Women, conservative evangelicals and their counter-offensive

Many Evangelical Christians today claim that we ought to defer to the tradition of the Church when faced with difficult matters such as the status of homosexuals in the community of faith or the nature of the atonement. We can see a lot of changes in the position of the public against homo couples. In the polls worldwide we can see attitudes have shifted over time. In 1988, the two-thirds of white Americans for example, believed that “sexual relations between two adults of the same sex” was “always wrong,” including 85 percent of born-again Christians. By 2010, both groups began to accept same-sex relationships. Born-again Christians still opposed homosexuality, but they answered the questions the same way non-believers answered in the 1980s. In 2010, two-thirds of evangelicals believed that homosexuality is “always wrong,” compared to just 30 percent of others.

John Piper's church. Also see here

John Piper’s church. Also see here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Evangelicals may also differ on the role of the women in their community. Most of them affirm male headship in ordain­ing men only to pastoral ministry, but they also practice male headship in the way that they carry out the other dis­cipleship and teaching ministries of the church. So male headship characterizes both ordained and non-ordained minis­tries in the church.

In the catholic and Protestant religions we do find that many are convinced that only qualified men are ordained to the pastoral office (hierarchy in principle), and women do not teach Christian doctrine to men (hierarchy in practice). John Piper‘s position:

“Men should bear primary responsibility for Christlike headship and teaching in the church. So it is un­biblical . . . and therefore detrimental, for women to assume this role” (John Piper and Wayne Grudem, “An Overview of Central Concerns: Questions and Answers,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 60-61).

This hierarchy in both principle and practice reflects a certain interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, an interpretation that Douglas Moo ad­vocates in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood:

“We think 1 Timothy 2:8-15 imposes two restrictions on the ministry of women: they are not to teach Christian doctrine to men and they are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church.” {Moo, “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?,” 180.}

While most of the young reformed evangelicals are closing ranks around traditional, conservative views of biblical inspiration and author­ity, some in the emerging church are re­vising and moving away from the same. One can hardly envision reconciliation on the gender question as long as the two groups continue on these radically divergent trajectories.

John Piper describes practices of Pas­tor Mark Driscoll who allows women to teach and lead men within the minis­tries of Mars Hill Church, as “detrimental” to the life of the church. {John Piper and Wayne Grudem, “An Overview of Central Concerns: Questions and Answers,” 61.} Nevertheless, these two men in particu­lar share a basic commitment to comple­mentarian principles and have enough common ground in their shared vision of the gospel to cooperate in endeavors such as “The Gospel Coalition,” a gos­pel renewal movement that confesses a strong complementarian position.

Priscilla Shirer who’s marriage appears to be just the sort of enlightened partnership that would make feminists cheer, avoids using words like “feminist” or “career woman” to describe herself. She is an evangelical Bible teacher who makes her living by guiding thousands of women through the study of Scripture in her books, videos and weekend conferences — in which she stresses that in a biblical home and church, the man is the head and the woman must submit.
She steers women away from the “feminist activists” who tell women to do their own thing. does a woman has to go out of the house and find a ‘proper’ job to bring more money in the family till? Can the woman make up her own decisions or is tit that she let a man “slow her down,” as she puts it?

For her it is clear that it is an evil demon, called “Satan” who “will do everything in his power to get us to take the lead in our home.” She forgets to see that satan just means any adversary or evil within, and according to the Bible is not a sort of monster which shall bring people into his realm were people shall be tortured for ever.

Molly Worthen writes

Shirer and many conservative Christians believe that the Bible defines gender as a divinely ordained set of desires and duties inherent in each man and woman since the Garden of Eden. Gender is not an act or a choice, but a nonnegotiable gift. To these Christians, the story of Adam and Eve’s creation granted man authority over woman, and they understand the New Testament teachings of Paul and his comrades — in particular, that wives should submit to their husbands — not as cultural relics of the first century but as universal teachings that Christians apply today.

Cover of "Women in Ministry: Four Views"

Cover of Women in Ministry: Four Views

In the industrialised countries we see sexual liberation has saturated the general culture and brought most citizens away from the church-institutions, but also away from the Holy Scriptures. Many people took the attitudes and sayings of churches as actions of men of God. They took their conclusions when they saw so many wrong goings by the clergy. In the meantime mainline churches are ordaining women and homosexuals, conservative evangelicals are escalating their counter-offensive.

To critics, “complementarian” is code for sexist patriarchy, a license to keep women muzzled and homebound. Yet spending even five minutes with Priscilla Shirer and her husband suggests that reality is far more complicated — not only at home but also in the new “separate sphere” that this theology has spawned: a subculture of Bible studies, conferences, ministries, religious retreats and literature ranging from Christian fitness books to Christian romance novels, all produced by and for evangelical women.

Molly Worthen writes in the New York times Magazine article Housewives of God.

Those who think the woman may not teach about the Word of God should look at those persons who opened their houses and got people in to listen to them. There we found in the first home-churches active women who not only taught their children but also their servants. The woman of the household was the  person teaching becoming the authority. Since the parent is already the authority, as God intended it to be from creation, there should be no problem in women teaching doctrine to their own children. but they had to remember that the husband would always be the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, but he is also subject to his Father, the Only One God. Like Jesus follows his Father, man and woman who say they are followers of Christ Jesus the Messiah, should follow Jesus.

