A Plea to LC-MS Pastors

Editor’s Note:  This article was prompted by this picture and the conversation taking place here.

God forbids women to speak the lessons in church.  1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-38. Those who say that God doesn’t forbid women to speak the lessons in church (or read the readings, as people today say) appeal to current theologians in our synod to say that this is an open question or adiaphoron.  I don’t need to appeal to all the true Christian men and women until the 20th Century who support my position to refute them.  I appeal to the Scriptures alone, which the LC-MS in the 2nd Article of her constitution makes the sole rule and norm and source of our doctrine.

They argue against the clear Scriptures who say that it is not clear whether God forbids women to speak the lessons in Church.  Here are a few of their arguments.  1. That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office.  2. That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church. To this some add the boys in the early Lutheran schools learning to speak the lessons at Matins and Vespers.  3. That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord.  4. The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations.  5. Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.

 

  1. That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office.

 

This denies the authority and clarity of the Word of God.  The lessons that are spoken to the whole congregation are what is taught.  It is not just a part of the teaching.  It is the foundation of all the teaching the pastor does.

God’s Word is clear that women are to be silent in the churches.  No such prohibition is given to men.  While most confessional Lutherans consider laymen speaking the lessons to be unwise and confusing these days, having laymen speak the lessons is not sinful and not forbidden, and in fact reinforces the teaching of Scripture that men are the head of their homes and as fathers are specifically told to teach their children. The early Lutherans were free to train young men to lead devotions in their homes, as seminaries are free to have students read the lessons before they are ordained. (Ephesians 6:4)

 

  1. That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church.

 

This argument does violence to the Scriptures.  Paul would not tell Mary not to sing her Magnificat, or forbid Hannah and Deborah theirs songs of praise, or exhort Miriam to stop singing with Moses.  Paul would not tell parents to stop teaching their children Scripture, as Moses commanded parents to do in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Paul’s words that women are to be silent and not teach, but learn in quietness and all submission, do not do away with Scripture.

God’s Word is clear and it is only ignorance of the Scriptures that would confuse this issue.

 

  1. That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord.

 

This illustrates the exact problem very well.  Women should be involved in their homes teaching God’s Word, with the husband leading the devotions, as we see in Ephesians 6:4.  Having the women read the lessons publicly contradicts this very order of creation that God has established.

We should not listen to those who tell us that this is a good way to make a woman feel welcome or to get her involved.  It is not a good way because God tells women to learn quietly and in all submission.  A woman speaking the lessons is not learning quietly and in all submission.  We have to repeat this Word of God to them.  We have to speak God’s Word in 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14 out loud and not be ashamed of it.  We need to say not ashamedly, but clearly, with gravity, and with fear of God.  We dare not explain God’s Word away.  You cannot hurt Christ’s Lamb by speaking Jesus’ Word.  Christ’s sheep hear His voice and follow him.  (John 10:27-28)

Look, brothers, at the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers.  We all see it. The broken families.  Children denying the faith in droves.  The husbands apathetic to the Word of God.  The pious wives struggling to teach their children with lazy husbands who gladly obey the feminist goddess who tells them not to rule over their wives with the love and mercy with which Christ rules over us. (Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Pet. 3:7) They need men to speak the lessons at home!

The carnage of lost souls alone must wake us from our stupor.  Now is not the time to politick.  Now is not the time to wait for the right people to gain leadership, and gradually lead people to accept God’s Word through power plays.  Now is the time to visit families and speak boldly what God says and trust that His Word will not return to him empty.  Now is not the time to trust in princes but in the Word of God. (Isaiah 55:10-11)  Remember, “In season and out of season!” (2 Tim. 4:2)

 

  1. The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations.

 

The Word of God to which the Synod and all her pastors pledge undying loyalty cannot be changed.  The 2nd article of the LC-MS constitution says, “The Synod and every member of the Synod, accepts without reservation: 1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice.

This Word of God is clear.  Women are not to teach, they are to be silent in the Churches and to learn in quietness and with all submission.  That is the Word of God that cannot be changed.  This is why this 2nd article of the Synod’s constitution cannot be changed.  God’s Word cannot be changed.

When people say that the Word of God is not clear here they are ignoring the pure Word of God and setting up man-made opinion in place of the Word of God.  It does no good to appeal to synodical theologians who disagree with the Word of God.  They are not allowed to teach as doctrines the commandments of men.  God forbids it. (Matthew 15:9)

 

  1. Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.

 

Pastors, you are not allowed to allow women to speak the lessons in Church.  It is not loving to allow them to speak the lessons.  It can be cowardice, pride, apathy, or wrong affections, but it is not love. Hurting their feelings will not hurt their faith because the Word of God cannot destroy the faith of God’s children.  That is impossible.  God telling wives to submit to their husbands doesn’t destroy their faith any more than God telling Eve that her husband should rule over destroyed her faith (Gen. 3:16), or any more than God telling husbands to love their wives destroys theirs.  God telling women to be silent in the church and not to usurp authority over men does not hurt their faith.  Neither does it destroy the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) The unity of the Spirit is created by the Word of God.  Destroying the unity of the Spirit happens when we disregard the Word of God, as when pastors do not obey their Lord when he tells them through His apostle that women are to be silent in the churches.

