Posted by: minnow | February 25, 2009

Women Elders

A change in my fellowship has, once again caused me to look at the issue of women in ministry. More specifically I have the need to examine the issue of women in leadership roles or offices within church structure. My fellowship, under new leadership, has decided the former leader made a mistake by allowing women to be elders. All the men and women who had been set in as elders four years ago resigned their eldership and an informal team has made all the decisions with regard to the fellowship for the past two years. Next month two of the former elders will be set in as our new elders. Neither are women. If additional elders are set in at a later time they, too, will not be women because: “women elders are not Biblical.”

Personally, I have a problem with this chain of events within my fellowship. These actions seem to say it was only our now dead former pastor who made the “mistake”. In fact, the two men who are soon going to be set in as elders were part of the team that supported the original decision. Many people within the body had waited patiently for years for the decision to allow women to become elders. And for some, spiritual chains of bondage fell off when it was made.

At the time, we, as a body recognized, supported, accepted (or left because of) the decision to make women elders. Most, I believe, believed the people we “set in” were actually chosen by God and we were simply recognizing His hand, the same thing we will be asked to do in March when our “new” elders will be set in. I believe if our current leadership does not explain to the body how our former pastor was wrong and therefore we too were wrong, our ability to set in the new elders in March will be compromised.

Why did setting elders in not “work” the last time? Can people really resign if it is God doing the setting in? If it is really God doing the calling why would they need to resign so that our new leader could have his “own team”? You (meaning leadership) say it is not Biblical, but we did it, does that mean there is sin involved? Are we in sin? Was our pastor in sin? Did our pastor die because of this? All because of letting women in leadership? How could we have let their selfish desires mess things up for everyone else? Maybe we better take them out of ministry altogether. Is it not better to be safe than sorry? We do not want to make another costly mistake like that. Those deceiving women tsk, tsk, tsk!

Not a very pretty picture of where this could go, is it? So let us get back to the real question: is allowing women to be elders Biblical? Obviously I say yes, it is Biblical. But where is the evidence of women as leaders within the Church? I believe we can find many references to women in leadership and perhaps I will write a Part 2 that references more of them. For now, I would like to draw your attention to Romans 16:1-2 where Paul commends Phoebe to the Church in Rome. Pheobe is the one who carried Paul’s letter 800 miles to Rome. Paul calls her a sister, a diakonos of the church in Cenchrea, and a prostatis of many including himself. In most traditional English translations the word diakonos is translated servant. Yet this word can also be translated deacon or minister and is almost every other time Paul uses the word. Likewise the word prostatis is usually translated helper in this passage but could be (and usually is) translated patroness or protector.

The traditional choices while technically accurate are contextually deceptive. In modern day English the words servant and helper hold a weaker connotation then they did in Biblical times. A helper, or prostatis, in Hebrew and Greek was one of superior strength and status and literally means “one who is set over or put in front of”. For the early Church the servant was the leader, the servant of the Lord, not a table waiter as we surmise in modern day. Thus Paul is actually introducing Phoebe as a, or perhaps even the, deacon (or servant) of the Church in Cenchrea. And, he has entrusted her, not only to deliver his letter to the church in Rome but to possibly explain parts of it to them, as was the custom of the day. Why would he do such a thing? Because, Phoebe has already shown herself to be Paul’s patroness, protector (or helper) and is a qualified servant of the Lord, or deacon, of the Church in Cenchrea.

Phoebe is just one example of women taking on important leadership roles in the first Century Church. In previous posts I have written about Christ’s attitude toward, treatment of, and trust in women thus He set the stage for how women in the Church should and would be regarded. Again, given the culture even recognizing women in any kind of ministry was radical. Still, other examples can be forund in scripture and next time I will look at some of those.

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Responses

  1. Very little of what we do in church is actually ‘Biblical’. The bulk of it is simply tradition, and even then any theological justification is often long forgotten or seriously contrived.
    So, in one sense, saying women elders aren’t Biblical is perfectly true, but that certainly doesn’t address the core issue.
    Are female spiritual leaders Biblical? Absolutely! And this is true of OT and NT.
    Are female teachers Biblical? Same answer.
    Should we have women elders? I can find no sustainable answer to deny having women elders. I can find plenty of contrived interpretation and extremely selective use of scripture to keep them from this position (and indeed positions of ministry).

  2. I have always wanted to engage some one that affirms females in Church leadership roles. I will tell you that I am against it, because the Scriptures are against it. However, I understand that you are for it because you believe the Scriptures make room for it. This is an interesting dilemma.

    I would be interested how you harmonize Titus 1:5-9 with your belief in female church leadership roles?

    Also, what do you take 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 to mean?

    I’d also like to add that during the time of Paul’s wittings the role of teaching was the office of Apostle. Elders were to teach what the Apostles taught them. Or as it is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 traditions.

    I hope you can give me some insight as I very much want to understand where your belief originates.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  3. Steve–Please forgive me for being a little gun shy. I would like to understand what you mean by engage with someone who affirms women in Church leadership roles. Your next statement sounds like your mind is made up as to what scripture does and does not say. Yet, this post provides an example of how scripture has been translates so that what it actually says is not what we are lead to believe it says in our English translations. You say you are against “it” (meaning women in Church leadership) because the scriptures are against it. However, Phoebe is an example of a Church leader. How would you explain her role? My next post will provide additional examples of women leaders in scripture so before we engage on the verses you have pointed out perhaps you would like to explain Romans 16: 1-2 and the other examples I will mention in my next post.

