A response to the interview with Sue Westhorpe by Pr Mark Tuffin of Boxhill LCA

14 Jan

This post has been removed.

Pr Mark Tuffin had not given permission to have his work republished, with it being meant only for the congregational magazine.  We apologise for the distress caused.

Please contact Pr Mark directly if you wish to make further comments.


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in theology, women's ordination


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

33 responses to “A response to the interview with Sue Westhorpe by Pr Mark Tuffin of Boxhill LCA

  1. Sue Westhorp

    January 14, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Just a quick note – Westhorp is indeed spelt without an ‘e’ at the end.

    • Katie and Martin

      January 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Sorry Sue. All corrected now.

      • Sue Westhorp

        January 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm


    • John Westhorp

      March 23, 2014 at 2:35 am

      I’m glad I am not the only one who has this problem – indeed the whole family does!
      As a child I had a dreadful School spelling report but there on the top of the page the teacher had spelt my name with the dreaded “e” on the end.

  2. Sandra

    January 15, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Really confusing/confused: “The maleness of a pastor if not incidental, but fundamental to the role of representing Christ to the church. One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolize the relationship between God and His people as a holy ‘marriage’ and as such, male and female are complementary but not interchangeable. Christ, as the image of God, is therefore incarnated as a male because God the Father is masculine, not feminine. ” This says that the entire church is feminine, in its relationship to God as masculine? That is especially confusing reasoning, concluding that a pastor must be male. It would appear to me that a pastor can be a male only to the extent that it is his femininity that is displayed in contrast to his masculinity. In which case what DOES preclude a woman from pastoring? I know that my real difficulty in following this train of thought is all the work I know has been done on God as Trinity, God in relationship, God as exemplifying the interdependence which is ideal.

  3. Stephen

    January 15, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Firstly, no where in the New Testament is anyone involved/called to the pastoral ministry, called “priests”. The term is only used of Christ, not of any of HIS representatives.
    Secondly, does the validity of the Lord’s Supper, depend upon the gender of the person who consecrates and then administers the body and blood of Christ? To say yes takes the spotlight off Christ and his gifts, yes his gifts.
    Thirdly, since when is “sola gendera” (fix up the Latin) become one of the solas in the Lutheran tradition?
    Formula of Concord – Epitome, Article VII: Holy supper Affirmative Theses – The Confession of Pure Teaching concerning the Holy Supper, against the Sacramentarians:
    3. Concerning the consecration, we believe, teach, and confess that neither human effort nor the recitation of the minister effect this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but that it is to be attributed solely and alone to the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ. (The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fortress Press, 2000, page 505).
    Fourthly, the Lutheran tradition does not say that ordination changes the person ontogologically to represent Christ, as the ikwn of Christ. While I deeply, deeply, appreciate the Church of the Byzantine rite, we have not gone down this track.
    Fifthly, the Lutheran tradition is a living Tradition guided by the Spirit in every age. Always reforming. Ecumenism can break the first commandment.

    • Stephen

      January 15, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Re fourthly, that should be “ontologically”. Stephen+

  4. cyberfysh

    January 15, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Stephen+, you make an excellent point: in my reading of the Lutheran Confessions, I find repeated emphasis on the complete irrelevance of personal attributes in clergy administration of the sacraments; it’s always the pure grace of God that makes absolution, baptism, eucharist, and proclamation of the gospel effective.

    And Sandra, I think you identify a certain slippage in the concept of representation. Quite apart from the fact that Lutheran theology doesn’t see the pastor as standing “in persona Christi”, we can see the pastor as “representing” God in the way that, say, the Governor-General represents the Queen: it’s not because they look alike or share a sexual identity, but because one has vested the other with authority to act in her name, so whether the G-G (or the pastor) is male or female matters not a whit.

  5. Andor

    January 15, 2013 at 3:50 am

    (There is the) doubt the emancipation of slaves may create in the mind of those who are not convinced of its validity. Where could they go to assuage their doubts? How would they be treated if, for the sake of conscience, they doubted the validity of the right to freedom of people enslaved? Would they be tolerated if they wished to continue keeping slaves? A cursory look at what has happened in other Lutheran churches that have permitted slaves to be free reveals a serious concern for the freedom of such conscience-bound members. In effect, and as a consequence, a de facto schism would occur in the LCA – hardly a situation for the church’s common good.

