Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No Women Pastors in Lutheran Church of Australia... for now.

Tom Pietsch, at Always Yes, gives this report:

My sources tell me that the vote at Synod was recently announced with the following figures:
Yes 194
No 169
Abstain 20
Informal 1
Non voting 1
This will be reported either as 50.39% ‘yes’ votes out of all voters, or as 53.44% ‘yes’ votes from those who lodged either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. Either way, it is less than the two thirds majority required. I understand that this is a smaller ‘yes’ vote than the 2000 synod which perhaps suggests it is time to move on.


Just as the pastors' vote this time was only slightly more in favour of WO than it was in 2000, so the Synod vote is only slightly less in favour (it was a 55% pro 45% against split last time). I would interpret that to say that really there has been very little development in the last 6 years.

I am in fact surprised that they put it to the vote at the Synod after the split vote at Pastors Conference. This indicates that the Chairman must have been fairly confident that it would not get the majority of 67% in favour.

Tom is right to suggest that should put the issue to rest for Australian Lutherans. Of course, it won't work that way, however. There must surely be a lot of frustrated WO supporters in the LCA at this point in time. The slight majority in favour among both the people and the clergy will continue to quietly work away at the issue. Those theologians and pastors who favoured WO will continue to teach the type of theology that makes WO conceivable. Although I doubt that it will come back as a Synod vote in the near future (I would give it at least three terms if not four), I expect there will be rumblings and fall out long before that in some form.

Here endeth the prophecy.

1 Comments:

At Wednesday, October 04, 2006 12:38:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Far be it from me to pontificate about discernment in the Lutheran Church of Australia. But I note that the Pastoral Statement commits the church to continuing to search the scriptures and strive for complete consensus on this issue; evidently a roughly 50/50 divide on the point is not regarded as a stable position (and I can see why).

So this is not an issue which will go away, or which the Church wants or will encourage to go away. They will keep coming back to it with a view to a consensus emerging, one way or the other. The emergence of a 2/3rds majority in Synod either way would not, of itself, evidence a consensus, but it would either be an important step towards the development of a consensus, or at least a resolution which, while not a consensus, is an acceptable final position in default of a consensus.

The thing is, it’s hard to see a consensus or a 2/3rds majority against women’s ordination emerging; in the absence of signficant defections by liberal/progressive voices within the Church. People who have worked their way through the issues, rejected the traditional position and arrived at a position of favouring the ordination of women are unlikely to change their minds now; nor will they be influenced to do so by cultural and social currents outside the Church.

I don’t know what arguments get deployed on each side in this debate, but I assume that an argument against women’s ordination that carries some weight is the catholicity argument; that if the LCA is to express a catholic identity it should not make this move, which will put barriers between it and other Christians, unilaterally. But it’s of the essence of the Lutheran tradition that the right thing to do is the Right Thing To Do, regardless of how numerous or how influential are those who take a different view; Hier steh’ ich, und kann nicht anders, and all that.

So it seems to me that the commitment to continue examining this issue and seeking consensus is more likely to produce a consensus in favour of women’s ordination than against. (The other possible outcome is a split, I supppose.) Though God knows how long it will take and how much energy it will consume.

 

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