  4. Phoebe is not mentioned as an elder but a deacon or a servant. Deacons have zero authority regardless of gender. They are there to serve not to instruct. If the office of deacon at an individual church has given deacons authority then they made the office of deacon into something other then the Biblical account. This is not only based on biblical theology but also on what the greek for deacon actually means.

    I understand that this view is very unpopular to our 21st century ears. However, the Scriptures are painfully clear that men and woman have distinctive roles in ministry.

    I have looked through about four translations of the Bible and have yet to see one that affirms woman in the role of Church leadership. What translation do you prefer, so that I may reason from that.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  5. Steve,
    Would you care to explain the role of Anna (Luke 2:36)? Or Deborah (Judges 4:4) if your issue is with authority of women? Or Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9)? Are you suggesting that prophets are not teachers? And if teaching has to be restricted to Apostles where are we to learn from (especially given the lack of apostolic writings, or would you also care to debate authorship of scripture)?
    Minnowspeaks,
    Apologies if I’ve jumped the gun on some of your examples.

  6. thanks for the discussion! Would love for you all to continue your different perspectives so I can see both sides.

    Church roles in general don’t make sense to me anyway. Deacon, elder, pastors, etc. etc. what is it all about?

  7. @ JohnO:
    Friend, do you wish for me to explain those Scriptures because you do not understand them? Or do you say, “explain” because you are trying to build a case for your argument based on them?
    If it is the later, it appears that you have confused the roles of many Church offices.

    The debate is not wither or not a woman can/should teach (by this I mean teaching other woman and children), but should she have a role of authority in the Church. Or at least this is the scope of the debate that I have seen argued for and against. Below are two questions that I think both sides need to ask their selves.

    Does the Bible teach that woman should be in a position of authority within the Church?
    Does the Bible teach that woman should not be in a position of authority in the Church?

    Both questions are binary in nature, meaning we can only answer them honestly with a yes or with a no. These are true and false questions. If we choose to ride the fence then we are not being serious in our debate and thus not being serious about our relationship with the Lord Jesus because he says, Revelation 3:15-22.

    So, if we believe that Scripture teaches that woman should be in a place of authority where is the evidence for it? But since we have many verses that directly speak against woman in positions of authority within the Church we can not say such things.

    Now, as to the three woman of faith that you brought up. No doubt they are fine examples of Christian woman. However, the question is not are they faithful servants, but did they have a role of authority. The question is not did they have the gift of teaching but did they sit on Church Council as Elder? Did Deborah lead the men into battle or was it Barak?

    Are you suggesting that prophets are not teachers? And if teaching has to be restricted to Apostles where are we to learn from (especially given the lack of apostolic writings, or would you also care to debate authorship of scripture)?

    Is Scripture alone not sufficient?

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  8. Steve,
    The women I mention are prophetesses. Deborah, as I’m sure you know, was a judge as well. In the case of a prophetess, as with a prophet, their ‘job’ was to interpret and communicate God’s will. As such, they had authority over all. Deborah, as a judge had additional (or perhaps just different) authority.
    Leading in battle is hardly synonymous with leading spiritually and is a spurious argument. The point is that these women had authority to teach God’s will/word to all including men.

    You ask if scripture alone is sufficient – I’m not a Calvinist so I would lean towards answering no.

    John

  9. I’ve been kind of quiet here working on an second post as I promised. I appreciate your imput and that you are keeping the discussion cordial. Steve–I think it is dangerous to say I think thus and such because scripture says. The point of my post is that what we think scripture says and what it may infact say are not always the same thing.
    You say that deacons had no authority. That is a very difficult stance to prove. In truth the offices and roles in the early Church overlapped and were not clearly laid out. And while it is true Phoebe was not called and elder she was called a prostatis which in Greek literally means “one who is set over or put in front of”.

  10. You ask if scripture alone is sufficient – I’m not a Calvinist so I would lean towards answering no.

    The authority and sufficiency of Scripture is not a Calvinist idea, it is a Protestant Christian belief.

    I dealt with those woman. You didn’t like the answers. I wish you would deal with the verses that I have brought up.

    Sola Fide,
    Reformedsteve

  11. You say that deacons had no authority. That is a very difficult stance to prove. In truth the offices and roles in the early Church overlapped and were not clearly laid out.

    I guess I will have to take your word for it.

    And while it is true Phoebe was not called and elder she was called a prostatis which in Greek literally means “one who is set over or put in front of”.

    A search in a Greek lexicon gave me this result for prostatis. Your definition is only a half truth.

    Solus Christo,
    Reformedsteve

  12. all this is so confusing to me. and as with most theological debates I just find myself saying — after we leave here, will it matter!?

