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Featured Women Priests.

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by sparow, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    This section of the article is particularly good.

    Biblical Examples of Women in Ministry
    Old Testament history includes accounts of strong female leadership in many roles. The following are striking examples: Miriam was a prophet to Israel during the Exodus, alongside her brothers Moses and Aaron (Exodus 15:20). Deborah, both a prophet and a judge, directed Barak to lead the army of Israel into successful combat against Israel’s oppressors (Judges 4 to 5). Huldah, also a prophet, authenticated the scroll of the Law found in the temple and helped spark religious reform in the days of Josiah (2 Kings 22:14–20; 2 Chronicles 34:22–28).

    The New Testament also shows that women filled important ministry roles in the Early Church. Tabitha (Dorcas) initiated an effective benevolence ministry (Acts 9:36). Philip’s four unmarried daughters were recognized prophets (Acts 21:8,9). Paul singled out two women, Euodia and Syntyche, as “women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers” (Philippians 4:2,3). Priscilla was another of Paul’s exemplary “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (Romans 16:3,4). In Romans 16, Paul greets numerous ministry colleagues, a large number of them women. In these greetings, the word Paul uses to speak of the work (kopiao), or labor, of Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis (Romans 16:6,12) is one he uses extensively for the labor of ministry (1 Corinthians 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17).

    Phoebe, a leader in the church at Cenchrea, was highly commended to the church at Rome by Paul (Romans 16:1,2). Unfortunately, translation biases have often obscured Phoebe’s position of leadership, calling her a “servant” (NIV, NASB, ESV). Yet Phoebe was diakonos of the church at Cenchrea. Paul regularly used this term for a minister or leader of a congregation and applied it specifically to Jesus Christ, Tychicus, Epaphras, Timothy, and to his own ministry. Depending on the context, diakonos is usually translated “deacon” or “minister.” Though some translators have chosen the word deaconess (e.g., RSV, because Phoebe was female), the Greek diakonos is a masculine noun. Therefore, it seems likely that diakonos was the designation for an official leadership position in the Early Church and the proper translation for Phoebe’s role is “deacon” (TNIV, NLT, NRSV) or “minister.”

    Moreover, a number of translations reflect similar biases by referring to Phoebe as having been a “great help” (NIV) or “helper” (NASB) of many, including Paul himself (Romans 16:2). The Greek term here is prostatis, better translated by the NRSV as “benefactor” with its overtones of equality and leadership.

    Junia was identified by Paul as an apostle (Romans 16:7). Beginning in the thirteenth century, a number of scholars and translators masculinized her name to Junias, apparently unwilling to admit that there was a female apostle. However, the name Junia is found more than 250 times in Rome alone, while the masculine form Junias is unknown in any Greco-Roman source. Paul clearly was a strong advocate of women in ministry.

    These instances of women filling leadership roles in the Bible should be taken as a divinely approved pattern, not as exceptions to divine decrees. Even a limited number of women with scripturally commended leadership roles affirm that God does indeed call women to spiritual leadership.

    Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site | The Role of Women in Ministry
     
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  2. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    There are two levels to this question, before we can address who is capable of taking on the role of "priest" we must first examine whether such an office is even appropriate and the full scope of what is meant by "priest" needs to be examined.

    Do you mean a professional clergy specially gifted to administer sacraments and conduct services? Because such an office's warrant seems rather suspect to me, both historically and biblically.
     
  3. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    The English word "priest" is a contraction of the Greek word for elder, presbyteros. In short, a contemporary priest inhabits the office of a New Testament elder; but that office has definitely developed over time.

    In my own church, there are particular things which only priests may do, for reasons of church order and governance. But whenever that concern for good order and governance slips over into clericalism, that is definitely a problem!
     
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  4. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    The etymology of the word itself isn't really that important, since it translates multiple Greek words and is more commonly thought of along the lines of the holy one/hieros variant rather than a church elder as outlined in the NT. Any distinction where a "priest" is allowed to do something a "layman" is not is clericalism, though there are certainly grounds for having designated individuals carry out a service regularly.
     
  5. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    The reason I point out that a priest is an elder is that the holy one/hieros idea is a misunderstanding of what Christian priesthood is or should be. We do not offer sacrifices on behalf of the community.

    I disagree that any distinction is clericalism. There's nothing wrong with having particular roles in the church and an understanding of who is responsible for what. When those distinctions are used to treat one group as better or more holy or more important than another, or when those distinctions are used to repress rather than encourage the use of everyone's gifts to the full, though, that is a problem.
     
