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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

An overture on adiaphora

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The Secretary of the LCMS, Dr John Sias, has reminded us that it's time to start thinking about overtures to submit to the Synod for consideration as we move toward  the 2019 Synodical Convention. So here's one from us, which you, dear readers, are free to plagiarize and use at will. Congregations, circuits, and districts may send overtures to Synod.  Here is a link to remind you of the importance of this matter.

To Reaffirm Formula of Concord Article X and the Freedom to Practice Certain Church Ceremonies

Whereas,

certain Christian practices and ceremonies are true matters of adiaphora (FC X), and

Whereas,  

the Formula of Concord declares that that “the congregation of God of every place and every time has, according to its circumstances, the good right, power, and authority in such matters that are truly adiaphora to change, to diminish, and to increase them, without thoughtlessness and offense, in an orderly and becoming way, as at any time it may be regarded most profitable, most beneficial, and best for preserving good order, and the edification of the Church”, (FC SD X:9), and

Whereas,

even in such matters which are truly adiaphora, when they are in effect banned, whether by violence or by cunning, to the detriment of the true worship of God, we must not yield to our adversaries (FC SD X:10), and

Whereas,

among these matters of true adiaphora are genuflecting, and the elevation of the elements of Holy Communion at their consecration, and

Whereas,

genuflecting is a laudable and Biblical act of adoration (cf. Matthew 2:11), and

Whereas,

the elevation of the elements has universally been regarded as a confession of the real and substantial presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament, one which Blessed Martin Luther desired to be retained, saying, “We do not want to abolish the elevation, but retain it because it goes well with the German Sanctus and signifies that Christ has commanded us to remember him”, (Luther’s Works, vol. 53, p. 82) therefore be it

Resolved,

that the LCMS reaffirm in accordance with Formula of Concord Article X on Adiaphora that ceremonies such as genuflecting and the elevation of the elements of Holy Communion at their consecration are permissible and even laudable Christian practices for “the edification of the Church” (FC SD X:9) and be it further

Resolved,

that the LCMS reaffirm in accordance with its congregational polity that when a local host congregation’s pastor desires to genuflect or to elevate the elements while presiding at a Convention of the Synod or District or a Synodical or District conference, he is free to do so, and be it finally

Resolved,

that the LCMS reaffirm and confess: “We also believe, teach and confess that at a time of confession, when the enemies of God’s Word want to suppress the pure doctrine of the Holy Gospel, God’s entire church, indeed, every single Christian, but especially the ministers of the Word, as the directors of the community of God, is bound by God’s Word to confess the doctrine freely and openly.  They are bound to confess every aspect of pure religion, not only in words, but also in works and actions.  In this case, even in adiaphora, they must not yield to the adversaries or permit these adiaphora to be forced on them by their enemies whether by force or cunning, to the detriment of the true worship of God and the introduction and sanction of idolatry.  For it is written:  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1) Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in-who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery-to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.  (Galatians 2:4-5)”. (FC SD X:10-11)

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