    I tend to just not get bogged down in all of it…. because Jesus didn’t fight for roles/titles/positions/power. So why should we? men or women? We don’t need a church to tell us what we can or can’t do… and wasn’t Jesus content to stand “at the back of the line”? In the end what authority or power we were given here just doesn’t matter. At the end of the day – did we help further the kingdom with the gifts & vision He gave us? It’s supposed to be all about Him isn’t it but we get so caught up in us so much of the time. Are we trying to please Him here…or more worried that the world (even church world) accepts us and agrees with us?

    My thing with all theological arguments/doctrines is that sometimes we get so bogged down in talking about it — we never DO anything.

    Which of these 2 viewpoints helps spread the Gospel, further the Kingdom better than the other…. and obeys the 2 greatest commandments? Does one viewpoint meet these 3 things and the other doesn’t?

    anyway — I am so inexperienced….not a theologian at ALL. but thought I’d throw in my 2 cents from a non experienced, but on fire for Christ viewpoint.

  13. @Randi:
    If anything I have said has confused you let me know what and I will try and make myself clearer.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  14. Thanks Reformedsteve – the entire argument is confusing. Office of apostle? elder?

    When you said, “I guess I will have to take your word for it” in response to, “you say that deacons had no authority. That is a very difficult stance to prove. In truth the offices and roles in the early Church overlapped and were not clearly laid out.”

    are you admitting & agreeing that the offices & roles in the early church are not laid out clearly?

    Is the Bible truly clear on how authority should look in the church on earth? I also have confusion in how to know which interpretations/words are ‘correct’ since you all are listing different ones?

    Is the Word of God is always specifically applicable to today? yes the lessons are applicable — but I guess I mean – those passages you speak of – are they specifically applicable only to the culture it was written in? either way – we still can learn from it – but is it meant to be a legalistic way of the way things shoudl be because it talks about it? I don’t believe it advocates slavery because it talks about it — but because it was present at the time of writing – it talked about it. Didn’t these writers out of protection for the women write what they did? I don’t think any of us would revert back to slavery. and when women are freed from the bondages of culture – we shouldn’t want to revert back to the bondages they were in.

    maybe paul in I timothy was speaking in context to the imperfect cultural conditions and how the chruch should & could accomodate themselves to still be ‘in’ the world and be relevant to it. to keep them in the best light and maybe he did it for protection of the women since the surrounding cultures (Jewish & greek) didn’t want women to even learn — yet christianity & Jesus were so radical to them – because He encouraged women to learn. They knew christianity and the freedom it brought to women woudl be extremely radical to the surroundings cultures so wanted to take baby steps. Seems to me they were just allowing women to take little steps forward — while still keeping the integrity of the church intact — but still making sure women knew it was for their protection.

    maybe what they were doing – allowing women to learn was just soo revoluationary the world really wouldn’t be ready for more yet.

    I don’t know —- I don’t have enough knowledge & experience in this area – just some thoughts.

  15. p.s. I truly am asking the questions to ask — not because I think I know the answers.

    cuz I don’t know.

  16. @Randi:
    No, when I said, “I guess I’ll have to take your word for it”, I was underlining the fact that the poster gave no proof to his or her statement.

    Is the Word of God is always specifically applicable to today? yes the lessons are applicable — but I guess I mean – those passages you speak of – are they specifically applicable only to the culture it was written in?

    The short answer is no the Scriptures are not transcultural.
    Scripture must be understood from the context of the culture of the author in order to understand its meaning. This carries with it the implication that Scripture can not be ignored because certain practices are not part of our culture any longer.

    Such is the case of this particular debate. The camp that wishes to allow female pastor comes to that conclusion based upon a contemporary cultural context.

    Randi, I will pray for you. That the Lord will continue to mature you in the wisdom of Jesus Christ. You might not have answers right now, but the Lord is filling your head with the right questions. Stand firm in the Scriptures my friend.

    I hope this helps.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  17. Randi–You asked: “because Jesus didn’t fight for roles/titles/positions/power. So why should we? men or women? We don’t need a church to tell us what we can or can’t do… and wasn’t Jesus content to stand “at the back of the line”?

    Basically I agree. God will use us however He choses even if He has to take us out of Building-Based settings to do it. And it isn’t, for me, about “deserving a title” (pride). I argue these issues because I believe that when the controling forces within a fellowship decide one part of the body is not fit for a given role/duty that force puts the weaker part of the body in spiritual bondage. Then nobody benefits from their gifts. I believe our words and actions have power because we either give God the access to us or the enemy permission to use us. That’s why fighting between denominations and within fellowships is so serious. “Friendly fire” (the times we are used by the enemy) damages as much as an all out enemy attack.

  18. This is a really interesting debate you guys have going here.

    I think both of you guys have valid points with the whole Bible thing. Whether it does or does not speak about Woman being able to be elders or leaders.

    I think this topic is important to talk about (I am mostly talking to Randi) because we are truly limited by this decision. I mean if your elder or pastor tells you, as a woman, that you can’t speak to the church or have authority, it doesn’t matter how much gifting you have in that area you still can’t have authority or speak. And, if you are a wife and your Husband (along with most of his friends) tell you that you don’t have any authority because, “The bible tells us so”, then you are stuck it doesn’t really matter what you think. The reason why it is so important is because many claim their abuse and limitations on what the bible says and what God says. Thus they are able to abuse and limit. You know what I am saying? At least that is why I think it is important.

