Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Biblical Primer on Women in Ministry (Part 6)


Last night we ordained two men to the gospel ministry at the church I pastor in Enid, Oklahoma. The ordination council was composed of all men. The laying on of hands was conducted by men. The charge issued was given by a professor from Southern Seminary. It was a wonderful service, led by men. My church reflects the beliefs of most Southern Baptist churches regarding gender roles and the ordination of males only to gospel ministry. My personal theology and ministry practice in terms of church male leadership reflects the theology and practice of 95% of all Southern Baptist churches.

Today's post is a continuation of the series on women in ministry that I began posting two weeks ago. The series is authored by a graduate of Southwestern Theological Seminary, and is posted here, with permission, in order to show that it is possible for Bible-believing, conservative, evangelical scholars to be egalitarian. To call all egalitarians "Liberals" is as absurd as calling all complementarians "Fundamentalists." At some point we are going to need to learn to cooperate with people who disagree on gender roles within the church and home. Further, at some point Southern Baptists need to learn not to be afraid that cooperation with people who disagree on this issue will cause Christians to suddenly stop believing the Bible. Understanding conservatives interpret the infallible, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God differently on this issue should humble all of us. Read on:

Part 1: History and Confessions

Part 2: Priesthood of the Believer

Part 3: Spiritual Gifts

Part 4: Offices in the Church

Part 5: Ministries

Part 6: Objections to Women in Ministry Considered

"Husband of one wife"

But before we deal with the primary argument for the prohibition of the ordination of women, let us discuss a secondary argument. 1 Timothy 3:1 states that any man aspiring to the office of overseer must be “the husband of one wife.” For much of the church the question of ordination to ministry for women is settled by this restriction also found in Titus 1:6. To many this Pauline proof text seems sufficient to exclude all women, for traditionally a woman does not have a wife. But the matter is not so simple.

What is interesting concerning both the 1 Timothy and Titus passages is that, as previously mentioned, the qualifications for elder or overseer concerns matters of character. In context, the phrase “husband of one wife” would seem to refer not to gender but to personal ethics. Although most scholars believe that both Jews and Gentiles were basically monogamous by this time, a man could legally still have more than one wife. No evidence exists, however, that a woman could ever legally have more than one husband. The writer of 1 Timothy addressed men who could have more than one wife; perhaps some men of the early church did. The writer said that the leaders of the church would practice the “one man, one woman, faithful to death” ideal of God, regardless of the world’s laws. There would have been no need to spell out that the women deacons could have only one husband, because they were not legally free to have more than one.

Further, if ordination is to be restricted to “the husband of one wife,” Paul himself would seem to be excluded, for he seems to imply that he was without spouse when he wrote 1 Cor. 7:7; and he clearly preferred that all single persons remain single (vs. 25-38). Excluded by this test also would be John the Baptist, Jesus, and all unmarried persons. In 1 Timothy 5:9, “a widow is to be “the wife of one man.” Does this mean that a man can not be a widower? If we pursue the logic of some interpreters of verse 3:2 then Paul has commanded that a man must not be a widower.

Now some might argue that unmarried people cannot be elders. Jesus was Christ. Paul was Apostle. John the Baptist was a prophet. Peter was an Apostle and an elder and was married. Therefore, elders and pastors must be married. But let us pursue this logic to its absurd conclusion. In the parallel passage of Titus 1:6 we read an elder as one who is “the husband of one wife, having children who believe.” To follow the above logic, an elder must be married and must have children. Not just one child, the Bible says children (plural). And both of these children must believe. So a person cannot become an elder or pastor until both of his children arrive at the age that they can make a confessional statement. And if an elder’s/pastor’s wife becomes pregnant, he must resign because he will soon have a baby child who will not yet believe.

It is more likely that Titus 1:6 is rephrasing 1 Timothy 3:4 about an elder being one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity. If not, we must adopt pedo-baptism to align ourselves with the logical extension of the above interpretation. Furthermore, it is most likely, that when Paul speaks in both letters concerning an elder being a “husband of one wife” he is not restricting gender but restricting immoral behavior.

“To teach or exercise authority”

For the foundational Pauline statement relegating women to subordinate roles in the church, most complementarians turn to 1 Timothy 2:11-15. But Paul’s injunction against women’s teaching or exercising authority over men is an exegetical challenge. Many commentators, whether complemenatarian or egalitarian, note the occasional nature of the three Pastoral Epistles, including 1 Timothy. Paul does not intend to “establish a blueprint for church structure,” but to deal with the circumstances that the church faced in Ephesus. His advice concerning women was not triggered by questions arising in our day, but by the conduct in worship assemblies of the first-century church.

What is unusual about 1 Timothy is the amount of space devoted specifically to women. This includes appropriate dress for women who lead in worship (1 Tim 2:9-10), behavior befitting women who teach (1 Tim 2:12-15), qualifications for women deacons (1 Tim 3:11), suitable pastoral relations with women (1 Tim 5:12), qualifications for women elders (1 Tim 5:9-10), correction of young widows (1 Tim 5:3-8, 16). In no other New Testament letter do women figure so prominently.

Quiet – 1 Corinthians 14

Here is the area of great controversy: "What part can a woman play in a church service, in its leading, its speaking, and its teaching?" According some translations, women should be "silent" in church. That word occurs twice in this passage: that a woman should "learn in silence" (Vs. 11), and, she is to "keep silent" (Vs. 12). Obviously it is wrong to interpret this verse to mean that women should not speak. The reason is because the same word that is translated "silent" here occurs also in adjectival form in Verse 2 of this same chapter. There we read that we are to pray for "kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life." The word "peaceable" is the same word which is translated "silent" here. But surely Verse 2 does not mean that we must lead lives of absolute silence. That is unless we are to be monks and takes vows of silence. It clearly means that we are to live a tranquil life, i.e., without a great deal of hassling and disturbance, etc., but a "peaceable" life. That is a good translation for this word, which, if carried over here to this section we are studying, changes the thought entirely. Furthermore, if you look at Second Thessalonians 3:12, the apostle uses this same word again. He says of certain persons who were busybodies, "Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness." There is the same word which is translated silent here. Paul is not telling people to work without speaking but to be peaceful about it, without a lot of public notice. So when we read this translation in that sense, then all that Paul is saying is, "Let a woman learn in a 'peaceful' way; she is to keep herself 'peaceful' and 'peaceable.'"

Some who argue for a woman’s “silence” in church will point to Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 14:34: “As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” The context (vs. 35) makes it clear that the silence here stands in contrast to “asking questions,” not to preaching, teaching, or prophesying. That being so, there is not tension between this passage and the clear reference in chapter 11 to the fact that women may prophecy. In chapter 14, we get a glimpse of the worship in the early church. The members have been so caught up in enthusiasm that Paul must remind them that God is God of order rather than of confusion and that all things must be done decently and in suitable order. The first concern is that of the need to convey meaning in worship. While tongues are frequently an accompaniment of ecstatic devotion, communication through prophecy is more necessary. The word that is used in the prohibition for women is laleo, a term used by Aristophanes for the frivolous chatter of women. Differentiation is made in the text between nonintelligible speech, frequently designated by the verb laleo, and communication that conveys meaning to its hearers (lego). Paul places a far higher valuation on meaningful speech than on glossalalia, and there is an insistence that all may be edified. Only one person may speak at a time, and others must be allowed to take their turn. This contrasts with many of the mystery cults in which there was a jangling of musical instruments along with confused outcries, a phenomenon known as clamor. The worship of Cybele and Dionysus required the simultaneous use of diverse and unstructured sounds. In the orgies, women in particular were swept along into an altered state of consciousness. Dionysus was known as “the lord of the loud cry, the mad exciter of women.” (Maenads) Their abandoned state of mind led to raving and uncontrolled actions, as well as to ceremonial cries known as ululation. In this vein, Paul asks whether observers might not consider the Corinthian congregation mad – probably a reference to ritual madness of these cults rather than to insanity. In response Paul asks for a dignified and suitable approach to worship. A person who speaks in tongues must be silent if there is no interpreter; a person who is prophesying must desist if another if another wishes a turn. The third injunction to silence is directed to women. They are instructed to silence in exactly the same way as the one who has no interpreter and the one who must yield a turn prophesying to another. All are given the right to prophesy, so that it does not seem to be a prohibition against contributing a message of spiritual significance to the service of the worship. Rather, it is a prohibition against a disruption. This is the most widely held view among egalitarians. This problem in the Corinthian church focuses on certain women who were disrupting the worship services by making noise and or asking many questions. This position seems logical. If this position applies to all women in all places and times and not just certain married women in the Corinthian church how does a woman ask her husband if that husband is an unbeliever? For that matter, how does an unmarried woman ask her husband? Does this then mean that this passage has no bearing on women today? Certainly not! Women can speak in church but at the appropriate time. If this was the underlying problem Paul addressed, then the egalitarian interpretation follows. As Witherington declares,

“I conclude that a creation order or family order problem was not at issue in this passage but rather a church order problem caused by some women in the congregation. Paul corrects the abuse not by banning women from ever speaking in worship, but by silencing their particular abuse of speech and redirecting their questions to another time and place. Paul does wish the women to learn the answers to their questions. This passage in no way contradicts 1 Cor11:5, nor any other passage which suggests that women can teach, preach, pray, or prophecy in or outside the churches.”

