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“Women Pastors?” edited by Matthew C. Harrison and John T. Pless -a critical review Hub

I grew up as a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a church body which rejects the ordination of women to the role of pastor. The publishing branch of that denomination, Concordia Publishing House, put out a book entitled Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective edited by Matthew C. Harrison (who is the current President of the LCMS) and John T. Pless. I have decided to do a critical review of the book, chapter-by-chapter, for two reasons. 1) I am frequently asked why I support women pastors by friends, family, and people online who do not share my position, and I hope to show that the best arguments my former denomination can bring forward against women pastors fail. 2) I believe the position of the LCMS and other groups like it is deeply mistaken on this, and so it warrants interaction to show that they are wrong. I will, as I said, be tackling this book chapter-by-chapter, sometimes dividing chapters into multiple posts.

Finally, I should note I am reviewing the first edition published in 2008. I have been informed that at least some changes were made shortly thereafter, including in particular the section on the Trinity which is, in the edition I own, disturbingly mistaken. I will continue with the edition I have at hand because, frankly, I don’t have a lot of money to use to get another edition. I’m aware the picture I used is for the third edition.

Chapter and Section Reviews

“The New Testament and the Ordination of Women” by Henry P. Hamann (Part 1)- I respond to the first part of Hamann’s chapter, in which he argues the NT gives no support at all for women pastors, provides a definition of ordination that no one in the NT meets, and then claims women aren’t given ordination in the NT.

“The New Testament and the Ordination of Women” by Henry P. Hamann (Part 2)– The second part of Hamann’s chapter attempts to show commands allegedly prohibiting women from being pastors are not arbitrary.

“Didaskolos” by Bertil Gärtner, Part 1– Gärtner attempts to leverage a broad swathe of Scripture to show that women cannot be pastors. However, his criteria, if pushed to their logical conclusions, would also exclude many the LCMS ordains.

“Didaskolos” by Bertil Gärtner, Part 2– Gärtner appeals to the order of creation to exclude women from ministry and also offers a self-contradictory argument against women pastors.

“1 Corinthians 14:33B-38, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, and the Ordination of Women” by Peter Kriewaldt and Geelong North, Part 1– Kriewaldt and North start with 1 Corinthians 14 to try to show how it absolutely restricts women from the ministry. Textual integrity issues are among the topics raised.

“1 Corinthians 14:33B-38, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, and the Ordination of Women” by Peter Kriewaldt and Geelong North, Part 2– the authors strangely leave off verse 15 of 1 Timothy 2, but that’s just one of the many issues with their interpretation here.

“‘As In All the Churches of the Saints’: A Text-Critical Study of 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35” by David W. Bryce– Bryce’s chapter, attempting to show the textual integrity of the 1 Corinthians passage, makes some mistakes and is also directly contradictory to the previous chapter’s assertion about the textual integrity of the same passage.

“Ordained Proclaimers or Quiet Learners? Women in Worship in Light of 1 Timothy 2” by Charles A. Gieschen– Gieschen’s selective reading of the text purports to show that the words to take literally are just those he takes literally, while those with deeper meanings are just those he needs to do so in order to hold his theological positions.

“The Ordination of Women: A Twentieth-Century Gnostic Heresy?” by Louis A. Brighton– Brighton follows the rule of “everything I disagree with is Gnosticism” when it comes to theology, apparently. The chapter is a practice in forcing your theological opponents to look like that which you think is the worst.

“Section II: Historical Studies” in “Women Pastors?” edited by Matthew C. Harrison and John T. Pless– I note the points that Harrison and Pless apparently believe this section will prove to readers.

“Women in the History of the Church” by William Weinrich– Weinrich attempts to show that while women were “learned and holy” in the history of the church, they were not and shouldn’t be pastors.

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.

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  1. Pingback: Reading the Horus Heresy, Book 19: “Know No Fear” by Dan Abnett | Eclectic Theist - May 31, 2022

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