27 May 2010

Misusing Donatism

Sometimes one hears or reads that concerns raised about ministerial acts performed by those who are not in the Office of the Holy Ministry is latent (or blatant!) Donatism.  What too often seems to go unnoticed is that the Donatistic controversy centered around the question of whether the moral character of those IN the Office of the Holy Ministry could in fact nullify the sacraments they were called upon to serve - the Church, of course, denied that it could; what that controversy never addressed (and, I'd argue, never even conceived of) was the efficacy of any purported sacramental acts served by those who were not in the Office of the Holy Ministry at all.  A further total red herring in the discussion is arguing from what love must do in an emergency, a life and death situation, to what is done regularly and without emergency in the Church.  I think the Donatist whipping boy needs to be honestly set aside as we grapple with the implications of systemically ignoring the confession we make in AC XIV in our ecclesial life.


Pr. H. R. said...

Spot on.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, about whoever makes the Donatist comparison doesn't understand Church and/or theological history. As you said, it has absolutely nothing to do with laity.

Bethany Kilcrease

Matthias Flacius said...

Yes, however, God's Word does not become null and void because it's not applied by the rightly called person either.

For instance, if a woman ELCA pastor preaches the gospel can her hearers be saved? I think so.

I'd say the same for baptism. Does this justify women pastors? no.

We do allow the emergencies to form the rules too often.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Matthias:

I would be very careful about conceding that a woman "pastor" saves people. For if that's true, her usurpation of the office is a mere trifling technicality - after all, who cares, as long as people are being saved?

If a woman "pastor" is bringing people to heaven from the clutches of hell, why would we prohibit her? The notion that if she uses the right words, there are efficacious sacraments leads directly to Gospel Reductionism.

For if we are faced with the choice of having a woman "pastor" and people being saved, or no pastor and people going to hell, why would anyone opt against a woman "pastor"? If women "pastors" bring people to salvation, of course that would justify their existence.

I believe women pastors are acting (however well intentioned) *in persona Satani* in rebellion against the Word of God and in mockery of God the Son's incarnate maleness. If a person under their "care" is saved, it is not *through* their word and office, but rather *in spite of* it. Logia had a great article (I think Reformation 2000) written by a former Church of Sweden priestess who now argues that women clergy only lead people to hell.

And I think this is the real danger of women's "ordination": it threatens the church's integrity from within, by casting doubt (at very least) on baptism. We are being judges now for our lack of vigilance a half-century ago.

The WO issue is by far worse than the gay issue - but most ELCA "conservatives" are willing to break fellowship over homosexuality but not over WO. A gay (male) pastor can lead a celibate life and be called to serve; a woman (however morally straight or well-educated) cannot be called to serve in the OHM if we accept God's Word as true. She is, by definition, an impostor and a usurper. There is just no way around this.

As a pastor, I would urge anyone who has been "baptized" by a woman pastor to seek Holy Baptism from one authorized to baptize and preach, just as I would counsel a person "baptized" as a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness.

And I think a woman "pastor" can no more celebrate the Lord's Supper than a parrot repeating the words or a voice coming over a television screen can. The Word (not the vocables) makes the sacrament. And where the Word does not authorize the words, the words are mere human utterances and not the divine Word.

Just my two cents on this important discussion.

Tapani Simojoki said...

Father H & MF,

This cuts in a couple of different ways.

(1) You can't separate the the Gospel and Sacraments from the Office of the Gospel and Sacraments (AC V). This was the fallacy that brought in WO in Scandinavia, especially as it was ushered in by the Finnish Luther school. The Office and its institution is part of the Gospel.

(2) IMHO, it's possible to be grossly misled unintentionally. I'm sure there are some ordained female pastors, for example, who are not in intentional open rebellion but grossly mistaken. That doesn't excuse their sin, but it does potentially bring them into the category of Christian lay people acting inappropriately. If a Christian layman who holds to some gross error can speak God's word to his neighbour, can a Christian laywoman do the same? Not the same as the Office of Preaching, but not Satanic words either.

(3) Is there a fundamental difference between a lay baptism and a baptism by a called and ordained pastor, except one of order. In other words, if Jack's granny baptises him in the kitchen, is that baptism less of (or not at all) a baptism than if her pastor had done so openly in church? Is this an error of doctrine or of order?

