Full Text for The Office of the Pastor and the Problem of Ordination of Women Pastors (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER April 1974 Volume 38, Number 2 The Office of the Pastor and the Problem of Ordination of Women Pastors I. I~\.~r,l:ol,u~~~oi\l A S 1 1-1 ilV1: Plt E\710 LIS1,I' L'OIN'I'EII OLI'I', tlle 1)rol)Icm of the ordination of ~voi~iel? ])astors is of rather recent \:intagc in 1\7orltl I,utheral~isn~. It sprang UP for the most part in Europe aftcr the lvar ant1 tlie c:luscs for its introcl~~ction were marc political than theo- logical. \\illat is mazing is tliat in the coursc of a generation 01- t\'iro, tllc practice is secliiingly I-ccognizctl as :~ccc.ptn\~le in no st of \\.orltl I,~~tllcranislil tocla!.. \\jitl~in thc last few 111011ths, TI31E: inagnzine took time out from I-cporting 1-he Aiissouri S!.nocl scluabbles to tell tlic stories of two T-utlicri~n 1,astors of the Bavarian L~itlieran State Church, one associated 11.ith Neucndettclsa~r, a small town in so~~thern German\. \.c,hcrc the Rlissouri S!/liocl can trace some of its roots. 'Tlicsc two pastors felt for reasons of conscience coml~elled to resigrl their pas- torates because certain woJneli theolooians were @\!en 1)astoral re- O. sp011sibilitic.s. Such ;~ctions were considerctl b!- tlic pastors to be illegal, ill~inoral, and un biblical. One of the pastors is seekilig rcfuge in tlic Iloman Catholic. Churcli. To ~vliich ?'Ii\,lI: cclitori;~Jlv, ancl ~naybc even ;~c.curntel~, remarltctl that even that final haven oi' male ecclcsiasticisni might Fall before the oiislaught of the inovelnent to ordain .ciTomen 1,astors. 'The recent 1973 autunln convention of the l'rotcstant El>iscopnl Church ill It of the 'ministry' signifies a scrvicc which each (:l~~:istia~i ])cl.f'on~ls to others within the Christian conl~n~init\~. 'l'liere is c\~:rl ;I '~ninistr); to the ~x~orlcl.' 'Ilflinistr)~' l~ecoines ~(luivalent ter111 t-o the pl~rasc 'thc priesthood of all hcl'icvcrs' anc'l baptis~n :rss~~t.cs a110 rccluircs of the recipient 'a mi~~istry.' 'I'his {vay of speaking has bccorne nlidesl3rcad in oui: circles ill ~.cccnt !'ears. Some of its slogans arc well lcl ;~t i\:llic.l1 11e js functionii~g. He is thc 'cliief minister' 'minister- ing' to otl~ct: 'lninisters.' This generalized concept of 'ministr~~' has not 1)een dog~natically finalized, but it IIW has wide ramifications even on the congregatjonal level and is treated as a faith statel~~ent. \\;it11 this type of pkilosoph\: the pastor sees hiinself as a type of 'en;lbler' within the congregational scene. Or to use the tem~indogy of tile business world, he becomes the executive officer of the church council ivhich iri turn is tlie 'hoard of directors' for the 'corpoate stocltllolders' assembled as a voters' asse~nbly . With this attitude, the pastor hecomes expe~~dable or at least replnceable by others in the body corporate. There are other officers who have a 'ministry' which can compensate individuall\! or corporately and replace the pastoral officc for a longer or short& period of time. .:\'ln~ry ~rri~ristcrs or nrirzistrf~ls in the chnrcjL 111 The I-uthcra~l Churcll-hiljsso~lri Svo~)cI, i)roblelll llas b~co~nc Inorc accute bccausc of thc recent di~cLrssio~~s of the role p~(~cIli:~l school teacher, both male tund fe~nc~le. In additioll to tllis tllcrc. arc the rolcs of the deaconess, the director of CllristiLln cdu- catjon, the \.out11 IIOS~C~, and the la! preacher. '[here js c\icll sollle (liscossion r;f thr re\?ivnl of the office of the (lcacoll. To this list can he added thc cntirc list of congregation;ll offices fi:onl co~jc,regational ?' l)l:esidciit all tlic way to tcenagc llelpers in the Vacat:ion 131ble School ;,ncl the sexton. One 1~oint of view regards all of tilcsc as parts 3 morc g~ncr;llirec of definition coultl ;1ll6w and c..clcn tlenlancl t1i;lt: xvolncn bc ;~llowetl into the office of tllc pastoral lllinistr\l. I~lstcail of loolccialize in onc for111 of n~inistry l~ut hnvc ;lcccss to tIic other functions." Thl~s the p;~sto~:c?l office is ipso fircto opened to \vomen. Perhaps, I could pro~lide the following as n helpful an:1logp. rl-llc ]]ewer concept: of ministrv could be comparcd to a meclical clinic rvhcrc all the physicians are recognized as qualified medical doctors ~vitl:~ each specializing in a fielcl of interest: or necd. In their basic trili17illg they hi~ve all been adjudged capable in the general field of mcclicinc and to maintain their comyetency, work in individual iiclds of metlicine other than their prticular specialty fl-on~ timc to timc. They exchange tasks; the pediatrician beconles n surgeon, etc. In this newer unclerstanding of minjstrr., the different 'ministers' could ant1 do exchange functions. Such an illustration might be a very attracti~c lllodcl to de- scl-ibe the church or the cllurch's offices, but is it adequatc in hand- ling the Biblical data, especially on the pastoral office? Does the New 'Testament really ]ossihle is carrjetl out in varioi~s parts of the New 'Testament to (Icscril~e thc \ituation of the early church. A group of seven men are cE~osen "to illinister on tables" (Acts 6: 2). Mere reference is to elevating the physical tlistress of the Greek syealan)i of 'Jesus on a pcnnanent or "professionalJJ basis, and they arc not asl. ant1 for a specialized task they receive the trai1.1ing ant1 instruction. 