    The thing that I want to bring up is not what the bible and scriptures say but what God says based on the present. I have done a fair share of research on Woman as elders and in leadership based on the scripture, but what really makes me see that God has appointed Woman as leaders and Elders are examples of Woman leaders and Elders through out MY life. God has touched me deep inside based on the leadership of a Woman. Some of the GREATEST messages that I have heard came from Woman. I can’t turn a blind eye to that type of stuff.

    The bible has a lot of powerful examples but it is hard to think that it is without fault. The bible doesn’t even say that ALL of it is “without fault”. Why should we???? I mean you guys have proven that you think the bible is saying two completely different things. Well that is kind of because it really kind of does. in no means am I saying “don’t go to the bible for guidance”. But DO NOT throw away what God is showing and telling you in real life.

    Ok that is all I think for now. It is late so sorry if some of this is hard to read and sometimes it seems like I am rambling.

    Striker

  19. Thanks you all — I’m sorry I made it sound like it wasn’t important – obviously it is since after I wrote my first comment — I even had so much to say about it. That’s just me going back and forth in my mind hehe….. so I argued with myself there: yes it’s important – no it’s not. 🙂 Details are just hard for me sometimes because I’m so fired up about the big things.

    BUT saying all that – thanks Steve for your prayers – I appreciate them.

    If the Bible is not transcultural — I wish I knew more about it to ask what other sort of things you believe in that are not culturally condemned right now but the Bible talks about it — like slavery, like women wearing headcoverings, and I wish I knew more examples.

    I read a very interesting commentary on I Timothy and it said, “Timothy faced a sitaution where false teachers (probably church elders) were preying on women – young widows in particular. Restricting their public involvement in church would 1) dramatically undercut the support of the false teachers and 2) gain respect for the church in the Ephesian community at large.”

    SO YES I Timothy’s instruction in his letter is completely applicable today — when we’re in that same situation – but since we’re not – it’s not. Yet there is still wonderful lessons to learn in case we DO get to that situation.

    the same could be said for Paul’s context of his writings….. yes both are applicable to our culture and have lessons to be learned. And IF we find ourselives in situations of Paul & Timothy with forming the church — THEN we should apply these guidelines.

  20. Steve–
    You said: “The scriptures are not transcultural.

    Scripture must be understood from the context of the culture of the author in order to understand its meaning. This carries with it the implication that Scripture can not be ignored because certain practices are not part of our culture any longer.

    Such is the case of this particular debate. The camp that wishes to allow female pastor comes to that conclusion based upon a contemporary cultural context.”

    Problem: Transcultural means that it can be applied from one culture to the next without change which is what you say to be true when you argue that scripture cannot be ignored because certain practices are no longer part of the culture. Thus you actually say yes to the question: Is scripture transcultural? I agree with your first statement: “Scripture must be understood from the context of the culture of the author in order to understand its meaning.” but not the implication.
    Second problem: You have stated but have not proven that those of us who say women can be pastors have come to that conclusion based on cultural context rather than a Biblical one. The culture of Paul’s day treated women as property. Jesus did not. For examples feel free to visit one of my prior posts.
    https://minnowspeaks.wordpress.com/2008/03/23/jesus-an-adult…hree-followersjesus-an-adulteress-and-three-followers/

  21. Problem: Transcultural means that it can be applied from one culture to the next without change which is what you say to be true when you argue that scripture cannot be ignored because certain practices are no longer part of the culture. Thus you actually say yes to the question: Is scripture transcultural?

    You are correct. My wording was terrible. Allow me to rephrase my idea. The nature of Scripture’s meaning is not transcultural. Because of this nature our culture has no place in deciding what Scripture means.

    Second problem: You have stated but have not proven that those of us who say women can be pastors have come to that conclusion based on cultural context rather than a Biblical one. The culture of Paul’s day treated women as property. Jesus did not.

    I don’t think we are debating the same issue. Your words make it sound as if those of us who stand firmly against female pastors do so because we believe men are somehow superior to woman. This is not the basis of our argument what so ever.

    The Problem: Does Scripture affirm that woman should have a place of authority within the context of the Church? If so what chapter and verse.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  22. but since we live in our culture – shouldn’t we make it relevant to us now? God isn’t a god of the past – He’s a God of the present! He is very relevant to today and He will teach us relevant to today.

    Striker — loved what you wrote. I really agree. Scripture is the primary way God reveals Himself to us — but He sure does teach & reveal Himself to us other ways doesn’t He?!?!!? 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

    Steve said, “The Problem: Does Scripture affirm that woman should have a place of authority within the context of the Church? If so what chapter and verse.”

    I think JohnO already answered this. It depends on what *you* say authority is/isn’t…. did the women that JohnO talk about … have authority in the church? I guess just one matter of opinion vs. another depending on what you say “authority” is… I’d say they absolutely had authority in the church.

    Isn’t the church = the Body of Christ?

    thanx u all! 🙂

  23. I guess what is interesting to is the motive behind each person trying to justify their viewpoint:

    If a man argues against women in church leadership roles solely because he doesn’t think they are as capable… or his power is threatened —- then God isn’t pleased with that. Therefore his works in the name of trying to stick up for scripture are worthless.

