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An essay by Neal Nuske

22 Apr

The following letter from Neal Nuske was distributed to All Saints and Time to Soar participants.  Bruce Lockwood suggests that it is the most important document to come from All Saints. “It goes to the heart of the reason why there are two different interpretations of the same texts within the LCA.”

While it’s not short it’s worth the read.

Neal Nuske at the Time to Soar conference, ALC, Nth Adelaide

The distinction between Law and Gospel: the hermeneutical touchstone and theological compass for the church

The distinction between Law and Gospel is not only the hermeneutical touchstone for Lutheran theology but also the theological compass for guiding the LCA in the future. Those who wrote our Lutheran confessions made theological and pastoral judgements about all the teachings and practices of the late medieval church by evaluating them in the light of the doctrine of justification by faith alone (Augsburg Confession Article IV). Justification by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solus Christus) was later referred to as the material principle. It crystallises the entire Christian truth. The authoritative source for this theology was Scripture (sola scriptura) which was later referred to as the formal principle. [1]

The mission of the church is clear: (i) preach the gospel (ii) baptise people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:18-19 and Mark 16:15-16) and, (iii) Do this in remembrance of me – celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Matt 25: 26-30, Mark14: 22-26, Luke 22:14-21, 1 Cor 11:23-26). These commands are essential for the Office of the Holy Ministry because through these means of grace, that is, the Word and sacraments, God gives the Holy Spirit who works the gift of saving faith when and where he pleases in those who hear the Gospel (Augsburg Confession Articles IV and V). From this source springs the life of faith, hope and love, the new obedience, the life of the church (Article VI). The focus in Articles IV, V and VI is the salvific work of the Holy Trinity who chooses to work in Word and sacraments ministry.

As we reflect on the development and formulation of the Confessions it becomes clear everything previously known and experienced in the spiritual and social life of the late medieval church was consistently drawn and coherently evaluated in the light of what we now call the material principle and the formal principle. These principles are not doctrines per se. They are theological means, or auxiliary theological tools, a theological compass which enables exegetes to distinguish between Law and Gospel and rightly apply the meaning of a text to the life of the church.

 The revolution in church life

With this theological compass the reformers made radical pastoral decisions. Seven sacraments were reduced to two: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The notion of theocracy, that is, the inseparable unity of church and state as was expressed in the Holy Roman Empire was rejected, leaving us with the legacy of the doctrine of the two-kingdoms which differentiates the way God works through the state and the church. Hierarchical distinctions between clergy and laity disappeared. Distinctions which formed the very foundations for the structure and wealth distribution in late medieval society were rejected. Fasting, liturgical practices, images in church buildings, marriage of the clergy, the question whether nuns could marry, plus other long established traditions were evaluated by drawing them (ducere – Latin: to lead or guide) under the guiding light of the distinction between Law and Gospel. The doctrine of justification by grace though faith in Christ was the hermeneutical touchstone, the theological compass which gave the reformers such clarity of insight, that it enabled them to make discerning judgements about the very words of Scripture. They were able to exercise pastoral judgments which shaped the future life of the church. When examining any issue they could conclude: this is necessary for salvation while this is not necessary for salvation. The process finally gave us our Confessions.

The importance of Scripture

The late medieval church read, studied, interpreted and meditated upon the Scriptures as did Luther and his fellow Augustinian monks. Scripture was regarded as the inspired Word of God. Yet Luther was terrified because in the inspired Word of God he encountered a God of judgement who caused him to despair. Luther’s view of the Scriptures was radically changed through the inner work of the Holy Spirit. He was led to see, with joyful certainty, that in the same divinely inspired text there was what he called the heart of Scripture, the doctrine of justification, the cross of Christ, the heart of God. This gave Scripture its authority. In his Bondage of the Will Luther would say: “Take Christ from the Scriptures and what more will you find in them?” In 1534 Luther audaciously said: “If our adversaries argue the Scriptures against Christ, then we will argue Christ against the Scriptures.”

The importance of the work of the Holy Trinity

In his Large Catechism Luther outlined the true purpose of the salvific work of the Holy Trinity in the Creeds:

In these three articles God himself has revealed and opened to us the utmost profound depths of his fatherly heart, his sheer, unutterable love. He has created us for this very purpose, to redeem and sanctify us. Moreover, having bestowed upon us everything in heaven and on earth, he has given us his Son and his Holy Spirit, through whom he brings us to himself. As we explained before, we could never come to recognise the Father’s favour and grace were it not for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a mirror of the Father’s heart. Apart from him we see nothing but an angry and terrible judge. But neither could we know anything of Christ, had it not been revealed by the Holy Spirit. (The Large Catechism: Creed Book of Concord {Tappert} 419: 63-65)

The primary purpose of including the three articles of the Creed is to establish a theological connection between the doctrine of justification by faith alone (Article IV) and the way God himself has revealed and opened to us the utmost profound depths of his fatherly heart, his sheer, unutterable love, thereby establishing a further connection between redemption and sanctification, based upon the Father’s favour and grace in Christ who is a mirror of the Father’s heart. There is a theological coherence in the way the reformers have organised the structure of The Augsburg Confession around this theological compass, namely, the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  It can be anticipated that this theme will also be the central focus of Article V.

The importance of the office of the ministry

All throughout the Confessions we see how reliant and respectful the reformers were towards the Scriptures. In their theological perspective the Holy Trinity works through the means of grace, that is, the Word and sacraments in order to create saving faith.

To obtain such saving faith God instituted the office of the ministry that is, provided the Gospel and sacraments. Through these, as through means, God gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel.  And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits but by the merits of Christ, when we believe this. (Augsburg Confession Article V)

The wisdom required in knowing what is essential for salvation

Thereafter the Reformers were confident in evaluating the inspired text by examining the meaning of various scriptural passages (formal principle) in the light of the gospel (material principle). The Scriptures must not be interpreted in ways which disregard the gospel thereby burdening consciences, and the gospel must not be understood and used to divorce the work of the Holy Trinity from the Scriptures. This enabled them to conclude: this is necessary for salvation because it is necessary for the proclamation of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, while this church tradition is not necessary for salvation and remains in the arena of the freedom of the gospel.  A careful distinction had to be made between doing those things which were essential for the proclamation of the gospel, namely, preaching the Word and administering the sacraments, and those things which lay in the arena of the freedom of the gospel, namely human traditions (Apology Article XIV). It naturally follows that the doctrine of justification by faith must become the centre of gravity for church unity.

