Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The chief expositor of the "Evangelical Style, Lutheran Substance" paradigm among our readers, the redoubtable Fr. Louderback, hatched quite the canard in the comments below. His remark is so common on that side of the debate, and the simple reply to it so needed in the debate, that I thought I would elevate this exchange of comments to its own post.

Fr. Louderback wrote, quoting me in italics:

Folks, if you import non-Lutheran stuff into your Lutheran church it won't be, you know, so Lutheran anymore.

Except of course if it is Roman Catholic—that can imported with impunity. :)

To which I replied:

I refer you to the conclusion to Part I of the AC and to its final conclusion:

"5] This is about the Sum of our Doctrine, in which, as can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers. . . . 8] For it is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies, all the things instituted of old, are abolished in our churches. 9] But it has been a common complaint that some abuses were connected with the ordinary rites. These, inasmuch as they could not be approved with a good conscience, have been to some extent corrected."

"Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches."

That, according to the Lutheran Confessions, is what Lutherans are like: nothing in ceremonies contrary to the Church Catholic.



  1. Is the question, what has the Lutheran church imported from the Church of Rome since, say, 1580? I'd say we've imported "And with you to" dropping "your spirit." Izzat what Lauderbach so pissed about?

  2. Joanne,

    Ha! Also liturgical dancing, the folk-guitar Mass, lay assistants at communion, etc., etc. . .


  3. I mean no disrespect by this, but couldn't we also add "clerical collar" to that list? From what I have been able to discern, the collar was a 19th Century Protestant innovation that the Papists widely adopted after abandoning the cassock in the years following Vatican II. Should we not advocate use of cassocks instead of clerical collars as heirs of the Church Catholic? I ask this question with sincerity.

  4. Alas, Pr Louderback and others object to is precisely the catholicity of the form and its attendant ceremonies that the Reformers retained, seeing these less things indifferent than even impediments to the larger mission (than worship) of outreach; he is not alone in this and even those who observe some of these ceremonies and use the forms of the book feel a bit guilty about it all, self-conscious to say the least...

  5. Mr. Baker,

    The modern clergy shirt with notched collarette is designed to look like a cassock - to be a convenient modern, Western substitute for the cassock. I believe it was developed in the Baltimore diocese in the 19th century. The white collar underneath is, I believe, a holdover from men's fashion of the 19th century and/or a dim reflection of of the old tabs some preacher's wore.

    What the Church's practice has always stressed is that the Church's ministers should be easily recognized when they are out and about. In our day and age the obvious choice for this is the clergy shirt, though the cassock is by no means unheard of in Lutheran practice even today as the pastor's normal dress.


  6. Sniff....this is like the best day ever! my comments made an actual post!

    I just want to thank my family, my agent, my fourth-grade teacher....

    Oh, wait, there's the music...

    Anyway, I have to go out of town, and so I cannot really give a fuller thought to this. Perhaps when I return. Or maybe it will all be blown over at that point....


    It's Louderback. And I'm not pissed about anything. I'm the happy guy here! :)

  7. Notice that in our common confession that:

    "in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches"

    we confess explicitly that there is an organic relationship between style ("ceremonies") and substance ("doctrine") - which is sometimes expressed as "lex orandi, lex credendi." We Lutherans confess unambiguously that style and substance are organically bound together.

    And notice that we confess this principle of protecting both "ceremonies and doctrine" from that which is both unscriptural and uncatholic because in doing so in order that "no new and ungodly doctrine should creep" into our faith and life.

    The advocates of non-liturgical, non-traditional worship are forced to deny this confessional principle. One pioneer of this movement even went so far as to incorporate the denial of this confessional principle right in the title of his book.

    Maybe this is just another example of a statement in the Book of Concord that we are free to ignore in our quia subscriptions.

    In any case, I have a proposed book title, one that makes more sense according to our Lutheran confessions: "Lutheran Style and Lutheran Substance."

