Thursday, September 27, 2007

Worship Service VS Divine Service

The past few days I have been reading over the Lutheran Confessions and reflecting on my own spiritual journey and asking myself some questions. How and when did the divine service become transformed into a Worship Service led by a Praise Band? Does doctrine lead worship?

As I read the Confessions a portion of a text jumped out at me:

The impiety and tyranny of bishops cause schism and discord. Therefore, Paul commands that bishops who teach and defend a godless doctrines and godless services should be regarded as accursed. Gal. 1:7-9. (Concordia the Lutheran Confessions, pages 328-331)

Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops

It seems that historically the Lutheran church has clung to the liturgy as a form of worship focused on Christ and the clergy protected this form of church. The center of the service was Christ and his saving work on the Cross. Yet over the last decade or so it seems to me that the WELS theologians turned their focus from the historical Lutheran liturgy to the culture at hand. I imagine this shift occurred slowing and some say the WELS is walking in step with Missouri just a decade behind. Those of you more learned may know when this shift in the focus entered the WELS church service. And so I ask is the focus still “strongly” and ritely focused on Christ.

At a blended or contemporary WELS service I attended not long ago. The service began with the announcement to greet your neighbor. After the worship leader (not the pastor) quieted the people, the children were asked to come up front for their message. The children were ushered out of the service after this children’s message so that they could go have their puppet show elsewhere (children’s church). What I wondered is why even have the children’s message in with the adults. Then I remembered the old show “Kids say the darndest things.” So there usually is a comically moment like the time I saw a young 3 year old sprinting around the room as mommy chased him and the audience (congregation) laughed.

So then the adult praise band began to play as the powerpoint proclaimed “Here I am to Worship.” After a few more pop songs the reverend walked amongst the people and held an interactive Bible study. I recall that the Lord’s Prayer was observed but no creeds or confessions. The blessing at the end did happen but I felt sorry for the young children in the other room missing out on this part.

Is this an example of a godless service? Now I know some readers will scream you are focusing on style again. It is only a worship style that isn't listed in the 10 commandments. But I say don't forget about the 3rd commandment. It is interesting that in the statement above godless doctrine is listed and then godless worship. So is impure doctrine creeping into the WELS as Praise Band worship takes hold?

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good topic, John. Below are some quotes from scripture and The Book of Concord that might help frame this discussion:

John 4:24 "God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."

Philippians 3:2-3 "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh."

Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"

The Augsburg Confession, Articles in Which an Account is Given of the Abuses Which Have Been Corrected also has this to say:

“For Your Imperial Majesty will undoubtedly find that the form of doctrine and of ceremonies with us is not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent. Besides, the truth cannot be gathered from common rumors or the revilings of enemies. But it can readily be judged that nothing would serve better to maintain the dignity of ceremonies, and to nourish reverence and pious devotion among the people than if the ceremonies were observed rightly in the churches.”

And from the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, VII and VIII:

“But just as the dissimilar length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by dissimilar rites instituted by men; although it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of tranquillity [unity and good order], universal rites be observed, just as also in the churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord's Day, and other more eminent festival days. And with a very grateful mind we embrace the profitable and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a discipline by which it is profitable to educate and train the people and those who are ignorant….”

Kent said...

"the reverend walked amongst the people and held an interactive Bible study"
2 or 3 (or more) gathered in Jesus' name, hearing the Word of God, praising God for what he has done.
I find it difficult to consider that a "godless service".

Anonymous said...

Lex orandi, lex credendi

John said...

Anonymous said...
Lex orandi, lex credendi


I appreciate the Latin quote.

I find it difficult to consider that a "godless service".

So I wonder what kind of service you consider it?

Also, in a discussion with a Church and Change pastor he kept saying that I needed to have a clearer understanding of prescriptive passages and descriptive passages.

Anyone want to help me figure out the differences.

Anonymous said...

The prescriptive and descriptive passage distinction is a dodge used by WELS pastors and professors who want to defend their current aberrant practices. They can say that anything in the Bible that speaks against what they are doing is only descriptive of what was going in Biblical times and not prescriptive for our lives in the Church today. It's quite handy. For example, the early church celebrated the Sacrament more often than most WELS churches do today. How do we get around this? Easy! "In our glorious Gospel freedom, we don't have to offer our people Christ's Body and Blood for forgiveness, life, and salvation every Sunday. Those are only descriptive passages."

If someone is talking about prescriptive and descriptive passages, just leave him/her be! You most likely won't get anywhere with someone using this flimsy argument. Stick to what Christ said. These are the Scriptures which testify about Him.

Anonymous said...

Giving kids their own "message" and having the children leave comes from Baptist children's church. This practice is for those kids who haven't yet made their decision for Christ, so as unbelievers, they are shunted to another room for instruction instead of worshipping with the rest of the congregation. Any church that believes in the efficacy of infant baptism should NEVER use this practice. How shameful for a congregation that calls itself Lutheran to shut out its youngest members!

Michael Schottey said...

On Kent's Point,

I believe that over all other forms, a law and gospel sermon is the most effective means I have ever heard of using God's holy Word. However our Lord commanded us to teach and preach, what he did not do is publish a Homiletics textbook.

Bad preaching is bad preaching. Someone can do an interactive Bible study well, or poorly (i've seen evidence of both) However we need to ALL remember, that a pastor can preach a traditional, law and gospel, non-church and change sermon just like we'd all want him to and still do it poorly. Bad preaching is bad preaching regardless of the form.

A form which in the scriptures is neither described nor prescribed. Should we have visitors to our church go up to the front to read lessons and speak on them? No? Thats blasphemous you say? Only the pastor's job? It was a regular custom in Jesus day.

