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Revisiting Biblical Womanhood What Every Pastor Needs to Know.

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Presentation on theme: "Revisiting Biblical Womanhood What Every Pastor Needs to Know."— Presentation transcript:

1 Revisiting Biblical Womanhood What Every Pastor Needs to Know

2 My Job? To discuss the question of female preachers and pastors.

3 This has become one aspect of a larger debate over evangelical feminism.

4 Two Parties; Two Problems Party One: Egalitarianism Party Two: Complementarianism Problem One: Authority in the home Problem Two: Authority in the church

5 The Egalitarian Party Christians for Biblical Equality InterVarsity Press Gilbert Bilezikian Rebecca Merrill Groothuis Gordon Fee Kevin Giles Catherine Kroeger Richard Kroeger William Webb I. Howard Marshall

6 The Complementarian Party Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Crossway Publishers Wayne Grudem John Piper D. A. Carson Andreas J. Köstenberger Thomas Schreiner Robert Yarbrough Douglas Moo Dorothy Patterson Mary Kassian

7 What Are They Saying? Egalitarianism: true equality requires identical roles and authority. Complementarianism: true equality allows differences in roles and authority.

8 Our Focus Here We’ll ignore the problem of roles and authority in the home, and focus on roles and authority in the church. First, we’ll take a brief retrospective. Second, we’ll look at a key passage. Third, we’ll examine attempts to circumvent this passage.

9 Part One A Brief Retrospective

10 Did You know? Baptist fundamentalists used to accept and employ women preachers? For a detailed discussion, see Janet Hassey, No Time for Silence. I’ll give you a bit of information about a female preacher whom Hassey does not mention.

11 Amy Lee Stockton First student at Northern Baptist Seminary (1909). Licensed by Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Accompanied by musician Rita Gould, also licensed by Wealthy Street. Often spoke at Maranatha Conference Ground near Muskegon, Michigan.

12 Stockton’s Backers Included: Oliver W. Van Osdel (founder of the GRVBA and the GARBC) H. H. Savage (Pontiac, Michigan) T. T. Shields (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) David Otis Fuller (Grand Rapids, Michigan) John Marvin Dean (Northern Baptist Seminary)

13 When Criticized Stockton could be quite blunt. Example: M. R. DeHaan of Grand Rapids. Stockton’s reply: “I don’t see that he has set Grand Rapids on fire or accomplished enough to make us want to follow his methods.” Stockton was not exactly passive or weak- willed.

14 What’s the Point? This controversy is not new. Some of the same arguments were used then (on both sides) that are being used now. It is part of our past; it’s not just “the liberals” who have wrestled with this question.

15 Part Two A Key Passage

16 2 Timothy 2 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

17 Preliminary Remarks We do not have time for a detailed exegesis. We will not ask every question or examine every possible answer. This will be a survey of what I think is the best interpretation. For details, see Thomas R. Schreiner’s article on this passage.

18 What Is the Context? The letter is partly a response to false teaching (see ch. 1). In 2:1-7 Paul is emphasizing that God’s wish or desire is for all to be saved. Verse 8 is transitional, requiring all the men to pray (for the salvation of souls?). This is probably a reference to house churches meeting for public worship.

19 The Discussion of Modesty 2:8-10 is probably directed specifically at public worship, though applicable elsewhere. Paul is as concerned with women’s adornment and behavior as with men’s prayers. Women are to reject ostentatiousness and flirtatiousness in favor of modesty.

20 Incidentally... This is a principle that can be applied to men with equal relevance. Paul’s specific prohibitions are probably reflective of meanings that are at least partly culturally bound. There is not necessarily a timeless prohibition of all jewelry, but there is a timeless requirement of modesty.

21 Verse 11 Enjoins all women to learn. There is no sphere of biblical or theological knowledge that ought to be withheld from women. What Paul requires is not absolute silence (sige), but rather a quiet demeanor (hesuchia). Their submission is most likely to those who hold teaching authority in the church. This is still good counsel for men, too.

22 A Note on Structure of In Quietness –Let women learn With all subjection –Women not to teach Or to grasp authority But to be quiet

23 How About Verse12? There are two basic prohibitions and one positive exhortation. Women are not to didaskein men. This is the basic word for “teach.” Women are not to authentein men. This word means to “exercise authority over.” Women are to be quiet.

24 The Heart of the Controversy Women may not teach men. Women may not exercise authority over men. But which men? Where? And doing what kind of teaching? The context has been one of the church assembled for public worship. Therefore…

25 What Is Not Forbidden Women discipling men outside of public gatherings (e.g., Priscilla and Apollos). Women teaching women or children within public gatherings. Women teaching men in a non- authoritative (i.e., non-pastoral) way. Women prophesying or praying (1 Cor. 11). Women exercising non-pastoral authority (e.g., in business, politics, etc.).

