Saturday, February 18, 2012

Should "Discussions" Establish Doctrine and Practice?

Those promoting the eventuality of women's ordination in the LCMS continue to insist that we still need a "Synod-wide discussion" on the issue in order to finally put it to rest.  This troubles me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for discussion and debate.  It clarifies positions and sharpens points of contention.  Yet when it comes to what the church teaches and practices as a matter of public conviction, deciding on the basis of a "discussion" seems fraught with all kinds of pit falls.  From my vantage point the ELCA tried this and eventually gave in to the political and social pressure surrounding "gay rights."  Theological rationale was given, but one wonders how much of the theology was driven by "Synod wide discussion."  Such a discussion will only provide resolution for those seeking the outcome of women's ordination when it finally makes it 'legal' in Synod.  Even if we took a Synod-wide vote it would remain unsettled.  Why?  Someone would insist that proper representation was not given.  Others would claim that key voices were left out of the discussion, at least in terms of public exposure.  Naturally it is unreasonable to expect that every rank-and-file member of the denomination would or could vote on such an issue.  That being the case, how do we ultimately decide what is fair?  We have already voted on this in convention before, so apparently that is not the equitable route to take.  So what is the better way?  OWN began a Facebook page as a start, but anyone following it will see that it bogged down in the same general disagreements seen elsewhere.  They have now started a new 'forum' for a new discussion.  And where will that lead?  No further than the last discussion.

What bothers we most of all is that the historic and early church catholic has determined its theology not by popular discussion, but by the deliberations of its trusted theologians and leaders gathered in official conclave. Can you imagine the results of the church's theology on the Trinity and the deity of Christ if the Arians had been given a significant 'voice' in the Trinitarian and Christological debates of the third century?   Given their control of certain geographical areas and access to secular power we might all be practicing Jehovah's Witnesses if we had gone down that track. 

No, popular discussion has never been the church's means of settling on doctrine, and I know that the LCMS is not going to go down that road now. 

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