Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia

The Final Report of the LCA Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations on the Ordination of Women

A. The process in brief

The 1997 General Convention of the LCA gave the Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations (CTICR) the task of studying the issue of the ordination of women, reporting to pastors conferences and congregations, and presenting a Final Report with recommendations to the 2000 synod. This involved the CTICR working through four stages.

First, it was necessary to identify the theological issues involved and study them in depth. This procedure has in fact been in progress since at least 1991 with the release of Ordination of Women: Final Report of the Special Committee to the Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations, LCA, and then the study booklet in 1992, Women in Ministry. This has been a complicated task. Even as recently as September 1999, the commission revisited a number of issues raised as a result of the forums conducted throughout the church.

Secondly, Resolution 79.d of the 1997 Synod asked that the CTICR:

  • finalise its study of the question of women being ordained as pastors,
  • complete its study during 1998,
  • during 1998 provide congregations with a range of appropriate study resources,
  • report to district pastors conferences and to congregations early in 1999, and
  • present a final report with recommendations to General Synod in 2000.

In response to that resolution, the CTICR released an Initial Report to the church in 1998. The main purpose of this paper was to present the issues to the church. The report outlined the areas of agreement as far as the doctrine of ministry and the understanding of scripture was concerned. It also included brief summaries of the case for the ordination of women and the case for the ordination of men only so that the whole church could also share in the process of evaluating arguments and weighing the evidence. The majority decision of the commission was that ‘on balance, scripture and the Lutheran Confessions allow the ordination of women‘.

The third stage was to serve the church and the College of Presidents by involvement in a series of forums throughout the church, both to outline the content of the Initial Report and also to receive feedback from the church. In addition the issue was studied at pastors conferences throughout Australia and New Zealand. Feedback from individuals and groups was received, tabulated, studied, and considered.

The last stage was the presentation of this Final Report together with recommendations to the 2000 synod. At the meeting of 7-8 September 1999, most of the commission concluded that ‘scripture and theology permit the ordination of women‘. The commission agreed, however, that it was not its place to recommend whether women’s ordination be implemented. It therefore

recommends that this report be received, and that the opinion of the majority be put to synod for a decision.

This has been an on-going struggle for the commission. It has become aware of the hurt of those who believe that the exclusion of women from the ordained ministry in our social and cultural context is contrary to the gospel, and the hurt also of those who believe that to ordain women would be to act contrary to God’s word. Both women and men have strong convictions and experience pain over the issue. The commission has not been able to reach consensus on the main issue. Nevertheless it holds that it has complied with the synod’s request and sought to serve the best interests of synod in forwarding this final report.

B. Summary of arguments for the ordination of women

The majority of the commission concluded that ‘scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA’. The reasons for the conclusion are those summarised in the Initial Report, as follows:

B.1 The relevance of the key texts

The two texts (1 Cor 14:331 Cor 14:33
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33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints,

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b-40 and I Tim 2:11-15) appealed to in opposing the ordination of women do not warrant the conclusions drawn from them. They are ambiguous and open to various interpretations. For example, in 1 Corinthians 14:341 Corinthians 14:34
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34 let your wives keep silent in the assemblies, for it has not been permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as the law also says.

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it is not clear what kind of ‘silence’ Paul is commanding women to observe since women are praying and prophesying (1 Cor 11:5,131 Cor 11:5,13
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5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved. 13 Judge for yourselves. Is it appropriate that a woman pray to God unveiled?

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). Further, it is not clear to what the ‘command of the Lord’ (1 Cor 14:371 Cor 14:37
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37 If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him recognize the things which I write to you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.

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) refers, eg to the silence of the women or to the necessity for good order in worship. In 1 Timothy 2 Paul is calling on women to adopt a quiet attitude which learns rather than seeks to teach. But it is unclear to whom or what they are ‘to be in subjection’ (v 11), or what it means to ‘have authority over’ a man (v 12). In both texts it is not entirely certain whether Paul is speaking of women in general or of wives in particular. Finally there is no clear indication that these commands are binding on the church outside their original context.

B.2 The mission imperative

The apostolic prohibition against women speaking in the worship assembly (1 Cor 14:331 Cor 14:33
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33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints,

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,34; 1 Tim 2:11,121 Tim 2:11,12
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12 But I don’t permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.

