Full Text for Twenty-Three Theses on The Holy Scriptures, The Woman, and The Office of The Ministry (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER March 1970 Volume 33, Number 4 Twenty-Three Theses on The Holv Scriptures, The Woman, and The 1 Office of The Ministry Bo GIERTZ, Bishop of Gateburg Chzrrcmlr of .51l+erle~, <\\~tlcn Note: This trusslation is made rrot fror~l the S~rerlisl~ origi,lill hut is hsed on the German tmashtiorl by P. Sc,horle?rzrrlcl-, Tr~)rcril,c. the. history of salvation; the Bible itself is a tool for tht. c,c>ntinucd his- tory of salvation that takes place from the asccrlsion of C'hrist to His Second Coming. The special status of thc Bible iloes ntrt rc\t alone in the fact that it describes unicluc elilnts ;rnd personitliti~,,. In the word of the Bible itself (Bihellr.ortj thcrc is solllcthiul: th.~t makes it different from any other word. It has bccn sclnt into ~IIL. world by God to accomplish His work. In it5 naturc it is Spirit antl Life. 2. For this reason, God's Chzcrclr at sll tiwes itrzrst tzirir to tlrc Scriptures to receive light and griida~zce. God builds His C:h~~rc.h through \l'ord and Sacranients. At all times and in c.\er\: nc\\ situ,~- tion the tvatchword is: retro ad HihZiauz. 3. Only he ~vho s~bwlits himself to the \..Vor(i r-all j)t.olw-l! tlnderstand the Word. The Scriptures are to bc uscd as Xlciin5 fit' Grace. Certainly they can also be rent1 as historicsl clocume~~t~. Ijut if the Bible is read only as a historical work one ne1.c.r gets tn that which is the essential thing in the Scripturcs. Thc propcr \i~\\ of the Bible is from the view of salvation histor).. In the Seripturc.~ \\t' meet the living and acting God. In the Riblc Cod addrcsscs {I* addresses us from the first verse of the BihIc to the last. 4. The centre of the Scriptures is Jesus Christ. It is their Pur- pose to bring about faith in Him. If Christ rereites His pr(>pcr l~lacc as Redeemer, else in the Bible \sill also rcccivc its l)roPcr place. Some things appear as preparation or fore-shado\\.in$ things appear as ordinances that are valid only until the beginning of the New Order turrs. But that does not mean that the Khole cclntent of the Scriptures can be concentrated in a few "main thoLIghts~~ frolll Fr.hich \re can then logically deduce the answers to the questions tliat face US today. 5, To lol,al to the Scriptures ivrcludes that 11.e really seek out the ,,le.qsnge a,11.1 the nleanirlg of the Scrilttz4res with the honest desire to hcrlve tile \L70rd as a light for our path. It is a misuse of the Srrillturrs \\.hen \re tear individual statements out of their con- text or \\.hen \\.'. appeal to individual passages that are in agreement lYith our o\\ n point of view without taking into consideration the trementlou~ richness of' the Biblical material. On the other hand, habling olljecti\cI>~ ancl extensively examined the Biblical witness and havina found that th~ Biblc reallv has a definite opinion on a matter, then In humiIit, \\-c. ought to recognize this as an expression of the and gracious \rill of God. And this is what the Church is to Iwoclaim. even if it is not in agreement with presently accept- able. opinions ancl value judgnients. 6. 'The correcti~~e against a legalistic nzisuse of the Scriptures lies ill tlrr Scriptures thenzsel17e.s. \\'hen we go into the Scriptures anrl conscientiously attempt to find out what God really means in His \\'ord, then the Scriptures themselves point out what is bind- ing and obligatory and what is not. LVe cannot find the lines of di- vision outside the Scriptures, e.g. in generally accepted notions, nor can 11.c c.stablisli theoretical rules bv which we then decide on a purel!. logical basis iv113t is binding for all times. This must alrvays be the dccisive cluestion: \\:hat does God mean in His Word? In this ollly the \i'ord itself can lead us. - /. There are thirzgs in the Scriptures that, according to the 1t'itrres.s of the Scri1~tz~r-es, are