"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Building an Unnecessary Theological Argument That Is Doomed to Later Destruction

Dan Reid, chief editor of Intervarsity Press Academic Publishing, has written on his blog about Wayne Grudem's new book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism. Dr. Reid disagrees with Grudem's thesis that evangelical feminism is a new path to liberalism and cites for support The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, written by theologian Mark Noll. Dr. Noll shows that orthodox Christian abolitionists in the North fretted that their stance against slavery might undermine their literalist 'plain-meaning' hermeneutic, the same hermeneutic Grudem strives to defend in his book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism.

I read on Dr. Reid's blog a statement from Knoll's book that I believe may well go down as one of the classic lines in Christian literature on how orthodox 19th Christians eventually made up their minds regarding the Bible's position on slavery. Noll wrote . . .

'It was left to the consummate theologians, the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to decide what in fact the Bible actually meant.'

This funny quote should cause all of us to at least pause - and be careful - before dogmatically asserting we fully comprehend the mind and ways of God. Sometimes I think the Lord allows His children to be embarrassed in order that we might remember that He is God and we are not.

Francis S. Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is one of the world's leading scientists. He works at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life. Dr. Collins came to faith in Christ through reading the works of C.S. Lewis, and has recently written a book entitled 'The Language of God.' Though Francis is a proponent of evolution, he is unquestionably a believer in, and apologist for, a worldview that God is not only present, but actively at work. Though I am a creationist and disagree with Dr. Collins on evolution, I have enjoyed reading Collins book. Dr. Collins articulates well on page 93 the caution any theologian should have when it comes to dogmatism.

"Faced with incomplete understanding . . . believers should be cautious about invoking the divine in areas of current mystery, lest they build an unnecessary theological argument that is doomed to later destruction."

I wonder if dogmatism against women in ministry might one day be viewed the same as we now view Southern Baptists former dogmatism in defending slavery. I don't know. I'm just asking. It's one of the reasons I refuse to be dogmatic on my complementarian beliefs and will listen to my friends who are egalitarian.

This does not mean I doubt the Word of God. I fully trust God's Word. It means I fully comprehend my own fallibility in properly interpreting the Word of God. Let's dialogue about the issue. Let's debate the issue. Let's disagree over the issue. But we should never DIVIDE over the issue. There are far more important doctrines that UNITE us.

In His Grace,


Wade

100 comments:

Alycelee said...

It's much too late in the evening for me to get on my soap box, so just an observation.
I hear this phrase often, in fact a commentor, I believer on one of your post said recently, "the slippery slope to liberalism." and now this book.
It appears that any brother or sister who doesn't tow this line in agreement is either liberal or sliding down the road to liberalism.
And all this timeI thought I was conservative. I'm going to go wake Mackey up and tell him we're liberal.
Blessings Wade.

REV. CHRIS HILLIARD said...

It is interesting to watch you and other wrestle with this issue (and more the principles behind these issues). I can't agree fully with your stance but appreciate your willingness to wrestle and to challenge others to do the same.

Sam K said...

Hi Wade,

I am glad that you refuse to be dogmatic and actually want to discuss and debate the difficult yet important issues of the day. It's very refreshing.

In your openness to dialogue and debate the hard issues (with the intent of finding the truth), what do you do when you are met by those with closeminded, dogmatic fundamentalism (no offense intended), who totally dismiss every word and argument before you even open your mouth, who view openness to the opposing side as a sign of weakness & of "giving in to the lie"? For example, I've been involved in discussions with KJV-only people who gave me this kind of treatment. And in the end, it wasn't a dialogue as much as it was a two-sided monologue.

Do you like the phrase, "let's agree to disagree"? In a practical sense, how can there be unity and respect for the other person? And how can you help but feel hurt/divided over the issue? Personally, I feel some strain in relationships with those who disagree on big issues, because I feel like there is injustice and false teaching... but then again, they are thinking the same thing towards me.

I know you've been under a lot of flak in recent years. How do you handle disagreements with brothers & sisters who disagree and even spread lies about you? Would you mind offering some advice based on some of your experiences? Thanks!!

Sam

stephanie puryear said...

Pastor Wade,

I randomly came upon your blog through another website and was so ecstatic to be refreshed by your articulate speech and words of wisdom, whether to agree with or further research or battle with for myself. Ever since I moved to college in CA 3 years ago, I have missed your sermons.
Reading your blogs is the closest thing I've got to it and I am very excited. Sorry, this is not really in response to your blog, I just thought I would let you know I have such a high respect for the way you articulate yourself and keep an open ear to others.

Stephanie

bryan riley said...

Excellent reminder, Wade, and it is a fair comparison.
Dogmatic Complementarians will bash you for making the comparison, but it is on point. These are the types of things that were written 30 years ago that got people the boot from the SBC. It gives me hope for the entire Body of Christ that you can write them and still be in the position you are in.

Bob Cleveland said...

A lot of folks seem to belong to the "I know what you should believe and how you should act" committee. They seem to forget Romans 14:4.

Steve said...

It is indeed easy to compare the dogmatic attachment fundamentalists have to keeping women out of some ministry roles to their predecessors' attachment to justifying the enslavement of an entire race of people.

Just as it was impossible to highlight the mistreatment of chattel slaves with the supporters of slavery, it seems an ongoing effort must be mounted to teach the gender-role fundamentalists of the true nature of abuse of wives and children by some men, Dr. Patterson's oft-repeated example aside.

This "slippery slope" babbling reminds me of the "camel's nose under the tent flap" comparisons making the political rounds in the 1980's. Hey, folks, we are wonderfully created with curious and busy minds - ALL the camel's noses are under tent flaps, and I hope they always are.

I love the scent of discovery in the morning; it smells like freedom.

Darby Livingston said...

Point one: There seems to be a logical fallacy that assumes that doubting my ability to dogmatically interpret the text is equal to doubting the inerrant, infallible nature of the text itself.
Point two: I think Emily McGowin's point several weeks ago about consistently interpreting Scripture is interesting in light of this post. We nuance texts demanding dispossession (I believe rightly), but refuse to nuance texts concerning manhood and womanhood. Paul didn't say, "Greet Aquila and Priscilla and the church that meets in their house that they should have sold years ago." So obviously Jesus must have had a nuanced position in Luke 12.
Point three: On the other hand, I can't think of a denomination that allows women to pastor that doesn't eventually open the door to giving up on the integrity of the gospel itself. I suspect that is Grudem's concern in his thesis.
Point four: I am an intellectual rodeo clown and need copious amounts of grace to traverse this landscape!

Mary in Texas said...

Darby, would you please expand on what you're trying to convey in your point #3? I'm in one of those maligned denominations (United Methodist) and we're being extremely well-served by our female pastor, yet the integrity of the gospel of Jesus Christ appears to be in no danger whatever. In your estimation, how can that be? (smile)

Darby Livingston said...

Mary,

I love blogs because as Wade says, it is self-correcting and accountable. I will respond to your question in a little while. I have an appointment. I didn't want anyone to think me a coward.

Tom Parker said...

Using the word Liberal or Liberalism sure gets people fired up and I am afraid our denomination is in for another big fight over the role of women. Will it divide us from our major mission? Time will tell.

RKSOKC66 said...

Wade:

I don't think I'll live to see it but it is "inevitable" that women will assume more leadership roles in the SBC over time.

The current "problem" is that most denominations that allow women pastors are very liberal. I'm not saying that there is any linkage between being "liberal" and having women pastors -- maybe it is just a "historical accident".

There are some charismatic and pentecostal groups which have both husband and wife as "co-pasters".

The SBC is not static. I think the role of women in the SBC will change just like it has in society at large in the last several generations.

There are so many examples in the NT of women doing various ministry roles it is hard to believe that people still interpret the I Timothy passage so narrowly. To me the essence is that a pastor can't have multiple spouses. We don't take the verse literally. We don't require a pastor to be a "husband of one wife" because most SBC churches would allow single men to be pastors. When the wife of the pastor died in my former church we didn't fire him.

