Postscript on Women in Ministry

A spirited discussion continues under my previous post “Evangelical Gender Wars and the Authority of the Bible.” In the comments under that post, one of the items in contention is the idea that complementarians limit/restrict women who want to serve in Christian ministry.While it is true that complementarians hold that some offices and teaching situations are for qualified men only, complementarians affirm that faithful Christian women should have vital ministries within the church of Jesus Christ.

Since 1987, the Danvers Statement has long been recognized as an overview of the core beliefs of complementarians. This document has an important word of affirmation concerning the need for women to serve in Christian ministry:

With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).

In John Piper’s essay “A Vision of Biblical Complementarity,” Piper actually expands upon this section from the Danvers Statement and lists scores of ministries that are vital and in which women can and should be involved (see list below). But even Piper admits after his long list that many more ministries could and should be added.

In light of the expansive opportunities for women in ministry that are cited by complementarians, I do not think that it is credible to argue that complementarians want to relegate women to the sidelines in Christian service. Quite the opposite is the case. What we are saying is that all of the ministries of both men and women should be done with deference to the principle of headship that God has established within the created order (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-33).

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN IN MINISTRY

Ministries to the handicapped

Hearing impaired
Blind
Lame
Retarded

Ministries to the sick

Nursing
Physician
Hospice care-cancer, AIDS, etc.
Community health

Ministries to the socially estranged

Emotionally impaired
Recovering alcoholics
Recovering drug-users
Escaping prostitutes
Abused children, women
Runaways, problem children
Orphans

Prison ministries

Women’s prisons
Families of prisoners
Rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth

Teaching
Sponsoring
Open houses and recreation
Outings and trips
Counseling
Academic assistance

Sports ministries

Neighborhood teams
Church teams

Therapeutic counseling

Independent
Church-based
Institutional

Audiovisual ministries

Composition
Design
Production
Distribution

Writing ministries

Free-lance
Curriculum development
Fiction
Non-fiction
Editing
Institutional communications
Journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries

Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
Grade school
High school
College

Music ministries

Composition
Training
Performance
Voice
Choir
Instrumentalist

Evangelistic ministries

Personal witnessing
Parachurch groups
Home Bible studies
Outreach to children
Visitation teams
Counseling at meetings
Telephone counseling

Radio and television ministries

Technical assistance
Writing
Announcing
Producing

Theater and drama ministries

Acting
Directing
Writing
Scheduling

Social ministries

Literacy
Pro-life
Pro-decency
Housing
Safety
Beautification
Drug rehabilitation
Pastoral care assistance
Visitation
Newcomer welcoming and assistance
Hospitality
Food and clothing and transportation

Prayer ministries

Praying
Mobilizing for prayer events
Helping with small groups of prayer
Coordinating prayer chains
Promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils
Missions

All of the above across cultures

Support ministries

Countless “secular” jobs that undergird other ministries
The awesome significance of motherhood
Making a home as a full-time wife

2 Responses to Postscript on Women in Ministry

  1. dennyrburk October 23, 2006 at 10:21 am #
    1. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      What pray does this say about the hearing impaired man, the blind and the lame man? Is he ranked below woman?
    2. Tricia Says:
      This is not about ‘rank’, men and women are equal in the eyes of God and should be equal in each others eyes. It’s about what God made and equipped us to do, according to His plan, not ours. We should stop looking at what we can’t do as women and look for things we can do, being grateful to our Awesome God who has chosen us to be His. Our love for Him should be first in our life, not focusing on what I can’t do for Him but what I can.

      And don’t think this is from some female Christian who grew up in the church, doing all the right things. I grew up in the late 60’s and 70’s in NY. ‘I am Women’ by Helen Reddy was my favorite song. I joined the military out of HS and spent 6 years in aircraft maintenance, standing up for my rights in a man’s field. I am still in a male dominated field, computer software development, so I know and experience struggles all the time related to gender and discrimination. But, God got hold of me and showed me what’s important, and fighting over what I can’t do, is not as important as putting my energies into what I can do and being thankful for the opportunity.

      God Bless,
      Tricia

    3. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      But I grew up trained in Greek and Hebrew. Now I can work and be respected in the field of computer science also. Thank God for secular and technical domains!

      And you do not answer my question about the hearing impaired, blind and lame man. How does he feel to see himself on Piper’s list?

    4. dennyrburk Says:
      Suzanne,

      I’m not sure I understand your question. Why are you singling out the hearing impaired, blind, and lame as to how they feel about being on the list?

