I come from a position that is still unsure what the Bible teaches on this matter. What concerns me the most though is the ‘against’ position which makes reference to the warning ‘If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.’ When I hear the ‘against’ position I’m left doubting whether I’m safe in God’s hands if I ended up with being ‘for’ women’s ordination. This to me sounds very un-Lutheran. Shouldn’t the starting point for all Lutheran decision making mean: ‘Because I’m safe in God’s hands (the gospel)’ I’m ‘freed’ according to my new nature to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church through the Word. If I’m in doubt that I’m safe in God’s hands as the basis for decision making, then this makes the ‘condemning fear’ the basis for decision making which clouds our ‘freed’ spirit which has come about through the power of the gospel. The ‘against’ view also makes the assessment that those who would receive the sacrament/ministry from a woman would put into question the validity of the sacrament. This to me sounds like the ancient church heresy of Donatism. Even if the ‘command’ of the Lord is true from the ‘against’ position my reading of the Greek is that the consequence is talking about ‘he’, singular and not plural. Thus the consequence doesn’t involve those who receive from the ministry of women, but the prophet himself is personally accountable to God. And even if the prophet is personally accountable in the sense of judgment, is this really talking about ‘hell’? I notice that that some manuscripts say as an alternative translation: ‘If he is ignorant of this, let him be ignorant.’ This changes the meaning of the text in indicating that it’s not talking about God’s judgment.

Comments 13

  • […] See the owl website for my further responses to my post “Unsure, but Concerned about ‘Against’ Position.”:  http://owl.lca.org.au/?p=758 […]

  • You say . . . .’then this makes the condemning fear’ the basis for decision making which clouds our ‘freed’ spirit which has come about through the power of the Gospel.’ Not sure what you really mean by this. Are you saying priority is given to human experience as a way of interpreting Scripture? Are we then going beyond the written word? Or are we reading into the source what is not there, outside of iteself as it were, our own presuppositions and agendas?
    What is wrong with Article 11 of our Constitution that binds us to the prophetic and Apostolic writings of the old and new testament?
    Fear, against, anti are juxtaposed, distorted and twisted in order to make the ‘other’ seem plausible.

    1. Thanks Wendy for your response. No I am not talking about priority given to experience over and above Scripture. When I talk about ’condemning fear’ etc this is based on Scripture itself as God’s Word says: “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death…Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires…those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8: 1-2, 5, 14-15). Thus if ‘condemning fear’ becomes the lens through which we read Scripture it means that this would incite the old nature and mindset which in turn would cloud our judgment because it’s not based on the gospel. Thus even though I emphasise an internal aspect (which is a biblical experience as a side note) it is the external word of the gospel/freedom which in turn should be the lens through which we make decisions in life, including as we come to read Scripture.

      1. Quote: “If the ‘condemning fear’ becomes the lens through which we read Scripture it means that this would incite the old nature and mindset which in turn would cloud our judgement because it’s not based on the Gospel.” Is this a bit mixed-up? How does the ‘condemning fear’ incite the old nature and mindset? This juxtposes saint, sinner of which we all are even though the old Adam has been drowned in our baptism. The external word of the gospel is freedom but God also has some apostolic commands.
        It is not my word but God’s word. See the ambassadorial office Jesus instituted in Luke 6:13.
        Paul and the Twelve were called and sent directly by Jesus. Acts 1:25, Rom.1:5, 1Cor 9:2, 11:23, 15:8

        If fear is my motivation then God has let me down, however I am not free to do whatever I like. Doing, obeying, submitting to Gods’ Word in the light of the gospel is not fear.

        Why are you concerned if others agree with the so called ‘against’ views?
        What do you fear?

        From a concerned Lutheran who loves her church. 1Cor. 14:33

  • Are we open to hearing new thought on a very old topic? Are we willing to allow God’s Holy Spirit to have His way in us? Are we willing to tell Him we lay aside our strong arguments, to lay aside our fiercest desires, even our wonderful scholarship, and ask Him to come afresh today, pour in His Holy Spirit to show us His way forward, to hear Him deep within, to come into our thinking so that He continues to transform us heart, mind and spirit? Are we willing for Him to have His way is us in enlightening us? Tom Wright, author has a chapter about ‘women’s ordination in his book (I have quickly downloaded kindle version) ‘Surprised by Scripture’. There is genuine thought and a varied light on the topic under discussion …wish I could download the chapter for all. Do I hold his work as Gospel? No. But it has a rightful place in the iscussion. Thanks for listening. Eunice. Have a great hope-filled day, Eunice

    1. Yes, Eunice let’s listen to the one holy christian and apostolic church, the church catholic as it were that we so lovingly confess. God speaks and works his way in us with his Word and Sacrament. May we vocationally and lovingly do this – all with God’s help.