  6. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    Ah, yeah that's what I was getting at by saying priesthood is historically and Biblically questionable. The common usage in English doesn't match the etymology.



    I don't disagree with administrative roles or having designated functionaries, but designating acts to a specific group who is ordained naturally creates the imagery of a holier grouping. This is especially true when it's combined with special priestly garments that are worn outside of strictly liturgical proceedings. It's an area where an abundance of caution needs to be taken because of natural dispositions among both the parishoners and the functionaries to elevate the status of the functionary.
     
  7. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I definitely agree about the need for an abundance of caution.

    But I'm not sure about the "naturally" creation the perception of a holier grouping. There have been many problems with the social function of clergy which have created and reinforced that perception.

    But when it comes to things like garments, then I think we need to be open to recognising the different ways they can function. I wear a clerical collar a lot, for example, because it makes me identifiable to the broader public; so I can walk down the street and have people ask me to pray with them, or ask me for practical help, which they couldn't do if I looked like everyone else. So I see it as a way of making myself available to people in need. Inside the church, where everyone already knows who I am and what my role is, it serves less of a practical function.
     
  8. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    Your anecdote kind of speaks to the problem. As a minister, you're seen as more holy so your prayers are sought more than a "normal" parishoner. I get you're signaling your availability, but the minister's collar singles you out as a "special" Christian rather than simply someone who is willing to pray for others or hear their needs. It may not be your intent, but it fuels a clergy/laity divide and marks you off as someone especially holy.
     
  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    No, I disagree. In a society in which most people are not Christian, and most people are not church-goers, it's not that I'm seen as more holy than a normal parishioner; it's that I'm identifiable as a Christian at all, and as one who is available to serve others. It's not that I'm a "special" Christian, it's that nine out of ten people someone passes in the street are not practicing Christians, and seeking prayer or help from randoms is usually neither welcome nor well received.

    Think about it; would you approach a total stranger on whom you had no claim to ask for help to buy your groceries? No? Then why begrudge something that tells someone in need that this is a person who will welcome the approach?
     
  10. sparow

    sparow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I suspect women would be more loyal than men, women are maternal, men are inclined to be nocturnal.

    The scriptures' you quote refer to the Pharisees, who, in addition to Rome, were the government of the Jews.

    In scripture, women have a special place, as though they are not automatically under judgement, where as men are.
     
  11. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    I don't believe that's the image conjured by a minister's collar but if it is why not encourage all believers in a given congregation to don the collar outside of the church walls? If being identified as a practicing Christian is the desire, rather than being a member of a class designated and set apart in a special fashion among even ordinary Christians why choose a piece of clothing that designates an office within the church, and not something that simply identifies you as a Christian?

    I can appreciate the latter, and in fact know someone who had special t-shirts printed up that read "need prayer? need help? Ask me, I'll do what I can." to easily identify himself because he's not the gregarious sort.
     
  12. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Well, given that I'm someone who actually wears it and is able to gauge people's reactions, I can tell you it's one of a range of images prompted by it.

    Another, of course, is "paedophile," but fortunately that is less of an issue for women than for men. (Some of my male colleagues have stopped wearing their collars in public due to so frequently being attacked for the perception that they are paedophiles).

    I can definitely see the benefit in the sort of t-shirt you suggest. I wouldn't necessarily suggest that the collar thereby serves no purpose either; but all I was trying to point out is that the meaning of something like that is dependent on its social context, and is not always clericalised or harmful.
     
  13. PaulCyp1

    PaulCyp1 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Manmade churches can do anything they want to. However, God's Church is restricted to doing what is the will of God. When God came to Earth as Jesus Christ, and founded His Church, he chose only men to be its first priests and leaders. Therefore, He revealed that this was the will of God for His Church. Therefore, His Church does not have the authority to ordain women.
     
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  14. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    I could definitely understand that aspect, and its meaning is definitely a matter of social context so I don't mean to malign a specific piece of clothing, but rather reserving clothing for clerical use. The nuances of Christian governance are going to be lost on people who have castes of holiness so the minister's collar could just as easily send the wrong message as the intended one.



    It's not necessarily the clothing, and the minister's collar in part avoids the pitfalls I'm speaking to because it's not as heavily restricted. Social context certainly makes it more complex than a simple black and white issue, but designating a minister's dress apart from "ordinary" Christians is going to create divisions and distinctions with regard to ideas of holiness across most social contexts.
     
