Monday, May 09, 2005

On being strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus...

It seems like I'm sticking my nose into LCMS business too often, but it seem unavoidable because I visit confessional Lutheran LCMS blogs frequently. They don't seem to mind my comments and I am genuinely interested their issues. Therefore, I will return the favor by asking for input on this thread found at the WELS blog, Imprint. This thread is, to me, the first time I've seen in writing concerns I've had over things I have heard secondhand. Here is an excerpt of one comment that really struck me:

... a note about Contemporary Worship. Anybody with direct experience worshiping with pop-church evangelicals... and particularly with the Charismatics and Pentecostals during the Charismatic Renewal of the 1970’s ... sees very clearly why Contemporary Worship (which is just a euphemism for Charismatic Worship) has no place among Confessional Lutherans. Charismatic Worship is an invention of the Pentecostals that is designed to deceive worshipers into believing that the Holy Spirit is at work in them by means of their worship, in direct proportion to their zeal and fervor, where the Holy Spirit’s work is measured by the type and level of euphoria experienced by the worshipers. All charismatic worship forms and music (including elements such as chord progression, arrangement, lyrics, etc.) are designed from the opening chord to serve these false doctrines – we don’t need these forms and this music serving false doctrine in our congregations as well. Confessional Lutheran congregations that reject the notion that worship is a means of grace, and see the act of worship as a sacrifice in which the worshiper offers to God, not as a sacrament in which he receives from God, should seek to perpetuate this truth with worship forms and music that reflect it, not contradict it in the manner of Contemporary or Charismatic Worship – particularly if it is just to placate an addiction to pop-music.

I don't know Douglas, the person, who posted this comment on Imprint, but his story is welcome here at Be Strong in the Grace. I'm not pointing fingers; the ELS is just as vulnerable as the WELS in discerning false teachings. There is no balancing act between keeping Jesus' teachings and being seeker-friendly. The dam can be broken by just one tiny hole. The water seeps in very, very slowly at first. We fool ourselves into thinking we are so smart these days, but these same issues have faced Christians in all times. Douglas closes his comment with this quote from Charles Krauth back in 1871:

The idea that we need to “maintain balance” on this issue rankles me, given how clear it is to me, and reminds me of a quote by Charles Krauth in 1871, that was used by P.E. Kretzmann in his essay “Fundamental and Non-fundamental Doctrines – and Church Fellowship”. It doesn’t precisely fit the discussion at hand, but is worth remembering regardless, so I close with it, below.

And under the heading, “Course of Error in the Church,” … Krauth [in his The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology] writes:

When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages in its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few and weak; let us alone, we shall not disturb the faith of others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in for this time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the Church. Truth and error are two coordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their repudiation is that they repudiate that faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it. (p. 195 f.).


Josh Schneider said...

The quote from Krauth is excellent, and hits the nail on the head for how false doctrine creeps in. Regarding contemporary worship, I certainly agree that it can promote a false understanding of the working of the Spirit, and often the lyrics are 'me-centered.' I think contemporary music should be resisted mainly because it doesn't convey the Gospel well, and is subject to the idea that the music should be catered to people's likes and dislikes. It also is typically associated with a theology of glory. I don't believe contemporary music is sinful, per se, but for the above reasons I think there are much better alternatives (i.e. historic liturgy and hymnody). Also, I find that the contemporary music has very little 'staying-power', by which I mean you can get sick of it very quickly, and it has little lasting substance that might be of comfort in times of trial. I think in choosing worship music, we should always seek to present the best and the highest forms of music as our 'spiritual sacrifice.' Not watered down stuff that makes us feel good.

TKls2myhrt said...


Thanks for your excellent comments.

Josh Schneider said...

Btw, I don't dislike all CCM. I listen to several Christian rock bands that I got into during my college days. While I don't value them much for their theology, I think that they are talented musicians and I like some of the music (e.g. FIF). There's certainly nothing wrong with a Christian finding their vocation as a musician/entertainer, and singing about their faith. Or just being a musician and not having every song have overtly Christian messages. Just my opinion on that ;)