Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A woman serving on a church board

AP said...
I know this has been discussed before, so I thought some of your readers might find this interesting. This is the complete text of an answer given recently on the WELS Q&A in response to a question about a woman serving on a church board:

"WELS believes that women may participate in all the offices and activities of public gospel ministry where the service does not involve authority over men (cf. 1 Timothy 2:11,12)."

Has the WELS always taught this? Do your readers believe this?


It is also worth noting that this contradicts what the ELS says on the matter: "God has given the ministry of the Gospel to all believers; it is the office of the pastoral ministry that he has restricted to qualified men" and "...when Scripture refers to one who officiates at the Word and sacrament liturgy it speaks in male terms (1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 4:13). Therefore women shall not read the Scripture lessons in the divine service, preach the sermon, adminster Baptism or distribute the Lord's Supper, for these things are intimately related to the pastoral office (1 Timothy 4:13-14, 1 Corinthians 4:1)."

26 comments:

Interested observer said...

You quoted the ELS position: "Therefore women shall not read the Scripture lessons in the divine service, preach the sermon, adminster Baptism or distribute the Lord's Supper, for these things are intimately related to the pastoral office (1 Timothy 4:13-14, 1 Corinthians 4:1)."

All of the duties described involve authoritative preaching or ministry. The WELS position says women may not serve in the public ministry when it involves exercising authority over me. I see no difference at all in these two statements. Where is the contradiction, please?

Carl M. said...

Interested Observer,

The Wisconsin Synod has said that women may commune women and men (if someone else "fences" the altar). The ELS says women may not commune men or women.

The Wisconsin Synod says women may read the readings, the ELS says they may not.

The Wisconsin Synod says women may be in the pastoral office serving men (such as performing baptisms, counseling and so forth) as long as they do not "excercise authority" over them. The ELS says women may not be in the pastoral office.

Carl M.

Anonymous said...

Have you read one of the most recent WLQs? Good article by Tom Nass about this whole subject. You are misrepresenting the WELS position.

Interested observerf said...

Carl M: I have never seen anything anywhere in the Wisconsin Synod where women are allowed to commune "women and men" or where women are allowed to read the Scriptures in a mixed public worship service. Neither have you. You are either terribly ignorant or intentionally misrepresenting WELS doctrine.

Interested Observer said...

Carl M: You said, "The Wisconsin Synod says women may be in the pastoral office serving men (such as performing baptisms, counseling and so forth) as long as they do not "excercise authority" over them."

Show me any statement, any document, any WELS leader or teacher that says this. You will not be able to.

This is simply, unequivocally, not true.

Carl M. said...

No, I read very carefully, you ought to as well. Read the Wiscosnin Synod's COP declaration on women communing others. They say there is nothing wrong with it, but it "wouldn't be wise" because people would not understand. The same with women lectors. Wisconsin Synod cautions against such practices are always based on giving offense not in that the practice is inherently wrong.

Carl M.

Intgerested Observer said...

Carl,

No, you need the read the statement again. It was talking only about women communing women, not women and men as you claimed.

Carl M. said...

No, they say that it is not an exercise of autority (if someone else fences the table) and women may commune men, though it wouldn't be "wise." And it has happened. Ask Pastor Herman John.

Regardless, it doesn't matter for the WS already calls women into the Office of the Holy Ministry and they may serve as pastor as long as they don't exercise authority over men (and we have seen how that is twisted and turned). This runs contrary to the Scriptures.

Carl M.

Interested observer said...

Carl: Where on earth are you getting this "fencing the table" terminology? Are you just making it up? And again, the statement of the COP nowhere -- absolutely nowhere -- says that women may commune men. Produce the exactg wording from the COP statement to back up your claim. You will not be able to do so, because it does not say what you claim. If you can't be honest about this, you need to be quiet. Your words are changing from being uninformed to simply lies.

Carl M. said...

No, you produce what you claim to be true.

And be careful because simply because Nass or whoever says women can commune women,but it is not wise, doesn't mean they have not said, women can commune men, but it would not be wise.

"Fencing the table" is a common term used in theologicil circles that means admitting or preventing people from communing.

Carl M.

Carl M. said...

From the WELS Q/A

"WELS does not consider women who lawfully assume certain duties of the pastoral office to be pastors, does not call them pastors, and does not intend to call them pastors."

Now, if it walks like a duck....

Carl M.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the WELS synod calls women into the Office of the Holy Ministry?

Anonymous said...

