Rethinking Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

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This is a simplified version of what I’ve written on lex orandi lex credendi elsewhere. It is also a revised version of a segment from the WorshipConcord Seminar, Moving Forward in Harmony: Reintroducing the Conversation about Worship in the Lutheran Congregation. It is adapted from the segment on assumptions and methodology. I am sharing it now because the discussion on the WorshipConcord Journal page in the recent past has been focused on assumptions and methodology. I also share it because it is one of the central problematic issues in the Lutheran conversation about worship today. JAW

Rethinking Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

The lex orandi lex credendi principle is at the front of the form-substance debate, because it is used to express the assumption that form must not be separated from substance. In fact, the phrase is used in at least three different ways by scholars, so it is sometimes difficult to have a firm grasp of what it means in any given context.

I want to define these two terms for you, so you have some sense of the way they are being used in the debate today. Lex orandi is typically defined as the way we pray. It is used to refer to the specific form of the church’s worship, whether that form is traditional or contemporary. Lex orandi is always defined in terms of the way the church prays.

Lex credendi is typically defined as what we believe. All the biblical doctrines of the church, but especially our theology of the Gospel and the sacraments. Lex credendi is always defined in terms of what the church believes.

Now, I want to say up front that this definition of lex credendi is essentially correct. But the historic evidence shows that lex credendi actually more narrowly refers to the atonement or the doctrine of justification. The historical evidence also shows that the typical definition of lex orandi today, as a reference to the way the church prays, is incorrect. And I will explain why it is incorrect after I point out how the entire phrase lex orandi lex credendi is almost always used in the present debate.

The phrase lex orandi lex credendi is used to express at least three theological assumptions about worship, two of which are incorrect. It is used to express the assumption that the church’s lex orandi is a reflection of the church’s lex credendi, in other words, the way a church prays reflects what a church believes. It is incorrectly used to express the assumption that lex orandi IS lex credendi, which means that form can not be separated from substance. And it is incorrectly used to express the assumption that lex orandi, or the way the church prays, determines the lex credendi, or what the church believes—the way the church prays determines what the church believes. But is the lex orandi lex credendi principle, for all its ambiguities, compatible with our Lutheran theology of worship?

I would like to share with you the historical and theological context of the phrase, so that we can be precise about what the phrase means for the discussion about liturgy today. Lex orandi lex credendi was derived by later theologians from a phrase used by Prosper of Aquitaine in fifth-century Rome.

That phrase is ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, and I will translate this for you after we’ve looked at more of the context. Prosper used ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi in a document titled Capitulum 8. Prosper used the phrase in his defense of Augustine’s theology of grace against the false doctrine of the Semi-Pelagians.

The Semi-Pelagians argued that man is responsible for his own conversion. Their claim was that it is necessary for human free will to make the first step of conversion, and that God would then do the rest. To make a small application to today’s context, some contemporary Christian worship songs contain decision theology, and decision theology is simply a present-day manifestation of Semi-Pelagianism. Which begs the question: Are we careful to choose contemporary songs for our worship services, which do not have decision theology in them?

Augustine’s theology highlighted original sin and the total depravity of the human condition. To which God responded in love with his own work of radical grace and salvation in the incarnation, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Again, to make application to today, would it not be a faithful approach to contemporary worship, to use total depravity and radical grace as a filter through which we screen or judge or, dare I even say, compose contemporary worship songs for Lutheran congregations?

The typical translation of Prosper’s ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi is, ‘so that the law of praying establishes the law of believing,’ which would then mean that the way a church prays determines what a church believes . . . hence, lex orandi lex credendi. But this is bad methodology, to isolate ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi from its context.

I would suggest an entirely different approach to the phrase based on its historical and theological context. Ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi should be translated, “. . . how the command to make supplication (lex supplicandi) forms the basis of right believing (legem credendi).” Let me share with you the context.

Prosper wrote the following: “The most faithful fathers have taught us to ascribe to the grace of Christ the beginnings of good will, increases of acceptable desires, and perseverance in these to the end. . . .” In other words, according to Prosper, the beginning, the middle, and the end of the life of faith are all to be ascribed to the grace of Christ, which is in stark contrast to the Semi-Pelagian doctrine of the exercise of human free will at the beginning, in conversion.

Prosper continues: “. . . Let us consider also the sacraments of the priestly rites which, having been transmitted by the apostles, are celebrated uniformly throughout the entire world and the whole catholic church. The sacraments show how the command to make supplication forms the basis of right believing.” Ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi.

What is “the command to make supplication”? Here Prosper refers to 1 Timothy 2.1-6: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”

From this passage of Scripture the Semi-Pelagians argued that it was necessary for man to exercise his free will in conversion. The syllogism goes something like this: God wills all men to be saved. But not all men are saved. Therefore God’s will by itself must not be effective in man’s conversion; man must exercise his own free will to attain what God desires.

Prosper argued that the command to pray in 1 Timothy 2, and the church’s fulfillment of that command, demonstrated the truth that depraved man must rely only on God’s grace for his conversion. While the Semi-Pelagians highlighted their belief in God’s failure to save all men, Prosper stressed God’s grace in the act of atonement, “the one mediator between God and men.”

In 1 Timothy 2 there is no reference to the form of the prayer. There is only the command to pray. Against the Semi-Pelagians Prosper demonstrated the biblical position: that everyone, no exception, stands in total and unqualified need of God’s grace, and the church’s obedience to the Apostle’s command to pray acknowledges this, that human conversion takes place only by the will and grace of God.

Prosper appealed to the sacraments and the apostolic command to pray, the lex. He did not appeal to the liturgy. For Prosper, it is Scripture that determines the content of the church’s prayer, and it is not that the church’s practice of liturgy determines what the church believes.

This is also true for Basil of Caesarea, roughly a half-century before Prosper of Aquitaine. While Basil valued unwritten apostolic tradition in the liturgical practice of the church, this unwritten apostolic tradition did not refer to the entire structure of “the historic liturgy.” For Basil the unwritten apostolic tradition referred to four elements of liturgical practice in the fourth century: making the sign of the cross, facing east at prayer, the epiclesis or calling upon the Holy Spirit at the consecration of Holy Communion, and the eucharistic prayer. Liturgical innovation, however, was not beneath Basil. He was accused by the clergy of Neocaesarea of using a form of singing the psalms that until that time had been unknown in catholic churches. Basil accused the Neocaesareans of straining at a gnat while ignoring the greatest of the commandments, the commandment to love, a point we should all carefully consider in today’s context. The point I want to make is this: Ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi does not mean lex orandi lex credendi—the way a church prays determines what a church believes. It does not mean this.

And I could say more . . . about the beginnings of ecumenical Liturgical Theology between the 1930s and ’50s, and how scholars from this movement, such as Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorf, Josef Jungmann, Jean Danielou, Aidan Kavanagh, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Frank Senn, built their theology of liturgy on the work of a late-nineteenth-century French Roman Catholic monk by the name of Prosper Gueranger.

Gueranger, as far as I have been able to determine, coined the phrase lex orandi lex credendi. The ecumenical liturgical scholars who followed Gueranger searched the historical data of the ancient liturgies and the church fathers in an effort to find Father Gueranger’s principle. Ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi then became lex orandi lex credendi. It is one example, from the ecumenical Liturgical Theology movement of the mid-twentieth century, it is one example of how bad methodology became bad theology.

This fundamental principle of Liturgical Theology, lex orandi lex credendi, is one of the central problematic methodological issues in the conversation about worship among Lutherans today.

Peace

James Alan Waddell

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69 responses to “Rethinking Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

  1. Thanks, James, for shedding some light on the phrase “LOLC”. I’ve read the simplified segment and am working through the expanded version. 🙂

    From a practical perspective of a pastor or other worship leader who makes regular decisions about what is and is not included in congregational worship services, it seems to me that LOLC suggests (begs?) the question: “How does our worship format–as a whole and in its various elements–positively and negatively impact the faith, understanding, confession, witness, and teaching of our church and its worshipers?”

    From the perspective of one engaged in discussion on the phrase LOLC, I ask myself the following questions:
    – Is there a biblical basis for LOLC?
    – What is the correct understanding of the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (if truth is indeed expressed in LOLC)?
    – What are incorrect understandings of the phrase LOLC?
    – How should I apply the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (assuming that truth is there)?

    These will be my top shelf considerations as I study your expanded post.

    Tim

    • worshipconcord

      Thanks for the comment, Tim. And so soon! Let me take your questions and try to answer them as I see it.

      – Is there a biblical basis for LOLC?

      Not that I am aware of. We certainly have detailed liturgical services legislated in the Mosaic Torah. The prescriptions for Passover, e.g., were to be done so that future generations would “remember” God’s merciful act of saving his people out of Egypt, and then apply that same faith in God’s mercy to their own context. A recent article in the CTQ claims that there is a “liturgical shape” to the Old Testament. I would argue the other way around, that there is a biblical shape to liturgy. The author of the article even begins to press his method into his reading of the New Testament Gospels. It’s an exercise in eisegeting the assumptions of liturgical theology into our readings of biblical texts.

      In the New Testament there are no legislated liturgical forms, beyond injunctions for proclaiming the purity of the Gospel and administering the sacraments according to God’s Word. There are no legislated forms. So in short, I don’t see lex orandi lex credendi in the Bible. If the Lutheran Confessions consitute our hermeneutic for reading the Bible, then it isn’t there. We have to import non-Lutheran methods of reading Scripture (i.e., abandon sola scriptura) in order to import it into our readings of the Bible. So as you can see, it’s problematic on several levels.

      – What is the correct understanding of the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (if truth is indeed expressed in LOLC)?

      As I point out, there are at least three ways of understanding lex orandi lex credendi, two of which are clearly wrong. As a principle that must be acknowledge to be late modern, early postmodern (it is not ancient, at least in the way it is being used today), lex orandi lex credendi can be made to mean pretty much anything you want it to mean. This is what I have found in my readings of liturgical theology and in my conversations with various pastors and scholars who hold to it. That’s why it’s so ambiguous. If you question one of it’s alleged meanings, then someone will say, “Well, I don’t really think it means that,” when in fact numerous scholars think it does mean “that.” And the conversation then just goes in endless circles, while the lex orandi lex credendi principle continues to be uncritically accepted and applied in whatever way we want to apply it. Do you see the problem?

