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Women in Ministry: Are you Biblical?

posted by xscot mcknight

In teaching this course on Women, Mary, and Jesus, I have been working my way through some crucial texts as the biblical and historical context for what we read about Mary and about women in the earliest churches. Here’s a thought that keeps coming back to me: How biblical are our churches when it come to what women can do?
I ask this quite often as I’m studying: What did women do in the Bible? Is it not the case that what women did then is the paradigm for what women do now? (If we are guided by the Bible.)
1. Miriam was a prophet — Exod 15:20-21 — and she led Israel and the women in worship. She rebuked Moses for his relationship with the Cushite woman (Num 12:1-16). She failed to discern God’s special vocation for Moses. She’s seen by Micah as part of the original triumvirate (Mic 6:4).
2. Deborah was a prophet, a judge (political leader of Israel), and a “mother” of Israel — maybe maternal leader, maybe biological mother (see Judg 4:4; 5:7). She sings a prophetic song of interpreting Israel’s history and God’s ways in the world (Judg 5). (Did she write Psalm 68?)
African Bible Commentary: “Her achievement should put an end to debates about whether women can provide leadership” (300). Leadership, the writer says, is God’s “gift and gender-neutral”.
3. Huldah, surrounded as she was by Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habbakuk, is the one to whom Josiah sends Hilkiah and Shaphan to discern the ways of God when he hears the words of the book of the covenant read. She indirectly authorizes the text as God’s word by affirming it, and she prophesies the grace of God for Josiah himself.
Women lead the nation, women prophesy, women lead in worship, women rebuke other leaders, women interpret events in history to discern the redemptive will of God, and women confirm texts as Scripture/Word of God. Women make mistakes by critiquing God’s appointed leaders — Miriam sure did — but they are not stopped in their ministry. If God gifts, God’s people should recognize the gifts.
There’s more in the Bible; this is enough. Do texts like these perhaps put limits on “restrictive” texts in the NT (1 Cor 14; 1 Tim 2), are they simply exceptions, or are they OT stuff that became “old-fashioned” by the time of the NT?
I sometimes hear how the restrictive-texts folks are just doing what the Bible says but I wonder who is really doing what the Bible says. I’d say that a biblical church will empower gifted women to prophesy, lead, rebuke,and interpret history. They’ll do more, but at least these things they’ll permit.



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molly

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:02 am


Great post, Scott. As a former patriarchalist, I have to say it was the Bible that got me questioning my strong gender lines, not some “feminist agenda.”
It’s very interesting, of course, to see what many patriarchalists teach about the active women in the Bible. Because they believe that the “for-all-time commands” in the NT explicitly do not allow women to be in any position of authority over men, and becuase their inerrancy views do not allow them to believe that the Bible can support anything other than what it commands, they have to find ways to explain why it “appears” women were in authority.
I’ve both read and been taught that the passage about Deborah never says that the Spirit of God came on her, therefore she was an unlawful judge—-God never approved her and she was in SIN by being in a position of authority over men. I know many good God-loving people who firmly hold to this position.
Along the same lines, I’ve been taught (authoritatively, no less) that Priscilla didn’t actually teach Appollos—the text simply records she was there helping her husband, probably in the back room fixing flat bread for the men while they talked theology.
Miriam led the women in song, and that’s it, NOT men. Men who went to women for advice, such as the men who went to Huldah, were wrong for doing so. Pheobe did behind-the-scenes helpmate chores for Paul, Lydia opened her home and let the men run the meetings, etc, etc, etc…
For them, all the women mentioned in the Bible were in support roles only, never in active leadership unless they, like Deborah, were in sin.
I point this out not to poke fun in any way, but to demonstrate just how difficult it is to have a conversation about this topic with a strong patriarchalist, when the Bible is viewed through such a radically different lens.



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Ted Gossard

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:29 am


It is a breath of fresh air to be among a people in which women can do what God gifts and gives them to do. Whatever that is. We all need this, far more than we realize.
I love Molly’s point, and think it’s so true. Reading Scripture will challenge us in this area. Not feminism. (Though, apart from radical feminism, I think feminism has done alot of good. We haven’t helped much in that, I’m afraid.)



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:26 am


Scot stated,
“I’d say that a biblical church will empower gifted women to prophesy, lead, rebuke,and interpret history. They’ll do more, but at least these things they’ll permit.”
Is it significant, that Jesus, in building His Ekklesia for 3 1/2 years didn’t do these things within His own group? Were there women present in the midst of Jesus and his disciples / Apostles? Obviously, there were.
Was our Lord, then, a power hungry, patriarchal, egotistical, male chauvenist for not ordaining women among the twelve or the seventy?
Or was he so emotionally sensitive to the culture, having elevated progestorone levels, that he could not bring Himself to muster enough tenacity to follow his own Word?
It’s easy to allow the misdirected extremes of others to guide us into other extremes which may be just as misdirected, all because we question others and find them wrong or mistaken.
Let God and His Word speak for Himself and quit reading into it that which we desire to see.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:35 am


Benjamin,
I’ve read this twice and don’t know what you are saying: so, why not just make your point? And please keep it concise.



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:50 am


My experience has been a little different than Molly’s, though I think the end was the same. I was taught that these women did do exceptional things, but that is because they were exceptions. It was kind of used as a way to say, “See, I’m not sexist, I know some women can sometimes do great things for God.” But, since those exceptional women only come around once in a great while, and only by very special appointment of God, there was very little chance any woman in the current context could lay claim to being exceptional.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:00 am


Scot,
Diaprax is usually ineffective with me.
May I suggest a cup of hot, black coffee with high caffeine content? It helps the synaptic pathways to flow more smoothly, thereby enhancing conversation of all types.



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Danny Zacharias

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:06 am


As a former Plymouth Brethren, I have heard a different and more subtle counter to this that I’m not really sure how to deal with, perhaps Scot and others can shed some light.
The conversations usually go like this:
The whole issue about women in ministry is really a men in ministry issue. God has called men to be the leaders, and when men fail God raises women to do the job. The examples from the OT (especially Deborah) are examples of when a man was supposed to give leadership but sinned and did not. It was not God’s ideal. The same hold true in the church today — men are called to be the leaders and when a woman enters ministry as a leader it is because there is no godly men willing to step up to the responsibility.
That’s a summation of what I heard countless times in the Plymouth Brethren church. How do you argue with ‘logic’ like that? Absolutely everything becomes subordinated to the Timothy passage and this logic. Any woman in ministry in the Bible is only doing so in the absence of competant man. Oh the hoops we’ll jump through to maintain our narrow perspectives.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:18 am


Danny,
I’ve heard it a few times myself, and not a few times in the last few months on this blog. Overall the answer to it is simple: it is unbiblical. There’s not a clue in the Bible that men were not willing or able. More importantly, there is sometimes glaring evidence to the contrary, revealing the “logic” for what it is: special pleading.
Huldah was surrounded by Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. And Josiah and Hilkiah consult not them but Huldah.
When folks explain her (and by inference others) by that sort of logic it is evidence not of reading the Bible but of ideology.



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RJS

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:26 am


We all bring assumptions, mind-sets and convictions to the reading of the Bible – as illustrated by Molly and Jennifer and many other examples. On a different topic, I came across an example of this that impressed me while reading in a commentary by John Calvin. When commenting on a passage that apparently conflicted with some of his theological assumptions, the passage was rationalized as of course not literally true – but God accommodating himself to the view of mankind.
Ben Franklin in his autobiography ends an anecdote relating his move away from vegetarianism saying – “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” Franklin is not the best example of Christian thinking, but has interesting insights into human nature.
A human, as a reasonable creature, seems to be able to find a reason for almost every position within the pages of the Bible as well – usually by accepting some passages as literal and “clear” and rationalizing away conflicts or apparent conflicts.
Don’t we need to read and interpret the whole of revelation, through the Holy Spirit, to understand the message of God?



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:32 am


RJS,
I agree — and it is in reading the whole on this topic that has struck me time and again about “what women did” in the pages of the Bible. Are there critiques in the OT by others that what women were doing was inconsistent with the divine plan? Not that I know.
Did anyone criticize women prophets in the NT? No.
I’m about to write a piece on the Restrictive Movement Hermeneutic.



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Dan

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:43 am


I’m not sure very many who oppose women in “certain” positions object to a women as a superintendent of a school, or a woman as secretary of state, or a women on the supreme court or “deaconess” in a church. So the issue is not women in ministry as much as which ministry positions might be restricted, and what method of interpretation allows us to see Paul’s restrictive comments as less than absolute – and I think that is the point Scot is trying to address.
A couple of key questions: Were any women in the Old Testament consecrated as Priests? And, were any women in the New Testament ordained as overseers? If not, why not?
As long as the debate is about what scripture says, it is a healthy debate. If the debate begins to impose culture on the text, in my mind it becomes troublesome.



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RJS

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:51 am


Dan,
Many unfortunately do extend the restriction to any leadership position including superintendent of a school, or a woman as secretary of state, or a woman on the supreme court. It is a natural extension – women are not to lead men.



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John

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:57 am


I really like Dan #13’s comment – shouldn’t the people who restrict women’s role also do so outside of the building where the church meets? For some, this may mean that the woman who believes in restrictive roles may not take leadership positions in the businesses or possibly teach high school or college, otherwise they are separating “secular” and “spiritual” roles rather than seeing everything as spiritual (something which many probably do anyway).
I think there are usually deep emotional connections with our particular interpretations that form our “logic” in view of scripture.



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Beyond Words

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:24 am


Just last night I experienced how this restrictive line of reasoning becomes so pervasive that it colors how men view women at the core of their being. Bear with me as I try to articulate this.
“The restrictive-texts folks are just doing what the Bible says,” so they start supplying a separate hermeneutic for the Biblcial text for men and women. This prevents them from seeing the fullness of the women’s potential, I think.
Here’s an example. Last night my small group had an excellent discussion about avoiding pride, using various Proverbs as the text.
One of the pastors is in my small group, and he was brainstorming how the sin of pride might manifest differently between men and women. He said, “Men might be prone to pride in their skills, like building a bridge, and women might be prone to pride in their appearance and their bodies.”
He was receptive when I told him I have to pray to stay humble in the area of my skills–it’s exhilarating to see my byline in the newspaper all the time, for example–but it just hadn’t occurred to this man that women might struggle in this area.
I told my husband this morning that I’m so thankful he doesn’t view me that way. But these are the leaders in my church. Do they not recognize that women have skills–and may be prone to pride in the same areas men are–?
It’s so insidious, and it really disturbs me that their every thought about women is viewed through the restrictive lens.



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Phyllis

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:40 am


Scot,
Bless you for continuing to have this conversation over and over again on your blog. I hope the authority you carry here makes a difference. I’m always drawn here when you write on this topic, and always heatsick when I read the comments of those who won’t recognize the movement of the Holy Spirit in both genders. I don’t have the heart for the fight anymore.



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Kate Johnson

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:43 am


I like Ted’s point about feminists. While the radicals have taken things to an extreme, where would we be without them? If the church was doing it’s job, treating all as equals before God, we would never have needed the feminist movement… but we didn’t, so we do. When working in the social service field, I was often asked (by the liberals I worked with) how I could work there as a Christian and a conservative? They would say that only liberals care about the poor and downtroddened. How sad that this is the view… but back on point…
Lately, I have been experiencing this treatment (a woman’s place) again in my church (Baptist) and it is disheartening that we are still so far from God’s design. The excuse is that these women in the Bible are the exception, and “that Timothy thing” is really what God intends. As a strong and competent woman, I am very tired of this. I can teach counseling classes to men and women at TEDS but cannot reference scripture when giving a video testimony in church(it was all edited out). It grieves my heart.
One more point, saying that Deborah was God’s second best is like saying God really isn’t in control and has to settle… is that Scriptural when it comes to the omnipotence of God? I think not.



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Kate Johnson

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:49 am


BTW, I was away for 10 days… no computer or TV!… and it’s good to be back!! Ahhh, the blog world…



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Dan

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:53 am


Can I ask the question again? Were any women in the Old Testament consecrated as Priests? And, were any women in the New Testament ordained as overseers? That seems to be a key question.



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ryan

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:53 am


Scott,
thanks for the good post. I think this shuts the door on women leading in government, cities, and business. I am left to wonder though, if there are any examples of women as Priests in the OT. That seems to be one common thread in the OT and NT that I can not find. Maybe when we read 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 we should keep in mind these are only talking of Church settings and structures. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:08 am


Dan,
You can ask it all you want… but this post is about Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah and whether the church permits churches to do what they did.
Do you need answers to your questions? Aren’t the answers obvious? Isn’t the rhetorical intent also obvious? Does the absence of women in the priesthood have anything whatsoever to do with women as prophets and women as leaders (Miriam, Deborah)?
Women were advisors: see 2 Sam 14:1-33 and 20:16-22.
Athaliah ruled: 2 Kings 11:1-3. (That she was unwise doesn’t show it was wrong for a woman any more than wicked male kings exclude other males.)
The priestly issue has to do with purity laws of childbirth and menstruation.



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Marcia

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:09 am


probably in the back room fixing flat bread for the men while they talked theology.
Okay, Molly, perhaps you didn’t mean to be funny, but I did snicker at that.
I’ve heard all the same arguments against the women of the Bible.
And Benjamin Bush, I’ve had several cups of coffee, but still didn’t get your point. Guess I’ll join the others on the impaired synaptic pathways bench.



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Light

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:22 am


There seems to be a double standard when evaluating what men and women cannot do. We are advised to consult the Bible record to see what God permitted women to do. Once we parse all the details and see how biblical women exercised leadership and ministered, we can see what is and is not permissible for today’s women. This approach assumes that the biblical narrative reveals the completed scope of how women may be involved (or not) in ministry leadership.
If we applied this same hermaneutic to men today, what would we discover? We would discover that we have erred egregiously, because we ordain men as youth pastors, administrative pastors, ministers of music, etc., despite there being no mention of them in the biblical narrative.
Once again, hermaneutics in pink and blue.



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Beyond Words

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:27 am


Dont forget the NT story of Mary of Bethany who WASN’T in the kitchen making flatbread, and her sister Martha who was. If we miss the point of this story, we’ll think Jesus was rebuking Martha for being busy and distracted, but he was actually affirming Mary for being taught by the Rabbi like the men. :)



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Susan

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:29 am


Dan,
1Pe 2:4-5 says
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by human beings but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
In the NT, ALL believers are priests.
Gal. 3:28.



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Jason

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:48 am


My question for everyone would then be how you interpret the “restrictive texts” and the “Timothy thing”? Were they simply Paul’s opinion and not meant to be taken literally?



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Dan

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:58 am


“…this post is about Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah and whether the church permits churches to do what they did.”
With all due respect, the post is about women in ministry. It’s in the title of the post. And the question is about whether there are certain roles women have traditionally been not allowed to assume and whether we have been too restrictive in that regard. I think I’m on topic.
I would tend to agree with many here that the church has been too restrictive, but the question I raise is whether the lessening those restrictions legitimately extends to ALL roles. I think not, but could be convinced otherwise.
More consevative exegetes just have a hard time letting go of what Paul said, not only about allowing women to teach, but about elders being the “husband of one wife”.
Clearly there is evidence in both testaments that women did a lot and that women should be seen as “equal” in value, often equal or more equal in ability. “In Christ there is neither male nor female” is a text that must be dealt with. No argument there. But is there a principle in both Testaments that in spite of that equality, a very limited number of roles still were restricted to men, perhaps for reasons that have nothing to do with ability? The two examples that come to mind are Levitical Priests in the Old Testament and Overseer in the New Testament. If it can be shown that women held those particular roles, then would not the debate be over? If not, then the question remains, does the giftedness of women in later contexts override Paul’s particular statements.
In either case, in evangelical circles it seems women can and should be allowed to do most of what men do – the only issue being how “pastor” and “elder” relate to “overseer”, if indeed that is a valid restriction.



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Phil

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:22 am


When looking at the Timothy passage, is it relevant to ask what Paul’s intent was (assuming one holds to Pauline authorship . . . which I do)? Did Paul intend in his letter to instruct The Church about the roles of women for all places in all times? Or, perhaps, did Paul intend to address a specific problem in a specific church. If the latter, then we should be examining the “why” of Paul’s restrictions before we attempt to derive an all-encompassing application.
As for women in ministry, I think Scot has clearly shown that there are many examples of women ministering and leading in the scriptures. I think the most restrictive case that can be made from scripture would be to say (descriptively) male leadership is generally normative, but not absolute.
If (as is proven by all the examples of women in leadership) biblical leadership is not absolutely or exclusively male, then it is modern absolutists who argue against scripture, not those whom they criticize as being hijacked by feminism or culture.
Furthermore, even most modern absolutists are not as consistent in their application as they would like to think. Very few require women to keep absolutely silent in church. I don’t know of any who absolutely require women to not ask questions of their pastors or teachers but instead ask their questions only of their husbands at home. Nor do they usually have a problem with women instructing males who might be considered children in our culture but who would have been considered adult men during the NT period. … And let’s not even get started on head coverings, jewelry, and hair length.
My point here being that we all apply one hermeneutic or another to our reading of scripture. The best hermeneutic re women in leadership is that which takes into account the descriptive accounts of women in leadership roles while trying to interpret and apply Pauline passages which seem restrictive of such.



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Steve

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:22 am


I have a general comment about the majority of comments. Where is the context (biblical, sociological, governmental, etc; you know where I am going)of the passages being referred to or inferenced? Sure, this is a blog and you can’t write a commentary but, to make a good exegetical stab at the issue we must remember that there are a lot of other issues that speak to give a good contextual understanding of whom was being used and why. Exceptions to the rule? Maybe, maybe not; why, why not?



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Stephen Thompson

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:23 am


I think Jason (#27) makes a reasonable point and it’s the same question I had reading through this conversation. Deborah, Huldah, and Miriam were certainly leaders in their capacity, but appealing to them is in some ways analogous to appealing to Leviticus for how we should run our churches – with the usual examples of things like blended cloth.
I don’t make that statement to be snappy, and hopefully I’m not coming across as such. My point is that this is an area that the New Testament does seem to address very clearly and very specifically. To what extent can we appeal to Miriam to the exclusion of Paul, when we would never consider requiring a kosher potluck to the exclusion of Acts?



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:34 am


Dan #28
>In either case, in evangelical circles it seems women can and should be allowed to do most of what men do – the only issue being how “pastor” and “elder” relate to “overseer”, if indeed that is a valid restriction.
What do pastors do? They teach. Women taught in scripture. They prophesy (in the sense of speaking God’s truth). Women did that. They lead. Women did that. They interpret history. Women did that.



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Marcia

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:47 am


Or, perhaps, did Paul intend to address a specific problem in a specific church.
I think we have to believe this, because Paul’s own actions did not match his words. Priscilla, of course, comes to mind, but also Junia.
“Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7)



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Beyond Words

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:01 pm


Stephen, #32, as Susan, #26 pointed out, the Levitical priesthood isn’t part of the new covenant. All believers are priests in the new covenant. Paul gave plenty of examples of women teaching, leading, prophecying, etc. So we aren’t using the OT to the exclusion of the NT-we’re showing the remarkable number of examples of women being called and used by God thoughout the Biblical narrative. Hope this helps answer your question.