  15. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I think you're targetting a symptom rather than the problem, though. There should be no "castes of holiness" or ideas that ministers are especially holy, and we have to actively work against that kind of idea. Removing clerical dress will not remove those ideas, though. It will just remove what is otherwise a useful tool, an easily recognisable "uniform" that - as with all dress - can help us communicate in how we present ourselves.
     
  16. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    I'm basing my criticism on the development within the church. The first move towards a stratisfied clergy/laity distinction was giving the clergy a unique dress that set them apart from those they're supposed to serve.

    The minister's collar isn't fully apt for my criticism because it's mostly used among groups with weak lines so it still is more a matter of office than person, but my criticism wasn't meant to be an absolute. Clerical dress really only functions appropriately when the person disappears into the office, meaning the dress is task-specific rather than person-specific. Keep it task-specific and there's not so much of a problem with clerical dress just as there's not a problem having assigned tasks. It's when tasks become reserved to a specific person, and they are given a special dress identifying them as the only one allowed to administer that rite that the two become especially problematic.
     
  17. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Not at all. In fact, distinctive dress is a relatively late development. By then, clericalism had already well and truly set in.

    I have heard some people articulate this kind of spirituality of ministry, but it's not one I share, and in some ways I suspect it's rather unhealthy. The office cannot overwhelm the particularities of the person; rather I think they need to find a healthy, vibrant integration.

    But no one is ever the "only one." The office belongs to the community, and operates with the assent of the community, and does not belong to the occupant of the office; and is always collegially shared, at any rate.

    But even then the office does not operate on its own. It's why, for example, a priest does not celebrate communion on his or her own, but a congregation must be present. Because it's not the priest alone who celebrates the sacrament, but the gathered community together, in which each plays a part. It's not a Eucharist if there's only a priest.
     
  18. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    Liturgical dress was seen as early as the 2nd century, even before ordinances had been reserved for specific offices in the 4th century. The full development of the ostentatious clerical robes is a later development, but distinctive dress was quite early.



    That's not quite what I mean, more that the dress gives anonymity and is worn exclusively "on the clock" so that it is a sign of the office and not a matter of the person's individuality.



    It's not a matter of a single individual, but class distinctions. Creating separate classes of believers, one allowed to offer sacred rites and one that can only be on the receiving end creates unneccessary and harmful distinctions. These are made worse when there is a specific dress that immediately identifies one as belonging to the special class.

    Fair enough, but it still stands that if one person is allowed to distribute holy ordinances the sacredness of those ordinances is going to come to be identified with that individual regardless of if they are allowed to do it alone or if the congregation must be present.
     
  19. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    As I understand it, early liturgical dress was also a feature for the laity though (eg. white baptismal robes, the precursors to today's albs, which are not clergy-specific).

    And I'm pushing back against the idea of anonymity. Sure, it's not a personal fashion statement, but the person who wears the collar, and their manner of relating with others, is far more important than the presence or absence of the collar.

    It should never be seen as a "class distinction," though. Clergy should not be seen as a class or a caste or anything like that.

    Even with my previous disclaimer, here I disagree. It is not unnecessary and harmful to make sure that those who speak and act in the name of and on behalf of the church are screened and authorised by the church to do so. There are some people who should never speak and act in that kind of role (for example, abusers, narcissists, those who seek power and then misuse it, and so on) and it's not wrong to have a process for making sure that those whom the church authorises for particular tasks are fit and proper persons to undertake those tasks. That's all that ordination really is; a rather elaborate process for that screening and authorisation.

    For example, I have in my parish a defrocked priest who is a paedophile. He will never again be allowed any leadership or sacramental role in any church, and nor should he be.

    The sacredness of the ordinances should be identified with the community that practices them, not any particular individual within that community.
     
  20. Fervent

    Fervent Active Member

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    There was a distinction between administrator and those being adminstrated to, though early practices are difficult to suss out entirely because late biases overwhelm most of the research. At any rate, liturgical dress predates exclusive ordinances.



    As far as the dress is, it only functions as you laid out if there is anonymity to it. Just as police uniforms only convey the authority of the police if they are exclusive to the administration of the office. If the uniforms are worn outside their official capacities they end up identifying a class of individuals for special rights/privileges.


    I agree, but we have to operate under the realization that such class distinctions are almost inevitable and do all we can to resist them.



    Even having an authority of "the church" which is held by office holders feeds the class distinction. Prior to the Donatist controversy anyone was able to administer rites so long as they were in good standing. If someone is unable to participate in full membership, why are they still in your number?


    Agreed, but having distinctions where some are allowed to handle the materials exclusively and administer them exclusively is bound to have the sacred nature be identified with the adminstrators because of their special privileges.
     
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