Sunday, May 31, 2009

The New Paradigm

About two days ago, I started discussing the false analogies as presented in Rebecca Merrill Groothuis’s chapter on “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role.” The first false analogy Groothuis describes is the Levitical priesthood. We’ve already seen that Christ is our High Priest, who does away with the Levitical priesthood because He is of a different priestly order, “The line of Melchizedek” (the name “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness”).

But in today’s post I wanna look at a conclusion Groothuis draws from what she has studied regarding false analogies:

“In the new covenant, physical distinctions such as race and gender NO LONGER DEMARCATE UNEQUAL LEVELS OF RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGE (Gal. 3:26-28). No one in the body of Christ is excluded from the priestly responsibilities of representing God’s holiness to the world, offering spiritual sacrifices to God, representing God before other believers and interceding for others before God. THE FAILURE TO PERCEIVE AND HONOR THE PIVOTAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIESTHOOD IN THE OLD COVENANT AND PRIESTHOOD IN THE NEW COVENANT IS A FUNDAMENTAL THEOLOGICAL FLAW OF EVANGELICAL PATRIARCHY” (Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 329).

Groothuis hits the nail on the head with this last statement: the fact that complementarians (patriarchalists) cannot understand New Covenant Theology because they tend to see the New Testament priesthood as an EXTENSION of the old. I’ve already argued (in my series on “Justifications for a Patriarchal Hermeneutic”) that God intended for ALL of the nation to be priests and appear before God. Exodus 19-20, though, tells us that, before Moses went up on Mount Sinai, the people were afraid of the fire and smoke coming from the mountain; but after Moses brought the commandments down from Sinai, the people were afraid to come up the mountain (as God had directed them to do). They were supposed to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; but, instead of accepting their priestly duties, what did they do? They told Moses that they wanted HIM to speak to God on their behalf!

The people did not want to talk to God because they feared death (“lest we die”). And by so doing, they gave up their priesthood that believers now receive in the New Testament.

This shows us that, IF God extends the idea of the priesthood into the New Testament (and does not break with it completely), then the idea of the priesthood extended is THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS!

Here is what Peter writes regarding the spiritual priesthood:

1 So rid yourselves of (A) all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. (B) 2 Like newborn infants, desire the unadulterated spiritual milk, (C) so that you may grow by it in [your] salvation, [a] 3 since you have tasted (D) that the Lord is good. (E) (F) 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (G) through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
Look! I lay a stone in Zion, (H)
a chosen and valuable cornerstone, (I)
and the one who believes in Him
will never be put to shame! (J) [b] (K)
7 So the honor is for you who believe; but for the unbelieving,
The stone that the builders rejected—
this One has become the cornerstone, (L) (M)
8 A stone that causes men to stumble, [c]
and a rock that trips them up. (N) [d] (O)
They stumble by disobeying the message; they were destined (P) for this.
9 But you are a chosen race, (Q) [e] (R) a royal priesthood, (S) (T)
a holy nation, (U) (V) a people for His possession, (W) (X)
so that you may proclaim the praises (Y) [f] (Z)
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:1-9, HCSB)

The priesthood of all believers is for everyone. And I wish the complementarian could see it…

Saturday, May 30, 2009

False Analogy I: The Levitical Priesthood

I know I’ve dealt with this issue a few times at the blog, especially in my series on Margaret Kostenberger’s book, “Jesus and the Feminists.” Well, I’m here to tackle it again—this time from the perspective of Rebecca Merrill Groothuis.
A lot of time has been invested over the last few weeks studying Groothuis’s work in chapter 18 of her edited book, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” called “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role.” We’ve seen that this phrase (the chapter title) is illogical on the basis of the fact that it is a self-refuting statement. I’ll provide a definition of a self-refuting statement here:

A self-refuting statement is one where something said contradicts something previously said.

For instance, I’ll use a modern quote I was told from my friend Eunice regarding Dorothy Patterson:


Notice the words highlighted? Dorothy Patterson is telling women not to preach—but she is PREACHING herself! If women are not supposed to preach (according to Dorothy Patterson and other complementarians), then why is Dorothy Patterson preaching? Her preaching CANCELS OUT her campaign that tells women not to preach.

This is not to make fun of Dorothy Patterson. As I’ve written in other posts, she is well-accomplished and deserves to be commended for her educational achievements. I just used this self-refuting statement to show how one thing can contradict another in close proximity. Other such statement would be “Being nosy about NOT BEING NOSY,” and so forth. As you can see, self-refuting statements are quite a laugh!

In any case, back to my original point. “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role” cannot be true if women are equal in being, but UNEQUAL in role because THE UNEQUAL role is dependent on the EQUAL BEING!

Today’s post will concern one of many analogies that complementarians use to argue women’s subordination to men: the Levitical Priesthood. Regarding this false analogy Rebecca Merrill Groothuis writes:

“Furthermore, while God chose the Levites to perform a ministry of lifelong duration, it was not a PERMANENT decree as is the (supposed) divine decree that women be subordinate to male authority. The authority/status difference between women and men is deemed AN ESSENTIAL FEATURE of God’s creational design; thus it is permanent not only in the sense that it endures throughout a person’s lifetime but also in that it pertains to all men and women EVERYWHERE FOR ALL TIME. The Levites’ role, by contrast, WAS NOT PERMANENT but PROVISIONAL, in that it pertained only to a temporary religious system at a particular time and for a particular purpose in history” (Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 327).

The role of the Levite priest was temporary. As the writer of Hebrews says,

“If, then, perfection came through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise in the order of Melchizedek, and not to be described as being in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of the law as well. For the One about whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, from which no one has served at the altar. Now it is evident that our Lord came from Judah, and about that tribe Moses said nothing concerning priests” (Heb. 7:11-14, HCSB).

Because Jesus was the high priest of a different order, then the Levitical priesthood is abolished (because it has been supplanted by a better one). The Levitical priesthood was only to last for a limited time. This is not a good example by which to argue for women’s subordination, since those who believe women should be subordinate argue for ETERNAL subordination of men to women (or at least until the end of human mortality).

Also, notice the differences between Christ and the Levitical priests:

“Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25, HCSB).

Because the Levitical priests were human, they could only serve for a limited time—that time being their life span, whether it be 50, 60, 70 years, etc. Jesus, however, lives on forever, so there is NO LIMIT OF TIME to His priesthood—His is an ETERNAL one.

For those who care to read other comments on the priesthood, please see my series on Margaret Kostenberger’s book; the title of the series is “Justifications for a Patriarchal Hermeneutic.” In that series I also address the issue of the “priesthood of all believers,” how, even in Exodus 19, God desired that the entire nation would be a “Kingdom of priests,” although the Israelites forfeited their mass priesthood because of fear.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


“The idea that woman’s subordination is not in any sense determined by or grounded in what a woman is or what God designed her to be is CONTRARY to the ways of God in that it separates God’s WILL for creation from His DESIGN for creation. Ontology and teleology become detached, irrelevant to one another. In what other area of theology would this be asserted? Can the will of God be deemed to be at odds with the created nature of things? Would God require—has God EVER required—of us anything for which He did not design us? GOD’S DECREES ALWAYS TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT HIS CHARACTER, OUR HUMANITY, THE VERY NATURE OF THINGS THE WAY GOD CREATED THEM. For example, God’s ban on homosexual relationships tells us about—and is grounded in—the created nature of sexuality, its meaning, design and purpose” (Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 323).

I’m still in chapter 18, discussing Rebecca Merrill Groothuis’s work on “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role.” We’ve talked about here at the blog how “role” and “being” are synonymous terms (meaning the same thing) to complementarians. However, they’re stumped when you start asking them about women being EQUAL in being. If women are equal in being, then how can they be unequal in role (which is BASED on their BEING UNEQUAL)? If a woman is equal to the man in being, then she should also be equal in role. But to accept this is just too much to swallow…at least if one is complementarian…

In an earlier post on Genesis 1, I affirmed that woman are EQUALLY made in the image of God (as is the man) and that, just as the man was told in Genesis 1 to “rule the earth…and subdue it,” so was the woman. She, like the man, was made a “lord” (lowercase) over the earth—and was given such authority by her Creator (“Lord,” capital) who made the universe. Rebecca Merrill Groothuis responded here at the blog a few days ago in regards to the image, and she made a brilliant statement that I think is worthy of repeating: “Where there is the image of God, there is authority.” By virtue of man (and woman) being made in the image of God, they both have authority.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis makes it clear that God’s will can be seen in God’s design. Let’s look at some evidence for Groothuis’s position, Romans 1:

“Since what can be known about God has shown it to them. From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN, being understood THROUGH WHAT HE HAS MADE” (Rom. 1:20, HCSB).

If this is not enough, what are we to do with Psalm 19?

“The heavens DECLARE the glory of God, and the sky PROCLAIMS the work of His hands.
Day after day they POUR OUT speech; night after night, they COMMUNICATE knowledge.
There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.
Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the inhabited world.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a groom coming from the bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course.
It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat” (Psalm 19:1-6, HCSB).

Verses 1-6 give us what is known as “natural revelation,” a manifestation of God’s glory in the natural world, the physical world around us. As can be seen, God has not hidden Himself from us—rather, He has given us creation by which we can see who He is and desire to come to know Him.

In agreement with Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, God’s Will is seen in His design. After all, we do have Genesis 1:

“Then God said, ‘Let US make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth’. So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26-27, HCSB).