not designed to he obligatory for all tittles nrzd peoples. \\'hat God stipulated for Israel was to have validity until the time \vas fulfilled and Christ had come. Other things are valid for ccrtain situations and for those alone. Here itre can point to the prohibition to eat hIood (Acts 15: 29). This is the apostolic solution to the great problem that arose when Jewish Christianity ca~nc into contact with Gentile Christianity; hut this solution did Ilot haye ~'alidity in the purelv Gentile Christian churches, as we caJ1 for instance from 1 cbr. 8:8, 10:25f., I Tim. 1:3f. \Ve have here classic application of the rule not to give offense, an ob- li!Ftjon of every Christian out of love for the brethren and in defer- ence to their qualms of conscience (Rorn. 14 : 15, 20f., I Cor. 8 : 9- 3. 10: 23f-1. There is a long series of apostolic admonitions and \vhich in the same urav were always given in a certain situa- tion but which were never designed to be applied universally. \Vhen Paul and Peter, in a series of letter endings, call upn the recipients to greet One another with a holy kiss, then we are obviously deal- ing with a method Passing on the apostolic greeting of the lcttrr, It is in the nature the matter that in other situation* sucll a be made the norm. (Hotvner, during jn t/lr Imperia1 Diet, the Swedish Parliament. in rcrt:ljn ;sallrlllic quarters it was asserted that this, too, \,;as bincling jf :I"! the otllrr instructions of the New Testament 11.el-c \.;lli or "teaching and adnlonishing" (I Tim. 6 : 2). i\~c(~~.tlingl!. tllc rllcuii- ing of the word "teacher" in the Nc\v Testanlcnt is: Tcacher of God'\ [Vord. This \\?as already applied to jcsus as translation of thc llcbrc\v word "rabbi". As an appellation for srr\.ants of the \\ ortl in thc church we find it, among other places, in i1c.t~ 13: 1, I (:or. 12: 28. Eph. 4 : 1 1. In the last mentioned passage "shephcrtl iind te;tchcr" is used as an appellation for one and the same coniniission. \\ lie11 the Bible of the Swedish Church renders thc nard rlidaskci~r in I Tim. 2 : 12 as "acting as teacher", thcn this is qtlitc justified. C~on- trariwise it tvould be a nlisinterpretation or a misusc of this I,ils>'lgc. to conclude from it that a tvonlan should not bc tcachcr in the Sun- day School, secretary in youth groups or in anv othcr position \\ hic,h obviously does not coincide with that CO~I~~~SS~OII to it.11 icJ1 t11c CI\ Testament refers when using the \vor(ls rliclnsknlos or diiinsltri~l. Thc classic example, that wonlen in the earl! church taught Gocl's \\ orrl in a connection other than the community \\.orship sc.r\ic,c, is I'ris- cilia (Acts 1 8 : 2 6). She had heart1 Apollos prcacll nil san tll~t he only knew the baptism of John; together nith Aquil:~ shc tool him in and "expounded (esetherrto) the \\.a\ of Got1 niorc accu- rately". I Cor. 14: 34f., too, is designcd to prohibit the \\-oman from proclaiming God's \170rd in the worship service of the church. .In\ other interpretation appears to bc extrrrncl~ artificial itnd in~proh- able. The whole chapter deals with participation in thc \vorship service. All the decisive rvords used in this connection ("be silent". "speak'*, "church") Paul used immecliatel y preceding in the *;llnc chapter (vs. 27-30), and it is quite clear that \vc are rlralinp hcrc with the right publicl) to participate in the worship service :in(] there to speak of God's ways. For this reason alone the claim that he in v. 31 (hlein) has a different meaning and refers only to tlist~lrhin~ chattel-, is extrenlcl\r ilnprobable. In addition wc kno\%. of Paul's prcfcrc~ice of this tcri1,'for religious speech and preaching (comp. 2 <'or. 2: 17. I'llil. 1: 14, Titus 2: 15, Eph. 5: 19). \There this \\ortl h;li 11 tlitferent meaning-I have seen that Else KBhler in a spcci fic in\ cstigation notes three such passages- this is empha- sirecl by ;in objcct or an adverb : to speak like a fool, to speak like a child, to spcilk unsecmlv. I~icitlentallv, I should like to pint out that 1.. 