Christian Doctrines, Egalitarianism, theology

The Unacknowledged Teachers: an argument for women pastors.

An argument for the position of egalitarianism (the position that women are not to be restricted from certain offices in the church):

1) Women say things in Scripture which are not condemned (cf. Deborah’s song, Mary’s Magnificat which is used in liturgical worship, Ruth’s words which are used in wedding ceremonies, Esther’s story and her actions, etc., etc.). [Edit: this premise must be made more clear. The things women say in Scripture are not simply not condemned, but are often explicitly centralized. The Song of Deborah; Ruth's words to Naomi; the magnificat; etc. These words are made into liturgies and used for teaching. Yet they are the words of women. Thanks to Adam at Unworthy Yet Redeemed for pointing out this flaw in the argument. Consider P1 to be modified to "Women say things in Scripture which are centralized and utilized for church liturgies and teaching."]

2) All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (1 Timothy 3:14-17).

3) Those things which women say in Scripture teach us truths useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (1, 2).

4) If we use truths women teach us in Scripture to teach doctrine/righteousness/etc., we should not exclude women from the ministry. (Premise)

5) We use truths women teach us in Scripture to teach doctrine/righteousness/etc. (1-3)

6) Therefore, we should not exclude women from the ministry (4, 5, modus ponens).

Defense of premise 1: I cited examples in the argument itself. See Judges 4-5; Luke 1:46-56; Ruth 1:16-17 (and the rest of the book); the book of Esther; these are just a few examples.

Defense of premise 2: Again, directly from Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:14-17.

3 follows from 1 and 2.

Premise 4 is likely to be the most controversial of these premises. The position of those who hold that women should not be ordained into the office of the ministry (complementarianism) is generally based upon the suggestion that women should not teach doctrine in a public setting (see more on this below). Therefore, I think that premise 4 must be accepted by complementarians because a denial of this premise would undermine their position. In other words, if one wants to hold that premise 4 is false, they would have to provide a different reason to exclude women from the ministry. Premise 4 simply states that which the sides agree upon. Ultimately, the strength of premise 4 will depend upon one’s definition of “the office of the ministry.” However, if one’s definition of “office of the ministry” includes “teaching”; “teaching doctrine”; “rebuking” [those who need correction]; etc., then premise 4 is correct.

Further, premise 4 could be weakened so that its conclusion would be not quite as strong. Instead, one could reword it as:

4′) If we use truths women teach us in Scripture to teach doctrine/righteousness/etc., we should not exclude women from teaching doctrine/righteousness/etc. to others.

This modified premise will not yield the conclusion that women should not be excluded from the “office of the ministry” but it would yield the conclusion that women should be allowed to teach doctrine, righteousness, and other things no matter who the audience happens to be.

Premise 5 follows from 1-3. 6 follows via modus ponens from 4 and 5. The same could be said for 4′ and the perceived 5′ and 6′.

The language used by those who are against women preaching must be very carefully selected because they do not wish to say women cannot be teachers at the university, or that they cannot teach elsewhere–rather, it is restricted to the church. Yet the argument above would be specifically useful for permitting women to teach in the church. After all, their words are used to teach continually. Whenever the Magnificat is sung or spoken, we use the words of Mary to teach us truths about Jesus. Whenever we read the story of Ruth or use her words in our wedding vows, we use them authoritatively.

Another way we could put this argument would be “If it is okay for women to compose sections of the Bible, perhaps we should let them teach it?” (quoted from Lamb, 64, citation below). I think the answer to the question is eminently obvious: yes

Therefore, women are already acting as a kind of “unacknowledged teacher” in the church: their very words are being used to tell us about God. I conclude that women should not be excluded from the ministry.

Note on terminology: by “teach” I am explicating the role of “teacher” in the church–the pastor.

Part of this argument was developed from a reading of God Behaving Badly by David Lamb (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 64-65, wherein he states “If it is okay for women to compose sections of the Bible, perhaps we should let them teach it?” (64). 

SDG.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

50 thoughts on “The Unacknowledged Teachers: an argument for women pastors.

  1. Good stuff, J.w. As a Pentecostal, one of the things I “pride myself” in the movement is that Pentecostals have not shied away from ordaining women ministers. My own life has been greatly blessed by a number of female Pastors and/or teachers. Sometimes I’ve thought to myself that if anyone who held to the view that women should not teach/preach in church was listening to this particular woman speaking, they would have be forced to seriously re-examine their doctrine! Such a stance would hard to maintain after seeing the anointing and grace of God so clearly flowing from some of these godly women.

    It is also notable that in scripture we see Aquila and Priscilla taking Apollos aside and instructing him in Christian doctrine (Acts 18:26), not to mention Junia (a feminine name) being mentioned as among the apostles in Romans 16:7.

    Thanks for the excellent post.

    -Erik

    Posted by erik | June 14, 2011, 6:51 PM
  2. Women are commanded to be silent (1 Corin 14:34 and 2 Tim 2:12). These passages need to be addressed for a comprehensive argument in favor of women pastors. While they can teach other women or children, there is a certain structure that God has ordained for “leadership” over the flock. One can teach without being a leader but one cannot be a leader without teaching. If all your argument seeks to establish is that woman can be involved in the ministry, then sure, I don’t think anyone denies that. However, from the title it seems as if you want to establish women as pastors, which is a leadership role. I don’t think we can necessarily jump from “Women can teach” to “Therefore, women should be allowed to be pastors”. Seems like a non-sequitur.

    *Note, I do not necessarily affirm this position but I am currently researching it.

    Posted by Gil Sanders | June 15, 2011, 2:02 PM
    • Thanks for your comment!

      I agree that those passages would have to be addressed in a comprehensive argument. However, that does not undermine the argument I presented in this post. The reasoning inherent in this post is, basically, if women have the authority to have their words recorded in Scripture (and then used to instruct men in the faith [unless one simply ignores all instances of women saying anything in Scripture]), then it seems absurd to exclude women from teaching men in person.

      I think your objection has some validity–namely that the strong conclusion may be a bit too strong. However, I did offer a weaker conclusion (4′ and following) in order to anticipate that objection. Namely, the conclusion would be “we should not exclude women from teaching doctrine/righteousness to others.” I think I could modify it further to make “others” more explicit by saying, perhaps, “publicly” or something of the sort.

      So we would then have the modified argument (starting with premise 4, because it seems there has been no challenge to 1-3):

      4”) If women have authority to teach through Scripture, then they have authority to teach Scripture.
      5”) Women have authority to teach through Scripture.
      6”) They have authority to teach Scripture.

      Now, does it follow from women teaching men through Scripture that they have authority to teach Scripture itself? I don’t see how it would not follow, for if women’s words are authoritative enough to be in Scripture and useful for teaching doctrine to men, why are not the women themselves capable of teaching doctrine to men? A denial of this is to deny subjectivity and reduce the Bible to dictation, which most evangelical scholars deny.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 15, 2011, 10:57 PM
  3. I agree women can do many things in relation to ministry. However, 1 Timothy 3:2 says a “bishop must be the husband of one wife”. Women are not to usurp authority over a man. It is the preferred way. However I was raised by a woman pastor and see the benefits for women in ministry but not in every role. Exhortation, singing, prophecy, and proclaiming the gospel – areas of that I see a benefit. Teaching or Pastoring men – areas the scripture prohibits.