For the true unity of the church it is enough to agree concerning the teaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions or rites and ceremonies, instituted by men, should be alike everywhere (The Augsburg Confession Article VII).

 

The connection between the hermeneutical touchstone and preaching

For these reformers it was a matter of seeing clearly how a God of judgement and grace revealed himself and spoke a Word of Law and Gospel. The Holy Spirit is not only the author of the Word, the divinely inspired, inerrant sacred text (formal principle), but is also the witness to the cross of Christ in the Word (material principle). When the doctrine of justification for Christ’s sake through faith resonated in the proclamation of those ordained into the office of the ministry, when a clear distinction was made between Law and Gospel, then this indicated that God was at work in Christ through the Holy Spirit creating saving faith and producing good fruit and good works. When the distinction between Law and Gospel did not resonate in the proclamation of those ordained into the office of the ministry, then no matter how much reference was made to God and the inspired word, the end result was: another Christ was being preached. (2 Cor 11. 14)[2]

The hermeneutical compass

The reformer Melanchthon would show how the doctrine of justification worked as a theological compass for the reform movement in The Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article IV Justification. On that basis he writes:

All Scripture should be divided into these two chief doctrines, the law and the promises. In some places it presents the law. In others it presents the gospel of Christ: this it does either when it promises that the Messiah will come and promises forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life for his sake, or when in the New Testament, the Christ who came promises forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life. By Law, in this discussion we mean the commandments of the Decalogue.  (Apology IV 5, 6)

The two schools of thought in the LCA regarding ordination: the male-only interpretation of Article V; and, the gender inclusive interpretation of Article V

Diverse ways of interpreting and applying the same texts can result from a common affirmation that Scripture is the ‘divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God and the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life’ (Article II, LCA Constitution). Clearly, affirming the formal principle, does not guarantee consensus, as is all too clear in our LCA when we think of the two schools of thought regarding the ordination of women.

These two schools of thought do not result from a fundamental difference about the divine inspiration of the written and inerrant Word of God as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life. This is evidenced in all the written material produced over the past thirty years. We can see a mutual and abiding love and a deep respect for the Word. The diligence and humility that has marked our exegetical journey through the Word examining this matter has been extraordinary in its depth, detail and scope.

Inseparable from the formal principle, yet in clear distinction from it, is the central message of the gospel, the forgiveness of sins, the cross of Christ, the joyful certainty of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. Later Lutheran theologians would refer to it as the material principle. The Augsburg Confession Article V tells us God instituted the Office of the Ministry thereby providing the gospel and the sacraments in order that we may obtain this saving faith. At this point we do not find any difference in the two schools of thought in our LCA. Both agree that the Office of the Ministry is a gift from God for the purpose of proclaiming the Word and administering the sacraments in order to obtain justifying faith. There is mutual consensus about the centrality of the cross in the two schools of thought.

The Augsburg Confession Article V and Thesis VI paragraph 11

In addition to Augsburg Confession Article V Office of the Ministry, the Theses of Agreement VI par 11 utilises two texts 1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2: 11-14 to support a male-only view on ordination. These texts are not referred to by the reformers throughout the Lutheran Confessions: The Augsburg Confession (1530) The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531) The Smaldcald Articles (1537) The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537) The Small Catechism (1529) The Large Catechism (1529) The Formula of Concord 1577). This is significant. Their central concern was not a gender issue in relation to the office of the ministry [3] but a pastoral theological issue: how does a person obtain this justifying faith they so eloquently described in Article IV, the kind of faith which brings forth the good fruit and good works they so eloquently praised in Article VI. Their answer is: Article V. The focus of Article V is the salvific work of the Holy Trinity, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the Word and sacraments.

In referring to two texts (1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2: 11-14), Thesis VI par 11 is pointing to a scriptural foundation for the historic practice of male-only ordination by tracing it back to St Paul and Christ: in prohibiting the ordination of women the church is understood to obey a command of Christ. In the view of the male-only ordination school of thought, these two texts are to be interpreted as necessary theological additions to Article V. In this view, these texts are utilised to determine how Article V is to be understood and interpreted throughout the whole of Christendom. The formal principle is deeply respected in the way these texts, along with other passages, are quoted (Summary of arguments for the ordination of men only CTICR Final Report 2000).

Implications for the parish life of the LCA: the male-only school of thought

Thesis VI Par 11 is necessary for the ordination of male-only school of thought. It is a sine qua non, an indispensible and essential ingredient. There cannot be any compromise on this theological issue because: if a female is ordained then the Church has acted in disobedience to Christ. Furthermore, in this view a female pastor will desecrate the body and blood of Christ when she attempts to consecrate the bread and wine. In this view, a female pastor cannot properly or validly nurture the faith of the faithful because her ministry is invalid due to her disobedience to Christ’s command.  Indeed, in ordaining a woman, the church itself is acting in a way that is disobedient to Christ’s command.

For this reason the LCA Ordination Consensus Task Force Report 2009 was asked to research and investigate the validity of a believer’s faith if it is nurtured by female clergy (Recommendation 9c. 4). That such a question should be asked indicates that, in the male-only school of thought, the Holy Trinity cannot condone the ordination of a female pastor and will not work in a salvific manner through her ministry of Word and sacrament.

It follows from this approach that the good fruit and good works so eloquently described in Article VI cannot be nurtured by the Spirit of God because the Spirit of God cannot act in disobedience to the command of Christ. Therefore the fundamental importance of ordaining males only for this school of thought cannot be underestimated because the office of the ministry loses its validity when a female is ordained.

Furthermore, in this view the parishioners of a female pastor do not obtain the faith so eloquently described in Article V. They are not freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith. They are not received into favour with God. Their sins are not forgiven on account of Christ and their faith in Christ is not imputed as righteousness in the sight of God. God does not give her parishioners the gift of the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the sacraments. In this view, if an ordained female pastor baptises a child, then the baptism of that child is invalid because her Word and sacrament ministry are invalid on account of her disobedience to Christ and the Holy Spirit cannot disobey a command of Christ.

For this school of thought it is a matter of conscience and obedience to the command of Christ (Recommendation 6 SECTION 4 E). Consequently, male-only ordination is necessary for the ministry of salvation, the office of the ministry, because the efficacy of Word and sacrament ministry is annulled by disobedience to Christ’s command. In this view the material principle is not distinct from, but dependent upon the formal principle, that is, obedience to the written Word of God as recorded in the two texts cited in Thesis VI par 11 is required. In summary, the work of Christ is conditional upon obedience to the word of Christ as understood by this school of thought. A specific way of interpreting 1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2: 11-14 defines what it is that must be obeyed.