3 5 uoulcl most a;,propriatcl) be translated: But in case ther \voultl like to hc enliqhtencd on a certain topic they can ask the& husbands 'it home. ~hc Greek text uses here the little word de. This indicates thiit I';lul takes up a ne\v thought, probably a response to the objection lhilt the prohibition to speak \\!as all too categorical. 1. ;\/I tlris the .\'PII. 7-estn~rrent does not treat as a matter of urtler, I)rrt rtrtlrpr- (1s u Irecessur) ronsecptence of a command of the Imt auli it ill of Clrri~st, hlzsed ill that order which Cod alreud!; laid if014'11 ill (.~(~atiol~ UII~ ~i,l/ich IS FIOU~ realized in Christ. It is striking to notc l';~ul's c,ollc.ern to gi\,e reasons for his standpoint. It is equall!, striking that ['iiul here tloes not merely point to contemporary cus- toms and out\\ard dcccnc!, as he tloes in sevvral passages. Rather, he reall\ ;ittc.~npts to givc theological proof from God's \\'ord which \voultl he for tlic church undisputed authority. Ha\~ing appealed to thc Oltl Testamt>nt (to the Law in I Cor. 14: 3-4; the Creation Ac- c.o,nts and the Fall into Sin in I Tim. 2: 13f.), Paul points to the highest authorit,. the earlv church knew, the command of the Lord Hinlsclf. ;'rclcle& to this is' then the witness of the Spirit. Paul dares to sa\. that iinvone clainling to be filled with the Spirit would have to admG that thi?; rcall,. is ;I command of the Lord. Thus, he rnarshalls the highcst authorities of ancient Christianity: The Scriptures, Jesus' \\'ord. ancl the \\'itnt.ss of the Spirit. Under these circumstances it is not \er\. \\.ell possible to regard this question as "merely a mat- ter pert;iining to order" that does not have some inner relationship \\,it11 the Christian revelation. And even if we say, with Wendland, that "tllc' con~rnantl of the Lord" has validity only as a principle that 111aki-r for order in the Lvorship service, ne\~ertheless the fact re- ~nains that according to the conviction of Paul it is part and parcel of this ortier that a \voman is not to prcach in the church. 14. 7'jrir order IIRS ~71 ivner, orgarlic. conrtecti~zt with the Neu? Testanlcrlt's c'llaru~.teristic vieti. of the church. On the one haztd its azc)rrhers Iral-e heconre olie in Christ; on the other hnnd they are diffrretzt irorrr one another, eqrripped ulith difere~zt gifts arrd en- trrlsted ~ivith different responsibilities. The Church is Christ's Body in ~.hich \\.e have become ineinbers by Baptism. Thus considered, there exists among us an indissoluble unitv (I Cor. 12 : 20). All have equal honour and all are subject to the same gracious care (I Cor. 12:22). Onc of the classic passages for this unitv is Gal. 3: 28. Here IVC are concrrned no longer with Jew or w reek, no n~ore with slave or free man, no more n~th man or wornan. For vou are all one in Christ Jesus. Frequently it is concluded at this point that hctaecn all members of the Church there ]oust exist complete sim j Jaritr. pco- ple are of the opinion that in these words rve find a difirrr%nt, +in fX1. a more genuine basic New Testament stance than, for instance, in I Cor. 14~34. However, that is to tear the i~ordb from their con- text and to give them a meaning they do not havc. For in Gal. 3 : 2 h we are speaking of the u~zitv of Christ (all are onc.). This unitI. which linds its basis in ~a~iisni (r. 271, is realized in fellu\r\h,p with Christ, where, despite the most cstremt. out\\-arcl diffcrcnccs, rve form an indissoluble unitv. .Therefore, the Sew Testament here ~111phasirt.s. as in otllcl. passages, these two: unity and diversity. In I Car. 12 thc iiit.ntic*4j thought recurs as in Gal. 3: 28: "For in o~c Spirit 1i.e \\.c.rc. all I,~~,- tized into one body-Jews or Greeks, sla\.es or free mc.n-antl ryere made to drink of olre arrd the snltte Spirit." i-Ic~-~, too, it j:, shown how indissolublv this thought is conncctccl \\-ith thc diversities in the equipnlent of gifts and