An introduction to a multi-part series.
Here I go. Stepping into the quagmire.
Perhaps one of the most difficult “agree to disagree” type of issues facing the evangelical church today is that of whether or not women should serve as elders, deacons, and/or pastors. Passions run high as Christians debate how to interpret certain biblical passages.
Nevertheless, there are Christians for whom the whole discussion seems pointless, and already settled. Why is this even an “agree to disagree” issue? After all, the Bible is clear on the matter. Some can cite their prooftext, and simply move on.
The objective of this series is to show that while the Bible is clear on many things, the varieties of Scriptural interpretation among godly, Bible-loving believers on this issue actually runs the gamut. It is a lot more difficult than you think to gain a clear idea as to whether or not women can serve as elders, deacons, and/or pastors.
At the same time, getting this issue right is of utmost importance. The consequences of getting this wrong are arguably highly significant, and for some, downright scary, if handled incorrectly. The question of “women in ministry” requires concentrated effort to read and study the Bible, and be in conversation with one another. Trusting in the work of Holy Spirit is crucial. Prayer is paramount. Avoiding extremes is difficult, but necessary. In the words of Robertson McQuilkin, “It seems easier to go to a consistent extreme than to stay at the center of biblical tension.”
I will keep this blog page updated as the series moves along. First, here are the additional blog posts in this series::
- Can Women Serve as Elders, Deacons, or Pastors?
- An Easy Question? Should Women Serve as Deacons?
- What are the Qualifications of an Elder? A “Husband of One Wife?”
- Why the Debate Over “Women in Ministry” is at a Stalemate…. and What to Do About It
- Lame Complementarian and Egalitarian Biblical Arguments
- On the Outsourcing of Women’s Ministry
- #MeToo and the Church: The Abuse of Women, 1 Peter 3:7, Egalitarian vs. Complementarian Solutions?
- Who was Mary Magdalene?
- The 1 Timothy 2:12 Conundrum: I Do Not PERMIT a Woman….
- The 1 Timothy 2:12 Conundrum: I Do Not Permit a Woman to TEACH…..
- The 1 Timothy 2:12 Conundrum: I Do Not Permit a Woman to … (????) AUTHORITY….
- So, What’s the Deal With This Women “Will Be Saved Through Childbearing” Stuff, Anyway?
- Is Evangelicalism On A Slippery Slope Regarding Gender?
- Resolving the Question of Women in Church Leadership: Who Bears the Burden of Proof?
- The Mystery That Church Eldership Reminds Us Of?
- A Modest Proposal to Make Peace Between Complementarians and Egalitarians
- Resources on the Complementarian vs. Egalitarian Discussion
- An Interdenominational Church Asks: What Are the Core Doctrines of the Faith?
- The Church Needs Both Fathers and Mothers: A Plea for Unity and Truth
Also, I will note some previous Veracity blog posts that address particular background issues related to the topic:
- Deborah’s Dance: Women in Church Leadership? How having men and women in church ministry together is like a dance.
- Aimee Semple McPherson: Disappearing Woman Evangelist. I served as a worship leader, while in college, alongside the wife of the pastor, in a denomination founded by a woman evangelist.
- To The Least of These: Phoebe Palmer. The remarkable story of an often neglected woman from church history.
- Your Desire Shall Be For Your Husband. The story of the 19th century female missionary, Katharine Bushnell, and how Genesis 3:16 has been variously interpreted and reinterpreted in church history. This explains why all complementarians are not all the same.
- A Year of Biblical Doubting #2. A look at the thought and life of Rachel Held Evans, one of today’s most influential, progressive Christian women bloggers, popular among many young people today. Contrast Rachel’s message with that of Mary Kassian, a woman’s conference speaker, who will “kick your rear end,” in the opposite direction.
- Statements: Is “Social Justice” a Gospel Issue? A statement signed by some 10,000 conservative pastors and teachers, in 2018, calling upon evangelical Christians to reject the infiltration of ideologies, like feminism, into the church.