      Thanks,
      Denny

    5. Tricia Says:
      Suzanne,

      I did answer your question by saying it is not about rank, it’s about what you do with what God has given you. Why don’t you ask Joni Erickson Tada how she feels she fits in God’s kingdom since she could be counted among the lame because she is in a wheel chair? She’ll tell you that she is blessed by the wheel chair because of the ministry opportunities it has brought her. It’s about attitude, not physical or mental abilities or impairments. It’s not about secular, technical, or religious realms. And by the way, I may be in the secular/technical realm but I am also a Seminary student, currently learning Greek and will learn Hebrew.

      Suzanne, I’ve read some of your other posts and now these. I sense anger and frustation inside you that makes me feel sorry for you and the bindings you have placed upon yourself because you feel limited as a woman. I will pray that God works on your heart and opens your eyes to see more of what you can do for His Kingdom as a child of God, and less on what you can’t do as a woman in His Kingdom.

      Blessings,
      Tricia

    6. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Denny,

      A man is not to be taught by a woman. But a hearing impaired man may be taught by a woman. Why is that? I have puzzled over this for years. I can’t get beyond this first section. I don’t understand it.

    7. dennyrburk Says:
      Suzanne,

      Okay, now I see what you are saying. The list doesn’t specify sick “men”; it just says ministries to the sick.

      I take it that the designation is broad because teaching ministry is not the only kind of ministry there is. Piper nor I am advocating an exception to the complementarian view when it comes to sick people. Our view of 1 Timothy 2:12 also applies to women in their ministry to sick people.

      Thanks,
      Denny

    8. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Denny,

      I am not sure I get that. Do you mean that hearing impaired men cannot be taught by women? Then why not specify that it refers to only women and children. It then fits with the women and children part of the list.

      Trish,

      The following is from our blog.

      “Blog posts and comments should focus on Bible translation issues, not personalities. Try to support claims with evidence. Please do not question the spirituality, beliefs, or motives of anyone, including Bible translation teams or those who post or comment on this blog.”

      Fosusing on me as a personality, on my supposed emotions, motives, etc. is not good etiquette. If I talk about someone I quote them or I can back up my comment with a quote. I also don’t specualte about people’s motives or feelings.

      I can say that Grudem didn’t look at the standard Greek lexicons before he drafted the Colorado Springs Guidelines because he has written that about himself.

      I can say that Dr. Packer says only two people on the translation team of a certain Bible version knew Greek as a langauge. That is a quote.

      I can say that Sproul did not remember that the King James version uses the expression ‘children of God’, because that is a quote.

      Through quotes I can prove that these Christian leaders lag behind secular scholarship in Greek. I cannot speak to their motives. I can say that I am frustrated to see Christian scholarship fall to this level, and now you can quote this. But would you not speak up for truth yourself?

    9. Jesse McMillan Says:
      “Through quotes I can prove that these Christian leaders lag behind secular scholarship in Greek. I cannot speak to their motives. I can say that I am frustrated to see Christian scholarship fall to this level”

      If this is the issue (that Christian scholarship has significantly lagged behind secular Greek scholarship) why is it that you have made no argument about what the text itself says.

      As I commented last night (#84 under Evangelical Gender Wars and the Authority of the Bible) this is a Biblical issue, not one of lagging scholarship.

      If by new (credible) scholarship it can be shown that the passages under consideration
      1. Do not mean what they seem to mean
      or
      2. They no longer apply
      Then let us discuss that. We cannot take the parts of the Bible we like and dispose of the rest without proper cause.

      So then if secular scholarship has shown that it is more Biblically appropriate to understand the role of women in different terms, please make the argument.
      Otherwise, the claim that Christian scholarship lags behind secular scholarship has no real value in this conversation.

      Humbly,
      Jesse McMillan

    10. Tricia Says:
      Suzanne,

      Please accept my apologies, I am new to this blogging world and was not trying to be hurtful but helpful. It was not meant as an attack, but a sincere observation and intent to speak the truth in love.

      In Christ,
      Tricia

    11. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      I can recommend some books in response. I would like to show you why I prefer Fee and Bruce to Piper.

      I have also benefitted by the teaching of Richard Longenecker, R.K Harrison and many others. My primary mentors are those who are immersed in the study of the original languages.

