Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Emerging Luther?

The latest trend in the American religious scene is the Emerging Church Movement. It is largely a reaction against the phoniness of the Church Growth Movement and a bucking of the trend toward the megachurch.

Missouri Synod leaders - especially those engaged in youth ministry - are intrigued by the movement, and are not only trying to co-opt Emerging approaches to evangelism and worship, they are actively seeking leaders of this movement from outside Lutheran circles to instruct LCMS pastors and laity as to how to implement these methods in a Lutheran context. This is happening at the synodical, district, and local levels of our church body.

The LCMS sponsored a Youth Ministry symposia featuring noted Emergent Church Movement guru Dan Kimball:

“EMERGING FROM WHAT? EXPLORING MINISTRY WITH YOUNG ADULTS.” This year’s symposium will take a serious look at how the church can be in ministry with the post-high school, twenty-something young adult. Why do we lose so many? And why does no one seem to care? How can we engage them in the life of a congregation? And what is this “thing” that has come to be known as the “emerging church?” Dan Kimball, author of “The Emerging Church,” “Emerging Worship,” and “They Like Jesus But Not the Church,” will be the featured speaker for the conference. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Associate Director for the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations will lend his theological expertise. The conference is slated for January 4-6, 2008 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at the Galleria in Houston, Texas. Conference registration is just $200 and includes three meals. Housing is available at the J.W. Marriott for only $89 per night. A registration brochure mailing will arrive in congregations the first week in September.

Rev. Dan Kimball's wrap-up of the event can be found here.

Kimball's "What Would Luther Do?" ponderings are really very interesting, especially in light of the fact that the early Lutherans had an Emerging Church Movement of its own during Luther's reformation - and it wasn't Luther. Rather it was Luther's friend and colleague at the University of Wittenberg, Andreas Karlstadt.

During Luther's 1521 exile to the Wartburg Castle, Karlstadt took temporary leadership of the reformation movement, and implemented many Emergent methods nearly five centuries before the current Emerging movement.

Karlstadt made radical changes to the cultural landscape of worship. He abolished the traditional vestments in favor of casual attire - which he wore while officiating over worship. He distanced himself from academic life, stressing his lived-out life among the ordinary people. He rejected being called "Reverend Father" and instead sought to be addressed more casually as "Brother Andreas." He made radical changes to the liturgy and music of the church. He removed the Apocryphal books from the Bible. He also rejected both infant baptism and a belief in the Real Presence in Holy Communion (both of which mirror the beliefs of the vast majority of modern day Emergents). Furthermore, Karlstadt certainly had his finger on the pulse of youth, given his marriage at the age of 38 to a 15-year old girl.

Karlstadt was really the father of the Emerging Church Movement in Lutheranism. So, What Did Luther Do?

Luther was so outraged, he returned from exile and removed Karlstadt from the ministry. Martin Luther was no radical, no revolutionary, no Emergent Leader.

Luther (and those who were later pinned with the name Lutheran) never abolished the Mass. They believe Jesus is physically present in the elements, that when the pastor consecrates the bread and wine, they are truly changed into the body and blood of Jesus. In fact, Luther condemned those who did not believe this as heretics - refusing even to consider them Christians! I don't agree with Luther on this, but I don't think Luther should be misrepresented by those he himself would have not considered to be fellow Christians.

Luther retained the traditional priestly vestments. He retained the traditional address of the pastor as "Father." In areas where it was politically and ecclesiastically possible, the Lutherans retained the bishop-priest-deacon division of the Office of the Holy Ministry - including the apostolic succession of bishops (as is the case to this day in Lutheran Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltics, and Africa). Luther (and Lutherans) believe in baptismal regeneration (and thus infant baptism) and the pastor's authority to hear confessions and forgive sins by delegated authority of Jesus Himself.

Whereas Karlstadt eliminated the elevation of the consecrated host in the Mass, Luther restored it. Whereas Karlstadt called for the abolition of statues and traditional art and music in the church, Luther restored them. True enough, Luther translated the Mass into German (as well as the Bible) and wrote hymnody, but these hymns were not (as is often asserted by urban legend) drinking tunes or bawdy pop songs. Luther's hymnody is dignified and rich, to the point where Johann Sebastian Bach arranged many of his melodies.

And while Luther translated the Mass into German, Latin Masses were still being sung in Lutheran territories into the 18th century. Until American Lutherans began to speak English, Lutheran Bibles contained the Apocrypha. Lutherans (following Luther's example) were not anti-tradition. In fact, the Lutheran default position on tradition was to retain it wherever possible. The only time tradition was jettisoned was when such traditions were contrary to scripture and the Gospel. The Lutheran Mass was virtually identical to the Roman Mass - with the exception being the part of the Roman Mass known as the canon. Luther greatly simplified the canon for the sake of the Gospel. other than that, Luther retained the sign of the cross, genuflecting, bowing, and nearly every other traditional ceremony. The early Lutherans also retained the Hail Mary prayer, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary, and even belief in the immaculate conception. While these did not have the force of canon law among the Lutherans, it's simply a fact that the Lutheran fathers believed in these doctrines and taught them. Early portraits of Lutheran leaders show them clutching rosaries.

Finally, the very heart of the Emerging movement is an accommodation of postmodern epistemology. In other words, there is a great deal of subjectivity in the Emerging movement. It is often hostile to "denominationalism." Lutheranism, by definition, draws an objective boundary around the faith in terms of specific confessed doctrine. Lutherans, by definition, confess a particular collection of historic creeds and confessions known as the Book of Concord, and do so without reservation. Such confession is seen as terribly constraining by the Emerging movement, and we are told again and again that such "denominationalism" is a stumbling block to "reaching the youth."

In my own experience as a high school campus pastor, I was admonished by a school board member: "The kids don't need all that Book of Concord stuff. They just need to know that Jesus loves them." There is an increasing belief among Lutherans that confession and doctrine are antithetical to evangelizing young people.

