Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia

A Contribution from the Lutheran Confessions in the Discussion on the Ordination of Women

Pastor Andrew Pfeiffer, Luther Seminary

Introduction

Rarely, if ever, has a case been made for or against the ordination of women solely on the basis of the Lutheran Confessions. Scripture is the absolute authority in the Lutheran Church. The Confessions have a secondary and supportive authority, rather than a primary and foundational one.

This does not mean however that the Confessions don’t speak to the issue. Lutheran theologians presenting both sides of the argument usually seek to show their argumentation is not contrary to the Confessions and that it upholds the institution of the office of the ministry by Christ, and that in that sense it is confessional. However, there have been confessional inferences drawn from time to time that are questionable. In addition, there are pertinent positive insights from the Confessions that have not been highlighted. This paper explores those issues for the sake of the church’s discussion on the question of the ordination of women.

The Confessions and the ordination of women

1. God’s will and God pleasing vocations

A significant contribution of the Confessions to the discussion is an affirmation of the pastoral ministry that currently exists in the Lutheran Church of Australia.

The Confessions not only uphold Christ’s institution of the office of the ministry, but at various points also address the issue of what true christian service of God is. Is it to take monastic vows? Is it to fill the day with prayer, fasting and other ‘spiritual’ activities? The Confessions offer an insight to the connection between God’s will expressed in His Word, God pleasing vocations, and his blessing on those vocations.

When discussing what truly God pleasing vocations are, the Confessions return to this thought, ‘honour the commands of God pertaining to callings’. That is, fathering, mothering, marriage, honest work and so on, are not to be regarded as ‘secular and imperfect christian works’, but as God pleasing because they have God’s command (Augsburg Confession XXVI, Tappert: 65.8-11).

What is meant by ‘commands of God’ is sometimes further spelt out. (Apology, Tappert: 210.174, 218.25-26). And there is wonderful pastoral and practical wisdom that flows from these assertions in the Confessions. ‘Common, everyday, domestic duties of one neighbour toward another’ are holy works because they have God’s command. The little girl who ‘tends a child, or faithfully does what she is told’ is not to be regarded as a nobody but as a christian living a holy and God pleasing life (Large Catechism, Tappert: 407.313-314). God blesses those callings in life that he creates or commands.

Our contemporary discussion is whether it is God’s will that His church ordains women. It is not whether women have served and can truly serve God. The question is simply about whether women ought to be pastors.

In that discussion we must not lose sight of the fact that the church does have God’s blessing to fill the office of the ministry with qualified men (1 Tim 3:1-61 Tim 3:1-6
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3 1 This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer Or, bishop, he desires a good work. 2 The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; 3 not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having children in subjection with all reverence; 5  6 not a new convert, lest being puffed up he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

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, Titus 1:5-9Titus 1:5-9
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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; 6 if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior. 7 For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain; 8 but given to hospitality, as a lover of good, sober-minded, fair, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him.

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). Therefore men who are faithful pastors in the church know that their ministry has God’s blessing and encouragement, whether this is obvious to human observation or not.

Both the men involved and the whole church ought to consider this carefully. God through his word does urge that qualified men be appointed as elders/bishops/shepherds (Acts 14:23, 20:17,28Acts 14:23, 20:17,28
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23 When they had appointed elders for them in every assembly, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed. 20 But as the disciples stood around him, he rose up, and entered into the city. On the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe.

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, 1 Peter 5:1,21 Peter 5:1,2
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5 1 I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed. 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but willingly;

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). This means their ministry is a legitimate ministry. On the one hand, they can minister fully and faithfully with a good conscience knowing that God blesses them, their work and the church through their work since their work is a God pleasing vocation. On the other hand the church can receive their ministry in full assurance that it has God’s blessing and that the church of all ages has been shepherded in this way.