How about hawking wares? They did that too...sure Jesus got mad at them, but there at to be something good at it.

The point is, worship is never ever ever ever ever (ad infinitum) something we do for God. Worship has is and will always be something God graciously does for us. So why do we argue how best WE can do it.

There is an argument only against worship styles and practices which withhold the means of grace, which seek to improve upon the methods which the Holy Spirit has prescribed for his own use.

But if the Word is being taught in its truth and purity and sacraments rightly administered, how dare any of us to doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome any human obstacles, even powerpoint.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schottey,

Young man, you would do well to continue in your education before attempting to offer your opinion. You are correct in writing that worship is God coming to us with His gifts in Word and Sacrament, however, teaching the Word in its truth and purity and rightly administering the Sacraments has a whole lot to do with forms or "styles" of worship. Yes, God could speak through an ass, so he can also speak through powerpoint or a "bad" sermon, but for Lutherans to imitate the styles of churches that have serious doctrinal errors is very dangerous. As you pray, so you believe.

You seem to be of the Tiefel school of "worthship" (which comes from Vatican II; ironic that a church body that likes to bash the RCC will ape it when it suits them). In your comment above, are you saying that a "traditional" sermon delivered poorly is not efficacious but a powerpoint presentation done well is? The quality of the "performance" of the service is not the issue. The underlying theology is. If you act like Baptists or Arminians, you will become Baptist or Arminian. It is extremely arrogant to think that the WELS or any church body is able to separate style from substance in worship practices.

A WELS Pastor said...

Mr. Anonymous:

I cannot believe your attitude toward the "young man," Mr. Schottey. How arrogant you come across! You write:

"In your comment above, are you saying that a 'traditional' sermon delivered poorly is not efficacious but a powerpoint presentation done well is? The quality of the 'performance' of the service is not the issue. The underlying theology is."

I have sat through many traditional services based on TLH. They were done poorly. Word and sacrament were there, of course, and the Spirit worked through his means of grace in spite of the pastor who acted like he would rather be someplace else. I have also witnessed "blended" services done well, with guitars and PowerPoint. The basics of the Lutheran worship service were all present, Law and Gospel were presented in its truth and purity, and the sacraments were administered as Christ instituted them. The Spirit did not work through the form of the service, but he worked through the means of grace in that service, too.

The problem i see with many on this blog is that they equate traditional 16th Century Lutheran worship forms with orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has to do with the teaching and preaching all of God's Word in its truth and purity with Christ having the central focus, and administering the sacraments as Christ instituted them.

I think people who write on this blog (as well as the moderator) have too many personal axes to grind for whatever reason.

Anonymous said...

Dear "a wels pastor",

I assume in your theological education that you learned that the liturgy of the church goes back much farther than the 16th century. Actually, parts of it can be traced back to OT times. Also, today's "contemporary" worship has its roots in Pietism, which is not contemporary. Both "forms" have a theology behind them. Again, by focusing on how the service is being "done", you are ignoring the theology behind what is being done.

The problem I see with your comment is that you don't know what you're talking about, which since you are a called and ordained shepherd, is sad.

a WELS Pastor said...

Mr. Anonymous:

Wow! Your sarcasm reminds me of someone I used to know a long time ago. This isn't a discussion forum, but a mud-slinging competition. It's sad. No wonder normal, decent people don't want anything to do with blogs.

No, I'm not ignoring the theology behind the forms. The form is the avenue by which we share Word and sacrament. Let's focus the discussion on this, and not on personal attacks and innuendo.

So, to return to the discussion, let me ask this to anyone who cares to respond in a decent way: Can a worship form be neutral and its efficacy be determined by the Word and sacraments that it contains, or does God in his Word command a certain form to be used?

John said...

a wels pastor

First of all, if you think that this isn't a discussion form hop onto the church and change email group. I have written from a liturgical perspective, as have a few others, and the changing pastors simply pile on. So this blog is trying to offer an alternative.

I do want to focus on your question because that is my question tooCan a worship form be neutral and its efficacy be determined by the Word and sacraments that it contains, or does God in his Word command a certain form to be used?

Anonymous said...

A WELS pastor,

"Let's focus the discussion on this, and not on personal attacks and innuendo."

I'd be happy to as soon as you retract these statements:

"No wonder normal, decent people don't want anything to do with blogs."

"I think people who write on this blog (as well as the moderator) have too many personal axes to grind for whatever reason."

It is hard to discuss this issue with you. You make personal attacks and attempt to impeach my motives, then you accuse me of doing the same. How could you possibly know that I’m not a normal, decent person? How could you possibly know that I have an axe to grind? If you look over the correspondence on this site, you will see that for the most part the only people making personal attacks are those on the other side of this debate.

Anyway, to your question now:

"Can a worship form be neutral and its efficacy be determined by the Word and sacraments that it contains, or does God in his Word command a certain form to be used?"

This is the problem. Many likely do believe that form is a neutral element. It is not. Every aspect of the Divine Service should point to and glorify Christ. The things that John has described do not do that. Scripture and our Confessions speak to this. Look at some of the quotes provided in the first post. Which is more reverent and Christ-centered --an instruction to greet each other at the beginning of the service, or a processional?

I think you’re approaching it all wrong. It isn’t about whether any particular form is commanded. The question should be, why would anyone advocate abandoning good, Christ-centered ceremonies and rites in favor of frivolous, people-pleasing activities? Because in “Christian-freedom” we can?

LM

Michael Schottey said...

Dear Mr. Anonymous (If you are really who you say you are!)