functions. Gifts ;IIIL~ re- sponsibilities differ, but they are given in such a \\.a\. that in thcir effect they contribute to the common good. The ~i~irit grant3 to each a special gift. Yet we are one. Here Paul irlscrts tht. \rorcls citvct above, but immediately he continues: "For the bod! cloys not con- sist of owe member, but of many." Then he expouncls on his topic.: It is clear that we are different, have different functions; yet \vc form one and the same body. From this he draws at the cnd certain conclusions for the Office of the Xiinistry in the Church: "\\'itllin the church God has appointed, in the first placc apostles. in thc second place prophets, thirdly teachers . . . . Arc all apostles? ,111 prophets? aH teachers'" It is a misinterpretation of Gal. 3 : 2 8, therefore, to appeal to this passage as proof for the fact that the unity of man rmtl tronlan must include the self-evident right of both to takc up the Ofiicc. of the Ministry in the Church. Herc the thought of a seculari~e(l equality has pushed aside the Biblical concept. A theology of the Body of Christ is undoubtvdl! onc of t1:c. most central thoughts in the Nen Testanlent. Herc 11-c find our- selves quite close to the very heart of the Christian \.it.\\- of re- demption and life lvith Christ. Thus the yroblelii of lvorncn pastors has an inner and logical connectio~~ with the central thought of the Christian faith. That the ancient Christians accepted such an arrangement and carried it out is based on the fact that the!. had a definite view of the diversity arzd unitv of Christians. The di\crsit\ of function was not regarded as insulting or degrading for anyollc. 15. The fact that man and woman are differerlt is 0 gift of ' GG~, arrd it is as a result of God's will that the nznn and the have different functiorrs both in the home and i?~ the C1tarr.h. "hlale and female He created them." The difference exists from the "cr!' beginning; it is not abolished in Christ. The Sew Testament di- rects different admonitions to the man and to the woman, accord- Twenty-Three Theses - 17 ing to the gifts and responsibilities entrusted to each (Eph. 5, CoI. 3, I Peter 3). Alan and woman were created for one another for mutual service.. Only after a joining of their abilities is the intention realized which God has with human beings. This joining finds expression in ~narriagc iand the home (see the above cited admonitions), but also in the church. 16. ?'his difference does not imply less esteem for the posi- riot1 cjf the tt7uwtarr. That this has not been understood in some cases ; tlerives from a inisunderstanding of the frequently recurring ad- monitions for women to submit themselves (I Cor. 14: 34, Eph. 5: 22, Col. 3: 18, I Peter 3: 1). If these passages are interpreted in a legal and patriarchal sense, then their meaning is different from \\,hat the Bible would have it be. If ~ve. wish rightly to understand the command to submit oneself, then must remember above all that we are dealing here t with a Christian conlmand that has validity for everyone (Eph. 5 : 2 1 -to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ). In the New Testament, "to be subject" (hypotassesthai) has a spe- cifically Christian meaning like the word agape, for example, as Kengstorf, Greeven and Schlier, among others, have proven. As Else Klhlrr has proven. in a yet unpublished doctoral dissertation (to the manuscript form of which I have access) the key to this word is to be found in I Cor. 15. There the word is used repeatedly in the \\-ell known exposition of Christ's cosmic rule (v. 25-28). There is depicted how everything has been subjected to the Son, until finally He subjects Himself to the Father who has subjected all things to Himself. Here God's grand plan is described, the order to which also the Son subjects Himself. There is not the slightest indication that this subjection was commanded. It is taken as self- vvident, it is part of God's order of thing. God