Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More on Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Cantor Phillip Magness has a great article at The Brother's of John the Steadfast website reviewing a "blended" Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Divine Service that he attended. If you've ever listened to Issues, Etc., you're probably familiar with Pastor Wilken's "sermon diagnostic," which teaches how to analyze a sermon to see if it contains an appropriate Law and Gospel message.

Cantor Phil's review of this particular church service analyzes the service in a way similar to a sermon diagnostic, nicely illustrating via examples from the service the Latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi, or "how they pray does confess what they believe," as he puts it. If you're a little hazy on the concept, please read his article, which teaches well the importance of the structure of a worship service, and how what you do in that service reflects what you believe.

Knowing how to analyze a church service is an art that we should all learn and practice - without which, it is easy to fall prey to false doctrine. Teaching doesn't just occur in Sunday School, it occurs in the worship service as well, and not just during the sermon. All aspects of a worship service teach, and if they aren't all teaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified, but instead some blend of "what you need to do," it's probably time to move on.

Here's a paragraph from Cantor Magness's article, titled "Not Your Grandfathers’ Church – A Visit to Another Not-So-Steadfast Church":

The front-loading of the prayers in this service was illustrative of a theological emphasis on sanctification that came through loud and clear in the sermon, in which sanctification did not flow from our justification (i.e. the Gospel), but rather was a ‘purpose-driven’ exhortation to follow the “life lessons” offered to the hearers in God’s Word. Similarly, the prayers of the faithful to live according to God’s love were not offered after the reading and preaching of God’s Word (as is done in the Divine Service and in the daily offices), but came before the reading and preaching. This seems to be a natural order of service for Third Use of the Law orientation: rather than hearing the Gospel and then asking the Lord to grant us His good and gracious will according to the mercy He gives us through the forgiveness of sins, this order of service gathers people into the Lord’s presence where they then ask for His guidance and blessing and receive instruction on how they are to get their needs met. This is a big burden to place upon the people. No wonder they need to pray first!

photo credit: StarrGazr

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