    Posted by css | June 22, 2011, 12:31 PM
    • Again, your counter argument doesn’t explicitly reject a single premise of my argument, so it fails to get around the conclusion that women can teach in the church.

      However, as far as your own argument goes, if you are taking that verse and reading it as literally as you must to make it yield the conclusion that only a man can preach, then you must also acknowledge that only married men can teach, because it says “husband.” But such a reading is ridiculous, because we know that was not the intended reading of the text (Paul elsewhere affirms those who remain unmarried). Similarly, we know that using this text to somehow exclude women for ministry is skewed as well.

      These readings are constant within the complementarian position–they choose to read only parts of their own proof texts in order to yield the conclusion that women cannot be ministers.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 22, 2011, 12:48 PM
  4. I meant to add, women are major contributors to the kingdom of God – as long as – they are not masculine in their approach. Same goes for men… : )

    Posted by css | June 22, 2011, 12:50 PM
  5. I didn’t say they couldn’t preach…. in fact I said the opposite. I did say women should not teach or be a pastor over men of God. 1 Timothy 2:12, Adam taught Eve what God said. It was Eve that added to the teaching that she could not even touch the tree. My point is this, women and men are made different. Men are the leader of the home and men should take the lead in every aspect. Can women be helps and participants, yes, but in certain circumstances they should exercise their womanly position as a model of godly order and godliness. I have witnessed women preaching in a manly way. That should not be the proper way. In this day of gender identification crisis the church should be a place for women to be women and men be men – in godliness.

    Posted by css | June 22, 2011, 1:03 PM
  6. J.W. Wartick

    I must say your desire to engage in an argument has caught me somewhat by surprise. I didn’t try to dispute your entire premise. In fact I affirm some of your premise. It is clear in scripture that God works within the confines of each persons gender. Each contributing to the over all story.

    Have you ever spoke to a woman that acted like a man in mannerisms and speech? In attire and in authority? We should uphold the distinction of the sexes in every regard, even when a woman is used in a role of evangelism, teaching other women, preaching the gospel, and in the home.

    Posted by css | June 22, 2011, 1:37 PM
    • I desire only to clarify. The argument in my post concludes “therefore, we should not exclude women from the ministry.”

      My previous comments were directed to try to steer the conversation back to the argument at hand. I may have misunderstood you because I was thinking you were attempting a rebuttal to the argument as presented.

      I’m not sure exactly what you are arguing, to be fair. That women should not dress like men? What does it mean to, say, “act like a man in mannerisms and speech?” What does it mean to act like a man “in authority?” These are not well-defined terms.

      My apologies if I came off as confrontational, I may have seemed such because I thought your initial comment was an attempted rebuttal. Now I’m not sure what you’re arguing.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 22, 2011, 2:27 PM
  7. No problem. Part of the problem is I didn’t read your entire post. Now that I have read your entire post, hold your applause, I’d like to address your premise (4). Women in ministry and women serving as a pastor or in an overseer position over men are two different things. I agree with women in ministry, even children in ministry but not in leading roles over men. When we gather as a whole body it is ordered according to the family, an extension thereof. Should a woman be the head of a biblical house? Genesis 3:16 says the opposite, likewise Paul says “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man;” “Head of” is the one accountable over, or the one that can be seized as the responsible agent. This speaks back to Adam and Eve, Eve failed God but Eve didn’t hear from God but from Adam, hence she added the phrase “neither shall ye touch it”. My point is God told Adam and Adam told Eve. Throughout the bible we see women in ministry but not usually as the responsible overseer of a group of families with men as the head.
    Paul said if a man desires the office of a bishop he desires a good work. He also said that a bishop must be the husband of one wife. It is impossible for a woman to be the husband of one wife. First it is a man who should desire the office and if he is married it should be as it was first instituted – one man and one woman. You said earlier that if we read that literally then a man must be married but that isn’t true. Paul taught about marriage in another place. Paul wished everyone was single like him so they could dedicate themselves to Christ, but if he can’t be that way it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor 7:7-9).
    As stated, even when women are used in ministry they should not act out of character and be manly. If a man would stand up as an overseer and wear makeup and a skirt and dress womanly then there would be no doubt he would be asked to step down, if the church would wish to remain biblical. In this age of gender confusion and women’s liberation we should not be weak concerning what the bible teaches about being a man and a woman. We should simply declare the biblical message and restore the family and the church to what God intends. Thanks for your time and I’ve enjoyed your site.

    Posted by css | June 23, 2011, 11:43 AM
  8. J.W.,

    I think you missed the point a bit of your second commenter. 1 Timothy 2:12 explicitly states that Paul did not permit women to teach or assume authority over men. The Greek language uses “or” as a linking of the two clauses, denoting the woman teacher as equivalent to assuming authority over men. If we are to apply 2 Timothy 3:16, then we must apply it to this passage, especially because these letters were written to the same man (so the context is greater here).

    Keep in mind too that your Biblical examples about woman teaching principles are based on experiences and not philosophy. They are applications, but not formal teaching, and so must be understood as such when linking them to a teaching setting.

    Does God use women in teaching roles? Absolutely! My wife leads the women’s ministry in our church, and quite often in our personal studies she or some of the women who write the books she reads puts me on to a new concept or interpretation of a text I had not seen previously, and I admire that.

    But Paul’s statement here is that women are to shrink back when formal teaching is done, out of deference and respect to the authority God has charged the man with. It is not done out of in-ability, but of submission to what God has charged the woman with. I would never tell my wife to not ask a question based on what she is learning, but she wouldn’t ever assume the pulpit because that is not what God has asked of her on multiple occasions.

    All this to say I disagree with you slightly on this issue, but your point does have some merit.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | June 28, 2011, 12:08 PM
    • The argument as it stands is intended to counter the idea that women cannot teach doctrine. If they taught Scripture, they taught doctrine (assuming an inerrantist stance).

      Now I could multiply examples of this: Priscilla, Junia (an apostle!), Hulda (who explained the book of the Law to the King/Israel), etc. all are examples of women who occupied authoritative teaching roles.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 29, 2011, 10:42 PM
  9. My wife brought up a good point to me last night. Just as the words of women are used to teach, correct and rebuke us, so are the words spoken by Satan in the Bible. But we would never allow Satan to assume authority in the pulpit. (I promise I’m not equating women to Satan here, trust me!)

    So to me, simply because women spoke in the Bible and we use their words as part of our teaching process doesn’t alone qualify them as formal teachers. We must look at the words God gave us as to who is supposedto be in authority.

    Another thing my wife mentioned is that women back in Paul’s time were not to braid their hair, because that was the sign of a prostitute and would cause men to lust after them. In essence, braided hair was a stumbling block to some. So she had to ask herself, “Would a female pastor potentially be a stumbling block to some men, based on what the Bible has called men and women to be?”

