Sunday, March 29, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: part seven - Conclusion

This is the conclusion of my research on this most "touchy" subject. Please read all seven posts before commenting, and I will welcome your thoughts.

VII. Conclusion
Proper worship (roles) is not an insignificant matter to God. The story of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 should provide ample evidence if one takes the Bible authoritatively. Uzziah, one of those kings who “did right in the sight of the Lord”, began to think he could do whatever he wanted; burn incense at the altar thus performing the role of the priests, and God struck him with leprosy. Nor are the commands of God to be taken lightly; 2 Samuel 6:6-7 – God “strikes down” Uzzah for merely touching the ark, in attempting to catch it from falling off the cart. R. C. Sproul has remarked – perhaps for thinking his hand was cleaner than the dirt it would have fallen on. The scriptures are replete with warnings and guidance. The fact there are disagreements over scripture, should remind us that it is not the clarity of scripture that is at issue, but rather the problem always lies with ourselves.[1]

The debate over female leadership in the church is not about who is better able to serve, preach or teach; it is more precisely over the sufficiency and utter clarity of God’s word. We are created male and female for a reason, to diminish this fact is to corrupt the very image of God and the very order He has ordained since creation. The empirical evidence of a world ignoring such divine revelation is abundant; abortion rights, homosexuality, divorce, the desire to be a single parent, teenage pregnancies, fatherless homes, and yes – supporting female church leadership is also a direct consequence of failing God’s clear directives. If the church does not confront the world with the truth of God’s word, who will? The church may be mocked by the world for obeying such archaic “male chauvinistic” hierarchies, but then again, the world does not fear God. Ecclesiastes 5:1 –“Guard your steps when you go into the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.”

[1]Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 109.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: part six of seven

VI. The True Issue: Deception


Is the issue over women leadership in the church really that big a deal? Is there a common denominator that can be discerned within this recent controversy? Raymond Ortlund, mentioned previously, made note that the occasion of the fall had taken place on the occasion of a sex role reversal. Paul’s instruction to Timothy as recorded in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 was directed precisely at refuting false teachings and practices. According to Roy B. Zuck, the meaning of the word “to teach” in verse twelve is used approximately one hundred times in scripture, and in only three instances does it refer to the teaching of individuals.[1] Ann Bowman concludes that Paul was clearly explaining that women are neither to teach nor exercise authority over men in the “worship assembly,” and are directed, has Paul had previously stated in verse eleven, to receive instruction with an “inner attitude of quietness and submission to the truth of God’s Word (and His chosen teachers).[2] Both scripture[3]and history, repeatedly give witness to the ease at which believers may be self deceived.[4] Therefore Paul’s point is that if such role reversals caused the fall, it clearly could wreak havoc on the church if repeated – “The woman must not be the one who leads the man in obedience to her.”[5] To do otherwise, is to be yet again - deceived.


The argument that there have been many women, who have visibly blessed the church while ignoring Paul’s prohibitions, is nothing more than the ends justifies the means argument, and secondly ignores the fact that God continues to give blessings despite our mistakes.[6] According to Rekers, when the church begins to deny the biblical distinctions between men and women and their respective roles in both the family and church, it is in essence denying the very image of God.[7] Where women desire “freedom” to lead and teach men in public worship, the subtle reality is an outright rejection of God’s clear commands, which inevitably leads to more rebellion. Some may proudly hold the banner up that reads “Motherhood – Just Say No!,” [8] others may peruse the “perfect job”, in essence “feminism” is indeed a “social movement” and it demands it all. [9] These demands, fueled by an “egocentric type of feminism” may indeed be the greatest danger to the church in the days to come.[10] Perhaps as the secular world continues to portray the “fulfilled” woman as the woman who pursues it “all”, women begin to accept this world view and inevitably carry its philosophical tendencies into the church.

What may be called the “traditional view” of women and men’s roles may perhaps be better understood as a “biblical worldview.” Litfin notes that this view is not some Napoleonic artifact invented by “traditionalists” seeking security in their own contrived ideas; but rather the very concepts of authority and hierarchy are from God, not men.[11] Litfin writes:

Clearly, then, the biblical world view is inimical to radical feminism, requiring feminist of both secular and liberal Christian stripe to reject in favor of perspectives more conductive to their purpose. God, if he exists, is redefined, usually toward the impersonal. Revelation, if it exists, is viewed as an ongoing thing, discovered in the unfolding of human experience. The concept of an original divine will for creation is rejected in favor of a more fluid, evolutionary vision of reality. Notions of hierarchy, authority, and submission to authority are ridiculed and in their place appear and appropriate set of “god words” hailing egalitarianism, human rights, and transcendence of sexual distinctions.[12]