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) is based on a concern for the church’s mission to spread the gospel. Women questioning or debating matters in the church (1 Cor 14:351 Cor 14:35
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35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to chatter in the assembly.

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) or acting in a high handed manner would have caused offence especially to the predominantly Jewish converts and potential converts. Paul’s concern here is not for a male order of ministry but for orderliness in contrast to disorder, so as not to bring the church into disrepute (see 1 Cor 14:331 Cor 14:33
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33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints,

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,35,40)

B.3 Roles played by women in the early church

Women laboured with Paul ‘in the gospel’ (Phil 4:3Phil 4:3
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3 Yes, I beg you also, true yoke-fellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

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); Priscilla taught Apollos (Acts 18:26Acts 18:26
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26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

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); women prayed and prophesied in public worship (1 Cor 11:5,101 Cor 11:5,10
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5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved. 10 For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels.

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; see also Acts 2:17Acts 2:17
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17 ‘It will be in the last days, says God, That I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams.

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); Phoebe is called ‘deacon’ and ‘patron’ of the church at Cenchreae (Rom 16:1,2Rom 16:1,2
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16 1 I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a deacon or, servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae, 2 that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self.

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). That Paul allows a woman to learn (1 Tim 2:111 Tim 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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) is already a revolutionary step away from Jewish practice since it implies that they can then teach. It is therefore questionable whether 1 Timothy 2:121 Timothy 2:12
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12 But I don’t permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.

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(a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man) must be read as a principle without qualifications.

B.4 Equality of men and women in Christ

The baptismal formula of Galatians 3:28Galatians 3:28
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28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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(cf 1 Cor 12:131 Cor 12:13
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13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit.

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; Col 3:11Col 3:11
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11 where there can’t be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.

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) gives to women a position in the church not known within contemporary Judaism. The new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:172 Cor 5:17
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17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.

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) confirms the equal standing of women with men before God (cf Gen 1:26-28Gen 1:26-28
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26 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

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). So, within marriage, husbands and wives are to complement one another (1 Cor 7:41 Cor 7:4
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4 The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife.

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) and to be subject to one another out of love (Eph 5:21Eph 5:21
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21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

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). Within the church’s ministry, the ordination of women is an appropriate application of this principle of equality.

B.5 The inclusivity of the gospel

The inclusivity of the gospel should come to expression also in the public ministry of the church. This inclusivity which embraced Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, found tangible expression in the early church (Eph 2:11-22Eph 2:11-22
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11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision,” ; 12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the hostility, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man of the two, making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, having killed the hostility thereby. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, 20 being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.

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; Philem 16). It is fittingly modelled by a public office which includes women.

B.6 The representation of Christ

The first Adam embraces the whole of sinful humanity, both men and women (Rom 5:12,15Rom 5:12,15
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12 Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. 15 But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

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). In the person of the new Adam, Jesus Christ, God redeems and restores fallen humanity, both men and women (Rom 5:15-19Rom 5:15-19
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15 But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification. 17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one will many be made righteous.

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; 1 Cor 15:45-491 Cor 15:45-49
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45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let’s NU, TR read “we will” instead of “let’s” also bear the image of the heavenly.

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). The representation of Christ by women is made possible by their incorporation into him. All those redeemed by Christ are members of his body and are thus able to represent Christ to that body once they have been ‘rightly called’ to the public office.

B.7 A legitimate conclusion

The fact that many Lutheran churches have begun to ordain women in this century, against the tradition of the church, does not necessarily imply that the church has been in error and must repent of false teaching. It means that some Lutherans have come to learn from Scripture possibilities for the life of the church which would not have been culturally acceptable in earlier ages.

C. Summary of arguments for the ordination of men only

Some commission members disagree both with the conclusion and with some of the arguments. The reasons for their disagreement are summarised in the Initial Report under the case for the ordination of men only.

C.1 The Lord’s command

1 Corinthians 14:331 Corinthians 14:33
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33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints,

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b and 1 Timothy 2:11-141 Timothy 2:11-14
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12 But I don’t permit a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 Adam wasn’t deceived, but the woman, being deceived, has fallen into disobedience;

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are foundational texts for the case against the ordination of women because they speak about the leadership of women in public worship. These passages clearly assert that God does not allow women to preach and teach in the divine service. This holds true even if it could be shown that the meaning of particular words and phrases is uncertain. The prohibition against speaking is not a demand for absolute silence but prevents women from preaching and teaching in public worship. The church therefore has no authority to ordain women. The apostle Paul states that this prohibition is a command from the Lord which applies to all churches (1 Cor 14:331 Cor 14:33
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33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints,

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b, 37; cf 1 Tim 3:151 Tim 3:15
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15 but if I wait long, that you may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

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) and warns that those who disregard it will not be recognised by God in his church (1 Cor 14:381 Cor 14:38
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38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

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).

