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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The LCMS and Women's "Ordination"

By Larry Beane

One of the great things the LCMS has been doing over the last several years is forging international contact, and in some cases, agreements, with confessional Lutheran churches around the world.  Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne has been on the cutting edge in fostering struggling Lutherans the world over with the provision of theological education, as in the heroic and ambitious Russian Project (see "For the Life of the World," Dec 1997 article on page 10) led by Rev. Dr. Tim Quill.  In fact, we're finally seeing what appears to be the blossom of full altar and pulpit fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, as we have now declared doctrinal agreement with that church after many years of talks, often peppered with seemingly ridiculous bureaucratic dithering on the part of the previous LCMS leadership.

Those days appear to be over, and thankfully so!

When it comes to supporting churches around the world, the LCMS brings great strengths to the table: sound theological education, a rigorous confessional reputation, and money.  It is a great boon to be recognized and nurtured by the LCMS.  And as a result, we Americans are able to help traditional and confessional Lutheranism to spread and thrive around the world.  And as is always the case, our brothers and sisters the world over provide us with shining examples of faithfulness in distress, and courage under fire, that in turn serve to inspire and support the evangelical and catholic faith in other places as well.

One of the things we should have learned from all of these international contacts is just how dangerous and evil women's "ordination" is.  It is not simply an aberration, a speedbump to unity, bad practice, or something to be tolerated.  Rather, it is a Satanic cancer that has infected the Body of Christ and, as former Church of Sweden "pastor" Ulla Hindbeck argues, something that will "lead people directly to condemnation."

The current angst and uproar over the approval of homosexuality in many worldwide Lutheran bodies is traceable to the movement to "ordain" women.  Scandinavian Lutherans led the way in the late 1940s, with Sweden beginning to "ordain" its first women in 1960.  The mockery of traditional vocations regarding human sexuality went so far as explicit and blasphemous pornography depicting Jesus and the disciples as homosexuals being displayed in the Swedish Cathedral at Uppsala with the blessing of Archbishop K.G. Hammar - only 38 years after the first female "ordinations."

In every country where confessional Lutheranism has been persecuted from within, women's "ordination" is not only a common practice, but is the touchstone and the fountainhead.  For the hierarchy of the Church of Sweden, women's "ordination" is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls.  Candidates for holy ministry must take communion from the hand of a priestess in order to prove fealty.  Since the repeal of the "conscience clause" in 1982, there have been restrictions against ordination and against pastoral promotion for opponents of women's "ordination."  The glass ceiling in such feminist-dominated church bodies applies only to male ministers who still believe in Holy Scripture.

The Scandinavian glass ceiling was at last broken in 2005, when Kenya's archbishop Walter Obare (Sabre of Boldness 2006) boldly consecrated Arne Olsson to be a Mission Province bishop for the persecuted faithful in captivity within the apostate Church of Sweden. Bishop Obare's support of Biblical Christianity in Sweden initiated a firestorm of controversy including this courageous exchange with the aforementioned Archbishop Hammar a year before Bishop Olsson's consecration.  Archbishop Obare's resistance has had felicitous results for the faith.  One of the consequences is that Finland likewise now has a Mission Province bishop and a route to priestly ordination for faithful candidates for ministry (for the first time in a decade) in defiance of a Mother Church that has come to resemble an ecclesiastically nightmarish version of an abusive "Mommie Dearest."

Even though the LCMS doesn't "ordain" women, there is a toleration for those who accept it, or even agitate for it.  And even among those who believe W"O" is wrong, there are many who accept its validity to some degree or another.  I wonder how many pastors and laypeople in the LCMS realize just how evil this deviant theology - which veers from both Scripture and ancient catholic tradition - truly is.

This is one reason I had written this objection two years ago to LCMS ties to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia.  Such arrangements are confusing, especially to young church workers, who are put into a situation that appears to be endorsement of female clerics.  One person read my blog and confessed to me that she had spent a year in Slovakia as a young "missionary" - sent by the LCMS - and that she took "communion" from a female "minister" the entire time, never having been informed that this was wrong.

This should not be.

I am greatly concerned that even within the conservative LCMS, there may be an underlying agenda to "normalize" the abomination of women "pastors" in Christian churches - or at very least, encourage us to see it as a minor evil.  And I am also concerned that such an agenda may take advantage of the goodwill of genuinely confessional pastors and faithful synodical officials when it comes to cooperation with sects that endorse the Satanic practice of female "ordination."

I'm concerned that we might be playing with fire here.

It is one reason I'm not personally comfortable with any cooperation with the ELCA - not even in matters like malaria prevention.  For no cause - no matter how genuine and noble - is worth the spiritual harm of exposing faithful LCMS pastors and laypeople to the specter of women wearing clerical collars and answering to "pastor."  We still have such cooperation in joint LCMS-ELCA schools, chaplaincy, the aforementioned malaria project, and Thrivent.  Membership in the latter includes a subscription to a magazine that shamelessly uses "Pastor" and "Rev." before the names of women and will show pictures of collared women without any hint that this is a diabolical ruse to confuse the faithful and to mock God's Word and the Incarnate One.

This is why I am concerned with the recent announcement of the LCMS signing a working agreement with the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, which claims to ordain women.  This is not altar and pulpit fellowship, but rather a call for the "two churches to have regular contact between the church leadership, the holding of theological lectures and convocations, and invitations to each other's theological presentations" as well as "cooperation in diakonal work."

I am really concerned about unintended consequences here.  How will this be interpreted?

Now, it may well be that the Silesian practice of W"O" is actually being mothballed, and it is going to take time to back out of it.  I hope this is the case.  This happened with the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, with which the LCMS shares fellowship, and it was a rare example of putting the toothpaste of female "ordination" back into the tube.  While there are "pastors" emeriti (emeritae?) in Latvia who lack the biological necessities for ministry, they have all been removed from any active service in the church.  The Latvian archbishop and leadership is strongly biblical and confessional, and they did overcome the burden of W"O" imposed on them in their days as a Soviet Socialist Republic.

Perhaps this is the case with Silesia.  I would feel a lot more comfortable if our own church leadership would clarify this matter.  I am in no position to speak for the many heroic Lutherans around the world who are struggling to remain faithful and who are looking to the LCMS for leadership and support, but I am reasonably certain that the last thing they would want to see is an LCMS even appearing to "go wobbly" in the face of the feminist juggernaut of western culture.

I am certainly not arguing that our current administration is in any way sympathetic to women's "ordination."  Nothing could be more clear than our synodical leadership's thoughtful and articulate opposition.  My question is one of policy.  I am just wondering out loud if this is the right thing to do.  Perhaps it is, and I hope it is!  I would love to be able to support this arrangement, but for now, I'm afraid the jury is out.

We live in a messy, fallen world.  Perhaps such "working agreements" are the best way to move forward and to bolster our more conservative brothers and sisters.  But there is also the real possibility that this only serves to give less than a clear confession to the world regarding something as foundational as the office of the holy ministry.