WELS doesn't have an OHM, but yes, women are allowed to perform ministry functions as long as they don't involve authority (in very elastic terms) over men.

AP said...

"Where is the contradiction, please?"

Here is the contradiction. WELS says "women may participate in all the offices and activities of public gospel ministry where the service does not involve authority over men." Thus, when deciding which roles women may have in the ministry, WELS says, they can do anything so long as it doesn't involve exercising authority over men--hence it is okay for women to commune women (but we don't do it now because it might offend our brothers in the ELS.) By this logic, women could be pastors too, so long as they were only pastors to other women. In other words, the only thing that keeps women out of the pastoral ministry in the WELS is the exercise of authority over men.

The ELS also says that only men can be pastors because women can't have authority over men, but takes it one step further by saying that regardless of who they are exercising authority over, women can't be pastors or do the things that pastors do (preach and admister the sacrament) becuase God has restricted the pastor ministry to qualified men. But I'm not the only one to notice this discrepancy. This is a big issue right now for some in the ELS. Look at DP Janke's Fall report to the WELS AZ/CA district--this isn't something I made up. Any ELS folks care to back me up on this?

AP

Anonymous said...

AP,

I agree that it is a theoretical difference in approach, but I'm not sure that this is a practical difference that would even manifest itself in the real world. I guess you could come up with some hypothetical about a shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific and only women survive and they start a church on their deserted island and have a woman "pastor". But outside of that, I'm not sure the theoretical difference between the WELS and ELS would ever impact anything in the real world.

AP said...

"I agree that it is a theoretical difference in approach, but I'm not sure that this is a practical difference that would even manifest itself in the real world."

Allow me to explain why I see it as more than that. The way I read the WELS position, the only thing in the Bible that prevents women from being pastors is the issue of authority.

ELS says, yes, women shouldn't excercise authority over men, but that there is another reason women shouldn't be pastors--God has restricted the office of the pastoral ministry to qualified men.

So, the WELS and ELS say the Bible says different things about who may be in the ministry. That is more than just a "theoretical difference in approach."

AP

Anonymous said...

"ELS says, yes, women shouldn't excercise authority over men, but that there is another reason women shouldn't be pastors--God has restricted the office of the pastoral ministry to qualified men."

But is that really an entirely different reason? It's really just the same reason from two different sides:

1. Women can't be pastors because they can't be in authority over men.

2. Scripture says pastors must be men, because men are the ones to be in authority.

Seems like basically the same reason, seen from two different sides.

AP said...

"Scripture says pastors must be men, because men are the ones to be in authority."

That isn't what it says though. It says that Pastors must be men because scripture says they must be men. The WELS adds another "because" to it, which has the effect of qualifying the statement before the "because," which leads to some in the WELS saying, "women can do the same things as pastors as long as we don't call them pastors and they aren't exercising authority over men."

AP

OJN said...

As AP has clearly noted, there is a profound difference between the WELS and ELS position on the Ministry, one that many within the ELS are deeply concerned about, but don't talk about publicly, which is good, but ultimately they will have to and some are ready to. I hate to sound so cryptic but I know of a prominent ELS pastor who has said the above. They are hoping that the WELS gets its act together on this issue. The WELS "fully human" in the Nicene Creed portended this fissure, some in the ELS saw this, some in the WELS as well.

FWIW (and that may not be much)

OJN

Anonymous said...

A few posts back AP wrote: "ELS says, yes, women shouldn't excercise authority over men, but that there is another reason women shouldn't be pastors--God has restricted the office of the pastoral ministry to qualified men." This in itself brings up an issue that no one has yet mentioned: that by saying "God has restricted the office" the ELS is saying that there is a concrete office of the Pastoral Ministry that is mandated by God. I believe that this is something that the WELS statement on ministry does not affirm.

Anonymous said...

"I believe that this is something that the WELS statement on ministry does not affirm."

Not only does the WELS statement on ministry not affirm this, they go one step further by saying they hold that position untenable.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you actually took the time to read the official WELS statements, you would read this: "This means that women may not serve as pastors..."

AP said...

"Actually, if you actually took the time to read the official WELS statements, you would read this: 'This means that women may not serve as pastors...'"

To whom are you responding?

AP

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you actually took the time to read the official WELS statements, you would read this: "This means that women may not serve as pastors..."

Which one says this and what comes before and after it?

I think you are missing the point.

Anonymous said...

So is the position of the ELS and the WELS the same on the ministry or not? Yeah Yeah I know what everyone says but do people actually think they are the same?

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