Monday, July 07, 2008

A word of caution to our traditionalist friends

No doubt many in the Anglican Communion who are traditionalists (i.e., see ordination in the traditional Catholic view) are lamenting the vote taken today at the General Synod of the Church of England to move forward toward the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England.

But a word of caution, friends.

For a long time, activists in the Episcopal Church sought to link "full inclusion" (which is really about the ordination and consecration and marriage of non-celibate homosexual men and women) with civil rights and women's suffrage. Linking civil rights and suffrage with what is clearly biblically immoral behavior was an embedded political strategy (see the book After the Ball) and for The Episcopal Church it worked.

There is nothing progressive activists would enjoy but to see traditionalists wig-out over the Holy Orders of women. Not only would they enjoy the spectacle, but they would also enjoy seeing a split between the evangelicals who uphold biblical equality in ministry (i.e., the priesthood of all believers and mutual submission in ministry) and the traditionalists. The fellowship between what has historically been an acrimonious engagement (it is what brought us the "broad church" in the first place and the introduction of liberation theology while the evangelicals and Anglo Catholics fought it out, the liberal wing took root) - the healing and restoration between the evangelicals and traditionalists has been one of the miracles of this movement. No one could have predicted the depth of fellowship and commitment that would spring up between evangelicals and Anglo Catholics, between Reformed and Wesleyan wings of the church. This has truly been a gift of God. There's just no other way to explain it.

So who would benefit from a massive wig-out?

It is no accident, friends, that the Church of England is wrestling with making women bishops just before Lambeth. Let me say that again, it is no accident, friends, that the Church of England is wrestling with making women bishops just before Lambeth. So before people starting wigging out and issuing ultimatums, think very seriously about who would actually gain by traditionalists wigging out right now.

Think about it. Canterbury is so lovely in July.


Anonymous said...

Well? Who? Besides the obvious liberals and women who are already priests in the CofE looking to the episcopate and of course the gay activists! Am I missing someone?

One Day Closer

Anonymous said...

Been to Chicago lately?

Anonymous said...

I am hurting because the Church of England has embraced the doctrines of heretics and is apostate from the Church Catholic. I am thinking about never entering her doors again.

Unknown said...

Here is what I've posted at StandFirm:

1. Before we start issuing ultimatums, we must remember who our friends are and who our adversaries are, lest we shoot each other in the back.

Remember, the timing of this vote is strategic, okay?


2. It’s not about gender but about behavior. Like Mary, the sister of Martha, sitting at Jesus’ feet in the position reserved for the male disciple or student, or like Mary coming to Jesus and anointing him with the Jar of perfume before He went to the cross (and she was ridiculed by the male disciples for this priestly and what they thought wasteful act until Jesus publicly and firmly admonished them and lifted Mary to position of authority) - being a woman disciple is not a sin. We are the priesthood of all believers. We recognize however that we have different traditions of expressing our faith, we understand that the nature of the priesthood has different biblical expressions - but they are biblical. In no way do we bless sinful behavior. It not a sin to behave as a woman when one is a woman. What is in question is the role of women, not that her gender is sinful.

What we are dealing with on the frontlines, and what I believe the timing of this action in England is seeking to deflect, is immoral behavior now being officially blessed by the Church as suddenly holy. Progressives want to equate the ministry of women with blessing immoral behavior and this is not a secret that the timing of this vote comes just before the Lambeth Conference. It’s planned that way. This is a political action, not a theological one and we should respond politically not theologically. To respond theologically gives the opposition ammunition that the immoral behavior is akin to the suffrage of women - and that is outrageously false.

It’s a trap and it grieves me to see us risk falling into the trap. This action can be dealt with politically and not by playing into the scenerio set up by those who seek to deflect the current crisis and remake it into another that would split the evangelicals and the traditionalists. That is what this is about.

We must be on our guard and not be fooled.


3. [The progressives] seek to equalify what they call “full inclusion” with the suffrage of women. But that is a misnomer and that’s why we should be on our guard when we engage in the fascinating discussion of the ministry of women. Civil rights has to do with the equality of those of different races, suffrage has to do with the equality of women - but full inclusion has to do with blessing and making holy what the scriptures are clear to teach is sinful. Yet, the progressives seek to include in their banner of “full inclusion” civil rights and suffrage and that is a trick.