C.2 The relevance of Galatians 3:28Galatians 3:28
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28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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Galatians 3:28Galatians 3:28
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28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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should not be used to support the ordination of women because it does not deal with the doctrine of the public office. Rather, it asserts that both men and women have the same status before God the Father as his adopted children, and that they have the same access to his grace through baptism. Their equality before God does not change their distinctiveness and calling as men and women with sexually differentiated and yet complementary roles in marriage, family, and the church. Their sexuality is not abolished or disregarded, but sanctified for service according to their role in the family and the church.

C.3 The practice of Jesus and the apostles

The exclusion of women from the public office is confirmed by the precedent of Jesus appointing only male apostles (Matt 10:24Matt 10:24
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24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord.

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; Mark 3:14-19Mark 3:14-19
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14 He appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: 16 Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter; 17 James the son of Zebedee; John, the brother of James, and he surnamed them Boanerges, which means, Sons of Thunder; 18 Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. He came into a house.

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; Luke 6:12-16Luke 6:12-16
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12 It happened in these days, that he went out to the mountain to pray, and he continued all night in prayer to God. 13 When it was day, he called his disciples, and from them he chose twelve, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he also named Peter; Andrew, his brother; James; John; Philip; Bartholomew; 15 Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who also became a traitor.

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) and entrusting the administration of his holy supper to them (Luke 22:14-30Luke 22:14-30
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14 When the hour had come, he sat down with the twelve apostles. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for I tell you, I will no longer by any means eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” 17 He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, 18 for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” 19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” 20 Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 The Son of Man indeed goes, as it has been determined, but woe to that man through whom he is betrayed!” 23 They began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. 24 There arose also a contention among them, which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so with you. But one who is the greater among you, let him become as the younger, and one who is governing, as one who serves. 27 For who is greater, one who sits at the table, or one who serves? Isn’t it he who sits at the table? But I am in the midst of you as one who serves. 28 But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. 29 I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

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), as well as by the practice of the apostles in appointing a man as a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:21Acts 1:21
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21 Of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

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) and men only as pastors of the congregations which they established (2 Tim 2:122 Tim 2:12
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12 If we endure, We will also reign with him. If we deny him, He also will deny us.

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; cf 1 Tim 3:21 Tim 3:2
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2 The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching;

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; Titus 1:5Titus 1:5
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5 I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you;

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). Although women laboured with Paul in the gospel, they were never appointed as pastors.

C.4 The practice of the universal church

The ordination of women, which was already advocated by some sects in the second and third centuries AD, was rejected for scriptural reasons by the bishops and councils of the early church, as well as by all orthodox churches until modern times. Luther and other Reformers rejected the ordination of women. This unanimous teaching should be changed only if we have clear scriptural authorisation to ordain women.

C.5 The representation of Christ’s headship

The ordination of women contradicts the reality of male headship in the church and the family which was established by God in the creation of Adam and fulfilled by the incarnation of God’s Son as a male person (1 Cor 11:3,8,91 Cor 11:3,8,9
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3 But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man; 9 for neither was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

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; Eph 5:22-24Eph 5:22-24
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22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.

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; 1 Tim 2:131 Tim 2:13
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13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

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). It therefore involves disobedience to Christ, the head of the church, and disrespect for his gift of order in the church (1 Cor 14:341 Cor 14:34
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34 let your wives keep silent in the assemblies, for it has not been permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as the law also says.

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; 1 Tim 2:111 Tim 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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).

C.6 Pastors as spiritual fathers

Jesus chose males to represent both him and his heavenly Father in the ministry of word and sacrament (John 20:21-23John 20:21-23
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21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! 23 Whoever’s sins you forgive, they are forgiven them. Whoever’s sins you retain, they have been retained.”

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). Since pastors not only speak for Christ, but also speak the word of God the Father (Luke 10:16Luke 10:16
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16 Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me. Whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

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; cf Matt 10:40Matt 10:40
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40 He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.

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; John 13:20John 13:20
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20 Most assuredly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.”

