(mp3, 34.3 MB, 49m57s)

Printable (, 21 pages, 107 KB)

Courtesy: New Reformation Press

(mp3, 37.3 MB, 1h48m51s) Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller and Seminarian Evan Goeglein put seven praise songs through the Praise Song Cruncher (, 1 page, 59 KB):

  1. Resurrection – Nicole Sponberg
  2. Hands of the Healer written by John Waller
  3. Let It Rise – Holland Davis
  4. Lord, I Lift Your Name on High – Lincoln Brewster
  5. We The Redeemed – Hillsong
  6. More Like Falling in Love – Jason Gray
  7. God of this City – Chris Tomlin

Pr. Todd Wilken's pick for blog (post) of the week

(mp3): http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/2010/09/all-things-to-all-people.html



1 Corinthians 9:22 has to be one of the most abused Scriptures today. Typically, it is abused by those who promote "Contemporary Worship (CW)" forms and Church Growth principles. When asking  proponents of CW why we must change the traditional liturgy, 1 Corinthians 9:22 is cited in support of their contention that the church must be permeable to the culture around us, i.e. we must become "all things to all people." I'll be honest and confess that when I hear somebody misuse this Scripture like that my nerves are grated upon. I wonder, "Do these people read?" The context of 1 Corinthians 9:22 is about Paul not abusing his Christian freedom and going so far as giving up his rights (see verse twelve) for the sake of the Gospel which he proclaimed as an Apostle. Paul is clearly addressing the "weak" (perhaps Judaizers?) at the Corinthian church as well as those who were invoking their Christian liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols. According to chapter ten verse twenty three Paul is certainly writing to correct those holding the erroneous view that they can do anything they want, since "All things are lawful" to them as Christians. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote that not all things are "helpful" or "build up" (1 Corinthians 10:23).

To illustrate the above point further, during the time of Paul, Corinth was the capital of the Roman province Acacia. Even-though the city was already quite old by Paul's time, it was still a bustling city which boasted of temples to Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Hermes, Venus, Isis, and Demeter, to name a few of the "gods" worshipped in this pagan Roman city. The reputation of Corinth's licentiousness was infamous even for the pagan world of the time and enough so for it to become the byword for "evil living" in the Greek language, korinthiazesthai. When Paul wrote, "I have become all things to all people" he surely did not mean to say that he, himself, had been "Corinthianized" in order to proclaim the Gospel. In other words, Paul didn't go "undercover" so that he could "save some." We know this to be true from the following,

"19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he (1 Corinthians 10:19-22)?"

The above Scriptures takes apart any pragmatic ideas that the ends justify a practice, as some would interpret 1 Corinthians 9:22 to mean.. Paul did not participate at the table of pagan rituals in the name of "reaching the unchurched" and he strongly condemns such participation as partaking with demons, something he demonstrates isn't neutral, or free, to the Christian to do when he asks the rhetorical questions, "Shall we provoke the Lord to jealously?" and "Are we stronger than he?" The obvious response should be, "no!" It is evident that Paul did not mean with "I have become all things to all people" that he had given up any of the traditions and truths he learned from Christ and the other Apostles in order to "win some to Christ." In sum, 1 Corinthians 9:22 is taken out of its proper context when used in defense of overturning the liturgy in order to introduce new worship forms.


Lutheran Worship: Why We Do What We Do

Pr. Chad L. Bird (St. Paul, Wellston, OK)
Texas Confessional Lutherans Free Conference
5 August 2000
(printable pdf, 18 pages, 210 KB)

I. Introduction: Hymnody and Orthodoxy

A confessional church is a singing church. As she sings, she makes her good confession, a confession both in word and music. As the sainted Martin Franzmann (1907–1976) once said, “Theology is doxology. Theology must sing.”(1) Theology cannot remain mute words safely bedded down between the covers of a book; it must leap off the printed page, exit the mouth, and fill the air with holy sound. Theology must be given a voice. The lips, not the pen, are the best instruments of theological expression. Although doctrinal books, commentaries, journals, and essays serve well as mediums of confession, they all play second fiddle to that which is articulated in the liturgy. The dogmatics of Francis Pieper must salute the hymns of Paul Gerhardt.