The strategy is discussed in detail in a landmark book of the early 90s entitled “After the Ball.” The activists sought to change the image of homosexuals away from the flamboyant parades and in-your-face “Act Up” confrontations and make it all more gentile, more bourgeois, more acceptable - like watering the lawn, no big deal. The Episcopal Church became a valuable target because it offered everything in one stained glass package.

I think the theological differences are quite clear among biblically minded orthodox Christians. We are discussing theology and polity. But to the Western progressives (in Canada, the USA, and yes Bishop Wright, in the Church of England) the trick is to blur the lines so much that the coalition of the evangelicals who support the priesthood of all believers position (for a shorthand - this is just shorthand) and the traditionalists who hold to a catholic (small c) view of Holy Orders (again a shorthand) split amongst themselves.

It appears GAFCON recognized this ruse and navigated around it. As important as these questions are, and they are, they pale in comparison to what we are facing on a global scale with the infusing in our Christian faith of Western innovations regarding sexual behavior. We should not fall for the ruse - especially one like this that is so obviously timed to draw attention away from the presenting issue, especially as Lambeth fast approaches.


Padre Wayne said...

"they would also enjoy seeing a split between the evangelicals who uphold biblical equality in ministry (i.e., the priesthood of all believers and mutual submission in ministry) and the traditionalists."

Yes, BB, it is really quite entertaining!

"It not a sin to behave as a woman when one is a woman. "
Oh. But it is sinful to behave as a homosexual when one is a homosexual. I see. Very clear. Thank you for your consistency.

Entertaining indeed!

Padre Wayne said...

BTW, not to confuse -- that's "PadreWayne" above, not the other poster Wayne.


Anonymous said...


There is no point denying that some catholic and some evangelical disagree about WO (and it's significance) whilst agreeing about SSU. You may feel that WO is a second order matter. For some catholic Anglicans it is a first order matter and affects the being of the church.

Of course, PadreWayne will want to gloat over others suffering. It says all that needs to be said, don't you think, about the so-called "inclusive church".

Anonymous said...

From reactionaries trying to preserve their system of privilege by oppressing everyone else, good Lord, deliver us.

mousestalker said...

The process of introducing WO has been distressing in both the US and England. What stands out is the total refusal to allow meaningful disagreement on the part of the victors.

My sympathies are with Bishop Venner. I think he was granted a moment of clarity.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when a theological, ecclesiological, christological matter is allowed to put up for vote and compromise.

The faith is a precious pearl that has been chewed up until it is unrecognizabe by apostate and spiritually blind political agendites.

To them, salvation and repentance are meaningless and useless, the Cross isn't really necessary because sin has no consequences. There's nothing to repent of, - except - that carefully defined and restricted kind of intolerance for sexual sin.

The Church of Tolerance of All Sexual Behaviors and Desires will soon be left to her own devices. She can just throw away the Scriptures, Creeds, Articles, Ordinal and love her own to hell.

Anonymous said...

PS - I do not honestly see Jesus raising Mary of Bethany to a position of *authority* in Luke was a commendation and a recommendation to sit at His feet and learn from Him directly in His presence. Nowhere did Jesus give a woman authority over a male.

Deborah is the only woman in Scripture who judged and led men, though Mordecai did hear and do what Esther recommended (fast and pray). Abigail was described as wiser (more Godly?) than her husband.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the action taken by the Synod of the CofE will hasten the day for abolition of a state-sponsored church. When political leaders have the power to promote or deny promotion of church authorities, the church becomes merely an extention of, in the current situation, the Labour party rather than an organisation with sound theological foundation. Time to shake the dust.

Lapinbizarre said...

Re "the evangelicals who uphold biblical equality in ministry", bear in mind that many more conservative evangelicals seriously restrict the role that women may play in church life. Last month I posted an inquiry to an Australian blogger based in Sydney (Alcibiades of "Caliban's Dream") with a question about the Reverend Tara Thornley, who I read was to be appointed Dean of Women at Moore Theological College. It was my understanding at that point that the archdiocese of Sydney does not ordain women.

