Author Topic: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience  (Read 9977 times)

Dan Fienen

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2010, 11:12:11 AM »
I would take this as an example of the care that should be taken any time we dare speak for God.  Especially in the Old Testament, but also in the New, God makes abundantly clear what He thinks of those who would speak for Him but then speak their own words, putting in God's mouth words and ideas that are not His.  On the other hand, God also makes clear what He thinks of those He commissions to speak for Him who fail to do so.  Those who have been granted (burdened with?) the prophet's mantle - the preaching and teaching office - have no easy or safe way out.  Not speaking what God has given us to speak, Law and Gospel, is dereliction of duty with which God is not pleased.  But to speak, "Thus saith the Lord," what He has not saith - going beyond God's Word to command what He has not commended or to forbid what He has not forbidden, to allow what He does not allow - is to be a false prophet and betrays His trust and our office.

So when we speak as individual preachers/teachers or as a church we need to be very clear.  Where the Bible is clear we need to clearly state what God has said through it.  Where it is not so clear we still need to report what God has said, and also what we conclude from that but also clearly differentiating between the two.  

To use the example of this thread.  Missouri Synod has stated her understanding of what God says concerning the qualifications for the pastoral office - one of which is that candidates need to be male.  (Let us leave aside for the moment that some within Missouri and many without would disagree - that is an argument for another time.)  For the purposes of this discussion we will take that as a given.  Females are not to be in the pastoral office or to take for themselves the distinctive duties of that office.  

Where then does that leave Communion Assistants?  First it needs to be recognized that the New Testament does not say anything about Communion Assistants.  Nor does it explicitly state that only ordained clergy may distribute the elements at Communion.    Because of that lack of a clear Word about Communion Assistants, we as a church body have concluded that we do not have a diffinitive, "Thus saith the Lord," concerning this.  We do, however, have opinions.  (As a general rule, in the Missouri Synod where X is the number of people giving opinions, the number of opinions expressed will be at least X + 1 or more.)  We have, in convention, decided that while female assistants are not explicitly forbidden they should probably be avoided to  to avoid confusion, especially for those who see those who are with the pastor to distribute the elements sharing is a bit of the pastoral office.  Correct me if I am wrong, but if a parish  chose for themselves to have female assistants they would not be breaking our covenant to walk together, but they could be skating near the edge.  And for the sake of good order and since it is our collective opinion that having only male assistants is generally speaking the wiser move, it is appropriate to refrain from doing so at a mass event like the Youth Gathering.

So what can we say when a member of our church attends a sister congregation that does not spperate by the rules we have adopted but does things that we have decided are not good but are within the realm of what Missouri Synod has deemed acceptable.  It could be female Communion Assistants, or female lectors or others.  What we can say is to restate the general princple that we have from the Bible and the Confessions that we are all sworn to uppold, and say that it is the opinion of this pastor or this congregation that the rules we have made are the best way for us to upold those rules.  The other pastor and congregation disagrees, and applies the rules differe tly in their situation.  We may think them wrong, but we do not have a clear Word of God that they are wrong.  Here we could also start applying the passages from 1 Corinthians and Romans concerning meat sacrificed to idols and repecting the conscience of the weaker brother.  Also that we have such respect for God's Word that we are hesitant to speak for God where He has not clearly spoken, those we do give our considered opinion of has God's Word should be applied to that.

We must always approach our duty to speak God's Word in our Pastoral Office with humility.  It is God's Word we are called to speak, not our own, no matter haow clear it seems to me that I know what God would say if He hasd directly addressed this concern.  We need to distinquish between the two, God's Word and our opinion.  That does not mean that we think we are wrong, but not quite the same authority.

Now how this relates to the correspondance between the LCMS "suggestion" that only males assist with distribution of the elements at the Youth Gathering and the ELCA 'bound conscience" I have no opinon.

Dan
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peter_speckhard

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2010, 11:15:58 AM »
John, the ecumenical aspect of the relationship between the respective policies and historic, worldwide practice is one I did not go into, but it is indeed something that ought to be added to the mix when these things get resolved.

But I do agree with Scott's point that the two cases are not exactly similar. The official explanation of the policy in the LCMS takes a side and explicitly labels the issue adiaphora. The ELCA position explicity leaves open the question of whether it is adiaphora or not but then treats it as such anyway. But it is true that within both churches there are groups of pastors whose teaching would be mutually-exclusive, which is an untenable position. As Scott points out, the LCMS has a coherent vehicle to address that sitation while the ELCA, as of yet, does not.

John_Hannah

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2010, 12:10:20 PM »

"publicly accountable, life-long, monogamous relationship."
 

..."marriage" in another language.

Future lexicons might attribute it to our similarity with German or they may speculate that Germans had a major influence on the develpment of the new word or they may find that growing (pseudo-)sophistication replaced the simpler word.

Then again, it may fail to enter the mainstream of English language.

Peace, JOHN HANNAH
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Scott6

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2010, 12:11:39 PM »
(Is not "bound conscience" simply a variation of the classic Lutheran principle of "adiaphora?" --a question for another day)

No.

