Sermons and Papers


The Maleness of God

an exploratory essay


by Pastor Erik Rottmann
Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church
Versailles, MO

July 9, 2002

The footnotes are dynamically linked. Click on the number to read the footnote, and click on the footnote number to return to the text at the reference point.

The Maleness of God

I received my first impetus for this paper at the Sedalia Circuit’s Winkel in November, 2001, during which I was asked to provide further explanation of some comments I made concerning the rite of circumcision. (That should teach me to make comments.) Momentum gathered when another question—asked by a pastor whose identity is mercifully forgotten—inquired whether I thought feminism was any longer serious threat to the Missouri Synod. But then I found a sense of actual purpose for my argument when in the course of research I discovered two observations that David Scaer made some time ago. First he states, "Feminism must address the connection between the maleness of Jesus and the apostles by adjusting or ignoring Jesus." Then he laments the fact that

"This is rarely if ever used in our arguments for an all-male clergy and for the prohibition of women’s ordination. This refusal or inability to bring Christ’s maleness into the question of who may serve in the ministry may indicate that our concept of the incarnation is incomplete and that we find it difficult to see that the ministry exists primarily in Christ and only secondarily in us." 1

With this paper, I hope to move the conversation forward along the lines that Dr. Scaer has identified. I proceed on the assumptions that 1) God is male (a point to which I will return) and 2) the male/female dichotomy of the Scriptures is NOT the product of history’s sustained oppression of women (an article of faith). I therefore do not expect to provide a definitive answer to theological feminism, since these assumptions make my entire line of thinking impossible for feminists to accept. I do hope, however, to consider the maleness of God and its implications in a way that attempts to escape cultural perceptions of gender, all of which are rooted in sin.

Missouri’s Feminism

Scaer rightly observes, "We are only deceiving ourselves if we believe that the LCMS has not been affected by feminist thought." 2 Who can argue with that? Voices/Vision believes that the Missouri Synod’s prohibition of women’s ordination must be subjected to "dialogue and discussion."3 This group actively seeks

"a change in the present understanding of the role of women in the ministries of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that no longer will a woman be restricted by her gender in serving the Body of Christ in any role to which the Lord has called her."4

The Daystar Network shares this call for change, setting up its straw man with the following assertions:

    • "We affirm gender equality as women and men created in the image of God.
    • "We affirm that every Christian is commissioned in baptism to continue Christ’s mission of announcing the promises of the kingdom to each other, to other Christians and to all people in our society and world.
    • "We will speak out to courageously apply the gospel to issues of ministry, fellowship, the Eucharist and worship, and we will vigorously promote and support the freedom of the gospel within the ministry of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod."5

Then there is Professor Mary L. Todd of Concordia, River Forest, who rejects St. Paul by concluding his so-called orders of creation argument is "anachronistic."6

Theological feminism is but one aspect of liberation theology, the whole of which attempts to alleviate human oppression in the name of Christianity. Rather than using the Scriptures as a lens through which the world is perceived, liberation theology relies on contemporary experience as the basic hermeneutic for understanding and formulating the Christian faith: "All feminist theologians agree that women’s experience, as defined by feminists, must be the center of theological reflection."7 The particular starting point for theological feminism is its claim that men in a male-dominated society oppress women, a claim that can in no way be disputed or ignored. Trouble arises, however, when theological feminism looks at the Scriptures as a product of the male-dominated societies in which they were written,8 rather than the Divine Word the Christian faith believes them to be.

It seems fair, generally speaking, to categorize most of the Missouri Synod’s feminists as "biblical feminists."9 Politically, if not theologically, they do not have the liberty blithely to throw away the Scriptures, as the more radical feminists do. They must proceed with more of a Barthian, "Word in the words"10 hermeneutic: the Bible contains God’s Word, but the divine words must be sifted out from their human packaging. God’s words must be retained, but the rest may be used or discarded as necessary.

