From the LWF – the Witness of Ordained Women Today

24 Nov

An LWF consultation in 2008 invited churches to see,

… that limiting the ordained ministry to men obscures the nature of the church as a sign of our reconciliation and unity in Christ through baptism across the divides of ethnicity, social status and gender (cf. Gal. 3:27-28).

“We view the ordination of women not primarily as a societal or women’s issue but as a matter that goes to the heart of what it means to be the church. The church’s witness to God’s reconciliation and freedom in Christ is compromised when women are excluded from being able to serve as public witnesses to this by proclaiming the Word and celebrating the sacraments.”

In considering the use of scripture the report suggests, “rather than focusing only on select passages, either in favor or in opposition, we call for a more comprehensive understanding of the witness of Scripture, as centered in Jesus Christ. We point especially to the Lutheran understanding of the living voice of the gospel (viva vox evangelii)”.

“Often, it is not theological but cultural reasons that stand in the way of women being ordained. This is especially the case where hierarchical and patriarchal practices are entrenched. In the gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ ministry, what is obvious is how he repeatedly challenged cultural assumptions and practices that excluded others, particularly women. He also challenged hierarchical patterns of religious leadership. The liberating power of the gospel continues to challenge such assumptions and practices today. A 1992 LWF consultation noted that often

[t]he problem lies not with the culture of the surrounding society but with a particular culture that has developed within the church…. After many decades, however, not only is that “church culture” foreign to the church in the countries from which it was imported, but it also becomes a barrier to evangelism locally.

While the LCA couldn’t quite become a member of the LWF, preferring to maintain strong links to Missouri Synod and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) – the Association of  ‘Confessional’ Lutheran Churches, – this pre-eminent international Lutheran body continues to be strongly concerned that member churches bring about women’s ordination:

“Now, as we prepare for the Eleventh Assembly in 2010, in the spirit of what it means to be a communion of churches, we ask each of our member churches to consider how they have responded to this call and what in all our communities remains to be done. In particular:

As we anticipate a new and accessible LWF resource for use in local settings, we call on member churches to encourage local congregations to engage in educational discussion so that members can understand better the theological grounds for ordaining women.

There is strong support from the LWF to ordain women, however, when the LCA President suggests that the LCA needs help in moving forward, there will be no surprises when President Semmler requests Missouri Synod (non-LWF) to offer their experts to help the LCA move ahead.

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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Hermeneutics, sociology, theology


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