And we wonder why women’s ordination is still an issue for us?

I had a chance to look through the latest Lutheran World Relief News magazine the other day and as soon as I opened it I discovered a glaring problem.

The latest issue of LWR News can be found here.

On the second page LWR President and CEO Rev. Nunes (LCMS) has a devotional.  On the opposite page (3) I found an article where the husband  is doing some good and giving a tithe to LWR.  The problem becomes evident when I saw the picture for the article: this man is the husband of a woman who claims to be a pastor.  The picture showed their family with the mom in clerical collar.  What a confusing message!  On one page we have a noted and respected LCMS clergyman, and on the next we have someone who has usurped the office of the ministry.

Now, is it any wonder why groups like OWN (Ordain Women Now) even exist when the groups we are involved with, and are headed up by LCMS men publicize articles which acknowledge women’s ordination?  It seems like our confession of the truth rings pretty hollow when we work together with those we would consider actively believing heresy and even apostasy.

I understand that things are changing in our efforts to work in human care things.  I am glad they are changing.  I hope that the changes can help us proclaim a pure Gospel and that our works would demonstrate our faithfulness to the teachings of the Apostles instead of causing confusion.  We can have mercy on people, even without the help of the female clergy.  Perhaps “It’s Time” to shed the fear of what may happen if we do it on our own.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


And we wonder why women’s ordination is still an issue for us? — 199 Comments

  1. @John Rixe #152

    John, if they embrace the so-called “social gospel” or believe that they are getting the “gospel” out via social justice work, then you aren’t going to read anything that “describes sharing the gospel” as we know it from the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions. So you are right in a sense, they aren’t “sharing the gospel” at all, but that doesn’t mean they don’t claim to be doing God’s work in the world in “affirming God’s love for all people” (source). In fact, they claim that they are doing their work because of “…God’s gracious, self-giving love for all humankind, revealed in the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ” (ibid). I recall that there are also several posts here on BJS (if you do a search on the site you might find them) citing ELCA materials showing that the ELCA believes they are getting out the Gospel through social action and working through organizations such as LWF. In short, LWF is not a secular relief agency, as you claim above.

  2. Good point. Do loving works of mercy no matter how well intentioned save anyone? They are still worthwhile as humanitarian efforts. I just want to clarify if there’s any intentional sharing of the plan of salvation. Maybe there is, but one would think there would be some mention on the website.

  3. @John Rixe #155


    I hear your point, but organizations working the “social gospel” believe that their acts of mercy are a witness of the Gospel through the law. You might be interested in reading this social statement from the ELCA. Their statement is chalk full of the social gospel. These “progressives” believe they are sharing the Gospel through their social activism. Indeed, they see their works as a “witness” to Christ as an institution.

    Here is a perspective on the ELCA’s “Social Statement.” (link)

    I am going to leave off here, since I don’t want to take the thread in a different direction. 😉

  4. @Ted Crandall #156

    Thanks for pointing this out.  Even though they have similar names, they are two different agencies.  LCMS World Relief and Human Care is not  associated with ELCA and gives high priority to meeting spiritual needs as well as physical.

  5. @John Rixe #158
    Technically John, LCMS WRHC was the arm of the LCMS dedicated to working with LWR, among other priorities. The executive director usually (if not always) represented the LCMS on the board of directors. So, in function, LCMS WRHC was associated with ELCA through LWR.

    The organization in not secular. Jim Pierce’s comments focus only on the ELCA’s perspective on the work of LWR but I think its a pretty accurate statement of how they (ELCA) considered the work central to their pursuit of social justice. I would say that the LCMS defined it differently. For many years it was simply the international “arm” of LCMS WRHC. In more recent years, building LCMS’ capacity for international relief work became a greater priority.

    Having served on the board of LWR as an LCMS representative, I can say this about sharing the Gospel as part of the work: 1. it was not a precondition to offering help to those communities in need. 2. there were many opportunities to respond to the question “why do you (LWR) do this work?” For those associated with LWR, we felt strongly that we had a responsibility to do this work as a result of the love Christ showed for us and the abundance of money, food, knowledge, energy that is available within the United States. John Nunes could offer a far more articulate answer and he certainly has in many countries. 3. LWR doesn’t engage in doctrinal issues.

