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Historic Lutheran Worship v. Medieval Roman Masses

June 20th, 2008
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An observation: my post on the whole "hold your fingers just so" thing, and the hyper-ritualization going on in some circles when it comes to Lutheran worship, caused a bit of a stir among those who, apparently, have a difficult time understanding that working to preserve, and restore, sound understandings of Lutheran worship is quite another thing from pining after Medieval Roman Catholic mass forms. Dare we forget that in our circles of late, those who have been the most obsessive over such things have also been the same men who have run back into the arms of Rome, or swum the Bosporus? I again, respectfully, would assert that the antidote to abandoning historic liturgical Lutheran worship is not to be found in layering additional rituals and rubrics on to the Divine Service, but rather striving to do all we can simply to use the approved worship forms and rubrics as we have them.

The Reformation was a reformation not only in doctrine, but also in the manner in which the Western mass was conducted. By and large, Lutheran church orders eschewed and spurned the liturgical pretensions and errors that had accumulated, serving more to focus attention on "going the liturgy just so," instead of viewing the liturgy as the means of delivering Christ and His means of grace. In my opinion, we would do well to focus on understanding the liturgical reforms of Martin Luther in Wittenberg and his faithful followers in territories like Braunschweig, etc.

I'm concerned by what I'm reading on some blog sites that are interested, it seems to me, more in trying to repristinate the Roman Catholic Mass of the High Middle Ages than in preserving and advancing sound Lutheran understandings of the Divine Service. They seem to forget that it is precisely this Mass that is labeled as an "abomination" in our Lutheran Confessions. Imitating the intricate rubrics of that particular Mass is a big mistake. A reverent Mass is not one in which those rubrics are slavishly adhered to. Let's take our cues from Luther's Wittenberg reformation, in both doctrine and worship, not from the 13th century.

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