If This Is How We Pray, What Do We Believe?

A rather disturbing video of an Ablaze!(c) event is available online. The event took place at Salem Lutheran Church in Houston, TX. President Kieschnick spoke at this “worship”. Beginning with shofar and an idiosyncratic confession of sins, the “worship” moves to liturgical dance and then something which might remind one of the Lord’s Supper if all the dispensationilist trappings were removed. If this is where the LCMS has moved or is moving to, there are serious questions which need to be asked by every pastor and congregation faithful to the witness of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. There are so many questions—and I fear the answers. Personally, I am so weary of wackos taking over the Lutheran Church. In the ELCA the left-wing revisionist have seized the reins. If this “worship” which featured Lutheran bishops from overseas (some of whom were not amused by the foolishness) is how the LCMS wants to present the Gospel and itself to the world, it can hardly be considered Lutheran. Has Zola Levitt superseded Loehe, Walther, Pieper and Sasse in matters of worship and doctrine? The “worship” seems like some sort of dispensationalist production with tiny remnants of classical Lutheran liturgy. If this is what Ablaze!(c) is all about, then it seems more like the flames of hellfire than the kindling of the Holy Spirit.

Posted by pomeranus.

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6 comments on “If This Is How We Pray, What Do We Believe?

  1. Tim Frakes says:

    Dear Pomeranus,
    This blogs header says …”IS NOT MEANT TO BE A PLACE OF CONTENTION…” yet your post says, “…I am so weary of wackos…” and “…dispensationilist trappings…”. The worship portrayed in the video didn’t look too appealing to me, either. But it really makes the body of Christ look bad when we tear each other apart in public forums like this blog. In the spirit of admonishment, please consider an attitude check.

    Tim Frakes

  2. pomeranus says:

    Dear Tim Frakes,
    I have taken an attitude check and stand by the concerns expressed in the post. My concerns are not simply matters of taste. We have no desire to engage in foolish discussions or conflict simply for the joy of contention. This does not mean that we cannot express concerns and frustrations about events or actions or statements which run counter to a clear witness to the Gospel. The service under discussion was a public witness on an international scale. It was not a private act which could be dealt with merely on a private level. From Paul’s admonition to Peter to the stance of Rhabanus Maurus on public offense to Luther’s discussion of such things in the Large Catechism, there are clear examples of the necessity to take issue with that which undermines the clear witness to the Gospel. Dispensationalism is not merely a label thrown out in a spirit of name-calling. It is and was meant to be a clear identification of what was wrong with the service in Houston. One would hope that pastors and officials of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod present at the event would have been theologically astute enough to recognize the dangers inherent in the attitudes and teachings expressed in the course of that service.

    As noted before, it is more than a matter of taste. It is a matter of Truth. The Lutheran liturgy has a proven history of clearly proclaiming both Law and Gospel and Christ as our sole salvation. The admixture of elements at odds with the Lutheran confession of the truth, leads to confusion. The purpose of expressing concerns is not to “make Christ look bad,” but to let Christ be proclaimed clearly and rightly. The offense is not in the concern expressed here, but the carelessness of those who planned and participated in that service. They put the visiting bishops on the spot, having to go along with what they recognized as a clouding of the Gospel or to make some gesture of disapproval and thereby appear to be troublemakers. Apparently one bishop had the integrity to do just that.

    The LCMS, as a large and prestigious representative of confessional Lutheranism, has a great responsibility to the brothers and sisters throughout the world who look to it for leadership and a faithful witness. When a public event is held which is not in concord with the Scriptural, confessional, and historical witness of the Church, it is important to discuss those things which are of concern. As one who witnessed the demise of confessional loyalty in the ELCA, my weariness is genuine as is my sadness at seeing so much which went awry in that body repeating itself in the LCMS. If we cannot discuss this matter for fear that we might be labeled as those who make the body of Christ look bad, then we should openly and publicly proclaim that being nice is more important to us than faithfully proclaiming the Gospel. The discussion deals with matters which affect every congregation and believer in the LCMS and beyond.

