Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi - where is that?

Sorry, it ain't in the Bible and as a principle it reverses the truth.

What? your favorite pastor quotes it often? Ask him for a chapter and verse before you believe him. It is not in the Bible.

The way you believe is the way you will live. Not the other way around. In fact, it makes faith a work, i.e it thinks that you can cook it up by practice. It does not always achieve its aim.

The above maxim is often quoted in justifying some practice of piety, in turning an adiaphora to be no more adiaphora. It is a ploy for slipping in a practice with the guise that it will protect your faith. Think of the Galatian heresy here.

I have seen such styles when I was an RC kid and it clouded the Gospel. Before the Gospel can affect you it has to first come to you propositionally declared.

Let me explain...

16 comments:

William Weedon said...

Dear Lito,

I think it is true, though not in some profound theological sense. I think its just an axiom of sociology, if you will: folks come to believe what they're accustomed to. They get comfortable with what they're used it and buy into the assumptions of it, without really thinking about it.

Grow up with prayers to the Virgin and you end up believing you can pray to the Virgin. Now, I know you USED to believe that, but don't anymore. The Word taught you better - and for that, hip-hip-hooray!

So "lex orandi" as a rule isn't really theological. It just follows though that bad praying will end up resulting in bad believing; good praying in good believing. It's why I think the Church always needs to be vigilant that WHAT is being prayed is wholly Scriptural.

My $.02.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. Will,

You hit it in the head. That example is a classic. Praying to Mary may lead to having faith in Mary, or it may lead to being skeptical altogether. I have friends like that, they were forced to pray to her and now they are unbelievers of anything. They hate all sorts of Christianity.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi has been made to a new Law.

It is important as you said that what we do is Scriptural. Also the content is more important than the practice.

Not only that it does not always work in those who are traditional, it does not always work even in those that are none-traditional. A JW reads his bible daily, they may wind up never believing the Gospel. Some do, by the mercy of God but simply practicing some holy activity does not lead one to faith.

Now you know I am a low down church guy but to the credit of the Lutheran liturgy - I have to do thumbs up in that it does give me an entry point in teaching the children to understand what they do not understand they are doing while in worship service.

But if I do not teach them what the words they say mean, it would not lead them to faith.

St. Paul says when I was a child I spoke as a child, eventually you need to be weaned out of that and the whole objective is that faith needs to kick in, faith in the Gospel, now when that is set, freedom comes in.

LPC

acroamaticus said...

Lito,
Yes, I agree, the value of using this phrase in a positive sense in Lutheran circles is surely questionable. Lex credendi logically should come first, I think, otherwise one risks ending up where the high Anglican church is today, or worse (?), the RCs. Is not this how improper Marian devotion gained traction in the church? The lex orandi among teh common people won out over the lex credendi of the theologians.
Pr Weedon is quite correct, though, imo, to point out that as a negative warning the phrase has its uses. When liberal or Romanising tendencies want to influence the direction of the church, they most often seem to make their deepest impact in 'reforming' the liturgy, because most laity do not understand the import of their reforms until it is too late.

MH

PS Meant to take the Sasse book on scripture to conference to pass on to Pr Brett but forgot to :0(
Maybe I could send it to you?
You could post it back to me when you finish it.

PPS What's a "low down church guy"? As in "low church"?

Past Elder said...

How did you learn to speak at all in any sense? Did someone sit down and "catechise" you, telling you what all the words meant, then you began speaking?

Hell no. You began picking up stuff from what you heard going on around you and saying that, as time went on learning through experience that maybe you didn't quite get something, being able to pick up and more and more, refining that, and much later actually learning something first then using it later.

Prayer is no different.

That is why lex orandi lex credendi expresses a truth one can deny but not escape. That is why it is essential that the church take care about what is being prayed -- from the first moment in church on, whether as a child or an adult "seeker", you begin with and will always be grounded in what you hear around you, and the church, like one's parents, if they are serious about their responsibilities, takes care that what you hear is good English or whatever is spoken. That is also why orders of service reflect belief, why those who do not share our beliefs about what happens in the Divine Service do not share the form of the Divine Service, why those who want to change what we believe happens in the Divine Service want to change the Divine Service, etc.

Jim Pierce said...

I agree with "Past Elder". Seventeen months ago I knew very little about Christian doctrine outside the heresy I was raised in (I was a oneness Pentecostal for those who don't know.) before turning to atheism, and much of what I have learned has come through participation in the divine service. This is a small example, but I had forgotten the Lord's prayer after years of trying to remove anything about God out of my memory. It wasn't long after attending a few divine services that I had the prayer memorized, but I was also learning how to pray to our Lord as I repeated the words and watched those praying around me. The same can be said about any element of the divine service. Another example, by the time I started attending catechism class I had a decent understanding of the Lord's Supper by simply participating in confession, absolution, hearing the words of institution, and watching.

But is any of my experience to be chalked up to theology? No. But the practice in the divine service most certainly taught me so much about our Lord. It is truly an amazing thing and when I think about it, I am awe struck by its beauty.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M.

Yes send them to me, email me off line for my address. I hope you had a good time, we are blessed that Pr. Brett is at Calvary. I hope you had time to catch up.

Yes, Pr. M I am low church. I have been high, and dry.

You must be a fan of David Hollaz, he used blogname appeared in his book.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

P.E./Jim,

Let me say tha the DS practiced by the Lutherans is most useful.

"Useful", that is the operative term.

If DS is catechesis, then OK. But DS as such, historic or whatever, is not always catechesis.

I was an RC kid, pre-Vatican II, and experienced post-Vatican II and many others like me. Besides I have spoken to Lutherans who have been trained in the DS all their lives and they are life long Lutherans.