You have very rightly said that many aspects of our worship and liturgical styles come from not only the 16th century, but before that. How modern it must have seemed when an organ was first used in worship! How modern it must have seemed when a lay person was able to sing the parts of the liturgy instead of the priest or choir.

First off, I would like to label myself, personally. As stated before, I do not personally like most contemporary worship. If anything I am what some have called 'high church' I suscribed to the Magpie, went to school with the author's children, and believe many of their statements to be wise. I believe the sacrament should be offered at every worship service. I cross myself following the sacrament. I am supposedly being given a clerical collar following my ordination.

That being said. The personal preference of the pastor has (or at least should have) absolutely nothing to do with the worship practices of a congregation. It is not the job of a Pastor (I prefer the German "Seelsorger") to bend the congregation to his will. It is the job of a Pastor to lovingly guide the flock (a flock belonging to the Lord) and publically administer the means of grace.

If I am called to Apostle's Lutheran Church in San Diego, CA (I have heard their praise band) I will figure out the best possible way to convay the means of grace in that service. The starting point is and always be the means of grace, not the form of worship.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us through the Word as he has for thousands of years. Worship is different than it was in Jesus' day, and it is different than it was in Abraham's day. The Holy Spirit's work is the same. The Holy Spirit is able to work in a Bach contata and even yes even a song on a electric guitar. It is the Word that gives it power.

Are our African, Latin American, Asian, Near Asian, Easter European brothers not in worship? They all have different worship styles than the one we use. I don't think the mission in Zambia should be singing Lutheran Chorale, they wouldn't appreciate it, I do. This is why it is MY chosen style of worship. It is not the Holy Spirit's chosen method.

Keeping the Liturgy packed full of Law and Gospel-A Good plan

Thinking the Liturgy as we perform it is the only right way-Arrogant foolishness.

Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has justified his holy Church, and the Holy Spirit who calls and sanctifies the Holy Christian Church on earth (which is countless more believers than Anglo-Saxon Lutherans)

LM said...

"Can a worship form be neutral and its efficacy be determined by the Word and sacraments that it contains, or does God in his Word command a certain form to be used?"

This question reveals a lot about how many of us approach this issue—we first ask, what am I allowed to do? This is a legalistic approach to a topic, that I think we can all agree, really has nothing to do with the law. What we need to remember (and I include myself in this admonition) is that it is always about Christ and it is always about the Cross. If we discuss this subject Christologically, there is really only one question that we need to ask—“why do we do this?” If there is no Christological defense of a particular practice, ceremony, rite, etc., but rather, we do it “because we can” then it can only be described as frivolous, and as confessional Lutherans we know that frivolous ceremonies have no place in the Divine Service.

LM

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Schottey,

Lay people ALWAYS had participation in the liturgy, although it was diminished in the Middle Ages.

This is not about what you or anyone else thinks. Since you were a fan of the Motley Magpie, I encourage you to go back and reread it. You have missed the point in worship completely. Your "live and let live" attitude is very post-modern and has no place in the Church, where it has done and will do serious damage.

"If I am called to Apostle's Lutheran Church in San Diego, CA (I have heard their praise band) I will figure out the best possible way to convay the means of grace in that service." Wow! You certainly don't have a self-esteem problem.

The Holy Spirit does not work through a Bach cantata or an electric guitar. He works through the Word (Christ) as preached and given in the Sacraments. BTW, the Lutheran church in Zambia DOES sing Lutheran chorales, and quite well, I might add. Saying they wouldn't appreciate them is not giving them their due. Folks in other countries appreciate good Christological hymnody as well as we in the States. Actually, one of the best places to find confessional Lutheranism is in Africa, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, where they use the same liturgy we do here. Their Bishop Obare doesn't put up with the kind of nonsense you are arguing for.

Also, the Anglo-Saxon, as you call it, "worship style" actually is quite multi-cultural. It comes from North Africa, Palestine, Syria, Greece, Rome, France, Germany, and Spain.

I never said that one person's bad taste should take precedence over anyone else's taste. The pastor stands in the place of Christ to give Christ's gifts to his flock. It is also his responsibility to protect the flock from errors which can creep into the church.

You can not separate the means of grace from the form of worship. Actions speak very loudly. If you conduct a service acting like an E-Free pastor, even while wearing a collar, the focus of the service will be on you and the people in the seats (because that is the focus of E-Free worship).

"The personal preference of the pastor has (or at least should have) absolutely nothing to do with the worship practices of a congregation." Correct. I never said it did. It should also not be up to the voters' assembly. Worship practices are not adiaphora.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous wrote:

"Worship practices are not adiaphora."

Isn't this the statement this whole discussion revolves around?

Anonymous said...

"You can not separate the means of grace from the form of worship. Actions speak very loudly. If you conduct a service acting like an E-Free pastor, even while wearing a collar, the focus of the service will be on you and the people in the seats (because that is the focus of E-Free worship)."

Didn't Luther modify and use the Catholic mass? How was that different?

Michael Schottey said...

Ok, we are agreed on the function of worship, that is God's actual presence among his people using the Means of Grace which he instituted.

You sir, are talking about form, style. And to your words "Worship practices are not adiaphora" I have much to say.

I have never debated on this side of the argument before because I feel Church and Change does many things which threaten confessionalism. I however believe that your words, and attitudes endanger the very Christian faith.

Legalism--making rules about which God has made none is dangerous, and it is what Paul rebuked Peter about publicly. It is what Jesus railed against Pharisees for when he called them "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs," It is what the psalmist speaks about when he says "You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it..."

