Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30056 times)

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12580
    • View Profile
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #375 on: November 30, 2010, 03:28:55 PM »
From Justin Martyr: "On the day which is dedicated to the sun, all those who live in the cities or who dwell in the countryside gather in a common meeting, and for as long as there is time the Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read.  Then, when the reader has finished, the president verbally gives a warning and appeal for the imitation of these good examples. (I, 67)"

Here there seems to be a distinction between the one reading from the "Memoirs of the Apostles" or the written prophets and the president of the assembly who preaches.

If one goes back to synagog practice, and much of the early Christian worship was similar to synagog, there was a long tradition of lay readers, even to the point of laymen going up for the reading who were illiterate so that someone else had to do the actual reading. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House Ltd., 1971), v. 15, p. 1247. It is of interest to note that the custom of having laymen read was maintained even after it was no longer practical for them to do the actual reading. See also Abraham Cronbach, "Worship in NT Times, Jewish," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, George Arthur Buttrick, ed., (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962) vol. 4, p. 902.)

There is also another interpretation possible of the 1 Timothy 4 passage encouraging Timothy to pay attention to the reading of Scripture.  Does Paul anywhere state that Timothy is in Ephesus as a parish pastor?  Another way to understand Timothy's position and the letter is that Timothy is there as Paul's representative to supervise the house churches of Ephesus and to correct error - much like a District President today.  In which case Timothy should pay particular attention to what was being read and taught in the churches - not that he speciafically needs to do it himself.  (See for example R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timo-thy, to Titus and to Philemon (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1937, 1961), pp. 473-484, 642-650.)  1 Timothy would then be similar in function to the Articles of Visitation drawn up by Luther, Melanchthon, and others.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Karl Hess

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #376 on: November 30, 2010, 05:24:21 PM »
And here is another quote from that C.F.W. Walther fellow:

"all adult, male members of the congregation have the right to participate actively in the discussions, votes, and decisions of the congregation since that is a right of the whole congregation.  See Matt 18:17-18; Acts 1:15,23-26;15:2,12-13,22-23; I Cor 5:2;6:2;10:15;15:7;II Cor 2:6-8; II Thess 3:15.  Excluded from the exercise of this right are the youth (I Pet 5:5) and the female members of the congregation (I Cor 14:34-35) { see also I tim 2:8-15}."
Pastoral Theology, p. 257

So I would find it odd that Walther who did not allow women to vote would turn around and allow them to read the OT and Epistle lessons.
 

Right, this is the quote I was referring to.  The LCMS suffers from blindness with regard to Walther's view in this area.  This is the Synodical Conference's teaching on orders of creation.  By and large, the LCMS today acts as if Walther never said these things, or as if this reading of 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim. 2 never existed.

grabau14

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #377 on: November 30, 2010, 05:35:07 PM »
Speaking of that Walther fellow, I am really looking forward to the CTS Symposium on Walther in January.  Just reserved my room at La Quinta. 

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #378 on: November 30, 2010, 05:35:18 PM »
Has anyone given thought to Wright's proposed analysis mentioned up above?  I'd like to hear that hashed out particularly by our Greek expert.  Scott???

ptmccain

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #379 on: November 30, 2010, 05:35:55 PM »
I'll ask it once more, in the hope maybe I might get a response.

But what is so important about having lay lectors? What does it serve to accomplish? What message does it communicate?

I'm not looking for defenses for having them, I'm looking for reasons why to have them to begin with.


Sandra

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 686
  • Baptizatus sum.
    • View Profile
    • Baptizatus Sum
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #380 on: November 30, 2010, 05:44:48 PM »
A couple of the reasons for lay lectors that has been given, it is another way for lay people to actively participate in the worship service rather than being simply passive spectators.

I think passive reception (not spectators) in the Divine Service is a beautiful confession of our faith. We are there to be served by God. Faith is receiving gifts from God. Why would any layman want to stop receiving if it's not absolutely necessary?

That someone is not participating actively with their mind/spirit apart from participating in the "leadership" of the service sounds like a personal problem.
Sandra (Ostapowich) Madden
sandramadden1119@gmail.com

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #381 on: November 30, 2010, 05:45:39 PM »
I think you were given one reason:  some laity read exceedingly well, sometimes better than the pastors, and having them serve as readers allows them to edify the congregation by their gift.  I don't buy that this is the same as asking a woman who may deliver a better sermon to write and deliver one, for we do have Scripture that forbids the public "speaking" (authoritative teaching) of women.  Their place on the Bema, as Chrysostom said.  

Certainly the current practice arose in our circles under influence from the Roman reforms which sought to bring about "full, active, conscious" participation in the liturgy on the part of the laity.  Liturgy as work of the people (yes, I know that is quite the misunderstanding of liturgy).  Yet, as I've pointed out before, Lutherans frequently used lay readers (young boys) at Matins and Vespers, the pastor sitting and listening to the reading and then proceeding to deliver a homily.  The Church Orders bear abundant witness to this.  However, nowhere do the Church Orders envision other than an ordained pastor reading the Scripture lessons at the Divine Service.  That is not to say that they forbid this; simply that it is not on the table for them.  

