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Revisiting Biblical Womanhood. What Every Pastor Needs to Know. My Job?. To discuss the question of female preachers and pastors. This has become one aspect of a larger debate over evangelical feminism. Party One: Egalitarianism Party Two: Complementarianism.

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revisiting biblical womanhood

Revisiting Biblical Womanhood

What Every Pastor Needs to Know

my job

My Job?

To discuss the question of female preachers and pastors.

two parties two problems
Party One: Egalitarianism

Party Two: Complementarianism

Problem One: Authority in the home

Problem Two: Authority in the church

Two Parties; Two Problems
the egalitarian party
Christians for Biblical Equality

InterVarsity Press

Gilbert Bilezikian

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

Gordon Fee

Kevin Giles

Catherine Kroeger

Richard Kroeger

William Webb

I. Howard Marshall

The Egalitarian Party
the complementarian party
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Crossway Publishers

Wayne Grudem

John Piper

D. A. Carson

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Thomas Schreiner

Robert Yarbrough

Douglas Moo

Dorothy Patterson

Mary Kassian

The Complementarian Party
what are they saying
What Are They Saying?
  • Egalitarianism: true equality requires identical roles and authority.
  • Complementarianism: true equality allows differences in roles and authority.
our focus here
Our Focus Here
  • We’ll ignore the problem of roles and authority in the home, and focus on roles and authority in the church.
  • First, we’ll take a brief retrospective.
  • Second, we’ll look at a key passage.
  • Third, we’ll examine attempts to circumvent this passage.
part one

Part One

A Brief Retrospective

did you know
Did You know?
  • Baptist fundamentalists used to accept and employ women preachers?
  • For a detailed discussion, see Janet Hassey, No Time for Silence.
  • I’ll give you a bit of information about a female preacher whom Hassey does not mention.
amy lee stockton
Amy Lee Stockton
  • First student at Northern Baptist Seminary (1909).
  • Licensed by Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Accompanied by musician Rita Gould, also licensed by Wealthy Street.
  • Often spoke at Maranatha Conference Ground near Muskegon, Michigan.
stockton s backers included
Stockton’s Backers Included:
  • Oliver W. Van Osdel (founder of the GRVBA and the GARBC)
  • H. H. Savage (Pontiac, Michigan)
  • T. T. Shields (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • David Otis Fuller (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  • John Marvin Dean (Northern Baptist Seminary)
when criticized
When Criticized . . .
  • . . . Stockton could be quite blunt.
  • Example: M. R. DeHaan of Grand Rapids.
  • Stockton’s reply: “I don’t see that he has set Grand Rapids on fire or accomplished enough to make us want to follow his methods.”
  • Stockton was not exactly passive or weak-willed.
what s the point
What’s the Point?
  • This controversy is not new.
  • Some of the same arguments were used then (on both sides) that are being used now.
  • It is part of our past; it’s not just “the liberals” who have wrestled with this question.
part two

Part Two

A Key Passage


2 Timothy 211Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

preliminary remarks
Preliminary Remarks
  • We do not have time for a detailed exegesis.
  • We will not ask every question or examine every possible answer.
  • This will be a survey of what I think is the best interpretation.
  • For details, see Thomas R. Schreiner’s article on this passage.
what is the context
What Is the Context?
  • The letter is partly a response to false teaching (see ch. 1).
  • In 2:1-7 Paul is emphasizing that God’s wish or desire is for all to be saved.
  • Verse 8 is transitional, requiring all the men to pray (for the salvation of souls?).
  • This is probably a reference to house churches meeting for public worship.
the discussion of modesty
The Discussion of Modesty
  • 2:8-10 is probably directed specifically at public worship, though applicable elsewhere.
  • Paul is as concerned with women’s adornment and behavior as with men’s prayers.
  • Women are to reject ostentatiousness and flirtatiousness in favor of modesty.
Incidentally. . .
  • This is a principle that can be applied to men with equal relevance.
  • Paul’s specific prohibitions are probably reflective of meanings that are at least partly culturally bound.
  • There is not necessarily a timeless prohibition of all jewelry, but there is a timeless requirement of modesty.
verse 11
Verse 11
  • Enjoins all women to learn. There is no sphere of biblical or theological knowledge that ought to be withheld from women.
  • What Paul requires is not absolute silence (sige), but rather a quiet demeanor (hesuchia).
  • Their submission is most likely to those who hold teaching authority in the church.
  • This is still good counsel for men, too.
a note on structure of 11 12
A Note on Structure of 11-12
  • In Quietness
    • Let women learn
      • With all subjection
    • Women not to teach
      • Or to grasp authority
  • But to be quiet
how about verse12
How About Verse12?
  • There are two basic prohibitions and one positive exhortation.
  • Women are not to didaskein men. This is the basic word for “teach.”
  • Women are not to authentein men. This word means to “exercise authority over.”
  • Women are to be quiet.
the heart of the controversy
The Heart of the Controversy
  • Women may not teach men.
  • Women may not exercise authority over men.
  • But which men? Where? And doing what kind of teaching?
  • The context has been one of the church assembled for public worship. Therefore…
what is not forbidden
What Is Not Forbidden
  • Women discipling men outside of public gatherings (e.g., Priscilla and Apollos).
  • Women teaching women or children within public gatherings.
  • Women teaching men in a non-authoritative (i.e., non-pastoral) way.
  • Women prophesying or praying (1 Cor. 11).
  • Women exercising non-pastoral authority (e.g., in business, politics, etc.).
what is forbidden
What Is Forbidden
  • Women preaching to mixed audiences.
  • Women teaching the Bible to mixed audiences in a church setting.
  • Women exercising authority as pastors, elders, and bishops.
paul s reasons
Paul’s Reasons
  • He has already alluded to one: women’s decorum is linked with God’s desire for all people to be saved.
  • The order of creation indicates male headship. Adam was formed first.
  • The order of the fall reinforces Paul’s reasoning. The woman was deceived.
so the woman was deceived
So the Woman Was Deceived?
  • Both Adam and Eve were together during the temptation.
  • The serpent singled out Eve.
  • Rather than deferring to Adam, Eve took it upon herself to reply for both (and Adam allowed it).
  • This constituted an inversion of the created order that resulted in disaster.
saved through childbearing
Saved Through Childbearing?
  • Not that childbearing is a means of salvation.
  • Childbearing is a station in life in which only some people are involved. How you fulfill your station in life shows how you are working out your salvation.
  • The question is whether a stay-at-home mom has the same shot at exhibiting salvation as the public preacher and teacher (or anyone else).
saved through childbearing1
Saved Through Childbearing?
  • Childbearing stands as a synecdoche for domesticity (rearing kids, keeping the house).
  • The heresy in Ephesus downplayed this-worldly activity and probably showed special contempt for maternity and domesticity.
  • Paul is elevating maternity and domesticity to a position of dignity alongside any other calling.
part three