I believe the essence of the verse "husband of one wife" is best interpreted "not involved in a relationship with multiple spouses". Looking at the whole NT to get a sense of the role of women, this makes more sense. When you only look at a single verse and "proof text" it you sometimes miss the big picture.

As it relates to the SBC right now I don't think there is any chance for movement on this issue. After all most people have either explicitely or by default signed up with the BF&M 2K. I have no problem with the BF&M 2K and certainly would not stir up a hornets nest (again) by rehashing it.

However, it will eventually be changed again and when it is I predict that the language will be more egalitarian. While it might not specifically say that women are allowed in ceretain leadership roles, I think it will at least go back to being silent on the issue as was the case in the 1925 and 1963 BF&M.



Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Wade,

Here's my 5 cents worth. I'm sorry its a long comment, but I believe its very relevant to your post.

As I read the history, antislavery argumentation was an early form of biblical criticism, dealing with two problems: the silence of Jesus on slavery and the outspokenness of the Apostle Paul.

For abolitionists, the unquestionable evil of slavery forced them to move away from a literal reading of the Bible. Initially, they developed a hermeneutic of immutable principles, which advanced an egalitarian reading of the Golden Rule as the “kernel” of the NT. Then, they combined this view with the Whig theories of human progress in history to form a hermeneutic of the “seed growing secretly”—that is, antislavery sentiment in the NT is a “seed” planted by Jesus and Paul that would later destroy slavery.

Yet, the “plain sense,” literal reading of the Bible did not support this position (nor does careful study of history), and a growing doubt about reconciling egalitarianism and the biblical text forced many abolitionists to resort to arguments from conscience, or moral intuition.

In contrast, the political imperative of proslavery forced its advocates toward biblical literalism. They were further emboldened by the findings of biblical criticism that the NT writers did not condemn slavery outright, but instead expressed views similar to those in the wider Greco-Roman slave culture. Pro-slavery activists argued that the NT contains passages that do not merely recommend subjection of slaves to masters, but signal acceptance of a natural model for civilization in which subjection was essential.

They vehemently rejected the appeal of abolitionists to moral intuition, over and above the “plain” witness of the NT. They argued that such hermeneutics not only subverted the inspired authority of the Bible, but also rendered the resultant system of morality patently un-Christian. Perhaps what is most embarrassing for today’s readers of the Bible, the proslavery spokesmen were holding the more defensible position from the perspective of historical criticism and literalist hermeneutics.

Beyond the situation of the American slave controversy, the opposing values of literalism and moral intuition remain at odds in American religious culture, shaping contemporary debates over race relations, military conflict, capital punishment, poverty, and the full emancipation of women. In my opinion, ready answers to these moral questions often fall short of persuasive power because they merely repeat truth claims found in the nineteenth century battle over slavery (like in Grudem's book).

More recent actions of the SBC--the 1995 public repentance of the convention’s support of slavery and their 1998 addition of the statement on “The Family” to the BFM--also illustrate the problem. The 1995 repentance of slavery, in fact, had very little “biblical” support (from a literalist perspective), and included no acknowledgement of scripture’s overall endorsement of the institution of slavery. On the other hand, the amendment to the BFM regarding “The Family,” in which women are exhorted to submit to their husbands, is based upon a “plain sense,” literal interpretation of the Pauline household codes.

I think the contradiction is severe. The household codes used to endorse the “traditional family,” with wifely submission and male headship (which SBC leadership vocally supports), are the same passages that endorse slavery (which the SBC leadership vocally condemns). The amendment on women, which explicitly affirms the timeless truth of the household codes, contradicts the resolution on slavery, which implicitly denies their moral relevance today.

For whatever its worth...

Grace and peace,

Emily

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Point three: On the other hand, I can't think of a denomination that allows women to pastor that doesn't eventually open the door to giving up on the integrity of the gospel itself. I suspect that is Grudem's concern in his thesis.

Darby,
Count me in on this as well. The Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Holiness denoms both allow women pastors. While some of their churches are perhaps overly charasmatic, I can't think of any I know of (and I know alot-I was raised with those folks) that I would call liberal. I would put them far to the conservative side.

Am I wrong? It's happened before.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Oops! Sorry. YOu didn't say liberal. You said "give up on the integrity of the gospel."

I dont believe they do that either. (Though I disagree with them on eternal security.)

Wade Burleson said...

Emily,

Very well done. May our church call you as our Discipeship Pastor?

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Roger,

Insightful. I can't see the future, but I think you may be correct.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

I have no problem with women doing ministry. At our church, we have several women in key positions. However, I believe that I Timothy 3:1-2 places the position of Bishop solely on "a man." Throughout, the history of liberalism within the main-line denominations you see a similar progression. First there is an undermining of the authority of scripture; secondly, a reinterpretation of founding documents, followed by a relegation of them to mere history. With the disolution of scriptural authority comes a hermenutic based on allegory and culture which inevitably leads to the feminization of the pastorate.Having been involved with the ECUSA before becoming a Baptist, I am sadly familair with this trend.

Folk Theology said...

Wade,

No. Leave Emily alone! She is coming to Ohio.

Rick

Anonymous said...

As Wade's post mentions Grant and Sherman, I think we would do well to remember Lincoln's statement that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

Monte

Tom Parker said...

I thought the CR got rid of all or most of the Liberals? How are they all going to be removed from the denomination? What other issues are going to lead to liberalism within the denomination?

Dave Miller said...

I challenge the thesis of this blog, that opposition to women in ministry may be a theological descendent of the support of slavery. In reality, just the opposite is true.

The support for slavery is more similar to the support for evangelical feminism than the opposition to it.

Slavery was a cultural phenomena. It was accepted in the south as a way of life. So, biblical interpreters went back and took some scriptures out of context and said, "The bible supports the enslavement of blacks."

The impetus for this was NOT exegesis, but trying to mold scripture to fit what was acceptable in society.

In the last century or so, our culture has shifted radically from a traditional view of marriage and the roles of men and women to a egalitarian/feminist view.

It should be no surprise that once the culture shifted, biblical interpreters would go back into the scriptures and attempt to reinterpret what scriptures says.

Their hermeneutics might not be quite as skewed as those who supported slavery, but they are flawed for the same reason. They are an attempt to mold the Bible to fit the predominant view of our culture.

When homosexuality became culurally acceptable, suddenly people reinterpreted biblical admonitions against homosexuality.

When Darwin's views became predominant in culture, someone came up with the day-age theory.

Southern interpeters found support for slavery in the Bible because they wanted to, because that is what their culture demanded.

And now that our nation finds the completarian view of marriage and the view of male leadership in the church repugnant, suddenly we creatively appeal to context or some unusual word study to say that the scripture doesn't mean what it seems to say.

We are always on thin ice when we mold scripture to fit culture, rather than standing on scripture and confronting culture.

NOTE: I am not saying that evangelical feminists are like slavery supporters, nor am I calling them heretics.

I am just saying that their interpretations are flawed for the same reason - trying to find biblical support for a culturally popular idea.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if dogmatism against women in ministry might one day be viewed the same as we now view Southern Baptists former dogmatism in defending slavery."

Wade, I came to this point long ago, though in my early years of ministry 'twasn't so! Call me liberal or anything else--I have no problem with that. How dare I tell a woman that God has not called her to teach, preach, or serve in any way. Years ago the daughter of a minister friend left the Baptist faith to join the Methodists so she could serve as a pastor. At that time I thought, "good riddance." Shame shame on me!! God has forgiven me and I have forgiven myself!! Thank God for opening "the eyes of my heart."

Paint me free and faithful.

Florence in KY

Sam said...

Pastor Bob Farmer wrote,
"Throughout, the history of liberalism within the main-line denominations you see a similar progression. First there is an undermining of the authority of scripture... With the disolution of scriptural authority comes a hermenutic based on allegory and culture which inevitably leads to the feminization of the pastorate."