Those who have women teach and speak the lessons are causing division among us by setting up a practice contrary to the doctrine we learn in the Bible.  False doctrine and practice divides the Church.  In setting forth the above arguments, they are creating disputes and schisms that the Church has never entertained or been troubled by except by Montanists and other heretics.  And that raises the question, from where do these arguments come today?

They come from feminism, which denies that command which God gave to man when he spoke to woman, “Your husband shall rule over you.”  Some feminist theologians even argue that because the Son is subject to the Father when he submits all things to Him on the Last Day (1 Cor. 15:28), the word “submission” no longer means the willing service and obedience Sarah gave to Abraham when she called him her lord – 1 Peter 3:5-6), because this would apparently deny the equality of the Father and the Son.  But Christ Himself came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)  In making this argument, feminism assaults the final obedience of Christ when he hands all things over to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28).  It assaults the lordship of Christ and the example he leaves for husbands and wives in how they ought to live with one another Eph. 5:22-33)

These are the lengths some go to in order to deny the order of creation. Feminists assault the Unity of the Godhead and the lordship of Christ all in order to avoid teaching the order of creation.  And we see all over our churches the results overturning this order has caused.

But there are people telling you that you need to be patient, as if patience means not teaching and continuing to ignore God telling women to be silent in the churches.  When God tells pastors to be patient, he tells them to be patient in teaching (2 Tim. 4:2).  When a pastor doesn’t teach that women should be silent and thus not read the lessons, he is not being patient.  He is letting the devil teach Christ’s sheep that women should not be silent in the churches, as we hear all around us today.

We live on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.  There is a final argument some make, namely that this issue is not something we should worry about while there are other greater issues at stake.  What other issues?  Closed Communion?  We practice Closed Communion to protect Christ’s flock from the evil leaven of false doctrine (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:6).  If we allow the evil leaven in we are not practicing Closed Communion.

What other issues?  Is it that we cannot speak this Word of God until we speak other words that are more important?  But Jesus teaches us to keep all things he commanded us (Matthew 28:20), and we not only do not keep Jesus’ word when we have women speak, we are teaching against his Word, and opposing Christ Himself. I beg you to think soberly on this.

Is there another issue?  What of the broken families I mentioned above?  This is in large part caused by the spirit whose denial of the order of creation leads to having women teach and speak the lessons.  What of the Biblical ignorance we see all around us?  This is caused so often by the Word of God being softened so that people learn to ignore it and think it irrelevant to their lives, as it is being softened and downright ignored in the issue of women speaking the lessons.  What of the worship wars, and our attempt to get people who have adopted the worship forms of sectarians to adopt any sort of traditional order for the sake of Christian discipline and good order (1 Cor. 14:40; Eptiome FC X.3-5)?  But it is precisely in the context of forbidding women to speak in the Church that Paul in 1 Cor. 14 tells us to do all things decently and in good order.  If we cannot get this right, what order do we have?

Or is the issue that we would lose members if we speak God’s Word on this?  Because we know, as the children of God, that the remnant that remains when the Mammon is gone, when our institutions have utterly collapsed, when the walls of Jerusalem have, as it were, fallen, this remnant will obey God, and out of love for women, children, and God himself, not allow women to read the lessons.  The remnant’s men will declare the works of God to the generation following, with their women and baptized children speaking beside them and blending with their voice in a harmony that the devil can’t divide because God’s Word cannot be broken.  (Isaiah 40:8; John 10:35)

As the feminists hate us when we say, “Man up!”, so I exhort you, “Be men!” (1 Cor. 16:13) Tell our seminaries that you require them to teach this to our future pastors.  This is not an open question.  This is not something up for each congregation to do what is right in its own eyes (Josh. 17:6)  This is not something we ask the CTCR to give an opinion on.  We know the answer.  God’s Word is clear.  Our unity is not based upon the decrees of men, but on the Word of God that has so often shown us our own errors and led us out of darkness into the light of the truth of the Gospel.

We must obey God rather than men.  We must learn to love as men who obey God, who rule over their wives as Christ does, with love, and therefore do not permit Christian women to rule over other wives’ husbands. Women are to be silent in the Churches.  God says this.  He forbids them from speaking the lessons in Church.  Excusing this by saying that it was a part in a dramatic reading or with good motives or whatever else the devil conjures up to sully the simplicity of our faith is not to be tolerated or defended in the Church which submits to Christ in everything.  (Eph. 5:24)

Preach the Word, and risk all for it.  All we have is the Word of God.  Suffer for it, and you will love Christ’s flock.   Do not reduce God’s Word to a false gospel that does not give you a delight in the Law of God.  You are pastors, and God commands you to speak His Word on penalty of death.  That’s a threat, and not from me. (Ezekiel 3:18)  But hear also His blessing, “Those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”  (Daniel 12:3)  Therefore, brethren, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16).

