The German Evangelical webpage featured an article that outlined the regret among various Lutheran leaders when Latvian Lutherans voted to abolish women’s ordination.
There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about that, of course. The mainstream churches of Europe have so deeply sunk into secularism and theological liberalism that true Christianity now resides in exceptional pockets. It is no longer the norm. One needs to go as far afield as Africa or Asia to find mainstream churches that faithfully retain their deposit of orthodoxy.
What is instructive about this article, however, are the arguments made by supporters of women’s ordination. Their arguments bear the unmistakable imprint of secular reasoning. It is a powerful indication that feminist philosophy has deeply infiltrated the Lutheran World Federation, (not that there was ever much doubt about that).
The Presiding Bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD), Gerhard Ulrich said that “there could be no spiritual difference between a man and woman for Lutherans in the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)”.
Note the terms employed to make the case. Here is a classic illustration of the logic typically employed within the radical egalitarian movement. To dissolve distinctions between groups, they will often select a single characteristic that is equally shared by both groups, and then proceed to imply that all other characteristics are also shared. It is a classic example of the faulty reasoning that insists that the exception establishes the rule for cases not excepted.
Orthodox Christians would, of course, agree that there is no spiritual difference between a man and a woman in the sense of spiritual merit or value. But according to the Presiding Bishop, since there is no spiritual difference between men and women, all the other actual differences in ability, physiology, and temperament can be ignored or glossed over.
Note well the utter absence of scriptural principles in what the Presiding Bishop said. The scriptures provide us with a rich body of material from which to draw our understanding of the roles that men and women are to occupy within the Church. And God’s word – not secular philosophy or feminist politics – should be the starting point for any consideration, especially if we are desirous of reverencing and honouring our God.
For the Church is not ours, but God’s. It is His kingdom, under His dominion and called according to His purpose. God intends His Church to constitute a new human race, with Christ the Second Adam as its progenitor. It is intended to be governed by the Law of Christ and the Word of God unlike the human society outside of its boundaries which is “lawless” and “does not obey” God’s truth. And that truth is meant to be the bedrock and fortress of the Church, part of which is the unavoidable instruction that God created men and women for separate spheres. Men were created to lead their families, their communities, and their churches. That is both the burden and the duty of men, who are equipped physiologically and temperamentally for the stress and pressure of leading, building up, and serving as servant-leaders.
Feminist inversion of God’s order is only possible in an age of luxury and ease – of such amazing prosperity that entire nations can operate on the basis of transparent fictions and denials of obvious scriptural truths. But, there is a limit to this self-delusion. For tomorrow, hypothetically, if the power cut out; and the machinery stopped working; and the prosperity dried up; and danger and difficulty surrounded us, who doubts that the normative gender roles that are being progressively whittled away in our society would not immediately reassert themselves? Most assuredly they would.
Later in the same article, an even more astounding argument is made, this time by Susanne Kahl-Passoth, the chairman of a Protestant women’s organisation. She says:
“We are shocked by this decision, which in our view is theologically untenable,” said the chairman Susanne Kahl-Passoth speaking in Hannover. The umbrella organisation she leads includes 38 member organisations, with around three million members in total.
The Association of Evangelical Women stressed that the priesthood of all the baptised is the core of the Reformation message.
Surely the “core” of the Reformation message – first and foremost, before any other consideration – is the imperative to glorify God and His Son through obedience and fidelity to his word. Christ is the “core” of the Reformation message, and the gospel of redemptive grace. (“For I purposed to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified“).
Yet here is a female leader of a Protestant women’s organisation essentially redefining the Reformation message into a form of radical egalitarianism clothed in wispy theological language. In doing so, however, she demonstrates no understanding of the content or meaning of the doctrine to which she appeals.
The “priesthood of all believers” is truly a valuable doctrine. But it refers not to admission of women to ministry – or indeed, anyone to ministry – but rather the complete opposite!
It is a doctrine that speaks of the equal and free access to God that all the redeemed enjoy, without the need for earthly mediators or ecclesiastics to intercede on their behalf. It is a glorious affirmation of the truth that there is “one mediator between man and God“, which is Christ Jesus. It is, indeed, a more glorious reality than even the calling to preach, for preaching is the means of bringing people into this glorious reality, and is not an ultimate purpose in itself.
Furthermore, no doctrine – even a true and proper one – can be used to justify overturning parts of scripture merely because they are politically inconvenient. Doctrine works in harmony and agreement with scripture, or it is not true doctrine at all.
We may fairly conclude based on these reported comments, therefore, that the chairwoman of this organisation is greatly confused. She is confused about the doctrine she appeals to justify a radical egalitarian agenda. She is confused about the purpose of preaching which is intended to bring people into the priesthood of all believers, rather than it being the other way about (i.e. the priesthood of all believers somehow granting all people the equal rights to participate in the ministry of preaching).
In fact, Martin Luther makes this distinction quite clear in the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (which, ironically, the chairwoman of this Protestant organisation appears to have never read):
How then if they are forced to admit that we are all equally priests, as many of us as are baptised, and by this way we truly are; while to them is committed only the Ministry (ministerium Predigtamt) and consented to by us (nostro consensu)? If they recognise this they would know that they have no right to exercise power over us (ius imperii, in what has not been committed to them) except insofar as we may have granted it to them, for thus it says in 1 Peter 2, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a priestly kingdom.”
In this way we are all priests, as many of us as are Christians. There are indeed priests whom we call ministers. They are chosen from among us, and who do everything in our name. That is a priesthood which is nothing else than the Ministry. Thus 1 Corinthians 4:1: “No one should regard us as anything else than ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God.“
Here, Luther refers to the priesthood of all believers in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic conception of the priesthood. Indeed, he does this in order to explicitly overturn the Roman Catholic claims that the priesthood represents a distinct class of spiritually elite people who have powers and abilities beyond that of others, including the right of intercession and mediation between God and his people.
Consistent with the words of the Apostle Peter, Luther explains that all true Christian people are also spiritual priests and through prayer are able to directly, freely and boldly approach the God of heaven through his Son Jesus Christ. This is a marvellous grace, a mind-boggling joy, a radiant privilege won by Christ’s suffering on Calvary.
It is heart-wrenching that this is not something celebrated by these liberal para-organisations that hover around the diseased mainstream formerly-Protestant denominations like flies around a sick man in the desert. These groups are obsessed with importing secular and cultural standards into the church, which they seem to see as a victory and mission within its own right.
Yet, at the same time, it is clear they do not really understand or love the teachings of God’s word, which can only be rightly understood by those who are enlightened by the Holy Spirit. They do not seek for Christ, and him crucified, and neither do they love his message or otherwise they would not seek to subvert it. If they really saw the wonder of Christ, they would not be so bizarrely preoccupied with dry irrelevance.
I’ve often said it: “If you do not like the words of Christ, maybe it’s time to be honest and just admit that you do not like Him.”