Conservative Swedish theologian made bishop in Latvia

The Baltic republics, geographically and culturally, are almost Scandinavian.  Now that a national Lutheran church–that of Latvia–has gone confessional, that affects its theologically liberal neighbors.

A Swedish theologians whom the state church refused to ordain because he doesn’t believe that women should be made pastors, has been made a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, which has come around to that same conviction.  His story, detailed after the jump, shows how various organizations–including one started by novelist Bo Giertz–are keeping orthodox Lutheranism alive in those northern climes. [Read more…]

Latvian Lutherans go back to male-only pastors

Last month, the Lutheran Church of Latvia–the main church body in that Baltic republic–reversed course and rescinded its policy allowing the ordaining of women.  But the church has not ordained women since 1993, with its confessional revival at the fall of Communism.  Now the church has formalized its doctrine that only men may be ordained as pastors.

The Lutheran World Federation, whose member churches ordain women, says that this decision may affect the Latvian church’s membership.  But the Latvian bishop says that this could lead to affiliation with the conservative International Lutheran Council and its member churches such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. [Read more…]

Aussie Lutherans vote not to ordain women

The Lutheran Church of Australia once again voted NOT to ordain women. [Read more…]

Text and context on women’s ordination

The Australian theologian and Bible scholar John Kleinig said that women’s ordination used to not be a big deal for him–until he studied 1 Corinthians 14 and realized that it is far more forceful on the issue than most people realize. [Read more…]

Church of England says “No” to women bishops

The Church of England voted not to allow women to be bishops.  Bishops, priests, and laity had to pass the proposed change by a two-thirds majority.  The Bishops voted 44-3 in favor of female bishops.  The priests voted 148-45 in favor.  The measure was blocked by the laity, who voted 132-74, which was about 4 votes shy of the 2/3 needed.

The British parliament is indignant and is threatening intervention in the state church.

Some people recommend an episcopalian polity so that bishops would keep churches orthodox.  But it would seem, judging from the experience of American Anglicanism, that they don’t.   Some favor a clergy-dominated polity to keep the church orthodox, and yet, as we see here, the clergy are often the ones trying to enforce a liberal agenda.  In this case and in many others, the laity turn out to be most conservative faction in the church.

 

via Church of England blocks move to approve female bishops.

Church constitutions trumping creeds

D. E. Hinkle passed along an obituary for Prof. Wynn Kenyon, who sparked a controversy  in the Presbyterian Church back in 1974 for not going along with the ordination of women.  For our purposes here, consider the last paragraph in this excerpt:

Mr. Kenyon, who belonged to a forerunner of what is now the Presbyterian Church (USA), was an honors graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In his ordination trial he was questioned about women and said that because he believed the Bible forbade women to hold authority in the church he could not participate in an ordination ritual. But he said he would work with ordained women and wouldn’t stop his own congregation from ordaining a female elder.

Pittsburgh Presbytery voted 147-133 to ordain him, but that decision was appealed to the highest court in the denomination. It ruled that “refusal to ordain women on the basis of their sex is contrary to the [church] constitution.”

Coupled with a decision allowing a Maryland presbytery to install a minister who didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, at least eight churches and some prominent theologians in Pittsburgh and Beaver-Butler presbyteries left for the new Presbyterian Church in America.

The case still reverberates, said Charles Partee, emeritus professor of church history at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. It marked a shift from creeds to constitution for defining the church’s beliefs, he said.

“You didn’t have to believe everything in the creed. Of course, the constitution cannot be scrupled. It must be obeyed,” he said.

via Obituary: Wynn Kenyon / Became beloved philosophy professor after ordination ordeal – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In this mindset, which one sees quite a bit in church politics, the church constitution is not only supremely authoritative, it is clear in what it says and admits no wiggle-room in its interpretation.  Creeds, Confessions, and the Bible itself, though, are flexible, obscure in their meaning, and can be interpreted away.


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