 

 

 


Comments

A Plea to LC-MS Pastors — 204 Comments

  1. Friends in Christ,

    Your passion for the word and God’s truth is an awesome thing, but I question the intention of this post. As @sean #30 posted about earlier, these scripture verses are not quite as clear as we would like them to be on these things.

    On top of that, the incident in question included a small portion of the reading from the passion narrative. This would be more akin to Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion” being performed where a female vocalist performs a small portion of scripture as a solo. Bach’s music is good and God-pleasing, as was this chapel reading. If we want to condemn the reading in chapel, we would also have to condemn any serious Bach pieces and performances taking place in the congregational context.

    While I love all of the enthusiasm and seriousness that we have about God’s word, perhaps we should seek more clarity about the situation first.

    Let us be filled with the spirit of peace.

  2. Dr. Herrmann,
    As Pr. Hinton’s Circuit Visitor, I can assure you that he too is a member in good standing, and I see nothing here that would jeopardize that. In fact, at our last District Convention, our district passed a resolution that stated, in the event of a conflict between the bylaws and the Word of God, all officers of our district will act in accordance with the Word of God. Both I and President Hill have stated publicly that we agree with such a resolution, and have publicly committed ourselves to act accordingly.
    If you feel that it is necessary, you can contact my Ecclesiastical Supervisor (President Hill) through the Wyoming District website (wylms.org). If you feel that it is necessary, President Hill’s ecclesiastical supervisor may be contacted at lcms.org. However, I have been assured privately that President Harrison is in complete agreement that, if there is a conflict between the synod and the word of God, that the Word of God is to be followed. So you might not get a lot of traction with your arguments, even at that level.
    To be honest, you’ll find that same attitude in much of our synod leadership these days. As I understand it (and being a history professor, perhaps you are clearer regarding the shape of the arguments made at the time) those who felt that the synod should be able to trump the Word of God left 1333 Kirkwood rather abruptly in mid-2010, and were largely replaced with those who feel that the Word of God must have priority.
    But perhaps that history too recent for your specialized study. I’m not sure at what point it becomes historical enough for seminary professors to take notice.

  3. @ Daniel #43

    I would disagree with one statement. @sam #30 had a wonderful scripture based (and very exegetical) argument. No one has bothered to engage it. I find that more disturbing than the ongoing conversation with Dr. Herrmann. There is an argument based on good exegesis and letting scripture speak for itself. Why is there no engagement with that? I for one, find his argument very convincing. If you truly want to get back to the Word of God and not synodical by-laws ect., then please engage the other argument. I would be more interested in that conversation.

  4. @Sean #30

    All of your arguments twist Scripture. The husband/wife aner/gune argument is inane. I do not permit a wife to teach in the church, but women who aren’t married may? And this coupled with an appeal to Priscilla and Aquila, who were husband and wife? This is horrendous. Priscilla didn’t teach publicly in the church, of course. Which you simply ignored. And then you appeal to Phoebe, Phoebe who Scripture never says taught or read in the Church! And Ephesians 5? Mutual submission? Again you destroy your own argument about gune/aner in 1 Timothy 2! And worse, you destroy the context of Ephesians 5! Mutual submission? Tell me, does Christ submit to His Church? The husband who submits to his wife denies Christ who loves and does not submit to His Church. Ephesians 5:21 is an introductory statement. Submit to one another. This is how it works. Wives to your husbands, children to your parents, slaves to your masters.

    Your objections to Paul’s clear words that a woman may not speak publicly before the congregation are not biblical. They derive from a feminist imposition on Scripture unknown in the Church until the 19th century, and the dawn of feminism. Read A Doll House by Ibsen. That’s your thinking. Lord have mercy.

  5. I asked a very clear question: are you in open and public disagreement with the synodical position on the permissibility of women lectors as reflected in its adopted resolution 3-14 (1989)? Everything else I have said is just clarifying that question. If it would have been answered immediately no other discussion of bylaws would have been necessary. I did not enter these comments to debate anything else. It’s a pretty important question which touches on the integrity of your public promises made to this fellowship of Christians.

  6. @Circuit Visitor Winter #52Pastor Winter, I have made no threats regarding calling up ecclesiastical supervisors. On the contrary all the threats made were toward the seminary which was acting full in accord with the synods doctrinal position. As a synodical seminary we cannot take a public stance against the doctrinal position of the synod. Neither can President Harrison. Of course, one must always choose the Word of God over synod resolutions if they are in conflict. But one must choose. You can’t have both, saying you are voluntarily a member of synod and are in open disagreement with it. Finally, I have tried my best to be respectful in this medium of comments. I don’t think such ad hominem attacks are becoming of a fellow pastor much less a circuit visitor. Your insinuations regarding my competence as a historian are unwarranted and disappointing.

