Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Women as pastors?

Men and women are seen as equal in the church in terms of value. Both have equal access to the blessings of salvation.

However, when it comes to being an elder (pastor) or teacher in the church, what does the New Testament teach us?

For this we need to look at some pertinent passages.

1 Tim 2:11-14

[11] A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. [12] But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. [13] For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. [14] And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

This passage discusses the issue of women as elders in the church most directly.

We know the setting of this epistle to Timothy from 1 Tim 3:15,

I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

It was important for Paul to let Timothy know how things should be done "in the household of God," especially since he wanted Timothy to "remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines" (1 Tim 1:3). Some in the church at Ephesus departed from true doctrine and incorporated false teaching in their doctrine. However, Paul tells us little to nothing about this false doctrine since he knew that Timothy was familiar with the issue at hand. Therefore, we need to be careful not to make too much of the nature of this false doctrine in the church at Ephesus and how it influenced women there.

We will, then, take a cautious approach to this matter. In our exegesis, we will use only those aspects of the false teaching that may be clearly inferred from the pastoral epistles and related New Testament passages to shed light on the text. Some of the aspects specifically relevant to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are:

1. The false teachers sowed dissension and were preoccupied with trivialities (1 Timothy 1:4-6; 6:4-5; cf. 2 Timothy 2:14, 16-17, 23-24; Titus 1:10; 3:9-11).
2. The false teachers stressed asceticism as a means of spirituality. They taught abstinence from certain foods, from marriage, and probably sex generally (1 Timothy 4:1-3). In keeping with these ascetic tendencies, they may also have stressed physicaltraining as a means of spirituality (4:8).
3. The false teachers had persuaded many women to follow them in their doctrines (1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 3:6-7).
4. The false teachers were encouraging women to discard what we might call traditional female roles in favor of a more egalitarian approach to the relationships of men and women. This is not stated explicitly as a part of the false teachers' platform anywhere in the pastoral epistles. [ 1]

We know that these false teachers encouraged women to abstain from marriage (1 Tim 4:3). To counter this, Paul instructs young widows to marry (1 Tim 4:14). Paul sees this issue in a very serious light "for some have already turned aside to follow Satan." (1 Tim 4:15)

It is because of these aberrant positions of the false teachers that Paul wrote "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man." These are functions performed by elders, and so are specifically prohibited for women in the church. Naturally there are objections to this interpretation of this passage.

First, there are those who object with the rationale that this passage applies to a specific situation in the Ephesian church, where women most probably taught heresy, which Paul wrote against. This objection is in no way persuasive, since we do not have any indication in the text of 1 Timothy that women indeed taught heresy. In this case, when Paul writes, "I do not allow a woman," he means "not any woman." He did not say "certain" women in any way. He did not say that only women that teach heresy may not "teach or exercise authority over a man." What is Paul's real reason for giving this prohibition? Paul's reason is that "it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." This reason refers back to the order of creation. He does not deal with situational ethics here, but the way that God created all things. Paul refers to the order of creation before the fall, and also before the fall created a perversion of male and female roles.

A second objection is that women were not well educated in Paul's time, and as a result could not qualify for the roles of elder and other church offices. The question to this objection is whether Paul even gave such a reason for his prohibition. Again, as in the previous objection, Paul's reason is based on creation and its God-given order. When we look at the qualifications of an elder as written to Timothy and Titus, we can nowhere see that Paul made educational qualifications part of his qualifications of an elder. Formal training was not an issue at the time, as we can see when we look at several of the apostles. Several of them had no formal training (Ac 4:13).

The third objection is the fact that women were to "learn" (v11) itself implies that they would eventually teach. This may be true, but under the prohibitions of Paul, they may not "teach or exercise authority over a man." This, however, does not say anything concerning a woman teaching or having authority over other women or even children. On the other hand, is it correct to conclude that simply because someone learns he will eventually end up teaching too?

