See part I here.
Yes, let me concede it for the sake of this argument: I am the weaker brother. So, if this is the case – if this evaluation of myself seems accurate to you, I only ask you this: why will you not submit to me? I do not desire that you bow to me because I want to experience any power over you (at least, this is what I believe to be true insofar as I am new in Christ!) – let me again concede for the sake of argument that perhaps the Spirit is moving you in a way that I too, should, or will be, moved – even as now I suffer in weak and pitiful blindness! In which case, from your perspective, should you not submit to those like me so that our weak faith will not be endangered – or even destroyed? Paul gives specific instructions of how to treat those in the fellowship whose faith only allows them, in good conscience, to eat vegetables, i.e. those who feel constrained and limited. Please note, that now at least, from my perspective, you really do not seem to care about these concerns of mine at all. As it stands now, I understand it is increasingly difficult for pastors who think like me to be able to start (i.e. be funded) congregations that operate like those I mentioned above. How is this not like a marriage where one person takes no concern for what troubles their spouse greatly? Indeed, in the marriage that is Christ and the Church, should we not even be more concerned? Or have the overabundance of “denominations” caused us to not even see this as scandalous?
Further, it is not as if there aren’t other reasons to think that submitting to those like me of weak faith would be wise. These folks, as weak as their faith may be (again, I am assuming this for the sake of argument), are also concerned about the people of the Church and its mission. As regards its people, they are concerned about the fact that the first impulse of those who leave CCM LC-MS congregations often seems to be to join the Sacramental-less community church nearby instead of the faithful confessional church. They do not seek out the one that offers the Gospel purely preached and the Sacramental gifts that God desires to give His people – for their nourishment and power. As regards mission, some have wisely pointed out how our “target audience” in “the West” is increasingly Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu, for example – and that it makes sense that we should practice worship as something that these groups will at least recognize as worship (as opposed to a soft rock concert geared primarily to older, Westernized adults – which might actually revolt them). Really, is there nothing to what seems to be the universal human conclusion that worship ought to be highly reverent and serious business? Even from the CCM practitioner’s perspective about making worship relevant: if this is a weakness in the non-believer (i.e. not realizing that God, in Jesus, shows Himself to be our friend, and it is not necessary to be so reverent), should we not accommodate them in this way?
So I request this: please stick to what we have all agreed to in our latest hymnal – this is not to say that you need to get approval for every new hymn that you sing, but in general, please abide by this! If you have only a CCM service now, gradually work towards preparing your people for a “second service” that does just this. Do you think that this request is impossible? That it ignores the plight of the lost? That such a traditionally-minded congregation – or a congregation that is moving towards this – is not likely to be able to sustain and nourish a mission-minded approach and mindset? Why do you think this? Why must this necessarily be the case? Cannot people be mission-minded in different ways, expressed differently in their lives? To my knowledge, some of our most devoted LC-MS missionaries are those who are more traditional and “confessional”.
I hope it is clear that I am certainly not insisting that if you do not submit here that you are not a Christian. A love which submits is hard work and love covers over a multitude of sins. If any person who values the traditional liturgy ever tells you that in order to be a Christian you must worship in a certain way (other than clinging to the Word and Sacraments for forgiveness and power), then I urge you to leave the 99 and to seek the one who actually does need repentance! Shake the dust off your feet from those who would bind your consciences in this way – as if the style of music we use was an article of faith! They indeed are like the Pharisees. But if your brothers beg you to submit simply for the sake of good order and some happy consistency in the Church – and do not insist that your salvation is at stake, namely that you must do this to be saved – do no such thing!
But even if you do not call me a Pharisee – and you continue in your ways – I do not see how this cannot strain the marriage. Heresy is not at issue here (yet!), but schism certainly may be. Adultery, leading to divorce, may not be at issue – but apathy, leading to separation, certainly seems to be in the cards. Again, I urge you to ask yourself this question: why will you not submit?
“But are you saying that I must give up everything I feel compelled to do to reach the lost?”, you may be asking…