  7. Why are we appealing to the 1989 convention as though it settles the question and anyone who thinks otherwise should be silent, until they go through the dissent process. Did we as a Synod not just repent of another resolution from the same convention concerning lay ministers? Should everyone have been silent about a clear departure from God’s Word until each of us had gone filed the appropriate dissent paperwork?

  8. Pr. Herrmann, are you conceding that Pr. Preus is correct on the Word of God, and that the synod is in error, but we must choose one or the other? Because that is what I infer from what you are saying.
    As for my disagreement with the official position of synod or the bylaws where they conflict with the Word of God, that is public knowledge, and publicly available. I am the pastor of my parish. My vow is to teach the Word of God purely, not to be a shill for synod positions and boards. Synod membership? It is useful for parishes and pastors as long as it contributes to the Word of God, and doesn’t become an idol in itself. Synod officer? I was elected by the members of my circuit, and I serve at their pleasure and command. And they insist that I act in accordance with the Word of God.
    I am also a little disappointed. I would have expected a seminary professor, if they disagreed with something that was written, to show from the Word of God where there was error. You have steadfastly refused to do that. I suppose that is, in itself, information for us to digest.
    And as for disappointment regarding my conduct as a pastor and circuit visitor, you would have to stand in a very long line.

  9. (This is standard procedure for liberal members of Synod: trump Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions with By-Laws and Procedures).

    After the LCMS Synodical Convention declared his position to be one that ‘could not be tolerated in the Church of God’, Seminary President John Tietjen stated to the Convention: “I believe I have been grievously wronged by the Convention, and I should like to state a number of reasons why. The Convention Workbook contains any number of overtures which ought not to have been included in that workbook because they are unconstitutional in that there are provisions in the constitution and bylaws for handling the concerns that were expressed in those overtures.”

  10. @Erik Herrmann #32

    Dear Dr. Herrmann,

    Tietjen’s appeal to the Word of God was wrong because the Word of God tells us that the Scriptures are infallible. Again, I don’t understand your point. Do we need some authority outside the Word of God to expel false teachers from our midst?

    God tells women to be silent in the churches. There is no way that women reading the lessons means that they are learning in quietness and all submission. You know this and everybody knows this. The only thing that could prevent someone from knowing this is looking to some authority other than the Word of God, which is why here and on our seminary’s Facebook page, everyone’s argument is the the Scripture isn’t clear. Think about that. Our argument against Tietjen was not that the synod had declared and determined the truth, but that the Word of God is clear.

    Please consider this.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Pr. Mark Preus

  11. @Miriam #60

    Good question, Miriam. Because Sunday School teachers are derived from the office of father and mother, and women who teach Sunday School assist the mother in her God-given duty.

    Would that all father and mothers taught their children God’s Word so that we would not have to ask others to do their God-given duty for them!

  12. @Erik Herrmann #35

    Dear Dr. Herrmann,

    I remember speaking against this at convention and voting against this resolution. I recall the conservatives telling me, after I expressed my concern, that this was necessary in order that we may deal with heretics like Matthew Becker, and I was also told that issues like Women Suffrage, and I am assuming also women lectors, fall under article 2, if we’re going to argue about sommething that is quite beside the point at hand.

    The point at hand, Dr. Herrmann, is that God commands you to teach the future pastors under your care that He who ordains men to preach His Word commands them to forbid women to speak the lessons in Church. This is not an issue for debate. It is not an open question. ?It is not me trying to win an argument. The argument is already won in the words of God that you believe and confess. Your failure to do this is not excused by anything synodical whatsover. Teach the truth. You know what it is.

    Your brother,
    Pr. Preus

  13. @Erik Herrmann #43

    I’m sorry to have so many responses, Dr. Herrmann, but I responded to each as I saw it. It’s hard to keep track of everything sometimes.

    I’m grateful that my circuit visitor, his grace Lincoln Winter (an inside joke with him), has willingly sullied himself with these unnecessary explications of our canon law. I have known him well for the past several years as one whose conscience is bound only to the Word of God. He has guided me and corrected me and encouraged me in fulfilling my ministry.

    That being said, the God from whom you have all your authority commands you and every teacher at the seminary in St. Louis to rebuke those who tell women that they do not need to learn in quietness and all submission. This means that you have no authority from anyone at all to refrain from teaching our future pastors to forbid women from reading the lessons. This is not my opinion. This is God’s Word.

    I don’t think you understand what it means to be a member of the synod. A teacher who is a member of our synod is to uphold the pure Word of God. This means that, in this instance, he believes, teaches, and confesses that women lectors are offensive to God and not to be tolerated in the Church of God, much less excused or defended.

    This is the God in whom you trust, whose name you bear and pray that it be hallowed. When you pray, “Hallowed be Thy name,” you are praying that God keep us from having women lectors.

