I was poking around on wikipedia today (one might call it “slumming around” on wikipedia), and came across an article on “high church lutheranism.”
I found this to be an interesting concept, as I previously thought the High Church/Low Church distinction was mainly an Anglican one. Apparently there is a smaller, but similar, Lutheran movement.
I thought I might reach out to this community to hear some thoughts on it, or perhaps pick up some better (ie- non-wikipedia-based) knowledge of the issue.
“High Church Lutheranism” is the name given in Europe for the 20th century Lutheran movement that emphasizes worship practices and doctrines that are similar to those found within both Roman Catholicism and the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. In North America the term Evangelical Catholicity is used instead
The most ornate liturgy is to be found in the small Evangelical Catholic Lutheran Churches, a few parishes of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and in many Lutheran seminaries of all Lutheran varieties across North America which celebrate Solemn High Mass with ceremonial similar to that found in Anglo-Catholic parishes. The devotional guild the Society of Saint Polycarp was also founded within the LCMS. The most important evangelical catholic journals are Lutheran Forum, published by American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB). and Pro Ecclesia, a published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology in cooperation with the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB).
I know we have some LCMS regulars floating around; is this something they are familiar with?
One thing I was unaware of was that some Lutheran churches have made an attempt to restore the concept of apostolic succession:
n the United States the Evangelical Catholic Church and in recent years other small, biblically and theologically conservative high church Evangelical Catholic Lutheran Churches like the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, International Lutheran Fellowship, Lutheran Orthodox Church, Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Evangelical Marian Catholic Church, and Lutheran Catholic Communion have succeeded in restoring the historic Apostolic Succession from Old Catholic Churches.
It also appears that some in the movement follow Roman Catholic liturgy and adopt more sacraments than mainline Lutheranism:
[quote]The praying of the Divine office is also characteristic to high church Lutheran spirituality. Confession as a sacrament is sometimes rare part of Lutheran tradition and is not considered unique to “high church”. A small number of evangelical catholic congregations reaffirm Melanchthon’s wider use of the word “sacrament” (in the Apology and in Loci Communes) by considering Holy Matrimony, Unction, Confirmation, and Holy Orders to be Sacraments.
Does anyone have any experience with “High Church” Lutherans? If so, what are the impressions of Catholics and non-Catholics of this particular movement?
As I gather, it is distinct from the concept of being a “confessional Lutheran,” though there is some overlap.
As a practical matter, Lutheran organizations that identify themselves as confessional are generally more conservative in their views of the Scriptures and doctrine than groups that do not. Many self-identified Confessional Lutherans are adherents of the High Church Lutheran movement.
Many Confessional Lutherans rejected the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which was backed by more moderate groups.
I find the overlap a bit odd- considering the anti-Rome stance of many Lutheran congregations that subscribe to the Book of Concord, as well as the statement above that many reject the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.
Anyway… I know there are some Catholics here who have an interest in ways that Lutheranism is and is not close to Rome. I thought that this particular aspect of Lutheranism might generate some interest around these parts. As stated above, I am just now running into this, so am looking to learn a bit about it myself.