In October of 1998, Professor Mark DeGarmeaux (Bethany Lutheran College, ELS) delivered a paper to the Evangelical Lutheran Confessional Forum of the ELS and WELS in Milwaukee, WI. The title of this paper was Sacramental Worship, Sacramental Preaching: Treasures of our Lutheran Church -- a terrific little essay that explores and extols the unique liturgical treasure we Lutherans have inherited, concluding:
The Lutheran church has been truly blessed by God with a rich treasury of liturgy, hymnody, preaching, and praying. We are not a sect, but we understand and recognize ourselves as part of the Church catholic, the one Holy Christian and Apostolic Church. At the same time we realize that there is a difference between our theology and that of other denominations in many ways. Our treasures are in the understanding of sacramental and sacrificial elements in the Divine Service, in understanding the Word and Sacraments as powerful and efficacious means of grace, and in the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. And we look forward to the marriage feast of heaven when the Bride will be joined to Christ Himself and will enjoy the great sacramentum of the marriage feast of the Lamb.
This treasure has been kept and valued by generations of Lutheran confessors as a practice which carries a body of worshipers through the Divine Service, focusing them on Christ and His gifts, in a way that not only represents and reinforces our body of pure doctrine, but our distinction and separation from the heterodox. So how would a Lutheran, imbued with genuine confessional ardor, react to the notion of importing sectarian worship forms into Lutheran practice? Using C.F.W. Walther as a benchmark of confessional ardor, DeGarmeaux demonstrates the answer to this question by including as an Appendix to his essay the following letter from Walther, which was written to a man who asked about the use of Methodist worship resources in Lutheran churches:
Notice that there are at least two factors involved in Walther's blistering criticism of sectarian worship resources. First, the introduction of false teaching to the congregation (a) by the false content of the sectarian worship, (b) by the true teaching which is absent from it, and (c) by the manner in which the Methodist practice itself entices the congregation away from the Lutheran confession, is inexcusable and alone grounds for rejecting material from such sources. Second, the fellowship implications involved with endorsing such materials, and subsidizing their sources, not only impacts other Lutherans, who have every right to question the allegiances of those responsible for introducing such materials, but impacts the sectarians from whom we remain separate, who consequently have every right to suspect (based on the practice of using sectarian sources, itself!) that those Lutherans using their materials are, in fact, admitting deficiency in their own confession.