paul E. Kretzmann, Magazin für evang.-luth. Homiletik und Pastoraltheologie [June 1929], pp. 216-217)
Perhaps it should make me sad that confessional Lutherans have been fighting these battles for so long but, for some reason, it makes me hopeful. I think sometimes we think things used to be great and now they're awful. In fact, I think that we've always had people in our midst who didn't appreciate our Lutheran identity. And sometimes I think things are actually better now than they have been in recent memory.
In any case, a blessed Holy Week to everyone.
Monday, March 29, 2010
From Dr. Veith…
We had a wonderful Palm Sunday service, and the sermon was on a text that I don't think I've ever noticed before, Deuteronomy 32:36-39. Moses says that "When he sees that their power is gone," that is the time when "the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants." When their power is gone! What a passage for Law & Gospel and the Theology of the Cross vs. the Theology of Glory!
Postmodernists reduce everything–culture, law, government, morality, religion–to power. One group is exercising power over someone else, and all of the veneer of civilization is just a mask to hide that fact. So goes postmodernist cynicism. (Notice how we Christians play into that mindset and confirm it when we create the impression that what we seek is political power.)
One line of apologetics to the postmodernists is to say that, yes, that does explain a lot. But there is one counter-example. One religion that is all about not power but the abdegnation of power. God who emptied Himself of power: Jesus on the Cross.
And this text reminds me that Christians too meet Jesus when our "power is gone," when we admit that we are broken sinners, that we are powerless. And that's when the very different power from what postmodernists cynics bemoan manifests itself. Not an oppressive power but a liberating power. A saving power that raised Jesus from the dead and that in compassion will "vindicate" us too, raising us from every kind of death.
Pastor Douthwaite did a lot with this text. Read the whole via sermon, which includes the quotation I gave above. I remain haunted by this:
Thursday, March 25, 2010
This year, the Vacation Bible School from Concordia Publishing House is called Planet Zoom.
While I believe that CPH consistently has the best mass-produced curriculum from a major Christian publisher, I continue to be disappointed by the songs included.
Here are our suggestions for substitute/supplemental VBS Hymns for Planet Zoom:
Theme Hymns (Ephesians 5:1-2)
706 Love in Christ
473 Our Paschal Lamb (double use: Day 5)
Day 1 (Luke 2:41-52)
410 Within the Father’s House
Day 2 (John 6:1-15)
774 Feed Thy Children
Day 3 (Mark 5:21-43)
552: 1, 5, 6, 4 O Christ
Alternate: 849 Praise the One
Day 4 (Matthew 27:62-28:20)
466 Christ Has Arisen
In Christ Alone (See #752 in the WELS Christian Worship: Supplement)
Day 5 (Acts 12:1-19)
473 Our Paschal Lamb (Also one of the theme hymns)
These recommendations, in my opinion, give better support to the overall Scripture themes and daily themes than those included by the publisher.
All are from LSB, with one exception.
Also, using these hymns will give the children in our congregations hymns to grow into, rather than songs to grow out of.
And, hopefully, you may be more inclined to support our LCMS publisher by purchasing their VBS. http://planetzoom.cph.org/
Finally, give them constructive feedback to make the good even better.
From Pr. Weedon…
I have frequently commented that Luther really didn't get rid of monasteries; his idea was to move the monastery into the home! I mean, he PREACHED at home, for heaven's sake. Not to mention hymns and prayers and Bible reading and such.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
|A brief description of Luther's liturgical reforms, with a side by side comparison of the mass in Latin and German. And a couple of additional resources to follow.|
"In 1523 Martin Luther reformed the late medieval liturgy of the Mass. He called it Formula Missae or the Latin Mass. Luther used the purity of the Gospel (the doctrine of justification) as his main criteria for reforming the late medieval Latin Mass. Luther recognized the need for further reform of the church's liturgy, hinting at this already in the text of his Latin Mass.
In 1526 Luther further reformed the church's liturgy. He called it Deutsche Messe or the German Mass. Luther composed his German Mass to provide worship in the language of the people, primarily for those who were less educated and less experienced in theological matters.
What is probably the most surprising element of Luther's reforms of the late medieval liturgy of the Mass, is that he did not select a single form and hold it up as the ideal liturgy to be followed by all Christians. Luther actually wrote against this.
What Luther in fact did was to evaluate the needs of the Wittenburg community he served, and then provide God's people there with these two services. He did not hold up either service as more "authentic" than the other. Neither did he look down on those who displayed a need for the traditional forms they had grown accustomed to. Instead Luther ran these two very different services right alongside each other in the service of the Gospel in Christ's church.
