f The Wittenberg Door: Female Elders/Pastors? A Debate - Part 2

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Female Elders/Pastors? A Debate - Part 2

In part 1 of the debate I made my case against women pastors/elders. In this offering I’m posting "pastor Bob's" retort and my subsequent response.

Pastor Bob kicks things off:

Thanks for your response and your concern for us to know the truth. I appreciate you taking time to share your view point and respect your insights concerning this subject of women Pastors. I enjoyed your outline especially since I have looked at all those points extensively many times before and at one point in my life held the some of the same views as you. You were clear and made very valid points. Yes I do agree there are plenty of verses that instruct women to be silent or not to be given a role of authority over a man within the church (I Corinthians 11, I Corinthians 14, I Timothy 2, Titus 2). The question is “what was the reason for these instructions from the Apostle Paul”? The funny thing is he never specifically says that a woman is not to be a Pastor although as you pointed out we automatically conclude this because of his charge in 1Tim.2:12 not to permit a woman to teach or have authority and as you mentioned because of the gender used while defining the qualifications of an overseer.

Obviously as you mentioned Paul in 1Cor.11:5 says that a woman can pray or prophesy if her head is covered (Representing being under authority)..Than we can only accurately suggest that Pauls charge in 1Cor.14:34 “Let your women keep silent in the church, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive”..was to address a particular problem in the Corinthian church with a specific group of women who were being disruptive or insubordinate during their assembly. Just the same I truly believe in 1Timothy2:11-12 Paul himself prohibited women teaching or having authority because I believe that Paul was very clearly challenging a certain teaching or issue that the women of ephesus were challenged with. His challenge was that women were not to overthrow or undermined the authority of Godly Men including their Husbands within the church as you mentioned: “It is men who are called to “be the husband of one wife,” and it is men who God holds ultimately responsible for the managing of the household and the upbringing of the children” So it was important to Paul that the women understood God’s order correctly and if they did not they would not be granted a right to teach or have any type of authority but rather learn to be silent and submissive.

Bob, I think you’re probably right about the 1 Cor. 14 passage. The message of chapter 14 can be summed with the words of verse 40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Based on what this chapter is addressing, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the women were being disruptive. But this is very different from what Paul is addressing in 1 Tim. 2. While here Paul is instructing as to how to behave during a service, in 1 Tim. 2 he's telling them how a church should operate. The context is different, and it’s the context that determines the meaning.

Paul’s message to the Corinthians is for the women to be quite during the service, and if they have any questions they are to ask their husbands afterwards. In 1 Tim. 2, Paul mentions that women should be submissive too, but he adds that they are not “to teach or exercise authority over a man . . .” This separates the two instructions; here Timothy is being told that women may not have an authoritative teaching role (pastor, given the context, since he logically moves into the qualifications), not simply that they mustn’t be disruptive.

One final note. You say that unless they understand God’s order they won’t be granted the right to teach or given authority. That caveat isn’t anywhere in the text. We must take great care not to add to God’s word or “think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

We see in Paul’s writings that even though he acknowledged the work or ministry of women, he also was very concerned with their understanding of submission and respect to their husbands and the authority of men within the church. This would make sense especially in his culture according to Jewish law where women in many senses were not allowed to be educated or have any major role of authority within their community outside of raising their children. I believe through much study of his writings I have found a pattern that grew within The Apostle Paul in His Grace and acknowledgement towards women in ministry. His revelation of even acknowledging women and their work in ministry was not a little thing coming from his strict background of guidelines given by God in the old covenant to women within the Jewish culture. The Apostle Paul had to establish order to women who were learning how to come OUT of THE constraints of the LAW and INTO the LIBERTY of GRACE without losing their sense of Order. Galatians 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. (27) For as many (of you) as were baptized into Christ into spiritual union and communion with Christ, the anointed one (clothed yourselves with) Christ.(28) THERE IS (NOW NO DISTINCTION), NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, THERE IS NEITHER SLAVE OR FREE, THERE IS NOT MALE AND FEMALE; FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.

Gal. 3:26-29 teaches that we are all equal in Christ. In other words, when it comes to salvation, the Jew doesn’t have a leg-up on the Gentile, and the man doesn’t over the women. There are no such advantages when it comes to being united with Christ in his finished work, “For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul here is teaching on salvation, not church officers.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the debate!

--The Catechizer



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