Notice that God said, “LET US…” The word “let” implies volition, the decision of the will. God, then, “willed” to create man in His image with His likeness. This is not something He was forced to do. Next, because God ordained man to bear His image, He then gave man dominion, rule over the earth, which matched His rule over all of creation (planets, galaxies, moon, stars, etc.).

Look at God’s words regarding the creation of sky lights:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth’” (Gen. 1:14-15, HCSB).

When God creates light in the sky, He gives us the purpose for so doing—“THEY WILL SERVE AS SIGNS FOR FESTIVALS AND FOR DAYS AND YEARS…THEY WILL…PROVIDE LIGHT ON THE EARTH.” God doesn’t just create the lights in the sky for naught—no, He has a purpose for them—to tell of the seasons, and to report of the time of day and night throughout the years. Not only that, but they will provide light on the earth. God creates them, then, not only as time-markers, but so that, even in the dark (night), there would still be light. God not only spoke light into darkness (“Let there be light”), but He even placed light into the darkness. Because the night light would be in the sky, it would overlook all the earth and give light, shining as a huge “flashlight” from Heaven above.

And look back at the creation of man. When God creates man and woman, He does so how? In HIS IMAGE with HIS LIKENESS. We are made like Him and bear His image. Why are we made this way? Is this just something God decided to do without reason or purpose? No—we were made to “rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth” (Gen. 1:26, HCSB).

God designed men and women with talents and abilities (because they both were made in the image of God). And once we become children of God, He gives us “grace gifts” by which we bring glory to Him. And the Lord would not give us gifts in reality which GO AGAINST HIS DESIGN (for “He cannot deny Himself,” 2 Timothy 2). If He designs something in a certain way, He intends for that design to serve a purpose.
An architect builds houses for the purpose of living arrangements, not as museum exhibits; the automobile industry designs cars for the purpose of having them be DRIVEN in order to travel from one destination to another; and doctors prescribe medication with the sole goal of helping their patients get better and stay healthy, not give the patient medicine to sit in their medicine cabinet (the patient won’t get better if he does this). All these things that we do have purpose in-built BY VIRTUE OF DESIGN!! And if this is true, and we are in the LIKENESS of our Creator, then why would it be any different with Him? Why would He play "hide-and-go-seek" with His creation?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Role and Being

Role is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “function, position, job, or task.”
The word “being” is defined as “existence.” For instance, when one thinks of a “human being,” he or she thinks of the existence (being) of a human (homo sapien). Thus, “human being” is a reference to “human existence.”

I think it’s pretty obvious to the reader that “being” and “role” are not the same thing! The “being” can exist, independent of the role; but the role cannot exist without the being! Why can’t the role exist independent of the being? Because if an object does not exist, then it can’t do anything, doesn’t serve a function.
Let’s see how these terms fit in the issue of women in ministry:

“Regardless of how patriarchal gender relations may be explained or masculinity and femininity defined, the fact remains that woman’s subordinate ‘role’ is determined exclusively and necessarily by her personal nature; that is, SOLELY on account of her BEING female she MUST be subordinate. Therefore woman’s ‘role’ designates not merely what she does (or doesn’t do) but what she is. She is female; she is subordinate.

It may sound quite plausible to insist that woman’s subordination and man’s authority are merely roles assigned by God and so do not entail woman’s personal inferiority. Roles, by definition, do not necessarily bespeak qualities of personal being. But patriarchal gender roles are not roles in accordance with the usual definition. These ‘roles’ have a ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE WITH BEING. WHERE THE ‘BEING’ IS, THERE THE ‘ROLE’ IS ALSO. ‘Female being’ corresponds precisely to ‘a role of subordination to male authority.’ The word ROLE is used in a way that renders its meaning basically synonymous, or redundant, with BEING” (320).

It is often said that a woman’s being is EQUAL to a man’s; however, a woman has a different role than a man. And why? Because of her BEING—because she is a woman!!
But if the woman’s UNEQUAL ROLE is based on her being, then isn’t the woman’s being UNEQUAL to the man’s? And yet, this is the opposite of what complementarians say—that the woman’s being is EQUAL to the man’s!!! So now, it seems, that the woman is both EQUAL and UNEQUAL in her being to the man.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis concludes Part One of her chapter “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role” with these words:

“Thus evangelical patriarchy does not have woman being unequal in a different respect from the way she is equal. Rather, a woman is unequal (subordinate) in the same respect that she is equal—by virtue of her being, as a constitutive element and necessary consequence of her being. Therefore woman’s equality (as biblically defined) and woman’s subordination (as defined by patriarchalists) cannot coexist without logical contradiction. Evangelical patriarchy’s EQUAL BEING/UNEQUAL ROLE construct must be deemed internally incoherent” (322).

There is a “logical contradiction” between the equality and inequality of the woman’s being because it violates the Law of Non-Contradiction:

“…the foundational and indisputable law of noncontradiction, which states that ‘A’ and ‘non-A’ CANNOT both be true at the same time in the same respect. The law of noncontradiction is not a mere human construct that God’s truth somehow transcends. Rather, it is necessary and fundamental to all meaningful discourse and communication—including God’s revelation of His Word in Scripture. That is why biblical scholars who hold to the Bible’s infallibility SEEK TO RESOLVE APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS in Scripture; it is AXIOMATIC that if the Bible contradicts itself, then it cannot be true in all that it affirms” (“Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 304 ).

This makes the issue of equal in being/unequal in role logically impossible to uphold. Complementarians, therefore, have a philosophical problem in their view of women—if not a theological one.

It's NOT Prego!

“It should also be noted that although ROLE THEOLOGY has become central to evangelical patriarchy, NOWHERE does Scripture use the term ROLE or any synonym for it with reference to the responsibilities of believers toward God or one another. At no point do we read that God designed us—and requires us—to ‘PLAY A ROLE.’ No, God’s concern is for each of us to BE a righteous person and to use whatever GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT we have been given for the good of the church and the glory of God” (“Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 319).

The word “role” has been used to “rewrite” the biblical canon and replace the word “gifts.” But there are two reasons why this is a bad idea.
First, “it’s not prego!” which means, “IT’S NOT IN THERE!” There is no word, phrase, verse, chapter, book, or even TESTAMENT that contains the word “role” in it. But the word “role” implies acting, theater, stage, drama…and the word SCRIPT comes to mind. Read these words from Udo Middleman:

“If God is in such control that EVERYTHING ALREADY AND FOR ALL TIMES IS WHAT HE INTENDED, we have no truly grieving God, no man of sorrows, no sadness of Jesus when the rich young ruler walked away without believeing. GOD HAS THEN DESIGNED WHAT IS NORMAL, and implicitly endorses what takes place AT ANY TIME. In terms of ideas or philosophy, and how you see things, IT IS A MODERN VARIANT OF THE SAME OLD PAGAN ORDER, THIS TIME WITH CHRISTIAN VOCABULARY. Life and death are justified, as is my bad temper, your murderous tendencies, your near-sightedness, and your addictions…the commands to LIVE otherwise, to bring one’s behavior in line with God’s Word, would be out of place, MERE THEATER AT BEST…if all of life is LOCKED INTO A SCRIPT, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANY LIVE PEOPLE” (Udo Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” page 149).

When complementarians use the word “role,” they are saying that EVERYTHING a woman will ever become is already spelled out for her. If her life were a script, she’d be given no “first dibs” on her life, how she will play her role, nor what she will do in it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Everlasting Subordination

In chapter 18 of “Discovering Biblical Equality,” called “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role: The Logic of Woman’s Subordination,” Rebecca Merrill Groothuis has spent time showing that the argument of “equal…but unequal” isn’t logical. Here she does it again.

I just wanna take time here to say that the philosophical arena in this debate is the genius of Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. I’ve never seen anyone else master the philosophy behind this debate like she does.

This section involves the idea that, while men and women are equal in being, they are unequal in role—and the woman is to be FUNCTIONALLY SUBORDINATE to the man. Here’s her attack on the complementarian thought:

“ ‘Equal in being but subordinate in role’ CAN accurately describe instances of functional subordination; however, it does not serve as a description of EVERY relationship of subordination to authority, and it cannot accurately be applied to woman’s subordination. Female subordination is not functional subordination therefore it cannot be justified on those grounds” (316).

Inherent within the idea of “FUNCTIONAL” subordination is that someone submits to someone else or works under someone else to fulfill a task, a FUNCTION. But with complementarians, this is not the case:

“Female subordination differs from functional subordination in its SCOPE, DURATION AND CRITERION. The subordination of women is limited neither in SCOPE nor in DURATION. It is not based on INFERIOR ABILITY or designed to accomplish a temporary task. It is COMPREHENSIVE (ENCOMPASSING ALL THAT A WOMAN DOES), PERMANENT (EXTENDING THROUGHOUT THE LIFE OF A WOMAN AND APPLYING TO ALL WOMEN AT ALL TIMES) and decided solely by an unchangeable aspect of a woman’s personal being (FEMALENESS). Although femaleness is, in fact, irrelevant to ascertaining a person’s innate abilities in the higher human functions involved in leadership, decision making and self-governance, these are precisely the functions from which women are PERMANENTLY EXCLUDED; thus the inferiority of female persons in these key areas is clearly implied” (316).

As Groothuis states in the chapter, there are times when functional subordination is permanent (such as the fact that a person just can’t seem to get down a trade, skill, or talent, etc.). However, there are other times when the subordination is temporary. And the evangelical patriarchal perspective doesn’t see any TEMPORARY subordination from women—which is why 1 Timothy 2 is deemed a universal letter subordinating women at all times. But this goes against the very practice of hermeneutics, according to Henry Virkler:

“…it is important to define the intended recipients of a command, and to apply the command discriminately to other groups. If a command was given to only one church, this MAY indicate that it was meant to be ONLY a LOCAL rather than a universal practice” (“Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation,” page 227).

