Can an LCMS Pastor Rightly Share the Altar to which He is Called with a Female “Pastor?” by Pr. Tim Rossow

Last Sunday, August 28, Charlene M. Cox was installed as the University Pastor of Valparaiso University, a university affiliated with the LCMS but not one of the official LCMS schools. (Here is a link to the press release from the university.)

Pastor James Wetzstein is listed in the LCMS church worker roster as an Associate Pastor at the university. He is now serving alongside and sharing the pulpit from which he preaches the pure Gospel and the altar from which he administers the Lord’s Supper according to Christ’s command, with a woman, which is of course against Christ’s command.

Can a rightly teaching and preaching pastor serve in such a capacity? I suppose there might be some instances where a rightly teaching pastor might find himself interacting and even working with a female “pastor” – on a board of directors of a pan Lutheran institution or something like that – although such service must be carefully scrutinized. To share an altar and pulpit with a woman “pastor” is clearly against Christ’s command.

Christ in his word says:

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. I Corinthians 15

And He says

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. I Timothy 2:12

The LCMS has an odd relationship withValparaisothrough the years. It is affiliated with the LCMS but does not submit to the policies of the LCMS and openly rejects the inerrant teaching of Scripture on several counts.

So now the remaining question is what shall be done about this? It is wrong for the LCMS to simply look the other way. It is time for the LCMS to officially denounce the false teaching at Valparaiso, ask for repentance, and if none is exhibited, abolish all ties to the university and pull our LCMS clergy out of service at their altar and pulpit.


Comments

Can an LCMS Pastor Rightly Share the Altar to which He is Called with a Female “Pastor?” by Pr. Tim Rossow — 134 Comments

  1. @David Hartung #53

    David – sorry for the delay, I was out of town. What I mean is that the real problem is a denial of the truth of scripture in the ELCA. At Valpo it is manifest in the appointment of a Priestess to serve the ELCA students on campus, and in Valpo’s decision to make this Priestess the head of the Chapel. But, female ordination is a “hot” social, political issue. Because we in the LCMS have quietly gone along continuing in joint work with the ELCA while it was disavowing Truth we missed an opportunity to have this conversation on a theological/doctrinal only level. Now we must have it against the back drop of a headline that says LCMS pulls pastor from Valpo over women minister. Much like the outside world certainly sees our decision on the Chaplincy as LCMS stops joint chaplaincy with ELCA over gay pastors. But really the reason is (or ought to be) LCMS stops joint work with ELCA over ELCA’s refusal to accept the inerrency of scripture.

  2. @David Hartung #96
    He is there to care for the LCMS students on the campus. Pastor Wetzstein does not answer to the ELCA pastor, nor she to him. They serve different folks.

    Then I hope he was elsewhere when she was installed as head of the chapel.

  3. @Joe Olson #101

    Joe, I understand where you are coming from, but I cannot help the feeling that there is a line between standing strong in our confession, and worrying about what people will think. The LCMS clergy who are professors at Valparaiso, and who take public positions at odds with our Synod are a problem, and careful, loving pastoral action is called for. The presence at the university of a LCMS pastor, called to provide pastoral care for LCMS students at that university strikes me as right and proper. Until said pastor preaches, teaches or confesses false doctrine, he should be left alone.

  4. @helen #102

    Miss Helen, see my reply to Joe.

    Until such time as there is solid indication that this man is preaching, teaching and confession false doctrine, he deserves our prayers and best wishes for success.

  5. Paul makes it eminently clear that woman are not to be in the pulpit of any church. Why do we continue improve our relationship with the ELCA while the ELCA continues to interpret God’s word as is convenient.. The LC-MS is the LC-MS & the ELCA is the ELCA and apparently they will continue their collision course. An ordained LC-MS pastor should be permitted to preach only in a LC-MS pulpit. This situation is nuts.
    John Troutman

  6. tOHNttROUTMAN :
    Paul makes it eminently clear that woman are not to be in the pulpit of any church. Why do we continue improve our relationship with the ELCA while the ELCA continues to interpret God’s word as is convenient.. The LC-MS is the LC-MS & the ELCA is the ELCA and apparently they will continue their collision course. An ordained LC-MS pastor should be permitted to preach only in a LC-MS pulpit. This situation is nuts.
    John Troutman

    Carried to its logical conclusion, this would mean that all LCMS chaplains, serving in various capacities would have to be recalled. Is this what you wish? Are you certain that this is proper?

