The LCMS response to the ELCA sexuality report (March `05) is crucial for our church’s credibility and for her mission to the world. One can only commend the President of Synod and those around him who, in our name, are resisting the apostasy that some are tempting the ELCA to embrace.
However, the clarity of our witness on this issue is to some extent compromised by the claim that “the more fundamental question” on such a question is the authority of Scripture “as God’s inspired and inerrant Word.” It is methodologically mistaken to make discussion on the question of homosexual and lesbian behavior and “marriage” into an issue of Biblical authority (the issue of ordination is different). This question is not one raised only by the Bible, nor is it a question to be addressed only by those who believe the Scriptures to be God’s Word.
The President and his advisers would do well to recall and use the language of the Praesidium’s report to the last convention: “This estate of marriage between a man and a woman has been the universal experience of humankind from its beginning, has been upheld by all religions and societies as an expression of universal, natural law and is given inspired witness by the Holy Spirit in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, most especially in words from the mouth of the Lord Himself (Matt. 19:4-6).” The argument from the orders of creation is fundamental to a meaningful response to the homosexual claims.
This neglect of the orders-of-creation argument is of interest in view of the exchange between Prof. James Voelz and Dr. Samuel Nafzger (“Letters to the Editor,” April `05) on whether the 1994 CTCR report on women’s service and 2004 Res. 3-08A [the basis for the CTCR’s 2005 “Guidelines for the Service of Women in Congregational Offices”] made use of the orders-of-creation perspective.
Voelz repeats the minority opinion (of which I was a member) that “the notion of creation order in no way informs the argument of the 1994 Report, 2004 Res. 3-08A, or the Guidelines.” For his part, Nafzger repeats the majority opinion that the orders-of-creation principle is “in fact the ‘guiding concept’ which informs this entire report and its argumentation.”
It remains the claim of the minority — which Voelz reiterated, as I do now — that the orders of creation as a “guiding concept” in the 1994 CTCR report, 2004 Res. 3-08A, and the Guidelines are, in fact, nowhere discernible. Unless it is the intent of Dr. Nafzger to claim a certain Olympian authority, it is in fact necessary for him, or for someone, actually to identify those passages where the orders of creation are indeed functioning as “the guiding concept” and how they are doing so. In the absence of that outstanding clarification, the claim of the minority remains unanswered.
Dr. William C. Weinrich
Professor of Early Church History
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Ind.
It’s not a job …
For 40 years, I had the privilege of serving The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod as a called teacher and principal. It was always an awesome honor and responsibility
to serve the Lord as a church worker to the best of my ability.
Many times the Lord “knocked on my door” with a telephone call late at night saying that a congregation I had never heard of had called me to be principal. Then would ensue the difficult struggle of trying to determine whether the Holy Spirit wanted me to accept that call. I had to evaluate prayerfully where I could best serve the Lord.
Now I read in Reporter (“LEA offers Web page for those seeking, offering jobs,” April `05) that instead of receiving late-night calls from unknown congregations, LCMS educators can put their qualifications on an Internet site that serves more or less as an employment agency. Congregations can put their own needs on the site as well.
No wonder the office of the Lutheran teacher is declining in respect and is no longer considered by many to be a “calling.” The Reporter headline now officially calls it a “job.”
It’s worth remembering that there is a difference between being a Lutheran teacher and teaching in a Lutheran school.
Richard L. Wenz
Ready for anything
I read with interest the article in Reporter on LCMS leaders developing the Synod’s first-ever disaster-response plan (Feb. `05). On the heels of the great tsunami of last Christmas, President Kieschnick was wise to convene the leaders of major LCMS ministries to ensure that “we all are pointing in the same direction and working together the next time disaster strikes.”
Let me suggest another resource to use in formulating a master disaster-response plan: the many communities and large and small hospitals with such plans already in place. I participated in such a plan several years ago as Clinical Pastoral Education chaplain at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind. There, the plan is activated periodically as a “rehearsal” and to “iron out the kinks” before a real crisis-response is needed. I imagine there are many willing LCMS workers with chaplaincy training and experience who would be happy to serve as needed. Blessings on this work!
Deaconess Mary Ann Hibbard
Trinity Lutheran Church
Posted April 29, 2005