Friday, November 19, 2010

The LCMS and Women's "Ordination"

By Larry Beane

One of the great things the LCMS has been doing over the last several years is forging international contact, and in some cases, agreements, with confessional Lutheran churches around the world.  Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne has been on the cutting edge in fostering struggling Lutherans the world over with the provision of theological education, as in the heroic and ambitious Russian Project (see "For the Life of the World," Dec 1997 article on page 10) led by Rev. Dr. Tim Quill.  In fact, we're finally seeing what appears to be the blossom of full altar and pulpit fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, as we have now declared doctrinal agreement with that church after many years of talks, often peppered with seemingly ridiculous bureaucratic dithering on the part of the previous LCMS leadership.

Those days appear to be over, and thankfully so!

When it comes to supporting churches around the world, the LCMS brings great strengths to the table: sound theological education, a rigorous confessional reputation, and money.  It is a great boon to be recognized and nurtured by the LCMS.  And as a result, we Americans are able to help traditional and confessional Lutheranism to spread and thrive around the world.  And as is always the case, our brothers and sisters the world over provide us with shining examples of faithfulness in distress, and courage under fire, that in turn serve to inspire and support the evangelical and catholic faith in other places as well.

One of the things we should have learned from all of these international contacts is just how dangerous and evil women's "ordination" is.  It is not simply an aberration, a speedbump to unity, bad practice, or something to be tolerated.  Rather, it is a Satanic cancer that has infected the Body of Christ and, as former Church of Sweden "pastor" Ulla Hindbeck argues, something that will "lead people directly to condemnation."

The current angst and uproar over the approval of homosexuality in many worldwide Lutheran bodies is traceable to the movement to "ordain" women.  Scandinavian Lutherans led the way in the late 1940s, with Sweden beginning to "ordain" its first women in 1960.  The mockery of traditional vocations regarding human sexuality went so far as explicit and blasphemous pornography depicting Jesus and the disciples as homosexuals being displayed in the Swedish Cathedral at Uppsala with the blessing of Archbishop K.G. Hammar - only 38 years after the first female "ordinations."

In every country where confessional Lutheranism has been persecuted from within, women's "ordination" is not only a common practice, but is the touchstone and the fountainhead.  For the hierarchy of the Church of Sweden, women's "ordination" is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls.  Candidates for holy ministry must take communion from the hand of a priestess in order to prove fealty.  Since the repeal of the "conscience clause" in 1982, there have been restrictions against ordination and against pastoral promotion for opponents of women's "ordination."  The glass ceiling in such feminist-dominated church bodies applies only to male ministers who still believe in Holy Scripture.

The Scandinavian glass ceiling was at last broken in 2005, when Kenya's archbishop Walter Obare (Sabre of Boldness 2006) boldly consecrated Arne Olsson to be a Mission Province bishop for the persecuted faithful in captivity within the apostate Church of Sweden. Bishop Obare's support of Biblical Christianity in Sweden initiated a firestorm of controversy including this courageous exchange with the aforementioned Archbishop Hammar a year before Bishop Olsson's consecration.  Archbishop Obare's resistance has had felicitous results for the faith.  One of the consequences is that Finland likewise now has a Mission Province bishop and a route to priestly ordination for faithful candidates for ministry (for the first time in a decade) in defiance of a Mother Church that has come to resemble an ecclesiastically nightmarish version of an abusive "Mommie Dearest."

Even though the LCMS doesn't "ordain" women, there is a toleration for those who accept it, or even agitate for it.  And even among those who believe W"O" is wrong, there are many who accept its validity to some degree or another.  I wonder how many pastors and laypeople in the LCMS realize just how evil this deviant theology - which veers from both Scripture and ancient catholic tradition - truly is.

This is one reason I had written this objection two years ago to LCMS ties to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia.  Such arrangements are confusing, especially to young church workers, who are put into a situation that appears to be endorsement of female clerics.  One person read my blog and confessed to me that she had spent a year in Slovakia as a young "missionary" - sent by the LCMS - and that she took "communion" from a female "minister" the entire time, never having been informed that this was wrong.

This should not be.

I am greatly concerned that even within the conservative LCMS, there may be an underlying agenda to "normalize" the abomination of women "pastors" in Christian churches - or at very least, encourage us to see it as a minor evil.  And I am also concerned that such an agenda may take advantage of the goodwill of genuinely confessional pastors and faithful synodical officials when it comes to cooperation with sects that endorse the Satanic practice of female "ordination."

I'm concerned that we might be playing with fire here.