Is it a coincidence that the fall in the garden happened upon questioning the authority and clarity of God’s word, fueled by a crafty set of “god words” appealing to the flesh? Do male and female roles really matter, or is God’s word simply unclear; therefore we should continually seek and discover new truths as our human experiences dictate? Furthermore, should the church for the sake of unity, dismiss this issue as irrelevant or not as important as abortion, slavery etc...? Or should we fear God as we seek His truths? Isaiah 66:2 – “To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”


[1]Ann L. Bowman, “Women in Ministry: An Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:11-15,” Bibliotheca Sacra 11, no. 2 (April 1980): 200.
[2]Ibid., 203..
[3]See Rom. 16:17-18; Eph. 5:6; Col. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Cor. 3:18; James 1:26.
[4]Ibid., 205.
[5]Ibid., 206.
[6]George W. Knight III, “How Should Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Work Out In Practice?” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 355.
[7]George Alan Rekers, “Psychological Foundations for reaing Masculine Boys and Feminine Girls” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 311.
[8]Dorthy Patterson, “The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 370.
[9]Ibid., 371.
[10]Craig L. Blomberg, “Not Beyond What Is Written: A Review of Aida Spencer’s Beyond The Curse: Women Called To Ministry,” Criswell Theological Review 2, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 421.
[11]A. Duane Litfin, “Evangelical Feminism: Why Traditionalists Reject It,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 136, no. 543 (July-September 1979): 267.
[12]Ibid., 269-270.

Friday, March 27, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: part Five of Seven

V. Feminist Hermeneutics

Some folks may be inclined to ask “Are these differences (the man drives the car; the woman changes the diapers) goals God has commanded us to pursue?”[1] Galatians 3:28 for many in the church appears to hold the key to Christian “equality” and it is this verse that must be considered logically prior to any texts that seem to indicate any “inferiority” among the sexes.[2] It is argued that the follower of Christ must come to the more difficult texts - 1 Timothy 2:12-13, and simply recognize that Paul was battling this particular tension. Mollenkott provides one such answer to this particular tension:

We must open our eyes to these conflicts, demonstrating faith in the God who allowed them to appear in the New Testament. We must conquer our fear that honest attention to what we see in the Bible will undercut the doctrine of inspiration. We must allow the facts of Scripture to teach us in the way it was inspired, rather than forcing Scripture to conform to our own theories about it.[3]

In essence, Mollenkott is encouraging “us” Christians not to be afraid to approach the scripture and find contradictions; “inspiration” is a false idea and contradictions are the natural result of any man (Paul) made doctrine. Some have even argued the texts we find in Paul’s writings were nothing more than Paul just thinking out loud and trying to work through his own conflicts.[4] This approach could obviously be applied elsewhere in scripture, including any texts that appear to contradict a more modern understanding of sexual boundaries, including homosexuality. If the assumption is made that Paul’s writings were influenced by a male “chauvinistic” rabbinic background, then surely he could be called “homophobic” by today’s standards simply by his rejection of same sex sexual relationships. In fact, Paul Jewett, mentioned above, appears to have no problem at all with homosexual orientation being understood as a “natural” orientation; he thinks it should be distinguished differently from what the New Testament teaches - it is not a “perversion” but rather a natural “inversion.”[5] It is this approach to the biblical texts that serve as an example of how the texts themselves are interpreted against modern day sensibilities and or “cultural norms.” In other words, homosexuality is only wrong when it’s not a “perversion.” That clearly begs the question – who defines “perversion” God or modern day (post modern) wisdom?

What about those “feminist” who hold a higher view of scripture and its authority? Feminist who are more of the evangelical persuasion have argued that the more “clear” passages, Galatians 3:28 for instance, should be the starting point when looking at less clear passages.[6] Paul W. Flex asks if it possible for the interpreter to exclude bias in the hermeneutical process, or is this just a delusion that is hiding behind some “veneer of objectivity?”[7] At this point it should be noted that the historical orthodox position has always affirmed the full equality of males and females “in Christ.”[8] Paul’s writing in Galatians is not concerned with any role relationships that may be found in the Church[9], but rather it teaches “an egalitarianism of privilege in the covenantal union of believers in Christ.”[10] How then does one apply the text of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 in today’s church? Isn’t the fact alone that some women who claim Jesus as Lord, being led by the “holy spirit” to lead and teach men within the church, enough evidence? Are they not entitled to full “equality” and are they not only doing God’s will?