Bob,
I believe in the authority of Scripture and also believe that it's important for us to view the Scriptures in light of author, text, and reader; we need all of these components for proper interpretation (to see why it was written, what was the historical context/cultural undercurrents going on at the time of the writing, etc.) Otherwise, in this case, we may run the risk of divorcing the author from the text, taking the text for face value, and assigning meaning as we (as readers) see fit.

You may disagree with this hermeneutic, and that's fine; I know that there is a big debate in hermeneutics about where meaning of Scripture lies: with the author, text, or reader. But just because I may have a different hermeneutic doesn't mean that I don't believe in the authority of Scripture. I am seeking to just as true to Scripture as you are.

Dave Miller said...

Emily Hunter McGowin's article above makes my point (if I read it rightly).

She argues for a "moral intuition" view over a "plain sense" literal interpretation of scripture.

Literal interpretation is the foundation hermeneutical principle of evangelicalism - of gospel Christianity.

That is why people say this is a new thrust of liberalism. If we abandon the literal hermeneutic in one point, what is to stop us from doing it at other points?

Sam said...

Oops, my last statement should read:
"I am seeking to be just as true to Scripture as you are."

Anonymous said...

Emily,

One simple question from one simple mind...

Does a literal [flat] interpretation of Scripture necessitate the support of slavery?

John B.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Dave Miller,

You have misunderstood my comment. I said that the abolitionists arrived at a "moral intuition" approach to their hermeneutic regarding slavery. I am not arguing for "moral intuition" in any matter, theological, biblical, or otherwise.

I am stating that when the abolitionists could not discern a literalist way of reading scripture in support of what they knew was morally correct, they chose to proceed with a moral intuition approach.

I would argue that they were wrong to digress into moral intuition, but I understand why they did so. I hope this is clearer.

Grace and peace,

Emily

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

John B.,

We are faced with a problem of definitions. What do you mean by "literal" or "flat"? I imagine that some will vehemently argue that a "literal" reading of scripture does not support slavery. And, some will vehemently argue for the opposite.

Tentatively, I would suggest that more often than not, a literalist reading of scripture (once again, depending on how we define it), will have to be inconsistent in the application of their hermeneutic when they oppose slavery but support the subjection of women to men in the home and the church.

I hope that is helpful to your "simple mind." :)

Grace and peace,

Emily

Wade Burleson said...

Dave,

I appreciate your spirit.

I, too, am leary of anything that undermines the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God.

I know, however, that it is the Living Word of God - Jesus Christ - that transforms the heart.

He is received not through a proper hermeneutic, but through faith.

I sometimes wonder if we have not placed demands for conformity to a plain sense hermeneutic and agreement on tertiary doctrines above faith in the Christo-centric gospel that transforms lives.

I believe what I believe very strongly on tertiary doctrines . . . I just know that God can save and use those who disagree with me.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Dave Miller,

One more thing: I understand the point you are trying to make in your assessment of the pro-slavery arguments: they were trying to fit cultural phenomena into the Bible. But, I'm afraid that your point is not backed up by the testimony of history.

Pro-slavery advocates were the biblical "conservatives" of their time, while abolitionists were the biblical "liberals" (in terms of how they were understood by wider society). This is supported by the mounds of documents from that era, including journal articles, pamphlets, letters, and other correspondance.

Grace and peace,

Emily

Darby Livingston said...

Mary and David,

Okay, I'm back and trembling. My response will be brief because I don't want to hijack Wade's post, but there is evidence of my point available to the industrious researcher.

For instance, United Methodist bishop, Joseph Sprague, said in a lecture, "Jesus was not born the Christ, rather by the confluence of grace with faith, he became the Christ, God's beloved in whom God was well pleased." Sprague is tampering with the foundations of the gospel, not just secondary issues. Al Mohler deals with him in depth at his blog. Now, you may say, "That's just one bishop, not the whole denomination." And you would be correct. However, I'm not aware of a denominational rebuke. In the SBC, such tampering would not be accepted (rightly). Sprague's views would likely be openly challenged. I'm not saying that every church within a denomination has lost the gospel if they allow women pastors. I was just making an observation. I also don't think it's an overnight transition. We give up the gospel in stages, and there are various ideas about what is and isn't central to the gospel. I believe my observation as a whole is valid, and mainline denominations are notorious for compromising the gospel. I'm not going to write a book about it. There's plenty to find, whether on the internet, or maybe on Main Street, USA. I'm already sure my response will not satisfy someone, so if one wants a clarification, I'll do my best.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

dear Sam,

my bad. I did not articulate my definition of hermenutic well. I'm sure as we all know a proper hermenutic starts with linguistic and historical/cultural background. However, when I mentioned "culture" in the context of my comment, I meant modern secular culture.

Scott Shaffer said...

I struggle to see a valid connection between slavery and the role of women in the church. Should we compare every point of theology to the slavery issue just because our ancestors got it wrong? Secondly, I take issue with the title of the post. Why is taking a position on this "an unnecessary theological argument"? Just because some people take a different view?

Anonymous said...

Scott,
Excellent, most excellent point. The title betrays Wade's belief in the view that we can disagree on secondary issues while still working together at significant leves both in the US and abroad.

The title causes one to wonder about what is a "necessary theological agrument" in Wade's view--which is really what his whole leadership role and persuasion for the past 2 years has been about anyway.

This is why some of us wonder and wonder and wonder some more about direction being led by Wade. Every once in a while--more often than before--we get a startling glimpse of motivation, background, and even the future.

However, I agree with Wade when he says "I have seen the enemy and it is not us." But history will teach that there is often more than one enemy or adversary and often it comes from within the ranks.
Mike

Carol said...

When we discuss the "Word" of God, I think we often mean scripture. But, what about the "Word" in a broader sense (think John 1). When Heb 4 says the word is living and active...does it only mean scripture?

I am a woman. I was called to vocational ministry. I can pinpoint the time, place, etc....30 years ago, Ridgecrest prayer garden. I had no women role models.

I KNOW I was called. God has given me incredible opportunities to teach, preach, lead, serve. I realize some will tell me I am wrong. To them, I respectfully hear the words of Jesus...to go where he calls and, if unwelcomed, shake the dust off my feet and continue on.

Darby Livingston said...

Muslim extremists are adamant that they are called by God to Jihad. They boast of tremendous opportunities given by God. 9/11 comes to mind. They refuse to hear what Scripture says, but rather follow the teaching of other mortal men. The same could be said of those who advocate total abstinence from alcohol. So, while I appreciate different interpretations of Scripture, at the end of the day, that's all we truly have - Scripture.

Sam said...

Darby,

So are you downplaying the calling of God for all people? Would you also question my calling to be a missionary? What about your calling to be a so-and-so, whether it be a vocational pastor or evangelistic layman? According to your argument, where is the Holy Spirit in all of this?

Sam said...

My post is not to say that we follow the Spirit without Scripture -- we definitely need both!! What I'm saying, though, is that the Spirit (and His calling) has its place in our lives.

Darby Livingston said...

"So are you downplaying the calling of God for all people?"

No. I'm questioning the wisdom of "knowing" something that might be contrary to Scripture. In other words, the Spirit works through the Word, never apart from it. If this weren't true, the call to missions could be rendered superfluous. So the Spirit isn't going to contradict the Word. So I'm not going to confirm my calling through introspection. I'm going to confirm my calling from the Word. I think part of the reason that pastors who disqualify themselves keep demanding a presence at the leadership table is because they keep going back to this "calling" that they "know" whether it contradicts Scripture or not. I hope this clears up my point.