1 Timothy 2 is the ONLY instance in Paul’s letters were women are being told not to teach but learn in silence. In contrast, the instructions for wives to submit to their husbands abounds in the Pauline literature (Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; 1 Peter 3:5).

For the complementarian, women are always to be under the man no matter what! And no talent is weighed: the woman always loses, whether or not her ability is better. But, according to functional subordination rules, the woman’s subordination is rather temporary a majority of the time. So, from here on out, if the complementarian chooses to make functional subordination work, he’ll have to make women’s subordination of an occasional nature.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The "CAN'T" Chant of Complementarianism

“According to the patriarchal paradigm, women do have their own uniquely feminine activities not shared by men—for example, bearing and rearing their young and being submissive and obedient to the master of the home…certainly, it is a privilege and joy for women to bear and rear children. The point is not to DIMINISH the value of motherhood but to note that while childbearing and nursing are distinctively FEMALE capabilities, they are not, in and of themselves, among the distinctively HUMAN capabilities…

Patriarchal men, for their part, govern their homes and churches—making decisions, teaching the whole body of believers, ascertaining and making final determinations of God’s will for their families—and women do not. Furthermore, women COULD bear authority and responsibilitiy for these things EQUALLY WITH MEN, but they do not because they are not permitted to do so. Men, by contrast, do not bear or nurse children, simply because THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO DO SO. The one is the ‘CAN’T’ of permission denied; the other is the ‘CAN’T’ of personal inability. This is not a case of equally dividing different opportunities and abilities between the sexes” (“Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 309).

I am still diving into Rebecca Groothuis’s chapter on “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role: The Logic of Woman’s Subordination.” Today’s post will tackle the above quote.
What is it that makes people look at women as just wives and mothers? As I’ve stated in the last two posts, Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that man AND woman are created in the image of God, and bear His likeness. The last post talked about the Declaration of Independence, that Thomas Jefferson believed “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain UNALIENABLE rights…” If all men ARE created equal, and man and woman are created equal, then surely, this means that both man and woman have equal intellectual capabilities and should have equal opportunity to exercise them. Even in cases of differing intellectual capability, such as a group of students in a classroom, the students still deserve to have the same opportunity for success (even if one takes it and the other doesn’t).

Most people will affirm that everyone deserves the opportunity to prove their abilities. When we apply for jobs, we believe that we deserve the same courtesy for the job as EVERY OTHER APPLICANT. We deserve an interview for the same amount of time as the other applicants, and we deserve the same respect and consideration for the job as the other applicants. But imagine walking into a job interview and being told that, while you have all the qualifications for the post and that your resume is impressive, you still won’t get the job because…YOU’RE A WOMAN?

Does that really make sense? No—of course it doesn’t!! And yet, when we get to the church, suddenly, it becomes OKAY to discriminate in this manner. We tell women what they can and can’t do, while the men get to do EVERYTHING they could ever imagine doing.

And this is where Groothuis’s above statement rings true. Somewhere along the way, the church has taken 1 Timothy 2 out of context and told women that they can only be wives and mothers. But is this consistent with Scripture? What are we to do with other passages of Scripture that are in stark contrast with the complementarian interpretation of 1 Timothy 2? I’ll provide an example:

“I want you to be without concerns…an unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband…now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper, and SO THAT YOU MAY BE DEVOTED TO THE LORD WITHOUT DISTRACTION” (1 Cor. 7:32, 34-35, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

What about the passage of 1 Corinthians 7? Paul clearly contrasts the SINGLE woman and the MARRIED woman—and says that the single woman does better to remain in that state, since she can be fully devoted to the Lord without having split loyalty between a mate and her God. If Paul is here entertaining the possibility of a woman remaining single, then on what authority do great theologians and the Body of Christ tell women that they were only made for the kitchen and nursery?

So if Paul is talking to women about the duties of mother and wife, then he must be talking to MARRIED women about fulfilling their responsibilities. I’ll print the 1 Timothy 2 text here so that you can read it for yourself:

“A woman should learn in silence with full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. For Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be SAVED THROUGH CHILDBEARING, if she continues in faith, love, holiness, with good sense” (1 Tim. 2:11-15, HCSB).

A good principle for biblical interpretation is that Scripture is not contradictory in anything it says. Therefore, if two passages “appear” to be at odds, one is to be interpreted IN LIGHT OF the other. Since a single woman having children out of wedlock would be sin, we can assume that 1 Tim. 2 should be interpreted IN LIGHT OF or THROUGH the passage of 1 Corinthians 7.

Therefore, if a woman is married, her first duties are to the home. But if a woman is single, then what is she supposed to do? She is to follow the words of 1 Corinthians 7—be concerned about pleasing the Lord, in whatever capacities God allows her. I have further evidence that 1 Tim. 2 is to be interpreted by 1 Corinthians 7. The evidence is found in the next chapter, 1 Timothy 3:

“Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, SELF-CONTROLLED, FAITHFUL IN EVERYTHING” (1 Tim. 3:11, HCSB).

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul has already talked to the women about dressing in “modest apparel,” which involved treating themselves with respect. They had to treat themselves with respect to receive it from others. But then, Paul mentions the qualifications at the end: “self-controlled” and “faithful in everything.” Paul stated in chapter 2 that the women were to continue in “faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (other translations render the words “good sense” with “self-control”). Finally, Paul tells the women to be “faithful in everything.” This seems to be what Paul is preoccupied with most—the faithfulness of the women to their household responsibilities. We also see this later in the epistle when Paul writes:
“Thefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, MANAGE their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us. For some have already turned away to follow Satan” (1 Tim.5:14-15, HCSB).

The word for “women” here is actually widows. The context of the passage shows us that Paul is contrasting the older widows from the younger ones. This is why an age to enroll widows on a church list is mentioned (5:9).

Why would Paul list such instructions to the younger widows? Because “some have already turned away to follow Satan.” Some widows have already abandoned the faith because of their lack of self-control. The lack of self-control can be seen in the same chapter of the epistle:

“At the same time they also LEARN TO BE IDLE, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but also are GOSSIPS and BUSYBODIES, saying things they shouldn’t say” (1 Tim. 5:13, HCSB).

These women are out of control. They have nothing to do, and all they can think of to keep them busy is to engage in all sorts of troublemaking. Paul’s instructions to them, then, are to keep them busy in that which is godly so they won’t fall prey to Satan’s devices. He is exhorting them to cling to their faith with all they’ve got—looking at the tragic examples of those who’ve already strayed from their faith. The text in the Greek for 1 Tim. 5:15 says that some younger widows have already “run out behind Satan.” They have left Christ and become followers of Satan.

I think that improper study of Scripture has contributed to the church’s view of women as just wives and mothers. As a result, the church has created what I call a sort of “Biological Calvinism,” a thought that only men are BIOLOGICALLY FITTED to lead. Read the words of Raymond Ortlund:

“A man, JUST BY VIRTUE OF HIS MANHOOD, is called to LEAD for God. A woman, JUST BY VIRTUE OF HER WOMANHOOD, is called to HELP for God” (quoted by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, “Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 310).

The argument of Ortlund and complementarianism itself is that women are biologically inferior to men. I’ll set up the syllogism for all to see:

I. Manhood is the gift of leadership.
II. Women do not possess manhood, but womanhood.
III. Therefore, women are not fit for leadership.

Inherent within manhood is the “RIGHT” to lead, so a woman, by being female, does not have the right to lead (according to complementarianism). It is, in essence, an argument for the biological inferiority and spiritual inferiority of women.
The church’s “CAN’T” Chant of Complementarianism has held women down for too long. If you ask me, it’s time to “march around the walls” and watch them crumble…

The Implications of lordship

In my last post, I examined Genesis 1:26-28 and affirmed Rebecca Groothuis’s belief, that Scripture presents man and woman as equals and of infinite worth to God because both were made in His image and given the task of having dominion over the earth (being “LIKE HIM”). In this post, I’m gonna discuss the implications of such a claim.

Groothuis provides them for us in her chapter called “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role: Exploring the Logic of Woman’s Subordination”:

“On the basis of this foundational text [Gen. 1:26-28], as well as the overall teaching of Scripture, evangelical egalitarians affirm AN EQUALITY OF HUMAN WORTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS between women and men; that is, whatever human rights there may be, they belong no less to women than to men (since women are NO LESS HUMAN than men). From this follows an EQUALITY OF CONSIDERATION, whereby women and men alike have opportunity to earn and attain the place in church and society that is appropriate for each individual’s God-given abilities and calling” (“Discovering Biblical Equality,” page 306).

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis states here that Genesis 1:26-28 entitles woman to be given the same human rights and respect as the man. The result of human worth and human rights is, what Groothuis called, an “equality of consideration,” where everyone is allowed to achieve (regardless of whether or not they will).
Look at the Declaration of Independence. It states the following:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence states the beliefs of Americans who desired to have their own government and be free from the oppression and tyranny of the British Parliament. Jefferson states above, “We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT…” What does it mean for something to be “self-evident”? It means that whatever the object or thought is, if it is self-evident it is CLEAR TO EVERYONE! IT IS APPARENT! Jefferson states here that the idea of all men being equal is not something that humans have to be made aware of—they already know it!