The wives when they are in subjection to their own husbands should not have to bow to every other man and have to follow what they say. those wives also had to follow first the Word of God, like for every body it should be the Law of God which has to be followed in the first instance and than the laws of men as long as they contradict not the Law of God. It is by the right attitude the subjective woman can gain the man. Namely that, if any obey not God’s Word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.

MInistry in Contemporary Culture - Does Evange...

MInistry in Contemporary Culture – Does Evangelicalism have a Future? (Photo credit: George Fox Evangelical Seminary)

Those discussing the role of the woman in culture and in the church often also claim tradition as a source of authority. But why then do those Christians not take literal translations from the original Scriptures? Should English speaking people not be translating their English Bibles from the LXX since that is what the early church (not to mention the writers of the NT!) considered inspired?

Some of these same Evangelicals boldly proclaim that every book that we have in our canon as Protestants (and onlythe set that we have in our canon) is without error. Again, where does that leave our sisters and brothers from the early Church (or the Eastern Orthodox tradition which uses the LXX)?

writes Garret Menges in Rethinking Scripture.

A brief survey of the history of the LXX raises some questions about the way we view Scripture today. For example, is the LXX inspired Scripture even though it’s a translation of a more original textual tradition? If not, then are the fragments that have made it into our NT inspired? Were the scribes who translated Isaiah, for example, quickly taken up in the Spirit while contemplating how to translate the Hebrew word for “young woman” only to have the Spirit leave them shortly after the translation of that single verse?

To make matters even more complicated, the earliest copies of the Hebrew text we have are those of the Masoretes from the 7th to 11th centuries CE. The Masoretes, being faithful preservers of the oral tradition of the Scriptures that were passed on from generation to generation, decided that it was time their tradition be put on paper and so they transcribed the documents that we use today for the translation of our own English Bibles. The fact that we consider the Masoretic Hebrew text to be the authoritative version of the OT is based on the (not small) assumption that the Hebrew oral tradition was indeed successfully passed down from generation to generation completely untarnished. In fact, modern Christian translators are so committed to this assumption that we overlook the fact that the LXX predates the Masoretic Text (MT) by over 1,000 years! Could it not be argued that even though the LXX is a translation of a more original textual tradition it nevertheless ought to be considered more reliable than the MT simply because of its much earlier date of composition?

Men and women should look into that matter and get to know what the Holy Scriptures can tell them about their positions they do have to take.
They should get to remember where the words came from in what sort of language and how that language was used. Getting to know the proverbs of that language they should get a fluid and organic understanding of what Scripture is to begin with. Many may think lots of fallible and errant human beings were involved in “making up what some consider to be an infallible and/or inerrant group of texts.”

Though we should trust the Higher Being who let His Words to be written down for future generations so that they could learn from it. We should look at Jesus who kept to the Words of his Father and considered Them to be set apart (holy) and inspired, bearing witness to the God many believe was fully revealed in the person of Jesus. but those who take Jesus to be God look over the Words of the Father who calls that Jewish man His son and not Himself. It are doctrines like the Holy Trinity, twisting of the Words of God, church teachings of flat earth a.o. things people did have to believe which undermined the credibility of the Holy Scriptures.

To say it is authoritative means that as a body of believers we are committed to reading the text and rereading it, both devotionally and liturgically, wrestling with it, discussing it over a meal, and maybe even at times disagreeing with it but never, despite all the frustrations it may cause us, doing away with it. In other words, the authority of the Bible is not something it inherently holds but is something we grant it as the Church. The Bible is authoritative because we say it’s authoritative and we need no reason beyond that. And none of this has anything to do with whether or not there are any mistakes in the Bible or if it’s scientifically or historically accurate or if the virgin birth was based on a mistranslation.

Mistranslation or not, people should always go and look what is behind the words, written in black and white,or some also in colour ink. then they would find out that the Bible is not as difficult to read and understand as they first thought. When willingness is there to take the words for what they say, everything shall become clear, and than people will see that the Bible always told the truth and brings a message to believe in, giving us enough indication what to do with our life, how us to behave and which roles we do have to take.

Man can find solutions and guidance for their position and should be aware of the role the Creator had for each of us, men and women.

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Please do find:

  1. Younger Evangelicals and Women in Ministry: A Sketch of the Spectrum of Opinion
  2. Housewives of God
  3. How Evangelicals Have Shifted in Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage
  4. What The Bible Says About The Role of Women
  5. Rethinking Scripture

