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Defeat

03 Oct

269 yes, 145 no.  423 were registered.  That comes to around 63.6% – 4% short of the 67%.  The motion to allow both the ordination of women and men was defeated.  (67% being needed as this was deemed to a significant theological matter.)  Someone calculated that it failed by 13 votes.

We are now in the position where 37% of the church (extrapolating from the number of delegates) have authority over the other 63%. The LCA has shot itself in the foot.  Further women and men will be unable to remain in this Church, the pain being too great to continue.  Reports are that laity voted strongly in favour of women’s ordination while the clergy were not as supportive.  The clergy (many of them) are the problem in our Church.

Ex-President Mike Semmler, broke with convention and spoke from the floor, against women’s ordination.  Well, there’s no surprises there, despite his statement from previous years that people will be surprised when they learn his position.  He wanted speakers to be given more time to speak, to be able to speak again and he questioned the authority of the Chair, Bishop John Henderson.  His proposals, though time consuming, were roundly dismissed.

Thus far, there have been no initiatives from Bishop John Henderson to resolve this impasse.   (The following may contradict this earlier statement if the initiative has come from the Bishop. ) Ironically he is versed in the process of consensus making.  A motion was passed asking CTICR to prepare a theological case for the ordination of women (strange – they’ve done it twice before haven’t they?) for the 2018 Synod.  Can you believe it?  2018!  Another three years?  Already too many women and men have passed away waiting for women’s ordination.  This has been on the agenda of Synod since 2000 and another three years is unreasonable for many.

The following was tweeted by the #lcasynod folk:

We resolved to enter into a period of careful theological reflection and pastoral work to assist in maintaining unity and harmony”.

We have had generations to work on this and certainly since ‘Ordination, We’re Listening’ was established after Bishop Henderson’s installation.  Unity and harmony cannot be maintained when the minority have sway – thjs is aptly described as oppression.  Such lack of preparation is disappointing, given the open conversation we have all been encouraged to enter into.

Life in our Church does not continue as usual.  We must all consider our response.

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27 Comments

Posted by on October 3, 2015 in theology

 

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27 responses to “Defeat

  1. Wally Schiller

    October 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I don’t know where you get your information from, but it is not accurate. For starters, given that it was a secret ballot, there is NO way of knowing how clergy voted and how lay people voted. As for the continued vilification of former President Mike Semmler, your descriptions are both in error and libelous. I invite you to remove them.

     
    • Katie and Martin

      October 4, 2015 at 7:26 am

      Always open to correction. Let us know what is incorrect about the former President Mike Semmler. Concerning clergy, the straw poll at Pastors’ Conference was roughly 50/50, which does not reflect the Synod floor. When laity were invited to speak they spoke overwhelmingly in favour.

       
  2. John Miller

    October 4, 2015 at 5:19 am

    There are a few avenues.

    The LCA is a voluntary association that should be run by its members, not its employees.

    Change the Constitution. Remove the rights of employees of the LCA to have a vote at Annual General Meetings and Synod.

    If your minister voted against the wishes of the congregation, get rid of him.

    All that a theological (code for ecclesiastical) commission on the rights of members – both parishes and the people who support those parishes – will do is scour the Jewish Book of Misogyny for texts that support misogyny. It’s already been done and dusted in the Blaess-Hebart Misogyny Statement.

    The position is clear. What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand? The god of Blaess and Hebart is not on your side.

    Maybe it’s time to find a new god to believe in – or start believing in yourself. The best starting point would be to put on a pair of 21st Century spectacles and read your Bible.

    If God is not on your side, who is? Answer, the Australian, state and territory governments in their Human Rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

    If you want to establish a voluntary organisation in this country and register it under a state association’s act, then abide by the laws of the State. If you’re looking for the text, it’s here, Mark 12:17

    The South Australian Association’s Act is on your side.

    Finding quotes supporting decency, democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, abolition of slavery and gender equity in a book written between 5000 and 2000 years ago and which glorifies the exploits of criminals like Lot, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and Saul of Tarsus is a remote possibility.

    Flood the Commission with one question, ‘What would Jesus say?’

    Another approach is to wind up the LCA and transfer its assets to a new organisation that has a modern constitution and a modern, democratic framework. In particular the ‘excremental sandwich’ needs to be removed – see:

    https://katieandmartin.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/responding-to-the-easter-epistle-from-the-president/

    The LCA is currently acting illegally under of 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 …

    The refusal of the LCA to conduct an annual general meeting is also illegal. It’s corrupt. It’s out of touch. It thumbs it’s nose at fairness, decency and respect for women – but still expects them to serve tea and scones after church.