      – What are incorrect understandings of the phrase LOLC?

      I pointed these out in the first shorter article above. There are at least two mistaken ways we use lex orandi lex credendi. Let me quote again the paragraph from the article where I outline these.

      The phrase lex orandi lex credendi is used to express at least three theological assumptions about worship, two of which are incorrect. It is used to express the assumption that the church’s lex orandi is a reflection of the church’s lex credendi, in other words, the way a church prays reflects what a church believes. It is incorrectly used to express the assumption that lex orandi IS lex credendi, which means that form can not be separated from substance. And it is incorrectly used to express the assumption that lex orandi, or the way the church prays, determines the lex credendi, or what the church believes—the way the church prays determines what the church believes. But is the lex orandi lex credendi principle, for all its ambiguities, compatible with our Lutheran theology of worship?

      If you want more clarification, I would be happy to write more.

      – How should I apply the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (assuming that truth is there)?

      You are assuming that the phrase can be adapted to mean what we want it to mean. What was its original meaning by the person who first coined it in the nineteenth century, Dom Prosper Gueranger? As far as I can tell, Prosper’s adage, as others have noted, was derived from another Prosper, only this Prosper was from the 5th century, Prosper of Aquitaine. Prosper of Aquitaine wrote a phrase in one of his documents (which I discuss in both of my posts here) the phrase, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. Taken out of its context (the first methodological mistake) the phrase was understood to mean “the law of praying establishes the law of believing.” As I point out in my two posts, this is an incorrect understanding of ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. However, it was taken to mean this anyway as liturgical theology developed through the middle decades of the twentieth century. Lex orandi lex credendi, if we are paying attention to the late modern, early postmodern origins of this adage, means this: the way the church prays determines what a church believes. Anything beyond that and it becomes a wax nose. And I think I have also demonstrated that Prosper of Aquitaine’s original phrase, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, cannot be made to mean lex orandi lex credendi.

      Lex orandi lex credendi comes from late modern Roman Catholicism in an effort to control and promote uniformity in the church’s practice of liturgy. The Roman Catholic Church has been trying to do this ever since the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, in response to the Reformation. It wasn’t like this in the RC Church before Trent. Trent was a reaction to the Reformation churches who had reformed their liturgies according to the Augsburg Confession. JAW

      • In my question, “Is there a biblical basis for LOLC?” I don’t mean, is there a biblical basis for a liturgical form, shape, or flavor? What I do mean is, is there a biblical basis for believing that how we pray/worship will have an impact on what we believe. For example, I certainly believe on the basis of Scripture that the Word of God is a powerful two-edged sword which the Holy Spirit uses to create and sustain saving faith, including the knowledge/doctrine/confession dimension of faith. *If* worship includes God’s Word, I would have to conclude that yes, it *does* have an impact on what we believe. I guess the flip-side question would be, Does religious worship activity have an impact on what we believe apart from or beyond God’s Word? Asked another way: do human actions and words which may lack biblical doctrine or which promote false, unbiblical doctrine (within the context of “religious services” also have an impact on what we believe, and if so, is there a biblical basis to say that this is also true? I suspect that many who use the phrase LOLC believe that doing things in a non-biblical manner will have a negative impact on the faith of those participating. And I think that this “fear factor” can rest on either side of the traditional-contemporary debate.

        Concerning the question, “How should I apply the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (assuming that truth is there)?” No, I don’t think I’m assuming that “the phrase can be adapted to mean what we want it to mean.” I am, however, assuming that there may be a particular understanding which is true and can form a common ground for discussion. At the same time, I’m assuming that there may be one or many understandings of LOLC which are *not* true, in whole or in part. Incidently, I don’t believe that the truth in the statement is necessarily found in the originators of the phrase or in any of its current uses (although it certainly may be in either of these). I do believe that if there is a biblical basis for a certain understanding, then that understanding is a true understanding. I’m not sure if, personally, I would say the same thing about the Lutheran Confessions, but if a basis for LOLC is put forward from the Confessions, I would expect to find it in Scripture as well.

        So back to the question, “How should I apply the truth contained in the phrase LOLC (assuming that truth is there)?”–I could restate this as, “How should I apply teachings of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions upon which LOLC is based, if a particular understanding of LOLC is based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions?”

        I think that my desire to identify potential truth contained in the phrase LOLC is related to a belief that Satan’s lies often begin with a grain of truth which is then smeared and twisted with deception. We may need to do a lot of digging and cleaning in order to find the truth that is within. Or maybe it’s not that hard as long as we let go of LOLC as a promotional hammer.

        My early prediction is that we find it to be true (supported by Scripture) that using God’s Word (quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise faithfully expressed) in readings, songs, creeds, and preaching *does* shape our Christian belief, understanding, confession, witness, teaching, and eternal salvation. But I don’t think we’ll find it to be true (supported by Scripture) that other aspects of worship such as musical style, postures, order of service, and so on have a similar impact on our Christian belief, understanding, confession, witness, teaching, and eternal salvation. The question that I’m most interested in exploring is, “Is there a biblical basis for saying that false doctrine in readings, songs, creed, preaching, etc. has a negative impact on our belief, understanding, confession, witness, teaching, and eternal salvation?” I expect the answer to be “yes,” but at this moment I’m not sure how I would support that answer from Scripture.

        Bottom line (for the moment): I look forward to reading your in-depth article with these questions in mind!

        Tim

      • worshipconcord

        These are really interesting thoughts, and I agree with Tim that we should keep them in mind as we explore this question. Would anyone else like to comment or raise questions? I think Tim is on the right track in terms of a practical understanding of lex orandi lex credendi that we can grab onto when he writes:

        My early prediction is that we find it to be true (supported by Scripture) that using God’s Word (quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise faithfully expressed) in readings, songs, creeds, and preaching *does* shape our Christian belief, understanding, confession, witness, teaching, and eternal salvation. But I don’t think we’ll find it to be true (supported by Scripture) that other aspects of worship such as musical style, postures, order of service, and so on have a similar impact on our Christian belief, understanding, confession, witness, teaching, and eternal salvation.

        More comments from our readers? I know this is an important topic, because there are many pastors and lay people out there who accept lex orandi lex credendi as a defining principle for our Lutheran theology of worship. Are we able to work our way through the ambiguities of this principle to arrive at a practical and helpful use of the principle for our Lutheran theology of worship? I’m open to the suggestion. This is important, and I hope we can have this discussion. I look forward to hearing from you.

        Peace, JAW

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  3. I think Tim is on the right track when he writes:

    *If* worship includes God’s Word, I would have to conclude that yes, it *does* have an impact on what we believe. I guess the flip-side question would be, Does religious worship activity have an impact on what we believe apart from or beyond God’s Word?

    Perhaps a good definition of liturgy is also in order for us Lutherans who find it so necessary to define our terms. Many misunderstand liturgy to be either, 1) the form/order of the worship only; or 2) as the work the laity do for God.

    Both of these definitions are inadequate to describe the Divine Service, in which it is the words/works of God to bless His people which are primary.

    Then when we get a handle on what liturgy *is*, we can bring into the mix the difference between theology of glory, and theology of the cross as it pertains to worship.

    • worshipconcord

      Thanks, John, for your contribution. As I appreciate everyone who has and continues to participate, I also appreciate new voices in the discussion.

      The request to define “liturgy” seems to be a recurring theme, even since the first post. This is something that deserves its own article on the WorshipConcord Journal page. Let me think about how this can be included in the schedule of forthcoming articles. It would probably work well for this September.

      What we have been doing here at WorshipConcord, as you have probably already noticed, is to clearly define our assumptions and our methodology for having this discussion about worship in the Lutheran Church. And I hope the contributions so far have been helpful to this end.

      So to address John’s question, let me just say briefly now, that the term “liturgy” is typically used in today’s context in terms of the entire order of service, from the hymn of invocation to the Holy Spirit and trinitarian invocation (the in nomine) at the beginning of the service to the Aaronic benediction at the end, all the chants, versicles, responses, canticles, movements, etc., all of it. This is typically referrred to as “the liturgy.”

      The Lutheran Confessions explicitly define the term “liturgy” in terms of the Gospel and the sacraments (echoing the definition of the church in AC VII). Melanchthon provides this definition at Apology XXIV.78-83.

      I will dedicate an entire article to this. I have written on it elsewhere, so most of the preparation for writing an article has already been done. It does deserve a fuller treatment, for the sake of the discussion here at WorshipConcord. So watch for it. It’s on the way.

      In the mean time, we will continue the June, July, and August WorshipConcord Journal schedule, because we want to complete what we view to be a series of articles addressing the basic methodological concerns in the worship discussion today.

      By way of reflecting on what the articles have covered so far . . .

      March: “Open to the Persuasion of Others”
      April: “Being Clear about our Methodology, Part-1”
      May: “Being Clear about Our Methodology, Part-2”

      Forthcoming articles in the schedule . . .

      June: “Singing the Gospel”
      July: “Rejoicing in the Sacraments: Meeting the Risen Jesus”
      August: “Integrating Our Worship Forms with the Gospel and the Sacraments”

      You can see how the schedule deals with what we think is the necessary groundwork for having a discussion about worship, with the intention of taking a long view for the discussion. The Gospel and the sacraments are the defining elements of liturgy (or worship) according to the Lutheran Confessions. This is why we have scheduled articles about the Gospel (June), the sacraments (July), and the necessity to integrate our worship forms with these elements of our worship that are given by God.

      September will be a good time to pull back and reflect on what we’ve covered so far and, making every effort to lay aside personal opinions, develop a more detailed definition of liturgy based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

      Peace, JAW

  4. Looking forward to these future topics!

  5. Regarding LOLC and “orthodox form”, my studies in liturgy and worship, while not as broad as yours, have convinced me that liturgy has been birthed in a variety of cultures at a variety of times in the church. E.g. Coptic liturgy, the Jerusalem liturgy, etc. These forms of liturgy seemed to provide a pedagogical and organizational service to God’s people that answered two questions: How shall we proceed when we gather? And, How will we faithfully proclaim and rehearse the incarnational truths about salvation? Undoubtedly, this continues to serve a good purpose. Spiritual amnesia comes quickly [“so you brought us out to the desert to kill us, right?!”] and the days are evil. Liturgy is a valuable reminder of what is true, and then forms a platform from which we experience salvation in real time through word and sacrament.

