Some Cases of Conscience on Lutheran Church Government!

Started by Juan Jeanniton, May 11, 2021, 01:45:32 PM

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Brian Stoffregen

A National Geography site on Democracy (ancient Greek) contains this paragraph.

The first known democracy in the world was in Athens. Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century B.C.E. The Greek idea of democracy was different from present-day democracy because, in Athens, all adult citizens were required to take an active part in the government. If they did not fulfill their duty they would be fined and sometimes marked with red paint. The Athenian definition of "citizens" was also different from modern-day citizens: only free men were considered citizens in Athens. Women, children, and slaves were not considered citizens and therefore could not vote.

I don't know about other congregations, but we have nearly always made all confirmed members of the congregation were also voting members. (I'd never thought about throwing red paint on the members who didn't show up at the meetings to vote; or charging them a fine. :) )
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Juan Jeanniton

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 16, 2021, 01:09:40 PMWomen (namely, my mother) have been voting in old and new ALC congregation as long as I can remember, and I'm 71-years old. I don't have any official documents of the old ALC which disappeared in 1960 when "The [new] ALC" was created.

The Constitution of the ALC (the 1960 version) has no restrictions as to membership nor the right to vote. In fact, it includes this article: "6.34. Individuals, clergy and lay, shall not be denied membership in a constituent congregation, nor shall this Church place restrictions on or deny rights to persons, because of race, color, national origin, or sex."

In regards to some other discussions in this forum, it also includes: "6.33. The status of the clergy differs from that of the laity only as to function."
I have finally brought up the question of women voting in any local congregation of a Lutheran Church for the following reason: In the the first several centuries of Lutheran church history in America, more often than not, women as well as children would have been denied the right to vote in congregational Voter Assemblies; and here is the syllogism, in the form of Celarent that illustrates the rationale of this exclusion.

Major Premise (Ce): No act of exercising ecclesiastical authority is lawful for women to practice. (No As are Bs.)

Minor Premise (La): But every act of voting in the Voter Assembly of a local congregation is an act of ecclesiastical authority. (But all Cs are As.)

Ergo (Rent): No act of voting in the Voter Assembly of a local congregation is lawful for women to practice. (Ergo, no Cs are Bs.) No female is eligible to vote in the Voter Assembly of a local congregation. (No Bs are Cs.)

Now, the Major premise is the plain and ordinary face-value meaning of 1 Corinthians 14:34c (which states: "but they [women] are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law", quoting Genesis 3:16) and 1 Timothy 2:11-13. But the minor premise was the historical official teaching of C F W Walther and the old German Missouri Synod, and it is also taught by the WELS and CLC even today. But there is also one historical figure who held to the minor premise, and his name is Cardinal Bellarmine!

Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the great champions of Papism (i.e. so-called "tridentine rite latin-only mass roman catholicism" as defined by the Council of Trent in 1558), and in opposition to the Protestant Reformation, asserted that 'Eligere pastores ad gubernationem et regimen pertinere certissimum est, non igitur populo convenit pastores eligere' (Cardinal Bellarmine, de Clericis, c. vii., tom. II., p. 981)! In English: To elect pastors is certainly a prerogative appertaining to rule and government, therefore it does not befit the people to elect their own pastor! Cardinal Bellarmine (or rather Apostate Anticardinal HELLarmine) asserts the same principle as does the Minor Premise. All that C F W Walther (and all those opposed to granting women the right the vote in congregational meetings) did was make the same assertion Cardinal Bellarmine made against the Protestant Reformation, and apply it for the purpose of restricting the congregational vote to adult males, but I say this strategy of theirs is unjustifiable. William Ames, a Presbyterian, along with the Presbyterian theologians of that time, REJECTED the minor premise by saying: "Electio quamvis pertinent ad gubernationem et regimen constituendum, non tamen est actus regiminis aut gubernationis."—(Bellarminus Enervatus, tom. II., lib. III., p. 94.) In English: An election, however much it may relate to setting up people to govern and rule, is not after all, itself an act of governing and ruling.

According to Strictures on the Rev. Jas. Robertson's Observations on the Veto Act, pp. 23, 24. Edinburgh; 1840, the Independentists/Brownists/Barrowists (i.e. the 16th century English forerunners of the New England Congregationalists!) affirmed the Minor Premise for the same reason: The Presbyterian Church believes, teaches, and confesses that ministers ought to be settled upon the choice, or with the consent, of the people. But this implies that the people have some share in the government of the Church, and, therefore, the Presbyterian doctrine, which excludes them from government, must be false. The most competent and irreproachable among the Presbyterian theologians met this argument not by denying that "ministers ought to be settled upon the choice, or with the consent, of the people", but by DENYING that the act of voting for candidates to be called and ordained to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments constitutes a share in the government of the Church. See also Gillespie's Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, pp. 116 and 117; Baillie's Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time, part. ix., pp. 194 and 195; Wood's Refutation of Lockier, part II., pp. 214 and 244. But I did not come here to place emphasis on Presbyterian, but Lutheran historical sources.

In the year 1898, a Lutheran theologian, named Theodore E. Schmauk, rightfully said about the right to vote in church or state on Pages 522 - 524 of the Lutheran Review, Volume 18:
QuoteA right to vote is not identical with the right to headship or the right to rule. Both the American President and the American citizen have a right to vote, but not both of them have the right to rule. A vote is a formal expression of will or opinion or preference in regard to some question submitted to decision, on the part of a single individual. It is an expression on a submitted question. The voter does not decide what question is to be submitted, nor does he rule during or after its submission, nor does he as an individual rule any more fully after his vote than he did before. The man who has voted for an officer is as fully under the headship of that officer as the man who has voted against him. And to say that a woman should never have the right to exercise any choice of the officer who is to be her head is to say that a woman has not the right of exercising any choice as to the one who is lo be her husband. Is this New Testament teaching? This is barbarism of the worst sort. No voter in his individuality and as a unit is a ruler; and even in their collective capacity the voters in an organization are only sub-rulers. They are under a multitude of constitutional, legal and traditional provisions that come down from above. This is particularly true in a Christian congregation, where neither doctrine, mode of organization, mode of worship, or in large part discipline are matters of franchise. Great confusion on this and all questions of Church government in our land arises when we do not see that a voter is not a magistrate. He does not bear the sword. The power of the franchise is not the power of the office. All men have the one. Not all men have the other. Many men are not even eligible to office. There are qualifications for nearly all civil and political offices. No American voter who is not a native-born citizen can ever become President of the United States. Nor can anyone hold that office who is not 35 years of age, or who has not resided in the country for 14 years. Not all voters can be elected to the judgeship, the governorship, or even to the office of a local alderman. That a woman should, as an individual, express her will or opinion or judgment by a vote in those earthly matters which are decided in a congregation by a vote, if, under present conditions of society, her Christian judgment is as good as that of the man, does not detract from the headship of the man. In an aristocratic or barbarous country, a woman's vote has no place. But where a vote is the ascertainment of the common sense and judgment of a majority of sound and mature human minds, irrespective of social or physical distinctions, and on the basis of an equality of intelligence and on the principle that two heads are better than one, there a Christian woman's vote seems to be in place. The modern theory of government, as a result of the application of New Testament principles, and under the moulding of the Gospel, differs totally from the ancient in that the important thing is no longer rule, but service. A very good motto for both men and women in matters of ecclesiastical polity would be: "Let him that is chief among you be as he that serveth."

George Rahn

Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 16, 2021, 02:25:43 AM
Quote from: George Rahn on May 15, 2021, 07:59:01 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 15, 2021, 12:49:39 PM
Quote from: Pr. Terry Culler on May 15, 2021, 12:41:13 PM
I guess you're saying that God is only somewhat sovereign? ???

Nope. But the sovereign God uses human means to accomplish the divine purposes. God didn't put Jesus on the cross, the Roman officials did, spurred on by the Jewish crowd.

Lots of irony here.  So God didn't put Jesus on the cross, eh?  Roman soldiers and Jews were/are God's people in the best sense of that phrase.

No, God did not physically put Jesus on the cross. In fact, Jesus declares that God abandoned him on the cross.

QuoteAren't they God's creatures from the get go?

Yup. Adam and Eve were God's creatures from the get go, too; but that doesn't mean they always did what God wanted them to do. However, from our sinful behaviors God can make good happen.

QuoteIs the crucifixion so godless that God wasn't involved?  Wasn't Jesus guilty of His own death?  See Mark 14:60-62

However, Luke 22:67 indicates that even when Jesus spoke the truth about himself, the authorities were not going to believe him. (Thinking that the truth is a lie is not new in politics.) So, I wouldn't say that Jesus is guilty of his own death. He was aware that it was going to happen, but he did nothing to try and stop it from happening.

Yet Jesus agreed with his own accusers.  The high priest asked Jesus (cf. Mark 14) whether he was the promised Messiah.  Jesus answered, "I am."  Sounds to me like agreement with His accusers, as this answer underwrote the verdict of death upon Him.  Sounds like self-incrimination to me.  Nonetheless, thank God He did or God would not have assumed this into Himself for us; and, then being put to death in Him and in us as well.

Charles Austin

Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

Richard Johnson

I think this conversation has pretty much run its rather bizarre course.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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