For all of the current LCMS "Ablaze" rhetoric about "saving the lost" and the need to use innovations for the sake of people who are going to hell, there is a rather obvious elephant in the parlor. Many LCMS leaders (at synod and district levels) are almost panic stricken at the decline in numbers within the LCMS. Kimball cites that Terry Ditmer (the Youth Ministry leader of the Missouri Synod) opened the symposia by presenting numbers and statistics about teens in the LCMS. I believe the real underlying panic is not so much hellfire as it is a "brand loyalty" and "shrinking market" approach to Lutheranism, specifically the corporate entity known as the Missouri Synod. The LCMS is treated as though it were a corporation with a product to sell, and is in need of some serious changes in marketing philosophy in order to retain its place, let alone expand, in the market. This explains the increasing reliance on corporate strategies and the constant citations and endorsements of books about business marketing and CEO-style leadership being endorsed by LCMS officials. I believe this shows a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit as well as a flawed ecclesiology. The "market share" approach to evangelism always appeals to the whims and vagaries of the current culture.

But Christianity has always been counter-cultural. The early martyrs of the Christian faith were willing to die for their confession, their objective confession of Jesus Christ. They did not seek rapprochement with the larger culture - not even for the sake of making the Christian faith appeal to outsiders. They did not try to change the nature of Christian worship to appeal to Pagan teens, nor did they strive to reinvent the terrible and horrendous image of Christianity for the sake of marketing the faith to non-believers. Instead, they went to the stake and the arena singing countercultural hymns and dying faithfully to the bafflement of the non-believer. But look what happened. The Holy Spirit worked through these countercultural "martyral" Christians. Mission work was done by standing against the anti-Christian culture, not by making the Church look more and more Pagan, nor by watering down doctrine and practice into a subjective mush for the sake of marketing and appeal to youth.

I believe the Emerging Church Movement is completely contrary to the Lutheran tradition and confession of the catholic faith. The two are like oil and water. Lutheran leaders who see the "success" of the Emerging movement and strive to do the same things in our context will ultimately follow Karlstadt's path. What did Karlstadt do? He left the Lutheran confession of the faith and served as a Reformed minister who was quite open to many Anabaptist doctrines (Luther condemned the Reformed as not even Christian, while the Lutheran confessions explicitly condemn many Anabaptist doctrines as false).

I don't agree with Luther's position that those who confess Christ and yet deny the Real Presence in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar are not Christians. However, I do think a lot of Christians - including many in the Emerging Church Movement - are deluding themselves when they try to wrap themselves in the mantle of Martin Luther. I also believe Lutheran dabblers in Emergism are on a path away from the confession of the faith per our confessional symbols, and have chosen to embrace Karlstadt over Luther. I believe the Lutheran path is to stand for the Gospel, to cling to tradition where it does not contradict the Gospel, and to avoid the ebb and flow of an ever changing cultural landscape, instead clinging to the unchanging confession of the immutable Triune God, into whose name we have been regenerated through Baptism, and by whose grace we have communion with Him in the Mass.

Anything else is, by definition, not Lutheran.


Father Hollywood said...

By way of postscript, Dan Kimball asks rhetorically if Luther would avoid preaching in pulpits and hold "theology pubs" in which to carry out his ministry.

First of all, Luther did preach in a large pulpit. He preached sermons, he did not prance around putting on a show. We have thousands of Luther's sermons, and they were not pep-talks.

Secondly, Luther did hold "theology pubs" in his own home - and there are many notes left behind of these "table talks." And yet, this kind of lecture and dialogue with students and with other clergy never, ever took the place of the church (which is what the Emerging Church Movement does). Luther preached from the pulpit, and said Mass at the altar. Luther understood that talking about Jesus is great, but what happens in Church is not merely discussing theology over a beer, but rather entering into a mystical communion in flesh and blood with Jesus. The Emerging movement doesn't see this because they are not sacramental as Luther was in his theology.

Luther would not preach at either Mars Hill Seattle or Mars Hill Grand Rapids (he would consider both to be heretical). He would be utterly appalled at what goes on in many churches that bear his name and claim his legacy.

Finally, I do believe Luther would tell us to let God be God, stop whining that the church should look like the local Starbuck's, and to grow the church by making babies instead of selfishly limiting our family sizes out of materialistic greed. The LCMS started shrinking when birth control came into vogue. Our Sunday schools would be filled if we still taught (as we did only a few years ago) that contraception is sinful. Instead, we have little materialistic families and try to sell Jesus like an iPod to the other little materialistic families.

So far, it's working great.

Anonymous said...

Hello Larry --

Thanks for commenting on my blog and I did check out your post here that you referred to.

I don't know enough about all the specifics of the biography of Martin Luther you are mentioning here to respond or comment about them - but I do want to make two comments to your post.

1) I got to be in good discussion with the leaders of the event, and I did not sense any "...LCMS is treated as though it were a corporation with a product to sell" or seeing them have "a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit" as you put it.

Instead, I listened to very passionate hearts of those caring about youth and their beliefs in Jesus, and their hearts of care and compassion for teenagers and young adults. Not once did I hear any territorial lines about being Lutheran or making sure teens and young adults become Lutherans. I just heard over and over again stories and care about teenagers knowing Jesus. Granted, statistics were shared as to raise the concern. But I sensed no panic about losing Lutherans, but about losing teenagers in general who don't know Jesus. So from my two days of being among them and listening, I sensed none of what you are referring to in terms of their being market-driven. In fact, the devotionals and prayers were so rich and beautiful and very Spirit dependant in their meetings. The discussion was constantly referring to the Spirit being the One who draws people to Jesus, not human effort. But as any missionary does, we do have our part and have to make human effort with the power of the Spirit. I have limited knowledge of the denomination, but those at this event certainly did not seem to be anything like you are describing from what I observed and listened to.

