A Christ-friend asks:
On May 28, 1996, I read in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that a 33 year-old theologian from Bonn and her 48 year-old colleague had been ordained as priests in the Old Catholic* Church. On thinking it over, I remembered that in the “Passauer Neue Presse” on Feb. 25, 1995 it was reported that the first female bishop now existed in the Lutheran Church in Germany. It is possible that more female bishops have since been appointed to the Lutheran regional churches. But whether there are one or more female bishops in the Protestant Church or one or more female priests among the Old Catholics* – the question arises: Has Paul and his epistles in the Bible outlived their usefulness? If the answer is affirmative, then they were merely words written by a person, and not God-given. Or did Paul allow his prejudice against women to flow into the divinely-inspired epistles when he wrote the following in I Corinthians 14:34-35:
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
Or has God become the spirit of the times which says this today and that tomorrow, which yesterday spoke through Paul against women in the congregation, and today holds a different view, in other words, being for freedom of speech for women in the church – at the present time? Have the Lutheran and Old Catholic churches become unfaithful to God? Or have they become un-faithful to Paul? Or have they betrayed both God and Paul?
It is all the same: If Paul’s statement is correct and comes from God, then both these churches have betrayed God and Paul. Both churches are then acting against Paul’s instructions which clearly read: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
What does the voice of the heart, the eternal truth, have to say to this?
The prophet answers:
The institutions of the churches and many of their splinter-groups comply with the words of the Bible which, as is known, is a selection of innumerable apocryphal writings. In these, as is also known, many revisers have interpreted their consciousness into countless passages. After having put together this combination of words that in its entirety is called the Bible, Jerome, the appointed reviser of the final draft, wrote to the pope: “You compel me to create a new work from an old one. Will there be even one person who does not curse me at the top of his voice for being a forger and religious blasphemer because I had the audacity to add to, to change or to correct several things?”
In theology it is usual to study the Bible of Jerome. What the theological students expect to gain by this I do not know, for one cannot study God. Jesus did not create theology but, on the contrary, gave us an understanding of what it meant to follow Him. At the time of Jesus, His followers were not so much intellectuals, but people from all walks of life. They were His apostles and disciples, both male and female.
Jesus never spoke a word against women. The female disciples were the equals of the male disciples. Jesus never made differences between them. Whether man or woman – both were free to speak to Him, and He taught everyone the gospel of love. He called upon His disciples, whether man or woman, to keep the commandments – that is, to do the right deed from His teaching in order to then take it out into the world to all those of open heart.
In “This Is My Word”* on pages 688-690, we read the following:
“1. Jesus came to a fountain near Bethany, around which grew twelve palm trees, and where He often went with His disciples to teach them the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. There He sat beneath the shade of the trees, and His disciples with Him.
2. And one of them said, ‘Master, it is written of old, Elohim made man in His own image, and created man and woman. Why do you then say that God is one?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, in God there is neither man nor woman and yet both are one, and God is both in one. He is She and She is He. Elohim – our God – is perfect, infinite and one.
3. Thus, in the man, the father is personified, and the mother hidden; and in the woman, the mother personified and the father hidden. Therefore, the name of the father and the mother shall be equally hallowed; for they are the great powers of God, and the one is not without the other in the one God.’ (Chap. 64:1-3)
... The one who, in the world, considers the woman inferior and places the man above the woman violates the law of life, the Father-Mother-Principle, which is the all-law.”
Whoever is opposed to women who speak out in the community and, in this discriminatory judgment, refers to Eve – who supposedly led Adam astray – should bear in mind that Eve merely offered Adam the apple but did not, however, force him to eat of it. After all, both of them knew that it was strictly forbidden to eat of the fruit of this particular tree. Therefore, if Adam happily took a bite from the apple, he must have had similar leanings as Eve, the alleged temptress, because he was not uninformed. And so, if one takes a closer look at the allegedly-tempted Adam and the alleged temptress Eve, the question of who may, or may not, speak in the community just about answers itself. Both man and woman should remain silent when in their everyday lives they do not fulfill what Jesus commanded of those who want to follow Him.
