Monday, April 15, 2019

You could be wrong. . .

In the seemingly never ending discussion of the ordination of women (or substitute other issues), the complaint is often made against those who do not ordain women (or approve of other modern practices), you could be wrong.  Well, yes, I suppose in a theoretical way those who do not deviate from the historic practice of the Church could be wrong.  Of course, we do not think we are wrong -- but neither do they think they are wrong who have decided to break with tradition and make the change.  So while it might be interesting to know what we think about what passages of Scripture say or whether the historic practice of the Church on issues such as the ordination of women has been, that counts for little.  What we think as individuals or what we think as a group in a certain moment of time does not matter much in comparison to the catholic principle of what has always and everywhere been believed.  The issue then is not whether we think we could be wrong but whether we think God could be wrong.

You see the Church does not have authority nor do her ministers possess the freedom to impose what they think upon the Word of the Lord that endures forever nor do they possess the right to deviate from the sacred deposit.  Though this might seem curious coming from a son of the Reformation, that battle was not over a change in the teaching of the Church but over the changes that did not have the authority of Scripture nor the uniform witness of the ancient Church.  Such things as purgatory and the treasury of merits or indulgences were challenged precisely because they did not have standing in Scripture and developed over time more from reason than any revelation.  Surely Lutherans have imperfectly practiced this but we have faithfully confessed this in our Symbols.  So it is especially egregious to Lutherans when some of those who claim to be heirs of this conservative reform back to sources insist that it is a proper conclusion to the Reformation to ordain women or change the definition of family or accept as normal any sexuality except that ordered by God in creation.  We are not only betraying the Word of God but even the legacy of Luther and the Reformers bequeathed to us.  This remains our biggest issue with Rome and yet it is an issue without substance when people who claim to wear the name Lutheran do what Rome has done and invent practices.

Yes, I suppose it is possible we could be wrong but if that were a possibility, how better to be wrong?  Deviating from the catholic doctrine and practice or maintaining it?  Who better to betray?  The times in which we live and to stand apart from them or the God who has given us His Word and bond and disown that?  This seems to be one of the most pivotal issues in all of Christianity and it is where orthodoxy is being most tested today.  Will we risk being misunderstood or rejected or even persecuted to stand with the Lord and with those who went before us OR will we cave in out of fear to go with the flow of modernity-- wherever that might lead?  It would seem to me that those who insist the Church must change to survive have already given up on the Word and promise of God that His Church will continue to exist and hell shall not prevail against her.  So they may think themselves the saviors who will rescue the Church from being judged out of step or irrelevant but in reality they are the ones who are killing what God has made and doing this from within.  While it is true we might have much to fear from forces against Christianity, it is also clear from history that we have much to fear from those who insist that we must depart from Scripture and the catholic doctrine and practice that have accompanied that Word in order to make sure that the Church survives. 

Some might think that if you depart and die God will simply say "what were you thinking?" and shrug His shoulders and tell them to come on it and take their seat at the table of eternity.  Maybe so.  That is God's domain and not mine.  But it also could be true that God will say "I know you not because you knew Me not; depart from me."  We do not maintain faithfulness and continuity with Scripture because we are afraid of God but because we trust Him.  We do not keep to the Word and its catholic teaching and practice because we fear change but because we fear and love God.  We do not put much stock in thinking when that thinking leads us away from God and our fathers in the faith or when it attempts to reason us to depart from this sacred deposit because it is possible we could be wrong.  Jesus Christ yesterday, today, and forever.  The Word of God that endures forever.  These are the pillars that hold up God's house.  Without them we build on shifting sand.


Anonymous said...

119 of the 145 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (80%) ordain women as ministers. Do these churches stand on the word of God?

Joseph Bragg said...

Your article said...
"You see the Church does not have authority nor do her ministers possess the freedom to impose what they think upon the Word of the Lord that endures forever nor do they possess the right to deviate from the sacred deposit."

But this is exactly what Rome, Protestantism and Contemporary Christianity does continually. To say, "except where we think it deviates from Scripture" is the essence of Protestantism and the open door to all interpretations.

Christ said he would guide the Church into all truth and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It is awful to live in a system where the guidance of the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are always debated and uncertain.

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Thank you, Pastor Peters, for this thoughtful reflection.

And thank you to "Anonymous" for pointing out that the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is filled with apostasy and rot. There is an alternative confederation of *faithful* Lutheran Church bodies who do "stand on the Word of God" called the International Lutheran Council (ILC).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"119 of the 145 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (80%) ordain women as ministers. Do these churches stand on the word of God?"

Nice one! Argumentum ad populum

Those 119 church bodies that ordain women are losing members at a much faster rate than the 26 church bodies that do not ordain women. Someone may counter that this assertion is false, as Lutheran church bodies in the 3rd world are not shrinking, but growing rapidly.

However, in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a 3rd world church body would receive financial aid from "1st World" church bodies contingent on it ordaining women. The 3rd world church body ordains women and then carefully hides them from public ministry doing general clerical work in an office.

Church bodies argue that they ordain women; therefore, homosexuality is no longer a grave sin and should also be accepted.

Would someone be able to find the logical fallacy in the above statement?

If the LWF church bodies argue "We can ordain women and celebrate homosexuality, as the bible is silent about this," then why do they choose to ignore St. Paul's specific words about women and homosexuality? Why do they continue to ignore the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Recall that the Sodomites demanded to "know" Lot's angel guests but not Lot's daughter......

I agree that liberal pastors risk being turned away by God for leading the people astray.

Carl Vehse said...

The LWF Constitution declares:

"The Lutheran World Federation is a communion of churches which confess the triune God, agree in the proclamation of the Word of God and are united in pulpit and altar fellowship." [Emphasis added]

How many of these LWF member church bodies are also in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Missouri Synod, which, by doing so, publicly declares that the doctrinal position which permits that church body to be a member of the LWF is congruent with the doctrinal position of the Missouri Synod?

Caution: LCMS members responding to this should keep in mind Bylaw 1.8.

Steve Hutchens said...

A number of years ago I was conversing with an official (actually a very high one) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) who mentioned to me in an offhanded way that the Presbyterian Church in America (a conservative group) had departed the Reformed faith because it still held to the Westminster Confession. This would be like saying someone who held to the Augsburg Confession had because of that departed Lutheranism.

I was young, and my experience with ecclesial insanity was limited at the time, so after I had picked my lower jaw off the floor and made sure I had understood him correctly, asked, in Nicodemean fashion, "But how can these things be?" He raised his finger and replied inarguably, "Ah, but you have to understand, Steve, Ecclesia Reformata semper reformanda."

Now, I am as much for paradox as the next man, but have come to believe that the ability to recognize the difference between the paradoxical and the absurd is a grace of which we tend to make too little.