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lin

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:32 pm


Marcia,
The only problem with your point that Paul is dealing with a specific situation is addressed by DA Carson. If Paul is excluding all women from teaching because there is a specific problem going on in the culture involving the “New Roman Woman” and being disruptive, then he is sexist to exclude all women to slove it. Think about it, that would be akin to banning all people of one race from teaching just because a few were causing disruption, that is not only unwise and shows no use of discernment (which I am sure Paul had) but is is just plain wrong. If you are goint to appeal to it as being a situational problem you have to answer why Paul would make such a blanket exclusion against women teaching just to deal with some who were being disruptive.



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Stephen Thompson

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Beyond Words — I would suggest that it might be stretching Peter’s words to say that we are all now priests in the sense of everyone being a pastor. Am I understanding your point correctly?
Women are certainly used mightily by God throughout the Bible. They have been used mightily by God through his church today, and are still being used even today. Nobody questions that.
The question is to what extent it is reasonable to use inferences from Numbers and Judges to override several very specific texts from 1 Timothy, Titus, and elsewhere.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:00 pm


Stephen,
“Override”? Not so. I’m not giving a full explication, but claiming that a biblical view of women takes into consideration all the information and not just 1 Tim 2.



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Stephen Thompson

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:04 pm


Scot – of course. I guess my question is where the middle ground on this. It seems like this is somewhere where you have to basically fall into one of two camps – either women can be pastors, or women cannot be pastors. That seems to be where all of these conversations hinge, isn’t it?



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Dan

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:05 pm


Jennifer. I largely agree. Pastors do teach. But pastors do more than that, and pastor doesn’t seem to be an “office” in the New Testament the way deacon, presbyter and overseer are.
C.S. Lewis’ article on “Priestesses in the Church” http://www.acahome.org/submenu/docs/cslewis.htm
shapes my thinking on this issue. Basically, his point is that as a representative of humans before God, women are equally if not more qualified than men. But if a particular office is to represent God to humans, the image of God as Father and Christ as Son makes a difference. One might say that in evangelical circles a “pastor” is not like a “priest” in a liturgical church, but in some sense, even pastors represent the Father and the Son.
Which gets to my original question – is there a universal principle, not based in qualifications or worth but in something else, which prevented women from being priests in the Old Testament and prevented women from being Apostles or Overseers in the New? If not, then 2000 years of church practice might well have been wrong, but that question still needs to be asked.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:19 pm


Stephen,
Good question. I think it gets things backwards though: instead of asking of the assigned tasks which ones can women do, I think we need to make room for the gifts God gives women (and men).
In other words, I’m for whatever God’s Spirit grants women the gifts to do.
Dan,
Priests … purity laws is the issue.
On Apostles, plenty today think Junia — a female — was an apostle. If this is the case, and I know it is disputable, then there are some major implications for the bishop. (For if a woman could be apostle she could surely be bishop. Agree?)
On Bishops … most agree that there is no evidence in the NT for a female “overseer” (episkopos). Women are, in effect, “deacons” (1 Tim 3:11) — I take the “deacon/deaconness” to be like “prophet/prophetess.” I’d be careful to think that such a list as is found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 is actually a denial of female bishops, but the evidence is not there for a female bishop.
And the issue then becomes the entire redemptive movement hermeneutic we have been dealing with … and a careful examination of what women did and what bishops did … etc..



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:21 pm


I find it interesting that traditionalists say, for example, women in the Bible led in private and only in private, as opposed to public leadership; so, because Deborah judged “under a tree” it was a private leadership.
Then, they claim that we shouldn’t allow our culture today to impact how we operate as a church.
But then we find that on the one hand they are denying cultural influence and on the other they are affirming cultural influence. They are indeed inconsistent when they argue that we shouldn’t allow our culture to influence our interpretation and practice of Scripture, but they affirm the cultural influences behind private leadership for which women can participate as leaders and public leadership which was restricted to men only (or at least that is what traditionalists would argue).



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Dan #40,
I hear you in saying that a male pastor represents the “male” qualities of God. And that is a good thing. I have been blessed in my life by many male pastors who represent certain things about God to me.
But is God only male? (Reminds me of a t-shirt one of my favorite pastors wears, “God doenst have a penis”). “Father” is a metaphor to help us understand God, but God is not anatomically male.
Doesn’t God contain all the qualities that are typically considered female as well as male (rather that kind of categorization is even valid is another question…)? Isn’t woman made in the image of God too, and as such, can’t she reflect that image back to a congregation she is leading?



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:30 pm


in terms of bishop and overseer, we need to be careful not to look out own definition of “overseer” back into the text of 1 Tim
In the NT, the terms “pastor”, “bishop”, “overseer”, “deacon” and “elder” all have the idea of suffering in service alongside of the church, but none of them have the idea that so many of us look into the text–that of a CEO who manages over a group in a hierarchical-authoritative structure
this bishop/overseer talk is way off topic; let’s talk about Huldah instead
whoever pointed out that Huldah was a contemporary of Jeremiah, etc. did us some good, because, again, she did not go to Josiah and his men, but they came to her, and they chose to come to her and not the other “major” prophets of her time; the fact that they came to her shows she had authority



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Marcia

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:31 pm


“God doenst have a penis”
Eww. What a lack of reverence for our Lord.
lin, you addressed me specifically, but I’m sort of waiting to see if anyone else answers. ‘Cause I’m not all that sure I know the answer to that one.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:33 pm


Jennifer:
just piggy-backing onto what you said; Scripture says God writhes in birth pangs for us, which is a feminine metaphor in reference to God, so we not only see male but also female references to God. In addition, it must be noted that it is not a male nor a female alone that is the image of God, but both, together, male and female that is the image of God.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:43 pm


Scot:
In answering your questions at the end of your post, I would have to say that your highlighted figures do not limit 1 Cor or 1 Tim, nor are they exceptions to 1 Cor or 1 Tim, but rather, 1 Cor and 1 Tim are the exceptions to the rule. When we combine the creation account evidence, your highlighted women, Jesus’ ministry and Paul’s texts (taken as a whole), 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 end up being the exceptions to the biblical view.
In response to Lin/Marcia, given that 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 are the exceptions, it seems to indicate that those are addressing specific situations in Corinth and Ephesus.



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Molly

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:45 pm


I recently listened to a very thought-provoking sermon along these lines (by someone who does believe that men are to lead in the home). It is found right here (and is in the middle of the sermon):
http://www.alaska.net/~lrh/sermons/02-04-07.htm
A very brief quote:
[i]…”That one sentence captures
one of the most crucial dynamics
of the male/female relationship in a fallen world.
And the root of what’s happening here
traces all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
I’ve called it male ego,
but that isn’t really what this is.
There are two far greater ingredients in the male make-up
that come into play here.
And they both find their roots into the male/female relationship at that point at which sin entered into the human race.
One of those aspects is an utterly irrational residue of mistrust within the male spirit to the female judgement or reasoning processes…” [/i]
This, as a woman, is what I personally sense in a general way…often, and especially in the church world where it’s seemingly written in as perfectly acceptable (women are more likely to be decieved, remember?).
If I can be so bold as to say that irrationality does not always lie with women, I think this ineherant male mistrust is what often powers the need to get rid of the active women in the Bible by turning them into behind-the-scene helpmates or just flat-out saying they were in sin (like Deborah and Abigail), happily accepting the men-lead verses because that *feels* right…instead of taking the verses that appear to be silencing women and grappling with them FIRST, making REAL sure that’s really what they’re saying before we shut the mouths of half of the church.



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Molly

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:53 pm


Sorry that comment was so long. It has just perplexed me how many times I’ve been told I’m easily decieved but my husband isn’t. It’s like no one pauses to really think about this stuff, to make sure we’re REALLY reading it right. Before we decide that there is an inherant flaw in women (just because the male leadership thinks it’s entirely probable), it seems like we should, “do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” and CAREFULLY study before we pronounce such a judgement upon them.
Keeping in mind that I love my husband and think he’s brilliant, and I think his input in my life is of great great value. :) I just think that we are BOTH easily decieved, as human beings, as people with a flesh component that will always be warring with our spirit, (and I think that my input in his life is of great value to him).
Isn’t it weird, like in Grudems little booklet about the dangers of evangelical feminism, how male leaders can screw up royally and they just messed things up, but if a female leader screws up, it’s always brought up that she’s a *woman?* Grudem used some failures of women leaders in his booklet, if I remember correctly, to point out how dangerous it is to let women lead. I was thinking of all the men I’ve known who royally messed up and wondering WHY is it that women’s failures are attributed to gender, whereas men’s failures are attributed to that individual. The above sermon quote, I think, brings out a good probable answer to my question.



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Dan

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:42 pm


Scot:
Thanks for the answer. Not sure I understand what you mean in referencing the “purity laws” issue regarding OT Priests. Could use some elaboration.
Yes, if Junia was in fact an apostle, then it would follow that women can be “overseers”. That is an “if” though – I don’t know the answer to that.
If this turns out to be the case, though, then would it not be true that seeing women as equal in every sense would be a principle that runs through all of scripture and across cultures and so a ‘redemptive’ hermeneutic wouldn’t be necessary? It would be a universal principle, unchanging (though not always understood), drawn from both Testaments, and not an evolution toward a higher ethic.
I could warm to that, because it would remove the troubling perception that God’s ‘ethic’ is changing from culture to culture, which is probably the reason for Grudem’s angst on this redemptive trend and is the reason for mine. But I’d still have to deal with why church history for 2000 years did not discover such a principle and elevated women in some ways but still maintained a restriction on women as overseers and presbyters. If we call into question the consensus of the church of the first few centuries on this issue you could begin to call into question the creeds and even the canon of scripture itself. (Yeah, that slippery slope thing.)
Bottom line – I’m not a chauvanist on this issue, but I am looking for stability of doctrine and a hermeneutic that the average Joe can make sense of.



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lin

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:46 pm


James you did not answer my point at all. I am really not sure what you even mean by saying that “1 Cor. and 1 Tim. 2 are the exceptions,” exceptions to what? Can you explain how it would not be sexist of Paul to exclude all women if a few were causing trouble, if it is just situational. I think this is something that deserves consideration.



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Kate Johnson

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:51 pm


If I remember correctly, Paul talks about women, then “a woman”, then women again… he does not allow “a Woman” because that cetain woman was sinning in the way she was teaching, again situational because of the prior religious understanding of this woman which was interfering with her understanding of God’s teaching. She was being heretical and Paul wanted her to be silent until she was taught correctly.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:55 pm


Dan,
On the purity issues. At least one reason for women not being priests is because of childbirth blood and menstrual blood. Blood is verboten in Temple. That simple.
On the RMH: it’s there whether we want it to be or not. At some level, at least. At the very minimum it is an OT to NT thing.
Kate,
You are right; there is enough ambiguity there not to say that “woman” means “every woman alive.” It can mean “wife” or “the women you and I both know we need to talk about” (namely the women of 1 Tim 5).



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:00 pm


Lin:
It seems to me that if you read my statement to Scot first, it would have been or at least should have been clear as to what exceptions I was referring to.
You are absolutely right in that it is something that does deserve consideration, and it already has, but not by me, and not by anyone on this blog. Linda Belleville gave really good cultural and textual consideration to all of the texts mentioned in this post, whether creation accounts, Judges, OT prophets, NT haustafels, 1 Cor 11, 14, and the Pastorals in her book Women in Ministry: 3 Crucial Questions.
I would have to say that the argument that states Paul is addressing specific situations in 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 is much more convincing than the argument that understands that Paul is making universal statements. Additionally, his Paul’s statements are not sexist, particularly when we look at the contexts that urged Paul to make them.
For example, looking at 1 Cor 14, we see that women are to be silent; however, in 1 Cor 11, we see Paul permitting women prophesying in the gathering. So which is it? Should women prophesy as Paul exhorted? Or should they be quiet as Paul exhorted? How could Paul be sexist if he exhorts women to prophesy? If he turns around and exhorts women to be silent, something specific must be in mind to cause him to spring up against his previous statement for women to prophesy in the church.
I would encourage you to check out Belleville’s book; it does a good job of looking at this issue in all of the most controversial texts and is quite satisfactory.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:47 pm


Dan:
To be clear, the debate about Junia is not really a debate.
The people who say that Junia was really a male are those who operate off of the assumption that only males could be apostles, so they conclude that Junia must have been a male.
However, grave inscriptions from first century AD clearly indicate that Junia was a female name, and we have no evidence that it was ever a male name.



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lin

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:08 pm


James you are also leaving out the point that the majority of scholars (Moo, Carson, Schriener, Blomberg) that Junia is not an apostle in the traditional sense of the word, like the twelve who Jesus discipled, but there term is used in reference to her more as a missionary.



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RJS

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm


lin,
Like Paul himself?



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ron

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:19 pm


One argument that doesn’t seem to appear in the comments above is that (some of?) the pastoral letters, along with a passage or two elsewhere containing problematic comments on this subject, were actually written by someone after Paul who wrote in his name. As such these passages represent the first of many reactionary phases of the church to the more radical teachings and practice of Jesus (and the true Paul). Many of the problems with gender roles can disappear, and (the true) Paul, as exemplified for example by the genuine letter from him to the Galatians, becomes egalitarian and even feminist … “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”



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kent

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm


Having read the comments on this issue, it amazes as it always does at the level of emotion that this raises. I understand that women will be emotional on this issue – and emotion is not a negative, it is about their place in the church and how they are seen and treated. It is the level of emotion in men that surprises me.
How many verses in Bible do those opposed to the women serving as pastors point to? 3? 4? Out of over 10,000? Do these same men get as emotional about the poor and oppressed? Do they have the same passion about obedience in following Jesus and extending grace? This issue has gone on long enough, if they are called and gifted they serve. We have too much to do and not enough workers in the field.
BTW, if it is only a handful of verses that the opponents to women in ministry hang their argument on, then there is something else going on that is beyond the biblical text. If we can own up to that then we can make real progress and do the work of the kingdom



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Nathan

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Hmmmm…It seems that we’ve only looked at the “all or nothing” perspectives on this.
What about churches that try to split the difference.
They have female pastors–with the actual title. Women elders, but no female Senior Pastors. Or sometimes female pastors, but no female elders. this to symbolize the willing submission of Christ to the Father, etc.
I think that’s an interesting way to split the difference. It takes into account the imagery of “headship” found in the texts, but doesn’t enshrine it and then indulge that incredibly annoying practice of calling a man in a position a “pastor” and a woman doing the exact same job a “director”.
thoughts?
(personally, I am totally egalitarian, but I’ve worked in hierarchalist environments of varying degrees before.)



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:20 pm


Nathan,
I appreciate the hearts of people who are trying to make room for both views as you suggest. It’s complementarism being as soft as it can be…..and yet, if my gender keeps me out of specific roles, it doesn’t really matter how you dice it up, my gender is still a problem. And THAT is a problem.



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Julie Clawson

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:27 pm


It always gets me when people bring up the argument that since women weren’t priests in the old testament they can’t ever be priests. We obviously disregard other requirements for OT priesthood – so why is gender a bigger deal? OT Priest couldn’t have any defects (handicaps) including any defects of the eyes. So if we want to be consistent on this then if we bar women from priesthood based on OT precedent, then we also must bar anyone who has a handicap or wears glasses. (and even the Eastern Orthodox who discriminate against women and the handicapped for priesthood allow people who wear glasses in…).



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:30 pm


Lin:
That was not the purpose of my statement; since the debate rests on whether or not Junia was a female, that was what I addressed. Was Junia, female or not, one of the Twelve Apostles? No. But Junia was an apostle, and beyond that, Junia was one of the most notable ones.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Wow, what a thread. Are there seriously people out there who think that women can’t be prophets? It’s intriguing, seeing as the hierarchical churches tend to get trashed the most on “women’s issues” and they certainly don’t deny this. But if that’s a real reality of the Protestant scene, I guess I understand Scot’s responses to Dan a bit better. Otherwise, they seem to be a bit of a bait and switch.
For what it is worth, the Wednesday audiences of the pope are usually used to teach a serious of catechetical lessons. John Paul II first taught the theology of the body during the course of these. Benedict XVI recently has been using them to explore the early figures of Christianity. The last one in that catechetical series was devoted to women in the Church. It can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070214_en.html
It might be of interest to this thread.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:36 pm


Nathan:
The issue at stake right now is supposed to be in regard to Deborah, Miriam, and Huldah, but as a whole we have veered off track. The issue you raise is an entirely different one. However, it is a good one, and it is also to the best of my understanding the position of Dan Doriani’s book, Women and Scripture: what the Bible really teaches, which is a good representation of the traditionalist view with practical application. To answer your “thoughts” question, I would have to say that it is not right, as it still keeps women under the thumbs of men, and therefore it still brings the issue of power and control into a relationship where it should not even be an issue.



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RJS

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:43 pm


Scot,
It took me too long to get the gist of your comment (#10, busy day, cursory reading) – but Restrictive Movement Hermeneutic seems about right here.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:44 pm


The thing I am always fascinated by, in discussions like this one, is this: how much real consideration has been given to tradition as evidence of what roles might be limited to just men? And I don’t mean that in a flip way, that we just accept everything that the previous generation did culturally. But I can’t help but wonder if we sometimes are too free to reduce the actual actions of the early church (and the church through time) to mere preference and that we are free to have different tastes. I also cannot help but see what a dramatically narrow view of the calling of the “apostle” or “disciple” these debates about whether women can serve as priests (or whatever your heirarchy equivalent might be)create. It results in a really distorted understanding of the vocation of the People of God. I used to think that this was most scene within things like Catholicism, where there’s a clear hierarchy and laity and there’s a long cultural misunderstanding of what that should mean. But it’s obvious to me that Protestantism isn’t as immune from these misunderstandings as I once thought.



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:54 pm


Jack,
I hear you on wanting to give tradition it’s proper place. That is certainly a tension in all of this for me.
But, when we talk about women’s roles in the last 2000 years we’re mostly talking about cultures that didn’t even allow them to learn to read. They couldn’t even vote until about 100 years ago…which was around the same time it started to become illegal for husband’s to beat their wives, the law in most countries had no problem with it before then.
If your societies that make up “Church tradition” aren’t going to let women read, aren’t going to let them vote, and don’t care if they are beaten at will by their husbands, it is very unlikely that even if the church wanted to could it allow them to minister alongside men.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:10 pm


Jennifer:
I understand where you are coming from. I do. But, setting aside some of the generalization in that sweep of history, underlying that, I fear, is a vision (to a degree) of who the Church is that sees it as nothing more than the amalgamation of people of various historical cultures. The victory of Christ is a People. The Church has had that understanding of herself for a long time. And I think there’s a lot of evidence for the fact that, within all of its variety, and yes, its existence within, and absorption by some of its members of the flaws of, varied man-made cultures, there is something different about the Church.
Separately, I find it interesting that mention of the seemingly conflicting comments of St. Paul was mentioned above and the question was made “which is it?” whereas Pope Benedict noted the same apparent conflict, and without expressly addressing its exegesis, clearly indicated that he didn’t see that the answer was an either/or choice.



