Two things make this conscious self-determination frustrating. The first is that this is not as it should be. One should not be traditional, liturgical, sacramental, catholic (or whatever other adjective you wish to use) because one has determined to be such. Rather, that is what the Church is, and so that is what you are to be--by definition, not by decision. This should seem self-evident, and at one time it was more so that it is now. I say "more so" because, as Lutheran history shows, there have always been regions, groups, or synods that have self-consciously determined to "swim against the current" and be what the Church is.
The second frustrating thing is, when "swimming against the current," who's to say that you're actually swimming the right way? In other words, who's to say that one's self-determination is more correct, or right-headed than another's? The LCMS church nearest mine with a layman celebrating all the sacramental rites and playing "pastor" (with the people willingly consenting after being convinced by the heirarchy)--who's to say that's nothing more than their self-determined way of being Lutheran?
To be sure, one can vociferously cite confessional documents, and haul out theology books, and point to historical precedents ad infinitum ad nauseam. However, unmoored from catholic tradition within the increasingly unwraveling bonds of the conundrum called Lutheranism; and , worse yet, with tenuous or no liturgical grounding, self-determination becomes the all important thing.
I've thought these thoughts for some time now, but was reminded of them when I read a statement made recently by Deacon Leonard Klein to George Weigel. Klein was, for 30 years, a very prominent Lutheran pastor who promoted--as best he could--the Western Catholic understanding of Lutheranism within the ELCA. (Even that phrase, "Western Catholic understanding of Lutheranism" seems self-contradicting.) In 2003, with I'm sure no small measure of frustration, he and his family became Roman Catholic. Some time later he was ordained a deacon and, in a few months, Klein will be one of a handful of Latin rite married priests. Because of that, he's a causes celebres of sorts and, so I suppose, Weigel sought him out.
In part, here is what Klein said:
Toward the end of my time as a Lutheran pastor I used to protest that we were all reduced to being gurus. I tried to be authentically Lutheran, but who was to say that I was and the liberal feminist or church-growth ersatz Evangelical down the street wasn’t just as Lutheran as I...By contrast a Catholic priest or lay person can speak of what the Church teaches or permits, and that is freedom.I think that sums up the frustration fairly well.
Read the entire article by Weigel here.