  8. So: first a precusor note. In the LCMS there are those who think the RC church is not Christian—you can't reject justification, the cornerstone of the church and be a Christian church body. They would point to the Brief Statement among other things.

    I do not believe this. I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a Christian Church. That is, it is an erring church, like the Methodists, and not a heretical body like the Mormons.

    So, my words need to be understood in that context.

    That being said, the RC Church teaches error. It has doctrines and positions that stand in serious contrast to the Word of God.

    That's where I begin.

  9. So #2: The RC Church taught error and continues to teach error. They err on justification. They are universalist. Their teaching on the pastoral office is wrong.

    And, Pr Curtis's postion, roughly, is that our worship ought to be identical to theirs. There really would be no difference to tell them apart, other than the sermon.

    So, in other words, the worship style that was used from the past, did not hold back, halt, or slow the false doctrine of the RC church. And in fact, this church that teaches falsely continues to use the same service and attaches to it, the false, non-Biblical teaching that they always have.

    So, what a certain pastor would have, is for our congregations to be identical in worship to a false teaching church and expect that people would see that his church actually teaches differently.

    Read that last statement again: I wrote that not referring to fr Curtis, but referring to me. I'm the pastor who we thinks is bringing in false teaching because what I do is what other false churches do.

    But the fact is, it is the same with him.

    Gotta run. More thoughts on the Confession late.

  10. If I can re-iterate what I am saying:

    We have a church that is teaching falsely and yet we are wanting to worship exactly as they do. Lex orandi, lex credendi. Except that our beliefs are completely different...but yet our worship is to be the same?

    It seems that inevitably, it would be easy for a person to move from one church to the other. After all, the worship is identical. It would seem as though the belief would be the same as well.

    And this is what happens, right? We have guys leave, who were pastors of the LCMS and they go right to other churches that have the liturgy. Despite these other churches false teaching. Despite their error.

    Shoot, I'll bet that there are people who read Gottesdiesnt—maybe still do?—who have left. Am I right about that? I'm sure someone knows.

    I point to Pr McCain's latest article on guys leaving the LCMS:

    So once again, worshiping the same way as a church that teaches falsely seems to have problems. And not just for CoWo churches. For liturgical churches as well.

  11. All of which brings me to my point: what then do we say about the Confessions? What do we say about the liturgical worship we do? What do we say about the "neo-Pentecostal" worship?

    Well, nothing really.

    The fact of the matter is that I agree with the Confessions.

    I mean, my post to Fr Curtis was a joke. Or, really, to be more accurate, I did not mean "You can't do RC worship in the LCMS without bringing in their false teaching."

    The fact is, you can. We can fill the liturgy with our own views, our teaching, our own truth. So that we are not doing RC worship. We are doing Lutheran worship.

    But—and this is the key—the fact is that we can do the exact same with CoWo. We can fill it with our own views, our own teaching, our own truth. We are not doing Pentecostal worship. We are doing Lutheran worship.

    Fr Curtis' problem is that he wants to insist that only one is possible. That only one can be done. But that just begs the question: why?

    Why some and not others?

    That would be the facts of the case and that would be my position on our worship.

  12. Long time reader, first time writer. Great topic. Love the show.

    Dr. Masaki at CTSFW would respond to such a classroom question ("Why some and not others?") with his own, unique Japanese style, "Is wrong question." (Think Yoda-esque.)
    He's right. The real question is "Why any at all?" Applies to election and the liturgy. Both move from the same origin: Who is doing the acting, the saving, the serving?
    I'm not suggesting that man was made for the Sabbath. But it is the very Lord of the Sabbath who comes in flesh and blood to serve us, not the other way around (cf. Rom 11:33-36).
    To futz with the liturgy in any direction (NSEW) is to tread on dangerous ground. In the end the "neo-Pentecostals/CoWo" and Rome are liturgical siblings - they both think they are offering something to God in the liturgy. NP their "praise and worship." Rome, the "unbloody sacrifice of Christ."
    Better to stick with UAC Lutheranism: I am a poor beggar with nothing to offer my Lord, but in His mercy He deigns to serve me in Word and Sacrament.