    I know I’ve repeated this a few times, but this is not an open question. God forbids His churches from women reading the lessons in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. God give you good courage and confidence in confessing this, so that He might establish among us the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    Your brother,
    Pr. Preus

  14. To all who think that the Word of God is unclear in this matter,

    I preached from the Bible tonight to Christ’s sheep that God says women can’t speak the lessons in Church. I did not preach my own opinion. God says this. I will try to post my sermon tomorrow or later.

    God is angry with those who allow women lectors. He doesn’t like it when His Word is ignored or explained away. He laughs in figurative disbelief when teachers say that his Word is not clear in this matter.

    And so also do the faithful remnant who suffer under the cowardice of our church’s clergy.

    The single greatest problem in the churches, the issue to which the mass apostasy of the youth and middle aged can most be traced, is that men are not teaching their families God’s Word. The reasons God spoke 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14 have never been so clear.

    This is not a peripheral issue. It is the issue today. It is the issue in all the misery and spiritual carnage we see around us. God has already spoken. His Church cannot do anything but follow.

  15. The above comments by the seminary professor about synodical members following doctrinal resolutions as a condition of membership worry me, as we don’t vote on new doctrine. We only acknowledge the doctrine that’s already there in the Bible. That bylaw passed by the Synod-in-Convention does contradict Scripture. Shouldn’t everyone who voted for it and follow it forfeit their membership?

  16. @Elizabeth Peters #54

    I appreciate your response, but I’m getting lost in what you mean. I need some more clarity. “Your objections to Paul’s clear words that a woman may not speak publicly before the congregation are not biblical” This feels extremely over-simplified to me.

    I don’t mean to twist your words, so please correct me if I’m misspeaking. However, if you take this idea seriously, why do you feel that you can write a comment reciting scripture in reply to a man? If the church is the ekklesia of believers, shouldn’t you have had a man speak on your behalf? Or is it the case that God’s word is a gift both to called pastors (male) and the priesthood of all believers (male and female) and as such we may all rejoice in its proclamation and appropriately use it to rebuke false teaching?

    As for the scripture examples… For 1st Tim. 2 I don’t think teaching (didasko) is the same as reading (anaginsko). As was spoken earlier, all she did was read a few verses, just like they would be sung during a Bach solo in the 1700’s. I don’t think that is the same as “feminist imposition” but I would like to hear your thoughts.

    Scripture doesn’t say that Priscilla/Phoebe taught/read in church, but it hints that it is possible they may have. It’s a dangerous thing to argue from scripture’s silence. For example, Paul in Rom. 16 calls both Priscilla and Aquilla “co-workers” in Jesus. What is that supposed to mean? Also, Phoebe is likely tasked with bringing Paul’s letter to the Roman church. It’s fairly likely that she could have read it along with literally bringing it. As for Ephesians 5, I think we’re using a section of scripture that was meant to instruct married couples and applying it to the broader church, but that’s just my take.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

  17. @Elizabeth Peters #54

    Actually it makes perfect sense when you look at the original sentence structure in verse 12. Paul starts off saying he does not permit a woman/wife to exert authority over a man/husband, the expresses a complimentary contrary clause with άλλος but must learn in stillness, calmness, quietness, not meddling nature. The next sentence returns to Adam and Eve, but look at verse 14. You see something interesting. Yet she (singular verb) will be saved through childbearing – if they remain (plural verb) in faith, love, holiness and self control. The sentence starts with a singlar verb but progresses to a plural verb. The only other subject in sight is the husband of woman bearing a child. Again, preserving the relationship between husband and wife and ensuring that worship is conducted in an orderly way. Also again, we have already demonstrated that women have been used throughout scripture to proclaim the words of god. Recititation of scripture does not usurp a teaching authority, nor does it usurp a man’s position in his family. I dare say you have probably read scripture out loud in coed bible study groups or Sunday school. Rather than make blanket statements you might actually want to take some time to exegete the passages.

  18. Sadly, many of us certainly stand opposed in this regard. And the argument that Scripture is not cited on one side is simply childish. In reality, instead of theological dialogue and discussion, ears close and lips then attack. Yes, this has all been a good example that we certainly do not all walk together.

  19. Don’t feed the trolls, y’all. It makes ’em stronger.

    Now I’ll get back to my Holy Week prep – and would encourage all pastors commenting on here to do the same.

    + Pax Christi +

  20. @Average Joe #66

    What are your thoughts on Women’s Ordination? It seems that your approach to Scripture leaves that door open for you. It appears that Scripture lacks enough clarity for you on this matter.

    I suppose 1 Timothy 4:13 is unclear? “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Sounds to me like it is the duty/vocation of the Pastor to carry out the public reading of Scripture and Preaching/Teaching in the assembly. Of course, I’m sure there are folks who would disagree with such an approach to that verse. You could probably google that verse and find some apologetic somewhere that this verse has nothing to do with lay-readers or women reading in Church. Yet, we see an instruction in the Word of God for the pastor/elder of a congregation to read the Scriptures publicly. And we see instructions that are clear that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the assembly.