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:21 pm


Jack,
I agree with you that there is something different about the church…but, it doesnt exist outside of culture. The church is made up of people, and no person is a-cultural, so no church is a-cultural. Even churches that are trying to live in isolation from the culture (the Amish, for example) are still being deeply influenced by the surrounding culture, as evidenced in, if nothing else, their extreme reaction to it.
And, culture isnt bad necessarily…It’s not as if the really good churches are the ones that look less like their surrounding culture. Culture is something that should be recognized – sometimes to critique it, sometimes to redeem it. But it’s never something we can get away from.



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Jennifer

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:24 pm


Darn – I hit send too soon…
My point in all of that is that there is no way that a church in a culture where women have no rights and can’t read or vote is going to allow women to minister equally with men. That just could not happen.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:33 pm


I agree, culture is not something we can get away from. Fully agree. My point, simply was to say that historical cultural attitudes about women don’t necessarily answer the question of the Church’s understanding of whether certain roles are reserved by their nature for men.
I’m not saying you are doing this Jennifer, but I have met many who do think that it is a basis to dismiss Church history. It is used as a way to drive a wedge on that point between the acts of the Church and the will of Christ. And I have seen it then become a basis to dismiss all later efforts of the Church to articulate why maleness is a requirement for a role. “That’s just culture/sexism/etc., speaking”.
So in saying that the Church is different, I didn’t mean to suggest that it is above culture but that it is a culture. That the Body of Christ isn’t something merely spiritual, legalistic or in the ever after. It’s a reality, present today.
Apostolicity isn’t just a historical artifact, but something that was done with intentionality. And I worry that we find sometimes reason to dismiss that intentionality as preference, bad cultural artifact, etc., rather than something that binds us, because there is real signficance there.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:23 pm


Jack:
I am intrigued by your statements regarding church understanding, but I am in need of some clarification.
Are you saying that we need to understand the Church’s understanding of women in ministry and allow that to inform us how we understand the Bible despite historical-cultural perceptions on women?



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Sarah Ondrey

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:32 pm


Wow. Nothing generates comments like the scandalous idea that women would want to use the gifts God has given them and called them to use. Thanks for the post, Scot.



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WJY

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Scott, in your beginning statement you use I Cor 14:34,35 as a restrictive text in terms of leadership. But it’s about women in the audience, as listeners wanting to know.
In the same letter (I Cor 11:5) Paul assumes women pray and prophesy. Paul is not in contradiction, as someone else in this discussion indicated.
Furthermore, the church surely can’t use the Bible in a cookie-cutter way. There’s a tremendous outburst of energy in the Jesus movement as Paul moves toward the freedom-of-Christ way. How sad that the church missed this thrust and pulled back from the original vision for many centuries in areas like women’s roles, slavery, and the use of violence.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm


Scot,
Sorry I couldn’t stay to respond, but my sons and I had to pour some concrete this morning. High caffeine coffee serves more than one purpose!
What I was saying earlier is that the example of Jesus should carry more weight with us. Is it not significant that, though there were plenty of women in the life of Jesus, he officially ordained or comissioned none in his ministry.
This is the same Jesus that said he would build his Ekklesia. The Ekklesia was a particular Greco-Roman political entity which was unique when compared to other political organizations / entities. Part of the uniqueness was that it was a body of called out citizen / members in which the only ones appointed to rule were the male members / citizens. It is also significant that Israel was referred to as an Ekklesia by NT writers.
The feminine examples of Miriam, Deborah and Hulda, even when combined with other women in Scripture and when compared to the totality of leadership in the NT – OT, ends up being a fraction of a percent. It obviously was the exception rather than the norm. This is completely understandable when part of God’s judgment on the nation of Israel as delivered by Isaiah was that they would be led by Women and Children.
Is this an indictment on the abilities or inherent worth of women and children. No! It is an example of the disorder that comes to society, especially God’s society, when they choose to rebel against the societal order commanded by God. Society is turned upside down!
Does this mean that women are not allowed to exercise their gifts. Absolutely not! There is a difference, though, in exercising them in public and exercising them in an official capacity. This is consistently the structure and methodology revealed throughout the Scriptural Narrative. There are differences between the official exercise of authority and gifts in the official political meeting of the Ekklesia and those outside that venue. This is exactly the same thing Jesus did. Otherwise, He would never identify the political entity He was building if it had such a unique quality of offical maleness. He was completely consistent. And so is the remainder of His Word.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:47 pm


WJY,
I’m not sure to whom you addressed that comment at #75 — since I have but one “t” and I’m not sure to which paragraph you are referring. But, if I may step in, 1 Tim 2 speaks of silence about teaching. I think that would be the reference.



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Cheryl

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:56 pm


#76 Benjamin,
If we follow your logic that Jesus chose not to commission any women—despite their being “plenty of women” in His life—therefore, that is the example the modern church is to follow… should we also then conclude that only Jews/former Jews should be the leaders in the church? After all, despite there being plenty of Gentiles around, Jesus chose not to call any of them to be His intimate disciples. Did Jesus think male Gentiles were not worthy to preach His message? Is that why they were excluded?
How would you handle such an extrapolation of your logic?



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:59 pm


James,
Feel free to ask me further questions, because I’m not sure if I entirely followed your summary, but I think the answer would be “yes”.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:08 pm


Benjamin:
In regards to the commissioning of Jesus, your argument is weak as it is an argument from silence. What can we know from what Jesus did not say or did not do? Can we know anything from that at all? Hypothetically, if we answer, “Yes,” then the possibilities would be endless, which is dangerous. If we form our argument on the bases of what Jesus did not say or not do, well, then we can make Jesus to support whatever we want. Not only that, but even when Jesus commissioned his Twelve, they were given authority–not over the church, but to cast out demons and to heal people. So, then, if the apostles were not appointed by Jesus to “rule” (as you write), then who is to lead us, the Church?
Perhaps, might I suggest, that our idea of leadership is different from what Jesus and Paul envisioned? (also cf. post #44)



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WJY

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:26 pm


Scot(one “t”), yes, it does seem that in I Tim 2 either Paul or his disciple is pulling back from earlier teachings. It seems that this kind of thinking in the church only picks up speed as time goes on. Thanks.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:44 pm


Cheryl,
The particular point I made does not stand in isolation. Therer are other points which help to support this point, a few which I also mentioned.
So the logical extrapolation cannot stand in isolation, either, which is what your example does.
James,
First, the apostles were also commanded to Preach, Teach and Baptize, which was done by the authority of the Jesus. Peter was told to “Feed my sheep.” These actions were a service and responsibility which they were responsibile to carry out towards others. As far as who leads us, a partial answer to that can also be found in the nature of the Poitical entity, the Ekklesia.
Second, your point about a weak argument would be correct if, as I said to Cheryl above, it was made in isolation. Fortunately, what Jesus actually did in relation to women and men is recorded for us as well as other words and actions related to this very issue. I stated the one about the particular political entity, which carries a certain amount of weight. The other is the venue where many of the actions of men and women cited in Scripture take place. Is it in official political capacity or out of official political capacity?
Silence? I think not!



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:35 pm


Benjamin:
Jesus may have commanded the Twelve to preach, teach and baptize, but the text does not explicitly say that Jesus gave the Twelve authority to lead the Church, so by your own argument we must conclude that because Jesus did not specifically appointed as leaders of the Church. In addition, his appointment for the Twelve to preach, teach and baptize was not in the context of church leadership but in city-to-city evangelism to the Jews. We must bear that in mind as we consider Jesus’ appointment of the Twelve.
Also, since we do not have the text identifying that any of the other Twelve were told to “feed my sheep,” we must also conclude from your reasoning that only Peter was commissioned to feed Jesus’ flock and no other Apostle had such a commissioning.
The New Testament includes lots of women who were leaders in the Church, but it should be expected to find that in respect to all the male leaders that we know of a small percentage of the leaders as a whole, OT or NT, were women, because of the cultural customs of the times in which the biblical texts were written in. The fact remains, however, that women were involved in leadership. The official political meeting of the Ekklesia that you refer to would have been house churches in the First Century AD, and many women were leaders of such house churches.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:45 pm


Jack:
The reason I inquire is because if we are to understand the biblical text in light of the history of the Church’s understanding first and foremost, then we run in to some problems. The Church is not itself perfect, and it is known to have been wrong before, such as, for example, the earth being the center of the universe. For this reason it is problematic to read the Bible through the lens of the Church’s understanding throughout history, and we must come to our own understanding of Scripture, allowing the text to speak for itself, in addition to how the Church has understood it throughout history and then judge for ourselves what is right to the best of our interpretations and understandings. In this case, the Church’s historical viewpoints regarding women in ministry may be wrong, so we need to be responsible exegetes and hermeneuts and come to an understanding of the biblical texts, and then look at the information that we have available to us and determine what is right to the best of our knowledge.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:47 pm


James,
You have illustrated some of my point and maybe this further explains my original comment that you asked about.
We tend to treat these men (the apostles) as characters in a text. Not as human beings that lived in a real community, met and talked with people, shared with them stories of their experience with Christ, understood themselves as being part of some living thing that endures, the Body of Christ, the Church.
I know this may sound harsh, but I only mean it to be provocative to spur reflection, not as a judgment on any individual. I think this behavior implies that (maybe unconciously) we don’t really believe in the Church as something “holy” “one” or “apostolic” or “catholic”. It’s something less than that because it doesn’t endure, really, if what I am left with is having to rely on interpreting the modest collection of words in Scripture only (setting aside the rest of the traces, evidence, established by Christians through history) and have confidence in the Holy Spirit guiding me on a personal basis in knowing what to correctly discern from the text.
These type of questions will precisely remain abstract and nebulous, unless the Church is something more than all that, something that endures and flowers. Something that lives.
I hope that helps add some more light to my original comment.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:56 pm


Jack:
I see your concerns and sympathise with them.
However, I think that although the Church is in fact holy, it is still imperfect and it is thus prone to mistakes; yet, it does endure its imperfection, which is why it has been growing ever since the time of the Apostles even to this day. Not only that, but Scripture is God’s written Word, and so we must be responsible enough as possessors of God’s written Word to come to terms with the texts–words, stories and accounts that reveal bits and pieces of the lives of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church.
Thanks for your input and for dialoguing with me.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:56 pm


James,
My comment posted before your most recent one.
The question of infallibility is obviously a difficult one to grapple with. Clearly, the Church is not infallable in all things. (Although, even in some of the common caricatures of the Church mislead when it comes to the “errors” the Church is ridiculed for — e.g., after all, many of these original scientific questions about cosmology were disputes amongst members of the Church.) But one thing is for sure — I am not perfect and far more fallible than the Church!
In other words, I don’t think identifying that there is a limit to the Church’s domain of wisdom suggests that I should reject all of what it has said. And I think many do. Even when they nod their head to the history of the Church and say they are evaluating it. They, bottom line, place greater confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to guide them from error than guide the Church from error. The individual over the communion. I just don’t see the evidence in history to support that point of view. And I think it results from an experience of the Church that, on some level, just doesn’t see it as something that lives and endures through time.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:59 pm


Multiple cross-postings (as that last comment of mine was written before seeing the last of yours, James). Hopefully not to confusing in terms of the flow of the dialogue.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:05 pm


One final comment: I think many Christians live with an “only if” mentality. Only if I lived in Jesus’ time, things would be clearer. All of us unfortunate souls who were born after Christ’s Ascension are left to muddle along. He came, called men to Himself, then left and the rest of us have been deprived something necessary for the journey. The apostles were given one experience. We, we are asked to muddle through more as nomads.
I am troubled by that. It strikes me that Christ’s method — which by all evidence is the encounter — must remain the same and that it is precisely the Church that is the locus of this for the rest of us through time.



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molly

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:25 pm


I have a perhaps unrelated question…
When I am in a situation involving wiring electricity, I feel no compunction to get my hands in the wires and mess with them. Though my dad and all my brothers pull in a high income via their jobs in that field, I never learned anything other than not to touch wires sticking out of walls. :)
I’d say this is mostly true for all of us: what we don’t know anything about, we usually don’t want to jump in and do. We were not made to swing from trees like monkey’s, so when we are in the jungle, we rarely climb a palm and try to be a Tarzan or a Jane. We are not at home there. We were not MADE for that, and we know it.
When it comes to spiritual gifts, though, and leadership, why is it that I feel very much at home in leadership, and very much at home operating in my own spiritual giftings (which involve teaching and leading)?
I understand from the patriarchal perspective that I was NOT made for that, that I should NOT feel at home teaching men or leading men.
But, why, then, does it seem so natural and right? And why does it feel like a heavy weight is crushing me when I sit in the background silent, as I have quietly done for so many many years?
To sit quietly, for me, goes against what everything inside of me is saying. I know what rebellion feels like, and that is not what I’m talking about here. This feels like…something akin to death. Like something good is dying.



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Cheryl

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:35 pm


Molly,
I know exactly what you mean. One of my favorite movies is “Yentl.” It’s about a Jewish young woman who, in the turn-of-the-century Eastern Europe, was kept from learning in general, and especially, kept from studying Torah. Her rabbi father taught her in secret, and when she died, she disguised herself as a man so that she could study in a yeshiva.
After her father explains why they have to study in secret (because she’s a woman), she sings this song: (Scot, please forgive the length, but they speak perfectly to Molly’s post)
There’s not a morning I begin without
A thousand questions running through my mind,
That I don’t try to find the reason and the logic
In the world that God designed.
The reason why
a bird was given wings,
If not to fly and praise the sky
With every song it sings.
What’s right or wrong,
Where I belong
Within the scheme of things…
And why have eyes that see
And arms that reach
Unless you’re meant to know
There’s something more?
If not to hunger for the meaning of it all,
Then tell me what a soul is for?
Why have the wings
Unless you’re meant to fly?
And tell me please, why have a mind
If not to question why?
And tell me where-
Where is it written what it is
I’m meant to be, that I can’t dare
To have the chance to pick the fruit of every tree,
Or have my share of every sweet-imagined possibility?
Just tell me where, tell me where?
If I were only meant to “tend the nest,”
Then why does my imagination sail
Across the mountains and the seas,
Beyond the make-believe of any fairy tale?
Why have the thirst if not to drink the wine?
And what a waste to have a taste
Of things that can’t he mine?
And tell me where, where is it written what it is
I’m meant to be, that I can’t dare-
To find the meanings in the mornings that I see,
Or have my share of every sweet-imagined possibility?
Just tell me where- where is it written?
Tell me where-
Or if it’s written anywhere?



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Cheryl

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:36 pm


Excuse me, I meant to write “when he (her father) died.”



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Michael Kruse

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:38 pm


“Molly #49
“It has just perplexed me how many times I’ve been told I’m easily decieved but my husband isn’t.”
And yet as I understand it, according to this perspective, it is perfectly acceptable for women to teach children. So who is more likely to suffer under the teaching of these easily deceived women? Adult mature men with their mental faculties fully developed or immature impressionable children? Why on earth would responsible men allow their children to be taught by such ditzy creatures? :)



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Michael Kruse

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:43 pm


Benjamin #3 and #76
With regard to the twelve disciples being men, several scholars I have read over the years from varying backgrounds all give the same story. The selection of the twelve is highly symbolic. The twelve are symbolic of the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Their selection as Jesus core group symbolized the newly constituted Israel. Had any of the twelve been women the symbolism would have been lost. (Kind of like have an American flag with green and yellow stripes and circles where there should be stars. It looks similar but the meaning would be lost.) Israel failed to be a light to the nations. Christ reconstituted a new Israel and conquered where Israel had failed. (I find interesting that under the Old Covenant that circumcision became the sign for membership in Israel yet under the New Covenant the symbol is baptism which everyone can share. I am convinced that this is one the reasons for admant stand by the church leaders against the judiazers.)
The 72 almost had to be men. The only possible way women could have gone was as a husband and wife team or with a male family member. Two women traveling alone, or a woman traveling with a man to whom she was not related was unthinkable. It still is this way in many parts of the Middle East today. Having women traveling as part of Jesus’ band of disciples was scandalous enough.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:49 pm


Molly,
You raise a very important question. I can’t speak for most, because, as I implied in my original post, I was shocked to think there was even a question as to the notion that women can be gifted with prophesy or hold important leadership roles within the Body of Christ. The evidence isn’t just there in the Scriptures and history, but in my own lived experience.
Within my background, the issue is one of holy orders and whether a woman can be ordained. I gather for folks from other backgrounds, the question is broader than that.
But I would say, in either case, there is often a danger of conflating the charisms with holy orders. Let me give you an example from my own background. If you see a Catholic man on the street who is vibrant in his faith, can explain it well, is instructive, a help to others in their growth in the faith, many will say, if he is a married man (and not one the discipline of unmarried status and celibacy would be lifted in the Western church), “It’s a shame he can’t be a priest”. Or if he’s unmarried that he should become a priest. They say that because they conflate the gift of teaching with that of priestly ordination. They don’t fathom of the possibility that the Holy Spirit might give the gift to just the baptised faithful.
I can’t speak to the Protestant situation. But what I am learning from this thread (and previous ones on the topic) is that what I know of the Catholic experience (the misunderstanding of the vocation of the laity and the nature of charisms and the common perception of what is a sign of a calling to holy orders) is not as unique to the Catholic experience as I thought. I had assumed it was something that developed because of the more clerical priesthood/general priesthood of the baptised element to the Catholic faith, and that Protestants (who may not share the clerical priesthood understanding of the Catholic Church and more focus on the general priesthood of the baptised) wouldn’t have this same struggle. But I see that that’s not the case.
I can’t speak to your specific situation. But like the encounter with Christ, I think discerning gifts is both a personal and communitarian thing. The individual and the Church both have a role.
Not knowing your situation, I cannot speak more intelligently about it. But assuming that you have discerned a true charism, it would seem quite obvious to me that the experience of not putting that charism to use would be discomforting. Charisms are given for the benefit of building up the Church, but it seems natural that God often makes them attractive/satisfying to us personally as part of his method of drawing us to put them to use.
All that’s a speculation on my part. But it’s hopefully of some help.



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James Gregory

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:56 pm


Jack:
I don’t think you are implying this of me, but to be clear I most certainly would not abandon the history of the Church’s understandings about any topics; it is valuable to see and interact with, whether it is right or wrong. Whether or individually or corporately, something gets lost between the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Church or the Holy Spirit and the individual, which is why both make mistakes. It is also important to note that the Church, as is evident in Paul’s letters, has been struggling with all sorts of ideas from the beginning! It makes sense, then, that it is still struggling today, because the Church itself is not perfect as it is comprised of imperfect beings. This means that as the Church teaches things, the individuals in the Church bear the responsibility to test what the Church and the representatives of the Church are teaching and proclaiming, and the tests are done by examinging Scripture, just as the Bereans did.



