Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Problem With Pan

By Larry Beane

Pan-Lutheran organizations have always been troublesome to confessional Lutherans.  We don't want to give the impression of theological agreement when there is no agreement.  We don't want to imply fellowship when there isn't.  But in the past, it was much easier to cooperate in some matters not involving sacramental fellowship.

But that's different today.

With several "Lutheran" bodies in the United States and in the world denying the authority of Holy Scripture in matters of the created order of sex (now cleverly spiritualized by the euphemism "gender"), such cooperation has become nettlesome, to say the least.  The "gender" issue manifests itself primarily in the Christian world in two ways: women's "ordination" and homosexual "marriage."

Most who advocate one, advocate both - as indeed this is intellectually and hermeneutically consistent.  Some denounce homosexual marriage while paradoxically accepting female "ordination" - straining the gnat of a woman being a "husband," while swallowing the camel of a woman being a "reverend father."

And so this dichotomy makes for strange bedfellows.

It's a slam-dunk that we're not really going to have much overlap with the ELCA.  Aside from some awkward pre-existing conditions, such as the joint ELCA-LCMS parochial school in the next town over from where I serve, and Valpo (where an LCMS pastor who openly promotes women's "ordination" is protected by the COP bureaucracy), we're not likely to rub elbows with those who worship goddesses.

But there are worldwide and domestic bodies with whom the LCMS is in dialogue or even partnership, organizations that have women wearing clerical collars.  And what to do about these situations is more tricky.

But the real devil is in Pan-Lutheranism.

One example is Thrivent.  Many people have insurance and investment accounts with this "Pan-Lutheran" company.  They also put out a glossy magazine featuring "Lutheran pastors" of both sexes.  This serves to "normalize" something that ought to not merely be incongruous, but repugnant: women wearing clerical garb and using titles of the office of the holy ministry.

And here (click ahead to pages 12 and 13) is a recent example from another "Pan-Lutheran" organization: Lutherans For Life.

While championing sexual purity, they are promoting an unbiblical sexual situation by featuring an article by a lady "pastor."  They are nodding to the very feminism that has slaughtered sixty million unborn children.  LFL's contact info is here.

I believe we need to speak clearly and firmly on this issue.  Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering persecution for opposing feminism's triple-horned beast of women's ordination, homosexual marriage, and infanticide.  We are desperately trying to raise our sons and daughters to respect the biblical order of creation and the complementarity between the sexes - which is anathema to modern feminism, both inside and outside the church.  To have copies of these magazines (that portray women in collars) in our homes is akin to having normalized pictures of gay couples imitating Christian marriage.  Such images - especially in a Lutheran context - teach the very opposite of how we catechize our young (and older) people in the sixth commandment and in the authority of God's Word.

The issue of women's "ordination" refuses to go away in the LCMS.  And indeed, there is more and more toleration of individual woman "preachers" whose celebrity status seems to be beguiling some in our communion.  Feminism has been insidious and seductive (to both sexes) from the beginning.

So maybe it's time to say goodbye to the chimera Pan for the sake of the Gospel and for the clarity of our confession.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Satan truly disguises Satanself as an angel of light! I think we have less to fear from athiests who clearly contradict the Word then we do from clever counterfeiters who appropriate the language and symbols of Christianity to demonic ends. One example is the Mormon apologist on Issues, Etc. who boldly lied about Mormon history and doctrine in order to advance the lie that the LDS is but another Christian denomination.

    Another is the slick Nadia Bolz-Weber who managed to (temporarily) pull the wool over the eyes of even the estimable Lutheran writer G.E. Veith. We can thank God that Chris Rosebrough is discerning and patient enough to really understand and expose Bolz-Weber's false theology. We have to give her credit: It manages to sound A LOT like orthodox Lutheran theology at points.

    But as she continues to talk, NBW is starting to sound less like a more colorful version of an orthodox Lutheran preacher, and more like a slightly toned-down version of herchurch.

  3. Right, because it is soooo difficult to confuse a woman "pastor" with a preacher of the Gospel that we should learn from. I would hope that for the mature Christian that it would not take much time or discernment to see through a shock-jock woman who defies the Word's prohibition of women teaching men with authority.

    Which brings us to a good point:

    Many times it is not because our enemies are so slick and conniving that we get fooled; but that we are so prideful and itching after worldly things, we fool ourselves.

    That is a danger we should all take to heart.

  4. Years ago, while sitting around a LFL national board table, the question arose: Would we be willing to work with a pro-life, woman "pastor." Several said "yes." I replied, "No." While she and I might agree that abortion is wrong, we would have serious conflict on issues of identity, the created order, marriage and family. In short, she and I would not be standing together on the Word of God ~ Linda Bartlett

  5. Today I received a response from Dr. Lamb of LFL. As you will see, he specifically asked for it to be shared as widely as possible.