26 What Is Forbidden Women preaching to mixed audiences. Women teaching the Bible to mixed audiences in a church setting. Women exercising authority as pastors, elders, and bishops.

27 Paul’s Reasons He has already alluded to one: women’s decorum is linked with God’s desire for all people to be saved. The order of creation indicates male headship. Adam was formed first. The order of the fall reinforces Paul’s reasoning. The woman was deceived.

28 So the Woman Was Deceived? Both Adam and Eve were together during the temptation. The serpent singled out Eve. Rather than deferring to Adam, Eve took it upon herself to reply for both (and Adam allowed it). This constituted an inversion of the created order that resulted in disaster.

29 Saved Through Childbearing? Not that childbearing is a means of salvation. Childbearing is a station in life in which only some people are involved. How you fulfill your station in life shows how you are working out your salvation. The question is whether a stay-at-home mom has the same shot at exhibiting salvation as the public preacher and teacher (or anyone else).

30 Saved Through Childbearing? Childbearing stands as a synecdoche for domesticity (rearing kids, keeping the house). The heresy in Ephesus downplayed this- worldly activity and probably showed special contempt for maternity and domesticity. Paul is elevating maternity and domesticity to a position of dignity alongside any other calling.

31 Part Three Attempts to Circumvent This Passage

32 1. Rejection of Authority Some attempt simply to reject the authority of this passage. Mainline liberals do not feel bound by the propositional authority of biblical statements in the first place. Some evangelicals (Paul King Jewett, for example) see this text as a reflection of Paul’s rabbinic prejudice.

33 2. Trumping the Authority Some claim that the Holy Spirit is the authority behind Scripture and is free to make exceptions to its rules. Some may appeal to putative prophecies (Cindy Jacobs). Van Osdel appealed to the experience of effective ministry (the Holy Spirit was obviously blessing Amy Stockton, so He had clearly made an exception for her).

34 It Is Worth Remembering That... God does bless His Word when it is preached and taught. This blessing does not depend entirely upon the worthiness of the preacher or teacher. If a woman’s preaching gets good results, we can rejoice in those results without approving the method.

35 3. Appealing to Variety Some simply look away from this passage to other passages that emphasize gender equality. The major passage is Galatians 3:28. The result is sometimes a kind of “Pick Your Favorite Passage” hermeneutic. Others emphasize the difficulty of interpreting all the passages.

36 Our View of Scripture... Admits multiple human perspectives. Insists upon a single divine author. Refuses to concede any final contradiction within the text. Forces us to study the passages until we are able to reconcile each with all, when they are properly interpreted. Doesn’t allow us to ignore “disputed” passages.

37 4. Limiting the Situation The Ephesian situation had specific problems that limit the applicability of this passage. Specifically, women teachers were deeply involved in communicating heresy. The verb authentein reflects an abusive exercise of power.

38 Concessions Women may have been teaching heresy in Ephesus. Authentein is a NT hapax legomenon, the meaning of which is disputed.

39 Nevertheless The best studies indicate that authentein means to exercise authority over, especially in this context. We know that males were teaching heresy. Paul does not forbid men from teaching or exercising authority. Paul does not make any exception for women who teach orthodoxy.

40 5. The “Tu Quoque” Fallacy Most complementarians agree that the activities of v. 9 are not universally proscribed. Egalitarians accuse complementarians of doing the same thing in v. 9 that they want to do in vv

41 Is That a Problem? The prohibitions of 9 are grounded in the cultural meaning of the things prohibited. The prohibitions of are grounded in the creation order. If both sets of prohibitions should be treated identically, it is more likely that we should recognize those in 9 than to dispense with those in

42 6. “Trajectory” Hermeneutics Argues that Scripture, read diachronically, sets a trajectory that extends beyond the text itself. An earlier text takes a particular position on an issue. A later text is either more or less restrictive. The final position follows that trajectory. Proponents: R. T. France, David Thompson, I. Howard Marshall.

43 6a. “Redemptive Movement” Advocated by William Webb. Similar to Trajectory Hermeneutics. Point “A” is the perspective of the original culture. Point “B” is the position that Scripture takes. Point “C” is the conclusion gained by following the trajectory from A through B and beyond.

44 Slavery and Biblical Trajectory A. Slavery Permitted in the Culture B. Slavery Restricted in the New Testament C. Slavery Abolished Today

45 Trajectory for Women’s Ministry A B C Old Testament and Cultural Status of Women Galatians 3:28 Egalitarianism

46 Does This Work? It becomes an extremely subjective method. It simply reads back into the “trajectory” whatever conclusion we desire. Remember that the Pastoral Epistles are written near the end of Paul’s ministry, well after Galatians or 1 Corinthians. If there is a trajectory, it is toward greater restriction upon women in the church.


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