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Michael Kruse

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:56 pm


#94
I forgot to mention that concerning the twelve, the symbolism would require circumcised full members of the nation of Israel. That qualification would have been a challenge for the women.



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JACK

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:59 pm


Cheryl:
When I read the lyrics of that song, it struck for me a more general theme, one tied to being human. Meaning, I think we all long for something, desire something, that with experience, we recognize is outside of ourselves and that we ultimately find is answered in Christ. To ask a question, truly ask one, is to have hope that there is an answer. I think in many ways that song gives expression to what it truly means to be human.
Now the way that it is given expression in our lives may vary. But that longing for the ultimate meaning of things, of my life, my God, help us all if all of us, men and women, don’t experience it. Help us if some of us are told to repress that, deny that, because of their gender. Yes, for if our humanity reveals itself to have been created by Another, and that we long for that Infinite, we only face trouble if we either try to deny the desire (resulting in maybe numbness or something else) or if we mistakingly grab onto something less than the Infinite as that answer (only to discover later that it isn’t and have to search again or delude ourselves into thinking it is what it isn’t). To me, that’s the religious experience. That’s being human. Shame on any man who tells a woman that she’s not made for that.



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Cheryl

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:04 am


#98, Jack,
Yes, it could be a general theme, but in the movie, it was her direct response to being told that she could not learn/study Torah and plumb the mysteries of God through scripture simply because of her gender. That’s why I thought it spoke to well to Molly’s post.
No, it didn’t speak to a leadership issue as is the topic here, but to an issue of being “left out” because of gender.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:23 am


In review, given that there were women who exercised authority in the OT and women exercised leadership in the NT, at the very least from the biblical texts we must allow for women to have authoritative positions. Churches should, as Scot put it, “[E]mpower gifted women to prophesy, lead, rebuke, and interpret history.” If not, then we deny part of Scripture for the sake of another part, when both parts are Scripture.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:28 am


This discussion appears to be classic heterodoxy and is terribly predictable:
There are no females selected by Jesus to become apostles..unless you are a Gnostic of course and then you have his supposed wife….
No women pastors/bishops – unless Paul’s mere mention of certian women is presumed and forced to be more than just a kind mention or that deaconess must mean what it doesn’t mean.
Paul instucts that deacons and elders are to be men (the husband of one wife; I do not permit women to teach or have authority over a man, etc.).
There are no women authors of Scripture.
There are no women preists serving in God’s temples of the OT – well, not any that were ordainded by him and didn’t have the his wrath poured out on them.
There are no appointed queens in David’s line.
Scott, appears to quote mine the same Scriptures that many of his readers often question concerning authority and that he often questions himself. Never mind that, we have three potential examples against hundreds if not thousands of male leaders that are mentioned by name and that are no doubt considerations to be glossed over.
Miriam sings and chides her brother, Deborah shames her husband, Hudulah aids the King. Poof! That’s proof postitive that the Scriptures widely approves of women eldership,leadership and pastors and that it is unreasonable that the Scriptures would define gender specific roles according to God’s will. Suddenly, one woman in Scripture does something unique and therefore it gives license to presume that “women” routinuely did these things. And, of course, we must take it to mean that the Scriptures don’t really say what they really do say when they address such roles or women specifically.
Undboutedly, those who went before us, simply do not have our great, progressive wisdom of today. What dolts the apostles, early fathers, and those of centuries past must have been and how glad they’d no doubt look upon our great understanding today.
My apologies for the frustrated tone, but seriously this issue comes around again and again here and in the same contrived way, and the arrogance of it all is very troubling.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:46 am


Brad:
Are you not aware that the Church did not formally even begin to institutionalize itself until the Second Century AD, and that as it did so, it patterned itself after the Greco-Roman culture of that time, which confined women to the “private” sphere while men were given full reign in the “public” sphere? And are you not aware that prior to the beginning of the institutionalization of the Church in the Second Century AD, women were identified in the NT to be fundamental in the leading of the Church as patronesses, hostesses, prophetesses, deacons and Church guides, minority or not? How does that inform and impact you and your understanding?



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:03 am


James,
Are you saying that you are unaware of the previous five thousand years of history prior to your aribitrary stake in the ground that shows an unbroken, textual and logical line regarding the roles of men and women up until your concern in c. 200 AD? I don’t see a Moses, a David or an Isaiah lending to claims as they are made today, and yet the Spirit’s words that poured through them were every bit as much those in which became flesh in the face of Jesus Christ. Shall we say that the great cloud of witnesses, whose faith helped pave ours through Christ, has no claim on the church?
I’m did not deny that women served in the church nor that they were praised for doing so, the point is, they didn’t lead their repective congregations unless you force it into the text.
All that said, I see you chose not to even acknowledge my argument.



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Rick the Texan

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:07 am


Brad wrote,
Paul instucts that deacons and elders are to be men (the husband of one wife; I do not permit women to teach or have authority over a man, etc.).
Brad, I write to the validity of your first example, “the husband of one wife”. To be consistent, would you hold that a) single men are not eligible to be deacons or elders, and that, upon the moment of his wife’s death, a man becomes ineleigible for the same offices?
I have always understood the issue there, as in its surrounding context, to be about character, not about gender or marital status or history.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:30 am


Jack,
A very general comment regarding a theme in your posts: I sense you presume that “Church” means RC Church. Is that fair to the Orthodox? Is that fair to the Protestant Church? It is not fair to presume that RC Church is the same as the first 3 Centuries either.
Brad,
Your tone is not frustration; it is sarcasm. Sarcasm springs from anger, not the desire to learn or help. You need to learn the art of disagreeing agreeably. Look at Jack’s stuff here; he thinks we are all wrong because we are not RCs. But, his tone is admirable.



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RJS

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:05 am


Brad,
When I look at 5000 years of history, I see one ruling paradigm in most relationships, a paradigm that can be summarized crudely as “might makes right”. This is seen in familial structures, in social communities, and in the relations between nations or groups, and with more subtlety than the simple statement allows. In this case “might” can be construed as physical, as economic, or through education.
This emphasis on power or might is a consequence of the Fall. I don’t think that it is the teaching of the Gospel. The teaching of the NT, and I think the OT in fact, is that our relationships with each other are not to be governed by power and might, control and submission. We are to be governed by submission to God and mutual submission to one another.
So aren’t arguments based on “it has always been that way” in reality arguments based inherently on the consequences and ramifications of the Fall – the sinfulness of mankind? It seems to me that an argument that trivializes exceptions as unimportant is an argument that emphasizes the consequences of the fall and enshrines these consequences as the “God ordained order”.



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Psalmist

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:56 am


I’m curious about how you would conclude that Deborah “shamed her husband,” Brad. There’s nothing in the text that says anything of the sort.
I’m wondering who are the named male pastors and bishops in Scripture.
It’s fascinating to me that there are two such highly different hermeneutics used by those who would deny the possibility that God calls women to church leadership: Anything is possible if the person in question is male, but the most restrictive, from-silence arguments are used if that person is female. We assume plenty of principles of faith in which men are our illustrations, to apply to women. For example, few would deny that women can be disciples of Jesus Christ, though some staunchly deny that Jesus had any female disciples. Yet we somehow think that though Scripture never gives us any indication that God calls only men to pastoral/episcopal leadership–and if we’re honest about the text, we have to admit that–we must limit God to our universalization about specific restrictions (“I am not permitting a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man”) and our unwarranted restriction of women to certain commended practices (“Older women should teach younger women”).
And where does God’s own Spirit fit into all these convoluted can’t-do lists for women? Inconveniently, God hasn’t stopped calling women to do all the things that some Christians claim God never calls women to do. That makes it more difficult for women to obey God, of course, but the call doesn’t go away. Those who dare to listen to the stories these women tell, realize that God’s call to women is just like God’s call to men. Despite any obstacles certain factions of the church throw in their way, obedience is really the only option. Otherwise, as Molly described so eloquently, the spirit within us begins to die.
I think it’s time to stop demanding that women listen to God differently than men do. It’s time for us to relate to our sisters and brothers first and foremost as fellow human beings, and stop making everything about whether they’re male or female. We’re far more alike than we are different, yet we’re each unique, as God created us. The human race is ONE race, and nobody’s mold is exactly the same as anyone else’s. This “two sizes fit all” paradigm simply isn’t true.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:34 am


You need to learn the art of disagreeing agreeably.
So you only engage an argument with those who disagree with you according to some strict, standard of conversational ethic? C’mon Scot, that’s not going to foster good conversation. I wasn’t shouting anyone down.
Scot, I’m not interested in a “conversation” that does not allow for frustration (which has anger involved) nor sarcasm (which also includes anger). Scot, you apparently need to look beyond yourself when your dodging an argument, yet responding to a tone you do not agree with. A little patience with those who may become passionate in replying to you will do wonders in ensuring a forum is truly a seed bed for good conversation rather than one that is merely of those just high-fiving each other. That lack of hospitality, at the very least, is irritating.
I thought we were having a conversation? The emerging conversation seems only to be a conversation if it can be controlled, and then, when it is challenged, it is back to the defense of tone, and other surface driven feigns that neglects the pursuit of truth regardless where it may come from or lead. The irony in all this is that the conversation has become at its root the very thing it abhors, silencing others for the sake of tradition or formality. I doubt very much that emergents would tolerate a John the Baptist or Paul in their midst because their tone (sarcastic and righteously angry) would they would not doubt be found disagreeable. Jesus, himself, would probably told not be asked to return after a Matthew 23-like blast of religious hypocrisy, who do exist in all camps.
The Jesus we serve is beyond our control and he doesn’t always necessary use a tone we approve of.
By the way, if it helps to overcome your objection on this issue I tried to put *sarcasm* */sarcasm* around part of my response as like an html tag but when I did Word Press thought them to indeed be html tags, and then stripped them during publishing.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:36 am


I think it’s time to stop demanding that women listen to God differently than men do. It’s time for us to relate to our sisters and brothers first and foremost as fellow human beings, and stop making everything about whether they’re male or female.
Then by all means, take it up with God, it’s him you fight with. Though he’s not asking men and women to listen to him differently, he just wants us all to listen to him according to what he says, not what we fancy.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:42 am


So aren’t arguments based on “it has always been that way” in reality arguments based inherently on the consequences and ramifications of the Fall – the sinfulness of mankind?
RJS, Arguments are ultimately based on truth and judged accordingly. God did not give his truth to fallen man in a vacuum. The Scriptures are the word of God and they have been given to us to establish an order for our good, now if you want to pick-and-choose what you call the Gospel then you ulimately diminish the Gospel.
Jesus is just as much about the book of Deuteronomy as he is about the book of Mark. Our God is one and so is the word he gave us.



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JACK

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:52 am


Scot,
I must say that I think that’s a bit too dismissive of what I have said. I am speaking of a method and approach. Honestly, I think most of what I have said would be agreed to by the Orthodox. Their approach is not that different than the Catholic approach. This isn’t a matter of presumption as it is one of method. I find it a tad insulting to have my comments reduced to “I think you are all wrong because you are Protestants”. I realize you don’t mean that per se, but I am striving to precisely engage this question on a deeper and more open level than that, and I would hope (even if they ultimately disagree) those who read my comments would do the same versus cycle them through a label first of “that’s the Catholic guy talking”. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way and I think most have been engaging my comments in genuine dialogue even if they disagree with them.
Maybe it just is a matter of feel and the difficulty of understanding intent from text because I’m surprised by your last comment.



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RJS

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:03 am


Brad,
You said:
“Never mind that, we have three potential examples against hundreds if not thousands of male leaders that are mentioned by name and that are no doubt considerations to be glossed over.
Miriam sings and chides her brother, Deborah shames her husband, Hudulah aids the King. Poof! … Suddenly, one woman in Scripture does something unique and therefore …”
This is your comment and this is the comment that I was addressing. I am suggesting that the exceptions in scripture, precisely because they are in scripture, are incredibly important. They demonstrate that the normal practice was not absolute or perfect. In fact the exceptions suggest the possibility that the normal practice arises in large part from order imposed by sinful man and perpetuated through cultural bias.
In no way does this negate or minimize the very important contributions made by “hundreds if not thousands of male leaders that are mentioned by name.”



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:04 am


Brad 109,
Most women I know, including me, who believe that God can use them in any ministry role say something like, “If I really truly believed God only wanted men for those roles, I would submit to that, but that’s not how I read the Bible.” Just like if I really truly believed God wanted me to cover my head, I would, etc. Please dont insult the faithful obedience of people you disagree with just because they come to different conclusions than you.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:46 am


They demonstrate that the normal practice was not absolute or perfect.
RJS,
We have no disagreement here. These alleged exceptions, however, do not then make it normative to say that equality must be so and that we should dismiss what the Scriptures contend concerning order and roles. I’d say that when you consider the context of two of them presneted here, you’ll see they still severed men. This is the issue I take up here.



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Jeff Hyatt

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:54 am


I thought I would pass along something that I just watched on television. I came across John Hagee’s program and he was talking about Men & Women. He made quick reference to the fact that women can not be pastors because “St. Paul clearly states that women are not allowed to have spiritual authority over men in the church.”
However, he immediately stated that women could preach and teach men in the House of God. His reason, he said that his mom was a gifted preacher and evangelist and anyone who denies that his mom wasn’t a good preacher of the gospel is plain foolish. He then concluded his message my telling his audience that what he just told them was the “direct Word of God.” And anyone who disagreed with what he just said was foolish.
The question that came to my mind is this, how does one parse “authority over men” in such a way that a woman can’t be a pastor, but can fulfill the traditional evangelical pastoral functions of preaching and teaching even men in the church? It seems that his experience with his mother’s preaching ministry is trumping what he wants to hold as a doctrinal truth.
I found this interesting. What do you think?



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:59 am


Brad:
When I made my comment to you, I wanted you to interact with the my statements when I asked you, “How does that inform and impact you and your understanding?” I didn’t ignore your argument; I wanted to see how you would deal with what I said and how it would work out in your argument.
I do want to point out that we have to take into consideration cultural norms regarding men and women during the times of the biblical texts. We have to attempt to see how the culture affected and influenced the writers. The truth is, at least in the NT times, women were hardly written about due to the cultural perspective regarding women. As a result, it is no wonder that women are not mentioned nearly as much as men or that the Pauline letters were written to males despite the fact that the letters would have been read to both males and females. Because of this cultural norm, it is extraordinary that women are mentioned as much as they are in the ministry of Jesus and in the Pauline corpus, and all the more as co-leaders with Paul.
Your argument doesn’t seem to take this into account. Your argument also assumes that the apostles never erred, and yet we biblically know that Peter did and Paul rebuked him. Your argument also assumes that the way the Church institutionalized itself in the Second Century AD is infallible, which in turn makes the rest of the history of the Church up to today the perfect example to follow. Finally, your argument assumes that the OT leaders were Church leaders or types when in fact they were leaders of Israel.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:02 pm


“If I really truly believed God only wanted men for those roles, I would submit to that, but that’s not how I read the Bible.”
So be it, but our belief means nothing if it does not hold up to the truth. You can ignore biblical precedence, the plain text, orthopraxy regarding this issue and who Jesus appointed as leaders, but you do so fighting against the same Scriptures you claim to read correctly.
Please dont insult the faithful obedience of people you disagree with just because they come to different conclusions than you.
If you’re insulted by what I said then the Scriptures insult you, not I. Your fight lies there because I didn’t write them.
Jennifer, don’t forget you must reconcile them all to your faith in order to be faithful to them, otherwise, you put your own understandings above them.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:10 pm


The truth is, at least in the NT times, women were hardly written about due to the cultural perspective regarding women.
James, true in general. Not true concerning the Gospels. Women were first to discover Jesus. First to beleive that he rose. There are some very humbling things written by men who didn’t seem to care where the truth lied as it pertains to women. At any rate, you have to presume that women were more than the NT claims.
Your argument also assumes that the apostles never erred, and yet we biblically know that Peter did and Paul rebuked him. Your argument also assumes that the way the Church institutionalized itself in the Second Century AD is infallible, which in turn makes the rest of the history of the Church up to today the perfect example to follow.
I made no such arguments, you have assumed these. My point back to you was not about the treatment of women in those days or to treat 100-200 A.D. in isolation, but as to whether or not you could use instutionalization as a fair argument while neglecting 5,000 years of biblical history.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:12 pm


It seems that his experience with his mother’s preaching ministry is trumping what he wants to hold as a doctrinal truth.
I agree.



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm


As usual Scot, thanks for another great discussion.
Brad, the fact is that there are well over 2k years of history and happening recorded in the bible and the entire bible itself shows how rules, laws and religious customs have changed and adapted across that span of time. Add to that the fact that Jesus’s gospel was both revolutionary and iconoclastic as far as both religious practice and the understanding of scripture is concerned and you are solidly within the hermeneutic of discovering anew God’s way of redemption.
The bible is not monolithic and if you find it so then you are looking not from the standpoint of discovering truth but of imposing what you believe to be truth. In short fighting against the same Scriptures seems to me to be what you are doing.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Brad:
My initial comments were not in regards to the NT, but to the times of the NT. Try to find Roman authors talking about women. It is so rare that it is hard to find. My point was that this is not so in the NT, which you highlighted.



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Kim

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:27 pm


“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man.” When this passage was translated from Greek to English the translators made choices in the words they used. The Greek word for “woman” can also be translated as “wife.” The Greek word for “man” can also be translated as “husband.” Therefore, the passage could also legitimately be translated as, “I do not permit a wife to teach or have authority over her husband.” As we follow the passage we Scripture talks about Adam and Eve, husband and wife, as an example. Also, the word “authority” is one of the the most difficult and controversial words in the NT. It has the meaning of seduction, manipulation and is only used this one time in all of NT. In the same chapter “authority” is used again but is a different Greek word. The authority in our controversial passage is not the word for what one would normally think of for authority. If this passage is indeed about a husband and wife might that not change our understanding of this passage?
A proper hermeneutic says that we never base our understanding on a single text and especially a controversial one. And…we go to the original texts because all translators, even those who are unaware, translate through their own paradigms of understanding.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:28 pm


Jack,
Sorry … what I’m thinking is that your appeal to the Church tends to be appeal to the RCC; am I right here? And if so, I’ll tell you how I hear it: Since I am not RC, I hear that my group doesn’t get it.
That’s what I was trying to say. I wasn’t dismissing, but saying what I was hearing. I know full well what the Orthodox, RCC, and majority of Prots have taught — and it is the traditional view of women.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:29 pm


Brad:
To the best of my abilities in reading, my critique of your argument stands. You do assume those things, and because you assume them, you didn’t state them.



