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A letter to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA

21 Feb
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Bruce Lockwood from St Peters Congregation, Indooroopilly, Qld

The following is a letter from the members of St Peters and St Andrews Congregations, Qld, to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA. Information about women’s ordination has sometimes not been forwarded in congregations. If it is possible that this letter is not forwarded to key people in your congregations, would you inquire as to whether it has been received and then provide them with a copy?  Many thanks.

This letter is followed by an open letter to the LCA from Neil Nuske, Religious Ed teacher at St Peter’s College, Indooroopilly.

Dear Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA

St Peters and St Andrews Congregations wish to inform you of resolutions we have submitted to the Synod Secretary for inclusion in the Synod Reports and Synod Agenda so that you can prayerfully and thoughtfully consider these proposals beforehand.

An open letter to the LCA

from

St Peters Lutheran Church Indooroopilly Queensland

Introduction

While attending the “Time to Soar” conference to discuss the ordination of both men and women in Adelaide, our Pastor Peter (St Peters Indooroopilly) resolved to hold a similar conference in Brisbane. The “All Saints” Conference was held on the first weekend of November 2012 in the P & F Centre and attracted nearly 60 delegates from congregations in South-East Queensland, and interstate.

At the All Saints conference delegates learnt of the significant impact the refusal to ordain women has had on the church and our educational, aged care and other institutions. Delegates learnt of the constraints it imposes on suitably qualified personnel and our outreach. We heard some disturbing stories from those affected because the LCA has not yet seen its way clear to ordain women.

The majority of Lutheran Churches worldwide ordain both men and women. Following twenty years during which time our best theological minds struggled with this issue the CTICR Final Report 2000 resolved that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA”. Therefore we conclude this is a matter of theological opinion and not a fundamental doctrine of the church.

As advocates for the ordination of both men and women, we are not disputing in any way the Doctrine of the Ministry as expressed in our Confessions. However, in keeping with the spirit of the “The Status of Agreement and other Doctrinal Statements” (reviewed July 2001, unedited) we consider that majority opinion at both the 2000 and 2006 Synods supporting the view that scripture and theology permit the ordination of women, demonstrates that amendments have become desirable in the course of time.

What have previous LCA synods decided?

The most recent Synod in 2009 considered the “Ordination Consensus Task Force Report 2009” From this report four (4) resolutions were proposed. Three were passed. The fourth resolution was lost. These resolutions have significant implications for the ordination of women in the LCA.

Synod 2009 Resolution 1
GCC to establish “a dialogue group with balanced representation” to work towards consensus within the group itself and across the church on the ordination of “both men and women” with reference to the published findings of the CTICR and a focus on biblical interpretation.

Synod 2009 Resolution 2
If convention authorises the ordination of women we need a preparation time before implementation.

Synod 2009 Resolution 3
Convention asks GCC, CoP, CTICR and other relevant groups in the church to note study and act where appropriate on the fourteen (14) recommendations of the Ordination Consensus Task Force.

Thus Synod 2009 resolutions 1, 2 and 3 form the platform for ongoing deliberations by the LCA on the ordination of both men and women.

Synod 2009 – The Lost Resolution
had proposed that the ordination of women be closed to debate at synod unless the General Pastors’ Conference gives clear guidance by formal recommendation.

The loss of the fourth resolution means that new resolutions for women’s ordination must be placed on the agenda and can be debated at synod without requiring a formal recommendation from the General Pastors Conference.

St Peters congregation wishes to inform you of our four Resolutions submitted to the 2013 Synod together with a proposed way forward in the spirit of the LCA website which says: “Pastors provide input regarding theological matters, but in effect it is the people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of the church”. With this in mind we firmly believe that the voice of the people in the pews during this Synod needs to be heard anew.

St Peters congregation proposes a way forward

St Peters proposes a way forward, and a way of restoring our church to health in truth, unity and love. These proposals have been prepared with the help of past presidents, seminary lecturers, academics, pastors, chaplains, and college principals both male and female.