Read Dr. Alvin Barry's paper, Lutheran Worship: 2000 and Beyond - Seven Theses on Lutheran Worship, which he presented to the Real Life Worship conference on February 6, 1998, in the greater Denver area. (printable pdf, 8 pages, 151 KB)

Read Dr. Kurt Marquart's "Liturgical Commonplaces" (pdf, 18 pgs, 915 KB) in the October 1978 issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly, published by Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind.


The notion of "worship" in popular Protestantism does not seem to suggest anything so formal as a church service. It is more likely to be associated with rousing choruses of "How Great Thou Art," either at a Billy Graham rally or in a rugged setting out of doors, preferably round a campfire, holding hands. Mawkish gimmickry of various kinds is marketed as making for "effective" worship. Church services themselves, however, are seen as rather drab and dreary on the whole. …

If the Means of Grace were mechanically interchangeable, rather than organically ordered, it would make sense to say: "Today we have Baptism and, therefore, we do not need Communion." Such an argument, however, is quite impossible. It should be equally impossible to argue: "As long as we have preaching regularly, and the Lord's Supper occasionally, the Means of Grace are in action, and all the rest is adiaphora." What must be seen is that in the Lutheran Confessions as in the New Testament the Eucharist is not an occasional extra, an exceptional additive for especially pious occasions, but a regular, central and constitutive feature of Christian worship. Preaching and the Sacrament belong together not anyhow, or helter-skelter, by statistical coincidence, but as mutually corresponding elements within one integrated whole.

Of the practice in apostolic and sub-apostolic times Oscar Cullmann has written in his book, Early Christian Worship, as follows:

The Lord's Supper is thus the basis and goal of every gathering. This corresponds to all that we have already determined about the place and time and basic character of the primitive Christian gathering. … Accordingly, it is not as though early Christianity had known three kinds of service, as we are in the habit of imagining, following the modern example: service of the Word and, alongside of it, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. It is rather so: in the early Church there are only these two celebrations or services—the common meal, within the framework of which proclamation of the Word has always a place, and Baptism ... The Lord's Supper is the natural climax towards which the service thus understood moves and without which it is unthinkable, since here Christ unites himself with his community as crucified and risen and makes it in this way one with himself, actually builds it up as his body (1 Cor. 10:17).

Dr. Arthur JustConcordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., presented his paper, "Confident Liturgy: Presiding with Hospitality and Grace" to The Good Shepherd Institute in Nov. 2008. (pdf, 20 pgs, 459 KB; printable pdf, 11 pgs, 141 KB)

A Modest Proposal Regarding the Common Service

(Click above link for full article)


PROPOSED: That every English-speaking Evangelical Lutheran parish in North America would be well-served both for its own well-being and for the greater strength of all of North American Lutheranism to retain or gain familiarity and ease with the Common Service and keep it "in the rotation" if other settings are used.

Fine Tuning - Shaping Modern Lutheran Worship sans Praise Band

(Click above link for full article)


1. Lutheran hymnody is exciting

This is really a theological matter. If a pastor is convinced that the Lutheran hymn heritage has something unique to offer Christians in the way of Gospel proclamation and catechesis, they will want to drink deeply from it. If they want to use it, they can find ways of making that happen without capitulating to the desires of naysayers who think other, less theologically astute songs are more “exciting.” There is nothing more exciting about one kind of music over another. One can cultivate an appreciation for all kinds of music, if one opens their minds and interests to doing so. As Christians, we should be open to cultivating appreciation for the Lutheran hymn corpus because of the great value it possesses and the great contribution it makes to Christian understanding theological knowledge and ultimately, spiritual growth.

(HT: Issues, Etc. - Pr Todd Wilken's pick for Blog of the Week - mp3, 05m18s, 2.14 MB, 2010-Aug-27)

Fine Tuning: What Makes Lutheran Worship Lutheran

(Click above link for full article)

Part 2 of a series (Part 1)


One of the most challenging things I faced as a former worship leader in the Evangelical Free Church was exactly how to define what worship was. One elder at the time quipped, “Ask 50 different people what worship is and you’ll get 50 different answers.” This was absolutely true and remains true today. One of the great things about Lutheranism is that it recaptures and explains a view of worship that is Biblical and objective–– not according to my whims, but according to what God says.

