Pentecost, Gifting, and Gospel
Posted by: Carol Schmidt
After reading, on this eve of Pentecost, the scriptural texts for tomorrow morning and thinking about God’s Spirit, God’s giving, and God’s gifting, I came across this YouTube video from the Time to Soar conference held in Adelaide, Australia last year.
The conference was sponsored by a group in the Lutheran Church of Australia that advocates for the ordination of women. (The transcript as well as other videos and information can be found here on the WMN website.) This twenty minute presentation by Peter Lockwood, entitled “Reframing the story and reclaiming the agenda,” is well worth the time.
Dr. Lockwood reviews the discussion of women’s ordination in the LCA up to now, including mention of widespread agreement in the year 2000 that “the Bible and theology of the church permits women’s ordination.” He then moves to a reframing of the story from a Lutheran perspective in four parts: the gospel, justice, mission, and giftedness. Regarding the gospel he said:
“We need to push and promote the thing that forms the essential DNA of Lutherans—the gospel. The public ministry of the church is nothing more and nothing less than the ministry of the gospel. The Lutheran understanding of ministry (AC V) is that it has been instituted by God to provide the gospel to the people of the church through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments. The gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ is the church’s comfort, its joy and its courage.
The church has two identifying marks, the Word and the sacraments. A third—the clergy must be male—is to introduce a legalistic requirement that undermines and finally destroys the gospel. The ordering of the ministry, and that includes the gender of the minister, is not given or prescribed in the Bible. That is a fundamental position of the Lutheran church world-wide.”
The exclusion of women from ordained ministry is legalistic and there is no going around or dismissing this fact. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has yet to find the courage to permit open discussion about the ordination of women, as has been going on in the LCA for decades. Dr. Lockwood is a professor of theology and secretary of the CTICR in the LCA and he is free to speak in favor of the ordination of women. In the LCMS, when a theologian, pastor, teacher, or any worker of the church speaks in favor of ordaining women he or she is threatened with charges of heresy and job loss. It is a mean spirit rather than the Holy Spirit that suppresses discussion in the Missouri Synod. And it is a wholly and unrighteous legalistic argument on which the LCMS stands against the ordination of women.
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Acts 2:17-18