Professor Todd points out that "the woman question" has been part of synodical conversation in Missouri since 1938.11 But don’t let the apparent longevity of the conversation fool you. Theologically speaking, Missouri’s feminists have likely only begun to fight. If their agenda mirrors that of their counterparts in the Church at large, it will not stop short of "a thoroughgoing revision of traditional Christian doctrines and symbols."12 In other words, women’s ordination might not actually be the goal of Missouri’s feminists, but only a step along the way toward something much more Canaanite. For this reason, the Missouri Synod must confront feminism as a whole, and not only insofar as it manifests itself in her midst.

The Uniquely Male Creator

Feminism’s flawed view of maleness arises from the observation of flawed males. "Sin entered the world through one human" (diÆ eJno;" ajnqrwvpou, Romans 5:12), and in consequence, "all [humans] sinned" (Romans 3:23). This dominion of sin completely corrupts every aspect of humanity, including gender. Sin has even sullied the Church’s understanding of gender throughout history. To one degree or another, all men fail in their maleness and all women fail in their femaleness, at least to the extent that men and women alike exert their own gender to abuse and oppress the other. (Grant the undeniable fact that men have a more odious history in this than women.) Sinful men and sinful women, unaided by or ignoring revelation, do not know what true maleness and femaleness are. Each sex still has the vestiges of true maleness and femaleness respectively imprinted in the heart, but these are condemnatory at best.

"There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes… It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them, to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible."13

The only way to determine true maleness and true femaleness is to examine the God who created them "male and female" (Genesis 1:27). Contrary to the feminist hermeneutic, fallen creation does not define the Creator, but the perfect creation does (to a certain extent). Self-evidently, the Creator likewise defines His creation. The Scriptures can provide the only, albeit limited, knowledge we have of such mutual definition in its perfection.

Again, I assume the maleness of God. The Scripture’s third person pronouns referring to God are masculine, either singular (Genesis 1:27) or plural (Genesis 18:2), and theophanies in human likeness are always male (Genesis 18:2, Numbers 22:31, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:22-23). Furthermore, the Trinitarian categories of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—two of which sound suspiciously male—are not constructs of the early Church, as some allege.14 The categories of the Trinity are the content of divine self-revelation. God has no option when He incarnates Himself: He does not become male, but He becomes human. His maleness is already an attribute of His divinity and it is inevitably expressed by the correlating maleness of His humanity.

But before this male God self-incarnates, He first creates. His act of creation is as inevitable as His redemptive act of incarnation, because of the sense in which the perfect God remains incomplete apart from His creation. God must both create and redeem because He depends on His creation for the full expression of who He is:

"Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live."15

God is love (1 John 4:8), and like hope, love requires an object. In order to be and to do that which He is, God has no choice16 but to create a recipient of His love. And so God creates humanity. This humanity defines God insofar as it is the highest object of God’s devotion. By comparison, nothing else matters to Him—not even His own incarnate existence, as the crucifixion so graphically demonstrates.

God creates Adam, the perfect image of the perfect God (imago Dei), perfect in holiness, speech, contemplation, love, etc. But perfect Adam shares the perfect God’s sense of incomplete definition: Adam is love, but Adam has no recipient of his love. "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18), so God then creates for Adam a perfect and flawless creation. In this creation, the image of God is individually made manifest—as it is in Adam—through attributes completely unique in all the rest of creation: holiness, speech, contemplation, love, etc. (imago Dei).

By creating Eve, God also completes Adam’s own created existence. Eve is created, not that she may love Adam, but that Adam may first love her. Eve is the image of God precisely because she is the image of God’s creation: that which God loves above all else. Just as humanity completes the expression of who God is, Eve likewise completes the expression of who Adam is, because she is created for Adam to love. Eve’s love is by no means inferior or incidental, but her love is a receiving love, a reciprocating love, a love that glories in being loved. "We love [God] because God first loved us" (1 John 4:19). The reality that woman is dependant on man loses all sense of inferiority or oppression in the realization that man is likewise completely dependent on woman. Adam comes, not to be served, but to serve. He cannot serve without Eve.

