Friday, November 22, 2013

Tony Jones Wants a Divorce. Me Too!

By Larry Beane

A postmodern theologian named Tony Jones, writing for Patheos, is calling for a divorce over the issue of women's ordination.

Thank you!

I'm pleased that others on the other side of this issue see the incompatibility of the two positions.  The broken Anglican Communion is a case in point.  For many years, women were "ordained" as "deacons" and "priests" but not as bishops - as Canterbury's big-tent approach sought to keep both factions under one steeple.  Of course, as the years have rolled on, the big-tent has become the big-top, with the issue of sex drifting from the sacrament of orders to the sacrament of matrimony.  The house of compromises cannot be patched together indefinitely.  It seems that the inevitable draws near, and the "consecration" or female "bishops" in the Anglican Communion will simply be an anticlimactic whimper rather than a revolutionary bang.

Closer to home, traditional Lutherans in Sweden wishing to be ordained in the "Church" of Sweden had to receive "communion" from the hand of a woman "priest" three times to root out any possible reservations about the communion's leadership's disavowal of sex differences between men and women.  When Archbishop Walter Obare (Sabre of Boldness) consecrated a Mission Province bishop, Arne Olsson, in 2005, thus enabling Swedes to have a path to traditional pastoral ordination for advocates of the ancient church's practice, the "bishops" in the "Church" of Sweden declared the Mission Province to be in a state of schism - and forbade "Church" of Sweden clergy from participating in rites with this non-geographical Swedish diocese.  It is interesting to note that the "Church" of Sweden, though theoretically Lutheran, is open to sharing communion with bodies that are not Lutheran; the Mission Province alone was singled out for status as a "schism."  And it is also interesting to note that the then-"archbishop" of the "Church" of Sweden, defender of women's "ordination," sanctioned the display of gay porn in the Cathedral of Uppsala.  The issues of whether a woman can be ordained and whether a woman can marry a woman are essentially the same issue: they are actually inquiries into the authority of the Bible.

At any rate, for the Anglican Communion, for the "Church" of Sweden, and for Tony Jones, the issue of women's "ordination" has become "the issue by which the 'church' stands or falls."

Mr. Jones is correct when he writes: "But sometimes we need to separate.  We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way Jesus laid out for us.  We need to divorce."


Those who "ordain" women and those who do not are not both Christian.  They are incompatible.  They are two different religions worshiping different deities.  In the past, those who "ordain" women insisted that they are the same as us; they pushed us to recognize them, treat them as fellow Christians, to recognize their "ministries" and accept their "sacraments."  They would sidle up to us wearing clerical blouses and demand our attention.  Even within our own church body, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, some men argue that we should refer to these women as "pastors" and treat them as fellow Christians.

Again, thank you Mr. Jones for boldly stating the truth that we are not of the same faith, we do not worship the same Christ, nor affirm the same Spirit.

He calls for the complete and total separation between those who affirm, and those who deny, women's "ordination."  I could not agree more.  I would not refer to this, however, as merely a schismatic break.  Schism is a break between Christians.  In the case of the Great Schism of 1054, there remains mutual recognition of sacraments and ministries between what became the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions.  Similarly, as Jones raised the issue of the Reformation, Lutherans recognize the Christianity and sacraments of their "separated brethren."

But this issue is different.

As Tony Jones is calling for the issue of women's ordination to be confessionally definitive, Ebenezer "Lutheran" is one example of a "church" he would not consider to be separated from himself by schism.  He would consider them to be "enlightened" and is not calling for anyone to "leave that church [sic]" or "leave that ministry [sic]."  Their honesty is refreshing, as they fully embrace the theology that is inherent in women's "ordination."

And again, I agree with him.  Even though Ebenezer has the name "Lutheran" on it, there is no way we Missouri Synod Lutherans could even pray with such a congregation and its members who worship a goddess and openly incorporate pagan worship.  We would consider this syncretism, and it is forbidden not only by our bylaws, but by the first commandment.