Howard Clark Kee argues that the church’s “vitality” can only be regained when it recovers what he calls the “revolutionary insights of its founders - Jesus and Paul.”[11] His reference to the “oldest strata of the Jesus tradition” is to be found in the so-called Q document, and it is here we find the oral tradition of Jesus’ activities and where women are given the most “special attention.”[12] His authoritative reference to the Q document, may lead some to think this document may be found at the local bookstore, they will however search in vain. Kee, as others mentioned previously, argue that Paul’s writings were still bound and influenced by a male dominated culture, and argues that those texts which seem to be “waning” in the ecclesiastical roles of women is evidence that they were produced in his name by a later generation; thus in keeping with the Roman Greco world.[13] He also supports his argument by referencing the Gospel of Thomas and the Letter of Barnabas (non-canonical texts) as to contributing to the climate in which influenced Paul’s writings.[14] He concludes by recommending the church get back to the “inclusiveness” of all people including “sexual boundaries,” so that it will once again be a more “positive movement” in our society.[15]

Bruce Barron argues the egalitarians may have won the day when it comes to women in ministerial positions.[16] He writes had it not been for this passage in 1 Timothy 2, this debate over women in leadership positions would not even exist.[17] He does admit, however, that the passage is clear and that those in the egalitarian camp must reinterpret the passages using what some groups have called “hermeneutical oddities.”[18] Barron suggests that Paul utilizes the creation account, not to convey some timeless principle, but rather to refute a Gnostic myth that had put Eve over Adam in intellectual superiority.[19] He contends that Paul’s writing in Timothy makes much more sense when interpreted against this background; temporary instructions given to Timothy for dealing with a specific struggle in Ephesus.[20] He concludes that from a “sociological” standpoint, women in ministry are not like the evils of slavery or abortion, nor is it focused on any central principle that involves salvation; thus he concludes Paul, in our current day, probably would have adopted a more tolerant view.[21]

[1]Susan Foh, “Why Joanie Can’t Be Johnny” Christianity Today, 8 April 1991, 49.
[2]H. Wayne House, “Paul Women and Contemporary Evangelical Feminism,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136, no. 541 (Jan-March 1979): 44.
[3]Ibid.,
[4]Ibid., 45.
[5]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 83.
[6]Paul W. Felix, Sr. “The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 5, no. 2 (Fall 1994): 170.
[7]Ibid., 175.
[8]S. Lewis Johnson Jr. “Role Distinctions in the Church: Galatians 3:28,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 163.
[9]Ibid.
[10]Ibid., 164.
[11]Howard Clark Kee, “The Changing Role Of Women In The Early Christian World,” Theology Today 49, no. 2 (July 1992): 225.
[12]Ibid., 228.
[13]Ibid., 231.
[14]Ibid., 237.
[15]Ibid., 238.
[16]Bruce Barron, “Putting Women In Their Place Putting Women in their Place: 1 Timothy 2 and Evangelical Views of Women in Church Leadership,” Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society 33, no. 4 (December 1990): 451.
[17]Ibid., 452.
[18]Ibid., 453.
[19]Bruce Barron, “Putting Women In Their Place Putting Women in their Place: 1 Timothy 2 and Evangelical Views of Women in Church Leadership,” Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society 33, no. 4 (December 1990): 454.
[20]Ibid., 458.
[21]Ibid., 459.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: Part Four of seven

IV. Genesis – The Fall

Dr. Bill Domeris views the fall as “an explanation of the structures of society as experienced by the writer.”[1] Genesis 3:16 – “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” According to Domeris, the only thing the woman has lost here in the fall is her equality that she had once enjoyed.[2] Woman is to be viewed as man’s “fellow worker” and this should be sufficient to dismiss any idea that a woman’s role is to be some sort of “permanent nurse and housemaid.”[3] Domeris’ low view of scripture becomes evident when he first, refers to the Gospel of Thomas[4] and secondly when he complains that the writers of the Gospels had failed to recognize this new sense of valuing women that Jesus had ushered in; “Sadly the Gospel writers have lessened the revolutionary implications of Jesus’ band of followers by their concentration on the Twelve.”[5] According to Domeris, Paul simply failed to fully realize what he had written in Galatians 3:28, and instead continued in other letters to give the “legalist” in the Jewish synagogues a strong foothold.[6] Domeris’ implication is that in essence, Paul must have been struggling with Jesus’ “new and improved” view of women against his more Jewish “legalistic” understanding of women. He concludes that the notion of “submissiveness” is a travesty, and as long as men are to be seen as the “spiritual head” of the family, women will be nothing less than second class Christians.[7]