    If a woman argues for women in church leadership simply because she wants power, wants a title, wants authority to feel good about herself…. then God isn’t pleased with that.

    so I guess God is most concerned about WHY we care so much about this issue. what is the motive, heart behind our viewpoint one way or the other.

    each of you have sort of touched on in defending why you care so much…

    but just thought I’d throw that out there again.

  24. The Problem: Does Scripture affirm that woman should have a place of authority within the context of the Church? If so what chapter and verse.

    Sorry, but that’s a bogus argument. Where does scripture give authority to drive a car, watch TV or surf the web?
    It doesn’t and so we must go back to general principles and it is quite clear from scripture that there have been women (granted, only a few) in positions of spiritual authority.
    Also, are you saying that culture has no place in determining the meaning of scripture? I’m genuinely unclear about what you’re suggesting here. If you are, then presumably you are saying that the ordinances of scripture are true in all cultures. I’m curious about which of the OT ones you’ve opted not to follow as they must surely stand for all time? You’ll also have to line up against a whole plethora of historical-critical interpretation which has, to all intents and purposes, determined Biblical interpretation for a considerable time and is much beloved of the more fundamental and evangelical branches of our Christian family.

  25. but since we live in our culture – shouldn’t we make it relevant to us now? God isn’t a god of the past – He’s a God of the present! He is very relevant to today and He will teach us relevant to today.

    Randi,
    I would generally agree with you but would also strike a note of caution. In making God’s teaching relevant to today we have to be careful that we do not allow culture to override or drive our interpretation of the Bible.
    I mentioned earlier that I was hesitant to sign up to ‘sola scriptura’, but I do accept it as a general principal, but perhaps don’t apply such weight to it as Steve might. In this respect I am more of a Barthian. I accept only Jesus as the full and perfect revelation of God to us and scripture is witness to that. As such it becomes the Word of God, only when it is interpreted through the influence of the Holy Spirit.
    Reading scripture ‘into’ a culture is a matter of wrestling with scripture, prayerfully meditating upon it and then, and only then, applying it to a situation. There cannot be a definitive guide in scripture for every issue that confronts us and so scripture becomes ‘insufficient’, but it’s still a pretty good guide. And in that respect I would accept ‘sola scriptura’ as the place we need to turn when considering contemporary issues. But we do need to appreciate the inculturated nature of scripture. And we do need to accept that what we have, particularly with the epistles, is one side of a conversation so we are often reconstructing the scenarios into which they were written. And we do need to do this otherwise we cannot really hope to understand their full meaning. Nevertheless, it’s still only our best guess.

  26. “As such it becomes the Word of God, only when it is interpreted through the influence of the Holy Spirit.”

    Thank you for that – yes! 🙂

  27. As such it becomes the Word of God, only when it is interpreted through the influence of the Holy Spirit.

    That is an illogical statement and man centered theology. A text’s meaning is not defined by the reader but by the text’s author. If what you say is true then I would be able to claim that Mein Kampf is the Word of God because I claimed the Holy Spirit aided in my reading of it. The Bible is the Word of God because God has declared it as such. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    I mentioned earlier that I was hesitant to sign up to ’sola scriptura’, but I do accept it as a general principal, but perhaps don’t apply such weight to it as Steve might. In this respect I am more of a Barthian.

    How are you ever sure of anything? How do you know which parts of Scripture are correct and which parts apply? Would I not need a mind like God’s to grasp what Karl Barth suggests in regard to Scripture?

    Randi fill your heart with the Scriptures. I beg you that man’s wisdom will not lead your soul to Hell. Proverbs 3:5-8

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  28. I believe that JohnO made complete sense to me when he says the INTERPRETATION can only come with help of Holy Spirit. He didn’t say anything about its defintion — he said it was interpretted with help from the Spirit.

    That makes perfect sense to me. Otherwise if we don’t rely on the spirit we are relying solely on our information & experiences to date which are different for everybody and have changed drastically across time.

    He was encouraging me to make sure I take the scripture to God above all else – not to man.

    The freedom that came when God helped me break away from all the past assumptions I had made that were grounded solely in experience/information to date was so incredible to me.

    Listening to the Spirit and allowing Him to help me understand God more and more is what it’s all about. I’m a lot less concerned with how others interpet scripture then I am growing and allowing Him to change me through his love. Though there ARE times for sharpening & encouraging each other.

    But yes JOhnO I totally get what you’re saying — or at least I think do —- our eyes are not open to meaning/interpretation without the Holy Spirit.

    I appreciate your passion Steve — and I do pray for God to help me have more knowledge & insight about the Bible and the details. but I know that right now He is pleased that in my uneducated, inexperienced existence – I am passionate about Him, completely in love with Him and devoted to allowing Him to use me to reach others. I am devoted to the Gospel & Word and hold it in highest esteem.

    I can assure you I know where I am going after this world ends and it’s to be with my beautiful Savior Jesus who is with me this very day through His powerful Spirit. That blessed assurance I do have. and God reassures me of that daily. He has a lot of mercy and patience as I continue on this journey and He doesn’t expect me to know it all, get it all and I know that He is much more concerned with my heart and love for Him then any outward appearances.