    Just some perspectives from a woman much smarter than myself.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | June 30, 2011, 10:25 AM
    • My problem with that perspective is that the women who teach in the Bible aren’t just what is written in Scripture. They are literally teaching. Again looking at Huldah (2 Kings 22), we find that a priest and several other men went to her specifically for instruction about the Book of the Law. They are literally told to go and find out what the Book of the Law means. And who do they seek? A woman! Yet there is no comment which says this was incorrect. Huldah issues a prophecy, they bring it back to the king, and that’s the end of it. In 2 Chronicles 34, her prophecy leads the king toward greater repentance and to spread the words in the Book further!

      To put these kinds of instances on the same level of the Bible accurately reporting Stan’s words is honestly a bit off. Are we to say that Huldah’s teaching is vacuous because she’s a woman? There’s nothing in the text which suggests it. I suggest the only reason interpretations are made this way is because people presuppose that women cannot act in a teaching role and then apply that to every other passage, regardless of what the passage itself says.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 30, 2011, 10:34 PM
    • But you said it yourself, J.W. She wasn’t teaching–she was prophesying. The two are very different, and if they weren’t, Paul wouldn’t have mentioned them as separate spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:27-31) in his infamous “different parts of one body” message.

      I understand your point about pre-supposing, but we all need to be conscious of that, authors and commenters alike. I don’t see anywhere where the Bible suggests women can’t be prophets, but Paul does explicitly state that he does not allow women to teach. Although I don’t really wish that was the case, I have to take it seriously or run the risk of disobedience.

      Posted by sabepashubbo | July 1, 2011, 10:22 AM
      • They sought her for instruction about the book of the Law, and the Bible does not tell us it was sinful. A complementarian reading of that passage would of course emphasize that she prophesied, and attempt to undermine the idea that she taught them based upon the fact that she utters a prophecy.

        But let’s grant, for a moment, that she “only” prophesied. The very verses you quote to support your nuanceof this contain a verse contains a verse which utterly defeats the complementarian position. 1 Cor 12:28 is a list of authority in the church, and it lists prophets above teachers “in the church”! But women prophesy! So they have greater authority than teachers! And the core assumption of those who exclude women from the ministry is that women should not have greater authority. Yet the very verses you cite to support this argument in one way completely undermine that position, because Paul explicitly states that prophets rank above teachers in the church. Women were prophets.

        Thus, to argue that women cannot be teachers means that the complementarian must somehow show that while women can have greater authority than pastors in the church according to Paul, they should not even occupy the position of teacher in the church. I do not envy that position.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 1, 2011, 7:40 PM
  10. J.W.,

    Don’t you think you’re sort of arguing a double-edged sword though? I mean, the very things you say about a complementarian can be put in the opposite direction on your argument. You would emphasize your belief that Huldah was teaching, in order to undermine the notion that what she uttered was a prophecy. The positions are no different other than what viewpoint they support.

    I think you’re reading a bit much into the 1 Corinthians passage. Nowhere does it denote this as a hierarchy, regardless of words like “first” and “second.” There is no hierarchy here, but a simple list of those a part of the church.

    What most intrigues me is that you still have yet to render an objection to 1 Timothy 2:12. How do you reconcile this with your view?

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 2, 2011, 4:03 PM
    • The problem with turning the argument around is that it works for me both ways. Either she was teaching (and should not be excluded from it), or she was prophesying, and 1 Cor goes through. I don’t think taking hierarchy out of 1 Cor 12:28 is very plausible, given both the context and the wording. The most obvious reading is a hierarchy. God has placed in the church first, second, third (and others).

      As far as 1 Tim 2, there are many possibilities which are found throughout egalitarian literature. For example, one could argue the letter is a letter to a specific church with a specific problem (women who were false teachers). One could argue that the main principle is that false teachers must be shut down at almost any cost (even to the point of silencing an entire gender for a time across all churches). One could point out that women were known to be uneducated (generally) and so the command is cultural. One could argue (as Webb does in “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals”) that Paul was working in a redemptive movement way and taking women an extra step up in society, with some hierarchy still in place, but that the ultimate ethic is egalitarian or “ultrasoft” complementarian, etc, etc.

      I don’t see how one proof text would serve to rebut the argument I outlined in my post.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 2, 2011, 5:18 PM
  11. JW.
    You built your arguments on the words of women in the bible and then you are pointing to a prophetess as a teacher. Huldah was neither a teacher of the Law, nor was the a priest or a king. She was a prophetess. Acts says your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.

    Have you ever been pastored or sat under and extensive teaching ministry of a woman? After 30 plus years of observation, on my part, the men are weakened considerbly – at least in this specific case. I happen to believe it is because they didn’t do it the proper biblical way. “Suffer not a woman to teach…”

    In Isaiah the curse was that women would rule over them and children would be their oppressors.

    Posted by css | July 2, 2011, 11:37 PM
  12. I think anytime you start looking outside of the Bible for an explanation of a passage where the meaning is clear, it’s dangerous. For one, the letter to a specific church is a problematic argument because it was delivered to Timothy. If you are going to apply a different interpretation here, it leaves your premise 2 open for defeat by allowing a less-than-literal interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16.

    However, I think the greater issue here is your attempt to override a passage in the New Testament with examples from the Old Testament. That’s working backwards. While all Scripture is inspired, the New Covenant of Hebrews that was brought by Jesus outstrips the Old Covenant. So for us to disregard a passage written under the New Covenant in favor of explanations found under the Old Covenant is contradictory to the whole point of the two covenants.

    Ultimately, a strict egalitarian view poses many problems, because then you start running into questions in other passages. Is it OK for the man to be the head of the woman? Under egalitarianism, that would be a big problem. Yet that passage denotes that the man is head of the woman in the same way Christ is the head of the church. So a strict egalitarian view would lead to the conclusion that Christ is not the head of the church, when you take it to reduction absurdum.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 3, 2011, 8:19 AM
    • You wrote, ” anytime you start looking outside of the Bible for an explanation of a passage where the meaning is clear, it’s dangerous.”

      I disagree. The texts telling slaves to obey their masters are pretty clear… should we go back to slavery? Were abolitionists morally abhorrent according to the Bible?

      I’m not overriding the NT with the OT. I’m using an example from the OT to point out that the NT example must be seen through that light. I could equally use NT women prophets, Priscilla, Junia (an apostle), Nympha (who had a church in her house–we know from 1st century data that the one in whose house was the church was the leader of the church), etc, etc. But there is a serious Hermeneutical problem with the way you’re throwing the OT out the window. The OT simply must be used to read the NT. The kind of casting it to the wind I see in phrases like “That’s working backwards” implies a kind of anti-nomianism or gospel reductionism which must be avoided.

      And to go back to the argument at hand itself, so far the only counter you’ve offered is that which most complementarians do: a kind of implicit complaint about using things outside of Scripture (which is a wrongheaded move because we must do so for many other passages) and/or using some favorite proof text to try to shut down the argument. This kind of argumentation is intellectually dishonest at best. Suppose we were debating the existence of God and you had offered the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Parallel complaints would be the materialistic assumption that the argument simply can’t work (using stuff outside of Scripture paralleled by using philosophy instead of science); and citing the metaphysical claim of the multiverse is like using a favorite proof text.

