Thursday, September 29, 2011

FW: A modicum of church order




Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 2:52 PM
Author: Pr. H. R.
Subject: A modicum of church order


The men who penned the Formula of Concord (as well as the men who penned the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession, for that matter) also penned binding church orders - the words and rubrics to be used in Lutheran churches. There was no allowance for "creative worship," for each pastor and parish to make up liturgies as they liked. Instead, whole churches (that is, all the congregations within the territorial boundaries of a prince/city council/duke who had accepted the Reformation) agreed together how worship should be conducted within their churches and then stuck to it. Martin Chemnitz had the task, as Lord Superintendent, to see to it that all the pastors were indeed sticking to it. He wrote a book to examine them in their doctrine and their practice, the Enchiridion (available from CPH), according to which they were examined twice yearly. In that work's third part, he wrote,


Part 3. With regard to the doctrine concerning ecclesiastical ceremonies (which we first said would be the third chief part of this examination), it is contained and set forth in the church order. Pastors should also be examined with regard to that very doctrine, so that they might both have the right understanding of it and be able rightly to explain it to their hearers. Likewise, one should inquire whether and how they observe those ceremonies. Superintendents should also confer with pastors regarding marriage orders, incorporated in the church order, that they might have the necessary understanding also of them.

What is this "church order" to which he refers? It is the order of Braunschweig-Wulffenbüttel of 1569. (By the way - I am quoting from a draft translation of this provided to me by Fr. William Weedon - the translation was done by Fr. Matt Harrison in 1999 and revised by A. Smith in 2011. I have no idea if they plan to publish it, but they should!) What sort of things did this church order legislate? Both doctrine and practice. In the matter of worship, the exact order of Divine Service, in both word and deed are given. For example,

the pastors and ministers [kirchendiener] who desire to hold mass when communicants are present shall not merely in their common clothing, but rather in their ecclesiastical vestments [ornatu ecclesiastico] such as alb, cassock and chasuble, very honorably and with great reverence and invocation of the Son of God approach the altar and commence, hold and accomplish the office of the mass [officium missae].

There is plenty in this order that any given reader of Gottesdienst will like and also plenty he will dislike. I like the bit about vestments above. I don't like the bit where the elevation of the Sacrament is forbidden. But please note the reason given for discontinuing the elevation: "because the elevation [elevatio] has been done away with in the neighboring reformed churches of this and other lands for good and important reasons, it shall thus be discontinued in all places, so that the dissimilarity may not produce disputes."


Hasn't the dissimilarity of worship around your circuit, district, and synod caused disputes? Isn't it insane that you can't go on vacation and find a service you recognize in a Lutheran church? But just how much similarity is needed? That's the question that AC XXVIII and FC X leaves up to each church jurisdiction. We are not about to arrive at the sort of unity and harmony in worship that was required by this church order in 1569. But surely, we would benefit from more than we have today. And really, the Synod's constitution has a very broad sort of church order. We ought to follow it. It is not oppressive. It allows for much local variation in ceremonies - but it also provides for a healthy amount of unity and harmony.


With that in mind, check out this resolution that will be headed to the NID district convention's floor committee for 2012 (HT: Fr. Ben Ball). It might be something you want to send in to your district as well.





To Encourage Harmony in the Worship Services of Congregations of the Northern Illinois District

Whereas, the Scriptures say that in Christian worship "all things should be done decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:40); and

Whereas,, the Scriptures say that, "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up " (I Cor 10:23); and

Whereas, the Formula of Concord states that the Church "in every time and place has the right, power, and authority to change, reduce, or expand [church] practices according to circumstances in an orderly and appropriate manner, without frivolity or offense, as seems most useful, beneficial, and best for good order, Christian discipline, evangelical decorum, and the building up of the church" (FC SD X.9); and

Whereas, the Augsburg Confession states that "it is lawful for bishops or pastors to establish ordinances so that things are done in the church in an orderly fashion....It is fitting for the churches to comply with such ordinances for the sake of love and tranquility" (AC XXVIII.54-55); and

Whereas, the Constitution of the Synod states that one of the "[c]onditions for acquiring and holding membership in the Synod" is "4. Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school" (Art. VI); and

Whereas, controversy has continued in the church for some time concerning pastors and congregations who write their own orders for public worship, or draw them from sources other than those mentioned in the Synod's Constitution, therefore be it

Resolved, that the Northern Illinois District solemnly encourages each congregation in the district to offer public worship services exclusively according to the rites and services of the Synod's three English hymnbooks/agenda (The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, and Lutheran Service Book) as well as the supplemental hymnbooks/agenda prepared by the Synod's Commission on Worship (Worship 1969; Hymnal Supplement '98; All God's People Sing), the French hymnal of the Lutheran Church-Canada, (Liturgies et Cantiques Luthérien), and the Spanish hymnals of the LCMS (Culto Christiano and ¡Cantad el Señor!) and be it finally

Resolved, that the Northern Illinois District Praesidium investigate what other languages in our district are in need of worship resources consistent with our confessional subscription and synodical constitution and formally request the Synod's Board for National Mission to produce for Synodical convention approval resources as needed.

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FW: Lutheran pastor appointed dean of Anglican cathedral in Canada




Feed: Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments
Posted on: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 3:26 PM
Author: James M. Kushiner
Subject: Lutheran pastor appointed dean of Anglican cathedral in Canada


Does this say more about Anglicans or more about Lutherans, or both? Or maybe something about Rupert's Land? I've never been there.

