Friday, October 25, 2013

What Is He Trying to Accomplish?

Over the past several months I have learned from a number of individuals that there are people in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod who are wondering about my intentions in writing about women's ordination and issues in science and theology. Apparently the same question has surfaced among these individuals, namely, "Just what is he [Becker] trying to accomplish in the LCMS?"

I am surprised to learn of this question, since I thought my aims have been clear.

Permit me to repeat those goals:

(1) to encourage members within the synod to think differently about two issues, namely, (a) the synod's understanding of Scripture that insists that only qualified men may serve as pastor in the synod; and (b) the synod's understanding of Scripture that requires one to interpret the creation accounts in Genesis to be literal, historical descriptions of what God did in the not-too-distant past over the course of six actual 24-hr. days ("six-day creationism");

(2) to have the synod change its position that restricts the office of pastor only to men;

(3) to have the synod reject "creationism" in favor of a more robust doctrine of creation, one that sets forth a theological understanding that better accords with the language and genre of these Genesis texts and that better accords with what people today know to be true and valid about the natural history of our planet.

My concern is that the synodical positions against women's ordination and in defense of "creationism" cannot be defended theologically, at least not persuasively. The position on "creationism" is especially susceptible to strong theological and scientific criticism. Finally, these synodical positions do harm to the mission of the LCMS in our egalitarian and scientifically-informed society and they do harm to individual consciences.

I believe it is the responsibility of academic theologians within a given church body to cast a critical eye on those theological positions of the church body that are questionable and debatable--and to set forth theological understandings that are more persuasive. I think we can learn something from Martin Luther in this regard.