Tuesday, 25th July, 2000

I am sitting here in the Synod, up at the front table where I am supposed to be taking minutes on my laptop computer (actually, it turns out that I have been given the job of doing the powerpoint presentations of the motions and ammendments as they come from the floor). There is an Openbook presentation going on, so I am not very busy. I have just put away the book on Newman by Jaki that I am reading, and decided to write a few things down for this.

A couple of things that Jaki’s book on Newman claims he taught:

"Did he not most emphatically deny to the laity precisely that leadership which is to speak authoritatively in matters theological, even though he wanted them to be consulted and to be fully articulate?"

"A book cannot defend itself from false interpretations."

I am in a bit of a turbulent state at the moment. At the end of the last session, the vote on the Ordination of Women was announced: 220 for, 195 against, 1 abstaining. We had spent the whole day debating this, with almost 60 speakers. Just before the announcement, I found myself in a discussion with one pastor with whom I went through Seminary and who now looks like taking a teaching role in the church, a man who claims to stand for confessional scriptural theology, but in fact does neither (and, incidentally, claims that infant baptism is in the same category as ordination of women, since it is ‘permited’ by scripture, but not explicitly commanded). He would claim that such a statement as I have just made is “arrogant in the extreme”. When I told him that I do not think that scripture or confessions can be interpreted rightly apart from the tradition of the church, he said that I was moving outside of my ordination vows. He went on to say that he “feared for" me and would “pray for" me, implying that my theology is going off the rails and that I am in mortal danger of some kind. What arrogance on his part!

In any case, I really am not feeling at all well in my soul. (Perhaps I am in mortal danger!) A result such as this is a loss for both sides—for the pro-side because it was not over 66%, and for the anti-side because it was under 50%.

I cannot accept that this Synod has any teaching authority in the church at all. P. says that although this Synod opened with the statement that it regards the Scriptures as the only infallible source and norm of all doctrine, yet it regards itself as an additional infallible interpreter of the scriptures. I cannot accept that it has authority to do this.

Now I have a true crisis of authority: the pastors’ conference does not regard itself as having the right to teach on doctrine, the synod does. This is back to front.

Lutherans for Life did a short presentation with some pictures of little babies in it. I started crying. I miss Maddy and Cathy and I just wanted to go home to be with them. I know that Cathy does not share my views, but she does sympathise, and I long for her love and her comfort. I feel very much out in the cold at the moment. I am a long way from home, and I am still sailing that deep wide ocean between saying “I want to be a Roman Catholic” and actually finding my way into the harbour of the Church.

I am back at my aunt's now. I think it is pretty obvious now where the church is headed. It can do no other than eventually pass this motion for women to be ordained to the office of the ministry. O God. I really have to face far more now than I ever have before the possibility that the Lutheran Church of Australia is no church at all.

Another senior pastor and teacher whom I greatly respect came up to me today, took me aside and said: "Don’t leave us". When I told him that the most important thing of all for me was that I be the Catholic that I am, he said: "Be a Catholic in the Lutheran Church". Now, this was before the vote was announced--if I thought before that I cannot be a Catholic in the Lutheran Church, I certainly think it now.

When I get home, I will begin preparation for my anulment application. I will hang around in the LCA until my anulment is granted and our marriage is blessed, and then I will move on. I will begin other procedural explorations as well. In the meantime, God grant me the grace to continue my ministry in good faith until it is possible for me to profess my faith as a Roman Catholic. I can’t stay in the LCA, I just cannot. To do so would be completely against the grain for me.

It seems that there are both objective and subjective forces at work within me. The subjective force is the recognition that I am, at heart, a Catholic, and that my greatest desire is to be in communion with the Roman Pontiff. The objective forces are those forces within the LCA that are making it more and more impossible for me to remain faithful to the Catholic faith within the LCA.

There is one song that has been repeated a couple of times today: “The Church of Christ in every age”. Its verses are very pertinent in some places:

The Church of Christ in every age
beset by change, but Spirit led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.

We have no mission but to serve
in full obedience to our Lord;
to care for all, without reserve,
and spread his liberating Word.
There it is.

Sunday, 23rd July, 2000

Today, the Synod began. I am staying at my aunt's home in Nuriootpa. Its very late. I just got in after a late session of Aboriginal Reconciliation rites.

Incidentally (as if it were relevant) Mike Semmler was elected next General President.

But the reason why I have fired up the computer this late at night is to say that after the speech by Dr Ishmael Noko (General Secretary of the LWF), P. lent across to me and said “I think I am a Roman Catholic”. This is the most positively that he has yet stated it. Later when I was talking to him, I said that I had rather thoughtlessly told Vernon that we had been to see John Fleming. P. said: “I don’t care who knows anymore.”