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An Apology for the Historic Lutheran Divine Service LPLC 2009 Rev

An Apology for the Historic Lutheran Divine Service LPLC 2009 Rev

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Published by pastorcurtis
An apology for traditional Lutheran worship.
An apology for traditional Lutheran worship.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: pastorcurtis on Aug 30, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV.1 and an Apology for the Historic LutheranDivine Service
Opening Remarks atThe First AnnualLiturgical Parish Life ConferenceTrinity Lutheran Church – Worden, IL3 February A+D 2007 (revised for 2009)Rev. Pr. H. R. Curtis
Confessional Minimalism vs. The Confessional Mindset
In his seminal essay,
Why Why Should Our Pastors, Teachers and Professors SubscribeUnconditionally to the Symbolical Writings of Our Church
, CFW Walther gives this definition of thecontent of an unconditional (
) subscription to the Confessions:Whatever position any doctrine may occupy in the doctrinal system of the Symbols, whatever theform may be in which it occurs, whether the subject be dealt with ex professo or onlyincidentally, an unconditional subscription refers to the whole content of the Symbols and doesnot allow the subscriber to make any mental reservation in any point. Nor will he exclude suchdoctrines as are discussed incidentally in support of other doctrines, because the fact that they areso used stamps them as irrevocable articles of faith and demands their joyful acceptance byeveryone who subscribes to the Symbols (CTM XXVIII[1947].4: 16-17)If a man will come this far, if he will swear to uphold the entire doctrinal content of the Confessions – including those doctrines which are mentioned only in passing – then I will consider him a brother, afellow Confessional Lutheran and heir to our great theological heritage. This is what I will call theConfessional Minimum. Without this unequivocal acceptance of the doctrinal content of our Confessions, there can be no true Lutheran Church. Those ecclesiastical jurisdictions who haveeschewed such a
subscription have proven that.Today I know of no one in our midst who actually argues for doing away with this ConfessionalMinimum. One could certainly argue that certain doctrines of the Confessions are honored more in the1
 breach than in the main, but at least all agree to swearing to this Confessional Minimum. There is atouchstone, a standard, a
norma normata
against which we can all be judged and to which we can all becalled when we err from it.But there is something more to the Confessions, something that goes beyond the mereformulation of doctrinal statements. The Mindset of the Confessions determines the way questions areapproached. The Confessions establish the general hermeneutic of what Krauth calls “the ConservativeReformation.” The basic divide between those who advocate a mere Confessional Minimalism andthose who advocate adhering to the Confessional Mindset is the distinction between prescriptive anddescriptive statements in the Confessions.Confessional Minimalism says that only the doctrinal statements in the Confessions meananything. It is only that which tells me what to believe, the prescriptive doctrinal statements, thatmatter. Anything else in the Confessions, anything other than the raw doctrinal data, is as little bindingon me as the Formula of Concord's statement that garlic juice impedes magnetism.The Confessional Mindset is more sweeping. It sees more substance in the descriptivestatements of the Confessions. Those statements tell us how the churches of the Augsburg Confessionlived out their confession. Confessional Mindset partisans are less sanguine about the possibility of separating doctrine from its expression in the life of the parish.The difference between the Minimalist and Mindset approaches is the difference betweenmechanical and organic models of doctrine. For the Minimalist, doctrine is data, stuff, items, points,things. These doctrinal points, like ball bearings, are self-contained and can be moved from one contextto another without diminishing or endangering their nature, their ball-bearing-ness. Mindsetists, on theother hand, view doctrine organically – more as a plant that grows best in a certain climate. To movethat plant from one climate to another can endanger its health or even its very nature.Consequently, advocates of the Confessional Mindset seek to understand the mindset and2
churchly life which gave rise to the doctrine of the Confessions. Indeed, Mindsetists seek to take onthis Confessional Mindset and imitate the churchly life in which the Reformation grew up.Confessional Minimalists, however, are interested in these things as mere historical questions with no binding force – either legal or moral – upon their current parish life.
An example will help clarify the difference. Apology XXIV.1 says that our churches celebratethe Mass on every Sunday and other Holy Days. This is a descriptive statement of the life of theevangelical churches in 1531. It is not a prescriptive doctrinal statement. Thus the ConfessionalMinimalist finds no direct import in this statement for his current life. If he finds it convenient for his parish to have communion each Sunday, they will. If, however, he finds it convenient to havecommunion only every other week so that he can preach longer sermons or sing more songs on the off weeks, then that is what he will do. It does not matter to him what the Church before him did. He onlycares about the abstraction of their thoughts, their “doctrine.”The Confessional Mindestist feels himself drawn to this descriptive statement of the Churchesof the Augsburg Confession. He asks questions such as “If this is what the churches who producedthese doctrinal confessions were doing, should I be doing it too?” “If I am sworn to the same doctrinesas these churches, won't my parish's churchly life look like theirs?” “If I cannot describe my parish inthe same way that these founding congregations described themselves, have I missed something veryimportant indeed?” “Doesn't a unity in confession imply a basic unity – though not lock step uniformity – in practice?”Indeed, the Confessional Minimalist is really a full-fledged son of the Enlightenment. He likesthe clean, esoteric, scrubbed doctrine of the Confessions, but doesn't want the messy, organic, earthy practice they endorse. He's like a Puritan in regard to Christmas. The Puritans advocated traditionalChalcedonian Christology – but thought you could separate that from the presents and the tree and the3

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