It is one reason I'm not personally comfortable with any cooperation with the ELCA - not even in matters like malaria prevention.  For no cause - no matter how genuine and noble - is worth the spiritual harm of exposing faithful LCMS pastors and laypeople to the specter of women wearing clerical collars and answering to "pastor."  We still have such cooperation in joint LCMS-ELCA schools, chaplaincy, the aforementioned malaria project, and Thrivent.  Membership in the latter includes a subscription to a magazine that shamelessly uses "Pastor" and "Rev." before the names of women and will show pictures of collared women without any hint that this is a diabolical ruse to confuse the faithful and to mock God's Word and the Incarnate One.

This is why I am concerned with the recent announcement of the LCMS signing a working agreement with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, which claims to ordain women.  This is not altar and pulpit fellowship, but rather a call for the "two churches to have regular contact between the church leadership, the holding of theological lectures and convocations, and invitations to each other's theological presentations" as well as "cooperation in diakonal work."

I am really concerned about unintended consequences here.  How will this be interpreted?

Now, it may well be that the Silesian practice of W"O" is actually being mothballed, and it is going to take time to back out of it.  I hope this is the case.  This happened with the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, with which the LCMS shares fellowship, and it was a rare example of putting the toothpaste of female "ordination" back into the tube.  While there are "pastors" emeriti (emeritae?) in Latvia who lack the biological necessities for ministry, they have all been removed from any active service in the church.  The Latvian archbishop and leadership is strongly biblical and confessional, and they did overcome the burden of W"O" imposed on them in their days as a Soviet Socialist Republic.

Perhaps this is the case with Silesia.  I would feel a lot more comfortable if our own church leadership would clarify this matter.  I am in no position to speak for the many heroic Lutherans around the world who are struggling to remain faithful and who are looking to the LCMS for leadership and support, but I am reasonably certain that the last thing they would want to see is an LCMS even appearing to "go wobbly" in the face of the feminist juggernaut of western culture.

I am certainly not arguing that our current administration is in any way sympathetic to women's "ordination."  Nothing could be more clear than our synodical leadership's thoughtful and articulate opposition.  My question is one of policy.  I am just wondering out loud if this is the right thing to do.  Perhaps it is, and I hope it is!  I would love to be able to support this arrangement, but for now, I'm afraid the jury is out.

We live in a messy, fallen world.  Perhaps such "working agreements" are the best way to move forward and to bolster our more conservative brothers and sisters.  But there is also the real possibility that this only serves to give less than a clear confession to the world regarding something as foundational as the office of the holy ministry.


  1. I thought the ELCA backed out of the Malaria Initiative...

  2. Fr Hollywood,

    A perusal of the brief Wikipedia article on the Silesian Church that you linked to is illuminating.

    According to the article, the Silesian Church is an LWF body that until recently had links with the ELCA, but those links were terminated in 2009 "due to changes in moral policy of ELCA." This suggests to me that our Synod's approach to the Silesian Church may be a tactical move, in the hope that their negative reaction to the continuing liberalization of the ELCA may be an opportunity for them to appreciate the errors that have led the ELCA to where it is today -- including, in particular, the purported ordination of women. This may be the best time to engage the Silesian Church and encourage them to return to the tradition of the Church.

  3. Dear Chris:

    Yes, that is my hope.

    However, a lot of the current angst against the ELCA is directed only toward homosexuality - as evidenced by the new denomination of congregations that have left the ELCA to form another more conservative group that, while denouncing homosexuality, continues to support women's "ordination."

    I would like to have some clarification about what is going on in the Silesian body and what the "working arrangement" will look like in the real world. It would be nice to have assurances that situations like young LCMS church workers taking "communion" from women "pastors" unawares (as has been, and may still be, the case in Brataslava) would cease.

  4. The dangers in trying to move closer to erring bodies and bring them into alignment with the Scriptures is that you might be tempted to move yourself closer to them theologically for sake of "unity" - as though unity comes at the expense of the truth.

    While I don't see this as adding to whatever pressures there are for Women's Ordination within the LCMS, I think it highlights the folly we have had in our idea of "missions" as being primarily service oriented instead of being focused on sending trained pastors to do the preaching and teaching of the Gospel.

    If we want to send social-style workers, fantastic - but let them know that they will be strangers in a strange land, and that everything is not hunky dory with what they do.

    But then... that might sound "unloving" - and I've rarely known a "mission" minded exec to wish to sound anything close to "unloving". Maybe this will improve.

  5. I am one without authority to have an opinion on this matter and without knowledge to comment on it. Yet, as I ponder the issue at hand in this article, the ordination of women, I cannot help but lament the loss of the Biblical Order of Creation.