Then Jefferson goes and discusses the self-evident truths: the equality of all men, as well as their divine rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. First, Jefferson states that “all men are created equal.” This means that all men are at the same level in terms of their dignity, worth, and rights. All men, all humans, are to be treated with respect because no one human is above the rest.
Next, Jefferson states that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” This means that, because of the equality of all humans, they are given certain rights, or privileges, that CANNOT be taken away.
What are these rights that all humans receive? “Among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.” All humans should be allowed to live; all humans should be allowed to carve out their own lives without government interference in everything.

But the last unalienable right (the right that cannot be taken away) is “the pursuit of happiness.” Because all humans are equal, and given certain divine rights by their Creator, then they are also given the pursuit of happiness—which means that each person can pursue whatever pleases them in their lives. Notice, however, that it doesn’t say “the ATTAINMENT or ACHIEVEMENT of happiness,” JUST the pursuit of it. All humans receive the opportunity to do so—with no hindrances.
Now, I wanna be honest about something: Egalitarians are not out with some political agenda regarding men and women. Egalitarians view Scripture as the authority by which they assess the world and its events, not the Declaration of Independence.
And yet, the Declaration of Independence shows us the importance of theology. Notice that the few lines quoted above of the Declaration tell of a Creator—“they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights…” It is the act of being given something by the Creator (God) that made the Declaration what it was.
But sadly enough, this is overlooked in today’s church. No one seems to abide by the statements of the Declaration of Independence. And for those who talk about “rights,” they are deemed as “political activists” with a secular agenda…
And what about the church? Well, the church doesn’t understand Galatians 3:28 or the Declaration of Independence. Women just as well as men are entitled to the “pursuit” of happiness, that happiness being God’s delight. The church today STATES that men and women are equal, but that doesn’t influence ecclesiology at all (according to the complementarian). In their eyes, women are denied their rightful place BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN!
But this doesn’t make sense if, as Jefferson states it, we are given “the pursuit of happiness” as an INALIENABLE right, something that can’t be taken from us.
On the job, if an employee gets denied his benefits, he cries “discrimination.” However, if a woman in the church wants to preach and teach, she cries discrimination and is told that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. But where’s the fairness in what a child is entitled to? Even though women and men are different, aren’t we all SONS?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Men, Women, and Dominion

“A biblical understanding of human equality should begin with Genesis 1:26-28, where women and men together without distinction are declared to be created in God’s image and are given authority over all creation. In both their being (the divine image) and their calling (authority and dominion) men and women are CREATIONALLY EQUAL” (“Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy,” by Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, pages 305-306).

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis believes that Genesis 1:26-28 serves as the foundation for a discussion on men and women in the church; and I think so as well. I mean, the only way to know what Christ desires of His church is to know what He desired of men and women in the beginning. This way, men and women would be living out the primary reason for which they were created.

Let’s reprint the text of Genesis 1 so that everyone can read the above-mentioned

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will
rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them MALE and FEMALE. God blessed them, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and SUBDUE it. RULE the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (Gen. 1:26-28, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

When God decided to create man, He said, “THEY [referring to male and female, both genders] will RULE the fish of the sea…” The Greek word for “they will rule” in the Septuagint (LXX) is “arxetosan.” This word is not a future verb, but instead, a subjunctive verb—which means that the action is voluntary on the part of God. A more accurate translation would be, “LET THEM rule…” Translating it this way shows that God WILLED man to have dominion; He wasn’t forced to give dominion to mankind. God gave it to both man and woman, though, because it SEEMED GOOD TO HIM to do so.
Look at verse 27. God made both male and female and gave them His image. Woman is equal to man solely on the basis that she was CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, just as much as the man was!!

In verse 28, God tells man to “subdue” the earth. The Greek word for “subdue” in the Septuagint is “katakurieusate,” which is an imperative meaning, “BE LORD OVER.” So God blessed the man AND the woman, and then told them both to be lord over the earth. The most fascinating thing about these instructions from God is that, by so doing, by telling Adam and Eve to “be lord over” the earth, He was telling them to act upon their SIMILARLITY to Himself!! God is the LORD of everything, whether in heaven, on earth, or beneath the earth; and yet, man was made “lord” over the earth. Man was given a benefit, a privilege, BY VIRTUE OF being made in God’s image.

And it is here that I have to talk about God’s actions: when He makes man and decides to give him rule over the earth, He doesn’t just affirm their likeness to Himself IN THEORY—He actually gives them something to do or act upon because they bear the image of the Divine.

Complementarians, then, are outside the line of orthodoxy when they spend all their time on the biological differences of men and women.

Tell me, what would have happen to us if God considered our “likeness” to Him to be something in which we did NOTHING like Him (which includes ruling over and watching over the earth)? As I mentioned above, God WILLED man to have rule over the earth (He wasn’t forced to let man rule). However, He did it because He wanted to, but He could have done it differently because He was GOD—and man, although LIKE HIM in many ways, would never BE HIM COMPLETELY!! So the first chapter of Genesis, in stark contrast to the argument of the complementarian, affirms not only man and woman as being equally made in the image of God (and hence, their equality), but also the SIMILARLITY of mankind to his (and her) Creator! Not even God emphasizes mankind’s DIFFERENCES from Him; no—He focuses on the SIMILARITIES that man would have to Himself. It is in the spirit of similarities that the Lord allows mankind to “rule” the earth.

I think Genesis 1:26-28, however, shows us something more. Not only are we LIKE God, but we receive blessings FROM God (dominion over the earth) because we are like Him. Our being LIKE Him, yet DIFFERENT FROM Him, are not used to restrict man’s ability, or mistreat him, or to throw God’s weight around. And by virtue of being humans, “Christ-bearers” (bearers of the imago Dei), we are given power and authority and a “kingdom” in which to rule. This doesn’t match the complementarian view, which STRESSES the DIFFERENCES and DIMINISHES the SIMILARITIES!

Complementarians have a problem when they assert that a woman’s biological differences make her LESS than the man—not even God made that pronouncement in the Garden…

I’ll discuss more of the implications of Groothuis’s quote above in my next post.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Samaritan Evangelist

“As Cottrell points out, the woman’s [Samaritan] ministry of evangelism is regularly interpreted by feminists as Jesus having ‘commissioned this woman as his special messenger.’ However, it is going beyond the contextual meaning of the passage to elevate the woman as a prototype of modern women preachers, if, for no other reason, than that this passage is located in the narrative genre of Scripture” (“Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?”, pp. 189-190).

In chapter 14 of her book, Margaret Kostenberger looks at Jesus’ treatment of women in the Gospels. One of Kostenberger’s noteworthy examples is that of the Samaritan woman of John 4:

“Upon the disciples’ return, they are surprised to find Jesus ‘talking with a woman’ (v.27). Since no reference is made to the woman’s ethnic identity, the disciples’ comment likely reflects the cultural stereotype: MEN LOOKED DOWN ON OTHER MEN WHO ENGAGED IN CONVERSATION WITH WOMEN” (188).

This is an example of what the gospel would do—it would cross all barriers, REGARDLESS of gender or ethnicity. The Samaritan woman had a double strike in her case: she had a strike because she was SAMARITAN; the other because she was a WOMAN. In addition, she had an immoral strike—she had been married five times and was with a man at the moment who was not her husband.

But look at the first quote I wrote above. Kostenberger, while acknowledging Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, turns around and says that we can’t look at this narrative to see anything of a “woman” preacher in it.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the woman isn’t a preacher. But read what Kostenberger DOES call her: “In what follows, the woman turns into an EVANGELIST” (189).

Let’s look at the nature of the woman’s response to her discussion with Christ:

28So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man(AJ) who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:28-29, ESV)

After Christ reveals that He is the Messiah, she is so excited that she goes into the town and invites everyone to come see this Christ. This is what evangelists do when they seek to win souls for Christ—they INVITE them to come to Jesus. May I also add that this is what pastors do every Sunday when they extend “the INVITATION to discipleship.”

The result of the Samaritan woman's invitation is that people come, investigate Christ, and come to faith in Him. After spending time with the Lord, the converts reply:

42They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves,(BA) and we know that this is indeed(BB) the Savior(BC) of the world." (John 4: 42, ESV)

Let’s read what Romans has to say about believing the gospel:

13For(S) "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him(T) of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear(U) without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,(V) "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:13-15, ESV)

The passage tells us that those who call on the Lord must BELIEVE in Him; and in order to believe in Him, they have to HEAR of Him. In order to hear the Gospel, someone must preach. Once the preacher preaches, the person hears the Gospel, believes on the name of the Lord, and calls upon Him (and is saved).
What do we notice about the Samaritan woman of John 4? She invites them to come see the Christ. Fellow Samaritans (those who are of Jewish and Gentile blood) hear this plea, believe on the Lord, and are saved as a result. The results of Romans 10 happen in such a fashion that the Samaritan woman serves as the “someone preaching” of Romans 10:14. The Samaritan woman is someone who is preaching the good news to those in the town.

Let’s look at Kostenberger’s words again regarding the Samaritan woman:

“In what follows, the woman turns into an EVANGELIST” (189).

