f The Wittenberg Door: August 2013

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Female Elders/Pastors? A Debate - Part 2

In part 1 of the debate I made my case against women pastors/elders. In this offering I’m posting "pastor Bob's" retort and my subsequent response.

Pastor Bob kicks things off:

Thanks for your response and your concern for us to know the truth. I appreciate you taking time to share your view point and respect your insights concerning this subject of women Pastors. I enjoyed your outline especially since I have looked at all those points extensively many times before and at one point in my life held the some of the same views as you. You were clear and made very valid points. Yes I do agree there are plenty of verses that instruct women to be silent or not to be given a role of authority over a man within the church (I Corinthians 11, I Corinthians 14, I Timothy 2, Titus 2). The question is “what was the reason for these instructions from the Apostle Paul”? The funny thing is he never specifically says that a woman is not to be a Pastor although as you pointed out we automatically conclude this because of his charge in 1Tim.2:12 not to permit a woman to teach or have authority and as you mentioned because of the gender used while defining the qualifications of an overseer.

Obviously as you mentioned Paul in 1Cor.11:5 says that a woman can pray or prophesy if her head is covered (Representing being under authority)..Than we can only accurately suggest that Pauls charge in 1Cor.14:34 “Let your women keep silent in the church, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive”..was to address a particular problem in the Corinthian church with a specific group of women who were being disruptive or insubordinate during their assembly. Just the same I truly believe in 1Timothy2:11-12 Paul himself prohibited women teaching or having authority because I believe that Paul was very clearly challenging a certain teaching or issue that the women of ephesus were challenged with. His challenge was that women were not to overthrow or undermined the authority of Godly Men including their Husbands within the church as you mentioned: “It is men who are called to “be the husband of one wife,” and it is men who God holds ultimately responsible for the managing of the household and the upbringing of the children” So it was important to Paul that the women understood God’s order correctly and if they did not they would not be granted a right to teach or have any type of authority but rather learn to be silent and submissive.

Bob, I think you’re probably right about the 1 Cor. 14 passage. The message of chapter 14 can be summed with the words of verse 40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Based on what this chapter is addressing, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the women were being disruptive. But this is very different from what Paul is addressing in 1 Tim. 2. While here Paul is instructing as to how to behave during a service, in 1 Tim. 2 he's telling them how a church should operate. The context is different, and it’s the context that determines the meaning.

Paul’s message to the Corinthians is for the women to be quite during the service, and if they have any questions they are to ask their husbands afterwards. In 1 Tim. 2, Paul mentions that women should be submissive too, but he adds that they are not “to teach or exercise authority over a man . . .” This separates the two instructions; here Timothy is being told that women may not have an authoritative teaching role (pastor, given the context, since he logically moves into the qualifications), not simply that they mustn’t be disruptive.

One final note. You say that unless they understand God’s order they won’t be granted the right to teach or given authority. That caveat isn’t anywhere in the text. We must take great care not to add to God’s word or “think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

We see in Paul’s writings that even though he acknowledged the work or ministry of women, he also was very concerned with their understanding of submission and respect to their husbands and the authority of men within the church. This would make sense especially in his culture according to Jewish law where women in many senses were not allowed to be educated or have any major role of authority within their community outside of raising their children. I believe through much study of his writings I have found a pattern that grew within The Apostle Paul in His Grace and acknowledgement towards women in ministry. His revelation of even acknowledging women and their work in ministry was not a little thing coming from his strict background of guidelines given by God in the old covenant to women within the Jewish culture. The Apostle Paul had to establish order to women who were learning how to come OUT of THE constraints of the LAW and INTO the LIBERTY of GRACE without losing their sense of Order. Galatians 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. (27) For as many (of you) as were baptized into Christ into spiritual union and communion with Christ, the anointed one (clothed yourselves with) Christ.(28) THERE IS (NOW NO DISTINCTION), NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, THERE IS NEITHER SLAVE OR FREE, THERE IS NOT MALE AND FEMALE; FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.

Gal. 3:26-29 teaches that we are all equal in Christ. In other words, when it comes to salvation, the Jew doesn’t have a leg-up on the Gentile, and the man doesn’t over the women. There are no such advantages when it comes to being united with Christ in his finished work, “For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul here is teaching on salvation, not church officers.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the debate!

--The Catechizer


Monday, August 26, 2013

Female Elders/Pastors? A Debate - Part 1

Recently I had an email conversation with one of my former Pentecostal pastors about female pastors. (He was about to ordain a slew of them.) My wife asked him about it on Facebook because back when we attended his fellowship he disallowed female pastors. “Why the change?” she asked.