Logically and historically (not to mention exegetically) your words are full of errors.

Which practice is commanded that I may follow it? And which is forbidden? We have a few different styles in our own hymnal, not to mention the new service settings and the new upcoming supplement. Which of those are horrible and sinful?

Unless you're bearing a years old grudge and still want TLH back. Which of those services were the best. Was the blue supplement not as inspired?

We use a trumpet or timpani occasionally at MLC, are those forbidden?

Luther used the Bugenhagen liturgy (currently found 'scandavianized' in the ELS hymnary)Is that ordained by God? What about the order of the Augustinians which he was a member? Certainly that must be the correct practice.

Liturgical worship in the west did not start until Charlemagne, was he inspired? He changed most of what the Pope sent him, so he must have been a sinner too. We will all commence singing only in Dorian and Lydian modes, for that must be the inspired way.

The Bible says 'where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them' NOT 'where two or three are following page 15 'the common service' there I am with them.

Guitars were used in medieval worship throughout most of Europe before the invention of the Pipe Organ, but now it is supposedly sinful to use them.

The psalmist extorts to use 'tambourines and dancing'...he must have grown up evangelical.

There is no New Testament ceremonial law. Christ came to fulfill that law. We are not bound. If I sit in my home and read a devotion, that is worship. Worship is wherever Christ crucified is preached.

We have a lack of that in many areas, not just the CG movement. So many pastors want to proclaim their own agendas rather than the sacrifice of God.

CG is a problem, but so legalism. And I fear at times I don't know which side to be on, because both are so dangerous to this church body.

Michael Schottey said...

Oh, I forgot one thing. Liturgy by definition was "the part of the people" so to say that Lay people SHOULD have had a part in worship is accurate.

However for year (up until Vatican 2, I believe) Worship was still done in many places in Latin. The priest can say 'Hoc est meum Corpus' all he wants, and wave his hands all over some bread and wine; but unless I know Latin, I just think its a bunch of Hocus Pocus. Bonus points to whoever knew that etymology!

Anonymous said...

Mr Schottey,

You are completely missing the point. You are setting up the typical WELS straw man arguments and knocking down what you think I wrote instead of what I actually wrote.

You give lip service to God coming to us in Word and Sacrament in worship and then plow ahead writing about what WE DO and what we are allowed to do. That, by the way, is legalism.

Incidentally, to John, what Mr. Schottey is writing is what is taught at WLS, so most of the younger crop of pastors will be no improvement over what we have now.

And yes, Luther used the catholic mass after removing the errors that the RCC had introduced. We also use the catholic mass in CW.

LM said...

Mr. S,

Your second to last post suprises me. You seem like a thoughtful guy (though I can't agree with everything you've said), but your use of the straw man fallacy really hurts your credibility.

As for your disagreement with the statement, "Worship practices are not adiaphora," I sugest you take another look at the Formula of Concord:

"Namely, when under the title and pretext of external adiaphora such things are proposed as are in principle contrary to God's Word (although painted another color), these are not to be regarded as adiaphora, in which one is free to act as he will, but must be avoided as things prohibited by God”


"Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference."

Oh, and I would be more careful about your choice of words in the future. When you say that “the psalmist extorts to use 'tambourines and dancing'"—well, to borrow your own phrase, “Logically and historically (not to mention exegetically) your words are full of errors.”

LM

Michael Schottey said...

First, a typical straw man argument is better than one that has no basis is either scripture or reality (unless you're only talking about recent WELS history).

Second, worship has constantly changed for all Christians since the time of Christ. Even in the Roman Catholic church, music in the 1300s was drastically different than in the 1400s and moreso in the 1500s. So to say that "practice is not adiaphora" when said practice was innovated by men like Pope Gregory I, Benedict, and Charlemagne is foolish and impious.

Incidentally, I never made a distinction about what we are allowed to do...theres your straw man. I feel that in Christian Freedom we have the right to worship in any manner we desire as long as the Word is taught in its truth and purity and sacraments rightly administered (the only prescription the Bible gives)

The generations which are now leaving the ministry were so lax on issues like evangelism and worship that there are out of control movements swinging the pendulum the other direction. My father's class was not taught evangelism at all, and now CG would rather preach 'Buddy Christ' than Christ crucified. That era didn't change a hymnal for 40 some odd years (making all WELS members to believe it inspired) and now church in change wants to institute LAPPY in every pew.

The matter still remains. Show me, from scripture, where your basis of "Worship practices are not adiaphora" is from. Otherwise you shouldn't through around Anathemas.

John said...

I appreciate the discussion that has happened and I have several questions.

I would first of all like to know if this this type of discussion occurred (or is occurring) at local wels pastoral conferences?

Mike, does this liturgical discussion happen on campus and/or during classes?

Anonymous said...

Mike,

First get your facts straight, then distort them as much as you like.

In your last comment you seriously came unglued.

Please respond to what is actually written.

LM said...

I'm having a hard time following you Mike. We're talking about foolish, frivolous practices that are now being implemented in the Divine Service, and you’re talking about Church History, changes to the hymnal, and "I can worship however I want in Christian freedom."

If you unconditionally subscribe to our Lutheran confessions, then you believe that foolish, frivolous, and useless displays "are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference." Hence, we are not "free" to worship however we please (if the things that please us are foolish, useless, glorify man rather than Christ, etc.). Do you believe this? Please look at the Formula of Concord, then reconsider your sentiment that "I feel that in Christian Freedom we have the right to worship in any manner we desire as long as the Word is taught in its truth and purity and sacraments rightly administered (the only prescription the Bible gives)."

LM

Michael Schottey said...