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JACK

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:31 pm


Scot,
Just to clarify a bit more my point, as it may cast a better understanding of what I was getting at. I truly was talking about the importance of method to learning. And that the method needed to learn varies depending on what I am studying.
If I am a doctor and I tell you that I plan on studying a new disease to see if I can find a cure for it, you would laugh if you walked into my lab and saw me reading poetry to a petri dish. It’s an outrageous example, but to make a point. Why laugh? Because you recognize that my method is inappropriate. Trial and error is understandable, but method isn’t arbitrary and interchangeable. It is given.
Another example, say I tell you that I want to find a pair of shoes that fit well. I go into the shoe store and I proceed to select shoes by their color. Well, that may be all well and good, but that method isn’t going to determine whether the shoe fits well. That criterion, no matter how much I might wish were different is given, by my foot. I might like the black shoe very much, and I can try to squeeze my foot into it all I like, but if it doesn’t fit around my foot it doesn’t fit.
All of this is to say that method is important and that the wrong method can lead to error. The question of method is just as true for the religious experience as anything else. A question that I think goes too often unexamined, for example, is this: what is the method by which I gain certainty about who Jesus Christ is?
This point of method is all that I was trying to highlight above in terms of how method causes some to treat the history of the Church’s witness and what it ultimately reduces that to be. I may think that the Christ’s Church subsists within the Catholic Church, but that wasn’t my specific point in all this. Certainly, it goes without saying that it’s not unrelated. But I’m just suggesting that people open themselves to the question of whether there method is the right one for what they are examining.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm


Brad:
It wasn’t your point regarding treatment of women–it was mine. The cultures that the biblical authors lived in would have influenced their thinking just as much as our culture influences ours, so we must take into account the culture that the biblical texts were written in if we are to understand them, and it appears that you are not doing that.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:39 pm


Jack,
Thanks for your response. I sensed that. Now as a Protestant, a low church one at that, I’m driven to another method: Bible and history before Tradition. I do spend lots of time reading the Tradition, hoping that it is right and knowing that God’s Spirit has been present all along. That means I begin with fundamental respect of Tradition.
But… that’s the point. I know what the Tradition has taught. I don’t think it got this right and I think the Church was off-base on this one for most of its time. (Not always, not in every and each case, but in general.)



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:39 pm


I have been following the redemptive trend discussion and women in ministry discussion. I think that the root is located in Christ and would like to propose a Jesus hermenutic that invites us to apply the teachings of Jesus to all and any of our interpretations of the Bible. I think that Jesus lived in a radical way… Greg Boyd calls it a power under kingdom way to live. Even in the temptation texts we see Satan tempting Jesus to power over…to rule the kingdoms of the world–to use miracles to enhance his following–to use his power to feed himself. Why would a man who lived a life of power under command men to be over women in the home and in the church? It would seem that this would invite an attachment to power–and perhaps this is the temptation–to hold on to power and even use the scripture to back it.
Even Paul called believers to be like Christ who did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. Paul calls husbands who already were in authority in the Roman world–to be like Christ and become a servant.
I think Paul was taking the teachings of Jesus and seeking to apply them in his world. We often only see what Paul said and forget that what he did was also important. What if we could learn that from Paul and apply the teachings of Jesus to our world and it’s power over way of being. That would be radical. Suddenly, we would have equality because both men and women are called to radicaly, life-changing, world changing service. And instead of hanging on to literal words–we would grasp the over-arching themes of Jesus life and ministry on this earth.



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James Gregory

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:40 pm


Brad:
I would have to say that the OT history does not give us functional bases for defining Church leadership. So, I stand by what I said regarding the institutionalization of the Church in the Second Century AD.



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More Than Serving Tea

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:13 pm


Brad, you may not have been “shouting anyone down” but your sarcasm shuts people down.
I can deal with anger – my own and that of others. I, too, want to enter into a thoughtful conversation, an exchange of various opinions, thoughts, interpretations, etc. But when your sarcasm (and anyone else’s, for that matter) enters the picture you take on a tone of superiority that does not foster conversation.
I do not take offense to what Scripture says. I do take offense to what you say. There is a difference.
Biblical history did not happen in a vacuum. The way in which the historic church instituationalized itself was inextricably connected to cultural norms at the time. Biblical history also gives a disturbing picture of how slavery was viewed and institutionalized. Paul addresses slaves and masters. How do you separate biblical history from culture? Help me understand what you mean by your comment #118.



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:27 pm


Brad #117
You said : So be it, but our belief means nothing if it does not hold up to the truth. You can ignore biblical precedence, the plain text, orthopraxy regarding this issue and who Jesus appointed as leaders, but you do so fighting against the same Scriptures you claim to read correctly.
I disagree with your conclusions, but I dont doubt for a moment that you love the Lord with all your heart, and that you are interpreting scripture as faithfully as you can. I dont think you’re ignoring precedent or the text or orthopraxy. I dont doubt that you are serious about wanting to be obedient and follow the Lord.
All I’m asking is that you make the same assumptions about those who disagree with you.
You are totally free to disagree, but dont assume that because people disagree with you that they are any less sincere about understanding scripture.



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My 2 cents

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:51 pm


Scot(one T) asked: Is it not the case that what women did then is the paradigm for what women do now?
Yes, and since we have so few historically documented women, I aspire to all those you have listed here. AND, to many others in the history of the Church. They were not fulfilling their “role,” they were answering their call to be all that God created them to be and more by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have moved out of following the thinking of all those fellows who think they are so right and the answers are airtight. I no longer believe those guys. They were the ones who tried to teach us for decades that Jesus only turned the water into grape drink.
AND, I hope I aspire beyond those men. In so doing, and by God’s grace, I hope I can aspire to redeeming both of us.



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TDMiekley

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm


Hey Scot –
I believe women have a place in leadership. Woman, just as men have been given the Spirit of God and therefore should not be restricted from using their gifts to honor God and her community. This I agree includes prophesying, women leading worship, women rebuking other leaders, women interpreting events in history to discern the redemptive will of God, and women confirming texts as Scripture/Word of God. All of these gifts are available and useful to the body of Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit and should not be suppressed by church leaders.
My response to Paul’s letter(s) is this: When Paul wrote the communities (1 Timothy, Titus) – there were situations occurring in the church where there was no order, no accountability, and no strong leadership from the pulpit. People (mostly women) during that time it seems, were speaking against the truth (though not intentionally) and Paul had head about it through passersby or from Timothy and Titus.
Being in Paul’s shoes, I am not sure how I would have responded to this issue. I guess perhaps I would have gone back to the basics of the Word and established qualifications for elders/pastors/deacons/church leaders. I believe that is what Paul intended. And since the ‘NT’ was not the ‘NT’ at that time, Paul would have gone back to his teaching and study – the OT.
I am sure Paul would have remembered the stories of Ruth, and Deborah, and others (women) who God had used throughout the history of the faith and considered writing about them to Timothy. Paul though goes back to the very beginning. Man was created first to be the head of the family with God as Supreme. It was the man’s responsibility to hear from God and to lead his family in the manner of God’s will. Perhaps Paul saw that there were either no men to lead (in the church or in the family) or did not know they had what was required of them to lead. I would tend to believe that is why Paul focuses on men in leadership – as the head and hearers of God’s Word and direction.
To think: If men were to stand up and lead their families, what kind of world and example would the body of Christ be?
As a Bible College graduate, there were 860 undergrad students. The majority of these were women. When I look at the church I attend, we have many leadership serving in the church – but again, the majority is women. And, unfortunately, when I look at the majority of families in the US, they are lead not by the men, but by the women because their husbands have split from the marriage, leaving the women to fend for themselves and take care of the children, holding down 2 jobs and trying to maintain a ‘normal’ atmosphere in the home. The problem is: It is not ‘normal’ for a family to look this way.
The problem is not having women as leaders – they are more than willing to lead. The problem is men and their unwillingness to lead both in the family and in the church universal/local. My thoughts are (men) – if we are not willing to serve our families or church, we have no right telling a woman she is unqualified or unable to serve in any position of the church. We need to stop warming the pew with our backsides and get to work in the church and in our families.
Let’s get back to godly leadership. Not just for the church but also for the family. The Bible states that: When a man takes his position in leadership, with his wife next to him, God blesses the family. Let’s be blessed.



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JACK

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm


Scot,
Thanks for that. And so there is no doubt, it is obvious to me that you do take Tradition seriously and study it. My experience of your blog over the past year or so that I have been visiting it testifies to that.
I certainly recognize the difference in method that we both employ. But I think the challenge, to all of us, is to ask, from time to time, that more fundamental question I posed above: what is the method by which I gain certainty about who Jesus Christ is? Not as a question of preference or what has been my habit, but of need, of recognition that certainty of who He is is what I want to achieve and that there may be a particular method suited to that. It is a question that needs to be thrown on the table from time to time, because otherwise it’s like a door that we have shut and refuse to open, not because we know that the room is empty but because we have assumed it is.



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Paul Johnston

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:26 pm


A very, very, thought provoking thread. Filled, it seems to me, with much that is of God.
With regard to the particular issue, (and in fact how I view dissention and disagreement generally) ultimately our answers and subsequent choices are determined by the authority to whom we subscribe. Contextually, a seemingly faithless and subversive comment, in that we all agree, irrespective of our denominational affiliation, to submit to God’s authority as revealed through Jesus Christ.
Still, the devil, as they say, is in the details. And the details of how we choose to hear and apply God’s authority will have significant implications on the conclusions we reach.
While it may seem to some that Jack’s focus on “method” is irrelavent to the issue at hand, perhaps it is in fact a crucial precondition; neccessary for us to properly understand doctrinal truths, as God would have us know them.
His Peace be with us.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:27 pm


You are totally free to disagree, but dont assume that because people disagree with you that they are any less sincere about understanding scripture.
Jennifer, you are assuming that I do not believe that you are sincere because I do not think you see the Scriptures correctly? I do think that you’re sincere and I think you’re wrong.
I know many atheists who are very kind and sincere about atheism, but I’ll preach the Gospel to them on every occasion they afford because I’d rather have them accuse me of being everything under the sun, if at last they should be saved.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:34 pm


Brad, the fact is that there are well over 2k years of history and happening recorded in the bible and the entire bible itself shows how rules, laws and religious customs have changed and adapted across that span of time.
So you’re arguing that a God who says that he does not change, did in fact change? The rules, laws and religious customs you acknoweldge all pour into a Kingdom that is ruled by a King who never changes. Jesus fulfilled, not abolished the law. I see much for you to consider here before tossing out this absolute.



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Bob postiff

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Jack,
It would be interesting to have a look at your method



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:40 pm


Biblical history also gives a disturbing picture of how slavery was viewed and institutionalized. Paul addresses slaves and masters. How do you separate biblical history from culture? Help me understand what you mean by your comment #118.
Have you ever read Philemon? That book, at a high level, I think best address your concerns regarding slavery. Paul isn’t concerned about lobbying for social justice, he nor the apostles never took up a political campaign. His concerns was about souls, faith, love, not comfort.
So as to your question, I do not seperate biblical culture from biblical history, because the Scriptures are all the instilling of a new culture by faith, the Kingdom of God, that is unlike and is opposed to every culture on earth.
Have you not read that God spoke often to the Israelites about the treatment of slaves that he permitted them to take? How do your reconcile these things with your own view?



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B-W

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:46 pm


Brad, in #137, responded to this:
Brad, the fact is that there are well over 2k years of history and happening recorded in the bible and the entire bible itself shows how rules, laws and religious customs have changed and adapted across that span of time.
by saying this:
So you’re arguing that a God who says that he does not change, did in fact change? The rules, laws and religious customs you acknoweldge all pour into a Kingdom that is ruled by a King who never changes. Jesus fulfilled, not abolished the law. I see much for you to consider here before tossing out this absolute.
The first person did not say or imply that God (the King of the Kingdom you cite) changes. He says that the Bible testifies to the fact that, over a span of 2000 years, various rules, laws, and relgious customs have changed. It is a fallacy to equate the (apparent?) fact of this change to a suggestion that God changes.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:53 pm


Brad,
It looks as if you upset a few people! Sarcasm, even mild sarcasm, tends to do that. I find it amazing that someone would get upset with you for doing something that God has done in His Word through one of the Prophets. I guess God’s only mistake was that He didn’t do it through a Woman!!! (OUCH!!!! Just Kidding Everyone!! Just Kidding!!!!!!!!)
More seriously, I find it quite informative that there are many who tend to stick to a single point or a very small group of points to arrive at their conclusions. I have been accused of this on this thread, when I didn’t do it. Realizing that the nature of the blog limits the amount of info we can present, it does seem that there are many who seem attached to certain points in isolation of others. And I would admit, that, presuming that those points are valid and factual, they would seem, on the surface, to lead to certain conclusions. But fortunately, a strong hermeneutic does not allow us to inform and form our doctrine on such limited and weak resources.
For instance, it has been stated that many are ignoring the fact that culture informs the writers of Scripture. Presuming God to be sovereign and omnipotent, these cultural facts would not be allowed to override the message God intends to deliver to us. Otherwise, we have no hope of ever knowing whether or not God’s true message has been delivered to us. We would never be able to have confidence in the power of God in any area, unless, maybe we chosee to view YHWH’s actions throught the cultural lenses of the Greek and Roman pantheon. Anyone who wants to do that, go right ahead and enjoy your trip.
On the other hand, if we presume the ability of God to deliver to us His message is adequate, we can rest assured that the Greek Political term Jesus used for the entity He was building, the Ekklesia, was chosen with full knowledge of its particular qualities. In fact the conclusion would be that it was chosen in contradistinction to other available entities (and are still available to us today) describing and organizing groups of people. It is even further enightening when other writers refer back to OT Israel using the same term. Are we to believe that such uniqueness is accidental on the part of God? If we really are going to allow culture to inform us, that’s OK. But we should not allow culture to dictate to us the clear teaching of Scripture, especially when there is no warrant from Scripture to do so.



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Paul Johnston

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Hey Brad,
I apologize for the intrusion and do not mean to be judgemental, as I may be misunderstanding your intentions. Still there seems to be a certain lack of fraternity/charity in the way you are texting your responses, that borders on being reproachful.
Hope I am wrong.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm


I apologize. I left out a word in the last sentence. It should have read,
“But we should not allow culture to dictate to us against the clear teaching of Scripture, especially when there is no warrant from Scripture to do so.”



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JACK

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm


Bob,
I think I might start a series on my blog about that. It probably will have to wait until the weekend. If I do, I’ll post the link back here.



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Michael Kruse

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:05 pm


I see this thread is still perking along. Thought I would add one more comment.
Several comments of touched on old and new covenant, and the issue of the OT priesthood compared to NT leaders. John Calvin emphasized the idea of munus triplex or the “triple office.” There were three anointed offices in the OT: priest, prophet and king. Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection fulfilled all these offices in himself. These offices are now filled by him and executed by him through his body, the Church. There is no anointing of people to offices of this type. I believe that characterizing of the “laying on of hands” and NT “ordination” to the OT priestly calling. (I realize my RC, Orthodox, and Episcopal friends will differ with this.) There is no formula for church structure presented in the NT and there are no offices in the OT sense. Consequently, my issue with many of my fellow Protestant issues not entirely about women in leadership. It is also about what I perceive to be their departure from a Protestant view of the priesthood of believers and the sacraling of hierarchies that are not in the Bible.



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Beyond Words

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:10 pm


TD–I hear your frustration. But here’s how it looks to me as a woman in the church and in the home. Women crave the freedom in Christ to be treated as mature members of the kingdom. They are “adult sons” and heirs with full “legal” rights that adult sons were given in Hebrew, Hellenistic or Roman culture–to use the author of Hebrews’ terminology.
Adults living in the Jesus way don’t put other adults in permanent categories of subordination–of course there are “roles” we all move in and out of that require subordination to authority, but true roles aren’t ontological.
So when I hear the lament that women are leading because men aren’t, it usually means men are simply doing less than their part. Women aren’t necessarily leading because men aren’t, and women shouldn’t be kept from leading if men are. There’s enough responsibility for us to share, in the church and in the home.
If women are doing the things Paul was trying to correct–speaking out of turn, spreading false doctrine and lording it over people–they should be corrected. If women are given the chance to lead and they start trying to prevent men from leading, they should be corrected.
I think all your sisters in Christ as asking for is the freedom to share responsibility for leadership with the men.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm


Kim,
How would the translation of “Husband” and “Wife” for “Man” and “Woman” change the practical application of that passage within the assembled congregation?



