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Featured Can Women Be Ministers?

Discussion in 'Denomination Specific Theology' started by FaithfulPilgrim, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    As the title suggests, are women allowed to be ministers, specifically elders and deacons?

    In 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul lists the qualifications for the elders and deacons. For both of them, he uses the masculine pronoun and they must be faithful to their wife.

    I don't know what verse egalitarians use, so I won't pretend to know what verses they use to avoid misrepresenting them. I do recall, however, Paul referring to Phoebe as a deaconness, but from my conversation with lther Christians, might not necessarily be the same thing as a deacon, but more of a nun.

    My mother and I debated this and she believes women cannot be pastors, but can otherwise hold any position in the church.

    I used to agree with her, but now I think deacons and elders are to be exclusively male.

    This is a tricky topic as I don't see it as big of an issue as say- baptism, and I want to be open to the possibility that God may call women to be pastors, elders, and deacons. I don't want to say that God cannot choose women to fill those roles.

    What doth thou thinketh, CF?
     
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  2. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    :wave:

    <--- See my avatar.

    Happy to have a bigger discussion, but can you identify exactly where your concerns lie? Is it purely that the "qualifications" passages only refer to men? Or is it other things too?
     
  3. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    It's purely based on the passages.

    Proponents of male-only ministry seem to state that all denominations that ordain women have fallen into theological liberalism. I think that's a generalization, of course, but it got me thinking. There's the Assemblies of God, which ordains women, but otherwise seems conservative to me.

    My stepdad took me out of a church because it had a woman preacher. I was a preteen then, so I never heard of such a thing until he quoted the verse. Still, I think it's a silly reason to leave a church.

    I want to see it as a minor issue, but alot of the advocates of a male-only ministry Inspoke to said it is one of the first steps for a church to be led astray.
     
  4. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Okay... so you're a Baptist?

    I guess I have a prior question, and that is, how do Baptists understand ministry in general? Because I think a large part of the reason that different groups differ on this, is that we understand ministry differently too.

    And because if, for example, Baptists don't see their ministry as a direct continuation (or restoration) of New Testament practice but as something that has developed over time, then what is said in the New Testament might be felt to be less directly applicable.

    For me, although I can find justification for women in leadership positions in the NT, and examples of women in leadership positions (not just Phoebe but also Junia, Priscilla, Nympha and so many others), the fundamental question is, is God sovereign or not? If God is sovereign, God can call whom He wills. If we refuse to entertain the idea that God can do that, we try to tell God what to do, rather than the other way around.

    I don't find the conservative/liberal distinction helpful here. Some of my most conservative colleagues are women.

    But maybe that's enough to start a conversation?
     
  5. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    Baptists, regarding ministry, believe all born-again believers are priests.

    We see the pastor/preacher as man called by God to teach others, but he is merely a teacher and has no spiritual authority over believers. He does baptize people and can arrange church events, but AFAIK, that's all he can do, at least at my church.

    The deacons are democratically elected by the denomination, with a list of candidates approved by the church staff.

    Both are exclusively male roles, but women can be Sunday school teachers and missionaries. In the SBC, at least, some Baptist denomimations allow female pastors and deacons.

    Baptists view of "apostolic succession" vary. More fundamentalist Baptists will claim that they are descendants of the biblical Apostolic church, but the churches weren't always called Baptist.

    The most common view is that the Baptists arose in 17th centuey with the desire to return to the teachings and practices of the NT Church as found in the Bible.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  6. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I asked because Baptists where I am have women as pastors, so I wasn't clear on how your understanding might differ.

    So, for a Baptist, the fundamental question would be, can a woman be a teacher of both men and women?

    The Biblical answer would have to be yes, because we see women do it. I mentioned Priscilla (also called Prisca) before; we have on record that she taught Apollos (see Acts 18:26). There is also less direct evidence to suggest that women who hosted churches in their homes were teachers in that setting, and so forth.
     