At this point in time, it is not a matter of in statu confessionis for those who belong to the school of thought which advocates the ordination of women because the ordination of women is regarded as a matter of church practice and belongs to adiaphora. In this school of thought the validity and efficacy of the office of the ministry are dependent solely upon the work of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit alone through the Word and the sacraments.

However, if it is maintained that Thesis VI par 11 must be regarded as having the same status as the Creeds and Confessions for the future of the LCA, in other words as an article of faith by which the church will stand or fall (in statu confessionis), then we have entered new territory because, in the view of the male-only school of thought, Thesis VI par 11 is essential for both the validity and the efficacy of the office of the ministry. The ordination of males-only thereby becomes a third mark of the presence of the true church in the world.

The matter would certainly need re-examination because it discloses a fundamental difference between the two schools of thought which the search for consensus could never overcome or ignore as a core issue. The CTICR certainly would need to discuss such a theological development. The key question for the LCA is: Is Thesis VI par 11 necessary for the ministry of salvation, that is, for obtaining the faith and good works so eloquently referred to in Article V?

Implications for the parish life of the LCA: the gender inclusive school of thought

The formal principle is also significant for that school of thought in our LCA which supports the ordination of both men and women. The same respect, diligence and care for the meaning of the Scriptures are evident. (Summary of arguments for the ordination of women CTICR Final Report 2000 and, The Case for the Ordination of women – A Summary adopted by CTICR 26 May 2006.  In this 2006 document, Paragraphs 4-7 specifically deal with the foundational texts referred to in Thesis VI par 11. )

While it is clear that the two schools of thought both confess the ‘divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God … as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life’ (Article II, LCA Constitution) nevertheless, the difference between the two schools of thought can be seen in their respective exegetical conclusions and their application for the life of the LCA.

These two texts are to be interpreted in the light of the whole Scripture, which is the inspired Word of God. Christ and the gospel he proclaimed are the heart and centre of the Scriptures. Their purpose and goal is that sinners be justified. For that reason Christ instituted the office of the ministry and calls people to serve as pastors in the church. To argue in this way is not to reduce Scripture to gospel alone, but to make the gospel and its proclamation the basis for the church’s practice (CTICR 2006 par 7).

In this school of thought St Paul’s statements are interpreted as pastoral statements for a particular context. They are not understood as a command of Christ for all times and places (CTICR2006 par5). Consequently, the validity and efficacy of the ministry of Word and sacrament are not dependent upon the ordination of men only, that is, dependent upon the gender of the ordained pastor, but solely dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit who works where and when he wills in those who hear the Law and the Gospel proclaimed, the message of justification by grace through faith in Christ.  The salvific work of the Holy Trinity is not conditional upon the specific interpretation of what it means to obey this command of Christ held by the male-only school of thought (1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2: 11-14).

When all Scripture is interpreted within the compass of the formal principle and the material principle, it is seen that the salvific work of the Holy Trinity is conditional only upon: (i) preaching the gospel (ii) baptising people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and, (iii) celebrating the Lord’s Supper – “Do this in remembrance of me”. In this school of thought the weight falls on these commands which are essential to the Office of the Holy Ministry because through these means of grace, the Word and sacraments, God gives the Holy Spirit who works the gift of saving faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel (Augsburg Confession Article IV and V).

Thesis VI Par 11 is not necessary for the ministry of salvation in this school of thought. It is not an indispensible and essential ingredient for the office of the ministry. If a female is ordained then the Church remains faithful to its Lord. In this view a female pastor will not desecrate the body and blood of Christ when she consecrates the bread and wine. In this view, a female pastor properly and validly nurtures the faith of the faithful.  The good fruit and good works so eloquently described by the reformers in Article VI will be nurtured by the Spirit of God because the Spirit of God acts in conformity to the command of Christ to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments. The office of the ministry of an ordained woman does not lose its validity and efficacy.

Furthermore, in this view the parishioners of a female pastor obtain the faith the reformers so eloquently describe in Article IV. They are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith. They are received into favour with God. Their sins are forgiven on account of Christ and their faith in Christ is imputed as righteousness in the sight of God. God gives her parishioners the gift of the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the sacraments. In this view, if an ordained female pastor baptises a child, then the baptism of that child is valid because her Word and sacrament ministry is validated by Christ, and the Holy Spirit works through the command of Christ to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments.

The Augsburg Confession Articles IV, V and VI are understood to be theologically coherent and consonant not because of a teaching about ordination but because of the focus upon the salvific work of the Holy Trinity who chooses to work through the Word and sacraments freely justifying parishioners for Christ’s sake in those who hear the Gospel. What brings about the difference in the two schools of thought is the role which the formal principle and the material principle play in the formation of exegetical and pastoral conclusions. This is the issue that needs to be re-examined.

Some conclusions

This issue is of such significance that it should be a matter that is returned to the CTICR for examination. The work of the CTICR thus far has been helpful, enlightening as well as satisfactory because it has revealed to all of us how our theologians clearly respect the formal and material principle throughout their work, even though they arrive at different exegetical conclusions which have significantly different pastoral implications for the life of the LCA. It has made us aware of a critical matter for the whole church to prayerfully consider.

Those who have already worked so diligently and respectfully on behalf of the LCA must be given an opportunity to evaluate their work once more in view of the question:

Is the view of ordination expressed in Thesis VI par 11 necessary for the ministry of salvation, the proclamation of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments?

It is clear Thesis VI par 11 expresses the historic tradition of the church in that it is utilised in support of the ordination of males only. It is also clear it was necessary for the union of the two Lutheran Churches in 1966. It now has become clear that the CTICR2000 Final Report and the subsequent Synods have revealed there are two schools of thought in the LCA which have arrived at different exegetical conclusions. These conclusions have significantly different pastoral implication for the life of the LCA. Our best theological minds from a cross-section of the membership of the LCA, both male and female, should be given this work to do. The CTICR not only fulfils those criteria because it has such a combination of theological expertise and a cross-section from the membership of the LCA. This is also a matter for consideration at all Pastors’ Conferences and District Synods because it concerns the future identity and direction of our LCA.