Other reasons for the laity doing so?  Perhaps a practical one:  it is many times easier to pay attention if one is listening to more than one voice.

My own preference would be to see the Office of Reader restored if we are going to have others than the pastor read, and that those who are set into this office are trained, recognized as in an auxiliary office, and suitably vested.  Whether or not this includes women is something that the Synod will no doubt come to terms with as the Koinonia Project is undertaken.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12580
    • View Profile
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #382 on: November 30, 2010, 06:05:32 PM »
Pr. McCain, why do it?  Some of our people want to participate in the worship service in this way.  It provides another opportunity for people to be involved in the regular activity of the church in a visible, responsible way.  It encourages people to see worship not just as a spectator thing (something that I think may be a weakness of Contemporary Worship - you have the "praise band" and the "worship team" up front putting on the worship show with the audience congregation occasionally clapping or singing along la the old Mitch Miller shows) but as something that they are involved with, even coming up from the congregation to do their part.  It provides another entry point for people to become more personally involved in the work of the church.

A counter question.  If you do not agree that any of these are valid reasons to initiate the practice, does that mean that nobody should?

Pr. Weedon, in considering the Church Orders, what do you make of Justin Martyr apparently mentioning someone other than the presider reading lessons?

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

John_Hannah

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5366
    • View Profile
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #383 on: November 30, 2010, 06:15:41 PM »

For a discussion of 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospels and Acts, I refer folks to this interesting paper by Bishop Tom Wright (NT Wright), bishop of Durham (UK) http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

When I read this, I found it sound and thought-provoking.




Bishop N.T. Wright is always thoughtful, studied, careful, orthodox, and compelling. This article is typical of his prodigious work.

It is interesting for us that he does not consider those churches (like the LCMS) heretical for declining to ordain women as presbyters or bishops even though he finds no New Testament evidence prohibiting ordination.

With such an outstanding orthodox Christian leader believing that there is no prohibition, I am inclined to assert that the ordination of women is not in itself heretical.

We in the LCMS might "cool it" a bit, don't you think? (That does not mean that I am advocating that we must. Only that those churches which do are not evil.)


Peace, JOHN

Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #384 on: November 30, 2010, 06:21:49 PM »
Pr. Fienen,

I wish we had more information from those days!  Justin is fascinating and yet leaves some important questions unanswered.  Clearly the reader is not the president - the episcopus.  But is the reader a presbyter? a deacon? Or is it a continuation of the Jewish tradition of laity reading?  I'm not sure that we can arrive at an answer based on the documents we have.  My guess is that the reader is at bare minimum literally a reader - a person set into that office, and most likely entrusted with safe-guarding the precious copies of the Scriptures.  When the government attacked the Church they liked to demand the handing over of the books for burning, I believe.  I am not inclined to believe it was a continuation of the Jewish practice, though I may be quite wrong.

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12580
    • View Profile
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #385 on: November 30, 2010, 06:29:25 PM »
At the very least it makes it hard to dogmatically maintain the lay lectors was unthinkable before the 20th century.

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #386 on: November 30, 2010, 06:31:47 PM »
Well, yes.  And we know for certain that Lutherans regularly employed lay readers for the prayer offices in the 16-18th centuries.

ptmccain

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #387 on: November 30, 2010, 06:33:31 PM »
John,

Unless you are willing to treat doctrine and practice as atomistic things which can be separated, the ordination of women befits a heretical understanding of the doctrines of Christ, Church and Ministry. Why are we so afraid to say that which is simply true?

It's a true "deal breaker" on any question of unity in the visible Body of Christ. Rome understands this, wonder why it is so difficult for some Lutherans to understand this?

PTM

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12445
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #388 on: November 30, 2010, 07:08:09 PM »
Well, I thought the little Baptist girl knocked it out of the park.

Dave Benke

pr dtp

  • Guest
Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #389 on: November 30, 2010, 07:09:17 PM »

For a discussion of 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and the Gospels and Acts, I refer folks to this interesting paper by Bishop Tom Wright (NT Wright), bishop of Durham (UK) http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

When I read this, I found it sound and thought-provoking.



Bishop N.T. Wright is always thoughtful, studied, careful, orthodox, and compelling. This article is typical of his prodigious work.

It is interesting for us that he does not consider those churches (like the LCMS) heretical for declining to ordain women as presbyters or bishops even though he finds no New Testament evidence prohibiting ordination.

With such an outstanding orthodox Christian leader believing that there is no prohibition, I am inclined to assert that the ordination of women is not in itself heretical.

We in the LCMS might "cool it" a bit, don't you think? (That does not mean that I am advocating that we must. Only that those churches which do are not evil.)


Peace, JOHN



John, I would suggest that this is equivelant to the good kings who allowed worship of YHWH in the hills, but stopped short of worshipping Ba'al or Asherah.

It is not "kosher" and it leads to confusion, definitely heterodox, and closes on the border of crossing over into heresy.  The question begs then - what do we do with those whose practices are heterodox?