Chrysostom on Distribution of the Lord’s Supper

These things I say to you that receive, and to you that minister. For it is necessary to address myself to you also, that you may with much care distribute the gifts there. There is no small punishment for you, if being conscious of any wickedness in any man, you allow him to partake of this table. “His blood shall be required at your hands.” Ezekiel 33:8 Though any one be a general, though a deputy, though it be he himself who is invested with the diadem, and come unworthily, forbid him, the authority you have is greater than his. You, if thou were entrusted to keep a spring of water clean for a flock, and then were to see a sheep having much mire on its mouth, you would not suffer it to stoop down unto it and foul the stream: but now being entrusted with a spring not of water, but of blood and of spirit, if you see any having on them sin, which is more grievous than earth and mire, coming unto it, are you not displeased? do you not drive them off? and what excuse can you have?

For this end God has honored you with this honor, that you should discern these things. This is your office, this your safety, this your whole crown, not that you should go about clothed in a white and shining vestment.

And whence know I, you may say, this person, and that person? I speak not of the unknown, but of the notorious.

Shall I say something more fearful. It is not so grievous a thing for the energumens [demon-possessed] to be within, as for such as these, whom Paul affirms to trample Christ under foot, and to account the blood of the covenant unclean, and to do despite to the grace of the Spirit. For he that has fallen into sin and draws nigh, is worse than one possessed with a devil. For they, because they are possessed are not punished, but those, when they draw nigh unworthily, are delivered over to undying punishment. Let us not therefore drive away these only, but all without exception, whomsoever we may see coming unworthily.

Let no one communicate who is not of the disciples. Let no Judas receive, lest he suffer the fate of Judas. This multitude also is Christ’s body. Take heed, therefore, you that ministerest at the mysteries, lest you provoke the Lord, not purging this body. Give not a sword instead of meat.

Nay, though it be from ignorance that he come to communicate, forbid him, be not afraid. Fear God, not man. If you should fear man, you will be laughed to scorn even by him, but if God, you will be an object of respect even to men.

But if you dare not to do it yourself, bring him to me; I will not allow any to dare do these things. I would give up my life rather than impart of the Lord’s blood to the unworthy; and will shed my own blood rather than impart of such awful blood contrary to what is meet.

But if any has not known the bad man, after much inquiry, it is no blame. For these things have been said about the open sinners. For if we amend these, God will speedily discover to us the unknown also; but if we let these alone, wherefore should He then make manifest those that are hidden.

But these things I say, not that we repel them only, nor cut them off, but in order that we may amend them, and bring them back, that we may take care of them. For thus shall we both have God propitious, and shall find many to receive worthily; and for our own diligence, and for our care for others, receive great reward; unto which God grant we may all attain by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen. [Homilies on Matthew, 82.6]


Pro-OW Fundamentalists

There are those in the LCMS (a small minority, perhaps) who continue to advocate the ordination of women into the Office of the Holy Ministry. Perhaps it’s time. After all, we have no proof-text that can be shown to irrefutably say, “Thou shalt not ordain women to the pastoral office.” I guess that’s it. Ordain ’em.

On the other hand, have we suddenly become fundamentalists (the pro-OW faction’s favorite four-letter word), that we must have an explicit, one-verse prohibition of something before we will allow the Scriptures to speak to us? As if that would silence the pro-OW advocates! If they will not listen to the prophets and apostles, neither will they listen to a direct, unadorned word from the Lord Himself.

But let’s play the game for a minute. I suggest that they are at least partially right about the passages in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. That is, these passages primarily address husbands and wives in a marital relationship. Nevertheless, it is interesting that Karl Wyneken on the DayStar Network Journal site stops with 1 Corinthians 14:35. Apparently, he didn’t think verses 36-40 were relevant:

Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Further, in v. 33, Paul makes it clear that his instruction is, at the very least, not bound to the congregation at Corinth: “As in all the churches of the saints…” Let us have sound exegesis, not proof-text eisegesis.

