Saturday, January 11, 2014

Women in Albs, Cinctures, and Stoles Appear to be Clergy


By Larry Beane

Here is yet another example of the witness to the world regarding the Christian doctrine of men and women and the theology of the Office of the Holy Ministry from a congregation of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, especially as evidenced by the caption under the picture in the article: "Pastor Roy Minnix and affiliated Clergy."

"and affiliated Clergy."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy, even all the while, those who allowed, encouraged, or bullied (whatever the case may be) these women to dress in this way might protest with a shocked (shocked!) look on their faces that anybody could possibly be scandalized: "But, but, they're not pastors, but, but, the stole is not worn over the shoulder, but, but, they're deaconesses (or deacons), etc. etc.

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

And we will hear the following from confessional pastors and deaconesses: "But, but, that's the Atlantic District..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, this is nothing new, it has been going on for years..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, the alb, cincture and stole are adiaphora..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, these women are just lay assistants who don't consecrate the elements..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, they're not part of the Concordia Deaconess Conference..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

This is the confession made before the world when these pictures and articles are published, when no-one is reprimanded, when nobody in authority addresses the problem, when excuses are made by pastors and lay people all along the political spectrum, when our polity ensures that pastors and professors who even go so far as to openly advocate for women's "ordination" are protected by their district presidents, and where district presidents seemingly enjoy carte blanche because of our polity.

Is this the confession the pastors and congregations of the LCMS want to be placed before the Church and the world?  Is this how we respect our partner church bodies around the world who have suffered for making the good confession regarding the roles of man and woman in ministry and in the marital union?

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

Does that even matter any more?  Does anyone in a position of authority in our church body care?  Will they say anything about this?  Will they do anything about this?  Can they do anything about this?  Or is it just business as usual that LCMS women wear albs, cinctures, and stoles, and that women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy?

Is this what the response will be?







25 comments:

  1. This is how liberalism creeps into orthodox churches. One small step at a time.

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  2. It's good to see that others are making the same kinds of observations the ACELC has been making officially for over three years. Of course, we're ignored, too. But then, what's new? How about checking out the upcoming Free Conference on the Office of the Holy Ministry in Cedar Falls, Iowa February 25th through 27th. Info at www.acelc.net

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  3. I most heartily agree with the Reverend Larry Beane; deaconesses dressed as deacons or pastors is unacceptable. There is a clear distinction between a pastor and a deaconess, Pastor Roy Minnix along with the DP Bishop allowing these women to dress up in male costume should be disciplined before the Synod. Pastor Beane is correct in stating that this picture is an insult to clergy who have paid an high price for remaining faithful to Holy Scripture. While we are on this subject, I have a question that has perplexed me. Why does the LCMS provide seminary training for deaconesses doing mercy ministry but no seminary training for deacons doing the same mercy ministry? in Acts Chapter 6, the seven male deacons were chosen for mercy ministry and we do not hear about Phoebe until Romans 16. I am not suggesting that we do away with deaconesses but why are we not training perpetual male deacons for the Church?

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    1. Because ultimately we want women pastors. Or at least we want to pacify the woman's movement.

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    2. why are we not training perpetual male deacons for the Church?

      Because, as I noted in my reply to Mr Schumacher below, our Lutheran fathers insisted that the office of the sacred ministry is a single office, and suppressed all "orders" within that single office. Thus there is no place in Lutheran theology for the order of deacon -- whether male or female.

      The office of "deaconess" within Lutheranism is a modern invention, wholly unconnected with the ancient office of deaconess or with the order of (male) deacon within the sacred ministry, as traditionally understood in the Church. The restoration among us of the order of deacon, as desirable as it might be in the abstract, as a practical matter would only add to the confusion of man-made offices within Lutheranism, and in particular would confuse the roles of deacon and deaconess and provide an opening for those who would like to find a way to have female pastors in the LCMS.

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  4. From Rev. Dr. Laurence White's paper "The Transformation of Missouri":

    "Once in power, conservative leaders were unable or unwilling to undo the profound changes which had occurred in the districts and congregations of the Synod during the years of moderate/liberal control. The District Presidents and the Council of Presidents had grown to new power and independence and it appeared that many had begun to view the Synod as a loose federation of quasi-independent districts, each free to determine its own policy and identity. Some districts openly flaunted synodical doctrine and practice and became havens for liberal refugees from the great war."

    You can download Rev. White's paper here:
    http://www.soundwitness.org/misc/transformation_of_missouri_1996.pdf

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  5. From Rev. White's 1996 paper, "The Transformation of Missouri":

    Behnken was the perfect “stalking horse” for those who believed that Old Missouri had to change. He was thoroughly conservative in his personal theology and therefore electable. But he was much less confrontational than the old president. The liberals believed that if they could elect Behnken they would be able to pursue their goals in relative safety and history proved them right.

    It's déjà vu all over again...