does not establish this order for His own sake but for the benefit of His creatures. In this order Christ has been entrusted with a decisive role. Christ does not enter into this order of God by constraint, as response to il demand, but He enters into it out of love for the Father and fo~ man. \\'herever the Bible makes mention of subjection we must keep in mind this subjection of Christ to the Father. It is a subjection not compelled through a demand or by Force, rather it -is a con- sequence of insight into God's order OF things. Just as the subjection of Christ does not mean His degradation or disdain for Him, so there is no degradation in such a subjection to God's plan, God's will and God's order as the Bible demands of Christians and as is beneficial to pro~erly arranging life in its different walks: among subjects of government, among wives, servants, children, etc. All this is based in the fact that we have gained insight into God's order of things. It nieans to have recognized and accepted the respnsi- bilitg God entrusted to a person. Pt'013lc rcalj) surrc God in tllis. not inan (Eph. 6: 5-81. Aoajn an intinlate connection \\'it11 tht' central tlloug]lt of thr a New Testament is emphasized here. T'hc positjot1 of thc car]! Chris- tians in the question of the woman and the OACC of the \Iinistr\ is connected not only with the corlm Christ1 concept, hut ;~lso \,irjl the concept hypotossesthni- ti tti.g one~cl f ill10 Gorl's 01-dcl- of t]lings. and that is genuinely e\ angc.lic:ll. 17. The co~ntr~~~~d to subject o~zesclf runrrot he ,trrrdL. tllc fiornt for legislating the church. Sincc it is a \oluntar\ sllbjeCtion based upon insight into God's purpose and \\.ill. the ;~dlnonitic~n is ai\-\ravs directed to the person \rho is to su1)jc'ct liinlsclf. ;It no time. doesdthe Bible establish it as a right for thc othcr part,, for him to n.hom a person is to be subject. Rather, by nlcalis of ipl,rollri;itc admonitions to the othcr part)., to c.scrciscl ~o\.L', kintlncss ;III(I COT)- '.ern, a sort of balance is established. Thca comm~~lcl to s~11)jcct clnc.- self is dircct~d to t.rer!lone. Everyone, each in thc: posit ioll ill I\ l1it.h he finds himself, is to fit himself into God's ort1c.r of thi~igs anti there to ser\re his neighbour. Thc authorities arc to bc. Gotl's scr\ ants for the god of the subjects (Iloni. 13: 4). Husbands arc to low their \vives "as Christ also loved the Church and pic Hil~~sclf up for it" (Eph. 5:25). This demantl reall\ yes bc!ond \\h;lt is demanded of \voinen and it is more c1ifFicult to tulhll. This relationship betlvcen nlan and woman, as it is clcpictccl, for instance, in Eph. 5, concerns marriage and can onl!. bc. rc,ali/c.tl hctsvcen ~H.O people \vho have become "onc" bocly (conip. F.ph. 5: 28-as they lore their own bodies). Such a mutual relationship in love and service cannot be applied to the rclation of nlcn 'ind nomen in their life in society, in their life on the job. etc. l'his i5 itgain reason that the cornniand to subject onesclf cannot bc ~nitdc, the norm for relationships in society. Thus, it is not an inconsistcnc\. but rather the consequence of rightly understanding thc Scri1,turcs if \\.c maintain that this is valid onlv \vhert. the Scriptures si\\ that it is i.aljd, that is, in marriage and in the church. For ob\;iousl!. there is a parallel between the church ~I~cI 11l;tr- riage. and between the responsibilities of the n.omrln in the Ilonlc and hcr responsibilities in the churcll. This yarallcl is ply-cmi~lcnt in the entire ctepiction of marriage in Eph. 5, and it is also enll~hii- si~cd in I Tim. 2: 12. 18. Orr the other hand, the chief office irz the Church is to be urratzged ZH n 1t.a~ that is ronditioned by Christiatl ~*utlsideratio~is. "\\'e may not accommodate the Pastoral Office of the Church to the \:iewpoints prevalent in thc civil cornmunit! so that the factors intrinsic to being the Church are erased" (-4. Nygren). The Church has a right to expect that its own mem- bers honour the order which is based in the Gospel's own \icW of the purpose of man. Here subjection. which without faith in Christ makes no sense, becollies natural. The Church is not guilt? Twrnt?