Thursday, October 05, 2006

Peregrinus' view on the future of the Women's Ordination debate in the Lutheran Church

Peregrinus left a comment on my blog about the LCA Quo Vadis Re WO which I think bears listing for all to read and see.

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.


I had to have a chuckle about the "Right Thing To Do", an understanding of the Lutheran approach which is spot on. In general, I think that Peregrinus' analysis is fairly good. Sometimes outsiders have a better view of the situation than those tied up in it.

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