2) You also stated that "the emerging church" does not want to be bound by creeds and doctrines and is anti-denominational. There may be some, but I can attest the majority of those in what is considered "the emerging church" hold to Creeds, say them in their worship gatherings, and many,if not most emerging churches are part of a denomination. They may not promote it as their primary identity in their church name, but they are affiliated with a denomination. So I was wondering where you were concluding these things, as I have not experienced them apart from a few people. If you go to our church web site, you will see the Nicene Creed and a list of other doctrines we hold to and teach on our web site. This is common in many emerging-types of churches. If you scan some of their web sites, you will see what I am talking about. If you want me to send you a list of churches, let me know to show you.

OK, thanks for your thoughts and for posting on my blog. I did want to respond, as I felt that what I experienced with the Lutheran leaders at this event was not in alignment with how you were portraying them.

Peace in Jesus,


Father Hollywood said...

Dear Dan:

Thanks for posting.

My experience with LCMS leaders is based on being on the inside. We are constantly bombarded (by our church leaders) with numbers, statistics, polls, alarmist trends, and methodologies of slicing and dicing the data in methods that are no different than when I worked in corporate America. I don't doubt the sincerity of many who want to spread the Gospel, but there really is a sense that the Gospel is a message to be gotten out like a Nissan commercial or Nike ad, instead of an organic communion with God. There is more reliance on marketing than on preaching.

It is extremely frustrating when our leaders pound us with business books instead of the early church fathers, with gimmicks instead of sacraments.

We are constantly fed a diet of numbers - as though the LCMS is a stock to be traded on NASDAQ. That's what life in the LCMS has become. That's why I'm exasperated (but not surprised) that the introduction included poll numbers and demographic data.

I realize that the Emerging church is hard to generalize, but there are some overarching trends. I have yet to read any emerging blogs or books that proudly proclaim: "we adhere unreservedly to the Augsburg Confession" or "This church is unequivocally part of the Methodist confession of faith" or (as our confessions often say: "We believe teach and confess... and we condemn..." Instead, denominational tags are downplayed. In fact, many boast of being "postdenominational." Lutherans who try to cast themselves in the Emerging mold often shun the label "Lutheran" on their church signs.

For example, I have no idea what church body you are affiliated with. It seems to matter little to emerging church advocates whether or not one believes in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, whether baptism is regenerational, whether the office of the ministry is divine or human - though these are crucial to being Lutheran.

I don't doubt a bit that folks in your church are pious Christian people (Luther would disagree with me on that), but your methods of worship and basic doctrines are simply not compatible with Lutheranism. Our leaders are deluded if they think they can put a square peg in a round hole.

Thanks again!

L P Cruz said...

Rev. Beane,

Luther condemned the Reformed as not even Christian, while the Lutheran confessions explicitly condemn many Anabaptist doctrines as false

I have always wanted to ask you about the SSP on this, is this the reason why the SSP has no mention of reconciliation with the Reformed and other non-Lutheran bodies say the Anglicans? SSP has reconciliation statements with the RC and EO but no mention of reconciliation with other Christian bodies.


longeyemoose said...

Pastor Beane,
Well said. It is tiring, the constant bombardment of glitz from "church" sources.

I am thankful that I am fed Word and Sacrament in my parish!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear LP:

Great question. My own take on it is this (not necessarily speaking for the Society as a whole):

Before the Lutheran Reformation, there were only two communions in the entire Christian Church - the Eastern (Greek) and the Western (Latin) rites. These two communions became the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox communions today.

As Lutheranism is a direct offshoot (and intended internal reform movement) within Rome, and it was the intent of the Augsburg Reformers to effect reconciliation (though not capitulation) with the Roman Church, it makes sense that we should seek reunion first of all with our "cousins."

Secondly, the Eastern Church was in full communion with "us" (being the Western Catholic Church) prior to 1054 AD. As Western Catholics, we Lutherans naturally seek reunion with the East (again, though not through compromise of the Gospel or capitulation) - as many aspects of Eastern Christianity are praised in our confessions.

We especially seek unity with these communions as these were originally one.

The movements within Protestantism that came after us are a different story. We never had communion with them. They were more radical separations from the historic communions and splintered into literally thousands of sects.

So, historically, there is a kinship we Lutherans have with Western Catholics (such as Rome and traditional Anglo-Catholics) and Eastern Catholics (i.e. the Orthodox churches) - whereas our relationship with Protestantism (i.e. the Reformed and the Anabaptist) has always been more contentious and critical.

There is another issue as well: the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox account for the vast majority of Christendom, and they mutually recognize one another's standing (while not being in communion). Any Christian unity will go through Rome and Constantinople - whereas the minority faction of Protestants (especially when the largest bloc of historic "Protestants" (the Lutherans) are removed) is much smaller, and once again, fractured into thousands of pieces.

As Luther's remarks have been paraphrased: "I'd rather drink only the blood of Christ with the pope than drink only wine with Zwingli."

Confessionally speaking, we Lutherans are Catholic, not Protestant. You'll search in vain for the word "Protestant" in the Lutheran Confessions, but will find the word "catholic" to describe both our Church and our Faith.

This is not to say we are opposed to Christian cooperation and the desire for unity across the board. Personally, I think we're closer to the Anglican Catholic Church than anyone else in the USA. But from a historic position, our relationship with Rome and Constantinople is closer than with Protestant Christians.

L P Cruz said...

Father Hollywood,

The original Protestants are the Lutherans but sure, it is not the Protestant over there, etc that you mean. I was an RC and believe me as an RC, Lutherans are Protestants, just not those Protestants. All denying is just trying to escape the stigma. I am an ex-RC, RCs psychologically has no separate treatment of things non-RC. Of course they treat EO as EO, but all those who claim sola fide of what sort is a Prot -- to them.

You should use the word Protestant the way the RCs used them, because it was them in the first place that gave the label. I know what you mean Lutherans are not Evangelical (New) Protestants of popular ilk, but Protestants never the less.

Hmmm, reunion with Roman cousins? I am just wondering, is that not unionism? Or unionism only reserved for uniting with the Reformed, but unionism with Rome, is not unionism? How does that work?

So what is your view on the JDDJ, as LCMS you probably reject that, but a program for unionism with Rome would that not be the first step?