John,

Yes this conversation happens a lot. You'd all be surprised to know that most of my classmates and nearly all of my professors are anti church and change and anti contemporary worship.

My favorite professor quote (and I agree) is that "the thing inherently wrong with contemporary worship is that it is centered on the person, not on the cross."

My arguments here are not FOR contemporary worship, they are against legalism. I will never believe, with all the different and varied worship opportunities i've had that it is not adiapohoric. As long as worship is Christocentric it is not sin, no matter what instruments or multimedia is involved.

Anonymous said...

"You'd all be surprised to know that most of my classmates and nearly all of my professors are anti church and change and anti contemporary worship." No, I'm not surprised, since contemporary worship is more of a baby boomer fad that the WELS latched on to after it had been around a few decades. It's fading in favor of emergent church practices among many American protestants.


"I will never believe, with all the different and varied worship opportunities i've had that it is not adiapohoric." Then you are at odds with the Lutheran confessions. Sadly, that and arrogance will make you a typical WELS pastor.

"As long as worship is Christocentric it is not sin, no matter what instruments or multimedia is involved." When did anyone here say certain instruments or multimedia were sin? "My arguments here are not FOR contemporary worship, they are against legalism." Well, bully for you! However, no one is attempting to set up a new ceremonial law in this blog's comment section. You are not reading and responding to what others are actually writing.

Anonymous said...

"the thing inherently wrong with contemporary worship is that it is centered on the person, not on the cross."

"Contemporary worship" is such a broad and vague term. Perhaps, for the sake of discussion, it would be good to focus on one or two particular practices contained with certain instances of contemporary worship in WELS churches and debate whether these practices are inherently "frivolous" or whether they could be practiced such that the focus is on Christ crucified.

To condemn all of "contemporary worship" is quite the blanket judgment considering that there is such variety in what that term means. Would we condemn Silent Night being played on guitar rather than organ? Some would call that contemporary. What about having a band (guitar/drums/etc.) lead hymns using texts from CW while the rest of the liturgy stays the same (just using band instruments rather than organ)? Is that ok? So could we look at specific practices? For instance: Worship bands - are they all bad or is it possible that they be properly used in a worship service to focus upon Christ and Christ alone?

RandomDan said...

"All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up."--1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

A WELS Pastor said...

Why doesn't someone answer these questions? The Bible verse is nice, but by using 1 Cor. 10:23, I would say your answer would be "no" to both of them. This is what anonymous asked--
1. Would we condemn Silent Night being played on guitar rather than organ?
2. What about having a band (guitar/drums/etc.) lead hymns using texts from CW while the rest of the liturgy stays the same (just using band instruments rather than organ)?

Anonymous said...

"Why doesn't someone answer these questions?"

You're someone a WELS pastor--why don't you answer them? (but without name calling please)

LM

Anonymous said...

Romans 12 may be instructive here:
"1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

If we want our worship service to be holy, then it needs to be set apart. Using the same instruments and arrangements found in popular music, and thereby mimicking the popular culture will have the opposite effect.

Silent Night on a guitar? If it is reverent and as an accompaniment to the service rather than as a performance for the congregants, I see no problem with it. Organ or piano may be more practical for the corporate worship setting because they are louder, but there are ways to amplify the guitar and still retain its character.

I would apply the same principles to a praise band. If the praise band is there to entertain or perform for the congregants, then the focus is no longer on Christ and it would be a frivolous and foolish display. If it is reverent, as an accompaniment, and uses instruments and arrangements that help maintain a holy, edifying service, I again, see no reason to limit the instruments we use to just the organ or piano.

Incidentally, I’ve never seen a praise band that didn’t take center stage during the service. Can you use a praise band in the service without it feeling like a concert or performance? Maybe—but I haven’t seen it yet. Have any of you?

RandomDan said...

A WELS Pastor,

Why should anyone answer the question when we can see the bad logic behind the questions? The simple fact is those questions are trying to take specific instances and apply them to the general. That's bad logic, period.

The bigger question that needs to be answered by all those who are pushing for this is why are you persisting and pushing for this when it is causing division and disunity within our synod?

Anonymous said...

The questions weren't intended to take specific instances and apply them to the general. In fact, the whole point is that we can't make sweeping generalizations. I think that these generalizations are what get the c&c-ers riled up (implying that all contemporary worship is evil or equating what they do to american evangelicalism) when instead it would be worthwhile to look at specific practices and evaluate them and how they are being done in the WELS rather than generalizing that it is all worthless and evil.

Anonymous said...

randomdan,

I have to disagree with you. I think that "a wels pastor" had a very valid point in asking those questions.

That point is that it's far too easy to follow this line of thought: "Is it the Common Service? No? Is is being sung to organ accompaniment? No? Well, then it must be contemporary. Is it contemporary? Then it must be sinful." To quote you, doing that would be "bad logic, period".

Rather than issuing a general condemnation of all "contemporary" things, his point is that we ought to examine everything on an individual basis.

In other words, there's a huge difference between having a guitar and piano accompany a hymn and having a praise band in the chancel singing CCM's greatest hits.

John said...

In other words, there's a huge difference between having a guitar and piano accompany a hymn and having a praise band in the chancel singing CCM's greatest hits,

My observation has been that the Praise Band in the chancel is the trend in the WELS not having a piano or guitar playing a hymn.

So then is having a praise band in the chancel wrong? The problem I have is that I find nothing edifying about contemporary worship

A WELS Pastor said...

John, you wrote:

"So then is having a praise band in the chancel wrong?" It is, if the lyrics do not focus on Christ. If the lyrics do focus on Christ and are clearly law and gospel, it would be a matter of Christian freedom.