The question is still being discussed whether we can say the same thing about the ministry of ‘ordained women’. Let’s not allow that discussion to throw doubt on the ministry of ordained men. Male pastors need to pastor in the conviction that their calling has God’s command and blessing. This can only help and strengthen the whole church, both men and women.

On this basis I would say to all of you, men and women, those who support women’s ordination and those who do not, respect and encourage your current pastor and pray for him and his ministry.

2. Ordination in the Confessions

A significant question that needs to be clarified is whether the Confessions support the ordination of anyone, not just women. This is not an insignificant question. Do the Confessions speak about ordination at all? What is the relationship between training for the public ministry and call and ordination to that ministry?

The LCA’s self understanding of call and ordination is outlined in the Theses of Agreement, Theses on the Office of the Ministry. A quick review shows it is grounded in Scripture and the Confessions. No one is to be a pastor without being rightly called and this includes ordination (AC XIV, Tappert: 36). The Confessions do not oppose ordination and ecclesiastical order, simply its abuse and misuse (Apology XIV, Tappert: 214,215).

By ‘call’ here is meant not the inner desire God gives to people to serve him in a variety of ways, but the call/ appointment/ ordination that comes from God through the church. This is dependent on the person being qualified for the office (1 Tim 3:1-71 Tim 3:1-7
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3 1 This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer Or, bishop, he desires a good work. 2 The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; 3 not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having children in subjection with all reverence; 5  6 not a new convert, lest being puffed up he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have good testimony from those who are outside, to avoid falling into reproach and the snare of the devil.

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, Titus 1:6-9, 2Titus 1:6-9, 2
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6 if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior. 7 For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain; 8 but given to hospitality, as a lover of good, sober-minded, fair, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him. 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who can’t lie, promised before eternal times;

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Tim 2:24,25 and Acts 1:24Acts 1:24
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24 They prayed, and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two you have chosen

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define this for the church according to the Theses). It is dependent on the person being trained and examined. A trained, examined and qualified person is available for ordination and the church places such people, according to its specific and general needs, in the office of the ministry:

Ordination. . . is the solemn ecclesiastical rite in which a duly qualified person (1 Tim.3:2-7, Titus 1:5-9Titus 1:5-9
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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; 6 if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior. 7 For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain; 8 but given to hospitality, as a lover of good, sober-minded, fair, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him.

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), having accepted a call by a congregation or the Church, is received by the Church as a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph.4:11, 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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) and publicly declared to be a minister of the New Testament. (Theses VI.8, DSTO A12)

Clearly, the doctrinal position of the LCA is that ordination has biblical background and foundation. The institution of the office by Christ and the practice of Paul, Barnabas and Titus in appointing elders (also called bishops and shepherds)is noted at various points (including Acts 14:23Acts 14:23
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23 When they had appointed elders for them in every assembly, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.

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and 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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).

The Confessions say the following about ordination:

The church has the command to appoint ministers; to this we must subscribe wholeheartedly, for we know that God approves this ministry and is present in it. (Apology, Tappert: 212.12)

As we are taught by the examples of the ancient churches and the Fathers, we shall and ought ourselves ordain suitable persons to this office. (In a discussion about false bishops where ordination in obviously upheld; Smalcald Articles III.X, Tappert: 314.1.)

It is necessary for the church to retain the right of calling, electing and ordaining ministers. (Treatise, Tappert: 331.67, see also 332.72)

It is interesting that the discussion about ordination in the Confessions is nearly always in the context of a reaction to ‘false and wicked bishops’. This means that sometimes the foundational arguments for ordination are not as complete as they might be, and the Lutheran understanding of the ordained ministry can suffer under this lack of clarity.

In the Confessions the issue is often a pastoral and practical concern. What do we do when those who should ordain, the bishops, are ‘corrupt and unfaithful and wicked’? The pastoral advice is that the church retains the right to ordain (Smalcald Articles III X, Tappert: 314; Treatise, Tappert: 331.67). The question is how and by whom a person is ordained rather than whether pastors are to be ordained. Behind the Confessions’ pastoral question is a basic conviction: ordination is significant and it is part of what it means to be rightly called (Augsburg Confession XIV).

