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Ever wonder why evil exists in the world today? Does it mean there is no God? Find out here —> http://ow.ly/vN6O8
The Bible is not man’s theology (explaning God), but God’s anthropology (explaining man). – Abraham Heschel
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One verse out of this weeks reading that really struck me was Ecclesiastes 11:5, â€œJust as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.â€ In his wisdom the Preacher was humble enough to realize that trying to figure out Godâ€™s plan was often as futile as trying to find the original of wind. In the ancient near east the wind was something that could be experienced but not necessarily explained. And the same thing was true for the intricacy of a new born baby being form in its motherâ€™s womb. People in the ancient near east rightly saw that the complexity of a human being was awe inspiring. While medical science and meteorology are much more advanced than it was when the Preacher wrote this verse but the writers point is not really the origin of wind or bone but the mystery Godâ€™s plan. Although, it is true that the post-modern movement has inflated Godâ€™s mystery to an unhealthy extreme, I believe that many in evangelicalism have distanced themselves way to far from a biblical concept of Godâ€™s mystery. I believe in our Western context we are often so busy trying to understand and explain Godâ€™s plan that we miss out on enjoying the truth that God knows his plan even when we donâ€™t know it. What is needed is a biblical and balanced view of our mysterious God. But for us to begin to seek the biblical concept of Godâ€™s mystery we must begin with humility and honesty both of which are traits God must work into us as we yield to him more and more.
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With the rise of German liberalism in the 19th and 20th centuries followed by the rise of feminism in the second half of the 20th century, many questions have risen as to the role of women in ministry. As always, my first source for enlightenment on this subject is to begin with what the Scriptures have to say on the subject. As a foundational note it is important for me to explain my position on the Bible before proceeding on to the subject of women in ministry. Just as the Old Testament prophets and saints and the New Testament apostles did, I hold that every word of the original manuscripts of Scripture was supernaturally God-breathed (See 2 Timothy 3:16) through human authors who wrote as they were”carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). These original manuscripts were written to their original audience but are still applicable for us today in order to teach, rebuke, correct and train believers about everything necessary for life and doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I believe the transmission of these documents was supernaturally guarded over the centuries by God himself (Matthew 5:18; 24:35). This guarding can be seen through the huge volume of manuscripts we have today as well as the availability of Scripture in so many languages despite almost continual opposition. Thirdly, I believe the Scriptures teach us about the human condition and about our very hearts (Hebrew 4:12). We can trust the Scriptures authority, inerrancy, clarity and correctness in informing our opinions on every subject about which it speaks (2 Timothy 3:16; Luke 16:17).Scripture and not opinion must inform all of our personal and corporate doctrine and therefore our actions and lifestyle choices (2 Peter 1:3, Titus 1:3-2:1). Fourthly, I believe the canon of Scripture consists of only the 66 books in our modern Bibles attested to by Jesus Christ himself, the apostles, the early church fathers, affirmed by the church councils and accepted by true believers throughout history. I believe that the book of Revelation is the last book of Holy Scripture written and thereby closed the canon of Scripture as we know it (Revelation 1:3; 22:18-19).Since I hold that every word of Scripture was supernaturally given, literally breathed out,” by God (2 Timothy 3:16) we can trust its authority and correctness in informing our opinions about every subject to which it speaks. That means that the Bible is not merely a book of opinions but the very Word of God.
Now on to women in ministry…First, let me begin by stating that I believe men and women are of equal worth and value since they are part of humanity which has been made in Godâ€™s very image (Genesis 1:27). I think it is interesting that Jesus Himself showed the value of women by talking openly to them such as in publicly addressing the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The idea of associating with and talking to a foreign woman in public was radical thinking in 1st century Palestinian society. Paul himself gave instructions that older women were to minister to the younger women by teaching them how to be godly thus showing that they had knowledge to convey to the younger women of the church (Titus 2). We also find in Scripture that the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to both men and women without distinction to gender. Also I must admit that the full equality of men and women as mentioned above is something many in the evangelical church have failed to fully recognize.