Alcibiades replied that "Rev Thornley is ordained as a Deacon, which is a far as she can go in Sydney. She can not preside at the Eucharist or be the Rector of a parish. In many churches she is not allowed to preach or read the Bible aloud if men are present, while others would permit her to speak at mid-week services but not on Sundays, and to deliver the Old Testament reading, but not the Epistle (generally the one on which the sermon is based) or Gospel."

So no, BB, the evangelical faction which emerged the strongest from GAFCON has an exceedingly restrictive policy on the role of women in the church. Their apparent belief in the Priesthood of All Believers (Lay Presidency), which seems for the time being to be on the back burner, applies only to the male believer.

Robin G. Jordan said...

From looking over the previous posts, I see a lot of confusion over the Biblical doctrine of the ekklesia as 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.'(1 Peter 2.9-10)This is not a Scriptural warrant for women in ordained ministry or even for men or any other group as far as that goes.

"But you are a chosen race,a royal priesthood,a holy nation,a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

See also Rom 9:33; Isa 8:14; Rom 9:22; Jude 4; Deut 10:15; Isa 43:20; Exodus 19:6; Rev 1:6; 5:10; Isa 61:6; 66:21; Deut 7:6; Exodus 19:5; Deut 7:6; Isa 43:21; Mal 3:17; Isa 42:16; Acts 26:18; Psalm 36:9; Hos 1:6, 9, 10; 2:23; Rom 9:25, 26; 10:19.

Unlike the people of Israel, the people of the Old Covenant, the people of the New Covenant do not have a separate caste of priests to represent them before God. They are themselves a priestly people who can represent themselves and the world before God. They do not not need an earthly mediator between themselves and God. They have Christ!

Whether women can exercise preaching and teaching ministries in the gathered ekklesia has nothing to do with the status of whole ekklesia - "called-out" people of God as a priestly people. The gathered ekklesia, or assembly, is a particular expression of the "called-out people of God in a particular time and place.

Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth prohibited women from speaking in the assembly. Paul considered this unseemly. This had part to due with his notions of headship, but also due to his fear of false teaching. If you look elsewhere in his writings, it is evident that Paul believed that women were particularly susceptible to receiving and spreading false teaching.

The question over which evangelicals are divided is whether Paul's prohibition is applicable to a particular time and place or to all times and places. Sydney evangelicals take the latter view.

Evangelicals are not of one mind concerning women in ordained ministry. Some accept women bishops and pastors. Some accept just women pastors. Some read Paul's letters as excluding women from the preaching and teaching ministry of elder and overseer in the Church. I think that it remains to be seen whether Sydney's position is that of GAFCON. A number of the provinces whose primates and bishops attended GAFCON ordain women. The Anglican Church of Rwanda, for example, ordains women. In the USA the American branch of the AMiA, a missionary outreach of the Rwandan Church, does not ordain women but the umbrella organization to which it belongs, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, does.

What is driving the ordination of women pastors and the consecration of women bishops is not reflection upon and reevaluation of what Scripture teaches but a secular movement. What complicates the matter is that, while some women pastors are quite orthodox, others are not. Woman candidates for ordination for reasons that have not been adequately researched are apt to embrace unorthodox and even heretical teaching at some point before they enter into ordained ministry. Is this because the movement that is driving their ordination is also driving the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians and therefore must adopt heterodox or heretical views in order to justify itself? This is something that deserves further research.

Unknown said...

What is driving the timing of the COE and women bishops is politics - Anglo Catholics in the COE are very different than in TEC where many are theologically and politically conservative. In the COE there are theologically and politically conservative Anglo Catholics (who are particularly upset today), but there is also a large group of politically liberal Anglo Catholics, of which Rowan Williams is one. So while they retain the outward structures of "High Church" they are in their interior liberal. They do not really care if women are made bishops - the endeavor is frankly a smokescreen.

Being politically liberal, these Anglo Catholics will not be going to Rome. What is the percentage of this group? It appears to be very large, but for a church that is closing churches instead of opening them, they are more entrenched into the structures then anything else.