But, let’s put that aside for the moment, and grant, for the sake of (ad infinitum) argument, that these verses have nothing explicitly to say about the ordination of women. Perhaps they apply only to married women. Thus, if we are to justify the centuries-old “subjection” (a word that Wyneken uses, but which is nowhere used in the Scriptures) of women that excludes them from the pastoral Office, we must look elsewhere. But you will quickly find that there are no other proof-texts. Hence, the pro-OW faction rests their case. Nowhere (goes the argument) does Jesus, Paul, or any other apostle or prophet explicitly say that women shall not be pastors.

This is the real Biblical fundamentalism. If we must have a verse or two that say everything explicitly, let’s be done with the Trinity and the baptism of infants. See where such lovely sophistry gets you?

But Lutherans are not fundamentalists (however much some have acted like it in the past, especially the past 40 years). We do not set doctrine based on controverted passages (though it should be noted that very rarely did anyone prior to this century find anything doubtful about what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy–naturally, these people will do their best to cast doubt on Paul’s authorship of at least 1 Timothy). We must have clear Scripture, and, if what they say is true about these passages (I am granting it for the moment), we must find our foundation elsewhere or be forever rid of the church-dividing practice of not ordaining women.

The more interesting part of Wyneken’s essay is this:

5. What about texts that seem to call upon women to be in subjection or submission to men? Wouldn’t these have a bearing on whether women may be pastors?

This is one of the arguments our synodical theologians in particular have used to support the exclusion of women from the pastoral office. It is claimed that hierarchical arrangements that include the subjection of women to men were in God’s original creative plan (the so-called “Order of Creation”) and are therefore to be considered still in force and to be enforced. A careful reading of Genesis l and 2 rather, if anything, suggests equality. Hierarchy is introduced as a result of the fall in chapter 3, thus its intervention is a part of what might better be called “the Order of Fallen Creation.” A Roman Catholic theologian has referred to the insistence on male domination as “a celebration of original sin.”

I, for one, would like to know which Roman Catholic theologian. The fact that he (she?) remains nameless is not without significance. Could it be a theologian who is not upholding the teaching of Rome? If so, is it proper to call him (her?) a “Roman Catholic theologian”?

Wyneken loves loaded words. “Exclusion,” “hierarchical,” “subjection.” Those terms carry far different connotations in our culture than they did for, say, Paul in Ephesians 5. (The word there is “subordinate” [“to order under”], not “subject.”) Wyneken states, without any exegetical support whatsoever, that “Hierarchy is introduced as a result of the fall in chapter 3, thus its intervention is a part of what might better be called ‘the Order of Fallen Creation.'” However, if the relationship of men and women is “hierarchical,” then how must we interpret the relationship of God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” To follow Wyneken’s logic, the relationship of the Son and the Father must also be a part of the post-fall creation. No doubt an explanation will follow along the lines of, well, of course, Jesus only became Man after the fall. But Paul nowhere suggests such a thing.

Does the New Testament, for example in Ephesians 5, call for a one-way, hierarchical “submission” on the part of women to men? One simple response to this is to note that the opening statement that heads this whole section on various roles, verse 21, calls for submission to be mutual. True Christian submission is gender-neutral. Every member of the Body of Christ willingly offers it in servant love for the good of his/her fellow human being. This submission is voluntary and in no way is to be confused with the coerced submission often demanded in the world, as in past it has been of women.

Next, we have the tired assertion that “True Christian submission is gender-neutral,” based on Ephesians 5:21. This exegetical leap is untenable. Once again, when we read the whole passage in context, we find that ridiculous things logically follow. For example, if we hold to Wyneken’s argument, parents must obey children and masters must obey slaves. Mutual submission in the sense that Wyneken means it is not only not what Paul had in mind, it is absurd and impossible. Rather, v. 21 is both the conclusion to the previous section and an introduction to the next. Ephesians 5:22 ff. describe what that mutual submission looks like. Not everyone submits in the same way, lest children be in charge of parents and slaves tell their masters what to do.