So my only objection to Tony Jones is that his "hard words" are not hard enough.  His divorce is more like a "let's be friends" breakup text after a few dates.  For he is correct that one of us is not just professing an error or a false doctrine, but that one of us is actually "anti-Christian" and "should be tolerated no longer."  We disagree as to who is whom.

In the LCMS, if any congregations or rostered lay church workers call for the "ordination" of women, they should be removed from the roster by the district president with oversight.  If a pastor teaches such doctrine, he should be defrocked.  And if a district president refuses to do his duty in this endeavor, he should be defrocked.  Tony Jones may, in this sense, be more faithful than men in our own leadership who would see "ordained" women as merely an error we can live with, if not something that they may, in fact, believe in.

We should make it very clear in any theological talks that any women purporting to be "ordained" are at best laypeople, and they are not to be recognized in any way.  Their leaders must renounce them, or they cannot be recognized as fellow Christians by our synod, its leaders, its pastors, and its laity.  They should certainly not be considered "partner churches."  Tony Jones is correct in calling for a clean break.

For this is not a matter of mere schism, but of heresy.

For if the traditional teaching of the one holy catholic and apostolic church that pastors must be male is wrong in 2013, then it was also wrong in 1517.  By Tony Jones's own opinion, those who "ordain" women in 2013 are not in fellowship with the 16th century churches of the Reformation.  It cannot be that violence and hatred against women were right and justified in the sixteenth century, but suddenly became wrong and unjust in the twenty-first century.  If we are wrong now, we were wrong then.

And if churches that refuse to "ordain" women are "anti-Christian" and guilty of "subjugation" and "misogynistic practices" and "not faithful to the Bible" as well as "doing great violence to women and men and the cause of Christ," then this separation between our church and Tony Jones's "church" extends back even further than the Reformation.  In 1054, both halves of the Great Schism equally and universally affirmed the maleness of bishops, priests, and deacons.  And this was also the practice at the time of the seven great councils, beginning at Nicea in 325.  This was also the case in the days of the Apostolic Fathers (there were no Apostolic Mothers).  This was also the case with the churches founded by the apostles themselves, who only ordained other men into the holy office.

And here is where we get to the crux of the matter: Tony Jones's big christological and trinitarian problem.

For if withholding ordination from women is wrong today, it was wrong yesterday, it was wrong the day before, last week, and last month.  It was wrong last year, last century, and last millennium.  It is a practice that must have been wrong in the days of the apostles, and it was wrong when our blessed Lord did it Himself as well.

For Jesus chose twelve men.  He could have chosen to ordain Mary Magdalene or Martha, or His blessed mother for that matter.  He had many faithful women disciples to choose from, to send out as preachers, to place into the holy office.  But he didn't.  He ordained only men.  Jesus was never afraid to break with tradition.  Jesus never flinched at casting aside ritualism that was contrary to God's will.  Jesus was never motivated by cowardice into acting unjustly.  Jesus did not allow the mores of the day to define righteousness for him and for his disciples.

And if withholding the holy office from women is wrong in 2013, it was equally wrong in 30 AD.  And if Jesus of Nazareth was guilty of the sin of misogyny (as many accuse St. Paul of), if He started the very practice of this "great violence against women and men" that has lingered for 20 centuries, and if He acted contrary to the "Spirit" - then He is a phony.  He is no God, but a mere, sinful, sexist, hateful, chauvinistic man.

And anyone who argues thus against our Lord is outside of the Church.  Such people deny the Trinity.  And this is the inevitable conclusion we must draw concerning those who "ordain" women - even if they cry "Lord, Lord" and claim to have worked miracles.

Those who "ordain" women deny the second article of the creeds.  They are outside of the Church.  They are with the women of Ebenezer praying the diabolical goddess rosary.  They stand with the serpent who lured Eve into rebelling against the created order by inquiring, "Did God actually say?"  And I agree with Tony Jones that complementarianism is incompatible with women's ordination.