"The problem I have is that I find nothing edifying about contemporary worship." If the lyrics are scriptural and focus on Christ, then isn't your problem a matter of personal preference?

John said...

isn't your problem a matter of personal preference?

This is what I am trying to sort out. Is the contemporary service edifying for some? Are the lyrics scriptural and focused on Christ?

A WELS Pastor said...

John:

You wrote, "Is the contemporary service edifying for some?" I'm not a big fan of contemporary music. I've had to say "no" to some that people want in their wedding service, for example. But there is some contemporary music that I find very edifying in the proper way, and I wouldn't hesitate using it during a worship service--if I had someone who could do it well.

You also wrote:

"Are the lyrics scriptural and focused on Christ?" Yes, there is some contemporary music that I've heard that is scriptural and focused on Christ.

Just one more comment. In the quote from the confessions, when it's talking about "godless doctrines and services," are we sure it's referring to worship services?

RandomDan said...

Anonymous persons,

Did you even bother reading the original post above? It shows exactly how relevant those questions are to the topic at hand: they are not.

John,

As far as I can tell, this is how "contemporary" worship seeps into Lutheranism (both LCMS and WELS).

1) Style is declared an adiaphoron without any discussion about how useful importing different styles into the church are and definitely without discussion about what kind of cultural baggage comes with these styles.

2) The style is implemented throughout the synod, leaving some pastors concerned while others jump on the bandwagon.

3) After the style is implemented, that's when the discussion begins. Of course, the practice is already implemented and spreading, even though many object.

4) Disunity is the result of the way the style is implemented.

I would like to think that this didn't happen, but I watched it happen in the LCMS, and I am watching it happen in the WELS.

Anonymous said...

""So then is having a praise band in the chancel wrong?" It is, if the lyrics do not focus on Christ. If the lyrics do focus on Christ and are clearly law and gospel, it would be a matter of Christian freedom."

By putting the band in the chancel, aren't we turning the chancel into a stage, and then allowing the band to share that stage with the Cross, the Altar, and those men that stand in Christ's stead, the ministers?

Could this send the wrong message?

And why are we doing this in the first place? By doing this aren't we pitting those who find this offensive and disrespectful against those who find it eddifying? Won't it divide the congregation?

Rick said...

I have been thinking about the comments from anonymous posted on Oct 2 and a few things come to mind.

I might be reading between the lines here but the chancel of the church is not the New Testament Church equivalent of the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament. There is no ark of the covenant there. We do not offer up a sacrifice on the altar. The cross and altar remind us that the sacrifice was made one time in full. The post seems to give the idea that only pastors should be in the chancel, kind of like only the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies. I don't think it disrespectful at all that a worship band leading worship should be in the front of the church. At any rate, newer church architecture doesn't so clearly show where the chancel (altar area) ends and the sanctuary begins. And in churches with a clearly defined chancel, there probably isn't enough room there for a worship band anyway.

Secondly, "those men who stand in Christ's stead"...Who is that? The ministry of the keys was given to all Christians to stand in Christ's stead and forgive sins. For the sake of good order, it is usually the pastor who does this publicly and on behalf of the rest of the Christians in a particular church but every Christian stands in the place of Christ and uses the keys. So if a a worship band leads the worship service and leads in the singing of songs with lyrics that proclaim the Gospel, what better place is there for them to be than in front of the church.

Finally, the issue of a band isn't divisive unless those who don't like it choose to make it divisive. In most WELS churches that use a worship band, there is also a traditional service led by traditional instruments. If a church or a synod fights a worship war, there is only one side doing all the fighting.

Finally, on the matter of offense. We had better be sure that we use that word in it's biblical sense. Offense doesn't mean "I don't like it and I know that in Lutheran circles I can end a disagreement in my favor by using that word." Offense is when a weak brother or sister is caused to stumble in faith and maybe even are danger of losing their faith and salvation because of the actions of a stronger brother acting in Christian freedom.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

I'm a little confused re your last comment. It sounds like you are saying everyone is a minster. Is that what you mean?

And if that is what you are saying, then why do our confessions speak of an office of the ministry and why do the scriptures give specific guidelines as to who may occupy that office?

You also said: "So if a a worship band leads the worship service and leads in the singing of songs with lyrics that proclaim the Gospel, what better place is there for them to be than in front of the church."

So if everyone is in the ministry, a praise band can lead worship. But if women are in the praise band, are women leading worship? Is this okay becuase everyone is in the ministry? And if so, then how do we explain the scriptural instruction that those in the ministry should be a "husband of but one wife..."? And what about the headship principle? Am I looking at this the wrong way?

Rick said...

Anonymous,

I think you are confusing the universal priesthood of all believers and the called pastoral ministry.

John said...

Rick,

How do you distinguish the difference between the universal priesthod and the called ministry?

How do you draw the line between vocational responsibilities?

LM said...

Rick,

If you read the comments on this blog, you know I've brought this subject up before. I'm interested in seeing your responses to John's question, too.

I'm also curious about your response to what Anon said: If a praise band is leading worship, and women are in the praise band, are women leading worship? If so, does that mean women can't be in the praise band, or is this more like women serving as communion assitants (which as I understand, the WELS says is okay, but shouldn't be done for the time being because it might offend our ELS friends who apparently hold a view.)

Thanks,

LM


LM

Anonymous said...

LM,

Why do you limit your question only to praise bands? What about liturgical choirs that sing during worship? Aren't they leading worship to the same degree as a praise band? If so, should no women be allowed to sing in any choir?

Anonymous said...