The Confessions argue it is those who hold the office, bishops and pastors, who ordain. Ordinarily this will be the bishops, but where they are unable or unwilling to do their job, other pastors of the church fill the breach (Apology XIV, Tappert: 214; Smalcald Articles III.X, Tappert: 314).

The Confessions do teach that qualified candidates ought to be called and ordained to the pastoral office. The way the key texts from the pastoral epistles are used demonstrate that the Confessions think they speak to the question of qualification for the office of ministry (Augsburg Confession XXIII, Tappert: 52.11; Treatise, Tappert: 330.62).

The question before our church is not an academic question. The church needs pastors and ordains qualified candidates to be pastors. The question is, on the basis of 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–40 and 1 Timothy 2:111 Timothy 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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–3:7, who is qualified? Is half the church disqualified from even being candidates because of their gender? Whether we agree with it or not, this has been the historic position of the universal church.

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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is not used in the Confessions with respect to ordination (in fact, it is not used in the Confessions at all). It has been used in church history with respect to pastoral ministry, but only by groups like the Gnostics, Marcionites and their followers. Such innovation was soon spoken against and condemned by various councils of the church as unorthodox in the church of God.

The point is that from the Confessions’ perspective our discussion ought not to be about ordination or the pastoral office. Both are assumed. The discussion rightly focuses on the qualifications for candidacy and therefore is rightly grounded in what the key texts say about qualifications for the pastoral office.

3. Understanding Scripture according to the Confessions

One of the key contributions of the Confessions to this discussion is not specifically with respect to the question of women’s ordination, but generally with respect to the doctrine and use of Scripture in the church:

We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged. (Formula, Tappert: 503,504.3)

In reflecting Luther’s understanding of the role of Scripture in the life of the church, the Formula quotes Luther approvingly:

He expressly asserts by way of distinction that the Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine, and. . . no human being’s writings dare be put on a par with it, but that everything must be subjected to it. (Formula, Tappert: 505.9)

The issue has been raised at times, also in our own church, as to what the confessors mean by the phrase ‘Word of God’ when it is used in this context. We cannot go into the whole argument here, but an article by Harry Huth is necessary reading for those who wish to follow this issue through. It shows that the phrase ‘Word of God’ has various referents in the Confessions. Sometimes it refers to the law, the gospel, the words of institution of the sacraments, the second person of the Trinity, the Catechism, or the Old Testament. Huth also demonstrates, however, that ‘whenever the Formula refers to the Word of God that is the rule and norm of doctrine it means the Holy Scriptures, the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments’.

Our own church has done extensive work in this area of studies and everyone studying the issue of the role of Scripture in the discussion about women’s ordination is encouraged to re-study what has been written.

The Confessions reject a gospel reductionist approach to theological concerns like the ordination of women. The confessors have a specific way of doing theology. For example, in the Augsburg Confession they respond to the critique that they are administering both the bread and the wine to communicants. The defence they offer is not that communion ‘in one kind’ is contrary to the gospel, or that the gospel demands communion in both kinds, but they appeal to Matthew 26:27Matthew 26:27
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27 He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, “All of you drink it,

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, one of the texts which speaks specifically about the Lord’s Supper (Augsburg Confession, Tappert 49.1-2, 51.3-5). The argumentation is similar with respect to the marriage of priests.

This means they do not start with a general concept of the gospel through which they then interpret various issues, but rather they start with exploring the key texts in Scripture which speak to the issue in dispute. They work towards understanding the message of those texts and then preach, teach and practice that truth evangelically. The gospel informs the use of scriptural truth, but it is not the source of scriptural truth. This means the confessors of the past have been right to concentrate for example on the meaning of 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-38 and 1 Timothy 2:111 Timothy 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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-14 since these texts speak specifically to the issue of the involvement of women in the pastoral/liturgical leadership of the church.