I decided to look up the word “evangelist” in the Greek to see a literal definition of the word. The Greek word for “evangelist” is “euanggelistes.” The word translated literally means “good messenger,” or “messenger of good news.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word means “a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist.” Another definition involves those who serve as “heralds” of the message of salvation (who are not apostles). Strong defines the Greek word “euanggelistes” in his lexicon as “a preacher of the gospel, an evangelist.” For those who wanna view this information, go to the following site:εὐαγγελιστής

When the word “evangelist” is used in the Scriptures, it is recorded three times in all of Scripture (Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5) and whenever it is used, its context is preaching: in Acts 21:8, Phillip is called “one of the seven” who is also an evangelist; in Ephesians 4:11, to be an evangelist is to be a preacher using the gift of preaching which the Lord gave the church; in 2 Timothy 4, Paul tells Timothy to

2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;(D) reprove, rebuke, and(E) exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4:2, ESV)

As you can see from the work above, the word evangelist carries with it the idea of preaching—for an evangelist preaches the “euanggelion,” the good news. And, as we see in the case of 2 Timothy, doing the work of an evangelist requires “preaching” the Word.

I want you to see one more thing. Go back to Ephesians 4—

4There is(I) one body and(J) one Spirit—just as you were called to the one(K) hope that belongs to your call— 5(L) one Lord,(M) one faith,(N) one baptism, 6(O) one God and Father of all,(P) who is over all and through all and in all. 7But(Q) grace was given(R) to each one of us(S) according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says,

(T) "When he ascended on high(U) he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men."
9((V) In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into(W) the lower regions, the earth?[a] 10He who descended is the one who also(X) ascended(Y) far above all the heavens, that he might(Z) fill all things.) 11And(AA) he gave the(AB) apostles, the prophets, the(AC) evangelists, the(AD) shepherds[b] and teachers,[c] (Eph. 4:4-11, ESV).

Look at verse 8. The reference is to the Old Testament, but it shows us that when Christ ascended, He gave the gifts He received from the principalities He defeated (Satan and his demons and rulers) to men (referring to believers). When He ascended, what gifts did He give? “apostles…prophets…evangelists…shepherds and teachers.”
And this brings me back to a statement Christ made in Matthew 28 as He was giving the Great Commission:

16Now the eleven disciples(T) went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they(U) worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, (V) "All authority(W) in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19(X) Go therefore and(Y) make disciples of(Z) all nations,(AA) baptizing them(AB) in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them(AC) to observe all that(AD) I have commanded you. And behold,(AE) I am with you always, to(AF) the end of the age." (Matt. 28:16-20, ESV)

Before Jesus gives the Great Commission, He says, “All AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” What did Jesus mean by this? This meant exactly what Ephesians 4 tells us—that Christ’s authority that He gives to the church RESTS IN THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS! And what does this mean? That, IF the authority of Christ lay in the gifts, and women can serve as evangelists, then this means that WOMEN HAVE SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY.

If complementarians are gonna continue to affirm that women have no spiritual authority in the churches, then they are gonna have to deal with labeling the Samaritan woman of John 4 as an “evangelist.” In the placement of the gifts in Ephesians 4, “evangelists” come before “pastors and teachers,” which means that evangelists have greater spiritual authority. If women can serve as evangelists (that being greater than pastors and teachers), then why can they NOT serve as pastors and teachers?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jesus and Paul

Reading through “Jesus and the Feminists,” I have come to see what the book is really about—Jesus and His treatment of women. But there is something missing…
In her remarks on Linda Belleville, Margaret Kostenberger writes:

“Linda Belleville is primarily a PAULINE scholar, and her contribution to our topic—Jesus and women—is therefore limited” (“Jesus and the Feminists,” page 166).
Kostenberger’s comments regarding Belleville shows an interesting, yet unwarranted, dichotomy—that the way Jesus treated women is SEPARATE from the way Paul treated women.

Let’s look at Kostenberger’s own remarks in her last chapter of the book, called “Jesus and the Gospels”:

“Evangelical feminists and others rightly observe how Jesus broke with male chauvinism and a derogatory, discriminatory treatment of women. This observation must be given full weight. What they have overlooked, however, is that this does not necessarily mean that Jesus obliterated gender-related distinctions in the church altogether, especially with regard to leadership roles. This is the critical balance Jesus found, and believers would do well to strike the same balance in the church today” (“Jesus and the Feminists,” page 214).

Kostenberger does in her book what most (if not all) complementarians do: they isolate the time of Christ from the time of Paul. This is why Belleville doesn’t have much to offer regarding Jesus’ day (according to Margaret Kostenberger).
But to separate Paul and Christ is to uphold the authority of Christ while denying the authority of Paul. Acts 9 records that the Lord Jesus met Paul while he was on his way to Damascus, blinded him, and told Paul of his God-given mission. The scene in Acts 9 shows us that the Lord has told Ananias to go to see Saul and pray for him that he would receive his sight. Let’s get in on Ananias’ response:

10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named(N) Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said,(O) "Here I am, Lord." 11And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man(P) of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and(Q) lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man,(R) how much evil he has done to(S) your(T) saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from(U) the chief priests to bind all who(V) call on your name." 15But the Lord said to him, "Go, for(W) he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name(X) before the Gentiles and(Y) kings and the children of Israel. 16For(Z) I will show him how much(AA) he must suffer(AB) for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:10-16, ESV)

The Lord tells Ananias that HE has chosen Paul for a special task. So just writing on Jesus won’t do, when Paul was called as a Jew to carry the Lord’s Name to the Gentiles (which was a process that the Lord Jesus DIDN’T allow the disciples to do until after His resurrection—Matt. 10:5-7).

Secondly, Acts tells us that Paul met the Lord on the Damascus Road. And his encounter with the Lord not only changed his life, but revealed to him the Gospel. Let’s read Paul’s account in Galatians:

11For(V) I would have you know, brothers, that(W) the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12(X) For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it(Y) through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For you have heard of(Z) my former life in Judaism, how(AA) I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely(AB) zealous was I for(AC) the traditions of my fathers. 15But when he(AD) who had set me apart(AE) before I was born,[d] and who(AF) called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order(AG) that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18Then(AH) after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James(AI) the Lord’s brother. 20(In what I am writing to you,(AJ) before God, I do not lie!) 21(AK) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown in person to(AL) the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 24And they glorified God because of me. (Galatians 1:11-24, ESV)

Paul says here that, after encountering the risen Lord, he went away into Arabia, the desert, the barren wilderness, for three years. Paul used his encounter with the Lord and the Lord’s time with him out in the wilderness for a three-year period as a defense against the Judaizers at the Galatian church who still insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Paul wanted the believers to know that the gospel he received came from God, not a man; and this is important because if it is GOD’S GOSPEL, it should come from God Himself (not someone else).

This is the same Paul who told the Corinthians that he had the Spirit of God within Him (1 Cor.7:40). So if Paul saw the risen Lord, who appointed him to the task of an apostle, then we should consider Paul’s treatment as well instead of dividing up how Jesus treated women from how Paul treated them.

Kostenberger claims that Jesus was opposite of the “male chauvinism” of His day, but what about the male chauvinism of our day, the all-pervasive attitude that MEN, and ONLY MEN, are called to preaching, teaching, and pastoring congregations? Yes, it’s true that Jesus chose twelve MALE apostles to lead the early church; but we find the apostle Paul, the one called by Jesus Christ, announcing that Euodia and Syntyche were laboring beside him in the Gospel, contending for the faith (Phil. 4); in addition, we find Junia as a woman apostle (Rom. 16), as well as Nympha hosting a house church (Colossians), and Chloe (1 Corinthians 1), not to mention Priscilla. And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11), we find women PRAYING AND PROPHESYING in the public assembly, RIGHT BESIDE MEN!

I’ve spent time on the blog detailing Paul’s view of women; but I haven’t spent enough time on Jesus’ treatment of women. So in the coming days, I’m gonna look at Kostenberger’s statements regarding Jesus and women and show the truth behind Jesus’ encounters with women. In addition, I’m gonna take the verse of Galatians 3:28, see its implications for the church, and look at how Christ pioneered the Gospel’s impact in His treatment of women. Stay tuned…

Monday, May 18, 2009


Regarding the concept of primogeniture, Kostenberger writes:

“In referring to primogeniture, complementarian scholars are scarcely suggesting that the cultural practice of primogeniture should be enforced today, nor do they think that Paul is endorsing primogeniture per se. Nor would they deny the many examples from the Old Testament…they appeal to primogeniture to explain that the notion of the firstborn having authority would be easily understood by Paul’s readers. The readers of 1 Timothy would not have scratched their heads with perplexity and amazement when Paul says that women should not teach because Adam was created first. The priority of Adam in creation would have NATURALLY SUGGESTED his authority over Eve to the original readers” (Kostenberger, “Women in the Church,” pg. 107).

I’ve referred to Kostenberger’s quote before, but something made me think about primogeniture yesterday. I’ve spent the past several days thinking on Galatians 3, and yesterday was no different. However, I did have a different thought about the chapter than before. Egalitarians spend a lot of time assessing Galatians 3:28 and its implications for women in the church; yet, what about the verse after—what about Galatians 3:29? No one seems to consider the verse AFTER the famous verse of new creation in Galatians 3. Let’s look at Galatians 3:28—

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, ESV).

And egalitarians and complementarians invest a great deal of time writing books and articles on this verse. But by doing so, they (me included) forget what follows:

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29, ESV).

Paul begins verse 29 with the words, “IF YOU ARE CHRIST’S…” Verse 28 tells us that we are “IN CHRIST.” No matter what differences lie between believers, all together are ONE in Christ. There is only ONE body in Christ—and all believers are a part of that one body.

But complementarians stop here. They spend a great deal of time stressing that each member is a part of the body. But verse 29 goes beyond just our unity in Christ: it goes into the IMPLICATIONS of our being ONE BODY in Christ.

