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High stakes in October 2018 at the LCA General Convention

01 Mar

Women’s ordination is again on the agenda at the LCA national general convention in Sydney (Oct 2018).  It’s been around for generations and has repeatedly been turned down, needing to achieve two-thirds of the vote at General Convention.

While many have already left the LCA in search of a more tolerant and inclusive denomination there may be huge ramifications in October if the LCA again refuses to ordain women.

When Lutheran school teachers from Australia and NZ met in Adelaide (2017), one of the guest speakers was Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber from the ELCA (USA).   She was an inspirational speaker, providing encouragement for those struggling to remain within this denomination that has persisted in excluding women from leadership.

It’s humorous to recount that when she visited Australia on an earlier occasion, certain conservative clergy sneered at the thought that Nadia might have something to offer them in the way of preaching.  After all, she’s just a woman.  No, she’s not just a woman. She is a gifted woman with a powerful story, who brings many gifts because she is a woman.   She is a woman who happens to be clergy and she has a well-honed ability to preach the good news of God coming to live amongst us.  Coming to share God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s justice, God’s compassion  – all for those struggling in life in one way or another.

The response to Nadia Bolz-Weber was remarkable.  Many people were moved to tears and after her presentations the applause persisted and persisted. She answered questions that related some despair on the matter of women’s ordination.  No doubt there were individuals present who didn’t believe that women should be ordained, but we believe the response was an indication of what the people of the LCA think.

Australia’s contentious same-sex marriage survey was acted upon by Parliament in 2017.  Majority approval resulted in new legislation – contentious, yes, but that’s how it has to be to retain social stability. The alternatives are abusive and elitist, where those with power rule over those who have been marginalised.

There must be more evident democratic processes within the Church.  The majority view of the people should be enshrined in Church legislation. Currently an oligarchy and less than 40% of those voting at Synod, and logically (and generally speaking) the oldest and most conservative sector of the Church, have imposed their theology and their world view on the rest of the denomination – a recipe for revolution.  While some might argue that we have a theocracy that rules and protects our constitution, this is a fallacious argument as Church funding and the means for its very existence comes from individuals and congregations which ultimately can choose to withdraw that support.

Assuming no change of the voting proportion at the General Convention this year, these are the results of this theocratic gerrymander:

  • young people, other individuals and families gradually disappear from congregations and committees. (It has been happening for a long time.) Gradually, members, along with children and grand-children see no reason to continue to support a denomination that does not reflect God’s love or Biblical scholarship.
  • some progressive Church leaders leave the LCA, unable to remain in a denomination that pays no heed to God’s word on this matter. No one wants to live the rest of their life in a denomination that has lost its way.
  • with the loss of these individuals and families, the Church inevitably becomes more conservative and more out of touch with society.
  • some progressive congregations choose to break away from the LCA, no longer able to support an institution that continues to deny the need for democratic representation.
  • as the Church continues to lean right and away from social norms, rather than having more influence throughout its supposed faithfulness, the Church has less credibility in the manner it attempts to reveal God’s grace.
  • with the continued absence of women from leadership and reinforced male perspectives on relationships and power, the structures of domestic violence are strengthened.
  • women’s voice is reduced at all personal and committee levels of congregations, districts and national governance.
  • women are increasingly confined to gender-roles within the Church as men are lauded and women are disempowered.
  • the Church experiences a pious subjugation of women, with Scripture being used as a tool of subjugation, not dissimilar to the manner in which slavery was justified. Southern Baptist theologies come to mind.
  • general LCA theology leans further to the right on all matters, further alienating members who are engaged with society and grappling with evolving issues of justice and compassion.
  • the ensuing legalism and entrenched conservatism will have the LCA creeping closer to the sect-like Missouri Synod, and further away from the ELCA.
  • the decline of the LCA increases as congregations close.
  • the voice of the LCA becomes less significant on all matters.
  • the LCA becomes a small, insignificant denomination that retains just members who have been indoctrinated into a socially conservative view of the world, such as the Amish or Mennonites.

Without women’s ordination, without engaging with today’s issues and without something a little closer to democratic representation, the death or torpor of the LCA is assured.

On the other hand the LCA might embrace God’s ongoing creation and revelation, ordain women and have a decent go at speaking and living God’s word.

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18 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2018 in theology, women's ordination

 

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18 responses to “High stakes in October 2018 at the LCA General Convention

  1. Margaret Modra

    March 1, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    SSM has absolutely nothing to do with Women’s Ordination in the LCA/NZ, so please don’t include it. You are more likely to alienate people if you include it. I have often wondered where it states in the Bible that only men can be ordained. Does anyone know?