Finally, the supporters of the school of thought which advocates the ordination of men and women and who formulated the Resolutions put forward by St Peters believe that these Resolutions are consistent with making a distinction between the formal principle and the material principle for Lutheran hermeneutics. They are also consistent and in harmony with The Augsburg Confession Articles IV, V and VI. They emphasise the connection between the work of the Holy Trinity and the office of the ministry in Articles IV, V and VI. They distinguish between Law and Gospel when applying 1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2: 11-14 to the life of the LCA and do so in the light of the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They propose nothing at all that is contrary to the Lutheran Confessions. They are also respectful of LCA Constitutional processes which are synodical.

Consequently, it is not necessary for salvation that the LCA ordains males only for the office of the ministry. The validity and efficacy of the ministry of Word and sacrament in the LCA are not dependent upon the gender of the ordained pastor. Therefore a change can be implemented with regard to the practice of ordination in the LCA which is mindful and respectful of the importance 1 Cor 14: 33b-38 and I Tim 2: 11-14 have had for church order in the 1st century and throughout the history of the Christian Church including the various synods of the Lutheran Church which came to Australia. The resolutions are particularly mindful of the importance these texts had for those synodical discussions which led to the formation of the LCA in 1966.

These resolutions are not formulated on the basis of any feminist philosophy or sociological factors inherent in contemporary culture. They evidence no abandonment of scriptural authority. On the contrary a clear distinction is made between the formal principle which appreciates both the clarity and the complexity of the textual evidence, and the material principle. The resolutions also presuppose the centrality of the doctrine of justification for the life of the church which always requires us, as it did the reformers before us, to answer the fundamental question: What is necessary for salvation? In our time the same question appears in the form:

Is the view of ordination expressed in Thesis VI paragraph 11 necessary for the validity and efficacy of the ministry of salvation as formulated in The Augsburg Confession Article V?

How that question is answered will determine whether or not consensus is possible.

Neal Nuske


[1] Throughout this essay wherever the terms material principle and the formal principle are used, they will carry these meanings.

[2] The wisdom and capacity to make this distinction does not reside in the gender of the pastor.

[3] The gender issues confronting the reformers were significantly different and quite radical: celibacy in the priesthood and monastic orders, marriage and the priesthood, and, whether or not monks and nuns from the various monastic orders could marry.

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25 responses to “An essay by Neal Nuske

  1. John Miller

    April 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Great stuff Neal. Just more irrelevant, ecclesiastical, (hermeneutical) gobbledegook.

    The LCA Synod will decide whether women will be ordained.

    Delegates will not take their advice from people like the Egyptian egomaniac, the Turkish thug, or the bigoted, anti-Semetic, misogynistic, German blockhead, Martin Luther.

    They’ll examine their own consciences and vote according to the times.

    They will not be guided by what people thought and wrote about women (on God’s behalf) in either the bronze or the dark age.

    They certainly won’t give two hoots for what John of Saxony, the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, the Margrave George of Brandenburg and the Dukes Ernest and Francis of Lüneburg thought about it.

     
    • martin beach

      May 20, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Are you the son of Alf, erstwhile member of Nazareth W’gbba, accompanist for Lutheran S(w)ingers and so on? Are you still in Qld?

       
      • John Miller

        May 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

        Nope, I’m the second son of Bert and Doreen, born in Whyalla, late of Adelaide and now in Canberra.

         
  2. Katie and Martin

    April 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Not quite sure of your point here John.
    As it turns out, delegates didn’t get a chance to vote. Instead the President let them have a discussion, then moved onto something else. The ramifications are considerable.

     
  3. John Miller

    April 24, 2013 at 11:30 am

    The President needs to be put back in his box. It is for the Synod, not the President to decide whether a motion will be put.

    There is still time today for a parish delegate (preferably one from the parish that submitted the original motion) to stand up and put forward a motion, ‘that the motion on the Ordination of Women be put.’

    It doesn’t need a seconder.

    It must be put without discussion.

    If the motion ‘that the motion be put’ is carried, the original motion can then be put to the vote without discussion.

    Grab yourself a copy of the Synod voting rules (I’ve p[osted them below) and play by them. There must be a lawyer who supports the ordination of women and due process within the Synod who can provide advice on the floor of the Synod.

    These two motions

    – the 1st motion to put the motion and (if it the 1st motion is passed)
    – the 2nd motion to ordinate women

    must be voted on without discussion.

    Stand your ground.

    Have the Synod voting rules in your hand. The President is out of order. He is acting illegally if he doesn’t allow a vote.

    If he still refuses to put the motions to the vote, move a motion to have him vacate the chair and wait for the discussion to die down before putting the motion that the motion to have the President vacate the chair be put.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    SECTION VII. C. PROCEDURE IN TRANSACTING BUSINESS – edited

    4. Persons entitled to speak and desiring to exercise such right shall ask for the floor by raising their hand or otherwise indicating to the Chairperson their desire to speak, and when called upon to speak they shall stand and address themselves to the chair. No interruption to speech shall be permitted, except upon a question of order.

    5. All proposals on the Agenda shall be placed before the convention for discussion and
    decision, unless withdrawn.

    6. All reports published in the official book of reports or in supplements thereto shall be
    regarded as received by the convention by virtue of that fact.

    7. A motion or amendment, including any proposal stemming from the reports of councils or
    boards or submitted by a Sessional Committee, may be discussed and voted on only after it
    has been moved and seconded by a delegate.

    8. At the request of the mover and seconder, and with the consent of the convention, a motion or an amendment may be withdrawn.

    11. Every amendment shall be relevant to the motion to which it refers.

    12. Proposers of amendments and of any motions not previously printed shall submit them to the Chairperson in writing either in advance, whenever possible, or when requested to do so by the Chairperson.

    13. Those taking part in a debate shall be limited to one [1] speech on a motion or amendment, except to clear up misunderstanding or in exercising the right of reply, or except the meeting grant permission.

    14. A right of reply is only allowed to the mover of the original motion. It concludes the debate nless there are one or more amendments, in which case it may be exercised at the
    conclusion of the debate on the first amendment.

    15. Seconded amendments are new questions and persons who have spoken to the motion shall be permitted to speak again.

    16. The mover of any motion shall be permitted to speak for five [5] minutes, and three [3]
    minutes shall be the limit for all other speakers unless a resolution granting extension of time
    be granted by the convention.

    17. The Chairperson shall give ample opportunity for speakers for and against a motion or an amendment to be heard. If there are no speakers against it shall be put without right of reply.