-Three Theses -- - .- 19 - - -- - - of clemantiing too much when it asks everyone who wants to be a ser~.al~t of Christ to be prepared to submit to this order. The Church, therefore, has no reason to annul this order of things. Naturally a l~roblc.nl a)-isrs here. Since honouring such an order of things requires faith 111 God's purpose and the preparedness to take up a wav of life in \vllich 11-c r-clincjuish anv assertion of the self and folio; Christ on the road of self-denial, it is cclsy to understand that the state holds legislation in this matter incoinpatible with principles the state applies at othcr timcbs. But the Church must insist "that in coining to con- clusions about the arrangement of the Office of the Pastors the pint of departure must he the intrinsic nature of the Church as based in thc. Gospel" (A. Sygren). 19. IJI this ~r~atter Christ's ou-ri actio~is atzd the directions gilrrrl 17) Hint 11.er-e iiec~isi~~e for the Chzlrch. Christ's relationship to \\omen around l-iim is nlarked on the one hand by a superior free- don^ o\.cr against human ordinances and conventional rules. He miikcs a clean break with any degrading of the \voman. All His clt~alings proclain~ the similarity of all men. On the other hand there exists a i1issimil;tritv of functions. rirnong the greatest of His dis- ciplcs thilre are a !;umber of women. They, too, followed Him on His journevs. But Hc does not entrust to them a special commis- sion nor a 'placc among those svho are to hold office in the Church. He calls only men to be apostles and to them He entrusts the Xlis- sionar!, C:ommand, the Procla~llation of the Word, Baptism, the 1-ord's' Supper and the Power of the Keys. The oficc of the apostle is not as unique and as restricted to the original incumbents as some considerations in our day and age tvoulcl acclaim. On the one hand it is surely the charge to be a wit- rlCss of the Resurrection co~nmissioned bv Christ Himself. But on the otl~er hand the oflice of the apostle rise to the Pastoral Office of proclamation. The great Missionary Command was given to the apostles. It applies to all peoples and extends to the end of tinlc*. Thus, the office of the apostle requires a continuation. It is or-rrlooketl all too often that on the one hand the New Testament itself bases the office responsible for leadership of the church and for proclamation on the apostles and on their authority; that on thc othcr hand I Clement, a letter which on account of its early da?e (prior to 100 A.D.) is of unique historical value, expressly states that Jesus Himsclf gave precise instructions to His apostles 110w other proven men were to take over their duties once they died. If we did not have the Letters of Paul, Jesus' choosing apostles and similar facts would hardly be conclusive. But the same would be true even of the work of reconciliation. Christ's work in our behalf is made coinprehensible and is put into the proper light through the apostolic witness. Now, Christ's own actions and the nlanncr in which the apostles continued His work form a unitv without contradictions. It simply is not permissible to create a con- trast here which is not present in the sources, for instance, by en- dowing Jesus' actions with intentions other th;m tl~osc \\hi~\1 lllC apostles believed their Lord to 11a1.e. 20. To traditions Ire cannot attribute dec.ici1.e sigllifi~.,~~,~.~. Of course, there must be verj cogent rclasons to chnngc ;I t11-o- thousand-year-old tradition. Xe\:erthcless. it can bc clone if it is mcrc- Iy a tradition. The Church is not bound to tmtlitiolle5 III~~JI~J,O~ (Augsburg Confession VII and XI'). gut the matter is different when the tl-aditions confir111 that have correctly interpreted the Scriptures. Ao one \\;is in a bcttcr psition to understand the Sew Testament linguistically and matel-i- than the contemporaries of the apost1c.s and their inl~ncdi;~rc SUCceSSOrs. \Vhen we conic upon a homogc.ncous tr;~rlition that reaches all the \\:a!, back to their days, then this is n ver.2 zit-or12 iri- dication that a differi>tg i~lteryretntion of the S~.