    LWR is Lutheran in a number of ways: It was founded by two Lutheran church bodies; based on the gift of salvation through Christ’s death, we are free to do for others purely as an act of Christian love, not as a pursuit of our own salvation; Lutheran churches across the country have supported the work through cash gifts, quilts, prayer, medical kits and other needed materials.

    LWR makes clear that it does not engage in doctrinal issues. That is simply not its mission. Doctrinal disputes between church bodies can, and have, been played out in the appropriate meetings but that is not the work of LWR. It is a great organization doing important work (and doing it well) with an exceptional leader.

  6. Paul :
    @Mrs. Hume #153
    So who “owns” the word “Lutheran”??

    Great answer. And who owns the word ‘minister’ or ‘catholic’? Pr. Peters did a post on the RC church trying to keep others from using the word ‘catholic’.

    Anyway, just hypothetically, do you think that the ELCA would agree to a name change that would drop the word ‘Lutheran’? Other than the fact that the networks are already established, there really is no more reason to work with the ELCA than the Methodists or UCC, Baptists or Hindus, since the leaders of the ELCA have abolished those things within their church that we once held in common.

  7. @Paul #147

    I’m still a little confused, however.  I understand that there is no precondition, but is there any sharing of the gospel at all?  I can’t find a single word about this on the website.  That’s why it seems to be about the same thing to me as the Red Cross.   Do Bibles ever get distributed along with the food?  Thanks so much for your service in this tremendous work.

  8. @Paul #159
    “LWR makes clear that it does not engage in doctrinal issues.”

    Actually, LWR, by the “Lutheran” in its name, does engage in doctrinal issues. I’m reminded of how my ELCA friend told me they had more important things to worry about than whether or not we should embrace sodomy — while he continued to embrace it.

  9. @Carl Vehse #123
    Sigh, again, my quia subscription doesn’t include Kirche uns Ampt, and as an LC-MS laymen, it needn’t.

    Paul attributes Timothy’s “gift” to the laying on of hands, not the election by a majority of the voting membership of an incorporated 501c3 organization (1 Tim 4:14.) AC XIV requires our pastors to be “called with [by means of] the proper religious ceremony.” Apology XIII seems willing to call the laying on of hands a sacrament, can you find an example of the confessions (which do not include K & A) saying the same for a majority vote of the membership of an incorporated 501c3 organization? If you DO consider an election by a majority of the voting membership of an incorporated 501c3 organization the “proper religious ceremony” for putting a man into the office of the holy ministry, you do so w/ little confessional or Scriptural evidence.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  10. @Mrs. Hume #161
    I doubt they would. I’d be interested to hear thoughts on what is “required” of an organization to “be Lutheran” or have Lutheran in its name. What makes an organization Lutheran if it is not a direct program of any of the Lutheran church bodies?

  11. @John Rixe #162
    John – Indeed there is a direct sharing of the gospel during the work of LWR. You can follow the travel blog of John Nunes as he preaches in various locations. However, I might suggest that this sharing of the gospel is typically a “response” to either an invitation from a local church, school, etc or in response to questions from indigenous people in need. Never as a precondition.

  12. @Paul #167

    Excellent – thanks.  If you are still in contact with anyone at LWR, I’d suggest that they make this clear on their website.  I get the impression that LWR scrupulously avoids any evangelism efforts.

  13. #166: “I’d be interested to hear thoughts on what is “required” of an organization to “be Lutheran” or have Lutheran in its name.”

    I see at least 2 issues here. One is whether or not a church body is in fact Lutheran. It was recognized that ELCA is no longer — twice by the LCMS in convention. Which brings me to the second issue: Having declared them not Lutheran, we remain joined with the ELCA in an organization sporting the Lutheran name. You don’t consider that inconsistent?

  14. @Paul #166

    A good start would be with officially holding a quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, or to confess without conditions or reservations the truth of the doctrines contained in the Book of Concord.