4. The question of worthiness of those in the office as distinct from eligibility for the office

In the discussion on the ordination of women the statement has sometimes been made that the Confessions say that the person of the pastor is insignificant in the pastoral office. Therefore, so the argument goes, whether a man or a woman is ordained to be a pastor is an open question for the Confessions. While it is possible to see where such an understanding is grounded, it is a mis-reading of the Confessions.

There are a number of passages in the Confessions that repeat a common theme. The worthiness of the ordained pastor does not validate or invalidate the Sacrament. This is not the same as saying that there are no qualifications to be ordained, or indeed, to continue as a pastor.

For example, in answer to the question whether a wicked priest can administer the sacrament we read:

Though a knave should receive or administer it, it is the true sacrament (that is, Christ’s body and blood) just as truly as when one uses it worthily. (Large Catechism, Tappert: 448.16)

A footnote in Tappert points out that the German of the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope says that the person ‘adds nothing to this Word and office commanded by Christ’. The context however shows us that it is not saying that the person of the pastor is a non-issue. The distinction at that point in the Treatise is not between the office of the ministry and the person in the office, but between whether this office is established by Christ’s Word or by the person who holds the office (Treatise, Tappert: 324.25-27). The conclusion is that the office is valid because it is founded on Christ’s Word and not on human authority.

It is perfectly consistent to say that the person of the pastor adds nothing to the office and also that a person must be suitably qualified and trained to be a candidate for that office. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The ‘no matter who it is who preaches’ clause in the Treatise is not a license to act as though Scripture says nothing about who or who cannot preach and administer the Sacraments. Peter, Paul and Barnabas’ own practice shows exactly the opposite. They took great care to appoint qualified elders in every town and instructed them about their work. The work of such elders, also called bishops and shepherds, was to continue to shepherd the church by doing the apostolic work of making disciples through the preaching/teaching ministry and the administration of the sacraments (Acts 14:23Acts 14:23
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23 When they had appointed elders for them in every assembly, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.

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, Acts 15, Acts 20:17,28Acts 20:17,28
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17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to himself the elders of the assembly. 28 Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and TR, NU omit “the Lord and” God which he purchased with his own blood.

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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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, 1 Peter 5:1-2, 11 Peter 5:1-2, 1
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5 1 I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed. 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but willingly; 5 1 I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed.

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Tim. 3:1-7).

This is exactly what the Lutheran Church has confessed and practiced when it says, ‘the spiritual functions of the Apostolate are continued only in the ministry of the Word and Sacraments’ (Theses VI, DSTO A12.6).

Perhaps at this point it is useful to think of an analogy from society. Neither Paul Keating nor Bob Hawke was more a Prime Minister than the other. They did the job differently and some would say better or worse than the other, and in this sense were more or less faithful to their office. But their ‘person’ added nothing to the office of Prime Minister in the sense that it makes them more or less a Prime Minister. At the same time, they were only elected to that office of Prime Minister because they were eligible. Not everyone is eligible to be Prime Minister. You need to be an Australian citizen, you need to have a clean criminal record, you need to have the endorsement of the political party to which you belong, and then of the electorate. Life in the world shows us that it is possible to say that there are various qualifications for an office and yet at the same time to say that the person of the office holder adds nothing to the office in terms of making the office what it is.

The Formula of Concord speaks at length about the faith and moral qualities, or lack of them, of the pastor and the relationship of these qualities to reception of the Sacrament:

Even though a rascal receives or gives the sacrament, it is the true sacrament (that is, Christ’s body and blood) just as much as when one does so in the most worthy manner, for the sacrament is not based on the holiness of men but on the word of God. (Solid declaration VII, Tappert: 573.24)

The point is this. It is not that someone has said to the confessors, can women be pastors, and the confessors answer, ‘the person of the pastor doesn’t matter’. Rather, the question before the confessors is a pastoral issue. What are people to think when they find that the priest who has baptized them and administered to them the sacrament of the altar is unworthy, meaning he has given up the faith and does not believe? What are they to make of their baptism? The confessors respond with pastoral assurance, the sacrament is not based on the holiness of human beings but on the Word of God.