And "I'd rather drink only the blood of Christ with the pope than drink only wine with Zwingli.""I'd rather drink only the blood of Christ with the pope than drink only wine with Zwingli."

now, is that in the BoC ;-)?


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito,

It's not just "unionism" as you RIGHTLY pointed out ... but SYNCRETISM too ...

The bread/wafer of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass is the bread/wafer of the Antichrist. Why would anyone want to "drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."

Augustinian Successor said...

Reconciliation is NO longer possible post-Trent. The possibility is not there anymore. It was never there. So, Rome CANNOT fault the Reformation for not trying in the first place.

Secondly, it follows that reunion is only possible on OUR terms, i.e. repudiation of Trent and retropectively e.g. 12th Lateran Council and progressively Vatican 1and 2.

BUT, we know Rome is not only not willing, but more than that, INCAPABLE. She's stuck in her her own doing.

To use Luther's imagery (not analogy), Rome must first be destroyed before she can be rebuilt. For reconciliation to take place, the Law must destroy her as an INSTITUTION and the Gospel must come in to bring the light of doctrinal truth so that the city that once shone can shine again.

The Augsburg Confession is the true continuation (however imperfect) of the Catholic Succession. The outer layer has already rot, and will continue to decay until the eschatological line is finally reached, but the substance has "metamorphosed" into the Reformation.

Why did we leave in the first? Over the Gospel, and nothing else. Rome is in possession of the Gospel, but denies it, supress it, adds to it, etc. and will continue to do so. So, Rome is against the Gospel. If Rome is against the Gospel, she is against the Lord of the Gospel. She is Antichrist.

Again, why would we seek reconciliation with the Antichrist???

Augustinian Successor said...

"This is not to say we are opposed to Christian cooperation and the desire for unity across the board. Personally, I think we're closer to the Anglican Catholic Church than anyone else in the USA. But from a historic position, our relationship with Rome and Constantinople is closer than with Protestant Christians."

But the ACC is not Protestant, whereas Lutherans are Protestants. The ACC is seeking to bring in as many folks into Rome, whereas as Lutherans we seeking to show people that we are the true Catholics, and all true Catholics should seek Lutheranism as their home.

Augustinian Successor said...

The LCMS started shrinking when birth control came into vogue ...

Why stop at birth control??? Don't you realise that the one of the things the apostate Roman Church maintained in faithfulness to apostolic tradition is NO remarriage after divorce whilst one spouse is still living? Do you believe that, confess that???

I, who confess that the Church of Rome is Antichrist do hereby uphold its teaching on divorce and remarriage as biblical, patristic and catholic.

Augustinian Successor said...

The BoC identifies the Church of Rome with the kingdom of Antichrist? Why, because Rome denies the Gospel. It continues to do so today. The dividing issue as the late revered Dr. Robert D. Preus has said is justification by faith alone.

Why isn't the SSP concern about what Lutherans concern about, namely justification by faith alone??? Justification by faith alone, isn't that the very core, centre, heartbeat of Lutheranism??? Take away that, what have you? NOTHING ...

If Blessed Dr. Martin Luther were to stand in front you today, can the SSP look straight in his eye and say that justification by faith alone is not important compared to reconciliation with Rome? Can the SSP do that???

Augustinian Successor said...

"when the pastor consecrates the bread and wine, they are truly changed into the body and blood of Jesus."

Now that's not the Lutheran understanding of the "Real Presence" of Jesus IN, WITH and UNDER the species of bread and wine. The bread and wine does not change into Jesus's Body and Blood, rather Jesus becomes FOR US bread and wine. There is a sacramental union approaching a hypostatic union though not identical but in which the bread and wine no longer remains ordinary bread and wine but "divinised" and "exalted" as symbols of the here and now presence of Jesus. In other words, the sign remains, not annihilated or transformed but in union with the reality not somewhere in heaven but here and now FOR US. Jesus is not hidden from us but hidden in the bread and wine FOR US. That is how Jesus can be really and truly present, substantially in His Body and Blood for us at Communion. Jesus presence according to Lutheranism is His "definitive" presence unlike circumscriptive and repletive though *grounded* in the latter but *not* equivalent. Anything else is UNLutheran, and frankly RISIBLE.

solarblogger said...

Reconciliation is NO longer possible post-Trent. The possibility is not there anymore. It was never there.

That is an interesting question. I agree that we cannot reconcile with Rome as it is now. But I would challenge the idea that an express repudiation of Trent is the only possible way forward.

This thought came to me as I pondered Thomas Cahill's claims about John XXIII's understanding of his own office. (Cahill claims that John XXIII did not believe in papal infallibility.) Now I'm skeptical of Cahill's claim. But that did raise questions as to what would happen if Rome changed its understanding of authority in ways we had not expected. If a change was made in their understanding of the authority of the council of Trent, direct repudiation might not be called for. Though some changes in the understanding of what constitutes authority may introduce bigger problems than Trent itself.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear LP:

I don't see why I *should* use a word that others use to describe us. The Lutheran confessions avoid the term Protestant. Others call us such things, but we simply are not. You will search in vain for any such self-identification in our confessional symbols. We are Catholic Christians.

So no, we are not Protestants.

Similarly, we do not believe in consubstantiation. The Reformed tell us we do, but we don't. Hermann Sasse has a great refutation of that nonsense.

I'm also amazed at how many Reformed Christians claim Luther. Funny, because Luther thought they were all non-Christians.

Reunion with Rome as things stand now would be unionism. This is why I don't share my altar and pulpit with Roman Catholics. We are not in communion. That's the point. But, who knows what can happen in the future? Who would have ever thought they'd stop burning us at the stake? Who could have foreseen the Berlin Wall coming down?

The JDDJ is too weaselly-worded to mean anything. But I like the fact that Rome considers us "separated brethren" and don't stretch us out on racks anymore. Of course, I think some of our own church hierarchy would like to be able to use such tools against some of us. ;-)

We Lutherans are not defined by Roman Catholics, the Reformed, or the Merriam-Webster dictionary. We *are* defined by the Book of Concord - especially in its pivotal text, the Augsburg Confession.

