As I was driving to worship on Sunday, I turned the radio to the local station airing the worship of a local Lutheran church. What I heard didn’t sound like what I was familiar with. The language was English, but the terms were foreign. There was talk of an “Ecumenical” supper on Sunday night. There was talk of an “Advent Festival” where there would be lots of food [See my comments below on Potlucks]1.. There was talk of it being the 24th Sunday after Pentecost. But that wasn’t all. The strange language went on and on. The vocabulary seemed to be nothing I was familiar with. My question is this, with so many new things being observed by this church, when is what they are doing actually considered adding or taking away from Scripture? Where would they draw the line for adding to Scripture? If they don’t draw the line at adding festivals and holy days, then where do they draw the line? And interestingly, one of the Pastors at the church in question is named “Heidi”. Scripture is clear that the “pastor”, from POIMEIN for Shepherd, is to be “the husband of one wife.” I’m pretty sure Scripture excludes Heidi from being a Pastor. The language and practices of the Lutheran church are foreign to the Bible.
Also, the worship in the Lutheran church is foreign to me. I worship according to the pattern of the New Testament church. The following quotation, from an article written by a Presbyterian, does an excellent job of demonstrating how Lutherans have departed from their “Scripture Alone” roots.
“Martin Luther and the Lutheran churches believed that the Bible alone (and not human opinion) was the only infallible rule of faith and life. Thus, they rejected the authority of church tradition. Sola Scriptura or the Scripture alone, is one of the pillars of Protestantism (i.e., biblical Christianity). But unfortunately, the Lutherans were inconsistent in their application of sola Scriptura to worship practice. They basically eliminated some of the grosser abuses of Romanism but retained much that was of human and not scriptural origin. They argued that what is not forbidden by Scripture is permitted. Therefore, they retained many ceremonies and ecclesiastical rites that were not derived from the Bible. “With such a view of the discretionary power of the church in matters of worship practice, it is not at all surprising that the Lutheran Church retained a large portion of the ceremonial, ritualistic and governmental structures of the Catholic church, the root causes of the corruption in the church against which Luther had rebelled in the first place.”2
This article does a good job of making the case against the use of instruments in the worship of God.
But the Lutherans justified what was outside of Scripture with the fallacy that “whatever is not forbidden is permitted.” Many of the points made by the author are the same that we would make in churches of Christ. Does the Bible teach God’s will only by prohibitions? No. He lets His will be known by positive statements too. If God tells us what to do, does that not necessarily negate other options? Of course. He tells us to immerse, but He does not forbid sprinkling. Or would you say that sprinkling is acceptable because it is not forbidden? He tells us to worship on Sunday, but He did not forbid Monday. Would Monday be just as acceptable because it is not forbidden? But this is the means of justifying so many man-made doctrines and practices. Imagine how endless the prohibitions would be if God had to also cover all of the things He didn’t intend. I think that respect for God’s Word requires that we follow His will as closely as possible. In Corinth, Paul said to them not to “exceed the things which are written.” That’s a pretty strict standard he’s asking them to follow. There is no room for members at Corinth to say, “well, he didn’t forbid me from praying to my ancestors.” But modern apologists for denominational practices must rely on this flimsy, fallacious argument.
We must get back to Scripture and put an end to the use of divisive terms and practices. Anything beyond the Bible is foreign language to me.
1. Potlucks? For the doubters and unlearned among us who want to bring up Potlucks, what can we say? “Well, we do Potlucks and there’s lots of food. So how are we any different?” A Potluck is not the same thing as an “Advent Festival”. A Potluck is a dinner where Christians share a meal. As long as we don’t mandate it and make it part of the worship, there is nothing unscriptural with Christians sharing a meal. But an “Advent Festival” is a religious service that would be similar to observing the “feast of booths” or “Passover” as the Jews do.
2. “Musical Instruments in the Public Worship of God”.