    I would go so far to say that He and He alone is who lead me to be the director of connections in our church. It’s not a desire I had and not something I was looking for as a stay at home mom… yet here I am. Am I breaking scripture and breaking God’s commands by being a church leader? I would think I was breaking scripture if I had thrown away all the talents & insights He had blessed me with. I’d be curious what the people who have come to Christ because of what He has done through me would think about if I should simply stay quiet and refuse any sort of position in church leadership.

    I thank God that in His mercy He allows me to be wrong about many things and change viewpoints many times over the years. I am forever thankful that He has the patience to not desert me and use me despite all my weaknesses and lack of knowledge/expertise.

    thanks u all

  29. Steve,
    Whether deliberately or not you have selectively chosen what to quote from me. Read it again. I said that Jesus is the only proper revelation of God, scripture is a witness to it and our understanding of it comes through the Spirit.
    The Spirit does not turn any book into scripture, as you are well aware. To (mis)quote Barth, “Scripture becomes the Word as God speaks through it.”
    That’s pretty much how Randi read it I think.

    And if you want to bandy logic around, logically explain to me how much of scripture, as we now have it, existed when Paul wrote to Timothy with those words?

    And I notice you’ve neatly side-stepped the issue of authority of women once more.

  30. Randi,
    Your ‘uneducated, inexperienced’ testimony reads beautifully and is far more eloquent a witness to God’s love, grace and transformational power than any academic argument can ever be.

  31. How are you ever sure of anything?

    Steve,
    I am impressed that you feel you have surety. That must certainly be better than the mere faith that I must be content with.

  32. @JohnO:

    Whether deliberately or not you have selectively chosen what to quote from me.

    I was quoting Randi who was quoting you. Do not try and turn this into a character assassination. Let us stick to the facts.

    Read it again. I said that Jesus is the only proper revelation of God, scripture is a witness to it and our understanding of it comes through the Spirit.

    Scripture is not a witness to the revelation of God. The Spirit is the author. To say anything other is to treat the Bible like any other book.

    And if you want to bandy logic around, logically explain to me how much of scripture, as we now have it, existed when Paul wrote to Timothy with those words?

    The Old Testament.

    And I notice you’ve neatly side-stepped the issue of authority of women once more.

    I made my case based upon Scripture. Since you by your own admission do not value Scripture as much as me

    (

    I mentioned earlier that I was hesitant to sign up to ’sola scriptura’, but I do accept it as a general principal, but perhaps don’t apply such weight to it as Steve might).

    I can’t defend my position.

    Solus Christo,
    Reformedsteve

  33. I am impressed that you feel you have surety. That must certainly be better than the mere faith that I must be content with

    It’s the faith in God’s Word that allows me the surety that you envy.

  34. John – Thanks for the encouragement. God is THAT awesome, graceful & powerful.

    Steve-
    Do you have surety in every verse in scripture?

    or maybe I should phrase it

    do you have surety on every issue in your life today because of scripture?

    Is there any room for doubt in your life?

  35. Randi,
    I have surety that every verse of Scripture is inerrant and inspired. It is the basis of my understanding and perception of every issue in life.

    Do I doubt Scripture?
    No, I do not doubt Scripture. Do I doubt my ability apart from the grace of God to understand Scripture? Yes.

  36. To say anything other is to treat the Bible like any other book.

    Indeed that would be true were it not for the role of the Spirit in taking this witness to the revelation of God and bringing its truth to a believer’s heart. To a non-believer it is indeed ‘just a book’. Only the Spirit has the power to use it to convict. To say anything other is to treat the Bible as a fourth part of the Godhead.

    And if you want to bandy logic around, logically explain to me how much of scripture, as we now have it, existed when Paul wrote to Timothy with those words?

    The Old Testament.

    Whence comes the authority for the New Testament if Paul’s words only apply to the Old? You cannot use those same words to justify the authority of the NT.

    And I notice you’ve neatly side-stepped the issue of authority of women once more.

    I made my case based upon Scripture.

    You made a case for denying the authority of women. You have not dealt with the examples of women in undeniable positions of authority.

  37. Do I doubt my ability apart from the grace of God to understand Scripture? Yes.

    But haven’t you just argued for the authority of scripture in and of itself? What need is there for God’s grace if the power resides in scripture itself and it is inerrant?

  38. You have not dealt with the examples of women in undeniable positions of authority.

    I have you just did not like my answers. You however, have not even attempted to deal with the scriptures that I have pointed to. In fairness this might have more to do with me attacking your position.

    What need is there for God’s grace if the power resides in scripture itself and it is inerrant?

    Because humanity is not inerrant. Something can be totally true and yet one can not grasp the truth that is in the statement. I think a good example of this would be the Pharisees.

    I really am interested how you would preach, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.

    Also, according to the Church of Scottland’s wikipedia article the church has roots in the reformed tradition. Does the church have a statement of faith? I looked on the website and could not find one.