We are Western Catholic Christians who do not deviate from the church catholic, or even the Roman Catholic Church on any article of faith as received from the fathers.

Past Elder said...

Amen, Father Hollywood!

The Rascal.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Augustinian Successor:

Whoa, easy up on the exclamation points. When you start stringing them together like that, people are going to draw conclusions you may not want them to draw.

As far as reconciliation with Rome not being possible, you better check out that old Lutheran confessional book called Matthew's Gospel, specifically Chapter 19 verse 26. ;-)

As far as the ACC not being Protestant, but the Lutherans being Protestant, I have to respond with a very scholarly "Huh?"

Both Lutherans and Anglican Catholics deny being Protestant.

Now, if you want to define being Protestant as being outside of communion with the pope, both the ACC and the Lutherans fall into that same category. However, neither the ACC nor the Lutherans define "Catholic" as being in communion with the pope. Either both are Catholic, or both are Protestant. Neither are in communion with Rome.

Finally, the SSP rule confesses the Article of Justification. Read the Rule again. Justification is in AC4, which is in the Book of Concord. Similarly, the Trinity is in the Rule of the SSP. Just because the word "Trinity" isn't explicitly mentioned in the Rule doesn't mean we deny it or that it is "not important." In fact, it is also in there, as the ecumenical creeds are part of the Book of Concord.

You really have some "anger management" issues when it comes to the SSP. You seem intent on finding a "smoking gun" of some sort to prove something sinister. You need to repent, friend, because you are shredding the 8th commandment here. To imply that a group of Lutheran men deny the Doctrine of Justification is a pretty serious charge - and frankly, you are wrong about that. A man who denies the Doctrine of Justification as clearly confessed in the Lutheran Symbols cannot be in the SSP.

It is diabolical of you to slander us in that way. Please repent of this!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Augustinian Successor:

What you confess about the Lord's Supper may be what YOU confess as an Anglican (who admits to being under the influence of Presbyterianism), but you are not stating what Lutherans believe. In fact, the Large Catechism cites Augustine in the original Latin: "Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum."

The word "fit" is operative.

The elements are changed. That's what Lutherans believe. Some Anglicans have residual Calvinism floating around, which is simply different than what we Lutherans confess. You're simply wrong about what Lutherans believe.

Where we differ from Rome is that we deny transubstantiation, the belief that the elements retain their accidental appearance of earthly elements while taking on the substance of the Lord's body and blood.

We Lutherans believe like this:

Before consecration: only bread and wine. After consecration: both bread and body, both wine and blood. There is no room for the word "symbolic" in the Lord's Supper for Lutherans. That's Zwingli/Calvin speaking.

Like Luther told Zwingli (and I as a Lutheran say to you as a Calvinist): "Hoc est corpus meum." "Est" means "is" - even if Hillary's husband would beg to differ.

If you want to know what WE believe, read the Book of Concord. If you want to differ with it, that's fine. But it is kind of crazy to tell Lutheran theologians that they don't really believe what they believe.

Father Hollywood said...


You express a common misconception about Antichrist in the Book of Concord. The papacy as an institution, not the Roman Church itself, is called Antichrist.

This is why we accept Roman Catholic baptisms as valid when someone joins one of our churches of the Augsburg Confession. We do not treat the Roman Church the same way we treat Mormons or Wiccans.

Luther was himself baptized and ordained within the Roman Church. He never repudiated his baptism, and further, used his baptism by a Roman priest as a weapon against Satan.

Not a single Lutheran pastor who was ordained to the Roman presbyterate was "re-ordained" to serve as Lutheran priests. In fact, in Sweden, Roman bishops who cut their ties with the pope continued in their episcopal ministry as Lutheran bishops. Not one was ever re-consecrated.

we Lutherans and you Reformed have some very different ways of looking at Church history. I don't mind that - but what I do mind is having Calvinism jammed into my face under the name of Lutheranism. We tend not to like that kind of thing, especially in light of the crypto-Calvinist controversy and the Prussian Union.

Lutherans are not Protestants, not Reformed, and not Calvinists.

Some Lutherans went so far as to bake metal bars in their eucharistic hosts to prevent the Calvinistic fraction of the bread during the consecration. One of the profs at Fort Wayne said when a Lutheran pastor breaks the host, he "sees the demons of Calvin flying out of there." Any guesses as to which Ft. Wayne prof said this? ;-)

L P Cruz said...

Father Hollywood,

I agree with you that the word Protestant is not in BoC. But there are many things that are not in the BoC. One of them is the need to pray the rosary.

What you are saying is that Lutherans are not Protestants in the sense of like being Reformed or generic Evangelical.

But here is the Wikipedia entry

The word Protestant is derived from the Latin protestatio meaning declaration which refers to the letter of protestation by Lutheran princes against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms against the Reformation.[1] Since that time, the term Protestantism has been used in many different senses, often as a general term to refer to Western Christianity that is not subject to papal authority.[1]

If you are protesting against the teaching of Rome i.e. that man is saved by faith + works (sacraments and all) then you are a Protestant.

You are not a Protestant when you are no longer Protesting or you think there is no longer anything to Protest about.

Perhaps that is the issue I am missing, I do not get the allergies you get with the word Protestant. That must be an American Lutheran take, no? My synod the LC(Aust) is not insecure about that label. The word is a socio-religious label. We do not Protest at those that call us Protestants, it is a general appellation that we are not Roman nor Greek Christians.

Yes I am not that form of Protestant over there, but I am a Protestant in that I call Mother Church to repent and go back to catholicism.

The Gospel is more important than the labels, at the end of the day.


Father Hollywood said...

Dear L.P.:

Again, Wikipedia is not one of the documents of the Book of Concord.

There is a reason why the Lutheran reformers shunned the word.

In the same way, you might find a reference book (written by an Atheist) that considers Christianity to be a superstitious philosophy that worships a supernatural being that doesn't exist. That's truly what they believe we are. But that doesn't mean those of us on the inside must accept their definition of who we are.

