Tuesday, September 7, 2010

FW: What Church Will We Be?

Strongly, yet gently said…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 7:51 PM
Author: Pastor Peters
Subject: What Church Will We Be?


The tension over what church we will be is not an academic one.  It is the battle for the heart and soul of Lutheranism.  It is played out in Seminary classrooms, in Sanctuaries across the Synod, in catechism classrooms, in choir rehearsal rooms, and in Pastor's Offices.  The other day I read something which made me sad.  It seems that the battle is not only being waged but lost in some of those places. Concordia, Seward, is looking to sell the pipe organ in their chapel rather than repair it and return it to its former glory.  Concordia, Bronxville, has dropped the church music program entirely.  Concordia, Austin, uses a praise band almost exclusively in the campus worship life.  And now Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, seems to have joined the bandwagon for praise bands.

According to an email from a friend, the September 3 campus news included an announcement seeking people who play instruments for a chapel band, aka praise band.  Streamers as banners are a matter of aesthetics -- personally I think they are kind of 1970s cool but, well, we can agree to disagree.  Apparently streamers are not enough, now Dean of Chapel Burreson seems to be taking this a step further -- past aesthetics and toward a diversity I do not welcome.  I guess there is a difference between Ft. Wayne and St. Louis -- but not the one people have been thinking about for some years.

The whole point of the church music at a Seminary campus is to model the best of Lutheran liturgical and confessional identity.  I am sorry, but singing "Shine, Jesus Shine" or "I Just Want to Worship" is not the best of Lutheran liturgical and confessional identity.  If anything, it is a capitulation to those who think that the music and hymnody of worship does not need to reflect the confessional identity and doctrinal stance of a church.  It may well be that some District Presidents and some parishes complain that their Seminary candidates do not seem to know enough about contemporary Christian music.  It may well be that some Seminarians hide their affection CCM until they are set free from the constraints of Seminary to do as they please in the parish.  It may well be that this is a debate within the LCMS.  I know all the reasons why an occasional praise band might not be so far out for a Seminary but they are all wrong in my book.  Nothing justifies choosing the expedient over the orthodox Lutheran identity within the worship setting.  Seminaries should not be training Pastors for the average parish but to lead parishes to a higher level of Lutheran identity and practice on Sunday morning. 

I am sad for this choice and for the choices of other LCMS schools who have reshaped their programs and chapel life for the broad path of diversity instead of being incubators for all that Lutheran worship can and should be... So don't expect my check for the joint seminary fund this year... it will go to Ft. Wayne exclusively...

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