Dr. Baue’s Doctrine / Confession Class at MYS
6 February 2015
“Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence, ” comes from the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV, said Dr. Fred Baue to his class on the Lutheran Confessions. “What is the mass?,” asked Dr. Baue, “The word is associated with the Roman Catholic church, but it simply means the chief Sunday service where the Lord’s Supper is celebrated.” Lutherans were falsely accused of abolishing the chief worship service in Martin Luther’s day. “Today, we need to consider if the charge of abolishing the mass, or the chief worship of Christ applies to us today, particularly here in Ethiopia. You as leaders of the church need to evaluate this for yourselves.” What ensued was an engaging lecture with excellent dialog in the class of about 36 people.
Part of the lecture was a demonstration and practicum on how to not “abolish the mass” included singing the opening versicles of Matins. The EECMY does not have Matins or Vespers as part of its liturgical tradition. The missionaries 90 some years ago translated the Divine Service with Holy Communion and a Service of the Word from German and Scandinavian languages into Amharic and Oromo, but they did not translate Matins or Vespers. When LCMS people began teaching on the campus of Mekane Yesus Seminary, they would hold a Matins service from time to time in the chapel. After seeing the service from the Lutheran Service Book a few times, the leadership asked if assistance could be given to put Matins into Amharic. The next EECMY hymnal revision may contain the order of Matins and Vespers. Dr. Baue is involved in bringing these services into Amharic by helping to put it in an Ethiopian context.
Dr. Baue’s demonstration of the opening versicles of Matins, prompted a discussion on “contextualization” and a discussion about how to properly contextualize worship both in the 21st century and in Ethiopia. Dr. Baue explained that the music and the instruments need to be contextualized for a given people and location, but the basic forms and content should remain consistent. This brought about a discussion on Lutheran doctrine. One of the students raised his hand and said, “Lutheran doctrine is nothing other than Biblical doctrine. The teachings of the Lutheran church come directly from the Bible.” Dr. Baue then asked, “What is pure doctrine?” as he began to draw on the chalk board.
The quality of the artwork aside, Dr. Baue illustrated “pure doctrine” with a glass of milk. He quoted 1 Peter 2:2, “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” Christian teaching is spiritual milk by which we grow up to salvation. He asked how many flies would have to be in the glass of milk before you refused to drink the glass of milk? Nearly the entire class said, “No flies!” Dr. Baue explained that reason, philosophy, culture, even contextualization that take us away from the cross of Jesus are flies in the milk. He said the reason we study the Augsburg Confession is to help us keep flies out of the milk. The class remained engaged in the lecture to the point of nearly forgetting to take a coffee break. At the end appreciation was expressed for the lecture. Dr. Baue will remain teaching for several months.
For the past two years, the LCMS has been actively assisting in the masters level theology program at Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS). Support for the program includes scholarships, curriculum assistance, and instructors. Presently, there are about 65 students enrolled in the masters program. The master degree students are or will become Synod leaders and instructors at Bible schools and regional seminaries. Those who teach at the MYS seminary frequently study abroad, increasingly at LCMS seminaries. Funding for the MA student scholarships, for the instructors who teach at the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS), and scholarships to study at LCMS seminaries is provided by the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI). To see the opportunities the Global Seminary Initiative is meeting please visit: http://www.lcms.org/makeagift/gsi
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