      Neither of these methods actually rebut my argument whatsoever. And yet this is the kind of strategy complementarians use throughout their works. Rather than letting Scripture speak clearly where it holds up examples of women in teaching roles (Junia, Nympha, Priscilla, et al.), they say that only their own favorite verses 1 Tim 2; 1 Cor 14 can be used fairly. That’s special pleading, and if it weren’t for the complementarian position holding such sway in more conservative circles, it would be simply thrown out. My argument focuses on the issue at hand, and despite many attempts by a few here, it has stood without even an attempt to deny a premise. It is deductively valid, so the conclusion follows.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 3, 2011, 11:46 AM
  13. Was there ever a woman priest or king? Ruler?

    Posted by css | July 3, 2011, 11:24 PM
  14. I knew you’d bring up Deborah. She was a prophetess as well. The people came to her for judgement. I ask again, any kings or priests or rulers? Also, how about the christian home… can a woman be the head of a christian home? You ignored this question last time. Maybe because if you say “no” then you would have to conceid to the greater point that God acknowledges authority ties to gender roles. If you say “yes” then you wouldn’t have a scriptural leg to stand on. Even Deborah was called, “the wife of Lapidoth”.
    Out of all the major judges Deborah was not qualified by God. The other judges were qualified with statements such as, “the LORD raised up”(Othinel, Ehud) “Have I not sent you (Gideon), “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jepthah”, “the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him”(Samson). Deborah doesn’t have any kind of qualifications like those. She took it upon herself to become a judge, hense the reason she “sat under a palm tree” and the people came out to her for judgement. All the other judges were in their on city. Deborah sought out Barak to be the military leader. Besides during that time of all the judges the children of God did what was right in their own eyes. The did wickedly. In other words, the people were not in the spiritual condition to place proper judges.

    Posted by css | July 4, 2011, 11:54 AM
    • You wrote, “I knew you’d bring up Deborah. She was a prophetess as well. The people came to her for judgement. I ask again, any kings or priests or rulers?”

      You’ve already conceded she was a ruler. “She was a prophetess as well.” As well as what?

      A ruler.

      Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines the Hebrew word shephat as “judge, rule, act as law-giver (of God, man)” and the like.

      To counter this, you wrote, “Besides during that time of all the judges the children of God did what was right in their own eyes. The did wickedly. In other words, the people were not in the spiritual condition to place proper judges.”

      This objection is common, but it falls apart under scrutiny. There is no condemnation of Deborah anywhere in the book. Contrast that with the condemnation of kings who did wrong (cf. 1 or 2 Kings). The pattern is if a ruler does wrong, they are condemned for it. Yet Deborah is not condemned, and is in fact celebrated. The wonder in the passage is that a woman did so well due to the patriarchal culture.

      Your questions about the household were ignored because of how off-topic they are. I think it is wrongheaded to ask who is the head of the Christian home. As with the church, the world (Gal 3:28), creation (male and female he created them, in the image of God he created them), etc., men and women should be in equal standing before God.

      Now let me refocus the argument. Which premise of my argument in this post do you deny? Thus far you have denied not one of them, so my argument stands undefeated. Thus far it has been the typical complementarian response. Rather than actually rebutting arguments, complementarians offer up their own arguments and proof texts. Instead of addressing the matter at hand, they complain about the collapse of the Christian home.

      The bottom line is this: the argument I presented is deductively valid. Unless one of the premises is false, the conclusion follows. You’ve not denied either premise, so I can only assume you are unwilling or unable to rebut the argument.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 4, 2011, 11:23 PM
  15. This modified premise will not yield the conclusion that women should not be excluded from the “office of the ministry” but it would yield the conclusion that women should be allowed to teach doctrine, righteousness, and other things no matter who the audience happens to be.

    “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:12

    Which is right? The Apostle Paul or you? I’d go with the Apostle here. He contradicts your “modified premise”. Paul declared your premise to be – false.

    You’ve already conceded she was a ruler. “She was a prophetess as well.” As well as what?

    Solomon was a king, Solomon had many wives. Solomon would be disqualified to be a Pastor or Bishop of a New Testament church, yet, we use his words – even his book – to teach doctrine and reprove, rebuke, and exhort. Deborah was the wife of Lipidoth, which disqualifies her from the New Testament church positions of Pastor and teacher over a mixed assembly of men and women or any position that causes her to usurp authority over a godly man.

    Your questions about the household were ignored because of how off-topic they are. I think it is wrongheaded to ask who is the head of the Christian home. As with the church, the world (Gal 3:28), creation (male and female he created them, in the image of God he created them), etc., men and women should be in equal standing before God.

    Strange that you say that. Paul justified his reasons for not suffering a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man by pointing to Adam and Eve – the first family. He didn’t address equality but he did address who was deceived. I suppose maybe Paul was “wrongheaded” and “off-topic” as well? It would seem you would be happy, even willing, to tackle Paul’s premise. Yet, when someone else uses Paul’s premise to address the exact same topic then you conclude them to be “wrongheaded” and “off-topic” – convenient. A woman can’t be the head of a christian home or of a body of believers. This isn’t about equality, bringing that into the argument reveals your fear and, perhaps, the origin of your argument. Women are equal to men in the site of God. God placed an order to the church and to the family – Christ, Man, Woman, Child.

    With logic like this, “Rather than actually rebutting arguments, complementarians offer up their own arguments and proof texts. Instead of addressing the matter at hand, they complain about the collapse of the Christian home.”

    How else to argue the point but to offer up my own argument? Also, Deborah’s day was a wicked time where the nation as a whole had collapsed and two women had to rise to the occasion to save their nation. Were those women wrong? NO! Were the men wrong? YES! If you’d look around you and take note of American history the decline of the family, here in the U.S., began when women and men forsook their God given roles!

    Posted by css | July 5, 2011, 2:22 PM
    • You wrote, “Which is right? The Apostle Paul or you? I’d go with the Apostle here. He contradicts your “modified premise”. Paul declared your premise to be – false.”

      The problem with this straightforward reading of the text is that people could use a similar technique on other NT writings. For example, 1 Peter 2:18 “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

      Someone who desires to read the text as you do would therefore say that we should not be abolitionists, and in fact that slavery is permissible/commanded.

      Similarly, when we have a text which appears to contradict another text, one must utilize a hermeneutical method which can account for it. Your citing 1 Timothy 2 in this situation does not rebut my claim. Rather, it points out that we may want to see that passage for what it is. I’ve elsewhere in these comments provided a response to those very verses. I think your hermeneutic may need some fine-tuning, because it can’t be applied across Scripture.

      Your comments on Deborah do not counter the claim I made. You asked me to list a female ruler. I did so.

      Further, your comments in regards to her beg the very question we are discussing, whether women can be pastors straight from the argument.

      The creation order argument has been addressed in detail elsewhere, and in much better fashion that I can do so. I’d suggest looking into this argument from all sides of the debate. I used to spout off the same arguments you do, but then upon further research found that the egalitarian position is better supported. As with all non-essentials, open-mindedness is permissible (and I would say, encouraged). Why don’t you research the topic yourself?