  15. LWR reminds me of Crop Walk, which eliminated any mention of Jesus in its flyers.
    LWR forbids quilters to stitch a cross in the corner of a quilt; Lutheran Church Charities allows this.

  16. I would say, in light of a number of comments, that supporting LWR has become poor stewardship on our part. They may have become ashamed of mentinoing Jesus, but let’s not also go down that road with them. WR-HC by now probably has enough infrastructure to probably go solo. We should look for better partnerships for our mercy care, maybe with W/ELS (if they dare), or Catholic Charities. Hey, at least they are willing to admit Chrsit when they are out and about, or on their offical publications.

  17. @Rose #171
    That’s because, in some parts of the world, governments that are islamic (or other) would prohibit assistance from organizations bearing Christian symbols. Red Cross doesn’t use the cross in parts of the world who’s governments would prohibit the distribution of food, water, clothing, etc. because of their logo. LWR is nothing like Crop Walk.

    As one who’s grandmother has quilted for LWR for over 50 years, I am not offended that there are no crosses on the quilts and neither is she. She understands that, to someone that does not know about Jesus, they sure aren’t going to get a lesson about a stitched cross from someone tossing the quilts to people off the back of a truck.

  18. @Jim Pierce #170
    Probably a good basis Jim but it really begs the question – who will determine if an organization is Lutheran? The ELCA believes what it believes and certainly wouldn’t acknowledge anyone from the LCMS as “more Lutheran” than they are right? So who sets the rules for being Lutheran and who enforces them?

    I’m being facetious of course, as no one will be designated the person/body/organization in charge of ALL things Lutheran. I just think its fruitless to worry about who calls themselves Lutheran and who shouldn’t .

  19. @Jason #173
    Wow, so as you say, we should stop supporting them on the basis of the comments here? I’m glad Matt Harrison strongly disagrees with you. Get to know them. Get their materials. Listen to their speakers/leaders. Then make your decision.

  20. Paul :@Jim Pierce #170 Probably a good basis Jim but it really begs the question – who will determine if an organization is Lutheran? The ELCA believes what it believes and certainly wouldn’t acknowledge anyone from the LCMS as “more Lutheran” than they are right? So who sets the rules for being Lutheran and who enforces them?
    I’m being facetious of course, as no one will be designated the person/body/organization in charge of ALL things Lutheran. I just think its fruitless to worry about who calls themselves Lutheran and who shouldn’t .

    thanks for the thoughts.

    My two cents on the subject are simple:
    there are Lutheran who differ from the LCMS and they still rightly consider themselves Lutheran. In fact many of these other Lutherans predate the LCMS in the United States or had historical beginning that came shortly after the LCMS’s start. It’s been that way for about 165 years and it will be this way for the foreseeable future.

    These other Lutherans understand church polity differently. They read Luther and love Bach; but they don’t share Walther and Pieper’s concerns about syncretism and unionism. They view the Lutheran church as one of many denominations with unique historic and theological basis that is a living part of the church in 21st Century America. These other Lutherans would be reluctant to use words like hetrodox to describe other denominations and would most likely distance themselves from those who would use such words in public discorse.

    The ELCA, NALC, LCMC and their members will most likely continue to invite the LCMS as a whole and indivudual members of the LCMS into service just as they have for the past century. They will continue to invite the LCMS and its members because they believe that’s what Christ calls them to do as part of the chruch.

    Please keep in mind that these other Lutherans, don’t share Walther and Pieper’s concern about unionism or syncretism. If most of these “Lutherans” were asked about their “unionistic and syncretistic” activities they will probably be surprised and even confused. These other Lutherans view “ecumenism” as a faithful witness to the Gospel today. That’s why many are shocked and even outraged that some in the LCMS would seek to break off shared efforts in service with other Lutherans.