Winnipeg, Manitoba (ENI)--In a historic move, the Anglican diocese of Rupert's Land appointed a Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Paul Johnson, as dean of the diocese and incumbent for St. John's Cathedral in Winnipeg, reports the Anglican Journal. This is the first time a Canadian Lutheran pastor has been appointed dean in an Anglican cathedral in Canada. A dean is the priest in charge of a cathedral ("mother church") and occupies a senior position in a diocese. [263 words, ENI-11-0519]

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FW: St. Michael and All Angels




Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Thursday, September 29, 2011 4:46 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: St. Michael and All Angels



Today is the festival of St. Michael and All Angels. St. Michael is mentioned in the Book of Revelations, 12:7: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon The dragon and his angels waged war and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Angels are the subject of considerable speculation and no little mythology and popular misconception. The best way to think of what is going on all around us is to consider what happens when an infant's father goes off to war. All about there is raging conflict, yet the child innocently and happily remains unaware of it. And so with us, while we certainly do have glimpses of the ongoing struggle between good and evil angels, for the most part, we too are unaware of the cosmic struggle that is ongoing until the end of days, when Christ returns. And so, on this festival day, we praise and thank God, joining with all the angels, in adoring Him and giving Him glory. Here is a brief Q/A on angels that you might find useful, and which you can download as a PDF file and print out and share with others. Download wa_angels.pdf

What About Angels?
Angels capture the imagination of people everywhere, and they always have. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about angels, along with superstitions and unscriptural understandings. This pamphlet will provide a Biblical perspective on angels.

Do angels exist?
The Word of God—not popular television shows or magazine articles—is our only reliable source for knowing what angels are, and what they do. The Bible teaches us that God made angels during the six days of creation. Before creation there was only God (John 1:1-3), and after creation, we are told that on the seventh day God" rested from all the work of creating he had done"(Gen. 2:3b). The Bible does not indicate on which day of creation God made angels. But angels are very real.  What does the word "angel" mean? The word "angel" comes from a Greek word that means "messenger. "Angels are God's messengers. Elsewhere in the Bible,angels are described as spirits (cf. Acts 23:9;Heb. 1:14). The word "angel" is actually a description of what they do.

What are angels?
Angels are spirits. They are beings who do not have a physical body. Jesus Himself said, "a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). Evil angels too are described as not having" flesh and blood"(Eph. 6:12). In the Scriptures, when angels do appear in human form, this is only a momentary appearance for those who need to see them. Angels are not gods. They are God's creation and serve His holy and perfect will. The good angels are said to be" ministering spirits"(Heb. 1:14), sent by God to serve us, His people.

Are angels human?
Human beings are the crown of God's creation. Only of human beings, and no other creature, did God say, "Let us make man in our own image"(Gen. 1:26). Furthermore, the Scriptures reveal that only into human beings did God breathe the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). Also, God did not give angels rule over His creation. This privilege He gave only to mankind (Gen. 1:26-28). Angels are not human beings. They exist as spirits who serve God and His people.  Do human beings become angels when they die? No, human beings do not become angels when they die. The Scriptures are clear on this point. Until the last day, the souls of the dead are before the Lord, enjoying peace and rest in His presence, awaiting the final day when they will receive glorified bodies for all eternity (see 1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 5:17; Rev. 7).

MICHAELAre angels intelligent beings?
The Bible describes angels as having both intelligence and a will. The good angels know and follow the wisdom of God, which He has revealed through Christ to His church (Eph. 3:10). They gladly serve us, who are the heirs of the salvation Christ has won for us (Heb. 1:14). However, angels do not know all things. For instance, they do not know the thoughts of our hearts (1 Kings 8:39).   Angels are extremely powerful beings. They are described as "mighty ones"(Ps. 103:20; 2 Thess. 1:7). The good angels guard and protect God's children (Ps. 91:11-13). The power of the angels is never unlimited, but is always subject to the will and authority of God.  Evil angels too are powerful beings. The Bible tells us that they hold captive all unbelievers (Luke 11:21-22; Eph. 2:2). Believers in Christ are able to withstand the temptation of evil angels through the power of God (Eph. 6:10-17).

Where are angels?

Angels, like God, do not inhabit the same physical dimension that human beings inhabit. From time to time, they are ordered by God to appear in our physical dimension. Thus, while there are times when angels will make an appearance at a distinct place (cf. Acts 12:7), they remain beings that inhabit no physical space.

How many angels are there?
The Bible does not give us an exact number, but does clearly teach that there are incredibly large numbers of angels who serve God. Scripture speaks of "ten thousand times ten thousand angels"(Dan. 7:10). Elsewhere Scripture speaks of "a great company of the heavenly host"(Luke2: 13).  From every indication in the Bible, there are an unimaginably large number of angels, of whom we are totally unaware most of the time. There is a fixed and limited number of angels, never increasing or decreasing. Unlike human beings, angels do not marry and have children (Mark 12:25). They are immortal.

Are all angels the same?
Within the large numbers of angels there are apparently certain orders or classes of angels. Scripture speaks of "cherubim" (Gen. 3:24; Ps. 80:1),"seraphim"(Is. 6:2),"thrones or powers or rulers or authorities"(Col. 1:16),"archangel"(1 Thess. 4:16).  Also among the evil angels there are ranks and classes of angels(Matt. 25:41). Satan is described as the "prince of the devils"(Luke 11:15). It is pointless, however, to try to invent complicated divisions and ranks of angels, since Scripture itself does not provide us with this information.