As a response to a local problem, Paul’s injunction may have implications for similar situations today. But we cannot appeal to this text as providing the foundation for prohibiting women in ministry. Howard correctly concludes, “Sadly, what was a particular and local admonition in respect of a particular and local situation has become consistently interpreted by many sections of the Church as a general ban and thus the women members of the congregation have been denied their Christian rights.”

“I do not allow”

Important in this context is the grammatical shift between the command, “Let a woman learn” and Paul’s declarative statement “I permit no woman to teach.” On the basis of his choice of the present active indicative (epitrebo) rather than the imperative, egalitarians conclude that Paul is not voicing a timeless command, but a temporary directive applicable to a specific situation: “I am not presently allowing.”
This interpretation seems strenuous at best. Nevertheless, Liefield asks the question:

“Why does Paul use the indicative form rather than the making it a command by using the imperative? There can be little doubt that the reason he is telling Timothy what he does not permit is so that Timothy will follow the same practice. But read from the viewpoint of later generations, how significant is it that Paul does not issue a command such as, ‘Do not permit women to teach’ or ‘Women must not teach of have authority?’ Theologically it may be significant to observe that the Holy Spirit could have led Paul to use an imperative construction that might be interpreted as binding the church to follow that practice for all time, but instead led Paul to use a construction that describes his practice without making it permanently binding.”

Interestingly, Paul uses the present active indicative in 1 Cor. 7:7. In this verse, the apostle wills that all men were as he: unmarried.

“To teach”

As we have already seen, this is not an absolute prohibition against teaching. Paul does not say, "I permit no woman to teach, anywhere, anytime, to anyone, period!", although this passage has been taken to mean that. It is clear from other passages in the New Testament that women did teach. In fact, in his letter to Titus, Paul tells the elderesses to teach younger women how to love their husbands and rule their children, etc. So women were expected to teach. Also, as has been mentioned, there are instances in Scripture where women taught men.

“Exercise authority”

It would appear that the heart of the entire women’s ordination debate centers upon one verse or, more precisely, one verb. In 1 Timothy 2:12 we read: “But I do not allow a woman to teach of exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (NAS) The NIV reads “to have authority.” The NKJ reads: “to have authority.” The Scofield Reference Bible reads: “to usurp authority.” The Dios Llega Hombre reads: “ni tampoco dominar.” These are various translations of the Greek word authenteo, the word at the center of the present controversy. This word appears only here in the Bible and rarely appears in the secular Greek literature of the time. It has been variously translated as: “one who with his own hands kills another or himself”, “one who acts on his own authority, autocratic”, “an absolute master”, “to govern, exercise dominion over one.” What is significant about this verse is that Paul does not use his regular word for authority, exousiazo, “to exercise authority”, “to have power or authority over”, “to be master of any one”, “to brought under power of another”(1 Cor. 6:12, 1 Cor. 7:4). One would assume that if Paul was intending to speak of regular authority he would have used his familiar term. While exousia is used 28 times by Paul it is not used in either Timothy epistles but does appear in Titus 3:1. Interestingly, in 1 Timothy 2:2, he uses huperoche for kings who are in authority. Among many egalitarians it is believed that authenteo holds a negative connotation. Grenze writes:

“The fact that Paul uses an unusual term generally carried negative connotations, rather than the more prevalent neutral verbs, should predispose us to anticipate a negative meaning.”

With this in mind, Spencer offers a plausible summary of the intent of these verses 11-12:

“Women are to be calm and to have restraint and respect and affirm their teachers rather than to engage in an autocratic authority which destroys its subjects. Paul here is not prohibiting women from preaching nor praying nor having an edifying authority nor pasturing. He is simply prohibiting them from teaching and using their authority in a destructive way.”

Catherine Kroeger makes a strong case for translating authentein (written by Paul in verse 12 as an infinitive) as “to involve someone in soliciting sexual liaisons” rather than as “to usurp authority, domineer, or exercise authority over.” Kroeger builds her case from uses of authentein in Greek literature from the period preceding the New Testament. The solicitation of sexual favors was apparently a major problem within the early church. Both the churches at Pergamum and Thyatyra were condemned for teaching sexual immorality (2 Rev. 2:14, 18). Kroeger finds evidence for sexually immoral behavior among various religious groups in the Wisdom of Solomon, where “cursed children” are mentioned along with authentein. These “cursed children” are presumed to be the offspring of the immoral liaisons. Clement of Alexandria complained about Christian groups who had turned the communion service into a sex orgy, and he calls people who participated in this form of religion authentai. Throughout the Greco-Roman world, it seems there were groups – some of them calling themselves Christian - which combined worship, teaching and sexual immorality. Related to these various cults and misguided Christian groups were the heresies which posited that women possessed superior intellectual and spiritual knowledge and priority in creation. If Paul is indeed responding to these “female” heresies, then his statements about creation make a great deal of sense.

Whether Kroeger is correct in her analysis we currently have no evidence to decide conclusively. Regardless of how we translate authenteo, we are obviously not dealing with the common idea of exousia as we understand “authority” in the rest of Scripture. Paul had exousia or one of its cognates to use but he chose not to employ it.

But we need not arrive conclusively at the meaning of authenteo in order to successfully refute the argument by complementarians that women cannot be ordained because they are not to have authority over a man. Let us proceed under the presumption of most complementarian arguments that authenteo and exousia are virtually synonymous.

The main problem that has surrounded this debate on the ordination of women is the presumption that a senior pastor has authority over others. Furthermore, a serious problem has existed in the church for two millennia in that Christians have presumed themselves as having authority over other Christians. This idea is foreign to the teachings of Peter and Paul and is soundly rejected by Jesus. In the Church, no one is to have authority over another.

In Luke 22, during the Last Supper, before Jesus is to be crucified, the disciples are arguing over who is the greatest. In verses 25-27 Jesus says, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those who exercise authority (exousiazo) over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? But I am among you as one who serves.” In the parallel passage in John 13, Jesus then began to wash the feet of His disciples. What this demonstrates is that we are not to have authority over other believers. Specifically, leaders/elders/pastors are not to have authority over the “laity.” This is a radical concept that brings the priesthood of the believer into new light. Jesus is the only one who has authority over His body of the church. Jesus is the only one who has authority over the individual believer. He put it clearly in Matthew 23:8 (RSV): "One is your Master, and all you are brethren."
Paul is in complete agreement with Jesus, of course. Never, in any of the epistles, does Paul, an Apostle, authorize a leader’s authority over another believer. Paul’s Apostleship authority is only granted to him directly from Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1-5, 7:25) Never does Paul say that a man has authority over women. In 1 Cor 7:4 Paul writes, “The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The “likewise” in v. 3 is important. Here is the recognition that a wife has the same conjugal right and authority upon a husband as does the husband upon the wife. Each spouse has a certain “authority” over the other’s body (v. 4). The authority and power that Jesus demonstrates radically differs from the understanding prevalent in our world.

It may be argued that a preacher in the pulpit has personal authority, but this is not taught in Scripture (again, apart from apostolic authority). The authority is in the Word itself, not in the individual teaching it. What “authority” does a pastor have over his congregation? Can the pastor forbid them to leave in the middle of the service? Can he or she insist they believe or act on what the pastor says? Can the pastor forbid them to take part in a discussion? Can the pastor insist that his or her teaching is “authoritative” over that of others who also believe and teach the Bible? A pastor who did any of these things would soon be without a congregation. This is true in any Protestant denomination but more so in Baptist life where the “authority” rests within the congregation. In cases of church discipline church leaders usually recommend action which must be carried out by the church body. The work of elders/pastors, deacons and other church leaders is largely in the formulation of policies which must ultimately be accepted by the congregation. Actually, to be sure that no woman would hold authority over a man in the church, women would have to be denied the right to vote in churches.

Jesus said that disciples are to be servants of one another and the greatest is the one who is servant of all. By these words Jesus indicates that an entirely different system of government than that employed by the world should prevail among Christians.