Adiaphora are explicitly held to be those things neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as adiaphora is to take a stand re: the issue at hand.  It allows for the mediation of disagreements.

The "bound conscience" theologoumenon as explicated by the sexuality statement says nothing regarding whether or not something is commanded or forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as a matter of the ELCA's "bound conscience" is to take no stand on the issue at hand.  It presupposes and fosters irremediable disagreements.

The two are quite different both in terms of content and function.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2010, 12:14:31 PM by Scott Yakimow »

John_Hannah

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2010, 12:22:32 PM »
(Is not "bound conscience" simply a variation of the classic Lutheran principle of "adiaphora?" --a question for another day)

No.

Adiaphora are explicitly held to be those things neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as adiaphora is to take a stand re: the issue at hand.  It allows for the mediation of disagreements.

The "bound conscience" theologoumenon as explicated by the sexuality statement says nothing regarding whether or not something is commanded or forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as a matter of the ELCA's "bound conscience" is to take no stand on the issue at hand.  It presupposes and fosters irremediable disagreements.

The two are quite different both in terms of content and function.

I didn't say that I agreed with it. (I don't.) I think that the scheme of "bound conscience" is an attempt to place same sex marriage into the category of "adiaphora" because it is a long standing Lutheran construct. Many Lutherans are not likely to agree.

Peace, JOHN HANNAH



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Scott6

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2010, 12:35:19 PM »
(Is not "bound conscience" simply a variation of the classic Lutheran principle of "adiaphora?" --a question for another day)

No.

Adiaphora are explicitly held to be those things neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as adiaphora is to take a stand re: the issue at hand.  It allows for the mediation of disagreements.

The "bound conscience" theologoumenon as explicated by the sexuality statement says nothing regarding whether or not something is commanded or forbidden by Scripture.  To hold something as a matter of the ELCA's "bound conscience" is to take no stand on the issue at hand.  It presupposes and fosters irremediable disagreements.

The two are quite different both in terms of content and function.

I didn't say that I agreed with it. (I don't.) I think that the scheme of "bound conscience" is an attempt to place same sex marriage into the category of "adiaphora" because it is a long standing Lutheran construct. Many Lutherans are not likely to agree.

Peace, JOHN HANNAH

I didn't think you did agree with it.

But I am concerned to post on the issue because the "bound conscience" is, like you say, an attempt to adopt a long-standing Lutheran (and Pauline) construct.  In that way, it is highly deceptive.

So I want to be quite clear about how it differs from previous Lutheran and Pauline approaches, and differ it does -- in both content and function (what other more important ways could something be said to differ?).  About the only way it is similar is in the words "bound conscience," and hence the deception.

mariemeyer

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2010, 10:01:30 AM »
Bound Conscience, LCMS style calls attention to how LCMS consciences are bound to conflicting interpretations of what it means for a woman to serve in a leadership role in worship. 

The directive that only male assistants are to distribute the elements at the Youth Gathering poses the question, “Whose conscience does not allow them to receive the elements from a woman and why?”  The same question was asked forty years ago when the synod determined that Scripture did not expressly forbid woman suffrage.  At that time it was determined that if the consciences of men in any given congregation did not allow them to submit to a vote cast by a woman, men in that congregation did not have to grant women suffrage. IOW, even after the synod concluded Scripture did not prohibit women from voting, men remained conscience bound to the idea that God did not permit men in the church to be under the authority of women.

The same pattern was repeated each time the synod allowed women to serve in a way previously denied.  If the consciences of men was bound to what was previously defined as a violation of the order of creation and male spiritual authority, the consciences of those men was to be respected.  Thus if a man’s conscience was bound to the idea that God did not permit him to be taught in an adult Bible class by a woman,  a woman ought not teach an adult Bible Class in his congregation.  If the conscience of a pastor was bound to the idea that God did not allow him to work with a woman congregational president, then that congregation ought not to elect a woman.

If one reads resolutions and guidelines for the service of women, the synod seems to say that any service in the church open to laymen ought to also be open to laywomen. However, and it is the critical line in the sand, if the service of  a woman offends the consciences of men bound to their understanding of what it means for a man to be under the spiritual authority of a woman,  then women ought not serve in that capacity.

Noticeably absent in LCMS literature is any reference to the consciences of women.  Are they to be considered?  To what is the conscience of LCMS woman bound?

Marie Meyer

Dave Benke

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2010, 02:23:27 PM »
Been a bit busy lately, so catching up.  First, Scott is basically correct in my opinion in stating that the difference is that in the Missouri Synod the conversation about what scripturally and confessionally might bind a conscience can be had denominationally.  That's a good thing. 

However, it becomes a not-so-good thing because the point of view that is the most Flacian, that is the most gnesio-Lutheran, usually becomes the strong point of view, so that argumentation on the hyper-strong issue goes toward perception or confusion (the woman at the altar as lector or communion assistant, or for some/many, the girl acolyte, or for others, the woman ushering) could be perceived as taking on the distinctive functions of the pastoral office or confusing people by being there or becoming self-confused by thinking they're something they're not.  All of these are to me under normal circumstance bogus.  No one perceives or is confused by or is self-confused by lighting candles or serving at the altar under pastoral supervision or watching someone else do the same. 