Sam said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the clarification that your use of the word "culture". :)

If I'm understanding correctly, you still stand by your statement that "First there is an undermining of the authority of scripture...". My point was that this may be a hasty condemnation, whereas from the other perspective, I am trying to think critically and realize truth from Scripture, just the same as you are. Am I understanding you correctly? :)

----

At the risk of being labeled a heretic, for the purpose of possible discussion, can I pose a question that just popped into my mind: knowing that none of us approach Scripture with a clean slate and that no one can approach Scripture fully-objectively (since we come with our culture, life experiences, learned theologies), can ANYONE really approach Scripture without an agenda? (I don't like the word "agenda"; it has such a negative connotation.) Regarding slavery, anti-slavery ppl's agenda was to abolish it; pro-slavery ppl's agenda was to keep it. If I may, perhaps this extends to the discussion on women in ministry; might I suggest the possibility that while some ppl have the "agenda" of seeking equality for men and women to use their gifts as God has given, others may have the "agenda" of keeping things the way they are? (After all, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

Sam said...

Thanks for the clarification, Darby. I agree 100% with you, that calling must be in agreement with Scripture. :) There are pastors who may not really be "called" or gifted, just as there are some missionaries that are not "called". :\

However, I do not believe that all people who believe that women should use their God-given gifts are acting contrary to Scripture. They do not ignore or glean over the Word; the Word affirms their theology.

So like I said before (sorry for sounding like a broken record!), we are all seeking the truth in the Word.

Dave Miller said...

Emily, let me take one more crack at this. I am not convinced that your historical interpretation is accurate.

I had a book some years ago that I found at a used book store. It was a book from the early 20th Century (post-slavery but part of the segregationist movement) that explained the exegetical basis of slavery and segregation.

Sorry for this paragraph in advance. They "proved" that the "beasts of the field" in Genesis 1 were those of the African race. They proved that the curse of Noah on his son in Genesis 9:25, consigned his black descendents to slavery.

Here's my point: They were not using a literal hermeneutic. They were reading in to the text something that came from their culture. They may have been literalists in other ways, but here they were eisegetes.

THe support of slavery did not come from a lieral hermeneutic.

The old rule is, "When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense." No one would read the scriptures in their plain sense and get justification for the subjugation of the African race.

And, the plain reading of the NT texts related to women in ministry and roles in marriage are pretty clear as well. The evangelical feminists have to resort to arcane appeals to context, strange word-study interpetations and other hermeneutically suspect methods.

Why do they do this? I am convinced it is because they are reading a culturally-based preference back into scripture.

Wade,

I would not admit that there is a conflict between a plain-sense interpretation of scripture and a Christo-centric gospel.

It is a plain-sense interpretation that defines the gospel.

Certainly, we should not withhold fellowship over issues that are not fundamental - and I am sorry the SBC has been doing that.

I was part of a wonderful interdenominational pastor's group in Cedar Rapids - charismatics, Bible Church, Baptists, even a stray Methodist now and again. We maintained fellowship in spite of doctrinal differences on many issues.

I have no trouble admitting that people can interpret the Bible differently than I do and I can fellowship with them in spite of it.

But when we abandon the literal hermeneutic, the church is in bid trouble.

I am not so much supporting the hysterical reactions of some complementarians as I am defending the need for the literal, plain-sense hermeneutic.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

"When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense."

Interesting that you bring this up. I am working on a post for my blog (started working on it yesterday) about the "plain reading of scripture."

I do not think we can necessarily trust this idea because of our culture, limited experiences and limited knowledge. What is "plain" to some is not so plain to another. Missing information is critical to understanding.

For example:

James 5:14
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

The plain reading of scripture is obvious. Anoint the sick with oil.

If we "seek no other sense" are we really left with nonsense or are we actually left with a better understanding of scripture?

Well, there is another sense that is not nonsensical. In fact, it is more likely to be accurate.

The anointing with oil here, when understood on its cultural and historical context is most likely a command to get a doctors care. But we only know that by seeking a sense other than the plain sense.

But how many churches do you know that keep a little bottle of olive oil around the pulpit in case someone wants to apply this verse?

It doesnt bother me if they do. A little dab'll do ya. Knock yourself out.

But it is not the correct sense of this passage, althought it is the plain sense. In this case, the plain sense is likely wrong.

Sam said...

(I apologize, Wade, for all these comments I am posting. :) The discussion is just too good to pass up. Also, I am not seeking to argue for the sake of arguing; there are valid points that I would like to discuss.)

Dave,

What if what is "plain" to you is not "plain" to another reader? Or what if your "plain" meaning was different than the "plain" meaning that someone else came to? Though the term "plain" claims complete objectivity, I believe it to be extremely subjective. The plain meaning of a passage to a person in the Deep South may be quite different than the plain meaning to a reader in the jungles of Vietnam. Who is to say whose "plain meaning" is correct? For both people (of different language, culture, and experience), the way of reaching truth of the Scripture is to do proper exegesis and hermeneutics/application. I might even say that "plain meaning" can get in the way of proper exegesis, as you may already have your presuppositions towards the text, since you "already know what it means". In other words, there may be no perceived need to do exegesis and looking at context, as the text is already "clear and plain enough".

I just fear that this "plain meaning" may get in the way of good debate and discussion. It's through dialogue that we receive refinement. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the plain meaning of what "plain meaning" means to you. Practically, I have seen how "plain meaning" can result in dismissal of the other's viewpoint, long before a defense is even attempted.

RKSOKC66 said...

I agree that there is some "problem" with a plain meaning since we inevitably see stuff through our own cultural lenses and pre-suppositions.

I don't think that we are going to make much progress arguing about women's role in ministry based upon "plain meaning" since one of the key verses in the whole debate is in I Timothy 3:1 - 7.

If we are going to accept this text as a definition for the qualifications for "pastors" then we have to require that they are married with children. Otherwise, how could they be the husband of one wife and how could they have their children under control?

Some people interpret this verse to really mean "a pastor must be a man". It does NOT say that by any plain meaning. Some others take it that the person can't be in a polygamous relationship.

If the verse actually came right out and said this "A pastor must be (a) married man, (b) with one wife, and (c) he must have at least one child, and (d) he has to be 'in control' of that child with 'dignity', and (e) it is OK if he has wine once in a while but he can't be 'addicted' to it" then we would not be having this discussion. But as it is none of us are following the "plain language" these versus -- we are just choosing from them cafeteria style. Or maybe it is that there is no such thing as "plain language" that can be ascertained short of some sort of hermeneutical apparatus.

Look, I'm not saying that the Bible has no meaning. But I think you have to look at the whole thing to disambiguate some stuff.

Most of us in the SBC choose which of the statements in I Tim 3;1-7 we actually apply. For example, we don't toss out a pastor, just because they are not married or because they don't have kids -- both of which are included in the "plain language" as being part of the requirements.

What I am arguing is that what we consider to be "plain language" is so culturally filtered that getting down to plain language more difficult that we think.

BTW, I am not getting twisted around the axle on this. I am completely in agreement with the BF&M regarding men's roles in ministry. The BF&M is an excellent snapshot of Biblical truth as filtered through the 20th-21st North American cultural filter.

I admit that I see stuff through a cultural filter. That’s why I still enjoy Beach Boys music and I still enjoy playing around with my ham radio equipment “talking” to people in Timboktu using “obsolete” Morse code. Heck, I even still enjoy singing out of the old Broadman Hymnal.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Darby Livingston said...

"So like I said before (sorry for sounding like a broken record!), we are all seeking the truth in the Word."

Yes. That is the way it must be. We may come to disagreement over the interpretation of various texts, but in the end, we know the answer IS in the text.

BTW, has anyone besides me seen how the baptism issue coincides with the point of this post? Credo-baptism seems to be the plain sense while paedo-baptism seems to be the more nuanced view that requires a knowledge of an entire theological system to even understand it. So much so, that many paedo-baptists don't even understand why they baptize infants.

Isn't it ironic that some can be "together for the gospel" despite differing interpretations on such a central issue as baptism while demanding conformity over something like complementarity or spiritual gifts? And even be proud of it?

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Roger,

disambiguate

My new favorite word.