John,
In response to your question - Martin Luther offers this explanation:
“For although we are all priests, this does not mean that all of us can preach, teach and rule. Certain ones of the multitude must be selected and separated for such an office. And he who has such an office is not a priest because of his office but a servant of all the others, who are priests…This is the way to distinguish between the office of preaching, or the ministry, and the general priesthood of all baptized Christians. The preaching office is no more than a public service which happens to be conferred upon someone by the entire congregation, all the members of which are priests” (Martin Luther in commentary on Psalms 110).

LM said...

"Why do you limit your question only to praise bands?"

Because the question was in response to something Rick said about praise bands. I'm trying to understand what he means. If you lack back over the pervious comments, my question, as written, will probably make more sense.

"What about liturgical choirs that sing during worship? Aren't they leading worship to the same degree as a praise band? If so, should no women be allowed to sing in any choir?"

You tell me, or better yet, ask Rick. I'm trying to understand this. The "leading worhsip" description was his, not mine. Personally, I've never thought of a choir as leading worship--do they? Does the answer to this question change if they are singing from the chancel?

LM

Anonymous said...

“For although we are all priests, this does not mean that all of us can preach, teach and rule."

Is this what you were talking about Rick? But if so, shouldn't only those that have been called by the congregation be leading the worship service?

I think I understand what Luther is saying here, but I must confess, it seems to contradict what others on here have said is the WELS view of ministry. Can someone explain this--am I misunderstanding?

John said...

I might guess Rick is doing some more research on this topic.

But from what I have read and heard the Church and Change group has continually promoted the aspect that "everyone is a minister." In doing so the Office and duties of the Called minister are blurred together.

What is noteworthy is that at the Church and Change conference practice and methods are promoted yet doctrine and theology are not studied.

I did ask earlier if these issues are discussed at pastoral conferences. (Mike S. mentioned that it is talked about at MLC)

RandomDan said...

I asked on another comment thread if someone could show me how WELS' view of the OHM related to Christology and vocation. Rick's answer shows me that this is needed more than ever, because Rick, in his answer, trampled all over the Table of Duties in Luther's Small Catechism. It is not our job as laymen to participate, but to listen. Rick's answer has the thought behind it that we worship God, not the other way around. Much of what passes for "contemporary" worship now in opposed to the Lutheran view of worship. We praise and serve God, rather than God serving us and us responding with praise in return to God for what he has done.

Rick said...

Dan,

You make the assumption that those who participate in Lutheran contemporary worship are not responding with their worship to what God has done for them. Why do you make that assumption? If the Word and sacraments are part of the service, then the worship of God's people is a response to the grace of God whether the music is organ or band.

Also, regarding some terms that keep being thrown out... It is interesting that this is supposedly a WELS blog but Missouri terms keep getting used. Most WELS pastors and churches don't use the term "divine service." Missouri does maybe in part because that's how their hymnal refers to them. Also, the blue Kuske edition of Luther's Small Catechism which WELS uses doesn't use the term "office of the Holy Ministry" when discussing the ministry of the keys but uses the term "public ministry." Does the preference for what I perceive to be Missouri terms, just show the background of the posters or is there some other reason for using them? John would seem to indicate that in his original post when he asks about how the divine service became a worship service. John, I am life-long WELS and it has always in my experience been a worship service. Eastern Orthodoxy talks about the divine liturgy. Is there a connection? Sometimes it seems to me that in the middle of all the concern that some WELS churches are leaning toward pietism or evangelicalism, we loose sight of the fact that there are lots of WELS and Missouri churches using GIA (a Roman Catholic publishing house and music source) materials and incorporating rites that are generally associated with Romanism or Eastern Orthodoxy. I grew up in a pretty low-church WELS setting--black geneva over white shirt and tie, no Roman collars, no processions with altar boys, bowing before the altar and all that. Why are we not as concerned that some Lutherans are leaning toward Romanism? Semi-pelagianism is just as soul destroying as spiritual narcissism, isn't it?

Finally, John, I only have time to check your blog sporadically so I apologize if I don't respond quickly.

John said...

Rick,

I, too, have been very busy of late. I am not a life-long welser, but I chose to label the title Divine Service vs. Worship Service in part because of the holy reverence of God in his house. Maybe other readers have input on the use of the term divine service.

I am also interested in what you say about high and low church. I recently spoke to someone (who is a Roman Catholic) who did label the WELS as low and Missouri as high church.

Anonymous said...

Rick,

"Also, the blue Kuske edition of Luther's Small Catechism which WELS uses doesn't use the term "office of the Holy Ministry" when discussing the ministry of the keys but uses the term "public ministry." Does the preference for what I perceive to be Missouri terms, just show the background of the posters or is there some other reason for using them?"

All my references to the Chatechism are references to either the Large or Small Chatechism in the Book of Concord. I have the Kuske, but in comparison, I don't find it particularly usefull.

LM

LM said...

"Sometimes it seems to me that in the middle of all the concern that some WELS churches are leaning toward pietism or evangelicalism, we loose sight of the fact that there are lots of WELS and Missouri churches using GIA (a Roman Catholic publishing house and music source) materials and incorporating rites that are generally associated with Romanism or Eastern Orthodoxy....Why are we not as concerned that some Lutherans are leaning toward Romanism?"

Rick, I hope you see the humor in your words, quoted above. You show concern over congregations incorporating rites that are "generally associated with Romanism" yet seem to defend practices that are "generally associated" with church bodies that deny that we receive Christ's body and blood in Holy Communion.