We Lutherans are on the "inside," and our constitutive collection of Symbols never describes our faith as Protestant. We are not obliged to accept Wikipedia in the manner of our self-definition.

We are simply Catholic Christians. You are free to disagree, but you are not free to impose a label on us from the outside.

And no Lutheran has EVER said there is a need to pray the rosary. Unless you can show me an example, please give the straw to the horses and make your men out of snow instead. ;-)

Brian P Westgate said...

My guess, good Fr. Beane, is Dr. Scaer the Elder. I presume he means flying out of the host.
Would you please explain your statement of being close to the Anglican Catholic Church? How are we close to them? What separates us?

Father Hollywood said...

Hi Brian:

Great guess, but the answer is...

Wait for it...


I think he has nightmares that feature Calvin, Pietists, and Schmucker.

The ACC is a Catholic church (Anglo-Catholic) with roots in the Oxford Movement that broke away from the Episcopal Church when the latter started "ordaining" women. The ACC is Catholic, but from the Anglican tradition - which liturgically has some traces of Luther - such as the very-Luther influenced Psalter in the Book of Common Prayer (the 1928 edition, of course), and the "comfortable words" which have their origin in a Lutheran pastor (I forget the details, Google knows), as well as the audible verba. The Gloria in Excelsis in the typical ACC Mass is the same chant as used in the TLH.

They do retain the full canon, however.

Unlike some in the Anglican tradition, they reject Reformed understandings of the Eucharist - even where confessed in the 39 Articles.

A few years back, I attended an ACC Mass that fell on October 31 (Christ the King in the ACC), and my dear friend Father Joe DeHart, on the fly, changed the closing hymn to "A Mighty Fortress"). The Reformation in England could have gone in the direction of the Augsburg Confession, but for the sake of politics didn't.

Interestingly, our Lutheran brethren in Sweden, such as the "real" Lutherans in the Mission Province, are in full communion with orthodox Anglican groups like the ACC. They have a different understanding of church fellowship than we do in the LCMS.

Past Elder said...

My greatest lesson in ecclesiology came at the first pot luck I attended as a Lutheran. There was regular coffee and decaf. The regular was labelled "Lutheran" and the decaf "Protestant".

Brian P Westgate said...

Rast makes sense. My second guess was going to be the sainted Dr. Marquart.
What is the position on communion of the Mission Province? Also, how did the ACC end up with Christ the King, being outside of the Roman Church? What do they say about justification?

Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Father Hollywood wrote:
Whereas Karlstadt eliminated the elevation of the consecrated host in the Mass, Luther restored it.

Interesting. A parishioner came to me Sunday with a list of Luther quotes lifted from Table Talk against the Elevation. Since I elevate and genuflect during the consecration, he wanted to know how I squared that with Luther. Actually, the gentleman is supportive of my practice, but he was somewhat concerned.

Can you point me to a reference for Luther's approval of the Elevation and/or when he may have changed his position?

Thanks for the great post and the stimulating discussion!

Father Hollywood said...

Fr. Jon:

Great to hear from another Kantorei brother!

There was a great discussion over at Pr. Weedon's blog: Weedon's Blog: On the Elevation

You will find cited there AE 53:82, from the 1526 German Mass in which Luther explans the reason for retaining the elevation. The footnote there mentions that the elevation was eventually abolished in Wittenberg in 1542 (according to remarks on Weedon's blog, while Luther was out of town).

Luther went back and forth on it. If it became a matter of confession one way or the other, we would either use it or not use it.

In our day and age, I think it's important to use it. Our religious culture is overwhelmingly Protestant and de-sacramentalized. Our sinful flesh needs to be reminded of what is really going on unseen to our eyes. I find elevation and genuflection communicate our doctrine of the Lord's Supper far better than only reciting the Catechism (though obviously both means of communication ought to be used).

I would respond to your parishioner that if your congregation is in danger of seeing the Lord's Supper as a propitious sacrifice (a human work designed to merit the forgiveness of sins) - which Luther had to deal with from time to time - then by all means, abolish the elevation. Somehow, I doubt that this is the case in any of our congregations today.

Once again, great to hear from you!

Father Hollywood said...


"Luther went back and forth on it. If it became a matter of confession one way or the other, we would either use it or not use it."

The "we" should read "he."

Mea culpa.

L P Cruz said...
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Father Hollywood said...

LP Cruz opined: "Honestly I think you do not consider Protestants (your term) Christians."

This is absolutely a false assertion. Anyone with a shred of sense knows better. I have close blood relations who are Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and several stripes of Protestant - all of whom I *know* to be Christians - including my sainted Baptist mother who was the first to read those sacred words "In the beginning..." to me before I could read.

LP Cruz needs to engage his brain before putting his keyboard into gear.

I have no problem with lively debate nor spirited discussion, but I won't tolerate slanderous character assassinations.

Mr. Cruz's post has been removed, and I don't welcome any further posts from him at this point.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Regarding the elevation, if I may share my two cents or so. The topic comes up often in Luther's writings, from early to late. But a few important points should be kept in mind.

The Elevation is essentially an adiaphoron for him, which means that certain contextual factors will determine how he speaks of it in this or that situation. His own opinion, though, favors it. He specifically calls for it in both of his masses. He offers an apology for it on various levels in many of his writings, for example, the Sermon on the New Testament, That is, on the Holy Mass (1520), his Maundy Thursday Sermon (1521), Against the Heavenly Prophets, the Table Talk, etc.

Perhaps most revealing to me on this was when I learned from Edward Ferederick Peters' dissertation that the conventional impression that Luther dropped the elevation late in his life in Wittenberg is simply inaccurate. The decision was made by the pastor, Johann Bugenhagen, the one to whom Luther deferred as the bishop of Wittenberg. He dropped the elevation in the town church in the summer of 1542 when he returned from his trip to Denmark. Soon after, Luther wrote to Prince George of Anhalt,

"...Even though I did not do it for myself, rather it was done by Dr. Bugenhagen, nevertheless, I did not want to fight about it. And up until now itr has been completely immaterial, whether or not one elevates, as was done here, or whetehr or not one omits it as in Magdeburg and practically all of Saxony."