What are evil angels, and what do they do?

Originally, all angels God created were good and did His will perfectly. At some point after God created them, some angels chose to rebel against Him. They fell away from God and into great sin and evil. At that point, they were confirmed in their evil condition. There is no hope for them. In Matt. 8:29, they recognize that there will be a time when they must suffer eternal torment and punishment for their rebellion against God.  Satan is the chief evil angel, the "prince of demons"(Luke 11:15). Here is how our Lord Jesus Christ describes Satan: "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies"(John8: 44). When precisely the evil angels rebelled and fell away from God we cannot say for sure, but we do know it was some time at the very beginning of the world. Most Christian church fathers believe that the evil angels' original sin was pride, based on the fact that Satan's temptation of Adam and Eve was an appeal to their pride. Also, 1 Tim. 3:6 indicates that pride was the cause of the devil's condemnation.  The devil is our great enemy, who "prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour"(1 Pet. 5:8). The Bible tells us that the devil is the cause of unbelief in the world (Eph. 2:1-2). Every person who does not believe the good news of Christ Jesus is thinking and doing what the devil wants. Unbelievers are described in the Bible as being in the devil's kingdom and under his power (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). The very fact that people do not realize this, and even deny it, is the devil's greatest deception. The devil is so deceptive; at times he will even disguise himself as an "angel of light"(2 Cor. 11:14). In fact, the Old Testament once refers to Satan as "Lucifer," which means, "light bearer"(Isa. 14:12; KJV).  We need to keep in mind that all the Bible says about evil angels, and their eternal punishment, is for the purpose of making us recognize the need to repent and to believe in God's Son, Jesus Christ, who has ransomed mankind by His death, and saved us for eternal life, not in hell, but in heaven.

St michael sculpture
What do good angels do?

Good angels enjoy the blessing of being able to see God. They are in the immediate presence of God, always beholding His great glory, majesty and power (Matt. 18:10). This is called the "beatific vision," which all Christians will enjoy one day when they are in heaven.  God's Word reveals the following things about the activity of good angels: They praise God (Is. 6:3; Luke 2:13), and they are the Lord's servants in the world and in the Church (Ps. 103:20-21; Heb. 1:14).  God sends angels to serve and to protect Christian believers in their work and their callings in life (Ps. 91:11-12). They attend to the dying (Luke 16:22). They care for children (Matt. 18:10). Angels are deeply interested in all that occurs in the Church. They adore and take great joy in the work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world (Luke 2:13; Eph. 3:10). They rejoice over every sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).  Scripture mentions the presence of angels at every great event in the Kingdom of God. Angels were present when God gave His law on Mount Sinai (Deut. 33:2; Gal. 3:19). Angels were present at the conception, birth, resurrection and ascension of our Lord (Luke 1:26; 2:11; Mark 1:13; 24:5ff; Acts 1:10ff). Angels will come with Jesus when He returns on the last day (Matt. 13:41ff. ; 24:31).  The Bible tells us that angels are present in the public worship of Christians (1 Cor. 11:10). God also uses angels to help the family and to preserve law and order (Gen. 24:7; Matt. 18:10; Dan. 10:13).  How are we to treat angels? We need to praise and thank God for good angels. We are told that we are to take care not to offend them through sin and unbelief (1 Cor. 11:10; 1 Tim. 5:21). But the Scriptures are also clear that we must not pray to angels, nor offer them our worship. The angels themselves protest any worship given to them (Rev. 22:8-9).  As believers, we have the privilege of having angels surrounding us and protecting us and working to do God's good and perfect will in our lives. Our hope and trust is always in God, whom we know sends His angels to watch over us and to see us through whatever difficulty in life may come our way.  Because of our Lord Jesus Christ's perfect life and sacrificial death for the sins of the world, we have the assurance of the complete and total forgiveness of all our sins. We know that God loves and cares for us as His own dear children. Furthermore, we know that the Lord sends His angels to care for us in order that some day we may join them, and all the company of heaven, in seeing God and singing His praises for all eternity.

A.L. Barry

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FW: Anglican worship wars




Feed: Cranach: The Blog of Veith
Posted on: Thursday, September 29, 2011 4:02 AM
Author: Gene Veith
Subject: Anglican worship wars


One of my former students, Bart Gingerich, who sometimes comments on this blog, has gotten a job writing for the Institute for Religion and Democracy.   He covered a recent meeting by the Prayer Book Society, a group of Anglicans who have been calling for the restoration of the 1926 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the last modernization faithful to Cranmer's Reformation-era version of the English liturgy (which has also shaped the language and the collects used in Lutheran worship).

Bart comments that  "During the split of the Episcopal Church in the 2000s, PBS [the Prayer Book Society] was strangely ostracized during the formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). It was a quiet scandal that the supposedly conservative ACNA spurned the stalwart organization from its proceedings."

Here are some of the points made at the conference:

Executive director Rev. Patterson opened by observing that the Anglican way of being a Christian is governed not by a systematic theology but by a theology of worship. Unfortunately, since the 1960s at least, varied theologies have vied for control over the Book of Common Prayer to influence church stances on issues ranging from Christology to homosexuality. Ever since the Episcopal Church's adoption of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer with its multiple rites to please everyone, rectors now "begin with an empty 3-ring binder" to choose and create their own liturgy for their parish. Patterson outlined 5 different approaches to focusing congregational worship. He first presented entertainment, where the congregation listens passively to what is on stage; second, education, where the pulpit and sermon dominate the service; third, encounter with God, which emphasizes a personal experience in music; fourth, evangelism, which avoids being too "churchy" and emphasizes the sinner's prayer; fifth, Eucharist, which Patterson believed to be the traditional and proper heart of the church service. Many modern approaches "worship styles of worship" when in fact "we need to be taught how to worship God rightly."

