Our Beliefs

Why keep the liturgy? Why do you make confession at the beginning of the service?
Why do you keep the old English wording
and even Latin and Greek terms?
Why do you follow a church calendar?
Why do you chant? What do you believe?
Why do you make the sign of the cross? What if I’m not sure about joining your church?
Why do you process in with the cross
at the beginning of the service?
What do I need to do to join your church
or what if I have more questions?

 

Why keep the liturgy?

First, because the liturgy is nothing but Scripture through and through, in fact, most of it is direct citations from the Holy Bible. But don’t other forms of worship also cite Scripture? Aren’t they just as valid? We don’t intend to criticize the validity of other forms of worship and the intentions of those that use them. Other forms of worship may indeed cite Scripture and we are thankful for that, but the liturgy is like a balanced diet. You can survive on junk food, but eventually it will have negative effects upon your health. The liturgy has survived the test of time and proven itself as beneficial over the years. The liturgy brings you a balanced diet of Law and Gospel. Indeed, the liturgy reflects and teaches the baptismal life itself for throughout the liturgy our old Adam is being killed by the Law and the new Adam in us is being resurrected by the Gospel.

Second, the liturgy teaches us self-sacrifice. We all put aside our own tastes in music and ritual and join in that music and ritual that has been handed down to us. Thus, here at Redeemer our slogan is, “Where the Liturgy Lives and God’s People Worship as One.” We recognize the wisdom of the liturgy. We don’t offer a rock service, a country western service, a big band era service, a rap service or a polka service. How could we ever provide a service to suit everyone’s taste? Thus, we don’t privilege any age, race, or culture. We don’t follow fads. We worship as one as we come together and worship as our spiritual forefathers worshipped.

Third, the liturgy keeps the focus on what God is doing rather than what we are doing. Of course, not every modern form of worship neglects this, nor did every ancient form retain this distinction but the liturgy as reformed by Luther clearly stresses the distinction. The liturgy reminds throughout that “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

You may not like it at first, but I challenge you to come again and try to keep an open mind. Some things take time to grow on a person. We love the liturgy. It may never be your cup of tea, but I hope at least you better understand why we love it.

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Why do you keep the old English wording and even Latin and Greek terms?

Of course, the larger part of the service must be in the language of the current culture so that all may understand it. However, the inclusion of some ancient terms and archaic forms is also beneficial. We retain the old English wording for several reasons. First, we keep it because we want to “worship as one.” Corporate worship is something different than life at school, work and play. The usage of a language (old English) and Greek and Latin terms, terms different from what we experience outside these walls reminds us that what we are doing inside these walls is different. The church is different than the world and the language of the church reminds us of that fact. Second, we keep the old English because we want to “worship as one.” Many of our older members grew up with this usage. They know it by heart. We could selfishly insist that they conform to our usage, but we have self-sacrificially chosen to conform to their usage. It is much easier for younger people to learn something “different,” than to expect our older members to learn something different. The retention of old English and the Latin and Greek terms also reminds us that the holy Christian Church is older than us. In the Apostles’ Creed, Christians confess “I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.” The retention of the ancient languages and archaic forms of speech reminds us that we are part of that “communion of saints” that we “worship as one” not just with those gathered around us on any particular Sunday, but that we “worship as one” with all those believers that have gone before us.

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Why do you chant?

Many Lutherans living today have not experienced chanting in worship, but our Lutheran forefathers both in this country and in the old world chanted the liturgy. Again our slogan, “where God’s people worship as one” gives the answer. Chanting is not only a feature of our Lutheran forefather’s worship, but it is an ancient practice of the whole Christian church. Lutherans have reintroduced it in places where it has disappeared both because of its antiquity and because, like the retention of the church’s traditional language, chanting reminds us that we are in a special place when we are in church. Throughout the Bible God’s people were commanded to recognize that where God allows Himself to be approached was holy and special. Thus God commanded Moses to remove his shoes to remind him that he was on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). The temple was filled with the smoke of incense to remind the Old Testament believer that God was present there. The Book of Revelation describes the heavenly temple as being filled with smoke (Revelation 15:8). In a day and age where the services of church more and more reflect the culture around us and reverence in worship is being lost, the reintroduction of chanting reminds us that we are on holy ground.

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Why do you make the sign of the cross?

In the notes for the service under the Invocation we tell why Christians have made the sign of the cross. There we read:

The Invocation

We “invoke,” that is, call upon, the name of the Lord that was given to us in our baptism. We can come into God’s holy presence because we have been baptized. The Bible tells us, “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:21-22). In baptism God placed His name upon us, thus, “our help is in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 121:2). Beginning with the invocation also reminds us that God sought us first. The Bible tells us, “no one seeks God” (Romans 3:11). Thus, Jesus tells His disciples, “you didn’t choose Me, I chose you” (John 15:16) and Ephesians tells us that “He [God] chose us in Him [Christ].” Lutherans traditionally made the sign of the cross, an ancient tradition that likely goes back to 100 AD and the earliest Christians. The cross is made from the forehead down to the chest to the right shoulder then to the left. This is a reminder of baptism for the cross was historically traced upon the one to be baptized by the pastor from left to right. When we make it over ourselves we trace in the opposite direction to follow the same path as it was traced upon us originally. The cross is made at the mention of the Son for He died on the cross for us. Throughout the service the cross symbol (+) shows where it is appropriate to make the sign of the cross.