Put another way: does baptism consist of water and the word, or water and the word applied by a qualified person?

I'm not suggesting that this makes it an unimportant question, or that these sorts of 'emergency' considerations should rule our practice. However, you've got to be really careful when suggesting that a baptism with water in the name of the Triune God is not a baptism.

William Weedon said...

Had an interesting class with Dr. Nagel once where he engaged the matter. He mentioned Luther's "das dritte Ding" and "then I was done with Augustine." Augustine had Word and element; Luther saw another piece: the divine mandate - which leads to the question: "has the Lord given you this to do?"

Hence, the children playing church on the beach do not either baptize or consecrate, though they used water and had access to bread and wine and spoke the words. It has simply not been given them to do.

Whether the sacramental acts administered by those who claim to be in the office (and may even believe that they are), but are not, are efficacious is finally not our business to determine, for we may not tell a superabundantly gracious God what He may or may not do by way of uncovenanted mercy.

That is why I am not willing to say that a lay person who presumes to celebrate the Sacrament is giving out only bread and wine; I have no knowledge of what God may do with such a celebration. It may be bread and wine and no more; it may be the body and blood of Christ by a superabundant and uncovenanted grace of God. But I may be completely certain that when the called and ordained servants do that which they are charged to do by God through His Church - when they take the bread and cup and speak over them the Lord's Words at His Command and give them to us to eat and to drink, we certainly receive the body and blood of Him who told us to do this as His anamnesis.

Father Hollywood said...

Our symbols make it clear that even with the right words and right elements, the Reformed version of the Lord's Supper is only bread and wine.

And this is confessed about genuine Christians who have ordinations that we actually recognize (some of my classmates, for example, were former Presbyterians who were not "re-ordained" as Lutheran pastors).

I have no more problem saying a "eucharist" over which a priestess presides is not a eucharist than I would say that a person saying the words of institution over cookies and milk makes a eucharist.

I think there is a difference between a woman acting in her office as layman and a woman presuming to act as a pastor. An emergency baptism is different than a willful usurpation of the office. And a woman in the OT who would have presumed to act in the priesthood or in the office of prophet would have been treated differently by God and by the OT church than an ordinary lay-person. In other words, I think we "chicken-out" when we simply say a priestess is just an ordinary lay-woman. Womanhood is honorable and godly; priestesses are an abomination and a mockery.

One could always say that God is God, and if He wants to make Oreos into His body He can (true enough), and that His grace superabounds (also true), but it's clear that the Lord has established an order of creation and a means to the sacraments - or else we have no grounds to stand on in upholding AC14. God can do anything, but that doesn't mean that we can do anything, nor are obliged to accept everything. The devil is in the details, to be sure.

William Weedon said...


Just to be clear: the layperson I was speaking of was not the woman pretender, but the situation we face in the LCMS of these "lay ministers" who celebrate the Sacrament. I cannot say what it is that they hand out.

Past Elder said...

WO should have no relation to the validity of baptism per se. Anyone may baptise, as long as it is done with water, in the name of the Triune God, and with the intent to do what the church does.

That is why people like me (RC converts) are not baptised on becoming Lutheran. That is why Lutherans are not baptised on becoming RC.

But that is why people are baptised on becoming Baptist.

One is no more invalidly baptised by having been baptised by a woman who thinks she is in the OHM than by one who doesn't. It is irregular, but not invalid.

That said, the irregularity remains, and if one understands its irregularity and why, fine, but the problem is, that often isn't the case, but rather does the irregular become regular.

If for example I should be lunatic enough to hold a Divine Service, the question of whether the service is valid is, and if it is not should be identified as such, entirely secondary. I have no call to hold Divine Service, and no-one with a grain of sense would come whether it is a valid Divine Service or not.

Which leads to Pastor's point: the OHM is itself part of the very Gospel it proclaims, and whether my hypothetical service is valid or not is no more a reason to participate in it than the validity of an RC Eucharist is a reason to go there because you don't like what's available in Lutheran churches (as for example if you live in an area where apparently you have to hold a gun to a pastor to have the Common Service, like here).

Finally, the point about the inapplicability of the Donatist controversy to these things is quite right; the Donatist matter was one of men in the OHM, not people who thought they were but aren't.

Just as we should not allow exceptional instances to become the norm, neither should we allow the confusion coming from those who appear to be pastors but aren't to become the norm for pastors. Just as the validity of my RC baptism does not mean a validity to the RCC or its grossly twisted notion of priesthood.

Father Hollywood said...

"Anyone may baptise, as long as it is done with water, in the name of the Triune God, and with the intent to do what the church does."

Dear PE:

The "intent to do what the church does" includes the intent of God that His Bride not commit spiritual lesbianism by having a priestesshood.

Just as homosexuality is incapable of giving life, so too is a priestess (something that was common in diabolical and idolatrous religions but foreign to God's people from day one) incapable.

Otherwise, we're falling into ex opera operato and might as well say that Mormon baptisms are valid - as they claim to be Christian and have good intentions.

No, Christian baptism is for Christians only. Priestesses are no more Christian than are Mormons. They may be very nice, pious, and sincere people who can quote Jesus all day long (like Mormons) - but if I won't accept a Mormon baptism, I won't accept a priestess baptism.

The RC Church (which confesses just what you have said) has gone from one ditch (pre-Vatican II) to the other (post-Vatican II).

Past Elder said...

FH -- if I understand you correctly, then a baptism performed in emergency situations by a woman would be OK, but a baptism performed by a woman who thinks she is a priest or pastor is not.

OTOH since the OHM is not required for baptism, a person's misconceptions about being in the OHM may not invalidate it.

"Intent to do what the church does" does not mean knowing what the church does and intending that. It is simply intent.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

Yes, that is what I am saying.

A Christian woman, by definition a layperson, can baptize in an emergency. A Mormon priest, Jehovah's witness minister, or Satanic priestess is not acting on behalf of the church - even if all three claim to be Christians.

One's intent does not make one part of the church. God's Word does that. The priests of Molech were not true priests, and I don't think it a stretch to say that their sacrifices were not efficacious for the forgiveness of sins - even if their intentions were good, even if they claimed that "we all worship the same God.".

It may be inconvenient, but the Lord established an office to administer sacraments (AC 5). The church has always confessed that His mercy extends to save people using extraordinary ministers in emergencies, but a woman calling herself a pastor - in a clear and abominable rebellion against God - isn't an emergency.

A few years ago, David Scaer wrote a piece about the acts of "ordained" women (you can find it online in Concordia Theological Quarterly). The thrust of his article is that sacraments can't be administered outside of the church. There is simply a difference between a Baptist baptism (sectarian) and a baptism done by a Mormon (heretical).

Unless someone can convince me that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church includes priestesses, works through priestesses, and blesses the actions of priestesses - I contend that those are extra-ecclesial acts - no different than children playing church or a Mormon baptism - all the good intentions, faith, and earnest piety notwithstanding.

I think we need to get off the fence. Either women "pastors" are indeed pastors whose work is salvific (in which case, we should recognize them and bless their ministries), or we should denounce them as diabolical and disavow their work.

The Word is proclaimed by men under orders. The Word is not disembodied from the preacher. "How will they hear without a preacher?" asks St. Paul. It seems like we go to great pains to bless the work of priestesses while offering them a slap on the wrist and a "tsk-tsk" for doing it - as though she were eating dessert with a salad fork. It's rebellion and a repristination of Eve's sin, not a faux pas or breach of etiquette.

All we have to do is look at the wreckage left behind women clergy. There is nothing good that comes from WO. It is a diabolical invasion. Women "pastors" leave a swath of destruction in their wake. There are no exceptions. The gay issue is just the latest manifestation, and it will get even worse.

Mike Keith said...

Pastor Weedon - great post. Great, great, great. Spot on.

As far as the conversation going on - also great.

Though I had never stated it as clearly as Father Holywood has nor allowed my thoughts to go that far - I am inclined to think he is right. Women cannot hold the Office therefore the sacraments administered by them are invalid. Though baptism still leaves me pondering...

We need to be able to stand up and say what our theology actually says and what Lutherans have always believed - this despite the last 100+ years of Missouri Synod teaching and practice. Radical Waltherian understanding of the Office has led us astray. A functionalist understanding of the Office has becoem the default in LCMS circles. This must change. I think it is changing for us in Lutheran Church Canada. We must begin answering the quesiton people are asking clearly:

Can there be a lay administered Holy Communion? Answer: NO. Or at best - we don't know and that is just as bad. The motto should be the anti-Nike: just DON'T do it. There are no circumstances under which this should be done. None.

However, this raises other questions: Vicars and preaching. If they cannot administer the Sacraments why can they preach? Also, what about in the absence of a pastor (i.e. vacation: is it proper practice to have an appointed male lead Matins and read a sermon?)

Daniel said...

Excellent thoughts Fr. Hollywood and Pastor Weedon! As I was leaving an LCMS parish, the DP authorized the vicar (a laymen) do all "pastoral acts". When some took issue that he is was not "called and ordained", the DP said that the he would be able to say "I as a called servant of the Word...". All that was needed was a simple vote of the assembly; they followed the DP with such a vote to authorize a laymen (vicar) to preside over the Eucharist.

The mantra put out at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is that "it is about the Word, not the man". Both of you good Lutheran pastors are seeing how specious and demonic this mantra is. If a vicar can function as a pastor, so can a woman; both are laymen. The office of "vicar" is one among many trojan horses in the LCMS; better that these men would be ordained as Deacons their third year of Seminary.

Dennis said...

Wouldn't some of this get cleared up as well if the LCMS insituted once again the order of Deacons. There were prescribed liturgical things that a Deacon is allowed to do. Therefore there are men such as myself who are called to ministry but I am not sure of the call to then Pastoral office. I was an ordained Deacon in another jurisdiction that did not have these issues, there were no women priests, there were men priests and men deacons who led the services of God's people.

William Weedon said...


In a word, YES! We suffer the lack of the Ministry of Love (the diaconate) among us.

Father Hollywood said...

I agree on the diaconate as well. I was consecrated as a deacon on my vicarage, and it was a great blessing.

I think we (in the LCMS) have made a great blunder in treating diakonia as "women's work" (perhaps even a way to "deal with" the pressure to "ordain" women). As one of my classmates put it, we could use "male deaconesses" in the LCMS.

We're the poorer for it, and an active (male) diaconate would address several problems we face in the LCMS regarding our issues and challenges with the OHM.

Ultimately, I think it will be a tough row to hoe, given our historical lean toward functionalism and democracy, as well as a bias against the traditional threefold ordering of the ministry. On the other hand, our increasing involvement with Lutherans around the world (who have retained traditional polity) may make inroads toward a revived (male) diaconate among us.

I think both pastors and laity would be better served - including our seminarians and congregations.

Past Elder said...

May an unbeliever baptise?

I ask because the RCC says yes. That this particular sacrament does not depend on the ordained priesthood or even on the priesthood of all believers.

Eine andere Frage: if the sacraments administered by a "bad" pastor do not cease to be valid because he is bad, do those administered (ie Baptism) by a "bad" layman cease to be valid because he is bad, say, because he (generic, but here thinking female) thinks he is a pastor?

Re deacons, I know of one LCMS parish which calls its elders deacons. Judas in a dalmatic, Past Deacon?

Thanks be to God for the wisdom of Walther that we here do not need to imitate the state church structures of the old country. We don't need no "bishops". The EKD has 'em, and I hear the head one got herself a DWI, not to mention the utter infidelity bishops and all of that body to confessional Lutheranism! Let's leave all the mitres to the state officials of the Holy Roman Empire who wore them, derived as they are from Imperial court garb.

I say if a woman baptises, it is valid even if she is a bad layperson thinking she is a pastor.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

According to Roman Canon Law, a Muslim nurse can administer a Christian baptism. I can't think of a better example of ex opera operato. At that point, we might as well use automatic sprinkler systems and MP3 recordings to carry them out. Lutheran rubrics for emergency baptism usually say that the extraodinary minister must be a baptized Christian.

Fortunately, I surmise that the number of people who claim to have been baptized by Muslims, priests of the temple of Dagon, and Athenian priestesses are relatively small.

Your other question is the very heart of Fr. Weedon's post. The Donatist denies the sacrament's validity because of the moral character of the minister. Denying the validity of a woman "pastor"'s alleged sacramental acts has nothing to do with her morals. Rather, it has to do with her ontological inability to serve in that capacity, and the fact that the people of God have never, never, never been commanded by God to have priestesses in any way shape or form.

The elders in many of our churches are functionally doing what deacons do. Frankly, I think the term "deacon" is preferable to "elder" (Greek: "presbyter," which is biblically a term used for "pastor").

Any church that has women "bishops" has no bishops and are not a church. Furthermore, all Lutherans have bishops. We simply address them as "Pastor." But most Lutheran church bodies around the world have retained the traditional polity with bishops, priests, and deacons. Walther never banned it or claimed it was anything less than authentically Lutheran. And today, the churches that stand in Walther's train are in full communion with many whose bishops wear the miter. Who could gainsay the courage and confession of Bishop Walter Obare or the bishops and priests of the Mission Province of Sweden?

Meanwhile, we have rampant democracy and "anything goes" in our church body - a kind of frat party with no authority whatsoever. How's that workin'?

And while it is true that there are bad bishops and apostate "churches" that have bishops, it is equally true that the vast majority of sectarian bodies have the very same polity as the LCMS. So, the guilt-by-association sword cuts both ways.

Our symbols are clear in their expressed preference of episcopal polity - while rightly pointing out that it is not mandated in scripture.

Past Elder said...

The valid baptism even by an unbeliever thing I wondered about even as an RC. That baptism by a priest was the norm, but not necessary for validity, or rather, that Baptism could be performed by anyone, any Christian anyone -- laymen, Protestant ministers, etc -- was clear, but I never felt quite at ease with the unbeliever thing. I would not think Lutheranism would uphold that.

I agree that functions of the OHM carried out by someone who either is not, like myself, or cannot, like a female, be OHM cannot be valid. And also agree that things that might be OK in exceptional circumstances should not be done in ordinary circumstances. Both of my kids were baptised by Lutheran (WELS at the time) pastors, not myself, for example.

And as long as I'm agreeing with stuff, I agree too the Lutheran use of the term elder can be a source of misunderstanding. When I was an elder, one of the first things we were made clear on was that this is not elder in the NT sense. For that matter, one of the EO readers of this blog wondered sometime back if I were a retired bishop or something!

Clearly our polity is no guarantee of orthodoxy. But equally clearly, neither is an episcopal polity, as the Reformation itself makes clear, let alone the behaviour of descendants of state churches that still have that, any such guarantee either.

So I am not out to ban it either, just say that as we are not a branch of those European churches that have them, or their colonial daughters, there is no reason for us to adopt the their structures.

I am quite happy to have my "bishop"/overseer/elder whom I call Pastor. And even happier if he does not turn up in a bloody mitre or a ruddy Roman collar any more than jeans and a T-shirt make him more "relevant". The normal dress of a male professional, coat and tie, is just fine. That's all the period costumes were in their day anyway, the normal dress of an Imperial professional. The empire is gone, the church is not.

Tapani Simojoki said...

Father H, Pr. Weedon & others,

I agree.

Donatism focused on the Sacrament of Baptism. To evoke it out of context in the modern controversies about the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar is ignorant and plain wrong, regardless of which side of the argument you are on.


When it comes to WO, we do well to remember Sasse's warning not to follow too closely the Augustinian tendency to define 'sacrament' and then work with this definition. We call the sacraments sacraments for reasons of classification, not because there exists a divine category of sacrament, under which various things exist in some sort of absolute ontological way.

Therefore, to claim with much justification that a Eucharist presided over by a lady is invalid does not thereby tell us anything about Baptism. It may or may not apply to Baptism—the case needs to be made separately.

I would argue that it does not apply to Baptism.

Tapani Simojoki
[who is fond of looking like a bearer of the OHM, by wearing a Roman collar, and therefore being recognised as such by Christian and pagan alike]

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Tapani:

The fact that, as a direct result of women's "ordination," we now have pastors who are in communion with one another disagreeing about what constitutes a valid baptism is evidence of how diabolical WO is.

It is a demonic Trojan horse.

Personally, I view such baptisms as essentially Wiccan baptisms. Female "pastors" are extra ecclesiam. I don't see them as misguided Christian laymen but rather as misguided pagans.

The link between paganism and WO is utterly undeniable. The gals at herchurch.org (ELCA) come right out and pray to "the goddess." At least they are honest. How could anyone recognize a baptism from folks who pray to a goddess? This is the essence of the priestess - she images a female deity. That is why priestesses have never existed in the Christian Church - OT or NT.

And just the fact that there is doubt about them makes them (at very least) problematic. A sacrament that conveys doubt cuts to the heart of why the Lord established it.

Doubt is the very opposite of faith. Doubt leads people to hell.

Dennis said...

I am not sure about the suit and tie issue. The reason being this can be linked to the article that Pr. Weedon posted the other day on piety. This does not mean that a Pastor who wears a suit is not faithful, but I would bet that most of the pastor that wear a collar are more focused on the confessions, liturgy and preaching the faith once delivered. This is because they see themselves for what they truly are a part of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

When they dress like the common day people, I think that the beliefs will soon follow. The clothing is not a faith issue, but I do believe that it stems to something deeper within the pastor.

William Weedon said...

On suit and tie, back in the day when now Pr. Holle was my third Vicar, he listened at one Winkel to the pastors moaning and groaning about the hiring and firing mentality of congregations these days, treating the pastor as just an employee. He leaned over to me and said: "Look at how they are dressed." Business suits overwhelmingly. It suggests, does it not, well, business???

Past Elder said...

The Roman collar suggests, well, Rome.

We just don't need to go about like one more of the world's religions with special clothes and all.

It's not for nothing that most of the priestitutes I see wear them all the time, not to mention the bishopesses and their damn mitres.

I'll have to say though, if I were a Lutheran pastor -- I can hear the collective shudder! -- I would wear one of the blasted things if my wife were still alive, just to watch for the "Father's pretty open about having a little on the side" looks, then say "Relax, we're Lutherans, the real catholics".

Bethany said...

Back to the original topic, the Donatist controversy, I believe, was about the validity of the sacraments, not their effectiveness or efficacy. Since the question was about validity, it can't be transferred to issues with the laity, since nobody in the catholic (and confessional Lutheran) tradition would consider a lay consecration valid. This obviously touches on the effectiveness, since, if the actions of priests rendered their ministrations in invalid, people wondered whether the sacraments remained effective. The the starting point is validity. As a result, I don't think the controversy can be transferred over to lay ministry since such a thing would clearly have been invalid. Just my thoughts. Matt would know the details better than I though since he does earlier history.
Bethany Kilcrease

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

There is nothing "Roman" about clerical garb - the fact that the Church itself has its origins in the Greco-Roman world notwithstanding.

Even our blessed Lord wore the fringe of the rabbi. The Lord God Himself established vestments for OT priests. The vast majority of Christian clergy in all of the historic communions the world over wear some kind of traditional clerical garb.

As a practical matter, the clerical collar (with or without the cassock) is a uniform. People come to me off the street and ask me to pray for them. I can go anywhere I need to go in a hospital. After Katrina, when we were under martial law, the National Guard troops waved me into restricted areas. It is as practical a matter as a police officer or soldier wearing a uniform.

By contrast, a "suit and a tie" or "khakis and a polo" just don't cut it. As one of the old pastors said in Bo Giertz's Hammer of God, when a pastor is in street clothes, he is "flying under false colors."

When I am in my clericals, there is no mistake about whom I serve. Unless a man is ashamed to be a servus Christi, he should feel privileged to be readily identifiable as a presbyter of the church, preacher of the Gospel, pastor of the flock, and slave of the Master. Any man ashamed to wear the collar is not fit to be a Christian, let alone be a pastor.

A churchman ought to carry himself as a churchman, and his attire is part of that service - unless he really wants to be confused with (and thus be able to blend in with) businessmen and managers: respectable members of society. As Kaj Munk said, "the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove and the Fish...but never the chameleon."

We're at war with the devil. We are under orders. We might as well wear the uniform of the King's service and not be ashamed to stand out in public. A churchman who cannot abide that kind of attention should laicize and go do something else. At least that would be my advice.

Past Elder said...

Well, those same practical matter courtesies are extended to the ELCA priestitute in her collar too, so it's as much a draw to the world for those who are not under orders as those who are.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear PE:

And the fact that Satan uses such trickery is irrelevant.

If I were to start wearing a suit and tie in reaction to women in collars, that would be pretty foolish. I would allow my work to be impeded by by attire while the ELCA priestess would be given quick access to the hospital and other pastoral emergency situations. She would be recognized as a "pastor" and I would not be. Qui bono?