Patterson continued: "One grows into the Prayer Book. He never grows out of it." A proper church service need not focus on "what comes out of the heart in the moment but to put in what needs to be there." Praising the richness, truth, and beauty of the 1928 prayer book, he claimed, "It is never right to buy simplicity at the cost of shallowness."

PBS president Rev. Dunbar pointed to the traditional prayer book as the "most effective tool for world evangelism in the English-speaking world." He then commenced with an in-depth investigation of the 1928 service for Holy Communion. The service both uplifts the souls of congregants and focuses on the person of Christ, Who reconciles heaven and earth in His Incarnation. Dunbar pointed out that modern prayer books make self-conscious attempts to get away from sacrificial language, "but it is the only time…that we begin to speak of the atonement between man and God." For centuries, Christian liturgy noted how Christ is a propitiating sacrifice for sin while the church offers up a sacrifice of praise. In the Eucharist, the participants are then caught up with Christ for fellowship with the Trinity. "We know we know we are Christians at that moment," Dunbar stated. It is here that the Christian finds the endless end, where the restless heart finds rest, and the troubled spirit finds peace.

Dunbar outlined the 3-fold triad of the older Anglican services (before Dix's "shape" theory and Hippolytus of Rome became the authoritative vogue for liturgists). The old services function according to "guilt, grace, and gratitude," or rather repentance, faith, and good works. In the 1979 edition, much of the penitential elements were thrown out, allowing the service to be more celebratory. Dunbar condemned modern liturgists' slavery to innovation

Pulling from the prayer book, Dunbar believed that "agreement of the truth in Thy Holy Word [Christ being the Word made flesh]" is the basis for Christian unity. In a communion suffering a crisis in sexual ethics and biblical faith, perhaps it would be best to return to a deeper liturgy in harmony with the past habits of prayer. Maybe it is time for Anglicans to turn to the insights and principles of this beleaguered but faithful fellowship.

via Prayer Book Society Meets at Truro – Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD).

I am astonished that the newly-formed conservative Anglican church body is not conservative when it comes to worship, though I assume that the congregations that do use the Book of Common Prayer (1926) are also joining ACNA.

I would venture to say that it is difficult to sustain a theology of worship without a systematic theology.

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Closing Issue 5.3, Continuing Volume 5 and Opening Issue 5.4




This post will mark the last entry in QBR 5.3, Apostles' Tide,
and the opening entry in Angels' Tide, QBR 5.4


Interested in the full-size 2011 Church Year Calendar from CPH?
Click below:


(And look forward to the new 2012 CPH Church Year Calendar)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LHP Review: Robert E. Webber



Webber, Robert E. Foreward by David Neff. Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Worship. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, 2009. 286 Pages. Paper. $18.99. (LHP)


Webber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism fro a Postmodern World. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999. 240 Pages. Paper. $22.00. (LHP)


Webber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Evangelism: Making Your Church a Faith-Forming Community.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003. 219 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (LHP)


Webber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004. 201 Pages. Paper. $18.00. (L)


Webber, Robert E. Foreword by John D. Witvliet. Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God's Narrative. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008. 191 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (L)



God has a story. Worship does God's story.


There is a crisis of worship today. The problem goes beyond matters of style--it is a crisis of content and of form. Worship in churches today is too often dead and dry, or busy and self-involved. Robert Webber attributes these problems to a loss of vision of God and of God's narrative in past, present, and future history. 


As he examines worship practices of Old Testament Israel and the early church, Webber uncovers ancient principles and practices that can reinvigorate our worship today and into the future.


The final volume in Webber's acclaimed Ancient-Future series, Ancient-Future Worship is the culmination of a lifetime of study and reflection on Christian worship. Here is an urgent call to recover a vigorous, God-glorifying, transformative worship through the enactment and proclamation of God's glorious story. The road to the future, argues Webber, runs through the past.


Robert E. Webber (1933-2007) was, at the time of his death, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, and served as the president of the Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida. His many books include Ancient-Future Faith and The Younger Evangelicals. (publisher's website).

I was first introduced to Webber through Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. In many ways, I felt like an evangelical on the Wittenberg trail due to the practices of my college church that diverged from my LCMS upbringing. I also appreciated his Prymer.

First, a critique. I will always object that the Lutheran theology of the Sacrament of the Altar is called "consubstantiation" (148). Webber's explanation on that page is closer to the actual Lutheran position than he may have wished to admit. Further development in this explanation is needed by this book's readers and Webber's devoted students. I pray Lutherans will have part in that discussion.

The Appendix is the author's document A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future (179ff).

  1. On the Primacy of the Biblical Narrative (The term "rules" is to law-focused.)
  2. On the Church, the Continuation of God's Narrative (I appreciate his use of the terms "catholicity" and "apostolicity.")
  3. On the Church's Theological Reflection on God's Narrative (He proposes unity in "the tradition that has been believed everywhere, always and by all.")
  4. On the Church's Worship as Telling and Enacting God's Narrative (I would re-word how he describes a focus on God's work over our work.)
  5. On Spiritual Formation in the Church as Embodiment of God's Narrative (This would be a good place to talk about making disciples of all nations by means of baptizing and by means of teaching.)
  6. On the Church's Embodied Life in the World (This is often called "vocation.")