    However, to point to one unified historical liturgy doesn’t seem to me to be possible. Liturgy grew from real people at real times in history who were striving to be faithful to scripture: many divergent streams flow into this river. I have concluded that there are some universal aspects that should always be part of our worship, but that a rote subscription to what I increasingly believe to be the myth of a “historical liturgy” is not necessarily healthy. It can be a form of legalism that dilutes our worship by shifting focus to “correctness”. I favor indigenous liturgies that grow out of a congregation—or perhaps out of a region—and believe this to be closer to how liturgy developed in the early church.

    For myself, I started out as a professional worship leader deep into CCM, and became disillusioned with the whole worship industry. I abandoned this, delved deep into liturgy, and hung out there for a few years. I have recently emerged! I am reclaiming my wonderful acoustic guitars, have begun songwriting again, and am playing concerts that mix contemporary and classic forms of worship music. I hope that somehow I can maintain a balance that encourages Lutheran Christians to celebrate our heritage and our future simultaneously.

    • worshipconcord

      Greg shares several important points and he brings an important perspective to this discussion. In some ways he and I have similar experiences. Most of my life I have worshiped in the basic forms we have in our hymnals (so not the contemporary experiene Greg had). In the late 1980s, during my theological training for the ministry, I became aware of the contemporary worship issue, and like Greg embraced historic liturgical forms exclusively. After studying the issue for several years now, I have come to a place where I realize that our Lutheran theology of worship allows us to appreciate both, with a careful theological critique of both.

      I look forward to reading more of Greg’s contributions to our discussion, and the contributions of our other readers who have similar experiences or who have questions about how it is in fact possible to arrive at a place like this on worship and still be Lutheran, orthodox, and confessional, all at the same time. 😀

      Peace
      JAW

  6. I don’t think we have the correct understanding of *liturgy* in this discussion. Thus far, it would appear that the false assumption is being asserted that the liturgy is a creation of people. It is not.
    Liturgy, in true confessional Lutheran understanding is of God. It is His words & His works to bless & benefit His people.
    The whole conversation of “How shall we…” seems to be quite off the mark. Various orders of worship come from such 1st-person questions.

    But the liturgy comes from 3rd-person questions about God. “Why has God gathered us here today?” “What does God want to say to us?” “What does God desire to do for us here and now?”

    In this sense there are indeed aspects of the liturgy which are historic, timeless, and reflect the changeless God, Who is the same today, yesterday, and forever. I direct our attention to Al Barry’s *The Unchanging Feast* for further perusal.

    If this remains a blog discussion on our ideas, our experiences, and our particular preferences with respect to worship, it probably won’t be very fruitful. But if anyone is interested in seeking, by faith, God’s revealed/unchanging will to bless His people of all times & all places with forgiveness, life & salvation, it will be a very fruitful undertaking.

    • worshipconcord

      I appreciate John’s comments. They help us clarify precisely what are the issues and the underlying assumptions. Let me quote Hermann Sasse.

      We Lutherans know nothing of liturgy that is prescribed by God’s Word. We know that the church has freedom to order its ceremonies and that it can therefore preserve the liturgical heritage of Christendom, as long as it is consitent with the Gospel. Indeed, our church in the Reformation placed the greatest value on preserving as much as possible this heritage that binds us with the fathers. But these ceremonies do not belong to the essence of the church or to the true unity of the church, as Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession and Article 10 of the Forumula of Concord teach. (“The Lutheran Understanding of the Consecration, Letters to Lutheran Pastors, No. 26, July 1952,” We Confess the Sacraments, 117)

      There are so many layers of assumptions in John’s comment that it will take some time to address all of them, so I’m not sure if I will succeed in this brief reply. First, I have already addressed the issue of defining liturgy as the Lutheran Confessions define liturgy. This appears at Apology XXIV.78-83. This need not be discussed further, unless there is still confusion about it. Here the term “liturgy” is defined very narrowly, in specific terms referring only to the Gospel and the sacraments, reflecting the definition of the church in AC VII. There is certainly a broader use of the term “liturgy” in theological discussions today, but that is not the confessional definition. I think this is once source of so much confusion.

      When we speak of a liturgy that is given by God, this can only apply to the confessional definition of liturgy, the Gospel and the sacraments. It does not apply (at least confessionally speaking) to everything else that John is referring to.

      So we need to be clear about what makes a discussion like this fruitful. It is when we keep it focused on the only sources that we agree upon as a church to be authoritative for our theology, Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, and not personal opinions about worship, or points of view that are not based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. That’s what the April and May articles on the WorshipConcord Journal page are all about. If there are still questions about our methodology, I am happy to continue to have that discussion as well.

      And I want to reiterate, the test of whether this discussion is bearing or will bear fruit, is whether we stay focused on the authoritative sources for shaping our understanding of worshiping as Lutherans.

      Peace
      JAW

  7. James has asked me to post the follow-up to my post above. We’ve been enjoying a rich dialog via email.

    I am an odd duck, to be sure. Because I’m not wildly polarized in the worship discussion, there have been times when both sides get mad at me! On the one hand I have seen people get excited about singing music that has a great groove to it, but compromised theological content. I went through the early Vineyard years where the lyrical focus was how we feel about Jesus. I’ve witnessed WL’s get people pumped with pretentious musicianship, and people mistake the presence of God for a 20,000 watt sound system that pushes so much air that the music is physically felt. I’ve seen attempts at worship that have been nothing more than the prophets of Baal dancing and cutting themselves in hope that their god will show up. On the other hand, I’ve seen worship teams who have been deeply conscious of their task to become transparent—who daily wrestle with the tension between performance and leadership. I’ve known people who don’t use their congregations as a launching pad for the next cd, and who are steeped in fervent prayer and study of the scriptures…who want to become nothing so that Jesus will be seen clearly. They choose their songs because of theological depth, and celebrate the creeds and great hymns of the church. They respect and cherish the liturgical mile-markers that give our worship form and substance.

    The view that if we all sang the same liturgy we would unite our synod is somewhat short-sighted in my opinion. It points to an issue I see regularly: confusing form with content. This is a difficult issue because we have tied Christ crucified and risen to our form–and the historical liturgy DOES faithfully proclaim this! We need to zealously protect the message. However, the form or “container” for the message can be different: providing it does not contradict or speak louder than the message.

    We have a lot of theologians who dislike the musical form and have made blanket statements that form and content are inseparable. The sainted Kurt Marquart maintained that “the medium is the message…” I just can’t make that leap in logic in a universal sense. It’s certainly true when we mistake 20,000 watts for God, but does it mean that all music with a beat is bad? If you want to talk about a toe-tapper, listen to Franzmann’s “Thy Strong Word” and notice the down beat!

    To be sure, I have seen a lot of what passes as “contemporary worship” within our synod that has been a tragic sell-out in the name of “relevence”. The problem isn’t necessarily the form, but the failure to think theologically around a scriptural-confessional-sacramental epicenter.

    • worshipconcord

      Thanks, Greg, for your constructive and helpful comments. You demonstrate that you are not interested in making your experience normative for everyone else reading this thread. Your concern is theological. I think that is something that we all share, a theological concern for worship in Lutheran congregations. We can stand on that.

      Your quote of Brother Marquart makes me want to highlight a footnote in the second article on lex orandi lex credendi I posted. Marquart wrote against lex orandi lex credendi as an inadequate substitute for the biblical and confessional sola scriptura principle.

      Peace
      JAW

  8. James,

    Kudos. Well done. I hope you don’t mind that I’m linking this page on my blog.

  9. With all due respect, Pastor James, your translation of the Latin phrase “ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi” which reads ” “. . . how the command to make supplication (lex supplicandi) forms the basis of right believing (legem credendi)” simply does not hold up to linguistic scrutiny. I am going to assume that you have some training in the Latin language, but the “ut” clause here is clearly a result clause which answers the question “why?” and not the question “how?” as you make it out to be. If Prosper wished to have said “how” he would have used an indirect question beginning with the interrogative “quomodo” or something similar. You have to throw out a lot of basic Latin grammar rules to read the statement how you wish.

    • Thanks for your comment, Christopher. I have a B.A. and an M.A. in Classical Latin from the University of Nebraska and Washington University Classics Departments, and several years of use of the language, including teaching it. Quomodo is only one way to say “how” in Latin. As I point out in detail in a footnote (in the longer version linked above), according to the lexical entry for “ut” in the Oxford Latin Dictionary, “ut” was indeed used to express the indirect question “how.”

      You have to throw out a lot of basic Latin grammar rules to read the statement how you wish.

      Actually, you have to dig much deeper in the grammars and the dictionaries for a more complete understanding of the uses of “ut” beyond just a result or a purpose clause. The phrase makes no sense as a result clause in its context.

      With all due respect . . .

      And thanks for the respectful comment.

      JAW

    • Let me cut and paste the footnote from the other article I mentioned in my previous reply to Christopher. It explains in detail my reasons for translating the phrase the way I’ve translated it.

      The above translation of ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi is based on the lexical entry #8 for lex in Oxford Latin Dictionary, P.G.W. Clark, ed. (New York: Oxford, 1992), the context, and De Clerck’s analysis. Prosper’s use of ut as a purpose or a result clause makes no sense in the context, but it does make sense as an indirect interrogative adverb as it is translated here. This interpretation suggests that Prosper was giving his reader a glimpse at what can be expected upon examination of “the sacraments of the priestly rites,” i.e., he was laying out the premise for what the careful reader will find upon examining “the priestly rites.” It may also function as a circumstantial particle: “Let us consider also the sacraments of the priestly rites . . . as the command to make supplication forms the basis of right believing.” Prosper’s use of ut may also function as a qualifying relative adverbial, “. . . taking into consideration that the command to make supplication forms the basis of right believing.” This interpretation suggests that Prosper was limiting the method by which the reader was to make his examination of “the sacraments of the priestly rites,” by holding to the clearly stated assumption. All of these uses of ut are so close in meaning as to be virtually indistinguishable. Again, the use of ut for purpose or result, as it is typically translated, makes no sense in its context.

