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Author Topic: Women in Ministry: A Biblical Perspective  (Read 1451 times)
C C
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« on: July 13, 2004, 03:32:28 PM »

women in ministry: a biblical perspective

Dr. David Thompson, author and professor at Asbury Seminary, examines the biblical arguments for women in ministry

(Photo: Phoebe Palmer, 1807-1874, preached at over 300 meetings in the United States, Canada and the British Isles.)

Women pastors? Senior pastors? In our church? Over a hundred years ago we Wesleyans led the way in opening ordained ministry to women. So why is this an increasingly difficult topic in the Wesleyan Church?

First, some mistakenly assume that Wesleyan women who claim a call to ordained ministry and want to pastor Wesleyan churches are duped by the secular feminism, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

But this slander by association with secular feminism is simply wrong. Persons troubled by this sort of linkage have either forgotten the history of the Wesleyan Church and the holiness movement or have not known it. We pioneered the ordaining of women and have been doing it since before there was such a thing as "feminism."

Second, the slice of the church growth world Wesleyans have recently listened to is largely a manís world. Non-Wesleyan luminaries to which we have looked have not pointed us to the numerous women who have established and successfully lead significant ministries (including churches) in North America. Itís another case either of amnesia or ignorance, but the result is the same. Gifted women get the message and go elsewhere.

But the Bible itself probably presents the most difficult obstacle to ordaining and appointing women to Christian ministry. Specifically, Paul seems clearly to exclude it in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36. Here also we must learn again how to read the Bible as a whole from our own heritage and resist following Baptist and Calvinist approaches in this matter.

Discerning the Bibleís guidance on women and ministry closely parallels discerning its guidance on the issue of slavery. Our own Wesleyan-holiness forebears helped hammer out the approach to Scripture that gave Bible authority to anti-slavery advocates of the last century. It is no accident that old time Wesleyans who thought the Bible supported the abolition of slavery also led the way in reading the Bible in support of the ordination of women. Nor is any accident that old time Calvinists prominent in the pro-slavery camp also resisted in parallel arguments the "liberation" of women. The two arguments--over slavery and over womenís suffrage--were similar and closely tied together biblically.

The biblical challenge is two fold: 1) to interpret Bible texts accurately in their historical context, and 2) to determine which texts should be read in light of which (i.e., make sense of the Bible as a whole). Both were critical in the slavery debate, and both remain central in the "ordination of women" debate.

As for interpreting the Bible texts accurately in their historical contexts, both the pro-slavery and anti-slavery people tended to read their own positions into the text. On the one hand "The Curse of Ham," Genesis 9:18-25, did not really support the enslavement of black Africans. On the other, Paul did not abolish slavery nor imply its abolition in Ephesians 6:5-9.

The same problem of competent reading of Bible texts in their historical and literary contexts, faces persons seeking Godís will from Scripture regarding the ordination of women. The most vocal present voices against the ordination of women (who happen also to be Calvinist) would have one believe these texts in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians are straight-forward, easily understood verses. The problem, they claim, is not the texts, but a compromised church, unfaithful to the truth of Scripture and afraid to confront error--the same slander thrown against our abolitionist predecessors by the pro-slavery folks. The truth is 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 are full of difficulties. It is not easy at all to determine the apostleís basic meaning in these texts or the actual problems he wanted to meet, let alone know how we should apply them. Recent evidence indicates that even these "plainest" of texts do not bear directly against ordination.

But even if 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 did expressly forbid the ordination of women (which they do not), the second problem we noted earlier remains. Which texts are to be read in light of which? What sense do we make of the Bible as a whole on this question? Do we read the entire Bible in light of these two problematic texts, or do we read these two texts in light of the rest of the Bible? Here again the way has already been forged by the anti-slavery people who founded one branch of our present denomination in 1843 (The Wesleyan Methodist Connection).

The abolitionistsí most powerful anti-slavery arguments from the Bible proved not to be the Bibleís statements about slavery itself, but rather other basic, irrefutable biblical claims. This larger Bible context led them to conclude that slavery was a grievous evil, an abomination to God, in spite of the fact that Moses had provided for it, and Saint Paul had assumed it. Thus, in his tract against the slave trade, John Wesley argued not from "slavery texts" but from the Bibleís teaching about the mercy and justice of God. Jonathan Blanchard, Wesleyan Methodist founding president of Wheaton College, argued against slavery on the basis of "one bloodism" --God had created of "one blood" all humans (Acts 17). Charles Finney argued against slavery on the basis of common human need (all are sinful). Others relied on Galatians 3:28 ("In Christ...no slave or free") and Luke 4:18 (Jesusí mission of "release to the captives," and so on.

None of these persons were liberals; none of them rejected the wisdom of God or the authority of Scripture, as their pro-slavery opponents claimed. Rather, they understood that some Bible truths, by their very nature, must logically provide the context in which other specific instructions and claims in Scripture are read.

This very same task awaits persons who want to address the "women in ministry" question adequately! We must speak not only of one or two specific texts but must make sense of biblical revelation as a whole on this question. 1 Timothy 2 :11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 stand confronted by a tidal wave of other biblical texts, Pauline and otherwise, which fly in the face of prohibiting women full entry into Christian ministry (as B. T. Roberts, the founder of the Free Methodist Church, argued persuasively a century ago).

