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“The Authority of Scripture, Women’s Ordination and the LCA”

06 Nov

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics, ELCA,

carries a concise summary of the women’s ordination debate in the LCA, including the history and hermeneutics brought by the different sides.  The author, Tanya Wittwer, is a doctoral candidate at Flinders University in South Australia, holds a Master of Divinity From Wartburg Seminary in Iowa and is Master of Public Health Coordinator, University of Adelaide.  She points out the manipulation that has occurred by the ministry-for-men proponents.

Excerpts are included below.  For the full article, including papers and references from many sources, click here.

7] Those that argue that Christ established the office of ordained ministry do so on the basis of passages such as Matthew 28:18-20 and John 20:21-23. There appears to be no acknowledgement that these “establishment” verses may be being used to justify existing practice based in tradition rather than providing a clear mandate for ordained ministry. Those that would argue for the office of ministry having been developed in the early church would look to, for example, Acts 15, Acts 20:28 and Ephesians 4:11 for evidence of an emerging (and diverse) ministry structure. This discussion seems not to have been part of the ordination debate.[8] The study of the ordination issue has focussed on the two verses used as the basis for the prohibition paragraph in The Theses of Agreement rather than using as the starting place the witness of Scripture regarding ordained ministry. I surmise the reason for this is the assumption of consensus regarding the office of ministry.

[10]…However, there have been persistent hermeneutical differences between those engaged in the discussion, and it could be argued that these have been shaped by the ideological positions held prior to any Scriptural study.

[11] Significant voices in the debate have argued from what they maintain to be a literal (but not Biblicist) understanding of Scripture. The subordination of women is an implicit assumption for many. Other significant voices uphold a viewpoint that the Gospel is central to all interpretation and that allowing the text to speak implies a contextual reading. Many of the same people would suggest the Holy Spirit remains active in the development of the church and its theology.

[13] While the official line has been maintained that all discussion in the church on the matter of the ordination of women has been on the basis of Scripture, the reality is that it has been a discussion nested in political strategem.  Many decisions about process have been less than transparent. Those nominated by the church to provide leadership in matters of theology voted by a two-thirds majority – after a long process of study and discussion – that Scripture permits the ordination of women. However, when the General Synods of 2000 and 2006 were asked to discuss and vote on the issue there was silence about the work of the CTICR and the impression continues to be given that they did not reach a decision. A task force was established by the General Church Council following a resolution of the 2006 Synod, “to determine and implement strategies for promoting greater consensus on the matter of the ordination of women” but the report of the task force to the 2009 Synod seems to suggest that the previous study and discussions were ignored.

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Posted by on November 6, 2010 in Hermeneutics, politics, theology

 

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