Another "Amen!"

Tony Jones cites the "Spirit" as evidence of the alleged correctness of women's "ordination."  It is fitting that he does not say "Holy Spirit."  For the Holy Spirit has spoken in Holy Scripture.  And as the Church has understood, confessed, and practiced for two millennia, there are no female "overseers" or "elders" in the New Testament, even as there were no priestesses in the Old Testament.  The Lord God has not revealed new Scriptures to us, no new revelations, and certainly has not spoken to us through a godless culture to reveal that He is doing something radically different than our Lord Jesus did.  Feelings and political correctness do not trump Scripture, no matter how unpopular.  Tony Jones is being moved by a different spirit, the same spirit that motivates "baptisms" no longer conducted in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather in a name deemed less "sexist."

I salute Mr. Jones's honesty in pointing out that we are of a different spirit.  Indeed, we are of a different confession, different religion, and that we do not both worship the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, nor the same sinless Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, who in His righteousness and compassion ordained twelve men and sent them to baptize and preach, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20).

He is not with both of us.  Tony Jones is right.  We need that divorce.  For the unity has already been broken.


  1. "In the LCMS, if any congregations or rostered lay church workers call for the "ordination" of women, they should be removed from the roster by the district president with oversight. If a pastor teaches such doctrine, he should be defrocked. And if a district president refuses to do his duty in this endeavor, he should be defrocked."

    This brings to mind an August 11, 2008, article, "More LCMS Winking at Women's Ordination," discussing the "strange working relationship" ("selective fellowship"?) between the LCMS and The Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia (ECAC).

    Also, a November 19, 2010, article "The LCMS and Women's 'Ordination'" discussing the LCMS signing a "working agreement" (is this "selective fellowship"?) with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession,

    And then there is the February 19, 2012, article, "A Question Concerning Districts", which discusses pastrix ordination in the "Mekane Yesus Lutheran (sic) Church (sic) in Ethiopia" (EECMY). There is also a secret "partnership agreement" (another euphemism for "selective fellowship"?) between the LCMS and the pastrix-ordaining (for >13 years) EECMY, whose General Secretary Berhanu Ofgaa (since 2009) is also on the clergy roster of the LCMS, under the ecclesiastical supervision of Ohio District President Terry Cripe.

    And there are the other pastrix-laden religious organizations like NALC, CORE, ACNA with whom the LCMS has lately been playing footsie.

  2. "In the LCMS, if any congregations or rostered lay church workers call for the "ordination" of women, they should be removed from the roster by the district president with oversight. If a pastor teaches such doctrine, he should be defrocked. And if a district president refuses to do his duty in this endeavor, he should be defrocked."

    Within the Missouri Synod polity, the action of "defrocking" a divinely called pastor of a LCMS congregation for promoting or taking part in pastrix ordination consists of two parts. First, a congregation may depose their pastor (remove his divine call) for Scripturally based reasons. Second, the Synodical District may, through its Dispute Resolution Process, expel a church worker from the synodical roster. Either action may occur first, but presuming one action is justified, the other action should then follow. When only one action occurs, and the other action does not, then one or more actions may (or not) occur:

    1. The deposed pastor submits his resignation from membership in the Missouri Synod.
    2. The expelled pastor submits his resignation from his Divine Call to the congregation.
    3. The congregation withdraws from the LCMS because the District expelled its called pastor from the synod roster.
    4. The congregation is expelled as a synodical member for refusing to depose its called pastor who has been expelled from synodical membership by the District.

    A District President, who has no Divine Call as a pastor of a congregation, but only serves as an elected corporate executive, is not "defrocked" but is only expelled from synod membership. Without synod membership he is not eligible for a Divine Call as a pastor of a Missouri Synod congregation or to hold the office of District President.

    Finally, as one can readily see from public examples, the actions which should be taken are not always the actions that have been taken.

