Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

August 22, 2007

Women in Office: A Disclaimer

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 8:08 pm

Rather than bury this in a comment on my previous post, with this entry, I am clarifying my position on the women in office debate.

I learned a lot from RubeRad’s comment made probably a half year ago on some thread somewhere deep in cyber-space on the WIO issue. He said something to the effect that he personally had no problems with women taking office in church or with sitting under teaching of a woman. But he said that it was scripture that was normative for faith and life and therefore couldn’t accept the practice. (I am not sure he went so far as to claim that he would have no personal objections to having a woman pastor).

In any case, the purpose of this post is to make it plain that opponents of myself as a subordinationist should not take it personally nor should they consider me in some way a mean spirited chauvinist.

It remains the case however that I get hot under the collar on this issue. This is not because of the subject matter of the issue itself. It is entirely because of what has to be done with the Bible, hermeneutically speaking, in order to reinterpret scripture in such a way as to get women into the pulpit. It boils down to "has God really said" – which refrain should ring loudly in your ears as a clear warning that something may be slithering in the grass.

Bad things happen to my soul when the covenant promises get compromised and eroded even in the slightest way. So, I get feisty. I am, however, on a mission to overcome my quarrelsome tendencies.

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Should the Church Ordain Women?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 7:42 pm

It turns out I took a big gamble on Saturday evening, August 18, 2007, when I attended the "debate" on the topic of the Biblical proscription of the ordination of women by the church. I new going in that I wasn’t going to buy the liberal position held by the professor from Bethel Seminary. But I didn’t anticipate that I would be running the risk of having my faith undermined as much as I did.

You can hear the whole thing once RubeRad makes the mp3s available.

Not wanting to devote too much effort on this, here is my summary of his version of the egalitarian view:

  1. There is a "trajectory of the spirit" paradigm that can be (should be) laid on top of scripture. By means of this, we can discover what new things are being revealed to the church. (BTW, the reformers always acknowledged the idea of progressive revelation in scripture, but they knew a brick wall when they saw one – see Deut 4:2 and Rev 22:18-19).
  2. A very heavy dose of culture as that which shackled the apostles (or the Holy Spirit himself), keeping them from writing what they really would have said had not the prevalent culture forced their hand.
  3. A collection of fallacies of argumentation including emotional appeals, red herrings, guilt by association, question begging, and numerous others. (Maybe some one else who was there can fill out this list).

Before I get to a quick statement about his main thrusts, here are some cute fallacies that got lobbed in our direction

  1. The Roman Catholic church holds the view that women shouldn’t hold office in the church. Therefore protestants should allow women to hold church office. (Credo-baptists in infant baptism debates feature that one all the time.)
  2. The Koran of Islam is said to have "dropped right out of the sky" – the dictation theory of inscripturation. Therefore the Christian Bible must be grounded in humanity and the culture that then existed when Paul (and the apostles) wrote. Therefore, what was written in 65 AD was specifically directed to that culture not ours. (Or, as the assistant pastor at a local CRC preached a while back, "Had Paul written his letters in the 21st century, the spirit would have authorized women preachers".) 
  3. Slave holders in the civil war era justified their sin by citing Paul’s apparent endorsement of slavery. Therefore, subordinationists are likewise in error when they cite Paul’s apparent proscription of women in office.
  4. Female attendees (members?) of the pagan temple of Diana cult during the time when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy (whose mailing address was in Ephesus see 1 Tim 1:3) converted to faith in Jesus Christ and retained and therefore exhibited a domineering attitude toward men. Therefore 1 Tim 2:11-12 "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet" was Paul’s specific command in which he was only proscribing domineering female converts from paganism from teaching etc. I personally liked this fallacy the best because it is similar to the argument form that paedo-baptists use to locate infant baptisms in the several household baptisms in the NT (which I of course believe works better when paedo-baptists use it – since the two arguments are not identical). And of course credo-baptists – of which our egalitarian speaker is one – reject this as, I think, some sort of argument from silence. In this argument, Prof Scorgie has to set up the following dominoes in order to knock them over. 1)You know: there must have been some female converts from paganism who converted to Christianity. 2) There must have been some domineering types because everybody knows that’s what happens when women worship Diana. 3) Everybody knows also that due to the patriarchalism rampant in the culture, no other women but escapees from the cult of Diana ever were uppity.  How Dr. Scorgie dismisses Paul’s appeal to Adam – Eve "For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (the word "for" is there expressly to explain Paul’s statement) will stand as a good example of eisegesis.
  5. By pig-headedly denying access to ordination for women, the orthodox are cutting themselves off from 50% of the gifts the spirit gives to the church. (This is the question-begging fallacy, in case you were looking for it).
  6. 70% of the leaders of house churches in communist China are lead by women. I ask, how is this different from saying that 50% of the elders at First Presbyterian Church San Diego are women? It’s different because in the case of China, the assumption is that Christians lend their support to any efforts conducted in the presence of persecution and great duress. Hence, this is the emotional appeal.

So, quickly, here is what Dr. Scorgie sees as the trajectory of the spirit. As I remember, he uses Gal 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" to establish the trajectory of change from one position to a subsequent position that modifies the first. He did this without one shred of exegesis on the Galatians passage. But there you are.  His book cites a second example of this phenomenon in scripture; namely the change in dietary laws between the OT and the NT.

On more than one point Scorgie indicated his view that Jesus himself was constrained in what he could say or do by the prevailing heirarchical subordinationist culture. It was at this point where one’s faith can be attacked. Rather than the canon of scripture being the covenant treaty document speaking with final authority, we instead get a weak Jesus, and weak apostles who write a flimsy and – given enough time for the trajectory of the spirit to play out – a worthless document. A worthless document results in a worthless Jesus.

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