    This is an organisation that’s being run as a theocracy. It’s on the skids. Membership is declining. Unless it modernises itself it will gradually slide into obscurity.

    If a high proportion of individual LCA members no longer share the its values, it’s on the way to hell in a hand basket.

    If 63.6% of members decide to take their business elsewhere, the LCA is stuffed. The beginning of the end was heralded by the elevation of the title ‘President’ to ‘Bishop’.

    In this day and age, a theocracy is deader(sic) than faith without works! James 2:14-26

    The time may well be approaching when a congregation moves to wind up the organisation and transfer the assets to a new organisation run by members.

    Maybe it’s just best to walk away. You don’t have to put up with this crap! There is more to life than ecclesiastical nonsense.

     
    • tjschu

      October 4, 2015 at 11:24 am

      John Miller’s assessment of the current LCA situation is quite accurate – “The LCA is a voluntary association that should be run by its members, not its employees.” The pastors opposed to women’s ordination are fulfilling their calling according to 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5. Meanwhile the lay people desiring women’s ordination need to get on with their search for pastors who will say what they want them to say as foretold in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

       
      • Wally Schiller

        October 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        Well said.

         
      • Katie and Martin

        October 5, 2015 at 8:17 am

        Here is your logic:
        Pastors are the defenders of the faith.
        Lay people cannot be trusted to vote correctly.
        Pastors must be given extra voting power to ensure doctrinal purity.
        It’s okay for theological oppression within the Church as long as the oppression is done by the clergy.

        Your sound teaching would be scoffed at by the non-LCMS synods of the world and is scoffed at by most of the laity, who have decided that it is time for women’s ordination. Your teaching is also scoffed at by the CTICR who have twice decided with a majority vote that women’s ordination is not against the teaching within the Bible. CTICR have also been tasked with preparing a theological rationale for women’s ordination, and at last not a matching case for men only.
        While it may be true that the LCA has been accepting conservative candidates to the ministry and producing those same candidates as conservative pastors, that does not therefore give them any divine authority over the Church.
        The key issue is that Convention takes the pulse of the Church on issues and concerns, and the ‘pulse’ of the Church is for women’s ordination. No amount of proof-texting denies the fact that society has changed, which has altered the way we interpret Scripture (for Scripture should be forever new to us and continually interpreted in the light of every society and time).

         
        • Wally Schiller

          October 5, 2015 at 8:47 am

          Scoff as much as you like, it does not change what the Word of God speaks.

           
          • Katie and Martin

            October 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm

            There may come a time when you need to accept that interpretation of Scripture will change from time to time. What are your options when women’s ordination is finally introduced to the LCA?

             
        • tjschu

          October 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm

          “Katie and Martin”: This following comment of mine is an observation that’s meant to be taken as just that, and not intended to be judgmental, as I try to show why it is that the two sides on women’s ordination are so far apart.

          Many of those who oppose women’s ordination base their position on Scripture alone. Many of those who favour women’s ordination base their position on reason and Scripture.

          If that difference can’t be appreciated, then any discussion on this (and many other church issues) is heading nowhere.

          This is demonstrated in “Katie and Martin’s” reply in which they write: “…the fact that society has changed, which has altered the way we interpret Scripture…” You are correct that many other Lutheran synods today interpret Scripture in this way. In fact, reason also plays a significant role for Roman Catholics and Anglicans in their determination of doctrine.

          Historically from the beginning of Martin Luther’s call for reformation, “Scripture Alone” has been a basic principle of Lutheran theology. It’s a fact that this principle is in the DNA of the Lutheran church. It is often defined as “Scripture interprets Scripture.” Luther relied on a number of Bible passages to arrive at this principle including 2 Peter 1:19-21:

          “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

          So, it’s a question of whether Scripture is trusted to interpret Scripture, or as “Katie and Martin’s” words suggest, a changing society (or the “pulse”) is trusted to interpret Scripture.

          This is why calling for democracy or equality or common sense, or making legal threats, do not sway those who (whether you agree or not) are committed to the Lutheran principle of “Scripture Alone.” They would say that “Scripture Alone” is not democratic, God’s will is not always comprehensible, and God’s ways are not subservient to civil law.