- Jordan Peterson’s Lessons for Christians. Why is it that an atheistic, Canadian clinical psychologist is addressing the crisis of masculinity, while the church remains relatively unheard on the issue?
- Can “Charismatic” and “Liturgical” Christians Worship Together? How we structure the corporate worship life of the church has a bearing on issues pertaining to women in ministry.
- What is an “Elder” of the Church? Elusive and often confusing terms, like “elder,” “pastor,” and “deacon” are a major part of why the conversation about “women in ministry” can be so disconcerting to the average church go-er.
- Augustine on Learning How to “Agree to Disagree” Well. On the posture a believer should have when discussing difficult topics with other believers.
- UPDATE MAY, 2019. Rachel Held Evans Reflections (& Warren Wiersbe, Bonhoeffer, and the Crisis of “Big Tent” Evangelicalism). Advocate for evangelical egalitarianism, Rachel Held Evans, died within a few weeks of my finishing this blog series, shortly after Warren Wiersbe, an evangelical stalwart, and a very conciliatory complementarian Bible teacher, also died. I thought it to be appropriate to tie up the “women in ministry” blog series, with a few concluding thoughts.
- UPDATE October, 2019: I read a great book on the topic of “What is a Christian Conscience?,” that gave me some helpful ideas about the issue of women eldership.
- UPDATE November, 2019: Upon reflecting on a well-publicized incident, whereby Pastor John MacArthur urged popular woman’s Bible study teacher Beth Moore to “go home,” I thought I would look at another way of addressing this issue: Do We Still Have Apostles Today, in the Church?
- UPDATE April, 2020: Some Christians have a rather cavalier attitude towards the Apostle Paul’s prohibition against extravagant dress, or the wearing of jewelry, in 1 Timothy 2, as though the Apostle’s instructions were merely addressing a particular cultural situation. A look at the broader Scriptural context shows that Paul is instead making a particular cultural application of a timeless principle: Does the Bible Teach Women Should Never Wear Braided Hair of Jewelry?
- UPDATE March, 2021: Should women keep silent in the churches? I Corinthians 14 says that, but what does it mean? It may not mean what you think.
- UPDATE July, 2021: A post with a brief argument as to how the question of women eldership relates to church growth. Is the church a business or a family?
- UPDATE August, 2021: A review of Beth Allison Barr’s provocative The Making of Biblical Womanhood. The evangelical movement needs to move on from the older complementarian/egalitarian debate, and seriously reconsider how, in the practice of Christian worship, to express the truth of being created in the image of God, both male and female, in an age where gender is reduced to being merely a social construct.
- UPDATE March, 2022: Did Paul Really Write Ephesians and Colossians? … (and Why Women Should Care). A bit of a rabbit trail, but an important one, as the complementarian/egalitarian debate has raised serious questions about the authorship of some of Paul’s letters.
By the end of the series, you will get an idea of where I am coming from. So, if you are going to read any of these blog posts, please READ ALL OF THEM BEFORE making a final judgment on what I am saying (I do welcome your comments below). The punch line will come in the last one or two posts, but to get the full sense of it, you should read all of the preceding posts in the series…. and, yes, you might want to keep your Bible handy, as I will be going to God’s Word quite often (or you can just follow the hyperlinks in the blog posts, instead).
I will say up front, that in giving my view, I could be wrong. Utterly wrong. Or more likely, perhaps a few points wrong, here and there. My perspective has shifted over the years, and it could shift again. But what I do hope is that folks can take this seriously, and treat it is an important perspective in the ongoing discussion. It is a plea for unity, but it is also a plea to pursue truth, and never abandon the pursuit of truth.
Expect to see the next post in a few days. To stay on top of this, please follow Veracity, via email or Twitter, by entering your email address, or clicking to follow via Twitter, on the right hand side of this web page. Thanks!