Throughout twenty centuries the church has virtually ignored these words. It is clear from the Scriptures that the apostles were concerned about the danger of developing ecclesiastical bosses. In Second Corinthians 1:24a (RSV), Paul reminds the Corinthians concerning his own apostolic authority: "Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, ..." In the same letter he describes, with apparent disapproval, how the Corinthians reacted to certain leaders among themselves: "For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face," (2 Cor 11:20 RSV). Peter, too, is careful to warn the elders (and he includes himself among them) not to govern by being "domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock," (1 Pet 5:3 RSV). And John speaks strongly against Diotrephes "who likes to put himself first, and takes it on himself to put some out of the church," (cf, 3 Jn 1:9-10). These first-century examples of church bosses indicate how easily churches then, as today, ignored the words of Jesus, "it shall not be so among you.”

Is a woman to have authority over a man? No. Is a man to have authority over a woman? No. Is a pastor/elder to have authority over another believer? No. Is a believer to have authority over another believer? Again, no. Therefore, can a woman be ordained as pastor? Yes.


Anonymous said...

In reading your blog over the few weeks, there is something I have not considered in respect to Timothy's letter and inconsistencies on Paul's letter's with women in leadership...the exposure of hands on Scripture for them to read and study. If a woman in that pagan temple system of worship was in a position of authority and teaching influence without knowledge it would be detrimental and she might be decieved by the Gnostic influences of that time.

Anonymous said...

I think the article brings out a good point. A good question is should anyone (regardless of gender) excercise authority over another as Jesus makes clear in Mark 10.42ff.

Anyone who has pastored a baptist church knows how little authority a pastor really has. We are stewards of the pulpit and guard the orthodoxy of the gospel, but pastors in congregationally governened churches have very little authority. It can take years to "sell our vision" to the various committees and to get those present in a business meeting to approve it. A pastor's power lies in the ability to influence, a commodity which is earned through service (i.e., Mark 10).

So, in all this discussion about whether of not a female can be senior pastor, perhaps we need to be more fearful of some people's idea of what a senior pastor is and how much authority ought to be invested in that position.

Todd Pylant

Rex Ray said...

Good post, but… [See, anything I say after ‘but’ will not agree with ‘Good post’.] That’s what James did to Peter in Acts 15. (Yeah, I know I’m a broken record.)

The post said: “And John speaks strongly against Diotrephes ‘who likes to put himself first, and takes it on himself to put some out of the church,’ (3 John 1:9-10) These first-century examples of church bosses indicate how easily churches then, as today, ignored the words of Jesus, ‘It shall not be so among you.’”

John the Elder criticizing Diotrephes is a little like ‘The pot calling the kettle black.’ The question in this verse is who claimed to have authority over the other, and who was the real boss?

(Verse 9 Living) “I sent a brief letter to the church [In my opinion, the big boss church of Jerusalem] about this, but proud Diotrephes, who loves to push himself forward as the leader of the Christians there, [a handful] does not admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me.”

(New Living Translation 1997) “I sent a brief letter to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, does not acknowledge our authority.”

I agree with her conclusion: “Is a believer to have authority over another believer? Again, no. Therefore, can a woman be ordained as pastor? Yes.”

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to find out who this SWBTS grad is. For I shall now go on record with the following statement:

"The author of this thesis does quite a hack job on Holy Scripture such that the entire paper should be considered heresy and burned."


Tom Parker said...


I for one could care less what you think!!

Paul Burleson said...


Michael Michael Michael...What am I gonna do with you. :)

Tom Parker said...


I am beginning to believe that KMC is a hopeless case. It really scares me that he is a Pastor.

John Daly said...

It’s obvious the author has invested much in this paper and there is always something one can learn from another’s labor. And it’s encouraging to see someone attempting exegetically to build the conversation. It would be interesting to learn from subsequent comments if they believe the SBC’s tent is wide enough to accommodate this practice? While I’m afraid I cannot subscribe to the author’s final conclusion, it wouldn’t prevent any breaking of bread with those who do.

John in the STL

Anonymous said...

Once part seven is published, could you put together a pdf in which someone could read the paper both in one sitting and with footnotes available to consider?

Thank you.


Anonymous said...


Are you familiar with the
Ad Hominem fallacy in logic?

Wait ... the answer is obvious

Hence your dogmatic irrationlity
so plainly evident.

Enjoy the pleasures of invicible


Anonymous said...

For those who might be interested it is possible to listen to a recent session with Ben Witherington (quoted in this post), a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt University, on the topic of Paul and Women. This conversation was sponsored by the Socratic Club of Duke Divinity School on April 8, 2008. It is an mp3file which can be streamed or downloaded to your PC/ipod. The location is:

There are also links to the CV's of each participant. Whatever one's view it is worth listening to the full 2 hours. said...

K. Michael Crowder,

I say this respectfully. The attitude you display in your comment above is the reason the Southern Baptist Convention is dying a slow death.

Unlike others, I believe, deep down, you genuinely have a pastoral heart. And, contrary to many that comment here, you and I probably agree on reformed soteriology and other doctrinal matters that would put us in the minority of the SBC (but in the majority of the Founders).

Let me encourage you to take a fresh examination of your heart. The only description ever given of Jesus was that He was a man full of 'grace and truth.' Word order in Scripture is important. Grace preceded truth.

Even if the author of this paper is incorrect in his conclusions, you lose the ability to win him over to your side with a lack of grace. Listen to him. Engage the argument. Be kind to the person.

And then, you may actually persuade someone of the truth to which you hold. You and I both believe that God is in charge of both the good and the bad in this world. One of these days He may convince you that He doesn't need you to purge the bad, but He has commanded you to love your brothers in Christ, for our love for each other shall all the world know that we are His disciples.

In His Grace,

Wade said...


Thanks for the link. I will listen to it later today.


Bob Cleveland said...

It was sure easy being a presbyterian, where they gave you a book and said that's what we believe. Look a lot less thinking.

I'm posting on my own blog about that, in a while.

Jon L. Estes said...

The article as given thus far is interesting but not convincing. To much of the proposed platform is built upon what scripture does not say rather than what it does say. At least this is my take on reading it.

Does that mean women can't pastor Well reality tells us women preach and pastor every week and many probably do a better job at it than many men.

Does that mean a woman ought not to pastor? I find peace in the presence of God and His word to say the office of the pastor and deacon is to be left with those who are men, called out to preach.

If we were left to make the rules up, no telling who we would limit to or let pastor.

Final comment for today.

Holding this position does not mean I am against women in ministry. I support women in ministry but not in the two offices within the church. I take this stand because I believe scripture takes this stand, in what it does say.

Anonymous said...

Wade and KMichael,
Wade, first, ..... I thoroughly agree with your premise in comments to KMichael.... since I often "sense" he has lost his audience before adequate thought has been given to his observation...... all because of his "firey fussing" at the messenger before addressing the content of the message....

KMichael, I appreciate your zeal and expressed loyalties to the SBC established "traditions".
I also am grateful for your youthful commitment.... It has been a growing concern of mine, and apparently recent studies and denominational commentary are similarly concerned with the "greying" observed when looking across the floor of our annual meetings (SBC). On several occasions I have wished that you would have been a little more discretionary in you comments and then maybe others would have been more respectful of your opinions, but, at least, it is apparent where you stand..... once your written comments have been read.
I have spent much of my life contrasting major world views in order that I might have opportunity to share the unsearchable riches embodied in Jesus' Gospel of the Kingdom with those of differing persuasions. Until they can come to know HIM! My major discovery as a strongly opinionated man who finally in later life has discovered that such methodology works well in my relationship with fellow Believers.
My sincere wish is that BOTH of you are "blessed" in your perception and practice as you focus on "Pleasing" and "Serving" our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ until we have concluded this "walk" and join the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us!
Finally, Wade, thanks for your efforts to provide this venue for information distribution, and thank you for the gentlemanly manner in which you have expressed your interests in SBC proceedings.

Dave Miller said...

I am not sure I agree with Wade's comment above that the SBC is dying a slow death. We certainly have some issues to deal with, but there are other signs of health and growth that should not be ignored.

I certainly do not agree with KMC that this is heresy. But I do not agree with the interpretation, exegesis or the application.

One problem in the SBC today is that many cannot make that distinction. I disagree with much of what has been written in these posts on Women in Ministry.

But that does not mean I have to call those I disagree with heretics.

The SBC will have to decide if this is an issue we want to make a point of fellowship.

Anonymous said...

Wade I think you are a heretic too!
Why dont you leave the SBC.


Anonymous said...

Unjustifiably charging those with whom one disagrees with 'heresy' ought to be a heresy - against orthopraxy, if not orthodoxy.

Anonymous said...


Despite all the fire bombs I might lob from time to time, I love Wade as a brother in Christ. I frequently watch Emmanuel on Demand to hear Wade's preaching, whose style I enjoy, and whose content I find informative and biblical (based on the sermons to which I have listened). And as Wade has so afore mentioned, he and I likely line up on many issues which may be considered narrow minded. If Wade is a heretic, then I am a heretic, and wear the title with pride, in that it is to say that I am aware that I am a sinfully depraved believer who makes mistakes, is not always as loving as I could be, desires bad things, and at times worships perfection. But I do not desire that Wade leaves the SBC. I just wish he (and others) would preach their convictions. But then that would require a smaller tent.....a smaller church......a more narrow grace......but a much wider truth.