          Again, I’m trying not to be judgmental as I try to define the differences, but it must be acknowledged that one side is defending their position with reason and the other with Scripture. As long as that is the case, it’s difficult to see any resolution on the issue of women’s ordination with the Lutheran church.

           
          • Katie and Martin

            October 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm

            We would say that theology should be based on Scripture using all the tools we have of interpreting Scripture, including historical and critical methodologies. If science comes up with evolution (which the LCA has no objection to) then perhaps God worked through evolution to create the myriad of plants and animals that we have today. Just because Scripture says that God created the world in six days doesn’t mean that all Christians need to believe the literal truth of the passage. https://katieandmartin.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/dear-dr-laura/

             
          • tjschu

            October 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm

            I appreciate Katie and Martin’s reply that begins with “We would say that theology…”

            I agree that that’s a fair example of the difference between the two sides, and an example of how that leads not to just a disagreement on women’s ordination, but also on the issue of creation/evolution and many other issues that will no doubt arise in the future. Thus the current divide.

            But even if we imagine a church in agreement on a historical critical methodology, there still will be division as reasonable people disagree and as the pulse of society changes. If the goal is either unity or clarity, a historical critical methodology cannot not deliver that.

            I do have to disagree with Katie and Martin’s statement that “the LCA has no objection to” evolution and the six-day creation. The LCA’s document titled “Genesis 1–3: A Doctrinal Statement” writes: “It is, however, necessary to state and confess what these chapters teach: 1. The creation ex nihilo – a creation from nothing – as a six-day work on the part of God…” (https://lca.box.com/shared/static/0dpb19c5dprnjt4jkbwzhkneiwksdkq3.pdf)

            My point remains, the issue that divides is not women’s ordination. The issue that divides is an adherence to different principles regarding the interpretation of Scripture.

             
          • Katie and Martin

            October 5, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            Yes, we can’t agree more with the last paragraph. This is something that the LCA has never come to terms with. It has been an issue since union.
            Regarding the penultimate paragraph, thanks for your reference. It is our understanding that the LCA sits happily with both creation and evolution. We can’t point to doctrinal papers but will research this.
            We would love to see the issue of hermeneutics discussed openly with the same vigour that women’s ordination has been discussed. I suspect that the LCA will, once again, be sitting on the fence – i.e. it is too difficult to decide. 🙂

             
          • tjschu

            October 5, 2015 at 3:33 pm

            Thanks to “Katie and Martin” for their replies and enlightenment.

             
          • outside observer

            October 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm

            For me as an outside observer, this is an interesting debate which clearly underlies the WO issue — and makes it a power question within this church:

            Indeed, exegeses and hermeneutic seem to be the key issues here.

            The simple question, then, to “tjschu” is, what Biblical “scripture” do you use in following Luther’s “Scripture alone” position? I doubt you’ll use his own German translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts, as many Australians would not be able to read German, and certainly not Luther’s German (however, if you should be a pastor, you may well be …). But even if, as a fully trained theologian you would be aware that every translation is essentially an interpretation of the source text, as there are no two languages in the world which translate 1:1. It’s so banal I doubt you would disagree …

            So, given that you may read an English translation of a modernised version of the German translation of Luther’s translations of the Greek and Hebrew sources of the 16th century who themselves are translations or summaries of earlier, and most of them oral, accounts — so where in this chain of interpretation, which actually continues in your own preaching = interpreting what YOU understand to be the meaning of the text on which you preach — so where does the “Word of God speak” [ultimately], as Wally Schiller states above?

            I think — and you may be surprised about this statement: — that indeed there can be no *clarity* but only *unity*! No clarity, because at every given moment of our communication you may hear and understand something quite different to – or perhaps even on the spot of – what I wanted to say. This is true for me as well. And at every given moment I have to be prepared that God speaks to me even through voices quite unexpected. “Scripture alone” may help me to identify God’s voice speaking to me through you. But on my side (and yours and everybody living) it will always be guess work, interpretation of what I have heard and what it may say to me at this day of my life.

            Interestingly, you quote 2 Peter 1,19-21 as “Scripture interprets Scripture”. Indeed, but contrary to what you are implying: No teaching of the Hebrew Bible can be interpreted by human agency alone, but only from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit has clearly spoken through the Saturday vote … You may have to reconsider your quote then …

            Therefore, unity: I have to acknowledge that you and others, even my wife or my brother, may have differing opinions and interpretations of the same observation we make. But what is the over-arching objective of our lives as Christians, and in particular in this church: Certainly to be part of the Mission of God. This brings us together and should keep us together.