The four proposals have a sequence, addressing:

1.      The Theses of Agreement and the CTICR Final Report 2000
2.      The constitutional issue
3.      Our women ready to be ordained
4.      Questions of truth, unity and love

St Peters Resolutions

Resolution One

Whereas “The Status of the Theses of Agreement and other Doctrinal Statements” prepared by the CTICR and adopted by Synod in 1975 under “Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions of The Lutheran Church of Australia” states that “Should amendments (to the Theses of Agreement) become desirable in the course of time, such amendments would have to be submitted to the entire Church after thorough theological examination and discussion,” and

Whereas the LCA has commissioned the CTICR to examine the ministry and ordination of women by conducting a thorough theological examination and discussion of the key texts cited in support of the ordination of men only, namely, I Cor 14:33b-38 and I Tim 2:11-15 (Theses VI par 11) culminating in the CTICR Final Report (CTICR-FR 2000) and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 has summarised the theological arguments not only for the ordination of women but also for the ordination of men only, and presented these theological opinions to Synod, we submit that in the course of time it is now evident that two divergent interpretations of the two key texts cited in Theses VI par11 are held, not only amongst our respected theologians but also amongst the laity of the LCA, and

Whereas there now are two entirely different theological opinions in the LCA regarding the long-held public doctrine of the church in reference to the question of the ordination of women (Theses VI par 11) we conclude scripture itself is not clear on the matter that men only should be ordained and that women should be prohibited from ordination, and

Whereas these two different theological opinions concerning 1 Cor 14:33b-38 and I Tim 2:11-15 have different implications for doctrine and practice within the LCA, we conclude Theses VI par 11 needs to be amended because, as CTICR-FR 2000 states: all teaching must be consistent with what is confessed as the clear teaching of scripture. Yet scripture is not clear on this issue, and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and,

Whereas The Augsburg Confession states “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII) and,

Whereas Lutheran theology affirms God has instituted the Office of the Ministry and the efficacy of the ministry of word and sacrament is in no way due to the gender of a pastor who is ordained, but solely due to the work and power of God the Creator, Jesus Christ our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier, working through those servants who proclaim the apostolic gospel  (AC V) in the church through the ministry of word and sacrament, and

Whereas the gospel, which is central to the ministry of word and sacrament, cannot be negated by ordaining women into the Office of the Ministry, ordination is therefore a matter of practice reflecting pastoral sensitivity to a particular historical tradition and cultural context which may vary between Lutheran Churches and within Christendom, rather than a fundamental doctrine of the church

Be it resolved

that Synod commission the CTICR to amend or delete Theses VI par. 11 in order to reflect the majority conclusion of the CTICR that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and, that this amendment be submitted to the next Pastors’ Conference and General Synod for review and ratification.

Resolution Two

Whereas the Constitution ARTICLE Xll. ALTERATIONS TO CONSTITUTION part 1 states that “The Church at a convention of the General Synod may amend, alter, add to or repeal any of the rules, except Article ll. and Article Xll.1, which shall be considered fundamental and unalterable in their intent and meaning”, it therefore follows that all other parts of the Constitution may be subject to alteration when justified, and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA therefore

Be it resolved

that Synod request the Constitutions Committee amend ARTICLE V. THE MINISTRY  Item 1. second sentence to read:  For this purpose it shall receive into its Ministry by ordination, or by colloquy for ministers ordained elsewhere, any person whose qualifications for the office have been established and who…

Resolution Three

Whereas God in love and wisdom has called women to be pastors and gives them to the LCA to serve in the ministry of word and sacrament, and

Whereas women who are unable to follow this call of God towards the path of ordination have experienced significant pain and in some cases a crisis of faith

Be it resolved

that the LCA no longer rejects this gift from God but accepts God’s generous gift of love and ordains these women to serve as pastors in the LCA

Resolution Four

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and, The Augsburg Confession states “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII) and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 Part D addresses the theological and pastoral implications of the commission’s conclusion under the headings – The question of truth; The question and unity; and The question of love

Be it resolved

that with prayer and thanksgiving the Lutheran Church of Australia harnesses all of God’s gifts bestowed on us including the CTICR, the LEA, The Lutheran, the pastors of the church and the leaders of the congregations to inform and guide all members of the LCA in questions of TRUTH, UNITY and LOVE and encourage one another in our understanding and experience of how the ordination of women can enhance the ministry and outreach of the church and the proclamation of the gospel.

If you wish to receive a copy of the full explanation and background to these resolutions please email: Church.Office@stpeters.qld.edu.au and you will be forwarded a copy.