But - in our inside-out world the strong are treated as the weak, and are given the benefit of that status so that we don't offend them by having women as lectors or altar assistants, or girls as acolytes or women even as ushers.  All of them lay functions.  All of them under the auspices of the pastoral office.  All of them diaconal service. 

Marie's point as I take it is that women are not thought of as sufficiently part of the body to be offended.  That's sad.

Dave Benke

Karl Hess

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2010, 02:35:09 PM »
I appreciate Pastor Fienen's post.  It should be common sense for pastors, but it deserves repeating.  I need to be reminded not to confuse my opinions with God's Word.  

However, I disagree that there is no clear word from God about women serving at the altar or the lectern.  I think our synodical fathers would have agreed--not that they can't be in error.  

What concerns me about the church politics of this is not so much that the synod clearly opts in favor of a certain side in the controversies we have.  It does that continually, not just at the youth gathering (which hundreds of congregations in the LCMS avoid for just that reason.)  What concerns me is that it is much easier to imagine a pastor who publicly condemns the LCMS opinion on this, or the Youth Gathering's action, being disciplined by an ecclesiastical supervisor, while the endemic flouting of the LCMS teaching on close communiion merits zero response.

mariemeyer

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2010, 05:10:39 PM »
"Marie's point as I take it is that women are not thought of as sufficiently part of the body to be offended.  That's sad."

Dave Benke

It's not really a matter of women being offended, at least not women of my age.  It's about how the conscience of many LCMS men is bound to the idea that God forbids men to place themselves under the authority of the Word spoken by a woman or the authoritative presence of Christ in the elements if they are received from the hand of a woman. 

Currently, the primary reason given for women not distirbuting the elements is that people might be confused about the pastoral office.  When you think about it, that offends the intelligence of LCMS men.

Marie Meyer





Charles_Austin

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2010, 05:23:34 PM »
Marie Meyer writes:
Currently, the primary reason given for women not distirbuting the elements is that people might be confused about the pastoral office.  When you think about it, that offends the intelligence of LCMS men.

I gotta say:
 ;D ;D ;D ;D and  ;D

Dave Benke

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2010, 05:38:28 PM »
I"m assuming, Mike, and I may be wrong, that you're implying that a layperson (woman or man) distributing the Sacrament is in a position to "provide or deny the forgiveness of sin."  Brunner and others have taken care to provide historical background for the position of the Pastor in the administration of the Eucharist.  The Pastor is to distribute the Host. 

Those whom the Pastor refuses to commune are denied admission by the pastor.  Those whom the Pastor admits are given the Cup by the assisting ministers, who may be laity.  To describe those lay assistants who act only after the pastor has granted admission as "providing or denying the forgiveness of sin" is incorrect.  They are acting under the authority of and after the determination of the pastor.

Dave Benke

Dave Benke

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2010, 05:40:21 PM »
Let me ask another question, Mike - would emergency baptism administered by a woman be invalid, in your opinion, since she would be, even in emergency, "providing forgiveness of sins" to (let's say) a baby, even her baby?

Dave Benke

peter_speckhard

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2010, 07:25:40 PM »
As Dave Benke has stated elsewhere, where people are confident and secure in male-only pastorate, women assisting is no big deal. But where there is a sense that the practice is in question, anything that encroaches on it seems suspect to the defenders of it. If this is true, and I suspect it is, then the best way to gain acceptance of such practices as women assisting with communion would be for those same women and the churches where they serve to come out strongly against women's ordination, not just not promoting women's ordination but actively opposing it. If a group of women with a record of objecting to women pastors and making statements and writing articles opposed to the practice assisted with communion, then after a little while very few people, even arch-conservatives, would object, especially if the churches where they served were similarly clear on the matter. But to my knowledge that is not the case in the LCMS.
 

Dave Benke

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Re: 4-10 LCMS Bound Conscience
« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2010, 08:33:04 PM »
I will ask the women who assist me about that, Peter.  Knowing them, they do not desire the pastoral office.  They desire to keep doing what they're doing, which is serving under the pastoral office in lay capacity in ministries of mercy and visitation, teaching and catechesis, youth and evangelism, and on the altar in various assisting roles in the Divine Service alongside other pastors, and their male colleagues who are elders or deacons. 

Mostly, they'll know from the get-go that this is something not for us in any way, since again zero people have concerns in this area.  And it's not so much for the wider church in the Atlantic District either, since half of our district commissioned deacons are women and women serve under pastoral auspices at the parishes in our circuit. 

So they'll know it's for the wider Missouri Synod.  I'll let you know what they think and say, and whether they believe in any way your conclusion that if they were to write a letter saying "we're women who serve in every available lay capacity in the Missouri Synod and we're not in favor of women's ordination" then the issue would be solved in the Missouri Synod.

Dave Benke