Saturday, September 26, 2009

North Wisconsin District and Women's Ordination

It's not every day that you read a pro-women's ordination article in an official synodical publication. But you can do so here in the NWD's October 2009 newsletter. Scroll down to pages 12 and 13.


I don't believe the North Wisconsin District is actually campaigning to promote women's "ordination" in the LCMS - though there is a very small (and shrinking) minority of aging LCMS feminists devoted to that cause. But the problem with the NWD is confessional clarity. We should not be sending mixed signals as to what we confess and teach - whether to our pastors and laypeople, or to the world.

The above newsletter is available to anyone on the planet with the internet - and it gives the strong impression that the LCMS has capitulated to the world and turned its back on Holy Scripture. It is a terrible witness to the Church and world - especially in this day and age of confusion as to where "Lutherans" stand on many issues - even as our brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted for their faithfulness to the Word of God.

And this is precisely the danger in subscribing to, and printing under our own letterhead, publications by non-Lutheran church bodies. Isn't it odd that books published by CPH are subjected to a rigorous doctrinal review process, all the while districts (however well-intentioned) can, and do, promote and even publish materials from other church bodies that contain rank heresy?

For some reason, The Parish Paper is very popular with the higher-ups in our synod. My own district subscribes to it and in turn sends it out to us in the parishes, and encouraging us to print it in our church newsletters. Usually, they are rather tepid and banal - simply worthy of the delete key without comment. But the topics quite often deal with the need to "change" the way we worship and proclaim the Gospel, all based on numbers and pragmatism - a theology alien to our own Lutheran confessions.

A year ago, I blogged about my own district's use of The Parish Paper:
"My own ecclesiastical district has been rigorously advocating an agenda of change over the past couple years. Almost every communication that comes from our district involves explicit pushes and shoves to "change" - to abandon our traditions, to embrace popular culture, to follow in the footsteps of the latest "gurus" and the trendiest religious fads. Our district has subscribed to an ecumenical Protestant publication (The Parish Paper) that is sent to every parish pastor with copyright permission (and encouragement) to reprint it in church newsletters and the like (though, as far as I can tell, I'm not permitted to reproduce it electronically here). I do not know whether or not these publications are subjected to doctrinal review - though I suspect it hardly matters."
Maybe the this district's inclusion (however accidental it may be) of an open and unrepentant endorsement of women's ordination in the current issue will be the impetus to drive the stake through this thing's heart. How much heresy are we to tolerate from our districts? Is it really too much to ask of our synodical bureaucracies to cut our ties with this publication?

Anyway, the NWD's contact information is here. Maybe they would appreciate some (polite but firm) input from the people of our church body to help them discern the best way to deal with this issue.

You can also e-mail NWD President Rev. Joel Hoelter here:


Jonathan said...

Wow. What could possibly be the point of putting that article in there? Is it an endorsement, a warning, or mere filler? Problem is, they don't tell you why it's there. The Ed.'s got some 'splaning to do.

Unknown said...

Well, I took the time to check out the link, Fr. And I second Jonathan's comments. What was that doing in there?

I don't have a problem with listening to other points of view. I don't even have a problem with synodical institutions giving these other points of view a platform. For example, I greatly appreciated attending Symposia at Ft. Wayne where Roman Catholics and Calvinists were regularly invited to present papers. These different points of view offered opportunity for debate, discussion, and perhaps facilitated the beginnings of rapproachment.

The first problem I had with what I saw in "The Parrish Paper" is that the article in question (Women Pastors) completely bypasses the theological question about women pastors and speaks from a purely pragmatic point of view. Will having a woman pastor cause membership to decrease? The “Bottom Line” tells us that we ought to consider if our application process contains a bias against women pastors, with it strongly implied that we should not. It also suggests that we ought not make unreasonable demands on our pastor, that we should not be unreasonably critical of our pastor, and that we should show acceptance for our pastor. All good things. But in the context of the article, this means that we should not unreasonably demand that our pastor be a man, that we should not be critical of a woman pastor, and that we should show acceptance for women pastors.

Secondly, and this goes back to Jonathan’s point: What was this doing in there? According to the mast head the parish paper is supposed to give “ideas and insights for active congregations.” So, in the absence of any explanation of this article we can only assume that the idea being promoted here is the acceptance of women in the ministry.

Please fill me in on just what role this Parish Paper plays in this district. Is it a publication of the district? Is it presented as “another viewpoint” kind of publication, or is this the district’s advice to its congregations?

Unknown said...

This apology from the NW DP is posted at
The brothers of John the steadfast.

I'll include the post in its entirety.
September 28, 2009
North Wisconsin DP Apologizes for Promoting Women’s Ordination
Over on the original post on this story BJS member and columnist Scott Diekmann shared the apology he received from North Wisconsin District President Hoelter for allowing a two page promotion of womens ordination to appear in his district monthly newsletter. Here is what Scott shared:

I contacted President Hoelter via email. Rather than try and parse his response I’m quoting it:

“The article in question in the October NORTHERN HERALD did indeed slip past me. I can lay the blame at the feet of our editor, but as President I bear the responsibility for what is printed and disseminated in the District. Neither the North Wisconsin District nor I approve of or condone the ordination of women to the pastoral Office. Our Synod has spoken clearly and forcefully on the issue and the North Wisconsin District supports the Synod’s position. Please accept my apology. I will be speaking with the pastors of the District at our Fall Conference that begins tomorrow.”

You can see the original post and Scott’s comment (# 14) here.


Jonathan said...

Whew! Good leader stepping up there to take the blame. But, as I said, the Ed.'s got some 'splainin to do. Putting the best construction, I'd conjecture it must have been mere fodder to meet a desired page requirement. Better check the supply source of the fodder, though.

Past Elder said...

Well, as little closer to home (mine) I get the parish newsletter from where we formally belong but rarely go now. I find out

1 - pastor is ecstatic as God has answered our prayers about how to be more mission minded with us being invited to be part of the pilot project for Church Revitalization, to be run by the District. This is compared to Star Trek, where as they were to explore and adventure we are to witness and adventure, and was presented as such in church complete with clip from movie.

2 - to help with foreseen reluctance between members and church leadership, there will be a parish wide seminar on Responding To Change Biblically. There was no subtitle "Getting Confessionals To Put A Sock In It And Go Along".

3 - in response to a report by a pastor consultant, the Voters' Meeting has approved hiring a new Director of Contemporary Music, and

4 - books by Bill Hybels and Phillip Yancey will now be used in Bible classes and for sermon series topics,

5 - the Friday Bible study is already using a book by Beth Moore.

Some other things in there weren't made so much of, like running a 66K deficit to date and making it by borrowing from the Building Fund since there ain't no building going on, no mention of the idea of designated and undesignated funds, nothing about Hybels' recent stuff saying maybe the earlier stuff isn't working as well as they thought, and membership stats show two individual transfers in and seven family transfers out.

But are we gonna get trained and equipped for mission in the 21st Century!

Rev. Jim Roemke said...

While I appreciate an honest and humble apology from the District President, it does concern me that he appeals to Synod's authority in opposing Women's Ordination and not Scripture's. I think it is always a red-flag when our pastors and other leaders appeal to Synod and not Scripture. It sets the stage to jettison Scripture when the time is right.