Worship is God gathering His church together so He might give to us His gifts. These are the gifts of His Word, Baptism, His Supper and His Holy Absolution. We are sustained through these things. Worship in essence calls us to get out of the way and let these things come to us, that we might receive them in gratitude and allow them to renew and shape our faith. As we hear the Word of God read and preached, we also share it together in our songs and hymns. Since we know that the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God, we do not wish to waste time singing things that are not the clear and well-explicated Word. Lutherans have always regarded our hymns as mini-sermons. This is because what we sing is just as important as what we hear preached. The Word of God present in our hymns sustains us in our faith.

Fine Tuning: How We're Changing

(Click above link for full article)

Part 3 of a series


Here are some things that are happening in the LCMS now that the evangelicals did ever so long ago. It all looks really familiar to me because it is exactly what occurred when I was in the Evangelical church through the 80's and the 90's.

• Viewing doctrine as divisive and an impediment to missions

• Thinking that one can possess strong doctrinal positions, and change the musical styles to those influenced by the pop-culture (top 40 mostly).

• Disappearance of the chancel furniture except maybe on Communion Sundays

• Praise band leads almost all of the service, typically drums, guitar, keyboard, bass, lead singer.

• Hymns barely to non-existent

• Old=bad, new=good

• How-to, practical sermons for daily living rather than Christological, law/Gospel proclamations (may not be epidemic in the LCMS yet, but don’t worry, it’s coming)

• Disdain for the liturgy. We retain the things that might still qualify us as “Lutheran” but we really wish we could get rid of those too. The liturgy becomes a “style” seen as a necessary evil, rather than a “substance” that is life-giving through what it purveys. So it is altered to become "cooler," if not downplayed, or discarded altogether.

• Communion practiced less frequently or on days other than Sundays

• Service more like a concert with the band warming up for the main act -- the sermon!

I have noticed that we are shifting to a more and more amorphous brand of Christianity where doctrinal distinctions and precision is downplayed in favor of “bringing in the lost.” But we are not using the true Gospel to do it. We’re using techniques. We take the true Gospel for granted. We think to ourselves, “Hey, we’re Lutheran. That cannot happen to us. I mean, my pastor has a Book of Concord sitting on his shelf, after all–– I think.”

Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, discusses Entertainment-Driven Youth Ministry with Pr Todd Wilken (mp3, 40:12, 16.1 MB, 2010-Aug-25)

Read also Dr Veith's article, Stupid Church Tricks, in World magazine


Part 1: http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/2010/06/lets-call-it-what-it-is-sectarian.html

Part 2: http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/2010/06/lets-call-it-what-it-is-sectarian_24.html

Printable (, 4 pgs, 54.67 KB)


Since it was the Roman Catholic Church that, with its heretical innovations, had really broken away from the ancient, orthodox, catholic (“universal”) Church, the Lutheran Reformers {were} not compelled to abandon the worship forms of the Church catholic. On the contrary, they insisted on using the catholic ceremonies, both because of their usefulness for instructing the common people, and to give a clear confession of their unity with the Church catholic. The Lutherans refused to be numbered among the sects, although Rome still refers to us this way. At some times and in some places during the 16th century, Lutherans {were} compelled to stop using this or that ceremony as a confession against the papists who were trying to compel the use of these ceremonies among the Lutheran churches. But wherever possible, Lutherans retained the ceremonies of the Church catholic, because they proclaimed the unity and collective wisdom of over a thousand years worth of believers from all over the world, especially the Western Church in which the Lutherans mainly lived.

Unlike the confessional Lutheran Church, the sects have broken away from the Church catholic by false teachings. Most of them don’t even wish to be associated with the Church catholic. One of the most widely shared of these false teachings is a false teaching regarding the Means of Grace, that is, how God communes and communicates with men, how God creates and strengthens faith in man, how God distributes to individuals the forgiveness of sins won by Christ for all men. The Lutheran Church recognizes that it is the Gospel alone, in Word and Sacrament, that God has chosen as his means to accomplish these things. (More will be said about the theological underpinnings of sectarian worship forms in the next post on this subject.)