      You wrote, ” bringing that into the argument reveals your fear and, perhaps, the origin of your argument”

      Ad hominems do not advance the debate. Your tone thus far has been one of attack. I have simply pointed out logical errors in the reasoning. Please refrain from personal attacks in the future.

      You wrote, “How else to argue the point but to offer up my own argument?”

      The way to rebut my claims is to deny one of the premises. You still have yet to do so, other than denying the conclusion, which is logically fallacious. The conclusion follows from the premises.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 6, 2011, 1:34 PM
  16. My apologies for the tone and the ad hominem, it wasn’t meant as such, especially since the comments were not part of a staged debate with rules and a moderator. In lieu of your suggestion about further study I’d like to look at this issue more closely and return with a proper response – if this is permissible.

    The prior response was a rebuttal of your claims, to be explicit, your “modified premise”. As maintained from the first comment women in leadership of authority over a man is the main issue. Women in ministry is not an issue with me. If you’d rather I not further the discussion I will respectfully comply and withhold any further comments.

    Posted by css | July 8, 2011, 11:50 AM
    • I wasn’t trying to shut down conversation. I was merely pointing out that proof texting won’t falsify my argument. A premise must be denied.

      The argument is deductively sound, which means the conclusion follows with certainty from its premises. If the premises are true, then the conclusion follows with certainty.

      All your comments thus far have been aimed at the conclusion. I’m pointing out that you can’t argue that way, because the conclusion follows. To deny the conclusion in a deductively valid argument without denying a premise is irrational. You must deny a premise. That’s all I’m trying to lead the discussion towards.

      Also, I offered a critique of the use of 1 Tim 2 (i.e. that the straightforward reading must be argued towards–for otherwise the slavery texts would still apply).

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 8, 2011, 11:01 PM
  17. J.W.,

    If we need to rebut premises, then I deny your premise 1 on the contention that the words of Satan in Job are not condemned and teach us useful truths about what Satan is like. Premises 2 & 3 would remain the same, so premises 4-6 would also apply to Satan. That would also be a deductively sound argument. So why does it apply to women but not to Satan? You must deny one of the premises, or the conclusion logically follows. Therefore, premise 1 must be fallacious.

    Second, your conclusion merely states that women should be allowed in ministry. I have no problem with that. But your conclusion does not state that women should be allowed to teach. So by your own deductive argument, there is no basis for the conclusion of female pastors, but only of women in general ministry. So the title of your post would be the fallacious piece of your argument under the logical rules.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 9, 2011, 2:45 PM
    • Thanks for the critique! I’m not sure if what you say leads to a denial of premise 1, because the way it is worded it merely says that women’s words are not condemned. What you’re denying is that “Because women’s words are not condemned, they are approved.”

      This is a true statement, and the first real challenge to my argument I’ve seen. But note the contention behind your rebuttal: namely, that women who taught in Scripture should not have done so. The reason I say this lies behind your rebuttal is because you’ve constructed a parallel between Satan’s words and women’s–otherwise the argument simply would not work. But women’s teaching in Scripture are not only not condemned, but affirmed. Deborah, for example, is not only not condemned, but shown as one of the few examples in judges of one who carried out God’s will without sin. There is no action of Deborah which is condemned. Contrast that with Samson, or other well-known judges. Next, we could review Huldah (2 Kings 22) and note that she was consulted about what the meaning of the Book of the Law meant. She prophesied, and her prophecy was true (which is the test of a true prophet). So we therefore see explicit affirmation from the Holy Spirit that Huldah was correctly teaching. Priscilla (leader of a house church) is affirmed by Paul; Junia (among the apostles) is similarly praised; Phoebe (a deacon–not one without authority as complementarians must affirm–the word used is the masculine form and explicitly references an office); etc., etc.

      So the hidden premise behind your own rebuttal is that women should not have been teaching in the places wherein they were. This, of course, not only begs the question, but utterly lacks evidence. The women who do teach are either affirmed explicitly or implicitly (the Holy Spirit’s stamp of approval on prophecy, God’s deliverance into Deborah’s hands, etc.). So overall I think your counter really serves to show another method complementarians utilize in these kinds of debates–they assume the truth of their position, and utilize this to disprove any counter-arguments. The reason I think your argument is demonstrative of this is the way it was approached. Women’s teachigns in Scripture were literally compared to the words of Satan. The analogy was, basically, “Scripture teaches us what Satan is like by showing us his [lies/deceit/etc.]. Scripture teaches us what women are like by showing them teaching [?]” But this shows yet another weakness in this counter-argument. For we know explicitly that Satan is evil. We know his method is to deceive, entrap, and mislead us. Yet the assumption of the complementarian who is making this argument must literally assume that women are analogus to Satan! For otherwise the entire argument doesn’t work! Truly, this flies in the face of every instance I’ve cited above. Deborah, Huldah, Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, etc. are not analogous to Satan! Rather, they are held up in the Bible as women who spoke the truth. Their words are praiseworthy, and useful for teaching doctrine. Not only that, but they themselves taught doctrine, lead, prophesied, and acted otherwise “authoritatively” in the church.

      So I contend that if you want to maintain your critique of my position through the reasoning you’ve employed thus far, you must literally assume that women are analogous to Satan. The pill, I’m sure, would unfortunately not be too large for many complementarians to swallow. Such is the permeation of the position in the church that some would rather say “Women are like satan” than admit that women can teach men. But it’s not a pill I’d be willing to swallow; it stands too firmly against what the Bible says about these very women.

      Thus, I conclude that P1 should be modified to show that Scripture doesn’t just tacitly allow women teaching, but explicitly approves it when it does happen. This strengthens the overall argument, and allows me to avoid this possible rebuttal.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 9, 2011, 9:32 PM
  18. J.W.,

    Based on the logic of the deductive argument, any hidden premise behind my own rebuttal is irrelevant. As the argument stands, all I have to do is deny a premise of yours based on any contention, and if that contention is true, regardless of its implications the rebuttal stands firm. My contention is that if you use the words of Satan in premise 1 instead of the words of women, a logical deductive argument would then follow. Whether I hold women and Satan analogous to each other is a straw man argument and a red herring. If you agree that my contention is true, then you must either agree to the entire logical argument that follows or deny your own argument.

    There are more problems with your arguments here. When you said, But note the contention behind your rebuttal: namely, that women who taught in Scripture should not have done so, you are not staying within the bounds of your own argument. You have placed my rebuttal in that women should not be teachers, but notice that in the entire deductive argument you don’t mention women teaching at all. The only teaching is done by Scripture. As I mentioned before, the conclusion to your argument only states that women should be allowed in ministry; it says nothing to their ability or acceptance in a teaching role. Also, the initial premise doesn’t say, “The teachings of women are not condemned,” but merely, “The words of women are not condemned.”