___________________________

St Andrews Resolution

With permission from St Andrews Lutheran Church Brisbane City Congregation we also include for your consideration their resolution advocating full membership of LWF:

Be it resolved

that the Lutheran Church of Australia in this anniversary year applies for full membership in the Lutheran World Federation.

__________________________

Summary of an open letter to the LCA from Neal Nuske

In a recent open letter to the Presidents of the LCA, Neal Nuske, Teacher in Charge of Study of Religion at St Peters Lutheran College addresses two theological issues which have been seen by some as stumbling blocks in the movement towards the ordination of women and men.

The first issue relates to the validity of a believer’s faith if nurtured by female clergy and the validity of the consecration of the elements by a female pastor. For Neal the issue is that “concerns about gender, are replacing that particular distinctive accent in Lutheran theology which locates the work of the Holy Spirit at the center of our theology of Word and Sacrament. In so focusing upon gender, the key concepts of sola gratia, sola fide and solus Christus are being marginalized and displaced.”

He asks; “How does the gender of a pastor compliment and strengthen the forgiveness of sins? Or, conversely, how does the gender of a pastor desecrate and destroy the seal of the free forgiveness of sins?” He concludes that “gender is not the factor which effects the forgiveness of sins and legitimizes the words of institution. Neither does gender desecrate Christ’s body and blood.”

Regarding the sacrament, he explains, “There are only two parts to a sacrament, the sign and the Word. We cannot add gender. In the New Testament the Word is the added promise of grace. The promise of the New Testament is the promise of the forgiveness of sins as the text says ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins’. This promise is neither consecrated nor desecrated on account of the gender of a pastor. The promise is not desecrated and useless if a female pastor consecrates the elements.

Neal reminds us that the sacraments are useless without faith “for the Holy Spirit works through the sacraments, not through the gender of the pastor. A faith that acknowledges God’s mercy is alive and well. The gender of the pastor does not make faith secure or alive.”

Finally he draws our attention to the Formula Of Concord: Affirmative Theses: Confession of the Pure Doctrine of the Holy Supper against the Sacramentarians which states 3. Concerning the consecration we believe, teach, and confess that no man’s work 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 ascribed solely and alone to the almighty power of Jesus Christ.

The second issue addressed by Neal is the interpretation of certain passages in scripture namely1 Cor. 14:34,35 and 1Tim. 2 11-14. He concludes that “Christ cannot contradict Himself; therefore Paul’s commands were pastoral and contextual in their intent, for a specific time and place but not universal in their intent.”

The full text of Neal’s Open Letter can be found on: http://www.katieandmartin or by e-mail to: Church.Office@stpeters.qld.edu.au

Bruce Lockwood

Synod Delegate St Peters Lutheran Church Indooroopilly

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17 responses to “A letter to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA

  1. Wally Schiller

    February 21, 2013 at 12:51 am

    The following statement, quoted above, is incorrect:
    “The loss of the fourth resolution means that new resolutions for women’s ordination must be placed on the agenda and can be debated at synod without requiring a formal recommendation from the General Pastors Conference.”

    I have written the following in reply to the St Peter’s letter:
    “The matter of the ordination of women has been the subject of debate at Pastors Conference on numerous occasions upon referral to it and no recommendation has yet been provided to the Synod. The Constitution clearly states
    >
    > 28. (2) A matter deemed to be of a theological and confessional nature which has been referred to the General Pastors’ Conference for consideration shall be considered by the convention only after a recommendation has been received from the General Pastors’ Conference.
    This clause appears in the By-laws, Section VII C.
    As all your motions fall into that category, they will be dealt with under that requirement.”

     
  2. Barney

    February 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    RE St. Peters (Idooroopilly Qld) proposals.