Our aim here is not actually to argue the point biblically but to show what the points to argue are--and have been for over a century! Here we underscore the fact that the Wesleyan Churchís ordination of women stands not only on solid biblical grounds but on a solid, historic approach to Scripture as well. We read Scripture on this question in ways hammered out over a century ago by the people who founded the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, the Pilgrim Holiness Church, the Salvation Army and other similar holiness streams.

No , the problem is not lack of biblical warrant, but lack of leadership and conviction. We have to take responsibility in local churches for calling and at district levels for appointing to leadership ministries the women whom God is gifting and calling for those ministries in the Wesleyan Church. And we must do it now.
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2004, 07:33:32 AM »

Shouldn't this be in the "Women in leadership roles...." thread?

"The Role of Believing Women

"Has God indeed said...? (1 Pet. 3, Gen. 2)

Summary:

Can it be that the Scripture plainly teaches that women are not to teach men, nor to have authority over men?

Perhaps there is no other issue where the witness of the church has been so devastated. Feminist ideologies, philosophies and agenda's are almost universally adopted, to some degree, by the religious organizations taking the labels evangelical, Pentecostal, Baptist or fundamentalist church.

The desire to be like the world is so strong in this area, that sound methods of Biblical interpretation are being perverted to accommodate the desire of women to teach and lead men.

The result of the tragic departure from sound interpretation is disharmony, discord, and poor leadership in both the family and the church. This results in not only lack of blessings for believers, but also a lack of witness to the world, and ultimately, the destruction of the believing community."

"Anytime there is a particularly costly teaching in the Scripture that rebellious human hearts do not want to submit to, you will find it being attacked..."
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2004, 05:02:44 PM »

Quote
The truth is 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 are full of difficulties. It is not easy at all to determine the apostleís basic meaning in these texts or the actual problems he wanted to meet, let alone know how we should apply them. Recent evidence indicates that even these "plainest" of texts do not bear directly against ordination.

Of course there are difficulties.  If you follow what the passages teach, then you can't have women pastors.  Lots of difficulties if you're trying to excuse an unbiblical practice.   Grin
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2004, 07:39:08 PM »

Quote
The truth is 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 are full of difficulties. It is not easy at all to determine the apostleís basic meaning in these texts or the actual problems he wanted to meet, let alone know how we should apply them. Recent evidence indicates that even these "plainest" of texts do not bear directly against ordination.

Of course there are difficulties.  If you follow what the passages teach, then you can't have women pastors.  Lots of difficulties if you're trying to excuse an unbiblical practice.   Grin

ROFL!  Grin

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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2004, 12:09:32 AM »

I follow the teachings of Wesley just as closely as I follow the teachings of Calvin and Arminius.
None of them got it 100% right, so I'll just stick with what the Bible says.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2004, 11:16:39 AM »

I'm not knowledgable about ANY of Weslyian or title's they give themselves that come from Men's names.  I don't think that God acknowledges them at all.

But I DO KNOW that women are not saved in childbirth.

 Grin  Take that scripture and run with it, the way that folks take other scriptures and run with them.  It's not the truth.

Peace
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2004, 08:08:33 AM »

the way that folks take other scriptures and run with them.
As opposed to those who just try to talk their way around them?  Wink

It's not the truth.
Since when has His word not been the truth?  Lips Sealed
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2004, 04:23:26 PM »

 Grin  Women are saved because of the cross, not saved in childbirth.  The principle of this matter is that Paul was making a point and getting around to it.  I bet if he would have said, "I'm blue today" referring to his mood, there would be a whole cult of poeple that claimed Paul's skin was blue on a certain day.   Tongue  They might even attribute holiness to people with trouble getting oxigen to their skin because it makes their skin turn blue.  

I can see it now.  Whole groups of people starting a new religion saying "Only men are saved by the gospel, and women are saved by childbirth.  It says it right there in Paul's own words!!"  

The reason why anyone agrees that we are all saved by the cross is essentially that's the whole Bible saying it.  You can't take a little phrase here and there and say otherwise.  And yet that's what folks are doing with this whole women teaching in church issue.  Ignore the "neither male nor female" and the Holy female prophets of old, and the Leaders like Debra--because of a few lines here and there.

The mere idea that women can't teach in church is so obsurd, that for thousands of years, women have been able to teach Sunday school.  BUT if you insist on using Paul's words exactly the way they're being interpreted by some, teaching sunday school by females is against Paul's commandments.   Wink  And mind you some people hold that every word in the bible is a commandment, so they try not to read the whole thing.

Saved by the cross, not by childbearing.
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Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you would include not finding your neighbor's biggest fault and then harping on it as if it were your mission.
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2004, 05:44:23 AM »

Saved by the cross, not by childbearing.

Through the birth of the Christ child we all get a new start! Through His death and resurrection we have eternal life!


The mere idea that women can't teach in church is so obsurd,

1 Timothy 2
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man;

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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2004, 03:04:17 PM »

Here's an idea for you:
Lets just get rid of all of Paul's writing in the Bible.
That would work for some people.
Then again, it wouldn't work for me because I believe that the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God- even the writings of Paul.
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I'm not following a God that's imagined.
Can't invent His deity.
That's why Jesus is the final answer
To Who I want my God to be.
He's Who I want my God to be.
-  Who? by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor (Newsboys)
Reba
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2004, 06:09:55 PM »

Candice Cavalier,

Do you believe the scriptures, the Bible, to be the Word of God?
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