The question for the confessors is not whether the pastor who administered the sacraments was eligible to be a pastor. They assume that these ‘evil and wicked priests’ were eligible and qualified candidates who had previously been trained, examined, called and ordained. Many were, after all, Luther’s fellow priests.

The Confessions show by their use of the Scriptures that they believe there are some christians who are qualified for the pastoral office and some who aren’t and the basis for those criteria is the word of God. To be a pastor one must be a christian, but not all christians are automatically qualified to be pastors. For example in a discussion about celibacy, 1 Timothy 3:21 Timothy 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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is quoted approvingly as a passage that speaks of qualifications for the pastoral office (Augsburg Confession, Tappert: 52.11). In a discussion on the role of bishops it quotes 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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-7 approvingly as a passage which speaks to the issue of pastoral ministry and those who hold the office.

There is a difference between worthiness/unworthiness of those in the office, and eligibility for the office in the first place. The confessions are not saying that the church is free to choose any person for the pastoral office. God has also offered guidance on that through His word. There is a question of eligibility, of qualification. Like it or not, that brings the church into the discussion about gender at this point, but that is a discussion raised not by society or the church in the first place, but by God through His word in 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–38 and 1 Timothy 2:111 Timothy 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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–14.

Some people who do not agree with women’s ordination cannot receive the sacramental and preaching ministry from a ‘woman pastor’ because they would not have a good conscience doing so. Placing a woman in the pastoral office is, for many, the ordination of someone who is not eligible for the office according to 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–38 and 1 Timothy 2:111 Timothy 2:11
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11 Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.

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–14. They cannot then receive such a ministry because they believe it exists in contradiction to God’s Word. Some cannot receive it because they doubt that the sacrament is being validly administered according to Christ’s institution, a reality that troubles their conscience and undermines the certainty one should associate with the sacrament. Others feel conscience bound not to receive the ministry of a woman because, even though they do not doubt the validity of sacraments administered by a woman, they see the receiving of such ministry as assent to or support for the ordination of women. In both instances the problem is not the worthiness/unworthiness of women, but the ineligibility of women for the pastoral office according to the key texts mentioned above.

Over fifty priests and numerous laity who previously belonged to the Church of England in England have left that church since its decision to ordain women, and for some the issue of eligibility is one of the reasons. The same thing is happening in Australia with the formation of the Continuing Church of England.

In Canada the Anglican church requires some of its candidates for ordination to write a paper supporting the ordination of women. Why? Because that church will not have as a candidate for ministry a person who, in good conscience, is uncertain about the sacramental ministry of a woman.

Their actions are the logical conclusion of the argument for the ordination of women. Either women are rightly in the office and therefore all need to accept their ministry, or they are not rightly in the office.

5. Lutherans, renovators not innovators.

The Lutheran Confession are clear that Lutherans were not revolutionary when it came to reformation of the church. It took a non-Lutheran to point out to me, using the Lutheran Confessions, that Lutherans are renovators not innovators when it comes to change in the church. This principle is spelt out clearly at various points, usually in answer to a challenge from the Roman Catholics that the Lutherans were a sect because they had rejected the historical faith and its practice, especially in the mass, that is, in the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper.

In counter arguments the Confessions state:

The Mass is preserved among us in its proper use, the use which was formerly observed in the church (Augsburg Confession XXIV, Tappert: 60.35)

Confession has not been abolished by the preachers on our side. The custom has been retained among us of not administering the sacrament to those who have not previously been examined and absolved. (Augsburg Confession XXV, Tappert: 61.1)

We do not abolish the mass but religiously keep and defend it. In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc. (Apology XXIV, Tappert: 249.1)

The whole line of argumentation in Article X of the Formula of Concord is not how much of the church’s previous faith and practice can we give up and still be Lutheran, but how much can we retain without violating the Gospel. Reformation of what has been received, not rejection, is the approach.

