Friday, January 26, 2007

The Deceit of Contemporary

Contemporary/Alternative/non-liturgical worship is not a new invetion. Short-sighted pastors and congregations get all excited about what a tool such non- or anti-liturgical worship could be for outreach and education.

In 1920, Bjug Harstad, then President of the Norwegian Synod wrote:

"The unclarity, lukewarmness and liberalism of the times are dangerous because several harmful things follow from them. Because people do not stress the heart's inner life of faith and heartfelt appropriation of God's undeserved grace and gifts, the forgiveness of sin, life and salvation through faith alone without the deeds of the law, then no particular desire to dwell much with the doctrine of God's essence, attributes, grace and the Means of Grace, is felt, but mostly the need for cooperating in the externals. Meetings and talks revolve then most around practical things, man's own undertakings, often completely ordinary worldly business which sometimes is praised as Christians' deeds of love, while a precise exposition of one or another important doctrine would produce disturbance and disagreement. Must I ask if such church work is anything other than idolatry before God?

This tendency makes the church worldly, especially when with it follows a desire to seek support from the world, whether it now is called knowledge, great men, the will of the people, or a state. That this brings destruction ought we now have learned both from the history of the church and the world in our time. The one has drawn down sickening doubt and crass rationalism, but the other various kinds of socialism, refined anarchism and Bolshevism. Brotherly admonition and chastisement among the pastors and in the congregations is neglected.

Our church body has long ago laid the Word and will of God concerning church discipline on the table. Would that we could revive it in word and action!

"Another fruit of that basic error is that people are vying with each other to gather many members into a large congregation as if the main goal was to get people to enter their names in the external church organization and contribute to it. Lutheran congregations also admit persons who are members of societies which are enemies of Christ, in the false thought that it ought to in order to make them Christians, while, however, among honorable people, the admission signifies a mutual recognition of each other's belief and principles. Before admission the applicant ought to be well instructed about the congregation's confession, purpose and means, so that he himself as well as the congregation can know if he desires admission in order to enjoy the congregation's goods in the Word and Sacraments. People ought not tempt anyone to halt between two opinions."

The only thing a contemporary worship service can teach is that the people at that church no longer think that Confessional Lutheran worship is of value.