Since we are in Christ, we are “Abraham’s offspring, HEIRS ACCORDING TO PROMISE.”
If we are Christ’s, then we are HEIRS, inheritors of the promise, along with Abraham and the Jewish believers.

Let’s look at a text that will explain this further, Galatians 3:

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the GENTILES by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:7-9, ESV).

The quote in Galatians 3:8b is found originally in the Old Testament in Genesis 12:3—

1Now(A) the LORD said[a] to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2(B) And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3(C) I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and(D) in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."[b]

So when God tells Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed, He really meant ALL nations, including the Gentile nations.

Go back to Galatians 3:28-29. As I stated earlier, complementarians stop too soon in their assessment of the implications of salvation. Paul says in Galatians 3:28 that we are one “in Christ”—but this being “in Christ” is the result of salvation. Paul, however, goes beyond the theory of being “in Christ” and says that it has ecclesiological and personal implications. If someone is in Christ, whether male or female, then they are heirs of the promise. And to be an heir means “to inherit” something. And this is practical.

Let’s look at a situation from our everyday experience. Let’s say that a father has five sons. When the father dies, all five sons EXPECT to receive a portion of their father’s inheritance (each would receive equally 20%). What son would be content just to know he’s getting something BUT NOT receive as much as the next son? No son would be content with that. And no son would accept it. If he is a legitimate son, like his brothers, he will demand that he receive an equal share…

And if Gentiles, including women, are equal SONS of God as well as men, then, God being impartial as Paul tells us in Galatians 2, women expect an EQUAL SHARE in the blessings. The Danvers Statement (and complementarians) will tell you that women receive an equal share. But they also agree to an unequal share—women will receive gifts, but CERTAIN gifts they will not receive. But that doesn’t make sense if women as well as men are legitimate sons (which they are, being that Christ redeemed them through His blood).

Complementarians have espoused primogeniture, the idea that the ELDEST SON gets the father’s inheritance. But IN CHRIST, ALL SONS inherit EQUALLY that which the Father promised to them—and they all inherit AT THE SAME TIME (there is no line of succession for the inheritance to pass from one son to another).

Let’s examine Romans 4 regarding the inheritance:

We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11(J) He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was(K) to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Rom. 4:9b-12, ESV)

Abraham was counted as righteous BEFORE getting circumcised—so the only thing that counts toward righteousness is faith, NOT the work of circumcision itself. Gentiles, then, don’t need to be circumcised (for circumcision will not impart righteousness).

13For(L) the promise to Abraham and his offspring(M) that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14(N) For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For(O) the law brings wrath, but(P) where there is no law(Q) there is no transgression.
16That is why it depends on faith,(R) in order that the promise may rest on grace and(S) be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham,(T) who is the father of us all, 17as it is written,(U) "I have made you the father of many nations"—in the presence of the God in whom he believed,(V) who gives life to the dead and calls into existence(W) the things that do not exist. (Rom.4:13-17, ESV)

Look at verse 16. The inheritance doesn’t depend on the law, but ON FAITH. Why? So that both the adherents of the law and those of faith (like Abraham) would receive the promised inheritance.

I have often heard a term used in books regarding this subject: and the term is called “primogeniture.” I’d like to propose a new word for this study, the word “panogeniture.” This word comes from the Greek word “pan” meaning “all,” and states that EVERYONE receives an equal share of the blessings God has in store for them the moment they believe.

Now, go back to Kostenberger’s quote at the beginning of the post. Does it make sense? Of course not. If Galatians is all about NO FAVORITISM, not even to the Jews, then why would the church at Ephesus, a part of the body of Christ, use a concept such as PRIMOGENITURE (FAVORITISM of one son over another) as a concept by which to measure the rule of New Creation (Gal. 6:15-16) and the blessings thereof? The Jews were first to receive the gospel, and yet, the Gentiles were given that privilege. Why would it be ANY DIFFERENT in terms of male/female leadership?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Danvers Delusion

In part five of her book, Margaret Kostenberger attempts to show that, apart from the egalitarian (whom she calls the “evangelical feminist”), there is another evangelical perspective (called the complementarian position).

To start this fifth division of the book (and new chapter), Kostenberger quotes from “The Danvers Statement,” written in 1988 (can be found at
Redemption in Christ aims at REMOVING THE DISTORTIONS INTRODUCED BY THE CURSE. In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives…in the church, REDEMPTION IN CHRIST GIVES MEN AND WOMEN AN EQUAL SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION; nevertheless, SOME GOVERNING AND TEACHING ROLES WITHIN THE CHURCH ARE RESTRICTED TO MEN (Gal. 3:28;1 Cor. 11:2-16; 1 Tim. 2:11-15).
-- Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
The Danvers Statement” (1988)- (quoted by Margaret E. Kostenberger, “Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?”, page 179).

I want you, the reader, to see some things here. Look at the first statement I capitalized. It says that redemption in Christ REMOVES the effects of the curse. In order for the complementarian to be able to prove that male headship in the body of Christ is still a reigning factor, he or she has got to be able to prove to me that man was given headship over his wife (and the church) PRIOR TO the fall. I have discussed Wayne Grudem’s argument about patriarchy before the Fall, but I have also shown that Grudem (as well as Kostenberger and others) don’t have an argument. They can’t prove that Adam was given rule over Eve PRIOR TO the Fall because IT ISN’T THERE!

Look at Ephesians 5. There Paul talks of the relationship of husbands and wives mimicking that of Christ and the church:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and(BH) the two shall become one flesh." 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31b-32, ESV)

Even when discussing Adam and Eve, Paul uses the reference from Genesis and tells us that this passage, used for “man and wife,” is a picture of Christ and the church. But Paul never once uses the statement from Genesis 3:16. The verse itself is a part of Genesis 3, which concerns the Fall; and if Paul really wanted to get the message across that this curse of male domination over female was a rule to be admired, he clearly would have stated it. If redemption in Christ nullifies the effects of the curse, then this also includes marriage—for marriage was a gift of God and was also affected by it (Genesis 3:16). Keep in mind that Jesus Himself stated the following in Matthew 22:

30For in the resurrection they neither(AI) marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt. 22:30, ESV)

Next, look at their statement on the operation of the church. Notice that they affirm what they do earlier: “redemption in Christ gives men and women an EQUAL SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION…” What does this mean? It means that because all are in Christ, they all receive the blessings of salvation, all receive the promised Holy Spirit as well as the eternal inheritance, Christ and eternal life.

But what the complementarians do next in the Danvers Statement is appalling, to say the least: they actually separate work in the church from the “blessings of salvation”: “SOME GOVERNING AND TEACHING ROLES WITHIN THE CHURCH ARE RESTRICTED TO MEN.”

This is where the complementarian gets it wrong. First off, the Bible never mentions anything about ROLES in church. It only mentions “gifts.”

Let’s look at Romans 12:

4For(K) as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we,(L) though many,(M) are one body in Christ, and individually(N) members one of another. 6(O) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if(P) prophecy,(Q) in proportion to our faith; 7if(R) service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity;(S) the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with(T) cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:4-8, ESV)

Verse 6 says, “Having GIFTS that differ ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN TO US, let us use them…” There are no ROLES without GIFTS. The roles in the Body of Christ are dependent upon the gifts. This is why Paul writes, “If prophecy, in PROPORTION TO OUR FAITH” (12:6). You can only use what you have—if you don’t have a certain gift, then you can’t operate or have a role in the Body of Christ BASED ON THAT GIFT! Your role in the body of Christ can only be based on your gift; and how are the gifts given? “According to the grace given to us.” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” The grace that we’re given in the gifts is not based on our merit or our worthiness. It’s not based on whether or not you’re male and I’m female, or whether I’m rich and you’re poor, or whether or not Paul was Jewish and I’m Gentile. No—the gifts are based on the grace given to us BY THE SPIRIT. Look at the instructions in the same chapter, given earlier:

3For(G) by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you(H) not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,(I) each according to(J) the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For(K) as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we,(L) though many,(M) are one body in Christ, and individually(N) members one of another. (Rom. 12:3-4, ESV)

Paul tells the Romans not to “think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, EACH ACCORDING TO THE MEASURE OF FAITH THAT GOD HAS ASSIGNED.” The tendency of most believers is to think that they should have a certain gift, when the problem is that God never WILLED that gift for them! God never gave them that gift, never gave them that measure of faith. It’s alright to desire great things for God—but make sure that you desire the things of God that He has in store for you. Otherwise, you’ll make a terrible mistake that you’ll regret years down the line.

Notice that the measure of faith we receive, “GOD HAS ASSIGNED.” God has appointed a certain gift or certain gifts for us. And how does God assign the gifts? Based on what He desires for us. There is no other indication in the text of a gift being given based on gender. If complementarians wanna make this case, they’ll have to show me an instance in Scripture where gifts and gender are directly linked to one another…

I could go through the other passages on the subject, but I think one will suffice. The other issue, however, with the Danvers Statement is that it SEPARATES the “blessings” of salvation and “roles” within the church. As I said earlier, roles in the church are dependent on gifts—so in essence, the statement separates “blessings of salvation” from “gifts.”

How can this be? Let’s see what 1 Corinthians 12 has to say:

13For(AA) in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—(AB) Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and(AC) all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13, ESV)

Most complementarians will say that Galatians 3:28 mentions ONLY that we all are “baptized into one body,” so the passage itself is stressing unity in the body. However, here, we see that, not only are believers given salvation (“baptized into one body”), but that “ALL were made to drink of one Spirit.” If this is true, and the Spirit gives gifts “as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11), then how is it that women can be equal in the BLESSINGS of salvation but not the GIFTS of salvation?

