Tear It Out of the Hymnal!
I get a lot of interesting communications from across the Missouri Synod here at Concordia Publishing House, on a wide variety of topics and issues. Just when I think I’ve seen or heard it all, I see something that I’ve never seen before. That happened again recently. A pastor gave us a lot of feeback and input on a wide variety of resources. He told us he has been in the ministry for twenty-five years. He commented on Lutheran Service Book and declared that only 40% of the hymns in it are “singable.” Ok. But it got more interesting. He said he likes some of the liturgies in it, but not others. Then he said, and this is a direct quote: “Some of it is not so good, DS II. I told my secretary to tear it out of the hymnals.”
Hmmmmm….a pastor directing his secretary to “tear it out of the hymnals.” Really?
The older I get, and that seems to be happening more quickly than before, I am struck, over and over and over again, but how far removed we are from the spirit of our fathers when it comes to respecting the collective will of the Church when it comes to matters of adiaphora. The principle that what has neither been commanded, nor forbidden, is therefore free has been horribly abused among us to mean now, “Whatever is adiaphora doesn’t matter and you can do whatever you want with it.”
At the time of the Reformation the idea was that although we have freedom, we also have obligations to one another, therefore, I’m not free to thumb my nose at the church’s collective will in matters such as this. And so, here we have a pastor directing a parish secretary to deface the church’s hymnal because he, the pastor, in his vast and infinite wisdom, decides he doesn’t like Divine Service II, therefore, he, the pastor, has the right to take his congregation’s hymnals and tear a chunk out of them.
Am I wrong in my thinking here? Or does this perfectly illustrate a problem that is pandemic among us?