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THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Short Essay 3 on Ecclesiology Michael Wright THEO202_B01_201230 June 15, 2012

How a woman is allowed to serve in ministry is entirely determined by the church to which she belongs and how they interpret the bible. Most churches allow women to volunteer on some level, but stop short of a leadership role.1 Few allow ordination, but those that do consider their ministry blessed.2 There are two positions defined in the New Testament as leadership roles, elders and deacons.3 The deacon is defined as the servants of Gods people; Paul exhorts that candidates be respectable, honest, not drunkards, or greedy.4 They are to keep true to the faith, and be tested to show themselves blameless.5 Elders are the shepherds and overseers of the church. Paul qualifies elders should be appointed who are above reproach, having only one spouse and children that are believers and free of accusation.6 Women are not barred from these roles by scripture but by the interpretation of scripture.7 Many Evangelicals hold to the standards of the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. s.v. "Woman, Ordination Of", 1289.

Keener, Craig S., Paul, Women & Wives : Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), vi. There are of course other offices mentioned in the bible, but these are the two leadership positions most commonly attributed by Pauls qualification. One leadership position often not mentioned is the office of Widow, as qualified by 1 Tim. 5:9-10. Grenz, Stanley J., Guretzki, David, and Nordling, Cherith Fee. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. (Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1999), Kindle edition, location 353.
5 4 3

1st Tim. 3:8-10 Titus 1:6-9

Wright, N.T., "Womens Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis " Men, Women and the Church (2004). http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm (accessed 9/24/2004).

Womanhood, spearheaded by Wayne Grudem and John Piper.8 To find a true biblical view of a womans place in leadership one must survey the typical scriptures involved in building these views. This chart compares the views of Evangelical Pastor John MacArthur with my own sociorhetorical and cultural exegesis, and the nature of the differences.
Scripture
Pro-Arguments Galatians 3:28 Romans 16:1-2 All are spiritually equal in Christ. Phoebe was a deaconess. All have equal citizenship in Christ's kingdom.11 Phoebe was a patron leader tasked with ministry of Paul's epistle.12 Cultural understanding and full scriptural context. Source conflict, full scriptural context, and cultural understanding.13

MacArthur9

Wright10

Conflict

CBMW, "The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood," (1988). http://www.swbts.edu/index.cfm?pageid=1727 (accessed 6/12/2012). Wright, Michael, "Is the Bible Really against Ordination of Women?," Examiner.com (2012). http://www.examiner.com/article/is-the-bible-really-against-ordination (accessed 6/13/2012).
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MacArthur, John, The Macarthur New Testament Commentary (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson,

2007). Keener, Craig, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 528. One should consider the full context of this passage; verses 23-29 are addressing slaves, who had no legal standing in the Roman Empire. Ibid., 446-7. Keener notes here that in sending Phoebe Paul must give a letter of recommendation, as women of the Greco-Roman world were not known for their wisdom. He offers that Phoebe would be responsible for ministering these words to the Roman church directly and as such required this additional affirmation. Witherington, Ben and Hyatt, Darlene, Paul's Letter to the Romans : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2004), 379-85. Wilmington also notes the usage of the word prostatis in verse 2, historically identified as Patron. In religious circles these were respected leaders of the home that lent it for congregational use.
13 12 11

Romans 16:7 Against-Arguments 1 Tim. 2:11-15

Andronicus and Junia are known to the Apostles. Women are to learn and not preach, stay silent and respectful accorded to the created order.

They are Apostles.14

Greek word translation and sentence structure. Socio-Rhetorical analysis, Cultural understanding.

1 Tim. 3:2

Requirements for an elder; Paul is not speaking of bigamy, as it didn't happen in the First Century.

1 Cor. 14:34-35

Women are to remain silent; the Corinthian church was assailed by the cult of Delphi.

New converts are to submit to the discipleship process before being allowed active participation in the church.15 Paul is speaking of bigamy, endorsed by the father of his Jewish Rabbi. Rome only recognized marriage between citizenship; bigamy existed anyway like all other marriage.16 All church members are not to use spiritual gifts in the presence of the assembly.17

Cultural understanding and weight of historical data.

