Dwight has continued the Lutheran blogosphere’s discussion of The Rev. Dr. Philip Pfatteicher’s article critical of Evangelical Lutheran Worship, particularly the Daily Offices contained therein (see my previous post on this issue). Dwight, among others, is critical of the ELCA and Augsburg Fortress for abandoning the riches of the Lutheran Book of Worship (and the Service Book and Hymnal, for that matter), and creating a book that, in their collective opinion, plays fast and loose with established liturgical traditions.
So let me ask a question of you who are critical of our church for creating Evangelical Lutheran Worship . .
When large numbers of congregations reject the beloved traditions enshrined within Lutheran Book of Worship (and Service Book and Hymnal), what is the ELCA to do?
- Should the ELCA just sit there and do nothing while an increasing number of congregations fish around for worship resources from other traditions?
- Should the ELCA whip these congregations into Latin-rubric submission and simply give them more of the traditional liturgies that they are already rejecting?
- Or should the ELCA venture to create liturgies that embrace the spirit – if not the letter – of the church’s grand liturgical tradition, while simultaneously welcoming new language, tunes and theology?
The ELCA had to create a book for the church we have – a diverse church whose identity 20 years post-merger is not yet formed – not for the church some of us wish we had. We’re a church, for better or worse, with a congregational polity, freedom in matters of worship, diverse heritages, and pieties that range from evangelical catholic to haugian. Would a Lutheranized Book of Common Prayer be the prescription for this church? That seems to be the answer Pfatteicher and others would provide, but it is not the right answer for our church.
ELW may not be the perfect answer, but it offers congregations a worship practice that is rooted in tradition, that honors our Lutheran respect for diversity in worship practices, and which provides congregations a mix of traditional, contemporary, multicultural, and even postmodern resources – the kind of things for which our congregations are already looking elsewhere.