That’s why I still enjoy Beach Boys music...

Now you're talking!!!!!!!

Wayne Smith said...

David,
I take exception to your comment about calling on the Elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
But how many churches do you know that keep a little bottle of olive oil around the pulpit in case someone wants to apply this verse?
It doesnt bother me if they do. A little dab'll do ya. Knock yourself out.

David,
I’ve witinessed many times how God works in being Obedient to His Word and Answers Prayer to this ACT within 3 Days of each Occurance.

Shame on You David.

In His Name

Dave Miller said...

I keep a little vial of oil on my keychain (which I can't find right now - has anyone seen my keys?). We regularly follow the plain sense of James 5 and anoint people with oil and pray for them.

Imperfect people may not come to perfect agreement about biblical texts and so we should maintain humility about our exegesis.

But our failure to always agree does not negate the need for proper interpretation.

Each passage has a meaning. It is my job as an expositor to find and explain that meaning. It seems to me that some are buying into the postmodern ethic of meaning - that truth and meaning are subjective, not objective. The passage means to me whatever the passage means to me.

God spoke. His word has a meaning. Our job is twofold - we must seek to accurately interpret scripture to understand that meaning. We must also keep our humility and realize that godly folks can see things differently.

We cannot abandon either of those tasks. I must submit myself to the text, not try to make it fit my views. But I cannot make my interpretations on every issue the standard of righteousness.

It is difficult to walk that tightrope. Especially for a corpulent person like me...

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Wayne,
I cant tell if you are kidding or not when you say shame on me. I'll assume you are but in case you are not, I think you missed my point.

I said I have no problem with those who anoint with oil. I completely agree with you that God honors people's obedience.

I was speaking at a church just a couple months ago and afterwards a woman came up and asked for prayer. The Pastor called me up and asked me if I would pray for her. He handed me the bottle of oil and I dabbed her and prayed for her. It wasnt the time or place for a hermeneutics lesson and I had no problem doing it.

Wayne and Dave,
My point remains however, the so-called "plain sense" of James 5 that it means to take oil and dab it on someone's fore head is likely a wrong interpretation.

Get them some medicine and you will be closer to the original intent.

bryan riley said...

I have never heard anyone preach what David said about oil and doctors. I like the plain sense there, too.

God's ways often do not make sense and thus require faith. It is the essence of trusting in the Lord with our whole hearts and not leaning on our own understanding. That is who we are as Christians.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

I originally heard it from that liberal Chuck Swindoll. I did some research and found out it was true.

The term in the gk used for "anointing with oil" was most commonly used as a practice physicians would use of rubbing healing ointments on the patient.

So the entire passage says, call the elders to come pray for you (implying you are to weak to go to them), ask them to pray, get the physician to anoint you with oil, and the prayers will work in conjunction with the medicine.

I say it is the most likely meaning of the passage. Not 100% guaranteed.

Darby Livingston said...

David,

I'm inclined to agree with your interpretation of James. Don't be sad.

jasonk said...

Darby, your comments remind me of a conclusion drawn by one Cosmo Kramer: "Did you know that the Son of Sam was adopted. And so was Jeffrey Dahmer. So apparently, adoption leads to serial killing."

To assume that denominations that advocate women pastors abandon the gospel is silly, and an over-reaching argument. The UMC where I was a member before was listed in 2006 as the sixth fastest growing church in the United States. In a conversation I had just last week with one of the associate pastors there, he said that the Scripture was the central object in their church. The gospel is preached, and people are saved. I resent your comment deeply.
But not as much as I resent your comparison to terrorists. How dare you.
If I have misread your comments, I am sorry.

Benji Ramsaur said...

I can have problems with, in a sense, both sides.

For those, in our modern age, who would "condemn" slavery, talk about the "evil" of it and who are...uh...white.

Well, it's kind of easy to say that today don't you think?

My personal position is that the Bible acknowledges that it is not an ideal state for man to be in [I get this from Paul's counsel to slaves in Corinthians] and I'm glad it does not exist now.

But for those white [proud to be a conservative!] guys who are so "bold" about how bad slavery is, I want them to look me in the eye and answer this question.

If they were pastors back in the South during the time of slavery, WOULD THEY EXERCISE CHURCH DISCIPLINE ON SLAVE HOLDERS BASED UPON BIBLICAL GROUNDS?

Now, for the other side. The whole "Well, who are you to tell a woman that God can't call her to be a pastor?" does not prove anything--zilch--nada.

You have got to stand up and argue your case on BIBLICAL grounds and not on an emotive appeal to subjectivity.

But this is where guys like Jon Zens are more respectable because I do think he is, at least, trying to argue his case on biblical grounds. And if the other side is "dismissing" guys like Zens because they think he "must" be motivated by a feminist agenda, then they need to get off that little kick.

In fact, I would challenge anyone to prove from the writings of Zens himself where he has a feminist agenda.

Don't just assume it without any evidence. Be a "man" and prove it.

BCR

greg.w.h said...

Or to put a finer point on Benji's question: give us three examples of confronting the sin of racism in your own churches in the trustee, elder or deacon ranks.

;)

Greg harvey

CB Scott said...

Wade,

I do believe there is a biblical prohibition against women as pastors and deacons. I see no need to go over all the biblical and theological arguments because I am sure you have spent much time researching the topic as have I and many others.

I do not believe there are any other positions wherein a female cannot minister. Actually I know many women with "Shepherding" gifts. I call them that because I do not have a better way to explain my point. Shepherding gifts can be and should be used in many ways in the church and the Kingdom without serving in the pastoral role.

I believe the only discipline taught in seminary a female should not teach would be within the areas of pastoral ministries.

I think it is silly to say a woman cannot teach a biblical language. I think it is silly to say she cannot teach church history.

Obviously no one thinks it is wrong for a woman to teach church or sacred music. I just do not understand that because the very nature of sacred music demands speaking to biblical and theological precepts and concepts.

What I do think is silly is to hire one woman to teach Sacered Music and to fire another for teaching Hebrew. Both are women. Both disciplines demand discussion of Scripture and theology to some degree. Actually Sacred Music would demand more such discussion I would think. Anyway it did when I took it.

You may wonder about whether a woman can serve as pastor or deacon, but I do not. I also do not wonder if she can teach Hebrew. I believe she can as long as she does it based on a biblical world view. As far as the pastoral disciplines go, I know men teaching in that discipline that are not qualified due to the fact they have never served as a pastor nor have they ever been called of God to do so.

I do not believe the comparison of slavery to women in the pastoral role is a very good comparison. Common sense tells us that for one person to own another person is wrong. It was that issue that finally divided Baptist in 1845 in a formal way. They were informally divided about it long before that date.

One more thing, I believe Mark Noll is a historian rather than a theologian. I may be wrong, but I think history is his field of expertise.

cb

Benji Ramsaur said...

CB Scott,

With all due respect [And I really do respect you and think you would be someone who would be willing to stick their neck out on the issue of slavery], an appeal to "common sense" does not prove anything either.

Grace

BCR

Anonymous said...

Wade,

About your last post to "Dave"

Amen and Amen!!

It's all about the Blood
Darrell Treat

CB Scott said...

BCR,

I guess it is due to the fact when I speak to the issue of slavery I am thinking more of current day situations than that which happened in American history. There is far more slavery in our world today than during the 1800's.

I said common sense tells us slavery is wrong due to personal knowledge and the nature of slavery today.

I also realize that slavery of Black races was the context in the post.

In reality you are right. Common sense is not sufficient to judge slavery as wrong. I do believe slavery can be frfuted from Scripture due to hte basic motivation to enslave another person is either greed or perversion of the natural sexual nature of men. When I say men I do mean men. The women that were and are in the slave trade are in it due to greed.

Greed and perversion of God's gift of sex was and always be sin and prohibited in Scripture.

Stealing tractors is not directly mentioned in Scripture but a common sense reading of Scripture will tell me stealing tractors is sin.