    Scripture might not say that Priscilla and Phoebe taught/read in church… but it clearly doesn’t indicate that they did. Whereas Scripture indicates that Women are not supposed to do so. Phoebe was tasked with bringing the letter, but nowhere does it indicate that she read it. It’s purely speculation that she may have on your part. Yet, Scripture still indicates that women are to remain silent in the assembly and not teach the congregation or exercise authority over men.

    You can point to grey areas all day long in order to attempt to weaken the clear passages of Scripture… but, the problem is that it doesn’t weaken the clarity of Scripture.

    It sounds like some folks around here are having a serious case of the “Yeah-But’s” going on.

    I’ll admit that my congregations are numbered among those who have some of the practices that the author of the article has written against. They weren’t instituted by me though. And, unfortunately a lot of our Seminary graduates are inheriting these issues. While it’s easy to suggest that one merely undo the problem. It isn’t that simple to carry out. And as it is, this isn’t the only issue our young pastors are inheriting. It takes 40 years to fix a few problems, but, only mere months to create them for future generations to inherit.

  21. @Rev. William Ringer #72
    Hello ,
    I will add a comment on this one. Paul as he deals with Titus explains the same thing, “no women pastors”. Also, Titus is in a different place than Timothy (Titus in Crete), and the same problems or errors do not occur there, that Paul was commenting on to Timothy. Yes, context is important…but how far? Seems like that is part of the isue.

  22. @Rev. William Ringer #72

    I think that is a poor reading of scripture as it is looking at one verse in a vacuum. It is clear from numerous passages throughout the Bible that all believers are to meditate on and engage in the reading of scripture, public or private. Just because he tells Timothy to devote himself to the reading of scripture does not mean that it is exclusive to the office of pastor. Stephen for example, a deacon, not a pastor or presbyter, is commended for his practice of proclaiming the word publicly. In addition, while I agree with you in regard to Phoebe, the scripture is just as clear through the use of the plural form of the verbs they took him, and they expounded to him that under and with her husband Priscilla did engage in teaching and proclaiming the word of god. It’s not a yeah but, it’s a yeah and, as in what does scripture say in total context.

  23. @Sean #69

    Sean, again, your point that Paul is speaking of wife and husband doesn’t alter the theology of Paul’s statement. If a wife should be silent in the church, so should all women.

    As far as your exegesis, I answer that the contrast in 1Timothy 2 is to man and woman in general, but this certainly includes the man and his wife. The appeal to Adam and Eve is not an appeal to just a married couple, it’s an appeal to the first man and first woman. And the plural verb may include the husband, given the reference to childbearing, but that seems rather strained. A more natural reading of the Greek sees the passive singular (will be saved) answered by a general active third person plural (if they remain). This is so common in NT Greek and Koine that it is hardly surprising to see here. The third person plural active verbs were used alongside and in place of passive singulars to denote a general subject.

    That God used women to proclaim the words of God throughout Scripture is completely irrelevant to the present discussion. The question is whether God allows women to teach His Word publicly to the gathered congregation, or whether she should instead learn in submission and quietness. Paul says the latter, and Paul speaks for God.

    Also Phoebe and Priscilla didn’t teach publicly in the Church. Scripture never says they did. So to appeal to them is to cloud the issue.

  24. @Rev. William Ringer #72 Thanks for your pastoral service, and commitment to the the body of Christ. I’m grateful you took the time to reply. I’m opposed to women’s ordination, but if we only argue only on the grounds of 1 Tim. 2/1 Cor. 11 we could be setting ourselves up for failure. We need to look to the regula fide of the church historic and our systematic theology. If the historic church shortly after Luther’s day was comfortable with a woman say, singing part of the Gospel reading in Bach’s St. Matthew’s passion during the service. I’m pretty darn comfortable with it.

    I agree that pastor’s are to devote themselves to the public reading of scripture, exhortation, and teaching. The question of 1 Timothy 4:13 is “Does Paul’s encouragement of pastors here exclusivize the reading of the Gospel publicly to only the pastoral office, or is he encouraging pastor’s in their pastoral tasks?” There isn’t a negative clause (ou me) of any sort, so I would tend toward the latter. Sean covered that well.

    My comment is not meant to condemn, simply to provoke inquiry. Interested to hear your reply, brother. Blessings as you prepare to bring the Gospel during holy week!

  25. I’m happy to see a doctor of the church address this forum, but sad to see where that discussion has gone. Synod bylaws like the ones that ended up being discussed on this thread are one of the reasons I cannot in good conscience directly support LCMS, Inc and its institutions. I’ll let the my local congregation launder those offerings for me. For a while I have been forming an opinion that man made churchly institutions are actually doing more harm to the church than good, but I know they still do a lot of good.

    The church whines and screams when Caesar wields his political power against us, but the first place we like to turn when we have our inner divisions is our political power. Why can’t we turn to the Word of God and let Him exert His power and authority in our lives? Oh wretched men that we are.

  26. Women lectors?  Yes or No?   There seems to be another question.  Is it important?  

    In my uninformed opinion, the Bible doesn’t say very much about it.  There are a lot more urgent matters in this crooked and depraved generation.