  6. taizegoose

    January 15, 2013 at 6:02 am

    There is no bona fide Christian prohibition of women in any level of Christian leadership, leastwise in the New Testament. There are other traditional reasons why women have not been allowed to carry out the call both the Lord Jesus and St Paul issued and blessed, but that is related to an heirarchy unknown to the early church and the New Testament documents.

    Lutherans the world over do actually ordain women to the various levels of leadership within the Worldwide Lutheran Communion. Some Lutheran bodies have not, yet, come to the mind of Christ as understood by the vast majority of Lutherans. World without end. Amen, amen. There is still time for the Holy Spirit to purge this lack of understanding.

  7. Matt Thiele

    January 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    If I had known that ordination had to do with ‘sexual symbolism’ I would have refused it in the name of Christ. When I serve as a pastor it has nothing to do with maleness and everything to do with God’s inclusive complete love. It has nothing to do with my right/authority and everything to do with Christ the King who became servant of all. As a pastor I cannot comprehend Mark’s comments.

    • janine

      January 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      ‘everything to do with God’s inclusive complete love.’


      thank you.

  8. Katie and Martin

    January 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Sandra, Stephen, Cyberfysh, Andor, taizegoose and Matt. We appreciate your points. There is so much to respond to that it’s beyond anyone’s time to respond in full.
    * It’s interesting that while Mark says that he is a friend of Sue, he dismisses her experience. We are people of many cultures, genders and traditions. We don’t need to think alike, but we can appreciate the richness of each others world, learning and growing in the process.
    * We are bemused that maleness becomes a new legality in this Lutheran tradition that shines the light on grace. Even the Catholic tradition (Pontifical Biblical Commission) finds no theology to ban women from priesthood, using tradition to bar women from ordination.

  9. Skully

    January 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    What of those who doubt a structure, hierarchy and church in which women’s ordination is not considered valid? Is it understandable that disagreeing with the position on women’s ordination should lead to doubting the LCA’s other theological principles?
    For people like me who do not study theology in depth, but find our christianity in what ‘feels right’ and ‘fits’, what happens to them in this debate?
    Where could they go to assuage their doubts about the LCA? How would they be treated if, for the sake of conscience, they doubted the validity of the sacraments received from the LCA? Would they be tolerated if they wished to receive the sacrament from another denomination?
    I guess it depends how much the LCA wants/needs/treasures members.
    It feels easy to walk away. But is it right? What makes a church ‘My Church’?

    • Katie and Martin

      January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Skully, you’ve hit one nail on the head! Many LCA members already have walked away from our denomination and found pastoral care elsewhere, but that process will continue if Pr Semmler continues to block any process towards women’s ordination. One expects this type of opaque government in Ukraine, not in a Church that supposedly focuses on grace.

  10. Tapman

    January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Look forward to hearing more replies, am glad to hear a response in the negative. I thought I’d throw in a few thoughts of my own. Pr. Mark mentions priestesses of other contemporary religions – this fact is a bit misleading, I am no historian but I believe this had little to do with equality but more to do with mans eagerness to plant his seed in worship. The uniqueness of Judaism was more likely attributed to the fact that they couldn’t respect women as anything more than an incubator. Mark you say that you are conscionsce bound by the word in Cor. Whether you understand it or not…. I would suggest you take the time to understand it. There are many words in scripture that require more than just face value. It may feel like humble obedience but to me it sounds like cultiic following. I don’t mean to offend by saying this but it is our responsibility to make reasonable decisions.
    Conservativeness I believe can be a positive thing but it tends to tie up what we believe in in unchangeable “truths”. Wouldn’t be a problem if we knew the entirety of God’s design but we don’t. For example creationists fear that if we let go of the 7 day theory the whole of salvation theory is in danger. Similarly here Mark ties up male authority in the very structure of God and his relationship to us. No wonder we are to scared to examine the word for what it really says because we believe we are tampering with in unchangeable irrefutable truths that reflect the stuff of heaven. Again I see this as a cultic assertion, making the hearer too scared to think otherwise. Anyway I have said way too much, thanks for giving me food for thought

  11. Katie and Martin

    January 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks Tapman. It’s always interesting to see which verses people proof-text and which verses they ignore. Once you start proof-texting you logically have to complete the journey and accept them all, making you (the generic ‘you’) look a little uneducated.

