Friday, May 15, 2009

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).

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