Evangelicals in England are also split between theologically and politically conservative and theologically conservative but politically liberal. In odd ways the liberal evangelicals also find themselves akin to the liberal Anglo Catholics then to their conservative brethren. We saw evidence of that yesterday.

What seems to be missing from the Church of England that is frankly dominant in TEC is the politically liberal/unitarian pagans which borrow the symbols of the Anglican Chuch but infuse them with unitarian and pagan meaning. Now this may be going on in the COE, but I haven't seen signs of it going on to the level it does in TEC.

The TEC evangelicals may be more inclined toward Wesleyan theology than Reformed but it's not easy to measure. We see those differences in CANA and in AMiA, but that seems too dull for the progressives to track - if they did, they might be surprised that it isn't so much the ministry of women that divides us as it is whether we say "Christ our Passover is/was sacrificed for us ..." We have a war of words at Truro each Sunday over that one phrase, as I recently found out!

But all of this is meant to divert attention away from the crisis at hand - that scripture is being downgraded in favor of personal experience, that what has been deemed immoral behavior from a biblical point of view is now deeded holy. To attempt to weave in the long-standing controversies regarding the ministry of women is a ruse - it is meant to divert us away from the crisis so that we will fight amongst ourselves or retreat into Rome.

We must see this for what it is - a political maneuver timed to coincide with Lambeth. The liberals are positively betting that the conservative Anglo Catholics will march themselves right out to Rome and majority of the liberal Anglo Catholics will not miss them, no, they will not.

Evangelicals - being not exactly swift in politics (we are far more concerned with who is right than who wins) are left out in the cold wondering what the hell happened. You could see this yesterday when even Bishop Wright attempted to intervene (did he see what was happening finally?) but it was too late.


Kevin said...

Why do you warn caution?

One of the best thing that happen after the election of KJS was that the Anglo-Catholic bishops began to move. Who other than +Duncan have took the bold move to move their whole diocese to safety?

This maybe the best thing that happen to CoE, for maybe now the faithful Anglo-Catholics might be willing to accept GAFCON if +Wright doesn't and they may see regardless of your opinion on WO, polity does not determine Truth.

Better to pray the Lord brings direction to this passion than to calm them, it's hard enough to get people motivated.

Anonymous said...

BB: "What seems to be missing from the Church of England that is frankly dominant in TEC is the politically liberal/unitarian pagans which borrow the symbols of the Anglican Chuch but infuse them with unitarian and pagan meaning."

Good grief, please stop confusing unitarian with universalist. They are not the same. A unitarian would deny the Trinity; a universalist (not uncommon in the Anglican Communion) would say that "there are many paths to the Divine." I believe this latter is what you (and others) are referring to when you accuse TEC of apostasy. Not unitarianism.

Padre Wayne

Anonymous said...

Padre Wayne,
Unitarians, as well as Universalists both exist and are lauded in TEC.

Are you saying otherwise?

Anonymous said...

BB, When you say CoE Anglo-catholics are politically liberal, do you mean prohomosex? Or do you mean they are socialists?

There is a great deal of difference. Some of the revisionist trolls are insinuating that some of the CoE anglo-catholic group are closet homosexuals and pedophiles.

Neither group, the prohomosex or the practicing homosexuals or pedophiles are truly orthodox or catholic. They may be high church and proper but not obedient, penitent, holy, orthodox or catholic. They are in rebellion.

Anonymous said...

Well written Babyblue.

Funny that the Assembly of God has been ordaining women since about 1914, with nary a flap, and they are extremely traditional, or maybe I should say fundamentalist. They would not ordain a practicing homosexual, nor will they ordain someone who is divorced, for that matter.

Unknown said...

Sibyl, they are politically liberal, which includes embracing a liberal view of sexuality (as Rowan Williams once did/still does/does anyone know? We remember Bishop Spong's tirade (see BB Podcasts) against Rowan for betraying the cause he was appointed to, having been part of the Anglo Catholic liberal wing of the church. There are traditionalist Anglo Catholics who are Tory, but they are a much much smaller number - and apparently, expendable for this latest enterprise.

