We Should Not Refuse to Walk in our Fathers’ Footsteps
We like to comfort ourselves these days with the thought that our times are so different and so unique from the times and situations faced by the founding fathers of The LCMS. What utter hubris! Here in America they were outnumbered tremendously by the Methodists and other revivalists. Did they choose to bring into our churches the "style" of popular American Christianity forms? No. Today however it seems to be popular, even "politically correct" to "bless" whatever any congregation chooses to do in their ‘"freedom" when it comes to worship practices. "Missional" seems to be a word used to excuse a lot of sloppy practice these days. Call me "old fashioned" but I want my father and mother, myself, and my children, to be prepared to face their Maker in heaven with the historical Lutheran liturgy and classic chorales on their lips and in their hearts, rather than insipid ditties like "Shine, Jesus, Shine" and other such pop-evangelicalism banality. Call me an old stick-in-the-mud if you must, but that’s how I see it. A Lutheran pastor I’ve always respected has quite a lot to say about doing away with historic Lutheran worship forms. Tough words? Perhaps. True words? You better believe it!
We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them. It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won’t accuse of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, [or a non-denominational Christian, or a Calvinist, or an Evangelical], who perverts the saving Word, or ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them? We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians, neither dare anyone demand that everyone be of the same opinion as his in such matters; nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls, [theaters or auditoriums], while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. . . . Someone may ask,” What would be the use of uniformity in ceremonies?” We would answer, “What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers.
C.F.W. Walther, Essay on Adiaphora in Essays for the Church: Volume I (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992), p. 193-194.