Best of the Old Blog : Adiaphorism

Adiophorists (sounds better than libertines) go on and on about “Christian liberty” as if they are free to do anything. (As an extreme example I once suggested to a congregation – not the congregation I serve – that because scripture doesn’t specifically forbid it, perhaps we should have pastors go to strip clubs and sit around handing out pamphlets. They thought it was a good idea. Obviously my wife was not so much in favor. I didn’t suggest that pastors should frequent prostitutes and pay them for their time to hear the Gospel. Not sure how they would have responded to that one, but I’m pretty sure I know what my wife would say.)

This libertinism usually manifests itself in the liturgy. This inability to defend the historic liturgy, even though our confessions “religiously defend” it, has left us open to attacks of sectarianism from those who have left the fold for the greener pastures of Rome and Constantinople (they don’t realize that the grass over there has just been painted on – it doesn’t exist. The sometimes withering grass of Missouri is still better than the green painted dirt of the heretic bodies).

Anyway, my point is this : Those who prattle on about “freedom” as if they were in a Mel Brooks Gibson movie clearly have not actually read FC X on adiaphora. This article is quite clearly about those things which – though neither commanded nor prohibited – have become so because of our opponents, and are therefore no longer free. So we are not free to change the liturgy because we think it is cool, especially when the Baptists say, “The only way you can grow is to adapt to the bankrupt culture which surrounds you.” (Which they do say) The only confessional response we can give to that is “Perhaps, all things being equal we might have been able to change the liturgy (not likely, see UAC XXIV) but because you now cast doubt on the efficacy of the word of God to accomplish God’s will without human intervention, we can not change one jot or tittle.” We use that same argument against them in the matter of immersion baptism – which is odd, because they already reject our baptismal practice because we baptize infants. Yet, in “Christian liberty” we are bound to baptize in a manner which they reject, so that they can see that our liberty will not be curtailed by them. Similarly, if the Roman church were to say, “You must not have walk-in baptisteries” then we would have to turn around and build them, simply to show the errorists that we are free to do just that – and in that freedom are now bound to use them.

So when someone says, “If you want your church to grow, you have to ditch the liturgy” – which liturgy we “religiously defend”, we must therefore say, “Now I will not change one note, one word, one syllable, and you will see that, in my freedom, now forced to do what you denounce, God will still accomplish his will.


One Response to “Best of the Old Blog : Adiaphorism”

  1. Just found your blog via the reference to your post with the Marquart paper, and enjoyed a bunch of your posts.

    To my small lay brain, it strikes me that there are the antinomians, there are the legalists, and there are the orthodox. I also heard somewhere that if you scratch an antinomian you are likely to find a legalist, and I’d suspect that you could make a pretty good case that if you scratched a legalist you’d find an antinomian. So, whatever the orthodox position is, it has to be different from both legalism and antinomianism, and since the latter two seem to be pretty similar to one another, it’s probably counterproductive to think of orthodoxy as the via media.

    Now, if the content, substance, essence, form, identity, or whatever of the Liturgy is the Word, then there has to be some way in which the Law is also present in the Liturgy, albeit as an alien work. I’ve begun to wonder whether the approach that says that the Liturgy needs to be done in complete Gospel freedom has taken into account this aspect as well–was this how the old Church Orders were viewed, or were they viewed as Law (Gospel-informed Law, but Law)? One thing I know for sure: whether or not the structure of the Liturgy is supposed to be formed by pure Gospel without the Law, whenever my innate carnality starts to point my mind towards non-holy things during the Liturgy, the rite generally comes back to smack me upside the head, and it starts to look, swim, and quack like the Law indeed. And I wonder if our present-day liturgical confusion might stem from the whole Third Use / Sanctification controversy.

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