We could go on here but I think you get where I am coming from due to me having read many comments by you and believing you are a sharp guy.

cb

Darby Livingston said...

jasonk,

Yes, I think in your resentment, you misread my comments and overstated your disagreement with me. I nuanced what I was saying so as not to lump everyone together. Additionally, the fastest growing church has nothing to do with faithfulness to the gospel. In fact the very opposite could just as easily be assumed. And I would suspect the fact I used radical Islam as an example is a greater offense to you than the point I rightly made in using it.

CB Scott said...

BCR,

I just went back and read your comment on this post. I had not read this one. I was simply responding to Wade's post.

Benji, I want to think I would not held to slavery if I had been a pastor in that time. I say it with the knowledge I have concerning slavery in this present time and my actions toward it. As I said I want to think I would stand against it. Of course , I will never know.

When you look into the eyes of a person who has lived as the property of another person it has an effect upon the deep recesses of your soul. It is for that reason I have a hard time understanding Baptists of that time. I have a harder time understanding why God, in His providence, even let Southern Baptists live and breathe much less have used us as He has in the last two centuries. I do stand amazed before God realizing His using us is totally due to His grace and not our merit while knowing how really sorry we were and still are, for that matter.

I do wonder, sometimes if He will continue to use us as time continues and we continue to be such a stiffed necked people.

cb

Jake Barker said...

JasonK,
I think painting the entire UMC as heretical or apostate is using too large a brush. However, the UMC as you can agree I'm sure, is an hierarchal church. And I'm sure that you are aware of the heretical positions of some of the bishops (sprague etal). Now retired bishop Bruce Blake was a liberal that had a don't ask don't tell policy while he was Oklahoma's bishop. He even appointed a sodomite leaning district supertintendant to the OKC South district. You ask how do I know this.....I filed charges against 2 Oklahoma clergy in 1998. These clergy were women. Their eclesiastical crime was participating in a sodomite wedding ceremony. I presented evidence which included a video of a ceremony officiated by one of the two. Bishop Blake was bound by the Book of Discipline to defrock the two. One of the two was from Tulsa and the other from Perkins. Blake then tried to arrange a liberal clergy to file a charge against me for "interferring in the ministry of another". One of the clergy defrocked later left her husband and "married" her lesbian lover. I believe it a safe statement to say that over 75% of the UMC clergy nationwide are either heretical or fully apostate. Most do well in hiding it from their congregations as they know that laity is much more Biblicaly conservative than the clergy. Also they believe that the Scriptures are simply a guidance book not an inerrant/infailable all sufficient document that is God inspired. And as such it makes no eternal difference whether they follow those Scriptures or not. I do not claim to know the theology of all UMC female clergy however most of those I have interviewed are liberals of the worst ilk.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

I believe it a safe statement to say that over 75% of the UMC clergy nationwide are either heretical or fully apostate.

Safe to say? wow. I dont know too much about the UMC (my grandmother in law bleeds UMC) but that seems pretty high.

Jake Barker said...

David,
It's a fact. Unless they graduated from Asbury seminary there is close to 100% chance they are apostate liberals. When one denies the divinity of Jesus, the virgin birth and the literal, physical ressurection from the dead....they are apostate. Makes even Jimmy Carter look positivley conservative.

Mary in Texas said...

Liberal is as liberal does, Jake. My pastor preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ and we work together as a congregation to be the body of Christ. Your opinion of the denomination to which my fellow church members and I belong really can't matter to me; you've obviously made up your mind in an us vs. them way, defining liberal however it is you do and condemning your brothers and sisters in Christ with that "L" word. However, my responsibility and that of my fellow church members remains. We choose to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

I'm certainly not going to go around telling people to get rid of their male pastors because of all the hateful, unbiblical, unchristlike behavior I see in them, or because of some arbitrary position I think they fit into on the socio-political-religious spectrum.

John Wesley preferred to consider the heart of another and, if he found it was as his own (committed to Jesus Christ), he offered his hand. He actually trusted his brothers and sisters and cooperated with them. He even (gasp) sent some of the sisters to preach. Go figure.

Mary in Texas said...

I see, Darby: you're judging the millions of United Methodists worldwide on your opinion of Bishop Sprague.

Do you want me to judge the SBC by the actions of Paige Patterson? He's about as close to a bishop as SBCs get, near as I can tell.

And do you REALLY want to set the precedent of judging people's vocations by comparing them to terrorists? That can be done in different directions, equally unfairly and equally offensively. I'm not going to, but I'm just saying...

Jake Barker said...

Mary,
I think you misunderstand my statements. I am in favor of female clergy....possibly even as senior pastors. I met and interviewed a female UMC pastor in Virginia Beach, Va some years back and she was fully theologically sound. I would have had NO problem having her as my pastor. The problem is that, as you know, the bishop assigns a UMC pastor to a charge (parish). Often times that pastor, whether male or female, is not theologically sound. Only questioning them can reveal their true theological leanings....did your church pastor/parish relations committee fully question your current pastor before she was accepted by the congregation? If not then they are/were derelict in their duties to the congregation.

Mary in Texas said...

Asbury is no proof against apostasy or sin, Jake, and the UM-related seminaries (of which Asbury is not, as I'm sure you know) are not the guarantees of such things as you are claiming. I've been a Methodist/United Methodist (there, I'm betraying my advancing age) all my life, and I have yet to be a part of any UM church served by a pastor who preached any of the heresies you claim. And that includes my many years as a lay member in the Oregon-Idaho Conference (a reference that is probably lost on any non-UMs in the discussion).

My point in even revealing my denomination in this discussion is that people have invented dire consequences that they claim result from women serving as pastors. They're scapegoating women who obey the Lord's call to be preachers and teachers and pastors. Sorry, but that's ludicrous.

When a woman in my tradition believes she is being called to such a ministry, it is years before she is "turned loose" on a congregation. Just as with men, she must first of all have the endorsement of her congregation as someone they believe has the gifts and graces for pastoral ministry. After she has completed a lengthy period of supervised discernment studies, she must then be endorsed by representative clergy from her district, who interview her and receive a candid report from her supervisor in candidacy studies, including an extensive psychological evaluation. She must then successfully complete her education (usually a full M.Div. degree, though a minority complete a course of study while serving churches as local--non-ordained--clergy), receive the endorsement of clergy representatives from her conference, be voted by the clergy of the conference to be commissioned, complete a minimum of three years of probation, then be recommended by the conference representatives again and be voted into full membership and connection with the conference. Only once all these stages have been completed is she ordained an elder in the UMC. And lest anyone think this is a rubber stamp process, plenty of people are "weeded out": some on issues of character, some on issues of competency, some on poor written work (there is extensive writing at each stage of candidacy), and some on doctrinal issues. At any stage, if enough people believe the candidate is not called to ordained ministry, her candidacy is over.

United Methodists, men and women alike, do not become ordained ministers on a whim. People can cheaply deny their callings (I say cheaply because they have no price to pay if they're wrong), but it is God who sustains these brothers and sisters throughout the long and often lonely process to becoming United Methodist clergy, and then in their years of service to the church of Jesus Christ. I frankly resent the hubris necessary for anyone to claim that my pastor isn't called by God to do what she does. Her faithfulness and the Holy Spirit's witness in the life of our congregation proves them wrong.

Benji Ramsaur said...

CB Scott,

CB Scott,

Again, let me say that I do respect you. I believe you definitely fit the label of being "a man of your convictions".

I think there is a problem in your argument. If slavery is caused only by greed or sexual perversion, then how do you explain the apostle Paul [of all people] not condemning slavery?

Greed, according to Paul, is idolatry.

Sexual perversion is not tolerated by Paul.

And certainly nothing in the social context of Paul's time would stop him from NOT tolerating greed and sexual perversion.

However, even though I disagree with you, let me say that I praise the Lord for the obvious love you have in your heart in harmony with the second greatest commandment.