    May the discussion continue with all due concern for the integrity of Lutheran worship and proclamation.

    Pomeranus — ein heftiger Mensch und grober Pommer.

  3. Matt says:

    Pomeranus,

    Thanks for pointing this out.

    Keep in mind… Oh am I about to offend somebody, not you, but somebody… Keep in mind that it’s the tiny minds of the body of Christ who make the charge that we making the body of Christ look bad when we do (insert pietistic nonsense here). By the definition this guy gave, the early church should have left Marcion, Arius and Pelagius alone.

    Now, back to this video… This is theatre. What’s worse, this is contrived worship. Luther condemns this in his smalcald articles, on repentence, when he said that repentence is not active contrition, but rather it’s passive. The new LSB, rightly so, calls for NO MUSIC during confession and absolution for this very reason.

    Did anyone else notice the Corpus without the cross? What’s that about?

    This has more in common with the Emergent Church movement. The Acolytes dancing? What happened to bowing before the chancel? Is this video edited? The acolytes don’t bring the offerings of bread and wine. I’d have to check, but even Justin Martyr in his apology didn’t have the acolytes bring the offering. And the offering is supposed to come after…

    Wait a second. My heart just sank. I’ve seen this before. I’m guessing that the simple words of institution aren’t enough? He just mixed Law and Gospel right there at the alter!!! “He promises… IF you believe”.

    This makes me so angry. I hope someone takes Kieschnick to task for this. I have said this before and I’ll say it again. I RAN FROM EVANGELICALISM’S MIXING OF LAW AND GOSPEL AND FOUND THE LC-MS. I AM NOT WALKING BACK TO THAT WITH THE REST OF YOU! There is serious breach of the distinction between Law and Gospel here, and it’s terrible.

    Do you hear me leaders? That’s enough.

  4. pomeranus says:

    Matt,
    Thank you for your insightful comments. One of the issues we have to face is how just parroting words does not make one Lutheran let alone a Confessional Lutheran. In our post-modern culture, all sorts of things which are mutually exclusive are allowed to stand together without any attention to the inherent contradictions. Experience shows that what loses out is Lutheran theology and, as a consequence, the clear proclamation of the Gospel.
    You hit it on the head with your observations on the mixing of Law and Gospel and the denial of the Wittenberg Concord which affirmed that the presence of Christ is not dependent on us humans. The insights of the concord were taken up in the FC.
    We really need to discuss what happens to our understanding of the Lord’s Supper when it is celebrated in such an informal manner that its significance is changed to a Bultmannian kind of celebration of our common humanity. Even though words are mouthed about the Real Presence of Christ, the actions cry out: this is all about us! This trend has taken hold in the Roman Catholic Church also.
    Is there enough outrage to make a difference? When the ELCA began its descent into madness, I was convinced that one needed only point out what was at stake and what was afoot. The reaction was indifference and even hostility. One need not fear being offensive by making one’s case too strongly. The hostility will come no matter how gently the case is made. It is the case for the Gospel which offends.
    Luther’s 92nd thesis from 1517 hits home:
    Valeant itaque omnes illi prophet, qui dicunt populo Christi: Pax, pax, et non est pax.

    pomeranus

  5. RevFisk says:

    Matt,

    Don’t leave. We need you to stay and fight. Be the burr in the ear of the people who are abandoning the Gospel. Don’t walk down the wide open road with them, but point them to the narrow path they’ve left!

    Thank you!

  6. Gene says:

    Great blog. Great insight. I’ve been a confessional LCMS Lutheran for years, but I fear that it’s coming to an end for me. The service in the video was heinous. My own congregation is in Texas, and, to my utter dismay, we have become a happy-clappy “Shine Jesus Shine” group.

    I have thought long and hard about staying with the LCMS. I have fought this slouching to Gomorrah in my own congregation to no end. I’ve decided that for confessional Lutherans like me in Texas, the WELS is the only way to go.

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