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  • Wayne’s World Without Women Pastors (bltnotjustasandwich.com)
    Wayne Grudem’s and Barry Asmus’s book may fall into the hands of women who are church leaders, even pastors, in poor nations.
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    As we move out from the church and the home we move further from what is fairly clear and explicit to what is more ambiguous and inferential…. When it comes to all the thousands of occupations and professions, with their endlessly varied structures of management, God has chosen not to be specific about which roles men and women should fill…. For this reason we focus (within some limits) on how these roles are carried out rather than which ones are appropriate.
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    The godly women portrayed in the Old Testament are always seen as submissive to the leadership of their husbands. In fact Peter sees a pattern in their behavior that Christian wives should imitate, for he says, “For … Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord….”
  • Dear White Christian Leaders, Don’t Do It. (davidswanson.wordpress.com)
    Last week brought disheartening news from white-evangelical-church-world. A well-publicized men’s conference was reported to have used both women and gay people as punchlines to jokes told from the stage. And, in An Open Letter from the Asian American Community to the Evangelical Church, a group of influential Asian American Christians pointed out a bunch of instances of racial stereotyping by different evangelical conferences, publishing houses, and pastors. For those paying attention – and/or on the receiving end of these offensive and marginalizing stereotypes – it seems impossible that these things keep happening. How is it that many Christian leaders of the evangelical-ish variety are continuing with language, images, and assumptions that are so unloving? It’s crazy, right?
  • Staying Married Is Not About Staying in Love, Part 1 by John Piper (davidandleahweathers.wordpress.com)
    what it means for a Married couple to Truly be “One Flesh”, as God commands Marrieds to be in Several places in the Bible, starting in Genesis 2:24. Becoming One Flesh is what we Strive for in our own Marriage. But while we hear lip service paid to it, the high divorce rates, as well as the way we see Marrieds treat each other– even among professing Christian couples – suggest that it is indeed lip service only. Finding an example of a True “One Flesh” union is nearly impossible!
  • Responding to the Gay Agenda (rethinkingtheology.com)
    The first thing you may want to do is to familiarize yourself with the details of the “gay agenda” (click HERE). Then think carefully about the components of it and ask yourself if the society envisioned by the homosexual apologists is the kind of society you want for yourself, for your children and for your grandchildren. Do you want your children and grandchildren to be indoctrinated and recruited into an abnormal, unnatural, immoral lifestyle that is inherently harmful to their health and will not produce grandchildren and great grandchildren for you to enjoy and love? Do you want our churches to be infiltrated by their heretical and damning theology and filthy morals? Do you want to be punished legally for merely disagreeing with them?
  • New controversies in Evangelical theology (patheos.com)
    Evangelicals today are being torn by some major theological controversies.  The debate between Calvinists and Wesleyans is getting more and more heated.  Then there is a related debate between “Traditionists,” who believe Christians should hold onto the traditions of the historic church (particularly the decisions of the early church councils0 and the “Meliorists,” who reject holding onto traditions and believe the church can get better and better.  The Calvinists tend to be Traditionists (who themselves can be divided between “Biblicists” and “Paleo-Conservatives”) and the Wesleyans tend to be Meliorists.
  • Church History (daltonmoore116.wordpress.com)
    The body of Christ suffers when believers are not accountable to each other and when they are not saturated in the Word of God, both inside the church and outside the church. I feel this way because in my opinion so many of the problems that the church faced throughout history, specifically in theology, could have been avoided or handled better if believers were accountable in their walks. Now whether or not this was truly the case I am not sure, but one thing I do know is that time spent in the Word and accountability are crucial in the walk of a Christian and without them problems are inevitable.
  • “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism” (graceandphysics.wordpress.com)
    “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism”

    This studies the role of the man and woman in a biblical manner: more complementarian, and therefore hierarchical, or egalitarian? I really want to read this book… I have no idea what it will say or what God will show me through it, but yeah. I really want to read this book.

  • Qumran Pt 2: Why do the Dead Sea Scrolls Matter? (glanier.wordpress.com)
    Though scholarship is still unfolding even today regarding the Scrolls’ origins, interpretation, history, etc., we at least have the benefit of over sixty years of perspective to evaluate the findings. That said, the Scrolls can be a bit of a hot-button issue (both in the scholarly world and the church), so I will try to be as balanced and critically sensitive as possible. I will cover three main topics and my standard concluding set of implications:
  • How the Early Church Sought to Resolve Textual Variants (str.typepad.com)
    Dan Wallace of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts has an interesting article offering evidence that the transmission of the New Testament text wasn’t merely linear—that is, it wasn’t like a child’s game of “Telephone” (or “Chinese Whispers,” for our European friends), where one person tells the next person, and he tells the next, and so on.
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    By the middle of the second century, when canon conscientiousness was on the rise, the Christian community regarded the autographs, or at least the earliest copies of the New Testament documents, as important witnesses. They were concerned about the purity of the text with regard to select textual variants. Most likely, this implies that the copying of the manuscripts in the early decades of the Christian faith was not that of strictly linear descent (one copy of another copy of another copy). Rather, there would be times when at least a few scribes would want to check behind their exemplar and look at its exemplar. This would especially occur whenever a disputed reading cropped up. So, there seems to have been a bit of a check on the quality of the transmission of the text from very early on.
  • Men and Women: Equal yet Different (hillsbiblechurch.org)
    Gender is important because God created male and female (Gen. 1:27).
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    Some men have either become domineering or passive, whereas some women have become usurping and bought into the lie of a false sense of liberation. The truth is, only the Word of God provides a right understanding of gender. Such an understanding will provide true liberation as men and women function as God designed.