BCR

Rex Ray said...

David,
You are correct that James promoted the traditional medicine (oil) to heal the sick as well as prayer by the elders.

My uncle went to a village in China to hold a revival, but was asked to care for a sick woman who was highly respected. She was close to death and was outside because if she died in the house, it would have to be burned to rid evil spirits.

He said he was no doctor, but was told if he declined he might as well go back home with his revival. He prayed and gave her indigestion medicine. Within the hour, she was cooking for the visitors and they had a great revival.

Jesus did not use oil, but mud from dirt and spit. Why? I believe to show healing came from his Father.

James 5:15-16 (New Living) “And their [elders] prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”

Does any group practice this better than Catholics?

If I had been a slave owner, I would have set them free if I got ‘convicted’ of Luke 9:48 (Living) “…Your care of others is the measure of your greatness.”

Mary in Texas said...

I don't serve on the Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee, Jake, so I don't know what questions they asked our pastor. Given that nothing in her preaching indicates heresy, perhaps it means that they trust her and the conference to adhere to her ordination vows. Most churches do, since getting a committee, let alone an entire congregation to agree on what's "liberal enough" or "conservative enough" to suit each and all, is an impossible task. "Biblical enough" is a much better standard, IMO.

Mary in Texas said...

At this point, I want to apologize to all the other readers whose eyes are probably glazing over from all the non-SBC detail I've posted. I've opened up a rabbit trail here, and in retrospect I fear that wasn't a good thing. I do think it's important, however, that people who've never experienced the ministry of a woman as pastor, hear from those of us who have. I've lost count over the years how many people to whom this was a new experience expressed deep concerns--even in a denomination where women's ordination has been fact for over 50 years now, yet came quickly to realize that their fears were merely fears of the unknown. Good preaching is good preaching. Good pastoring is good pastoring. Good teaching is good teaching. Good counseling is good counseling. Most people who are willing to stick around long enough to practice discernment of the real (as opposed to discernment of the hypothetical) realize that the shape, size, age, and gender of the vessel God chooses and uses is not what's important. The anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit is what makes a pastor.

CB Scott said...

Benji,

I have no idea as to why Paul, or others for that matter, did not say much in relation to the sin of slavery. Since Paul wrote the letters we have rocorded in the Canon under inspiration of the Spirit I have to accept that the answer to your question is in the purpose of God.

Let me say I have wondered about this as have you, but still, have no valid answer that what I have stated.

At the same time, I still contend that slavery today and mostly in the past rest in the fallen nature of man especially those that would venture into such a dark hole due to greed and sexual perversion.

cb

Rex Ray said...

Preach on, Mary, preach on!

If the Holy Spirit cannot convince me that I've heard the Word of God regardless of whose voice it is; black or white, male or female, rock or donkey, then shame on me because of prejudice of teaching the words of man as Scripture.

P.S. did you notice we made a comment at the same second?

CB Scott said...

Benji,

I have got to start using my spell check. I go back and read what I have posted and always look stupid. Maybe I am.

In my last comment that should have been "recorded" not "rocorded" and "than" not "that" in "that what I have stated."

Also, please notice that I did not say "slavery is caused only by greed and sexual perversion." I said greed and sexual perversion were "basic motivations." I am sure some were into slavery in the past due to an absence of teaching and preaching against it in some major churches and pulpits. Yet, I contend that greed and sexual perversion are basic factors involved in the slave trade of today and especially was greed a factor in the past. Sexual perversion may not have been so much at the forefront then as it is today, but it is a major factor today as to why men buy and enslave other people both male and female.

National leaders do not speak to this problem today very much and I believe it is due to economic reasons they do not. Many pulpits are silent about slavery today, frankly, due to ignorance of the epidemic scope of the problem. I guess it is because "nice people do not speak of such things."

cb

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

Mary in TX,
I enjoyed the lesson in the ordaination process of the UMC. Would that all denoms were as thorough.

That said...Go Sooners!

***ducking***

Wade Burleson said...

Tom Parker,

Please email me with your place of ministry, your personal email address and a phone number that I can call you. Your IP shows you to be someone who you do not claim to be.

Mary in Texas said...

's all right, David. I'm not a Longhorn! (grin)

Mary in Texas said...

I had not noticed that, Rex. So how come yours is first? Huh? (laughing)

Karen in OK said...

As someone else said long ago in this thread, the SBC was formed in 1845, years before the Civil War. And one of the most crucial issues was slavery.
For which we as a denomination rightly apologized about 10 years ago.

But there were many streams feeding the abolitionist movement.
To present it as literal SBC, plainly reading the Scriptures, and others splitting from them holding to a "moral intuition" view, is simplistic.

I remember years ago admonishing an elderly Baptist man about his racist views. Like the book referred to earlier in this thread, he eisegeted Scripture, NOT reading it plainly, to get a false interpretation that black people were from the "inferior" race of Ham. That is what he had heard from Baptist pulpits in his youth.
There are some ideas that are just wrong and need to be opposed, whether or not they are first-tier issues.

CB Scott said...

Karen in OK,

I still hear that about the "race of Ham" even now. I heard it often while in Pennsylvania. Such foolishness is not regional. It is very widespread. I guess it is due to the fallen nature of men's hearts. Nonetheless, it is truly sad to hear such after all this time having past among Believers. It is just sad.

cb

Blackhaw said...

Wade,

I do not know if you have read Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William Webb but I think you would like it. It argues for something like you are in this post. What is interesting I had to read it for an advanced hermeneutics class at SWBTS. The class over all was negative to the book but it is an interesting and has a well thought out thesis.

I personally do not think it is fair to link views on women and ministry today and views on slavery in the 19th century because while there are similarities there are also differences. The real problem is that the similarities can also be pointed out for arguments that maybe no one here would support. Why is the interpretation of the Text that Jesus is the only way that we argue for today not just like how we used to argue for slavery from the Bible earlier. And I do think that one cannot disregard statements from pro-homosexual theologians when they state that the interpretation of the Bible that is against homosexuality is the same as when we used to argue for slavery.

Mary in Texas said...

Blackhaw said, "Why is the interpretation of the Text that Jesus is the only way that we argue for today not just like how we used to argue for slavery from the Bible earlier."

The reason is obviously that the argument for women to be free in Jesus Christ to serve as pastors and other church leaders, is very different from the argument that it allegedly biblically permissible for human beings to own other human beings as slaves.

I see the "slippery slope" argument to be merely a diversion of the discussion. If women are permitted biblically to serve as pastors and other church leaders, then they are. What other people do with a reportedly similar hermeneutic has no bearing on the application vis a vis women's freedom in Jesus Christ to serve at God's sole prerogative in the leadership of the people of God.

Blackhaw said...

Mary,

While I do not agree that " What other people do with a reportedly similar hermeneutic has no bearing on the application" I agree bascially with what you are saying. I think it has some bearing but not as much as those here that are trying to build an argument for women pastors from the instance of slavery being argued for by using the Biblical text.

So I agree.

Blackhaw said...

Mary,

Sorry if I am being overerly precise in the last post. My intention is to agre with you.

BTW I have read Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by Webb- Supports view like Wade's

And I have read Knoll's book also.

foxofbama said...

Wade:

I saw the exact quote you quoted from Mark Noll a year ago and saw it's poignance then.
Presheate what you are saying here.
I do hope you will engage Baps Today Johnny Pierce's recent blog and upcoming interview with the head of BWA about what can happen.
You can be part of a new solution, a new communion.
Hope to see you engage Pierce soon with a blog of your own. His site is www.bteditor.blogspot.com
Delighted you are reading Noll. He also has a great quote in America's God about Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, and Whitman in the face of the fundamentalist juggernaut of that time; about page 450 0r so.
sfox

Bennett Willis said...

I share CB's concerns as to what my position would have been on slavery. I do know that I did not have any strong feeling about segregation (other than it was obviously unfair) when Brown vs. Board of Education came down. I tend to suspect that (for us older folk) that our attitudes on segregation would probably be quite similar to our attitudes on slavery had we lived in those times.