  7. @David Hartung #104
    David,
    If any LCMS pastor participated in the installation of an elca woman to head the chapel, he IS confessing a false doctrine by that action.

    @David Hartung #106
    What makes you think that “all” LCMS chaplains would have to be recalled?
    Our military chaplains, as explained to me by my Pastor, who is one, can avoid joint service with any other, as a matter of conscience.

  8. @helen #107

    Miss Helen,

    You do not know that Pastor Wetzstein participated in the installation of the ELCA pastor, so your implied accusation is, in my opinion, inappropriate.

    Military chaplains serve in a chapel which is used by a variety of faiths, including at least one non-Christian group. The calling the Lutheran pastor at Valparaiso University is to provide pastoral care to the LCMS students there. According to a conversation I had with someone at St Louis a couple of years ago, LCMS chaplains are expected to provide pastoral care to all Lutherans at the place where they are assigned. If it is wrong to have a pastor at Valparaiso, then it is equally wrong to have LCMS ministers serve as military chaplains.

  9. @David Hartung #108

    I haven’t noticed whether someone already cited this, so I apologize if it is redundant.

    New pastor installed at Valparaiso University
    by Susan O’Leary, Times Correspondent
    August 28, 2011
    http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/valparaiso/article_3c7957fe-61c1-5f4c-85a6-f5e681a76c5c.html

    “The Rev. James Wetzstein, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod University pastor, said the VU community was delighted the new pastor was here. ‘We are looking forward to days of good collaboration that are certain to be ahead,’ said Wetzstein.”

  10. @T. R. Halvorson #110

    A few more:

    Installation of new University pastor is Sunday
    http://www.valpo.edu/news/news.php?releaseId=4661
    “Cox works alongside the Rev. James Wetzstein, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod University Pastor.”
    [photo of Cox and Wetzstein]
    Photo caption: “Pastor Charlene Cox will join Pastor James Wetzstein at the Chapel of the Resurrection.”

    Cox installed as a VU pastor
    http://posttrib.suntimes.com/photos/galleries/7334896-417/cox-installed-as-a-vu-pastor.html
    “The Rev. James Wetzstein, a Valparaiso University pastor, said his new colleague, the Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox, brings a lot of new experience to her role at the Chapel of Resurrection. … ‘We wanted to hold it when the students would be here,’ Wetzstein said.”

    Cox appointed ELCA University Pastor
    http://www.valpo.edu/news/news.php?releaseId=4634
    “Cox will work collaboratively in chapel ministry alongside the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod University Pastor, the Rev. James Wetzstein, and the entire chapel staff.”

  11. Comparing to the pictures T.R. provided in his links, I’d bet serious money that is Pr. Becker. I firmly believe that, especially since it is on par with his personal beliefs. I do not recognize anyone even cloesly resembling Pr. Wetzstein. I don’t know about any other LC-MS pastors on staff at Valpo. But some of the statemetns in the news articles (thanks again to T.R.) does not inspire me about how Pr. Wetzstein will conduct himself within the worship and chapel environment…

  12. David Hunter,
    You raised the issue of false doctrine.
    I did not name Wetzstein in my comment; it’s a ‘one size fits all.’
    If the shoe doesn’t fit you don’t have to put it on him.

    But are you suggesting that the quotes attributed to pastor Wetzstein are inaccurate?

    @David Hartung #108
    Military chaplains serve in a [multi-use] chapel.
    To some extent, and depending on the location, they serve in the open air, too.
    A military chapel is not dedicated, nor is the open air.