The logic of the complementarian view doesn’t hold water. The truth is, that, without the fundamentalist interpretation of texts like 1 Timothy 2, the complementarian has no case. Complementarians, make up your minds: you can’t give women the blessings of salvation and then take them away. Which is it gonna be?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Justifications for a Patriarchal Hermeneutic-- Part 3C

For the last two posts on Part III, I’ve dealt with the Israelite nation’s forfeiture of their royal priesthood status and responsibilities, as well as the nullification of the priesthood due to the Cross. In Exodus 19, the Jewish nation told Moses, “Don’t let God speak to us,” which indicates that the nation decided they didn’t want to have their priestly duties (one of which was to approach God directly). In the second post, I dealt with Hebrews 9 and 10 and the impact these two texts have on how we approach “priesthood.” Christ’s coming abolished the need for the Levitical priesthood, which means that now, all believers can approach God directly. Here in Part III-C, I’m gonna take a look at the implication of our being priests in Christ. For this, look at the text of 1 Peter 2:

1(A) So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2(B) Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual(C) milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have(D) tasted that the Lord is good.
4As you come to him, a living stone(E) rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5(F) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as(G) a spiritual house, to be(H) a holy priesthood,(I) to offer spiritual sacrifices(J) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:1-5, ESV)

Notice that in verse 4 the writer is discussing the scattered Jews, but these words apply to all who believe. So as we (the believers) come to Him, we “are being built up as a spiritual house, TO BE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD.” Someone may be quick to think, “Well, you said that the Levitical priesthood was nullified; if so, then why is there a priesthood being mentioned here?” The answer is made clear when you understand that it is the nature of the Old Testament priesthood (from the tribe of Levi, line of Aaron) that makes the Levitical priesthood obsolete. In its place, there will be a new priesthood. As the writer of Hebrews says, WE now have boldness to enter the HOLY PLACES! Whereas before, the Levitical priests were the only ones allowed, now all who believe get to enter the holy places, the places that were once sealed off from the commoner.

But, read what’s next? We’re not just “to BE” a holy priesthood, to walk around and claim that we’re a priesthood—we’re actually supposed to do something with our priesthood: “TO OFFER SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5, ESV). This mimics Paul’s language in Romans 12:1—
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, TO PRESENT YOUR BODIES AS A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1, ESV)

So the spiritual sacrifices we will give (according to 1 Peter 2) will be our bodies (according to Romans 12). Paul uses the sacrificial imagery in Romans 12 to show us that WE ARE PRIESTS! We are different, however, from the Levitical priests—for, whereas they gave animal sacrifices, we do so no longer…instead, we now give our bodies as LIVING sacrifices (in contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices that involved KILLING animals BEFORE offering them).

So we know, from 1 Peter, that we are a royal priesthood. From Romans 12, we know the nature of what it means to be “living” sacrifices (to present our bodies). But the writer does something else in the context of 1 Peter: he tells us how to “present our bodies as living sacrifices”—

11Beloved, I urge you(Y) as sojourners and exiles(Z) to abstain from the passions of the flesh,(AA) which wage war against your soul. 12(AB) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers,(AC) they may see your good deeds and glorify God on(AD) the day of visitation.
13(AE) Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,[b] whether it be to the emperor[c] as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him(AF) to punish those who do evil and(AG) to praise those who do good. 15For this is the will of God,(AH) that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16(AI) Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but(AJ) living as servants[d] of God. 17(AK) Honor everyone.(AL) Love the brotherhood.(AM) Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18(AN) Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. (1 Peter 2:11-17, ESV)

So to offer up spiritual sacrifices involves being Christ to those we meet, whether they are kind or malevolent. Notice in verse 11 that the Jews are told to “abstain from the passions of the flesh”; in verse 12 they are told “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable”; in verse 13 they are told to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to EVERY human institution”; why are they to do all this? “FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, that by doing good you should PUT TO SILENCE THE IGNORANCE OF FOOLISH PEOPLE” (v.15).

By living right and suffering wrongly, we silence those who seem to have no regard for God (or for people).When we live right and we refuse to wrong those who harm us, we “confuse” them and have them asking how is it that we have no desire to retaliate.

While searching for a cross-reference, I found something regarding the whole priest discussion that I had forgotten in Scripture. Through these posts on the priesthood, I’ve talked about how the Levitical priesthood was abolished—and with this post, that now all believers constitute the “royal priesthood”; but God actually stated that He would have priests from the Gentiles. To find this phenomenal statement, let’s look at Isaiah 66:

18"For I know[b] their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming[c](AB) to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19and I will set a sign among them. And from them(AC) I will send survivors to the nations, to(AD) Tarshish,(AE) Pul, and(AF) Lud, who draw the bow, to(AG) Tubal and(AH) Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20(AI) And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations(AJ) as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21(AK) And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:18-21, ESV)

In verse 18, Isaiah wrote that “they shall come and shall see my glory.” Here Isaiah is recording God’s words to him. Who are “they”? The “they” of verse 18 refers to the Gentiles, the nations recorded earlier in verse 18 (ta ethnon). The Lord said in verse 19 that “they shall declare my glory among the nations,” meaning that the Gentiles would take the Lord’s Name to the other nations (those “that have not heard my fame or seen my glory,” verse 19). The Gentiles that the Lord sends will bring the Jews back from the Gentile nations into their own land (“to my holy mountain Jerusalem”), and from them God will produce priests and Levites (v. 21).

Even in the Old Testament, God told His people that He would not only make priests and ministers of them but also of the Gentiles as well.

As this series has shown, the patriarchal, Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament is no more. But does it have a replacement? Yes, a priesthood for all believers. While the new priesthood does not offer animal sacrifices, it does present its bodies as living sacrifices. And while the new priesthood does not enter into the holy places of a tabernacle, it does enter into the presence of God—for, as John tells us, “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and tabernacled (Grk.- “eskenosen”) among us” (John 1:14, ESV).

Justifications of a Patriarchal Hermeneutic-- Part V

“This principle of male headship reaches from God’s creation of the man first (Gen. 2:7), to his holding the first man accountable for humanity’s sin (Gen. 3:9-12), to the ancient Israelite practice of ‘patricentrism,’ to the all-male Levitical priesthood in Old Testament Israel, to Jesus’ choice of twelve men as his apostles, to Paul’s teaching that men bear ultimate responsibility and authority for the church (1 Tim. 2:12)” (Margaret E. Kostenberger, “Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?” pp. 33-34).

Throughout this series here at “Men and Women in the Church,” I’ve spent time examining Kostenberger’s so-called “Justifications for a Patriarchal Hermeneutic.” I will continue this series again today with yet another reason why Kostenberger believes that men should be the only ones in leadership in the church: “Men bear ultimate responsibility and authority for the church (1 Tim. 2:12)” (34).

Let’s go to this chapter and see if the so-called complementarian argument holds up. Does Paul really teach for women to stay out of leadership positions in the church?

If you examine 1 Timothy 2, you’ll find that the context of the chapter involves Paul writing the church to CORRECT ABUSES. Notice that Paul begins the chapter with the words, “First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made FOR ALL PEOPLE…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life…” (1 Tim. 2:1-2, ESV). I only quoted the above portions of the two verses because most people seem to think this has something to do with just “authority”. However, these verses prove otherwise. Paul didn’t just want those in high positions to lead a quiet and peaceful life—he wanted everyone under the umbrella of Christ to lead a quiet and peaceful life.

He then goes on to say something interesting in verse 3: “This is GOOD, and IT IS PLEASING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OUR SAVIOR…” It is not just a good thing—it actually pleases God! God actually desires all believers to lead a peaceful and quiet life, a life without constant division and dissention. Paul tells the believers at Ephesus that if they wanna know how to please God, then they should learn what God desires—quietness, peace, serenity. God is not pleased when the church lives like a country club, maintains twelve different cliques, and pits one family against another.
So to be in Christ, to be unified, is pleasing to God (pleases God). Why does it please God? Because He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v.4). Paul’s words here tell us something about the character of God: He wants us to lead a “peaceful, quiet life” in a “godly and dignified” way. Yes, our lives should be peaceful and quiet, but they should also be marked by godliness. Everything that we do as believers in Christ should line up with God’s standard as set forth in His Word.

Beginning with verse 8, Paul gives us his desires for the believers at Ephesus: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands WITHOUT ANGER OR QUARRELING…” What we find here from the apostle Paul is instruction on how they should live as believers together. The men should not argue and raise their voices and fists up at each other during their times of prayer.

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in RESPECTABLE apparel, with modesty and self-control, NOT WITH BRAIDED HAIR AND GOLD OR PEARLS OR COSTLY ATTIRE, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—WITH GOOD WORKS” (vv.9-10).
Let’s look at Paul’s rhetoric. What does the word “respectable” mean? the word “respectable” means “decent” and “upright.” So Paul tells the women to wear DECENT clothing. Then, he distinguishes what he means by “respectable” apparel—not expensive clothing or that which matches the status quo, but “good works.” Godliness is what is most respectable to God. A person can wear all the nicest, most expensive, name-brand attire to church, but that doesn’t make them any closer to godliness than the person who barely has shoes to put on their feet. Respectability to God is not measured in the same way society measures it. Paul has to clarify this for the women at Ephesus.