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Gal 2

  27. @John Rixe #79

    God’s Word doesn’t say much about it. But what it says, it says with startling clarity.

    Where God’s Word speaks we do not have the option of saying it’s not important.

  28. @John Rixe #79

    Yes, there are other urgent matters in this generation. I suppose in reading the article and comments, essentially this debate boils down to whether or not this is one of them.

    Regardless of that fact, God has given us our reason and strength to deal with multiple matters at the same time.

  29. @John Rixe #79

    John, if you think this issue is not one of the most pressing issues to deal with right now, then you have not examined the current state of apostasy theologically. Who are at the gates? What demands do they make? With what have they lured the generations of children? With what have they coaxed mothers not to have them at all? How have they tempted fathers to lay down arms and trade rebuke and confession for dialogue and compromise in the gates with their enemies? This is about as pressing an issue as there can be as it relates to the application of God’s holy word in his Church. Even more pressing is that concerning the clarity of Scripture, lest men cower, women disobey, and children rebel against the word they are told is inconclusive or that is censured by the authority of councils. This issue addressed in the op speaks to both the clarity and the authority of God’s word.

  30. I need a little help here. I looked up the verses which Mark Preus cited in his original essay. I didn’t see a specific reference to women reading the lessons in worship settings. Is there an actual verse which specifically forbids this? Or are we free to infer/interpret that St. Paul was talking about that specific activity? I get it, if we can infer or interpret it; but I don’t get it that the claim can be legitimately asserted that those verses present a “clear word” forbidding women readers. So, somebody smarter than me – help me out here with a “clear word” of scripture.

  31. @John Preus #82
    Another pressing issue, Holy Communion every Sunday…Matins should be for weekday Offices, not a Sunday for the faithful. Many refrain from having the Body and Blood every week available for the flock? His Body and Blood, one of the most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal for feeding and strengthening the sheep! In a garbage filled world. Scripture also cites, do it often, and we should do it every Lord’s Day.

  32. @Erik Herrmann #35

    (CCM Opinion 13-2665).

    Synod would be more Lutheran if it repealed most of its by-laws and probably all of its opinions from the college of cardinals (mini), aka CCM.

  33. @RevJimO #83

    Thank you.  Then I’m not the only one who has missed the “startling clarity.”  :–)

    We’ve had men, women and children read the lessons at church for over 30 years This is the first I’ve heard we are at the “current state of apostacy theologically.”

  34. @helen #85
    Dear Helen,
    We are still a Church catholic, working together, studying, arguing at times yes…coming up opinions and common consensus.
    I know of some pastors that have tattooed themselves contrary to the clear Word of the Lord God in Holy Scripture, see Leviticus 19:28. Yet, as a Church catholic, we understand this is OK (to an extent), by comparing His Word in totality.

  35. @LW #78

    Synod bylaws like the ones that ended up being discussed on this thread are one of the reasons I cannot in good conscience directly support LCMS, Inc …

    I give to my local congregation’s mortgage reduction
    and, independently, to other Lutheran endeavors I can believe are doing some good.

    @Pastor Prentice #84

    Another pressing issue, Holy Communion every Sunday…Matins should be for weekday Offices, not a Sunday for the faithful.

    Holy Communion every Sunday is certainly desirable, Pr. Prentice.
    It sounds obvious but a topic started might generate as much response as this one! 😉
    [I miss some of the music from Matins, though.]

  36. @Pastor Prentice #2

    What’s the history of the Lutheran church seeing it that way?

    Things like this simply were not controverted in the church until about a hundred years ago. Then after fifty years or so the heresy was affirmed in the MO synod, where it remains.

    Even if Paul had to call out a local, specific situation, it was as an extreme heresy and something not even thought of or considered most places.

  37. The richer and more comfortable and sophisticated a society becomes, the more it can imagine that it’s not connected to nature and “natural law.”

    Unfortunately, I am afraid that only poverty, war and persecution will clarify this particular issue of natural law, even for the Lutherans. Do we want the blessing of better practice to be brought to us that way, or will we bring ourselves to roll back our feminist/unisex practices before the hammer falls? Has anyone ever done that?

    In places that have not been so rich for so long, such perversions are unthinkable in the church.

  38. @mbw #89
    Hello,
    Got it…
    I believe what Paul did was correct, but in the end, can I carry it on for another situation? Like women with coverings in Church. It was a specific case, but we do not enforce that (or do some??)
    Women suffrage, we allow, some do not…are we in error those that allow women to speak in Church Voter’s? Or women to sing and not be silent??
    In the end, I wrestle with Scripture as Dr. Martin Luther desires, I lean to the Church Father’s and leaders (Synod as one)…to Church catholic…the practice at Faith Church is no readers but the pastors and deacons (male deacons)…
    So I wrestle and am trashed, but the practice is in line with good order and following historic practice…

  39. @RevJimO #83

    Rev. Jim O, what do the verses that the op cited mean? They speak of teaching. If reading the Bible out loud in church is not teaching, then the pastor is teaching from the pulpit something that cannot be called God’s word. They speak of authority. If reading the Bible from the lectern is not usurping authority (that is exercising authority that is not one’s to exercise), then there must be an authority that a pastor exercises over and above and wholly besides the word of God. They speak of silence and submission. If reading the Bible out loud is silence and usurping authority that is not given is submissive, then we are dealing with either madness, disingenuousness, or unassailable naivete in those who oppose such clear articles as the one under discussion.

    Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us that a woman may not be ordained or preach in a non-didactic, unauthoritative, silent, and submissive way. So should we ordain women? Of course not. And so repeat those who permit women to read the lessons and exercise all sorts of authority of the public ministry, “Of course not!” And if we hint that maybe they lean that way or that their practices amount to as much, they assure us that they would “never,” but are in full cooperation with the Synod on this issue. So what Bible passages do they appeal to? This is the conundrum they have. There are none if they reject the clear words they now defy. No wonder they don’t know how to appeal to Scripture or treat it as clear! They have no idea why they believe (or purport to believe) what they say they do. They’re just obedient to the magisterium that they now threaten to impose on us who DO know why we believe what we confess.

  40. @Circuit Visitor Winter #52

    Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot believe another human being belonging to the same body of Christ would address another human being with such contempt and evil, hurtful words. This makes high school girls look like Telly tubbies. The subtext there was pure hatred, animosity, and completely lacked any love or reconciliation. Just wow.

  41. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Or as Yogi Berra would say, “Deja vu all over again.” Mark Preus is Robert Preus. Erik Herrmann is Ralph Bohlmann. And the beat goes on . . .

  42. @John Preus #93

    “If reading the Bible out loud in church is not teaching…”

    Reading out loud in church is, in fact, just that: reading out loud in church. It’s not teaching. It’s your interpretation that it’s teaching. It’s a stretch, in my view, to link reading in church to women’s ordination. I get it, that you are very concerned about anything, which may give people the idea that it’s ok to ordain women. That’s why we take the time to educate people on our practices in worship. Some people think that we should not allow females to be acolytes, out of the same fears. I don’t share the same interpretation as you. I hope that the church we both serve is broad enough to include our divergent interpretations. I’m confident that the God we serve is.

  43. @RevJimO #95

    This is for anyone but pertains to the comment.

    Today the lectionaries say things such as “The Old Testament Reading for the…”

    However isn’t it true that they used to say, “The Old Testamemt Lesson for the…”? Or is my information incorrect?

  44. @RevJimO #95

    Reading the Bible out loud in church doesn’t teach? Why bother reading Scripture in church then? It’s just reading out loud? Nothing more? So, you’re calling the reading of Scripture… noise. Because, that’s what words without meaning or intent are… if they don’t communicate anything… they’re nonsensical noise. I suppose that is one way of looking at God’s Word. Noise. Perhaps I am twisting your words? Or not?

    But, hey, the church is more than broad enough to include divergent interpretations. I won’t comment on your level of confidence in regards to God on that one though… He might have a slightly different interpretation about His Word.

    Gregory Dix also had a divergent interpretation of Scripture as well. But, I honestly don’t know why I would toss his name into this conversation.

  45. Right on, Pr. Ringer!

    Saying that speaking the lessons in Church is not teaching is more ridiculous than saying that a teacher reading a book in a classroom is not teaching.

    Bless me! What do they read at these schools?

    God explicitly tells women to be silent in the churches and so he explicitly tells women not to speak the lessons. It isn’t even implicit. It’s that obvious.

    Asking me whether I’m aware of some 1989 decree about upholding synodical resolutions after I point out the obvious truth of God’s Word is like one of the emperor’s soldiers reciting some law about obedience to the emperor to the kid who just told everybody he has no clothes.

  46. @Average Joe #77

    If the historic church shortly after Luther’s day was comfortable with a woman say, singing part of the Gospel reading in Bach’s St. Matthew’s passion during the service. I’m pretty darn comfortable with it.

    I don’t think anyone has objected to a woman [preferably in the balcony] singing in the choir, even if the verses come from Scripture.

    We are used to Bach as a public “up front” performance, sometimes in a church but not in a church service.

    Bach wrote choir pieces for church. Sadly I have rarely heard Bach sung during a church service.

    If we just went back to the understanding that the chancel is reserved for the Pastor, as it was in my youth, we’d eliminate a lot of extraneous “stuff”! Then, an Elder lit the altar candles before the service and that’s all he did in the chancel. The Pastor served communion single handed, even when it was quarterly and that meant at least half the congregation would partake. Half (twice a year) was understood in some places so it wouldn’t run too much past two hours. 🙂

    [Attendance was about 95% of membership. Instead of pleading for “more children” maybe there should be a campaign for more members to be present in a pew on Sunday morning. Who knows? All else might follow!] 😉

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