Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I needed a laugh today

Most people, who read my ramblings, know that I'm no fan of Pr. Paul McCain, the LCMS' bloviator-in-chief and all around malcontent who appoints himself a modern day St. Athanasius against anyone who may point out the errors of the Lutheran school of thought.  That said, I actually do regularly read his blog to keep up with what's going on in the LCMS and it is a very good blog.  His blog is an excellent model which those who wish to start a blog should model.  Today, I got a good laugh from  this entry.

Pr. McCain calls (actually the author he quotes approvingly calls) the Lutheran church a liturgical church.  Now, I would certainly grant that there are Lutheran churches which use the historic liturgy, but to argue that the whole of Lutherans "knows and appreciates"(from the post; first paragraph) the historic liturgy is denial at best and hypocrisy at worst.  I don't have exact numbers, but I would venture a guess that half of all LCMS congregations do not use the historic Liturgy.  These are churches where contemporary and blended services are the norm and the rule.  Now, they may also offer traditional or historic services too, but those are often relegated to smaller parts of a church or at times when most people would prefer to sleep in rather than attend.  Eventually, those services are replaced by the blended or contemporary ones. 

And those churches that are "liturgical" are not using the historic Western Rite liturgy.  In the current LCMS service books, there are five (5) divine services to choose from.  The third is the most common and most "historic" of the five.  The fifth is a recreation of the "Deutsche Messe" penned by Lutheran which is historic, but only to the mid 16th century. The other three services are "blended" and cut and paste jobs from other Divine Rites including the Byzantine Rite.  Lutherans have never used the Byzantine Rite (save for some Ukrainians who converted to Lutheranism in the early 20th century and brought the Byzantine Rite with them; you can google for more information on this) and the reason most Lutherans don't use the Byzantine Rite is simply because the Byzantine Rite does not match the western Rite ethos of worship.  It is far too mystical and too long.  For those Lutherans who demand a strict hour of worship, the Byzantine Rite would never be considered...but I digress.

My point is that though there is a lot of movement back towards the confessions and the historic practice of Lutheranism in the golden age of Orthodoxy, I'm afraid it is too late for the LCMS.  The ship is still sinking and people are still jumping ship.  The ship may not be sinking as fast and maybe fewer people jumping, but the damage is done.  More and more people are abandoning the LCMS simply because for some 40 years now, the LCMS in its leadership and its seminaries and its ministries to young people had essentially made a bogeyman out of the Liturgy and traditional liturgical practice.  I know they paid lip service to the Liturgy in official pronouncements and such, but whenever the word "liturgy" was uttered, the word "adiaphoron" was not too far behind. (Adiaphoron is a Greek word which roughly translates to "open question."  Liturgy was good, but it was an open question whether or not that should be the norm despite the fact that the confessions strictly say the historic liturgy is the norm). And people like Pr. McCain then wonder aloud and condemn those who jump the sinking ship because people myself refused to go down with it and found ourselves a home by swimming up the Tiber or the Bosphorus.

Again, I do not deny that there are Lutheran churches that are liturgical, but they are not the majority. However, for someone to argue, today, that Lutheranism as a whole and its many branches, whether that be LCMS, ELCA, EDK or some other country's Lutheran church is liturgical and "knows and appreciates" the historic Liturgy is a joke and it needs to be called such.

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