      Prosper’s phrase, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, can only mean something else if you ignore the entire context that I have tried to outline above.

      JAW

  10. James,

    I found it rather a fascinating post, because as I have studied the fathers I have NEVER come across anything close to this appeal to the liturgy; rather they labor to demonstrate their doctrine from the Sacred Scriptures. The liturgy is cited occasionally, but almost as in passing. I don’t know if you’re familiar with St. Basil’s *On the Holy Spirit* but that’s a classic instance. An exhaustive study of prepositions begins the work! And he does mention in passing “Joyous Light” not to establish his teaching but to show that his teaching wasn’t novel since it was also present in that ancient hymn.

    Of course, I do believe that there is a phenomenon called the historic liturgy – an ordered action – which has a long and strong history of local variations and expressions, but all within the same ordered action. And this ordered action seems to exist in two cycles: the Eucharistic and the Daily Prayer cycle.

    Well, in any case, I think you’ve laid down a reading of Prosper that makes sense. I’m no classicist and will have to rely upon you and others that the “ut” can be read that way. It makes sense of the context, though. It really does. And it would be so utterly patristic minded to be more concerned about the act of praying than about the text of some sacrosanct prayer.

    Pax!

  11. Thanks, Will, for your comments. I agree with you regarding the fathers’ use of holy Scripture. They use holy Scripture extensively. That’s one of the points I make elsewhere about Prosper’s De vocatione omnium gentium in relation to the lex orandi lex credendi question. And Basil is a real treat to try to figure out. He relies on both Scripture and traditions that have been crafted on the basis of creedal confession. The tightrope I seem to walk is that, while I love historic liturgical traditions, the sources seem to leave room for more. The question is, how do we remain faithful to Christ and his grace in the Gospel as we explore this room for more? I also think there is a legit way to understand lex orandi lex credendi, but the way it’s used in the discussions today ignores that Prosper didn’t write it, and runs with all kinds of ambiguities.

    JAW

  12. James,
    I’m the layman who started the minor kerfuffle at the BJS site (http://steadfastlutherans.org/blog/?p=6058). I’m still struggling with this and continue to talk to my pastor. I still find that the trappings of CW worship, praise bands up front, amplification, screens, etc., problematic to our understanding that the divine service is centered on God dispensing His gifts and us coming with nothing but our sin.

    One question I have is related to the correct and incorrect uses of lex orandi lex credendi. You point out the two incorrect uses, so I assume the correct use is, “It is used to express the assumption that the church’s lex orandi is a reflection of the church’s lex credendi, in other words, the way a church prays reflects what a church believes,” correct? This still seems to say to me that if you have 2 services praying in different ways, you will have 2 different beliefs. Whether the way of prayer lead to a different belief or the different belief lead to a different prayer would seem immaterial.

    This seems to beg the question, “What constitutes different prayer?” If you have the five-fold structure of the historic liturgy, but don’t use any of the Ordinaries or Propers are you still praying the same? If you throw in some CCLI songs does that push you over the edge? Where is the line?

  13. Good to see you here, Brian. I read through the thread you linked to on the Brother John the Steadfast blog. I have to commend you for your courage to share your questions and ideas. Such waters seethe with anger and reason that has been clouded by emotion.

    One of the goals of WorshipConcord is to foster respect for those who have differing views on worship. This is possible only if we are committed to treating each other with respect. So you are welcome here.

    I’m still struggling with this and continue to talk to my pastor.

    First of all, this is good. Keep that line of communication open. Your pastor is God’s servant to administer God’s grace to you in Word and Sacrament. Love him. Support him. Listen to him. Talk to him. As I hope he also loves, supports, listens, and talks to you as well.

    I still find that the trappings of CW worship, praise bands up front, amplification, screens, etc., problematic to our understanding that the divine service is centered on God dispensing His gifts and us coming with nothing but our sin.

    I have some of the same concerns. I have less of a concern with amplification and screens. More of a concern about the musicians lining up in front of the congregation. I recall from the thread you linked to that the band in your church doesn’t do this. I have seen the praise band arranged in the back of the church. The musicians are aware of the issue, and they in no way desire to put themselves in the way of the Gospel.

    As I said, I have less of a problem with amplification and projection. Why shouldn’t we make use of the technology available to us? The danger is that the amplification can be turned into a distraction if it is not done with care for the worship space and the people occupying that space. If it is too loud, it distracts the worshiper from hearing the Gospel. If it is too soft, what’s the point in having it anyway? You have to know the space. Amplification may not be needed at all. I find singers singing into a microphone in front of the church a bit distracting, and a bit too much like entertainment. There is certainly something like a Divine Drama that takes place through the presentation of the church’s liturgy. But that’s not to be understood in terms of a rock concert or the like.

    The church’s worship is more like an intimate conversation that takes place between the Bridegroom and his bride. Through the words of the invocation the Bridegroom invites us into this conversation with his grace; it is a reminder of his baptismal gift to us. With the confidence of this grace, the bride confesses her sins, fully trusting that the relationship between them, though strained by sin, is always grounded in this grace. And so on. The church’s liturgy is a sort of dialogue in this way.

    If we are only imitating American Evangelical contemporary worship, then we fail to understand this rhythm of the church’s worship. American Evangelical theology of worship is to see it as an exercise in human praise to God. And that kind of praise is only as authentic as the feeling it generates inside me.

    This is why we are suspicious of Evangelical CW. It isn’t about the forgiveness of sin as you allude to. Biblical, confessional worship is centered in the forgiveness of sins in the death and resurrection of Christ. This is delivered through the purity of the Gospel and the sacraments administered in accordance with the Word of God.

    Let me try to answer your question about lex orandi lex credendi and having “different prayer” by referring to Luther’s reform of the liturgy in 1523 and 1526. In 1523 Luther made a rather conservative reform of the medieval liturgy by removing those parts of the liturgy that either did not proclaim the Gospel clearly or actually worked against the proclamation of the Gospel. He called it the Latin Mass. He retained much of the order in the way of its structure, but he made sure that the Gospel (justification) was clearly proclaimed.

    In 1526 Luther further reformed Wittenberg’s liturgy by crafting his German Mass. While there are similarities in the basic structure, Word and Meal, for example, Luther removed most of the Ordinaries and Propers from the German Mass. You can see a side-by-side comparison of these two services here.

    http://luthersliturgicalreforms.wordpress.com/

    When Martin Chemnitz reformed the liturgy for the Braunschweig Woelfenbuettel Duchy in the 1560s, the order he prepared for these territorial churches was almost identical to Luther’s German Mass. At this time some churches followed Luther’s Latin Mass, while others followed Luther’s German Mass (fewer ordinaries and propers).

    I would not advocate just a facile imitation of Luther’s German Mass for today. But I think it would be a good idea for us to take a look at Luther’s rationale and his principles for reforming the liturgy in Wittenberg, and whether he was at all interested in using this as a template for all Lutheran churches in Germany to follow suit. He was not.

    So, “Where is the line?” I don’t think it’s possible for any one person to state definitively where the line is for all churches. This needs to be part of the conversation we’ve talked about.

    Peace
    James

  14. Pastor Waddell (sorry I didn’t realize earlier),
    Thank you for the response. Here are some further thoughts.

    – I have less of a concern with amplification and screens.
    Several people who defend the innovations (sorry I don’t have a PC word for it) have said the same thing. Why is amplification not a concern. It sets the praise band apart and our understanding is that worship is a corporate action with none set aside from the other. The praise band is a much different entity than a choir. A choir may sing separate stanzas and such but it can be understood as parts making up a whole where as the praise brand never fades into the congregation. And screens. Please give me a reasoned defense of how they do not detract from the altar, pulpit, and font that deliver Gospel around which we are gathered. If they obscure the Gospel then it is quite obvious that they should be done away with.

    You say it yourself, “I have some of the same concerns.” Then I ask why introduce practices that cause concern?

    Thank you also for the link to the German Mass along side the Latin Mass. It was very interesting to see this reformed Mass. However, what I believe was missing was that this reform was in the context of a day long “divine service” with Matins, the German Mass, and Vespers (at least that’s what I gathered from the 1526 “The German Mass and Order of Divine Service” I found online). I don’t pretend to know Luther’s mind, but I doubt he would have acceded to the German Mass as the order of service if it weren’t set between Matins and Vespers. I would ask that you consider updating http://luthersliturgicalreforms.wordpress.com/to inform the reader that the minimal German Mass was not the same as our American understanding of the divine service as the only service of the day and that the German Mass would take place between Matins and Vespers.

    Regards,
    Brian Yamabe

    • Pastor Waddell (sorry I didn’t realize earlier).

      That’s quite alright, Brian. Since we’ve never met, how could you have known?! It’s nice to see you here, asking important questions and helping us all to understand better what it means to worship together as Lutheran Christians. (And especially what the lex orandi lex credendi phrase means, which is the original intent of this thread.)

      Quoting you quoting me:

      – I have less of a concern with amplification and screens.
      Several people who defend the innovations (sorry I don’t have a PC word for it) have said the same thing. Why is amplification not a concern. It sets the praise band apart and our understanding is that worship is a corporate action with none set aside from the other. The praise band is a much different entity than a choir.

      As far as amplification is concerned, amplification in and of itself is not wrong within the worship space. Jesus used natural amplification when he taught the crowds of people from a boat on the Lake of Galilee. Amplification boards are sometimes used in worship spaces to project sound. And of course electronic amplification is used in pulpits, at lecterns, and attached to the pastor’s alb or stole without giving it a second thought. It seems to me that it’s more an issue of how amplification is used, and the danger of amplification becoming a distraction rather than a tool.

      And there are certainly differences between the praise band and the choir. But there are also similarities. You might want to elaborate on what you see the differences to be. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But what I see the similarities to be are these: they both serve God and the congregation with the blessing of music; and they both serve the congregation in the way they lead (and instruct for) the singing of hymns and songs.

      It sets the praise band apart and our understanding is that worship is a corporate action with none set aside from the other.