Paul ends verse 10 with the emphasis on “good works.” Then he goes into what “good works” would consist of—

11Let a woman learn quietly(T) with all submissiveness. 12(U) I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (vv. 11-12)

First, the women should learn “quietly” with full submission. Notice that at the beginning of the chapter, in verses 1 and 2, Paul prayed for the people AND high leaders to lead a “peaceful and quiet life.” He’s reiterating this again with the women. They are to learn “quietly,” to pay attention to what they are being taught.
But then, Paul goes into another contrast: Just as they are to wear “godliness” and not focus on lavish dress, so now are they instructed to learn and DISCOURAGED from teaching or speaking that which is false.

I have covered the rest of the exegesis of this passage in other posts in my section on “1 Timothy 2.” What I wanted to do for the reader here is set up the flow of Paul’s argument. Paul ends here with telling the women that they should concern themselves with “good works.” Good works would include learning and the Word, but NOT in teaching something contrary to it.

I want the reader to look at something. The ENTIRE CONTEXT of 1 Timothy 2 consists of abuses that Paul is writing to correct, not a letter on who should and shouldn’t serve in church leadership. His section on church leadership doesn’t come until the following chapter; and in 1 Timothy 3, Paul INCLUDES women in leadership. Place 1 Timothy 3 (including women) in your head alongside of Acts 6, where the first male deacons are chosen. NO WOMEN were chosen then—but Paul adds the female to the diaconate in 1 Timothy 3.

The context tells us that if the issue involves church problems, then Paul would not have written something about being “in authority” in this passage. Paul would have written that in the section on church leadership. This is why Michael Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller, in their “A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament” (2008), translate the word “authentein” as coming from the word “authenteo,” meaning “to dictate to” (page 398)—not as complementarians translate it (“to have authority” or “to be in authority”). Burer and Miller translate the verb ‘authentein’ as ‘to dictate to’ because there is a problem going on with the women in the congregation. This seems to match the rest of the chapter, where Paul first discusses leading a “peaceful and quiet life,” as well as the women having “modesty and self-control,” wearing “respectable apparel,” and “professing godliness with good works.”

There is nothing here that teaches male headship in the church. The only way to make male headship “appear” in 1 Timothy 2 is to “make” it up. However, I caution complementarians: to do so might fit your presuppositions, but it’s not “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Justifications for a Patriarchal Hermeneutic-- Part IV

“Scripture in its entirety IS PERVADED BY THE PRINCIPLE OF MEN BEARING THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY FOR MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY AS WELL AS FOR THE CHURCH, ‘the household of God’ (1 Tim. 3:15). This principle of male headship reaches from God’s creation of the man first (Gen. 2:7), to his holding the first man accountable for humanity’s sin (Gen. 3:9-12), to the ancient Israelite practice of ‘patricentrism,’ to the all-male Levitical priesthood in Old Testament Israel, to Jesus’ choice of twelve men as his apostles, to Paul’s teaching that men bear ultimate responsibility and authority for the church (1 Tim. 2:12). In fact, Paul himself believed that his teaching of male headship was rooted in the Genesis creation narrative (see 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim. 2:13)” (“Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?”, pp. 33-34).

I’ve looked at Adam’s place in creation, his responsibility for humanity’s sin, as well as the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament. Today, I’m gonna take a look at “Jesus’ choice of twelve MEN as his apostles.”

I did some searching to find an answer to this question. For one, I never really thought that this would be utilized in an argument about the church (since at the time Jesus selected the twelve, the church HAD NOT been built); however, I found some interesting information to share with you (the readers).

Gilbert Bilezikian has a book out called “Community 101,” which I highly encourage all to buy and read. I read an excerpt from his work regarding Jesus’ selection of the Twelve. Here’s what Bilezikian has to say:

“Consequently, anyone who claims today that women should not participate fully in the ministry of the church because Jesus' apostles were male simply does not understand the scriptural dynamic of the change that occurred from old covenant to new and instead tries to force on the church, Christ's new community, the standards of ancient Judaism. The argument that women should be barred from some church ministries because Christ's apostles were all men represents a regression to preresurrection conditions. Consistent adherence to this rule would require that not only women be excluded from ministry but also Gentiles, since Jesus and his apostles were Jews. Church leadership and ministry should then be only assumed by Jewish men.”

For those who desire to read the rest of his excerpt, you can view it here:

I won’t spoil all of his remarks for you. I just wanted to provide a small portion here of Bilezikian’s analysis regarding the twelve apostles.

I read the excerpt provided above last night, and it got me to thinking more and more about the New Creation and the implications of New Creation Theology for ecclesiology (church practice).

And then, it hit me that this subject perfectly tied into Galatians 6. I’ll print the key verses for New Creation Theology here:

15For(A) neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but(B) a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule,(C) peace and mercy be upon them, and upon(D) the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:15-16, ESV)

Notice that Paul calls “new creation” a “rule,” which, as I’ve said throughout my series on New Theology, produces a “canon” (a measure) by which we determine our “canon” of Scripture.

But in verse 16, we read that Paul calls the Galatians “the ISRAEL of God.” What does this mean, to be called “the Israel of God”? The church consisted of Jew and Gentile, as the issue over circumcision and uncircumcision proves; so is Paul referring to just the Jews? Or is he referring to the Jews and Gentiles? The answer would be the Jews AND the Gentiles. Paul gives us this answer a few chapters earlier:

7Know then that it is(J) those of faith who are(K) the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that(L) God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying,(M) "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:7-9, ESV)

First, Paul stated that “those of faith,” those who believe in Christ, are Abraham’s children. Second, Paul tells us that God’s Word pointed to the salvation of the Gentiles. How so? “The Scripture…PREACHED THE GOSPEL BEFOREHAND to Abraham, saying, ‘IN YOU SHALL ALL THE NATIONS BE BLESSED’.” If you go back to Genesis 12:3, you’ll find this Scripture reference where God tells Abraham these words. It’s funny how we often take the words of Genesis 12 and throw them to the Jews. Most of us (me included), before reading Galatians 3, believed that Abraham’s blessing would be the Jews. I never once thought that the Gentiles would fall under the same umbrella…

But Paul says here that the Gentiles are part of Abraham’s offspring, JUST AS MUCH as the Jews are Abraham’s offspring. So, then, one may ask, does this fact require us to be circumcised? No; for as Paul says in Galatians 6:15 that none of this (whether Jew or Gentile, circumcised or not) is validated in Christ.

Now, since we’re called the Israel of God, does this have ANYTHING to do with Jesus’ selection of twelve MALE apostles? Yes, it does. But one has to consider that Jesus’
selection of twelve male apostles comes PRIOR TO THE CROSS!

To see the effect of the cross, look back at Galatians 6:

12(W) It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh(X) who would force you to be circumcised, and only(Y) in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14But far be it from me to boast(Z) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[b] the world(AA) has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For(AB) neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but(AC) a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule,(AD) peace and mercy be upon them, and upon(AE) the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:12-16, ESV)

I’ve been looking at the last two verses of Galatians 6; but a few verses earlier, Paul tells us that those who preach circumcision do so “in order that THEY MAY NOT BE PERSECUTED FOR THE CROSS OF CHRIST” (v.12b). The Cross of Christ was the “prick,” the thorn, against which the Judaizers kicked. The goal of such men was to “boast in the flesh,” to use circumcision as a means to fight the Gospel. However, Paul writes, “But far be it from me to boast EXCEPT in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, AND I TO THE WORLD” (v.14). To Paul, the CROSS was the ONLY thing he could boast in, the only thing he could be proud of. Were it not for the cross, he would still be bound to the law—and in his sins.

But notice that he said in verse 14. “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul said here that he was crucified to the world: he counts the world and all its prestige as nothing. As he himself said in Philippians 3,

I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5(J) circumcised on the eighth day,(K) of the people of Israel,(L) of the tribe of Benjamin,(M) a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6(N) as to zeal,(O) a persecutor of the church;(P) as to righteousness under the law,[c] blameless. 7But(Q) whatever gain I had,(R) I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of(S) the surpassing worth of(T) knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I(U) have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having(V) a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but(W) that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:4-8, ESV).

Paul had every reason to boast in the flesh—his impressive resume as a Jew would have been spell-binding. But he counted knowing Christ as of more infinite worth than his status in the world. In addition, Paul considered himself dead to the world, no longer living by the world’s standards. Whereas his resume as a Jew would promote him in the world, he decided to follow Christ, something that would get him stoned in the world, vulnerable to all sorts of danger for Christ’s Name sake.

Paul’s idea of his “crucifixion” is evident in the following verse, Galatians 6:17—

17From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17, ESV)

Paul counted his marks of suffering as testimony of his belief that he was crucified to the world. He was willing to suffer whatever physical pain he must suffer to advance the Gospel and the Lord’s coming Kingdom.

Back to Gilbert Bilezikian. He is right: to continue to harp on the Jewish patriarchalism is to go back to PRE-RESURRECTION CONDITIONS! The Cross changed EVERYTHING, and if it didn’t, then Christ died in vain.

The same Paul who affirmed the church, consisting of both Jew and Gentile, as the ISRAEL of God, could also write and affirm that the Israel of God walked by the New Creation Rule. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION. Old things have passed away; behold, ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW.” And if complementarians and egalitarians alike are gonna live up to their title as THE ISRAEL OF GOD, then they’re gonna have to have the New Creation Rule as their hermeneutic IN LIGHT OF THE CROSS. The Cross nullifies the old world order and inaugurates the new world order, ruled by the equality of all, whether “Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female” (Gal. 3:28).