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Responding to the Easter epistle from the President

01 Apr
Pastor Mike Semmler, President of the LCA

Pastor Mike Semmler, President of the LCA

It is seemingly not enough that the President has banned any mention of women’s ordination in The Lutheran for the last ten years, but now it seems that congregations should have no voice at all.

In the last post it was presumed that the intention of the  last letter from the President was to intimidate Synod delegates into complying with his direction from the Synod Chair.  It may seem that such a comment might be a little extreme, however, Pr Semmler knows that controlling Synod is essential to controlling the LCA.  Synod always remains a little unpredictable, so nothing can be taken for granted.   He has learnt well from LCMS conservatives who coined the aphorism: “Control the delegates and you control the synod” (Burkee, 2011, p87).

While we respect that Pr Mike Semmler has his point of view on women’s ordination, the reality is that the LCA has shown clearly that it is looking for change in this matter.  For the President to actively work against the will of the Synod suggests that he has abrogated his role of facilitating the will of the Church.

The President considers those who object to his manner of governance as unruly and as people who don’t understand process.  Mr President, we do understand process, which is why we are concerned with how you are running the debate.  The following reasons are integral to the discussion:

  • You have shown that you are against women’s ordination;
  • You have shown that you don’t wish the matter discussed (ex. Lutheran ban, sundry grumpy epistles to the Church);
  • Your understanding of ‘consensus’ bears no similarity to that of other major bodies who have conducted similar processes;
  • At Synod’s direction to “establish a dialogue group with balanced representation” you delayed in appointing a ‘consensus’ committee until 15/18 months after Synod (now numbering four (4) members) with 3 of the 4 against women’s ordination;
  • You have created distractions and establish processes that you intend to consume  six years or more;
  • You have indicated that a motion duly submitted by St Stephen’s will not be considered at General Synod;
  • At the Toowoomba Synod you indicated that absentee delegates would have their vote counted as being against women’s ordination;
  • In your letters to the Church you continue to harangue those who wish to nurture the debate on women’s ordination in the LCA;
  • You conduct selective, contradictory conversations with different individuals and groups. This manner of operating bears similarity to the manner in which LCMS President Jack Preus manipulated friend and foe to ensure support for his Presidency and the repression of foes. (Burkee, 2011, pp9-10 and other pages)
    • You have apologised to St Stephen’s representatives in your office for your previous letter to the Church but show no intention of making that apology public.  An apology given in private is no apology when the initial offense was to the whole Church;
    • You indicated to WA Pastors’ Conference that women’s ordination will not be discussed at General Synod but asserted to Pr Peter Bowmer that motions from St Peter’s, Indooroopilly and St Stephen’s will be discussed.
    • You choose to sidestep deliberations of CTICR and CSBQ by setting up further processes;
    • On the one hand you include in your statement, representing the LCA, to the Australian government on same sex marriage, “In nations that have legalised gay marriage… there has been pressure to allow group marriage, polygamy and incest between consenting adults and even in extreme cases marriage to consenting animals” but on the other hand you distance yourself from the statement holding that they were the words of a key advisor (Dr Rob Pollnitz).

Mr President, the LCA requires your role and Chair of Synod to possess an integrity and transparency that facilitates the will of membership.  While we appreciate your leadership in many respects, your legacy of resisting the leadership of women within the LCA, despite understanding the will of Synod and membership, does little to endear you to Synod or congregations.

We cannot remain silent in the face of justice delayed (and justice denied) for women, and the manipulation of structures and democratic processes within the LCA.

Reference
Burkee, J.C. (2011) Power, Politics and the Missouri Synod

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6 responses to “Responding to the Easter epistle from the President

  1. John Miller

    April 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    PILLARS OF THE LCA – ORDINATION OF WOMEN

    The question of ordination of women threatens to topple the very pillars on which the Lutheran Church of Australia rests.

    The first pillar that’s under serious threat holds pride of place in the LCA Constitution:

    ‘1.ARTICLE II CONFESSION
    1. The Church accepts without reservation the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as a whole and in all their parts, as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life.’

    It’s baloney, particularly the ‘only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life’ part.

    The issues arising from the ordination of women debate suggests that this article is well overdue for a change.

    Since the 16th Century, the Lutheran Church world wide has adopted the head-in-the-sand approach on this matter, picking and choosing which parts of the Bible it believes to be central and unalterable and which parts are not.

    What we’re witnessing is a struggle within the LCA to determine whether the ordination of women falls into the same category as bare heads in church, or something of much greater moment.

    There’s more associated LCA baloney:

    ‘God made use of holy writers … ‘in such a manner that even that which human reason might call a deficiency in Holy Scripture (drivel) must serve the divine purpose.’

    It’s a very strange god who would inspire people to write drivel and then turn round and say that even though it’s drivel, it ‘must serve the divine purpose.’

    See if you can keep a straight face while reading these (PGR) examples of inspired, inerrant and infallible drivel: Ezekiel 23:20, Solomon 5:4 and Deuteronomy 25:11!

    Or ask yourself what happened when you last wore clothes woven from two kinds of material, ate meat with the blood still in it, cut your hair at the sides of your head, clipped off the edges of your beard and ate a ham sandwich?

    So who actually believes this inerrant/infallible nonsense?

    The LCA’s theologians believe it – which doesn’t inspire much confidence in the Seminary. From the baptismal font, on through childhood and adolescence, generations of theologians, their students and their students’ parishioners have been programmed to accept nonsense based on unreliable, confected and selective evidence-based information, collated and disseminated between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago by a ragbag collection of writers.

    In the age of superstition you could perhaps understand it, but not in Australia in the 21st Century.