But as CB also pointed out, there are probably more slaves today than there were in the 1800's. And we are not doing much about it. But of course our role in the progress of humanity might be to argue about what women can do in God's service--again and again.

Bennett Willis

jasonk said...

I've been busy with clients all day, and just now had the chance to get back and see that Mary of Texas has been quite effectively defending the honor of women pastors.

I will say that I agree with some of what Jake said. Speaking for the sixth fastest growing church in the country--it is a UMC, it has a male senior pastor, a couple of female associate pastors, and they preach and stand on the Word without compromise. I was proud to be a member, and I would say that many pastors in the SBC that I have known and worked around would not be fit to shine Tom Harrison's shoes. Period.

Jake, you are right that there are liberals in the UMC, and in many cases they are tolerated in the interest of cooperation. I'm not always comfortable with that. But lets talk about what they are doing right.

As Mary said, they don't ordain just anyone. I was a college dropout when I got my first job on a church staff, and when I was ordained. That would never fly in the UMC. I did go on and graduate from college, and attend seminary. But in the SBC, anyone can get ordained, no matter their education level, experience, etc. If they can preach good, or lie on their resume, they can pastor the largest churches in the SBC.

Pastors in the UMC can serve without fear of retaliation from sinful or carnal deacon bodies. I've seen good men in SBC churches fired for no reason, and with absolutely no retaliation from the associate at all. That is a sin. I've seen pastors labeled unfairly by people who have an axe to grind. That is a sin, and it is regularly tolerated, if not celebrated by many in the SBC.

And lets not forget, there is a church in Topeka Kansas that bears the name Baptist. I doubt that too many Baptists appreciate that association.

Rex Ray said...

Mary,
You wondered since our comments were posted at the same time, why mine was first.

The answer is most simple…
1. Fundamentalist’s answer: The Lord made MAN first!
2. My answer: The Lord was making up for me being born after my twin brother.
3. Real answer: Mine was part of a second sooner than yours but read the same.

Sorry, but couldn’t resist your laughing.

Forty or so years ago on a ‘valley mission trip’ we heard a local pastor preach and his wife taught me something new in SS that I still remember. I couldn’t help thinking they should have switched places.

David Stratton said...

I could say a lot more than I will. Just a word of personal testimony. I am a Baptist who was once opposed to the idea of females serving as either deacons or pastors. Then, almost 20 years ago, I read a Fee & Stuart's book entitled "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" which includes a small section on cultural conditioning in the epistles. Fee & Stuart applied valid guidelines on cultural conditioning to the two issues of women in ministry and homosexuality. They conclude that passages pertaining to women in ministry may be culturally conditioned while those related to homosexuality are not.
This was my first exposure to what seemed to be a possibly valid approach to the Scriptures allowing for females in positions for which I had opposed their service. I was shocked. I had to admit with trembling that I may have been an active participant in preventing some Christians from serving in ways they may have been genuinely gifted and called. It was a sobering moment.
I was driven to more study--lots of books and articles and even more prayer. In the end I was persuaded by the arguments of egalitarians. However, even before I reached that point decisively, I reached this conclusiion: It is best that I allow dedicated Christians, male and female, to answer to God for their callings. If I have concerns I voice them in love. But if that any Christian is steadfast in beleiving that he or she is called to any position of service, after my concerns are voiced, I have a duty to support that brother or sister in that calling and leave it between him or her and God.
For some time now I have moved beyond not standing in the way of females to encouraging females to consider any and all positions of service. That approach may make some of you uncomfortable which I understand. My caution based on personal, prayerful testimony is that it was a very uncomfortable day for me when I realized that there was a real possibility that I was interfering with the responses of some Chrisitians who were attempting to answer the call of God.
One other thing: I opposed the 2000 BF&M not because of the stance it took on women pastors but because the document took up the issue at all. The preamble states that confessions "constitute a consensus of opinion . . . concerning those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us." There is no "consensus of opinion" on this matter and it is not a "surely held" article. Even though I was an egalitarian in 2000, if there had been an attempt to insert language in the BF&M saying that it is fine for females to serve as pastors I would have opposed it as a violation of the principle of confessions cited above. The 2000 BF&M is flawed in part not because of the specific language about female pastors but because it took up the issue at all.

foxofbama said...

Wade:

I have blogged on your blog here, hoping to conflate you with some of the recent musings of Baps Today editor.
So here is an invitation to widen this discussion.
I think the horse is out of the barn now, and you and the likes of Ben Cole will be looking for a new denominational home soon if something doesn't give with Paige and Al; and I have no reason to believe it will.
Hope you still plan to come to the Covenant meeting in Atlanta in January

Monk-in-Training said...

I find it amazing, how many people can be so certain of their view of God and the Scriptures. Casually they adopt and dispense doctrines with what appears to me to be, very little effort.

For centuries the Church has grown and changed over time, doctrines come and go, yet the Gospel call of Christ goes on. Many years ago, St. Augustine wrestled with ambiguities in the Word, and he said
"Melius est dubitare de occultis quam litigare de incertis"
(li. 8. de Genes. ad liter. cap. 5.)

Which translated says : "It is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain."

I suppose the core of the issue is a bit of humility when facing issues of this nature.

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

KMC,

I absolutely agree with you! I am sure you would also prohibit your wife/daughters/parishioners from braiding their hair.

Kudos to you for being consistent!

Melanie W said...

Oh, and don't forget David - KMC's womenfolk would also have to cover their heads in church. Oh, and no gold jewelry. I wonder if platinum counts?

A "liberal" woman - Melanie

Tom Parker said...

K. Michael Crowder,

You posted the following sentence: Why does our modern culture have to dictate to God how his church should be run? I think the last three words--should be run--says more about your idea of church than you may realize. No man or woman is supposed to run the Church.

ml said...

I know that I am late in this discussion and no one will likely read this post but it is clear that there is a misconception about the plain sense and literal hermeneutic. We are not trying to arrive at the plain sense of what the English means but the plain sense of what an original hearer would have heard and understood. Hence the plain sense of anoint with oil can be applied to our modern ears only as we seek to cross what is referred to as the hermeneutical bridge from then [original context] to now [modern hearer]. This is not seeking after a mystical deeper level or spiritualized meaning. This is why the historical study of the text is so important and why one of the best cures for misapplication of scripture is to get back to the original context in which the text was originally given. We cannot write off the original context and how that affects the intended meaning of the text; otherwise, anything goes as we tend to see in the emotive driven postmodern approach to scripture. For instance, in the house-hold codes we cannot write off the original context and we probably don't want to. Because if we say submission is no longer important then we must also say that husbands love your wives and children obey your parents must have been culturally bound in those passages, too. I know as a parent I am not ready to throw out my children's obedience. Plus, obedience like submission is a biblical theme. Also, I think it is inaccurate to say Paul endorses slavery. The logic is flawed. Even though he does not say, “abolish slavery,” this argument from silence does not equate to acceptance as endorsement. In fact, if you look at what Paul does say in Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians is was revolutionary to even mention owners, let alone husbands who were also seen as property owners, in the way that he addresses the slave-owner relationship. The truth is the Bible is not about revolutionizing the kingdoms of this world but advancing the Kingdom of God. I just wanted to give my two cents on the subject matter that everyone has now advanced beyond.

kerryn said...

ml,

just to let you know i did read and did appreciate and agree with your comments!

it amazes me how some make statements referring to scriptures like "But it says is here in 'plain english'..."

i believe the Word of God is absolutely inspired...but in it's original languages - not in any 'english' tranlsation or other language translation.

(-:
kerryn

(-:
Kerryn

othoniel a valdes sr said...

Dr Wade:
Why don't you set the example for all of us as to the appropiate role of women in ministry by hiring a woman co-pastor.That would be a bold & ground-braking move.