K said...


Show some courage, like K Michael Crowder, and identify yourself, or lose the ability to comment disparagingly.


Anonymous said...

I too wish Wade would "post" the truth, like he "preaches" the truth. Unfortunatley, Wade has determined that God has called him to preach and practice the truth at his church (see introduction)... while posting the opposing view for the world to read on his blog.

This bloggels my mind?!

Joe W. said...

Joe W.

Teachers in my church, including Sunday School teachers, are free to dispute anything I say from the pulpit. I may teach sovereign grace, they may teach Free Will; I may teach historic premillenialism, they may teach dispensationalism or amillenialsm; I may teach complementarianism, they may teach egalitarianism; etc . . . You get the picture.

I simply ask they be courteous, open and acknowledge that not every believer in our fellowship would agree. The spirit at our church is sweet, the Word of God is revered, but Christians are humble enough to continue to learn and not assume they have all the answers down pat.



Paul Burleson said...


Every one seems to have an opinion.. myself included. That.. and 1.65 will get you a tall coffee, house blend, [the best] with room [Room for non-fat milk'] at any Starbucks.

What follows is my opinion of the material you're providing and, I remind you, [though you know it so I'm reminding everyone else I guess] I've spent many years reading almost everything written by almost anyone who writes on women in ministry on both sides of the issue, my having been on first one side and now the other, and have found absolutely no one that I totally agree with, including the present author with whom I am in contact periodically though I do not know him personally.

But...[whew] I will say...[That Starbucks thing remember] my opinion is... what this young man has produced is one of the clearest, hermeneutically sound and textually supported arguments for a position on women in ministry that I have read and I've read some of the best, including Piper.

[All of this from his viewpoint of course. Whether one agrees or not with his conclusions he/she, whomever it might be that disagrees, should be as clear and honest with what they see in the text as he has been.]

Agree with him or not, the SBC is is better shape, because of who he is and what he has done, than we would be without him.

It is this kind of grappling with the text, with a confidence in it's integrity, that is needed in our convention.

When you reveal who the author is I believe many will find other things they disagree on, as have I. [A few things] But his honest research and clear presentation on any issue theologically will challenge anyone who is open to the ongoing discovery of the understanding of Truth.

A side note. With some exceptions, I've found that blogging has heightened my excitement about younger SBCers. [Younger compared to me that is which includes everyone I guess. :)] For this I see blogging as a gift from God to me. But He is to be the focus as always, not the gift.

Thanks for putting this up and I agree with Amy, it would help for it to be put up all in one whatever. I'm going to encourage the young author to put it in print.

Anonymous said...


"If Wade is a heretic, then
I am a heretic ..."

Then why use the theologically loaded term 'heretic' for persons who make honest mistakes in belief and practice?

- Because there are no
'honest mistakes?': "I am
a sinfully depraved believer
who makes mistakes ..."

Then should you not be more careful that you might be making mistakes in your comments on this blog? You seem to be pretty sure that you are not.

And how do you know when you are making a mistake as a "sinfully depraved believer" and when you are not?

- When your comments / beliefs
are in accordance with the teachings of the Bible?

But how do you know when your interpretations of the teachings of the Bible as a "sinfully depraved believer" are mistakes
or not?

- When the leadership of the Holy Spirit tells you are not?

But how do you know when your interpretations of the leadership of the Holy Spirit, as a "sinfully depraved believer" are correct or not?

- Because at some point/ somehow
you become exempt from mistakes
of a "sinfully depraved believer?"

Ah, the performative self-contradictions resulting from the 'Christian nihilism' known as 'total depravity!'

Anonymous said...

Joe W,

I frequently teach university students on various Biblical topics at my local SBC church. As examples, we have discussed Arminianism vs. Calvinism, Revelation/end times and women's role in the church. My entire approach to teaching a topic like this is to present the various positions, give my own interpretation and allow the students to process to their own conclusion. Some agree with me, some do not and I am not trying to convince them to adopt my interpretation, although it is clear what I think. We have some wonderful conversations where I learn as well.

Our unity of relationship is not dependent upon uniformity of interpretation.

I believe this is Wade's point in posting positions even he does not agree with. We are far better off to engage in a gracious, kind conversation that allows the Holy Spirit to work within all of us, than we are to take up a position in our defensive redoubts and fire bombshells at those who disagree with us.

Try it might be surprised at how the Holy Spirit honors and works in such a situation. said...

By the way Joe, when I teach, I also present all the different conservative viewpoints before I give my own.

For instance, in a series called "Cosmic Eschatology" I taught five positions as if I held to them all: Dispensationalism, Preterism, Historic Premillenialism, Amillenialism, and Post-millenialism.

Then I gave them the view to which I hold. When I was done, many people said I had convinced them of other views by teaching them all. I think, other than the essentials of the Christian faith, variety is healthy because it reminds people that only certain truths are life and death and cooperation can be had with disagreement on tertiary matters.

Wayne Smith said...


My Mother who was a very devout Christian Woman taught me to be a Thinker, to use the Mind that God gave me. I was taught first of all to consider all people and things. She gave me 2 Books, a Bible and the Dictionary of Thoughts. So when I read anything it has to measure up to what I know as “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”. Brother Wade Burleson provides LOTS of food for THOUGHT.
Wade thanks for feeding and telling the TRUTH on Your Blog, Grace and Truth. We all know that we are not Perfect, but we look forward to that day in the Promise of Jesus Christ.

K. Michael Crowder,
That was a very nice Christian comment above; see you can do it with LOVE.

In His Name

Anonymous said...

What do you plan to do: block the whole internet?

Love God Hate Microsoft

Anonymous said...

Joe W. is right to some degree. A. W. Tozer commended that too many pastors speak on two different levels in respect to being behind or away from the podium. This is not an easy task by any means but commended to follow. When one tries to do so... they really understand how much of Christian life is dependent on the grace of God. Most of what is missing in this dialogue is the element of fruit not hermenutics. Is good fruit bruised and the propensity for bitter roots to grow in removing Mrs. Klouda?? We need good sound biblical wisdom in making decisions that is grounded on fruitfulness.

Lin said...

"I may teach sovereign grace, they may teach Free Will; I may teach historic premillenialism, they may teach dispensationalism or amillenialsm; I may teach complementarianism, they may teach egalitarianism; etc . . . You get the picture."

This is what many do not understand. Even in the seeker churches I have found extreme dogmatism in dispensationalim and complimentarian issues with no room for disagreement. And that comes from many churches with watered down preaching where one rarely hears about hell or the truth about sin!

Above, you have described my current SBC church. We discuss these secondary differences lovingly with a sharp eye on the essentials. Quite frankly, we focus on the Sovereignty of God. We would never think of dividing over these secondary issues and instead, CHOOSE to love and accept each other despite them.

There are too many now in the SBC (as in other denominations and churches) that think everyone has to agree on almost every secondary doctrine to be united in fellowship.

But, I will say this...the issues we are discussing go back to one of the most misunderstood doctrines in all scripture: Biblical authority.

If we take their view of 'authority' to its logical conclusion, then no one would be able to leave a cult that calls itself 'Christian'. They would have to 'obey' and 'submit' to their leaders. To be a good follower, they can never disagree (especially if a woman) and must drink their kool-aid to be in fellowship and labeled a liberal or a heretic. There would be no Holy Priesthood in practice. (And we are seeing that concept fade away in the SBC)

I have to ask why they believe that anyone carrying a 'title' of pastor or elder should automatically be believed or even respected? Or have authority? It is NOT an 'office' as in a Levite priest. It is a functiom within the Body. We have seen evidence of 'bad' pastors and elders out there. Does their 'office' supercede their orthopraxy? And who 'disciplines' them when other 'leaders' won't? No one. We see examples of this all the time.

It starts getting complicated and unbiblical when we seperate out a distinct 'professional' Christian clergy class that is over other believers.

We need to start teaching people to be discipled by the Holy Spirit through the Word and stop following mere men.

Aussie John said...


As an old-timer with over fifty years of preaching/teaching God's precious word, I want to commend you on the gracious demeanor you display.

I'm afraid I was like one of your younger correspondents who appears to have perfected the I-have-a better-understanding-of-Scripture-than-you-do attitude, even though I honestly believed I was being faithful to the Scriptures. Instead, I am thankful that my eyes were opened to the fact that I was being faithful to what another sinner, like me, said the Scriptures declared.

I soon learned, after a few hard lessons, that I was at the very beginning of a learning adventure (which even now continues) guided by our sovereign God, which included many severe cuts and bruises which could have been avoided.