      John Piper writes about his starting point for interpreting the scriptures,

      “Let me say a word about that phrase, “according to the Bible.” The subtitle of this chapter is “Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.” What that means is that I have made every effort to bring the thinking of this chapter into accord with what the Bible teaches. At the same time, however, I have not tried to include a detailed exegetical argument for every assertion.”
      Vision of Biblical Complementarity

      Gordon Fee writes,

      “Exegesis… answers the question, What did the Biblical author mean? It has to do both with what he said (the content itself), and why he said it at any given point (the literary context). Furthermore, exegesis is primarily concerned with intentionality: What did the author intend his original readers to understand?” (New Testament Exegesis, p.21) Gordon Fee

      F.F. Bruce writes,

      “Exegesis seeks to determine the meaning of the text in its primary setting. But when exegesis has done its work, our application of the text should avoid treating the New Testament as a book of rules. In applying the New Testament text to our situation, we need not treat it as the scribes of our Lord’s day treated the Old Testament.” WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: A BIBLICAL SURVEY

      So Piper thinks about complementarity first and then tries to line it up with the Bible, but without bothering with exegesis. Fee and Bruce care a great deal about the Bible and exegesis, and at some point later in their life they are asked to write about what they understand the Bible is saying about women in the church.

      They write first about the Word, and second about gender roles. Piper writes first about gender roles and second about the Word.

      Here are some book lists. Consider the starting point of the different authors. What do they consider important?

      John Piper

      F. F. Bruce

      Gordon Fee

      These latter biblical scholars accept women in the seminaries because they know that truth and honest scholarship are paramount, and whether a man or a woman says something is not as important as whether what is said is accurate.

      Tricia,

      Can you suggest a word other than ‘rank’ to describe page 3 of this document, PDF, where offices are listed from greater to lesser, numbered from 1 to 20 and a line is drawn to define the point beyond which a woman may not pass. I find the term ‘rank’ to be quite moderate and appropriate.

      Denny,

      Thanks for continuing this debate so kindly. The last time I had this debate on a blog, the man said that a woman could teach Greek to her children, and maybe to him also if she was really submissive in her attitude as she taught. ;-)

      Obviously we are never going to see a need for a segregated and equally valid female core of Greek and Hebrew scholars. So if women are restricted from fully practising scholarship in Greek in an accredited setting, I wonder if some of the results might be more oddities along the lines of the Colorado Springs Guidelines.

    12. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      “Let me say a word about that phrase, “according to the Bible.” The subtitle of this chapter is “Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.” What that means is that I have made every effort to bring the thinking of this chapter into accord with what the Bible teaches. At the same time, however, I have not tried to include a detailed exegetical argument for every assertion.”

      John Piper. Vision of Biblical Complementarity

      “Exegesis seeks to determine the meaning of the text in its primary setting. But when exegesis has done its work, our application of the text should avoid treating the New Testament as a book of rules. In applying the New Testament text to our situation, we need not treat it as the scribes of our Lord’s day treated the Old Testament.”

      F.F. Bruce, WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: A BIBLICAL SURVEY

      “Exegesis… answers the question, What did the Biblical author mean? It has to do both with what he said (the content itself), and why he said it at any given point (the literary context). Furthermore, exegesis is primarily concerned with intentionality: What did the author intend his original readers to understand?” (New Testament Exegesis, p.21) Gordon Fee

      What is an author’s starting point, gender roles or a study of the original languages? That is the question. Does the author spend his life immersed in an understanding of the Word and the work of God, or in expressing his feelings about his own life experiences.

      Naturally I have prefered to read books by those who are deeply immersed in the original languages – Fee, Longenecker, R. K. Harrison and others.

      These men accept women in the seminary because they know that it is important that what is said is true and accurate, rather than whether it was said by a woman or a man. They look at the actaul service record of women whom Paul knew and wrote about.

      They look at the changes we have made in our society, much of it from a Christian influence, in permitting women to vote, hold property, not be beaten by their husbands, new laws brought into our society in the last 200 years along with the abolition of slavery.

      It is pretty hard for me to say more. This discussion began with an admission that John Stackhouse’s book was not read. Maybe that would be a starting point.

      Denny,

      Thanks for so graciously hosting this discussion.

    13. Jesse McMillan Says:
      “What is an author’s starting point, gender roles or a study of the original languages? That is the question. Does the author spend his life immersed in an understanding of the Word and the work of God, or in expressing his feelings about his own life experiences.”

      You have made my point very well.

      It is all about presuppositions.
      But I think that your comment said too much for your point.

      You make the statement: “Naturally I have preferred to read books by those who are deeply immersed in the original languages – Fee, Longenecker, R. K. Harrison and others.”

      If this emersion in the original languages has lead them to a different conclusion then we must take note of their arguments, but if, as you said there decision is based on the fact that:

      “they know that it is important that what is said is true and accurate, rather than whether it was said by a woman or a man. They look at the actual service record of women whom Paul knew and wrote about. They look at the changes we have made in our society, much of it from a Christian influence, in permitting women to vote, hold property, not be beaten by their husbands, new laws brought into our society in the last 200 years along with the abolition of slavery.”