    The game is up.

    The quest for the ordination of women is driving the LCA toward what amounts to a second reformation, the aim being to clean nonsense and drivel from its stable and decide which parts of the Bible (and other books, articles, audio and video files) can be relied upon to provide its members with advice that inspires and motivates them to live a rich and fulfilling life.

    There are three possible outcomes of such an enquiry; everything written in the Bible makes sense, some of it makes sense or none of it makes sense. As I write the ‘all of it makes sense’ conclusion looks particularly shaky.

    I’ve already ‘done’ the Gospels and if you’d like to download a copy of the ebook, ‘Inspired and Motivated by Jesus of Nazareth’, follow the link below. Because it comes as an executable file (.exe), your virus protection program may freak out. However, it comes from my own website and is, to the best of my knowledge virus free and safe to download.

    http://www.johnmiller.com.au/inspired_and_motivated/index.html

    So, you can see why LCA President, Mike Semmler is a bit toey. He’s teetering on the edge of a ‘Here I stand’ moment – with his hands tied.

    In the meantime stay tuned for the revelation of the first of the two excremental sandwiches planted in the LCA Constitution by its architects to frustrate the will of future members.

     
    • Katie and Martin

      April 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      The thing is that LCA theologians don’t all believe such drivel. There is a conservative collective that attempts to cling to literal translation. Most theologians are broader and more mature in their hermeneutics.
      Pr Mike Semmler has attempted to move the LCA closer to conservative Lutheran synods like LCMS, while ignoring more progressive churches, such as the ELCA. On this matter he has had no directive from General Synod or any Church committee to our knowledge.

       
  2. John Miller

    April 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    THE EXCREMENTAL SANDWICH

    The stumbling block to the ordination of women in the LCA may or may not be this section of the Constitution.

    ‘1.ARTICLE II CONFESSION
    1. The Church (meaning the LCA) accepts without reservation the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as a whole and in all their parts, as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life.’

    So, if it’s written in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments that, ‘Women should remain silent in the churches’, then the matter would appear to be cut and dried: except that women are not silent in Australian Lutheran churches, by any means.

    The floodgates have been opened. They are not going to close.

    The LCA has already decided, in practice, that the Bible is not the divinely inspired, inerrant and infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life.

    So the honourable thing would be to amend the Constitution, Article II by substituting the word ‘without’ with the word ‘with’.

    Except that the spoil sports who wrote the Constitution and the member congregations who accepted it, squeezed into the Constitution the excremental sandwich, a rider in the form of Article XII.1 which states:

    1. The Church at a convention of the General Synod may amend, alter, add to or repeal any of the rules, except Article II. and Article XII. 1, which shall be considered fundamental and unalterable in their intent and meaning.

    Like all excremental sandwiches it’s designed to leave a nasty taste in the mouth of those who wish to allow women members of the LCA the same rights as men.

    Very cunning, very devious, an act of ecclesiastical arrogance, but for what reason?

    With the approval of Member congregations, any Article in the Constitution should stand on its own merits and without Article XII.1.

    Current and future Members of the LCA should have the same rights as past Members to draft, endorse or change any article in the Constitution.

    So how can the Members of the LCA (the congregations) and congregational voting members get around this obstacle?

    1. They could just ignore it as they’ve always ignored the parts of the Bible they don’t agree with; pretend it isn’t there. That’s the easiest way round it.

    2. They could make an amendment to the Constitution to the effect that, ‘Article II and Article XII.1 can be ignored as the Members of the LCA see fit.’

    3. They could wind up the LCA and start again with a fresh Constitution, fit for the 21st Century, with the Member congregations in charge.

    This is probably a good move. The nature of the LCA is not that of the ‘normal’ run-of the mill, not-for-profit, recreational and charitable associations that the South Australian Associations Incorporation Act 1985 was set up to supervise.

    Originally established as a theocracy, the LCA, like the Catholic Church doesn’t believe that it needs supervising. It is that mistaken belief that has caused the Commonwealth Government to establish the Royal Commission into the abuse of children.

    The LCA is a business. It needs a business framework that provides for good governance and protection of the rights of its members and customers. The South Australian Associations Incorporation Act 1985 goes only part of the way to providing that surety. Having said that, a closer reading of the Act may provide the Members of the LCA with more power than the LCA would believe they have.

    This is not as bad as it sounds. All it does is give the Members of the LCA the opportunity to establish a new LCA on along more democratic lines and purge the Constitution and attendant documents of a lot of nonsense, like Article II and this:

    For the sake of their souls’ salvation all Christians should-at all times be on their guard against the Antichrist and the antichrists and their lying and deceit, recognizing them by the marks whereby they may be known according to the Word of God.

    The Confessions of the Lutheran Church teach that ‘the Papacy is a part of the kingdom of Antichrist’.

    4. A firmer stance for those pushing the women-for-ordination barrow would be to threaten to wind up of the LCA as per Part 5.41.3 of the South Australian Associations Incorporation Act 1985 on the basis:

    (e) that affairs of the association are being conducted in a manner that is oppressive or unfairly prejudicial to, or unfairly discriminatory against, a member or members or in a manner that is contrary to the interests of the members as a whole; or

    (f) that an act or omission, or a proposed act or omission, by or on behalf of the association was or would be oppressive or unfairly prejudicial to, or unfairly discriminatory against, a member or members or was or would be contrary to the interests of the members as a whole …

    5. They could stop paying their subscriptions. That might smarten things up.

    6. They could relinquish their membership and go elsewhere, as most of the people in the same confirmation class as me have done.

    Stay tuned for the ‘second pillar’, the Blaess-Hebart misogyny statement.

     

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