What I have always appreciated about the books of Robert Webber is the fact that he expects his readers to think, reflect, and interact with his ideas. They may or may not come to his same conclusions. The Introduction explains how he intends readers to read this book (23). His summary of major worship trends in history is concise, understandable, and worthy of discussion (86), especially by Christians who know of little Christian history beyond their own life experience.

The more I read of Ancient-Future Worship, the more I became convinced that Webber was on to something big. And, in my opinion, Biblically faithful confessional church bodies (like the LCMS) that preserve the Western heritage of Divine Service and the Daily Office through use and catechesis are living examples of what Webber advocates.

Read Ancient-Future Worship. Buy copies to study at Winkel conferences. In the new year, QBR will post a review of this and other books in the Ancient-Future series.

This is that promised review of other books in the Ancient-Future series.

I re-read Ancient-Future Worship as preparation. It was a chance to reflect on the strengths of Webber's books as an Ancient-Future set. 



As I noted in a review of Who Gets to Narrate the World? (, Webber's work is still very relevant and helpful. We are dealing with a worldview crisis, if you will. 

Christianity faces challenges from secularism, Islam, and also from those within the faith that have led us down a path of being "of the world" but not really "in the world." It is as if Christians set up their own ghetto with cultural elements that mimic the world and often lose their original substance.

Isn't it more than time to go back to our Christian roots? Webber thought so in 1978.

The new Zondervan edition of Common Roots has the subtitle, The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith. It could also be seen as a framework of what Webber would later write in the Ancient-Future series for Baker. Common Roots became the later book Ancient-Future Faith when Webber started to revise it for a new generation and ended up writing an entirely new book.

The insights of the early church hold vast potential for strengthening the community life and ministry of the contemporary church. Robert Webber sounded this theme in his original 1978 edition of Common Roots. Over the past thirty years, this book has been recognized as Webber's seminal work, providing a foundation for the ancient-future faith movement. Here is Webber's original clarion call, presented with an extensive foreword by David Neff, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today magazine and executive director of the Robert E. Webber Center for an Ancient-Evangelical Future. The book will promote new conversations about ancient-future faith and its relationship to modern evangelicalism.Webber examines evangelicalism through the lens of the early church (AD 100–500). He searches for the roots of evangelical Christianity, then challenges contemporary evangelical beliefs and practices that are out of harmony with historic Christianity. These ancient patterns, Webber contends, contain wisdom evangelicals must recover for worship, theology, mission, and spirituality. Chapters highlight a problem, investigate an ancient belief or practice, and suggest an agenda for today.This knowledgeable perspective on ancient-future faith is perfect for both seasoned scholars and a new generation of evangelical Christians. (publisher's website)

Webber proposes to recover historic Christianity in five areas:

  • The Church, its nature
  • Worship, meaning and form
  • Theology, confessional
  • Mission
  • Spirituality, devotional response (33)

I rejoice where these elements have been retained. I hear in Webber's critique of the Protestant Reformers (248) a more pointed critique of the Reformed than the Lutheran tradition.

Chapter 5 was the heart of the book for me. Man-centered worship is a temptation in every age, whether it comes from an overemphasis on the head or the heart (103). I've found that if you get Jesus wrong, you get forgiveness wrong. If you get forgiveness wrong, you get the sacraments wrong. And if you get the sacraments wrong, you have to come up with something to deliver the forgiveness Jesus won on Calvary. Webber notes the significant "content" problem in today's worship (117).

Chapter 5 leads into Chapter 6's discussion of the form of worship. The author calls for

  1. The restitution of the historic shape of worship
  2. The restitution of the Lord's Supper as a source of spiritual nourishment
  3. The restoration of the Christian concept of time, especially as it relates to the restitution of the church year (125)

Webber's proposals come from his experience with both non-liturgical and liturgical church bodies. I would offer that our church body, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, has maintained all three, plus a proper view of Christ, Scripture, and the servant use of tradition (cf. 156)

Webber calls for a Christian maturity. I second that motion. Let's return to the Word, common Christian roots, and embrace our historical Christian heritage, being less bound to "every wind of doctrine" and every "Christian" fad.

Since we've already covered Ancient-Future Worship as a way of introducing Webber's work, consider the introduction to the whole AF series:

How do you deliver the authentic faith and great wisdom of the past into the new cultural situation of the twenty-first century? The way into the future is not an innovative new start for the church; rather, the road to the future runs through the past.

Each book in the 4-volume Robert Webber Ancient-Future Collection presents an issue related to faith and practice from a particular point of view—namely, that of drawing wisdom from the past and translating insights from historic Christianity into the present and future life of the church, its faith, worship, ministry, and spirituality. These books speak to the longing to discover the roots of the faith in the biblical and classical tradition of the church.

Webber's goal is maintain continuity with historic Christianity as the church moves forward. In each volume, Webber draws from the entire history of the church together—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—and from Reformers and evangelicals, such as John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. Webber weaves insights from these traditions with the challenges of the present in order to help readers understand how deeply committed Christians have sought to think and live the faith in other times and places.

Students, professors, pastors, and laypeople concerned with the church's effective response to a postmodern world will benefit from these volumes. Informative tables and extensive bibliographies enhance each book's educational value. (Publisher's website)

These four books are now available for purchase for use on LOGOS! See

Robert Webber was not afraid to talk about the content of the Christian faith. He was adept at facing us up to our Lord and what He says about His person and work in His Word.