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  6. Having been a layman in the Atlantic District, I confess that the fault lies with me and other AD members who allowed our congregations to vote for the heterodox leaders that do this. Part of the problem is a lack of alternatives to the ruling clique. Confessional pastors need to have the courage to stand for election even when they don't think they will win, and even when they know it will get them in trouble with the Dear Leader and his junta.

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  7. Dear Pastor Beane,
    Yes, the response is predictable. Rev. President Harrison has the power to remove these DP's and clergy from office per President Kieschnick's direction during the Yankee stadium thing, but he will not do that. No one removes clergy and DP's for doctrines sake.

    In 1997 the Florida/Georgia district memorialized synod in the 1998 convention that open communion was ok. At the time DP Thomas Zehnder apologized IF his district resolution caused any confusion.

    No synodical follow up investigation. No removal from the ministry. No nothing has been done, nor will be done.

    Remember the Bishop Martin Stephan case. They accused him, but no trial. He did not get to question his accusers. They just put him in a boat and rowed him across the river. He was not defrocked. He went on to minister at Red Budd, IL.

    Steve Harris
    Subdeacon, St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church Kewanee,IL

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    1. Subdeacon Harris: "He [Martin Stephan] was not defrocked."

      Well, his assistants, who as Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse noted "actually were not of the clergy at all, but rather citizens and farmers, as we were, since they had relinquished their office in Europe and had no regular call, only the irregular one from Stephan" did "defrocked" Stephan when they passed the "Sentence of Deposition," to which the Missouri Saxons gathered in Perry county concurred, prior to taking Stephan to Illinois:

      "Therefore we declare you to have forefeited not only your perogatives as Bishop and your consecration to the office of the clergy, but also all rights and privileges as a member of the Christian church, 'by virtue of our office,' in the Name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

      The Trinity Lutheran congregation in Horse Prairie, IL was founded in 1842. In the fall of 1845, they called Martin Stephan as pastor, where he remained until his death on Feb. 26, 1846. In 1889, Trinity joined the Missouri Synod.

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    2. Thank you for the info concerning Bishop Stephan's "Sentence of Deposition,". Does history indicate that he had a trial where he could question his accusers? I visited his somewhat elusive grave at Trinity Red Bud, Il. Trinity is not sure where his bodily remains are located due to some disturbance about the time of the Civil War. I was mostly commenting on the manner of inquiry conducted. Was it proper? Was it Christian?

      But let us not stray too far from the original post topic. Women vested in the Atlantic District, and perhaps elsewhere, and the probable synodical response.

      Thanks,
      Stephen Harris, Subdeacon, Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kewanee, IL.

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    3. The LCMS president does not have the authority or power to remove a LCMS district president or a pastor.

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  8. Replies
    1. A subdeacon is an office of the minor clergy. In the early Church, there were multiple "orders" or "offices" within the sacred ministry: bishop, presbyter, deacon, subdeacon, reader, acolyte, exorcist, catechist, etc. Of these, the first three have traditionally been considered "major orders" and have always existed in all parts of the Church (well, at least until the Reformation). The others have historically been less stable; some Churches have used them, some have not. All of the minor orders have fallen into disuse in the Western Church. (Until fairly recently, seminarians training for the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church were ordained as readers and then as subdeacons while still in seminary. It is my understanding that this is no longer done, and the "minor orders" have now been entirely suppressed.) Readers and subdeacons are still ordained within the Eastern Orthodox Church, not just as stepping-stones to the priesthood, but as permanent offices in their own right.

      Within Lutheranism, in order to justify the ordination of pastors other than by validly consecrated bishops, our Lutheran fathers insisted that the sacred ministry was a single office, without any "orders" within it, and that "bishop" and "presbyter" were therefore simply two names for the same office. Thus at a stroke not only was the distinction between bishop and presbyter erased, but all of the other "orders" within the sacred ministry (deacon, subdeacon, etc.) were swept away. This makes it unclear how there comes to be a "subdeacon" in a Lutheran Church. However, one might say that it is within the power of the Church to establish (or to suppress) useful offices for the discharge of her ministry, and perhaps Mr Harris's congregation has done just that, in re-establishing an office which formerly existed in the early Church.

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    2. There is another perspective on the notion of a subdeacon that may be relevant here.

      In the traditional ceremonial of the Western Church, each of the orders has its own assigned role. For example, it is the role of the deacon to chant the Gospel. In a traditional high mass, even when all of the clergy serving are in priest's orders, it is customary for each cleric to vest according to the role he is serving. Thus, he who reads the Epistle will vest as a subdeacon and be referred to as "the subdeacon of the Mass" even if he is not, in fact, an ordained subdeacon.

      In those few Lutheran congregations where the traditional ceremonial is followed more or less closely, it may be customary for men who carry out the liturgical role of a subdeacon to be referred to by that title.

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  9. I think traditionally Lutheran deaconesses wore nun-like habits. No mistaking them for pastors.