    Also, some of your supporting arguments are outside the scope. For instance, you say, “There is no action of Deborah which is condemned.” This says nothing to her words or teaching, which is at play in the deductive argument. So this supporting point is invalid. Huldah, again, you mention as prophesying correctly. You have yet to show specific evidence how prophesying and teaching are exactly the same, according to Scripture. The office of deacon, as you use for Phoebe, does not imply teaching either, nor do you use any words of hers to support your premise 1, so this is also an invalid point. The only points that may be conceded are Priscilla and Junia, though if you could point me to the passages that speak to their specific words in the Bible, I’d appreciate it. If they did not speak in the Bible, then they are also invalid.

    So my suggestion if you want to improve the argument. Change P1 to refer to specific teaching instead of just words. If you can’t justify that, then change the title of your post. Then point out specific examples of actual teaching done by women, such as Huldah if you can back up with evidence that prophesying and teaching are exactly the same. Second, re-work your conclusion to include teaching, instead of just “part of ministry.” As your deductive argument stands right now, there are no assumptions to be made regarding teaching, so if this is your objective, the language needs to be changed to affirm that.

    Hope this helps!
    Adam

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 10, 2011, 8:20 AM
    • I granted that the premise would need to be modified to explicate that women are teaching in Scripture. I will make note of it in the post itself. I think you’ve pointed out a valid critique of P1 and I think my modified premise suffices to escape that critique.

      The rest of your response settles on something which I think is another flaw of the complementarian view. Namely, the insistence that egalitarians must show women teachers teaching in order to make their case. This is the kind of uber-skepticism which undermines Biblical scholarship in other areas. Egalitarians can offer specific instances of women who occupied roles which complementarians ascribe to those who teach doctrine. Yet the complementarian demands that the egalitarian must show that those women were acting in the same capacities. This is surely an unfair demand. The evidence for named people who were deacons is paltry. Some men are named in context, but Phoebe is explicitly named as a deacon. Yet the complementarian must hold that while she was named as a deacon, she wasn’t shown to be explicitly carrying out the office of deacon, so they deny that Phoebe can lend evidence to the egalitarian position. Such is often called having the cake and eating it.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 10, 2011, 10:25 AM
  19. I think you’re jumping to conclusions a bit here. For starters, the office of deacon is one of leadership, but not of teaching. 1 Timothy 3 makes this distinction pretty clearly. Verses 1-7 lay out the role of elders, while verses 8-13 lay out the role of deacons. One of the notable things missing from deacon qualification is an ability to teach. So it is not irrelevant whether or not Phoebe actually carried out the office of deacon, because it adds nothing to her ability or responsibility in regards to teaching. You’ve presented a false dilemma here.

    The only reason I insist that the Bible show women teaching to make the point is because that is what is necessary to make your argument unfalsifiable, assuming you modify your premise. If you wish to deny the proof text in 1 Timothy 2, the best way to deny that text is to show examples of women actually teaching men in Scripture. The closest you have gotten is Huldah, for which I have asked for evidence to show that prophesying and teaching are exactly the same. If you can do that, perhaps you can reasonably deny the proof text. But to bring up slavery as a denial of that proof text makes it seem like you have no valid response to such a push for evidence, and the slavery argument doesn’t even make sense (the passages talk about how to act if you find yourself in position of “slave”–which today is akin to any worker with a boss–the passage don’t condone slavery themselves).

    I’m just cautioning you against these, because it seems like you’re having to fish around the argument, and there are a few red herrings in there as a result. I think this John Piper commentary does a pretty good job of explaining biblically why complementarians feel the way they do. What in there do you object to, and what do you see in there that is un-Scriptural?

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 11, 2011, 7:52 AM
    • You wrote, “the office of deacon is one of leadership, but not of teaching.”

      Ah, so women can lead, but not teach! Doesn’t that seem to undermine the argument that women can’t have authority over men? I mean that’s the core of the complementarian position!

      Any time I’ve seen a complementarian argument–and I used to be a hardcore complementarian, so I know them well–they have their basis in authority. The argument is that based on creation order, or 1 cor 14 or 1 tim 2, women should not have authority over a man. But you’ve granted that they can lead men! I don’t think I need to do much more footwork than that. The core of complementarian collapses once the authority structure is undermined.

      You wrote, “The only reason I insist that the Bible show women teaching to make the point is because that is what is necessary to make your argument unfalsifiable,”

      Well if my argument were unfalsifiable, it would be question begging. I don’t seek to make it unfalsifaible, I seek to make egalitarianism the logically superior position. But moving on…

      Women holding roles of ministry in the NT church should be enough to seal my case. If Paul, for example, affirms women in ministerial roles, they should no longer be excluded from the ministry. You dismiss Phoebe due to a sharp distinction of roles which I really don’t see how you can say that verses 1-7 against 8-13 shows deacons didn’t teach. At best you’ve made an argument from silence–saying that because it doesn’t say they need to be able to teach, they should not. But deacons are not told to avoid drunkenness in those verses, nor are they told to avoid violence, nor are they told not to love money. So by the same logic (these things are prohibited for overseers, but not directly for deacons!), deacons are to be greedy violent drunkards. I don’t see why I should hold this argument with any kind of firm ground for excluding deacons from teaching. And I have yet to see an argument in the literature on the topic from either side who argues that deacons are not to teach. I don’t wish to fully base this on an argument from authority, but I’ve read a significant amount of material on this topic and I can’t recall a single complementarian arguing that deacons are excluded from teaching.

      Largely, the role of deacons differs depending on denominational background and tradition. Yet I know that my own background (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a group which is complementarian to the core) has deacons who even preach sermons (though deaconesses may not, because they’re women, after all).

      So I conclude that your argument there really doesn’t hold much water.

      Another area of error I see is 1 Tim 2 as a ‘proof text.” People too often forget that verses like that come from letters written to specific congregations with specific problems. That doesn’t mean there is no universal norm, but that’s besides the point. I think 1 Tim 2 is the hardest verse to deal with as an egalitarian, but I’ve yet to see a complementarian address the fact that Junia is a woman apostle, Phoebe a deacon, that 1 Cor 12:28 shows prophets have more authority than teachers anyway (and therefore the core of complementarianism collapses), etc, etc.

      As far as Piper, I admit that I’ve never been convinced by him about anything. I’ve been reading through the book he edited on this topic and I’ve yet to find anything except the same arguments rehashed which have been rebutted throughout egalitarian literature. Ultimately, I think the argument comes down to whether one thinks that two proof texts (1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2) are more powerful than scores of counterexamples (1 Cor 12:28; Gal 3:28; Junia/Phoebe/Priscilla/Euodia.Syntyche/etc.).

      But also, since we’re citing eminent theologians, how about the man who is perhaps most eminent of all when it comes to Pauline literature: N.T. Wright? What does he have to say. I was struck when I discovered he was an egalitarian. Here’s what he has to say.

      As far as my current argument, I deny that I must show explicitly an example of a woman teaching. It’s enough to say that women held teaching roles.

      Second, I deny that I must do so because the fact that women’s words in Scripture are used to teach sound doctrine explicitly should be enough to show that women are capable teachers. Your parody with Satan doesn’t work with this because when we quote Satan’s words, we know we’re talking about “bad things to say.” Yet we sing the Magnificat in church, many say the words of Ruth as our wedding vows, etc, etc. Clearly there is a difference between these words of women and of Satan.