The creation of two distinct sexes suggests that man and woman together comprise the image of God. If God’s image consists merely of physical perfection, holiness, etc., then we may content ourselves with the assumption that Adam and Eve each individually bore His image, even in the hypothetical situation that they may have parted ways as soon as Eve is created. But if God’s image indeed consists of His perfect love and its expression in a recipient, then the image of God is fully manifest only in Adam and Eve together. Adam alone is not fully in the image of the Creator because Adam alone has no one to love. And the fact that God is male and Adam is male in no way suggests that Adam’s image of God is in some way superior to Eve’s (a point that cannot be repeated enough). Rather, Adam and Eve’s unique place with respect to each other and distinct from each other fully and corporately expresses the divine image.

When the image of God is lost in the fall, not only do Adam and Eve lose their individual attributes of this image, but they also lose their corporate ability perfectly to express God’s love. The divine gift of marriage remains as a skeleton of this expression, but marriage, too, must hope for redemption. This redemption that redeems everything (including male and female and marriage and conceptions of gender) later becomes anticipated in the mark of circumcision. Circumcision is, as Luther says, "imposed by God until the coming of Christ."17

The Uniquely Male Sign

It is hard to resist speculating that Adam had no foreskin. No Israelite with a mutilated or blemished body could offer the priestly sacrifices: "Since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God" (Leviticus 21:21). Nor may they approach who are uncircumcised, indicating that, prior to Christ’s advent (Philippians 3:2, Galatians 5:11-12), circumcision is not an act of mutilation, but one of restoration or of fulfillment.

But why choose a uniquely male act for the covenantal mark?18 Commenting on Genesis 17:11 Luther connects the circumcision commandment to Adam’s sin:

"The historical and true reason [for circumcision], however, is this, that God wanted to condemn the male, not the female, manifestly because it was the male who sinned. For if Eve had been alone and Adam had not agreed, or had rebuked his wife, he would have escaped punishment. But because he gives his consent to his wife’s sin, he is the cause of evil and is properly brought to punishment through circumcision, while the woman is let go, although she herself also bears her share of the punishment.

"Thus through circumcision, which has been imposed on the males, God shows that original sin has spread from our first parent to the entire human race, as Paul also states in Rom. 5:12ff. Everywhere he calls Adam the author of sin; about Eve he is silent."19

Eve violates the created perfection and destroys whatever attributes of God’s image she individually possessed, but she does not necessarily destroy the image of God that she possesses corporately with her husband. If Adam had not been complicit in Eve’s sin from the onset, Adam’s uncorrupted love may still perfectly love that which has become flawed and has, in effect, rejected his love for something else. Love requires an object, but it does not require reciprocation. This is illustrated by the incarnation: "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11).

Adam, by contrast, not only actuates and completes Eve’s violation of creation, but he also violates God Himself. Adam fails to love, and his consent to his wife’s sin expresses divine lovelessness. Adam truly is "the cause of evil" and the "author of sin" because Adam portrays God as something God is not. True maleness—love which loves—gets covered over in sin, and only then does true femaleness—love which is loved—likewise become obscured.

Could this, then, indicate another reason for the uniquely male act of circumcision, beyond the reason Luther gives? If this covenantal mark truly is an anticipation of redemption, as Luther repeatedly states,20 is it not possible that the act also indicates the anticipated uncovering of that which has become covered through sin, namely, true maleness in the image of God? A covenantal mark is not necessary for Sarah and her daughters because true femaleness stands and falls with true maleness. The receiver cannot catch a football that the quarterback fails to throw. Love cannot be received (femaleness) when love is not first shown (maleness), but both reception and reciprocation are made possible only by love’s re-establishment.21 Thus, circumcision’s anticipation of re-established love, when fulfilled by the incarnation of Christ, includes both man and woman, precisely because the mark is given only to the male.

The Uniquely Male Incarnation

Jesus did not personally need His circumcision any more than He needed His Baptism. True Adam, He is also true male, and His maleness requires no re-establishment in redemption. Jesus’ circumcision is not for Jesus, but it was (like Abraham’s own circumcision) for Abraham and for all people, "raised up as a sign or banner to be looked at by those who are to be saved." 22Again,

"Circumcision did Christ wrong, for he was not subject to it… He has released us from circumcision only by submitting to it innocently and by bestowing his right against it on us."23

Christ is obliged to be circumcised, in order that He might redeem those obliged to be circumcised.