Without Genesis chapter 3, the recording of the fall, the Bible as a whole would make no sense, nor would life itself make sense.[8] As moral beings, being created in God’s image, both Adam and Eve knew their roles and it could be argued Satan was aware of these roles as well. Satan’s subtle approach is significant – “Indeed, has God said…?”(Genesis 3:1). Catching Eve when she was alone, without Adam to counsel or warn her, and for the first time perhaps, never imagined by either of them that it was even possible for a creature to actually question God’s word.[9] If scripture is considered to be divine revelation, then it has always been a very dangerous thing, either by addition or deletion, to alter God’s word (Revelation 22:18-19). Eve’s answer becomes quite revealing, for she added to and subtracted from God’s actual words – Genesis 3:2 “From the fruit of these trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it or you will die.’” God had actually said they could eat “freely” from “all” the trees except one, and God did not forbid them from “touching” the fruit; Eve’s “supposed” restriction, fueled by Satan’s question, becomes apparent in her developing resentment.[10] Is there any “resentment” today when women are “restricted” from specific roles within the church or family and who might be fueling it?

The text in Genesis 3 relating to the fall is crucial, especially in examining what it does and does not say. Genesis 3:6 – “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” What had actually happened? Raymond Orthund observes that it is most “striking that we fell upon an occasion of sex role reversal.”[11] Who gets the blame? Paul clearly blames Adam for the fall in Romans 5:12-21, and God did not summon both Adam and Eve, but it was Adam alone who had the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction.[12] It could also be noted that what deceived Eve is also common today – “it was a delight to the eyes” and “desirable to make one wise.” In essence, Eve had decided that Satan was telling the truth - provoked by physical, emotional, and intellectual appetites.[13] Are some of these same “appetites” the driving force behind the notion that women, as well as men, are called to lead the church and it really doesn’t matter? Will the clarity of God’s word be ignored, either by addition or deletion?

[1]W.R. Domeris, “Biblical Perspectives on the Role of Women,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, no. 55 (June 1986): 58.
[2]Ibid.
[3]Ibid.
[4]Ibid., 60.
[5]Ibid.
[6]Ibid.
[7]Ibid., 61.
[8]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 106.
[9]Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 110.
[10]Ibid., 111.
[11]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 107.
[12]Ibid., 108.
[13]John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN, 2005), 16.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: Part Three

III. Genesis – Creation

Michael Rosenzweig notes that in examining Gen 2:18, “I will make him a “helper” suitable for him”, should be more properly rendered “a helper equal to him.”[1] This “more accurate” interpretation may not adequately address what, if any, role differences that may apply, but according to Rosenzweig the best answers to these questions would be dependent on the times and culture we live in.[2] He further notes that whatever the answers are, they must not disrupt any male or female degrees of self esteem; for “only she knows how she feels.”[3] If a man or woman does not “feel” good about any particular role they may find themselves in, then it is assumed it must not be God’s plan. Self esteem becomes logically prior to God’s word if in fact one interprets the texts to contain any established roles at all. The assumption that God may have given different roles to men and women will ultimately be understood only within a theological framework that seeks gender “equality” and this “equality” appears to be dependent upon one’s self-esteem.

Raymond Ortlund defines “male-female equality” as - “Man and woman are equal in the sense they bear God’s image equally.” He further defines “male headship” as - “In the partnership of two spiritually equal human beings, man and woman, the man bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction.”[4] While the creation account in Genesis 1 teaches the equality of man and woman as image bearers and vice-rulers, Genesis 2 adds a more complex paradox; created equally in His image, but also He made the male the head and the female the “helper.”[5] Genesis 2:23 records the first recorded human words – “This is now the bone of my bones and the flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” Man was not created to help the woman, but she was created to help the man. The word “helper” is the woman’s supportive role.[6] In essence, the woman completed man, because God had said (Gen 2:18) “It was not good for the man to be alone.” There is also the parallel of being of one flesh, not only in the creation, but in marriage – verse 24. It can also be observed that although God could have, He did not sit Eve down and explain to her who she was and what relation she had to man; He allowed Adam to define her, and this was in keeping with Adam’s headship, which was clear to Eve.[7] Before the fall, God had ordained his male headship and this “headship” should not be confused with domination in any sense; “headship” does not imply that only men have authority, for both have authority and both are under authority – just as Jesus is both Lord and Servant.[8]

