Theological and Pastoral Criteria for Worship Forms in the Lutheran Confessions
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Due to “worship wars” in the Lutheran church, the issue of worship forms has been thoroughly examined from Scripture and from historical perspective. Until recently, however, the Lutheran Confessions have not been strongly represented in these studies. Studies that have considered the Lutheran Confessions have not always accurately reflected all that the confessions might say about worship forms. The goal of this study is to compare the arguments that have been advanced with what the confessions have to say about worship forms. Based on a reading of all the confessions have to say on the topic, several theological and pastoral criteria emerge that give a solid confessional Lutheran perspective on worship forms. Most notable among these is the centrality of justification by faith alone, which shapes the entire theology of worship in the confessions. It also gives great importance to the pastoral concerns that surround worship forms because the truth of the gospel is at stake. These theological and pastoral criteria in the Lutheran Confessions are able to provide a foundation that will guide Lutherans as they seek an appropriate approach to the issue of worship forms.