It saddens me to see, that "Christians" in USA can act in the same cowardly way as in my country, firing the same venomous words at those who hold to a differing understanding on non-salvific matters.

I am particularly saddened to see attacks on another's credibility and honesty from behind the dubious protection of anonymity. Such contributions are beneath contempt and do not deserve the privilege of being acknowledged in a conversation.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Several years ago Craig Blomberg wrote a fascinating article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society called, "The New Testament Definition of Heresy (or When do Jesus and the Apostles Really Get Mad?)." Blomberg points out that the NT authors most strongly oppose certain false teachings and immoral behaviors, not every aberrant belief. They fought strongly for certain foundational christological issues such the full deity and full humanity of Christ. They also insisted on salvation by grace through faith, rejecting all forms of legalism (performing good works in order to "be saved"), nomism (defining the Christian life primarily in terms of a list of "dos and don'ts" rather than a vibrant living relationship with Jesus), and ethnocentrism (external religious activities that mark certain ethnic groups or nationalities as "God's favored people")(cf. Matt 23). Instead, the NT writers insisted that each person must submit to the living Christ's lordship (Rom 10:9-10) and "exhibit the fruit befitting repentance."

They insisted that correct behavior was least as crucial as correct theology. The NT strongly opposes licentiousness and immorality (Gal 5-6), but but with the same vehemence it opposes a factious or a divisive spirit among the brethren (e.g. Tit 3:10-11). Morality is clearly placed above ritual (Mark 2:1-3:6).

In other words, according to the NT, "heresy" could be defined in two directions: (1) something that has clearly transgressed outside the boundaries of an evangelical faith, but also (2) something that draws those boundaries too narrowly. As has been stated, "One can become heretical by being either too broad-minded or too narrow-minded."

Jesus gave some of His harshest criticism against religious leaders who attributed the genuine work of God to the work of the devil (Mark 3:22-30). He called this "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." Blomberg cautions, "This exchange should make us extraordinarily cautious about using the language of diabolical influence on a fellow Christian." I tend to agree. The term "heresy" is an extremely strong term that should be reserved for central tenets of the faith that have been clearly transgressed. We should at least be as reserved as the NT writers.

Kevin Peacock

ezekiel said...

You may want to take a look at Romans 14 before you go labeling a fellow servant as a heretic. You are not just throwing stumbling blocks before a lot of faithful women in the the SBC but building walls on top of the questionable footing they (the stumbling blocks) provide.

I am sure you can exegete Romans 14 but here are a few verses rather than all of it for the sake of brevity. I don’t think the message here is limited to just eating and drinking. Maybe you do. To me, the key is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

As my wife recently put it, “you can’t convince me that just because I am equipped with different equipment, doesn’t mean that I am any less part of the kingdom of God than you are, or to be treated with any less respect or limited in my capacity to serve my God”.

You may also like to search the Word for "conscience" and let us know why you insist on enslaving us based on what your conscience tells you and why your interptetation is the only one that matters.

4)Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
10But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
12So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
21It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
22The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

Don Smith

truth, not religion said...

Brother Paul,

I was raised in a strict church where women couldn't speak in the sanctuary etc. These 2 comments (below) of yours are exactly where I am. I spent years studying everything I could find on the subject of women in church and ministry (and that was before seminary!) THIS STUDY WADE HAS POSTED IS SOME OF THE BEST I HAVE VIEWED.


I've spent many years reading almost everything written by almost anyone who writes on women in ministry on both sides of the issue, my having been on first one side and now the other, and have found absolutely no one that I totally agree with (I AGREE WITH THIS PARAGRAPH)wtreat

what this young man has produced is one of the clearest, hermeneutically sound and textually supported arguments for a position on women in ministry that I have read and I've read some of the best, including Piper. (AMEN AND AMEN!)wtreat

In His Service

now, if only I could reach thAT place of grace that Wade shows. Some of my southern redneck still ocasionally gets in the way!

Bruce said...

Kevin Peacock, were you a journeyman for the FMB?

Bob Cleveland said...

I think I know why a lot of folks objected to the change from "priesthood of the believer", to "the priesthood of all believers" in the BF&M 2000. A lot of folks seem to believe in the priesthood of (me) but not the priesthood of (those other guys).

Anonymous said...

Mr Burleson - I'm young and mostly stupid. But it was weird to read you responding to the crazy Crowder guy (who should read the Bible... especially the parts about meekness and humility), chastising him that "someday he'll realize that God doesn't need you to purge the bad".

I could probably post that phrase directed toward you under eighty percent of your posts about the SBC.

- josh lance

Only By His Grace said...


Your youth shows. I hope you keep an open and searching mind. I hope you have not and will not pull an iron curtain down over your mind; once you do that all learning stops. You may not know it, but it stops.

Listen to Traveler. He has some wisdom you need to learn.

Phil in Norman.

Anonymous said...

I have been enjoying this series so far and have found it interesting and thought provoking. As others have said, there are some statements and conclusions I agree with and some I don't.

I especially like the points made about the nature of leadership and "authority" in the church and think churches would be much more of what God intended them to be if more people really "got" that.

But I also realize that the point isn't whether or not I agree on every word, but rather it is that we can and should cooperate in ministry and missions with others even when we don't always agree. Our list of essentials ought to be relatively small (along the lines of the Apostles Creed).

I do wish, however, that the author had been more careful to avoid or correct typos, errors in spelling, sentence fragments, poor wording, and incomplete thoughts. From a mechanics standpoint this does not reflect Masters level (seminary) work, which is an unfortunate and frustrating distraction from the content. What might have been an "A" paper on the basis of research and logical presentation of the author's arguments (whether or not one accepts the conclusions) should get at best a "C" due to errors that wouldn't be acceptable in High School work. (Makes me wish I had a printed copy and a red pen on hand!)

Anonymous said...


Certainly the chapter of Romans 14 has some bearing on the matter here at hand. But I might ask you to apply this passage equally to all present on this blog, as well as the cousin blog,

Here is my heartfelt reason for even being a part of this discussion. The Apostle Luke, M.D. seems to indicate to The Most Excellent Theophilus that it is "good" to write an exact, orderly, sequential account of those things which have been understood, or fully known. (parakolouthakoti/παρηκολουθηκότι)

Why? verse 4: so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been TAUGHT.(katachathas/κατηχήθης)...also to indoctrinate.

Wade's blog addresses issues of vital importance to the polity and faith of cooperating Southern Baptists. Despite what anyone believes, our seminaries eventually determine our doctrine, and our mission agencies propagate growth at the macro-level. So, in this effort of cooperation, we should, as Dr. Luke suggests, write down those things which we hold to be most dear. (e.g. the Baptist Faith and Message, London Confession, Nicene Creed, etc.)

And since the gender of biblical ecclesiastical leadership is a part of the BF&M2K, and since the topic is currently being discussed in present company, and since Dr. Luke seems to suggest that we can know for certain those things most surely believed among us, then the nature, trustworthiness, and biblical accuracy of opinions, ideologies, and philosophies discussed in said discussion are open to be measured and recorded and compared to the Word of God given to men by the Spirit of the Living God. That which is not truth is heresy. Heresy spoken by a believer with good intentions is still heresy and untruth. It is good then, in such cases, to expose untruth before such time as we are called to write and orderly account, or to contend for the faith, or to give an account of the hope within us.
As for your wife, Mr. Smith, her “equipment” is none of my concern. Please see the error in the logic that assumes my biblical position regarding the gender requirements of ecclesiastical leadership places women in an importance of lesser value than men. You sir, should not attempt to “enslave” the consciences of the readers of this blog by making such an illogical assertion. The very definition of the term “Complementarian” dictates the fallacy of your claim. Thank you for your comment.

K. Michael Crowder

Anonymous said...


You wrote... "By the way Joe, when I teach, I also present all the different conservative viewpoints before I give my own." You then gave the series on "Cosmic Eschatology" as an example.

I both applaud and admire the way you handle different conservative viewpoints. However, I question how this particular subject meets that criteria when by your own admission these are not... "the beliefs of most Southern Baptist churches regarding gender roles and the ordination of males only to gospel ministry..." and does not line up with... "the theology and practice of 95% of all Southern Baptist churches."

- Does it not seem strange that only now, nearly 2,000 years later, that the church is properly interpreting these scriptures?

- Does it not seem strange that even now, in 2008, 95% (your number not mine) of Southern Baptists churches follow only a male leadership gender role for the church (yourself inclueded).

- Does it not seem strange that only now, in the year 2008, after the radical feminism of the 60' and 70's has truly taken hold on our culture, that this view is being presented as "Conservative"?

It sure seems strange to me! I say that even at the risk of being labeled a "heretic", "racist", "discriminator", on this blog for being too narrow. I think it might to us good to go back and read the Lord's letter to the church at Thyatira. There is such a thing as being to tolerant.

