By Larry Beane
Pan-Lutheran organizations have always been troublesome to confessional Lutherans. We don't want to give the impression of theological agreement when there is no agreement. We don't want to imply fellowship when there isn't. But in the past, it was much easier to cooperate in some matters not involving sacramental fellowship.
But that's different today.
With several "Lutheran" bodies in the United States and in the world denying the authority of Holy Scripture in matters of the created order of sex (now cleverly spiritualized by the euphemism "gender"), such cooperation has become nettlesome, to say the least. The "gender" issue manifests itself primarily in the Christian world in two ways: women's "ordination" and homosexual "marriage."
Most who advocate one, advocate both - as indeed this is intellectually and hermeneutically consistent. Some denounce homosexual marriage while paradoxically accepting female "ordination" - straining the gnat of a woman being a "husband," while swallowing the camel of a woman being a "reverend father."
And so this dichotomy makes for strange bedfellows.
It's a slam-dunk that we're not really going to have much overlap with the ELCA. Aside from some awkward pre-existing conditions, such as the joint ELCA-LCMS parochial school in the next town over from where I serve, and Valpo (where an LCMS pastor who openly promotes women's "ordination" is protected by the COP bureaucracy), we're not likely to rub elbows with those who worship goddesses.
But there are worldwide and domestic bodies with whom the LCMS is in dialogue or even partnership, organizations that have women wearing clerical collars. And what to do about these situations is more tricky.
But the real devil is in Pan-Lutheranism.
One example is Thrivent. Many people have insurance and investment accounts with this "Pan-Lutheran" company. They also put out a glossy magazine featuring "Lutheran pastors" of both sexes. This serves to "normalize" something that ought to not merely be incongruous, but repugnant: women wearing clerical garb and using titles of the office of the holy ministry.
And here (click ahead to pages 12 and 13) is a recent example from another "Pan-Lutheran" organization: Lutherans For Life.
While championing sexual purity, they are promoting an unbiblical sexual situation by featuring an article by a lady "pastor." They are nodding to the very feminism that has slaughtered sixty million unborn children. LFL's contact info is here.
I believe we need to speak clearly and firmly on this issue. Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering persecution for opposing feminism's triple-horned beast of women's ordination, homosexual marriage, and infanticide. We are desperately trying to raise our sons and daughters to respect the biblical order of creation and the complementarity between the sexes - which is anathema to modern feminism, both inside and outside the church. To have copies of these magazines (that portray women in collars) in our homes is akin to having normalized pictures of gay couples imitating Christian marriage. Such images - especially in a Lutheran context - teach the very opposite of how we catechize our young (and older) people in the sixth commandment and in the authority of God's Word.
The issue of women's "ordination" refuses to go away in the LCMS. And indeed, there is more and more toleration of individual woman "preachers" whose celebrity status seems to be beguiling some in our communion. Feminism has been insidious and seductive (to both sexes) from the beginning.
So maybe it's time to say goodbye to the chimera Pan for the sake of the Gospel and for the clarity of our confession.