      Then they have simply fallen into pragmatism and the fact that they know the original languages is irrelevant.

      My point is that your argument has been pragmatic. And Christians should never allow pragmatism to set the bounds for Biblical revelation.

      If these authors make good exegetical points let us consider them. But if they simply make good pragmatic points they should not be given any attention.

      Humbly,
      Jesse

    14. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Jesse,

      My point is that their presuppostions led the drafters of the Colorado Springs Guidelines into making factual errors. That is the result of their beliefs. These men, I refrain from mentioning their names again, have specifically made factual errors because of their presuppositions. That is evident.

      So a certain belief has led men into forsaking factual truth. But the other men are honest with the languages. They are good scholars, reapected in their scholarship. Does that not say something? That they really are known to be accurate readers of the text. Their beliefs do not lead them into making mistakes on the level of grade school grammar in Greek. Other people actually know that these men are honest scholars.

      Deal with this first. Explain why the drafters of the CSG have misrepresented the truth for their mistaken notions about women. Explain why they are not even embarassed that they don’t know how to use a Greek lexicon or read the JK text. That puzzles me the most. This is the fruit of their convictions: misrepresenation.

      I cannot know their motives but one can speak to prior publishing. They write a book on Biblical manhood and womanhood and then they say that the Greek pronoun has male content on the semantic level when it does not. They build a theology out of a misrepresentation of male representation. How can someone who builds an entire theology out of something that is not even there be held up.

      What does Dr. Grudem say? He says that egalitarian women are sexually ‘unattractive to men’. But he gives no proof – is this his considered opinion? What kind of argument is that?

      I can only suppose that it is this paradigm of Grudem’s pthe superior sexaul attraction of complememntarian women that makes this book so popular.

      I would prefer not to hold beliefs that are based on such statements. I would never dare say something like that about complementarians. I only say that as a fact a certain percentage, based on studies, of all men (and women) will be abusive. This is sadly a fact. But not that they are unattractive!

      I can only recommend books by scholars that I have mentioned. A blog is no place to undertake a full exegesis of this issue.

      I hope you don’t think I am making a parody of Grudem – usually people think that I exaggerate, but I do not. Do people read his books or just recommend them?

      It is too bad that I was given three of Dr. Grudem’s books to review this year. Forgive me for the fact that I have not yet recovered from reading all 2,500 pages.

    15. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      oops! JK should read KJ – King James. :-)
    16. Luke Britt Says:
      Suzanne,

      I think Jesse has made a huge point in the debate. Pragmatic decisions are made over Scriptural authority many times over many different issues. How is this not one of those culturally pragmatic decisions?

    17. Jesse McMillan Says:
      I appreciate your comments and I also appreciate the scope of your research into the issue. It is at this point of research that I am unsuited and ill-equipped to enter a conversation concerning “what is said” by anyone. I have not yet read these authors. My only point is that the conversation between you and Bjoslin or you and Denny is irreconcilable if there cannot be an agreement on the basic presumptions.

      Perhaps a blog is not the place to “undertake a full exegesis of this issue.” But blogs do seem to be a place where people can continue in a debate that will be ultimately fruitless due to differences in presuppositions.
      It is not enough to say that we have read such and such author and that what they say is repulsive. We should present their arguments and discuss those.

      I don’t think that I have to stretch at all to say that both Bjoslin and Denny (as do I) hold the basis presumption that the Bible is the final standard for all discussions.

      (I am not attributing this next part to Bjoslin or Denny, because they would probably say it better than this :) )

      So then, the amount of abusive relationships in complementarian marriages, while sad, is irrelevant to the current discussion. (please do not perceive this as callused indifference, I have a wife and kids)

      The question is, what does the Bible teach about women teaching men.
      The only way to discuss this question is by appealing to the Bible.

      Humbly,
      Jesse

    18. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Jesse,

      “So then, the amount of abusive relationships in complementarian marriages”

      I was careful to reframe this – I had hoped you would notice that, as I cannot name names. This is a difficult issue to prove.

      I don’t remember saying that anyone was repulsive! Certainly you may chose to describe what I quote in those terms. I had thought to say ‘odd’.

      To a certain extent I owe my path out of the complementarian ethic to Piper and Grudem. Reading their books thoroughly and realizing at every turn their difficulties with Greek, their presuppostions about the Bible, their inappropriate thoughts about men and women and about life, this lifted a veil and showed me the nonfactual underpinnings of their teaching.