      You might want to elaborate on this; I’m not sure what exactly you mean. The choir is set apart from the congregation by a location that is set aside for them to use, whether in front of the congregation or to the side or in the back. The choir also sometimes uses choir robes. This also sets them apart from the congregation. The pastor is set apart from the congregation by his called and ordained role, as well as by the vestments he wears. So I’m not sure what the point is you’re trying to make. You might give me more to chew on. If the praise band is presented in such a way that they are entertainers rather than servants of the Gospel leading the congregation’s music, then this is a problem that should be corrected. Does it necessarily have to be “done away with” entirely as you suggest? I think over correction does a disservice to the congregation. Why not take it as an opportunity to teach the congregation about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for the praise band?

      And screens. Please give me a reasoned defense of how they do not detract from the altar, pulpit, and font that deliver Gospel around which we are gathered. If they obscure the Gospel then it is quite obvious that they should be done away with.

      You say it yourself, “I have some of the same concerns.” Then I ask why introduce practices that cause concern?

      The assumption in your question is that every use of screens obscures the Gospel, therefore screens must never be used. Again, I ask the question, is it not possible to use images on screens in such a way that it serves the Gospel and does not distract from the Gospel?

      In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, I think the use of scrolling words on a screen can be a distraction. Not necessarily, but it can be. My preference is to use a regular order, whether the services in the hymnal or some other order that has been carefully researched according to the non-negotiables of our Lutheran identity in the Gospel and the sacraments. And use the same order(s) every week. This would allow the people to sing and speak the order from their hearts and free them to look at images projected on the screen, images that could be selected to illustrate the readings and/or the sermon. This has been done for millennia, through painting, sculpture, symbols, stained glass, vestments and paraments, etc. Why should new technology be excluded from the service of the Gospel simply because it is new?

      Peace
      James . . . Pastor Waddell : D

      • worshipconcord

        Thank you also for the link to the German Mass along side the Latin Mass. It was very interesting to see this reformed Mass. However, what I believe was missing was that this reform was in the context of a day long “divine service” with Matins, the German Mass, and Vespers (at least that’s what I gathered from the 1526 “The German Mass and Order of Divine Service” I found online). I don’t pretend to know Luther’s mind, but I doubt he would have acceded to the German Mass as the order of service if it weren’t set between Matins and Vespers. I would ask that you consider updating http://luthersliturgicalreforms.wordpress.com/to inform the reader that the minimal German Mass was not the same as our American understanding of the divine service as the only service of the day and that the German Mass would take place between Matins and Vespers.

        If you look at Luther’s Latin Mass, you will find reference to Matins and Vespers there as well. You can only insist that Matins and Vespers complete the German Mass if you view the German mass as a deficient order requiring this sort of supplement. If you read Luther’s explanation in his German Mass, he retained the use of Matins and Vespers because they were good orders that served the purpose of teaching the Gospel to the young. A 6:00 a.m. Matins provided the opportunity for a sermon on the Epistle. An 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. German Mass provided the opportunity for a sermon on the Gospel. An afternoon Vespers provided the opportunity for a sermon on the Old Testament reading. Luther was describing the practice in Wittenberg. He was not prescribing the same practice everywhere. And again, you can only take this prescriptively if you view the German Mass as a defective service in and of itself.

        The volumes of Emil Sehling which contain the Lutheran church orders from the sixteenth century show that German churches throughout Germany after the Reformation chose either to order their worship along the lines of the Latin Mass or the German Mass. In other words, some communities appreciated one way of worshiping more than the other.

        When Martin Chemnitz as superintendent of the Braunschweig Woelfenbuettel Duchy reformed the worship of the congregations within the ducy in the 1560s, the order he prepared was almost identical to the German Mass. I don’t recall seeing a requirement for Matins and Vespers along with this order on Sundays.

        At any rate, the question is, are certain statements in the Confessions and the writings of the Reformers to be taken prescriptively or descriptively? There are certainly prescriptive statements that are matters of confession. But there are also descriptive statements in these documents that are used in the discussion to require things that Luther and the reformers never intended to be required.

        Peace
        James

      • Thanks for the challenge to clarify.

        I have no qualms about amplification of the Gospel whether spoken by Christ or the pastor in his stead.

        The praise band by its very nature is a vehicle for performance. What band does not perform? To say that a praise band leads and instructs the congregation in the songs elevates them too much. Honestly, what CCLI song is so complicated that a bouncing ball on the screen couldn’t lead the congregation.

        As for the differences, one separates itself visibly and with instrumentation that the congregation does not have. The other attempts to keep itself in the shadows and integrate itself with the congregation.

        One thing I don’t understand, is the desire to teach about these innovations and yet the desire to remove those things which teach the Gospel.

        My problem with the praise band in corporate singing is, again, they are by nature a performance group. They are distinguishable from the congregation as a separate entity. The choir may wear robes, but they wear the same thing as to not draw attention to themselves, but the coming of the Gospel. Just curious, have you ever seen a praise band that wore the same clothes such that they blended into the service. I have not.

        I am a software developer so I have no problem with trying to use technology in service of the Gospel. But as a technologist, I understand that it is far too easy for the technology to obscure or distort the message. What Gospel images on a screen do is leave the impression that the Gospel is transitory. The screen itself brings baggage from our everyday experience with it (Hey didn’t I see that same image when I was watching YouTube. YouTube… wonder if there are any new kitten videos). It is an individual experience in a shared environment. Once again distracting us from our understanding that the congregation together is the body of Christ.

        Hey, I realize that my arguments aren’t strong enough to move someone off their position, but they are strong enough that I’ve yet to read an argument that can convince that the benefits these innovations give outweigh the problems they introduce. And when I have to explain to my daughters the robes or location of the choir, I know my answer will focus on Christ. I also won’t have to explain why they can’t bring their drums into church and that Sponge Bob won’t be coming on the TV.

      • worshipconcord

        With all due respect, Brian, and I do respect your point of view, I think the way you argue it caricatures those who are conscious of the problems you raise.

        The screen itself brings baggage from our everyday experience with it (Hey didn’t I see that same image when I was watching YouTube. YouTube… wonder if there are any new kitten videos).

        I also won’t have to explain why they can’t bring their drums into church and that Sponge Bob won’t be coming on the TV.

        The issue of decorum and the avoidance of frivolity is very much on the minds of those who are conscious of the problems and seek to avoid these in contemporary services, just as we must seek to avoid such problems in traditional services. The abuse of contemporary forms does not nullify the use of contemporary forms in worship. If we accept this logic, then the abuse of traditional forms must lead us to reject the use of all traditional forms.

        You are certainly free to have your opinion about contemporary forms. The difference between us, if I may conjecture it based on our conversation so far, is that you seem not to be open to allowing a different form of worship for those who appreciate a different form of worship from the worship you appreciate. There are some who are making a concerted effort to use first article gifts in ways that do not fit “a traditional pattern,” as Peter Brunner called it. They also are making a concerted effort to proclaimm the Gospel in its truth and purity and administer the sacraments in accordance with the Word of God. Luther and his evangelical colleagues were open to the kind of change in local contexts that changing times and circumstances would bring. I don’t think it’s possible to defend the notion that worshiping only with a pipe organ in the shadows is more pleasing to God than using a drum. Psalm 150 (which is expressed in the context of praising God “in his sanctuary”).

  15. Pastor Waddell,
    Please forgive the short tone of my previous comment. When I wrote it, I was feeling slightly deceived. Please let me explain. When I asked if the Ordinaries and Propers could be removed from the divine service and still be the “same prayer” you pointed me to a page that compared Luther’s Latin Mass with his German Mass. This swayed me to consider that their removal might not be such a big deal. But I didn’t understand how Luther arrived at this minimalist mass, so I went and looked up Luther’s discussion on the German Mass. Besides finding helpful notes on the limits of the freedom in the order of service and on the service as a teaching device, I found that the German Mass was set between Matins and Vespers as I mentioned in my previous comment. So my previous lean to accept a divine service without Ordinaries and Propers was based on an incomplete comparison of the two divine services. Matins-German Mass-Vespers vs. Matins-Latin Mass-Vespers is a different comparison then German Mass alone vs. Latin Mass alone. Why are they different comparisons , well the amount of scripture and teaching you get in what we would consider 3 services would allow for some minimization in the mass. However, removing the bookend services changes the amount of scripture and teaching. As the postmoderns are apt to say, “context is key.” I don’t see how the changes introduced in the German Mass can be divorced from this understanding.

    So it was my bruised ego over being swayed to consider a position without grasping the entire picture that caused my short tone, and once again, I apologize.

    Regards,
    Brian Yamabe

  16. No at all, Brian. I appreciate you bringing the context of Matins and Vespers to the discussion. As I intimate in my immediatley preceding comment, my own comparison of the Latin Mass and the German Mass relies on the broader context of Lutheran churches in the sixteenth century choosing to follow either the order of Luther’s Latin Mass or the order of Luther’s German Mass. The context of Matins and Vespers “bookending” the German Mass as far as I know is peculiar to Wittenberg, where Luther sought to use these services for a specific catechetical reason. This is clear from what Luther wrote in his explanation of his German Mass. And again, he did not write this as a prescriptive approach for all to follow. He makes that absolutely clear in his opening statements of his German Mass.

  17. Of course, in the Church Orders neither Latin Mass nor German Mass of Luther were followed exactly. Something more akin to German Mass appears for country churches; something more akin to Latin Mass appears for city churches. All presuppose at least Vespers on the Saturday before with Confession and Absolution. Most also include Matins and Vespers on Sunday as well.

    • Thanks for this. Context is indispensable. I read the Sehling volumes several years ago, and I don’t have easy access to them.

      I still think it is reasonable to ask why they did this. Was it because they viewed the German Mass as a deficient service or something inferior to the Latin Mass? It seems to me the inclusion of Matins and Vespers as Luther described this in the German Mass, was based on current practice and the recognition that Matins and Vespers could be used to serve the greater goal to get more Word/Gospel into the ears and consequently into the hearts.

      Imagine implementing such a schedule in today’s context! 6:00 a.m. Matins. 8:00 a.m. Divine Service (along the order of the German Mass or something like it). And an afternoon Vespers.

      JAW

      • Maybe consider that neither mass was superior, but that neither could be removed from its context which included Matins, Confession and Absolution, and Vespers. My clue to this would be that neither mass included Confession and Absolution.

  18. P.S. Chief difference between city/country churches was presence/absence of the choir of school boys to lead the singing. In the country churches this was taken over by the parish clerk.