"Certainly if we mean by teaching an officially recognized activity of expositing and applying a section of Scripture, this is not the case. Neither do the texts cited by Spencer prove this. All Jewish men were encouraged to study the law; did they all become rabbis? Similarly, all Christians are encouraged to study the Scriptures; but Paul expressly limits "teaching" to a restricted number who have the gift of teaching (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30). Of course, if we define teach in a broader sense--the communication of Christian truth through private conversation, family devotions, etc.--we may conclude that all Christians do indeed "teach." But this is not the kind of teaching Paul is talking about in this context. Neither does it seem to be what Spencer means, for her point is that this verse validates women as teachers even in positions of authority in the church. It is manifest, then, that the encouragement to women to learn gives no reason to think that they were also to be engaged in expositing and applying Biblical truth to men." [ 2]

The fact that Paul prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men--based on his reason of created order--even prohibits those women, therefore, who have been given permission by their husbands--a common charismatic practice--to hold such a position.

1 Cor 14:33b-36

[33b] For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,  [34] the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.  [35] If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. [36] Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? (1 Cor 14:33-36 ESV)

The difficulty that this passage poses is that Paul clearly allowed women to actually speak in the assembly.

But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head (1 Cor 11:5)

Many see the 1 Cor 14 passage as prohibiting women from speaking in the church altogether. This will contradict Paul in 1 Cor 11. Paul clearly allowed women to pray and prophesy in church, albeit with their own cultural restrictions.

What, then, does this passage restrict women from? The immediate context--apart from Paul having told us that praying and prophesying being allowed for women--instructs us that Paul's limitation on women "speaking" has to do with the issue of evaluating prophecies given in the assembly.

"More broadly, a strong case can be made for the view that Paul refused to permit any woman to enjoy a church-recognized teaching authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11ff.), and the careful weighing of prophecies falls under that magisterial function." [ 3]

Paul, by prohibiting women from critiquing or evaluating prophecies in the assembly--"this would be a ruling or governing function with respect to the whole church" [4]--is concerned with the preservation of "male leadership in the teaching and governing of the church." [ 5]

1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9

The Scripture texts can be read above at section Qualifications of an elder.

Since we have already dealt with the qualifications of an elder, we would have noted that Paul explicitly notes the elder as a man by writing that he must be "the husband of one wife" (1 Tim 3:2; Tit 1:6). Paul also writes that "he must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Tim 3:4-5).

End Notes
1. Piper , John & Grudem, Wayne, editors, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,  paper by Douglas Moo, What does it mean not to teach or have authority over men? , Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, First Printing 1991, p177.

2. Moo , p180.

3. Piper , John & Grudem, Wayne, editors, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,  paper by D. A. Carson, "Silent in the churches": on the role of women in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 , Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, First Printing 1991, p143.

4. Grudem , Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p939.

5. Grudem, p939.

Just thinking...


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Something's a foot

It seems that even Ann Coulter is fed up with US President Bush. Read her comments here.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Women for sale at Soccer World Cup 2006

It seems that German morality keeps dipping lower and lower. The organisers of the Soccer World Cup in Germany have decided to accommodate the special "needs" of men from all over the world during the event. Read about it here.

Just thinking...

Cracking Da Vinci’s Code

I have read the book called Cracking Da Vinci's Code by Dr. James Garlow and Dr. Peter Jones. It is an excellent book to show how the book (and now the movie) The Da Vinci Code dresses up blatant lies to look like the truth.
The good news is, the Sci-Fi channel will be airing a documentary called Cracking Da Vinci's Code which is based on Garlow and Jones' book as a world premiere during prime time on May 18. Read more about it here.
Just thinking...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Back from Copenhagen

Well, I am back from Copenhagen, Denmark. You have already read about a bit of my experience there so I decided to give you a couple of pics to look at. During my stay there of 7 days (8 days including travel time) I took 239 pictures. My colleague that travelled with me took about 1,500 pics. He likes to "go crazy" as he puts it himself.