    Sola Scriptura,
    Reformedsteve

  39. Thanks for the response Steve. I believe too in the scripture being inerrant & inspired. but I do doubt my individual interpration & application of non-core issues….but I believe that’s part of the journey. As I doubt more and ask questions and challenge old assumptions – my faith increases… I believe I am strengthened when I can come face with the fact I don’t (and won’t) totally get it all — but that’s where faith comes in.

    Is there a need for faith when there is no doubt?

    It takes an extremely mature christian (perfect even?) to never doubt they are possibly leaning on their own past information (experiences & lessons to date) rather than the Spirit alone in their interpretations & understanding of the Word.

    What resources do you use to go back to the original language & different original words used of the scripture? so that you are sure you are getting the original meaning of the scripture?

  40. I have you just did not like my answers.

    Then I must have overlooked your answers. I will reread your replies.

    I really am interested how you would preach, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.

    Obviously I’m not going to do a full exegesis here. That would be an abuse of minnowspeak’s topic I think. but my general approach would be to note its cultural setting – one in which women were forbidden to even worship with the men. Also, the context and issue here is discipline and order in worship, not the principle of women participating in it. The earliest Christian churches discovered a greater freedom through Christ. He, after all, taught women and men together. Something of a revolution and departure from ‘tradition’. Some people were ‘abusing’ this freedom and were being disruptive during worship, in this case women. Just prior to these verses it is those who speak in tongues without interpretation. Elsewhere it is those who abuse the eucharistic meal with drunkenness. To treat this passage as a general polemic against women in worship is to abuse its context, both cultural and as instruction.
    By return, how would you understand 1Cor 11:5 where women are apparently allowed to pray and prophesy in worship so long as they are suitably attired.

    Also, according to the Church of Scottland’s wikipedia article the church has roots in the reformed tradition. Does the church have a statement of faith? I looked on the website and could not find one.

    The website is not the easiest to find anything on. The CofS notionally follows the Westminster Confession but vows are generally couched in woolly terms as there is an acknowledgement that many parts of that confession are ‘awkward’ shall we say. Try here for a starting point.

  41. What resources do you use to go back to the original language & different original words used of the scripture? so that you are sure you are getting the original meaning of the scripture?

    There is a wealth of free resources online. I use Biblegateway all the time. I also use study bibles and lexicons. I’m addicted to books but sadly don’t have enough time to read them as I would like.

    I would suggest checking out Founders.

    It takes an extremely mature christian (perfect even?) to never doubt they are possibly leaning on their own past information (experiences & lessons to date) rather than the Spirit alone in their interpretations & understanding of the Word.

    Which is why I am not an Arminian.

  42. So Steve are you saying that Woman should not even speak in church???

    When you bring up “2 Timothy 3:16-17” that verse is only talking about the old testament as the scripture of God. The new testament hadn’t even been put together. I am hearing a lot of “we need to not rely on our own experience because it is influenced by society”. But some how you think that the bible through out the thousands of years it has been around and hundreds of translations has not been influenced? Minnowspeaks seemed to bring up many examples, from the bible, of how woman spoke in the church and had authority even over men.

    So it seems as though we have two different arguments both supported by scripture. So I think the best thing to do is go to examples in real life. I have personally seen the spirit of God move through Woman as leaders. We must see the kind of fruits that woman bring as leaders. For me the fruits have been GREAT and life changing. Can you give us example of where woman have failed as leaders and men have not?

  43. Check this one out:

    1 Corinthians 14:33-35 states, “…As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” At first glance, this seems to be a blanket command that women are not allowed to speak at all in the church. However, 1 Corinthians 11:5 mentions women praying and prophesying in the church and does not condemn it. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 must not be an absolute command for women to always be silent in church.

    The context of this passage, and much of 1 Corinthians, is the order and structure of the church. The Corinthian church was noted for the chaos and lack of order that was rampant in that assembly (v. 33). It is interesting that no elders or pastors are mentioned, and the prophets were not even exercising control (see vv. 29, 32, 37).

    Everyone was participating with whatever expression they desired “whenever” they desired. This included tongues and prophesying by women who were taking the lead in the services instead of being submissive, as God’s Word makes clear (1 Tim 2:11-15). Apparently, certain women in the Corinthian church were out of order in disruptively asking questions publicly in the chaotic services. It is not coincidental that many modern churches that have tongues-speaking and claim gifts of healings and miracles also permit women to lead worship, preach, and teach.

    Women may be gifted teachers, but they are not permitted by God “to speak” in such a manner in His churches. In fact, for them to do so is “shameful,” meaning “disgraceful” (v. 35).

    The context of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 is talking about interpreting and understanding the gifts of tongues and prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:26-32).

    Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:34 is not commanding women to be absolutely silent in the church all the time. It is only saying that women should not participate when tongues and/or prophecy is being interpreted and tested (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 John 4:1). This is in agreement with 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which says that women should not teach or have authority over men. If women were involved in deciding whether a prophecy was truly from God, they would be disobeying what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Therefore, Paul tells women to be silent when tongues and prophecy are being interpreted so that they will not be disobeying God’s Word.

  44. I have no idea Steve what the response, “which is why I am not an arminian” means.

    What are you saying, in basic language?

  45. Ah right, I’ve found your reply about the three women previously mentioned:

    Now, as to the three woman of faith that you brought up. No doubt they are fine examples of Christian woman.