In a world marked by relativism, individualism, pluralism, and the transition from a modern to a postmodern worldview, evangelical Christians must find ways to re-present the historic faith.


In his provocative work, Ancient-Future Faith, Robert E. Webber contends that present-day evangelicalism is a product of modernity. Allegiance to modernity, he argues, must be relinquished to free evangelicals to become more consistently historic. Empowerment to function in our changing culture will be found by adapting the classical tradition to our postmodern time. Webber demonstrates the implications in the key areas of church, worship, spirituality, evangelism, nurture, and mission.

Webber writes, "The fundamental concern of Ancient-Future Faith is to find points of contact between classical Christianity and postmodern thought. Classical Christianity was shaped in a pagan and relativistic society much like our own. Classical Christianity was not an accommodation to paganism but an alternative practice of life. Christians in a postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a counter cultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus."

A substantial appendix explores the development of authority in the early church, an important issue for evangelicals in a society that shares many features with the Roman world of early Christians. (publisher's website)


Webber is wise to show the challenges the Church faces in our day. Christ is the center (Chapter 7), of course. Webber proposes to be clear in how we present Christ and the Gospel, speaking Biblical truth in a way that postmoderns can understand. 


The author also calls for a recognition of the catholicity of the Church (Chapter 10), our connection with what has been believed everywhere and at all times about God, Christ, and salvation from the Word alone. Yes, it is not only possible but common for other Christians with a truly Evangelical faith in Christ to be more catholic (small-c traditional definition of the term) than Roman Catholics!




Webber's Ancient Future Evangelism is an introduction to catechesis, a return to a fundamental and comprehensive presentation of the content of the Christian faith for the sake of an informed and Biblically-knowledgeable Christian Church, brought to faith in Christ by the work of God the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Evangelicals should know the evangel, the Gospel, well, and it should be our primary message, not the law.


How can evangelism produce not only converts but also disciples who grow in faith and become active members of the church?

In Ancient-Future Evangelism, Robert Webber presents a model of evangelism and discipleship firmly rooted in Scripture, attested to in the history of the church, and authentic to the postmodern world in which we live.

Webber surveys evangelism throughout the centuries, tracing the development of the ancient process of Christian formation. He translates that process for the twenty-first century, presenting four stages—conversion, discipleship, spiritual formation, and Christian vocation—that can easily be adapted to various church traditions. He also suggests three practical rites of passage to accompany this "ancient-future" practice of making disciples.

Webber then underscores how the four-fold process of faith formation is interwoven with three theological themes: Christ as victor over evil, the church as witness to God's salvation, and worship as a witness to God's mission accomplished in Jesus. (publisher's website)

My main disagreement with Webber here would be on a theology of baptismal regeneration. I do not envy the task he had of writing a book that would appeal to Evangelicals who differ on the doctrines of conversion and baptism (who, how). He does navigate dangerous waters rather well in promoting his four-fold stage approach to spiritual formation. I probably will take a look at his catechetical materials if I ever have a chance, but there is little chance I would replace Lutheran materials with his.


Ancient-Future Evangelism will long serve the Evangelical Christians that are his intended audience.






Discover ancient rhythms for a new spiritual awakening!

God's people have always celebrated his work by retelling the stories of his mighty deeds of salvation. In a time when the church's memory sometimes seems short, many are rediscovering the value of using the Christian year to pattern our celebrations around the essential truths of the faith.

In Ancient-Future Time, Robert Webber draws from this church tradition by introducing and exploring biblical themes and liturgical traditions for each season of the Christian calendar. Helpful charts, prayers, reflection questions, and resource lists are provided for those planning church worship or seeking old, yet new, paths to spiritual growth through a deeper understanding of the Christian year. (publisher's website)

This is where I'd start.


If I were a typical American Evangelical pastor that just discovered the richness of Christian tradition (before my lifetime), I would start by introducing the historic Christian Church Year to my congregation. We would follow Jesus through His life and grow in His teachings during the long "green" season. Teaching first, I would use the general outline of the Church Year as a start, add a lectionary of some kind the second year, and add traditions (back in) gradually as good pastoral care would permit. Liturgical changes would be next. I would work toward a recovery of the historic Divine Service of the West, with the Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament. Non-communion Sundays would transition to Matins/Morning Prayer and Vespers/Evening Prayer. I am a Lutheran pastor, so I don't have to recover these elements. I do appreciate the pastoral care, patience, and tact that it takes to retain what Webber advocates.

The Church Year and historic liturgy give a natural place for faith to thrive, faith formed by the Spirit through the Word, where the Lord gathers to Himself a people.



I have a growing appreciation for the work and legacy of Robert E. Webber. 


He was a prodigal of sorts. He critically examined his own Christian tradition for the sake of the Gospel. He returned to the heritage of Christendom and a Christ-centered, Gospel-focused, and Biblically-faithful catholicity. He was an evangelical Christian that rediscovered the richness of Gospel in Churchly, Biblical traditions, the Gospel enacted in structures of worship, time, and catechesis. 


Webber remains a guide through his written work and an influence through his students and readers. His is a voice calling in the wilderness of unbelief and unfaithfulness, secularism and religious rivals, and cultural compromise and thin theology: prepare the way for the Lord!




Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FW: Sasse: Altar Fellowship is Church Fellowship




Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Monday, September 26, 2011 9:32 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Sasse: Altar Fellowship is Church Fellowship


The Holy Scriptures simply teach that church fellowship is altar fellowship.[1] "The cup of blessing which we bless is the koinonia of the blood of Christ, the bread which we break is the koinonia of the body of Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:16) The Apostle connects this participation in the body and blood of the Lord immediately with the assertion that, as the bread is one, so we who are many are one body, because we partake of one bread. (v. 17) The Corpus Christi sacramentale and the Corpus Christi spirituali sive mysticum [The sacramental body of Christ and the spiritual or mystical body of Christ] as our dogmaticians say, belong essentially together. Ecclesia, "church" in the strict sense of the New Testament is there where the people of God come together at one place and celebrate the Lord's Supper. There the body of Christ in the double sense is reality, though it is of course not only there. From this view of the New Testament, that altar fellowship is church fellowship and church fellowship is altar fellowship, it follows that the boundaries of both coincide. Where does the boundary of altar fellowship in the New Testament lie? It is significant that all our documents concerning the oldest Christian Supper, insofar-as they bear a liturgical character, describe a boundary for altar fellowship. "The doors! The doors!" cries the deacon before the Creed yet today in the liturgy of Eastern Church. With this the liturgy of the "believers" begins, reminiscent of the first Sunday of the church, when the Lord came to His own behind closed doors (John 20:19). "No catechumen, no hearer, no unbeliever, no heterodox" shall be present at the Supper according to the liturgical cry of the Antiochene liturgy in the eighth book of The Apostolic Constitutions (ch. 12), and among the believers no one should have anything against another, nor should a hypocrite approach (Compare the text of Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, I, p. 13). "Santa sanctis," "Holy things for holy ones" sounded the warning call before the communion. And so that no one thereby understood that the church was a union of pharisees, the response of the holy people of God sounded: "One is holy, One is the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the honor of God the Father." (Compare Brightman p. 24 et passim.) The fact that all liturgies of the old Greek Church contain such a cry by which a fence was placed around the Supper points to the fact that this is a very ancient practice. The way in which Justin [ca. 100-ca. 165] (Apology. I, 66) in his account concerning the origin of the Supper emphasizes that Jesus at the institution of the Supper gave bread and wine to the disciples only—who else could he have given it to?—shows that the "to them alone" is essential to his understanding of the Supper. The admonitions and warnings of the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles [Didache] corresponds to this. "No one is to eat or drink from your eucharist unless they are baptized in the name of the Lord. For concerning this the Lord has said: Do no give that which is holy to dogs." (Didache 9.5) Thus follows the "rubric" in the liturgy, "He who is holy, come; he who is not, repent" (10.6). This same writing prescribes confession and absolution before the Sunday celebration of the Supper in the same way the later liturgies and church orders do:


But every Lord's day do gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord.[2]


Here follows the citation from Malachi 1:11 and 14, which in this passage for the first time is applied to the Supper, though not yet in the sense of the later theory of the sacrifice of the mass. For the "sacrifice" is here still the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the Biblical sense, applied to the "Eucharistia" (Didache 14). When we look at the New Testament in this light then we see immediately several passages containing the early Christian concept of the "closed Supper," namely that the Lord's Supper is celebrated behind closed doors, to the exclusion of those who do not belong at it.



First, it is certain that wherever in the New Testament there is the demand for the holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14), the "kiss of peace," the later "Pax" which preceded the communion, is in view. The demands for this kiss occur as they do at the conclusion of these letters of Paul because they were read before the gathered ecclesia which then proceeded to celebrate the Supper. Thus the letters conclude with the "Apostolic Blessing" in its simple form, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," or in the developed Trinitarian form such as we find in 2 Corinthians 13:13. Is it mere coincidence that in the Greek (the liturgy of Chrysostom) and in the Syrian (e.g. in the liturgy of Theodor of Mopsuestia) Churches they do not begin the preface with "The Lord be with you" but with the formula of greeting from 2 Corinthians 13:13? The conclusion of the book of Revelation should also be compared with the Pauline letters. Is it merely coincidental that the "Maranatha! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!" of 1 Corinthians 16:23 is repeated in Revelation. 22:20 with the words: "Come Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all"? Was not Revelation written to be read in the liturgy (1:11; 22:18) as much as the letters of Paul? Even if it is not possible for us to know all the details of the liturgy of the first century (Pliny gives us the responsories for the time immediately before the turn of the century; the Sanctus is verified for the first century through Clement of Rome [Bishop of Rome 92-101]) the letters of Paul certainly show us this much: besides the words of institution, which belong to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, there is the demand for the kiss of peace; and then follows immediately the warning against schismatics and heretics, the anathema (Romans 16:16f.; 1 Corinthians 16:20, 22); then the ancient petition of the congregation for the coming of the Lord (still spoken in Aramaic in the Pauline congregations); and finally the benediction. The similarity of the letters of Paul with Revelation and the Didache show that these were fixed liturgical usages.



What interests us here is the close connection between the "Pax" and the "Anathema"; the kiss of love and peace, which expressed the unity and fellowship of the church, and the inflexible exclusion of schismatics and heretics from the Supper and thereby the church. At the conclusion of First Corinthians, which is directed against the divisions in the church of Corinth, it is the stubborn schismatics to whom the Anathema is directed: "If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be Anathema" (16:22). For the one who arrogantly splits the congregation, which is the body of the Lord, cannot love the Lord. In the Letter to the Romans the admonition to greet one another in peace with the kiss of love, and the assurance that the church of Rome is in this kiss bound together with all churches of Christ, is followed by the express warning over against heretics:


Now I urge you brethren, note those who caused divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple [16:17f.; compare 1 Corinthians 16:20].