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:25 pm


Brad, #137 So you’re arguing… Rather, you are the one who is arguing. I’m trying to persuade you that scripture itself shows how God has been progressively leading man to redemption. He finally brings us to His redemption in Jesus’s life, ministry, words, actions, death and resurrection. Jesus certainly did fulfil the law – in Himself!
As far as I can tell, no one here is making out a case that God has changed, rather the opposite – we and our culture still need to change much to come anywhere close to Gal. 3:28, 1Cor. 13, John 17, and what Jesus called His own kingdom.
#139 What was apolitical about saying “Jesus is Lord”? It was very unpolitick but very, very political! I also happen to find Philemon to be a very powerful statement against slavery by Paul – look at verse 16. Paul here specifically repudiates all of those older teachings that can be lumped together as “due to the hardness of your hearts”.
#136 Perhaps there are too many who may say “Lord Lord …”



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molly

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:26 pm


I once wholly believed a patriarchal view. Not only believed it, but acted upon it. I didn’t care if it didn’t *feel* good, I cared about obeying God.
So I took my leader-self and made it sit in the back seat. And I took my voice and silenced it. I took my enthusiastic animation and dulled it down.
Men are to be in the forefront, men are to be helped as they see fit, men are to be leaders, men are to have the vision, men are to be up front speaking, men are to have words from God.
I believed that women could do all of those things, sure, but to a lesser degree, and only with a submissive spirit while doing them (and certainly not doing any of them while instructing men).
Just as John MacArther teaches, I believed that women shined the glory of God, but to a lesser degree. I believed that men are like the sun—shining a direct glory, while women are like the moon–shining a reflected glory.
…Which is essentially saying that women are inferior when it comes to shining God’s glory, which I believed, as it is a logical conclusion, and was okay with because if that’s how God made me as a woman, then that’s what I should accept.
I wanted to obey God and to live for him. So I obediently and even joyfully did what I thought He was saying.
In time, I started dying. I didn’t really realize it, as it was over a period of years, and as I didn’t pay attention to the deeper parts of me for fear that they were trying to get me to rebel against God…
…Until one day I couldn’t do it anymore. It was like I couldn’t move, walk, or speak…I just wanted to sink into the floor of my kitchen and die. It caught me horribly by surprise, especially as I had faked being happy for so long, but it was such intense inner pain to such a degree that I could NOT ignore it.
I knew that if I kept going, something very precious inside of me would die. That it WAS dying, that it was at the critical point where I could possibly nurture it back to life, but if I waited one more day, it would draw it’s last breath and that would be that.
I am not speaking of the kind of death that the cross demands—not a redemptive death, but the sort of death that comes from the destroyer—-a destruction of a good and holy thing, much like a baby slowly starving to death in famine, except in this case I was withholding food and affection thinking it was God’s will for me to do that.
One day I couldn’t do it anymore. That day Jesus came to me. I can’t explain it, but somehow He met me when I was on the floor and asked me what I would be like if I was a man.
The question really surprised me, as I’d never asked myself anything like that before (that would be a rebellious unsubmissive question that I never would have asked!) but…everything in me just LEAPED…
As a man, I would be able to be my true self…able to be strong and bold and lead and speak and love with passion!
And then He whispered in my heart that I was not to silence parts of me in order to “be a woman.” That I was to serve Him as if I were a man, in that I was quenching the Spirit of God by thinking His leading was sin, all because His leadings were not things considered “feminine attributes” by the patriarchal camp I ascribed to. That in trying to obey God, I was actually DISobeying God by ignoring Him, by thinking He was rebellion.
Mary’s name means rebellion.
Think of it. God chose a young woman and asked her to carry His seed. He did NOT ask her male authorities, He asked HER.
He asked her to do something that would completely change every last marriage plan that Joseph had, make them spend their honeymoon running to Eygpt, make them the talk of all the neighbors wagging tongues… And Mary didn’t go ask permission of her male “head.” She just said yes to God. And God said her yes was all He needed. (God didn’t even tell Mary’s “head” about what He just did to Mary until Joseph was planning on dumping her!)…
Mary was a rebellious woman on many fronts, one of them being a rebellion against what patriarchy today says the role of women is in both the world and in the realm of God’s people.
Today’s Christian patriarchy would not approve of what Mary did any more than the Jewish patriarchy would have. But God did, very much so. And there lies the rub.
(apologies for the length of this comment)…



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molly

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Scot,
I know that was way longer than you would like comments to be, so if you want to delete it, that’s fine. I posted it on my blog, so that you could feel free to nix it if so desired.
Warmly,
Molly



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TDMiekley

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:48 pm


Beyond Words,
I totally understand your point. My post was not to say that women should not have any leadership rights in the church or the family. That is not it at all. I am stating a natural fact (today as I am sure it was then) that men lack in leadership. Unfortunately it is all too often that women have to pick up the slack for men because they are not doing their part.
In a perfect world, men and women should be able to work side-by-side in leadership of the family and the church (local and universal). Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world and we are either too arrogant in our position (nobody could ever do a better job than I can) or lazy (slothfulness). I do not know about you but I consider both in some ways extreme but also very real.
I personally think that when Paul writes about the promises of God throughout his letters, there are places where he puts (male nor female, slave nor free).
My basic premise is this: God mad man in His image. Man walked with God, talked with God, and named the animals God had brought to the man (thus having the authority of God to call things as he (man) saw them being (the names of the animals). In a perfect world, even in a perfect world (literally), something was ‘not good.’ Man was alone.
God then made women (womb-man) from a rib of Adam and fashioned a helper and encourager. I personally do not know why God was not enough for man (being a helper and an encourager – but God said it was ‘not good’ so I will leave it with that).
The part of the man that was taken was not from his head (headship) or from his feet (servant) but his side – companion (equality). Woman though was not created in the image of God – Man was. It is not chauvinistic to say it. It is what it is.
Just like the God head, Man, woman, and children are equal in respects to gifts, abilities, and the Spirit. It is choosing to be submissive to the other in reverence to God that is the key. Jesus was submissive to the Father, the Spirit was submissive to Jesus – all are equal though. So it should be in the marriage and also in leadership. And that is why I think Paul is addressing men. I hope that makes more sense to you as you re read what I have written. I would be more than willing to continue this via email if you would like.
Wer4given@gmail.com or feel free to visit my blog site: http://perfectsacrifice.blogspot.com God bless.



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Benjamin Bush, #147 It makes a huge difference and more telling still is Paul’s use of technical terms like “didaskein”



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Molly,
I am so so glad your voice is here. I read your comment with tears in my eyes because it is similar to what I have experienced. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!



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molly

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm


(Btw, my point in sharing a bit of my own story was to hopefully clarify to some commenters that this is not just an issue of which doctrine trumps the other, but of people’s lives.
It’s easy, as a man, I think, to say that women should be silent, in the same way that it was easy for whites in the US (past) to say that blacks were made to be servants.
It’s easy because those commands don’t immediately hurt us (not in ways we can see, anyhow). Like a toddler who hits a friend, it’s hard for us to realize that it actually hurt the other person, because all we can feel is our own pain.
It’s easy to forget that there are real people on the other side of the “for-all-time command” that you firmly and sarcastically preach, real people JUST LIKE YOU being silenced.
In the name of loving others as we would love ourselves, it seems that it would be fair to ask people to study carefully and honestly before binding the mouths and hearts of half of the church, before assigning inferior status.
And if then you still hold to women’s subordination, after listening (truly listening) to the thoughts of the other side of the spectrum but finding them inconclusive, then it seems one should share one’s views of truth with great humility and great honor for the “weaker vessels” that you are instructing to be subject to the will of human fallen men.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Sam,
I’m listening.



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molly

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Thanks, Jennifer. :)



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JACK

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:06 pm


#151:
“Woman though was not created in the image of God – Man was. It is not chauvinistic to say it. It is what it is.”
Wow. I’ve never seen this interpretation before and am floored by this. Gen 1:27? Even in the Gen 2 parallel creation account, how does one reconcile the notion that woman is “flesh of [man's] flesh”, “bone of [man's] bone” and that the two become “one body”, yet somehow man is made in the image of God, but woman is not?
I’m sorry, for my astonishment, but I’ve never been exposed to this interpretation before and it truly has caught me off-guard.



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Beyond Words

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm


TD–that’s okay. I understand all the points of the hierarchical stance, and like Molly and Jennifer, I submitted to these teachings until I began to die spiritually.
When men tell me I am not created in the image of God, and that’s just the way it is,it’s like being kicked in the gut.
People who start in Genesis with the understanding that Man means male, so God’s image does not include females reach a different conclusion than people who start there with male and female being created in his image. Let’s just agree to disagree and love each other, okay?



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molly

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:21 pm


Jack, it has been, to one degree or another, the standard position of the church fathers (including the Protestant leaders) through the ages. Man is made in the image of God to a better/greater degree than women (if woman is made in God’s image at all, that is).
Augustine:
http://adventuresinmercy.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/augustine-on-a-womans-place/
Calvin:
http://adventuresinmercy.wordpress.com/2006/12/15/calvin-on-women-part-one/
Henry:
http://adventuresinmercy.wordpress.com/2006/12/19/matthew-henry-on-women/
And many many (SADLY MANY MANY) more…



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My 2 cents

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:30 pm


Michael Kruse #145: “It is also about what I perceive to be their departure from a Protestant view of the priesthood of believers and the sacraling of hierarchies that are not in the Bible.”
Thanks. Yes, that, too.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:37 pm


Molly,
Please believe me when I say that I don’t diminish your story in the least. It is what it is, a painful narrative of one abused by, as you said, “fallen men.”
I wonder, though, if you have ever though that maybe, possibly, there are men who have suffered similar things in their own lives. Is it possible that grown men would also abuse other men who desire to derve their Lord with equal fervency. But, for whatever reason, their desires are met with harsh, cruel, debilitating and caustic rhetoric, rejection and humiliation, all in the name of Christ.
I am not a woman and don’t attempt to understand your plight as a woman. But at the same time that doesn’t mean that others who are male have not suffered at the hands of men. I have sat and looked men of position in the eye knowing that they will go to great lengths to protect their position, even if it means that others must suffer under their leadership. Truth was an afterthought. It was malleable and subject to their momentary will. Integrity was nothing more than a once highly thought of moral position. But, anyone coming between them and what they wanted would surely suffer for it. Just make sure you get out of the way, because they’re coming through. They don’t have time for those who are wasting their life.
Does this mean that because I have suffered at the hands of men who will not let me act as a man, that I now should desire to act as a woman. Does my rejection drive me to the identification of my male rejection as nothing more than an identity crisis, because, after all, we are all one in Christ. Should I ask myself, “How would I act if I were a woman?” Maybe I can find complete fulfillment if I acted as a woman. With such bitterness draggin me to the depths of despair, Maybe I should change my name to Mary?
And should this drive me to view Scripture through this lense of discrimination, regardless of the reason I suffered it? Absolutely not! God is still God! He is still Lord, regardless of the actions of fallen men and their selfish wills. He is able to raise me up in His time and bring glory to Himself, regardless of the situation. I can’t afford to do anything other than be about my Fathers’s business, even if others don’t recognize me as doing such activity. If this means obscurity, so what. I’ll do what He called me to do. Any pain that I’ve experience will just bring glory to Himself, simply because, regardless of what I go through, He deserves every bit of glory that comes to Him, and then some! I must praise Him for it all, in it all, through it all!



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:39 pm


#155 Benjamin,
Scot is well along in this series of posts and the texts, including 1Tim. have been studied quite early on and in some detail. I’ll be happy to clarify; you can mail me at samlcarr@gmail.com



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm


Benjamin,
I think that often the voice of the Spirit is speaking through those who have been discriminated against and deeply wounded because they see the effects of a system that is unjust and priveleges some over others. What I think is often mis-understood is that those who interpret bible passages with men as the leaders in the home and church may also be interpreting through their social lenses and experiences of privelege. We all have lenses and presuppositions but sometimes our presuppositions are validated by privelege so they don’t seem to be presuppositions.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:51 pm


Rather, you are the one who is arguing. I’m trying to persuade you that scripture itself shows how God has been progressively leading man to redemption. He finally brings us to His redemption in Jesus’s life, ministry, words, actions, death and resurrection. Jesus certainly did fulfil the law – in Himself!
Sam, you presented an argument, therefore I said you were arguing. My goodness, friend, I don’t understand why so many here fear that word. I meant nothing by it, personally. So yes, we are both, arguing by putting forth arguments. Call it a conversation if you prefer.
God has been leading man to redemption, yes, absolutely. Jesus fulfilled the law in himself, yes, absolutely. Jesus also approves of the law, the law, as Paul rightly argues that is not dead, is not evil but is good by revealing sin and our need of a Savior. Though we cannot keep the law of God in our own power, it will be upheld through those who have Christ within them. Those who are in Christ will be conformed to the law by faith, just as Jesus perfectly kept it.
And you’ll also note that Jesus says:
“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Matt. 5:18-20
This doesn’t prove a progressive view, not as it’s advocated today. There is a difference between something progressive and a revelation.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:55 pm


Faith,
I agree with you.
My point, though, is that there are many who allow their sufferings to create its own presupposition out of non privilege. Many times the result of this is a reactionary view which creates a rearrangement of privileges whereby, the one that was injured and others like them, are now equally or more privileged than those who they were injured by. The presupposition is still there, either way. The only question is this. Is the presupostion one which can be found in the totality of Scripture or is it conjured by the mind and circumstances of the one espousing such a change of view.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:00 pm


We all have lenses and presuppositions but sometimes our presuppositions are validated by privelege so they don’t seem to be presuppositions.
Faith,
If we are truly in Christ, there is but one lens: His. We only need to have the faith that Christ will give us understanding.
Women crave the freedom in Christ to be treated as mature members of the kingdom.
Beyond, so women in the early church, probably the most pure example we have in church history of a church that was doing the will of God while reveling in the apostle’s teaching, did not have true freedom in Christ?
Here’s a curious question:
If Paul was alive today and asked the women of your church to be silent and not to teach, would you obey him?



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Benjamen, I don’t believe any of our presuppositions are found totally in scripture. Except perhaps the lense of Jesus, his way of being in the world, his life, death, resurrection…who Jesus is in his character. The Bible says that we see in part as a mirror in a glass darkly. Someday we will know as we are fully known. We will see him as he is and then our presuppositions will disappear because, who he is will be fully visible to us–then all the ways we missed the mark will be revealed. Until then we discern carefully–holding our knowledge open-handedly… as humans we are fully aware that we are fallen creatures and might not get it all. I think thought the the accuracy level rises when we listen to one another and see through their experiences.



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RJS

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:15 pm


Brad,
If Jesus was in the flesh here and asked the women to be silent and not to teach – yes.
But Paul? Peter? James? John? …? Interesting question. Would they all agree? Would this be a matter of discussion and difference of opinion much as it is here?



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:17 pm


Brad, Is that a trick questions?



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:20 pm


it’s my belief that silenceing women in church and home is out of character with who Jesus is…



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:22 pm


RJS,
Paul, Jesus’ inspiried apostle, his writings on the issue are mere opinion?
Would they all agree? Yes.
Would this be a matter of discussion and difference of opinion much as it is here? No.



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Beyond Words

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:25 pm


Brad, I think the women in the early church had freedom in Christ to teach, prophecy, lead house churches, etc. They rightly got corrected when they abused their freedom, just like Paul corrected the Judaizers and the adulterers and the people who were making others stumble. In other words, they were in good company being rebuked :)



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:26 pm


Brad,
I think that we have a record of Paul’s writing to the churches of his time and that Paul’s words are inspired and authoritive. However, I do not believe that all of our interpretations of Paul are inspired or authoritive. There is a big difference.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:26 pm


it’s my belief that silenceing women in church and home is out of character with who Jesus
So Paul was out of character of who Jesus was? So are you advocating that Paul’s letters be removed from the modern canon or be ignored? Faith, I think you’d be surprised to learn who Jesus really is, as he is certainly not a creation of our own fancies. He is a King as much representative of the Old Testament as he is of the new.



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:27 pm


Brad, trick Q or no, I am absolutely certain that if Jesus or Paul (or Peter, James …)were to be here today (‘in the flesh’) they would be (are) horrified at how their words have been misunderstood and the precious gifts of the Spirit wasted!



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:29 pm


Brad,
I did not say that Paul should be removed from the cannon. I did not say his teachings were not authoritive or inspiried. I said our interpretations of Paul are not authoritive or inspired. There is a big difference.



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Sam, I like what you said. Sometimes, in effort to follow the scripture, we strain knats and swallow camels–missing the weightier matters of the torah.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:34 pm


However, I do not believe that all of our interpretations of Paul are inspired or authoritive
So when Paul says:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. – 1 Timothy 2:11-12
…you are saying that I can’t take the translated Greek at face value and in consideration of the textual context?



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm


#164, Brad,
I really don’t again want to get into a sidetrack on this. Briefly, which law do you see Jesus ‘approving’ Your quote is Jesus summary statement in the SOTM and is qualified throughout Jesus teaching about the spirit of the law as popposed to the letter of the law – that is the redemptive hermeneutic and is the necessary source and foundation of all redemptive hermeneutic!



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:37 pm


I will be silent!!! gotta go work out



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:40 pm


Faith,
Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will guide us into “all Truth.” Not the experiences and opinions of other.
We are told that if we lack wisdom, we can ask of God and He will give it to us liberally. Or do we take a verse in a way which makes other portions of the Word “of none effect.” Do we take Him at His Word? Or do we dicuss it and converse about it to see if everyone else agrees with the statement? And if they do, it must be right?
As stated earlier in this thread, there are certain presuppositions in Scripture. Scripture creates them and/or supports them. They are not isolated, nor are they inconsistent with the rest of Scripture.
Since many are stumbling at Brad’s question, or at least keeping it at arm’s length, I have a curious question of my own to the men.
If Jesus, Paul, Peter, or any other told you, as a man, to be silent in a meeting, would you?



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:41 pm


Brad,
Do you think everything Paul wrote about women should be applied the same way as you are suggesting here? They shoudln’t braid their hair? Wear gold? Cover their heads? That they’re saved through childbirth?
Do you apply his instructions about greeting one another with a holy kiss the same way? Do you drink wine when your stomach hurts like he suggested? Do you lift your hands when you pray?
If you want to insist on such a literal practice of what he said, shouldnt you be practicing these things as well?



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:44 pm


Ben 181,
I’ve already said that if I really believed women should stay out of church leadership, I would be all for it. I thought that for a long time. Molly wrote beautifully about her experience with that too.
I think *most* people would say the same thing : conversaiton here will go much better if you can go on the assumption that everyone else is trying to live out how they read scripture, just like you are



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Dan Brennan

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:45 pm


Wow,
So much good discussion, all seeking to submit to the Lord of Scripture and experience. I hope I don’t repeat something, but I think Molly’s experience (#149) and similar experiences of women, must be considered as part of one’s methodology in approaching what it means to be “Biblical.” There’s no question Saul’s theology and his view of the church changed after he met Christ on the road to Damascus. Thanks Molly for sharing that.



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RJS

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Brad,
It is clear – from scripture – that the apostles didn’t always agree, and that they discussed things and compromised, not on issues of doctrine and christology – but on issues of practice.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:52 pm


Sam,
All of them.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:34-40



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:54 pm


It is clear – from scripture – that the apostles didn’t always agree, and that they discussed things and compromised, not on issues of doctrine and christology – but on issues of practice.
Perhaps this is clear to you, but I see no disagreement within Scripture. Yes, “Paul opposed Peter to his face.” But in terms of Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, they perfectly agreed.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:56 pm


My negative experiences with leadership has changed me, too! But it hasn’t changed the way I view or approach Scripture. If anything, it has made me more passionate to keep the process pure and void of any personal bias. I have not tried to break down any heirarchy or methodology of leadership. I have not tried to raise myself to a position of leadership, I have not tried to pull those men down or castigate all who are in authority that don’t agree with me or who will not allow me to serve under them. What purpose would that serve?
To presume that anyone’s methodology is better because of personal experience is to effectively place Truth under the authority of experience.
Where does the authority for that come from in Scripture?
I ask again.
How many men would shut up if told to do so by Jesus or one of his apostles?



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:01 pm


If you want to insist on such a literal practice of what he said, shouldnt you be practicing these things as well?
Why do I feel like I’m being treated like the Neanderthal in the Geico commercial on this thread? Jennifer, I’m not advocating any such thing.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:03 pm


To presume that anyone’s methodology is better because of personal experience is to effectively place Truth under the authority of experience.
Amen, Benjamin.



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:06 pm


#186, Brad, your quote effectively illustrates what jesus consistently and always taught; that ‘the law’ was the spirit of the law and the spirit always determines what the letter of the law should and does really mean.



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Dan Brennan

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:07 pm


On the flipside of Molly’s
There was a certain point in my story, where I was at the end of my rope, spiritually speaking. At that time, I was a committed patriarchalist, an evangelical committed to the authority of the Word, etc. but I was at a desperate point on my spiritual journey. I didn’t have any place to put this on my theological map when it happened, but the Lord met me powerfully through the ministry of a woman pastor. It was an experience of the Lord that has shaped my story and I will never forget it. But that experience opened the door for me to a Biblical (especially within the context of this thread here–of what women did in Scripture) review of my own methodology and approach of women in ministry. There is something about presuppositions, “lens,” and tradition. All those play a significant role in our biblical approach. But experience, experience that shapes one’s theology and ecclesology is an important factor, or method, too. Sometimes the Lord just powerfully meets us and we find new eyes to see biblical freedom and blessing.