  3. It's the sequence Krauth noted a century and a half ago: first error asks mere toleration; it moves on to demand equality; it invariably finally insists on the removal of truth itself. That's why the harmless little snake head trying to squeeze through the door needs to be rather ruthlessly smashed with the rock of the Lord's Word!

  4. It comes as little surprise that many pastors are willing to tolerate the idea of women pastors, when the LCMS has refused to come down firmly on the matter of women reading Scripture during worship. That's all the "foot in the door" they need.

  5. I had a bit of a different reaction to this...

  6. The Word found in the Epistles testifies clearly to an exclusively male clergy; just as does the earliest post-Resurrection behavior of the Risen Word.

    On Easter Sunday, the Lord forbids the astonished and gladsome St. Mary of Magdala to grasp Him. The reason, the Christ says, is that He has "not yet ascended to [His] Father (Jn 20:17)." But no such restriction as to touch occurs in the instance of one Didymus, eight days later (Jn 20:26), by the still unascended Christ. In fact, the Lord Jesus, in the interest of faith, seems to invite Himself to be literally man-handled: "Thrust your fingers into My side," He encourages the astonished and gladsome St. Thomas. "You, you my chosen and ordained Apostle are permitted to touch Me."

    The distinction between male and female could never be more pronounced, with respect to what is a Sacramental action upon the Ascension's occurrence.

    The Ascension signaled the coming fulfillment of the Spirit's descent, which event empowered the Apostles to preach the Word and ... no less importantly ... to administer the Body and Blood of our Lord; to handle Him, as it were. The Apostles in turn ordained other men to do the same, to feed newly established churches, through means of a laying-on of hands (Acts 8:14, 17).

    In the New Era of Grace, women may have at times prophesied and testified to the saving Truth (as did e.g., Philip of Caesarea's four daughters; and indeed Mary of M herself, to those cowering gents behind locked doors), but there is no explicit Scriptural witness to women handling the Eucharistic elements in the course of the "breaking of bread."

    An argument from silence? Granted, this may well be so; but the differential treatment of the Magdalene and "the Twin" is conspicuously noteworthy, and in the economy of God's Word, certainly beyond that of caprice or coincidence.

    His ways are not our ways; and in a world in which the "Church" at large is increasingly going off the tracks, and insisting that egalitarianism is the prime proposition by which it stands or falls, this revelation sadly becomes ever more evident.

  7. So the LC-MS isn't going to send any more mission workers/teachers to countries like Estonia and Slovakia where there were women ordained under communism, even though these churches have been faithful under difficult circumstances for many years?

    1. Dear George:

      First of all, Estonia has an established Christian presence. How arrogant to think they need American missionaries. The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church grew out of the Estonian Church. And I think Bp. Lytkin (SELC) - who was ordained under the auspices of the Estonian Church - is in a better position to deal with them than we are. How does he deal with them? They are not in fellowship with women clergy. They will not participate in any rites with vested women. They make it clear that a woman "pastor" is not a pastor, nor is she ordained. They do not send pastors to teach women seminarians in their seminary - which is what the LCMS did for many years in Slovakia - where 30% of the candidates for pastoral ministry were women.

      What witness did this give to the world? What message did this send to Lutheran churches around the world being hard-pressed to maintain biblical orthodox teaching on male-only ministry?

      I know of at least one young American whom the LCMS sent as a lay missionary to Slovakia who spent an entire year receiving "communion" from a priestess because she assumed that the LCMS was in fellowship with this body, and, nobody told her this was wrong.

      Missionaries are to preach what Christ sent them to preach. We don't partner with the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Jews - even though both have been terribly oppressed by Communism. We are primarily preachers of the Gospel, not social workers.

      I find a disturbing trend of acceptance of female "ordination" - and I think it's because deep down inside, there is an embarrassment that we are out of step with the majority of Protestant Christianity in having capitulated to feminism. There is a part of us that is embarrassed by the Word of God, and we don't want to be accused of being a "fundie."