Joe W.

Anonymous said...

Joe, As I was reading through your list below, it struck me that you never discuss actual content of interpretation.

"- Does it not seem strange that only now, nearly 2,000 years later, that the church is properly interpreting these scriptures?"

Lets see, it has only been in the last 270 years the majority intrepretated some scriptures correctly by going against the state church. We have quite a few in the reformed arena who want to overlook the state church that existed since 300 AD. Was that scriptural? We could include baby baptism and transubstantiation, too. It still goes on.

By the way, where in scripture do you see a pulpit with ONE guy preaching to the Body? Where do we see the Body sitting in pews acting like spectators in worship? Where do we see in scripture a special building being built for worship? How did we interpret that so badly?

"- Does it not seem strange that even now, in 2008, 95% (your number not mine) of Southern Baptists churches follow only a male leadership gender role for the church (yourself inclueded)."

Not at all. If you look at history...printing more people access to scriptures and takes away the authority for only a few to interpret scripture for the masses...literacy does the same we all have access to the same resource tools that only scholars had access to a few years back. What I see are people looking into this and saying, "What? The woman in 1 Timothy 2 is singular! I never heard that from the pulpit (hmmmm...did the pastor have an agenda or just preaching what he had been taught when he said it was for ALL women, all time)

They can now access documents in Greek that show that 'symbol of or 'sign of' was NEVER even in the original Greek in 1 Corin 11:10. Hmmm..where did that come from and why?

They can even research all the ways Kephale was used in early Greek. Same for authenteo.

See, nowadays, we can have the average Joe studying Greek and some do not like it at all.

"- Does it not seem strange that only now, in the year 2008, after the radical feminism of the 60' and 70's has truly taken hold on our culture, that this view is being presented as "Conservative"?"

Who are these 'radical feminists' in Christian circles? Name names. Let's get to the meat.

Joe! Take a good look at history. Did you know the equal poltical rights for women (voting, owning property, etc) came out of the Abolitionist movement?

"It sure seems strange to me! I say that even at the risk of being labeled a "heretic", "racist", "discriminator", on this blog for being too narrow. I think it might to us good to go back and read the Lord's letter to the church at Thyatira. There is such a thing as being to tolerant."

Too tolerant to include women in the Holy Priesthood? Sorry Joe, the scripture teaches me that I am a minister in the Priesthood and have 'anointing' (1 John) whether you like it or not.

Paul assumed that gals like me where praying and prohesying in the Body. The difference is that now we have ONE guy running the show with a few other men. The early church was NOT like that. That is where the real difference lies.


I would personally appreciate it, Joe, if you would engage in the discussion of the actual interpretation of scripture instead of resorting to the typical name calling by CBMW of anyone who disagrees being a radical feminist, heretic or liberal.

ezekiel said...


While Luke stresses the importance that things be recorded so we can know with certainty the things pertaining to the Gospel and sound doctrine, Peter also tells us that Paul's teachings (I think that is what we are discussing) are sometimes hard to understand.

2 Peter 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

When we discuss the practice of our religion (let's face it, that is what it is) we must avoid the pitfalls of our forefathers. The picture we see from so many of the examples we see Jesus confronting in the Jewish Temple and the religion that they practiced are just as dangerous for us if we insist on practicing them in our religion.

When I read the Word, I see where the practice of their religion, complete with rules, laws and dogmatic ritual were no more able to save them than the same practice of our religion complete with our man made rules and dogmatic rituals are able to save us.

So when I see men as yourself, picking a verse or two out of scripture and hanging a serious portion of your practice on that small sample of scripture while appearing to ignore other teaching such as freedom from the law, that we are all sons of God (yes, women too) and that we are to practice righteousness, love and mercy then I am just as free to comment as you are.

True enough we are to expose untruth. But running around labeling you as a heretic because you are ignorant and don't understand all of Paul's teachings isn't any more productive than labeling anyone else for the same lack of understanding. Including myself.

I will quote it again in case you missed it.

Galatains 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

You can insist from your comp position that we (men and women) are separate but equal all you want. But you will never have the unity in the body that you seek by doing so. It didn't work down here in the south (separate but equal) and it won't work in the body of Christ either.

The Body only has sons....14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father!

And faith, the faith that He provides, His gift of faith is what makes us sons. It may be hard to grasp the fact of no more male and female, the concept of all being sons until we remember that it started out that way. Back in the Garden.

Gen 1:27So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

It is odd that you teach, and I assume you do, that Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us back to God, a place where there was only Man in the beginning and still teach that once the reconciliation has taken place that there is still separation. We are either one in the body of Christ or we are not. I choose to believe that we are. I will stop short of calling you a heretic. Maybe I have misunderstood you.

Thanks for your comments as well. said...

Joe W.

A direct answer to your question:

"Does it not seem strange that only now, nearly 2,000 years later, that the church is properly interpreting these scriptures?"

Ask that question of Martin Luther 1500 years after the resurrection of Christ regarding his treatment of the doctrine of justification.

Ask that question of Abraham Lincoln 1850 years after the resurrection of Christ regarding the equality of blacks as he penned his Emancipation Proclamation.

Ask that question 2000 years after the resurrection of Christ when a Southern Baptist pastor teaches the popular doctrine of dispensationalism, a doctrine unheard of prior to 1900.

Newness of understanding neither makes the doctrine right or wrong, but for an understanding of a sacred truth to be clearer hundreds of years after Christ is definitely not strange.

Christopher B. Harbin said...


"The entire paper should be considered heresy and burned."

What most scares me about your stance indicated here is that it is so similar to the stance of those defending orthodoxy in the witch trials not too long ago.

If we throw you in the water and you happen to swim, shall we burn you? That was the attitude of the judaizers who persecuted Paul, trying to get him killed in town after town. He was a threat to them, because he held a different understanding of grace, offering it without the burdens of rabbinic tradition to Gentiles!

On the other hand, this is not the example and attitude of Paul, nor of Jesus. They preached the truth of grace beyond legalism, yet also allowed others to disagree, be wrong, and choose to ignore God's call to grace and salvation.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a weapon to be imposed on others by force. It is offered in grace, and by grace only can it be received.

Unwillingness to discuss, disagree, get along, and grant others the freedom we want for ourselves is not coherent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, his lived example, nor that of the early church.

Yes, priesthood of all believers is a threat to some. It is no threat to God, however, only to men seeking to protect themselves, their thoughts, their decisions, their actions, their doctrine through the wielding of force.

Anonymous said...


You wrote... "I would personally appreciate it, Joe, if you would engage in the discussion of the actual interpretation of scripture instead of resorting to the typical name calling by CBMW of anyone who disagrees being a radical feminist, heretic or liberal."

Two points... first I never resorted to name calling. You have taken my comments completely out of context, or at the least misunderstood them. I never said there were radical feminists in conservative circles. I simply pointed out that the culture we live in now has changed, and suggested that perhaps that is the reason our interpretation of the sacred text has changed.

Second... If you will check my posts concerning this subject over the last couple of weeks, I feel sure you will find several in which I engaged in the discussion of the actual interpretation of scripture.


I agree... let's ask Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, B.H. Carroll, etc. Some of the greatest minds and preachers that the world has ever known. How did they interpret these passages of scripture in the books of Timothy and Titus.

Personally... I'd rather listen to an F.B. Meyer than Joyce Meyer any day of the week and twice on Sundays. ;)

I am simply saying... if a person wants to hold to this interpretation of the holy scriptures... fine and good. But don't try and push it as "Conservative Theology" for it clearly is not. In the 60's and 70's this was called Liberal thought. In the the 80's and 90's this thinking was redefined as Moderate Theology. Now it seems that some would relabel it Conservative, simply amazing!

Joe W.

truth, not religion said...

Mornin' KMC,

With the utmost respect for your better approach to writing here, (I really do appreciate you being willing to tone it down)

I have a question...with the logic you have used in LUKE, can we assume that you ARE NOT a ceasationists on any issues at all in scripture?

If you are a ceasationists on some issues, which ones and why, also how do we know when we accurately determine which ones were only for back then?

Also, with the logic you have applied here, can't we say that Christ made and distributed wine so it is OK if we all want to make and distribute wine? Since Christ was at a party where wine was served by the gallons, can we assume it is ok for us to go to parties where the same is taking place and can we take our homemade wine with us?

Also, with the same logic, if I quit being a pastor and/or elder then would it be OK if I have a dozen wives?

The inerrant Word only forbids it for 2 groups of men.

Aren't we adding to Holy Scripture if we say we can't drink or make wine?

Aren't we adding to Holy Scripture when we say that NO ONE can have more than one wife?

Isn't adding to Holy Scripture heresy?

just some questions


Christopher B. Harbin said...

Joe W.,
Coservative: Holding onto tradition? Being faithful to Scripture?
Liberal: Setting aside tradition? Setting aside Scripture?