Instead, how should husbands, wives, parents, children, slaves, and masters submit? Notice, first, that these are all relationships, as is God the Son’s to God the Father. Husbands submit to Christ, wives submit to husbands, parents to God, children to parents, slaves to masters, and masters to Christ. Further, God the Son willingly submits to God the Father and the Church submits to Christ. If this passage should be understood as Wyneken understands it, not only would we have anarchy in the home and in the workforce, but the Church should rebel against Christ and take her rightful place as head of the household of God. Shall we not, in a sort of French revolutionary way, cut off the Head, and let the Church take His place? See what sort of absurdities and blasphemies follow from the pro-OW faction (sect?)?

If we as Christians want to speak of ourselves as in or under some kind of “order,” why would it not be that of the New Creation, the Order of Redemption?

And, though Wyneken is blind to the fact, that is exactly what Paul is doing in Ephesians 5. He is not speaking about unregenerate people between Fall and Redemption; he explicitly has in mind the Church of Christ.

While on this subject of the order of creation we might mention that the way the Biblical creation accounts have been used for support may actually be quite un-Lutheran, that is, contrary to Luther’s actual exegesis of Genesis 1-3. Luther, it appears, did not understand these texts to be saying that subordination and hierarchy was an inherent feature of the original creation. He held that it was introduced with the Fall, in chapter 3. It was John Calvin, some suggest, who advanced the notion that the original creative design included hierarchical orderings. Today most interpreters, including Calvin’s Reformed descendents, would probably find Luther’s insight preferable. The sad irony is that we have some Lutheran theologians now who prefer Calvin’s view and advocate it.

This is a nice, old device, and Wyneken uses it beautifully. See, if you disagree with his sort, he will trot out the second favorite four-letter word of the (for lack of a better word) liberals in the Missouri Synod: Calvinist. (You will also find yourself labeled as an evil Calvinist if you speak of anything resembling the dreaded “Third Use”–I prefer “function”–of the Law.) I especially like this part: “It was John Calvin, some suggest…” “Some suggest”? Who? Once again, the nameless authority comes out to prop up an argument.

It should be noted, before I attempt to counter this false interpretation of Genesis 1-3, that those associated with DayStar (at least all the ones with which I’ve had the pleasure of speaking) hold that Genesis 1-3 are a mythic depiction of the origins of the creation, which speaks of the reality of sin without attempting to describe how the creation actually came into existence (because, as everyone knows, God used evolution to accomplish His creative will. I mean, it’s right in the Creed: “I believe in God the Almighty, divine orchestrator of beneficial mutation.”) But when it suits them, they will use it as support for any cause for which they advocate.

In order (no pun intended) for Wyneken to win the argument, he would have to argue that the curses in Genesis 3 are mere arbitrary and capricious examples of the subjective will of God. Instead, we see that they are specific curses based on the specific roles of the first man and first woman in the unspoiled Garden.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Next, Wyneken will argue that both men and women gave birth pre-fall, and that both men and women had “husbands.” Thus was pre-fall humanity “gender-neutral.”

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Other than the last part of the passage, which clearly applies to both men and women (since both return to dust), the curse is primarily directed at what had been Adam’s primary role before the fall, i.e., working the ground of the Garden. Further, Adam did not fulfill his role by warning Eve not to eat of the fruit, so his curse is directed at the fact that he “listened to the voice of [his] wife” rather than fulfilling his role as the protector and head of the family. These are not gender-neutral curses. The roles of the man and woman prior to the fall were not the same, nor were they interchangeable. They had specific duties and responsibilities to carry out, and their curses are the distorted image of those roles. Their individual, God-given roles before the fall are apparent from the fact that they did not receive the same curse, but different consequences of sin followed for each of them. To deny this goes against everything that is said in the first three chapters of Genesis. Wyneken is simply disingenuous when he asserts otherwise.