    At least two of them were Hebrew women, part of a patriarchal society.

    However, the question is not are they faithful servants, but did they have a role of authority.

    Undeniably, in Deborah’s case.

    The question is not did they have the gift of teaching but did they sit on Church Council as Elder?

    Scripture does not provide us with any answer on that issue. To suggest, therefore, that they didn’t is speculation and cannot be supported by scripture. Unless, of course, you’d care to go beyond the clear teaching of scripture and read into it something that is not there but you wish to see? (Apologies, that was a bit mischievous)

    Did Deborah lead the men into battle or was it Barak?

    As previously mentioned, this is not relevant.

  46. sorry I should have put in the link then copied that whole response from gotquestions.org

  47. Randi,
    Calvinism and Arminianism are two ‘branches’ of Reformation thought. One stems from Calvin (and adds somewhat to what he taught), the other from Jacobus Arminius (ditto). The crucial difference between the two was the surety of salvation. For Calvinism it’s ‘once saved, always saved’. For Arminianism there is the possibility to ‘backslide’ and so lose one’s salvation. Both are supportable from scripture (assuming selective use of it).

  48. So Steve are you saying that Woman should not even speak in church???

    No, I was just interested in how John would preach it.

    When you bring up “2 Timothy 3:16-17″ that verse is only talking about the old testament as the scripture of God. The new testament hadn’t even been put together.

    I admitted that what Paul is speaking about is the OT. However, I have also brought up, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15.

  49. I knew (at least a little) about calvinism/arminianism from minnow and others — BUT I still don’t get what what his response means hehe sorry 🙂 blonde moment?

  50. Just as a reminder about your original reference:

    I’d also like to add that during the time of Paul’s writings the role of teaching was the office of Apostle. Elders were to teach what the Apostles taught them. Or as it is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 traditions.

    The use of the word ‘brothers’ (which I’m assuming is your point) is a reflection of the make-up of the leadership of that church. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. Given that this is probably one of Paul’s earliest letters, it is no great surprise that the men still dominate church leadership.

  51. Randi,
    I think what Steve is suggesting is that he would be on the Calvinist side, sure of his salvation. Doubt is not an issue insofar as one can still have it, but it makes no difference to one’s salvation.

  52. JohnO–Thanks for the definition of Arminianism. I too think that steve’s point was Calvinists know they are saved.
    Striker–Good point about the fruit of current day women leaders. I can think of several who God seems to have His hand of blessing on–Heidi Baker for one.
    Randi–Your quote from Got Questions seems to be building a strawman by trying to explain away Paul allowing women to prophesy saying they did not have the authority to evaluate what came out of their mouths. In truth Scripture tells us “the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” I Corinthians 14:32
    Steve–You said, “Because humanity is not inerrant. Something can be totally true and yet one can not grasp the truth that is in the statement.” I agree with this statement completely. I believe unless God took a hold of every writer’s hand (including all the translators) and wrote the scripture it has the possibility of errors, however “minor” because humanity is not inerrant. At the same time, the spirit of the text and the Spirit in the text is what we need to hold. The fact that we find examples of women leading, prophesying, teaching, causes me to go back to those verses that seem to contradict these examples and ask is there another way to look at them so that both the text and the example agree.

  53. I just thought the gotquestions was interesting – that it really agreed fully with either side of ‘this’ debate.

    I still don’t get though how calvinism/armanianism and their viewpoint on salvation has to do with when I said:

    “It takes an extremely mature christian (perfect even?) to never doubt they are possibly leaning on their own past information (experiences & lessons to date) rather than the Spirit alone in their interpretations & understanding of the Word”

    there’s nothing about salvation in what I said there.

  54. @Randi:
    Because John Wesley (an arminian) taught that Christian could live sinless lives.

  55. Randi–I think the comment was spurred on by your saying “to never doubt”. The once saved always saved (and so there is no room for doubt) thinking of a Calvinist is what was the point of the tongue in cheek comment. It kind of gets lost in translation.

  56. but my thing I was trying to get across was that you can be assured of your salvation with no doubt….

    but still have plenty of room to doubt your interpretation of the scripture. There is room for doubt because we’re human and sometimes we are leaning our own past assumptions & information given to us rather than the Spirit.

  57. It was a failed attempt at humor. Sorry for all the confusion.

  58. theological discussions with theological language are hard enough for me to follow…. much less theological humor 🙂

  59. I would recommend this book: Abstract of Systematic Theology by J. P. Boyce for all those interested in theology.

  60. I finally posted the other examples I said I would be posting. Steve, I will be looking at your references from your first comment next, though some past posts already cover some of that so I will see if I repeat or simply link to them.

  61. Oh my goodness. No wonder you have been disheartened in your journey on this topic. If it helps I have some articles that deal with both female elders in the Bible and Phoebe as a deacon (a leader)–after all Paul used the same word to describe her that he used to describe Timothy and Titus in their pastoral roles.

    Phoebe
    Older Women or Female Elders?

    And I have a whole bunch of stuff at Career Women of the Bible

    I hope some of this helps. If you want to talk to me directly about anything, please feel free to email me: shawna (at) shawnaatteberry (dot) com.


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