Tuesday, March 07, 2006

a can of worms

I have had an ongoing dialogue about various important contemporary Christian issues with a co-worker who attends a church that I used to attend. These conversations have included general Spiritual health, growth, and true salvation, as well as issues surrounding the emerging church movement and most recently the role of women in the ministry - specifically as pastor, elder, and teacher over men.

I was checking the website of that church (I don't want to include the name of that church at this time because it isn't important in this context) and I found the position paper of that church on the subject of women in the ministry. The short story is that this church affirms that it is biblical for a qualified (seemingly defined by this church as gifted with teaching, knowledgeable about the Word, etc.) woman1 to be a pastor or teacher.

I do not hold this opinion (nor do I see where the Bible teaches this) that the pastorate or a teaching elder or anyone who would teach men in church is a position that women are allowed to occupy. Notice I did not say "able" to teach. A woman may be able to teach, and she may be a good teacher and she may be wise in the Lord and know and love the scriptures...even better than some men who hold a position of pastor or elder.

But that is not the point.

The point is, it always is, that we need to conform ourselves to the model that the Bible has laid out for the Church. This has to be the stance that we have, otherwise the biblical model can revised and or can be discarded... and then what do we have?

My goal today was to write my response (counter-point) to this in depth paper, but instead I told my co-worker to read this article because I thought (for no necessary reason) that he was of the same understanding as I am as to who should or shouldn't be a pastor/elder. I was wrong.

He and I had a lengthy conversation - mostly on instant messenger - regarding this issue. It was a good exercise for me to test my ability to back up what the Bible says in 1 Tim, Titus, and other places against some arguments using biblical text as well. Needless to say, I have not been able to complete my response because my energy was used in the more direct debate.

I am working on that response, and I hope that once it is done that it will be helpful in this ongoing debate in the church today. And I hope to show why the erosion of this truth of the gospel (only qualified men can serve as pastor/elder) can have a dangerous slippery slope effect.

1 It is an oxymoron to use the terms "qualified" and "woman" referring to a pastor or elder. The Bible is so clear that one of the qualifications is to be a man. I almost couldn't write that phrase (as evident by my parenthetical statement).

1 comment:

Nate J. said...

Eric, I like your observation of the fact that many woman have the "ability" and are tallented enough to hold a teaching/authority position over men in the church. Many women know far more about the scriptures than do many men. Many women also have a deep love and passion for the things of God that should put us men to shame. You are very correct in saying that that is not the point of the whole debate. The real focus should be on "What are the qualifications given for ministry in scripture?" and "What is the role that God intends for men and women?" If we start relying on our feelings or present-day culture to give us answers, we are simply relying on secondary sources of authority to give us the answer.

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