A couple more comments: Galatians 3:28 as a fundamentalistic proof-text for radicalized equality of men and women should be done away with forever. It does make sense that they would continue to use it, however, considering that their forerunners the Montanists used it as well to justify their enthusiast prophetesses. Why don’t they follow their logic all the way, and use it to justify homosexual relationships? No men and no women, right? (Some of them have seen the logical end of the argument, and have gone there. I suspect most are afraid that their agenda will be seen for what it is and the LCMS will finally be done with them.) Galatians 3:28 has absolutely nothing to say about the relationship of men and women, other than the fact that whether you are male or female, slave or free has no bearing on whether you can be a Christian. Surely they have something stronger than “In Ephesians 5, Paul wasn’t being consistent.” That’s the usual mode of argument with people who can’t be trusted to believe all the Scriptures. It makes it easy, though. If I have trouble reconciling two passages, I can just say that Paul didn’t write the one I don’t like. See? No problem.

Finally, what is driving the unrelenting promotion of the ordination of women? I do not think that it is the culture of our society (although it certainly fits very comfortably with our culture, doesn’t it?). Rather, as with most of the agenda items of this group of people, it is the false dichotomy they have built between Law and Gospel. They truly believe that if women are prohibited from the Office of the Holy Ministry, it is a Law–even if it is Divine–that must be done away with. And, according to their understanding, the Gospel is that which does away with Law. This is the deeper and more subtle antinomianism with which they are infected. They will deny that they are antinomian, but by the way that they pit Gospel against Law, they cannot avoid the logical consequences of such argument. They will cry “Gospel, Gospel, Gospel!” but theirs is a Gospel by which God “trumps” His own Law, and by which Law has no validity for the Christian other than its accusation. Surely, lex semper accusat. But just as certainly, the law cannot only accuse. But, in fact, the Law is simply what God has built into His creation as the way it runs. Hence, to go against the Law is to go against His creation. To put women into an Office into which Jesus would not put them is to go against both Law and creation, and the rotten fruit of such a decision has already been reaped in such places as Her Church. (Interesting video here.)  It is significant that the Jesus who was not afraid to say, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” did not call even one female out of twelve to be an Apostle.  They love the radicality of Jesus’ preaching, but when it comes to women, “He didn’t want to upset the culture in which He was living.”

If you think Her Church and the like are an anomaly, you aren’t paying attention. They have another spirit, and they have another god. The ordination of women is nothing less than the precursor to worshiping a god other than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They may do that if they choose, but it is not the God of the Christian Scriptures.

Let us be done with eisegesis and sophistry, and let them go to their own elsewhere. Yet I have no doubt that they will try to take the LCMS down with them, if and when they go.



Nothing New Under the Sun

Benjamin Kurtz, a member of the General Synod of Lutherans in the 19th century, wrote in 1859:

If we are permitted to judge from what appears in the Alt-Lutheraner and the Lehre und Wehre, we [the General Synod] would be constrained to believe that they [Missouri Synod and others] can find or see Christ nowhere but in the sacraments.  They presumptuously denounce all others who do not hold to their views, and would exclude from the Lord’s table any Lutheran who may be connected with the General Synod.  There is scarcely a week that they do not anathematize the General Synod and the [Lutheran] Observer, because it is planted upon the basis of this body.  To hope for union or fraternization with such selfish, such exclusive views, would be worse than folly.  They are a class of spiritual Ishmaelites; their appropriate place is in the Church of Rome, where men believe what they are told the church believers, and not what the Bible and the Holy Ghost teach them.  An inanimate congregation of wax or clay might be formed by passing them through the same iron mould, but a community of immortal minds, whose divinely delegated prerogative is “to search the Scriptures,” “to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good,” never, no, never!  Revolutions do not go backwards; the Reformation of the 16th century was emphatically a revolution in the sentiments and dogmas of Christendom, and you will never turn the church back into that night of barbarism and spiritual bondage out of which she emerged at the Reformation, while the Holy Spirit makes men free with the liberty of Christ.