            Furthermore, unity in diversity strengthens the community. I don’t belief that you seriously strive for a uniform church, which – as a human body – would be impossible in the first place. And you as a preacher, I assume, would also teach that Christ accepted into the midst of his followers sinners and saints, women and men, strong and weak, healthy and old …

            So, by 30x% of Lutherans, many of them male pastors, claiming authority over the interpretation of the Gospel and God Speaking to more than 60x% —- this means to deny the voice of God to be heard by those many people and many many more …

            And, after all, you are surely aware that the decision to make the WO issue a dogmatic topic requiring a 2/3 Synod approval, AND counting abstentions as NO —- this has got nothing to do with God speaking to the Church but very much with an attempt to manipulate.

            I am writing as a foreign observer, a fringe-dweller never really being accepted by Lutheran insiders. But more importantly, I can see in the eyes of rellies and many other Lutheran lay people how irritated and frustrated they are about this lack of unity in their church, and how this very problem even splits — all over again prior to Union — families and causes harm. Is this what you want?

             
  3. outside observer

    October 5, 2015 at 12:19 am

    outside observer

    October 5, 2015 at 12:17 am

    These seem to be the voting figures, from a Confessional Lutheran Website by a Pastor Peters, Clarksville, Tennessee :
    ——————
    “I am told the breakdown for the vote was:

    Pastors in favor of WO: 63
    Pastors opposed to WO: 75
    Laity in favor of WO: 206
    Laity opposed to WO: 70
    Abstentions: 9

    As is clearly noted, the majority of pastors are NOT in favor of the ordination of women but the delegates are stacked 2/3 lay and 1/3 clergy and this is where the majority numbers for changing the LCA stance has come.

    Not all was disappointing, a very fine confessional pastor, Andrew Pfeiffer, was elected Assistant Bishop (and without much of any opposition!).”
    ——————-
    It is amazing that this US pastor acknowledges the theological gap between the clergy and the laity in the LCA. This is an interesting question for the future of this church … and one that had, apparently, its precursor with Union in 1966 when the Australian Lutheran pastors had to be carried to Union by their lay people. It also raises fundamental questions at the training of these pastors.

    An outside observer

     
    • Katie and Martin

      October 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Interesting figures! It’s hard to know how these figures were determined. Another commenter says: “around 71% of lay delegates at Synod voted in favour of women’s ordination (based on 50% of pastor delegates voting against)”.

       
  4. MArtin Beach

    October 5, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Living in Korea, & not being particularly web adept, I’m not really up with all the latest developments. I see a bit of rancor & hitting below the belt on both sides of the argument, I really feel for women who believe they are called to ministry, as I have struggled with this issue my whole life. So far it hasn’t been God’s will that I should be ordained, & this may be a good thing given some of my own destructive tendencies. I have taken something of a prophetic role (as I see it) keeping in touch with my old mates from sem & trying to support them & speak my mind clearly and as honestly as I could. This however hasn’t prevented me from engaging in mild(?) forms of emotional blackmail from time to time.

    There are good arguments on both sides of the debate, several well known brothers by blood are on opposite sides of the debate. We have been warned that this is a reminder to be ready for the apocalypse. Yet we don’t know the day or hour or the 2nd coming. So we have to keep living our everyday life. It’s another one of those tensions in life that we have to come to terms with. In the world, not of the world. Loving ideological opponents & forgiving them 70 times 7. Sinning boldly & believing even more boldly.

    If people have messed with the LCA constitution, let God be the judge. What is democracy? Sometimes we forget that the old testament is a kind of theocracy, with a vengeful & merciful God. Others of us forget that in God’s eyes, there is neither male nor female, neither black, olive nor white, neither slave nor free (this in a time where civil liberties were minimal at best). Yet in the confines of the church, many people found peace & fulfilment. How can we offer this when outsiders only see the bitter fighting?

    This is no easy road to hoe. On the one hand (Rev 3;15) God will spit out the lukewarm, yet on the other we are called to agape, not philos. Agape doesn’t mean we have to like distasteful opinions, but it means we need to be prepared to give our lives for such people. That’s a pretty big call. But it’s what we’re called to do. And we need to avoid this kind of rancor such as is understandably coming out now. We have a higher calling. Let’s act in accord with that.

     
  5. outside observer

    October 5, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    > “Defeat”? — or “The Holy Spirit has spoken”!

