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Women’s Ordination…

March 28, 2007

Here is an essay by Frederica Matthewes-Green expressing an Orthodox perspective on the ordination of women.

The words that jumped out of the essay for me were these:
“I don’t mind if Protestant denominations want to ordain women. Many times, this just means allowing them to do things Orthodox women have always done.”
I am intrigued by one thing in the conversation that has been taking place in LMC regarding this issue. It seems that we have leaped over a more fundamental theological issue in the conversation. That is, what is the theological significance of ordination? Since the word is not used in the New Testament, what sources are we drawing from to guide our thinking on what the meaning of ordination is? I have heard the pragmatic answers, but I have yet to hear a deeper engagement with Scripture and Tradition.
At the LMC Leadership Assembly, time was spent considering what missional authority might look like. A question for me is this–what is the relationship between missional authority and ordination. I would assume that one could have missional authority without being ordained. What then is the authority that comes with ordination and how is it distinct from missional authority?
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Landes permalink
    March 30, 2007 6:57 pm

    Two interesting stories about MCUSA’s response to the Lancaster Menn. Conference vote are at:


  2. April 11, 2007 6:44 pm

    Yes, I fully agree with that sentiment of Frederica Matthews-Green. Ordination means different things in different denominations. At one point some Anglicans held a vew of bishops, priests and deacons (the ordained ministries) that were quite close to Orthodoxy, but by the time they got round to ordaining women they didn’t know what they were ordaining them to, and they didn’t want to know. And Methodists and Congregationalists and Presbyterians and Baptists and Pentecostals all have different ideas.

    Have you ever read Ralph Winter’s essay on “Two redemptive structures”? You should be able to find it on the web somewhere with a Googole search. It’s not an Orthodox source, but it does give a rough idea of the distinction.

    There are the local church ministries of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, they are ministries of order, and so people are ordained to them, and trained for them. That is the “three-fold ministry.

    But the charismatic (or missional, if you prefer) ministries, the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor/teachers is different. One is not ordained to those, they come directly from the Holy Spirit and are recognised by the church. And you find women in them as well as males. St Nina of Georgia was an apostle, so was St Mary Magdalene. St Mary Madalene was not ordained, she was just in the right place at the right time, a witness to the resurrection.

    I could go on long, too long, so better stop.

  3. lancastertheoblogy permalink
    April 11, 2007 7:14 pm

    Thanks for your visit and comments. I will look up the essay by Ralph Winter.

    “they (ministries in the missional/charismatic expressions of church) come directly from the Holy Spirit and are recognised by the church.”

    Interesting. In our local ecclesial context, Lancaster Mennonite Conference, the point of tension arises on the question of ordination of women. It seems the issue is not surrounding has the Holy Spirit given gifts to women, but rather should they be ordained. This stance seems to be inconsistent with the more missional/charismatic understanding of order in the Anabaptist movement.

  4. April 12, 2007 8:16 am

    You can find Winter’s article here. If the link doesn’t work, just type “winter redemptive structures” into Google.

    I’m not really familiar enough with Mennonite ecclesiology to comment on ordination, but I suspect that the question is not “Why should we ordain women?” but rather “Why do we ordain males?”

    What are ordained ministers called, and what are they expected to be and do?

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