Struggle to Reclaim the Liturgy in the Lutheran Church

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This study addresses the problem of polarization over defining theologies of worship in the Lutheran Church. Part One explores sixteenth-century sources that define the church and the church’s use of liturgy. Part Two defines a hermeneutic of liturgy and addresses the issue of liturgical inculturation from a Lutheran point of view.


“His observations and arguments arise out of vast and careful study of the texts and the interpretation of the texts ... that frame the debate. His views come from the inside out, for he is testing ... presuppositions that he once held. The basis of his testing arises out of the pastoral concern that typifies the Lutheran confession of the faith, a pastoral concern that he has now practiced for almost fifteen years ... Rev. Waddell recognizes the concerns that lie behind positions on all sides. The clarity of his thought and style ... should help all of us to reexamine our own thinking, and that can only aid in turning dispute into the conversation that seeks God-pleasing solutions. Thus this book makes a sorely-needed contribution.” – (From the Preface) Robert A. Kolb, Mission Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and Co-editor of the Kolb-Wengert edition of the Book of Concord

“Rev. Waddell has written a formidable critique of liturgical theology as this has impacted views about worship in the Lutheran Church ... he has weighed in on a contentious issue in an impressive way and this book is sure to provoke much debate.” – Frank C. Senn, Former President, The North American Academy of Liturgy

“This is a densely argued book which provides a distinctly Lutheran Liturgical Theology based on Lutheran Reformation principles and documents, over against a specifically Roman Catholic (Kavanagh) or Orthodox (Schmemann) or self-consciously Ecumenical (Lathrop) approach to Liturgical Theology. The author knows his sources, and the argument is advanced in minute detail, often with internal Lutheran debates forming a backdrop. This book is a major contribution to the wider debate on Liturgical Theology, and would be useful to scholars in this field, and to wider ecclesial debate.” – Bryan D. Spinks, Professor of Liturgical Studies, Yale Institute of Sacred Music

“This work addresses the [problem] of polarization in the Lutheran Church and lays some theological groundwork for discussing the issues without overstated assumptions. Rev. Waddell opposes experts who are highly regarded by some, a feature which will undoubtedly make the work somewhat controversial. It also identifies the central weaknesses of those who have argued for great freedom in liturgy and thus balances the critique. His method is careful and well-documented. As a new approach to the debate it could add much to the discussion, especially since it honestly grapples with the confessional category of “adiaphora” and offers a method that works from a formal and a material principle. [This book] will be of interest to those who take such questions seriously—both theologians and practitioners.” – James L. Brauer, Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of the Chapel of St. Timothy & St. Titus, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

“If you do not like to think and would rather not have your personal assumptions challenged, do not read this book. But, if you think the Lutheran discussion about worship has stagnated into name calling, and talking past one another, buy and read this book. You will not agree with everything, but you will benefit from the experience.” – Liturgy, Hymnody & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review

Table of Contents

Preface by Robert Kolb
Part I – Early Modern Clarity
1. Reformation Ecclesiology – The Identifying Marks of the Church
2. A Liturgical Paradox: Order and Freedom according to the Sixteenth-Century Evangelical Witness
3. Adiaphora, Liturgy and Conf[es/u]sion
4. In Statu Confessionis
5. The Restoration of Harmony in the Church
Part II – The ‘Contemporary’ Challenge
6. Clarifying Assumptions
7. Liturgical Theology – a Revisionist Movement?
8. A Liturgical Hermeneutic
9. Liturgical Catechesis
10. Liturgy, Culture and Transcendence
Appendix: Iudicium X. ‘On Adiaphora’ – 1561 by Martin Chemnitz
Index of Biblical and Confessional Citations
Index of Ancient Texts and Authors
Index of Names
Index of Subjects

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