Lutheran services from 1526 to the end of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth century by and large followed one of these two outlines. This demonstrates a willingness on the part of pastors and lay people during this period to allow for a certain amount of freedom in the execution of the church's liturgy in different locations. It also demonstrates that they arrived at a formula that promoted harmony among God's people.
A side-by-side comparison of Luther's Latin Mass and Luther's German Mass is one example of the liturgical diversity Luther and his colleagues were willing to allow for in the church. This comparison does not fully illustrate the diversity in the execution of the forms that the sixteenth-century reformers appreciated (Latin chants, German chorales, hymnic settings for liturgical texts like the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, e.g.). But it shows in the simplest way how they appreciated the need for diversity in worship practices even within the same local context.
The Latin Mass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The German Mass Here Luther allowed for "various melodies for different seasons."
 Luther gave the option to the local pastor to "decide to omit [the Gloria in excelsis] as often as he wishes."
 Luther argued for the singing of the Alleluia during Lent, Holy Week, and on Good Friday. "For the Alleluia is the perpetual voice of the church, just as the memorial of His passion and victory is perpetual."
 A sequence refers to a medieval musical arrangement that follows "in sequence" in the liturgical order. The term sequence also referred to the harmonic sequence of the music. Luther made this element of the liturgical order a choice of the local pastor.
 The singing of the Creed for Luther was a matter that "should also be left in the hands of the bishop." Luther referred to the local pastor as "bishop."
 Here Luther argued that the sermon should come before the reception of the Lord's Supper; ". . . it might be argued that since the Gospel is the voice crying in the wilderness and calling unbelievers to faith, it seems particularly fitting to preach before mass." Luther referred to the administration of the Sacrament of the Altar as "the mass."
 During the singing of the Angus Dei, according to Luther, the presiding minister was to "communicate, first himself and then the people."
 Luther wrote, "I also wish we had as many songs as possible in the vernacular which the people could sing during mass, immediately after the gradual and also after the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. . . . But poets are wanting among us, or not yet known, who could compose evangelical and spiritual songs, as Paul calls them [Col. 3:16], worthy to be used in the church of God."
Via Luther's Liturgical Reforms
And here are two additional essays on Luther's reform of worship and the development of Lutheran liturgies.
Luther on the Reform of Worship, by Helmar Jungans
Lutheran Liturgies from Martin Luther to Wilhelm Löhe , by Vernon P. Kleinig
So, here’s my list. Of course, the Holy Scriptures remain the most important “book” in my life, but that’s a given, so, next, in order, and it is extremely difficult to name only a handful, since there are so many books that have had a profound influence on my life, these are the books that came to mind as I thought of the “top ten” if you are allowed to count series as a single title, and are allowed to add one more.To this list, I, Paul J Cain, add a hearty Lutheran "Amen" and add these in no particular order:
The Book of Concord The confessions of the Lutheran Church. This remains the most influential book in my life as it continues to offer a guide to confessing the truth of God’s Word. I have pledged my unreserved agreement with their contents and it remains the most important book in my life.
Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther. One of my favorite of Luther’s many writings. A brilliant presentation of the Gospel.
The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by C.F.W. Walther. The definitive explanation of the key to understanding the Holy Scriptures.
The Lord’s Supper by Martin Chemnitz. The most compelling and convincing presentation of the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper I have ever encountered.
Here We Stand by Hermann Sasse. A powerful explanation of the “lonely way” that is the Lutheran Reformation. A pivotal text in my understanding of Christianity.
Ante and Post-Nicene Fathers. I know, this is a huge collection, but these volumes are what I cut my teeth on when I discovered the Church Fathers. They remain extremely influential as I became familiar with Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine, Chrysostom, Jerome, to name only a few.
Christian Dogmatics (3 volumes) by Francis Pieper. A Lutheran presentation of classic systematic theology that remains the best presentation offering a good overview of the subject.
The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism by Robert Preus. A brilliant synthesis of Lutheran orthodox teachers and thinking.
Martin Luther (3 volumes) The definitive biography of Martin Luther.
The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz. A Swedish bishop writes a series of short stories that powerfully present the Gospel and offer a solid antidote to the modern theological evils of Rationalism, on the one hand, and Pietism on the other. I read it regularly.
The Lord of the Rings I continue to read this book as the most compelling meta-narrative about good v. evil in fictional form.
The Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian. My favorite works of fiction. A constant delight and joy, with every reading, some new insight and new pleasure is to be found. O’Brian is a master of human character study.