  7. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Just to clarify, we're dealing with Baptist churches and Baptist theology as regards ordained ministers, right? I don't see any denomination identified in the OP although this is the denomination-specific forum.
     
  8. All4Christ

    All4Christ ✙ The Handmaid of God Laura ✙ CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

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    Is ordination of women in the AoG recent? 8 years ago when I attended an AoG church, ordination of women was not looked upon favorably. I'm not sure if it was even permitted. Most women leaders had different titles such as "Women's Ministry Director".
     
  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I think it depends where you are, Laura. AoG have a (moderated) congregational polity, so one congregation might be in favour and another very much against.
     
  10. All4Christ

    All4Christ ✙ The Handmaid of God Laura ✙ CF Senior Ambassador Supporter

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    That's true. My current church hierarchy and administration is very different than the AoG as I'm sure you know. It is easy to forget the significant differences in moderation of church policies and non-core denominational beliefs. [emoji846].

    I might ask my parents what the current opinion is in their district.
     
  11. Greg J.

    Greg J. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just because we see something in Scripture doesn't make it OK. We have to have some evidence that the person that did it was doing God's will. (Such as it being permitted by the apostles or Paul.) Even then—if we are trying to understand what God's ideal is—we have to consider the possibility that God was responding to sin for what he commanded. It may not be something God ultimately desired, but it would be something God chose. Because of this, at the very least, it is difficult to state a general rule that covers all situations. We would have to examine the situations on a case-by-case basis. (e.g., what exactly is the situation at a church that proposes to hire a female pastor)

    To me, it makes sense that anyone can learn from anyone, because there really is only one Teacher (Matthew 23:10), and through the Holy Spirit He speaks through donkeys and thunder. We should all be listening for God's voice in everything everyone says, including unbelievers (if one is able to discern what is consistent with God's character and will). Paul writes that women cannot teach men, which I interpret to be dependent upon their culture, since in their culture being a teacher of the Law was inseparable from having authority over men.

    I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (1 Timothy 2:12-14, 1984 NIV)

    What I also see in this passage is that women are not to have authority over men. The reason given is a reference to the nature of fallen man vs. the nature of fallen women, which is not culture-dependent. Psychologically, there are also good reasons (partially because of the fallen nature of men). Sociologically, there are also good reasons (it's not the direction God wants us to go, with husbands being "heads"). That is not the same as saying women can't be pastors. Pastors are helper shepherds to the One Shepherd. If one has a spiritually mature male pastor, hopefully you will have noticed how rarely he tells the people of the church that they must do something. Only once comes to mind in the last dozen years at my current church. Having more of God's authority for something means needing more wisdom, taking more responsibility, and being more accountable to God for it. Having God's authority requires having proved faithful and retaining good judgment through personal long-term suffering. (Are you sure you want more of God's authority and power?)

    However, take this all in context. Pastors are not supposed to be the only people with God's authority in local churches. (And depending on the person and church, they may not have much of God's authority at all.) God has made the parts of the body differently. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, ... (1 Corinthians 12:28a, 1984 NIV) Most churches these days are not even close to functioning as God wants, mostly because such a small percentage of the people there have been keeping the Lord #1 in all they think, say, and do for 10+ years.

    When one takes into account the sorry state (in general) of the church, then it should be easy to see how we could very well have left God with only less-than-ideal choices for us. He would then command us to do the things that were best for us given our situation.

    Deacons and elders are a completely different matter, because those words have such different meanings to people.

    I thank the Lord I get to read Paidiske's perspective and thoughts in her posts. Her knowledge, wisdom, and humility are good examples for us all.

    Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. (John 7:24, 1984 NIV)
     
  12. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Protestants in general believe that. But you have to be clear on what is meant by "priest." In the NT, where we read of the priesthood of all believers, it's not saying that every one is a pastor and they'll take turns delivering the sermon, or something like that. It means that there is no elite priestly class like the Levites of the OT.