Some have asked whether there are there two creation stories – one of which fits female leadership and one that does not. Paul K. Jewett, Man as Male and Female (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975) 119 concludes:
Both in I Corinthians and in I Timothy appeal is made only to the second creation narrative as the sole text for understanding the meaning of human existence as male and female. Thus this second, supplementary narrative is interpreted in isolation from the first. . . . Furthermore, in reasoning this way, Paul is not only basing his argument exclusively on the second creation narrative, but is assuming the traditional rabbinic understanding of that narrative whereby the order of their creation is made to yield the primacy of the man over the woman. Is this rabbinic understanding of Genesis 2:18f. correct? We do not think that it is, for it is palpably inconsistent with the first creation narrative, with the life style of Jesus, and with the apostle­s own clear affirmation that in Christ there is no male and female (Gal. 3:28).[9]

Is Paul simply mimicking traditional rabbinic teachings, thus making Paul wrong in one instance of scripture and correct in another? Does Jewett’s interpretation explicitly call into question the authority of scripture by his implication that in one sense it is authoritative and yet in another it is not? If this question is answered in the affirmative using any method of interpretation, divine revelation then becomes the subject, not what Paul may or not have been influenced by.

Benjamin Merckle addresses what many have called an inconsistency in Paul’s reference to creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 and 1 Timothy 2:13-14. Merckle argues that what should be obvious in the first half of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is not head coverings, but the Corinthians’ desire to rid themselves of any creational and gender role distinctions.[10] Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:-7-9 “For a man ought not to have to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but the woman for the man’s sake.” Merckle concludes:
Paul appeals to creation to demonstrate the differences between men and women that God established from the beginning—and violating these distinctions brings shame instead of glory. By covering his head the man brings shame on Christ (since he is the image and glory of God) and by not covering her head the woman brings shame on man (since she is the glory of man).[11]
Therefore, it would be argued that any claim that these passages only apply to first century Christians must be rejected, lest bringing glory to God’s image is simply a cultural matter. Merckle concludes women are created differently than men and this distinction must be maintained in both the church and the family – therefore the command in 1 Timothy prohibiting women from having authority over men should be upheld in the church today.[12]

Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology II writes this about headship:
The principle involved in the headship of Adam underlies all the religious institutions ever ordained by God for men; all his providential dealings with our race; and even the distributions of the saving influences of his Spirit. It is therefore one of the fundamental principles both of natural and of revealed religion. …Men may dispute as to the grounds of the headship of Adam, but the fact itself can hardly be questioned by those who recognize the authority of the Scriptures. It has therefore entered into the faith of all Christian churches, and is more or less clearly presented in all their authorized symbols.[13]

The historical understanding of male headship may not alone be a convincing argument for its truthfulness, but it must be considered if one is primarily concerned with the influences of either culture or social norms and the historical implications it may have upon correctly interpreting the texts. The rise of what may be called “feminism” could clearly be viewed as a more recent event from any historical viewpoint, and it is either relevant or not relevant to a proper exegesis. In other words, are “roles” being defined by the church via God’s word, or is the church simply building theology around what the world currently thinks? Francis Schaeffer has said “Tell me what the world is saying today, and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying seven years from now.”[14] It appears if female “equality” equals “freedom” to lead men in church, then the church has started off with the answer, and thus molded the biblical texts to fit accordingly. Theologically, this method of forming doctrine appears to directly offend Paul’s command in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

[1]Michale L. Rosenzweig, “A Helper Equal to Him,” Judaism 35, no 3 (Summer 1986): 279.
[2]Ibid., 280.
[3]Ibid.
[4]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 95.
[5]Ibid., 99.
[6]Ibid., 104.
[7]Ibid., 102.
[8]John M. Frame, “Men and Women in the Image of God,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books), 231.
[9]R. Kent Hughes, “Living Out God’s Order In The Church,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 10, no.1 (Spring 1999): 103.
[10]Benjamin L. Merkle, “Paul’s Argument From Creation In 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 And 1 Timothy 2:13-14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological 49, no. 3 (September 2006): 533.
[11]Ibid., 534.
[12]Ibid., 548.
[13]Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology II; The Parties to the Covenant of Works, Chapter Five [book on-line] (Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed 7 February 2009); available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/theology2.iii.vi.v.html?highlight=headship#highlight; Internet.
[14]Elisabeth Elliot, “The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 395.

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP

This is parts I and II of a Seven Part Series. I hope at lest some will reconsider how they approach the word of God.

