The Seventh Antithesis

The PMW‘s seventh antithesis reads:

We reject the teaching that the Public Ministry of the Word is limited to the ministry of a parish pastor.

I have no problem with this antithesis, as I understand it. This may surprise some who suppose that I (or others) might object to including school teachers, musicians and the like under the heading “Public Ministry of the Word.” But there are two good reasons I have no problem with this.

First, consider this earlier sentence in the statement, which elucidates the antithesis:

Therefore a presiding office, whether it is called that of pastor, shepherd, bishop, presbyter, elder or by any other name, is indispensable for the church.

In my long explanation of the PMW, I wrote:

This antithesis restates part of II.A.3, where we saw that there are several varieties of pastors, not just the parish variety. Each of the labels given in Scripture highlights a different aspect of the pastor’s duties, leading us to believe that the mix of duties could differ from individual to individual. Some, called bishops, might have oversight over all the churches in a region. Others might be associate pastors forming a kind of pastoral committee. There are many possibilities. Today, those we call missionaries and chaplains are certainly pastors of a sort, and theological professors among us are pastors too.

That’s the first reason I have no problem with it. As you can see, school teachers, musicians, and such are unrelated to the matter at hand, and are not included for consideration. (Such matters are considered under the next chief heading, “The Public Ministry of the Word in a Wider Sense, etc.”)

Second, I have no problem with it because this antithesis is refining the definition of an English expression that is not defined in holy scripture.
The expression is “the Public Ministry of the Word.” Even if (for the sake of argument) this antithesis meant to include school teachers under that term, it would only be describing our customary usage of an English expression. It would not be referring to the office that Jesus established, whose incumbents are charged as stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). The English term and the divinely-instituted office are two different things. The term is described in both a narrow and a wider sense, but the office exists perpetually, exactly as Jesus defined it.

One thought on “The Seventh Antithesis

  1. I’d like to point out the Circuit #8 Revision’s Antithesis #8

    “8. We reject the teaching that the public ministry of the Word is limited to the ministry of the parish pastor.”

    The reason I point this out is that the accusation by certain pastors in the ELS is that Pr. Preus and I have denied this.

    Rather, what has happened is that Pr. Moldstad and Prof. Teigen in their responses to the Circuit #8 Revision have mischaracterized us and by this mischaracterization have allowed us to be slandered.

    We agree with what you write “As you can see, school teachers, musicians, and such are unrelated to the matter at hand, and are not included for consideration.” Indeed these “offices” are allowed to be created or abolished by the church at their whim in their freedom. That is why one cannot doctrinally bind someone to the proposition that such offices “must” be considered as instituted by God in any way that could be confused with the permanent institution of the office of administrator of the Word and Sacrament to a local assembly (which is given the title “Pastor” by the PMW).

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