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The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church: Adiaphora in Historical, Theological and Practical Perspective

The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church: Adiaphora in Historical, Theological and Practical Perspective

5.0 2
by James Alan Waddell

ISBN-10: 0773459227

ISBN-13: 9780773459229

Pub. Date: 05/31/2006

Publisher: Mellen, Edwin Press, The

Product Details

Mellen, Edwin Press, The
Publication date:
Texts and Studies in Religion
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church: Adiaphora in Historical, Theological and Practical Perspective 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very helpful book for anyone who has wrestled with the issue of liturgical worship in the 20th and 21st centuries. While the author writes as a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, his insights will be helpful to anyone who worships in a liturgical church or is studying liturgical worship. There have been debates for many years in churches about the use of a ¿contemporary¿ style versus a ¿liturgical¿ style. Waddell writes in his introduction, ¿Two points of view dominate the discussion: the `anything goes¿ point of view and the `liturgical repristination¿ point of view.¿ Far too often, the arguments either for or against a certain style of worship in the Lutheran Church have been extremely subjective, based on an individual¿s preference, custom, or enjoyment. Or, there has been a refusal to discuss the liturgy, a belief that nothing should be changed. Author James Waddell goes beyond this to the sources of Lutheran theology regarding worship. In great detail, he examines what the Lutheran Reformers believed and taught about worship from the Scripture and the Lutheran Confessional writings. Particularly helpful is the section that talks about a hermeneutic of liturgy. Waddell details the Lutheran understanding that we look at and interpret theology, including the liturgy, through the Gospel, through Scripture, and then through the Confessions. When we view the liturgy through this lens, we will not make the mistake of interpreting the liturgy through or by the liturgy itself, or by the history of the church, or simply by the culture. While history and culture are important and can shed light on theological discussions, they are not the lenses which we use as a hermeneutic. Waddell suggests a better way to look at worship when he writes, ¿All that is done in such a divine service is done so that the gospel is proclaimed and extolled and God¿s people are brought to the point where their sins are forgiven.¿ Too often we approach worship via other roads. Some are afraid of change, fearing that changing the liturgy will change the Gospel. Yet, we are called to proclaim that Gospel to an ever-changing culture. Some are anxious to change, thinking that the liturgy is an impediment to the Gospel. Yet we are called to membership in the church catholic, the worldwide church, and we cannot simply do as we please with God¿s gift of worship. This book will take some time to read, and it can be challenging reading. But it is well worth the effort. Waddell uses charts and illustrations that help the reader understand some of the important points he brings up. He is very thorough in documenting his source material. It would have been nice for Waddell to include more about the music used in worship, as this is often one of the focal points of debate about worship. However, I think his insights into a liturgical hermeneutic will also apply to a musical hermeneutic. A book like this has been long overdue. I would commend it to any pastor who wonders how to approach the worship debate with something of substance and understanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be insightful and helpful on many levels. Waddell, a Lutheran pastor, takes on an issue almost every pastor has struggled with, namely, how to make sense of all the claims that are made today about liturgy and contemporary worship. As the Preface indicates, Waddell¿s book 'arises out of the pastoral concern that typifies the Lutheran confession of the faith' (x). Waddell addresses almost every aspect of the debate on worship from a Lutheran point of view. His arguments are well-documented, and virtually all of the most important sources he uses are made accessible throughout. Waddell argues from both the scriptures and tradition that the church has much freedom in the way of ordering its worship, and that freedom is given to the local congregation. Waddell is careful not to acquiesce to either extreme. 'The Lutheran confession, while granting freedom and authority (not autonomy) to the local congregation to order its external rites and ceremonies, also holds the local congregation accountable to a broader catholic context' (64-65). That the local congregation is given this confessional authority is explicitly stated in the Lutheran Confessions according to Waddell (51). What makes Waddell¿s argument so convincing is his refusal to take this authority as a license to do anything we please with worship. There are limits to our freedom. And yet there is more freedom than some will allow for today, when they appeal to 'Lutheran identity' or the traditions of the church, rather than the authoritative texts, in order to limit the church¿s practice today more specifically than Lutheranism has historically dared to define its worship. A feature I found very helpful were the eleven illustrations containing diagrams of some of the more difficult concepts to understand. The diagrams are clear, concise, and to the point, and they leave the reader confident of having grasped Waddell¿s point. The book also has a glossary to help the reader understand the more difficult terminology that is typically used in discussions about liturgy. Waddell¿s extensive documentation is listed in more than twenty pages of indexes of citations from the Bible, the Lutheran Confessions, early church fathers, and other ancient texts and authors. I find in Waddell¿s book at least two weaknesses. The first is its narrow focus on worship issues in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Almost all of the scholars Waddell interacts with are from this denomination not all, but almost all. The second is its sparse treatment of music. While 'contemporary' and 'traditional' forms of music are mentioned from time to time, and while Waddell finds one scholar¿s point of view that 'music is always purposeless' to be problematic (220), there is no detailed discussion of the role or purpose of music in the liturgy. These criticisms aside, Waddell¿s book makes an enormous contribution to our understanding of Lutheran liturgy. In the end Waddell leaves his reader convinced, not only by his arguments but by the sources themselves. This is an extraordinarily helpful book. It cuts through the presuppositions that have the distinct tendencies to distort orthodox confessional Lutheran teachings on liturgy and cloud clear thinking. Don¿t pass this one by. The average reader would be justified to have second thoughts about the price of this book. But while the price is nothing short of prohibitive, the book is well worth the investment. Pastors who are wearied of rhetoric, but still searching for clear answers on the liturgy question, will be richly rewarded.