Ten years earlier, Kurtz had written this:

Who, then, are the [Church] “Fathers”?  They have become the Children; they were the Fathers when compared with those who lived in the infancy of the Jewish dispensation; but, compared with the present and advanced age, they are the Children, and the learned and pious [!] of the nineteenth century are the Fathers.  We are three hundred years older than Luther and his noble coadjutors, and eighteen hundred years older than the primitives; theirs was the age of infancy and adolescence, and our that of full-grown manhood.  They were the children; we are the fathers; the tables are turned.

(Both are quoted in Lawrence Rast’s Introduction to the new CPH reprint of Charles Porterfield Krauth’s The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [2007].)

Sound like anyone you know?


A Different Supper

This is issued as a friendly warning to our brothers and sisters in the ELCA and to those in the LCMS who would have no problem communing with them or allowing them to commune with us.

We might ask, Do they not believe the same thing as us? Do they not confess the real, physical presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood, along with the bread and wine, in the Sacrament of the Altar? How can we refuse to share with them the Supper which they, too, confess? [“In Holy Communion — often called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist — those who come to the table receive in bread and wine the body and blood of their Lord.”]

It is true that they hold officially to the Lutheran confessional writings, especially the Augsburg Confession.

This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches [I wonder, have the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Moravians, and UCC accepted these?] that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.

This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid [but often wrong] interpretations of the faith of the Church.

However, they have denied in practice and action what they say they confess. They have entered into pulpit and altar fellowship with those who explicitly deny the physical presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper. This was reaffirmed at the most recent General Assembly when they confirmed their fellowship with the worldwide Moravian Provinces (having already entered fellowship with the Moravian Church in America). Let us not forget that they have already extended the right hand of fellowship to Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the ultra-apostate United Church of Christ. They have denied by these actions the Faith they claim to confess.

What if we were to ignore these actions and take them at their word? If we commune with them, we commune with all those with whom they commune. The table at which they commune, with all of the deniers of the physical reality of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament, would then be our table. It is this that we cannot allow to happen in our churches. Those who continue to hold membership in the ELCA must be informed of this, lest they continue to hold their membership in a church body that denies what they believe.

The practice has indeed affected the belief. The rule of belief has followed the rule of prayer. Heterodoxy follows heteropraxy. I spoke to an ELCA youth director who told her Jewish friend, “They believe Christ is really present while we believe that it’s just a symbol. So you couldn’t commune at their church, but you could commune at ours.” (Needless to say, her Jewish friend was not a Messianic Jew, nor was he even an orthodox Jew!) Regardless of the “official” teaching, this youth director, in a position of authority at an ELCA congregation, held the view espoused in the actions of her church body.

Besides the apostasy from the teaching of the Scriptures, of Luther and the Lutheran Confessions, and from thirteen hundred or so years of the Christian Church, the disunity caused by the actions of the ELCA, and the ecumenical movement in general, have deeper, possibly damning, consequences. The ELCA has joined in altar fellowship with those who, as our confessions recognize, do not even have the Lord’s Supper (see, e.g., Formula of Concord, SD, The Holy Supper, 32). By their explicit denial that they are doing what the Lord instituted, they do not have what He instituted. Jesus did not institute mere bread and wine as symbols of His absent body. Thus, the ELCA, which probably does retain the Lord’s Supper since it claims to do what the Lord instituted, is leading people belonging to those other confessions through disunity into judgment, and perhaps into damnation. They think that they can celebrate two contradictory suppers at the same altar, and they thereby confess two different Christs. Is Christ divided? Can one follow Luther, who followed Christ, and the other follow Calvin or Zwingli, and still be united? When Presbyterians or Methodists commune at ELCA altars, they are receiving what they think is mere bread and wine, and are thus receiving Christ’s Body and Blood to their judgment because of unbelief. Lord have mercy on those ELCA “pastors” who thus lead the sheep astray. They will answer to the Lord for their encouragement of such harmful disunity within the Body of Christ. May God lead them to repentance, before people are led to eternal damnation because of their false doctrine.