  13. Pr Mierow,

    Good to have you!

    But, the problem with your post is this:

    Better to stick with UAC Lutheranism: I am a poor beggar with nothing to offer my Lord, but in His mercy He deigns to serve me in Word and Sacrament.

    That is what I think God does in CoWo. And it is what I think God does in liturgical worship.

    Both are Lutheran worship and both bring the same result.

    I also don't see what the danger is. We're Lutheran pastors who have been to Sem for 4 years. I think we can figure out what to do in a worship service and why we do it. This applies to whether you wash your hands before communion or wear jeans.

    I like the "Why any at all?" btw. But maybe Yoda would say "Wrong question it is!" :)

  14. "So once again, worshiping the same way as a church that teaches falsely seems to have problems. And not just for CoWo churches. For liturgical churches as well."

    The analysis by Fr. Louderbach is deficient, in that it does not penetrate to the source of the "problems." I believe that source can be identified.

    In my experience, those who have left the Lutheran Church to swim rivers have jumped ship, in large (if not exclusive) part because of an intense dissatisfaction with the innovations dragged into the Church by Louderback and Company. A common unhappiness is that the Lutheran Church is not truthful to its very Confessions, as to following the doctrine and practices found therein ... not those of the Roman Catholic Church, as Louderback trumpets (and here he may gather some much needed insight, should he choose to learn the date of the Council of Trent, and compare it with the year 1530) ... but rather of the Church catholic, existing since ancient times.

    Individuals like Rep. Bachmann who have departed the Lutheran Church for the reformed pastures, have no problems with Louderbackian CoW ... but may come to recognize that a bigger, more stirring and more competent brand of such exists down the street. Such individuals care little, if at all, about Confessional statements which boast of no deviation from the doctrine and practices of the Church catholic. As Bachmann has demonstrated, the doctrines of the Confessions can actually be embarrassing, and prove problematical for personal ambitions touching on power. But no problem. "Give me that big-beat religion, it's good enough for me." Louderback's own version of big-beat, hobbled by Lutheran substance (if it's indeed there), is simply not good enough for the big Me-shell of our age.

    In order that the analysis, above, not be seen as something deficient, it is necessary to point out that in each instance, the departed seem to have problems which, in some way, involve Mark Louderback. The Lutheran Church is poorer, for it.

  15. Folks, if you import non-Lutheran stuff into your Lutheran church it won't be, you know, so Lutheran anymore.

    Except of course if it is Roman Catholic—that can imported with impunity. :)

    The liturgy of the Divine Service is not Roman Catholic; it is common to the Church catholic which predated Trent. What has been imported from the Roman Catholics, is the easy casualness of Vatican II ... which products resemble the stuff for which our Evangelical Protestant stylist lobbies. John XXIII was pope, when Fr. Louderback was either in diapers, or cruising for chicks. The importer's identity is pretty clear.

    But why the jeans, of which the cleric speaks? Did God encourage Aaron to look like Moses, Jethro's sheep-herder? Did the Lord Jesus encourage Caiphas, to wear jeans? Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History speaks of the priestly trappings of the Apostle John. To be sure, the interpretation of this description is a matter of debate; but the possibility cannot be ruled out, that in the gatherings of the early Church ... that's the Lutheran Church's beginnings, if the Lutheran Confessions are not fibbing ... the pastor was disinguished from his hearers, because symbols were important to God and His Church. Even the raiment of the lilies carry meanings, you see.

    So what, exactly, is the message of the jeans? To inform the people in the pew, that the pastor is just like them? Occurring in the public worship and the distribution of the Sacrament, is a special time, a unique time unabashedly foreign to the dying world's experience, one where heaven banquets with earth, and when Christ uses the tongue and hands of His set-apart servant, to feed His sheep and lambs. The vestments speak of sinful man covered by Christ, the King and one day, the Judge of all. What is the message of the jeans?


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