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:08 pm


Brad,
I think we’re missing each other.
What I hear you saying is that you believe Paul’s words to a particular church with a particular situation should be taken for all churches for all times. That’s what I mean by a literal interpretation.
And, if you want to understand it that way, that’s fine…but it does make me wonder if you take ALL of Paul that literally, or just the sections about women?



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Dan Brennan

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Benjamin, #190,
I do respect that observation but I wouldn’t frame it the way you just did. Otherwise, what does Saul of Damascus do with his “methodology” and his pre-theology after his experience? I think there’s plenty of thickness for experience to be a part of one’s methodology. I also think experience is woven into Truth and Truth in experience–I think there’s where we would disagree.



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TDMiekley

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:16 pm


# 157 and # 158 –
Alright – I have dug myself into a hole so I will attempt to climb out of it before it gets any deeper than it should. My statement concerning ‘man being made in the image of God and woman not’ is from a physical perspective. God started with the dust of the ground and fashioned man. He breathed into the nostrils of man and then man became a human being (literally dirt-man).
Woman on the other hand was made from God opening up man and taking out a rib (something He had already created when He fashioned the man) and fashioned a woman.
I am not suggesting that God threw away His creative power when He created woman. Not at all. He did not just create woman from the dirt alone. I should have clarified my statement more carefully and perhaps removed it all together. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone (especially the women in this group) by that statement. If you read my post in this section, I am for women in leadership as an encourager and helper along side men who are called by God.
Please disregard my statement concerning men and women and the image of God. Image refers to a ‘photocopy or print’ of God’s mind. I hope I have not offended anyone and hope that my clarification of what I meant here is a little more understandable and easier to read. Again, I ask your forgiveness if I have written anything that was offensive to anyone. I will do a much better job of re reading my posts and considering others and how they might interpret my thoughts and writings before posting them.



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Paul Johnston

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:29 pm


In my heart,as a man, I’m very much persuaded by the poignancy of the feminine arguements. From a purely humanistic perspective it is hard not to hear my sisters’ calls for justice; they are compelling. Were I able to base my decision solely informed by personal/cultural and democratic principals, I can’t see me choosing any other approach other than an egalitarian one. The thing is though,(said by a man who often struggles with Christian principals), I truly believe Jesus has different priorities.
Whereas in modern culture, it might be fair to equate subordination with inferiority, with Christ, such things just might be opposite. Subordination to others, dedicated to serving Christ, just might be the superior posture. Implicit in his “Great Sermon”, confirmed by His “First shall be last…” declaration and, to me at least, underscored by the very fact His revelation was made to the disposessed, suggests perceived human inferiority is in fact divine superiority.
I don’t mean to be dismissive or insensitive towards anyones anguish over the very real human perceptions and feelings of unfairness regarding this issue, as I would like to think that I have a real sense of compassion and just as importantly, albeit in different contexts, have suffered from what I thought was pure injustice.
I just think that it would be best for all men and women to be open to the possibility that what we suffer unjustly here on earth, in His name, accords us grace. Both in the here and now and in our hoped for future with our Lord in heaven.
Peace to all.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:38 pm


What I hear you saying is that you believe Paul’s words to a particular church with a particular situation should be taken for all churches for all times. That’s what I mean by a literal interpretation.
I understand what you mean and agree that this is where we need to sift what Paul meant as a local command or custom and what he meant as more universal. That said, as it pertains to Paul’s comments on deacons, elders and women in the church we need to consider his words in light of the whole of Scripture.
The weight of Scripture beyond 1 Tim. makes it unreasonable to assume that Paul’s words were local and a once for all proclamation. The fact that he passed these commands down to Timothy is very significant also to this end.



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Dana Ames

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:39 pm


Benjamin 161,
(if we were at a table over coffee you would hear me saying this in a low voice, with everything I am able to muster within to avoid even the aroma of sarcasm, leaning toward you…)
You said,
“I can’t afford to do anything other than be about my Father’s business, even if others don’t recognize me as doing such activity.”
I hear the frustration and longing in what you wrote, a kind of coming to terms with things the way they are, and a determination to follow and obey Jesus. You have expressed your emotions, though not in language full of “feeling” words, very clearly.
It sounds so very much like what the women who are commenting are saying and feeling.
I don’t hear Molly, or any other woman who has commented, being concerned about recognition; Molly’s point about Mary’s name is that her name really didn’t define her. It was not at all about bitterness. It was about a coming to terms with all it would cost, and being determined to follow and obey, for Mary and for the others here.
It’s not about trying to “find fulfillment” in acting as someone of the other sex.
It’s about being regarded and taken seriously as a fully human being. Exactly the way you want to be regarded and taken seriously.
No woman I’ve heard on this string is arguing against God’s will or God’s truth. As a place to begin, one thing we wonder is if we are to be regarded as Human Beings. I hear people say that it is a matter of biblical truth and God’s will that women should not be regarded as Human Beings (those at the pinnacle of God’s creation made in his image). You have done well to identify with Molly’s frustration. Can you imagine how it might be to be constantly given the message that God (the God of love, the God who loves you so much he sent Jesus to die for your sins) views you are somehow not… quite… human? I think you can.
[and now I would lean across the table and pat you on the hand... because I see integrity in you, and because I'm Italian... :) ]
Dana



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Dana Ames

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:11 pm


…btw, I’m also very interested in the answers to your question, and a good one it is, too…
Dana



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Beyond Words

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:41 pm


TD, I deeply appreciate your apology. YOU didn’t offend me. I believe you believe as you do with a pure heart.



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Paul Johnston

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:00 pm


…”If Jesus, Paul, Peter, or any other told you, as a man, to be silent in a meeting, would you?”….
I would surely hope so. As a man, particularly with respect to the Lord and to a lesser extent the Saints, I have a lot of listening to do.
With regard to the term “or any other”, I’m not so sure. It would depend on who the “any other” was and the context.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:15 pm


Dana,
The point is this.
As much as any on us, male or female, want to be taken seriously, seen as fully human, or fully capable, or not inferior or fully gifted or fully fulfilled or fully recognized……or fully anything else, they are our expectations. These are things that we tend to want in our humanity.
However, if our reality does not meet our expectations, what are we to do? Do we point fingers at those we can find to blame? Do we shake a fist at God for his lack of activity in our life to make our circumstances better, to fit our expectations? Do we compare ourselves with others who may occupy positions or circumstances we may desire?
Our expectations are nothing more than that…our expectations. They are not necessarily the expectations our Lord has for us. Or it may be that the manner He chooses to fulfill His desires for us don’t match our thoughts on the subject. We may not exactly agree with the way He conforms us to the image of Christ.
We must remember that when we stand before our Lord and give account for our life, it will not be given according to our standards and expectations. It will definitely be according to His standard, His Word. My desires in no way displace His word in the matter. Our desires should be the same as those of Jesus……..I say those things my Father tells me to say …I do those things my Father tells me to do.
As you said, it comes down to……being willing to pay the cost. Sadly most are not because the price is high.
So, regardless of where we are, does our Lord find us doing what He wants us to do? Or are we engaged in a battle, effectively frustrating the grace of God in our lives?
Dana, as an Italian, I think maybe you expect too much of yourself by stifling your emotion. I would fully expect you to cut loose…..which would make your hand pat and personal insight all the more appreciated. Then again, maybe the low tone would be more emphatic. Either way, you would have my attention. Thanks!



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Dana Ames

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:23 pm


I do agree about the price.
I think expectations run many ways…
Goodnight, Ben. And as we leave the cafe I would give you a hug!
Dana



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm


Ben,
Like Dana, I want you to hear my words in a very calm tone. I want to hear what you are trying to say, but I think your writing might be getting in your way.
In your first paragraph you say, “As much as any on us, male or female, want to be taken seriously, seen as fully human”
And in your second paragraph you say, “However, if our reality does not meet our expectations, what are we to do?”
Do you understand that since no one here (or through out history) has questioned men’s humanity…when you put those 2 paragraphs together it reads as if you are saying that even through women want to be seen as fully human, reality is not going to meet that expectation.
I want to hear what you are saying in this conversation, Benjamin, I really do. But when you say things like this, it’s very difficult. Maybe that’s not what you were trying to say, maybe you just have writing skills that need to be tuned up, in which case, it would be helpful to re-present that post. But if that’s really what you believe – that women are sub-human, I think it would be helpful if you thought through the implications of calling your conversation partners less than human.



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RJS

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:47 pm


Brad (171),
I said it was an interesting question – so as I was musing on it:
(1) Do I think Paul was perfect? – No, I don’t think any of the apostles were perfect.
(2) Do I think that Paul, or Peter or … ever made mistakes in their missionary work? Yes, because they were human beings working things out, and susceptible to the failings of all of mankind.
(3) Do I think that they ever rethought or revised their teachings on some issues? Yes.
(4) Do I think that this has any implications for the NT text and our interpretation of the text? That is an entirely different question. The NT was was preserved and transmitted through the early church, affirmed by generations, through the work of the Holy Spirit, for our education and salvation. It is not simply the teaching of Paul, or Peter, or James, etc.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:56 pm


Do I think that this has any implications for the NT text and our interpretation of the text? That is an entirely different question. The NT was was preserved and transmitted through the early church, affirmed by generations, through the work of the Holy Spirit, for our education and salvation. It is not simply the teaching of Paul, or Peter, or James, etc.
No argument here.



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More Than Serving Tea

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:57 pm


Brad,
Yes, I’ve read Philemon. But again, I would like to understand how this letter addressing a specific case then is applied on a broader scale if avoiding pearls and gold is not? And what do you mean when you write, “Paul isn’t concerned about lobbying for social justice, he nor the apostles never took up a political campaign. His concerns was about souls, faith, love, not comfort.” ? Does social justice somehow equal comfort?
I am genuinely curious as to how you would apply those same words God spoke to the Israelites about the treatment of slaves that he permitted them to take to life in the 21st century. If you uphold literal interpretation as key to the issue of women in ministry/leadership then are you also going to go to the mat on slavery?
Reading most of this thread has been rather exhausting. I’m not an academic and I won’t try to win that argument. Is it really an argument to win? At the end of my days, I will have to account for how I spent my time here on this broken but precious earth. The journey isn’t easy, and I suspect that on this side of heaven it won’t be. My time here matters, no matter if I have or am allowed a leadership title. That goes for both men and women.



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Benjamen,
we are a long way down from the thread we were on but I want to respond. I get what you are saying about priveleged presuppositions and the reverse. Where I am coming from is this. Often when I share my biblically informed views about freedom to minister, and mutuality in marriage emotion surfaces. Not because I want it too but because the feelings are real. Immediately, I hear from men, some women, that when the hurt is healed, (even though to a large degree it is) I will see things differently, and that the real problem is that I am wounded and see thru woundedness. If I was not so wounded, then perhaps I would be able to see more clearly–or their way. That sounds very discounting and comes across as a way to minimize the reality of my or anyone else’s experiences in the church and society. I think the Spirit’s voice is speaking and present in and through God’s people and it is very important to listen to the experiences of those on the underside of power if we wish to hear fully. Yes, such listening requires discernment from the scripture. If we do not listen, we in some way shut out what God is saying through those people.
I am sensing that many who hear me write, do not believe I take the scripture seriously. I most certainly do. I also believe in sound biblical interpretation. However, i believe that many times our interpretations and applications differ and I believe that persuppositions are operative in all interpretations to one degree or another. As we hear, the potential for better or clearer hearing rises because we have the opportunity to check our presuppositions. I am not a relativist but a realist.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:23 pm


Jennifer,
You might have a point about my writing. I have been writing a little more rapidly than usual, so there might be some needed changes that I would normally make, but didn’t.
I’ll say this once and, I hope, very clearly.
I could never imagine myself thinking, saying or believing that woman are anything but fully human!
In the post you mention, I was simply saying that even when we want to be seen by others in a certain way or be treated in a certain way, there are times when people don’t perform according to those expectations. We are not viewed or treated by others according to truth. We may know that we possess the dignity of a special creation of God, but may not be treated accordingly by others.
Does this change the fact of our unique place in God’s created order. No! But someone needs to inform others and bring them up to speed, for it seems obvious that they are lacking knowledge!
Until that happens, though, we have a myriad of choices before us. Do we grovel in the mire of other people’s ignorance? Or do we keep the Truth of the Word of God before us and dwell on His statements about us? When rejected by our friends, do we choose to bask in our divine and loving acceptance in Christ? When some consider us incompetent for the task, do we rely on the competence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us? In these situations, do we lean on our own understanding, or do we seek His wisdom knowldge and understanding?
There are times when it seems our sanity is at stake. Yet, God has designed us to lean on Him and His provision for us. He is our sanity. He is our everything. But we must allow Him, who is our Life, to be everything in our life. It is a must!
As I think about it again, I shake my head, finding it difficult to even imagine women being anything other than what they are, special creations of God. I hope this provides more clarity. If it doesn’t let me know. I’ll try again!



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faith

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:33 pm


What do you folks think about NT Wright’s comments about women in ministry. He spoke about Mary when she sat at the feet of jesus as taking the position of a learner… but learners who sat at the Rabbi’s feet were preparing to become Rabbis. So Jesus welcome of Mary as a rabinical student has much to say about Jesus’ view of women in ministry.



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:44 pm


#197 Brad, The weight of Scripture beyond 1 Tim is precisely what this post is about. There are quite a few places where the makeup and structure of the ekklesia in other places is mentioned, often only in passing, but in these cases we see that the prominent workers in each fellowship was practically very mixed gender wise. Take Rom. 16 as an example and Paul sends greetings to Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Julia and the sister of Nereus and the letter is entrusted to Phebe. In Philipians 4 Paul begins by asking Euodias and Syntyche to be of the same mind and says that they laboured with him for the gospel…



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Scot McKnight

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:49 pm


Faith,
Undoubtedly, Mary’s posture is that of attending, listening, and learning. Much more questionable is the inference that she was sitting to learn in order to become rabbi — that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve seen in Tom Wright. We are not at all sure just what went on to be called “rabbi” at the time of Jesus. “Rabbi” might mean little more than “my teacher” and not “Rabbi” as a title.
What is clear though is that Mary’s posture is not only appropriate for a woman, but more important than fussing Martha in the kitchen.



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Jennifer

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:55 pm


Ben,
Thank you for your clarification. I deeply appreciate knowing that you view men and women as equal in humanity. At the end of the day, we are going to disagree on what role women can take, but I respect your right to your opinion and believe you are seeking to please the Lord, just as I am.



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Paul Johnston

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:55 pm


Hey Faith,
To me NT Wright is “reaching”. Jesus was mildly rebuking Martha with regard to her personal concerns and about what she thought Mary’s priorities should have been, while at the same time complimenting Mary for her choice.
Personally I don’t think calling all people to learning and discipleship is the same as calling all people to leadership?



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Take Rom. 16 as an example and Paul sends greetings to Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Julia and the sister of Nereus and the letter is entrusted to Phebe. In Philipians 4 Paul begins by asking Euodias and Syntyche to be of the same mind and says that they laboured with him for the gospel…
Sam, absolutely we should consider this, but we are also warned not to go beyond what is written. In order to also say that Paul is commending these women as elders or church leaders we must assume that from the text because the text does not commend these women as teachers. Presumption has been the birth of many a heresy in the church.



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Psalmist

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:13 pm


Brad, the wonderful thing is, I’m *not* fighting with God. The struggle is with those human beings who insist that our gender is the most important thing about us, and refuse to consider that God’s sovereignty (unlike their hermeneutic preferences) is not limited by it. In other words, God’s still going to call and use people as God chooses, and like it or not, that occasionally includes calling and using women in leadership in the church of Jesus Christ. When such women try to refuse such callings, THAT is when they learn what struggling against God is all about.



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:24 pm


Faith,
You stated,
“That sounds very discounting and comes across as a way to minimize the reality of my or anyone else’s experiences in the church and society.”
You are right about those kinds of statements by others. Instead of allowing statements such as those to drag me down, I look upon them as a challenge to not allow myself to discount their statements. Instead, I examine their statements for what they are. Is it possible that what they are saying is true to any degree? I examine the statement and my own heart, instead of making the other person the focus. If there is the possibility that even a portion of what they are saying is true, then I owe it to my Lord, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and myself to examine it. If it is true, I should make corrections where necessary. If I conclude they were wrong, they are wrong….and I discard the statement.
As far as what others may think about your seriousness regarding hermeneutics, I would say take your time. A blog is not exactly the best forum for detailing your hermeneutical foundation. I have found that it takes time for others to know what you believe and become familiar with it. You must have the time and opportunity to write as well as say the same things in different ways. On a blog, those opportunities usually come from others asking questions in different ways. They can easily cause you to think about issues you have not thought about before or to think about an issue in a completely different light.
During this process, your dedication to the Lord becomes evident, maybe not to everybody you encounter, but usually to those regular participants of the blog. That goes for the real world also. But the Lord is the one who matters in the end.
As Dana mentioned, there is this thing called integrity. As long as you know you have it before the Lord, don’t let anyone deter you from doing what He would have you to do. Others will not give account for your life, you alone will.



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Psalmist

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:28 pm


Also, I’m still wondering how you came to the conclusion that “Deborah shamed her husband.” Nothing in the text even hints at such a thing.



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Dana Ames

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Re NT Wright, he references the work of Kenneth Bailey, who was a missionary and theology professor in one of the Levantine countries (sorry can’t remember which) for many years. Bailey describes the setting in the Martha and Mary episode in light of the near Eastern culture of Jesus’ day, and contends that the connotation of the text is Mary as “official rabbinic-style disciple” (my words, not Bailey’s). Lots of other interesting points too.
http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/pdf_files/free_articles/kebaileynt.pdf
Dana



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Sam Carr

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:42 pm


#215 Brad, I don’t think that I am asking you to to go beyond what is written as with all of the epistles we often get little snippets on which doctrine should not be based. In fact in Rom. 12 where Paul talks at some length about the different functions (praxis), he enjoins “all the members” to be one body utilising whatever gifts of grace have been granted to each in complete togetherness (allelon – every one members one of another – kjv) and leading or ruling is considered only one of the important and necessary functions of the body. Do you believe that he is excluding women?



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:46 pm


The struggle is with those human beings who insist that our gender is the most important thing about us, and refuse to consider that God’s sovereignty (unlike their hermeneutic preferences) is not limited by it.
I’m afraid this is flawed reasoning on two fronts.
the Scriptures often equate that those who are of God
In other words, God’s still going to call and use people as God chooses, and like it or not, that occasionally includes calling and using women in leadership in the church of Jesus Christ. When such women try to refuse such callings, THAT is when they learn what struggling against God is all about.



