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This Guy Ought to be the President of a Lutheran Church

April 17th, 2011
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  1. Beth Nieman
    April 18th, 2011 at 11:12 | #1

    I believe he is absolutely right. We wouldn’t dream of feeding kids bowls of candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner; we need to give their souls the best nourishment, too.

  2. You teach liturgy, I’ll teach Jesus
    April 18th, 2011 at 13:39 | #2

    Show me how our theology is bound by any style. Wouldn’t it be a greater sign of unity if our theology was able to be shared by all people, regardless of culture or generation?

    You go ahead and fight about style, I’m going to go talk to someone who doesn’t know Jesus now. Thanks.

    • April 18th, 2011 at 13:43 | #3

      Well, that sure was a helpful, self-righteous bit of wind right there.

  3. Gerald Heinecke
    April 18th, 2011 at 15:25 | #4

    Amen! Do you have the rest of this lecture in order that we may teach our children of Jesus?

  4. Dan Vines
    April 18th, 2011 at 17:34 | #5

    I would like to see the rest of the video too. I too have come full circle on this issue for some of the same reasons as Pres. Harrison. As to “You teach…” The world still can’t sing in harmony in spite of a great melody line and millions spent by Coke to make everyone feel happy and buy their message. Not sure it would be a good idea for the church to abandon our rich liturgy and hymnody, that is so deeply rooted in proper theology, in favor of something as nebulas as style that is one thing today, and another tomorrow. I don’t think what the world needs now is another catchy tune about Jesus. I think they need Word and Sacrament, Law and Gospel. After church they can crank up the praise songs, break out the guitars and banjos, and bask in the glow of the work of the Holy Spirit through that Word and Sacrament they just got a dose of at church.

  5. April 18th, 2011 at 17:58 | #6

    Incidentally, if it’s a genuine request, I would very much enjoy the opportunity to show anyone how our theology is bound by style. I will also be happy to show how it is impossible to talk to someone about Jesus without considering the style of that communication. Thanks for the video Paul!

  6. scott
    April 18th, 2011 at 19:07 | #7

    For those of you interested in the rest of the presentation, you can purchase the dvd here:


  7. Rahn Hasbargen
    April 18th, 2011 at 19:41 | #8

    For everyone looking for the whole video, it is available for $14 with free shipping at theLCS.org web site here:


  8. Paula Jean Carpenter
    April 18th, 2011 at 21:36 | #9

    @Gerald Heinecke

    Are you a relative of mine? My grandfather was Rev Louis Heinecke and my uncle was Rev Paul Heinecke.

  9. Jon Parks
    April 19th, 2011 at 10:15 | #10

    I am from a Baptist/Free Evangelical background and currently on my way into Lutheranism. While serving on staff as a worship leader in my church for four years, I read and thought extensively about issues related to music and worship. Over those years, I increasingly sought to employ quality contemporary music in our services (we also used hymns with organ and piano in our services as well). I drew heavily upon the music of modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend. Keith and Stuart wrote “In Christ Alone” and Stuart wrote “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”. I know that many confessional Lutherans are wary of “contemporary” worship songs because the great majority of them are poorly crafted – deficient both in music and theology. I completely share these concerns. However, I think that there are people working within the realm of contemporary worship music that are producing worthy congregational material, such as those writers listed above and people associated with Sovereign Grace Music. While I think that worship team/praise band music can be done poorly, it can also be done with propriety. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally pro-liturgy, pro-hymnody and pro-organ. Yet I also affirm that contemporary hymns accompanied by more “modern” instruments can be a viable medium for congregational worship as well.

  10. t
    April 19th, 2011 at 11:29 | #11

    Robert, I would love to see how our theology is bound by style.

    • April 19th, 2011 at 11:33 | #12

      “T” in order for there to be fruitful conversation, you need to stop forcing words into other people’s mouths. If your intention here is to discuss, that’s great, if it is simply to throw out snarky assertions, that is now welcome. Thanks.

  11. Bob Gruener
    April 19th, 2011 at 12:03 | #13

    “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!” Psalm 98:1

    … “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thess. 5:21

  12. t
    April 19th, 2011 at 12:39 | #14


    ptmccain, I completely agree. I was taking Robert Zagore up on his quote “Incidentally, if it’s a genuine request, I would very much enjoy the opportunity to show anyone how our theology is bound by style.”

  13. Jeff K
    April 19th, 2011 at 13:03 | #15

    Hey, Jon Parks, I want to encourage you for moving toward the Lutheran church. I was baptized and confirmed in the LCMS, but for the last 20+ years have traveled in nondenominational/evangelical circles, even attending a prominent evangelical seminary. While God is at work in many of those churches, I found that I missed the church calendar, weekly readings from the Old Testament tied in with the New, hymns with great and thoughtful words, and the whole sacramental presence of Jesus thing that’s just not the same if we are just remembering Him. My hat’s off to you. Godspeed! @Jon Parks

  14. Jon Parks
    April 19th, 2011 at 14:51 | #16

    Jeff K,

    Thanks for your encouragement. Everything that you mentioned as having “missed” in the evangelical world has been the same for me. The sacraments and the liturgy have been central in my move away from the Baptist/Evangelical world. The Lutheran church seems to me to be the best at holding together the “catholic” elements that I’ve longed for and the “evangelical” elements that I was raised with.