- The Spirituality of the Cross
- Dying to Live
- Heaven on Earth
- Why I Am a Lutheran
- Christ Have Mercy
- Worship in the Name of Jesus
- On Being a Theologian of the Cross
- The Fire and the Staff
- Luther on Vocation
- The Quest for Holiness
And Ten Important Series/Sets
- The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- The Aubrey/Mautrin series
- Luther's Works
- Ante-Nicene Fathers
- Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: First Series
- Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series
- Concordia Commentary
- Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture
- Ancient Christian Doctrines
- Ancient Christian Texts
Saturday, March 20, 2010
"We retain the Latin language
on account of those
who are learning and understand Latin,
and we mingle with it German hymns,
in order that the people also
may have something to learn,
and by which faith and fear
may be called forth.
This custom has always existed in the churches"
(Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XXIV, 3)
For comparison, our evening chapel celebrated "Solemn Vespers" in Latin and Greek on two separate occasions…
For those who enjoy listening to badly pronounced Latin that is in desperate need of autotune, I have prepared a treat for your ears.
It's the Latin Mass. Or rather, the Latin Common Service of 1888. Also known as "The Morning Service" in TLH, and DS-III in LSB. For those who prefer their Gottesdienst to be pre Vatican II, this is really pre Vatican II.
Remember that Luther recommended keeping Latin in use in the cities. Remember also that we aren't opposed to using such languages in certain settings.
I am reminded of a sad incident from my seminary years. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we had Compline at something like 9:50 pm in the chapel. Now, at 9:50, there are no visitors to campus. The only ones there are the on-campus students. That is to say, single guys living a monastic lifestyle against their will. But such a life does has advantages – theological discourse at midnight, and Compline in the chapel at 9:50 twice a week, for example. From time to time, (about twice a quarter, or so) One of our professors (Dr. J) would favor us with the Litany in Greek. You know, the language of the NEW TESTAMENT. Did we understand every word? No. But no one who heard it can ever forget the good Doctor's dulcet tones as he finished each prayer with "deothomen", indicated that we should respond, "Kyrie Eleison". You must remember, this is one of our seminaries, where students are expected to know Greek before they enter, at a time when visitors are almost totally unknown. And we were praying for our church in a churchly language that was good enough for our Lord to use to tell the story of salvation.
One night, before the Board of Regents convened, one of the Regents attended the service, on one of the rare nights when Dr. J chanted in Greek. The greek was before our eyes – printed out for us to see and read along. We monks were the only ones there. (Plus this member of the Board.)
The next day, all heck broke loose. The Board called in both the Dean of the Chapel and Dr J to "have a little chat". Although I was not privy to the conversation, and it has been many years ago, the one phrase I remember, and likely will until my dying day, is this : "We are not about this kind of extremism." It still saddens me. Coincidentally, neither of those two professors are still at the seminary. I don't think the two are directly causally related. Many of the faculty from that era are not at the seminary. But it is sad.
So, anyway, for those who don't mind this sort of extremism, like speaking in a language the church has always used, and which Luther commended for ongoing use in the church, you may enjoy a listen. Go here. Or, go to mediafire.com/forestboar, and click on the "Evangelism" folder. (Heh-heh)
By the way, if the WY Dist Dean of the Cathedral would like to try using Latin or Greek at the pastor's conferences, he should give me a call. (I think the District Cantor knows Latin, as well.) For those who are offended by such things, rest assured, I will counsel against such extremism…
Pastoral care in the long term…
Now let me begin with a disclaimer. I am not minimizing or discounting the ministry of Pastors who do not stay the long haul in their parishes. What I am affirming are the benefits of long term pastorates.
No one uses this kind of earthy language anymore…
Here's an extraordinary selection from Friedrich Wyneken (President of the LCMS from 1850-1864), on common language, and how dissension arrises in the church. Wow. May the Lord grant patience, humility and kindness.
The introduction and use of new, uncommon, or completely suspicious expressions and ways of speaking in the Church, instead of generally acknowledged and customary language in matters of doctrine, faith, and Confession, must necessarily establish confu- sion in the Church. Even if they may be quite harmless in and of themselves, still, the weak are offended by them. A weak Christian does not have the sharp sense of understanding needed to recognize the truth also under these expressions, as is the case with the common expression. And since these matters deal with the dearest and most important things upon which his soul's salvation depends, who can blame him when he is skeptical about such ex- pressions! It must appear suspicious to him that the old acknowledged truth is not set forth by terminology that is the usual expression used among Christians. Everyone knows what he is to understand when the common expressions are used. When uncommon language is used, a person may well conclude that there is something different behind the words. He will fear that with the acceptance of a new manner of speaking, a new doctrine is also on the way. At the same time, he fears that the old truth is being given up along with the old common expression that had been so acceptable to his understanding and was made so valuable to him and dear to his heart.