Full scriptural context and Cultural understanding.

Table 1.1. Differences in Scriptural Exegesis involving Women's roles in the Church

Nestle, Erwin and Aland, Kurt, Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament, trans., Bruce M. Metzger, 27th ed., Novum Testamentum Graece (Deutsche Bibelgesellshaft, Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2008), 438. At issue here is , or hoitines eisin episemoi en tois apostolois (WHO ARE NOTABLE AMONG THE APOSTLES). There are two ways to understand this, they are either known TO the Apostles or they are NOTABLE Apostles. How do we know which is correct? Because of the word en or AMONG. This Greek word is a primary preposition denoting a fixed position by implication of instrumentality. In other words, the pronominal adjective WHO is directly inclusive with the determiner and noun, tois apostolois. Essentially boiled down, this statement is saying WHO ARE APOSTLES. Keener, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament, 611-2.; Jeffers, James S., The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era : Exploring the Background of Early Christianity (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 237-57. ; Banks, Robert J., Paul's Idea of Community, Rev. ed. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 99-108.
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Keener, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament, 612-13.; Jeffers, 197-204, 237-247

Keener, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament, 483-4.;Banks, 99108.;Witherington, Ben, Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1995), 274-6.;Metzger, Bruce Manning, The New Testament : Its Background, Growth, and Content, 3rd ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), 261.

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The problem of using either of these analyses in determining a womans eligibility for leadership is that the high level of exegesis and in some cases scholarly debate leads ultimately to the question of biblical inerrancy. The Fundamentalist and in many cases Evangelical block will hold to a literal reading of Formal Equivalence18 translations.19 Those scholars who often determine those translations will note that there is no such thing as a direct Greek to English translation and advocate a Functional Equivalence20 translation along with cultural and sociorhetorical analysis.21 Scholars however rarely operate churches, and when they do divisions occur.22

Formal Equivalence is a translational method often referred to as the word-for-word method. This name can be deceiving however as a Greek word can equate to hundreds of English possibilities; one English word can be expressed through dozens of Greek words. For this reason context and a high level of analysis are necessary. There are also difficulties in the translation of Hebrews, as it was written in Classical Greek and not Koine Greek. (Hence why we know Paul didnt write it.) The two most popular FE Bibles in use today are the NASB and ESV translations. The ESV is widely touted by leaders such as John Piper and Mark Driscol as deeply faithful translations, however much criticism of this translation among scholars has arisen due to its clunky wording and usage of non-gender specific wording. (A point that got the TNIV translation removed from the book shelves after leaders such as Piper and Driscol condemned it for doing so.) Spong, John Shelby, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism : A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, 1st ed. (San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 13-24.; Bartowski, John, "Beyond Biblical Literalism and Inerrancy: Conservative Protestants and the Hermeneutic Interpretation of Scripture," Sociology of Religion 57, (1996)., 56. Functional Equivalence is an attempt to translate with the idea of using overall context to guide the translation process. This has also been called the thought for thought approach, but is markedly different than Dynamic Equivalence (NLT, CSV) in that Dynamic seeks the best and most understandable English equivalent of the entire scripture at the cost of individual word integrity, while Functional seeks to retain the integrity of wording while balancing the merits of English Grammar. Functional Equivalent translations include the NIV and HCSB. Buchanan, Joseph R., The Benefits of Socio-Rhetorical Analysis for Expository Preaching (Doctoral of Ministry, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009). Miller, Donald, "Should the Church Be Led by Teachers and Scholars?," Converging Zone (2012). http://www.convergingzone.com/faith/should-the-church-be-led-by-teachers-and-scholars-by-donald-miller/ (accessed 6/14/2012).
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Objections to this are inevitable; these men have dedicated a lifetime to biblical study, and I have no standing at all. I feel warranted however as these beliefs are not entirely mine, they are the views of eminent biblical scholars such as Ben Wilmington, Craig Keener, and Bruce Metzger (who we can say with little exaggeration, gave us the modern English bible). Undoubtedly I will be accused of being a Christian Feminist or Egalitarian. The problem with these views however is that too often they step outside the bible and look to other religions to make their case.23 These positions also support abortion, something I strongly object to.24 Limitations on the role of women in the church are still warranted, though translated to the workplace becomes problematic. For instance most restrictions for men apply equally, and while headship of men over women is clearly stated biblically, it isnt clear whether a single man has headship universally over any single woman.25 Some of the clearer restrictions would include modest dress and submission to their husbands if they are married. It is difficult to translate religious values to the secular workplace however due to employment discrimination laws.26 In the end I feel I must capitulate to feminine wisdom. When my wife was asked if the hardest working female ministry leaders in our church, without redefining what they do, were