    As this post is concerned with liturgy and youth, I must say that, for me, another draw to the Lutheran church has to do with my children. It’s important for me to have my kids steeped in the richness of the Church’s liturgy and given an organized plan for training in the Christian faith (catechesis). I want the words of Scripture and the liturgy to be resonating in their hearts and minds as they grow up. I also want them to see the centrality of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. While there are certainly positive things for kids in evangelical churches, they tend to lack any structured teaching of the faith and there is (increasingly) little in the worship services to shape them in the long run. In the evangelical world, we tend to emphasize “dramatic” things – dramatic conversions, dramatic emotional experiences, dramatic actions of God. However, I think that most of Christian life and discipleship is manifestly undramatic. To quote Eugene Peterson, Christian life is a “long obedience in the same direction.” I feel that liturgy, sacraments, and catechesis will help my kids in sustaining that “long obedience.”

  15. Jon Smelser
    April 20th, 2011 at 08:53 | #17

    I too play guitar. I love to use my talents to worship the Lord. I am an elder at my congregation and have recently pushed to introduce “music Sundays.” My idea was to take 4 sundays out of the year and, in a sense, give the organ a rest. I love the hymns and organ as mush as the next person, but I also feel that we can worship the Lord with the contemporary songs as well. The key is that there has to be balance. I think that there can be traditional liturgy with contemporary music. As long as our focus is on Christ.

  16. Craig
    April 20th, 2011 at 19:23 | #18

    @Jon Smelser I play guitar as well. But please reconsider DIVIDING your congregation! The liturgy with the organ holds together very nicely. When you introduce new things it will almost always sound and feel like the Evang/Baptist churches. And it will never be as “good” as they way they do it. Baptists sometimes try to do a formal liturgy and it usually does not come out too well. Lutherans who do “contemporary” nearly always sound like they are trying to be something other than Lutheran. Go play your guitar with you family and friends for fun. But please do not impose YOUR preferences on your local congregation. The Key is not balance. Balance is Greek philosophy and not Christian. I am not saying this to be discouraging rather I have seen good intensions cause real problems with Lutheran congregations. This is the kind of stuff that drives Lutheran pastors (and congregants) to Rome and the East. When congregations allow this weakening of the liturgy and the lack of reverence for Christ in their worship they oft end up in places where the liturgy is protected i.e. RC & EO and some Anglican. Or people get a load of this “spiritual” worship and they leave for the local Calvary Chapel because they know how to do this stuff. So enjoy your talents but do your congregation and the Lutheran Church in general a favor and keep your guitar at home. If you watch the vid you will see that this is a problem so please listen to our pres. Please note that I am saying this out of respect for your Church. I was an Evangelical who led “worship” and one the many reasons my family is now LCMS IS because of the liturgy. My teenage daughters can’t stand guitar worship that they grew up with but the love the Divine Service liturgy. All of my kids can and do detect anything that smacks of Evangelical fluff and they detest it because they know richness of the DS and they are fully burnt out of the “contemporary” skullduggery that plagues protestant congregations.

  17. lcmschurchworker
    April 20th, 2011 at 19:44 | #19

    I think what is unsettling is that the CPH publisher, who should represent the whole synod, hosts what he knows is a polarizing blog. that you join the fray and participate in such debates is one reason I wont buy cph materials.

    • April 20th, 2011 at 21:47 | #20

      And what is “unsettling” is a person who does not have the integrity to use his real name to post this kind of comment.

  18. Craig
    April 21st, 2011 at 11:12 | #21

    @lcmschurchworker What you are failing to see is that the LCMS was a liturgically rich body. Now that the “contemporary” enthusiasts have jumped into the LCMS do you that they should be represented? If a Baptist church wanted to oust a guy who was trying to push Lutheran liturgy on their congregation then they have all the right to tell him to stop and or leave. They do not have to represent his viewpoint in their materials in any way. Should the Baptist’s publishing department start offering the LSB? Of course not! Representing everyone is not Christian in anyway. What is truly alarming is that LCMS members are offended when people try to take a stand for their own historic for form worship that gave this body its identity. And it always seems that when the “contemporary” enthusiasts (I think Luther had a word for them that I don’t know the German spelling of “schwermier?”) in the LSMC are told that they need to reconsider their worship practices and then they get all offended and they act like they have a right to divide the church with another service that will no doubt polarize people. But they are considered the “spiritual” ones and we would not want to offend (wound) them. This is a demonic manipulation that needs to be addressed. President Harrison’s message was spot on. It’s a sad day when Lutherans are considered divisive for being Lutheran. Really are you still Lutheran if you manipulate the liturgy into something that is hardly recognizable as being Lutheran? Remember what drew Luther out of the Wartburg. When the liturgy is being smashed it is time to take a stand! Lutheran is not politically correct.

  19. April 21st, 2011 at 20:57 | #22

    @t Rather than tie up Paul’s blog with our conversation, I would suggest that you email me at rzagore(AT)tctrinity.org and I will be happy to discuss it with you; but in preview it comes down to a question of how the Lord “has bound Himself” to come to people and the point of worship. These are theological questions at the heart of the Reformation and they are (by necessity) bound to the style, context and method of delivery. If you want to be sure you’re receiving the Lord’s gifts, then you need them to be distributed according to His endowment and institution.

  20. The Rev. BT Ball
    April 21st, 2011 at 20:57 | #23

    Wow, this is sweet. I was one of the pre-sem guys at this retreat. I had no idea that this was floating around.

  21. Gerald Heinecke
    April 30th, 2011 at 16:43 | #24

    @Paula Jean Carpenter I have no idea! I was unaware of any other LCMS pastors in our family besides my dad. Rev. Bradley Heinecke! My family all orginates around Wisconsin. Where are you from?

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