In the interest of good philosophic fun, I am conducting a hunt for the single worst argument in favor of women’s ordination. People arguing for such a role have to argue against tradition. It just was not done. They have to explain how a book (the Bible) shot clean through with patriarchy isn’t. Finally, they have to assault reason itself. (More on that later.)Part of that assault on reason has been the production of some of this worst scholarship this side of Kent Hovind.Today’s candidate for bad argumentation could be called the “Luther was an Anti-Semite” argument.Advocates of women’s ordination have a problem. Nobody read the Bible (or orthodoxy) their way until very, very recently. All the great heroes of the faith, including women saints, supported traditional roles for women until very, very recently. That makes women’s ordination look like an innovation coming to the Church from the worst part of secular culture, not a move of the Holy Spirit.So what is to be done?Find out that (the horror!) some men in the Church (even big names!) were misogynists.Second, point out that Church leaders were not always perfect. Here the fun thing to do is to point out that “Luther was an anti-semite”.Why is the argument bad?First, it ignores the universal consensus of the Fathers. Unless a male priesthood is held to be a sign of a low view of women in and of itself (begging the question), many church leaders (including the female saints) were not misogynists. They also did not support women’s ministry.There is no absolute consensus on “racism” or “anti-Semite” thought as there is on the issue of women’s ordination.About any odd belief can find a Church leader in history to be its advocate (ask the Mormons!). What should concern the leaders of the women’s ordination movement is the consensus. . .not any given name.Second, the Luther argument implies that if a great thinker pops off in a bad way in some area at the edge of his thought, we can freely dismiss serious discussion of views instrinsic to his theology or way of reading Sacred Scripture and tradition.If only Catholics knew! They could solve any problems with Lutherans by saying, “Well, we know that Luther made some strong arguments, but he was an anti-Semite!” This is a pretty all purpose defeater.
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