  19. Pastor Weedon,
    Thank you for the clarifications. I did wonder where Confession and Absolution were in both the Latin and German Masses. I forgot about the prominence of individual Confession and Absolution.

    Regards,
    Brian Yamabe

  20. Actually, I’d love to see such a schedule implemented with some time adjustments. I think our parishes suffer because we’ve done a fairly decent job of getting the Eucharistic life back to the center where it belongs, but the life of prayer has been left behind. The daily office needs to be restored in large part among us. My ideal (yes, I know ideals are dangerous) would be to have Vespers on Saturday with opportunity for confession afterwards, Matins early on Sunday a.m. with no sermon, then roll right into the Divine Service. And Catechism Vespers in the afternoon.

    At St. Paul’s we instead have the Divine Service offered Sat. night, and twice Sunday morning, and then Catechism Vespers from Labor Day through Easter on Sunday afternoon.

  21. Maybe consider that neither mass was superior, but that neither could be removed from its context which included Matins, Confession and Absolution, and Vespers. My clue to this would be that neither mass included Confession and Absolution.

    Actually, I’d love to see such a schedule implemented with some time adjustments.

    These are good and salutary desires. I love chanting Matins and Vespers. I also love chanting the Divine Service (in its various incarnations). The realization of Matins and Vespers along with the Divine Service on Sunday depends in large part on local circumstances and the desire of the local congregation to do such things. I still think the use of Matins and Vespers from Luther’s perspective was pressed into the service of teaching the Word to the people in the Wittenberg context. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways.

    Do you have an opinion about Luther’s “third kind of service,” as he describes it in his German Mass? Here’s a small quote related to this (at the risk of missing something in the context, which is why we discuss together with cordiality).

    But those who want to be Christians in earnest and who profess the gospel with hand and mouth should sign their names and meet alone in a house somewhere to pray, to read, to baptize, to receive the sacrament, and to do other Christian works.

  22. (Ran out of replies)

    Sorry, pastor, but I was not attempting to caricature those who are conscious of those concerns as these are very nearly the positions of my pastor whom I respect and would never caricature. My drum and Sponge Bob examples, while not true life examples are very close. My 2 year old does scream “start it” at every video screen she sees and similarly wanted her guitar when she saw those in the praise band. So no, these have not happened but these concerns never arise in the traditional service. What these things do is introduce elements which she is familiar with outside of church and she brings those understandings with her. What I’m saying is that you should consider how this applies to all members of our congregations. The adults may be better at hiding it, but they are under the same influences.

    As I have said elsewhere, I really don’t care about the style of music surrounding the proclamation of the Gospel. I will say it here, if there were a guitar lead DS3 I would have no arguments. What I’m missing from your side of the argument is what exactly is this different form and what are the benefits beyond “people don’t understand the old forms.” Then why don’t you teach them what the old forms mean. I mean the new forms, as we’ve discussed, require explanation as well. And if you prefer to teach the new form over the old then isn’t it just your preference for the new over the old.

    BTW, my preference for the old forms is rooted in personal experience (http://yamabe.net/2009/06/26/why-the-historic-liturgy-and-issues-etc-means-so-much-to-me/). The old forms were drilled into me at a Lutheran day school. Because of them, as I wandered through American Evangelicalism, I was able to recognize how hollow their worship was. If you can convince me that these new forms provide the same safe guards when they try to parallel Evangelical forms, please have at it.

  23. Sorry, pastor, but I was not attempting to caricature those who are conscious of those concerns as these are very nearly the positions of my pastor whom I respect and would never caricature.

    That’s good, Brian, because the point is not to persuade you to appreciate contemporary worship. The point is to foster understanding and respect for each other.

    The old forms were drilled into me at a Lutheran day school. Because of them, as I wandered through American Evangelicalism, I was able to recognize how hollow their worship was.

    Good, and you understand that not everyone who worships in Lutheran congregations has such a background. You also must understand that not all contemporary worship is as hollow as American Evangelical contemporary worship. As I have written elsewhere, if we imitate American Evangelical contemporary forms uncritically, then of course we are going to have problems. But not all contemporary worship in Lutheran congregations can be characterized this way. That’s what WorshipConcord is an effort to support.

    So in reality I think we are closer than appears on the surface. If there is an effort to persuade it is first of all to persuade each other to respect those who have differing points of view on worship, and then to have a quiet, thoughtful discussion (not a shrill attacking of the “opponent” as on other blogs) about what the Confessions say are necessary for the unity and identity of the church (Augsburg Confession VII).

    • I respect people who hold a differing view on worship, I would just ask that they would do something more than ask for understanding of that point of view. I have asked repeatedly and I ask again will someone please extol the virtues of the new forms. You asked this about Latin vs. German Masses. What is the deficiency of the historic liturgy that it needs modification? My whole point in writing the BJS article was to get someone with a differing view point to actually make theological assertions as to the benefits of the new forms and assertions as to where the old forms fail.

      You’re right that most Lutherans don’t have my background, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t benefit from my experience. Our contemporary service, which is as substantive as a contemporary service can be in my opinion, is filled with too many life long Lutherans who are fascinated by the bright lights and emotionalism of Evangelicalism and don’t understand the severity of the problems they are exposing themselves to (I might even put my pastor in this category). Even if properly explained, the forms make it too easy to feel comfortable in Evangelical worship.

  24. I have asked repeatedly and I ask again will someone please extol the virtues of the new forms. You asked this about Latin vs. German Masses. What is the deficiency of the historic liturgy that it needs modification? My whole point in writing the BJS article was to get someone with a differing view point to actually make theological assertions as to the benefits of the new forms and assertions as to where the old forms fail.

    Okay, let’s see if we can chisel through this. Framing the question in terms of the old forms failing and the new forms working strikes me as being off the point. As I alluded in my previous comment, the Lutheran Confessions, Luther, Melanchthon, and their confessing evangelical colleagues leave room for changing humanly instituted rites and ceremonies as changing times and circumstances warrant. It does not hold to “a certain form in set words” as Martin Chemnitz wrote against. But in several places in their writings, they acknowledge that times and circumstances may change. That’s the first point. If you want documentation of this, I will be happy to oblige.

    The second point is that the Lutheran Confessions give the confessional authority and freedom to the local congregation to order its own rites and ceremonies in liturgy. This is a point that is also based on the hard data of the sources.

    Now, I realize this is not a way of approaching the issue that you are used to. It is not easy to make a shift from developing your argument on the basis of extolling historic liturgical forms of worship to recognizing the above two points as also having a place alongside extolling historic liturgical forms. I don’t view it as an either or. I view it as a both and, if I may use such a shop-worn phrase.

    This is why Luther, Chemnitz, and others were perpared on the one hand to require a specific order of worship in their local contexts, Luther in the principality of which Wittenberg was a part, and Chemnitz in the duchy over which he was superintendant. But alongside this desire to require uniformity of worship in their local contexts, they also said things like the following:

    The Scriptures prescribe nothing in these matters, but allow freedom for the Spirit to act according to his own understanding as the respective place, time, and persons may require it. (Latin Mass)

    I see your point, and understand your desire to have your question answered, and then everything will be fine. The reality is, Luther and his colleagues allowed the tension between order and freedom to remain unresolved, because they recognized the freedom of the local congregation to order its own rites and ceremonies in liturgy.

    Teaching people the goodness of our Lutheran traditions is good. Teaching them that the essence and identity of the church resides not in rites and ceremonies but in the Gospel and the sacraments is better.

    Our contemporary service, which is as substantive as a contemporary service can be in my opinion, is filled with too many life long Lutherans who are fascinated by the bright lights and emotionalism of Evangelicalism and don’t understand the severity of the problems they are exposing themselves to (I might even put my pastor in this category). Even if properly explained, the forms make it too easy to feel comfortable in Evangelical worship.

    I disagree with you. I agree that there is room for abuse in contemporary forms. But you must acknowledge that there is room for abuse on the other end of the spectrum as well. We should not turn our love for historic liturgical forms into an unyielding effort to resist all contemporary forms, especially when those who are practicing these forms are careful in the way they are done. I think this statement of yours demonstrates that you are letting your bias for historic liturgical forms too easily make a caricature out of those who choose to use contemporary forms.

    This brings it full circle. If you want me to share the hard data with you, just let me know. I would be happy to do that.

    Peace
    JAW

    • Pastor,
      I’m really trying to let this go and thats’ why I stepped away from this conversation for a day or so. However, your last comments have clarified for me the frustration I have in this conversation and why others like me will continue to feel this frustration.

      Your first point is that Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, et al. allowed for changes as times and circumstances warranted. It has never been my position to oppose this. What I assume, and please give me the data if I’m wrong, is that they expected these changes were in support of a clearer proclamation of the Gospel. From this assumption, I also assume (I’m open for correction here as well) that they would expect that those making the changes could explain to the church at-large how the changes for their time and circumstance were in support of a clearer proclamation.

      On your second point, I have never disputed the freedom of the local congregation to order its own rites and ceremonies. I understand that there is disagreement as to how local that freedom is, but that is not a point of contention for me. My perspective is that your failure here is that you emphasize the freedom of the local congregation without ever mentioning the responsibility of order and unity to the church at-large. A congregation is not an island unto itself.

      So the issue here is not that I don’t agree that the freedom exists to change the ceremonies or that the local congregation has the this freedom. The issue is about those changes. How do those changes clarify the Gospel for that local congregation? How do those changes impact the unity of sister congregations and the church as a whole?

      Once again, you caricature me by assuming that I am resistant to change and nowhere have I said that the old forms can’t be abused. My statement you reference that shows my bias for the old forms is balanced by my real examples of the problems with the new forms which you once again don’t address. My bias stems from the experience that the old forms clearly proclaim the Gospel and that the new forms introduce real problems not some romantic view of the historic liturgy. My fictitious examples may caricature those problems, but I said nothing of the people who choose to use the new forms.

      I don’t need hard data to prove what you want to prove to me, I accept it for the most part. What I want is hard data on the changes you’ve made and how those changes have served to clarify your Gospel proclamation and also how those changes have affected unity with other churches you are in fellowship with.

      Until those who choose to use new forms recognize that with the freedom they have to change rites and ceremonies comes a responsibility to the larger church to explain and defend those changes we will come full circle again and again and again.