~.illtitrri c~nnriot IJLJ right. 2 1. If ire lovally hold to the Scril~tures, the11 OII the otie Irnrrtl we ntust saj KO to the question of u.oltze?z pastor-.;, o11 tllc uther hand t4.e must snj YES to n zttilizutiolr of ~to)rre~r'\ nl?~liiie~ irr tl~c Church in n ntcire intensive u.a) than has been the prnc\tir.e lip to rrolr The Scw Testament presents to us a more comprchcnsi\c. inli~gc than docs church life in Sweden about thc different gifts "in circh of which the Spirit is manifested" and "\vhich scr\.c. thc. conlnlon good of all" (I Cor. 12: 7). A number of women arc rncntionc~tl anlong those who with their gifts thus served thc church. :4bo\,e all there is the gift of "prophccv". I Car. 1 1 : 5 ant1 Acts 2 1: 9 consider it perfectly natural that \\.onIan should h;~\c this gift. Prophecy is speech directly inspired bv God. The prophet rlocs not take His message from the il'ord but hc recci! erl it througll a rc\.elation. In our churches prophecy is no longer a nonnirl occur- rcncc. Perhaps one reason is that now in its place \vc ha\.e thc \cw Testament. and perhaps we find an indication of this dc\~clopn~ent in I Cor. 13: 8. But 1t.e must count on the recurrence of prophcc! whcrc and when God pleases. Something of the gift of prophcC\ can appear also in the Christian witness in dailv life. \\'hen cour- ageous \vomcn stand up and speak a clea; Christian \vord as the individual situations may give opportunit,, \vhcther it bc in the home. in the life in society. in selving circles, on the job or \\rherc\,cr. then this can be on the same Ie\,el as that to which the Biblc. re- fers as prophet.!-. The same can be true tvhen a \vonlan nlakos a presentation in a subject God has put verv close to her heart. for csampfc. 3lission work. I will not "ndertike to dra\v the line in detail bet14~ec.n such prophecy and Christian proclanlation. I be- liebe no man is in a position to do that. But the Bible. docs tell us that a line has been drawn and that the lint. cannot bc redra\\.n at will, so that the Pastoral and Teaching Office ends up as one of those responsibilities which Christ entrusted a]so to His \\,omen disciples. It niust further be considered that prophecy is not an office in thc sense of being a commission entrusted through tht. Twenty-Three Theses - . - -- - - - - - -- .- - 2 1 -- churcll nor docs 3 person possess prophecy as an ever on-going oyporf unit) to scrvc. But there also seem to have been occasions for such on-going hcr\icc- In an! cast., \\e have indications of women "\vho shared struggles in the cause of the Gospel" and who were "fellow- ,,orkcrs" of the apostle (Phil. 4: 3) and who "toiled in the Lord's service" (RO~I. 16 : 12). It is said of Phoebe that she was "a deaconess of the cIiurcI~ at Cenchreae" and that "she has been of assistance to man)", inclurling the apostle himself (Rom. 16.1f.). 111 ally case, these indications prove that the early church active use of the 1-arious talents of women. 22. If it i\ ortr concern toda! to prepare the ItJay for the ex- pa,rd~d rttiliwtion of the talents of ironzen in the Church, then we H ill Itnl'e to take ~*ogilizar~ce of the differences betuleen the man and tl~e 11 ottzrrri ntrd riot disr~gard them. An essential part of the New Tttstament position is the rich diversitj in functions which is neces- sdrv because of the tlii?er.