     
    • Christoph Donges

      March 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Generally people will refer toi

      1 Timothy 2:12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[a] she must be quiet.

      and

      1 Corinthians 14:34: The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

       
      • Margaret Modra

        March 2, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        I know, yet these texts have absolutely nothing to do with ordaining ONLY men!

         
        • tOB

          March 19, 2018 at 1:20 am

          You’re kidding, right?

           
        • extranosky

          March 19, 2018 at 2:21 pm

          Yes, they do.

           
    • Joanna Werner

      March 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      I’d like to know where it states that women can be ordained? There’s much more evidence in scripture for men to be in authorities positions in the church. Wouldn’t we rather be a church that follows scripture as closely as possible? Jesus said ‘my word is truth’. Not just the bits we choose. Big churches aren’t necessarily better and Jesus only had 12 disciples… Truth is what we need. Not to fit into the world. We’re not called to fit in.

       
      • Christoph Donges

        March 19, 2018 at 3:55 pm

        Jesus says no to divorce and remarriage but LCA says it’s A-OK. Is that ok with you? (Matthew 5:27-32; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18)

         
        • Joanna Werner

          March 19, 2018 at 6:13 pm

          ‘Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matt 19:16

          If the church is in error in it’s teaching it will be judged quite harshly for leading many astray (Matt 18:6, Revelations). The final authority is God not the church.

          Thankfully we have Jesus who saves us by grace not works so that no man should boast, but that does not mean we cease striving to live in his light and truth.

           
      • Margaret Modra

        March 19, 2018 at 5:07 pm

        Remember the story of the woman at the well? What did she do? She returned to her village to teach/preach/tell the people there about Jesus. After Jesus’ resurrection, who were the first people to see him? Women, who then went to His disciples to tell them the good news. You need to get Paul’s writings into perspective & the following might help: https://israelbiblecenter.com/paul-right-women/

         
        • Joanna Werner

          March 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm

          The woman at the well was not in authority over a man though just because she went back and told of her experience. Women in the church have many opportunities for ‘ministry’ without being ‘ordained’ but God is a God of order and He created an order in the Universe.

          ‘The structure of 1 Timothy 2:11–14 makes the reason why women cannot be pastors perfectly clear. Verse 13 begins with “for,” giving the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11–12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived” (verses 13–14). God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. The order of creation has universal application in the family (Ephesians 5:22–33) and in the church. ‘

          https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.gotquestions.org/amp/women-pastors.html

           
          • Margaret Modra

            March 19, 2018 at 5:59 pm

            The pastor is not the ‘boss’ of the congregation. That task belongs to the Church Council that can sack the pastor if necessary. Many congregations & parishes have females at chairpersons, therefore, these women have authority over the pastor & the congregation. Did you read the attached article that I included?
            Why was Paul telling the women to be quiet? Because they were discussing was Paul was telling the men sitting at the front of the assembly. Paul said that they should go home & ask their husbands. So maybe we now should have only men in our congregations & no women at all. Also, Paul states that women will be saved through childbirth. How does that sit with women who are unmarried or are unable to have children. According to this logic, there will be many women who miss out on Heaven.
            The Great Commission states – Go into all the world & preach the Gospel. Is this command for only men? I doubt it.

             
      • Katie and Martin

        March 23, 2018 at 10:36 pm

        Interpreting Scripture requires a hermeneutical method, an understanding of history and culture, and how people understood God and the world. If your hermeneutical method is, ‘The Bible says so’ then you are immediately in bed with slaughter, genocide, abuse, sexism.
        Progressive Christians want to stand back from particular verses, they want to get a broad view of other verses, to understand who Jesus is by what he did, how he loved the outcasts, how he dealt with the powerful, how he ate with the despised, how he stood against the paradigms of the day. They want to engage with a continuing creation and a growing understanding of who God is, what justice looks like, what needs to be done that God’s love is seen and experienced.
        They can’t rely on the old ways as the world is changing. They understand God differently. They have to view God through different lenses that we are given in every age.
        A view of God in 1950 is going to be different to a view of God today, because they see the world differently, perhaps more clearly. Some things were not even issues back then. National Geographic now confesses its racism in the past. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-23/national-geographics-decision-to-admit-its-racist-past/9565918 They understand that their forebears were more racist back then, but they were products of their time. They understand some things differently today. They have a different understanding of what they think is important to God.

