ON EVALUATING WORSHIP
One of the delegates at my table struggled with the idea that one could "evaluate worship". I found this interesting, since we were all there to discuss the theology of worship and so presumably would have some objective standards. I tried to explain some of the criteria Bishop Stoterau had referenced earlier in our table talk, to little avail. I couldn't persuade her that there were vaild, objective criteria by which one can measure worship.
I thought of her when I filled out the survey asking for us to evaluate every aspect of each service we attended. Would she fill it out, given that she really didn't think one could evaluate worship? Or would she fill it out on the basis of simply sharing feelings or "perspective" - i.e. on a purely subjective, self-expressive level, without any objective basis? I'll have to send her an email and ask.
I suspect that while some of this resistance to evaluating worship is simply the cultural influences of relativism and post-modernism, something else is at play here: the fides quae/fides qua distinction I've noted earlier this blog. If one is exclusively concerned with expressing the fides qua, viewing worship essentially as a means of expressing one's personal faith experience, then one is going to be loathe to make any sorts of value judgments. After all, who can look into another's heart?
I think the biggest challenge facing the LCMS in worship today is to get the "fides qua" folk to understand that those who lead worship are first and foremost responsible for the "fides quae", ie. the faith by which we are saved. Yes, on a personal level, one cannot really evaluate how someone worshipped, but on a corporate level, yes we do dare evaluate: on the basis of Scripture and the Confessions.
That this is not universally understood and accepted by pastors and other rostered church workers in the LCMS is troubling. Faith itself is at risk if worship is not about delivering "the faith once delivered to the saints," but rather about enabling worship that has "impact" and "motivates".
I'll talk about the import of some of the buzzwords I encountered in my next post.