    I don’t know who has coined the title of this blog entry, in line with the Synod reporting of the “NO Vote” as a summary of this outcome. Nothing could be less true. While I can’t say anything of the Synod procedures themselves, as I was not there, a plain and simple look at the figures shows the very opposite:

    – 75% of the laity voted in favour, 25% opposed (of 276)
    – of 138 pastors present, 45.6% in favour, 54.4% opposed.
    (I have not counted the absentees as their vote can not be determined, certainly not simply be counted as NO.)

    If these figures are correct, and I assume they are as they have been published by an WO opposing source, this result can be nothing more than the surprising effect of the Holy Spirit.

    The very numbers challenge the legitimacy of the NO position amongst the pastors and their followers amongst the laity. The Synod itself seems to have realised this in their post-vote resolution to prepare de-facto for the ordination of women. But the figures also very much question the training of the pastors in regards to an open theological dialogue with their congregation. For the LCA, I believe, this is an outcome even more difficult to handle than the WO issue as such: It questions the very core of the Lutheran theology studied and preached to the congregations every Sunday by more than half of the LCA pastors represented in this vote.

     
    • Katie and Martin

      October 8, 2015 at 8:13 am

      We can only guess at how laity and clergy voted.
      While you would think that 64% would be a victory, the imposed hurdles have resulted in defeat. The aim may have been to avoid schism but the human-imposed political requirements have resulted in the will of the people being ignored. Some folk will proudly say that the Church is not a democracy. Well, here is the result – a significant majority is deemed insufficient, a minority ruling over the majority and further people leaving in despair.
      Waiting another three years is just too long. Yes, WO will come, but despite the new CTICR task, there is no guarantee that it will be in three years.

       
      • outside observer

        October 8, 2015 at 8:45 am

        Well, yes, Katie and Martin, I can see and fully understand your frustration. And being aware how “Conservatives” operate, they surely will try do everything to have the numbers lowered at the next vote — fair play or not, and the hurdles being part of it.

        But I think, if there is not going to be a major change in the overall political climate in Australia and by extension the LCA, this vote clearly signals a far greater change in in the theological mood of the church. It not only questions the legitimacy of WO opponents fundamentally, but also the place of the LCA in the context of world Lutheranism (i.e. membership with the LWF), and it signals a major change in the underlying theology and the place of the church in the Australian society. Fundamentally, it challenges the choking stronghold of the “fundamentalists” over the church — louder and clearer than ever expected.

        Do we know how people have voted? Well, the basic figures are public, and I can’t believe that a conservative voice from the US, in opposition to WO and apparently quoting from an LCA Synod insider, would publish faulty figures. And, after all, the numbers for the clergy vote is roughly congruent with the Pastors’ conference announcement in the Synod documents.

        So, yes, you have not “won” WO, but I believe its a much larger price (if you can use this phrase here at all because of its underlying tragic) that you hold in your hands. Don’t throw it away, and please, don’t give up! Only people like you with positive visions keep this world (and this church) moving towards the better …

         
        • Katie and Martin

          October 8, 2015 at 9:32 pm

          Regarding the detailed figures posted online, a friend writes the following:

          “I am struggling to see how Pastor Peters from the USA or any informer to him from within synod could possibly have come up with figures quoted showing how many pastors and laity voted yes and no.

          “Firstly it was a secret ballot.
          “Secondly there was no differentiation between pastor and lay on the voting slips
          “Thirdly the team handing out the voting slips would not have known with any certainty which of the male delegates were pastors or lay.
          “Fourthly votes were randomly placed into three open baskets by each delegate in full view of all delegates
          “Finally votes were counted by a team of six on the stage while all delegates watched.
          “The only thing that I believe could be ascertained accurately from the registration process would be the number of pastors, the number of male lay delegates, the number of female lay delegates.

          “I believe that any claim to know the split between pastors and laity can only be purely speculative and quite mischievous. ”

           
          • outside observer

            October 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

            Katie and Martin, I do agree with your friend — it has been puzzling me as well … but there they are, and by all logic most likely not too far off reality …

             
  6. Robert Cunningham

    October 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Thankyou for your comments , outside observer ?

     
  7. John Miller

    October 7, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Victory

    Actually I wouldn’t count a 63% yes vote as a defeat. Victory is well and truly on it’s way. You can sniff it.