    Dr. Lamb's letter:

    My sincere apologies for the offense caused by inclusion of an article in LifeDate by Dr. Amy Schifrin. You are right, this was a huge editorial mistake. Your admonition and that of others helped me understand the great offense given when this was seen as promoting female clergy. I take full responsibility and seek your forgiveness for this offense.

    For what it is worth, allow me to explain the circumstances that led to this. Early in their formation the NALC made overtures to LFL. Many of their pastors had never heard of us. NALC’s Bishop Bradosky and I have met on several occasions and have a good relationship. One of the first things he wanted done was an official statement on the God-given value of human life. He consulted with me on that. Ultimately, an ad hoc committee in the NALC was formed and came up with the statement. Dr. Schifrin was the main author.

    I thought it would be good for our relationship with the NALC to have one of their pastors write a Life Sunday sermon. I asked Bishop Bradosky for a list of pastors who could approach these issues from a solid Christ-centered, Law/Gospel approach. Evidently there was a communication break down. Instead of a list, Bishop Bradosky sent me an email saying he had asked Dr. Schifrin to write the sermon and she accepted. This I could not allow for it would indeed be recognizing female clergy as legitimate and would violate our relationship with the LCMS as a Recognized Service Organization.

    In an amiable conversation with Dr. Schifrin, she agreed not to author a sermon. I should have left it at that, but instead I suggested that she author an article for LifeDate. As it has turned out, this was a great error in judgment for I have actually perpetrated that which I was seeking to avoid.

    [continued in next comment]

  6. [Dr. Lamb's letter continued...]

    Perhaps an analogy will help you understand why I made a distinction. I would never have a Baptist pastor author a Life Sunday sermon. Yet, we have had a Baptist pastor, Dr. Russel Moore, write for LifeDate and even speak at an LFL conference on the blessings of our adoption in Christ and of adopting children. This does not mean that LFL or I promote Baptist theology. The same could be said of other non-Lutherans who have written in LifeDate and spoken at our conferences such as creationist Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis or syndicated talk show host Steve Deace. Giving someone a platform from which to speak on issues we have in common does not imply acceptance of that which we do not have in common.

    However, it is clear to me now that her article, picture, and bio appeared to do just that and, therefore, was offensive. For this I again apologize and seek your forgiveness. I pray you will understand that it was not my nor LFL’s intent to promote women clergy. I have had this article removed from the online version of LifeDate and from the downloadable PDF. I will address the issue in the next LifeDate.

    LFL was founded to serve all Lutherans. Both the relatively new LCMC and the new NALC provide many opportunities to do so. These groups are eager for our materials and thankful that such an organization exists. They have each officially recognized LFL as a ministry partner. Helping Lutherans understand the absolute critical importance of the sanctity of life is something we can and should work together in promoting. The disregard for life and its wanton destruction in our culture and the accepting nod or the nod of silence of many in the Church undermine the essential doctrines of the Christian faith—Creation, Redemption, and Sanctification. I thank you for your quick and zealous response to defend the LCMS position on the doctrine of male headship and male clergy and for calling me to task when you felt it was being undermined. I thank you for your relationship with LFL and pray that you will continue to be zealous as you speak out boldly defending and promoting the God-given sacredness of life.

    As I cannot possibly apologize personally to everyone, please share this response with others that you know were offended.

    Your servant For Life,

    Jim Lamb

  7. I think it can be demonstrated that homosexuality in the church follows the acceptance of female clergy, that is to say feminism. I can recommend "Why is Feminism so Hard to Resist?" by Rev. Paul R. Harris. Repristination Press 1998.

    Stephen Harris
    Elder: Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Kewanee, IL

  8. The article by NALC Pastrix Amy C. Schifrin, for now, can be seen here.

    Also the linked Southern District article, "Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus" states:

    "A partnership agreement was signed by the LCMS and the EECMY in January 2010 that formalizes the relationship for mutual mission as church bodies and provides a framework for exploring each other’s understanding of our Lutheran identity."

    What the SD article fails to tell the readers is that the EECMY person who was likely involved in the agreement was EECMY General Secretary Berhanu Ofgaa, who is also a rostered member of the LCMS (effectively making the LCMS and EECMY in altar and pulpit fellowship, which the SP has the power to declare).

    Furthermore, the LCMS/EECMY partnership agreement is a secret document, as Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of LCMS church relations, explained, when asked to provide a copy:

    “LCMS legal counsel informed me that it is not wise to place these sorts of documents on the web as they are proprietary and privileged communications between the President of the LCMS and other church leaders. In fact, we cannot publicize the agreements between church bodies without permission of the church bodies.”

    Whether recalling 1 John 4:1 or an old Russian proverb, “doveryai no proveryai,” one wonders if the church leaders, who signed off on the Lutheran Symbols, would have been advised by the Saxon legal counsel that it is not wise to make these sorts of documents publicly available as they are proprietary and privileged communications between the various Electors and other church leaders.


Comments are moderated. Neither spam, vulgarity, comments that are insulting, slanderous or otherwise unbefitting of Christian dignity nor anonymous posts will be published.