Women in Ministry? Of Course!

(Part 1)

9/26/10 5:16 PM

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Women in Ministry? Of Course! (Part 1)
By Michael J. Fast Associated Canadian Theological Schools Canadian Baptist Seminary Langley, British Columbia, Canada 3 April 1994 Any reproduction must include acknowledgment of author. Note: This document is too big to be placed in one HTML document (at least on my editor) so I have split it into several parts: [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Notes] [Bibliography]

Part 1: TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.0 INTRODUCTION 2.0 FOUR VIEWS 2.1 TRADITIONAL VIEW 2.2 MALE LEADERSHIP VIEW 2.3 PLURAL MINISTRY VIEW 2.4 EGALITARIAN VIEW 3.0 GENESIS 1-3 3.1 EQUALITY AND ECONOMY 3.1.1 POSITION BEFORE GOD 3.1.2 ROLE ON EARTH 3.2 THE FALL 3.3 CONCLUSIONS 1.0 INTRODUCTION Perhaps the most emotional issue in the church today is that of the role of women in the church. On the one hand, people are saying that women should be subordinate to men and have no place in the ministry of the church. On the other hand, many people are scrambling to find ways of including women in all areas of church leadership with the result that good, biblical exegesis is being ignored. This is being done to appease our consciences, guilty from the mistreatment of women over the past several thousand years.1 The
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evangelical finds himself/herself caught in the middle of this debate, unsure of whether or not to voice his/her opinion. This is the greatest danger of the whole issue--if we as evangelicals do not enter into the debate we will be left behind and will have no say in what the church finally decides. We must all carefully examine Scripture and voice the truth, whether it be for women in church leadership or not, so that the biblical faith is neither dirtied nor ignored. This paper will examine the issue of women and the church. What is their role? Where should they be involved? Are there any restrictions for them? The paper consists of six parts, including Introduction and Conclusion. It will begin by examining four different responses to the problem. It will then move to a discussion of Genesis 1-3 in order to determine its bearing on the present problem. It will continue by examining three difficult texts in the New Testament, namely 1 Tim 2:9-15, 1 Cor 11:2-16, and 1 Cor 14:34-35. Here it will discuss four ways of dealing with these passages and the key issues within each. Following this, the paper will discuss three church offices to see what light they can bring to bear on the matter at hand. A conclusion will be drawn at the end that will reflect the study and research this paper has demanded. 2.0 FOUR VIEWS As seems to be the case with every other major issue in the church, there are four main views on how women should relate to the church.

The first view can be called the ŒTraditional View.

The second view can be called the ŒMale Leadership View.

The third response can be called the ŒPlural Ministry View.

The fourth view can be called the ŒEgalitarian View. We will examine the issue to determine if any of all of these views are correct. 3.0 GENESIS 1-3 Any study of the role of women in the church must begin in Genesis 1-3. There are two reasons for this. First, it is in Genesis 1-3 that we have the account of the creation of man and woman by God. By studying it, we can determine why God made man and woman and evaluate how that information applies to us today. Second, when Paul deals with the issue, he refers back to the creation account in Genesis as the basis for his argumentation. As a result, we should examine what the creation account says about this subject.
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An in-depth reading of the creation account reveals two areas in which man and woman are related because of creation. 3.1.1 Position before God. The first relationship that man and woman had together was one of equality.6 Both the man and the woman bear the image and likeness of God.7 They are also equated in the blessing of God.8 Both are given the responsibility to rule over creation.9 Perhaps the most important relationship they have toward each other is their personal relationship. As we read the story we find that the man and the woman are exact counterparts or equals.10 There is no sense given that the woman is in any way inferior to the man or that the man is in any way superior to the woman. In fact, the woman is called a helper--the same thing God is called in sixteen other references in the Old Testament.11 If "helper" is a demaning term, God would not use it in reference to himself! Thus, we can see that man and woman were created equal before God. However, Genesis 1-3 not only tells about the equality of man and woman, it also speaks of some differences--differences of economy or orderliness.12 This is the second relationship between man and woman described in Gen 1-3. 3.1.2 Role on Earth. When we read the creation story we find that man and woman were not created at the same moment. Instead the man was created first?13 We must ask ourselves what the significance of this is. Why did God not do it simultaneously? We also find out that, not only was the man formed first but, the woman, when she was made, was formed from the man.14 God could have also made the woman from the dust but did not. Why not? Finally, we see that the command not to eat from the tree was given to the man.15 God did not tell the woman this directly. This signifies that he had the responsibility for passing on God's Instructin to her. Perhaps his failure to do this is why he receives the longer sentence/punishment in chapter three.16 Thus, we have seen that, although woman and man were created equal before God, they remain unequal in function--that is, they each have a different function on the earth. However, all of this was before the Fall. What things does the Fall have to tell us regarding the role of women and men on earth?

The Fall provides an interesting case study in the relationship between man and woman.17 We see above that the man and the woman differed on some things. In particular, the man had the responsibility to tell his wife the things God had told him. But what happens when the serpent tempts Eve? She eats of the tree God had commanded they not eat of (v. 6). Not only that, she convinces her husband, Adam, that he should also eat of the tree (v. 6). In 1 Tim 2:14-15 we read that Eve was deceived when she ate of the fruit. However, Adam has no such excuse--he is completely responsible for his actions on that fateful day. Not only does he not properly instruct his wife on how she should act toward the tree, but he also allows her to convince him to do something that he knows is wrong. There is a serious case of role reversal going on. Eve should have asked Adam's advice on what she should do and Adam should have told Eve what the correct action was. Instead, Adam backs away from his responsibility and allows Eve to take over and make a spiritual decision for the family. Soince she was not properly instructed by her teacher, Adam, she was deceived and fell into sin. However, Adam, her teacher, is completely responsible for everything that he does, because he was not
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deceived! Is it for this reason that Rom. 5:12-19 lays the blame for mankind's sin wholly at Adam's feet.

Genesis tells us several important things about the relationship men and women have with each other and how these relationships affect the issue of women in the church. Although woman and man were created equal before God, they remain unequal in function--that is, they each has a different function on the earth. It would appear that man is created to preserve and perfect the relationship while woman is to "operate dependently rather than independently."18 The reason behind the fall in Eden was Adam's failure to properly teach his wife and her subsequent independence from him. <continued> [Forward] [Notes] [Bibliography] [Index]

[ Mike & Eva Fast | Bryan & Tammie Thorne | Kroeker Family | New Hope | UniServe ] This page was last modified on 18 July 1996.


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