    18. As a general rule motions and amendments shall be read before a vote is taken, and the
    Chairperson shall if necessary briefly explain their meaning.

    19. No motion may be brought forward which is the same in substance as a matter which has
    already been resolved by the convention unless a motion calling for a reconsideration of the
    matter previously decided is moved and seconded by persons who voted with the majority thereby cancelled, and the original motion is again before the convention in the form in which it was put to the vote. A matter may be reconsidered only once at the same convention.

    20. A motion shall be decided by a show of hands unless a ballot is required by the Chairperson or demanded by a delegate and granted by resolution of the convention. In the event of a disagreement as to the result of the vote, a recount or second vote may be demanded.

    21. If in the opinion of any delegate an irregularity of procedure occurs the delegate may
    immediately without asking permission from the chair rise to a `point of order’ and shall be
    heard forthwith. The delegate shall explain the point of order clearly and briefly without
    introducing new matter. The Chairperson shall decide either to uphold or disallow the point
    raised, and it shall not be debated unless an appeal be made against the ruling of the
    Chairperson.

    22. Deference shall be paid to the Chairperson’s authority. All present shall be seated whenever the Chairperson rises to speak, and the Chairperson shall be heard without interruption, except when a point of order is raised.

    23. The Chairperson may call attention to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition on the part of a speaker, and may direct the speaker to cease speaking.

    24. If disorder should arise the Chairperson may announce an adjournment of the convention and leave the chair, and by that action the convention is immediately adjourned for a period that shall not exceed one-half hour.

    25. The Chairperson may speak briefly for the purpose of giving some desired or necessary
    information. If, however, the Chairperson wishes to take an active part in a debate, a Vice-
    President or some other appointed person shall take the chair.

    26. Unless otherwise stipulated a majority of those delegates voting shall decide the motion, and in the event of an equality of votes the Chairperson shall in addition to a deliberative vote have a casting vote, or refer the motion for further discussion.

    27. No formal motion may be moved or seconded by anyone who has moved, seconded or
    spoken to the motion or any amendment. The following formal motions may be moved and
    seconded and are not debatable:
    (a) A motion may be superseded for that particular convention by the acceptance of either
    of the following motions:
    ‘That the debate be adjourned’;
    ‘That Synod proceed to the next business’.
    (b) A motion may be superseded for the time being by the motion
    ‘That the question lie on the table’.
    There can be a subsequent motion either at the same or a later convention to take the
    motion from the table.
    (c) The convention may be adjourned by the motion `That the convention adjourn’.
    Debate may take place if the motion or amendment states time, date and place of the
    adjourned convention.
    (d) Debate on a motion or an amendment may be closed by the motion `That the motion
    be now put’. If in the opinion of the Chairperson the motion has not been sufficiently discussed, such motion may be refused.

    28. (1) Matters of conscience and of doctrine shall have precedence over other matters and
    any rules relating to time limits and number of times a person may speak may be
    suspended by the ruling of the Chairperson or by a majority of those delegates voting.

    (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.

    (3) For a resolution on a matter of doctrine to be deemed to be the official position of the
    Church it shall require a two-thirds majority of all the registered delegates at the
    Convention.

    29. Any of the By-laws in Section VII. C. may, if the need arises, be suspended in respect to any business of the convention, by a two-thirds majority of those delegates present.

    30. Any motions coming before the convention may be referred by the Executive of the General Church Council prior to the sessions, or by the convention during the sessions, for study and for report to the convention.

    31. All proceedings shall be entered into a minute book, with the exception of unseconded
    motions or amendments.

    32. The Church shall not be bound by any statements or plans contained in a report, but only by specific resolutions on matters arising from such report and carried by the General Synod.

    I wouldn’t be standing under the fan when this happens, but it will be a chance for the Congregations to make a stand against theocracy and have the President conform to the Synod rules.

    Regards

    John

     
  4. Katie and Martin

    April 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Wish you were here, John. WO was totally outmanoeuvred.

     
  5. John Miller

    April 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

    K&M

    You’ve still got time to re-manouvre your cause back into position. It is your right and your rightful duty. The President is out of order.

    You have a point of order to raise and motions to put.

    Take Goethe’s advice:

    “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

    The rules of the Synod protect parish delegates from being intimidated, particularly by those weilding ecclesiastical power. Do it NOW! Stand up and speak up in the name of the men and women of the LCA who support the ordination of women and the parish that placed the motion on the notice paper.

     
  6. John Miller

    April 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I forgot to add: if Jesus Christ Himself were there He’d be mighty proud of whoever gets up and raises the point of order and moves that the motions be put. Given the chance He’d even speak for the motion Himself. This is one vote where you could be pretty certain that Jesus would vote against Blaess, Hebart and Semmler.

     
  7. Katie and Martin

    April 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    It would be a tough task to get 70% of the vote of the registered delegates at this stage, given that people have already started leaving. However, is anyone at General Convention up for it? Knowledge of the constitution will be needed.

     
  8. John Miller

    April 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Still time? Just do it and see where the votes are.

     
  9. John Miller

    April 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    K&M. What ended up happening?

     
  10. Katie and Martin

    April 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    A woman from Toowoomba made a point of order when unfinished business was being referred to GCC and/or next Convention. She managed to have St Stephens and St Peters’ motions elevated to that group, which keeps them active for this next term of Synod.

    Remind us the Blaess/Hebart statements. It sounds like something that needs to be dealt with as we prepare Church documents and policy for women’s ordination.

     
  11. John Miller

    April 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

    K&M

    Take a look here, http://www.lca.org.au/doctrinal-statements–theological-opinions-2.html ,

    … particularly A. THESES OF AGREEMENT – office of the ministry. This is where you’ll find the Blaess/Hebart misogyny statement, but I thought I’d seen a more expansive version somewhere else on this site, but can’t find it right now.

    F. WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

    In fact I’d suggest you rake through all the stuff on this site:

    http://www.lca.org.au/lca-foundational-documents.html

    This is useful too:

    http://www.lca.org.au/lutheran-church-of-australia.html

    … especially the bit about ‘our Structure’. In the light of what happened last week it may make you want to put your fingers down your throat!

    Regards

    John

     
    • Katie and Martin

      April 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks John. Some work to do!

       
    • Katie and Martin

      April 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Included in all of this is one more lesson that we should never use the phrase, “This apostolic rule is binding on all Christendom.” Claiming Pope-like infallibility is a risky thing.