  13. Oh, how far have “Kretzmann’s Crusaders” fallen! A movement to spank the President of Valpo, and confiscate his treasury! (And send him to bed without his dinner.
    Precisely what is to be “the Church’s” position on female speqking? May they read the Old Testament passage? What about the Epistile message? Who is to sing in the Church Chior? Who shoule teach young men in “Sunday School”? Keeping silenceis the ordinance, who should we handle the by-products? Should women vote at hurch governing meetings? Should they serve as represenatives to District or Synod activitiess?

  14. William Bartelt

    I haven’t noticed that the President of Valpo was mentioned here, but I haven’t read it all. All your mocking questions have been taken up on their own topics.

    But to answer briefly: OT: no; NT:no; choir… in the choir loft; “Young men” should be taught by qualified men, preferably the Pastor; IMHO, voters is not “church” as Paul was discussing it; most of those who aspire to district and synod positions should stay home ( see also: the man who actively “runs” for a post probably shouldn’t get it).

    The “question” here is whether LCMS Pastors should serve at Valpo.

  15. I weep for our Church if this is the tone of discussions among brothers and sisters in Christ. Where is Christ’s love? Why the desire to tear down (people and institutions) and not build up?

    I am a proud graduate of Valparaiso University and I left Valpo stronger in my confession as a Lutheran than when I entered. If LCMS has deep problems with Valpo then why has LCMS abandoned this University? LCMS folk occupied key positions in the university in my time — where are they now?

    So the solution is to have no LCMS presence at all? I can imagine what OP Kretzmann would say about this discussion thread — and it would not be positive.

  16. ‘LCMS folk’ occupying ‘key positions’ has nothing to do with anything. I’ve watched first hand at an LCMS school (namely CURF) have ‘LCMS folk’ in all kinds of key leadership positions advocating things that had *nothing* to do with genuine Lutheran theology. And some of these same ‘LCMS folk’ are now ‘ELCA folk.’

    The issue has nothing to do with personalities, but this: Is an LCMS pastor, authorized to do Chaplaincy work at an institution surrounded by false doctrine (Valpo) reinforcing such false doctrine by making statements that demonstrate support to something that is contra Scriptural truth.. i.e. female clergypersons. How are we advocating the Gospel by making statements of support of the ministry of someone who is obviously usurping the Gospel preaching office itself?

    Now that I know he is there on behalf of the IN District, I am even more greatly concerned.

  17. Perhaps analogous to Abraham, we can repetitively ask the Missouri Synod leadership how many righteous Missouri Synod students it would take in order for the Synod to maintain an on-campus chaplain at Valparaiso University.

  18. Paul Faulkner :
    ‘LCMS folk’ occupying ‘key positions’ has nothing to do with anything. I’ve watched first hand at an LCMS school (namely CURF) have ‘LCMS folk’ in all kinds of key leadership positions advocating things that had *nothing* to do with genuine Lutheran theology. And some of these same ‘LCMS folk’ are now ‘ELCA folk.’
    The issue has nothing to do with personalities, but this: Is an LCMS pastor, authorized to do Chaplaincy work at an institution surrounded by false doctrine (Valpo) reinforcing such false doctrine by making statements that demonstrate support to something that is contra Scriptural truth.. i.e. female clergypersons. How are we advocating the Gospel by making statements of support of the ministry of someone who is obviously usurping the Gospel preaching office itself?
    Now that I know he is there on behalf of the IN District, I am even more greatly concerned.

    Then the thing for you to do is to contact the Indiana District President, and share you concerns with him, and get some facts, rather than venting on a blog.

  19. We have Rev. Wetzstein’s own quotes… what other facts are needed? ‘We are looking forward to days of good collaboration that are certain to be ahead,’ said Wetzstein.”

    Yes, I would be jumping for joy at a usurping of the Office of the Holy Ministry to be collaborating with. This was a quote given for public consumption, and that is how it is being taken.

  20. The antinomian spirit here is alive and well.

    I am reading that

    1)DPs are not doing their job if they are following the synodical bylaws, rather they are subversively hiding behind those bylaws, as is dr becker as are (fill in the blank).