      The only counterpoint I could see to this would be to say the authority ultimately comes from God, not man. But then I would agree wholeheartedly and point to another argument: to put it crudely, the authority of the teacher lies not in their genitalia, but in God. Ultimately, God calls these people to teach. And, as another eminent NT scholar argues [Craig Keener], complementarians are literally saying God cannot/would not call these women, in fact, believe they are called to teach. Yet imagine someone came to a male, complementarian pastor, and challenged their call to the ministry. How could he possibly demonstrate that he was called in a way which could not be paralleled by a woman?

      So, to conclude, I don’t find the argument put forth against deacons teaching persuasive at all; I believe it is enough to show that women occupy teaching roles, because if they did, they could obviously have taught; I don’t think women’s words are equivalent to Satan’s; if the male pastor’s authority is ultimately from God, then so is the woman’s; and egalitarians have at least as many eminent theologians on their side as complementarians.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 12, 2011, 6:01 PM
  20. J.W.,

    Again you overstate my position. I never said that women couldn’t lead or teach at all. All I said was that deacons can lead. Absolutely women can be deacons, but that does not give them the authority to lead men. So you’re putting words in my mouth by saying that I said women can lead men, because I most certainly did not.

    But deacons are not told to avoid drunkenness in those verses, nor are they told to avoid violence, nor are they told not to love money. So by the same logic (these things are prohibited for overseers, but not directly for deacons!), deacons are to be greedy violent drunkards.

    That logic does not follow. They are not held to the same high standard of avoiding drunkenness or not to love money. But it doesn’t command that as a result they should do these things. That’s akin to the atheistic argument of saying that atheism is true because theism is false. The logic doesn’t go there, so this is overstepping the argument. But why is teaching not there when talking about what deacons should do? I think that speaks for itself.

    I’ve yet to see a complementarian address the fact that Junia is a woman apostle, Phoebe a deacon, that 1 Cor 12:28 shows prophets have more authority than teachers anyway (and therefore the core of complementarianism collapses), etc, etc.

    I’ve asked for the text on Junia, I’ve explained that Phoebe being a deacon speaks nothing to teaching, and you’re grossly overstating the hermeneutics of 1 Cor 12:28, as I demonstrated before. I think we might need to look at the Greek and some commentaries (separately, and then bring them here) to clear that part up.

    I think the argument comes down to whether one thinks that two proof texts (1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2) are more powerful than scores of counterexamples (1 Cor 12:28; Gal 3:28; Junia/Phoebe/Priscilla/Euodia.Syntyche/etc.).

    Again, your points are irrelevant because they don’t show women actually teaching men in the Bible. The proof text definitely carries more weight because of the specific nature of the text. None of the counterexamples are specific in their understanding of women as teaching men. That’s akin to looking at a banana and asking what color it is, and me saying “yellow” and you saying “some color between the shades of tangerine and forest tree.” Weirdly enough, Occam’s Razor may be applicable here.

    Your parody with Satan doesn’t work with this because when we quote Satan’s words, we know we’re talking about “bad things to say.”

    Irrelevant to the logic of the argument. But even granting that, the same argument can be applied to some women in the Bible (Jezebel, Potiphar’s wife, Sapphira), so by your logic we can actually apply women’s words in the Bible in the same light as Satan, and if Satan’s not allowed to teach than neither are women! I wouldn’t push that argument, but it is your own logic that allows it.

    As far as my current argument, I deny that I must show explicitly an example of a woman teaching. It’s enough to say that women held teaching roles.

    Not if a proof text explicitly says women aren’t allowed to teach. And not if you can’t definitively prove that the roles they held are teaching roles (i.e. deacon, apostle, etc.). Since your deductive argument is faulty, we need your own proof text. Otherwise, it’s a logically inferior argument.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 12, 2011, 8:36 PM
    • Alright, let me bracket the rest of the debate for the moment and focus on an issue I have with your use of 1 Tim 2. Namely, extreme ultra-literalism. I’m going to be quite polemical for a bit before I get into the meat of my argument. Complementarians are forced to this position because they have only two feet to stand on: 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2. Thus, they are pushed into a corner wherein they absolutely must read the text at face value and force any context into the position they desire.

      There is a double standard inherent in this position which can be seen with a more neutral example: slavery. What do complementarians do with verses wherein slaves are commanded to obey their masters? They immediately point to the cultural context of the times, extending an argument that one of two options are correct: 1) Paul [let’s say we’re talking about Colossians 3:22] was speaking to a cultural context wherein slavery was perfectly normal… [and this line concludes] Paul was here issuing a cultural command; or 2) Paul was writing in a progressive way for his time and the verse points towards emancipation broadly when viewed with other verses and weighed against the normal view of slavery in his culture.

      Yet the complementarian simply will not do this with their own proof texts. Rather than allowing similar interpretations, rather than examining the cultural context of the passages, comeplementarians (like Piper in the link you posted) flee from this and instead point to Genesis, then argue

      And when I brought this argument up, your response was exactly what I would expect. To whit, “But to bring up slavery as a denial of that proof text makes it seem like you have no valid response to such a push for evidence, and the slavery argument doesn’t even make sense (the passages talk about how to act if you find yourself in position of “slave”–which today is akin to any worker with a boss–the passage don’t condone slavery themselves).” Leaving aside what I would honestly consider some pretty sloppy exegesis there (cf. Webb, who in “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals” soundly rebuts this kind of claim by writing, among other things “[the position that slaves-masters relationship = employees/boss] produces grotesque, mutation-like applications. Imagine taking the words of Peter and advising modern employees to accept physical beatings by their employers for the sake of the gospel (1 Peter 2:18-25)… (36)), I don’t think you’ve really answered my point.

      I am asking you for evidence suggesting that the proof texts your using are culturally supported to uphold your position. Now you cited Piper, who literally just does what I’ve seen all complementarians do when asked about this: he doesn’t cite a single cultural example whatsoever. Instead, he just takes a jumble of verses and uses that in place of an exploration of the context of the church to which the letter was sent, Paul’s possible intentions, first century documentation, etc. This is intellectually dishonest. Support your claim. Egalitarians have provided arguments which support the idea that Paul was either writing to a specific cultural situation or was pointing towards an egalitarian position (cf. Wright). Complementarians, on the other hand, just throw the verse out there with some other verses and put that in place of hermeneutics.

      I am utterly unconvinced that 1 Tim 2 is as strong a case as you claim it is. And I am asking for you to make your case. Provide me with some kind of argument which shows, from first century sources, that egalitarians are wrong about the cultural context they’ve pointed out about the verse. Wright is one example of an argument for the egalitarian position.

      So for now, rather than continuing on going back and forth about whether or not women who occupied the roles of teachers were actually teachers, I ask you to support the claim you’re making. You think 1 Tim 2 alone is enough to cast doubt upon my argument. Very well, show me how you avoid the disjointed interpretations of Piper et al. Show me how you are consistent in your treatment of slavery texts and women texts.

      To address one other part of your argument, you wrote “. And not if you can’t definitively prove that the roles they held are teaching roles (i.e. deacon, apostle, etc.).”