The sects, having abandoned the Church catholic, have developed their own worship forms, their own practices, in keeping with their false understanding of the Means of Grace and how man interacts with God. The “contemporary” worship phenomenon has grown out of this false understanding commonly held among most of the sects. Because of the sectarian origins of these worship forms, we refer to it as “sectarian worship.” “Sectarian worship” is incompatible with Lutheran worship because it confesses (intentionally or unintentionally) a disassociation from the Church catholic.

Mr. Brett McCracken, author of the WSJ article, "The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity” and the book, “Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide”, discusses Hipster Christianity with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:29, 10.6 MB, 2010-Aug-19)


Stephen Sizer discusses Christian Zionism with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:30, 10.6 MB, 2010-Aug-17)


Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller and Seminarian Evan Goeglein play Law and/or Gospel, Praise Song Cruncher, How to Tell if You're Being Manipulated by a Youth Speaker, and Which Ladder, National Youth Gathering (LCMS) Edition (mp3, 1h13m22s, 25.2 MB, 2010-Aug-11)

The top five listener favorite hymns are studied:

5 -- Monday, Aug. 9: Pr. Bill Cwirla, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

4 -- Tuesday, Aug. 10: Dr. Arthur Just, "The Church's One Foundation" (mp3, 54:30, 21.8 MB)

3 -- Wednesday, Aug. 11: "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

2 -- Thursday, Aug. 12: Dr. Arthur Just, "Thy Strong Word" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

1 -- Friday, Aug. 13: Pr. Wil Weedon, "God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB)

Listen live from 3-5 pm CT or on-demand at www.issuesetc.org.


How Does the Form and Shape of Worship Affect Faith?

(Click on the above link for the full article)

Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ; and to have such faith is to live in fellowship with God in Christ (receiving and trusting His gracious good gifts of life).

The preaching of the Word is primary, beginning with the Father’s own speaking of the Son. It is by this Word (His Son) that God creates and gives life to man; by this Word that He breathes His life-giving Holy Spirit into man, in the flesh. It is a divine Word, the speaking of God Himself, by which He reveals and gives Himself to man. In its confrontation with sinful man, it both accuses and forgives (Law and Gospel), and thereby calls to repentance and faith (in Christ, the Word).

This same Word, which is the almighty and eternal Son of God, has become flesh — true Man — part of His own creation — so that, in Him, in His own Person, God and man are perfectly united and in harmony forevermore. It is therefore by and with and in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, that you live in fellowship with God (by faith), and not at all apart from Him. This is the case, both by His forgiveness of sins and by His gracious giving of Himself in love.

It is in and with Christ that you receive the Holy Spirit (the life-giving Breath of God) through the forgiveness of your sins. For Christ is the true and perfect Man, the new and better Adam, who has been anointed by the Spirit for you. He receives and bears the Spirit in the flesh on your behalf, in order to bestow the Spirit upon you (with the forgiveness of sins).


Piety Matters

(Click on the above link for the full article)

Can a religion be only cerebral? Is religion only a way of thinking and not a way of doing?

I don't believe so. I think that religion is a matter of soul, mind, and body. It is a way of thinking, doing, and living. In other words, it is a matter of piety. The old saw about “Lutheran substance and [American] Evangelical style” is all wrong – in fact, the catch phrase intentionally plays down the importance of a lived religion: it's merely “style.” And we all know that style is unimportant. Once men wore fluffy collars, now they wear ties. Just a manner of style.

But it's the wrong word. What the advocates of such a plan mean to say is: Lutheran substance, American Evangelical piety. The piety of a Christian is how he lives the faith he professes. Piety is what a Christian does and the words that rattle around in his head without him consciously thinking about them: the words and actions of his Sunday morning worship, how he prays in his daily life, the pattern of sound words that pop into his head throughout the week, the songs he sings, the proof texts he knows by heart and repeats to himself, how he explains the faith to his children, the way he dresses for worship, the popular activities he avoids because of his faith, and the like.

So is there a distinctively Lutheran piety? Or is being Lutheran simply a cerebral matter: Here is a list of doctrines: if you assent to these, then you are a Lutheran and your piety is up to you, as an individual or community, to devise on your own from whatever source you like. Is that how it is?