Some become angry when they see those for whom Christ died offended [by such new ways of speaking]. And why shouldn't they be angry? They cannot remain silent. They point out to the brother who offers the novel language that he is acting incorrectly. They reveal the insidiousness that his manner of speech may well harbor or that may be conjectured by others about it. The unclear language is defended by the selfish claim to righteousness that resides deep in our corrupt nature, and a war over words breaks out. Parties are formed. The arsenal of hell is opened. The envy, quarreling, slandering, evil suspicion, hate, and bitterness, and whatever other shameful passions of Satan are found in the heart, are drawn like weapons. Wielded with great zeal, they are used to serve up affliction, misery, and death. And where does it end? First in schism, then with heresy. Then, before you know it, the devil pushes the warring parties into lies. From the controversy over a word comes a controversy over doctrine. Before one will let go of the expression as false or problematic, he happily takes up the false doctrine and advocates it. Though the opponent originally viewed the expression as innocent enough, or at least not as an attempt to substitute some evil understanding in the Church, he soon uses every means to show how dangerous its use is. And then disciples are found. Then the great multitude will fall for any error or lie other than the truth. The enemy has the last laugh. He has accomplished what he desired. Brothers once so tightly bound in unity stand as enemies over against one another. The Church—the poor, torn, bleeding Church—cries aloud over the wounds inflicted by her own children to whom she had painfully given birth. They don't trouble themselves with the fact that they are rummaging in the entrails of their very mother.
This is the first thing we have to note, if we would remain unified. None of us whom the Lord has placed as shepherds and watchmen in His flock should, under any circum- stance, allow himself to be led from the churchly, established, common, general, acknowledged manner of speaking, as we find it in our Confessions and the writings of the acknowledged orthodox fathers. Moreover, let us be diligent and zealous in studying them ever more thoroughly, in order to lift up the rich treasure of their understanding. And let us ever more place before our congregations the sound and copious ambrosia in the pure, sober, and magnificent platters and goblets of their comprehensive and expressive lan- guage. In doing so, we will happily avoid a chief cause of division. And with god's help, we will also bring our congregations to a ripe, full, healthy, well-founded, and well-grounded understanding, using these fathers for the profit of those who are brow-beat by devil and the children of this age. Those prevented from the joyous grasping of the truth will then be able to fight the good fight and crush the devil.
At Home in the House of My Fathers, p. 382
"Divine worship in the Christian Church is not an adiaphoron. The Lord expressly commands that His Word be heard, "He who is of God hears God's words" (John 8:47). He has only severe censure for those who forsake the Christian assemblies, "And let us…not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some" (Hebrews 10:25). He expressly enjoins public prayer, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence… I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8). He graciously promises His divine presence at such assemblies, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). He records with approval the public services of the early Christians, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42-47).
"But though He has prescribed the general content of public worship, though He is present in the sacramental acts of divine service, declaring and appropriating to the believers the means of grace, and though He graciously receives the sacrificial acts of the assembled congregation, in confession and prayer and offerings. He has not commanded a definite form or order of divine service. It is a matter of Christian liberty whether a congregation wishes one or many prayers, one or several hymns, one or two sermons or homilies, whether the chief assembly be held in the morning or in the evening, whether the service be held on Sunday or on another day.
"To argue from these facts, however, that it is a matter of complete indifference as to how the form of Christian worship is constituted would be bringing liberty dangerously near to license. The Lord says: "Let all things be done decently and in order," (1 Corinthians 14:40); and again: "Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26). It cannot really be a matter of indifference to a Christian congregation when the order of service used in her midst shows so much similarity to a heterodox order as to confuse visitors. One may hardly argue that such adiaphora do not matter one way or the other, when it has happened that a weak brother has been offended. And a Lutheran congregation cannot justly divorce herself, not only not from the doctrinal, but also not from the historical side of its Church. It is a matter of expediency, as well as of charity and edification, that every Lutheran pastor and every Lutheran congregation have outward significant symbols of the inner union, of the one mind and the one spirit.
"In addition to these facts, there is the further consideration that the outward acts of the Church, commonly known by the appellation "the liturgy," have a very definite significance, which, in many cases, renders the acts of public service true acts of confession of faith. And the symbolism of many of the Lutheran sacred acts, if correctly performed, is such that the beauty of these treasures of our Church may be brought to the joyful attention of our congregations."
— P.E. Kretzmann, Christian Art in the Place and in the Form of Lutheran Worship, p. 395-396
Also appears in "Theological Quarterly" Volume XXII:3 (July, 1918)