      I shudder to think what roles you do think are teachers. Deacons apparently aren’t, nor are apostles (Paul? John? Matthew?). Honestly, what roles are teachers, in your opinion? Can you comprehensively support your case across the NT and early church history?

      Finally, the text on Junia is Romans 16:7. I’d love to discuss the Greek with you, because it positively supports that Junia was an apostle.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 12, 2011, 9:09 PM
  21. Guys, deacons were helpers in the church, litterally table waiters. Not leaders.
    It could be argued that apostles were missionaries. Even if Junia were an apostle does it say she Pastored or taught men? Point is it isn’t explicit as Paul’s order of authority and his statement of women teaching or that men were to pastor.
    Slavery is in every culture and in every age, even now. The borrow is slave to the lender.
    I have more to discuss.

    Posted by css | July 12, 2011, 10:40 PM
  22. I just don’t see your point, J.W. How can you say I am using extreme ultra-literalism with 1 Tim 2:12, but then use 2 Tim 3:16 in your logical argument? Same author, same recipient, same time-frame. You must apply the same standards to both, so if you want to take this approach, then you must remove premises 2 & 3 for your argument. Or you must show why this passage is to be taken as extremely ultra-literal but 1 Tim 2:12 is not. I think that’s a pretty high burden of proof. This is not a good path for you to take.

    It’s a little insulting to say that I’m backed into the corner of using proof texts when all you’ve done is shown that women have some leadership roles in Scripture and therefore that constitutes ability and right to teach. That just doesn’t follow, and I feel like as a result you’ve turned onto attacking 1 Tim 2:12 and saying there’s no evidence to suggest we take it literally. Your response to my assertion that these positions of leadership don’t mean teaching is to say, “Yes, they do,” and that’s enough. It’s not, friend.

    But ultimately, to deny a complementarian position doesn’t automatically make the egalitarian position true (much like denial of theism doesn’t mean atheism is true). That’s where I think your attack goes the wrong direction. Defend the initial argument, because it’s clear there are some potential problems with premises 1, 2 and/or 3. You’ve already admitted to premise 1’s faultiness, and to attack the literalism of the complementarian’s view of 1 Tim 2:12 is to put your premises 2 & 3 at risk. I don’t really think you’ve satisfied your logical burden of proof with this argument, friend.

    Posted by sabepashubbo | July 13, 2011, 1:59 PM
    • There is a difference between 1 Tim 2:12 and 2 Tim 3:16–namely, we have reason to think the former is cultural and not the latter. Given that I’ve seen no evidence to the contrary, I think this resolves the apparent conflict and preserves premises 2 and 3.

      1 Tim 2:12 is so often used as “the text” for complementarians, yet they refuse to view it in its cultural context. Unless and until they are willing to do so, this debate will never move further.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 19, 2011, 11:29 PM
    • There is a difference between 1 Tim 2:12 and 2 Tim 3:16–namely, we have reason to think the former is cultural and not the latter.

      And what is the basis for this claim? The initial part of 2 Tim 3 is filled with cultural issues, and 2 Tim 3:10-17 follow as part of that text.

      If hermeneutics is the issue, then let’s be hermeneutical on all fronts.

      Posted by sabepashubbo | July 20, 2011, 10:29 AM
  23. A good, thoughtful argument, J.w.! I enjoyed this post, though I do of course disagree with what you’re saying.

    As you would expect, I think a good comp would definitely deny premise 4.

    I think a standard distinction between the general offices of teaching and the special offices of teaching is useful here. The special teaching office consists of ordained elders, whilst the general office includes all believers. The special office has distinct qualifications, which include an extraordinary spiritual maturity as well as a Spirit-given ability to teach, with recognition of this coming from the church in the form of laying on of hands. Those in the special teaching office are divinely appointed to rule under Christ and all believers are called to hear and obey these teachers (Heb 13:7, 17).

    The general office includes all believers, because every believer has a God-given ability to understand the truths of Christ (1 Cor 2:6-16 plus numerous others).

    I think scripture plainly teaches that the special teaching office of eldership is specifically for men, with just two key passages being 1 Cor 14:33-35 & 1 Tim 2:11-15. Egals have simply lost the exegetical arguments in the literature when it comes to passages such as these. However, scripture says with equal clarity that women are definitely not excluded from the general teaching office, with women teaching children (2 Tim 1:5), older women teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5), women prophesying in church (Acts 21:9, 1 Cor 11:5) and indeed there were female prophets in the early church.

    So even if your general point about using women in OT for teaching holds, this would not necessitate the inclusion of women in the special teaching office of eldership.

    Also, what about the criticism of this argument that it proves too much? I could substitute the first premise for countless other kinds of people who we clearly would not permit to become pastors, such as donkeys (Numbers 22), murderers (David, Moses), polygamists (David, Solomon, Abraham), the latter being excluded from eldership as a result of the specific requirements for it clearly precluding polygamists, just as they preclude women. This is not to say women are more ‘gullible’ or are inferior in any way shape or form, simply that it is God’s created order for human beings. Just as women alone have been given the special office of child bearers, men alone have been given the special office of teaching. The Trinity gives us the perfect picture of how Christ is eternally submissive and subordinate to the Father, in such a way that there is a good and perfect hierarchy, yet blasphemous it would still be of people like Arius to claim that this means Christ is somehow inferior to the Father and hence a created being.

    I would also be interested to know if you think that there are no gender role distinctions in headship of the family? If not why not?

    Posted by Michael | July 19, 2011, 5:33 PM
    • I think that your response really speaks to a point of confusion within this whole debate: the explication of what a pastor is. Are pastors elders, overseers, deacons, all, none? I have often pored over the verses throughout the NT about the various offices in the church and I find an utter paucity of information about what different offices are supposed to do, exactly. For example, many complementarian church bodies will only allow the pastor to distribute communion, yet I don’t see that explicated anywhere in the Bible.

      I think there is a kind of overconfidence about which positions in the Bible line up to which in the modern area. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the text.

      You wrote, ” This is not to say women are more ‘gullible’ or are inferior in any way shape or form, simply that it is God’s created order for human beings.”

      It’s interesting, on the other hand, to note that this has been the sole rationale for excluding women from the ministry in much of the history of the church, as William Webb documents in his book, “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.” Only in recent times, due to cultural change and scientific study, have complementarians changed their position to one of order as opposed to susceptibility to deception. This, I think, shows an unwillingness to allow the passage itself to be interpreted culturally, but a gaudy “giving in” to the culture of the complementarians themselves. It’s telling that they are willing to modify their arguments based on the contemporary culture, but unwilling to allow Biblical authors to do the same.

      Regarding the issue of headship in the family–it’s something I haven’t researched enough to come down firmly on one side or the other. I lean towards egalitarianism there (due to Paul’s statements, for example, throughout Ephesians).

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | July 19, 2011, 11:38 PM
  24. Hey hey hey, I finally got a chance to read this! GREAT point, never considered it from that perspective before.

    Posted by Dan O'Day | July 27, 2011, 6:45 PM

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  3. Pingback: Response to a complementarian video « J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - January 24, 2013

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