Part Three

Attempts to Circumvent This Passage

1 rejection of authority
1. Rejection of Authority
  • Some attempt simply to reject the authority of this passage.
  • Mainline liberals do not feel bound by the propositional authority of biblical statements in the first place.
  • Some evangelicals (Paul King Jewett, for example) see this text as a reflection of Paul’s rabbinic prejudice.
2 trumping the authority
2. Trumping the Authority
  • Some claim that the Holy Spirit is the authority behind Scripture and is free to make exceptions to its rules.
  • Some may appeal to putative prophecies (Cindy Jacobs).
  • Van Osdel appealed to the experience of effective ministry (the Holy Spirit was obviously blessing Amy Stockton, so He had clearly made an exception for her).
it is worth remembering that
It Is Worth Remembering That. . .
  • God does bless His Word when it is preached and taught.
  • This blessing does not depend entirely upon the worthiness of the preacher or teacher.
  • If a woman’s preaching gets good results, we can rejoice in those results without approving the method.
3 appealing to variety
3. Appealing to Variety
  • Some simply look away from this passage to other passages that emphasize gender equality.
  • The major passage is Galatians 3:28.
  • The result is sometimes a kind of “Pick Your Favorite Passage” hermeneutic.
  • Others emphasize the difficulty of interpreting all the passages.
our view of scripture
Our View of Scripture. . .
  • Admits multiple human perspectives.
  • Insists upon a single divine author.
  • Refuses to concede any final contradiction within the text.
  • Forces us to study the passages until we are able to reconcile each with all, when they are properly interpreted.
  • Doesn’t allow us to ignore “disputed” passages.
4 limiting the situation
4. Limiting the Situation
  • The Ephesian situation had specific problems that limit the applicability of this passage.
  • Specifically, women teachers were deeply involved in communicating heresy.
  • The verb authentein reflects an abusive exercise of power.
  • Women may have been teaching heresy in Ephesus.
  • Authentein is a NT hapax legomenon, the meaning of which is disputed.
  • The best studies indicate that authentein means to exercise authority over, especially in this context .
  • We know that males were teaching heresy.
  • Paul does not forbid men from teaching or exercising authority.
  • Paul does not make any exception for women who teach orthodoxy.
5 the tu quoque fallacy
5. The “Tu Quoque” Fallacy
  • Most complementarians agree that the activities of v. 9 are not universally proscribed.
  • Egalitarians accuse complementarians of doing the same thing in v. 9 that they want to do in vv. 11-12.
is that a problem
Is That a Problem?
  • The prohibitions of 9 are grounded in the cultural meaning of the things prohibited.
  • The prohibitions of 11-12 are grounded in the creation order.
  • If both sets of prohibitions should be treated identically, it is more likely that we should recognize those in 9 than to dispense with those in 11-12.
6 trajectory hermeneutics
6. “Trajectory” Hermeneutics
  • Argues that Scripture, read diachronically, sets a trajectory that extends beyond the text itself.
  • An earlier text takes a particular position on an issue. A later text is either more or less restrictive. The final position follows that trajectory.
  • Proponents: R. T. France, David Thompson, I. Howard Marshall.
6a redemptive movement
6a. “Redemptive Movement”
  • Advocated by William Webb.
  • Similar to Trajectory Hermeneutics.
  • Point “A” is the perspective of the original culture.
  • Point “B” is the position that Scripture takes.
  • Point “C” is the conclusion gained by following the trajectory from A through B and beyond.
slavery and biblical trajectory
Slavery and Biblical Trajectory

C. Slavery Abolished Today

B. Slavery Restricted in the New Testament

A. Slavery Permitted in the Culture

trajectory for women s ministry
Trajectory for Women’s Ministry




Galatians 3:28


Old Testament and Cultural Status of Women

does this work
Does This Work?
  • It becomes an extremely subjective method. It simply reads back into the “trajectory” whatever conclusion we desire.
  • Remember that the Pastoral Epistles are written near the end of Paul’s ministry, well after Galatians or 1 Corinthians. If there is a trajectory, it is toward greater restriction upon women in the church.