         
        • Joanna Werner

          March 25, 2018 at 1:42 pm

          Sorry but it sounds like a different God that the so called progressive Christians want to worship then…

          Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas…’

          Jesus accepted the Old Testament and inspired the writings of the New Testament. He ‘did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…’ Philippians 2:5-11

          ‘But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every individual man, just as a man is the “head” of the woman and God is the head of Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 11:3

           
          • Joanna Werner

            March 25, 2018 at 10:10 pm

            ‘We do not raise the status of women by convincing them that they need to be men. Though women can and should be allowed to do most of the jobs traditionally filled by men—bringing to them a feminine sensibility—they cannot and never will be biological and spiritual fathers.

            Those who insist otherwise effectively deny that which is noble and holy about being wives and mothers- biological and spiritual—in the plan by which God
            intends to redeem his creation.’

            I found this quote written by a woman who was originally ordained as a Lutheran minister in another country but came to see the error in this.

            https://www.ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/ZWOMORD.HTM

             
          • Phil

            August 29, 2018 at 6:32 pm

            Great responses Joanna, from somebody who clearly takes the time and effort to understand God’s word and reality. Paul makes it clear that the command for women to be silent in church (that is, to not be ordained ministers, as we would call them), is not from his own authority but is a commandment from God Himself.

            It is almost as if Paul had in mind our postmodern ‘progressive’ society when he stated so. This is markedly different to his teachings on other aspects of worship (eg, hair styles), which are merely his advice to the congregations of the time (much like his advice to avoid marriage if possible, which is not decreed by God).

            Paul doesn’t stop there but provides an explanation for God’s command, being that Adam was placed over Eve as the spiritual leader of creation, but that Eve usurped his authority by eating the forbidden fruit. From that perspective the issue is invested with profound theological significance, as both the church fathers and our Lutheran synod (once) understood.

            The progressives however, deliberately conflate these teachings by ignoring Paul’s caveats, lumping hair styles into the same basket as female ordination. 99% of the time I am sure it is due to ignorance, combined with a misplaced quasi-secular desire to make the church conform to the world. Thank God for our Synod and its two-thirds voting rule. The wisdom in this rule now becomes apparent.

            However, it appears that the progressives are determined to get their way in this breach of theology and Lutheran doctrine, and it is quite possible that they will. If they don’t get their way, and choose to start a breakaway synod then that would be a good outcome, as such a deep theological rift cannot be mended within a church. Likewise, if the church ordains women I will be severing my ties with the Lutheran Church given that it would be prepared to so flagrantly disregard a command of God and repeal all that Luther has taught us. In fact, I came here in a search for other Lutherans who are thinking the same way, but sadly I have found exactly the opposite of that.

            Either way, the church faces an existential crisis thanks to the progressive movement. The one thing that is absolutely certain is that a progressive church will not stand the test of time but will melt away into oblivion, while the truth will live on forever.

             
  2. Christoph Donges

    March 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I agree with much of what you said but I am not sure what you mean by “with the continued absence of women from leadership and reinforced male perspectives on relationships and power, the structures of domestic violence are strengthened”?

     
    • Katie and Martin

      March 23, 2018 at 10:19 pm

      Without visible and central leadership of women there is, at least, implicit abusive theology happening, which supports the age-old phenomenon of domestic violence. In an Apartheid society, they may pretend it’s for the equal development of sub-cultures but they are not sharing the same privileges. Without women, minorities, disabilities, other genders in leadership we are stating by our actions and policies that these groups do not have God’s blessings in some way.
      Without women in leadership men continue to build up their gender exclusive ways and gender exclusive sermons, without even realising what is happening. You see, women by their very presence, challenge men in the way they interact, use power, negotiate and care for people. It’s different and complementary.

       
  3. johnmiller318

    March 15, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    K&M

    Maintain the rage.

    This is a very good letter. The words ‘theocracy’ and ‘oligarchy’ give it some punch.

    Ponder this: It’s very interesting that the interpretation of the word of God changes as religious organisations embrace democracy. The blasphemy laws are gone. Homosexuality is no longer a crime and homosexuals can marry.

    This time your vote should get up. Start stoking those branches.

    That’s enough.

    John

    On 01-Mar-18 4:51 PM, Katie and Martin’s Blog on the Lutheran Church in Australia wrote: > WordPress.com > Katie and Martin posted: “Women’s ordination is again on the agenda at > the LCA national general convention in Sydney (Oct 2018).  It’s been > around for generations and has repeatedly been turned down, needing to > achieve two-thirds of the vote at General Convention. While many have” >

     

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