From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LCMSNews -- No. 16 February 28, 2003

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 28 Feb 2003 14:43:31 -0800

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
Board for Communication Services

LCMSNews -- No. 16  February 28, 2003

CTCR completes report
on theology of 'divine call'

Placement of new seminary graduates, the dismissal of a pastor and whether a
pastor may resign from the office -- or even retire -- are among issues
tackled in a report on the "divine call" adopted by the Synod's Commission
on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) at its Feb. 17-19 meeting in St.

The commission also adopted an opinion that whether or not lay people,
including women, may teach theology to church-work students depends on how
"teacher of theology" is understood.  It reiterated that the "Scriptures
clearly teach that women are not to hold the pastoral office or carry out
its distinctive functions."

Although adopted, the new report -- "Theology and Practice of the 'Divine
Call'" -- will not be released until after the CTCR's next meeting, April
28-30.	The commission is expected to consider at that meeting an "addendum"
noting that two of its 16 voting members disagree with the report's position
on whether or not a call is always permanent.  In addition, a third member
indicated that he intends to submit a minority opinion.

Prepared in consultation with the Council of Presidents and representatives
of the Synod's terminal schools, the new report responds to an assignment
from the 1992 Synod convention.  It reviews the Biblical witness, the
Lutheran Confessions, the writings of C.F.W. Walther and the Missouri
Synod's historical practice as they relate to the call.

While the report directly addresses only the pastoral office, it says its
principles may be applied also to other called positions, such as for
teachers, deaconesses and directors of Christian education.

The opinion on lay teachers of theology was prepared in response to
questions from the Board for Higher Education/Concordia University System.

The commission noted that "teacher" is used in Scripture sometimes in
reference to a man who holds the pastoral office, at other times in a wider
sense.	When a teaching position has "the broader task of instruction and
explanation of theological matters ... there are no scriptural and
confessional reasons why lay persons or commissioned ministers may not serve
as 'teachers of theology' of students preparing for full-time ministry in
the LCMS," said the CTCR.

Does it make any difference whether a lay teacher of theology is male or

The commission said that "if 'teacher of theology' is used in the sense of
providing 'instruction' or 'explanation' analogous to the instruction that
takes place in, for example, theology departments in secular or
church-affiliated universities or in congregational Bible classes or Sunday
School classes, then a woman may serve as a 'teacher of theology.'"

A woman may not, however, serve in a position that is "responsible for the
proclamation and transmission of the official and authoritative public
teaching (publica doctrina) of the church by one who holds the office of the
public ministry," the CTCR said.

Like the report on the divine call, official transmittal of the response
will wait for the CTCR to consider one or more anticipated minority
opinions, said Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, the commission's executive director.

A third item of business handled by the CTCR at the February meeting --
questions from a dispute-resolution panel about prayers offered by LCMS
clergymen at certain types of events -- drew two minority opinions as well.

"This was a difficult meeting.	We did not reach consensus on these three
documents," Nafzger said.  But, he added, "it also was the commission at its

Nafzger said, "We worked hard, we were talking to one another, we expressed
disagreements, but it never turned ugly. ... We did our best to provide
guidance to the church."


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