      Thanks again for your research and good thinking.

       
  12. John Miller

    April 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

    K&M

    Found it.

    THE BLAESS/HEBART MISGOGYNY STATEMENT

    DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS AND THEOLOGICAL OPINIONS
    OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
    A11-A13

    VI THESES ON THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY
    On the basis of theses drawn up by Prof. Blaess and Dr Hebart after discussions by the Sub-Committees, the doctrine of the Office of the Ministry was discussed at Joint Meetings held on April 13 and May 4, 1950, and adopted in the following form at the Joint Meetings on May 4 and May 25, 1950.

    *Reviewed July 2001, unedited

    Though women prophets were used by the Spirit of God in the Old as well as in the New Testament. 1 Cor.14:34,35 and I Tim. 2:11-14 prohibit a woman from being called into the office of 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.

    Blaess and Hebart

    1 Timothy 2:11-14
    New International Version (NIV)

    Regards

    John

     
    • Friedemann Hebart

      May 17, 2013 at 2:35 am

      Hi, after reading Neil’s superb theological and hermenuetical analysis (at last) I only just stumbled across what John Miller entitles ‘The Blaess/Hebart Misogyny Statement’ and his conviction that ‘Jesus would vote against Blaess, Hebart and Semmler.’ As much as I agree in every detail with his assessment of the rules of synodical procedure and share his anger at the way a President of the church could dare to ignore those rules, the motions submitted by Queensland and Adelaide congregations, and even a point of order that apparently was raised, I think I should nevertheless correct any misapprehension and comment on my father’s role in co-formulating the theses on the office of the ministry 63 years ago (!); it was 15 years later that they were ultimately accepted as part of the Theses of Agreement in 1965:

      1. One sees things somewhat differently today than in 1950, and it is good that it is so. In 1950 there was, as far as I can see, only one ordained Lutheran woman pastor in the world, and that was in Denmark (1948). In Germany during the war, pastors (males) were called up for military service and rather than leave their parishes vacant, the churches arranged for trained woman theologians to take over their duties. When the pastors who survived World War II returned, the women had to relinquish their pastoral role; nobody really questioned that. Perhaps they should have, but as far as I know they didn’t. The first ordination of a woman in the Bavarian Lutheran Church (to which I now belong) was 30 years later in 1975. Even Peter Brunner who wrote the essay on the headship of Christ (“The Office of the Ministry and Women”) – a favourite of the opponents of women’s ordination – wrote it in 1959, possibly as a reaction to the ordination of the first woman pastor in Germany in 1958. His own daughter, incidentally was ordained later. I believe it was against his will. The first ordination of a woman in the then Lutheran Church of America was in 1970, possibly as a result of the hermeneutic arguments of Dr. Krister Stendahl (1921 – 2008; Professor Harvard School of Divinity, 1954-84; Bishop of Stockholm, 1984-88; Harvard 1989; more below!).

      2 The question of the ordination of women was therefore virtually non-existent everywhere in the Lutheran Church in 1950, and for some time after that. It wasn’t an issue. I don’t know why the theses on the ministry even dealt with it in 1950. There would have been no difference of opinion at least on this matter in the Intersynodical Committee; I can only assume it was mentioned for the sake of systematic completeness. (Luther for example deals with it in his commentary on 1. Peter – and doesn’t entirely exclude it – although it was entirely unrealistic in his time.) At Immanuel Seminary (as at Concordia Seminary) since the 60’s there were regularly prospective deaconesses studying selected theological subjects. I can’t remember any of them at the time arguing for (or – gasp! – seeking) women’s ordination, or anybody even suggesting that women might be ordained.

      3. After I succeeded my father in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in 1980, we certainly had what were probably the first women students who desired ordination (and were exceptionally qualified in every way). And when the LCA was founded in 1966 the question of the role of women in the church was certainly already being raised elsewhere. Krister Stendahl’s famous essay, ‘The Bible and the Role of Women. A Case Study in Hermeneutics’, was published in Swedish in 1958, but appeared in English in 1966. I discovered it in a reprint when I returned to Australia from my doctoral studies in Germany in 1973 and was virtually converted on the spot. I remember discussing it with my father at the time and later; the hermeneutic arguments were irrefutable. I don’t know what he taught in Dogmatics between 1971 and his retirement in 1979 at the age of 70, but I knew his hermeneutic principles very well and at that time he was certainly no opponent of the ordination of women, as he told me.
      In the late ‘seventies or ealry ‘eighties (he died in 1990) he once said to me: There are some things I would change in the Theses today, but we had to make compromises in those days for the sake of the union. Women’s ordination wasn’t a burning issue in the formative period of the LCA ; and in the precarious situation of the newly-formed church with differing hermeneutics between ‘the two sides’ it was very difficult indeed to take a stand on any matter dealt with in the holy and untouchable Theses of Agreement, or even to express theological views in new ways which might be interpreted as questioning the Theses without (as it was generally felt) endangering the whole of the LCA’s existence. I was personally affected by this situation. When I returned from Germany in 1973 after seven years’ absence the SA District Synod was in session. As I entered the plenary session, Dr. Sasse cried out for all to hear: ‘Here comes the great theologian from Germany who supports the ordination of women.’ A marvellous welcome on the part of my former teacher – and (unfortunately) it wasn’t even true, but it did make me think about having to take a stand. Another personal example of the dominance of the Theses and the need to tread warily for fear that the union might collapse: Later I was to be called to Luther Seminary. Although I had been an ordained pastor of the LCA since 1967 they decided I must submit first to a colloquium of the General Church Council. It dealt with two questions both covered by the Theses of Agreement:
      (a) What are your views on the ordination of women? My answer (short form): There are only two statements on the role of women in the ministry which pose difficulties, and we need to look at the context in which those texts of Paul were written. But apart from that; we don’t have doctrines in the Lutheran Church based on two passages of the Bible. [By rhe way, that means that he question of women’s ordination is not a doctrinal issue and therefore does not require a two-thirds majority at Synod!].
      (b) The other question dealt with my (suspect) treatment of Law and Gospel in ‘One in the Gospel’ which had just appeared as a book. I passed the colloquium, sort of, and it was decided I could lecture at Luther Seminary as head of the Systematics Department, but not in any ‘sensitive’ theological areas: Justification, Law & Gospel, Church and Ministry, Sacraments, Eschatology. These were to be taught by the new Principal Dr Henry Hamann. I was only allowed to teach Creation and Redemption, Ethics and Philosophy. That was the atmosphere in the early 80’s (until…?).