I. Introduction and Purpose

The sufficiency, clarity, and authority of God’s word, since the time of creation have been under attack. In more recent times, there has been a greater acceptance of a postmodern philosophy – meaning that which rejects “objective truth” and seeks a corporate understanding of truth that is relative to the community in which one participates.[1] In other words, what’s true today may not be tomorrow. The modern debate over women in leadership roles within the church provides a telling glimpse into the various approaches that seek a “proper” understanding of the scriptures. If the Biblical texts alone are not sufficient to define church order, then the community will. If the community no longer acknowledges the Bible as the word of God, then there is no longer any divine standard for the church to obey.[2] Unknowingly, the church may find its doctrines and church order being defined by a community of so called “believers” rather than by God’s word. It is argued that if the writers of scripture were influenced by their culture and perhaps rabbinic teachings, one must recognize such tendencies and interpret the texts accordingly. It is here the apostle Paul is often seen as the great women’s liberator in scripture (Galatians 3:28), and at the same time still fighting off his “male chauvinistic” Jewish rabbinical teachings as displayed in 1 Timothy 2: 12. These offensive “chauvinistic” passages must either be explained away or outright rejected as having any current relevance to the individual Christian or church today. The universality of at least “some” of the texts must thereby be rejected; times have changed and our world is not the same as it was when Paul recorded his letters.

The purpose of this paper will examine several biblical passages and specifically 1 Timothy 2:11- “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (v. 11)[3] as it relates to female church leadership. The research will show that this verse is not addressing a temporary cultural circumstance, but is revealing a timeless truth that has implications that reach far beyond church leadership; God has established roles for men and women and exercising “freedom” from these roles is utter rebellion. Feminist ideology will be shown to be driven by the same humanistic and historical assumptions that place human desire over God’s word. It is precisely God’s perspective as divinely revealed in His word, regarding the roles of men and women that are to be abandoned by those adherents of such an ideology. If the church continues to ignore this fact, or misunderstand the far reaching implications, then it will not glorify God and becomes a potential tool in the hands of Satan. Paul’s purpose in his writing was made clear – so that we may “know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). These words are not man breathed, and neither is the authority and timelessness in which they have been given.

II. Relevant Biblical Texts

At this point it would be beneficial to spell out several of the Pauline texts that will be at issue here. All texts are from the NASB translation and will pertain to both the role of women in the church and in the family.

Ephesians 5:22-27 - 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Galatians 3:28 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:11-14 - 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

In addition to the aforementioned texts, the creation and fall accounts will provide a crucial background to understanding Paul’s letters. It is argued that Paul’s reference to these texts either established a timeless and universal application, or Paul’s writings were subject to his own preconceived notions about the proper roles for men and women.

[1]Donald K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 214.
[2]Vern Sheridan Poythress, “The Church as Family: Why Male leadership in the Family Requires Male Leadership in the Church.” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 242.
[3]All Scripture from this point forward is taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1962,1963, 1968, 1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ten Marks of a False Convert

- compliments of Truth Matters

1. You believe that you are inherently a good person, thus denying the doctrine of Original Sin.

2. You commit idolatry of the mind and blaspheme the very character of God by denying essential doctrines such as judgment, hell, regeneration, and justification by faith alone; and you replace the truth with lies such as sinless perfection and open theism.

3. You think that only the red-lettered words in your Bible are the words of Jesus and, therefore, the rest of the Bible can be interpreted and applied to your liking.

4. You believe that a person can be a Christian while wantonly engaging in habitual sin; such as homosexuality, fornication, adultery in mind or body, the support in any way whatsoever of the murder of the unborn, or any other sin.

5. You believe that because a person has prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into their heart, then they are saved.

6. You believe a person can be a Christian, even if they bear no fruit after making a profession of faith in Christ. You treat the grace of God as a license to sin. You like the word backslider.

7. You struggle with the thought of missing a meal; but going days, weeks, even months without reading your Bible doesn't faze you.

8. You pray when you want something from God; but beyond that you have very little time for conversation with Him.

9. You believe that Darwinian, macro-evolution is a scientific fact and compatible with belief in the God of the Bible.

10. You see evangelism as a gift other people have; and you have no real concern about the fact that 150,000 people die every day, with the vast majority of them bound for hell. You soothe your conscience by convincing yourself that friendship evangelism, as it is most commonly practiced among American Christians, is actually in the Bible. You think that if you let your little light shine, you don't have to verbally proclaim the gospel.