Great Stuff — Women Preachers and AC XIV

Found on Pastor Voltattorni blog, We Are All Beggars:


For the past two years the diaconate guidelines of Atlantic District of the LCMS has, in writing, allowed women to preach and administer the Sacrament of the Altar.  It appears they have not been following these guidelines, as District President David Benke has assured everyone that there are no women preaching in the Atlantic District.  Nonetheless, their document states:

Members of the district diaconate are men and women who have been selected by the Church and approved by the Atlantic District Board of Directors to serve after the example of our Lord Jesus…

In the absence of an ordained pastor and with approval of the pastor and congregation, the deacon may serve at the divine service including the communion liturgy using reserved sacrament. This practice should be used sparingly so as to not confuse the “Office of Deacon” and the “Office of Pastor.” The deacon may officiate at funerals under the direction of a supervising pastor. The deacon may proclaim the Gospel in formal and informal settings after he/she has received training in homiletics and while remaining under the supervision of an ordained pastor.

Full text found here.

While I’m glad to hear that they have not been following this document, that doesn’t exactly bring me comfort.  We cannot pretend that these guidelines are harmless simply because they’re not followed.  Allowing anyone who’s not properly called, either men or women, into a position where they perform functions of the Ministry as the called representative of Christ, not only leaves open the front door for women’s ordination, but also leads out the back door the authoritative assurance of the forgiveness of sins.

This is why our confessions clearly state that “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called” (AC XIV).  It’s not because we are stodgy, antiquated, stubborn Lutherans.  It’s because of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins given by Christ to His Church to be administered by rightly ordained ministers.  For the Pastor is not simply proclaiming forgiveness of sins, he is forgiving sins “in the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Therefore, we hold to AC XIV, for no other reason than we hold to the assurance of the Gospel!

However, while our instinctual reaction to the news of women preachers in the LCMS seems to be that of raising of the AC XIV banner, there is a deeper concern here.  For whenever a church body takes those steps toward women’s ordination it does not do so because of the ignorance of the Christian people as some would suggest, nor due to the disregard for the office of the Holy Ministry according to our Lutheran Confessions as seems apparent, but rather because of the decay of biblical authority in that place.

“It should give us pause to think that, according to the evidence of church history, when the secondary authority of the confessions as the norma normata [“norm which is normed”] is lost, ever and again the primary authority of the Scriptures as the norma normans [“norming norm”] is lost.”

Sasse, Hermann, “Circular Letter 3 to Westphalian Pastors,” The Lonely Way II, 148

As the authority of Scripture decreases in the church there is an inversely proportional increase in external authority.  Only when we find the words of Absolution and the words of Institution to be outdated and unimportant do we then pass them off to whoever wants to perform these now lesser significant duties under the guise of being more loving, relevant, and missionally minded.

This means that as much as we wave the AC XIV banner around it will do no good for those who do not take seriously biblical authority concerning the Pastoral Office.  We can, however, call for repentance and heed the words of Dr. Hermann Sasse in regards to women’s ordination:

“What can we do? Let us pray with our fathers:
Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide;
For round us falls the eventide;
Nor let Thy Word, that heav’nly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.”

Sasse, Hermann, “Ordination of Women?,” The Lonely Way II, 411

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