\ity of gifts. If the Office of the Pastor as offii~- of preacher and church leader is not intended or designed for \\on~c.n, thcn it must be our concern to find such forms of service that do full justice to the diifering gifts of the woman. Such forms oC sttrvic.e niust on the one hand satisfy the desire for fairness and offer the \lrornen thus lvorking for the church an adequate salary; on the other hand they niust coincide with the New Testament pe sitiori in the belief that the working together of the different members uorks for the conlmon good. Among the Nordic churches the Church of FinIand has prob ably niadt. the most progress in this matter. In our country (Sweden) the rcquest of the Synod of Bishops probably is the most carefully pcndered and formulated request pointing in this direction. 23. If there is serious disagreement in the Church about the /jrol?er course of actiow, the~z the Scriptures demand of us above all tlrlt1g.s to nzairztai~ t~vo things int~iolate: One is the unity of the Cl~urch, the other is I~ring regard for all serious qualms of con- rcie~lce. a) L'nit). It is probably sufficient to point to Jesus' high- priestlv praver (John 17: 2 If.) and to the Apostle Paul's ve- hement inteivention in the divisiveness at Corinth (I Cor. I : 10). Risking a division is always a most serious matter. This may be- cornu necessary when the concern is the purity of the Gospel, but \\.hen we are dealing with matters of order in the Church and pro- priety it is irresponsible. b) Regnrd for the conscience of others. If some Christians are sincerely troubled by a certain matter so that they cannot par- ticipate without an injured conscience or are led by that into over- Powering doubt and despair, then the New Testament admonishes us rather to leave the matter be than to insist on it, even though in of itself the niatter might be perfectly correct. The early Christians had to take a position on a number of such problems. \.lTas it permitted to consumc blootl, sacriticial Incat or other things which for some were i~~cstric;lhl! connectccl \\ itll paganism and idolatry? \\'as it permitted to drink \\.i~ic.' ctc. The answer can point in two opposite clircction5. \\'hc.n \\.c are concerned with the basis of our salvatiorl ancl if tho csonseciucncc ~vould be the reintroduction of the Lnw as tlic \\~:I\. of ,;tl\aticrn. the New Testament speaks an unrelenting 10. "hot for one nioment did I yield to their dictation; I \\.as deteniiinc.d that thc full truth of the Gospel should he maintained for you" (Gal. 2: 5,). But \\,hen the concern is matters of ho~v to live, Ivherc faith in Christ ;in(] the will of commitment to Him have Icd peoplc to tiiffvrcnt con- clusions, there the New Testament ecluall\ opcnl! i1~k5 us, as mt1c.11 as is possible, to have due regard for the conscience. oC the hretl~re~~. "Therefore if food be the downfall of nl\ hrothcr. I \\ ill nc.1 er c,~ meat anvmore, for I will not be the cause of rn! I~rotlicr's clot\ nfsll" (I Cor. 8: 13; cf. all of Romans 14 as ell as I (:or. 10:32-33). These two aspects, the unity of the Church ant1 rcgarti Cor th(- 4 conscience of others, ought to point the \\.a! for our C hurc.11 p;it-- titularly at this time. Perhaps the leaders of thc C'Ii~~rch, rcgnrcl- less of all differences of opinion, should arri\,c at complete unit!. and a program of action which is basctl on thc' cspcricncc.~ of tlic early Christians in their most tlifficult timcs of criscs. In st1c.11 J case it ~~ould be the message of mutual regard ;~ntl laic that \vould have to precede everything else. If I gauge the pr:~ctic.al consc.cltlencc3\ correctlv, the result n.ould be that thc C:hurc.li \\.it11 more dcc.l~l\ Biblical reasoning would insist that in this 111atter no tlecision he. forcibly arrived at. The proposal of the Spot1 of Bishops. thcrcforc. ought to be rejected. This does not meat1 that nc. all \visIi this rcjcc- tion to be final. At the same time something ought to bc tlonc to create opportunities for the utilization of the talcnts oC \\.omen in church positions, something the Synod of the Church has (1cm:indcd 4 previously. This must be achieved in such il way that all tromrn call accept it, even those for whom thc possihilit\ of \\'onlcn pilstors ik unthinkable.