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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Guest Post: Lutheran Church of Australia: Church or Cult?

Although we subscribe to Neil Hart’s blog, sometimes there’s just too much happening and posts slip under the radar.  Neil’s post (below) is worth the read.  It gives a couple of examples of Pr Semmler imposing his style of hermeneutics and his interpretation of Scripture on delegates to a General Convention (also referred to as Synod) and the general LCA.

September 25, 2012

The issue of women’s ordination has been bubbling away in the Lutheran Church of Australia for a few decades now. After much theological soul searching the Church’s theological think tanks finally concluded that there is no theological impediment to the ordination of women. Despite this a vote for the ordination of women at the 2006 General Synod, although obtaining a narrow margin in favour of the proposal, did not reach the required 2/3 majority to effect the necessary change.

I was on the floor of Synod on that sad and confusing day. It seemed that we were in a bit of a bind. I remember one pastor giving voice to the problem. He asked the President what should happen now that slightly more than half of the pastors of the church had, by their vote, expressed their disagreement with the public teaching of the Church. I remember that his response went something along the lines of…

The pastors have all sworn to uphold the public teachings of the church! 

PHEW! That was a close one. Division in the church narrowly averted.

Problem is… some pesky pastors and lay people were less than convinced by the President’s weighty argument and have continued to campaign against what they see as an anachronistic and unjust stand against women. They met recently to encourage one another and to remind the Church that they and the issue have not gone away.

So the President saw fit to send out a letter of reprimand.

Allow me, reader, to draw your attention to one telling sentence in that recent letter.

The disappointing issue of those wishing to bypass studies of scripture in discussions and who use human understanding, logic, social justice, equal rights and such cultural contexts to  further a cause is to be lamented and discouraged

OK.  3 things

1. I’m not sure if that is actually a sentence. (But who am I to criticise anyone else’s grammar. Pots and kettles.)

2.  I have been involved in the debate on Women’s Ordination in the LCA for nearly 30 years. In that time I have heard no-one in the LCA ever mention, advocated or even hint at bypassing scripture.  The place of scripture is not and has never been in question on the matter of women’s ordination just as it has not been in question in our debate on the church’s statement on homosexuality.

3. What the President is doing here is outlining HIS understanding of how one is to interpret scripture. According to the President,  human understanding, logic, social justice, equal rights and cultural contexts are to be absent from our study of scripture. More than that, according to the President, the use of these things is to be “lamented and discouraged”.

Correct me if I am wrong but… hasn’t our President just outlined the recipe for the birth of a cult?

On Thursday night I listened to an interview on Radio National with a Western Australian woman who spent a couple of decades as a blindly faithful follower of the Bhagwan Rajneesh. Her uncritical devotion to the master, the absence of human understanding and logic, her complete withdrawal from the cultural context that had previously helped to ground her, her willingness to abandoned her common sense of justice and rights and wrongs left her vulnerable to the will of a narcissistic madman until she was finally ready to kill for him.

Ok Mr President, my logic and human understanding are now disengaged. My sense of justice and my concern for the rights of others has been suppressed. My attempts to apply scripture to our present cultural context have been abandoned…

Is this really the attitude you want us to adopt in interpreting the Bible?

Is this really what you want?

Maybe it IS what the President wants. It is certainly ONE way to maintain unity in the Church.

 

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Motion on Women’s Ordination to General Convention 2013 from St Stephen’s

St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Wakefield St, Adelaide

The move towards women’s ordination continues in the Lutheran Church of Australia. It must be acknowledged that St Stephen’s Lutheran Church has been providing significant initiative for many years with their motions going to General Convention over the years and the organisation of the Time to Soar conference in July this year.  The most recent initiative is the following motion, which has been sent to be included in the proceedings for the next General Convention next March.

It would be useful if there were multiple motions that congregations, from around Australia, submitted to General Convention, particularly if the wording was such that they couldn’t all be amalgamated into one motion. If you are considering lodging motions please be aware that proposals from congregations must be emailed to the Synod Secretary at Debbie.venz@lca.org.au by 15 November 2012. Get them in early to avoid any motions getting ‘delayed’ in the in-tray.

Consider sharing this blog address to inform your network of St Stephen’s motion ahead of the General Convention next year.

Consider also taking action in any way that is open to you.  Women’s ordination will not happen by itself, but depends on many people doing what they need to do. Have you thought about writing a letter to the College of Presidents? – cop@lca.org.au    We understand that there is considerable support amongst District Presidents for women’s ordination but that their voice is not heard, given the seniority of Pastor Semmler.

Here’s the wording of St Stephen’s motion:

Given that the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Commission on Theology and inter-Church Relations (CTICR) has reached a majority agreement that the Bible and the teachings of the church permit the ordination of women to the pastoral office in the Lutheran Church of Australia;
 
and, given that prior to the 2000 National Convention of Synod, the CTICR and General Church Council stated that, “On balance scripture and theology permits the ordination of women”;
 
and, given that a simple majority of delegates at both the 2000 and 2006 General Conventions of the Lutheran Church of Australia voted in favour of the ordination of both men and women to the pastoral office;
 
and, given that, in our view, the ministry of the church is diminished by preventing women from serving Jesus Christ through the ordained ministry;
 
and given that there are theologically qualified women in the Lutheran Church of Australia who have received God’s call to the ordained ministry, and have had their personal call and fitness for ministry recognised by many;
 
be it resolved that the General Convention of the Lutheran Church of Australia approve the ordination of women to the pastoral office.

It may be late for inclusion in the blog, but here is the Facebook link for the All Saints conference on women’s ordination at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Indooroopilly, Qld.  It’s THIS weekend starting Friday night, continuing through Saturday.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in politics, women's ordination

 

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Quote of the day: Craig S. Keener on women’s ordination and ministry

Craig S. Keener is a North American academic and professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Quote of the day: Craig S. Keener on women’s ordination and ministry in the Christian Church | Curious Presbyterian.

‘Most of those who oppose women’s ordination do not follow biblical instructions to greet one another with holy kisses or wear head coverings in church.  Most recognize that these were cultural expressions of principles (such as friendly greetings) that may be applied differently in different cultures.  Certainly most churches do not take up offerings for the Jerusalem church every Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:1-3) and most Bible readers do not feel compelled to go to Troas, get Paul’s cloak and try to take it to him (2 Timothy 4:13).

When they neglect these instructions, they do not see themselves as disobeying the Bible. They simply recognize that we need to take into account the situations the biblical writers addressed, before extracting larger principles.  That is not only how we read the Bible but how we learn from any wisdom originally written in the past.  Nearly all communication uses a language and some cultural setting!’

 
 

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Women as Priests – NYTimes.com

Andrea M. Johnson was ordained a Roman Catholic Womanpriest in 2007 and bishop in 2009. She has worked for many years as a religious educator at the adult and secondary levels. Her particular interest is ministry with marginalized and underserved Catholics.

Reposted from the New York Times.  Women as Priests – NYTimes.com.

REFORMERS within the Roman Catholic Church have been calling for the ordination of women as priests. The Vatican, however, refuses to consider the possibility and uses its power to silence those who speak out. Catholic clergy in Europe, Australia and the United States who have voiced public support for female ordination have been either dismissed or threatened with removal from administrative posts within the church. Read more and view the slide show of many Women Priests.

 

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