However, some Lutherans mistakenly believe that making the sign of the cross is un-Lutheran or some modern innovation in worship. However, our old hymnal on page 4 shows that making the sign of the cross is nothing new to Lutherans, for it states, “The sign of the cross may be made at the Trinitarian Invocation and at the words of the Nicene Creed ‘and the life of the world to come’.” Indeed, in Luther’s Small Catechism in the Morning and Evening Prayer section, Luther advises, “In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the cross and say …” and “In the evening when you go to bed, make the sign of the cross and say …” Scholars believe that the sign of the cross goes back to approximately 100 AD and the earliest Christians for Tertullian mentions it as a custom already in his time. When Lutherans make the sign of the cross they are reminding themselves that their church did not begin with Luther but that their church is as old as the church itself.

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Why do you process in with the cross at the beginning of the service?

The processional also reminds us of the uniqueness of the church and that we are in a special place. Many of our hymns reflect the practice of processing in with the cross. “Lift High the Cross” is referring to a processional cross and the processional. “Onward Christian Soldiers” reminds us that we march into our spiritual war “with the cross of Jesus going on before.” Every processional with the cross reminds us that we are Christian Soldiers and what our Lord suffered to win us.

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Why do you make confession at the beginning of the service?

When people came to John the Baptizer to be baptized they came out “confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6). In fact, the Bible tells us to “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16).

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Why do you follow a church calendar?

The church calendar connects us with other Christians of other denominations and shows our belief in the Holy Christian Church which includes Christians of all denominations. It again is part of our “oneness” with the whole Christian church in heaven and on earth. The calendar reminds us not only that we are in a special place, a place different than the world, but it reminds us that God’s time is different than the world’s time. The Bible confesses this when it reminds us that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). By means of the church calendar we commemorate all of the most significant events in our Lord Jesus’ life and ministry in our behalf. Thus, the first half of the calendar revolves around the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The second half of the calendar revolves around the teachings of our Lord. In this way, we yearly hear the “whole counsel of God” and are reminded of the saving acts of Jesus. The church calendar helps give us a balanced diet of God’s saving truth.

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What do you believe?

We believe that Jesus Christ has paid for the sins of the whole world, including yours. Thus, God is at peace with you and with me. Because Jesus has given His life for us in this way we trust Him. He affirmed the authority of the Bible and the Bible points to Him. Thus we believe that the Bible is the verbally inspired and inerrant (without error) Word of God. We desire that all of our doctrine and practice be in harmony with God’s holy Word. We do not believe that we as individuals in this day and age are the only ones who can interpret the Bible correctly. In fact, we believe that others before us interpreted the Bible rightly. Thus, we confess the teachings of the three Ecumenical Creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as being in agreement with the Bible. In this way we also recognize our continuity with the church of the past. We also fully accept the teachings of the Book of Concord, also known as the Lutheran Confessions, which include, The Unaltered Augsburg Confession (1530), the Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession (1531), the Smalcald Articles (1537), the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537), Luther’s Small and Large Catechism (1529), and the Formula of Concord (1577). We believe these documents to be fully in agreement with the teachings of the Bible. In these documents we confess the historic teaching of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, original sin, justification through grace by faith, and the sacraments of Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion.

Although our only source of authority is the Bible, God’s Holy Word, we recognize that traditions need not be in conflict with the Bible. Traditions are only sinful when they contradict God’s Word or they are put on a level with God’s Word. However, many traditions are quite helpful to the church. Lutherans have historically kept as many of the ancient traditions as they could which did not violate God’s Word in order to show our continuity with the church of the past. To confess that there is “one holy Christian Church.” We worship on Sunday not because God commands us to worship on Sunday but because it is a good ancient tradition. We celebrate Christmas not because God commands us to celebrate Christmas but because it is a good ancient tradition.

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What if I’m not sure about joining your church?

We understand that choosing a church is an important decision. On the one hand, we want you to know that we would love to have you join us. On the other hand, we don’t want you to feel pressured into your decision. We are confident that if God wants you here, He will make that clear to you. However, that clarity can take longer for some than for others. Our highest priority is making the gifts of our Lord available to you. We want to be open to those the Lord brings to us. We have many opportunities for service here at Redeemer, but we also recognize that not everyone has the time or the inclination to join our boards and the various weekly activities at our church. We are here for you.

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What do I need to do to join your church or what if I have more questions?

Please contact our pastor at 503-665-5414 and he will be pleased to answer any further questions for you.

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