    The way this is put into effect in almost all reformed churches is to have congregational elections for the calling of a pastor or some such process.

    Yes, but they're not considered to be ordained clergy, so this is why it's appropriate to keep the denominations separate as we discuss the matter.

    They claim that, and the word Apostolic may be applied to a wide range of concepts, but there isn't any "succession" in that claim, if truth be told. The alleged trail there is of disparate groups existing at different times in history. They did not have much in common except, allegedly, for believers' baptism by immersion, and there was no continuing lineage of pastors from one to another.
     
  13. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    To refer back to your earlier post, I am curious about the ordination of women in general and people's views from various denominations.

    I'm aware that most Protestants teach priesthood of the believer, but have different interpretations of it. Also, I don't agree with the fundamentalist Baptists about their succession, I was just citing what some views held by Baptists are.
     
  14. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    If you can find a copy, there's a book by the first woman ordained a priest in the Anglican church, Florence Lee Tim-Oi, called Raindrops of My Life, which gives some helpful insight into the thinking and understanding which went into the beginnings of a shift in my denomination.

    I don't have the same knowledge of the history for Baptists to know what to recommend there.
     
  15. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    I think I'll check it out.

    My motive for the question is that the verses seem to indicate the elders and deacons are exclusively male positions (husband of one wife), but like you said, there were indeed women serving in the early church. Certainly God can use anybody.

    I guess women can be deacons , but idk if deacons have any authority over a congregation.
     
  16. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I have no understanding of the role of a deacon in a Baptist church, so I can't help there, sorry!
     
  17. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Yes. I was trying to balance all of them in my mind at once, but what you really wanted may have been a series of replies from people, each one explaining what his own church thinks about it and does.
     
  18. huk945

    huk945 Evangelist.....So what's with all the drama ??? Supporter

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    No!
     
  19. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's my belief that Scripture precludes women from the offices of Overseer and Deacon.

    1 Timothy 2:11-15;

    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. 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. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

    That passage alone should be sufficient before even arriving at the qualifications of Overseer and Deacon.
     
  20. jargew

    jargew Newbie

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    Hi Faithful Pilgrim,
    This is an interesting topic.
    A topic that is independent of denomination and should be addressed based on reference scriptures.
    To understand whether or not women can be ordained ministers we shouldn't "cherry-pick" our favorite verse, but look at the scriptures as a whole.

    My take home message from the bible is that women CAN indeed be ministers.

    Why?

    Anti-women minister argument:

    #1. The idea that women should not be ministers come primarily from 1 Timothy 2:11–12

    11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 please do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

    To a lesser degree :
    1 Corinthians 14:34
    The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

    #2.While Priscilla, mentioned in Acts 18, did spread the gospel, there is no mention that she actually spoke within a temple.

    My commentary:
    - The goal of the early church was to grow. If women were placed in positions of power, then men, in this patriarchal society would clearly be intolerant and unaccepting of this behaviour.
    -Perhaps, even today it is unclear if men can accept the authority of a woman, and this might be considered from church to church. Our goal is spread the gospel and bring people to know Christ, not cater to our own ideologies or egos.

    PRO-women argument

    #1.
    Galatians 3:28
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


    -If women and men are equal in the eyes of God, how can we say women cannot preach the gospel?

    #2. T
    hroughout the bible , God established women leaders at various times. This includes Deborah as Judges Israel, Miriam as one of the three leaders to bring God out of Israel, and Huldah, a great prophet of Israel (2 Kings 22) and Phoebe, a deacon in the church (Romans 16). Mary Magdalene was used to spread the great news that "Christ has Risen"!

    My Commentary:
    For me, the clincher is that there is no difference between men and women in the eyes of God. Therefore, how can we
    say a role is for a male only?
    Throughout the scriptures God used women in key positions to further his covenant, both old and new.
    Why should we do differently?

    In the end, this shouldn't be a stumbling block. If someone wants a male-led church, go to a male-led church. If someone if comfortable with women pastors, go to that church.
     
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