Luther was not interested in getting into a public fight with his good friend over a matter of this sort. I do find it interesting, though, that on at least one occasion he says at table that he did not approve of Bugenhagen abolishing the elevation in his absence, probably referring to Bugenhagen dropping the elevation in the castle church already in 1539.

Even practices that are essentially adiaphora are fraught with meaning for those who will see it, and those who will hear of it. Therefore I personally think it was unwise and unfortunate that the elevation was dropped in Wittenberg, the place that was, while Luther was alive, the spiritual home of the Reformation churches. It seems Luther had to engage in a lot of explaining to folks close and far when this happened. If Luther would have been bishop of Wittenberg I think a more traditionalist approach would have been taken.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


You and Grace haven't met my new Bride Celia, but you would like her. I gave her this to read, and as she was reading the first Italicized part she says, "They have it backwards. It seems like they like 'Church' but don't like Jesus."

Is that not an insightful comment? I love my wife.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

This is a great post about what is going on.

One thing I noticed, is the LCMS is worried about church growth, but much of that can be solved by personally going out in the world, talking to people, and inviting them in. I have noticed this is a major area lacking in Lutheranism.

I also don't understand the confusion over people in their 20's. Are the Boomers really this confused? They aren't aliens from another planet.

Just reach out to people, as if they were extended family. Is it that hard?

coldenburg said...

Just a small clarification. The reaction in this post against the idea of Emerging Luther could be an OVER reaction to a side of the pendulum. Trying to prove whether Luther or his opponents were Emergent through and through is not a deserving argument.

You wrote: "Luther (and those who were later pinned with the name Lutheran) never abolished the Mass."

It is worthy to note that . . .
1. Luther did rewrite the mass so that it could be understood.
2. If you read his reasoning for using a Latin mass or German mass it had to do with being faithful with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the mission field - both near and far.

Both of those concepts, speaking a language that could be understood and being missional, are what some of the emergent conversation is about. So was Luther emergent? No - that is a contemporary term. Did he share characteristics of SOME emergent thinkers, like Dan Kimball? Yes. Speaking the language of the culture for the sake of mission is a shared characteristic.

What is really funny is that Jesus did the same thing.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Coldenburg:

No, Luther did not "rewrite" the Mass. He "translated" from one language to the other (German to Latin). There is a big difference.

It was a faithful and traditional translation of that which was ancient. He didn't change the words or the rituals to appease demographics: age, culture, hipness, etc. The only real change he made was for the sake of theology (the removal of most of the canon) - and that had nothing to do with "culture."

The same is true of his bible translation. He faithfully rendered the Word of God from Latin to German - that's very different than translating the Latin into a slang used by a small faction of Germans, or by changing the message to make it more "missional" or easier to "sell."

The people literally did not speak Latin. Musically, Luther did substitute a musical form for congregational singing that simply worked better with German than Latin. But this was not to for reasons of "hipness" or to appease the wants of a segment of the population - rather it really is a technical linguistic matter. Latin's inflections make Gregorian chant fit the language better. Metered music suits the German language better. Luther did not change the Mass or its rituals to conform to standards set by the entertainment industry or the market-driven "youth culture" nor even for the sake of being "missional." It was simply the practical matter that the people spoke German.

Secondly, the German Mass was not for the "mission field." The Mass was translated into German because that's what they spoke in Germany - which had already been Christian since St. Boniface brought the Gospel in the 8th century. However, when Lutheran missionaries did bring Christ to other cultures by way of the Mass, they faithfully translated it and left the ritual intact. I'm thinking of a classmate who visited Kenya, and was delighted that the Kenyan Lutherans often worship in mud huts, but they sing the Lutheran Mass in traditional four part harmony just as they learned it from the Swedes.

The modern conventional wisdom says this can't work. And yet the African Lutherans are more traditionalist than most American Lutherans.

So much for the idea that being "missional" means being "anti-traditional." The greatest "missional" period in church history was under Pope Gregory the Great (which is where we get the term "Gregorian Chant") - and the Mass, mostly in Latin, sung and chanted reverently, went all over Europe. There was no need to abolish the Mass for the Barbarians.

The idea of having one service for artists, one for farmers, one for the young, one for the old, one for the coffee-shop folks, and another one for the people who don't like cabbage would be utterly foreign to Luther and his contemporaries.

The Emerging Movement isn't about speaking in the vernacular language. To state it that way is dishonest. We all speak English. What the Emerging Movement is trying to do is make the Church conform to a secular culture, a "youth culture" that is totally fabricated by Madison Avenue executives. It is, by definition, anti-traditional - even though it takes some elemts of traditionalism "cafeteria style." Instead of submitting to tradition, it seeks to impose a pale imitation of tradition from below.

The Emerging Movement is based on the premise that style and substance can be independent of one another. However, the ancient saying "lex orandi, lex credendi" still holds true - that style has an effect on substance, and vice versa. Luther knew this, and this is why he was such a staunch traditionalist, why he booted Karlstadt out, and restored traditional worship.

I'm just asking people to be honest in their historical assessments. Luther was a traditionalist. He did not accede to the premises of the modern movement.

Furthermore, the Christian community is trans-cultural. By clinging to the Christian culture, we can all participate - just like in my congregation where folks who listen to rap, pop, heavy metal, country, hip-hop, classical, and everything in between can unite around word and sacrament on a Sunday morning, singing hymns ancient and modern, driven by the holy texts rather than by personal tastes. This is impossible in the youth-obsessed Emerging churches.

It's not very "missional" to go out into the world and seek after a tiny slice of the demographic.

In the real world of the ministry, we spend a lot more time with old folks than with the young. Older sheep have needs that consume a lot of our time. And they matter too. Of course, you don't hear a lot of Emerging leaders wringing their hands as to how to reach out to the elderly who bear the cross of aches and pains, and who are closer to eternity than the demographic that finds it a priority to incorporate body piercings and tattoos with their Christian life.

