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Friday, June 1, 2012

Surplice, stole, cassock... but what about the Gospel?

The newspaper Christian News (CN) by Herman Otten recently reported about Berthold von Schenk, a noted pastor in the new (English) LC-MS during the days of my youth.  He is noted as being a "Pioneer of Lutheran Liturgical Renewal".  I recall in my boyhood that some pastors in the LC-MS were using more vestments than others.  As I was growing up in our congregation, a change in pastors brought one who wore a surplice (or cassock?) instead of just a standard suit. I recall it was something different... but I recall now that it did not add to (or subtract from) my Christian faith.  But I have noticed that most of the founding fathers of the Missouri Synod were not pictured in any kind of vestments... they did not lean on outer appearances to appear religious but rather delivered a pure Christian message... the Law that shows our sin, the Gospel that shows our Savior.

In the CN article, quotes are presented from the autobiography (probably from the 1960s or 70s) of von Schenk:
  • I introduced ceremonies, liturgical vestments, and so forth.
  • Of course I introduced the surplice, stole and cassock.
  • The Liturgical movement is the greatest movement in the history of our church.
  • Walther was as much an anti-Holy Spirit as was the Council of Trent which produced the Roman Church.
  • Walther and Pieper's museum theology...
  • ... the Bible cannot stand by itself.
  • Dogmaticians like Walther have been the blight of the Missouri Synod.
  • Missouri theology is most rationalistic.
  • How much time and thought has been wasted by insisting on absolute truth in dogmas! 
  • Luther fell into a trap in his controversy with Zwingli and split the Reformation.
For anyone who has followed this blog, they can see quite a difference between the viewpoint of Berthold von Schenk and this blog BackToLuther.  Berthold von Schenk is considered a "maverick", a pastor "outside the box" in today's LC-MS.  His autobiography is considered a "must read" by Prof. David Scaer in his book review (pgs 377-378). (Scaer is Editor of journal Concordia Theological Quarterly).  But to the extent that both the LC-MS and von Schenk have fallen on the Doctrine of Justification, both have fallen in Christian doctrine.  And all the liturgical vestments and movements they can muster won't make them more (or less) Christian or religious.  They have lost the Word and don't know how to find it again.

Who are you going to trust your eternal soul to?  Christianity or "Christianity"?
Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
2 John 1:10 – If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
I will continue to publish the hated Pieper, Walther and Luther.
(See my later full review of Berthold von Schenk in this blog series)

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