Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Being true to my word, I am returning to my post on Lutheranism and Catholicism. First, a quick note: the post was not aimed at Roman Catholics, it just happened to hit you all in the crossfire. The post was actually aimed at Lutherans who are either having a bad case of amnesia or didn't know enough about the history of the Church to even have amnesia. Oh well.

As to the Lutheran Reformation actually being a conservative, one only has to look at where the Western Church was before the 8th Century and stare all the doctrinal innovations in the face to realize Luther was a conservative. Purgatory, Papalism, and Transubstantiation all emerged from the 9th Century onward. If we all are honest, all Luther did was try to pull the Church back to her early state. If you all want to see how he did it with the Eucharist, I suggest Martin Chemnit's book The Lord's Supper. Actually, it would be really nice if a few pastors here locally would read this classic and reevaluate how they are distributing God's body and blood (getting back to the original target of the argument).

Since I am on a roll with respect to Church history, I am going to fire another shot and, this time, I hope it hits.

One of the things that is indisputable in the history of the Church is how instruments were banned very early on. As a matter of fact, it has only been within the past 400 years when instruments became a regular part of the life of the Church. Organs were rare during the Reformation even though the instrument had been introduced almost 1000 years before in the West. The Council of Trent came very close to banning all instruments from Roman Catholicism. Only after Trent did organs and other instruments finally become common in the Church, and rightly so. The reasoning behind the ban had long since disappeared and the instrumentation introduced came from the high culture of the time and didn't carry any baggage.

So, why did the Church ban instruments in the first place? The instruments of the time had a lot of baggage with the, namely pagan baggage. Instruments were instrumental (pun intended) in the worship practices of the paganism that was common throughout the Roman Empire. The last thing an Early Christian needed was a reminder of that sex cult they left because a common instrument used in their orgies was brought into the Church. They took Paul seriously when he said (paraphrased) not everything that is permitted is good. They left their instruments to the side and, with it, the pagan influences.

So, now we have this question of CCM. One of the problems I see within this debate is how little thought is actually put into it by the proponents. They try to beat us into submission by using the Bible, but they do not look at the history of the Church as a guide. Apparently, they do not think that the Church triumphant has nothing to say to the Church Militant, yet the Church Triumphant is still the Church and we all ignore them at out own peril.

The Church took 1000 years to decide organs are OK, and they were developed within the Church itself. Within 30 years, we bring in a whole slew of instruments whose origins are not the Church or high culture but are from the pop culture. What baggage do these instruments carry? Pop culture is shallow. Pop music is shallow because the culture that produced it is shallow. Our pastors complain about how little decent modern material there is and then wonder why. If you're importing a medium into the Church that is shallow from the start, to wonder why you end up with shallow songs is like John Kerry wondering whether he served in Vietnam. Working with a shallow starting block is (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) like wiping before you poop: it doesn't make any sense, especially since the Gospel is so simple yet so deep. You end up with Law and Gospel lite. Some people never bothered to learn from the Early Church, whose cautious approach we should learn from.

I guess my sense of irony hasn't left either.

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