There is a great post over at an interesting First Things blog called Evangel about the recent resignation of the Lutheran bishopette in Germany. One of the biggest reasons I find for why there should be no women in the episcopate can be found in the kind of women who seek what they see as a position of power (rather than servanthood and sacrifice) and what they do to revealed Word of God in the process. Here are some excerpts of a guest post by Rev. Dr. Holger Sonntag about the resignation of Dr. Margot Käßmann, who was the head of the EKiD and the bishop of the largest territorial Lutheran church in Germany recently. My bolds:
What caused her to resign? On February 20, at 11 p.m., the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, she had been caught running a red light while intoxicated. The police established her blood alcohol content as .154%. While her fellow council members assured her of their ongoing trust in her in a telephone conference on February 23, but left the final decision up to her, she resigned nonetheless on the following day. As she put it once, she wanted her “personal power to convince” to be “unhampered.” And this public moral failure was apparently seen by her as a major hindrance to such authenticity.
The reactions in Germany range from dismay (not so much about her drunk driving, but about her resignation) to respecting her integrity. Many saw her as a dynamic, honest leader who made the church credible again in the eyes of non-members. Others, however, saw her as a divisive figure who felt constrained to comment on any number of social and political issues, even without (or against) God’s clear Word, and who personalized her office as probably no one had done before in recent history.
What can be said about this major event? First of all, it was perhaps providential that she resigned from her offices on the day of St. Matthias, the man who was chosen to replace Judas.
Perhaps it was because she did not hold her office legitimately, Dr. Käßmann made it all about herself: her views, her positions, her opinions, but also her integrity, her moral attitude. In a variation of Jesus’ saying, one could say: Those who live by authenticity will die by authenticity. Behind her Ego striving for societal stardom, the office and its actual tasks withered away. Since she did not allow the office to limit and focus her self, the office in turn then also offered her no support in times of need. Accordingly, the publicized media commentary asked only: with her moral stature and claim, can she still continue after such a public moral failure? The question was no longer asked, not even in the churches she led: does her teaching agree with God’s Word and the Lutheran confessions?
Public opinion, fostered by the likes of Margot Käßmann, on the other hand, is naturally Donatist: moral credibility and authenticity is all it knows, both in political and ecclesiastical leaders (is this the hidden self-righteousness of the “little guy”?). And, of course, morality is here not measured by God’s Word, but by what everybody thinks is good, right, and salutary. Being for homosexual pastors, for divorce (Dr. Käßmann is divorced), and against war is then good, progressive, courageous, and loving. Being against women’s ordination, divorce, and for war, on the other hand, is bad, medieval, and discriminating against women. This type of moralism, that is actually a characteristic of unbelievers, should not hold sway in the church. Here the first question should be: what is a teacher’s teaching? Does it agree with God’s Word? Moralism, to be sure, spurred many a reform movement before Luther (just think of John Wycliffe, but also Erasmus of Rotterdam), but it typically missed the doctrinal boat entirely. The corrupt life of a minister or bishop became the focal point of popular outrage; no one cared about his teachings. Pastors experience this even today: deny baptismal regeneration, and no one even notices; move the baptismal font by one inch, and you’re in hell. On the contrary, Luther emphasized: life is earth; doctrine is heaven (cf. Am. Ed., vol. 27:41-42). This is to say: every Christian’s life is going to be messy because we are and remain sinners, although we strive by the power of the Holy Spirit to be more and more holy in our lives as well. Yet our doctrine comes from God. It is not only perfect; it makes us perfect because it is God’s light brining us the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Tolerance ought to be extended to a messy life, not to messy doctrine. Because with doctrine, heaven and hell are at stake.
Be sure to follow our Moderator at Eccentric Bliss, his personal blog!