  25. Brian, I commend you for your patience. This is a medium that makes clear and unambiguous communication not so easy. I published a book a few years ago on liturgy. It took me eight years to write it, precisely because I wanted to excercise extreme care to make my writing unambiguous. Blogging is almost like instant messaging. It’s like T.S. Eliot once wrote in East Coker:

    So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
    Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-
    Trying to use words, and every attempt
    Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
    Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
    For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
    One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
    Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
    With shabby equipment always deteriorating
    In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
    Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
    By strength and submission, has already been discovered
    Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
    To emulate – but there is no competition –
    There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
    And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
    That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
    For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

    So I appreciate your patience and I commend you for not allowing your frustration to force you away from having the conversation.

    I don’t need hard data to prove what you want to prove to me, I accept it for the most part.

    To me hard data from the sixteenth century is indispensable, because the sixteenth century Book of Concord is normative for our theology and practice. As a pastor I don’t feel it is appropriate to act without first examining and being clear about what our predecessors in the faith have said about such matters.

    What I want is hard data on the changes you’ve made and how those changes have served to clarify your Gospel proclamation and also how those changes have affected unity with other churches you are in fellowship with.

    There are two key issues that I see in this comment. Let me try to answer them both, “With shabby equipment always deteriorating.”

    First, how do the changes I am arguing for serve to clarify my Gospel proclamation. My reading of the sources (I am not able to divorce my thinking from the sources) leads me to consider that we must take into consideration changing times and circumstances in the way that we approach the proclamation of the Gospel. You’ve already acknowledged that changing times and circumstances was a consideration for the sixteenth century reformers. Good. They applied this consideration to the way they spoke about humanly instituted liturgical rites and ceremonies. Luther wrote against holding to an indispensable form. Why? Because he could not find such a form in the church fathers, i.e., in the history of the church’s practice. And I hasten to add that Luther and his colleagues had a remarkable erudition in the church fathers, far moreso than we do today.

    What I have written elsewhere makes a distinction between classical forms of music and more popular forms of music. We no longer live in a world that is predominately characterized by a classical aesthetic. Most people today have a hard time connecting to classical aesthetic. I know I am making a generalization, but I think it is a generalization based on careful observation. So I have argued (elsewhere) that the times and circumstances have so radically changed in the direction of popular cultural forms (music, visual art, literature, etc.) that it is difficult for most people to connect with ritual and ceremony expressed in classical forms. I know this is not true for everyone. Which is why we are having this debate. This statement should also be understood not in the sense that I am against ritual or ceremony. Human nature requires these. It’s the forms of the ritual and the ceremonies that requires honest and thoughtful discussion in today’s context, rather than stomping, spitting, and name-calling. (I’m not accusing you of this. I see this approach happen on too many other blogs.)

    This leads to the second part of your question. How do such changes affect unity with other churches I am in fellowship with?

    This is the easier part. According to our Confession, the Confession we subscribe unconditionally,

    “. . . it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that the ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places” (AC VII; Tappert ed.).

    As far as unity in a broader fellowship of churches is concerened, I don’t see how it can be stated more clearly than this. Humanly instituted rites and ceremonies in liturgy are excluded from the confessional requirement for this unity.

    Until those who choose to use new forms recognize that with the freedom they have to change rites and ceremonies comes a responsibility to the larger church to explain and defend those changes we will come full circle again and again and again.

    On the other hand, we could also say that we need to learn how to listen to each other, and give each other the benefit of the doubt (trust?). Conversation in many ways is indeed circular, no? Hopefully we are moving in a three dimensional spiral, and not a flat one.

    Peace
    James

    • Pastor,
      Thank you for the discussion. At this point I’ve given all I can to it and received as much as I am able. I think I can properly state your perspective is that as long as the Word is properly preached and the Sacraments are properly administered, you are free to surround them with whatever rites and ceremonies as fit your time and circumstances. This freedom allows you to make these changes without regard to your fellow churches as they should assume that any changes you make are in service of the Gospel.

      • worshipconcord

        Brian,
        I don’t think you accurately characterize my point of view, which I think is the confessional point of view on liturgy. I think we are to take into consideration our fellow churches in a broader fellowship. I have argued this elsewhere. I have even outlined in my writings what I think would be a faithful order, recognizable to Christians in all places. While the order I have outlined does not included all the propers of the Western Rite, it does include invocation, confession and absolution, creedal confession, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacrament of the Altar. I would be happy to post it if you think it would help. But again, I think you have not accurately understood what I am saying. I don’t think “anything goes” is helpful to the church. I also don’t think it is right to characterize anything but the liturgies in our hymnals as “anything goes.” I realize you haven’t done this in our discussion here. But others do. I do not think that surrounding the Word and the Sacrament “with whatever rites and ceremoies as fit your time and circumstances” is correct. Again, it is a both and. We receive from the past what is given. This is good for the church. But we also have the confessional authority and freedom to change this. It is also incumbant on the “fellow churches” to allow for this freedom in local contexts. This is argued in many places and in many ways by the sixteenth-century reformers. I hope this helps to clarify. And I hope you will continue to join our conversation as you are able.

        Peace
        James

  26. Pingback: More Thoughts on lex orandi lex credendi « WorshipConcord

  27. Brian,

    On August 17 you wrote: “I assume the correct use [of lex orandi lex credendi] is, “It is used to express the assumption that the church’s lex orandi is a reflection of the church’s lex credendi, in other words, the way a church prays reflects what a church believes,” correct? This still seems to say to me that if you have 2 services praying in different ways, you will have 2 different beliefs.”

    It seems to me that, while lex credendi is a significant element that shapes lex orandi (and vice versa), belief is not the only thing that affects how a congregation worships. For example, a single congregation can have both an English and a German service–significantly different in form. In addition to language, other factors can or will impact how a congregation worships: ethnicity, age, local traditions, the talents and gifts of the members, etc. The point isn’t that one worship style is better than another, but that two worship services can be different for reasons other than creed.
    Tim

    • That makes sense. Two congregations with the same beliefs could come up with different services.

      But would you give that those beliefs aren’t stagnant and that the services feed back into the beliefs, especially as new generations and converts are brought in. It’s quite clear, to me anyway, that those beliefs that were the same will start to differ, slightly at first (maybe just how much freedom each congregation has to alter things 😉 and then greatly as generations proceed.

      Further, what does this do for members from one congregation when they visit or move to the other. What steps need to be taken to ensure that they understand that the beliefs are the same? What problems does this introduce?

  28. Pastor Waddell,
    Thank you for the clarification. I’m sorry for my mischaracterization of your stance toward fellow congregations. This was based on the fact that every time I mention or asked about your responsibility your response has always been your freedom. You even engaged in the practice you speak against by omitting the section that speak of unity and order when you quote the confessions.

    Could you please link or post the order of service that you have outlined? This would be most helpful.

  29. Brian,
    Thanks for staying with the conversation. No need to apologize. Clarification is part of having a conversation.

    You wrote:

    I’m sorry for my mischaracterization of your stance toward fellow congregations. This was based on the fact that every time I mention or asked about your responsibility your response has always been your freedom. You even engaged in the practice you speak against by omitting the section that speak of unity and order when you quote the confessions.

    This is the part of AC VII that I quoted, which doesn’t exclude anything about the unity of the church, but actually explicitly addresses it.

    “. . . it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that the ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places” (AC VII; Tappert ed.).

    • Sorry again. I’ve been reading so much of your stuff from different places. What I recall is the use of the Luther’s German mass to discuss freedom without mentioning how much it extols the virtues of common practice (“But it would be a grand thing if, in every several lordship, Divine Service were conducted in one fashion…”) also I recall the use of the Solid Declaration X[9] to point to freedom without finishing the thought that it is those that are making the changes that should be most wary of giving offense. I’m sorry if these are not specifically your arguments, but your work is the only that I’ve read that advocates this level of freedom, so I’m not sure where else I might have picked them up.

      • worshipconcord

        Fair enough. There are so many different layers to this discussion that it is hard to keep them all together. I also point out elsewhere that Luther is extolling the virtues of common practice on the level of the principality, not the entire German nation. He write this explicitly in his German Mass.

        Could you help me understand better what you mean by “this level of freedom”? I actually view my work as an effort to pull things back from the extreme freedom (license) some advocate and use w.r.t. contemporary forms today.

        Again, I want you to be clear about what I am promoting here. I am not promoting unrestrained license in worship practices, although some happily (and deceptively) characterize my position that way.

  30. This is the order that appears as an appendix in my book, The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church: Adiaphora in Historical, Theological and Practical Perspective. It is preceded and followed by detailed explantions. So it isn’t just presented as a bare outline as it is presented here.

    Preparatory Rite
    In nomine
    Confession of Sin

    Word
    Old Testament
    Epistle
    Gospel
    Homily
    Nicene Creed
    Tithes & Offerings
    Prayer of the Church

    Meal
    Lord’s Prayer
    Eucharistic Prayer
    Words of Institution
    Peace
    Distribution
    Blessing

    • Very similar to our contemporary service:

      Opening Songs
      Call to Worship
      Confession of Sins
      Sharing of the Peace
      Prayer of the Day
      Song
      Readings
      Old Testament
      Epistle
      New Testament
      The Apostles Creed
      Children’s Song
      Children’s Message
      Message Song
      Message
      Offering
      Prayers
      The Lord’s Prayer
      The Words of Institution
      Distribution Song
      Post Communion Prayer
      Closing Blessing
      Closing Song

      • worshipconcord

        They are similar, but they are also different. How would you process these similarities and differences?

        Let me also ask, in the order that I posted, what is there about this order that might render it unrecognizable to Lutheran Christians wherever they might be?

  31. Happy to explain “this level of freedom.” Your statement “On the other hand, we could also say that we need to learn how to listen to each other, and give each other the benefit of the doubt (trust?) ” best displays it for me. This freedom sounds to me like seek forgiveness rather than permission. The level of freedom I would feel comfortable with in this regard would be to work with other congregations to create and propose an appropriate order of service.

    One question, could you clarify this idea that Luther was speaking at the level of principalities and not the entire German nation. This does not translate well to this “time and circumstance” 😉 I mean we have better transcontinental communication than they did at the level of the principality and we also have more diversity in one city than they had in the entire nation. Would you give that any level of our polity (maybe the circuit?) could assist in norming other congregations?