We arrived there the morning of Sunday, April 30, 2006 and after checking in we went for a walk to check out a little bit of the city.

We both like historical buildings and it seems, so do advertisers. As you can see, these poor buildings are utilized "well!"

The city abounds in sculptures of all sorts. There are so many that it would really be impossible for one person to take one picture of each one found there in the short time we spent there. However, this one of a bull and a dragon fighting is a very good example.

The day we arrived there it was pretty cold by South African standards. Both my colleague and I live in the Gauteng province of South Africa, and even in winter we have some pretty nice days. Mornings might be chilly (down to around 3 deg C - 37.4F), but it could easily warm up to around 20C (68F)! So, when we arrived in Copenhagen (in their spring time), and the high for the day was around 8C (46F), we thought it to be a bit cold! You can see this by how they dressed that day.

We kept on walking till we got to the water front called Nyhavn. It is very pretty there. You can see me standing there all smug thinking the place belongs to me!

Down the main road that most tourists walk on (I think it is called Frederiksgade) one can find all kinds of things. One day there would be a violinist playing the most beautiful music. Another day a guy with his wine glasses filled with different levels of water can be quite entertaining. On this day (Monday May 01) we saw this trio that played some well known classical pieces. They really sounded good!

Of course, Copenhagen is the city that Hans Christian Andersen (HCA) lived in. There are streets named after him and he also has a statue of himself in the city. If you do not know who he is, then I have one question for you: "Under which rock have you been living?" Maybe you will recognise him if I mention some of the stories he has written: Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Princess and the Pea. We also got to see the statue of The Little Mermaid. HCA wrote 168 tales and you can find most of them here.

We lived in quite an odd hotel. After we checked in on the Sunday we arrived, we wanted to catch the elevator up to our rooms on the third floor. However, we had to climb half a floor before we could get to the elevator. The fascinating thing is that the elevator is situated between floors. Once on the elevator we pressed the button for the third floor. When we arrived there we had to walk half a floor down to get to our floor. On the pic I provided, you will see that I am standing inside the elevator taking a pic of what is on the outside. From the elevator you can either go up or down the stairs to your floor.

In Danish architecture, it is interesting to see so many dragons. You will find dragons on statues to buildings. As you have seen the bull and the dragon fighting above, here is a pic of the old Scandinavian Stock Exchange. It depicts the tails of three dragons (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) making up the spire of the building.

At 6pm Friday (May 05) we went on an hour boat ride through the canals of Copenhagen. It was a very nice trip and showed us some of Copenhagen we would not have seen otherwise. This trip was so cheap (30 DKR - R30 - $4.90) that we were really taken with the price since eveything else is so very expensive. This boat ride definitely was the best value for money. On this trip we also passed the apartments where Hans Christian Andersen lived. He lived in the white building in the middle of this picture on the right.

On Saturday we also visited the Royal Palace which is freely accessible. Here you can see one of the buildings of the Palace. It just amazes me that the Palace has such an open architecture and that people walk through there all the time! I guess that here in Africa the Palace would have been sacked long ago! The Palace is made up of 4 of these identical Rococo buildings. The royal family still occupies the palace.

From the Palace we went to visit the great Marble Church, also known as Frederik's Church. The picture here is taken from behind King Frederick V within the Palace grounds. This church remained unfinished from 1770 until 1874. It was finally finished in 1894. This church is indeed beautiful and there is amazing detail on the inside. Truly a place to visit in Copenhagen. The foundation stone for this church was laid on October 30, 1749. Outside the church one can find statues of men like Martin Luther, Moses, the apostles Paul and Peter, Elijah and Jan Hus.

Next we took a walk over to the Church of our Savior. You can climb to the top (very top!) of the steeple of this church. You first start inside the church and climb the stairs until finally it is time to climb out and continue the climb on the outside. This steeple is 90m (98.4yds - 295ft) high. So, I guess there could have been about 450 steps to climb. This was truly an amazing experience. Climbing on the outside to the top and seeing the city from up there was truly breathtaking. From the outside the church itself did not seem like much, but on the inside the decor was absolutely stunning.