As one of my old Jesuit teachers used to say: "No way, baby!" You can keep the "Baptist clericals."

My last deathbed call came at 4 am. I rushed to the hospital. I ran through the halls. The ICU doors were locked and there was no-one to open them for me. I heard "code blue" over the PA and saw people rushing around. A hospital employee entered a code and went in. Rather than wait, I followed through the door.

I was able to get to my parishioner's mother-in-law just in time. Had I been wearing civilian clothing, I would have been challenged, delayed, and too late.

That would have been a heckuva price to pay to spite Rome and to spite the ELCA.

Pastors, wear your clericals. Just do it. Don't care who is offended or who has theoretical reasons not to. You will never be sorry that you did.

Past Elder said...

Well FH, here we are on a thread about Donatism going at it about Roman collars!

I suppose we are all to some extent the product of our experiences. I'm not about to propose a memorial at Houston banning Roman collars -- banning EWTN watching maybe, but "clericals", no.

I guess the last straw for me, speaking of deathbeds, was when my dad was on his, and in this Catholic hospital, where I served Mass for years to a big Gothic chapel full of nuns but now few are seen, this Catholic physician on his deathbed in the hospital where he worked for years has Communion brought to him by a nun and a visit made by an ELCA priestitute in a damn collar, where their used to be two priests full time.

Judas H Priest, the priestitute wasn't even suitable for ME! For which purpose I asked for the WELS chaplain, which I was at the time, and he wasn't even part-time but just on call, who showed up within minutes -- in a shirt and pants, which was just fine with me, I'd had it with collars and habits etc.

OTOH, how many Page 15, one-year lectionary, TLH or be damned types do you know that gag at period costumes on clergy?

I hope this doesn't mean that, if I ever make it to Gretna, the road trip is off to Baton Rouge to hear this piano-playing preacher up there and blow the doors out with some Gospel music Amen!

Past Elder said...

PS -- Jesuit teachers? Oy. It may require a special exorcism to get over that! A former St Louis U retired history prof tried like hell to get me to go there -- Spiritual Excercises in Latin and everything -- but I went to the OSBs instead. Judas, I'd have had a ringside seat for Seminex AND Vatican II! As it was, everyone where I was hoped that the repressive oppressive depressive LCMS would get with it like everyone else was doing, everyone but me that is.

PPS -- after I went to the OSBs, he sent me something by a bleeding Carthusian, so I would not be too badly affected. Those Benedictines can work and pray maybe, but they can't think, he used to say. Holy Saint Bruno, it's better than the mendicants, who can't even work, just beg!

Mike Keith said...

Here is a paper I presented at a church workers conference a couple years ago that deals with this issue. I would be interested in any feedback.


Unknown said...

I'm a functionist and I think that's Biblical. Any office is permission to do duties that others are not permitted to do. Scripture says that all things are given to Christ's Christians, and Scripture commands congregations to entrust the public administration of the office of the keys to qualified men, under God's apostolic commands in Scripture. We mark and separate from (Rom. 16.17f) congregations that fill the office by their own list of qualifications instead of the Lord's. If their ministry of the Word and Sacraments save people there it is by God's grace and not because of their office, but because he has Christians there to whom he has given all things. God rules there even in the midst of his enemies.

If you take an "incarnational" instead of a "functionalist" view, then the validity of the sacraments depends on something invested in the pastor (and indelible character in RC theology, faith in Lutheran theology) and therefore makes the man the object of faith through his ordination, rather than God's giving of all things to his people in Christ. God works through him not by what is in him, but by what he wears, his office, something that he occupies and is placed INTO. So its not incarnational. He's clothed in Christ by the Christians and thus Christ is performing the office whether he's a believer or not. Though if he is an unbeliever and the congregation has placed him into office without properly testing his spirit, then the congregation will reap great harm by their carelessness.

Luther is quoted in an early issue of Der Lutheraner as saying he would never go to a Catholic Priest for an absolution because the absolution depended on the priest and his judgement, but that he would gladly go to a pastor that absolves in the name of the church, since he could never be sure of the pastor's faith or of any individual's faith in church, but he could be sure that Christians were present there, because of the presence of the Gospel in the means of grace that always produces Christians who possess the all things, including the office of the keys.

Dearborn, MI