Friday, August 31, 2007

A Response

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're joking about closing LPS as something to stop church growth methods….

I did pull the poll from the blog as it was meant as being tongue in cheek, but I do realize how it could be offensive to those that attended LPS. I strongly support Lutheran education K-12 and into higher education. Our roots trace back to a strong support for Lutheran schools. For the last decade or so I have seen adult ministry pitted against Lutheran schools when it comes to a budget crunch. What I sense is that there are some clergy who feel the school is too much of a drain on a church budget. Again, this is from personal experience. A local WELS pastor chose not to send his children to the local WELS elementary school. When asked why the response was given that his children can provide an out-reach opportunity for him (I’m not sure where his Lutheran foundation was laid). I hate to see children used as evangelism pawns. I think there are opportunities for me to reach into the community. But, to me, this example helps me see why in crunch times the schools at all levels take a hit. If the local pastor doesn’t support the local Lutheran school or the whole education system who will?

Rob said... Selective communion is a controversial theological dogma related to the ELS split of last year. Our WELS COP stands firmly behind the ELS Praesidium which declared selective communion to be unScriptural.

Rob you will have to explain this a bit more for me to understand. Are you saying that this comment by a WELS theologian was unscriptural?

John, I see broad brush condemnation of all church growth ideas going on here… LM, we should study specific examples of alleged church growth and test their doctrinal purity.

You state that I am painting broad generalizations and later say we need to study specific examples. I was asked to give specific WELS practices (methods) that I thought are unscriptural. I gave specific examples of situations, in which I did address on a personal level and believe need to be dealt with on a synodical level. I then asked my commenter if he could defend these or not. No one has chosen to speak for or against these practices. So I ask you then to speak to these specific examples (listed in the post below).

I will take the time this weekend to read Prof. Brenner’s essay. Thank you for the link. I don’t claim to have the answers just a perspective from the pew.

Since no one has spoken about the teenage girl preaching the children’s sermon, I looked on the Q&A section at Here is what I found.

Q:I am wondering how the WELS can allow a woman to deliver the children's sermon at the front of the church, and in front of the whole congegration? As a life- long WELS member this seem contradictory to everything I have learned on gender roles in the church. I am confused.

A:It cannot be said that WELS allows this, because before getting your e-mail I had never seen or even heard of such a thing being done. It is apparently the act of an individual pastor or congregation, about which we have no information.

There is, of course, no reason that a woman cannot teach children or that adults cannot witness a woman teaching children, but a sermon is not the place to do it. If there is going to be a children's sermon in the service, its purpose is to be a part of the service conducted by the pastor. We do not have other people besides the pastor preach sermons in the service under normal circumstances.

The purpose of a children's sermon, if there is one, is to connect the children more directly and more pointedly to the preaching of the pastor. It is not wise for a pastor to transfer this opportunity for him to connect his preaching to the children to someone else. (We do not necessarily recommend a separate children's sermon within the regular service as the best way for the pastor to build such rapport with the children).

The synodical administration evidently had no information that this is happening. From my understanding of the answer guy’s thoughts, he seems to skirt the issue. He does say it should be the place of the pastor to do this not a girl. Any thoughts?

A comment was made about my aversion to the electric guitar in the divine service. I also found some interesting comments by Craig Parton on

Coming Home: An Interview with Craig Parton

by John A. Braun – Lutheran Leader (1999)

LL: What did you notice in the Lutheran church?

Craig: I'll tell you what struck us initially. What hit us very powerfully was that the first thing you did was confess your sins. That was just an utterly riveting thing. To hear the spoken absolution just undid us! Completely undid us! We thought, "This church has got the center of the faith down correctly." Before we get going along our way in the service, we're going to talk about who we are as miserable sinners and our separation from God and we're going to talk about what Christ has done for us. It was -- and still is -- exceedingly powerful to us to see this in Lutheran worship. We saw the cross and the clear doctrine of justification as the center of what Lutheranism is about. It was just like we had come to Christianity for the first time. Please understand it's not as if we had never worshiped before and had been only in idol worship for the last 15 to 20 years, but I have to say we came to Lutheranism, it was coming home. It was truly coming home to the gospel.

We found a church where the gospel really worked itself out in the service. The Lutheran church is rock solid in the pulpit too. We were like a desert where you pour water on us. We were like parched people who just drank up everything we could find on Lutheran liturgy, Lutheran theology, and the confessions. It was as if we just found this enormous gold mine. The deeper you dig, the more you find.

LL: What else did you find?

Craig: The Lutheran church is built on three important books: The Scriptures, the hymnal, and the catechism. They are simply remarkable. The Lutheran Confessions are so important too. So often I give away copies of the Augsburg Confession to Evangelicals. That short statement of faith absolutely blows away many Evangelicals. I think the future of the WELS is with the American Evangelicals. I say to WELS: let the Evangelicals know that you're present; that you're not liberals; that you're not Catholics -- but you have got something substantial to offer. You have the theology, let them know that you exist.

LL: An article in Christianity Today suggested that the organ is being overtaken by the guitar or the drums in contemporary worship. Maybe you have a comment.

Craig: Yes, I think that this is true. The organ has been lost in Evangelicalism because it's a hindrance to the idea that God is your buddy. Evangelical worship is all about familiarity; it's all about God being the best friend you've ever had. And the organ brings separation. There's no question. The organ brings a theology of strength; there's transcendence. The organ fits a strong theology that has both law and Gospel there. This is Isaiah's vision of God. The organ fits Lutheran theology and Lutheran hymnody like hand and glove. It doesn't fit the Evangelical service. I don't think we should be embarrassed by that; I think we should actually accent that. A church with an organ is intriguing to these people because of the limitations of the guitar.

I think that Mr. Parton states it best that we as Lutherans should stand apart because we have something substantial to offer. We preach Christ crucified. If we practice the methods of Methodists, I believe it will erode away the doctrine. Now I was asked to give examples and I did. What does one do with examples. I believe conclusions can be drawn.


Rob said...

John, I'm fuzzy on whether selective communion is Scriptural, unScriptural, or adiaphora. While my inclination is to agree with the seminary professor who spoke to you in favor of selective communion, his position seems to be at odds with official ELS and WELS pronouncements which followed the ELS Preuss incident last year. In a nutshell, as I understand the communion issue, a small group of ELS pastors concluded that the ELS president was in a state of persistent impenitence for his handling of Pastor Preuss, so this small group of pastors told the ELS president that (out of Christian love) they would deny him communion until he repented. Did these pastors have this authority? Apparently fellowship means full fellowship with all members, and pastors cannot be selective. ELS gave these pastors the boot, and WELS COP stood behind the ELS president reminding WELS pastors to break ties with these rogue ELS pastors and their congregations.

John said...

Rob, Thank you for outlining your thoughts. I assumed you were referring to Pr. Preus and his situation with the ELS.

I do want you to know that the reverend theologian was a Professor from WLC (hurray!!)

Again, the CG services might not be in the majority but you would be shocked by some. But we probably don't have to worry about selective communion at these churches because communion is not often offered because it can be offensive to the visitors who isn't allowed to come forward....user friendly service..ugh..