Jesus’ circumcision brings circumcision to an end, but neither His circumcision nor any other redemptive act annuls the distinctions of maleness and femaleness that mutually comprise the image of God, as these precede the fall. The use of St. Paul’s statement, "there is neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28), as an argument for women’s ordination fails to acknowledge that true maleness and true femaleness are not destroyed in redemption, but recovered. Only in Christ can males truly be male and females truly female. Only in Christ is the image of God restored.

Now is a good time to revisit my assumption that God is male. Consider the other options: 1) God is female, 2) God is asexual24 or "beyond gender." Only those feminists who have completely rejected the Bible, viewing it as a "negative source,"25 can entertain the possibility that God is female. For anyone who remains even remotely connected to the Scriptures, such a claim forces the conclusion God is a liar and that He deceives His creation by misrepresenting Himself in every direct Scriptural self-description.26 In other words, if God is female, then God is Satan.

The more attractive option for biblical feminists is to develop the early Church’s premise that God is beyond gender, even if they do in so ways that explicitly reject the original intention of the premise. For example, Letty Russell builds on the presupposition that God "is beyond sexual distinctions"27 by suggesting:

"It is possible to speak of God the Creator without using male pronouns, as an indication that God transcends all biological and cultural distinctions of sex… it allows our language of God to be heard more clearly by both men and women. In the same way we can emphasize the role of Christ the Liberator and Redeemer as one that represents God’s freedom to be present with all humanity. In order to make clear the fact that the metaphors for the Godhead include those which are both masculine and feminine, it is perhaps also helpful at this moment in history to speak of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Reconciler, with a feminine pronoun."28

"God transcends all biological and cultural distinctions of sex" because biology and culture are both aspects of creation. Biological distinctions, referring to the physical differences between man and woman, cannot be imposed upon the God who is spirit (hence the prohibition of Deuteronomy 4:15-16 against images of God in "the likeness of male or female," NASB). All cultural distinctions are tainted by sin, and these, too, cannot be ascribed to the perfect God. But it does not follow from this observation that gender itself—apart from its biological and cultural distinctions—is an aspect of creation. Only the manifestations of gender within creation are aspects of the creation. Simply stated, God is not necessarily beyond gender.

The early Church set forth the philosophical presupposition that God is beyond gender in order to respond to the acute problem of Arianism, which claimed that the Father created the Son. As William Weinrich summarizes,

"It was, in fact, against the heresy of Arianism that the Church most clearly detailed its belief that the Triune God is transcendent to all creaturely categories, including that of male and female. The Christian Church does not worship a male god, nor does it worship a female goddess.

"This does not mean, however, that the Christian does not worship God the Father and God the Son. For very decidedly the Church does worship God the Father and God the Son. The prophets and the apostles and the Church have simply been careful to remove God from any notion of father as a physical progenitor."29

This summary exposes the root flaw of the Church’s presupposition, in that the Church saw maleness and progenitiveness both as equal concepts and as belonging the same "creaturely category." That is, in order to deny the false theology that the Father fathered the Son, the Church philosophically denied God any gender at all.

Yet this philosophical presupposition that God is beyond gender not only opens the door to such revisions as those suggested above by Letty Russell, but it also prevents the maleness of Jesus from playing a central role in the question of women’s ordination. We are then left to dabble around with prohibitions and with "orders of creation" arguments, all of which merely scratch the surface of theology and none of which burrow to the core of all theological argumentation: Jesus Christ the God-Man. For this reason, I suggest a different philosophical presupposition, which in no way contradicts the witness of the Scriptures: the Triune God is not beyond gender, but He is male, and this quite apart from all "biological and cultural distinctions."

If God is not male, then a male incarnation becomes a matter of divine logic rather than one of divine necessity. Yet logic is only one step a way from arbitrariness. If God is not male, then it is conceivable that the Son could have incarnated Himself as a female, so long as He explained Himself clearly enough. But the assumption that God is male removes all possibility of the arbitrary. As I previously suggested, the God who does not act arbitrarily has no option when He incarnates Himself. That is, He does not become male, but He becomes human. God the Son assumes humanity in order to redeem humanity. His maleness is beyond His incarnation, and females are thus redeemed.