My Dad says he is too conservative to go along with the current direction of SBC. He uses the definition that SBC is conservative in its doctrinal traditions, but not necessarily so in its dealing with Scripture. The difference has to do with interpretation--both of Scripture, and the labels.

From my perspective, you are using the label conservative in terms of traditional doctrinal positions, which you then see as Scriptural. The problem with doctrinal positions is that our understanding and knowledge of Truth is oh, so subjective.

Anonymous said...


I am not entirely sure where our little discussion has taken us. It appears to me that no matter what the angle we take, I am the bad guy for thinking that women cannot be pastors. You should know that, to a certain extent, I WILL divide on this issue. I WILL call untruth heresy, yet at the same time love those who hold differing views.

I reject the idea that I have used Scripture out of context. So, I would ask you to submit that claim in detail to me or retract the statement.

My previous comment was less to the specific doctrinal issue and more the idea that we CAN know truth (something for which you chided me) and that we can be SO certain about this truth that is GOOD to write it down, exactly as we have been taught, or indoctrinated.

As a confessional people, we Southern Baptists have done as Dr. Luke has suggested for the purpose of teaching (catechizing) and for the purpose of holiness and sanctification not only personally but corporately. If you cannot live in unity with a body of believers who hold and confess a biblical principle, then it is good and right, and just for you to assemble with a body of likeminded believers who also think it is good to compile a list of those things most surely believed among THEM. And if you do not so choose to realign, yet remain in fellowship then this is good for the sake of Christ but there remains only two possibilities: 1) that you will heed the rule "silence is golden," or 2) risk being called a heretic. (There is a 3rd option…it is called blogging-no holds barred) 

This would not however throw out the Puritans, for it seems good to insist on the return to a faith once for all delivered to the saints...a correction if you will to an historic and apostolic Christianity (i.e. the CR).

We will fight for the sake of Christ, for His name, for His church, and for His Word. God created hell for those who will not repent; He created the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) for those who are liberally bent.


Anonymous said...


I am not sure I understand where you are coming from. The logic, or “suggestion” as I called it of the good doctor has less to do with the stance on a doctrine or tertiary issue and more to do with the idea that it is "good" to compile such lists. Such lists will by default give rise to good divisions within Christendom.

I am not addressing each of the points in your post for they seem to me to be a red herring and I don't like fish. :)


ezekiel said...


" Despite what anyone believes, our seminaries eventually determine our doctrine, and our mission agencies propagate growth at the macro-level. So, in this effort of cooperation, we should, as Dr. Luke suggests, write down those things which we hold to be most dear. (e.g. the Baptist Faith and Message, London Confession, Nicene Creed, etc.)"

I think this is where you and I prolly have the largest disagreement. You appear willing to fight to the death for what a seminary has taught you. You are willing to divide over mans rules and his teaching of doctrine at the expense of the WORD.

I on the other hand am willing to fight to the death for the whole counsel of God. The WORD. The author and finisher of our faith. How many times does He have to say "I will teach"?

I think it better that we begin to live and act like sons of God. Rather than endless disputings of the law, either the law of Moses or the man made law that we practice a lot these days in many of our churches. The law of Moses couldn't save Israel, the law of the SBC can't either. I don't care how many times you write it or re-write it.

To that end, I leave you with 2 Timothy 2:14-26. I think that is the example we should strive for especially that of 24-26.

When you get a chance, please take a look at Romans 16 and run it through your greek/hebrew conversion for us and let us less learned brothers know how many of names mentioned were female and explain how they take a back seat to men there.

Only By His Grace said...

Joe W.

Joe W. said,
"I am simply saying... if a person wants to hold to this interpretation of the holy scriptures... fine and good. But don't try and push it as "Conservative Theology" for it clearly is not. In the 60's and 70's this was called Liberal thought. In the the 80's and 90's this thinking was redefined as Moderate Theology. Now it seems that some would relabel it Conservative, simply amazing!"

Joe, I do not think you are being "so simple."

I was born an illegitimate child in Pike County, Kentucky. My mother's father was killed a year and eight months before I was born. This twelve year old girl was impregnated by the County Sheriff. I never heard him called a whore, but my mother was. He was never called illegitimate, but I was, but usually I was called either "The Bastard" or "Alka's Little Bastard."

I tell you this because the way "Liberal" is used in conservative circles in the SBC and other evangelical groups, as a Southern Baptist pastor, I would rather be called "Illegitimate," or "The Bastard," or "Alka's Little Bastard" any day. You seem to use the word "Liberal" as a foul curse word.

Today or Sixty-seven years later, I am still an illegitimate child, a bastard, but not little as in eight years old; but they would never call me that, now; I have been sanctified by salvation, approved with a college education and cleansed by becoming an ordained minister.

Really? I am still me.

You use this term, "Liberal," so easily to harpoon people. I do not think you intend to do that, and that is even worse because it has become so accepted among us that we just allow the word to glibly slide out of our mouths.

I have asked time and again on this blog and on other blogs without any takers who respond to my question: in your humble opinion what is a "Liberal" and what is a "Conservative."

At least the grown up Christians who called me "Bastard" knew and would define the term.

Only By His Grace,
Phil in Norman.

Lin said...

"I have asked time and again on this blog and on other blogs without any takers who respond to my question: in your humble opinion what is a "Liberal" and what is a "Conservative." "

Phil, Can I take a stab at this? Not too long ago, I would have called you a liberal in the exact same way. Why? Because I confused political culture with Christendom. I was deep into it. I will confess here and now that I thought anyone who voted democrat could not really know Christ. Rush was one of my pastors. :o)

I had my doctrines all lined up in neat little categories that included political conservative principles. They were one and the same.

And to many, they still are. Notice the language they use: Radical feminists, liberals, etc. I used them and I know what they mean.

If this is not proof that culture interprets scripture, I do not know what is. It has been going on since Genesis 3.

What changed for me? I saw upclose consistent evil perpetuated by Christian conservative (politically and doctrinally) well known leaders for personal gain over a period of years with not a hint of remorse. Things that make what happened to Klouda pale in comparison. It was all about authority, pride, power, control and in the end, money.

I decided to go to the Word and immerse myself and begged God to remove all the filters I had from years of brainwashing.

If I have to use a label, I would say I am much more conservative now in terms of the Word than I was then. I take it very seriously but I also see how much is taught from a position that is extra biblical.

While many revere Mohler, I do not. I do not see how warring with the culture advances the Kingdom. We can convince people to be more 'conservative' and 'moral' but they will still go to hell because they do not know Christ.

Why are scholars at our seminaries picking one or two secondary issues and building a whole religion around them? There are reasons and they are NOT biblical. I personally witnessed the money being made on 'women's roles'. It is it's own marketing category in case you all did not konw that. I know because I was involved in that aspect of it.

But, there are not a lot of followers or money to be had on this:

Christ Crucified. Risen. Justification and Sanctification. The Wrath he took for me on the Cross that I do not deserve which is GRACE.

These are the unpopular truths that should take up our time and we take into the culture with us.

Phil, you and I many not vote the same for the leader of a great country ...that God will eventually burn up, btw. But, it has been a real eye opener for me to read your comments and know that not only could we worship and fellowship together but that I have learned a great deal from you.

Liberal/Conservative? Where does that fit into narrow truth of Christ crucified? These definitions have been borrowed from the culture and applied to those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord.

Now, what would the term be for those who would use their position in Christendom for power, influence, authority and personal gain? Pharisee?

Lin said...


Just to make a point...what would Luther teach us about Jews? Or, about having a church or true believers along side the state church?

Calvin about the state church and persecuting those who refused to join?

Knox about a 50 year old man marrying a 16 year old? (that last act, lost him a lot of respect in his day and toward the end of his life) Or about his hypocrisy in refusing to submit to Mary Queen of Scotts as his civil authority? He was allowed to preach under Mary. He was not silenced. He had a huge problemw with women leaders but submitted to Eliz 1 with no problem because it served his political views?

There is a lot we can learn from these men and that includes their hypocrisy and not really understanding the scripture they taught or they would have known better.

truth, not religion said...


I don't intend to be snotty or disrespectful in this post, only state what I see. I spent a long time thinking about it before I posted in response to you statements on "Dr Luke".

Sadly, I did not think you would address the issues I raise because the herminutical applications and interpretations and being consistant in the applications of such is hard when we live in a box that is nailed shut.

It took me 30 years to figure ot how to break out of the box. (i did not mention women in ministry)

I pray God will give you grace, wisdom and maturity in your walk.


Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
On this subject I have discovered that the website has some excellent on-line books and articles (see particularly and the one titled 'The Crux of the Matter' by Andreas J Kostenberger, which expounds 1Tim2:9-15).

