Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Pastor Weedon said!

On his blog this morning, Pr. Weedon posted the following:
The notion that everything in the Divine Service should be utterly clear, transparent, and understandable to the unbelieving and uncatechized person who happens upon it, is absolutely and totally destructive of the faith itself. Illumination comes THROUGH the Spirit's use of the Word; not TO it.  What part of "and the darkness did not comprehend it" is incomprehensible to these liturgical innovators???
Exactly!  The impetus to pitch the hymnals and remove all "obstacles" (you know, "obstacles" like vestments, candles, pulpits, altars, hymns, Creeds, sermons, Law and Gospel, sin and grace, reverence, etc.) in order to make "church" more appealing to unbelievers comes straight from the pit of hell.  The old evil foe delights greatly when people set out to make church a place for people who don't like church.  Nothing pleases him more than to see Christians consulting unbelievers to see what they want and desire in a church, collecting the data, and then designing their "worship experience" around it.  Were Wormwood to write and inform Uncle Screwtape that he had convinced his "patient" to let unbelievers set the agenda for what is done in the "patient's" church, I dare say Uncle Screwtape would be most heartily pleased with Wormwood's efforts.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again and again) - the Divine Service is FOR THE CHURCHED (believers), not FOR THE UNCHURCHED (unbelievers).  It consists of a language that must be learned, for that language is a heavenly language recognized only by those with Spirit-wrought faith.  The Divine Service is the gathering of the faithful children of God around His Holy Word and Sacraments to receive the Divine Gifts He graciously and lovingly desires to distribute to them.  In response, the faithful pray, praise, and give thanks to God, speaking back to Him the Words He has given them to speak.  One must be catechized to understand what is truly going on the Divine Service.  If an unbeliever walks in off the street, what is happening in the Divine Service will be foreign to him.  If it's not; if it's all too familiar, then something is woefully wrong.

None of this means that we don't do our very best to make visitors feel welcome or take measures to help them at least try to follow along during the Service (a detailed bulletin with page numbers goes a long way toward that).  We should also make sure to identify visitors and greet them after the Service, etc.  But, to design the Service around them - to change the language and remove all perceived "obstacles" so that they feel right at home - is destructive of the faith itself, as Pr. Weedon notes, but it also fails to benefit the visiting unchurched, unbelieving person as well, for it passes the faith off as something it is not and deceives them into believing that the church is no different from the world, and so on.

Besides all this, there is the whole Lutheran thing at play here.  Lutherans do not "do church" like others.  They can't, since their confession of the faith and theology of worship, which flows out of that confession, differs from the confession of the faith others make (or, go out of their way not to make).  Thus, it should go without saying, but sadly needs to be said these days, that the following slogan should never, ever - no, not EVER! - be uttered by a Lutheran:

No comments: