Thursday, December 9, 2010

SELK: Reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated

An outspoken advocate of of the "ordination" of women, Rev. Matthew Becker, recently published an account of certain conversations within our German sister church, the SELK, on this topic. His report made it sound like the SELK was on the verge of breaking with catholic tradition and Dominical command regarding the ministry. A reader from within the SELK, Rev. Wilhelm Torgerson, asked us to publish his response:

The article bristles with mistakes and unproven assumptions.

1: It was not "a special Synod of the SELK" in Hesse-North. Rather it was

a district convention in SELK. At the end they did not pass a resolution calling

for the introduction of women's ordination. Rather their vote was a personal

response to the presentations made, like "how do you feel about it?"

I know, that's embarrassing enough! But since when do we vote in district

conventions about what doctrine is to be valid in the church at large?

2: It is true that the (majority of) professors in Oberursel is in favour of the

ordination of women; one (Dr. da Silva, the Brazilian) is opposed, another

(Dr. Klän) believes it to be "possible" according to his reading of New

Testament evidence, but he also believes that the Church is at liberty to

decide either way.

3: Absolutely wrong is the assertion that "many of the seminarians" are in favour;

the contrary is true, by far most of the students are opposed -- God be praised.

4: On what factual evidence does Becker base the assertion: "Clear majorities

in the SELK" favour women's ordination? Fact is, the Church in convention has

at least 7 times (in words: seven times!!) rejected the introduction of women's

ordination. Our problem is that the proponents of WO keep coming back to

every pastoral conference and to every general synod.

5: It is right to point out that to change the SELK constitution (including Art. 7)

a 2/3 affirmative vote is needed. Never once has even a simple majority for WO

been achieved -- except recently that odd vote in the district convention in

northern Hesse.

6: Here I want to place my personal opinion, which is shared by many of the

SELK clergy young and old: Should a general synod of the SELK ever get to

a 2/3 vote in favour of WO, that would mean the end of SELK as we know

it! Even many of the proponents know that, they are aware this danger -- and

for that reason even some of them will not vote in favour of WO.

7: Last point -- Becker calls the consultation process on WO "cordial, civil,

evangelical, fraternal and serious". How does he know that? Was he part of

this process -- or did he have some Wikeleaks informant who gave him the

inside lowdown?

The consultation process was (perhaps) necessary, but it was at times diffi-

cult, heart wrenching and extremely time consuming. An east / west divide

became evident in our church. The mission outreach of SELK in Germany

and its confessional witness to the nation almost came to a standstill --

because we were so caught up in discussing internal church problems.

Relationships have suffered; friendships broke down. All because the WO

proponents held on to the issue like a dog biting his bone.

My conclusion: The church at large and many members in the parishes are

just fed up and sick and tired of what in most congregations is a non-issue.


  1. Dear Dr. Torgerson,

    I am sorry for the personal cost this debate within the SELK has meant for you, but thank you for the report and the facts. It is heartening to hear that the majority of the present seminary students see the clear Scriptural mandate and submit to it, and also that more than 1/2 of the current Ministerium has been brought by the Holy Spirit to the same conclusion.

    Yours in Christ,

    Dave Petersen

  2. Forgive me for saying it, but when I read this:

    "Our problem is that the proponents of WO keep coming back to every pastoral conference and to every general synod."

    I have very little sympathy. The proponents of WO ought to be excommunicated or "disfellowshiped" or cast out. They will otherwise keep on bringing it up ad nauseam, and when they prevail, after a few short years of "tolerance" opponents of WO will be marginalized, and then those opposed to WO will be unable to be ordained. This happens everywhere the theological leprosy of WO gains admittance; and it also brings along the demons of femspeak and, of course, SS, in its train.

  3. Prof. Tighe,

    I can't speak for the folks in SELK, but on this side of the Atlantic: Yes, you've hit on a very important point.


  4. The correlation between women's ordination and gay ordination/same-sex marriage should also not be overlooked.

    Robert at

  5. I agree with Dr. Tighe. Not to criticize SELK - for we have a log in our own eye (in the LCMS) on this same issue. There are open advocates of W"O" in the LCMS and even submissions of resolutions and memorials to our conventions to that effect.

    And it is a problem with our being able to vote on doctrine. We eventually will end up with something like this:

    "All in favor that Jesus is God, say 'aye.' All opposed?" - with the golden calf of democracy determining dogma (which is to assert a relativistic view of truth, determined by bureaucratic majority). It calls to mind China's straight-faced decree that no lama in Tibet may reincarnate without permission from the Central Committee of the Party.

    The W"O" question is not one of policy but rather of dogma. It is a non-negotiable truth of God's Word. It should never be allowed to be treated as a policy matter - for to do so is to concede the dogma.

    If we don't allow open discussion on whether or not Scripture is God's Word, whether the resurrection is a myth, or whether the virgin birth happened, we should not entertain W"O" in our church bodies (full disclosure: I have no elected position in synod) - as eventually, a majority can be reached, and that would be next to impossible to undo.

    Dr. Tighe's historical synopsis is spot on. We really need to pay attention to our own recent history within Lutheranism.

  6. Contrary to Pastor Torgerson's misreading, my post does not "bristle with mistakes and unproven assumptions."

    There is no difference in meaning between "a special synod of the SELK in Hessen-Nord" and "a district convention of the SELK in Hessen-Nord." In our churchbody it is common to say "a convention of the LCMS in Washington" or "a district of the Synod in the Northwest."

    I did not write that that synod passed a resolution calling for the introduction of the ordination of women. I wrote "At the end of the day 20 delegates indicated their support for the introduction of women pastors in SELK, seven were opposed, and two abstained."

    I indicated that there is not unanimity on this issue at Oberursel. I'm pleased that a majority of professors there favor the ordination of women. This is my theological position, too.

    I have been told by students who have studied at that seminary that "many of the students favor the ordination of women." The key word here is "many." I didn't write that "most" are convinced of this. How many does there have to be to be accurate with the word "many?"

    The SELK has in convention rejected the proposal to ordain women. That is true. But look at the numbers of those voting for and against. Look at the faculty of the seminary. Look at the informal vote in Hessen-Nord. There are "majorities" that favor the change, but not a 2/3 majority of the SELK as a whole.

    I know about the process from the official news releases, from the downloadable collection of documents, from personal reports. From these materials and reports the process seems to me to have been "cordial, civil, evangelical, fraternal, and serious." I didn't include the words "easy," "quick," or "pain-free." At least the SELK has been having a decade-long process. That is non-existent in the LCMS, which was one of my points.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  7. Fr. Becker,

    You unequivocally state here that your position is that women should be ordained.

    If I may slip into a colloquialism: Seriously, dude, why stay on the LCMS roster?


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  10. I was baptized on 30 Sep 1962, by my grandfather at St. John Lutheran Church, Salem, Oregon.

    My parents faithfully took me to the divine services. There I first heard the gospel. There I was instructed in the faith. There I first received the Lord's body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins.

    My pastor, Dr. Hempelmann, selected Second Peter 3:18 as my confirmation verse. Through my grandfather and Dr. Hempelmann I was encouraged to prepare for the pastoral ministry in the LCMS.

    St. John provided me with both financial and evangelical support to attend Concordia College, Portland. There I encountered perhaps the best cohort of professors the LCMS has ever assembled at the undergraduate level. For other historic examples of scholarly, critical, and evangelical individuals in the synod's history, see "About Daystar" at

    These have been my role models.

    When I studied for four years at Concordia Seminary, at no point was I ever approached to stop my studies or remove myself from consideration for ordination. In fact, I was encouraged to pursue graduate theological work by several sem professors, notably Dr. Norman Nagel.

    St. John also supported me during my years at the University of Chicago. During summers I returned to Salem and served as a summer vicar. The pastors, Dr. Frederick Niedner and Pr. Dale Koehneke, both from families with long histories in the LCMS, were very helpful to me in my preparations.

    When I was ordained in July 1989, I freely, willingly, and publicly vowed to teach in accord with the doctrinal content of the holy Scriptures and in accord with the Lutheran Confessions as a faithful exhibition of the doctrinal content of the holy Scriptures. I have sought to fulfill this vow to the present day. On that hot July day I did not make any vows with regard to the LCMS.

    When I was installed as pastor at Bethlehem, Dundee, Ill, I made the same vows. At that time I signed the Constitution of the LCMS. I was especially pleased to do this because of the crucial importance of Article II.

    The Synod, as a human institution, remains subordinate to and normed by the doctrinal content of the Holy Scriptures and the witness to that doctrinal content by the Lutheran Confessions. Semper ecclesia reformanda.

    As a human institution, the LCMS has changed its practices and understandings and applications of Scripture over time. Sometimes these changes have been for the better--that is, in accord with the gospel and Christian love--and other times, for the worse--that is, legalistically, unevangelically, with evident short-sightedness and a lack of Christian love.

    As an errant, sinful theologian who continues nevertheless to try to live out his calling faithfully within the LCMS (the Board of the NW District of the LCMS, on which I served for nearly nine years, has labeled me "the NW District's LCMS missionary to Valparaiso University"), I will continue to study the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions to discern how the Spirit might be leading us to continue to reform the LCMS as one small part of the much larger Ecumene.

    With respect to the question of the ordination of women to the pastoral office, this is a question of practice, not a matter of the faith. I do believe the doctrine of the gospel does relate to the issue, as I have indicated in my writings. This practice falls into the category of actions that are acceptable because those apostolic injunctions that relate to them have been set aside with time and cultural change. Augsburg XXVIII is absolutely crucial here.

    So far I have not been given any clear indication from the Lord that I should remove myself from the LCMS clergy roster.

    Matthew Becker

  11. Fr. Becker,

    Thank you for your response. If you can spare the time, let me encourage you to pick up your relationship with Dr. Nagel and come down and visit him. He is always very appreciative of visitors and I'm sure he would encourage you to repent of your un-catholic and un-ecumenical notion that somehow women's "ordination" is merely a matter of allowable practice and not an issue of faith.

    Really, brother, I don't know how the Scriptures could be more clear: the bishop is to be the husband of one wife.

    In the LCMS we have been over this issue time and again. I could point you to all the resources, papers, and books - but I know that as a competent scholar you have already read them.

    Some folks just, even though they have read all the books, still believe that the Bible forbids the Baptism of children. We call those people Baptists. We are not in fellowship with them because they will not submit to the Scriptures.

    So likewise, Fr. Becker, it appears that you simply will not submit to the Scriptures in regard to the male, husbandly, Christological ministry. I am very sorry that that seems to be the case - but there it is.

    So maybe it would be best for all concerned if someone cordially, fraternally, and without malice walked with you through the LCMS dispute resolution process. This would allow you to present your case for your theological position to the proper authorities and try to convince them. If they remain unconvinced, it will then be clear that the LCMS is not the home for a minister with your theological position.


  12. Dear Dr. Becker,

    Thank you for your explanation of why you have remained in the LC-MS.

    From your perspective, would it not be fair to say that the LCMS refuses to ordain women out of bigotry? If the Lord intends to use women in this way and we refuse them simply due to our inability to get out of 1st century Palestine and our Jihadist ways, how can you remain in fellowship with us? Aren't we openly violating the Word of God that you so honor and to which you submit while we insist on our own way? If we refused to ordain Latinos or African-Americans would you sit in Valpo and snipe at us but not denounce us?

    If you can see your way out of this, then it seems to me that what we need to do, for your own good, is bring you up on charges. You have stated here that you believe God wants us to ordain women. I am saying here that God absolutely does not want us to ordain women and such ordination is an abomination. Either I am a closet misogynist or you deny the authority of the Holy Scripture or we are both wrong. But we can't both be right.

    So let's take this the next step. I don't know exactly how this works. Either you can bring me up on charges or I can bring you up on charges. But we really need to get this settled. Because it is not fair to you or me, the congregation I serve or the synod we both claim to love and honor.

    Yours in Christ,

    Dave Petersen
    Redeemer, Ft. Wayne

  13. Why do Protestant churches vote on doctrine at all, ever? Truth is not the sum of majority opinion. As any German descended organization ought to know well, even majorities of whole nations can be gravely wrong.

  14. Rev. Becker, your long-winded comment summarizes thus:

    "With utter humility and recognizing I am often wrong myself, I declare with the greatest modesty that everyone else is wronger than I am."

    This kind of false humility we can all do without.

    As to the content of your argument, on what authority do you claim that WO is not a matter of doctrine?

    What weight if any do you give to the consistent and firm interpretation of all churches until the modern era that WO is not permissible?

    There is zero evidence that Christ counted women among the 12 to whom were given the roles of minister, preacher and priest.

  15. Dave Petersen: "Either I am a closet misogynist or you deny the authority of the Holy Scripture or we are both wrong. But we can't both be right.

    So let's take this the next step. I don't know exactly how this works. Either you can bring me up on charges or I can bring you up on charges. But we really need to get this settled."

    Civility and Love Trump Logic. Have you not read Dr. Becker's post? He civilly and charitably and peaceably writes the following:

    "What strikes me about the SELK deliberative process is how cordial, civil, evangelical, fraternal, and serious it has been.

    The statement went on to note that the meetings that have occurred in the SELK during the past decade have contributed strongly toward building confidence, improving the state of affairs, and deepening theological understanding. Mutual respect has grown with opponents as well as advocates of women's ordination, even when no side could be convinced theologically by the other side.

    However, it trusts the "leading of the Holy Spirit, who according to the promise of the Lord of the Church will lead us into all truth" (John 16:13). In this confidence, further patient work is required to attain such an understanding.

    Equally significant, perhaps more significant, these actions raise before us the question: How do we deal with those in our own church body and those in our partner churches whose serious commitment to Scripture and its teaching leads them to very different theological and practical conclusions? Can we not agree with our SELK brothers and sisters when they publicly state that holding such different conclusions about the matter of women pastors need not be church-divisive? I would hope so."

    Famous musician Bob Dylan is just a hack when he penned this line in one of his lyrics:

    "You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace."

  16. WO is not a matter of faith. We do not confess such a practice as an element of our faith in the Triune God. The practical matter of WO does not appear in any of the catholic and orthodox creeds. It is not a subject that is addressed in the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, Luther's catechisms, or any of the other confessional summaries of the doctrinal content of the faith. It is a practical matter about which there can be honest disagreement, as the SELK rightly acknowledges. Why insist that such a matter is divisive of church fellowship? How is the doctrine of the gospel and all its articles undermined by this practice?

    "Jesus had only male apostles, ergo the church can only have male pastors." By this logic one could argue for so many other restrictions and laws: "Jesus had only circumcized men as apostles..., ergo only circumcized men can be pastors." Of course, this was precisely a practical consequence of the position of the Judaizers. They had many clear passages of OT Scripture (the only scripture of the day) to support their position and they had the call of the first apostles, all circumcized and practicing Jews, as a chief piece of evidence. Paul decisively attacked that legalism with gospel arguments. Read Galatians. Read Phil. 3. Read Eph. 2:15-16.

    The Judaizers of old were just as concerned about penises on pastors as contemporary proponents of a male-only pastorate. Why this concern? The Judaizers had OT Scripture and the example of Jesus to ground their argument. Paul had the gospel Scriptures and the crucifixion of Jesus to ground his.

    The appeal to "husband of one wife" strikes me as being no different from the appeal to James 2:24 and other similar NT texts that Rome has used consistently against the confessional position of "faith alone." Again, the appeal to law is fundamentally a different appeal than that to the gospel.

    Does a pastor proclaim the gospel with his penis? Does a pastor administer the sacrament by means of the genitals? Why is a penis or that 23rd chromosome necessary for the means of grace to be valid and efficacious?

    The comments I read here by others seem so un-Luther-an to me. Did Luther present false humility when, before the Judaizers of his day, he simply said, "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason...?"

    Yes, majorities can err. Synod majorities have erred. Luther stood practically alone against Rome and Empire. But his conscience was captive to the word of God, that is, captive to the gospel witness to the incarnate word of Christ.

    And now someone is bold enough to identify my theological argument as the work of Satan?That, too, was Dr. Luther's experience. So be it.

    I have yet to read any kind of substantive theological response to the case for women pastors that I set forth in my online essay. Instead, I hear shouts of "kick him out... There's no room for him in the brotherhood...Beware of Satan..."

    I'm grateful that the Lord's mercy is more inclusive than these shouts suggest. It seems to me thatwe could learn something about churchmanship from our SELK brothers and sisters.

    Matthew Becker

  17. "And now someone is bold enough to identify my theological argument as the work of Satan?"

    Why thank you. I appreciate the praise of boldness.

    You're a nice pawn of the enemy: "cordial, civil, evangelical, fraternal, and serious" as you put it, but putting on beautiful wrapping paper on the Enemy's gift of ecclesiastical poison does not mitigate the fact that it's still toxic poison.

    "I have yet to read any kind of substantive theological response to the case for women pastors that I set forth in my online essay."

    Because the case for WO is old ground. And the clear and convincing refutations against WO is also old ground.

    Now it's time, way past time, to do what both Dr. Tighe and Dave Petersen have said, statements which bear repeating:

    o "The proponents of WO ought to be excommunicated or "disfellowshiped" or cast out."

    o "So let's take this the next step. I don't know exactly how this works. Either you can bring me up on charges or I can bring you up on charges. But we really need to get this settled."


    "Listen, false teaching will always cry intolerance. It will always say you are being divisive, you are being unloving, you are being ungracious, because it can only survive when it doesn’t get scrutinized. So it cries against any intolerance. It cries against any examination, any scrutiny—just let’s embrace each other; let’s love each other; let’s put all that behind us.

    False doctrine cries the loudest about unity. Listen carefully when you hear the cry for unity, because it may be the cover of false doctrine encroaching. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance."

    False doctrine cloaked in love and unity is still unloving.

    True doctrine and practice is loving.

  18. Dear Dr. Becker:

    The exact same arguments and hermeneutic can (and are) used to defend same-sex "marriage." And it is no coincidence that every church that blesses homosexual "marriage" also "ordains" women. It is based on a denial of reality.

    Maleness and femaleness is more than simply a question of excretion and genitalia. Sex is not like hair color or whether or not a person can curl his tongue. God created us male and female - and has assigned different vocations within that order.

    Today's culture treats sex as "gender," in other words, it treats a substance as an accident, as a cultural construct, as a "choice."

    If I can ordain a woman (since a woman is nothing more than a man with different plumbing according to your inference), why can't I marry a man?

    Your implication is that the church has gotten this wrong for thousands of years. The fact that Jesus ordained 12 men and no women must be either a remarkable mathematical coincidence, or He is a misogynist, or perhaps a coward - afraid to buck the trend. There were many women whom Jesus could have ordained - or those that the apostles - especially Paul - could have as well. Priestesses were part of the cultural landscape of the Gentile Greco-Roman world. But it never happened.

    God's people in the OT were completely unique in the ancient world (i.e. "holy") because they did not worship a goddess and had no priestesses. The priest stood in the stead and by the command of God (who reveals Himself as Father) to sacrifice and deliver absolution to the people. New Testament pastors do not offer such sacrifices today, yet they do lead the congregation in eucharistic sacrifices and stand in the stead of the Father by authority of the Son to deliver absolution to the people.

    The fact that the creeds, councils and confessions do not address W"O" is actually evidence testifying against the practice. There was no controversy. The church was united on this. There is no Trinitarian controversy in the Book of Concord because there was unanimity on that issue. And the same is true about the requirement of male pastors. And aside from a few heretics - like the Montanists - W"O" was a non-issue in the history of the church - that is until the recent cultural developments in our day and age.

    Using your reasoning, there is no reason not to ordain higher order mammals or self-aware robots. Is there a passage in Scripture denying such ordinations?

    Ultimately, this is more about sex than the ministry. Sex is part of the created order. It is not simply the choice of "gender identity." What is the meaning of maleness and femaleness has to be sorted out before we can even start talking about the Office of the Ministry. It's clear from the flippant way you talk about maleness is that you see it as almost inconsequential to your standing as a creature of God.

    And even if our reason and logic bucks against God's order of creation, at some point we simply need to submit to the Lord's authority on this and stop trying to look for loop-holes and ways to make God bend to our will.

  19. Fr. Becker,

    You've never read anything you would consider "substantive" on the other side (that is, the catholic, apostolic, and historic side) of this argument? Did I err in my assumption that as a scholar you examine all sides of an argument before making up your mind?

    Have you never read Marquart's book on the Church and Her Ministry? What about CS Lewis' essay "Priestesses in the Church?"? Or how about the Pope's latest interview on the matter? Or how about Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? Or what about "The Validity of the Churchly Acts of Ordained Women" by David Scaer?

    Of course you have read these. You just don't find them "substantive," I suppose.

    What is substantive, I presume, is the repetition of the word "penis" as though it summed up masculinity.

    Brother, I urge you to review resources like the ones I mentioned above, reread the Scriptures, and repent. There is a reason that all of the Roman world had priestesses except Christianity - hasn't that ever struck you as odd? - and the reason is this: Jesus forbade it and instructed his apostles to do the same.


  20. Pastor Becker,

    Lutherans are not iconoclasts. That’s what Calvinists do. Lutherans know that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We can talk until we are blue in the face about how God is our Father and the Church is Christ’s bride, but have you ever tried to explain these concepts to a woman who was raped by her father? Language fails.

    The friendship I have given to these women is love they need, but it does not let them see God for who He is. It helps, but it’s so far from what they need, I have to get better pictures into their heads. When I introduce them to my blessedly intact family, we can start to have a conversation.

    Today’s culture with its rampant, destructive, deceptive views on the nature of sex, family, and love have made basic Christian truths nearly incomprehensible to many people. That is the struggle; that is the fight. Christian families really are beacons on hill, showing what rightly ordered love can be. Should the church served by her pastors in the imitation of Christ be a less true icon? Or do you think we don’t need this icon at all?

    We need to ask: how does the church in her practice confess Christ most clearly? Jesus says, “The scriptures testify concerning me.” So if we are trying to explicate the scriptures, the point is to be about Jesus. We help this cause by seeking more perfect icons. We hurt this cause by breaking them. We all know that a mother cannot be a father. She can try. She can make up some of the want if she is widowed, but she will never be her children’s father.

  21. Fr. Becker,

    One more thing I can't help passing up is your last tip o'the hat to Prof. Danker. However, it's pretty cliché by this point (when I asked my wife, who has not been following this discussion on the blog, what book the pro-women's ordination prof would obliquely reference in his response to Fr. Petersen's post, she didn't need a second guess).

    Furthermore, it is not very apropos. Prof. Danker is an interesting man and a generous scholar (he very helpfully corresponded with me while I was in grad school on a paper I had written). While I disagree with him on many points, I think he was honestly taken aback in the seventies when he found out just how out of step his thoughts were with the church body at large. Danker (and many of the other faculty members) and Missouri had grown apart slowly but widely: it was a surprise to both sides and both felt betrayed by the "brotherhood" in one way or another.

    You cannot honestly be either surprised or hurt by the fact that folks are angry with you for openly and forthrightly contradicting a settled theological holding not only of the LCMS but of the entire catholic tradition.


  22. The matter of the ordination of women to the pastoral office is not a settled matter, not settled in the SELK, not settled in the LCA, not settled in the LCMS. Those of you who have responded to my posts here think it is settled, but many, many Lutherans and other Christians around the world disagree. That goes for the Church of Rome, too.

    The same points that have been made here about WO have been made about all sorts of other scriptural practices. I can imagine where many of you would come down on the issue of slavery, if you happened to be serving as a pastor in 1850. I can imagine how many of you would have been opposed to the growing American Revolution, if you were living in the NA colonies in 1770. Afterall, Scripture is clear regarding obedience to the King/emperor (Rom. 13; 1 Pet 2; etc.). The practice of clerical celibacy is not at all clear in the NT, as Luther discovered when he engaged his RC opponents on that matter. Both sides appealed to Scriptural texts and NT examples to support their case. Rome still does not officially acknowledge gospel freedom in this area. Many more examples could be cited. Does the doctrine of creation include accepting what Scripture clearly teaches about the earth being immovable and founded on pillars? Why or why not? Catholic understanding of cosmology, for well over 1600 years, was one thing. And today, except for a few nut cases, most Christians have quite a different worldview, quite a different understanding of biblical texts that refer to cosmological elements. So what happened? Was a doctrinal mistake made in the 17th century? It wouldn't surprise me to learn that some of you agree with F. Pieper, that indeed a mistake was made!

    I have read the materials against WO that have been cited here. What I'm waiting for is a patient, careful, scholarly, evangelical, critical response to the arguments in my recent essay against the so-called "order of creation" ideology and its misuse of Scriptural texts. Most of what I present in my essay is totally ignored in the literature that has been cited here. All "order of creation" arguments are simply outdated and have been falsified by both biblical-theological and extra-biblical scientific and historical/sociological data.

    I would have more respect for those of you who have responded to me here if you would simply take the time to engage my arguments and evidence and provide a careful response to them rather than merely assume the matter is altogether settled since it is settled in your mind and that's all that matters. I don't at all appreciate the bullying tactics a few of you have been using so far.

    Fraternal regards,
    Matthew Becker

  23. On Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
    Responsum ad Dubium
    Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
    October 28, 1995

    Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.

    Responsum: In the affirmative.

    This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

    The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

    Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the Feast of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude, October 28, 1995.

    + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    + Tarcisio Bertone
    Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli

  24. "merely assume the matter is altogether settled since it is settled in your mind and that's all that matters."

    Folks could say the same thing about you. That you are pro-WO and it's settled in your mind and that's all that matters.

    "I don't at all appreciate the bullying tactics a few of you have been using so far."

    Pot. Kettle. Black. You and the other pro-WO'ers who keep pushing and agitating for continual, annual, and never-ending polemical debate are the ones who are the aggressors and bullies.

    And that's exactly what the GLBT crowd does.

    Besides, it's not like you're lacking in alternatives. Join the ELCA or the break-away from the ELCA that condones WO but condemns same-sex sin. Why continue to be an unwelcome parasite on the host LCMS?

    A side note: Deceased abortionist George Tiller was LCMS but he was disciplined and went on to become a member of an ELCA church.

  25. Thank you for that, Dr. Tighe.

    I would say that not only in Rome, but also in traditional Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and the Reformed tradition this matter is also equally settled. It's part of what makes those groups "traditional" after all.

    As far as the order of creation is concerned, I responded to Mary Todd's work on that topic back in 2007 in Logia. Father Becker and Prof Todd may not like the order of creation argument, but it was certainly part of Luther's answer to this question as my paper demonstrates.

    But all this is besides the point. The Scriptures are clear. No one doubted as much at the time of the Reformation, and they remain clear today.

    The examples that Fr. Becker brings up are so far off base as to be risible. St. Paul says you shouldn't turn society on its ear to free the slaves - but he says you should get free if you can and not to become the slave of any.

    When it comes to women in the ministry, though, St. Paul says that the bishop is the husband of one wife for the church is the household of God; he says that Christ is the groom and the Church the Bride; he says that women should learn in submission; and that the husband is the head of the wife; and he selects men to be apostles and no women; etc.

    He never says, as he does for slavery, that this is how it has to be but to "get free if you can."

    Further, does Fr. Becker really believe that his arguments are so ground-breaking that nothing that has been written on the topic in the past applies to his treatise? Odd.


  26. Fr. Becker,

    PS: I'd be more interested in responding to you in detail if you would make available your essay in the DayStar Reader online. Frankly, I have no interest in spending $15 for the honor of reading it.

    If you would like to post a link to "A Case for Female Pastors and Theologians," please let us know.


  27. I believe that the AC DOES address this when it states unequivocally that among our churches we have accepted no innovation in doctrine or ceremony. The ordination of women is a novum in both. It is simply a fictitious ceremony built upon a false teaching that is essentially gnostic. It has no place within the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

  28. I call that "Weedon's Corollary."


  29. On whether or not WO is a matter of the gospel, or if the doctrine of the gospel and all its articles is undermined by this practice:

    From today's search in the Scaerchive...

    “Now, if things are bad in our church, your church, the ELCA—you don’t have to even read the church newspapers to find out what’s happening. And that is, that they have the business of what are they gonna do with homosexual clergypersons. And the answer is, “Well, it’s against church law, but we’re not gonna discipline them.” Well, that’s great. Not too-
    Most of you are too old to have 16 or 18 year-old kids, but you can remember that. You say to the kid, “Here’s the car keys, sonny.” You see, it’s out there, the speed limit, down to, on the road, it’s 55 miles an hour. You go 70. You go 90! So now in the ELCA you have a policy which is against it, but a policy which isn’t enforced. That’s-
    Now that brings us to the doctrine of the atonement. Because if we have law which does not have penalty, then it’s no longer law. If it’s law that has penalty, then I- How do I get myself- How do I get out of the situation? And of course, that’s the doctrine of the [atonement]. Well, you can see what’s happening” (The Office of the Public Ministry: Concerning the Power of the Bishops—AC XXVIII, Luther Lecture Series, Newton, NC, 2007).

    As for the more substantive reply, Dr. Becker may indeed be looking for a response to his more recent essay, but the essence has already received patient, careful, scholarly, evangelical, critical review by H. Sonntag in Logia XV:3.33-40, with the subsequent debate played out by both men in XVI:1.45-50. Some four years ago.

  30. Those who publicly vow to teach in accord with the doctrinal content of the Holy Scriptures do not rely on the Roman Church to define what the deposit of the faith is. The same prefect, now Pope Benedict XVI, also includes papal infallibility, the immaculate conception of Mary, her supposed bodily assumption, prayer to the saints, and purgatory in that same deposit of the faith. More important, the evangelical doctrine of justification by faith alone is NOT included by him in that same deposit. So appealing to a statement by him is totally unconvincing to an evangelical catholic.

    Many apparently "clear" scriptural texts require careful interpretation to discern their evangelical meaning and application today. AC 28 and Apol 28 remind us that there is freedom with respect to some apostolic commands. Some commands may be set aside for the sake of Christian freedom and as a result of cultural change. I can't understand why Lutheran Christians fail to see this obvious teaching from AC 28 and Apol 28.

    The apostles clearly mandated that Gentile Christians should "abstain from things polluted by idols... and from whatever has been strangled and from blood," and yet Paul has taught that one may freely eat "whatever is set before you," as long as the weaker Christian is not harmed. And none of us Gentile Christians today worries about how our meat has been prepared. We buy it from the supermarket, cook it, and eat it. We eat meat in all sorts of restaurants. Does the one who eats such meat know how it has been prepared? Perhaps it some places it is better not to know. Some of us even enjoy eating blood sausage.

    There is freedom to set aside apostolic mandates that no longer serve the doctrine of faith and Christian love in a non-Palestinian, non-Jewish context, such as the one we are living in in this 21st-century American situation.

    Does any of you keep this very clear dominical command: "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out... If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off..."?

    How many of you believe in a literal millennium? The 144,000 in heaven? And there are oh so many other texts that we now treat as either non-binding or as figurative, when earlier generations of Christians treated the same passages as quite literal and binding.

    And I find it quite humorous to see all these references to "Fr. so-and-so" on this list when Jesus has clearly taught, "Call no one father on earth, for you have one Father--the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called teachers, for you have one teacher, the Christ..."

    My case for women pastors will soon be available on the Daystar Journal website. I'm pleased to report that dozens and dozens of my students have read it and have found it convincing.

    When I told my classes today that a fellow LCMS clergyman has labeled me Satan for my views on women pastors, all 75 students were appalled. At least these students, who have been presented with both sides of this argument in my course on the Christian Tradition this term, generally come out on the side that supports women pastors.

    The best thing I can do is allow them to read the kinds of statements presented on this blog and let them decide for themselves which is the more theologically convincing.

    Pr. Sonntag did not respond to any of the substantive issues I raised in my response to his essay. This term I had students read that exchange, too, and most wonder about his disconnect from this 21st-century western world in which we are living.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  31. Fr. Becker,

    Obviously, a gulf separates our respective understandings of the Scriptures the catholic tradition.

    Above, I noted authors from the Anglican, Lutheran, Roman, and American Evangelical worlds to demonstrate the ecumenical and catholic standing of the traditional position. Your oddly parochial attempt to squelch the breadth and depth of that position is unconvincing.

    Equally unconvincing is your attempt to lump a male clergy into the category of either hyperbolic/parabolic speech (Call no man father...cast out your right eye) or time and culture bound apostolic injunction.

    Your appeal to the former category is just silly. Do you really question what Jesus meant when he said these things? Do you know any Christian who won't call his biological father, father because of this saying? Or any one eyed, one-handed Christians?

    Your appeal to the second category of time and culture bound apostolic injunction is a, if not the, standard line among promoters of women's "ordination." Despite your assertions to the contrary, it has been dealt with time and again by proponents of the traditional, ecumenical, evangelical, and catholic position. I am sorry that you remain unconvinced: but just because you are unconvinced does not mean that the arguments are unconvincing.

    I wish you all the best - namely, repentance and faith in the clear Word of God,


  32. HRC,

    How do you know that those passages are hyperbolic? How do you know Jesus didn't really mean that people should not call anyone "father" except our Father in heaven? Jesus' statement seems pretty clear and straightforward to me. I think I could make a fairly convincing case that one is breaking the Lord's command by calling some folks "father." There's certainly no biblical support for calling anyone father, save perhaps one's biological father or step-father. Then again, Jesus seems to reject even the latter practice (cf. Mark 3:32ff.).

    Why does AC 28 set aside the clear apostolic mandate not to eat food offered to idols, blood, and food from strangled animals? And the command for women to have a head covering? On what biblical basis can Melanchthon argue as he did?

    What has been the traditional, ecumenical, evangelical, and catholic position with regard to slavery? Clerical celibacy? Dictatorship? Monarchy? Democracy? Public franchise for women? Copernican Theory? And the list goes on.

    Is one really sinning when one sets forth a theological argument for women pastors? Which commandment of the Lord is one breaking?

    In what does one place one's faith? The total Scriptures? Or, as I would argue, the gospel promises of the Lord, the incarnate Word?

    Yes, the law of God reveals our sin and need for Christ. But our faith is not in the law. Our faith rests in Christ alone.

    Could it be that those who restrict qualified women from serving as pastors need to repent? That is, don't they need to repent from perpetuating unbiblical burdens, laws, and restrictions that have been abolished in Christ (Eph 2:15)? That is, don't they need to repent from unnecessarily restricting the Lord's Spirit by outlawing women who have been called by the Spirit (Joel 2:28-29) to serve as proclaimers of the gospel and administrators of the sacraments? And what of their outlawing those who, like Paul, dare to make an argument for gospel freedom against contemporary Judaizers who are so concerned about pastors having penises (or at least having that 23rd chromosome)?

    Fraternal greetings,
    Dr. Matthew Becker, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. (since you all like titles)

  33. "In what does one place one's faith? The total Scriptures? Or, as I would argue, the gospel promises of the Lord, the incarnate Word?"

    I believe this sums up the source of our differences.

    Are the Scriptures to be received and submitted to in their totality (i.e. their catholic wholeness), or are they a buffet table over which one may pick and choose based on one's own prejudices, biases, and personal preferences?

    The former is catholic tradition, the latter is gospel reductionism. The former gave us the Nicene Creed, the latter gave us "Ecce Homo" in the Uppsala Cathedral.

  34. Fr. Becker,

    I can't add much to Father Beane's analysis of your good old fashioned Gospel reductionism.

    On your exegesis though, we can say a bit more.

    Your argument seems to run like this. First you list several things from the Bible that are either parabolic, hyperbolic, or time-bound regulations. Then you say: Some things in the Bible are not to be taken at face value. The Bible, at face value, says that women can't be pastors. Therefore, that is not to be taken at face value.

    This is certainly the sort of argumentation that can impress undergrads, no doubt, but I'm afraid you are missing more than a few middle terms.

    First of all, which sort are these anti-women clergy statements in the Bible? Are they like Jesus saying call no man father and cut off your hand? Or are they like the apostles saying Keine Blutwurst?

    I don't think you mean for them to be the first. Indeed, I find it hard to take you seriously when you discuss that category of saying. If you deny the traditional exegesis of "call no man father" and "cut off your hand," then why do you call your father father and still have two hands? If you don't follow the traditional exegesis, then you would seem to be saying, "Jesus means exactly what he says at face value, but we don't have to do what Jesus says." But, again, I don't think you are being serious: you are just trying to obfuscate.

    So, like a host of innovators before you, what you are really saying is that these anti-women clergy passages are time- and culture-bound and of not effect today.

    And so, like a host of defenders of the traditional, catholic, and ecumenical understanding, I respond: nonsense. Women in positions of spiritual authority and priesthood were a normal part of Greco-Roman society. Paul served among gentile Christians - within two or three generations the vast majority of Christian communities had no roots in the mean-old-patriarchal-Jewishness of those bearded apostles.

    The surprising, counter-cultural thing is that the followers of Jesus did not have female clergy, prayer leaders, and priestesses.

    You see, sir, it is you who are time- and culture-bound as your correspondence demonstrates over and over again. You cannot believe that there are still so many of us Neanderthals who can be against women clergy in this "modern western world" where "social science" has proved all of our assumptions incorrect. The assumptions of the modern west are, perforce, right because they are the assumptions of the modern west. This is nothing but the warmed up leftovers of Hegel: the spirit of the age is right because It Is.

    But such statements are a product of the triumphalism of the modern post-enlightenment West. It is the same arrogance that causes the liberal churches of the global North to look at the churches of the global South and say, "Tut, tut, Africa! Don't you know that we rich white people up here have discovered that St. Paul was wrong, or outdated, or a time- and culture-bound when he condemned homosexuality?"

    Saint Paul is an apostles of the Lord Jesus who learned the Faith directly from the Lord. He lived as a citizen of the colony of the true future, the kingdom of Christ. By the power of the Spirit he transcended his time and age in his Epistles. It is he who is cosmopolitan and far-sighted. It is you, sir, who are time- and culture-bound and truncated in your thinking.


  35. Bingo, Fr. Curtis. That is exactly what we see happening with this line of argumentation. Kyrie, eleison! May the Lord give us the wisdom not to be led down the dangerous path of "did God REALLY say?" We should know well enough where that lands us.

    One thought on Jesus' literal words: if your hand... He means it quite literally, but of course, note the IF. The problem arises neither in hand, nor eye, nor sundry other regions (as poor Origen discovered), but in the heart. And it is exactly the heart of the old Adam with his "my will be done' that the Lord Jesus is in the business of ripping out and replacing with a heart like unto His own that beats in rhythm with God and prays: "Thy will be done."

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. The "my will be done" in this case is the contravening of the Apostolic prohibition of women publicly teaching men. To hold that St. Paul got that wrong in his extension of it to the entire church ("as in all the churches of the saints"), is to buck this conclusion the holy apostle reaches: "If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." On this argument, Matthew, you are not recognized.

  38. My apologies for the typos that appeared in the earlier post. This is a slightly improved version:

    The Scriptures are NOT "to be received in their totality and submitted to (their catholic wholeness)." The person who wrote this has evidently not read the Apostle Paul or Dr. Luther's treatise on how Christians are to read Moses or Dr. Luther's prefaces to the New Testament, wherein he clearly subordinates the authority of the antilegomena to the homolegoumena, a subordination that has been inconsistently practiced in the history of western catholicism.

    Would you again please read Eph. 2:15. Would you again read Gal. 3:1-5, 17-26, but esp. 3:25; and Col. 2:14. The clear meaning of these passages (and many others) is that Jesus Christ nailed the law to his cross; he has "erased the law that stood against us with its legal demands."

    You misunderstand my argument. The Bible does not clearly say women cannot be pastors. There is absolutely no clear passage that supports this conclusion. Why? Because there are many other passages which speak of women praying and prophesying in early Christian congregations (Corinth), teaching doctrine to men (Priscilla), sharing the gospel publicly with their fellow villagers, being called an apostle (Junia), receiving Spiritual gifts, being called co-workers with an apostle. If even Corinth didn't have female prayer leaders, then why the need to give women instructions there for how they were to pray publicly within that Corinthian congregation?

    You missed my point about hyperbole. The point is that in order to understand what Jesus says about "cutting off your hand" as hyperbole, you have to take many other scripture passages into account. The same goes for passages like "women must be silent in the churches" and overseers "the husband of one wife." There are too many other passages that run against an absolute prohibition on women serving faithfully and legitimately as pastors. Even Dr. Luther, in his own day, acknowledged that there cannot be an absolute prohibition against women preachers. The Scriptures simply won't allow that.

    If what St. Paul says is true about the law, if what he says is true about spiritual gifts, if what AC 28 is true about apostolic NT commands, then there is freedom for the church to modify how the gospel is publicly proclaimed and the sacraments administered.

    Of course there were many female prophetesses within the early church (see Didache). The problem with the Montanists seems not to have been that women were prophetesses but that what they prophesied was false. The same criticism was leveled against Montanist himself and against other male prophets who prophesied falsely.

    Yes, times have changed and your outdated view is harming the mission of Christ's church in our western society. I would encourage you to take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul about Christian freedom: "To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law... I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I might share in its blessings." How many women have left the LCMS because they could not fulfill God's call to ministry? How many women have given up on Christianity altogether because they equate it with a male-only club? Does the spirit of the Apostle Paul in First Cor. 9 (a spirit found also in all of his--and St. John's--other anti-legal statements) really fit with the legalistic insistence that only men may serve as pastors in Christ's church? Well, you know my answer to that rhetorical question.

  39. "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Man", by Fr. Peter Berg, "The Motley Magpie", 2:1

    lalew can mean not merely to speak, but to preach.

  40. Fr. Becker,

    Moving from wondering how anyone can still believe this stuff in the "modern western world" to the line of argumentation in Aida Besançon Spencer's Beyond the Curse is an improvement in style, but not, I'm afraid, in substance.

    I can do no better than to refer you to the works cited above and the works they cite in their respective bibliographies. The Scriptures really are clear on this point as the church catholic has known from day one.

    Everyone who wishes to depart from the clear meaning of Scripture finds a way to make the Scriptures into a wax nose. So passages dealing with our standing before the throne of God as redeemed sons of God in Christ are used to erase the God given gift of the different roles for male and female. CS Lewis deals with this quite well in his essay referenced above. Or the passages dealing with Christ saving us from the condemnation of the Law are twisted into saying that no law need apply in the church today.

    Ironically enough, it is the Luther essay on Moses that condemns this thinking. Luther says that nothing from the OT applies to Christians - except the natural law. Who we are as male and female and what that means for our life together in the Church is part of that natural law - that order of creation.


  41. William Weedon,

    The parenthetical statement in First Cor. 14:33b-36 is most likely an interpolation. The textual corruption at this point would suggest this, as would later hyper-misogyny in early Christianity (as an overreaction against Gnostic female Christians), and the fact that other sections of the same letter clearly indicate that women did pray and prophesy publicly in Corinth (and elsewhere).

    If one takes 14:33bff as original, then one can only conclude that the Apostle is contradicting himself. Earlier in the letter he acknowledged that women may legitimately pray and prophsesy publicly (First Cor. 11:5ff.). See also the other relevent sections in the same letter: "the same God who activates all of his spiritual gifts in EVERYONE," 12:6; "I would like ALL of you to prophesy..." 14:5; "ALL prophesy..." 14:24-25; "For you can ALL prophesy one by one, so that ALL may learn and ALL be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is a God not of disorder but of peace" 14:31-32).

    Certainly St. Paul and Luke interpreted the prophet Joel's prophesy in Joel 2:28 as having come to fulfillment with Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit upon both men and women in the wake of the Lord's resurrection and ascension.

    Anyone who does not recognize this fulfillment, and the fact that women prayed and prophesied publicly in Corinth (and in other early Christian congregations; again, see the Didache), and that St. Paul set down instructions for how both men and women were to prophesy and utilize their God-given spiritual powers in an orderly manner, is missing the main point of these passages.

    The point of 14:37-38 is that anyone who does not abide by the instructions Paul gave for how women and men are to pray and prophesy publicly, in an orderly manner, is not to be recognized.

    How does the apostolic statement in 14:37ff apply to those of you who can't even acknowledge that women did indeed pray and preach/prophesy publicly in Corinth (and elsewhere)?

    So William, how do you reconcile what appears to be a contradiction within First Corinthians? I doubt you will agree with me and many other scholars that 14:33b-36 is an interpolation. So do you interpret the "ALL" to mean "ALL MEN?" If so, on what basis, esp. when earlier Paul acknowledged that women prayed and prophesied publicly in that Corinthian congregation?

    I'm convinced that St. Paul did not write 14:33b-36, that this was an insertion by some anti-Gnostic Christian in the late first century or early second. This parenthesis doesn't square with Paul's instructions to women for what they should do when the pray and prophesy publicly.

    So, no, it will not do simply to appeal to the very problematic statement in 1 Cor. 14:33bff. as if this alone would settle the matter decisively. That would be like quoting First Tim. 2:15 and asserting that women will be saved through childbearing, period.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  42. HRC,

    Thank you for underscoring what Dr. Luther wrote in his treatise on how Christians are to interpret Moses and the law.

    I would only add that Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both male and female into one, and has broken down the dividing wall. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace. And through him both men and women have access in one Spirit to the Father. So both men and women are citizens with the saints and equal members of the one household of God.

    Those who insist on a "static" order of creation, one that implies a distinct and abiding subordination of women to men in creation and the church, do not fully appreciate that the gospel of Jesus the Christ has crossed out this historic subordination of women to men and opened up a new order for life in the church. The reality of subordination, the Creator’s law and judgment of women’s subordination to men, has been overcome, and has itself been “subordinated” to the new reality of mutual service and equality in the lives of those who live by faith in Christ, faith that is active in Christian love. The new creation that has dawned in Christ's resurrection from the dead and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that come with this new creation positively impact the ordering of the church and its ministry. Even 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 suggests that “in the Lord” there is a new order: women now prophesy and pray publicly, though they must do these “decently and in order.” Even Paul himself recognized the ambiguity in the notion of “head” (kephale) or “subordination” when he reminded his readers of the mutuality, reciprocity, and interdependence that exists between men and women: “…woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:11-13). “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21).

    The Creator's "orders of preservation," to use the language of Bonhoeffer, are historical structures and relationships that order and shape individual responsibilities within the church and society, but one needs to stress that precisely because these are social and historical in nature, they are subject to the Creator's law of historical change. Thus, patterns of relationships within the "orders" are subject to change from one age to another. While in the apostles' day, such orderings included distinct responsibilities of "slave" to "master," and vice versa, and of "male" to "female," and vice versa, these orderings have been shaped by egalitarian principles in modern western societies. The equality between men and women in society and in the church is the result of the gospel's impact on the ordering of men and women in society. One could make a case that the dynamic structure in which men and women relate historically has itself been affected positively by the gospel’s promise and effects.

    At least that's my argument and the manner in which I attempt to make use of Dr. Luther's appeal to "natural law." Precisely because nature is dynamic and not static, "natural law" is continually open to change and re-articulation. But more importantly, the gospel of Christ postively impacts how Christians are to understand "nature" and "natural law."

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  43. Ah, interpolation, the last ditch hope of those who do not want God's Holy Word to say what in fact He says in it.

  44. You beat me to it, Fr. William.

    I wonder if Fr. Becker also goes in for the standard line about the Pastoral Epistles being "deutero-pauline."


  45. It's easier to twist it when you can erase verses.

    But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
    (1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)

    St. Paul believed this to be very much a Christological, and Trinitarian, theological issue. But I suppose, if we are operating from the perspective that we have theologies which are "not finished yet," well...then we're in a real pickle on every side of every matter.

  46. Dr. Becker,

    "he has made both male and female into one, and has broken down the dividing wall."

    I will believe this when I get pregnant.

    -Kyle Mietzner

  47. Jonathan,

    No one can escape the challenge and responsibility of interpretation. Every use of Scripture is itself an interpretation that is in service to a larger theological understanding. Even 1 Cor. 11:3 requires careful interpretation so as not to fall into Trinitarian Subordinationism (Origenism).

    You, Weedon, and H.R. haven't answered my question: If 1 Cor. 14:33b-36 is not an interpolation, then how does that section square with the Corinthian passages to which I referred, those in which women DO pray and prophesy publicly? It is a bit difficult for women to pray and prophesy publicly, albeit with head-covering, if the absolute command is "women are to be silent in the churches." Why have instructions on how women should pray and prophesy publicly, and the injunction that ALL should prophesy, if your real intention is merely to shut women up altogether in the divine service? Do we not have a contradiction here, if not an interpolation?

    Jonathan, please give greetings to your parents from me. I remember them fondly, as I do you, too.

    Fraternal regards,
    Matthew Becker

  48. Dear Kyle:


    Ontology always trumps fond wishes. No matter how many young boys are compelled to play with Barbies, they will inevitably rip their heads of and pretend the dolls are M16s.

    Theological innovators always muddy the waters, treating "equality" as "congruity" even as the politically correct want us to believe that "sex" is really "gender."

    To attempt to deny the created reality (and the place we creatures all have in the divine order) was the original sin in the garden, and all the while, Satan has been encouraging this rebellion with his: "Did God really say...?"

    And as anyone who has ever been on Bourbon Street can testify: the Adam's apple always gives them away.

  49. Matthew,

    As Ft. Curtis has pointed out, there are many studies which address your concerns. But, I do agree with Ft. Peterson. Perhaps, in charity, you could each bring each other up on charges and have this addressed publicly for the sake of harmony in the synod. You could charge him with sub-ordinationism, and he can charge you with monophysitism.

    But truly, does the economic Trinity mean so little that we must deny it and Paul's Words in order to protect our culturally-mandated innovations? I will stick with Paul. He is not so very tricksy.

    I will certainly tell my folks you say hello, though I see them less often than I wish, be stationed in the field, as it were.

  50. Matthew,

    Where is the conflict? They may not authoritatively teach in the Divine Service, may not "occupy the Bema" as St. John Chrysostom put it (see his Romans commentary on chapter 16). That does not rule out their speaking in other ways in the Divine Service, and teaching also outside its context - Priscilla and Apollos, for instance. Paul makes it clear that women may prophesy and may pray in the Divine Service in an orderly way; he also makes it clear they may not presume to take the role of authoritative teacher in that same context.

  51. I was also turning to Chrysostom!

    He notes that chapters 11 and 14 are simply about different topics. In chapter 11 we're talking about a very special Spiritual gift: prophecy. Chrysostom does not make the mistake of thinking that "prophecy" means preaching - it means prophecy, a very special gift that has nothing directly to do with being a presbyter/bishop (there are prophets who aren't bishops and bishops who aren't prophets). In Chapter 14 Paul takes up the decorum of those who do not possess this gift.

    In his own words:


  52. William Weedon,

    I'm glad to read that you acknowledge here that women may pray and prophesy publicly in the divine assembly. Pray, tell me, what is the difference between prophesying publicly in the divine assembly and preaching/teaching doctrine publicly in the divine assembly?

    Warm regards,
    Matthew Becker

  53. And all of you,

    What happens when an individual who is unsure if he/she is male/female (transgender Pat from Saturday Night Live comes to mind), whose family is unsure if he/she is male or female, whose doctors are unsure, is certain that the Lord is calling him/her to the holy ministry?

    You'd probably be surprised how many individuals are born each year whose gender is ambiguous. The number of transgender individuals in our society seems to be growing.

    See, for example, the article on such individuals:

    Matthew Becker

  54. Jonathan,

    I remember when I baby-sat you. That would have been around 1981 or so. You were a good kid. Funny thing, I remember watching "Tron" at your house one of those times, while your parents went out for an evening. And now Tron II is coming to theaters. A long time ago, and far, far away (to quote another film of that decade).

    I wrote my doctoral disseration, published by T&T Clark, about the economic Trinity. In contrast to hierarchical, subordinationist understandings of the Trinity, the biblical revelation gives rise to an egalitarian model, one in which perichoresis is the key to our understanding the mutual relations with the divine Godhead. There is a mutuality of divine love and self-giving among the three persona that becomes a model for mutuality of service and love within the holy communion of saints.

    Sorry, but I take the dogma of the economic Trinity quite seriously. It does have implications for the holy ministry. There is a new order in Christ that is quite different from subordinationist model held so dear by contemporary Judaisers.

    Matthew Becker

  55. "When I told my classes today that a fellow LCMS clergyman has labeled me Satan for my views on women pastors, all 75 students were appalled."

    #1. I'm not an LCMS clergyman.

    #2. Du bist ein dummkopf! You can tell your 75 students that you got labelled a dummkopf because of your lack of reading comprehension and subsequent mispresentation. BECAUSE I did *not* label you Satan. This is what I wrote (please carefully re-read):

    "You're a nice pawn of the enemy: "cordial, civil, evangelical, fraternal, and serious" as you put it, but putting on beautiful wrapping paper on the Enemy's gift of ecclesiastical poison does not mitigate the fact that it's still toxic poison."

    Matthew Becker, your work and your arguments for WO mark you as a pawn and a tool for the Enemy. You're not Satan, but YOU ARE being used by Satan to deliver ecclesiastical poison. By all means, please have all your students read this comment verbatim.

    #3. You being identified as a pawn of Satan's advancement of Egalitarianism and WO has the positive benefit of informing all concerned that this matter is not adiaphora. Not even close to being adiaphora. And your relentless agression for WO shows that you don't even think it's adiaphora.

    To wit, let's compare and contrast two comments:

    +HRC: "I wish you all the best - namely, repentance and faith in the clear Word of God"

    Dr. Becker: "Could it be that those who restrict qualified women from serving as pastors need to repent? That is, don't they need to repent from perpetuating unbiblical burdens, laws, and restrictions that have been abolished in Christ (Eph 2:15)? That is, don't they need to repent from unnecessarily restricting the Lord's Spirit by outlawing women who have been called by the Spirit (Joel 2:28-29) to serve as proclaimers of the gospel and administrators of the sacraments?"

    So we see +HRC suggesting that you, Dr. Becker, need to repent. Whereas, you, Dr. Becker, believe that the no-WO'ers need to repent.

    Hence, we see the wisdom of Dave Petersen's earlier suggestion:

    "Either I am a closet misogynist or you deny the authority of the Holy Scripture or we are both wrong. But we can't both be right.

    So let's take this the next step. I don't know exactly how this works. Either you can bring me up on charges or I can bring you up on charges. But we really need to get this settled."

    Dr. Becker, are you up for ecclesiastical charges?

  56. Fr. Becker,

    In this fallen world all sorts of maladies affect the bodies and souls of the baptized people of God. This is a sad reality and I find it distasteful that you would use the sad condition of such people as wedges for your argumentation.

    People are born with bodily disabilities that prevent them from living fully active lives; others are born with proclivities and weaknesses toward certain sins that make it hard for them to live pious, productive lives; still others are born with character flaws that make it almost impossible for them to have normal relationships with other people.

    All of that is very sad - and none of it proves that physical abilities, sobriety, and piety are optional or can be set aside because they happen to be hard or impossible for some people with some problems.

    Likewise, that in this fallen world gender itself can be confused in the bodies or minds of certain individuals does not prove that gender is unimportant or able to be set aside.


  57. Dear Dr. Becker,

    Just out of curiosity: Do you believe the only difference between men and women is anatomical?

    Jon Krenz

  58. I'm glad to see, Matt, that you are now at least being honest about your position. Several years ago, when The LCMS Praesidium asked you questions, you refused to answer and hid behind your district president.

    Perhaps you could persuade Marie Meyer to be equally as candid about her views. She has been dodging/ducking questions on women's ordination for years.

    While I strongly disagree with you, Matt, and regret that you have chosen to take a different doctrinal path, I do want to compliment you for being honest.

    I recall at the 2001 convention when you were giddy about the election of Gerald Kieschnick, you were quite enthused about finally being able to push through the Seminex agenda in The LCMS.

    Thankfully, that has not happened. It is a shame to see you so badly misrepresenting what is happening in the SELK, but not surprising.

    I would encourage you, Matt, to seek fellowship within the NALC, which would seem to be a more appropriate church body for you, since you obviously are in disagreement with any number of the doctrinal positions of The LCMS.

  59. Dear Truth Unites...and Divides,

    Thank you for clarifying that you are not a pastor. I had no way of knowing, since you don't identify yourself by name or title. You claim to be the Truth that Unites and Divides. I had to chuckle when I came across your moniker the first time.

    You labeled me as Satan when you described me as a man of peace (he writes "civilly and charitably and peacefully...") and then ended your post with the quote from Dylan about a man of peace. "You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace." How else was I to interpret your use of that line? You had just been talking about me and not about anybody else. I asked my wife what she thought of your post and she immediately stated, "He's calling you Satan." But I'll be sure to ask my students this next week to whom they think the Satan quote from Dylan was being applied. (

    Nevertheless, I am now glad to read that you didn't intend your Dylan quote to be applied to me.

    BTW, where I come from, one does not normally call someone else, let alone a stranger, a "Dummkopf." In the future, you might also at least capitalize the noun, as is customary in proper German.

    Fraternal Greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  60. Dear Jon K.,
    Good to see your name here. I have fond memories of you as one of the better students I've been privileged to teach. Thank you for your question.

    The answer to your question is "No." There are differences but these do not preclude women from serving in positions of authority, including as pastor.

    Advent Greetings to you!
    Matthew Becker

  61. Just as a point of order in Dr. Becker's attempt to humiliate a layperson: the word "adiaphoron" is not a Latin word, and the word "your's" doesn't have an apostrophe.

  62. Paul M.,

    I have always been upfront about my theological positions. I also am responsible to my ecclesiastical supervisor. When given the questions that were put to me (by you?), I answered them as best I could. I would be happy to repeat those questions and answers here, if anyone is interested in that little episode.

    Paul, your ecclesiology is Judaistic and sectarian. Despite your protestations, we share the same faith. I adhere to the same confessions as you. I teach in accord with their doctrinal content, which is identical to the doctrinal content of the Scriptures.

    Unlike you, I would not wish for your removal from the synod, despite the fact that I think your position is similar to the pro-slavery Christians in the nineteenth century. Would you have sought to have an abolitionist Christian expelled from the synod, if he had dared to disagree with Dr. Walther on that issue?

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  63. That's the NINETEENTH amendment from 1920 that allowed women the francise in the US.

    Matthew Becker

  64. Fr. Becker,

    You wrote, "There is no basis for ecclesiastical charges. That would only eventuate in majority-minority votes, and you all said, "We don't vote on doctrine.""

    You are publicly teaching contrary to the stated confession of the Missouri Synod. That's kind of, well, you know, the definition of the time when charges of teaching false doctrine are called for.

    As for "not voting on doctrine." That's a red herring tossed around incorrectly and to no good effect by folks on all sides in this and every other theological debate.

    The Fathers at Nicea were not "voting on doctrine" - as if the power of their vote created truth. But they sure did vote - or rather, confessed the faith.

    Father Becker, you confess a very different faith from the faith I confess and from the faith that the Missouri Synod confesses.

    To return to an earlier example of mine, we can look to the example of baptizing children. If an ordained preacher in the Missouri Synod starting making arguments against infant baptism in the same manner that you are making arguments against a male-only clergy. . . well, we would fraternally encourage him to repent of his false teaching. If he did not, and persisted in publicly teaching that babies should not be baptized, I'd bet dollars to donuts that eventually somebody sure is going to file ecclesiastical charges against him.

    The Missouri Synod confesses that infants should be baptized and that women should not be ordained. That's just the way it is. You can try to change either one if you feel compelled to do so - but just don't act surprised, hurt, or sanctimonious when finally somebody says, "Hmmm...I don't really think that fellow is confessing the same Scriptural faith we are confessing."


  65. "The parenthetical statement in First Cor. 14:33b-36 is most likely an interpolation. "The textual corruption at this point would suggest this, as would later hyper-misogyny in early Christianity (as an overreaction against Gnostic female Christians), and the fact that other sections of the same letter clearly indicate that women did pray and prophesy publicly in Corinth (and elsewhere)."

    Always a sign of desperation, to allege an interpolation when and where the shoe pinches too tightly on one's own darling novel notions. May I recommend to my Lutheran friends (and fellow-contenders against the abomination of WO) the weighty tome ("weighty" in more ways than one) *Women in the Priesthood: A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption* by Manfred Hauke, trans. by David Kipp (San Francisco, 1988: Ignatius Press). The book was published in German in 1986, and you may learn more about Hauke here:

    I would recommend, in particular (in the light of the foregoing discussion) Part II, Ch. V ("The Testimony of Saint Paul") and especially subsections 3 ("Saint Paul's position on female offices"), 4 ("The influence of Marcion: the kernel of truth in the interpolation hypothesis") and 5 ("The dogmatic value of I Corinthians 14:33b-38"), which together span pp. 357-396 of the book. I would also recommend his later (1995) book *God or Goddess: Feminist Theology, What Is It? and Where Does It Lead?* also published by Ignatius Press.

    Hauke, happily, regards the purported "ordination" of women to "the diaconate" as just as much an erroneous novelty as their "ordination" to the episcopate and presbyterate. On that subject, however, the best Catholic treatments are *The Diaconate: An Historical Study* by Aime-Georges Martimort, which appeared in French in 1982 and in English from Ignatius Press in 1986, and *Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology* by Gerhard Ludwig Muller (now Bishop of Regensburg), which was published by Ignatius Press in 2002. All of these books are still in print, and easily available.

    As a Catholic, I will add that for many years I have been hoping and prating for a papal motu proprio "Ordinatio Diaconalis" to complement "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" of 1994, and to cut off that particular hydra's head in the Catholic Church which many "Catholic dissenters" have begun to support as a way of evading orthodox belief on the subject of WO.

  66. Paul M.,

    Was Dr. Luther a coward or a wise serpent when he "hid" behind Fred, disobeyed the pope and his minions, and criticized the questions that those minions sometimes put to him?

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  67. Fr. Becker,

    That's petitio principii. You're only like Luther if you are right - which is precisely the point under discussion. So such comparisons are not arguments in your favor - they are rather assumptions in your favor.


  68. Father Hollywood,

    You are right, adiaphoron is originally from the Greek, but I learned the word first in my Latin class. The term is in fact found in Latin dictionaries as well as English.

    The point is, the singular is "adiaphoron," the plural, "adiaphora."

    Sincerely yours,
    Matthew Becker

  69. Matt,

    No, you have not been "up front" Matt. When you were directly challenged to confess what you believed by the Praesidium of The LCMS, you prevaricated and refused to answer.

    And, by the way, you are no Martin Luther and Warren Schumacher is no Frederick the Wise, not by a long shot, in either case.


  70. HRC,

    Your definition of "faith" is deficient. I confess the same faith as you because we both confess the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, and we adhere to the doctrinal content of the Augsburg Confession. None of these creeds and no other creed includes the line, "I believe in a male-only clergy," just as no other creed or confession contains the line, "I believe that a person should not purchase life insurance or pray with Christians who are not Missouri Synod." The synod has changed its positions on all sorts of issues, including slavery, and yet the synod's confession has not altered, since the doctrinal content of the Scriptures remains unaffected by these changes.

    You have too narrow a view of what constitutes "doctrine," what constitutes faith.

    I confess and teach orthodox Trinitarian dogma, orthodox Christological dogma, the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the orthodox doctrine of baptism, the orthodox doctrine of the Lord's Supper, the orthodox doctrine of election, the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of government presented in AC 15, the orthodox doctrine about good works, the proper distinction between law and gospel, the orthodox doctrine of eschatology, and the orthodox doctrine of the holy ministry (AC V, XIV, XXVIII).

    And you think I do not have the same FAITH as you, all because I think God allows qualified women to serve as pastors? That's nonesense.

    I suppose if you had been living in the nineteenth century and were a devotee of Dr. Walther, you would think that I did not share the same Christian faith as you if I opposed slavery? What if I was in favor of life insurance in the early 20th century? Do you honestly believe you share the same dogmatic faith as our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters who believe in the immaculate conception of Mary, her bodily assumption into heaven, and the infallibility of the pope (who is still labeled the antichrist on the LCMS website)?

    To think that the doctrine of infant baptism, a clear dogmatic issue that is confessed in the Apostles' and Nicene creeds and the Augsburg Confession is on the same level as the practice of ordaining women is a truly false view.

    Your notions are too Judaistic, too narrow, too human. You are distorting a matter of human tradition, a matter that is an adiaphoron, into a doctrinal issue when the matter is merely a practical one. If a woman proclaims the gospel or administers the sacraments the gospel and sacraments are just as valid and efficacious as if a man did the proclamation and administration.

    I plead with you and all others who share your narrow views to reconsider what "doctrine" is, what "faith" is, what "the doctrine of faith" is, and what "practice" is.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  71. Pr. H. R.,

    And how did Dr. Luther know he was right to act the way he did? So many of his Roman detractors said to him exactly what you are writing to me.

    We each must give an account before almighty God, who alone can judge who is right and who is wrong. Meanwhile, we act as we discern the Lord directing us.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  72. We plead with you to repent, for that would be the greatest joy of all; or if you insist on persisting in advocating this false doctrine and counterfeit practice to do the honest thing and depart from a Synod whose faith and confession you no longer espouse.

  73. Brother Paul M.,

    I answered the loaded questions that were put to me, just as Luther answered the loaded questions that were put to him.

    While I was not risking my neck, I was in a position in which I could lose my position at Concordia University, Portland, and all for reasons that did not and do not touch "the doctrine of faith."

    We aren't saved or justified by whether or not we "confess" that women may or may not be pastors. That would be like saying, "Our confession of faith includes the truth that Nimrod was a great hunter..."

    Look, I don't claim to be Dr. Luther. I'm a maggot sack compared to him. But his actions and faith have given me much inspiration and motivation over the years. Most especially from Dr. Luther I have been encouraged by two things:

    (1) I am baptized;

    (2) I did not seek to become a doctor of theology, but it was thrust upon me, much like it was for Dr. Luther. You can blame Dr. Nagel for that. I'm sure he regrets it, perhaps as much as Staupitz may have regretted ordering LUther to study for the doctorate.

    So I am baptized, as was Dr. Luther; and I am a doctor of theology, as was Dr. Luther; and my conscience, too, is captive to the word of God (not to the church, not to church councils or popes, or to human traditions within the church). I continue to preach and teach Scripture most Sundays (currently serving a pastoral vacancy), and serve as a professor of theology at a major Lutheran university. I continue to live out my the public vows I made at my ordination.

    Fraternal greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  74. William Weedon,

    As I have already written, I share the same faith as you. My confession of faith is identical to yours.

    You are urging someone who shares your same faith to remove himself from the synod in which he was baptized, in which he was taught the faith (never once did ordination into the holy ministry ever appear as a element in that faith, and I was instructed by Dr. L. Dean Hemplemann, who also served as preacher at my ordination), in which I first received the Lord's body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins, in which I was further instructed in the faith at seminary, in which I was ordained, and in which I have continued to serve for more than twenty years.

    We disagree about the practical issue of whether or not a qualified woman may serve as pastor. That's not an issue of faith or doctrine or confession. That's a practical question about an adiaphoron.

    Fraternal Greetings,
    Matthew Becker

  75. Fr. Becker,

    More petitio principii. We are arguing about whether or not a male-only clergy is part of the faith once delivered to the saints. I say it is. You say it isn't. I, and many others, have provided the Scriptures to prove it. You have attempted to argue your way out from under them, even going so far as to say something of them aren't really there. And, I might add, you never answered my question bout your view of the pastorals: are they truly Pauline, in your opinion?

    The Nicene Creed also doesn't say that we can baptize babies. But that is part of the faith once delivered to the saints. The Augsburg Confession doesn't have a specific article defining homosexual acts as sins - but they are. Nor does the Formula have an article on abortion - but abortion is still a sin. You see, there's this other book: the Bible. And it says a lot of stuff, too. As polemical documents, we cannot expect the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran Confessions to cover every topic that the Bible covers.

    And as Fr. Weedon pointed out, part of our Augsburg Confession is that we accept nothing new in our doctrine or ceremony. Now, as you yourself have argued, the ordaining of women to the ministry would indeed be a new thing - you say in ceremony, I say also in doctrine. You think that we are called to grow into this opinion. I say the Word of God forbids it - repeatedly!

    You cannot with any integrity claim to think that this is an open question within the LCMS or historic Lutheranism. You are arguing for a novum. We want nothing of it.

    My dear friend and colleague Fr. Weedon has spoken to you very pastoral words above. I urge you to heed them. I would much rather have such a keen mind and ardent spirit as yours within our fellowship. But if you continue in your preaching and teaching of false doctrine and uncatholic practice, I'm afraid that just simply will not be.


  76. No, Matthew, no. It is not an adiaphoron, for it is a matter on which God Himself has spoken and you have shown that the only way you can circumvent His word is by pretending to an interpolation. Please, my brother, repent of this. You promised that all your preaching, teaching, and administration of the Sacraments would in accord with the Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. The Sacred Scriptures unequivocally state that women may not authoritatively teach in the Divine Service; the Lutheran Confessions state that we reject every novum in doctrine or ceremony. You cannot be faithful to your ordination promises and hold that a woman may be placed into the office of the holy ministry. Your Church, YOUR Church, confesses this.

  77. Prof. Becker,

    When Rev. McCain suggested that you take a look at the NALC it got me thinking about folks "splitting the difference" on WO and homosexual behavior. I have talked to many NALC folks/conservative ELCA folks who are opposed to blessing homosexual sin, but support WO. Many in Missouri have pointed to the connection between the two issues, but I have never been satisfied with arguments of how one can support one and not the other.

    So anyway, how do you support one and not the other.

    (And I guess I should say that my question assumes that you hold that homosexual behavior is forbidden by God. Unless you depart from our church's teaching on that issue as well, which would render my question moot.)

    Pastor David Ramirez

  78. Would "I believe one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" be a confession against women being ordained?

  79. Matt,

    I will say this, you may have many problems, but a lack of confidence is not one of them. Does your hubris have no limits? Apparently not.