'This .group n7as recognized, and recognjzed themselves as soniething special both during the ministry of Jes~ls ;nlcl aftcr I-lis resurrection ant1 ascension. 'This is not to sa!!' that their self-estimation and self-esteem were at all tjmes prol~erly sclf-compre- hentled, but it is to say they held a special office of 1vhicl1 they were rightl!. sclf-conscjous. 'To the Jelvs in general, the command was to "llepent, for tllc kingdom of heaven is at hand" (R4t. 4 : 1 7, 23), Out only to certain illen He gave the command to "fol1oi.i:" Hi111 (Mt 4 : 18- 22; 9 : 9)J~esus' recruitment for the special office was recognized as different fro111 thc general call to faithhand son~e .cvould-bc applicants allproachoncer~in~ the matter and are rejected (Mt 8: 18- 22). Unlike believers in general, they are required to give up the ordinary pursuits of life, as Peter forsook fishing and hlatthew tax collecting, and to devote their lives full time to the cause of Jesus. Thcirs is a profession or life-time vocation. Lulolis ':l'HE NEW '~ES'.~AMENT EVIIjENCE PERMI?: US TO ,'\PPOIN'r IVOMEN I?/\STORS I Ilavc gone to great ,length to show that thc office of teaching ;~x~c'l pastoring is established. by Jcsus and the apostles and was indeed escrcisctl by them. Thi.s oficc js given to --I+.----- s ecificallv clesig~~ite(], .j I( t-r~iincd - --- men. It is an o.%ce that is no wnv to e equated with the ( ~~cnerXc;ltego:or\. of the_prie~ood~F~~~~ers or somF-gGG$- 3 --.--- . . -- - .. r~lizt'd . -. . . .. <:,OIKCP~_ .... oi:. t~?~dni,stryl) Having established this, then it wilI ; perlli~l).': I)c easicr to nccept thc qualif.ications and linlitatior~s con- i nectctl wit11 this office.~Not eilerjl male may assume the office. Jesus i (lid not give thc o&ce to ever): office seeker. Janies wants to turn : somc :~n;a);. l.'nul is cluite lengthy in laying ot~t the qualifications. P:~id in 1 'Ti~notlry 2 : 12 clearl!? denies the pastoral office to women. "r c'lo not permit women to teach." Throaho~~t h-x~msxal ; c istles the te~111 'tea,cbs used in the ~ense-~eceiir&.~-~eser~~ 3--- an(- ~XIS~II~ the (10ctrine. Paul's prohibition specificallyxrbids women run) ;~ssi~ming tKTffice. Yes, the Ncw Testament ltnows of l'riscilla giving instruction to Apollos (Acts 18 : 26) an.d women prophetesses'4)ut ncvcr does the NT ascribe to them the activity of teaching, tlicinskein. In fact, it forbids them to do it. The Timothy passage is recognized as a commentary on the prohibition in I Corinthians 11: 34-36. Here the: word talk, and not di,(laskcin is used. The type of talking that is prohibited the women is not the mere use of the vocal cords. The Greek word for that is 1eg.o and not lalain. In the crucial passage in Matthew 28: 18, Jesus officially speaks to the111 as the 'teacher' so Mattllew uses the word Inlain. .If:' I,VC say negativol! that wonlen are prohibteil fro~x this office, , the11 \vc say positively that thc office can only be given to 111cr1. This is cssel~tinifol. tlie ''pastori11 teaching" succession. l'etcr says that tile sllccessol: _I udas nlurst be 111ale, nlzcr, (Acts 1 : 2 1 ). So also :in 1 'I'.imotl~.ly 3 : 2 aijcl Titus 1 : 6, the I~ishop must 11e an ruler, :I male. 'T'l~ere ilrc inally problenis within the cl~urch which have focused on the issue of tl~c ordinatiol~ of woinen pastors. 'l?herc is the issue of whether or not the Scriptures are culturally limited anti should we use the "eye" of tllc Gospel to pierce through these linlitations. 'T'llere is tlre iss1r.e of! whcti~.er or not thc I-loly Spirit is sl~ealting through the church totlay .i.c;ith the salne force as He did through the apostles. 1 'T'liere is the issue of vvhethe~: tlic Scriptures are 1.1inding oi~ly in :j, regard to .~vllat is called the Gospel ant1 not the 'I:.n\v ii~d other : ~natters. 'Th.crc is also Paul's deliberate connection bet\veen his prohibition :~gnii~st 'cvou~en pastors 2nd tlic accounts of creation ancl the fall. In the h;Iisso~rri Syriod I see the matter of women pastors as intinlattrly con~lcctccl with our trnderstanding of tlle ofice of tlle pastor. If we itcccpt, 1-he Bil~lical cviclence that the ofice has been r ~1ivin~l.y crcatcti wit11 sj~cci;ll ~:cquirements for entrance and special obligations, we must folloiv the tradition of oui: church, the ci~u~-ch thro~ig110~1t tlli' ages, thc cal-1). church, ant1 the apostolic ch~rch and conti~lii~ to resist o~daining \Jiomen into the pastoral officc. Foormo-rKs I. "Thc Futurc of C:hristinn Education in thc Ajissouri Synod: A Mattel: of Self-Understantling," CTM XI;lV, 4, (Scptembcl- 19731, 28 1. 2. ll~itl., p. 283.