Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Problem

How long are the inroads American Evangelicalism's theory of worship has made into Lutheranism? Within the LCMS, how great is the ignorance of basic Lutheran tenets about worship? Why does it seem you can't have a conversation with someone on the praise band side of the fence?

I give you the opening paragraph from an article lauding the new contemporary worship services (as well as Lutheran services) at Concordia - Seward. This is from the current issue of Seward's alumni magazine.

"Put down your books and pray awhile. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings students can take part in Evening Prayer, a 20-minute gathering that uses liturgies from the non-divine services of the Lutheran Service Book as its foundation."

Whatever the mild criticisms LSB has encountered from the traditionalist camp, I don't think anyone has ever called them "non-divine."

You see: folks don't even know the terms. They don't know how to talk about the liturgical heritage we all share. Prayer offices, the divine office, non-Eucharistic services - these are, evidently, foreign vocabulary items.

And did you catch "as its foundation"? I wonder what wood, hay, stubble is being built thereon.

The facing page begins: "The thumping backbeat of Christian rock music is what you'll hear when passing by Weller Hall on Wednesday evenings."

Passing by indeed!



  1. I saw that intentional mention of a backbeat and I figured they must have read 'The Fire and the Staff.' I wonder what other 'profanities' are present?

  2. First, you must understand that CUNE is trying to recruit students and appeal to everyone.

    Second, Evening Prayer is a blessing for CUNE's traditionally-minded students.

    "Praise!" is not nearly as bad as the National Youth Gathering.

  3. Prof. Flacius,

    1. Oh, I get it. This is what we get for turning our college into just another midwest private school that must fund itself by appealing to everyone. If we actually fully supported institutions for the purpose of training men to serve the Church - that would be swell.

    Nevertheless, shouldn't a Lutheran college be about instilling Lutheranism instead of acquiescing to American Evangelicalism? Yes, I know this is a lot to hope for.

    2. Evening Prayer, no doubt, is a blessing for everyone who would care to go, not just the traditionally minded!

    Nothing that I can think of is as bad as an LCMS NYG.

  4. I hated Praise! while at Seward (03 grad). I especially hated it when Route 66, the praise team, would 'lead' chapel. In fact, I remember an encounter in my 'theology of worship' class my junior year. The instructor was teaching us real Lutheran worship theology. One of the female DCE students, who was also a singer in Route 66, fought with this prof every day because she had no idea that there was a right and wrong way to think about worship. Those were the days.

  5. Oh and I want to add that she is on the roster, serving a congregation, teaching LCMS youth her silly 'evangelical' opinions to this day.

  6. Fr. Sullivan,

    I've known of such female DCE's running the entire confirmation program at some of our American-Evangelical churches. What do these pastors think their job is? They don't teach confirmation, they don't "plan worship," they hire a retired guy to do the shut in calls...truly, they have a completely different view of the Ministry.


  7. As one who grew up inside the divine hokiness, I have an absolute seething disdain for it. It left me a depressed agnostic in my early twenties. Thanks be to God that a bearded seminarian brought me the Gospel. It still perplexes me how born and bread LCMSers are willing to swap the liturgy for happy-clappy fluff. They have no idea the damage inflicted upon the children. I thank God that mine will never suffer as I did.

    Jason Hull

  8. HRC,

    1. It's not "just another private school" yet, but you are correct about funding. CUNE is still very different from other options in the Midwest. However, it COULD become such a thing. The theology faculty is still very distinctively Lutheran. The vast majority of professors (even if we don't always agree) desire CUNE to be a Lutheran, Christian university. The doctrine of vocation has become the center point of the ethos of the curriculum. There will be many fine, Lutheran business owners because of CUNE in addition to pastors, teachers, etc. That's the simple reality of where we are.

    2. Evening Prayer and many chapel services are a blessing to all who attend.

  9. Why does it seem you can't have a conversation with someone on the praise band side of the fence?

    What exactly have we been having Heath?

    Do my words not count as "conversation"? Hmmm?

  10. Come now, Mark, I think it's clear what I'm talking to here: the difficulty of speaking across this divide not only of style but of language. It's a common occurrence and one that can only be overcome with difficulty. You are to be commended for seeking the dialogue despite the difficulty.



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