    “A way forward” ? “A way of restoring our church … .” ?
    To keep this simple, I intend to stay within the ambit of Lutheran Doctrine and adhere to Article II (both clauses 1. and 2. in their order, which also form part of the ordination vows of our pastors and the commitment vows of some other workers in our church) of the Constitution of the Lutheran Church of Australia where possible. Hence; I will concentrate on three (4) resources; (a) The Holy Bible for Scripture references, (b) The Book of Concord for doctrinal references, (c) Article II of the Constitution of the LCA for its Confessional references, , and (d) Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions (DSTO) of the Lutheran Church of Australia.
    1. Re: The Theses of Agreement (TA): The TA amalgamated the two Lutheran Churches then in existence in Australia, to become the Lutheran Church of Australia, which confession is stated in and founded on Article II.1 and 2.
    Our Lutheran Doctrine states: “However, other writings by ancient or modern teachers – no matter whose name they bear – must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures. All of them are subject to the Scriptures. Formula of Concord, Epitome, Summary 2.” Hence, platforms that are not based on the Holy Scriptures have no basis in Lutheran Doctrine. It matters not when even 500 Pastors vote for the ordination of women when the Word of God does not contain such authority, c.f. Matthew 7:21-23. Women have no authority to speak in church vide 1 Corinthians 14:33-38, and 1 Timothy 2:8 – 3:15.
    The key texts quoted in the blog of 2013-02-21 are and remain the Word of God. Divergent interpretations are just that, they cannot both be right; the one that does not follow the Word of God is ipso facto a false teaching. Let us zero in on 1 Timothy 3; those of us who fully subscribe to the Word of God – as per ordination vows – know that the requirement of a Pastor or Deacon is to be the husband of one wife (see also Titus 1). Now in a Christian environment; a husband has a wife, but not a husband, a wife has a husband but not a wife. Hence, who is the wife of a female Pastor in the Christian Church? A woman is enjoined to be silent in church; hence, how will a female Pastor preach without speaking?

    2. RE: The Constitutional Issue.
    I fully agree with the writer(s) of Resolution 2 in that Article II and Article XII.1 are fundamental to our faith; however, I do NOT agree that ‘therefore’ all other parts of the Constitution may be subject to alteration “when justified”. People may ONLY be admitted to the Ministry of the Word and the Sacraments if they comply with and practice the requirements of the fundamental Article II which is part of their Ordination Promise. How can a woman be admitted to the Ministry of the Word and the Sacraments if she cannot (or will not) comply with the Holy Selection Criteria? C.f. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

    3. RE: “Our women ready to be ordained”
    The question here is “Has God really called women to be Pastors, against His own Holy Word?” Did God really say; “woman I want you to be a Pastor” to any of our sisters? There is NO Biblical evidence that women were to have an episcopal lead in the church. I quote here form the Doctrinal Statements and Theological opinions of the Lutheran Church of Australia, reviewed July 2001.
    “7 … “the Christian congregation, either alone or together with other congregations, or through properly appointed representatives, calls QUALIFIED* persons (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9 [the qualifications])” … .
    11. “Though women ‘prophets’ were used by the Spirit of God in the Old as well as in the New Testament, 1 Cor. 14:34,34 and I Tim 2:11-14 prohibit a woman from being called into the public ministry for the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. This Apostolic rule is binding on all Christendom; hereby her rights as a member of the spiritual priesthood are in no wise impaired.”
    * My emphasis.

    Where women have allegedly suffered a ‘crisis of faith’ through not being able to be ordained in to the Holy ministry of the Word and the Sacraments; one must ask what was the condition of their faith; was it ‘Lutheran’ and resonant with Article II of our Constitution, or were they swayed by some false teaching which they accepted as truth; would we want persons to be Pastors among us who interpret the Word of God according to the doctrines of other denominations, or do we want our Pastors to be Confessional Lutherans?

    God has already bestowed the greatest gift on women, which is “motherhood”; mothers, grandmothers and aunts, have the greatest influence on the early formation of the child’s future values in life and its practice. This gift was not given to men, even though some single fathers are doing an excellent job of raising their child(ren).

    4. Re: Questions of truth, unity and love.
    The blog quotes one sentence out of AC VII, permit me to add the words preceding that sentence; “The Church is the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are administered rightly.” Tappert (from Latin) pg. 32.
    It is not just a matter of agreeing with the current teaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, it is a matter of doing it according to the Word of God. I must refer here to Matthew 7:21-27: The Lutheran Study Bible.
    I Never Knew You
    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
    Build Your House on the Rock
    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
    The service of Christian women in the LCA is no wise diminished, their first and foremost ministry is the teaching of minors and other younger people, this does not exclude the teaching of other Christians where capable males are not willing or available. Refer Dr. Martin Luther’s writings on the Ministry. As Lutherans we are bound by the Word of God vide our doctrine c.f. The Book of Concord, Formula of Concord, Epitome, Rule and Norm.

