Liturgy and Freedom to Order Ceremonies

“We Lutherans know nothing of liturgy that is prescribed by God’s Word. We know that the church has freedom to order its ceremonies and that it can therefore preserve the liturgical heritage of Christendom, as long as it is consistent with the Gospel. Indeed, our church in the Reformation placed the greatest value on preserving as much as possible this heritage that binds us with the fathers. But these ceremonies do not belong to the essence of the church or to the true unity of the church, as Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession and Article 10 of the Formula of Concord teach. Löhe knew this when in his Drei Bücher von der Kirche [Three Books on the Church], right where he speaks of the beauty and greatness of the Lutheran liturgy, he protests against overestimating it: ‘The church remains what she is even without liturgy. She remains a queen even when she is dressed as a beggar’ (Book 3, chap. 9 [p. 178]).”

The Lutheran Understanding of the Consecration
Letters to Lutheran Pastors Number 26, July 1952
Trans. by Norman Nagel, published in We Confess the Sacraments, Concordia, 1986, p.117.

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