      Paul had women coworkers, many women who contributed with no reference to their husbands. The individual and equal contribution, not the receiver and responder role – that is the place to start. Women are coworkers, not vessels to ‘receive and affirm male strength’. First, remove the veneer of sexuality and then move on to what the Bible says about women.

      But first there are layers of language used for women that must be dealt with. Paul is clear that a married woman cares for this world to please her husband. This is a distraction. The unmarried woman, the woman on her own has a role as equal.

      So first, tear down the teaching that women are defined by childbearing. That is the material role, the role in procreation, not the role of women in God’s economy. Start with the single woman missionary. Is she a compelemntarian? Not at all. The early Canadian women missionaries were medical doctors, and single or married, they functioned as equals to men.

      So first, set aside this teaching of the auxiliary value of women as ungodly. Then move on to a woman teaching.

      That can be discussed next. But first set up woman and admit that she is equal, not ontologically, but that she has functioned as equal. Then there is room to listen to God speak.

      Would you like me to reference a list of woman who have ministered in wartime as pastors? Are we not in wartime as Christians all the time?

      And believe me, I do these authors, Piper and Gruedm, no injustice. I was asked to read these books because of my familiarity with Greek. But others should take the time to perceive their arguments for what they are.

    19. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      The only way to discuss this is to admit that we all have presuppositions when we come to the Bible.

      That is why I read books – to find out the presuppositions of people who teach certain doctrines.

      We do not teach everything in the Bible equally. There is no place for slavery, no service of 60 year old widows. Veils are going out so I hear.

      We reconcile what Paul says about not marrying with marriage. We need to reconcile the examples of women in the Bible with the epistles.

      Women were always prophets, but Dr. Grudem and Dr. Packer rest their teaching on the OT priesthood. This is the foundation of their paradigm. I was surprised to find this out.

      So first, remove the presuppostions that woman must function as less. I say ‘less’ because Grudem’s list is so labeled – that the areas of teaching are listed from ‘greater’ to ‘lesser’ and the women fill the ‘lesser’. I only quote, I do not imagine.

      So establish this fact, that complementarians hold the ‘lesser’ role for women. They perceive women as ‘receivers and responders of male strangth’. Now, admit that this is empty and non Biblical – Paul praises the single woman. A woman functions as childbearer in procreation, not in the church!

      Now move ahead – with an equally gifted creature, equally trained and empowered by her creator, and then realize that she has been given the ‘lesser’ role by men.

      Now reconcile this with the command to love your neighbour as yourself. Now, realize that the slave is also your neighour, and he has been emanicipated, but not woman.

    20. BPR Says:
      I’ve been keeping up with both this discussion, and the original one, and find it interesting in both personalities and ideas.

      Being vaguely qualified to comment, I wonder why there is no explicitly pneumatological discussion occuring on either side.

      Perhaps injecting the idea of something that “blows wherever it pleases” (John 3:8) is too scary in this either/or argument?

    21. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      BPR,

      I believe you are heading the conversation in the right direction. I was going to say that women have the gift of prophecy from Miriam through Deborah and Huldah to the NT. Prophecy is a higher gift than teaching.

      Yes, it is instructive to note that Fee bases his understanding of God’s economy on the Spirit, the presence of God aamong the people of God. And Packer bases his understanding on the priesthood, the male hierarchical representative of God on earth.

      I hear both these men preach and listen to the grounding of their messages in the word. If you could only hear Fee’s familiarity with entire scope of the scriptures both Hebrew an Greek, it is very moving.

    22. Jada Bown Swanson Says:
      So I truly wonder about this. I see in the list that women ‘can’ teach Student as in college-aged students. So what if a college-aged student is a non-traditional student, such as the case when we were at Tech, Denny and Barry? Where is the line drawn? This is a topic (egal v/s comp) that my husband and I are engaging in now and I find that I, nor my husband, are coming on the side of my denomination of my childhood.

      Is it that women are not supposed to teach in the ‘main assembly’ as in the worship service, or what?

      I ask this question not to get trite or the like, but to truly wonder where the line is drawn.

      Or as a worship leader, there are often times where I recite scripture, pray, and lead in communion with my husband in our services. As well, since my husband and I tag-team rehearsals (one leading band, the other leading choir) we always have a devotional time, prayer time, etc. And then the question of my having directed Continentals? The participants in that ministry were anywhere from 12-28 years old. As well, we were in churches of all denominations and traditions. I always gave the altar call, prayed, etc. Where do Comp. stand in this respect?

      I have never thought this was wrong until I was introduced to the terms comp./egal. on this blog.

      I think of Beth Moore teaching on television where many men, my husband, included often listen to her and gain great insight into the scripture. Or what about blogs that women author and have spiritual discussions, insight, devotions, etc.?