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:09 pm


Sorry..I hit the submit button accidentally in my last post as I was writing, please disregard….
The struggle is with those human beings who insist that our gender is the most important thing about us, and refuse to consider that God’s sovereignty (unlike their hermeneutic preferences) is not limited by it.
I’m afraid this is flawed reasoning on two fronts.
1. The Scriptures often equate that those who are of God have God living with them. You can’t diminish that truth for the sake of another.
2. The Scriptures declare and describe the sovereignty of God and they do so outside of what you believe. The point is brining your heart in harmony with God according to what he says, not the other way around.
For the record, I’ve never said that our gender is the most important thing about us. That said, I find it odd that on a board that champions culture that you are intent on removing a key component of it in order to prove your point.
Again, your fight is with God. He established the order.
In other words, God’s still going to call and use people as God chooses, and like it or not, that occasionally includes calling and using women in leadership in the church of Jesus Christ.
Like it or not, God, has an order established already that he will move forward with according to his character and truth. God will certainly use whom he will but he will do so in accordance with what he said he would do and how we would do it.
When such women try to refuse such callings, THAT is when they learn what struggling against God is all about.
Feel free to try to prove this through Scripture, but this looks very much to be a contrived assertion from your own heart. I see no women leaders who refuse the calling of God in Scriptures, I see no women leaders presiding over a church at all in the NT. Who did you have in mind?



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Brad

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:30 pm


Do you believe that he is excluding women?
From being servants of Jesus Christ? From having spiritual gifts? No.



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Psalmist

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:19 am


Do we have anyone, male or female, named as “presiding over a church”–that is, other than the Head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ himself? No, we don’t. We have planters of churches, and waterers of churches, and prophets within churches, and emissaries to churches, and those who host churches, and those who teach the teachers, and those who teach the disciples, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth. Why would you insist on a named person, specifically female, Brad? Do the examples of women in Scriptures have nothing to teach you as a man about how to live faithfully in the will of God? Are there “masculine” character traits and “feminine” character traits in Scripture, such that men can simply ignore those that pertain to women and women ignore the men’s? Why should the examples of men have nothing to teach women about their faithfulness? Is God not sovereign to call those whom God chooses to lead? Women (as well as men) would do well to remember the story of Jonah. Even though Jonah was a man, he struggled against the will of God. God prevailed. As plenty of present-day women can tell you, by painful experience, women as well as men DO try to wriggle out of what God calls them to do. And as you recall, God was COMPLETELY out of line in what Jonah was told to do. Prophesy to the NINEVITES??? Make himself all unclean by hanging out with that bunch of sinners? Why, God had no RIGHT to contradict Himself and tell a prophet to minister to the heathens! But the call didn’t go away, and God didn’t accept Jonah’s refusal.
It’s really kind of hilarious that you (wrongly, without even knowing me) claim I’m fighting with God. I’m merely disagreeing with you and telling you why I believe you’re way wrong on this issue. I gave fighting with God long ago when it became clear to me that only full obedience was going to cut it with God. There is no fight when one submits oneself to God and obeys God’s will. You are flatly wrong to say that I believe outside of Scripture concerning the sovereignty of God. We have ample evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of that same Spirit, being bestowed upon the people of God, male and female. The OT prophets told of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. We have ample guidance provided concerning the qualities and character of those who use those gifts to serve the church. I accept with joy what the Scriptures show us life as the body of Christ is to be like. We learn, then we serve as God equips us to serve. Examples of men and women alike illustrate both call and obedience.
I never said you, specifically, raised gender to a place of supreme importance. Only you can know if you do that. It’s fashionable in some circles, however, for people to do that, and your statements have much in common with those who openly teach that gender is more important than shared humanity. And frankly, when anyone uses gender as the criterion by which to judge, despite all evidence, that no woman is ever called by God to certain leadership ministries, then such a person IS elevating gender above both the sovereignty of God’s will and the contextual teaching of Scripture.
Not unlike women telling God how thoroughly inappropriate it is to even consider saying “yes” when God says, “I call you as a shepherd to my people. How do you answer me?” It’s probably fairly easy for you to (wrongly) claim that the call is merely a “contrived assertion from [my] own heart.” It’s apparently very easy for you to (again wrongly) suggest that someone who doesn’t share your belief in God being limited to calling men only to church leadership, don’t “have God living in them” or “diminishing the truth.” But you’re not the one who tried to say “no” to God when God got all unreasonable with you. And you’re not the one who’d have had to give an account of your refusal if you’d never given in and finally obeyed the will of God. God lives in me, and I stand firmly on the truth of God as revealed in the whole of the Scriptures, bearing witness to that truth in my life. Your opinion otherwise is simply uninformed and wrong.
I have to wonder what you do when you encounter a situation for which there’s no man named in Scripture, doing whatever it is that is in question. Seriously, I don’t think you refrain from EVERYthing on which Scripture is silent vis a vis a man doing it.
As for me, I’m thankful to have a good but still growing grasp of the principles given to us in Scripture which, paired with a decently working mind that God trusts me to use responsibly, allow me to follow Christ faithfully when there’s not something explicitly spelled out in a verse or fragment that pertains to a given situation. The Holy Spirit never fails to bring to mind the consistent themes of our faith: The Great Commandments, the Great Commission, the Shema, Micah 6:8, the Fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, and many other summations of the principles of Christian living that inform both areas where Scripture is silent and the larger context for specific verses and their immediate contexts.
I’m living out my salvation with integrity, Brad. It’s a joyful thing to obey God wholeheartedly, despite the occasional objection from those who choose to view me and other women as outside of their preferred interpretations of Scripture. The more I read and study the Bible, however, the more I learn of the heart and will of God and the closer I’m able to walk with Christ. Given a choice between that obedience and the hollowness of conforming to a tradition that refuses to allow God the full sovereignty to act outside that tradition (namely, recognizing only men’s calls to church leadership), it’s no contest.



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S.P. Mook

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:23 am


Hello all,
This blog as a whole is amazing and many of my friends who love Scot and his writings have been blessed by this blog and that’s on all sides of this issue, but I need to tell you this. I wouldn’t even think about telling anyone to read these comments on this post (that’s after post 100). It’s been exhausted and both side’s have had good points, obviously some are in the minority. Either way it’s become distasteful. A few of you who have great passion but horrible approach and to say that Jesus would argue in the way that you do is to forget your not Paul let alone Jesus. In some of the comments a few blogers have talked about Jesus and represent Jesus in ways that make me want to throw up. Not because you might not have some good points but because you sound like the people who Christ was enraged over. Some sound like the person that wouldn’t know Jesus if they saw him today or when he walked the earth 2000 years ago.
Before I ever mention my own theological interpretative stance I’ll try to rap my mind around church’s who are more known for a interpretative stance. Rather then the greater things that bothered Christ and in my view continue to bother him. Perhaps the truth that their are more then 2 billion people living on less then a dollar a day. Or that every 9 seconds someone dies of Aids. Or that inside your town or city there are people who are homeless tonight, people who have no gloves tonight. I think that’s what Jesus would care about. 10 minutes down the road there is someone who has no gloves! No gloves? 2 billion people live on less then a dollar a day? He might care more about the truth that many men, many Christian men are addicted to a muilti billion dollar business “the great peversion” pornography. I think that’s some of the material Jesus would talk to us about before our interpertive stance.
A great preacher that i richly enjoy recently said something along the lines of this “If a church was to be destroyed tomorrow and completely removed from the town would people even care? Would people who want nothing to do with God plead for the Church to stay?” I quote that not to change the subject but to make the point that this is the subject. There is a lot at stake here and it’s more then an issue that will continue to have 100’s of interpretations dragged with it. I use that quote because i believe God longs to bring love, hope, and grace to our neighbors, to our communities and to our churches who desperately need it!
Here is a quote that perhaps can encourage and challenege us all.
Shalom!
“Obviously we think our interpretations are the most correct; otherwise we’d change them. The idea that everybody else approaches the Bible with baggage and agendas and lenses and I don’t is the ultimate in arrogance. To think that I can just read the Bible without reading any of my own culture or background or issues into it and come out with a pure or exact meaning is not only untrue, but it leads to a very destructive reading of the Bible that robs it of its life and energy.
I have heard people say their church is growing because they “just teach the Bible”. As if other churches don’t. And what about the church that teaches the Bible and shrinks? The church that’s growing in numbers is probably growing for a lot of reasons, but the teaching the Bible reason is that they are teaching a particular understanding of the Bible. A yoke, they aren’t objective, and they aren’t just telling people what it says. They have interpreted it and made decisions about it, and this particular yoke they’re spreading resonates with people. This version-their version-is striking a chord with people, and so they are coming to hear more of this take on the Bible. The bible has to be interpreted. Decisions have to be made about what it means now, today. The Bible is always coming through the interpretation of someone. “When was the last time you saw a Christian greet anther Christian with a holy kiss? But it’s right there in the Bible. I can show you verses in Corinthians and Thessalonians and in one of Peter’s letters that say we should greet each other with a holy kiss. Or how about women heaving to ear head coverings? Or cursing people who don’t love the Lord? Or selling all your possessions and giving everything to the poor? Or men raising their hands when they pray? Or slaves having to obey their master? These are all commands that appear in the Bible. And yet they are rarely followed. This is because someone somewhere made a decision about those texts; someone decided that Christians didn’t have to greet one anther with a kiss or wear head coverings or curse people who don’t love the Lord. All these verses have been interpreted by someone, whether it was a priest or a denomination or a pastor or a council somewhere-somebody somewhere where engaged in the difficult work of binding and loosing. Somebody in your history decided certain Bible verses still apply and others don’t” Rob Bell taken from Velvet Elvis.
So many more great quotes just something to wrestle with!



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Sam Carr

posted February 23, 2007 at 6:17 am


#223 Brad, you are willing to believe that women can really be followers of Jesus and that God may even gift them to serve the ekklesia but what?
Doesn’t seem to me that Paul is seeking any other qualification and gender certainly doesn’t enter into the discussion. There can be no imposed or assumed divisions in the body of Christ whether as to function or as to organisation (neither in Rom. 12 nor in 1Cor. 12). In all cases it is the will of the Holy Spirit that is supreme “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free…”
Nothing that we do or say, indeed no sound doctrine can be allowed to interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit and with the will of God for us.



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Sam Carr

posted February 23, 2007 at 6:20 am


sorry, that last sentence dshould have read “no doctrine is sound that interferes with…”



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Cathryn Thomas

posted February 25, 2007 at 6:01 pm


And it’s a rolling!!!!! It would be interesting to tap into the women Mystics…. they had strong mantles- extrodinary lives- much passion and much perscution. Just an aside- in the IDF- it’s the women who train the men in tank manauvers and sniper skill. Often wondered if there is a prophetic connection there. Shalom, cathryn



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Marcia

posted February 25, 2007 at 9:16 pm


Why do women have such difficulty understanding that there is a difference between roles and equality?
Just because Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister does not mean that he is worth more than me, or is a better person than me. It simply means that he holds a different position than I do in life.
Why do so women feel that they must be allowed to become pastors of churches? Will it cause them to feel more cared for, more enlightened? Will it give them a greater sense of self-worth?
I personally believe that the reason why the godly family in North America is suffering such a breakdown, is because many men are unable to lead their families with sound Biblical principles, and women are unable to help their husbands become leaders.



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JACK

posted February 25, 2007 at 9:45 pm


#138
Bob, the first post in that series I mentioned in response to your comment is up on Integrity now at: http://jackblogs.typepad.com/integrity/2007/02/religious_sense.html



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S.P. Mook

posted February 26, 2007 at 4:12 am


Hey Marcia,
Do you really believe the main reason why families are suffering a breakdown is because men are unable to lead there families with sound Biblical principles?
This is the reason for this discussion, because there is an urgent need to look at what some people view as sound Biblical principles. I greatly respect your opinions and interpretation but would you agree that interpretation on this issue is not as obvious as we want it to be. I’m assuming you or I don’t give a holy kiss at church. The first interpretation of scripture in regards to slavery is no longer held (in most cases). I’m assuming you don’t wear head coverings. Give everything to the poor and share all your possessions like the first community of believers.
The Bible is something we need to wrestle with and not only look at the context that we are reading it in, but the context of Bible. Perhaps an even greater problem that I’ve seen is that certain church’s have become more known and shown to make this a core value and an essential area of focus for there community. It is one thing to hold to an interpretation, its anther when we talk about our interpretation more then any of the first apostles and biblical writers ever did (especially when there is no sound answer).
People are scared that there interpretations might be wrong, not to mention that most of there church life has been centered on these areas that lead the Church to be more about cult values rather then core values. Debates are one thing; even disagreeing is one thing but making Christ and his first followers who called themselves Christians into dogmatic mini Caesar’s with sound biblical principles is anther.
It’s not as simple as we want it to be.
Bad Theology usually creates brick theology. Remove a brick and someone’s world and interpretation falls apart.
I hope we both continue to wrestle and when we’ve found an interpretation or a church that we never lose focus and never lose heart on what people need more then anything, a greater love and a greater hope. People want love and hope first; no matter how important an interpretation is, people want to feel like they can belong before they have to believe. This is regards to a greater hope and a greater love (let along gender roles). At the end of the night it is your interpretation. How many protestant churches are there? (20,000+) If it was as sound and as principle oriented as we sometimes make it out to be or want it be. There’d be no need for this discussion.
A greater love and a greater hope,
Shalom



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Psalmist

posted February 26, 2007 at 10:20 pm


Marcia, the reason that many Christians, male and female, believe that women must be allowed to become pastors, is simply because God calls some women to be pastors. If anyone, male or female, desires to be a pastor just because that’s what they want to be, there’s a serious problem. Most probably approach it much more sensibly than that; it’s not possible to be a godly pastor merely from desire to be a pastor. God must be, and is, the source of a true pastor’s calling and gifting and empowerment for the work. And that includes those women God chooses to call to pastoral ministry.
The same is true of any vocation (calling) and ministry (service) for any of us. If God’s not at the heart of it, we’d better step back and re-evaluate what we’re doing.
Those Christians who advocate against women as pastors frequently mischaracterize female pastors as deciding that’s what they want to be. Don’t believe it. If you take the time and trouble to discuss with a female pastor why she became a pastor, you will almost certainly find that her response is essentially the same as the answer you’d get from any good male pastor: because God called her, and she obeyed.



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Sam Carr

posted February 27, 2007 at 4:13 am


Psalmist #232, Obeying God’s call to us, empowered and equipped by His Spirit is what following Jesus means day-to-day and throughout our life on earth. With Paul let each of us run the good race and let us run together to win the prize!



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Marcia

posted February 27, 2007 at 2:28 pm


Re: holy kiss, selling posessions and living communist lifestyle with other Christians:
Those issues were cultural issues that were dealt with in the church. The case of female pastoral leadership is not. It states clearly in the New Testament, that women are to be submissive to men, and the writer refers back to Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden. Therefore, it is not a cultural doctrine, because it refers back to the father and mother of the human race.
Stating that that Scripture is cultural is as ludicrous as me saying that walking in faith is Paul’s cultural response to the persecution of the church, and that I should ignore the references he made to the fathers of faith such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The writers supports their view on the female pastoral stance by pointing back to the beginning of creation. It is not simply a cultural verdict.
Also, it so happens to be that my mother wears a head scarf to church, even though the church denomination definitely does not require. It is personal conviction that she feels.
Re: the call: Obviously a hot button, I can’t waltz around telling people that God didn’t actually call them to become pastors. What I would like to know is – how does God manage to contradict Himself? He clearly states in Spirit-inspired Scripture the stance that women should take. But, now, He is calling women to become pastors? What you’re basically saying is, that God has changed, due to OUR cultural changes. I…don’t really believe that’s the case.



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Sam Carr

posted February 27, 2007 at 2:48 pm


Marcia, these texts have been discussed in this series by Scot and a lot of responders over a number of posts. Perhaps you should run through those discussions and then decide whether god is contradicting Himself or whether perhaps you have not really understood what the texts mean in their contexts…



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Benjamin Bush Jr

posted February 27, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Marcia,
It seems there’s a presumption that you have not read the previous responses. Absent your provision of evidence, I believe that presumption adds nothing to the conversation.
I believe your statements are just as worthy of consideration as those of anyone else on this blog.
As far as not spending more time on Women leaders in the Old Testament, I believe you bring up a valid point, that Paul refers back to the original father and mother of the human race.
In fact it could be that this provides the answer some are looking for. In Eve we have the first Egalitarian female leader, unless you don’t consider her as taking part in the original earthly dominion mandate from God. But she sure acted the part by being unafraid to engage the serpent in conversation. We’ve been suffering the results of that conversation ever since! Not exactly the “perfect” example some are looking for, I am sure.
The sad part is that Adam watched the whole show, then joined his wife. God judges him for “hearkening to the voice of your wife.”
Interesting……….the wife leads, the man follows……and we’re cursed!
Great point Marcia!



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Marcia

posted February 27, 2007 at 9:36 pm


I’m rather confused over the apparent facetiousness displayed here, but I’ll move past that.
I have read the original blog post, for anyone asking, and I don’t consider examples from the Old Testament a good enough reason to justify pastoral female leadership.
Yes, the Old Testament is an integral part of the Bible.. The Bible would not be complete without it, but, we do not live by the law of the Old Testament, and those women of example, while certainy honourable and amazing role models, do not fit the role of pastors/reverends.
#235 – I’m pretty sure that translating the texts back to ancient Greek and understanding the root words is what reading it in context means.
A good example of an argument that egalitarians use is 2nd John vs. 1. I had this verse thrown in my face by somebody who insisted that it was an accurate Scripture regarding the right of women to pastor. The verse reads “To the elect lady and her children…” People then assume that “elect lady” is referring to a women who is in leadership, and the “children” refer to the body of a church. In reality, the Greek word is “eklektos” which means “chosen believer”. It has literally nothing to do with being elected into leadership of any sort.
The point I am trying to get across here, is that the Bible wasn’t written willy-nilly with words just pulled out of hats or something utterly ridiculous. All Scripture is God-breathed and infallible.
#237 – Thank you.



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Sam Carr

posted February 27, 2007 at 10:27 pm


Marcia, I was not at all being facetious. Both 1Tim 2 (I think your primary ref?) and 1Cor 14 have been discussed and especially in the context of a redemptive trend hermeneutic.
While most of those of us who do not know Greek in fact end up figuring out the literal meaning of texts by “translating the texts back to ancient Greek and understanding the root words” that is not really what I had in mind when referring to contexts.



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Marcia

posted February 28, 2007 at 6:17 pm


So, if whatever I’ve said has already been discussed, I shouldn’t think about discussing it again? Ok.



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faith

posted March 2, 2007 at 8:00 am


Marcia, Men and women were given shared rulership prior to the fall, your comment.. “the wife leads, the man follows and we are cursed” and so now the woman must be eternally subordinate to man. If what you say is true, then Christ’s atonement has had no benefit for women and by eternal subordination, we yet through our works are atoning for our sin. Further your comments assume that the Holy Spirit is unable to lead women into truth or that the Holy Spirit has not gifted women to lead. I find not mention in all of scripture that classifys spiritual gifts according to gender. Some of the proof texting and reading into scripture has serious implications to our dearly held theological views. We must be careful.
I was not going to comment again on this site but I couldn’t let this one go. I should never want a woman to fear that Christ work has not been effectual for her. Faith



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