Lutherans are renovators not innovators. Therefore we need to reflect on the fact that the ordination of women is a major and radical innovation in the history of the christian church and has been recognised by both sides of the argument as just that. The ordination of women is seen as a development of doctrine and practice. That is, an innovation.

There are some people in the Lutheran Church of Australia who are unsure about the exegesis of the key texts. There are others who agree with the exegesis but do not consider them to be authoritative. Yet they are still uncertain about actually ordaining women. I would suggest this is not because they are simply confused but because they may have sensed something of their Lutheran history as renovators not innovators. They want a very good reason before they will innovate against such a long history of teaching and practice.

Like many of the arguments about women’s ordination, this one on its own does not conclusively say we should or should not ordain women. It does however counsel us not to forget our historical roots and practices. We are not sectarian in the sense that we seek to introduce theology and practice which does not have firm roots in the Scriptures and in the history of the church.

One of the contributions of the Orthodox Church to this whole discussion has been their reaction to the ordination of women in some Lutheran and Anglican churches:

Our amazement – and the orthodox reaction is above all that of amazement – is precisely about the change and, to us, incomprehensible hastiness with which the question of women’s ordination was, first, accepted as an issue, then quickly reduced to the level of a disciplinary matter and finally identified as an issue of policy to be dealt with by a vote! (A Schmemann, `Concerning Women’s Ordination’, <http://www.episcopalnet.org/TractsForOurTimes/ ConcerningOrdination.html http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/praktikes/xeirotonia_gynaikwn1.htm>)

The Orthodox have been astounded by the way some denominations have acted in isolation on this issue without regard for the rest of the christian Churches. In addition, their prophetic voice that such an action might lead to a further catastrophic division between christians is being lived out. Wherever women have been ordained we see either two Lutheran churches living side by side with different ministry practices (United States, Canada, many parts of South America, South Africa and Asia),the emergence of a type of synod within a synod (Swedish and Finnish Lutheran churches), or the emergence of a continuing church (Continuing Anglicans, Continuing Presbyterians). In many places of the world (Finland, Latvia, Korea, England, Canada, and Australia) and in various denominations, women’s ordination has been accompanied by disunity and even schism, or it has made confessional re-unification more difficult.

The church can live with dissension. It has done so for 2,000r 2,000
English: World English Bible - WEB

Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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years. But it ought to be very cautious about risking further schism, or supporting the schism that others have initiated. For that reason the question before us is a serious one and one that needs to be thought through as renovators not innovators.

Conclusion

The Lutheran Confessions are inherently pastoral. Their concern is always that people receive the pastoral comfort of the gospel. In order for that to happen, the question, ‘Who can be a pastor?’ must be answered. It is not a theoretical question. It seeks to ensure that the sacraments are ‘administered in accordance with the divine Word’.

This paper grew out of pastoral concerns to do with the ordination of women to the office of the ministry. It has explored the Confessions from the perspective of what they say to the Lutheran Church about men in the pastoral ministry. It has also sought to draw theological and pastoral implications from the Confessions about the role of women in the pastoral office. It concludes that the Confessions recognise qualifications for the pastoral office beyond being a christian, that the assurance which accompanies the pastoral ministry of men does not necessarily accompany the pastoral ministry of women, and that the Lutheran Church is not radically innovative but determinedly renovative in its history and practice.

Bibliography

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    <http://www.episcopalnet.org/TractsForOurTimes/Concerning Ordination.html http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/praktikes/xeirotonia_gynaikwn1.htm> nd.
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Presentation at the Symposium
“Ordination of women in the LCA – Yes or No?”
held at Luther Seminary, Adelaide, South Australia
July 24 and 25, 1998

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