    You and I both know what happened a number of years ago. You were asked point blank what your position was on the ordination of women. You were asked to tell The LCMS Praesidium what Scripture passages you use to teach that the ordination of women is contrary to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

    You dodged the questions. You lied about your position. It was a moment when integrity and honesty and courage was called for, and you failed utterly.

    I do not understand why you are in The LCMS. You obviously do not share her confession on any number of points.

    How and why you allowed yourself to become so enamored with Seminex era theology is beyond me. But it is quite evident to me, and many others, that you are simply living a lie right now. Your theological home is in the ELCA, and I would encourage you to seek its fellowship.

    Paul MCain

  80. Paul M.,

    What do you mean when you write, "You were asked to tell The LCMS Praesidium what Scripture passages you use to teach that the ordination of women is contrary to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions"? I don't understand this statement.

    The best theologians the LCMS has produced were active in the LCMS between 1931 and 1975, after the death of F. Pieper and before Anaheim. Several profs. were able to continue teaching at the undergraduate level well into the 1990s, but they had to be very careful.

    The interlopers and political opportunists who were the Preus brothers turned Missouri in a very, very bad direction. They played on people's fears and acted purely politically, under a veneer of outdated seventeenth-century orthodoxy. And I write this as someone who likes JAO Preus III, who was my professor at seminary. I would encourage you and all others to read the new book about that era that will soon be published by Fortress Press. Talk about a scandal. And we're still suffering under their baneful influence.

    I'm glad that their perspective, though held by an apparent political majority, at least for the time being, is not by any means a unanimous position.

    Paul, is your goal to remove from the synod all of those who would be open to the ordination of women? Do you really think you can purify the synod?

    You might succeed in removing me, but what then? I guess you'll go after the next person, and the next, and the next...

    What a waste of time and energy, imo, esp. when we share so much in common and that our real, common goal ought to be the same as St. Paul's, doing all things so that by any means we might save some.

    Fraternally yours,
    Matthew Becker

  81. Presidium of the LCMS

    ...This letter is in response to your letter of June 14, 1999...

    You have asked me, “Do you believe and clearly affirm that according to the Word of God the pastoral office is to be held only by men?”

    My response: The position of our Synod is that “those statements of Scripture which direct women to keep silent in the church and which prohibit them to teach and exercise authority over men [viz., 1 Cor. 14:33b-36; 1 Tim. 2:8-15] we understand to mean that women ought not hold the pastoral office” (1969 Resolution 2-17; cf. 1971 Resolution 2-04; 1977 Resolution 3-15; 1986 Resolution 3-10; 1989 Resolution 3-14; 1995 Resolution 3-17; 1998 Resolution 3-25A). I honor and uphold all of these synodical resolutions in the sense that the Synod itself states in Bylaw 1.09, b (cf. 1.09 c, 7). Although your questions may be using the expression “believe and clearly affirm” in the same sense as the Synod’s “honor and uphold,” I hope you will understand that I prefer to use the Synod’s own formulation.

    Your second question is: “Do you believe and clearly affirm that to teach that the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is wrong when it confesses that only men should hold this office is to teach contrary to the Word of God?”

    My response: To the extent that your second question repeats your first question and does not go beyond or conflict with Article II of the Constitution, the carefully nuanced 1969 Resolution 2-17 (reaffirmed in all the subsequent synodical resolutions on this matter cited above), 1962 Resolution 6-01, 1965 Resolution 2-08, and 1971 Resolution 5-24 (especially by requiring “a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer” also to this question), and to the extent that the formulation “believe and clearly affirm” has the same meaning as the official synodical formulation “honor and uphold,” and with the assumption that this second question merely asks for my opinion about a hypothetical situation involving someone else teaching that the LCMS position is wrong (and does not in fact ask about my own theological position or refer to something I am alleged to have taught), and despite the fact that this second question does not provide any information that might have a bearing as to why and in what respects this hypothetical individual teaches that the LCMS position is wrong (e.g., has this hypothetical person perhaps questioned whether the verb “confesses” is theologically appropriate for an affirmation of this kind?), please accept my response to your first question as also my response to your second question.

    I believe there must be continuing study and discussion of the relevant Scripture passages which underlie 1969 Resolution 2-17 and similar resolutions, and which may also relate to the question I was addressing in my Roselle presentation, namely, whether there is a Scriptural basis for denying women the opportunity to teach theology in a university of the LCMS or to teach the Word of God to men and women in certain other capacities. Matthew Becker

  82. What is to be preferred:

    Herr Dummkopf Becker or Doktor Dummkopf Becker? Or perhaps it should be Herr Doktor Dummkopf Becker? (Alright, I'm just being silly.)

    But I have to chuckle that as soon as I had observed in my prior comment that the one thing that this doctrinal dispute cannot be, an adiaphoron, you then promptly realized that you had to backtrack and start insisting that the whole matter is adiaphoron. Quite humorous, professor Becker. But you've been caught.

    Also, to let you know how fair this opponent is treating you, I will say that if the situation was reversed, and that there was a No-WO pastor in the ELCA who kept on insisting that the ELCA should become No-WO when the ELCA is doctrinally pro-WO, then I'm perfectly okay with the ELCA disciplining and possibly ex-communicating the No-WO pastor out of its ranks and suggesting that he join the LCMS.

    Fair's fair. So if I support LCMS booting out a pro-WO agitator, I'll also support ELCA booting out a No-WO agitator from its ranks. Fair is fair.

  83. Matt, thanks for showing how you avoided answering these questions, clearly and directly.

    You were not asked what the Synod "believes" but what you, Matthew Becker, personally, believe, teach and confess.

    An opportunity for honest confession was presented to you. You chose not to be honest.

  84. Dear Dr. Becker,

    Thanks for the clarification to my question... Please indulge me with one more: Do you believe our Lord Jesus Christ could just as well have become incarnate as a woman? Why or why not? Because it seems to me that this is more than just a practical question.

    Thanks again!
    Jon Krenz

  85. Fr. Becker,

    In regard to your letter of June 14, 1999: Um, wow.

    I think you just lost your argument about Luther again. When he was confronted with what he felt was unfair persecution (that could have led to his death!) he gave a clear confession of what he thought was the truth.

    When you faced possible expulsion from a teaching position in the MO Synod - you obfuscated and refused to answer a simple question.

    I am glad that you now have a position that does not hinder you in this regard. You've gone on record in front of your students, here on this blog, on your own blog, in print and in speaking engagements: you believe, teach, and confess that women should be ordained.

    You're wrong. But at least you are now being honest and up front.


  86. Dear Dr. Becker,

    I hope you will tell your students that you came to this site and picked this fight. There is no "witch hunt." You sought us out. You provoked us. You were in no way ignorant of our position or the position of the LC-MS.

    I hope you will also inform them that the martyrs of old who suffered and died for their confession suffered and died. They didn't get applauded by their students, admired by their peers, keep their positions, etc. I have no idea what your personal crosses are or how you might be suffering. But clearly this action has brought you no hardship or difficulty. I hope you aren't tempted to dishonor the suffering of the saints by claiming their glory as your own, or if you are, that you resist it.

    Your students would also be well served to learn what slander and libel are. Here is a very clear example: "The interlopers and political opportunists who were the Preus brothers . . . They played on people's fears and acted purely politically."


    Repent for the slander and judging of motives. Repent for twisting the Scriptures in regard to the Office of the Holy Ministry and for being dishonest in your allegiance and promise to teach the LCMS position.

    I respect men of conviction and conscience. If you believe that the Missouri Synod is violating the will of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures by forbidding the ordination of women, then by all means, be a man, and follow your conscience. Leave the LCMS. You won't be a martyr. You won't be Luther or a hero of the faith. But at least you will have integrity and pure motives.

    I will now call the bishop and see if we can help you in this direction for you own good.

    Yours in Christ,

    Dave Petersen
    Redeemer, Ft. Wayne

  87. The Rev. Dr. Torgerson sent me this comment via email - and I think it puts a good capstone on the discussion. I will soon create another post at the top inviting discussion on related points. - +HRC

    M Becker again -- also in a missive to me -- claims that there are "clear majorities" in the SELK for women's ordination.
    For the umpteenth time let me set the record straight: NEVER ONCE was there a majority either in the General Pastoral
    Conference (which must needs consider all matters of doctrinal import before the General Synod can make a decision on
    the issue involved) or in the General Synod itself -- again -- NEVER ONCE was there a majority for the introduction of
    WO; generally it was one-third in favour, two-thirds against; not even to speak of the two-thirds needed to change Art. 7
    of the SELK constitution. Where's the majority?

    Becker's argument: The Augsburg Confession does not mention (he probably means: does not prescribe) the issue. My
    counter-argument: Why should Melanchthon, better yet: the Church catholic say anything about something that was not in
    the least under contention? And Brother Weedon rightly pointed out: Confessio Augustana claims that the "Lutherans" have
    introduced "no innovation"! Surely, even M Becker must admit: WO is exactly that: novum.

    And it was most interesting to follow M Becker's line of argumentation: Verses going against his view are labelled "most
    likely an interpolation"; points made which he does not like are a "disconnect from this 21st-century western world"; that
    "all" -- including women -- "may legitimately pray and prophesy publicly" is then by slight of hand used as an argument in
    favour of women in the teaching/preaching ministry of the Church and the presidency at the worship service. The arguments
    from the order of creation are simply dismissed as "out of date"; and any arguments against WO are simply labelled "not

    One last point about our SELK and its discussion process: it was and is extremely painful; it has opened up the question
    of the continuance of our church body as part of the catholic tradition and obedience to a dominical command. The whole
    discussion process has almost paralyzed our outreach, preoccupied pastoral conferences, foisted a discussion on parishes
    and church members that does nothing to strengthen their faith or enhance their spiritual life.

    Some months ago the German news magazine "Focus" in an article called for a "Frauenquote" (women's quota) in the
    public ministry of the Church. In my letter to the editor I gave this reminder: "There already is such a quota, and it is 0%.
    And it is adhered to by the majority of Christians since the beginnings of the Christian Church to this day: Eastern Orthodox,
    Roman Catholics, Traditional Anglicans and Confessional Lutherans."