Mark my words: we'll be looking back at the fad of the Emerging Church as soon as the Next Big Thing is dreamed up by the church marketing crowd. But the Word of the Lord endures forever.

RevFisk said...

Ft. Hollywood -

I wish you'd post lie this more often.

And well said: I'm a rostered pastor in the LC-MS, 29 years old, and deeply concerned with salvation (by grace *through* faith) for all people, both those who love Jesus and hate the Church, those who love the Church and forget Jesus, and those who can't stand either largely because of both.

In the two years since I graduated Sem., I have had the great blessing to be involved in many critical events with people who never would darken the door of a parish, much less be darkened by the presence of the standard Christian sales pitch. By and large, (even those raised in churches) are most surprised to learn that the whole shebang is really about the resurrection of Jesus (the man) from the dead. For all the evangelism that everyone everywhere think's they're doing by putting John 3:16 and Gen. 1:1 on billboards, apparently very few are ever hearing any actual message about a vicarious death and resurrection of the Son of God for the sake of the cosmos, man included.

My point. This last week, in the lounge of an Amtrak train, I was involved in a conversation until 3 am with no less than 7 people all under the age of 30. One was a proud celtic pagan (irish by decent,) another an ex-reformed new ager, another an ex-Roman humanist philosopher, another an ex-DCE homosexual free-though-relativist, another a lead man from a grunge band in Seattle.

Crazy thing. They ALL spoke English. And they all prodded me to continue explaining what I called "real" Christianity to them. Whether or not they received Jesus into their hearts at that moment, every single one of them heard the Gospel, and at least one of them started telling others that to understand my arguments you had to first assume as a platform the acceptance of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as historical fact.

THAT's the REAL emerging Church in mission. It doesn't happen Sunday morning around coffee beating off the hangover. It happens out among the heathen. Lord have mercy, some of them will one day join us at the Banquet of Eternity.

Oh. And yeah! MAKE BABIES! AMEN!

coldenburg said...
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coldenburg said...

So you removed my post from yesterday. Is it because I asked why you were so volatile? Is it because you wrote that Luther did not use the Latin Mass for missional purposes and I shared something from Luther's writings that he did? Is it because you were not sure if rewriting and translating were alike? Why is it you selectively remove postings?

Let me give you another one about rewriting the Mass. Will you remove this one as well?

The Lutheran confessors wrote that “the community of God in every place and at every time has the right, authority, and power to change, to reduce, or to increase ceremonies according to its circumstances, as long as it does so without frivolity and offense but in an orderly and appropriate way, as at any time may seem to be most profitable, beneficial, and [best] for good order, Christian discipline, evangelical decorum, and the edification of the church.” (Solid Declaration, Article X. Church Usages #9)

It seems that rewriting is a very Lutheran thing. Hmmm.

Father Hollywood said...


I removed your previous post to save you embarrassment. I did not call attention to doing so, nor to the nature of that post. This blog is like my house. If people were invited to my house, but become rude, they would be invited to leave. I expect my guests to be ladies and gentlemen at all times - even (and especially) in disagreement. Ad hominem attacks are out of bounds.

Your current remark about FC10 is a great point. We Christians do have evangelical liberty - even in matters of the liturgy. But the liberty is "evangelical" - and is contained within limits. Notice how the reformers use words like: "without frivolity and offense..." and "orderly and appropriate" and "order" "discipline" and "decorum."

This is why they retained vestments, the sign of the cross, genuflecting, elevating, statues, crucifixes, chanting, etc.

What they mean in FC10 is not "anything goes" - as shown by the example of the reformers themselves. Like the sainted Dr. Marquart pointed out, the evangelical freedom in FC10 involves things such as whether to speak or chant the collect - it doesn't mean we are free to abolish the liturgy and turn it into an entertainment spectacle.

You will find all sorts of mischief in LCMS churches under the banner of FC10 - clowns, balloons, dancing girls, heavy metal, rap, drama, prancing preachers, racy sermon themes, preaching about movies, polka services, and every other manner of gimmick and entertainment. Any criticism of these things is met with the playing of the "missional card" (if you oppose them you hate Jesus and don't care about the lost - let alone Southeastern Conference football).

But FC10 must be read in conjunction with (rather than in opposition to) AC15. Lutheranism is a reformation, not a revolution. It is a continuation, not a repudiation. And if I can come up with one more alliteration, I can go toe to toe with Jesse Jackson, but alas, I'm only a manuscript-bound Lutheran preacher, so I have to stop right there.

Lutheran worship is, by definition, liturgical, traditional, reverent, centered on the mystery and miracle of the Mass in Word and Sacrament, rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ - and is not like a weathervane twisting around with every whim of the culture.

I think G.K. Chesterton's quip about tradition (from his book Orthodoxy, which turns 100 years old this year) is in order:

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."

This is especially true for us Christians who confess that the dead in Christ are worshiping with us, that our liturgy is a glimpse into their liturgy, that we aren't simply "doing our own thing" here cut off from the Church Triumphant, but we do in fact worship (as the traditional liturgy proclaims): "with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven..."

And when you think in those terms, the Emerging Movement (and all other radical anti-liturgical fads that they come and go) seems terribly selfish and small. If wearing jeans and drinking coffee is more important than the mystery of the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ - well, there are plenty of "houses of worship" out there with cup-holders for the Starbucks. They just aren't compatible with the sacramental and Christocentric theology imbedded within Lutheran Christianity.

I think Kimball's book title has it right when he says "they hate the Church." The Church is Jesus' bride. And as the Lutheran confessions also state (in quoting St. Cyril): You can't have God for your Father without the Church as your mother.

I'm tired of people trying to paint my Mother up like a hussy. Our current culture has no idea how to treat a lady.

William Weedon said...


Another point that might of interest in the discussion with Lito and others is that the Book of Concord not only does not use the word "Protestant", but does not even one time use the word "Lutheran." As Poitrot would say: "It gives one furiously to think."