  12. Kristen

    January 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    There is a clear and unequivocal implication of all this talk that God is “masuline” and that only male humanity can represent Him in the sacraments, and it’s this: men are more human than women. Unless we want to throw out Genesis 3 and its insistence that “in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them,” this is a conclusion that is contrary to the foundations of creation. If an implication of a certain teaching in the church is contrary to the foundations of creation, one or the other has to give. Either women are made in the image of God and are equally human with men, or they are not. If they are not, then by all means insist that God is masculine and that only males can represent God. If they are equally human– then you’re misreading the scriptures and basing your doctrines on the traditions of men.

    • Kristen

      January 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      PS. The “you’re” was generic there, of course.

    • Katie and Martin

      January 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Exactly Kristin! Underneath it all is the same foundation that has tolerated violence against women in so many cultures. It is the belief that somehow women are less human than men, which seems to allow gang rape and murder of Indian women, the demanding of a dowry from a woman’s families, the submission of women when it comes to making decisions in the home, the endless forgiving and suffering of women in violent relationships… and so on. Allow one case of inequality and our egalitarian house of cards comes tumbling down.

      • Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

        January 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

        Unless we discard the Word of God in the NT, we cannot say that women would be authorised to become Pastors/Pastoressses. What God commands humans cannot change.

        • cyberfysh

          January 16, 2013 at 2:18 am

          Thanks for joining the discussion, Barney. I’d like to learn more about your understanding of how God has authorised anyone to become pastors. I think this would help me to see why you don’t think that women qualify. Cheers

          • Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

            January 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

            Read 1 Tim. 3. God chooses husbands (of one wife) not wives or single persons. Even if we wanted anything else we cannot change HIS Word.

  13. Suzanne

    January 16, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Dear Pr Mark Tuffin,

    I would like to invite you to come and spend some time with us out at the Roma Lutheran/Uniting congregation. I would like to show how our congregation deals with these issues of consciousness that you have mentioned.

    Our Lutheran Pastor moved on a few years ago, and because we live so far west, we knew it would be difficult to find a new pastor. Fortunately we had an agreement with the Uniting Church that we would worship with them as Lutherans and borrow their pastor. Our Uniting Pastor is a woman who grew up with experience within the American Lutheran Church.

    We have Holy Communion together. We have male Lutheran Elders who preside over Communion with Our Uniting Pastor. Sometimes our men haven’t been available to be present, so we Lutherans have “Uniting Communion”.
    We would happily like to share with you our experiences with regard to consciousness. To me, I come from a fairly traditional Lutheran background. I overcame these issues by understanding that Holy Communion is Communion with God. No one can take that away from me. It doesn’t matter so much who gives it to me as long as they have been ordained by the Church.

  14. Kirsten O'Neill

    January 16, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Whenever any theological issue such as this arises in the Church we are inundated with all the theological arguments and quoted Bible verses etc etc. For me all issues within the Church revolve around one thing – will this action (in this case the ordination of women) diminish the Grace of God? Will the sacraments become invalid? Will it negate Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross? Will the Gospel be destroyed? If the answer to those questions is yes, then we must not have women’s ordination. If the answer is no, then there can be no impediment to women’s ordination. And always I return to the question – ‘What would Jesus do in this day and age?’

    • Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

      January 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Re: “What would Jesus do in this day and age?” Jesus would again say to His people: “Not every one who says to Me; “Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name; cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” “And the I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV).

      • Tapman

        January 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm

        Really? I am condemned to hell because I have a different opinion to yours 😦

        • Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

          January 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm

          Whoever believes in the Son [and HIS commandments] is not judged; but whoever does not believe has already been judged, because he has not believed in God’s only Son. “Good News for you.” John 3:18.

  15. Rev David R Froemming

    January 16, 2013 at 4:14 am

    Wow. Thanks for reminding me why Mary Daly wrote what she did on the topic of patriarchy!

  16. James Winderlich

    January 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I contacted Mark Tuffin directly in response to his article. He was surprised (dismayed) that his article was published on this blog. He told me that he wrote it for another context. I am confident that Mark would honour any direct contact made in respect of his comments in this article so that he can represent his own position more fully. Even though he and I could not be more conflicted in our views regarding the ordination of women he has faithfully and respectfully helped me sharpen my own theological perspectives.

    • Sue Westhorp

      January 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks James for this. I, too, was surprised to see both articles on this website. I think it’s important that we remember to use common courtesy when writings are reproduced. I consider Mark a friend and do not appreciate this friendship being called in to question on a public site.

  17. cyberfysh

    January 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD :
    Read 1 Tim. 3. God chooses husbands (of one wife) not wives or single persons. Even if we wanted anything else we cannot change HIS Word.

    Are you saying, then, that only married men should be pastors?


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