    The argument of the slippery slope is quite often the weakest argument one can make; quite often, but not always. When growing out of the reality that many church bodies no longer hold steadfastly to the man having received the first preached Word of God to His creation in Genesis 2:15. This happens prior to any creation of woman and, therefore, by it established that man was to preach this same word to his helper to keep her from transgression against the Word of God, as well as preach it to their progeny. It is when the man, as Louis Brighton so fondly would say, "becomes the first feminist," by separating himself from the God given order of Creation by not preaching the Word to his helper when she came to him with the fruit.
    The slippery slope to woman's ordination or homosexual ordination and "loving" acceptance is not that hard to grasp or conceive of when created order is tossed out the window and becomes an evil to individualized human progression. Even though it is not hard to grasp for some, it is hard to say that the ordination of women, anti-child birth control, homosexuality, and divorce all stem from the same rebellion against God and His order and design. But that is Biblical Truth.
    Perhaps the greatest evil, and the root of the problem, is that we have men in this church body who do not believe the Biblical narrative to be authoritative. They do not believe that God rules the earth in Jesus Christ! Whoa! To say that is mind-boggling, alas true as far as I can reckon. When scripture is no longer preached and taught in the churches, and the Word of God first preached to Man in the Garden is lost and the mumbling speech of the serpent replaces it...what else can happen than the rejection of the Order? We are not complex creatures. We fall into the same traps our parents did.

    These are the thoughts of a nobody. Do not take them seriously at all. Pray for my soul and that it may be stripped of all pride and arrogance. Amen.

  6. Ugh...please excuse the terrible prose and lack of sentence structure.

  7. Dear Larry,

    In the comment above you said, “I would like to have some clarification about what is going on in the Silesian body and what the "working arrangement" will look like in the real world. It would be nice to have assurances that situations like young LCMS church workers taking "communion" from women "pastors" unawares (as has been, and may still be, the case in Brataslava) would cease.”

    With all matters that Pres. Harrison’s administration is involved with, I suggest you contact Dr. Al Collver directly before posting articles. I spoke with him yesterday about the working agreement with Silesia and was encouraged by what he told me.

    He said the Silesian church has not ordained any women in a number of years. (Maybe ten? Not sure.) That church is in the process of realligning its theological allies and has reached out to the LCMS for theological training—similar to situations where we send our sem profs to other countries to offer seminary training and continuing ed convocations. It is a church that is divided, perhaps similar to all churches, and certainly to our own. But some elements want to move that church in our direction.

    As for LCMS church workers taking “communion” from priestesses, it is the duty of all pastors—in synodical leadership, at seminaries, on the mission board, and in local congregations—to catechize all of our people about what God’s Word says about communion fellowship and who may be a pastor. I imagine there are people within our Synod who would gladly forget about these things and would lead their people astray. But Pres. Harrison and his team are not among those people.


    Ben Mayes in St. Louis

  8. Dear Ben:

    I'm glad to hear of the way things are moving in the Silesian Church. That is good news indeed.

    I am a little taken aback by your statement: "With all matters that Pres. Harrison’s administration is involved with, I suggest you contact Dr. Al Collver directly before posting articles."

    Maybe it sounds different than how you meant it to come out.

    I'll just leave it at that, and wish you a happy day of giving thanks with you and your family!

  9. It wasn't my intention to give instructions. I apologize for the way that came across. What I meant to say is that if you have questions about what's behind the scenes, you can ask directly and then post answers instead of questions. Thanks for your vigilance on this crucially important issue.

  10. I loved this comment in the post - "as well as "cooperation in diakonal work."

    How is the LCMS going to cooporate in "diakonal work" when the LCMS in convention, theological papers and presentations refuse to even have a diaconate?

    I can't stand how the LCMS misues theological terms time and again. Until the LCMS can figure out whether or not it wants to have a biblically instituted permanent diaconate, don't use the terms! Sorry, deaconesses do not count.

  11. Would it be amiss to impose the issue of the Deaconess program in the same train of thought here? Or is that something different? I see the Deaconess program a major source of confusion with our people when dealing with what women are "allowed" to do in the Church and what they aren't.

  12. You don't ordain women, you "just" deny Mary's perpetual virginity: yep, you sure got the moral upper-hand here... :-\ (Oh, boy...)

  13. I have never denied Mary's perpetual virginity. In fact, it's in our Book of Concord. But I accept your apology. ;-)

  14. A friend of mine, a retired Catholic priest (a priest for 30 years, and before that a Lutheran pastor ordained originally in the Augustana Synod) tells the story of how on one occasion, when reading from I Corinthians 15 at a service at his final Lutheran pastorate, as he read I Cor. 15:12 ("Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?") a notable "character" in the congregation shouted out "I never said that!"


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