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    1. I lived in Neuendettelsau (ZipCode 91564 @ www.meinestadt.de) from 2005-2010. Ate dinner in the restaurant whose upstairs housed the room where Loehe began the "deaconess program." Was hospitalized for a week in the Krankenhaus that he founded. Even took trumpet lessons in Loehe's parsonage. One percent of their 7,766 population are ordained men (and women!).

      The deaconesses there wear blue habits with white hats. They are NOT ordained and do NOT participate in the Gottesdienst. They do NOT teach confirmation or lead Bible studies. They have no worship duties whatsoever. Besides making communion hosts to distribute throughout the country and beyond, they take care of the elderly, sick and crippled. They resemble NOTHING like the Ft. Wayne seminary has.

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  10. Not writing to approve of the picture, it should be noted that the picture and story were in a newspaper, covered by a reporter, and the caption under the photo was written by the newspaper and not by members of the congregation, the Atlantic District, or anyone in the LCMS. Again, while not approving of what was pictured, I would hate to have my congregation judged by what has appeared in print in our local paper from time to time (and don't give me some protestation that you could ask for a retraction because we did here and it did not ever happen). Just saying this so that we are at least honest about who took, captioned, and printed the picture. It was not in any parish or district publication.

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    1. But that only proves the point: "Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy." That was the very mistake the reporter made.

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  11. Yes, I know, but really, can you imagine a circumstance in which someone like that would not get it wrong were this stranger to wander into a Divine Service? If we dismissed everything that could be misunderstood, the whole Divine Service would disappear. Example: Absolution following the general confession. This really proves only that a reporter who failed to get the actual names of the people in the photo or who wanted to short cut came up with a caption without thinking at all or asking.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. No one is talking about things that "could possibly be misunderstood." And Pr. Beane was upfront about the source of the caption...considering he linked to it. Any congregation that dresses up women like men deserves every judgey thought it receives--by virtue of their deeds, regardless of the author of some caption.

    The complaint is against something that is: firstly, utterly inappropriate and novel; and secondly, totally confusing because it is ridiculously inappropriate and novel.

    The missing-the-point nitpicking in the face of women acting in a mannish way is akin to fiddling while Rome burns.

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  13. Somewhere, Matt Becker is celebrating.

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  14. A point of order.

    It is not at all clear whether the migrant Saxon "Council" had any authority to either defrock or to excommunicate a poor sinful being (or even an embezzling or womanizing sinful being, for that matter). As Prof. Forster observes in Chapter 16 of Zion on the Mississippi, "Just how this 'Council' came into being, neither Vehse, who repeatedly referred to it [and here we pause to reflect that Scripture cannot be broken; for truly, there is nothing new under the sun -- MLA], nor anyone else has divulged. Its membership consisted of the men who signed Stephan's Sentence of Deposition. It is possible that purely for the sake of form an election may have been held, although that is nowhere recorded. It is difficult to see how this could have been done, with the groups of the Gesellschaft separated from each other for over a month. Nor does there seem to have to have been a clear definition of the function and powers of the Council. Its endowment with office and authority seems to have rested largely on its assumption of both."

    The professor goes on to suggest that, the Council was, in essence, the "heir" to the pre-migratory committee of the Gesellschaft. But he views both the "origin" and "scope" of the Council's powers as being unsettlingly indistinct. Whatever odd Hobbesian Leviathan the Council happened to be, there was no similarity to any previous ecclesial entity. It had not been selected by lots of the Church as a whole, as portrayed in Acts, for example; nor had it even been chosen through a Voters' Assembly balloting, this whether one happens to see such means as altogether "Supreme," or not.

    Nonetheless, in its Sentence of Deposition, formally signed on 30 May 1839, this self-appointed Council equated a rejection of its decisions with the rejection of "the Word of God, the church, the office [of the ministry], and all divine order (quoted by Forster, p.418)."

    Now, this is very high-handed stuff, perhaps even stuff veering towards heresy. Since when does a self-delegated polity of "insiders," one deigning to judge over matters both eccesial and temporal (see, e.g., Forster's discussion of the "theory" underpinning the Council's governance, p.416), sit at the right hand of God? And if its authority to excommunicate a human being was believed to rest primarily on the ordained status of some of the Council's members, then it certainly flies in the face of later pugnacious assertions by other Councilors that the migrant clergy lacked any congregational authority, whatsoever, because they had not been formally called, had resigned their offices back in Germany, etc., etc..

    The "Council" composed of the mob-inciting (mostly lay) and the mob-intimidated (mostly clergy), chose to take matters into their own hands, including the clothes of a bishop.

    In terms of usurping roguishness, then, the Council's efforts in 1839 to hurl anathemas while putting itself equal to the Word, differ little from those of the ladies driven to seize the clothes of a deacon or a presbyter 175 years later.

    Let us pray.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

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