What follows is my response to his reasoning. Please note that although I’m only referring to pastors (teaching elders, 1 Tim. 5:17), my case equally applies to ruling elders.

Your question:Where in Scripture does it say that women can be Pastor's? My simple answer is Eph.4:7-8 -...and HE gave gifts to "MEN"- meaning all mankind..Eph.4:11-12 -and He Himself gave some to be Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, and some to be Pastors and Teachers. 12-For the equiping of the saints for the work of the ministry."

. . . Our Qualifications are: That they are GIFTED by God to lead in the area they are called on, Submitted to their husband, DWC discipleship, Faithfulness of Service, Understanding the DOCTRINE OF GRACE and RIGHTEOUSNESS through Faith in Jesus Christ and Last of all EXPERIENCE.

Greetings, “Bob.” This is The Chatechizer. The fetching Mrs. Catechizer asked if I would help her out a little on this, so here it goes . . .

First, you’re right: He does give gifts to “men” (general), but I’m sure that you would agree that he does not give all people the same gifts. God does, however, call people to ministry (Eph. 4:7-8) and provide those called with the needed gifts to fulfill that ministry (Eph. 4:8). Of course, for this discussion, if God does not allow women to be pastors, then he’s not calling them to that office nor is he so gifting them (although they might have similar gifts, like teaching). So first we need to answer the question of whether or not God allows female pastors before we can move on to calling and gifting.

There are a few verses that speak directly to this issue. Consider Paul instructing the young pastor, Timothy, in I Tim 2:

11) A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

12) But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

Paul’s letter to Timothy is meant as a guide to how a church should operate. In the above passages, Paul is telling Timothy that women should respect the governing role of the church officers. Since they are being forbidden from teaching or exercising authority over the men in the church, women may not have that governing role. (By the way, I do think women can teach in a non-authoritative role, like Priscilla did in Acts 18:26; and I also don’t think that they are restricted when it comes to public prayer or other types of edifying proclamations: I Cor. 11:15.)

Paul finishes chapter 2 by grounding the functional hierarchy of the church in creation. He then continues his instruction in chapter 3 by providing the qualifications for a pastor:

1) It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

2) An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

3) not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.

4) He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

5) but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?,

6) and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.

7) And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Paul here is not using “man” or “he” in the general sense, especially since these passage follow directly after he specifically talked about women in the church (unless those are to be taken that way too). It is men who are called to “be the husband of one wife,” and it is men who God holds ultimately responsible for the managing of the household and the upbringing of the children. Likewise, God holds the pastors responsible for His household.

Consider the flow of Paul’s thought: women may not teach or have authority over men in the church, followed by the qualifications for the pastorate, which are directed solely to men.

Paul makes the same case in the first chapter of Titus, where he again directs it to only men (husband of one wife, etc.). After completing his teaching about pastors, he starts chapter 2 by giving instructions to “older men” (vs. 2) and “older women” (vs. 3), followed by instructions to young men and bondservants. He finishes the chapter by saying that “. . . the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (vs. 11). I mention this because he has switched to the general use of “men.” Before this passage, he was directly addressing specific groups.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell. I might be totally wrong about this, but it seems to me that the case against women being pastors is pretty strong (especially when you add to the mix the example of Scripture—from the Aaronic priesthood, to the apostles, to a young pastor like Timothy). Something to chew on, at least.

Stay tuned for part two where "pastor Bob" replies.

--The Catechizer


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dante's Ante-Purgatory

Greg Peters at The Scriptorium provides a fascinating analysis of Dante's Ante-Purgatory found in the Divine Comedy. Here's how it begins . . .

For many Protestant Christians today the doctrine of Purgatory (especially in its medieval articulation) is blatantly wrong. The need for such a place is mainly the result of the medieval concepts of debt, penalty and merit (of Christ and the saints). To a medieval theologian Purgatory was necessary, even desirable. Thus, when Dante Alighieri went about writing his Divine Comedy, it was only natural that it would be set in three geographical locations: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Yet, when one sits down to read Dante’s Purgatorio attentively, the reader notices that it is not until Canto 9 of the book that Dante (and Virgil) actually reaches the gates of Purgatory: “Thou art come to Purgatory now.” Where is he in Books 1-8? Is he still in Hell? No. He’s in a place between Hell and Purgatory that is seaside, flat and covered in reeds. This area is often labeled as Ante-Purgatory. Ante-Purgatory? As a person fairly well versed in medievalia, I do not recall the theological concept of Ante-Purgatory. What is Dante up to?