At some time or other, the intellectual Roman, Saul, became the disciple Paul, also called the apostle. Yet who speaks through his epistles? Saul, or Paul, or God through Paul? This may be sensed only by the person who has set out to become neither male nor female bishop, nor priest, whether man or woman, but solely the unworthy servant of God who has found his way to the voice of the heart. In him speaks the voice of the heart, God, the all-wise and eternal Spirit, which is immutable, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The voice of the heart, God, has never once said to me that His female children, His daughters, should remain silent in the community in order to give precedence to His male children, His sons. Both are sinners; Eve handed over the apple, and the desire of Adam, who knew it was forbidden, took a bite. Thus, both are equal in degree of sin.
The inner voice says: I Am the Father-Mother-God of all My children. It does not speak about differences.
The love of God does not differentiate between the tempter and the tempted, between a sinner and a saint. God loves everyone equally. The saint has turned toward God and has resolved to work for the order of the temple, that is, the cleansing or purification of his soul. In this way, he has drawn closer to God and is able to hear the voice of the heart. The sinner has turned away from God, continues to burden his soul and pays heed to the voice of man, which is mostly all-too-human. We have the free will to pay heed to Paul who makes differences between man and woman, or to Jesus and the voice of God, which loves all people equally, whether man or woman, sinner or saint.
However, the Lutheran institution and the Old Catholics should be clear about one thing: In their Bibles they have Paul’s instructions that they are no longer following. Both churches have thereby turned a part of their Bible into nonsense, which they will have to eliminate one day in order to replace it with their instructions. Perhaps there will then be epistles from bishops, as with Paul, namely those bishops who have appointed female bishops or ordained female priests.
The Christ-friend asks:
You said that the Lutheran Church and the Old Catholics have turned a part of their Bible into rubbish. In my opinion, not only are the above-mentioned instructions of Paul now rubbish, but, according to the teachings of these official churches, also a part of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Because at the end of it, Jesus spoke of the right deed: “Therefore, I compare the one who hears these words of mine and follows them with a wise man who built his house solidly upon a rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew about this house: and it did not fall in; for it was founded upon a rock. And the one who hears these words of mine and does not follow them should be compared with a foolish man who built his house upon sand. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell in, and great was its collapse.”
In some of the Protestant Churches, including the evangelical ones, it is taught that faith alone is sufficient; and from the Catholic side, one hears time and again that the Sermon on the Mount is utopian and not practicable in daily life. In this I see a fundamental curtailment of the teachings of Jesus.
The prophet answers:
It is primarily, but not exclusively, the Roman Catholic Church, which insists that one must take the words of the Bible literally. But it is also the one that interprets the words of Jesus as it sees fit, or does not take certain parts into account, like, for instance, Jesus’ statement toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount about the right deed. And in many Protestant Churches one skillfully weaves into the tangle of teachings that faith alone is enough. Is it not a cunning move to tie the mere believer to the institution in order to then justify raising priests and pastors into positions that grant absolution from sin to their fellow man – who can now count on the absolution of his transgressions even when he commits the same sin over and over again?
How would it be if a businessman put his hands in his pockets and said, “I believe that my business is flourishing. I believe that the work will get done on its own.” He will soon be forced to see that his business is not flourishing and that his work does not get done on its own, but rather accumulates day after day. An analogy to this is the statement attributed to Luther that belief alone is enough. The person who merely believes, sins, as Luther instructed: “Sin steadfastly, but believe even more steadfastly”– in this way creating mountains of sins. Who shall expiate these sins? Perhaps Christ who – as it sounds from the institutions – has done everything for us?
What would happen if the Christ of God were to take away our mountain of sin? Next to the decreasing mountain of sins, we would build up another similar one at the same time. In this way, we could never find salvation, but would remain sinners. Yet Jesus commanded us: “Be therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Since hardly anyone will claim that he is perfect, we should do what is right in order to become perfect. This means that we should use each day to recognize our sins and, with the help of the Son of God who is our Redeemer, to repent, clear them up and no longer commit them. The person who recognizes, repents and no longer commits his sins lives in active faith and thus, in the grace of God. He carries out the Lord’s teachings, thus building on the rock of Christ until he is firmly grounded in it and is perfect as a being in God, just as Jesus offered to all people.
* * Old Catholics, a splinter group of the Catholic Church that broke away when the dogma of the pope’s infallibility was established.
In the Bible of the institutions, in the Sermon on the Mount, it reads:
“You should not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say to you: Till heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter nor one dot will pass away from the law or the prophets until all is fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
According to the church institutions and their splinter-groups, everyone who refers to the verbatim implementation of the Bible and then removes the smallest letter from it, bears witness to his own worth.