      4. In the light of the above situation in which from 1939 till 1965 it was uncertain what the ultimate outcome of the Intersynodical discussions might be, and from 1966 until (…?) few were prepared to rock the boat for fear that the union might collapse. It is unhistorical and offensive for John Miller to speak of a mysoginistic Blaess/Hebart/Semmler triumvirate; and for him to add that ‘Jesus would vote against Blaess, Hebart and Semmler’ is utterly unacceptable. Statements like this do not serve the cause of WMN in any useful way that I can see. – I can’t speak for the Drs. Blaess and Semmler, but my father was anything but a misogynist. Some of the WMN people may remember that my wife initiated some of the first moves towards women’s ordination in Adelaide in the early 1980s (30 years after the Theses on the Ministry and 15 years after the union of 1965) with e.g. Margaret Mayer, Anne Bartsch and John Sabel and wrote articles e.g. for the student paper of the LSF. There were also meetings in our home first in Highgate, later in Malvern. My father (in retirement) looked benignly on these efforts, my outspoken mother greeted them. In his retirement my father was no longer allowed (!) as emeritus to teach at Luther Seminary: Henry Hamann had the Seminary Council change the rules; he said my father had had a good run and he didn’t want to be Principal in my father’s shadow. So my father taught Dogmatics at the Adelaide College of Divinity for some years and had absolutely no problem training women as pastors for other denominations… So much for his mysoginism.

      As for Dr. Blaess: my father always spoke most positively of him as one who in his quiet way together with Henry Hamann was instrumental in convincing the more conservative members of the Intersynodical Committee not to look for a heretic under every stone. But in 1950 – 1965 Blaess like the others was a product of his time, and women’s ordination was about as relevant to Australian Lutherans as beaming oneself to the moon. Dr Fred Blaess a mysoginist? We don’t call people bigotted either, simply because they are not actively involved in promoting interreligious dialogue.

      I cannot and will not speak for Mike Semmler. If what has come to my ears about his handling of the women’s ordination motions is true, he has behaved irresponsibly and brought the office of President into disrepute. I hope John Henderson will not suffer under the actions of the outgoing President, particularly as the latter apparently still has the power with the GCC to fill vacant positions until his actual retirement in July (?). Here in Bavaria, if it interests anyone, the Bishop takes up office as soon as he or she is elected (our regional bishop for North Bavaria here is a woman) and is at liberty to seek the advice also of the predecessor…

      Sorry this has got a bit long for a blog – but didn’t someone write that it might be interesting to follow up what those naughty people Blaess and Hebart actually did?

      I hope and pray that John Henderson will find a way to solve the ordination issue as soon as possible. It is for me unthinkable and utterly irresponsible to exclude half of the world’s population from the formal proclamation of the gospel.

      Cheers

      Friedemann

       
      • John Miller

        May 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm

        Friedemann,

        Thanks for your post.

        Several comments.

        Friedemann, I didn’t know your father very well, but I do know that he was a kind, thoughtful and gentle man. He was a good man. But anyone who doesn’t stand up for equal rights of women, who writes statements that disadvantage women in taking their rightful place within organisations, including clerical organisations has to put up with the misogyny tag.

        We’re all guilty of it. It’s a part of our culture, particularly Lutheran culture. Here’s what our esteemed founder had to say about the matter:

        ‘Women … have but small and narrow chests, and broad hips, to the end that they
        should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.’

        Your father and Fred Blaess believed that what they wrote 63 years ago was in accord with the Word of God, which according to the LCA Constitution is ‘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.’

        If Fred and Siegfried didn’t have misogyny at the back of their mind, why did they pick on texts from Paul, to support the case against ordination of women, rather than draw conclusions from the gospels?

        The Bible has never been a good place to go to for advice on equality, democracy, freedom of speech or the rule of law. If I’d written this stuff 400 years ago I’d have been burnt at the stake, with people using a swag of ancient texts to justifying their actions. I would certainly not have been supported by the superstitious, misogynist, anti-Semite Martin Luther.

        If things have changed since 1950, one can only presume that one or other members of the Triune God has changed ‘his’ mind on this matter to fit in with the wishes of some of the parishioners of Lutheran churches in Australia.

        Can this god change ‘his’ mind?

        If I read you correctly you presume to think so.

        If you believe that if follows that you no longer believe in the divinely inspired inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. If you no longer believe that, just what do you believe? Indeed, which parts of the Bible can you believe? How pick-and-choosey can you get?

        Lutheran theologians have always been guilty of selective evidence-based religion.

        This is why I believe that if the Synod votes to ordain women it will bring down the LCA as we know it. Either generations of Lutherans have been lied to, or the Bible can no longer be trusted as a reliable source of divine inspiration and guidance – or The Triune God has changed ‘his’ mind. If ‘he’ has changed ‘his’ mind then there should be a place we can look for the confirmation of this revelation!

        The LCA is in a cleft stick.

        If Siegfried and Fred were with us today, would they be inclined to modify their Statement? Would they move a motion at the next Synod to amend their Statement?

        However ‘benignly’ your father may have been to the efforts of your wife to promote equality within the LCA, he wasn’t moved enough to rush up to Archer St with an amended statement.

        Friedemann, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I don’t think it is up to children to seek to justify the beliefs of their parents or the generations before them. Regardless of how you might interpret Deuteronomy 5:9 or its corollary, you don’t have to stick up for your Dad. None of us have to do that. I certainly don’t expect my children to stick up for my beliefs.

        What Fred Blaess and your father wrote is what the LCA authorised and is what it still authorises as its doctrinal statement on the ordination of women. The longer it stands on the statutes the stronger the smell, the greater the offense to women and girls in the Lutheran Church of Australia.

        Certainly the LCA has had over 60 years to amend this statement but it still stands as LCA dogma on its website. I haven’t heard of any Lutheran theologian banging a thesis on the door of either Bethlehem or St Stephens churches demanding that it be repealed.

        The proponents of the ordination of women have done nothing to repeal it either.

        Friedemann you write: ‘The question of women’s ordination is not a doctrinal issue and therefore does not require a two-thirds majority at Synod!’

        I beg your pardon. Read the statement. The heading is, ‘DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS AND THEOLOGICAL OPINIONS OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA – A11-A13′

        Which part of ‘DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS AND THEOLOGICAL OPINIONS’ don’t you understand?

