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Congregations? Churches? The same thing?

June 24th, 2006
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Recently in our discussions on worship and adiaphora, a claim has been made that the Book of Concord, when it speaks of "churches" in FC X, most often has in view individual, local congregations.

Is this so?

Some friends in Australians a number of years ago prepared an excellent paper and study on adiaphora. Here is a quote from the paper.

d. The Formula of Concord permits some degree of liturgical diversity in public worship.

• At different times the church may change those rites and ceremonies which have not been instituted by God.

• The "church in every place" (German: die Gemeine Gottes j(e)des Orts; Latin:
ecclesia Dei ubivis terrarum) has the right to do so in its particular location.

• Does this refer to each local congregation, as the translation of church as
"community" and the incorrect translation of the Latin dative singular as "churches" in the footnote to FC Ep X, 4 by Tappert seems to imply, or does it refer to each regional church?

• The Latin translation of Gemeine as "church" (ecclesia) and of "every place" (jedes
Orts) as "in all lands" (ubivis terrarum) shows that the authors were thinking of
territorial churches. Historically speaking, that is how this formulation was
understood and applied in the Lutheran church until modern times.

Here is the rest of the paper:

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Categories: Lutheranism
  1. Michael Grooms
    June 25th, 2006 at 18:01 | #1

    Dr. McCain,
    These quotes are similar to Pr. Matthew Harrison’s paper, to which you refered earlier: http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/files/liturgical_uniformity.pdf, especially his conclusion:
    “The Lutheran Church … has the authority, for the sake of love and unity, to set definite liturgical parameters for its pastors and congregations. Within those parameters, pastors are free to exercise their discretion. This is clear from Luther, the Confessions, and the practice of the confessors from the first visitations in the 1520s to 1580.”
    It’s time to debate this Synod-wide and come to a resolution.
    Diversity in worship practices is just one way our Synod is falling apart.

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