    Pax, John

  21. @Paul #175

    Paul, thank you for the reply. I agree, it is fruitless to worry about who is claiming to be “Lutheran.” However, I don’t think efforts to inform the world what it means to be Lutheran are fruitless. Indeed, I have personally seen positive results when discussing the differences of the LCMS and ELCA with non-Lutherans who are confused by such things as the ELCA’s support of homosexual unions and homosexuals in the clergy (e.g. confusion such as “Don’t all you Lutherans affirm homosexuality is not a sin?”). So, yes, it is fruitless to worry about who is using the name “Lutheran,” and no, we shouldn’t ignore the severe differences (not that you said we should) we have with some who call themselves “Lutheran,” but have little in common with the confession of faith found in the Book of Concord.

  22. #177: “They view the Lutheran church as one of many denominations with unique historic and theological basis that is a living part of the church in 21st Century America.”

    Such a genteel protrait! I believe you’re right on the money. These other “Lutherans” are more concerned with Bach’s music and predating the LCMS in the United States than they are with the confession of faith found in the Book of Concord. While proud of their “Lutheran” heritage, they see our faith as just one more selection at the spiritual smorgasbord.

  23. @Ted Crandall #179

    “Humanitarian aid without the Gospel will leave them with full bellies — and lost souls”   

    I’ve gone through the LWR website and blogs.  I remain impressed by the tremendous humanitarian aid.  However, in the project descriptions I can find no words such as “Jesus,”  “Bible,” “baptism,” etc.    Is there any Gospel content in these projects?  Should there be?  Maybe not.

    I think this is a more important issue than agency names or pictures of women in clerical collars.

  24. @John Rixe #180
    I know by experience that once the LSS blood is in the water the sharks loose their taste for anything but ELCA, but if we are going to fight CoWo as “bait-n-switch evangelism” perhaps we need to hold our works of mercy to the same standard.
    We should feed the hungry because they are hungry and Christ loves them, we should cloth the naked because they are cold and Christ loves them, we should shelter the homeless because they are on the street, and Christ loves them. Can the Holy Ghost use works of mercy that legitimately share our Savior’s love to soften a sinner’s heart? I’m not going to say “no,” but we don’t distribute bologna sandwiches to spread the Gospel, we do it because it sucks to be hungry and poor. Christ cleansed 10 lepers, because he loved and pitied them although He knew that only one would return and worship.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  25. “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God, (then) all will be added…” “Love God will ALL your heart/soul/mind, SECOND is to love neeighbors as self”

    If I want to feed the hungry, I can join the Jaycees, the Rotary, the Freemasons, the Boys Scouts, take your pick. The Red Cross International partners as the Red Crescent in Muslim territories. (Jews finally got a Red Diamond, because the Muslims wouldn’t allow them to use the Star of David) So I can medically help though that/those organizations, or Doctors without Borders.

    So I ask; why are we afraid of being the church? Why are we afraid of being Lutheran? We help because God commands and calls us, it is the right thing to do, it is furits of the Spirit. Now St. Paul did do mercy work, such as collecting money for the persecuted church in Jerusalem. Yes it helped them temporally, but it also help them function so that they could continue spreading the Gospel. Paul is clear his most important message in preaching Christ and Him curicifed. The works of mercy are then added to the message, reflecting our sincerity and commitment to God by showing His love to others. But without Jesus, all our good works are nothing and meaningless, before God’s eyes now and at Judgment Day.

    Do they know we are Christians by our love? Or do they know us as loving, for whatever misguided reason? Or are we just a food and blanket dispensor? I do think e_ca has fallen way off the path. And in our joint works with them (which didn’t Pres. Harrison say recently are over?) the organizations tend to drop to the lowest common demoniator, trying to be so inoffensive to attract as much as possible. (didn’t Jesus warn His message would be offensive?)

    APLB has a raging topic on LC-MS branding. Part of it is about what do outsiders see us as? The more we work with e_ca the more we confuse our position. *you’re Lutheran, you ordain women and homosexuals, right?* No, we don’t, and getting lumped in with “guilt by association” does us no favors. We are not being understood, and what if we are pressured to not expressed our faith, beliefs, and commitments to Christ? I think we are being unequally yoked in these joint ventures.

