I was speaking with a professor at Concordia Seminary last week. He said something very alarming to me about some of the first-year students at the seminary. While many classes on the whole are good, he said, there are more and more students coming in who have never witnessed liturgical worship and to whom the hymnal is a completely foreign thing.
It’s frightening for those students. Could you imagine being raised in a church using consumerist worship with all of its emphases and experiences believing that this is what the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was like and then being dropped into the flagship seminary and attending worship for the first time? Talk about bait-and-switch! I can’t imagine what kind of culture shock that must be for those young men.
Of course it’s frightening to me too. The seminary does a pretty poor job of educating about the liturgy in any systematic kind of way. One class in worship which pretty much relates to technique and the rest must be pulled from this or that textbook, this or that professor, a few who emphasize our worship and liturgy more than others, but most remaining silent for whatever reason. For these young men who have no experience of what Lutheran worship had been–uniformly–for 450 years, I’m afraid that they will leave the seminary still not knowing.
When I was there a few of the men were ardent supporters of jettisoning the liturgy for the consumerist worship we have today. Those men were rather in a minority, at least in their outspoken disdain for the Synod’s history and confession. They saw their years at the seminary as either missionaries to convert the rest of us heathen about our dead tradition, or, failing that, as a cross to bear and hoops to navigate until they could leave and go back to their former ways. I remember one couldn’t take it and left. He eventually was ordained through “alternate” means and is now serving somewhere out west.
I know some who read here are not as convinced about the historic liturgy as I am. I’m glad you read anyway. But I think we can agree on this: when you have, in the same synod, at the same time, the Lutheran Service Book, the tooth-less and relatively meaningless “Theses on Worship” the Council of Presidents produced, and a generation of future pastors who have only known contemporary worship, it does not bode well for our unity.