    The LCA should be proud that 63% of it’s Synod voted to stand up for the rights of women members of the LCA. Opening the door for women to be eligible for all offices within the LCA will be also be just one small tribute to the women of the Bible who had no vote and no power, among them, Sarah, Hagar, Leah, Rachael, Bilhah, Zilpa, Lot’s wife and her daughters, (surely Lot was the most despicable character in the Old Testament) Bathsheba, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, Abishag and the 1000 wives and concubines of Solomon.

    The CTICR won’t have to read too far into the Old Testament to prepare a case for the eligibility of women for ALL offices in the LCA.

     
  8. Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD.

    March 4, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Your choice The Word of God AND the command of Christ Jesus or the compliance with the worls around us. We are in the world but not of the world.

     
    • Katie and Martin

      March 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      The LCA has made clear that it is walking very slowly towards women’s ordination. Its members and pastors have stated that women’s ordination is not impeded by the Word of God. While your theology fits well with LC-MS, it no longer fits well with the LCA, which has made clear that issues from the modern world need to be confronted and responded to with all the theological tools available to us. It is no longer possible to suggest that it is a radical anti-Christian proposition, but just perhaps your intransigence reflects a reticence to examine how Christ engages with us in this ever-changing world.
      Jesus did not condemn slavery, but we do. We can’t say that Jesus was wrong, that wouldn’t make sense, but for some reason he decided not to confront the powers over this matter. We will not water down our opposition to slavery just because Jesus did not condemn it. Our sense of ethics and compassion make clear for us that we must not allow it.
      Women’s ordination is another matter that presents us with an imperative in the LCA. In terms of Church building, evangelism, pastoral care and equality it is the only thing that makes sense.

       
  9. outside observer

    March 6, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    As an outside observer, I am not sure whether it’s worth responding to this brief forum exchange between Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD and Katie and Martin.

    However, I have to admit that apart from the lack of punctuation in the first part Bahnerth’s brief response to John Miller’s contribution six months earlier, I was puzzled by the last ten words, “We are in the world but not of the world”.

    It made me feel sad and sorry, and then it made me angry.
    I felt sad because I realised that as a reader trying to understand the underlying issues behind this debate, I was just hit with a big war hammer — with the intention to kill, at least the discourse. So, why? While knowing nothing about Mr Bahnert, I was sad that a Doctor of Philosophy, so his signature, had to recourse to such a method. And I got angry because I was wondering about the use of this quote.

    I may not theologically be trained as well as the correspondent, and English is my second language. However, I assume that the Biblical reference, amongst the many other passages with a similar imagery, is the Gospel of John 17, 16: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

    This is part of Jesus’ prayer to his father, God, at the end of his mission to the world and just before his sufferings. It is an intercession, a prayer for his disciples, certainly not the statement of a self-acclaimed status of these early Christians as the followers of Jesus. Jesus is praying to God on behalf of those that “you have given me, for they are yours”. They, the disciples, believe in Jesus’ words and thus in God, and therefore the world hates them. Some of them, indeed, had to take up their “own cross” and paid for their faithfulness with their lives. Because Jesus himself cannot protect them any longer, he asks God to look after them.

    And then, Jesus continues his prayer (John 1, 15-19):
    —————-
    I do not ask that you take them out of the world,
    but that you keep them from the evil one.
    They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
    Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
    As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
    And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
    —————-
    We could have a debate about the interpretation of this text and the many similar references. There is no space in a Blog like this.

    However, I am really interested why a quote from Jesus’ last prayer before his sufferings and an intercession no less is being used to kill this discourse, and then even presented out of context? It’s true, as Christians we may be called — or, in this case: the disciples were elected — by God to be followers of Christ, in his Missio Dei. I know of many people who have paid for their faith with their lives, but to name just three, look into the biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, or Bishop Oscar Romero.

    Does anybody of us Christians here in Australia face a similar threat in life for his/her faith? No, or at least not yet …

    And, after all, what does this have to do with the pending issue at stake here, the Women’s Ordination? Nothing at all at first sight, but then it may be quite central again:
    • How come we men reject the calling by God, by the Holy Spirit or by Jesus of women into the Missio Dei?
    • How come we assert the right to judge as insignificant the sufferings that many of these women have experienced at the hands of men who decided that their calling was not worth consideration?
    • How come, we deny half (if not many more) of the church members the right to hear a hermeneutics of the Biblical text from a non-male perspective?
    • Why would be the hand that holds Bread and Wine in Communion, and the mouth that preaches the Word of God, be considered more important than the fellowship with the Holy Spirit at that very moment?

    Is this all too dangerous? Why?
    This is what really makes me angry.

     

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