Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Phrases No LCMS Church In Their Right Mind Would Use

The title says it all:
1) "Make a decision for Jesus." - Haven't seen this yet, but some have said it is in some Ablaze!(tm) literature...if it's not, let me know.
2) "Biblical principles." - Used by Epic Church (http://www.epicchurch.com/boring.html) ...this just paves the way for sermon series on finances, marriage, etc. It wouldn't be so bad if it were talking about a Bible Study...but it's the SERMON!
3) "Bigger Heaven tomorrow." - Used in the Salem Lutheran Ablaze!(tm) service. Now, I don't know about you, but this language just strikes me as just a little...off by this statement. Maybe it's just me being paranoid....but something about it doesn't seem quite theologically right.
4) Not a quote, but comparing the verse "they will know that we are Christians by our Love" with simply respecting people. We do acts of mercy and compassion...simply respecting misses the whole point of "agape!" - Used in the Salem Lutheran Ablaze!(tm) service.
5) "Purpose Driven Church for People who Don't Go to Church." - Used by Jefferson Hills Church...so you're saying you aren't a church? Are you saying that other churches aren't "Purpose Driven"...whatever the heck that even means?

Now this list is only a group of five...but that's also from a cursory examination of several churches...ones which I would HIGHLY recommend anyone following the "Issues, etc."...um, issue...to look into.
1) Jefferson Hills Church - www.jhchurch.org in particular, you should check out www.ideateblog.com (This and This are interesting...particularly the ones about the billboards).
2) Epic Church - http://www.epicchurch.com I see no mention of Holy Communion on their webpage...only how boring the old way of doing church is. I do see they have a "relevant" youth ministry though...especially the names "Momentum" and "Excelerate." How about one for the college youth, "Hyperspace" or "Extremeinate!"
3) Water's Edge - http://www.watersedgefrisco.com/ Many of the sermons are...interesting. They really get at the heart of Lutheran pastoral theology (you know, Law/Gospel, Sacraments, prayer, faith, etc.). Especially the hits at the "old way of doing church" which according to I believe the March 9th sermon can't grow the church.

Now, I'm no expert on Lutheran theology or anything, but I do find it troubling that churches such as Jefferson Hills looks to Willow Creek for their inspiration (you know, that church that came out and criticized its own methods of "doing church?"). I also find it troubling that the pattern of Christianity for centuries is being broken here....we change for the culture now? We change to be relevant? I'm sorry, but I got the distinct impression St. Polycarp and St. Ignatius of Antioch gave a raspberry to that idea. The church has historically dealt with change as it has come, either passively if it were not harmful or actively in her preaching or apologetic writing if it was harmful.

I also find this idea truly strange: We seem to be trying to "do church" as if we're non-denominational megachurches (even if some of the churches above have less than 300 members), yet we're making use in our attempt to be relevant of Emergent ideas or language. Of course, one of the Emergent ideas is that Protestantism is bankrupt in her worship life...thus RETURNING to liturgical worship and ancient prayer practice. So let me get this straight...Confessionals are hammered for being "dogmatic" on the nature of the Divine Service (and for those who look at this blog and think, "oh boy, another one who thinks the liturgy has never changed," think again. I'm not defending the rigid use of TLH's setting...I'm defending the use of liturgical style and habit) yet those who we are using the language of and looking into are finding out that at least at the superficial level, there's more substance in liturgy! Combine that with the non-denom. model of worship which will inevitably lead to a lower view of worship in general and the Blessed Sacrament in particular (don't believe, me? Check out Spirit Garage and their statement on Holy Communion under Worship....yeah, that's not a low view of the Sacrament at all! I know it's ELCA...but what's to stop us!?).

Again...I'd say the Salem Lutheran Ablaze!(tm) says it all where absolutely no reverencing of the altar occurred. Call me finicky on rubrics...but when you just flat out don't give a crap about recognizing God present in worship....I find it hard to believe that a lower view of what is on the altar won't follow.

2 Comments:

Blogger P.S. an after-thought said...

I was following some faith related blogs where there was quite a discussion about how to improve worship in a certain group of churches. There were about 2 dozen suggestions. Several bloggers commented that the Lutheran service had never let go of most of the points mentioned to "improve" the service of this other tradition, including lots of Bible reading, participation, more reverence.

Then a couple of months ago, I got a US News and World Report which had a cover story about how the liturgical model with more reverance was being incorporated into a number of the more "modern" churches, the emergent groups, the more lively, hallelulia types of churches.

Again, I thought, well, I guess we Lutherans don't have to change "back" because we still have those things mentioned.

I'm gathering from your posting, that Lutheran churches come in all stripes. And so do people, so there isn't a one size fits all that is "right" but the Gospel is One Size Covers All, so lets hope that is present in those churches.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

P.S.

There is indeed one Gospel for all. The issue has more to do with the substance of faith as expressed in worship. The Lutheran theology of sacraments which recognize God's special action through means, means that we reverence and respect God as He comes to work for us as redeemer and king.

It is rather demonstrable historically that a lower view of worship walks hand in hand with a lower view of the sacraments, right from the more minimalistic Calvinist liturgy and trappings with its spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist to the Assemblies of God where when the Eucharist is celebrated it is purely an intellectual remembrance and worship is chaotic and treated like a party.

Watching "Jesus Camp" really brings that out with the little girl who starts telling what churches God likes to go to. As the Second Sunday in Easter however has shown, when St. Thomas put his fingers in Christ's wounds and side, he didn't freak out and say let's party while slapping Jesus a high five...he declares, "my Lord and my God!" Many times in Scripture to be in the presence of God is not just a party, but a time to fall on one's face in worship. When St. John does this to the angel in the Apocalypse, the angel tells him not to do such a thing to him, implying that Jesus is the one to whom it should be done.

9:17 AM  

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