In my opinion, I think the statues are actually overdone. Everything from baby angels to adult angels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael?) and more. Especially the baptismal font, which is covered with little babies and it even has a baby encrusted crown above it.

We finally visited the Danish parliament buildings. Here they grow trees just to cut them square. I would not know what the reason for it is, but it is a bit odd. On the other hand, it is unusual and not quite expected! With this picture of parliament you can see King Christian IX hiding behind the fountain spray. What I learnt there that was really interesting is that firstborn sons (heirs of the throne) are either named Christian or Frederik. If the current king's name is Christian, he will name his son Frederik and vice versa.

We finally had to exit the parliament grounds and make our way back to the hotel to pick up our baggage to start the way back home!

We caught the train to Copenhagen's international Kaastrup airport late afternoon on May 06. We flew out of Copenhagen and had a stop-over in Zurich
for the night. Originally we were supposed to land in Zurich and immediately fly out back to South Africa, but that flight was delayed (we were told three days before the time) until the next morning at 8am. So, we ended up staying over in Zurich and at least we could get a couple of hours sleep.

The funny thing is that the guy that checked our bags in at Kaastrup airport
checked our bags straight through to South Africa. So, we had to just use the clothes we already had, again the next day. Luckily I had a tracksuit in my backpack that I could use on the flight back. All I had to do was wash my underwear that night for the last leg of the trip the next day. Unfortunately, I had to wear the same t-shirt again. Fortunately I had a can of deodorant in my backpack too.

It was amazing on the trip back, since we flew over the Swiss Alps. It is so beautiful! God's creation showing the Glory of God! I took a couple of pics through the window of the Airbus we were flying in. It is breathtaking over the Alps!

But, in the end it was absolutely wonderful to be back with my family in South Africa. When I walked through customs both kids ran to me and flung themselves at me. It always gives me this warm feeling in my heart when they come running to me after a trip like this. I truly love my family!

Well, next it is off to Botswana, but hopefully only for a day!

Before the trip to Copenhagen I was also in Guinea on the west coast of Africa. You can read about it here and here.

Just thinking...

Friday, May 05, 2006


Well, this week I am sitting in Copenhagen, Denmark.
It is an amazing country and the city is beautiful! After being in Guinea two weeks ago, Copenhagen with all its historic buildings and beautiful architecture is quite a different experience. As with Guinea, this is also a business trip. Actually, I am in Copenhagen for training. This is my third trip to this beautiful city.
There is a lot to see here; however, there is not much time to do so since we stay in the office later than on usual training courses, because we are bothered with work from back home all the time. It is a 5 day course finishing today; however, 3 of the days I was busy doing very urgent work in the class for the ofice back home.
Copenhagen, as I already said, is a beautiful city. Yet, it is a culture almost completely void of godliness. Pornography is common, with advertising for sex very common. Sex shops can be found in many places with totally nude pictures of women in the shop windows.
The quality of restaurants here are also not nearly as good as that in South Africa. Service is terminally slow and it is very difficult to find a restaurant with food to our quality. After 3 visits to Copenhagen, I still haven't found a pizza place to my liking. Then of course, the food is extremely expensive.
We will be boarding our plane from Copenhagen to Zurich tomorrow night at around 7pm. We were to go through transit on Saturday night and get the plane from Zurich to South Africa then too. However, our plane from Zurich to South Africa has been delayed from Saturday night to Sunday morning at 7am. That means we will arrive back home half a day late. That is life I suppose!
Anyway, I am looking forward to getting home and seeing my wife and children. I miss them terribly!
So, have a good weekend to you all and God bless!
Just thinking...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from Guinea

Matt Gumm asked me to give more information on my trip to Guinea two weeks ago. For those interested I wrote a piece for my South African blog ( BiblioPolit) called Back from Guinea.
Just thinking...
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin