By Larry Beane
English speaking Lutheranism, including the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, has an interesting relationship with Anglicanism.
Much of our English liturgy is rooted in the translations from the Book of Common Prayer. The publishing house affiliated with the LCMS, CPH, owns the copyright to many of Healy Willan's musical arrangements. The familiar Common Service (LSB DS3) tune for the Gloria in Excelsis is a Scottish chant shared with historical Anglicanism. Along with historic Anglicanism, traditional Lutheranism shares a Western Catholic liturgical tradition while being heirs of the Reformation - thus having a tradition of Evangelical theology seated comfortably alongside a Catholic view of liturgy and church history. Historically speaking, Lutherans and Anglicans are "one step from Rome."
Traditional Anglicans generally conduct the Mass with reverence and dignity, even if perhaps an aristocratic British stiff-upper-lip fussiness that might be a little over the top for many democratically-minded Americans. And perhaps in a nod to 007 (who, after all, is in the service of the head of the Anglican Communion that includes most Anglicans), we may well give homage to our Anglican cousins with a round of Nobody Does it Better. And I would be shocked (shocked!) if no LCMS congregations have used this theme as some kind of "worship song."
But even in matters of heresy, it seems like the Anglicans do it better.
They do the whole Montanist thing with an elan and showmanship that puts our own pathetic-by-comparison tiny remnant of elderly RIM tongue-speakers to shame. Our Anglican cousins also go whole hog in the Wiccan-goddess thing with priestesses in full fig, by far exceeding the almost staid-by-comparison LCMS's forays into women in ministry with albs and stoles. And when it comes to turning the Divine Service into farcical and frivolous entertainment, why, the above Big Dance Show beats the LCMS's amateurish twiddling around with flutes and snare drums and and acoustic guitars and "Shine, Jesus Shine" - hands down.
Or should I say, "hands up"?
You have to say this for the Anglicans: they swing for the fence - whether they are highly traditionalist bodies like the ACC that believe in liturgical dignity and catholic tradition; or worshipers of the false gods of feminism, homosexuality, and postmodernism like the ECUSA; or enthusiasts of the charismatic River Dance style, like this group above: the ACNA - with whom the LCMS has been in dialogue.
In fact, "The ACNA is the first non-Lutheran denomination to enter into any sort of dialogue with LCMS."
Why would the LCMS be in dialogue with this body? Well, they oppose gay "marriage." Coming out against "teh ghey" covers a multitude of sins, it seems, and this issue appears to have become the gold standard of ecumenical cooperation and dialogue, and for many denominations, the single issue by which the church stands or falls, shares or breaks communion. All else is treated as adiaphora.
Whether good, bad, or ugly, the Anglicans don't seem to go for halfway measures. They seem even capable of extremism in their moderation - as evidenced by the militantly middling "neither high church, nor low church" wing! But then again, so as not to be perceived as throwing stones, you can see some genuinely outrageous things masquerading as Lutheranism as well. The LCMS is not exempt. You can find rock music, dancing girls, cup holders, clown eucharists, and pastors running around in street clothes with little microphones stuck to their heads within driving distance from just about everyone wishing to attend such things in LCMS congregations.
I guess the one saving grace is that we in the LCMS are typically pretty lame in our attempts to be hipsters. Hopefully this dialogue with the ACNA isn't going to help us do their things better!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!