  • Thanks Anthony and Nathan for raising the issue regarding validity. It seems you have confused it with efficacy. I may be effective in driving a car, but that doesn’t immediately mean I have valid authorisation to do so.
    Both sides on the debate of women’s ordination are in agreement that ‘the sacraments are efficacious even if the priests who administer them are wicked men’ (AC VIII). However, the real issue is the question of the validity of the sacrament which has more to do with the previous article (AC VII) that ‘the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word’ (cf. LC, V:4; LW 41:154-155).
    The failure of the Indooroopilly proposal to recognise this distinction between efficacy and validity is a major technical flaw and a stumbling block to its success in making a coherent argument for the ordination of women.
    Advocates of women’s ordination assume that a mere speaking the ‘words of institution’ effects a sacrament regardless of gender. However, when ‘the power of the Word’ is stripped of Christ’s institution or command to His apostles, and simply applied as a sacramental formula, then we are heading toward a superstitious understanding of the words of institution (ex opera operato).
    A major focus for Luther and the Confessions is that there is no misuse of Christ’s institution or command; that, ‘if we alter it or improve on it, then it is invalid and Christ is no longer present, nor is his ordinance’ (LW 38, 200). For the administration of the sacrament of the altar to be valid according to Christ’s institution and command as described in the Scriptures (1 Cor 14:34), Luther concludes, ‘it must be a competent and chosen man. Children, women, and other persons are not qualified for this office’ (LW 41:154-155).
    The question of the validity of the sacrament, if it were to be administered by ordained women, is not resolved by simply appealing to the Donatist controversy. This was about lack of meritorious conduct not gender. A failure to separate these categories leads to an erroneous confusion of corrupted human nature with the female person that God has created in His image.
    The Donatist concern was efficacy not validity. This must be differentiated from the context of women’s ordination which is more about validity.
    Although, Cyprian and Augustine were actively engaged in resolving the Donatist controversy, both were opposed to the ordination of women. The historical precedent for issue of women presiding over the sacrament is not the Donatist controversy but Gnosticism (Scaer 1989, CTQ 53.1-2, p14).
    The Confessions discuss efficacy for the sake of the believer’s certainty regarding salvation, not salvation per se. To administer the sacraments in disregard to Christ’s command is to leave the faithful in doubt and consciences burdened. Fidelity to the Lord’s mandates is essential for the preaching, teaching, and proper use of the sacraments. Christ said ‘if you love me you will keep my commands’ (Jn 14:15).

    1. Thanks Andrew for your comments. I appreciate the distinction you make in regards to validity and efficacy – that’s a helpful distinction to make. But I have to say from your response that I differ from you in the following ways: 1) I’m even more concerned if others agree with your view. Your view seems to be saying that the sacraments will not even be valid if a woman ends up being ordained and administers them to God’s people. From those who have been against WO I have been hearing that the reference to God’s judgment in 1 Cor 14: 38 has been used in putting doubt into people’s minds about the efficacy of the sacraments, but now this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone talk about it in terms of validity! The consequence of this view in my opinion would then result in saying that all these years in other denominations where members of God’s household have been receiving baptism and Holy Communion from a woman minister, that they have not been receiving a true sacrament. Our Lutheran Christian faith would tell us that the means of grace create and sustain faith and so your view on validity here seems to be inferring that these people don’t have faith in Jesus at all or it would put into doubt whether they truly have faith. That does not sound Lutheran at all; 2) You say “The Donatist concern was efficacy not validity”, but I believe that you are incorrect here as you can see from the following quotes about Donatism which say that it’s clearly about validity: “The election as bishop in 312 of Caecilian, who seemed unenthusiastic about the martyrs, and his consecration by a suspected traditor [heretic], caused a scandal among the rigorists and led to separation. Donatists regarded themselves as the true church, and claimed Cyprian’s authority in rebaptising Catholics” [rebaptising is about saying that the original was invalid] (GL Bray in New Dictionary of Theology, IVP, 1988: 206); “…Donatists taught that a priest’s part in sacraments was substantial (he had to be holy and in proper standing with the church for the sacrament to be valid) rather than simply instrumental…” (VL Walter in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed Walter A Elwell, Baker Books, 1984: 329).

