A Statement of 46 Years Ago

The “Statement of the 44” made in 1945 was one of the sharpest turns the Good Ship LCMS ever made. Actually, the turn was made when they were allowed to withdraw it with no consequence, no repentance. It was a theological mulligan. And that ilk has been hacking up the theological course of the LCMS ever since while truly confessional men are marginalized.

Dr. Scaer and I think Dr. Preus too thought the Good Ship LCMS made a turn in the late 60s and especially early 70s, and it was due to the laity. Truthfully, I never bought that. My father was one of the layman involved, but if not for the theological leadership of men like Drs. Scare and Preus and Professor Kurth Marquart as well, no turning would have occurred. Of course, you need layman who will read, study, listen and know gold when they’ve found it. Here is truly a golden nugget from St. Kurt of 46 years ago, 1978, found by one of my members.

“What then shall we make of the idea that ‘the youth’ get bored with sameness and therefore require constant innovations to keep them interested? The sentiment is well-meaning enough but is essentially misguided. It is true that initially some silly youngsters (by no means all) may enjoy having the service turned into a variety show, especially one that is flattering to the inane Youth Cult images promoted by the media for profit. In the long term, however, such an approach is bound to produce conscious or subconscious contempt for the church. Who, after all, could respect an institution, which is after two thousand years’ experience, so confused about its functions as to say: ‘Dear children, help us!  We are no longer sure about what we ought to be doing. Perhaps you might have some good ideas?’  Who could possibly take seriously the play-worship prefixed with that horrid word, ‘experimental’?  The fact is that no healthy, viable society lets its children arbitrate its values.  It is for the elders of the tribe to guard its cultural heritage and to transmit it solemnly to the younger generation – never vice versa.  Also in our society the problem is not with the youth but with their elders.  If youth are confused about values, it is mainly because their parents are.  If the liturgy is boring to children it is usually because the parents do not find it very interesting either. If children saw adults treating the Sunday Service as the most important activity of their lives, they would respect it too, and would never dream of treating it as a pop-event, to be tinkered with by every Tom, Dick, and Harry.  A church which has won the conscientious loyalty of parents -particularly fathers (Eph. 3:15, 6:4) – will have the devotion of their children too.  But a church which abjectly capitulates to the whims and tastes of adolescents will have, and deserve, neither” (Excerpt from: Kurt Marquart, “Liturgical Commonplaces,” Concordia Theological Quarterly: Volume 42, Number 4 (October 1978): 343)

Do you hear the clarity and candor with which St. Kurt wrote over 4 ½ decades ago? Do you see that it condemns the path LCMS, INC., and especially their Youth Gathering, have gone for the past 40 years? Do you realize the bulk of the LCMS has now followed suit? Turn this ship? You can’t turn a ship that has sunken this far in to the morass of popular culture, values, and mores.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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