Moravian Theological Seminary                                                                    Dr. Robert C. Newman

May 4, 1989                                                                                        Biblical Theological Seminary

 

DEBATE ON

WOMEN'S ORDINATION

 

 

Opening Remarks

 

            Certain ironies in this debate:

 

                        Both debaters men, batchelors, celibates.

                        Roman Catholic debater is against the Pope's position.

                        Protestant debater in favor of it.

 

            Topic evokes considerable heat:

 

                        Men have misused authority, spoken snidely, etc.

                                    (but this is true of all kinds of human authority ever since humanity fell into sin)

 

                        Women feel being shut out of certain offices implies they are viewed as inferior, since this is common view in our society today (and prob thruout history)

                                    (not biblical view, where humility is important characteristic of leadership: Moses, Jesus, etc; and authority not = personal worth: Trinity)

 

                        Want to examine biblical teaching on subject

 

 

According to Bible, Women are not to be Elders

 

            Range of term "ordination"

 

                        Some traditions ordain deacons

                                    but some biblical support for women as deacons

 

                        Some traditions distinguish pastors, elders, bishops

                                    but these appear to be synonymous in Bible

 

                        Here limiting "ordination" to eldership

                                    suggest Bible does not permit women elders

 

            Direct Biblical Evidence

 

                        No explicit statement like "Thou shalt have no women elders before Me" or such

 

                        But contrast qualifications for elder/deacon in 1 Timothy 3:

 

1Tim 3:1-13 (NASU) 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. 8 Deacons likewise [must be] men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,

9 [but] holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women [must] likewise [be] dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of [only] one wife, [and] good managers of [their] children and their own households.

13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

 

                                    1 Tim 3:11 may be provision for women deacons

                                                cp Rom 16:1; Pliny Ep 96.8

 

Rom 16:1 (NASU) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant [or deaconess] of the church which is at Cenchrea;

 

Pliny, Letters 96.8 They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this:  they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honor of Christ as if to a godÉ  This made me decide it was all the more necessary to extract the truth by torture from two slave-women, whom they call deaconesses.  I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths.  I have therefore postponed any further examination and hastened to consult you.

 

                                    nothing parallel in section on elders 3:1-7

 

 

                        More direct evidence in 1 Tim 2:11-12:

 

1Tim 2:11-12 (NASU) 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.

 


            New Testament Practice

 

                        No Apostles Women

 

                                    Jesus certainly had women who helped in his ministry

                                                but none of the 12 were women

                                    Women certainly were eyewitnesses of his resurrection, but none listed in Paul's list and apparently not believed by the men.

                                    Broader use of "apostle" might include Junia

                                                Rom 16:7 (unless this is Junias, a poss nickname for Junianus); even with feminine name, this may mean "outstanding in opinion of apostles."

 

                        No Scripture Writers Women

 

                                    (not writer of Hebrews, who uses masculine singular participle to                 refer to self in Heb 11:32)

 

                        Clearly Women Prophesied: daughters of Philip, etc.

                                    but no examples of their audience

                                    some argument whether this authoritative or not, teaching or not; I think it is, but this is a matter of God's charismatic initiative, not a regular office (see below for OT distinction).

 

                        No Specific Indication of Change from OT Situation

                                    main suggestion is Gal 3:28:

 

Gal 3:28 (NASU) 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.

 

                                    but context is sonship, inheritance – not office

                                                in OT, Gentiles, slaves, females not normally heirs, but in Christ this is changed.

 

            Old Testament Situation

 

                        Regular Offices: those that have standard arrangements for succession

                                    No priests women

                                    No Levites women

                                    No rulers women (exc Athaliah, an usurper)

           


                        Charismatic Offices: chosen by God's Spirit

 

                                    Two prophets:

                                                Miriam: listed as leading Israel with her brothers (Mic 6:4); as prophet (Ex 15:20) leading women in dancing and tambourine playing

                                                Huldah: sought for consultation rather than speaking in public (2 K 22:14ff)

                                    One judge:

                                                Deborah: clearly leading and being consulted in public, but in a context where men not doing what they should (Judges 4-5)

 

                                    No Scripture writers appear to be women

                                                but utterances are recorded:

                                                            Miriam (Ex 15:20): singing Moses' song

                                                            Deborah (Jud 5): own song

                                                            Hannah (1 Sam 2): ditto

                                                similarly in NT w/ Mary (Luke 1)

 

Why Such a Prohibition?

 

            Should obey God even if he gives no reason for command

                        recall C.S. Lewis in Perelandra

                                    if every command has known reason, then obeying for sake of reason, not because we love and respect God.

 

            Paul suggests two reasons in 1 Tim 2:13-14:

 

1 Tim 2:12 (NASU) But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, [and] then Eve. 14 And [it was] not Adam [who] was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

 

                        (1) priority of man in creation

                                    referring to Genesis 2

                        (2) woman deceived at fall

                                    perhaps suggests women more trusting than men

                                    seems to be somewhat parallel to other OT examples             where descendants penalized for sin of ancestor:

                                                Esau selling birthright: Gen 25ff

                                                Reuben for incest: Gen 49:3-4

                                                Simeon & Levi for violence: Gen 49:5-7

                                    note God's reaction to rebellion of Korah (Levite), Dathan & Abiram (Reubenites): Num 16

                                    and to rebellion of Miriam & Aaron against Moses: Num 12

                                    Eli for not restraining sons: 1 Sam 2-3

                                               

How Long Does Such a Prohibition Last?

 

            We are not told.

            Suggest this is another of those features in the NT which represent an advance beyond the OT, but the full consummation is at the Lord's return.