The Office of the Ministry and the Divine Service

As indicated above,30 Dr. Scaer has perceived that the matter of women’s ordination involves not only an incomplete conception of the incarnation, but also a mistaken view of the Office of the Ministry. Because Missourians are as given to "felicitous inconsistencies" as anyone else, a deepened view of the incarnation does not necessarily mean we will more deeply understand the Office of the Ministry. Indeed, such phrases as "lay minister" and "social security" suggest that we have already too much invested in not fully understanding the Office.

Furthermore, it is insufficient merely to assert that an all-male clergy rests on the fact that Jesus chose only male apostles, without surmising the necessity of such a selection. Left unexplained, this assertion either teeters on the brink of making God arbitrary (i.e., Jesus just happened to choose men) or it runs the risk of making an all-male clergy an expression of law rather than one of grace and mercy (i.e., Jesus chose only men, therefore only men may serve). In either case, the feminists take the field because of our failure to deal with the maleness of Christ.

But what exactly is the connection between the maleness of Jesus, the apostles, and by extension, all pastors? It does not seem too difficult to surmise, at least on the surface of things, that they are His representatives.31 When they speak His words and distribute His gifts, the Church receives these things in precisely the manner described in the Catechism: "as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing," and, "as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself." Thus, the Catechism identifies corporate worship as the connection between Jesus, the apostles, and the entire Office of the Ministry.

And corporate worship reveals the problem of women’s ordination. If True Maleness is "love which loves" and True Femaleness is "love which is loved," as I have suggested above, then a female pastor changes Christian worship into a pagan act of appeasement. A female pastor, no matter how theologically articulate she may be, by virtue of her femaleness represents a god who came to be served; a god who must first be loved before love will be reciprocated.

The question of whether open homosexuals may be ordained seems inevitably to follow the question of women’s ordination, as indicated by the present controversy in the ELCA.32 Not only are both questions rooted in the same experience-driven hermeneutic of liberation theology, but both also work a fundamental change in Christendom "by adjusting or ignoring Jesus," as Dr. Scaer has observed concerning feminism. Just as a female pastor represents a god who must first be loved, an openly homosexual pastor represents a god who loves himself above all else. In both cases, Christianity ceases to be Christian and the question concerning the validity of churchly acts performed by such claimants to the office becomes moot. Rather than representing the Male, Triune God who loves His creation first and foremost, they represent a not-so-subtle counterfeit.

Perhaps there is a reason why the Scriptures describe the Church in female terms. In Christ there is no male or female because all have been made "sons of God" (Galatians 3:26, Romans 8:14) and heirs of eternity and lovers of neighbor who love whether or not love is reciprocated. Yet collectively, the sons of God are also Bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9, Ephesians 5), responding with love to Him who first loved. But none of this destroys the created fact, "male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27). As I have attempted to show here, it is for reasons of grace and mercy that God creates and redeems in this way. To lose sight of the distinction between male and female, created together in the image of God to portray the image of God, is to lose sight of the Triune God Himself.

