2004 LCMS Convention Invents Fantasy Church Offices For Women

By: Rev. Jack Cascione

 For the first time in its history the 2004 LCMS Convention voted to create offices in the church that have absolutely nothing to do with God or the Bible.

You might ask, “Why would they do this?”  The Synodical President and the District Presidents were determined to do whatever it takes to have women become chief administrative officers in LCMS congregations, except for the office of pastor.  They call it progress.

The adoption of Resolution 3-08 was a win, win, win, except for the Bible and Voters’ Assemblies.

First, pastors were acknowledged as having “headship” over the congregations according to the 1985 CTCR document, “Women in the Church,” which states: “Since a headship over the congregation is exercised through these functions unique to the office of the public ministry, . . .” (page 42).  The Bible denies women the right to be pastors according to 1Tim 5:17, 1Thess. 5:12, 1Tim 3:12 (page 42) also 1Cor.14:34 and 1Tim. 2:11-12. (page 43).

Since the LCMS teaches that women can’t hold offices that involve them with the functions of the pastoral office, the Synod had to redefine the pastor as having headship over the Church, which means that LCMS Voters’ Assemblies are no longer supreme.

Second, women were given the right to be congregational presidents, elders, and communion assistants as long as all of these offices were defined without Biblical authority to judge the pastor’s doctrine, preaching, practice, and administration of the worship services, sacraments, absolution, and excommunication.

Third, the Synodical President and Council of District Presidents (COP) were given more authority because the creation of meaningless offices removes church power from formally supreme congregational Voters’ Assemblies.

The Convention let stand a May 20-24, 2004, ruling from the LCMS Commission on Constitutional Matters “[CCM]# 267 Question Regarding the Relationship of the Circuit Counselor to Member Congregations (04-2387)” that claims that the Synod has never agreed to follow or acknowledge “proper channels” when dealing with LCMS congregations.  Indeed, why should the Synod follow “proper channels” when dealing with congregational officers who hold meaningless titles with no church power?

However, it took some serious theological gymnastics to have women become congregational presidents, elders, and communion assistants.  The COP had to appeal to the sophistry that the terms “president” and “elder” as we understand them today do not appear in the Bible.  They also claim that the hand that gives out the communion wafer has no authority over what is distributed or to whom it is distributed.  They separated distribution of the Lord’s Supper from the Office of the Ministry and made the communicants their own pastors at the communion rail.

When I take communion at a church, I want to receive it from the pastor or someone who has the pastor’s authority, not an assistant without any Biblically defined office.  I may as well take communion from the janitor or groundskeeper.  Why don’t we just pass the bread and wine down the pews and automatically make everyone in the congregation a communion assistant?

However, President Kieschnick now says the only office that can be found in the Bible is the pastor.  Therefore, if the offices of president, elder, and communion assistant, don’t really exist in the Bible, why can’t women hold them?  On the other hand, if these offices (Biblically speaking) don’t really exist, who wants them?  What’s the point?  The Synod redefined the local congregation without any Biblically identifiable offices of its own unless it has an LCMS pastor, a practice similar to the Catholic Church.

We ask, “Did President Kieschnick liberate women or did he really disenfranchise the men?

Walther, the founder of the LCMS would never allow the existence of phantom offices in the church.  He wrote:

“[emphasis added] ALL OFFICES IN THE CHURCH HAVE BEEN INSTITUTED BY GOD TOGETHER WITH THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD [Predigtamt], for which reason the ministers are also called elders [German: Vorsteher, ‘overseers’].  Especially in larger congregations, however, it is necessary and beneficial that for certain particular functions of the ministry of the Word auxiliary offices should be created, and that for their execution talented men, besides the minister should be chosen.  This was done, for example at Jerusalem, in order to provide for the poor (Acts 6).  From 1 Tim. 5:17 we also learn that in the days of the apostles there were elders who did not labor in the Word and doctrine as did the preachers, yet also took part in ruling the congregations.  Whenever such auxiliary offices do not exist, the minister by virtue of his office is obligated to take over the external management of the congregational meetings also.  But where there are ruling elders, there he may entrust such functions to them.” “Form of the Christian Congregation” (page 51)

Let’s take a look at some the theological flimflam engaged by the Synod in Resolution 3-08A To Affirm the Conclusions of the 1994 CTCR Report: “The Service of Women in Congregational and Synodical Offices.”  The resolution was adopted 639 to 348.

The average reader won’t pick up the full meaning of the resolution unless certain key phrases are understood with special synodical meaning intended by Committee 8.

The second whereas employs the phrase “by human right rather than divine right” when anticipating women presidents, elders, and communion assistants.

The sixth whereas states: . . “‘for other offices [except the pastor] we have no express ‘thus saith the Lord’ and everything depends on the functions assigned to these offices.’”

Seventh whereas states: . . “Scripture does not prohibit women who possess the requisite gifts from holding these humanly-established offices, . . .”

Second Resolved, “. . . and that women may serve in humanly established offices in the church as long as the functions of these offices do not make them eligible to carry out ‘official functions [that] would involve public accountability for the function of the pastoral office.’ 

Just in case the reader believes that the resolution actually prohibits women from being presidents, elders, and communion assistants that have nothing to do with the Bible, the following statement is found in the minutes of the last day of the Convention:

“An amendment was offered to strike all words in the second resolve [above] after the word ‘church’ (p.244, line 1) and replace them with the words ‘except congregation elders, congregation presidents, and communion assistants.’ The chair rules that this constituted a substitute motion, and the motion failed under the Behnken Rule [Y: 472; N: 605].”

How can congregations judge the doctrine and practice of the pastor, or anyone else, when presidents and elders who have no Biblical authority chair them?

We have come a long way from 1852 when Walther wrote: “The congregation should see to it that purity of doctrine and life is preserved in its midst, and therefore it is to exercise church discipline in regard to both.  Matt. 18:15-18” “Form of the Christian Congregation” page 31.

And again Walther wrote:

“This is to be understood in the sense not only that the church has the power to excommunicate impenitent sinners but also that the congregation has the supreme authority in all church matters such as reproof, church discipline, divisions, judging doctrine, and appointing pastors, to mention only these things.” ("Church and Ministry" C.F.W. Walther, 1851, CPH 1987, page 343)

There may be church offices with different grades of authority such as president, vice president, elder, etc., but the Bible only teaches church offices that exercise the Office of the Keys, the authority to judge doctrine, practice, and “all things” in the church.

“Regarding this matter Chemnitz writes: . . . “But all these grades [of church workers besides the pastor] the apostles include under the names of elders and overseers . . . . In 1Tim 5:17 Paul mentions two kinds of elders, of who some labored in the Word and doctrine, while others took care of the management of the church.  These elders are mentioned also by Tertullian . . . . But there we must add by way of a reminder:

(1) That there is no divine command prescribing which grades or orders and how many of them there must be.

(2) That at the time of the apostles there were not in all congregations, or not always the same, or just so many grades or orders, as may be inferred from the letters of Paul addressed to various congregations.

(3) That at the time of the apostles these grades were not divided in such a way that frequently one and the same person did not take over and administer all the functions belonging to the ministry of the Word, as we know from apostolic history. At the time of the apostles these grades therefore were free, and the chief interest was in order, propriety, and edification; but at that time special gifts, such at tongues, prophesy, and apostolate, and miracles, were given to certain persons by God.  HOWEVER, THE GRADES OF WHICH WE TREATED SO FAR WERE NOT AN ARRANGEMENT BEYOND AND OUTSIDE THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD AND SACRAMENTS, [emphasis added] but the very functions of the ministry of the Word were divided among these grades.” (Examine council Trent Trid., 475f.) “Form of the Christian Congregation” page 52-53

Why does the Synod want to create phantom offices and fantasy church administration?  It is all about the concentration of church power in Synodical hierarchy.  The COP is attempting to have the same power that the ELCA bishops enjoy.  However, they will soon learn that they have given the LCMS president more authority than the ELCA president.


 Wednesday, September 01, 2004

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