You can read the rest here.

--The Catechizer


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Catechisms and Catechizing in England from 1530 to 1740

The following is an excerpt from the chapter Catechizing in Church in Ian Green’s The Christian’s ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England (1530 – 1740). It provides a fascinating look into how the English churches of that time catechized.

The attitude of the English church to basic catechizing was not very different from that of the mature Luther or Calvin in the stress that was put on the role of the minister. Luther did not abandon his earlier belief that parents had a duty to teach their children the basics at home, but by the time he published his shorter catechism, it was on the shoulders of the “faithful, godly pastors and preachers” that he put the main responsibility for teaching it. Calvin too thought that householders and school teachers had a role to play, but in the text of his 1541 catechism the exchanges were between minister and child, and in the ordonnances ecclesiastiques of the same year it was to the minister in the church at midday on Sundays that parents were told to bring their children to be catechized.

In England, too, while many bishops and enthusiasts envisaged a role for parents in instructing their charges, there is no sign of great confidence that they would play it, or of any official attempt to make instruction domestic compulsory. Instead, in England from the early stage the brunt of the burden of ensuring the basic catechism was mastered and understood, especially by those who never attended a school, fell on the parish clergy.

The official reliance on the clergy for basic catechizing was laid down in the rubrics of the Edwardian, Elizabethan, and Caroline Prayer Books and the canons of 1571 and 1604. Catechizing was to be performed by what the rubric in the original Book of Common Prayer called “the curate of every parish.” In the absence of assistant clergy in the majority of the parishes at this time, “curate” referred literally to the man with the cure of souls: the parson, rector, vicar, or perpetual curate, or minister as he was often referred to in later Episcopal injunctions and visitations articles.

Basic catechizing was to take place on those days when all the faithful were supposed to attend church: Sundays and those holy days retained by the Protestant church. However, it is worth noting that regular catechizing on a weekday was not unheard of ... according to Samuel Clarke, the puritan hagiographer, a number of godly clergy not only preached twice on Sundays but also catechized or gave a catechetical lecture on weekdays as well.

Being catechized in church was part of a process of growing up in a village or town in which community and congregation overlapped, and was, at least in theory, a means to the end of further participation in the rites of passage which (as parents knew full well) only the church could provide. And from the point of view of a highly perceptive child like William Wordsworth, there may have been a frisson of excitement about b eing catechized and an element of anticipation about being ‘bishoped,’ as an initiation rite into adulthood. By the eighteenth century (and sometimes earlier) there was also the prospect of a reward or treat for those who were confirmed. Such thinking may have made children accept, if not necessarily welcome, their parents’ insistence that they attend church for catechizing for a period of time.

By was of conclusion and comparison, a word may be said about catechizing in Presbyterian churches and separatist congregations from the 1650s. In the 1650s the exercise was certainly comparable to that in ‘church’...

For there were always many Presbyterians and other nonconformists who were anxious to catechize in public if they could. Hence the elementary catechisms prepared by men like John Owen, John Wallis, Richard Baxter, George Fox, Benjamin Keach, Isaac Watts, and others for their particular groups of catechumens.

There was also a comparable commitment to securing understanding as well as instilling knowledge, a growing variety of catechetical forms and methods, and some extremely zealous catechists, such as Richard Baxter, Henry Stubs, Thomas Wadsworth, Thomas Lye, Thomas Doolittle, Thomas Vincent, Philip Henry, and his some Matthew, Samuel Bourn the younger and many others. Thomas Lye’s thirty year ministry, mainly in London, was marked by his zeal for catechizing, and his unflagging attempts to find new ways to make the Westminster Shorter catechism easier to master and understand, especially by those with ‘weakest capacities and memories.’ He taught catechism publicly on Saturday afternoons at Dyers’ Hall in the mid 1670s and among those he instructed was a very young Edmund Calamy. Of Thomas Doolittle it was said that “catechizing was his special excellency and delight, wherein he took much pains himself, and which he earnestly recommended to his brethren in the ministry, as greatly tending to their people’s profit, and their own comfort.” By his own account, his normal catechumens ranged from 6 to 28 years in age, though he also tells us he had helped some in their thirties and forties, and up to their seventies. In the preface of an early venture, which turned the Shorter Catechism into a series of questions requiring yes and no answers, Doolittle recorded the delight that children found in this exercise: they “would with great willingness for an hour or two together, answer yes or no to the questions, and so may yours,” he added to the householders to whom the published work was dedicated.

--The Catechizer

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