      I am finding for myself, that I don’t know that I really agree with one or the other.

    23. Jesse McMillan Says:
      Suzanne
      If teaching that “women should not teach men” is simply based on a presupposition that women are ontologically inferior then I completely and whole heartedly embrace your conclusion.

      The issue, however, is not that simple

      I cannot speak for the presuppositions of these men, (again I have not read them) but I can speak of my own. I have NO personal problem with women teaching men. I do not see women as inferior in neither nature nor ability. This is my opinion, this is my cultural upbringing.

      But, I am a Christian, and as such I am ruled and governed by the teachings of God’s Word, the Bible. The fact that I have no personal issue with women teaching men has NO bearing on what the bible says about the issue.

      I am not coming to the text with the presupposition that women should not teach men. But I am leaving the text with that teaching. You ask me to “admit that this is empty and non Biblical” but I cannot do that. Yes women are equal to men in worth and ability, but the Bible seems to teach a role difference. I read 1 Timothy 1:12-15 and I can not help but come away with the idea that women are not to teach men. Not because that cannot but because they shall not.

      Furthermore, I cannot simply contextualize this statement away because in verses 13-14 Paul appeals to the order of creation. Our Context has changed, but the order of creation has not. Here I must admit another presupposition.

      I presuppose that Paul is right.

      So then, what can I do? I am a Christian and as such I have submitted myself to the Bible and the Bible teaches me that women should not teach men.

      You ask me to “realize that she has been given the ‘lesser’ role by men.” But again I cannot. It seems that she has been given this role by God.

      BPR,

      To the issue of pneumatology, it is very true that the Spirit of God does what He wants to do. But this does not give us open license.

      God has revealed himself in the scriptures and He is not double minded.

      If your experience and “God-breathed” scriptures are at odds. The Scriptures are not the ones that need to change.

      Humbly,
      Jesse

    24. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Jesse,

      You would have not have acted on behalf of slaves!

      I would appreciate hearing a very clear statement that a man with lower qualifications in Biblical languages would be hired over a woman with higher education and qualifications each and every time.

      This is the value system that is being demonstrated. It needs to be declared in so many words. Men must declare that they chose to play in a gendered field.

      But the spirit of God gives gifts of this nature equally to men and women. So the Spirit is disregarded.

    25. BPR Says:
      I do not wish to openly engage in this discussion, though I am interested in certain considerations being taken with respect to the whole of Biblical/Christological/Pneumatological revelation.

      With that in mind, Jesse said:
      “To the issue of pneumatology, it is very true that the Spirit of God does what He wants to do. But this does not give us open license.”

      It seems to be a radical misappropriation to equate the outpouring of the Spirit on believers, a Spirit which reveals to us the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:9-11), with “open licence” to do what we please.

      I’ll bow out of the discussion with this thought:
      Perhaps pnuematological appropriation is the underlying presupposition that generates the rift between the two sides?

    26. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Jesse,

      You write,

      “You ask me to “realize that she has been given the ‘lesser’ role by men.” But again I cannot. It seems that she has been given this role by God.”

      This is how I was brought up. That women must be silent because ‘God has said’ – but it was considered by some regretful because women were, in fact, equal.

      (In my family those women who wished to teach Greek, taught in a secular university, so they were fulfilled, but not able to interact with seminary studies.)

      But John Piper writes that this lesser role is ‘joyful’ for women. Dr. Packer teaches that this is a woman’s ‘fulfillment’.

      Since you admit that women are equal in ability and I would suggest also in ambition and interest in scholarship and research, along with the full participation in these areas of interest, I would infer that it is not fulfilling or joyful for women to be restricted, which they are unless they leave the Christian domain and interact in the secular domain.

      This is simple honesty. So now how does one proceed? Do not teach this as joyful and fulfilling, but declare your faith, that God redeems this lack of fulfillment for women by offering them equality in heaven.

    27. dennyrburk Says:
      Jada (in #22),

      Thanks for your comment. You have hit a point upon which complementarians have not reached consensus. What complementarians agree on is summed up in the Danvers Statement that I alluded to earlier. But they are not in agreement upon everything.

      In short, complementarians agree that the Bible teaches a principle of headship that must be observed within the church and within the home (e.g., 1 Cor 11:3; Ephesians 5:21ff). For most, the practical implications of this principle are twofold: (1) the office of pastor/elder is only to be held by qualified male believers, and (2) the husband is the leader in his home.