ENDNOTES


1. David P. Scaer, "Christology and Feminism," Logia IX, no. 1 (Epiphany 2000): 3.
2. Ibid.
3. http://www.voicesvision.org. Satan, by the way, did not tell Eve to sin. He only dialogued with her.
4. http://www.voicesvision.org/understand.html.
5. http://www.day-star.net/who_we_are.htm. Mrs. Emily Carder, in reviewing the draft for this presentation, made the following comments, which are well worth repeating: 1) I have found that all too many people do not recognize how the above are straw man arguments. They have been exposed to feminist ideology for so long they take the quest for "gender equality" as a valid one to pursue in all levels of life. Feminist theology has milked this for all its worth. 2) Feminism and woman's suffrage follow heel upon heel. The press for women's ordination succeeds the press for women's suffrage. To whom is the vote denied? 1. Non-citizens; 2. criminals; 3. those considered sub-human (slaves, "Negroes"). The franchise was granted after women proved their worth working in factories during WWI. In receiving the vote, women were granted full and equal citizenship, pardon and humanity. The demands of feminist theologians follow the same lines. Give us the vote, now give us the Office. Until these two things are accomplished, women will claim they have not been granted full and equal human status in the church. This, I believe, is what underlies their drive for the Office. To be denied the Office is to be declared non-citizens (not full recipients of Baptism); those who are yet criminals (not fully redeemed); and sub-human (denied full humanity in Christ.)
6. Mary Todd, "Silence in the Church: The Woman Question in Missouri," Lutheran Forum 35, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 27. Professor Todd's article, however, is right about a couple of things: "A great deal is at stake as the Synod sets its course for the future" and, "the woman question will remain central as long as it remains unresolved."
7. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 229. Again, "If God is real, then this God must be involved in the struggles of the present to bring about liberation from oppression. And if Christianity is true, then its message must be one of liberation." Ibid., 201.
8. Compare the "Exorcism of Patriarchal Texts," a ritual of the Woman-Church in which passages of Scripture are read, then followed by the proclamation, "These texts and all oppressive texts have lost their power over our lives. We no longer need to apologize for them or try to interpret them as words of truth, but we cast our their oppressive message as expressions of evil and justifications of evil." Ibid., 225.
9. "For biblical feminists, the first category of feminists, the Bible is authoritative, but they read it in light of their own experience. They make the Bible agree with their own views, all the time claiming they are following the Bible. This approach urges equality in the ministry based on Galatians 3. That there is in Christ no male or female is exemplary of this first king of feminist theology that wants to be understood as Christian." Scaer, 5.
10. Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (New York: Oxford, 1968), 9.
11. Todd, 26.
12. Grenz and Olson, 231.
13. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: Walker and Company, 1984), 46.
14. "The trinitarian name did not fall from heaven. It was made by believers for the God with whom we have found ourselves involved… 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit' came together also simply as a name for the one therein apprehended, and apparently did so before all analysis of its suitability." Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, eds., Christian Dogmatics, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 1:93.
15. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Work without Hope."
16. This assertion does not contradict such passages as Psalm 135:6, which states, "The LORD does whatever pleases him." God does not exert His sovereignty exclusive of His love. Rather, that which pleases God is that which His love compels or constrains Him to do.
17. Luther's Works, American Edition, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut Lehmann, 55 vols. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House and Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1955ff.) 3:93. Hereafter, LW.
18. The fact that various pagan societies have practiced female circumcision is absolutely inconsequential here, since the Scriptures know of no such thing.
19. LW 3:133.
20. LW 3: 82, 91, 92, passim.
21. Some may argued that this statement overlooks the fact that unmarried Christians are "whole" and not "incomplete" in the eyes of God. While this is true, the fact that it is not good for man to be alone suggests that singleness-as prevalent as it is in the Church-results from the fall and not from God's creation.
22. LW 8:107.
23. Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. John Lenker, 8 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995) 1:316-317.
24. Jack Miles, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 51.
25. Scaer, 5. See note 8, the "Exorcism of Patriarchal Texts."
26. By "direct Scriptural self-description," I exclude those passages that are clearly analogous, such as the simile in Isaiah 42:14: "like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant."
27. Letty Russell, Human Liberation in a Feminist Perspective (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974), 22.
28. Ibid., 102-103.
29. William Weinrich, "It is not Given to Women to Teach": A Lex in Search of a Ratio (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1993), 25. Emphases his.
30. See note 1.
31. Philosophical explanations of the Office are as problematic as philosophical explanations of the Lord's Supper (e.g., Transubstantiation). The so-called "functional" and "ontological" view of the Office of the Ministry respectively understate and overstate the incarnation of Christ and throw us into a false dilemma.
32. "There are voices in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who hope we might ease our way into churchwide acceptance of gay pastors and gay couples. If not 'full acceptance' they hold out hope for 'slow acceptance.' More, they desperately wish the ELCA's gay lobby will just back away a bit to allow that possibility, thinking to avoid a split in the church… Gay issues clearly penetrate our view of scripture, our doctrine of creation, and our doctrine of the nature of sin, all of which exist in service to or understanding of the Gospel. What is proposed in the gay agenda is nothing less than a different doctrine of scripture, a different doctrine of creation, a different doctrine of sin. It is nothing else but "a different Gospel." Russell E. Saltzman, "A Different Gospel," Forum Letter 31, no. 2 (February 2002), 4.

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