A Timely Book

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I’ve been reading The Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church by James Waddell, published by the Edwin Mellen Press. It’s worth reading for those interested in the theology of adiaphora and liturgy. Though scholarly and well researched, it’s quite engaging. I find myself looking forward to more opportunities to sit and read this book.

Here is a quote from pages 48-49, to whet your appetite.

To speak of liturgy only in the way of the gospel, with regard to the church’s authority to order its external rites and ceremonies, is to ignore the confessional proposition that humanly instituted rites and ceremonies are ordered by the church in the way of both law and gospel, and it is to run dangerously close to confusing law and gospel in the discourse on liturgy. We receive as gift what is given. The prescribed order is gift given by God — the gospel and the sacraments. What is externally ordered for the good of the church, however, is given to the church by the church and not by God, and the church is free to retain, omit or change these externally ordered rites and ceremonies according to the church’s needs for edification as these relate to changing times and circumstances. To say what is ordered by the church is for the good of the church is a way of speaking which is very much different fram saying that a particular liturgical form is the “best.” Optimum esse is not bene esse, and the confessional witness does not speak this way. Optimum esse runs in the way of opinion. Bene esse runs in the way of the law and the gospel. Clearly a distinction must be made between what is given by the church for the church on the one hand, and what is given by God on the other.

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