I really do recommend that everyone who has contributed to this thread of comments might like to read the article that I recommend above (and any other by Mr Kostenberger) to inform their contributions and to learn a great deal.

Kind regards, Angus J

Anonymous said...

Trust me, Angus. Most of us are quite familiar with CBMW and all their contributors. They are the ones who call people like me a liberal radical feminist because I interpret 1 Tim 2 differently or because I witness to and teach anyone (male or female) the Gospel.

They would like to shame me out of witnessing and proclaiming the Good News to men, but I won't. I submit to ONE greater than them.


Only By His Grace said...


Thank you for your response to "Liberal"/"Conservative."

You and I could and I trust do worship at the same altar, but be it, in different churches.

Like WTreat, I do not intend to be abusive or obtuse to Joe W or anyone else.


You are so very correct that are many types of conservatives and liberals: political, denominational, religious, Biblical, economical, and on the list goes.

We have made Liberal an evil word; however, if we are talking about Liberal being against the status quo and conservatives are for keeping the status quo, I would think we are all a conglomeration of both liberal and conservative.

The Lord Jesus was very conservative as to the Scriptures, very liberal as to the traditions of men.

Wanting to change the status quo has been the lot of every reformer in every age: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Locke, not only Jefferson but every one of our founding fathers. Abraham Lincoln was a liberal as well Martin Luther King and on the list goes.

I fear what KMC, Joe and others are calling Liberal is really what they should call immoral behavior. What President Clinton did with Monica Lewinski was not Liberal; it was immoral.

What homosexuals and lesbians do is not liberal, it is immoral. Drugs, pornography, any sex outside the bounds of marriage, stealing, murder, lying, cheating, and on and on the list could go is not liberal but immoral.

When someone calls someone a theological Liberal:
1. Do they mean they are in immoral behavior?
2. Do they mean Liberals do not believe in the efficacy of Christ's redeeming sacrifice?
3-4. Do they mean they deny the physical resurrection or physical return of Christ to the earth?
5-6. Do they mean they deny the deity of Christ or the Trinity?
7. Do they mean they deny the inerrancy of Scripture?
8. Do they mean they deny limited atonement in that some will be saved to Heaven and some lost to Hell?
9. Do they mean Liberals deny the priesthood of ever believer including female human beings?
10. Do they mean Liberals deny that salvation is only, always has been and will always be grace through faith and faith alone?
11. Do they mean Liberals do not believe in a real Devil and real demons that lost their first estate and are in rebellion against God?
12. Do they mean that Liberals deny that all persons are sinners and are lost without the saving grace of God?

My goodness, Wade has all the correct beliefs concerning all these things, you have correct beliefs concerning all these things and I believe all these things, as well. What are they talking about when they say she or he is a Liberal? Of one hundred or more bloggers on this web site there may have been one or two that would reject even one or two doctrines of the above list—one or two, not ninety of a hundred as some are ranting about.

I would bet my life and I am a betting man because I beat Mike Shaw out of two bucks three or four months ago and if I ever get Todd Littleton on the golf course, he will contribute to my old age pension as well, but I would be my life that there is not one iota of difference between the Gospel you believe and that Wade, Joe, KMichael and I preach.

Only By Grace,

Only By His Grace said...


I wish thank to the Lord Jesus for this blog because it keeps me from secluding myself on my church field without thought or concern about what happens in our convention.

I, especially, thank the Lord Jesus for these articles on "Women in Ministry" and the comments that go with them. They have informed me as I have had to rethink positions I thought was settled doctrine in my body of theology. I hope I never get so far away from God that I fool myself into thinking I have all of it figured out. Praise God! I do not.

The porridge called my brain needed to be challenged and stirred up. As long as there are thinkers who challenge me, the dry rot is held at bay.

Only By Grace,

Anonymous said...


"I am a fiscal conservative, a social liberal and a theological moderate which makes me socially repugnant to some."

PhD. Ron, are you out there?

Christopher B. Harbin said...


I am the guilty one, for there is one point on your list I would not accept.

I will take the sufficiency, authority, and finality, but not the proposed inerrancy of Scripture.

On the other hand, I don't mind being called liberal, as Jesus was very liberal in relation to the prevailing dogmas of his day, and often our own. I try to be liberal in grace, liberal in love, liberal in forgiveness, and liberal in the acceptance of others. There is nothing much of value I need to conserve, other than my confidence in the sufficiency of Christ Jesus.

Only By His Grace said...


I guess I am a social and fiscal liberal within moderation for by social I do not mean immoral; I am a Scriptural conservative and a traditional moderate. I like tradition as long as tradition is not the interpretative indicator of Scripture.


You and I take a different approach to Scripture if I understand correctly what you are saying.

When I was converted as a young adult alcoholic over forty-five years ago, I made one supposition on which I base my entire faith and life: the Scriptures are the Word of God and are absolutely trustworthy for all faith and practice.

It is my supposition. Can I prove the Scriptures inerrancy in the original documents? Absolutely not! Simply put, we do not have the original manuscripts.

I am familiar with the differences in our oldest NT texts when they are compared to each other. When I make a claim of plenary inspiration, I realize I am saying that the very letters, words and sentences are perfect. I find the extra-Scriptural writings of the early church fathers as helpful as the manuscripts themselves in our attempt to get back to original manuscripts.

You and I could get along as long as we both were intellectually honest. I am not about to break fellowship with you or anyone else just because you have doubts about whether there was a real Jonah swallowed up by a specially created fish, that he was fully digested, was dead in the fish for three days and three nights, was resurrected and spit out upon the shore alive and well.

I do not get really upset when someone believes Moses and Israel passed through the Reed Sea and not the Red Sea, that is, if you are out there preaching that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; that there is none other Name under Heaven whereby we must be saved.

I just wish they who believe all of IT as I claim to do would practice some of it such as John 13:34-35 and Ephesians 4:32. The Sadducees rejected the whole of the OT except the Torah while the Pharisees accepted all the OT but applied little of it because of their traditions. I find the Lord Jesus hitting the Pharisees just as hard if not harder than the Sadducees.

I think it is time we answer the arguments rather than resorting epithets and breaking fellowship over things that make little difference.

My, my, I blab too much.
Phil in Norman.

Anonymous said...

"Is a woman to have authority over a man? No. Is a man to have authority over a woman? No. Is a pastor/elder to have authority over another believer? No. Is a believer to have authority over another believer? Again, no. Therefore, can a woman be ordained as pastor? Yes."

Wade, this one paragraph could shorten your blog for those of us who have less time (or ability) to read. This, brother, is the testimony of Scripture. Thank you for this site.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Steve, I would respectfully disagree. Taken alone, that paragraph would seem to be a "non sequitur" -- a conclusion that does not follow from its premises. Only if a woman being ordained as pastor is only an issue of authority could that paragraph stand alone.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Amy: Once part seven is published, could you put together a pdf in which someone could read the paper both in one sitting and with footnotes available to consider?

Amy, I am pasting all of these into a Microsoft Word document (with some minor formatting) so I can print it out and read it at one sitting. I would be glad to send that to you, once finished, though it will not be as good as what you suggest.

Christopher B. Harbin said...


"the Scriptures are the Word of God and are absolutely trustworthy for all faith and practice." --Yes!

Inerrant (textbook of science, precision of historical detail, verbatim accounts of all speech, etc.)--No.

If we could live out the implications of its clear message, that would be much greater testament to its validity and truth than any claim of inerrancy on matters of minutiae.

I have appreciated your comments here, as your witness to the redemptive grace of God beyond the deeds of human beings.

It is His grace and love that will bring us together, not our quibbling over doctrine, theory, and pet interpretations. Would that we could accept the truth of John 13:35 instead of trying to force identity by agreement on tertiary issues!

Lin said...

Only if a woman being ordained as pastor is only an issue of authority could that paragraph stand alone.

Thu Apr 17, 09:45:00 AM 2008

r.l., I am not trying to be contentious but am seriously wondering how a 'pastor' has 'authority' over others. How does that work? This is where I get every confused.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Lin, I poorly worded what I was trying to say. I was not arguing that a pastor has authority over others. I will try to explain what I meant to say.

The conclusion the author gives is that because there is no authority in the pastorate, and no believer has authority over another believer, then a woman can be a pastor. "Is a woman to have authority over a man? No. Is a man to have authority over a woman? No. Is a pastor/elder to have authority over another believer? No. Is a believer to have authority over another believer? Again, no. Therefore, can a woman be ordained as pastor? Yes." But logically one can only come to this conclusion IF "authority" is the only reason a woman cannot be a pastor. I don't think any complementarian has every put all of his or her eggs in that one basket of authority.

So my point was about the logic of the argument, not about whether a pastor has authority. Hope this helps explain what I meant.

Anonymous said...

If conservatives are going to continue to let Darrell Gilyard preach, then they by all means women should be allowed to preach as well.