Friday, December 3, 2010

FW: Red Herrings in the Worship Debate

More from Wilken…


Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, December 03, 2010 12:14 PM
Author: Todd Wilken
Subject: Red Herrings in the Worship Debate


In a recent post titled The Wilken Worship Riddle, I hoped to explore why some Lutherans have abandoned the Lutheran theology of worship. Many of the answers were great.

But some of the responses demonstrated something else: If you're going to enter the Lutheran worship debate you'd better learn to recognize a Red Herring.

Red Herring: A subject introduced to distract from the main issue.

In the Lutheran worship debate there are many Red Herrings. Here are a few of the most common:

  • It's all about style.
  • The organ isn't the only instrument useful for worship.
  • You trust in ceremonies, rubrics and human tradition rather than the Word of God.
  • Contemporary music isn't bad; every hymn was contemporary when it was written.
  • Non-Lutherans have written some great hymns
  • You only want to use hymns/liturgies from the 16th century.
  • The hymnal (TLH, LW, now LSB) isn't the only way to worship.
  • You're just like those Lutherans in the past who insisted on using German.
  • You think only Lutherans are Christians.
  • You're insisting on only one practice of worship.
  • You are just afraid of change/insisting on you own way.
  • We should stop arguing about worship; it only makes the devil happy.
  • We should stop arguing about worship; there are lost souls going to hell.
  • The liturgy is just human tradition/rule/idea.
  • You're just insisting on your own way.

Sound familiar?

The danger of a Red Herring in debate is that it is so very tempting. It presents itself as an argument that simply must be engaged. But remember, it's a distraction… sometimes deliberate, sometimes not.

Now, music, hymns, and liturgy are perfectly good subjects —for another conversation. None of them are central to the Lutheran worship debate.

The Lutheran worship debate isn't about music, hymns, and liturgy. The Lutheran worship debate is about Theology.

So, the next time you smell a Red Herring in the Lutheran worship debate, just let it pass; stick to the Theological question: What is worship according to Scripture and the Confessions? That is where the real debate is. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And, don't let anyone distract you.

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