The fellowship of the church, the deepest and most intimate fellowship which there is, presupposes an inflexible separation from heresy (1 John 4:1–7; 2 John 9ff.; 2 Corinthians 6:14) because it is at the same time both fellowship between believers and fellowship with the Triune God (1 John 1:3). And this separation finds its essential expression in who does and who does not receive the Supper (Abendmahlszucht). The fundamental axiom of canon law that there can be no communicatio in sacris cum haereticis [lit: no fellowship in holy things with heretics] comes directly from the early church and has its dogmatic basis in the New Testament.



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[1] So also CFW Walther and the LCMS. "Members of heterodox fellowships are not excommunicated by their nonadmission to the celebration of Holy Communion in fellowship with the Lutheran church, muchless are they (declared to be heretics) and condemned, but only suspended until they have reconciled with the orthodox church by leaving the false fellowship in which they stand." Theses on Communion Fellowship (1870) in C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, St. Louis: CPH, p. 225. MH

[2] English text cited from "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Reprinted by Eerdmans, 1979), Vol VII, p. 381 MH

Monday, September 26, 2011

FW: Singen wir aus Herzensgrund




Posted on: Monday, September 26, 2011 3:51 PM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: Singen wir aus Herzensgrund


Here is my translation of this hymn for thanks after a meal by Anon. (ca. 1560), once attributed variously to Selnecker, Ringwaldt, Erasmus Alber, and D.G. Zäumann; formerly found in its entirety in English Moravian Hymn-Books, and used by Bach as well (sts. 4, 6) for Trinity VII. It is to the Moravian translation (here) that C.S. Terry refers his readers. I intend to offer a more literal and modern rendering, if not as poetic. The melody is a later adaptation of the 15th c. Latin Christmas song "In natali Domini." (In English); optionally it may be sung the tune given in the Boh. Brethren hymnal for "Da Christus geboren war" (shown second).



SING WE NOW with all our heart,
Praise to God with mouth impart,
Who to us His goodness shows,
Daily bread on us bestows;
As He feeds the bird and beast,

He has giv'n us all a feast,
In the meal which now is ceased.

2. Praise Him as His servants true,

For this is our service due,
Seeing He did love us so,
And by grace on us bestow
Flesh and bone, and artfully
Formed us, caused us all to be,
That we might the daylight see.

3. Soon as man first comes to life,

Food he finds in bounty rife,
Made within his mother's womb,
Good and ready to consume;
Though the child is very small,
Yet he lacks no food at all,
Ere he leaves his little hall.

4. God has crowned the earth with good,

Giving it no lack of food;
Hill and dale He spreads with dew
Grass for cattle to bestrew,
Bread and wine from earth He brings,
Satisfies with goodly things,
That we may all live as kings.

5. God the waters fills with fish,

Granting them to be our dish;
Bids the fowl their eggs to lay,
Multiplying food each day;
Beasts of every shape and size
For our food our God supplies;
From His hand alone they rise.

6. Well we thank Him and beseech
Us the Spirits mind to teach,
That, as this we rightly know,
In His will we e'er may go,
Praise His name, extol His cross,
Thus in Christ we bear no loss,
Rightly singing Gratias.

Translation sts. 1–6 © Matthew Carver, 2011.


1. Singen wir aus Hertzensgrund,
loben Gott mit unserm Mund;
wie er sein Güt an uns beweist;
so hat er uns auch gespeist;
wie er Thier und Vögel ernährt;
so hat er uns auch beschert,
welchs wir itzund haben verzehrt.

2. Loben wir ihn, als seine Knecht,
das sind wir ihm schuldig von Recht,
erkennen, wie er uns hat geliebt,
dem Menschen aus Genaden giebt,
daß er von Fleisch, Bein und von Haut
artig ist zusammen gebaut,
daß er des Tages Licht anschaut.

3. Alsbald der Mensch sein Leben hat,
seine Küche vor ihm staht;
in dem Leib der Mutter sein
ist es zugerichtet fein;
ob es ist ein kleines Kind,
Mangel doch an nirgends findt,
biß es an die Welt herkömmt.

4. GOtt hat die Erd schön zugerichtt,
läßts an Nahrung mangeln nicht,
Berg und Thal die macht er naß,
daß dem Vieh auch wächst sein Gras:
Aus der Erden Wein und Brodt
schaffet Gott, und giebts uns satt,
daß der Mensch sein Leben hat.

5. Das Wasser das muß geben Fisch,
die läßt GOtt tragen zu Tisch;
Eyer von Vögeln eingelegt
werden Junge draus geheckt,
müssen der Menschen Speise seyn:
Hirsche, Schaafe, Rinder und Schwein
schaffet GOtt, und giebts allein.

6. Wir dancken sehr, und bitten ihn,
daß er uns geb des Geistes Sinn,
daß wir solches recht verstehn,
stets nach seinn Geboten gehn,
seinen Namen machen groß
in CHristo ohn Unterlaß,
so singen wir recht das Gratias.

[7. Das Gratias das singen wir:
HErr GOtt Vater, wir dancken dir,
daß du uns so reichlich hast gespeißt,
dein Güt und Treu an uns beweißt:
Gieb uns auch das Gedeyen dazu,
unserm Leib Gesundheit und Ruh!
wer das begehrt, sprech: Amen dazu.]*

*A later addition.

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