    2) it is ok to unflatteringly guess that the motives of others are less than honorable (dr becker and the concordia plan).

    3) No one is obligated to follow synod bylaws and lawful procedures because it wont do any good.

    4) we should spend out spare time searching for fotos and then asking around to see if we can catch people doing the wrong thing. And make it look like we take maybe a small amount of pleasure in catching others sinning.

    5) few are defending speaking well of and putting the best possible interpretation on things.

    6) I am too sad at all this to go on….. these are really very very important issues. They really need to be dealt with. People are having waaaay to much fun here.

    But instead we are inviting God’s wrath and punishment upon our group by not treating others with the same goodness and mercy we ourselves would like to be treated with when we are finding ourselves being accused either rightly or wrongly.

    Mercy is always undeserved. yet we are to do mercy unto others as we would desire it be done to us. this is the sum of the Law according to our dear Lord.

    It is starting to seem like the 8th commandment simply does not apply when we are discussing doctrinal issues.

    Ok . I agree that public sin is to be publicly called out. But this fact does not exempt us from the 8th commandment and what the entire sum of the second table Law is.

    especially in that case st paul calls that clanging symbal.

  21. @Brad #11
    Brad, there are already myriads of LCMS churches who are part of Willow Creek Association and use their literature for their sermon series. If these congregations were honest, they would drop out of the synod and become the evangelicals they so desperately want to be like. Very sad.

    I think we would be surprised how our LCMS would grow if we would weed out all of the professors, pastors and office holders who are constantly looking for the next “church growth” idea. They don’t have a clue.

  22. @tOHNttROUTMAN #105
    I just wish the pastors would stay in the pulpit. We have one at our church who is rebellious and thinks he is too cool to have to preach from the pulpit, so he stands in the center of the chancel area to give his “talk”. I thought we were paying him to stand in the pulpit since he really is the only one who has the authority to occupy said space in an official capacity during worship time. Is there room for rebellion in the pastor’s life within the bounds of his paid job or can a pastor do as he darn well pleases and the congregation just has to take it? I am asking sincerely because when I see our pastor roaming around as he speaks, I am less inclined to think he is speaking on behalf of God and more within his own comfort zone. Is this even a big deal? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

  23. Our God Reigns :
    @tOHNttROUTMAN #105
    I just wish the pastors would stay in the pulpit. We have one at our church who is rebellious and thinks he is too cool to have to preach from the pulpit, so he stands in the center of the chancel area to give his “talk”. I thought we were paying him to stand in the pulpit since he really is the only one who has the authority to occupy said space in an official capacity during worship time. Is there room for rebellion in the pastor’s life within the bounds of his paid job or can a pastor do as he darn well pleases and the congregation just has to take it? I am asking sincerely because when I see our pastor roaming around as he speaks, I am less inclined to think he is speaking on behalf of God and more within his own comfort zone. Is this even a big deal? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

    Does it truly matter where the pastor stands to proclaim God’s word?

  24. I think it does matter where the pastor stands to proclaim God’s Word. If the pastor starts wandering around it can be a distraction. The sermon should be about the Word, not about the pastor. I’ve seen pastors where it appeared they thought it was the other way around (mostly non-Lutheran fortunately). If the pastor leans up against the altar, or leans back against it (as I’ve seen in an LCMS church), then it seems to me that he doesn’t take the Holy things of God too seriously. The point is, we do things for a reason in the Divine Service, it’s different than a secular event, and should reflect the difference.

  25. We could probably spare some of the Concordias more easily than ULC, based on the quality of Lutheran they encourage.

  26. “The fact is that there are a lot of LCMS kids there. We need to minister to them. Perhaps it is time to start a Lutheran Campus Ministry off campus. Cox is a symptom of the problem; not the problem.”

    I am currently serving unofficially (weekly pulpit supply) at Trinity Lutheran Church in Westville, Indiana. It’s about five miles from Valpo. I would be more than willing to help set this up.

    Send any ideas or contacts this way:

    [email protected]

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