Thursday, August 23, 2007


It is well known and established that Concordia Theological Seminary of Fort Wayne would never do anything against the Gospel and the Confessional heritage from which the school derives its name. It should be no surprise, then, that this Missouri Synod seminary is hosting this week the general retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity, a society of mostly ELCA priests and priestesses. I see no problem there. In fact, my favorite part of the whole thing is the fact that for the past three days all sorts of men, and women, can be seen walking around campus dressed in clerical collars and cassocks. I take this as evidence that the seminary does not see this as in any way offensive to elderly lay Lutherans (and potential donors) that might visit the campus, or to the Synod bureaucrats who might get wind of such cassock wearers. I know I'm not offended. It is open minded, welcoming, and ecumenical of the seminary to host such an event.

To be serious, though, I do believe it is worth finding out if one of the scheduled preachers for this year's STS Retreat, Pastor Erma Wolf, is a man or a woman. And I do believe it is worth asking the seminary administrators if it is truly comfortable hosting such an organization.

The chance to get pictures of some of the sights of this event was almost too good to pass up, yet I was without a camera. Nor am I sure of the copyright legality of pasting here pictures of a past retreat, so that you might get a feel for what went on in Ft. Wayne this week. But I will offer the following link: from which you can click the 2007 retreat, and then click to the photos of the 2005 retreat, and see some really nice shots of the type of gathering I'm talking about.

Long live the Fort Wayne seminary, which is proving itself more and more to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.


Bryce P Wandrey said...

I wonder if you have ever convinced anyone of their perceived error by using offensive and derogaroty terms; reference your use of "priestess"? Is this your intent? To convince women priests that they aren't priests by calling them "priestesses"? Or do you think that women priests are properly called "priestesses"?

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

1. I do think it is proper to call women priests "priestesses," and certainly far far more polite than to call them what some call them, such as "priestitutes," or worse (I don't condemn such language either, mind you, for there may indeed be a place for it).

2. If I were aiming to convince a woman that she has no such ministry and no real ordination, I would speak with her in such a way that she and I could cordially and effectively communicate, as I have done in the past, though I don't see the need to report here to you how that conversation would go.

3. I wonder what you mean by "perceived" error. Do you think it is an actual error, or only "perceived" for a woman to be ordained to the ministry of the Gospel in the ELCA? If you agree that it is an error, then what is your opinion of the Ft Wayne Sem. hosting their retreat, where they get to wander around campus in cassock and collar? That is the point of the post.

Father Hollywood said...

In his very charitable essay about women's ordination, C.S.Lewis used the term "priestesses."

I think part of the problem with acceptance of women's ordination is our use of gender-neutral terms like "pastor" and "minister" (as well as using the titles of address "Pastor" and "Reverend").

In using the terms "priest" and "priestess" the farce of women's ordination is exposed - since we all instinctively recoil from the term. Women clergy hate the term. Why? I argue that it is visceral.

Even in the Church of Sweden in which Lutheran pastors are always called priests (praest) - the female clergy are *never* called "priestesses" - since that term has pagan connotation. And why is that? Interesting, isn't it?

The people of God have always been peculiar in *not* having priestesses - in Old and New Testament times alike.

The predominance of the neuter gender in the English language has aided and abetted women's ordination. For every term used in NT Greek to describe the pastoral office is in the masculine gender - which presumes the masculine sex.

By using the terms "priest" and "priestess" - as well as the clerical address of "Reverend Father," we are demonstrating on a primal level the abomination of ordaining women.

The advocates of the practice are hiding under the skirts of the English language's neuter gender. Using non-gender-neutral terminology exposes it: hence the negative reaction.

To be cloyingly Lutheran about it, women clergy need law, not gospel. If they are offended at the term "priestess" than they need to examine why that is, examine their lives and doctrine, and repent.

Pastor Sherrill said...

Dear Latif,

This is sad to hear and see. Are you a student at CTS? I take it you were there? Was there any involvement from our faculty? Has there been any response to the woman who preached on campus, or to the LCMS pastor who preached at the Divine Service or about the week in general?

In Christ,

Pastor Adrian Sherrill
Trinity, Denver (LCMS)

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Pastor Sherrill,
Sometimes I wonder if my sarcasm undermines clarity. I'm glad you caught on to the seriousness of the matter. Lutheranism, or at least the Lutheranism in which I am immersed, is such an absurdity that I must sometimes respond to it a bit absurdly.

I am not affiliated with CTS. The Ft. Wayne seminary and its administrators have wisely discerned that I am not fit for such affiliation. They want a certain type of graduate, and I'm not it. I certainly pray, though, that the matters on which I hold forth are not taken less seriously because of the source.

As to involvement with the STS retreat on the part of the seminary, we can say this much: it was all done with the permission, sanction, and even invitation of the seminary. However, I find it interesting that you will learn much more about this affair from ELCA sources (such as STS) than from Missouri sources (such as the CTS web site). This goes to show how proud the seminary is of their deeds. Just think, a few short years ago, the bastion of Confessional Lutheranism that was the Ft. Wayne faculty took a stand on the unionism of the Yankee Stadium interfaith service, and today just look at how boldly it stands on its convictions.

You ask about reaction. Perhaps it's still early, but I haven't seen any. Have you? if so, let me know. Private feelings of outrage might be expected to exist, yet I pray the Lutherans on that campus will be reminded that they are not called to mere private outrage. Perhaps they will yet stir up the gift that has been given to them.