        Friedemann you write: “It is unhistorical and offensive for John Miller to speak of a misogynistic Blaess/Hebart/Semmler triumvirate; and for him to add that ‘Jesus would vote against Blaess, Hebart and Semmler’ is utterly unacceptable.’

        As for ‘unhistorical’ the facts speak for themselves. The Doctrinal Statement co-written by your father still stands. As for being ‘offensive’ I’m just stating the bleeding obvious. I’m sorry if you’re offended. I stand by the comment that Jesus would probably side with women before he sided with Paul, after all it was Jesus who gave Paul a hiding on the road to Damascus.

        Jesus and Paul had absolutely nothing in common; completely different philosophies and personalities. I don’t know why anyone would take the advice of a known criminal for the Word of God.

        As for His Grace, the Most Reverend Bishop Henderson, he’s in a cleft stick. It will be best to leave the matter in the hands of the Members of the LCA and let them decide for themselves what they want without clerical interference. After all it’s their church and they can do what they like with it.

        It would also be sporting of His Grace to stick to the meeting rules of the LCA Constitution and the rules laid down by the South Australian Association’s Act.

        What is offensive, Friedemann, is when the LCA doesn’t play by the rules and bullies is Members and parishioners, particularly women.

        It’s offensive when the clergy gives the Synod the brush off (refusing to vote on motions put forward by Members) telling them to wait another three years for recommendations to come from the General Pastors Conference.

        As for me I don’t know where you got the idea that I’m ‘angry’. As a long time member of the LCA I’m just interested to see how this is going to play out and whether there are any parishioners left by the time the matter is resolved.

        It’s interesting watching from the sidelines the power struggle between the clergy and the laity. I wouldn’t bet on the clergy for much longer. After 400 years their time might be up.

        Where I come from the people who pay the pipers have the right to call the tune.

         
        • Katie and Martin

          May 18, 2013 at 12:03 am

          Thanks for your ongoing input John.
          We would appreciate if you would find a way to state your thoughts in a calm, objective manner. Friedemann and you both have good points to make: Friedemann’s father, was a product of his time, but at the same time he stands accountable (presumably it was his best effort) for his contribution to the language that went into the documents of Union.
          Please remember that email is a difficult medium in which to conduct a conversation when differences of opinion are held. Therefore some reserve is required in order to maintain a continuing conversation.

           
          • John Miller

            May 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

            K&M

            I appreciate your comment. I’ll do my best.

            ‘…. a product of his time.’

            I’ve been thinking about this. When it comes to ecclesiastical matters I’m not sure this is a very sound defence. If you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, unchallengeable Word of the Triune God, then it doesn’t much matter when in time you write a judgement based on a particular text. Unlike the law of the land, you can’t change the law. You’re stuck with it.

            If one believes that what Paul wrote about women was the Word of God, then what he wrote stands unchangeable and unchallengeable for all time.

            On that basis, Blaess and Hebart would (I presume) have believed that what they wrote was right for all time.

            If you’re going to challenge what Blaess and Hebart have written, then there’s the risk of shaking the very foundations upon which one’s stance on inerrancy and infallibility rest.

            As I’ve said in previous posts I think it’s baloney to believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. One only needs to read it closely to see that it’s not. I rest my case with the appalling, despicable Genesis 19v8.

            It’s my belief that the judgement of Blaess and Hebart was swayed by their choice of the wrong texts. It was a perfunctory piece of work. Had they chosen other texts, or considered what Jesus himself may have thought of the matter, they may well have come to a different conclusion and saved the LCA from a lot of bother 60 years later.

            They didn’t start with the premise, ‘What should be the role of women in the church?’

            The committee designated to research this matter was too narrow in its composition. If it had contained people of the calibre of Mrs Hebart junior, I’m sure the statement would have been very different. In fact I would be interested to know her views on this matter.

            The history of the religions based on the god of the ancient Hebrews/Israelites/Palestinians (the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions) has always been one of inequality of minorities, whether they be blacks, slaves, women, homosexuals … On the subject of women, you only have to visit most countries of the Middle East – or Lakemba – to see that misogyny is still in full force and (presumably) supported by the god these people worship.

            That is has taken so long for the LCA to face its misogyny demons is not surprising, but it is here and must be dealt with – not swept under the carpet as it was at the most recent Synod.

            Keep in mind though that if women are given the keys to all offices within the church, then such access may well tear the church/association apart. (Always keep in mind that the LCA is an association, bound by the rules of the South Australian Associations Act, in Law, if not in practice.)

            On the other hand, if women are not given the keys to all offices that may well tear the church apart as well.

            (Also keep in mind that men don’t have access to all offices of the church either. The senior roles within the association are reserved for the clergy. Democracy is still not the strong suite of the LCA. The change in title from ‘president’ to ‘Bishop’ was a retrograde step, entrenching ecclesiastical power.)

            Friedemann, if you’re reading this, when did you first find out about the Blaess/Hebart Misogyny Statement?

            Regards and best wishes

            John

             
          • Katie and Martin

            May 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm

            You have highlighted the anti-intellectual dilemmas that face conservatives within the Church. It’s trite to say that one thing is inerrant and not accept that the next thing is also inerrant and infallible. An intelligent, learned reading of Scripture has to concede that human influence and error or sin in the writing is part of the mortar of Scripture. That doesn’t undermine the authority of Scripture, it simply demands a more balanced and layered approach to what God might be revealing to us.
            Whether the Church is split asunder will depend on whether folk are willing to live with diversity within their faith, as they do in every other aspect of their lives. People will do what they need to do. If conservatives leave when women are ordained, so be it, however, the ordination of women will not be a surprise to anyone. Most people will be happy to stay and experience the changes, discovering that there was little to be concerned about.
            If conservatives forge a new synod their collective footprint will be minimal.

             
      • Katie and Martin

        May 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm

        Thanks Friedemann. It’s great to get that historical input into the formation of agreement and documents that allowed the union to go ahead.
        Certain elderly people we speak to would never do anything to threaten the union, having experienced that difficult journey and presumably knowing how fragile the union is.
        Did we ever really unite? Some LCA members would feel very much at home in LCMS while others would feel at home in ELCA (America). (Generally that’s an ELCA/UELCA split)
        It would be helpful to revisit the statements underpinning the union. Perhaps that way we really could form a long-lasting union that allowed for diversity of theology under the Confessions.

         

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