    Finally I end with the advice contained in the Epistle of James: “3:1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

    Barney

     
    • Katie and Martin

      February 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Barney, wisdom will show there are two different views on the matter. Perhaps it is time you listened to a younger generation’s world view for the sake of an ailing church. For every theologian with your conservatism there are many who point out that there is no Biblical imperative to maintain a male-only pastorate. Then there is world Lutheranism that largely accepts women’s ordination. What will you do to be able to work with those who don’t think like you?

       
      • Barney

        February 24, 2013 at 12:18 am

        Re: K&M 2013-02-24
        Thank you for seeing that I have already identified two different views on the matter. In my response the blog I wrote: Divergent interpretations are just that, they cannot both be right; the one that does not follow the Word of God is ipso facto a false teaching. You responded that it is time that I listened to “a younger generation’s world view for the sake of an ailing church.” The problem with today’s church is that it has too much of a world (secular) view rather than a confessional view based on the Holy Scriptures. My view still resonates with the view of theologians who for centuries upheld the Holy Word of God. As you can read out of my previous contribution I am NOT against women. “God has already bestowed the greatest gift on women, which is “motherhood”; mothers, grandmothers and aunts, have the greatest influence on the early formation of the child’s future values in life and its practice. This gift was not given to men.”

        You state that “there are many [theologians] who point out that there is no Biblical imperative to maintain a male-only pastorate.” Here I must strongly disagree with you; I stated; “I quote here form the Doctrinal Statements and Theological opinions of the Lutheran Church of Australia, reviewed July 2001.
        “7 … “the Christian congregation, either alone or together with other congregations, or through properly appointed representatives, calls QUALIFIED* persons (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9 [the qualifications])” … .
        11. “Though women ‘prophets’ were used by the Spirit of God in the Old as well as in the New Testament, 1 Cor. 14:34,34 and I Tim 2:11-14 prohibit a woman from being called into the public ministry for the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. This Apostolic rule is binding on all Christendom; hereby her rights as a member of the spiritual priesthood are in no wise impaired.” And; 1 Timothy 3; those of us who fully subscribe to the Word of God – as per ordination vows – know that the requirement of a Pastor or Deacon is to be the husband of one wife (see also Titus 1). Now in a Christian environment; a husband has a wife, but not a husband, a wife has a husband but not a wife. Hence, who is the wife of a female Pastor in the Christian Church?

        A man can have a wife but not be a wife or have a husband of his own, likewise a woman can have a husband but not be a husband or have a wife of her own. Hence again who would be the ‘wife’ of a female Pastor in the Christian Church. Furthermore; a woman is enjoined to be silent in church in two separate writings by St. Paul to different destinations, not just an obscure isolated case, He begins the first one with “As in all churches of the saints”, and ends the second one with “so that you may know how to behave in the household of God”; hence, how will a female Pastor preach without speaking? Therefore from Holy Scripture; a woman is not chosen to be a Pastor, some women I know provide great service in the name of the Lord as nurses and as carers in hospitals, the head of the Pastoral Care Department – in the hospital where I serve as a volunteer – is a woman, indeed a Catholic nun; a chaplaincy, not a pastorate in charge of a parish or a congregation.

        I am well aware that some “Lutheran” synods/churches have ordained women into the Ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, but as an example the ELCA has also voted to allow homosexuals into the ministry, again against the Word of the Lord, c.f. 1 Cor. 5:11, Do you associate with them?

        Re: the ailing church: the Christian church – with very few exceptions – is sick; I agree, but why is the church sick. We find the answer to that in the Old Testament, where before the Sacred Scriptures were found again everyone did as they saw fit. The Bible has no trouble in calling this deviation adultery, c.f. Hosea where the unfaithfulness of the people is demonstrated for our benefit so that we may not follow that path.

        I spent many years as a youth leader and I have still a could contact with the younger members in my parish, I do listen to them and many have already the wisdom to listen to grey hairs, not only me but also to the Elders.

        Barney

         
        • Katie and Martin

          February 24, 2013 at 12:53 am

          History shows that Church policy can be seriously misguided. The LCA has already realised the error of its ways with its attitude to the Catholic Church. If it can happen once it will certainly happen again.
          Aged Church policy and other documents do not change the fact that there are no theological objections to women’s ordination. How to respond to that is the issue before the Church.

           
  3. Barney

    April 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Re: Smart juicer 2013–04-27. Follow your heart ONLY if your heart is guided by the Word of God through the Holy Spirit!

     

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