Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sublime Monotony

Quoting Hermann Sasse, from section III, We Confess the Church, of the We Confess Anthology:
"We are witnesses to all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree; but God raised Him on the third day and made Him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" (Acts 10, 39-41). It was always the same message, repeated with sublime monotony by the apostles, who were eyewitnesses, and then after their death by those to whom the apostolic proclamation was committed. The church of all times lives from the doctrine of the apostles.
But does it really? Must not the church adjust its message to the contemporary situation? The reproach of not moving with the times was heard in Germany through the 18th and 19th centuries from those who held a naive faith in progress. Why go on preaching the same as Peter did in the Acts of the Apostles? How many theologians, indeed whole churches, finally had enough! They did not continue in the apostles' doctrine. They preached something else. Forty years ago they preached sermons on Goethe and Schiller. They preached the current view of the world, although most world views are lucky if they last as long as 30 years. And the churches did not become fuller, but emptier. And rightly so. For since 1848 any member of German society could read in the newspaper every morning as he drank his coffee what the latest and only acceptable world view is. For this I do not need to go to church. But where the church continued in the apostles' doctrine, there the congregation remained.
To the world it is inexplicable that the church lives on, always preaching the same old thing. In fact, it is because the same old thing goes on being preached, the apostles' doctrine, that the church goes on living. This is because the apostles' doctrine is the everlasting Word of God to all men, to all nations, to all times. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, "who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven ... and was made man." He "was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" [Rom. 4:25]. He "is seated at the right hand of the Father ... and His kingdom shall have no end." The apostolic doctrine witnesses to the Word of God become flesh. In this witness, in the simple words of the apostles, in the straight­forward words preached in the church, Christ, the eternal Word, is Himself present. Therefore the church lives from the apostolic doctrine.
Hermann Sasse, We Confess Anthology, Trans. Norman Nagel (St. Louis: CPH, 1999) 132.


xyzwriter said...

I am wondering what point you are making with the quote from Sasse.
I have attended worship for 64 years. The contemporary worship setting that I love today is very different from the one during my confirmation days. However, the Word preached is the same. It reflects the whole gospel of Christ as it is described in the last paragraph of your posting.
So, have you elevated worship style to Gospel message, or am I misunderstanding your point?

Scott Diekmann said...

I think Pastor Todd Wilken's article in the latest Issues, Etc. Journal titled "Behind the Music: The REAL Worship War" does a fine job of answering your question xyzwriter, assuming I understand your question correctly. Sasse is emphasizing the proclamation of the apostolic doctrine, all of it, something I see less of in the LCMS now than I have in the past.