But please, take a closer look at our Lutheran confessions. You will see that the, so called, "Lutherans [that] are leaning toward Romanism" are in fact, leaning toward Lutheranism. For example, in AC XXIV it says:

"Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]....Now, forasmuch as the Mass is such a giving of the Sacrament, we hold one communion every holy-day, and, if any desire the Sacrament, also on other days, when it is given to such as ask for it."

So maybe speaking of the Mass, celebrating the Lord’s Supper every service, and employing ceremonies that point to Christ are not so Romanist after all? It is at least looking into.

LM

Anonymous said...

Vol. 2, No. 4 of the Motley Magpie is on-line now, updated with a few new articles.

Enjoy:

http://www.motleymagpie.org/v2n4.html

Rick said...

LM,

I't hard to find humor in a church that declares justification by grace and faith anathema.

As to the catechism, I was speaking about the teaching part of the catechism beyond the enchirdion and since this purports to be a WELS blog and since all or almost all WELS churches use it, it seems logical to make reference to the blue Kuske edition of Luther's Small Catechism.

LM said...

"I't (sic) hard to find humor in a church that declares justification by grace and faith anathema."

I didn't say I found humor in the consequences of Roman theology (but that Pope hat makes me smile). Rather, I was pointing out how quick some in the WELS are to talk out of both sides of their mouth, ie., condemn those who advocate reverent, Christ-centered, historical, liturgical practices because...it looks like Romanism, yet defend Reformed and other non-liturgical practices because...well, I haven't actually seen any defense other than "I'm allowed to" which is really no defense at all.

But since we're on the subject, please answer this question. How does a processional, confession, the creeds, or every service communion deny justification by faith? That seems to be the charge. If I'm wrong, please explain what you mean in your previous post. (and while your at it, how does replacing those elements with a man-centered, entertaining worship service not deny the power of the Holy Spirit?)

"As to the catechism, I was speaking about the teaching part of the catechism beyond the enchirdion (sic) and since this purports to be a WELS blog and since all or almost all WELS churches use it, it seems logical to make reference to the blue Kuske edition of Luther's Small Catechism."

I didn't say there was anything wrong with making reference to it. But to mimic your own logic, since this purports to be a Lutheran blog and since all WELS churches unconditionally subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions (contained in the Book of Concord of 1580) it seems logical to make reference to it. Oh, and read it, study it, and rely on it.

LM

RandomDan said...

You make the assumption that those who participate in Lutheran contemporary worship are not responding with their worship to what God has done for them. Why do you make that assumption?

Who said it was an assumption? I know from my own personal experience what "Lutheran" contemporary worship leads to. I've seen it in myself. I've seen it in others with my own two eyes.

If the Word and sacraments are part of the service, then the worship of God's people is a response to the grace of God whether the music is organ or band.

Here is my question to you. What kind of theology are we importing in when we use a praise band? I'll give you a hint: it's not Reformed. Many of my Reformed friends would be horrified if they brought this stuff into their churches.

Also, regarding some terms that keep being thrown out... It is interesting that this is supposedly a WELS blog but Missouri terms keep getting used.

I don't know about John, but considering I was a member of a LCMS congregation until a little over a year ago might have something to do with my Missourian-sounding explanations. I still don't speak WELSian. If it is a problem, I can ask my wife to translate for me. :)

Sometimes it seems to me that in the middle of all the concern that some WELS churches are leaning toward pietism or evangelicalism, we loose sight of the fact that there are lots of WELS and Missouri churches using GIA (a Roman Catholic publishing house and music source) materials...
Then you should have no worries about anybody turning Roman Catholic. GIA material has a lot of dangers, but turning someone Roman Catholic is very low on that list.

... and incorporating rites that are generally associated with Romanism or Eastern Orthodoxy.
Maybe our Lutheran forefathers should have known better.

I grew up in a pretty low-church WELS setting--black geneva over white shirt and tie, no Roman collars, no processions with altar boys, bowing before the altar and all that. Why are we not as concerned that some Lutherans are leaning toward Romanism?
I find it is curious how we know processions, altar boys, bowing before the altar, genuflecting, and all those wonderfully high church things are all catholic in origin. In other words, they were done by the church long before either Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy were in existence.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading a number of these WELS sites that seem more bent on tearing down things than building up the kingdom. While Jesus demands faithfulness in doctrine, he also calls for a spirit of love in dealing with others. That is so sadly missing in the sarcasm and arrogance of this blog (by many). It is alright to feel passionately about these things, but belittling others over your "feelings" of what is best (but not commanded by Scripture) is lovelessness. It is as if all those who are employing different methodology are leading souls to hell. I've gone to the websites of congregations referenced here, have seen wonderful confessions of Christian creedal statements and have perused things happening in lives that are causing the angels to rejoice. Rejoice with them, brothers! Where there are practices that you can point to Scripture and thereby condemn as false, do it. But when you cannot, please treat others with the same love, respect and best construction that our God would urge.

One final thought, isn't it arrogant to think that God can only use one style of music and one type of worship? Did God stop giving people with musical and artistic gifts to his church? Or, could he maybe, just maybe, be giving those gifts today in a different voice than in the past?

I may stop by here from time to time, but I'm too busy with life to spend a lot of time trying to arm wrestle with people here. And no, I'm not a Church and Changer... but I feel really sad seeing a arrogance on that side and on this side, trying to tear each other apart. The devil must be cackling with glee at what he is accomplishing as a sinful world is dying around us!

Peace, and no matter who you are and how you serve, make sure your congregation is preaching Law and Gospel, and administering the Sacraments faithfully. These are the tools the Spirit does use to do wondrous things in the souls of people, as he brings and keeps them in faith!