Pat, thanks for posting. Yes, many of us who are in the charismatic/pentecostal wing of the Episcopal Church are open to women's ordination because we see that giftings are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our sense of equality among the sexes means that the Holy Spirit empowers us in ways that are in addition to our naturally-born gifts. Some are gifted to teach and some are gifted to hospitality and some are gifted to be pastors and some are gifted to "helps." But that that is not applied to gender, but how the Holy Spirit chooses to empower someone for ministry. So within the charismatic movement, there is a long history of women teachers and prophets. But what is stressed is that there is mutual submission (something that is sorely lacking in the whole "rights/justice" political view of women in leadership. It's not about exerting our rights, but working in ministry in mutual submission to one another and in the community the Lord is glorified. That would be the hope, though we fall far short, far short. Thank God for His mercy!

Again, there is no sin in acting like a woman when one is a woman. But it's a very different thing, from a biblical point of view, to act out homosexual behavior. We do no one any favors to bless what the scriptures teach as sin. We can hardly be called loving to do such a thing, though the pressure to compel one to bless these behaviors is tremendous.

The point of all this is that it is the scriptures that lead us not our own personal experience (as compelling as that can be sometimes!). The scriptures inform our experience, not the other way around. Christians disagree - from a biblical point of view - the ministry of women in the Church, but the arguments are made from the scriptures and so Orthodox Anglicans can agree to disagree and show compassion to one another (at least in recent years, to the glory of God!!!).

But what we are dealing with the in the Episcopal Church is an entirely different matter as Padre Wayne (Hi! I'm glad to see you here though I know we are disagreeing - it great to see you here!) points to. We are redefining the Trinity and the nature of God Himself (herself?) in the Episcopal Church and introducing paganesque beliefs as Os Guinness has been teaching about recently. It is then no wonder that acting out one's sexual preferences outside matrimony and outside the biblical teaching on human sexuality (i.e., bride and groom not groom and groom - someone has to be the bride) is such an important matter to the Episcopal institution. It's a logical next step.

This is where we part ways with the liberal Anglo Catholics - who seem to still be Trinitarians, though their political views greatly inform their institutional actions.


SwissWiss said...

The vote was 2 to 1. Hence, the political ground is lost. The strategy now, as it always should have been--stand on the Rock.

Padre Wayne said...

As BB suggests, not to panic (thanks for the welcome, BB!). The measure still must be approved by 2/3 in each house at the next Synod, and then, of course, by Parliament. I suspect traditionalists will be out in force trying to elect lay members to Synod for its next gathering -- and so who will "win" on this one is up for grabs at the moment.

Padre Wayne

Robin G. Jordan said...

BB, you failed to note that the Episcopal Church has its share of liberal Anglo-Catholics, Affirming Catholics, High Church Liberals, or Catholic Modernists--whatever you would like to call them. They form the largest liberal group in the Episcopal Church, a much larger group than those who trace their origins to Broad Church movement of the 19th century.

Evangelicalism in the Episcopal Church is a recent phenomena with its origins largely in the Charismatic Renewal Movement. The late Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, the Fellowship of Witness, and the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry did play a part in the revival of Evangelicalism in the Episcopal Church. This is not to say that the Episcopal Church did not have an Evangelical past. In the 1830s-1850s almost one half of the Episcopal Church's bishops and almost a third of its clergy were Evangelical. However, the growth and increased influence of the Tractarian movement and Ritualism led to the more conservative Evangelicals leaving the Episcopal Church and forming the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC)in 1873. However, the contemporary REC is no longer Evangelical or Reformed. This has has led conservative Evangelicals like the Free Church of England Evangelical Connection to severe their ties with that body and the Church Society to list the REC as no longer Reformed in its theology.

The Evangelicals who did not leave the Episcopal Church became Broad Church Liberals.

Evangelicalism in the Church of England of the conservative variety has historically been Reformed in its theology, those who embraced Wesleyianism having gone their separate way.

One of the weaknesses of the Common Cause Partnership here in the United States is that the commitment of some of its constituent members to the Biblical and Reformation theology of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562 and the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal of 1662, which the CCP Theological Statement identifies as standards of doctrine and worship for the Common Cause Partners is only on paper.