      1. Thanks Anthony, Your second point first: As a Donatist, you would be concerned about the validity of the ordination of traditors as bishops, etc. Objectively, their sacraments were validly administered according to Christ’s command. Donatists are condemned because “the sacraments are efficacious even if the priests who administer them are wicked” (AC VIII). Confessionally, the issue is efficacy. To apply this to the innovation of female gender is illogical.
        Now your first point: I’m surprised you are unaware of Luther’s references to the invalidity of women preaching, etc. Following CTICR (2005; LTJ 39/1,45f) the push for OW on the basis of AC VIII or Ap VII & VIII has consistently failed to distinguish between efficacy and validity (an error of Donatism). The error of women’s ordination, its moralism, its non-apostolic connection & non-catholicity, discrimination of non-conforming pastors, and schismatic nature is closer to Donatism than its supporters care to admit. This congruence stems from its secular nature, and a nihilistic dependence on the ‘silence of the confessions’ and/or a mystical ‘wholeness of scripture’ which is no scripture at all. Appeals to being led by ‘the Spirit’ apart from scripture are condemned (SA 3, VIII, 3,5,9-13). It has been said, ‘The church lives and grows by virtue of what God says, and not by virtue of the ethos of her people. To contradict this is to affirm Donatism’ (Schroeder, 1965, CTM, 754).
        The Confessions reject any novel teaching unsupported by Scripture. It rejects non-Lutheran doctrines of the Lord’s Supper (SD VII, 2), predestination (FC XI), and re-baptism as taught today. On the basis of our confessions, one can hardly say the Lutheran and Reformed Churches are equally valid, and less so when they ordain women. Preaching by women was never commanded by Christ. He prohibits it for all time. It is a human teaching. It is in vain, having no divine authority (Mt 15:9). It promotes uncertainty and burdens consciences, which is intolerable. Luther reiterates “the Holy Spirit has excepted women” and they “are not qualified for this office” (LW41), thus their preaching and administration of the sacraments is invalid (LW 38, 200; 30, 88) and efficacy uncertain (SD VII,85; Ap VII,28). This is not just ‘Lutheran’ but Biblical from the order of creation, to the very end.
        I am not saying that congregations ministered to by female clergy do not have faith. Anyone who hears the Word can receive assurance and joy of knowing that the Triune God is speaking to them with a message of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. Only Christ knows a person’s faith. The point is, because the ordination of women is invalid, having no command from Christ, they are in effect only acting as private individuals (Preus 1990). While the word is still there, its work will be hindered by those who do not abide in Him. It is curious that two denominations in Sth Australia ordaining women show the strongest decline (Sunday Mail 19/4/15).

      2. Dear Anthony, I posted a response to your comments on this blog last Tuesday (15 Sept). My lengthy response was posted but looks like it has been removed, ‘filtered’ again, just as a previous response was. Anyway, I have not received any notification regarding the reason. My response mentioned how those advocating women’s ordination in the LCA since LTJ 39/1 confuse validity and efficacy. This is in fact the tip of the iceberg of the Donatist problem.

        1. Andrew, no post of yours has been removed or filtered. If a post of yours is missing, please re-post it. Sometimes they get caught in the spam filter.

  • Anthony, thank you for this comment. I fully agree with you, and as a pastor who has received personal correspondence to the effect that my very salvation might be in danger given that I am in favour of women’s ordination, I would like to say again: Jesus alone is the one who saves me. His gracious incarnation, ministering life, atoning death, life-giving resurrection, glorious ascension, and pouring out of the Holy Spirit – Christ alone saves me and everyone who believes in him. Not Jesus PLUS anything – including opposing women’s ordination – just Jesus.
    Jesus is the one who comes to me in the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion – no matter whether the pastor is evil or good (as the Lutheran Confessions affirm) or male or female. It is his word and his promise that makes the sacraments efficacious.

    1. “Shouldn’t the starting point for all Lutheran decision making mean: ‘Because I’m safe in God’s hands (the gospel)’ I’m ‘freed’ according to my new nature to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church through the Word. If I’m in doubt that I’m safe in God’s hands as the basis for decision making, then this makes the ‘condemning fear’ the basis for decision making which clouds our ‘freed’ spirit which has come about through the power of the gospel.”
      Spot on, Anthony – a very important contribution to the conversation.

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