      Nevertheless, many Complementarians continue to disagree concerning how this principle of “headship” should be observed within the church. While there is agreement that pastors/elders should be male, there is disagreement concerning what the Bible says about women teaching mixed audiences. Some complementarian churches do not allow women to teach mixed adult audiences, while other complementarian churches do allow it. On this particular point, there is agreement in principle (observing headship), but disagreement in practice (teaching mixed audiences).

      To some extent, I’m sure the disagreement is probably driven by pragmatic considerations. But to some degree, the disagreement is also due to conflicting interpretations of the Bible, especially 1 Timothy 2:12. Commentators point out that 1 Timothy 2:12 has two possible translations/interpretations:

      Translation #1: “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.”
      Translation #2: “I do not allow a woman to teach with authority over a man.”

      Notice that the first translation prohibits two things: teaching and exercising authority. Notice that the second translation only prohibits one thing: a certain kind of teaching.

      Complementarian churches that allow women to teach mixed audiences tend to favor the second translation. The idea seems to be that a woman can teach a mixed audience as long as she does so under the “headship” and authority of the pastors/elders and her husband. When she teaches under the auspices of those “heads,” she is not violating the command in 1 Timothy 2:12 which prohibits “teaching with authority,” because she is teaching while under authority. You mentioned Beth Moore’s ministry in your comment. I know, for instance, that this “headship view” is what is practiced at her church, the First Baptist Church of Houston. FBC Houston claims to be a complementarian church, but Beth Moore and other women frequently teach mixed audiences at that church.

      What is my view on this question? I agree with the first translation that I listed above. The best I can tell, Paul teaches that women cannot be pastors/elders (a la “exercising authority”), and they are not to teach Christian doctrine to adult male believers. The dispute over the proper translation of 1 Timothy 2:12 does not come down to what is the most literal rendering. All sides agree that the literal rendering is the one reflected in Translation #1. The question is whether or not Paul is using a figure of speech called hendiadys.

      A hendiadys is a figure of speech in which an author expressing a single idea by two nouns instead of a noun and its qualifier. I can give you example of this figure of speech in English. Consider the following sentence.

      “He came despite the rain and weather.”

      Doesn’t this sentence really mean this:

      “He came despite the rainy weather.”

      In other words, by separating the term “rainy weather” into “rain” and “weather” the speaker accentuates the adjective by transforming it into a noun.

      Some commentators think that this is what is happening with 1 Timothy 2:12. Therefore they translate it so that “authority” modifies “teach.” So “to teach or to exercise authority” becomes “to teach with authority.” My main problem with this translation is that I am convinced that the words that are used in the Greek text of 1 Timothy 2:12 are not the kinds of words that ever get used in this figure of speech called hendiadys (see Andreas Köstenberger in Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15). So my reasons for rejecting Translation #2 are exegetical.

      The result of my understanding of Paul’s teaching is that gifted women teachers do need to exercise their teaching gift. I think there are innumerable appropriate contexts in which they can and should teach (e.g. Titus 2:3 and the list in my main post). But in the church, they would want to be careful not to violate the scripture’s command not to teach Christian doctrine to men.

      I’m not a perfect man or a perfect exegete. But I have been looking at this issue for many years, and this is the best I can make out of what Paul is teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12. This isn’t, by the way, the view that I had when we were in college. To be quite honest, back then, I hadn’t really even thought about this verse or these issues very carefully. When I started college, I was more or less a default egalitarian. So now you know that I have come to this view rather late in my Christian walk.

      I hope that I can rally other complementarians to this point of view because I think it is the correct understanding of the text, not just of 1 Timothy 2:12 but also of the Bible’s comprehensive vision of complementarian values.

      Well, that’s a long comment, and if you made it this far, you deserve a medal. Thanks for reading my blog, and thank you for your comment.

      Sincerely,
      Denny Burk

    28. Jada Bown Swanson Says:
      Okay, thanks for putting that in non-theologian language for me.

      I am a nerd but in a different field of expertise. (that was not meant to be rude btw).

      I emailed you and your wife btw, for more clarification before I checked back here.

    29. Jesse McMillan Says:
      Suzanne,
      I am not simply saying, “God said so” without any justification.
      I am saying that it appears to be the teaching of the text.

      As to the “fulfillment” and “joy” of women, it seems that the argument of Dr. Piper and Dr. Packer is that:

      P: If God intends for women not to teach men,
      P: if God’s intentions are always the greatest good,
      C: Women submitting themselves to the different role should lead to their ultimate joy.

      This seems to correctly follow from the proposition that “God intends for women not to teach”

      So then, Dr. Piper and Dr. Packer are right if their first line of reasoning is right.

      (thanks for the long comment Denny!)