  26. @Jason #182
    Lutherans don’t do bait-n-switch evangelism. We don’t “grow the Church by meeting perceived needs.” We don’t “sell Christ” w/ drum sets, play sets, basketball or bologna sandwiches. The Holy Spirit grows the church through the means of grace, with no help from our works of mercy. That is the authentic Lutheranism we should not be “afraid” of confessing. We show our “fear of being the Church” when we forget our Word and Sacrament monergism and try to synergistically “help” the Holy Spirit through non-Scriptural means, not when we do as God commands in the 5th commandment by “helping and befriending our neighbor in every physical need.”

    As Christians we care about people who are hungry, naked, homeless not as potential converts, but as people for whom our Lord died.

    Bologna evangelism is, well bologna.

  27. “Humanitarian aid without the Gospel will leave them with full bellies — and lost souls”  – Pr Crandall  

    Some of these projects last over a year.  Is it OK to just leave them with full bellies?  

    I appreciate this discussion because I don’t have an informed opinion.  I’m just asking questions and learning.

  28. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10)

  29. @John Rixe #184
    John –
    I think they are good questions and I’m glad you’re asking. LWR is actually considered a very rare organization in that it stays with programs for significantly longer periods than other NGOs. For instance, they are still working in the tsunami region from December 2004 that killed hundreds of thousands and eliminated entire villages and towns. Most organizations came in during the immediate aftermath and left within weeks and months. LWR uses an “accompaniment model” which means they partner with local organizations and work through them to deliver goods, educate on farm techniques, etc. In short, they are in it for the long haul. I am sensitive to the issue of sharing the Gospel as part of the work and I can say for certain that it does happen. However, it often takes place because of the long-term relationship LWR has with an indigenous organization and the people they serve. But their mission is different from the church itself.

  30. “Humanitarian aid without the Gospel will leave them with full bellies — and lost souls”

    Perhaps it would be even more to the point to say, “Humanitarian aid with a false gospel will leave them with full bellies — and lost souls.” That’s what concerns me even more than just feeding their bellies with little to no concern for their souls. We are also feeding them a false gospel.

    How so? We are using our blessings from God to provide humanitarian aid associated with the name “Lutheran” and we let that name mean a lack of respect for the Word of God, as reflected in a number of false teachings, such as encouraging abortion, sodomy, women’s ordination and skepticism instead of comforting faith. (Remember, the ELCA teaches that only some parts of the Bible are God’s Word.) We will be better stewards of God’s gifts when we feed the poor without feeding them false doctrine. When LWS was first formed, the ELCA had not yet revised the Bible or dismissed the Lutheran confessions as mere historic documents of the 16th century. I’m sure we can be better stewards than to bring false doctrine to the poor along with the humanitarian aid we should provide our hungry neighbors.

    (I realize the prohibitions Muslim countries place on Christian messages, but I also realize that aid workers look hard for opportunities to share their doctrine, whether it be the teaching of Christ or their own false doctrine.)

  31. I am proud that LWR is of such quality that it has a good reputation for effectiveness and efficiency even among secular charity organizations.

    It is clear that when LWR was formed, the ELCA (and former ALC/LCA, etc.) and LCMS were far closer to doctrinal and philosophical agreement than they are now.

    We may indeed need to disassociate ourselves from LWR or become the sole sponsors of it or divide LWR’s work between two synods. But doing any of these very suddenly risks being the equivalent of a bully that kicks a cane out from under an elderly pedestrian. That’s why we have to move slowly in a measured way–to ensure that continuity of services, whether by our own assumption of them or a clean handoff to others, is sustained for those who are depending on us to provide them.

    I don’t defend a social gospel at all, and I know that, tragically, at times liberal church bodies substitute social work for missionary work, to the detriment of the Gospel. However, humanitarian work is part of our calling as Christians, and we need not make excuses for being compassionate.

  32. #188: “That’s why we have to move slowly in a measured way–to ensure that continuity of services, whether by our own assumption of them or a clean handoff to others, is sustained for those who are depending on us to provide them.”

    Agreed, and it’s time to announce that ELCA’s moves away from the Lutheran faith have forced us to begin planning a compassionate solution.

  33. @Old Time St. John’s #188

    Agreed.  I don’t think anyone around here is making excuses for being compassionate.  Is there something more compassionate than sharing the saving gospel?