Clack, Beverly, "Thealogy and Theology: Mutually Exclusive or Creatively Interdependent?," The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 21, (1999)., 21-38. Groothuis, Rebecca Merrill, "Feminism Goes to Seed," Christian Ethics Today: A Journal of Christian Ethics 25, no. 6 (1999). 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; A literal reading of this verse leads one to believe Paul is denying that women are not also created in the image of God. This cant be the reading as it is in direct opposition to Genesis 1:27. Commission, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity, "Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions and Answers," (2009). http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html (accessed 6/13/2012).
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given the title of Pastor, would that affect anything? Her answer was that the church would stop functioning, because pastors just talk and the women make everything happen. I have to admit, I have difficulty arguing with that logic.27 Word count: 799

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Wright, "Is the Bible Really against Ordination of Women?".

Bibliography Banks, Robert J. Paul's Idea of Community. Rev. ed. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. Bartowski, John. "Beyond Biblical Literalism and Inerrancy: Conservative Protestants and the Hermeneutic Interpretation of Scripture." Sociology of Religion 57, (1996): 56. Buchanan, Joseph R. "The Benefits of Socio-Rhetorical Analysis for Expository Preaching." Doctoral of Ministry, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009. CBMW. "The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." (1988). http://www.swbts.edu/index.cfm?pageid=1727 [accessed 6/12/2012]. Clack, Beverly. "Thealogy and Theology: Mutually Exclusive or Creatively Interdependent?" The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 21, (1999): 21-38. Commission, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity. "Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions and Answers." (2009). http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html [accessed 6/13/2012]. Grenz, Stanley J., Guretzki, David, and Nordling, Cherith Fee. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999. Kindle edition. Groothuis, Rebecca Merrill. "Feminism Goes to Seed." Christian Ethics Today: A Journal of Christian Ethics 25, no. 6 (1999): 32. Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era : Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999. Keener, Craig. The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: The New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Keener, Craig S. Paul, Women & Wives : Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992. MacArthur, John. The Macarthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2007. Metzger, Bruce Manning. The New Testament : Its Background, Growth, and Content. 3rd ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003.

Miller, Donald. "Should the Church Be Led by Teachers and Scholars?" Converging Zone (2012). http://www.convergingzone.com/faith/should-the-church-be-led-by-teachers-and-scholars-bydonald-miller/ [accessed 6/14/2012]. Nestle, Erwin, and Aland, Kurt. Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M. 27th ed. Novum Testamentum Graece. Deutsche Bibelgesellshaft, Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2008. Nicole, R., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI:Baker House Company, 2001. Spong, John Shelby. Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism : A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture. 1st ed. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. Witherington, Ben. Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1995. Witherington, Ben, and Hyatt, Darlene. Paul's Letter to the Romans : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2004. Wright, Michael. "Is the Bible Really against Ordination of Women?" Examiner.com (2012). http://www.examiner.com/article/is-the-bible-really-against-ordination [accessed 6/13/2012]. Wright, N.T. "Womens Service in the Church: The Biblical Basis " Men, Women and the Church (2004). http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm [accessed 9/24/2004].