Those who know me know that I am firmly opposed to the ordination of women. Yet many of them can’t understand why I am so adamant on this, since it seems such an unimportant issue and so contrary to common sense. How could I be so unreasonable? They are even more puzzled when they discover that I did not always have a strong conviction on this matter. I have therefore been asked why I have changed my mind on whether women may be pastors, and why this matters so much to me.Read More
You, My People, Shall be Holy: A Festschrift in Honour of John W. Kleinig. Edited by John R. Stephenson and Thomas M. Winger. St. Catharines, Ontario: Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, 2013. Hard cover, 336 pages. Click here.
The influence of Dr. John W. Kleinig (b. 1942) has extended far beyond the boundaries of his native Australia, as this well-deserved festschrift amply attests, including essays by colleagues not only from “down under” but by grateful co-workers in the United States, Canada, Finland and Germany. Even as Dr. Kleinig’s work has been multifaceted, engaging Old Testament exegesis, doctrinal theology, liturgical studies and pastoral care, so the essays in this handsomely executed volume testify to the depth and breadth of the honoree’s academic and churchly interest.
Years of teaching the book of Leviticus came to culmination in the publication of Dr. Kleinig’s commentary by Concordia Publishing House in 2003. In that work, he demonstrated the liturgical/sacramental dimensions of the Old Testament in general and Leviticus in particular. It is fitting, therefore, that this volume includes Chad Bird’s “The Tabernacle as a New Creation” and William Weinrich’s “Leviticus as a Christian Book: Patristic Instances.” Bird demonstrates how the Garden of Eden functioned as a prototype of the tabernacle, giving it both temporal and teleological significance in salvation history. Weinrich examines the use of Leviticus by patristic writers on Christological confession and ecclesial practice.
Several of the essays engage questions of church and office. Norman Nagel addresses ordination and authority in “Bestowing Hands and Potestas ordinis.” John Stephenson assesses the Reformer’s thoughts on the episcopal office in “Towards an Exegetical and Systematic Appraisal of Luther’s Scattered Thoughts on Episcopacy.” Thomas Winger takes a fresh look at the way in which the royal priesthood has often and wrongly been pitted against the office of the holy ministry, suggesting a more sure-footed and faithful path in confessing both as gifts from the Lord. Dr. Kleinig has faithfully and with significant suffering contended against those in his own Lutheran Church of Australia who would introduce to the church the novelty of women’s ordination. A telling essay, recounting how it was that women’s ordination was brought into European Lutheran churches, is provided by Gottfried Martens. Juhana Pohjola of Finland examines Luther’s understanding of the office in “Reflections on the Office of the Holy Ministry on the Basis of Martin Luther’s Genesis Commentary.”
Two essays echo Dr. Kleinig’s aversion to all forms of antinomianism, taking up the third use of the law, one by Kurt Marquart, “The Third Use of The Law as Confessed in the Formula of Concord,” and the other by David Scaer, “The Third Use of the Law: Resolving the Tension.”
Both in his classroom calling at Adelaide and in seminars and conversations around the world, Dr. Kleinig has surely demonstrated that he is a pastoral theologian par excellence. Themes of pastoral theology are expressed in essays by Ronald Feuerhahn, “Luther on Preaching the Word of God;” Andrew Pfeiffer, “Luther and the Pastor at Prayer;” and Harold Senkbeil, “Lead Us Not into Temptation: Acedia, the Pastoral Pandemic.”
Like his sainted teacher, Hermann Sasse, Dr. Kleinig has championed the place of the Lord’s Supper not only in the church’s doctrine but also in practice and in piety. Two essays are devoted to the Sacrament of the Altar. Pastor Brent Kuhlmann treats readers to Luther’s confession of Jesus’ body and blood in “Da er sagt. Solchs thut! Dr. Luther’s Confession Regarding the Consecration in His 1528 Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper.” Dr. Kleinig’s brother, Pastor Vernon Kleinig, surveys how the benefits of the Sacrament were confessed in Lutheran Orthodoxy in “The Benefits of the Lord’s Supper in Seventeenth-Century Lutheranism.”
Like Luther, Dr. Kleinig knows that God comes to us deeply in the flesh, in the things of creation. Scott Murray’s essay on the “Resurrection of the Flesh” and Roger J. Humann’s “John 2:1-11—Water into Wine: A Sign of the Messianic Kingdom” both demonstrate the anti-gnostic theme so dominant in Dr. Kleinig’s theology and spirituality. A theologically astute layman in the Lutheran Church of Australia, and a medical doctor, Ian Hamer has provided a very helpful critique of the tendency toward autonomy in contrast to holiness in “From Autonomy to Holiness.”
A former student, Adam G. Cooper, contributed a chapter on “Hierarchy, Humility, and Holiness: Ecclesial Rank in Dionysius the Areopagite.” Gregory P. Lockwood, a longtime friend and colleague of Dr. Kleinig on the faculty in Adelaide reflects on how peace is understood biblically in “Holiness and Wholeness: towards a Truly Holistic Understanding of ‘Peace’ in the Scriptures.”
A final feature of this festschrift is the inclusion of two hymns. “As Dear Children of the Father,” by Canadian pastor Kurt E. Reinhardt, reflects the evangelical nature of prayer from a baptismal perspective. A commemorative hymn commissioned by DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel was written by Stephen Starke and set to music composed by Phillip Magness, “You, My People, Shall be Holy,” demonstrates that the theology so eloquently taught and proclaimed by Dr. Kleinig is indeed doxological. Through the life and ministry of Dr. John W. Kleinig, the song of the church indeed goes on as God is invoked as our Father through His Son in the power of the Spirit. These hymns along with the essays in this Festschrift are a worthy tribute to a doctor of the church and confessor of Christ Jesus, whose patient and careful work in the Lord’s vineyard will continue to bear rich fruit in the years to come.
John T. Pless
Fort Wayne, In