When theology loses track of experience

02 Jul

We’re not convinced that the authority of Scripture is the sacred cow it is held up to be.

Lets just imagine that theologians and church hierarchy spoke with one voice around the globe, deciding that Scripture did not allow the ordination for women.  In the context of a world where women are in virtually all work places and are increasingly in leadership, the response from many would be to find that Scripture was simply inadequate to deal with our experience of God, or our experience of the world of today. On the other hand the response may simply be to walk away from the church.

Returning from the theoretical to the actual – the LCA – and assume the same conditions (universal agreement by theologians and Church hierarchy that women’s ordination is disallowed by Scripture) we would have two options, division or death. On the one hand (division), under intolerable conditions, individuals and congregations would be forced to form other communities, while on the other hand (death), people would walk away from the LCA and perhaps faith.  In either case, the Church as we know it would be gone, leaving it to another generation to attempt to rebuild a tradition from the ruins of a disconnected, inward-looking, pious Australian Lutheran Church.

For too long the church used the authority of Scripture in its support of slavery.  Human compassion decreed a higher standard and calling.

Today, any discussion on whether slavery should be tolerated would be abhorent.  Similarly, the time is past when there can be any consideration of that world view where women are somehow less than men in the sacred or secular context.

What about the potential for a split in the Church? Isn’t it right that unity should be preserved until a solution can be found? It is our view that through lack of pastoral leadership the damage has already been done.  Objective, careful leadership would have allowed the LCA to discuss and find its course towards women’s ordination.  As it stands today, however, the matter has been politicised, the discussion stymied, the debate manipulated, and women have been isolated and alienated.  Pr Semmler has distanced the national Church from St Stephens’ sponsored Time to Soar conference on women’s ordination and he continues to attempt to control the debate rather than to facilitate it.  Sad to say, but we don’t believe that continued unity is either possible or desirable.  It is not possible to expect congregations to continue to suppress their women at official levels when women are already providing significant leadership.  It is difficult to gauge but some would add that patience with poor national leadership is running low.  In addition, it is not desirable to maintain unity when that unity requires the continual abuse of women in the LCA.

For those who support women’s ordination the debate is over.  Scriptural passages supporting slavery or the subjugation of women are simply reverberations of history.  They offer nothing for our future. Our future is in an ever-adapting Church that responds to an ever-changing society.


Posted by on July 2, 2012 in theology


Tags: , , , ,

7 responses to “When theology loses track of experience

  1. Morven R. Baker

    July 3, 2012 at 12:26 am

    “an ever-adapting Church that responds to an ever-changing society” …. so well put. I add my “amens” to this, as I truly believe Jesus would be leading the way, gently, shaking his head at the situation. After all, he was two thousand years ahead of his time!

    • Katie and Martin

      July 3, 2012 at 1:19 am

      Indeed! Jesus would be constantly surprising us with his laser on love.

  2. (Dr) Merilyn Annells

    July 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    As an ex-member of St Stephen’s and an ex-member of the LCA, I am delighted to read about the Time to Soar conference and hope plus pray that it will be wonderfully productive. Since 2010 my spiritual home has been in the Anglican Church and I’m pleased that also a daughter, daughter-in-law and my 5 grandaughters plus my son and grandson are being nurtured in a church that generally does not discriminate against females in God’s Kingdom. Nevertheless, I still regularly pray for the LCA, the leadership of the LCA and for all who work toward ordination for women in the LCA. PS – However, I did feel more at home when I discovered that some Robin Mann hymns/songs are sung regularly in the Anglican church in which I worship!

    • Katie and Martin

      July 15, 2012 at 3:48 am

      (Dr) Merilyn, thanks for your comment. We understand how important it is to find a worship community that is safe. Your story is not an isolated one – there are so many people who have quietly made homes in other denominations or simply not returned to Lutheran congregations. It would be great, but sad, to hear all their stories. Then there’s the sad stories yet to be told, of those people who have stayed despite being wounded by the Church. One day, maybe soon, those stories will be told.

      • Morven R. Baker

        July 15, 2012 at 5:40 am

        Please send everyone greetings at SOAR from their friends at Christians for Biblical Equality. We have a small but supportive chapter in Ashland, Ohio, who are prayerfully supporting our sisters as they recognize that God sees GIFTING, not gender. In particular, I am with you in spirit today as I head out to church to hear a young female friend preach in a local large Methodist Church. May the healing bells ring!

  3. PIchi

    July 15, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Spot on.


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