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.

1 comment:

  1. I believe it says in Malachi that in the last days the Fathers spirits will return to the daughters and sons and they will Prophecy.
    If Christ is the hope of the unseen glory hidden from ages past(Christ in You) (Collosians), then if he be "all in all" we are devine partakers of the heavenly calling and the election of grace.
    For it makes no difference to God that they be either Jews or greeks or any nationality--if their hearts be iluminated by the gospel of "peace" and love is over the law. The Lord himself said I will have mercy over sacrifice. So if you are merciful you will get mercy. Though most folks have to remember that we are judged (BY) the law while we are still in our mortal bodys until we pass away and are delivered (1 corth 15) oh death, where is your sting? Death is swallowed up in victory through Christ.
    On the sermon on the mount in the beautudes, in Matthew chapter 5, we are still expected to keep "the mortal law" plus remember how important it is to use LOVE as your measuring tool to keep the law of love and the bonds of peace growing daily.
    And Yes! Even the Sabbath on Saturday the 7th day still applys--it is the 4th commandment that gets left out because it was changed so long ago through Consantine(Roman Rule).
    Christ does not change nor does God change. He is the beginning and the end. He said Remember the Sabbath day to keep it HOLY. He said be ye HOLY for I am HOLY. Practice what Jesus did is what we are to do and he got up for to read on the Sabbath. Plus John on the Isle of PATMOS when WRITING REVELATION and was "IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORDS DAY," WOW! How clear is that to still pretains to us today, because Jesus said in "John" that greater things will ye do than this in my name.
    I'm certainly glad that the 10 commandments are still in effect today or we couldn't have founded America on these moral principals to guide us into all truth as the pilgrims did when the CHURCH was persecuting so many Christians trying to follow the Truth instead of man-made rules and lies so they could keep getting the peoples money to make their selves rich.....instead we are to be rich unto God in good works and fruitful of what comes out of our being and our mouths( Cast off these rotten garments of bitterness and cursing and malice, envy, strife, anger, jealousy, resentment, hatered, greed. Instead be cleansed by the renewing of the Spirit.
    If we were redeemed by the corruptable gifts than it would no longer be an election of grace. But every thought, intention, reason and practice will be judged accordingly from God the all seeing eyes of him to which we must explain all we have done. Every IDLE word accounted for(James3).
    I think Women have become more involved in the church roles of today but "A CHURCH" is supposed to represent a WOMAN. He likens her to a delicate and Comely WOMAN full of graciousness and dutiful and faithful to HER HUSBAND which is CHRIST.
    Even back in the Old Testament there where many prohetesses....
    Thanks for putting my coment on your veiw list. May Christ be formed in you and all those who thirst for righteousness, Amen!


Comments should only be made related to the passages and issues discussed on the site. Biological arguments against women and men, name-calling, or violent religious language (or violent language in general) will not be tolerated.