      Humbly,
      Jesse

    30. » Biblical Patriarchy and 1 Timothy 2:12 Says:
      […] My wife and I have a friend from college who has asked some insightful questions in the comments section of my previous post, “Postscript on Women in Ministry.” Our friend’s questions bring to the surface some of the practical issues upon which Complementarians have yet to reach consensus. One of the chief issues that Complementarians disagree on is whether it is ever appropriate for a woman to teach Christian doctrine to men in the church. […]
    31. Suzanne McCarthy Says:
      Denny,

      Is this the Köstenberger you mean?

      “The wife, on the other hand, is to present her husband with children, manage her household with integrity, and provide her husband with companionship.”

      Not much there for the unmarried woman!

      I have read about how he puts ‘boundaries’ around women and instructs the single woman to remain within the domestic sphere.

    32. debbie wimmers Says:
      This is one thing that confuses me.

      #1 We believe women can’t preach and some denominations do. We believe that this issue has never changed from the time Paul wrote it while others believe it is a cultural issue. Paul wouldn’t allow women to preach becuase women were believed to not be reliable speakers. Like the women who witnessed to the resurrection.

      #2 We believe tongues have ceased while some believe the language still exists today as it did then. While the gift of tongues was prophecied in Joel and repeated by Peter in Acts 2 and Paul writing about it in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, we don’t think it exists anymore because we have the Bible.

      So, why do we support one issue (women) and discredit the other as non-existent today?
      I do agree with homosexuality being a sin in OLD and New Testement times and still a sin today. The church should never accept gays to be in leadership in the church. I’m not saying we should accept women who preach, even though there a few like Ann Graham, Kay Arthur and Beth Moore that are great teachers, I’m just questioning the issue of a private prayer language like Dwight McKissic a while back.

    33. Lee Alvarez Says:
      This is my opinion:
      Let’s take this subject back to it’s origin. When WWI began, due to the lack of men on the work force and in factories, women began to do jobs that normally men would be doing. Women began making income and supporting families that normally would be done by the male of the house. When war time was over and the women went back to being housewives as was customary prior to war times, that is when most of the womens rights came on to play. Prior to war, everything was okay. Families were as so: men worked, women stayed home nurturing children. After womens rights was passed, women began working and a sense of independancy from the family occured. While not as is occuring today, yet in a more subtle way women began to be more liberated from the male “as head”. As time progressed this began to occurr more and more until it actually became part of our culture. Where has the time gone, when children really had a sense of what real family is about. This mainstream culture has now entered into our churches. To be honest the culture has really made men more submissive to their wives and the wives head of the home “hunny doe list,who really wears the pants and so forth.” Like what was already said, “it really goes back to the home”. I believe the reason why the home(church) is in such an array is due to the fact that that both woman and man have lost their true roles. The church is submitting to the culture, and that is clearly seen due to the family. Since the worldly culture has so infiltrated our church, not just in leadership aspects but as a whole, it is really going to need a strong work of God to change “the church”.
    34. Luke Britt Says:
      Lee,

      I think you are coming on a key part of the discussion. Not so much the reason for, but current lack of strong male leadership. This lack of strong male leadership pushes women into roles that men are to fill, thus bringing chaos to church and home. I know if I were to be a nurturer to my one year old, I’d be lost as all get out. Not because I’m not qualified to be a parent, but because I am not intended to be a mother. In the same way, if my wife were to lead the family spiritually, emotionally, physically, and so on, she would feel uncomfortable and probably lose her mind like so many single moms out there. It’s not because Tracy is not able to be a leader, but it is not her role in the home, just as elder is not her role in the church.

    35. » Touchstone Editors Weigh in on the Gender Conversation Says:
      […] I would like to thank two of the editors at Touchstone magazine who have taken the time to participate in the conversation that we have been having on this blog. Of course the conversation that I am referring to is the one about gender (here, here, and here). Two posts have appeared on the Touchstone blog that refer to our debate. […]
    36. Biblical Patriarchy and 1 Timothy 2:12 « Denny Burk Says:
      […] My wife and I have a friend from college who has asked some insightful questions in the comments section of my previous post, “Postscript on Women in Ministry.” Our friend’s questions bring to the surface some of the practical issues upon which Complementarians have yet to reach consensus. One of the chief issues that Complementarians disagree on is whether it is ever appropriate for a woman to teach Christian doctrine to men in the church. […]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. » Complementarian in Principle, but Not in Practice? - October 27, 2006

    […] For this reason, I direct you to my essay on 1 Timothy 2:12 , which explains why I think Paul only allows qualified Christian men to teach Christian doctrine to public assemblies of Christians in which men are present. Also, take a look at another post that affirms the valuable contributions of women in Christian ministry.   […]

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