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), they are to be men so that they can serve as spiritual fathers to God’s family (1 Cor 4:14,151 Cor 4:14,15
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14 I don’t write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the Gospel.

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).

D. Implications of the commission’s conclusion

Normally, the LCA would expect consensus from its theology commission for any change in doctrine. Though all members are committed to the scriptural and confessional basis of the church, we have not been able to reach consensus. However, a majority of commission members believes that the conclusion is consistent with the scriptures and the church’s confessions.

It is clear that the conclusion would introduce a change in the doctrine as stated in the Theses of Agreement (VI 11). If this conclusion were adopted by Synod, it would not be merely a change in practice; it would change the public teaching of the LCA from prohibiting women from the public office to allowing them to be ordained as pastors. The commission fully understands that this would involve a major shift for the LCA, and therefore wishes to help members work through the implications. Difficulties encountered in doing this should not deter us from acting if scripture allows us to ordain women as pastors.

The proposal to ordain women has theological and pastoral implications. The College of Presidents is primarily responsible for the pastoral issues, though they are also of concern to the commission. The commission, however, is concerned that, in reaching and implementing a decision, the LCA give due weight to the following three theological questions.

D.1 The question of truth

Christians are called to hold fast to their confession and to the truth which they have received (Heb 4:14Heb 4:14
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14 Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession.

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; 2 Tim 1:13,142 Tim 1:13,14
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13 Hold the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

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; Phil 2:16Phil 2:16
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16 holding up the word of life; that I may have something to boast in the day of Christ, that I didn’t run in vain nor labor in vain.

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; Jude 3). It is equally clear that those who confess the truth given by God must reject all error that would negate the truth that has been revealed.

At the same time we believe, confess, and understand ‘in part’ (1 Cor 13:121 Cor 13:12
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12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.

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), and will perceive fully only when we share our Lord’s glory. We are called to grow in Christian knowledge (2 Peter 3:182 Peter 3:18
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18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

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). Increase in knowledge comes not from going beyond Scripture, but from being led by the Spirit to deeper understanding of God’s written revelation. Jesus promised that the Spirit would lead the disciples in all the truth (John 16:13John 16:13
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13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.

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). If a change in the teaching of the LCA is to occur, it must be consistent with what is confessed as the clear teaching of scripture. It must also be consistent with all other parts of Christian teaching and the gospel. Due consideration must also be given to the teaching and practice of the whole church, past and present.

The commission affirms its consensus on the way we interpret scripture and on the doctrine of the ministry, as outlined in the Initial Report (pages 1-3).

D.2 The question of unity

Unity in faith is a gift that is to be preserved (John 17:20,21John 17:20,21
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20 Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me.

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). Christians are called eagerly to ‘maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph 4:3Eph 4:3
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3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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). Divine judgement must fall on those who destroy the unity of the church, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, by their false teaching (1 Cor 3:171 Cor 3:17
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17 If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, which you are.

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). Yet St Paul also acknowledges that divisions may result from faithfulness to the truth (1 Cor 11:18,191 Cor 11:18,19
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18 For first of all, when you come together in the assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it. 19 For there also must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be revealed among you.

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The commission has been sensitive to the issue of church unity. We share with all members of the church a deep desire to promote the unity of the LCA. We have experienced the pain of disagreement as we have debated among ourselves. We have also become keenly aware of the pain of many in the church as we have listened to responses of those who hold views with passion and conviction both for and against the ordination of women.

There are those who feel unsure whether they can stay in the church if it does not ordain women; others are unsure they can stay if it does. However, the first question to be determined is this: What is the will of God in this matter? If we avoid the issue simply out of fear of division, we do not act in a theologically responsible way. It would be equally irresponsible to reach agreement by means of compromise formulations and attempting to live with differences. Unity at any cost that surrenders truth and places a veneer over decisive differences will not lead to or preserve true unity.

D.3 The question of love

We are called to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15Eph 4:15
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15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ;

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). In debating this issue we have not allowed our differences to destroy the bonds of love that exist between us. We have consciously tried to avoid misrepresenting each other, and we have rejected unethical arguments which denigrate the brother or sister with whom we disagree. We would appeal to all members of the church to do the same.

Aware of God’s grace and praying for the leading of the Holy Spirit, we submit this report and commend the outcome to almighty God.

Approved by CTICR Plenum,
14 and 15 March 2000

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