Secondly, while I hold that men and women have equal value I believe that God intends men and women to have different functions/roles in the family. This role or functional difference between men and women is similar to the different role/function Jesus, God the Son, and God the Father have from each other. While Scripture informs us that God the Father planned the work of salvation it was Jesus (the Son) that came to dwell among us and atone for our sins on the cross. God the Father and God the Son are co-equal and co-eternal but just have different roles/functions in how they relate to humanity. In the same way, I believe that a woman’s primary role of responsibility is to her husband and children in the home (if she is married). I believe that the husband’s primary role of responsibility is to provide for the needs of the family through work. I arrive at this conclusion for gender roles in the home from Genesis 3:16-24. During the cursing of humans after the fall God makes working outside the home more difficult for Adam since that is his primary sphere of responsibility. Conversely, God makes child bearing more painful for Eve because her home and children are her primary sphere of responsibility. I do not believe this means that women cannot work outside the home if she can do so after her responsibilities at home are met. This teaching is also seen in Titus 2:2-8. This also does not stop a single woman from working while she is still single or if she is called to a life of singleness. A woman who is called to singleness is not sinning or abandoning her responsibilities since singleness leaves her free to worry only about pleasing the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:28, 34).
Thirdly, there is a connection between the norms for leadership in the family and leadership in the church. The same God who set down male servant leadership in the home also asserts the same thing in the Church. First we see clearly in Scripture that Christ is the head of any true church (Colossians 1:18-20). Pastors and church leaders serve under His headship.
Forth, I believe Scripture implicitly prohibits women from holding two offices: Senior Pastor (Elder/Overseer) and Deacon. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9, we find the qualifications to be a Senior Pastor (Elder/Overseer). In both Titus and 1 Timothy, every description of the Pastor is in the masculine tense. This especially highlighted by Paul’s instructions concerning the pastors wife. Paul wrote in Greek and could have used gender neutral language or feminine language if he had intended to include women as possible candidate’s for pastor and deacon but he did not. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he chose the very words he did for a purpose. Also throughout the Old Testament, eldership was limited to males (Exodus 18:25; Ezra 8:16-17). The same thing is true regarding the New Testament office of Deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-6).
Fifth, we see that Scripture explicitly forbids women in ministry from teaching or exercising authority over men in the church when the church body is assembled together (i.e. acting in the capacity of an elder or deacon) (1 Timothy 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36).This is not merely Paul’s opinion it is Paul supernaturally giving guidance to the church under the expressed authority of the Holy Spirit. God’s instructions transcend time and cultural norms.
I want to mention three things in closing:
1) All men of God serving as a Senior Pastor or Deacon are under the headship of Christ and must be servant leaders in the same way Christ was a servant (Philippians 2; 1 Peter 5:1-2). Unfortunately, all too often, men in leadership hold their authority over people’s heads which is explicitly forbidden in Scripture (1 Peter 5:3).
2) Scripture does not prohibit women in ministry from leading and using their spiritual gifts in many types of ministry including: discipling younger women, publicly praying, leading singing, serving in children’s and youth ministry, doing evangelism, and serving in missions (1 Corinthians 11:5; Titus 2; Acts 5:14; 9:36).
3) The reference to Deborah which you mentioned is problematic at best. First, and most importantly, it was only after Barak abdicated his role and calling as Gods’ man to lead the people of Israel to victory that God used Deborah (Judges 4:6-8). Barak’s dependence on Deborah is not healthy to say the least. In fact, Deborah highlights the fact that Baraks unwillingless to lead is a shame in her speech. “And she said, ‘I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9).'” Second, the Judges period in Israel’s history was a time of utter chaos and rebellion against God despite his faithfulness to bring people into the land as he promised. The times of the judges was a time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6) despite their covenant with God to follow His commands. The Deborah incident (along with Samson and others) highlights this truth and was meant to shame the male leadership who chose fear instead of faith. Third, Deborah is not meant to be a model for leadership in the church. The New Testament lays down the authority and structure for the church. And even a casual reading of the Bible will show that females occupying spiritual authority over males was never the norm (See for example God’s calling for the Levite males as priests (Exodus 30:30). Also look at the calling of the12 disciples which were all males (Luke 6:12-16). And the fact that we never see a female referred to as pastor/elder in the New Testament and the conclusion seems clear to me. Under the ultimate leadership of Jesus our head, male servant leadership seems to be God’s standard both in the home and in the church despite the fact that our culture seems to vehemently rail against it today.
“Whenever we tell the story of Godâ€™s involvement and investment in our life, the plot line has to be: ‘I failed. Jesus didnâ€™t.'” -Mark Driscoll
God cares more about building your character than He does about keeping you comfortable. Your trials are an invitation for Him to grow YOU!
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