They still think the DS is a form of works that buy them favor with God. They are functioning RCs and no different from them.

Why? Because they think that because they went through an "act" of worship that proves - so they think, that they have "faith".
Most of these can even recite the Small Cat verbatim. Again they parrot it but they do not know the implication of what the words mean. Also the act of parroting gives people the idea that such act means they believe.

So the logic goes this way - the fact that I am doing it, means that I believe it. Not so.


In Lutheran theology, faith is not generic, it is always special, acutely focused on the Gospel.

Jim, I can understand your swing, I was a Pentecostal myself. That is why I said that the DS is useful.

The point is not DS, the point is what is going on in the catechesis, and Luther believed that catechesis is pastoral bread and butter. It should be a regular program in church of any ages, because...

1.) We tend to take for granted our salvation, we also start believing we are not sinners.
2.) People come and go in church, there are people moving in, and people moving out. For those who are moving in, you have no idea what their previous Lutheran pastor taught them. So it is good to get them in the same page.

At anyrate, whatever, one says Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is not in the Bible.

That should really end the story.


LPC

Past Elder said...

Well, the "if it ain't in the Bible we ain't doing it" thing is among the things one leaves behind when coming from "evangelical" Christianity to real evangelical Christianity, called Lutheranism.

Wanting to turn worship into a meritorious work is not the fault of worship, it is another of the many ways sinful Man always recoils from the Gospel to his own idea that somehow. Hell, evangelicals do it all the time with no liturgy at all, where what on the surface is all about Christ is all about me making "a decision for Christ", denying (unintentionally) the work of the Holy Spirit. You can do this with any kind of worship. Any kind of prayer. Anything at all!

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

As far as I know, one becomes a Lutheran when one subscribes to the meaning of the words found in the BoC. Not when one subscribes to Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

The saying is not even in the BoC, if it is show me article and paragraph even it seems to remotely defend it, and I stand corrected.

I subscribe to the BoC I do not subscribe to the additions in the BoC.

Well, the "if it ain't in the Bible we ain't doing it" thing is among the things one leaves behind when coming from "evangelical" Christianity to real evangelical Christianity, called Lutheranism.


Scripture is one of the principles of the BoC.

Simply because something is not in the Bible does that mean I have to do it or enjoin others to do it?that is an abuse of one's liberty.

The Bible does not say anything about smoking, should I smoke because it does not forbid it?

Should I gamble?

All things are permissible for me, but not all things edify.

1 Cor 10: 23(A) "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.

Such saying that since it is not in the Bible I can do it, is simply approaching our relationship with God according to works.

The point is that 1.) Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is not a Biblical axiom and so don't bank on it. 2.) It is so often used as a ploy to slip in works and bondage again to the people of God.

Wanting to turn worship into a meritorious work is not the fault of worship, it is another of the many ways sinful Man always recoils from the Gospel to his own idea that somehow.

Look at this argument and see how similar this is when a Protestant assaults a Roman Catholic on how RCs worship Mary.

Oh they say -- we do not worship Mary, sure we say to her, Mary have mercy on me, Mary save me, we do all these but we do not worship her.

If anything walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it is a duck.

Besides, P.E., it is not only us who does divine service like we do, go to conservative Anglican worship service, you can not detect if it is any different from the Lutheran.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

I mean not only us who do divine service like we do.

LPC

Past Elder said...

I think you're so afraid of being functonally Roman Catholic that it's getting in the way of being Lutheran.

This happens all the time in Lutheranism.

Jim Pierce said...

Lito,

"The point is not DS, the point is what is going on in the catechesis, and Luther believed that catechesis is pastoral bread and butter. It should be a regular program in church of any ages, because...

1.) We tend to take for granted our salvation, we also start believing we are not sinners.
2.) People come and go in church, there are people moving in, and people moving out. For those who are moving in, you have no idea what their previous Lutheran pastor taught them. So it is good to get them in the same page."


Amen! to your points. I want to chime in with the point that the DS should contain those elements that continue catechesis. Every Sunday we are reminded we are sinners in need of God's grace and mercy. We are reminded that we have forgiveness of sins because of what Christ has done for us on the cross. We remember our baptisms as we kneel at the altar and receive forgiveness of sins through the blood and body of Christ at the Supper. Our faith is built up hearing law and gospel in the pastor's message. When I think about what is going on in the DS I become very thankful to our Lord for His gifts to us.

L P Cruz said...

P.E.

Functional RC is basically the same as RC, it is works based.

It turns Christianity to any works based religion - we are Pelagians by birth. So best to realize that and watch out for it in our Lex Orandi.

I am into JBFA.

BTW, what distinguishes us from the conservative Anglican who does the DS like we do, is our thorough going swan song -- you guest it, JBFA.

Because in the end it is Christ Alone, no pluses. The pluses come from the Galatian error.

The Galatian error affects all of us, be they neo or paleo Evangelical.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

Thanks for that amen.

When I swam the Rhine, my missus was unconvinced. Today she says, she is so happy, I told her what was going on in the DS. She listens to the words and then she knows what the words mean.

You can not stop her from talking about our faith now, she gets excite-able.

http://extranos.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-god-ordains.html

For a low church guy and skeptic like me to speak of the DS that way, is no small thing.

The DS is useful, it is useful amplification of what was learned in catechisis. But without the catechisis, it will become a form of ritual which people do not know why they are doing what they are doing.


When people do something religious they do not understand, it is not hard for them to equate such a ritual to the conclusion that it must be a form of pleasing God i.e. works again.

Personally I do not go down worship wars, the war on JBFA has not been won and finished yet, when people get this right, I figure we can talk about other things.


LPC

Lucian said...

Where is that?

In the Pauline Epistles.

L P Cruz said...

JBFA?

or Lex stuff?