    In both these lines of thinking I’m attempting to get some understanding as to how the individual congregations are held accountable. I mean they may believe their practices are proper but we have seen plenty that aren’t.

  32. Again thanks, Brian, for staying engaged. My comment about giving each other the benefit of the doubt was made in the context of quoting AC VII. Let me quote it a third time.

    “. . . it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that the ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places” (AC VII; Tappert ed.).

    What do you make of this?

    • I’m not sure where I have made myself unclear or why I must defend my understanding that uniformity of practice is not a requirement.

      But this quote does give me a new insight regarding my position on the use of the Ordinaries and Propers (although you may disagree). We agree that the Gospel rightly preached and Sacraments properly administered are the requirements. But a sermon does not guarantee the Gospel rightly preached and the Words of Institution alone aren’t enough for a proper understanding of the Sacraments. Certainly the Ordinaries and Propers don’t guarantee these things either, but they do point to them. No these elements are not necessary, but sure seem to be beneficial.

  33. Brian wrote:

    In both these lines of thinking I’m attempting to get some understanding as to how the individual congregations are held accountable.

    I would say, yes. We already have a polity that would function for accountability from congregation to congregation — Synod, District, Circuit. In the sixteenth century there were hundreds of principalities. A principality might be geographically analogous to something like a larger circuit or two smaller circuits today.

    Ultimately accountability would take into consideration two things.

    1. The requirements for the unity of the church according to AC VII must be held and practiced (purity of the Gospel and sacraments administered according to the Word of God; keeping in mind that humanly instituted rites and ceremonies are excluded from confessional criteria for the unity and identity of the church).

    2. The order that a local congregation uses must follow the points outlined in the Formula of Concord. The order must be “most profitable, beneficial, and salutary for . . .”

    2.a. good order,
    2.b. Christian discipline,
    2.c. evangelical decorum,
    2.d. the edification of the church,
    2.e. the avoidance of frivolity and offense.

    FC SD X.9 and FC Ep X.5

  34. How would I process these similarities and differences?

    Ours has kept more and added more. I would say yours strips away everything but the most basic structures. Beyond that, I’m not enough of a liturgist to make any meaningful comparisons.

    Out of curiosity, is the service a lot shorter or the sermon a lot longer? Because the number of elements is reduced I was wondering where the time is allocated.

    As for the whether a Christian (someone who believes in Christ for salvation) would find it recognizable, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. Most Christians recognize an order of service by it’s singing, offering, and sermon. As for whether a Lutheran (someone who subscribes to our confessions) would recognize it, that would really depend on the execution. I found when I was studying our two orders of service, it was a lot easier to distinguish the elements of the service on paper than when the artillery is flying.

    Finally, I ask you and I have this question for my pastor, how does the removal of the Ordinaries and Propers lead to a clearer proclamation of the Gospel? What do they do that obscures the Gospel such that need to be removed?

  35. Brian wrote:

    . . . it was a lot easier to distinguish the elements of the service on paper than when the artillery is flying.

    This demonstrates that we have a fundamentally different assumption about how this conversation should take place. I appreciate the respect (and the restraint) that you have demonstrated in our conversation. If we are ever going to forge harmony in our church body again w.r.t. questions about liturgy, it’s going to happen by approaching the questions with quiet, thoughtful resolve, not by assuming the worst and then attacking the one with whom I disagree. So, thank you, Brian, for making the effort to have a civil conversation about this crucial issue for our church.

    Finally, I ask you and I have this question for my pastor, how does the removal of the Ordinaries and Propers lead to a clearer proclamation of the Gospel? What do they do that obscures the Gospel such that need to be removed?

    It strikes me, based not on my personal opinion, but on the sources of the reformers (Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Sasse, et al.) that they did not ask the question in this way.

    Let me quote Luther from his 1520, A Treatise on the New Testament, That Is, the Holy Mass.

    Now the nearer our masses are to the first mass of Christ, the better they undoubtedly are; and the further from Christ’s mass, the more dangerous. For that reason we may not boast of ourselves, over against the Russians or the Greeks, that we alone celebrate mass properly, any more than a priest who wears a red chasuble may boast over against him who wears one of white or black. For such external additions or differences may by their dissimilarity produce sects and dissension, but they can never make the mass better. Although I neither wish nor am able to displace or discard such additions, still, because such pompous forms are perilous, we must never permit ourselves to be led away by them from the simple institution of Christ and from the right use of the mass. And, indeed, the greatest and most useful art is to know what really and essentially belongs to the mass, and what is added and foreign to it. For where there is no clear distinction, the eyes and the heart are easily misled by such sham into a false impression and delusion. Then what men have contrived is considered the mass; and what the mass [really] is, is never experienced, to say nothing of deriving benefit from it.

    Hermann Sasse also argued this way in his essay, “The Lutheran Understanding of the Consecration” (117-118).

    Even the Pope has reminded his bishops that the Masses that are secretly celebrated in prison camps, without any pomp, in utter simplicity, come very near to the Mass of the ancient church and are not inferior to a pontifical Mass. In Lutheran Germany, however, one can today hear theologians — even some who come from unliturgical Wuerttemberg — say that there is a form of the divine service that belongs to the essence of the church, even that Gregorian chant belongs essentially to the Christian liturgy. It is high time that the liturgical movement in the Lutheran church wakes up from its romantic dreams and subordinates itself to the norms to which the whole life of the church must be subject: the norma normans of Holy Scripture and the norma normata of the church’s confession. And this applies to all the Lutheran churches in the world, for the Scandinavian, in which the Anglican influence is so great, and for the American, in which the ideas of the European liturgical movement have now gained a footing. If this serious reflection does not take place, then the liturgical movement will become what it has become already for many of its adherents: the end of Lutheranism and the road to Rome.

    This is how they framed the question, by making a distinction between what is given by God (the Gospel and the sacraments) and what is given by the church (humanly instituted rites and ceremonies in liturgy), and by not having a wrong estimation of tradition (AC XXVI.19).

    • ME: . . . it was a lot easier to distinguish the elements of the service on paper than when the artillery is flying.

      PW: This demonstrates that we have a fundamentally different assumption about how this conversation should take place.

      I’m not sure what this means. If you are taking my statement to mean that I’m sitting in the contemporary service looking for elements that match the traditional service, then you would be incorrect. I was answering the question of whether or not a Christian or a Lutheran would recognize the service. Let’s just take a look at the Lord’s Supper. Most Christians would understand the Words of Institution as being a declaration that Christ died for you for the forgiveness of sings. So yes, every Christian would recognize this. We as Lutherans understand that this is an incomplete understanding of the Sacrament. Before the distribution we might say something about Christ really coming. Then after the distribution we might say something about Christ truly delivering Himself and His salvation in what we have just received. Once we remove that extra commentary, how long until our understanding becomes the same as every other Christian? That would not be proper administration of the Sacraments.

      I’ve seen your argument several times that changes to the Mass do not make one inferior or superior. I don’t know the material, but I would assume they mean that one is not inferior or superior with regards to delivering salvation or would you argue that they are equal in all respects? Like my previous Lord’s Supper example aren’t there elements that would be termed beneficial and if they are beneficial, wouldn’t that make them superior, not in delivering salvation, but in clarifying our understanding.

  36. Brian,
    I apologize if I don’t respond right away. We are leaving early, early this morning to take our daughter to college. A big day for all of us. I will return to this as soon as I am able, probably by Sunday or Monday. Until then, God’s grace in all things, James

  37. Brian,

    On August 18, 2009, you wrote: “The praise band by its very nature is a vehicle for performance. ”

    In our church we have many different musical ensembles who provide worship music leadership, including praise bands, choirs (adult and children), instrumental ensembles, organ & keyboard players, guitar players, handbell choirs, song leaders, orchestra, etc.

    I’m wondering if it’s possible to have an objective list of criteria for evaluating whether musicians or groups of musicians would qualify as a “vehicle for performance”? If so, I would imagine that such a list may need to deal with such nebulous things as attitude, location, dress, nonverbal language, congregational response, etc. In any event, I think that such a tool (or its counterpart, a “vehicle for worship” criteria list) would be helpful for Christian musicians who sincerely desire to serve their congregation (and I believe that most do).

    Tim

  38. Florian Kirchmair

    Thank you for your article.

    You wrote, that Gueranger coined the phrase “lex orandi, lex credendi”. I do some research on this question and I am still searching for the creator of the short form. I searched Gueranger’s INSTITUTIONS LITURGIQUES, but found only the full sentence from Prosper, not the short form.

    I found the short form in Tyrell’s ‘Lex orandi, or Prayer and creed’ (1907, p. 59) “That ‘the rule of prayer is the rule of believe’ (lex orandi, lex credendi) does not mean that every popular devotion rests on a sound dogmatic basis;” but Tyrell doesn’t declare, where he got his special form of Prosper’s sentence from.

    Do you know, who used this phrase in England before 1900?

    • Florian,
      Thank you for posting your comment. Most scholars assume that Gueranger coined the phrase, lex orandi lex credendi, though I think such assumptions should always be scrutinized with methodological rigor. I do not know who used this phrase in England before 1900.

      I think the question about the origin of the phrase lex orandi lex credendi is an important one. Please keep us informed as your research gains ground. JAW

  39. Florian Kirchmair

    Thank you for your answer. Today I managed to find the phrase “lex orandi, lex credendi” in one if the works of Henry Newman:

    “Such is the usage of the Church in its dogmatic statements concerning the Holy Trinity, as if fulfilling the maxim, “Lex orandi, lex credendi.”
    (Newman, John Henry: A Grammar of Assent, London: Burns, Oates & Co ² 1870, p. 130)

  40. Thank you for this, Florian. I appreciate your comments and that you are sharing with us the findings of your research virtually in real time. I repeat what I said before; I think the question of the origin of the short phrase lex orandi lex credendi is an important one. It is important because it will help us locate the theological context, the theological argument, out of which the phrase was first generated. Florian, please continue to share your findings with us as you search for this origin. JAW

  41. Pingback: Real Time Research on Lex Orandi Lex Credendi « WorshipConcord

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