      If our confession is so unclear that young LCMS church workers are communing from a woman "pastor," this is indicative of a problem with the clarity of our confession, wouldn't you agree?

  8. For a church that "celebrates diversity", anyone else notice that it's 99% White and middle/upper middle class?
    The Tea Party probably has more non-White members; the Southern Baptist convention's average church certainly does.

    1. For a church that "celebrates diversity", anyone else notice that it's 99% White and middle/upper middle class?

      That has NOT been my impression at Zion-Detroit, which is admittedly uniquely Godly in many ways. That aside, one can, I suppose, celebrate the diversity of the Church and of Heaven at large. And I'm not sure that diversity of Heaven itself, necessarily excludes those classed as White (sic) or the upper/middle class (sic).

      Hopefully, if one can make allowances for the "difficult circumstances for many years" of others, perhaps some small token gesture of compassion can be made available for the historical origins and circumstances of the Lutheran Church at large, in America. And whatever the genetic composition of the "average" Southern Baptist congregation happens to be ... something dictated in some part by history and geography ... of some importance is that such gatherings prefer, on average, to lock Christ Jesus up in heaven on Sundays. In short, it's not like the grape-juice swilling Arminians are all that faithful to the Word, either.

      Obviously, an evangelistic outreach to other nationalities (of origin) can and must be made, as our Lord encourages the Church to teach all nations ... although it must be said that, while the Lord used a corded whip to cleanse the Temple, He didn't use it (or Dame Statistics) to spur His followers on at Mt. Olivet. Obviously there have been many human failures, along the way, to follow His urgings. But I'm not sure we are called on to divide the nations further, by focusing so intently on melanin or the coins in someone's pocket. While it may be exceedingly difficult for the White and certain classes of economic development to wiggle through the eye of a needle ... anyone else notice that Jesus has declared that with God, nothing is impossible?

      I don't think that it's simply an expression of that "positive psychology" flummery. God loves the White and Joseph of Arimathea, too, despite all their hideous failures and silences, be it in the streets or within the halls of the Sanhedrin.

      Your (unworthy) servant,
      Herr Doktor

    2. George, are you the same George Waite who recently posted on another blog: "Church is boring. I’m glad I don’t waste time, money and effort on it. Mainline Protestantism is pretty much Something White People Like"?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Dear George:

      This is indeed troubling. And it is ubiquitous. For example, the Lutherans in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) are disturbingly undiverse. I would wager that not more than one in a thousand is white, and the dearth of Asians in that church body could only be considered a scandal to the modern suburbanite American Christian.

      What to do?

      Of course, there is at least a passing relationship to the demographics of the country. And as far as American Lutherans go, the vast majority of Lutherans are of Germanic or Scandinavian origin. And most Lutherans learn the faith from their parents. Having said that, I do have parishioners of all ethnicities in my congregation, though most are French. Why? Well, I'm in Louisiana. Here in the South, we do have Lutheran churches comprised of mostly or all black people. That's going to be a little demographically different in a small town in rural Iowa or Minnesota - where a lot of our churches are concentrated.

      If your implication is, that we're hostile to non-whites, you should have the courage and the integrity to come out and say it. Is this what you mean to say? I live in a racially-mixed neighborhood. My congregation is respected in our community, even if most of our black neighbors prefer to attend the Methodist and Baptist churches they were raised in.

      Any by the way, the church we confess in our creeds is the una sancta. We are one with the ELCK and churches across the globe. Our church is the most ethnically diverse organization in the history of the world. Our church knows no single border, nation, language, or culture. And it is high time we stop treating the rest of the world's people like colonies to enlighten. News flash: Africa is now evangelizing Europe. And thanks be to God they are!

  9. "Church is boring. I’m glad I don’t waste time, money and effort on it. Mainline Protestantism is pretty much Something White People Like"?

    I don't understand why some people are so "race conscious." It seems like a bizarre throwback to segregation and apartheid. This is kind of creepy, and frankly, has no place in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.


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