    “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2)

  34. @Ted Crandall #189
    I think that we have started doing this already.
    1. ELCA pulling out of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, while LCMS focus on this accelerates
    2. WRHC building independent delivery capacity instead of just channeling to LWR
    3. President Harrison’s fairly drastic public characterization of our relationship with the ELCA in the ACNA talks.

  35. Good point, OTSJ. I guess for me a thousand years is not like a day and I tend to get impatient. I’m a bit sensitive on the topic of the LCMS staying in cahoots with them, while the ELCA steadily “progresses” away from the Lutheran faith. During my entire career with the Navy Chaplain Corps, our annual “Lutheran” Chaplains Conference was held jointly with the ELCA ladies. I think that ended recently. (I retired from the Navy three years ago.) But I think the LCMS and the ELCA still operate several overseas “Lutheran” congregations that have an LCMS pastor one call and an ELCA pastor the next. When I was stationed on Guam, I thought I was lucky enough to be there during the stint of an LCMS man — until he led us in a creed that began, “I believe in God, the Mother/Creator…” Lord have mercy!

  36. Paul, are you serious? I thought it was common knowledge that the ELCA refuses to condemn abortion on demand and even covers that in their health insurance coverage for their professional church workers.

    This is what ELCA has on their website about abortion:

    It is not a good sign that the “statement” goes on and on in a vague sort of way. This is the closest thing I could find there to a statement condeming abortion: “This church opposes ending intrauterine life when a fetus is developed enough to live outside a uterus with the aid of reasonable and necessary technology.”

  37. @Ted Crandall #194
    I am serious. There is a HUGE difference between health care coverage and “encouraging” the procedure. This gross overstatement is more often seen in politics (“Democrats want abortions”) and its offensive. There is a clear difference too in regard to saying “it is a sin and should not be performed” and not saying anything about it. But come on, do you really think they “encourage” it? Are YOU serious?

  38. Yes, it is offensive that the ELCA has refused to make a clear statement that abortion is a sin and should not be performed. It is offensive that they will even pay for the murder with their insurance premiums. It is offensive that they accuse the defenders of the unborn of hating women. It is offensive that they put the convenience of women ahead of the very lives of unborn children. It is offensive that they ignore the pleas of the father who wants his unborn child to live. In the face of the Supreme Court’s decision and pervasive societal pressures, even from within the congregation, ELCA’s silence does encourage the abortion of unborn children, not only in exceptional cases, but even when they are simply inconvenient and therefore not wanted by their mother. Yes, that is very offensive.

  39. Well I’m still at a loss. My employer’s health coverage pays for an abortion. And yet, no one has ever called my wife to get one, no letter from my CEO telling me it would be in my interest to have one, no fellow employee has said “lets go get one together.” But that is exactly what you are accusing the ELCA of doing when you say they “encourage” people to get abortions. Its offensive. I’m sorry you feel they aren’t doing enough to oppose the practice and perhaps your right. But you are absolutely wrong to say they are encouraging people to have abortions. Which is to say nothing of the rather obvious placement of blame for an individual’s decision to have an abortion at the doorstep of the insurance provider. Personally, I’d put that burden on the shoulders of individual.

    I would say this about their “social justice efforts” and abortion – by engaging in the pursuit of assisting the poor they are directly contributing to a lower rate of abortions.

  40. I’m just speaking from ignorance but I doubt that the marvelous LWR aid workers, themselves, spend much time promoting  abortion, sodomy, women’s ordination and skepticism.  I do wonder how much time they spend promoting the simple gospel.  Maybe it’s a lot, but I can’t find much evidence of this.

  41. .” Feminism wants parity for its mother-god and rejects the exclusive Father-Son definition of the Trinity.Proponents of women’s ordination may be unaware that the fruit of a feministic axiom sees God as mother, a view that the prophets judged to be pagan. Arguments againstwomen’s ordination that are content with the biblical prohibitions may have unwittingly fallen into a kind of legalism,because they do not recognize the theological structure on which the prohibitions are based.”

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