Monday's vote in General Synod comes as no surprise. Those who did not see it coming had their heads in the sand. The C of E's House of Bishops is dominated by liberals; a sizable number of the C of E clergy are liberal. Some had placed hope that the lay delegates would be more conservative than the bishops and other clergy. However, from their vote this apparently was not the case.

While the liberals appear to have the ascendancy in the C of E as in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, their congregations are not the one that are growing. In this regard the Evangelicals are well ahead of the liberals and the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics. How Monday's vote will affect this growth remains to be seen.

At this point I think that we would be wise to refrain from any prognostications. The liberals will seek to consolidate their gains. How the Evangelicals and the Anglo-Catholic reacts is anyone's guess. Anglicans, however, are notorious for dithering as they are for failing to come to grips with problems.

What should be interesting is how this vote impacts attendance at the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lambeth soiree.

Since General Synod has now authorized women bishops, do you think that there is a possibility of Presiding Bishop Schori being translated to Canterbury?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mary, Just watched the GAFCON- A ministry of Reconciliation video and wept. It was an amazing time and I am finding it hard to grasp it all. Is there any way you could send us the file so we can use it for our Sunday School report this Sunday? Or is there a better way for us to access it?
Thank you for all that you do!
Cheers and Prayers
Carol Rogers Smith
Christ Church, Savannah

Anonymous said...

Pat Kashtock correctly notes that the Assemblies of God ordain women while remaining totally faithful. There is, however, an important difference, at least from a Catholic/Anglo-Catholic point of view. An Assemblies of God minister does not have a sacramental function, and therefore, though she may lead a congregation, and be an ordained minister, she is not a priest. For Anglo-Catholics, the ordination of women is a complete impossibility-no matter how many times she goes through the ritual of ordination, she is still not a priest. That doesn't mean that she lacks the intellectual or administrative abilities necessary for the job, it just means she can't administer the sacraments. I know this seems weird from a Protestant point of view, but it is backed up by 2000 years of tradition, and the Scriptural argument against women's ordination is at least as good as the argument for it.

Yes, it is important for Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals to continue working together, but that means that Evangelicals must understand how intensely important this issue is to most Anglo-Catholics. This does not mean that women have to be relegated to the church kitchen and back pews.
Certainly, Jesus called women to a much fuller participation in religious life than they were granted under Judaism, and the history of the Roman Catholic Church has many examples of women in important leadership roles.

Robin G. Jordan said...

The primary objection to women pastors among those Protestant denominations or groups that object to the ordination of women is to their preaching and teaching and not to their administration of the sacraments. This is based upon Paul's prohibition in his first letter to Corinthians:

"As in all the churches of the saints, 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. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 ESV)

Earlier in the letter Paul:

"On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up." (1 Corinthians 14:3-4 ESV)

Elsewhere in the New Testament, in the Acts of the Apostles, we read that one of the first deacons Philip had three daughters who were prophetesses.

The Assembly of God permits women pastors on the basis of their evidencing the gifts of the Holy Spirit associated with pastoring. These gifts include teaching and preaching.

Anglo-Catholics argue that women cannot be "priests" because the twelve apostles were men. Their viewpont is predicated upon the notion that Jesus in calling the twelve established the apostolic succession. The Scriptural basis of this notion, however, is flimsy at best. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a passage in which Jesus actually says anything that comes close to the idea that in calling the twelve he was establishing an apostolic succession.

Anglo-Catholic arguments against the ordination of women are based largely upon tradition and not Scripture. For Anglicans, however, the final authority in such matters is Scripture. So this brings us back to Paul's prohibition. Was he forbidding women from teaching and preaching? Or was he forbidding them from discussing theology with their husbands in the church assembly when it met and perhaps correcting their husbands and embarrassing them. Was Paul speaking for God? Or was he speaking for himself? Does 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 apply just to the church in Corinth in the 1st century AD. Or does it apply to all churches for all times?

Padre Wayne said...

Robin, you're sharp! Good analysis (both) and good questions.

Padre Wayne

Unknown said...

Robin, you ended the passage too early in the 1 Corinthians 14 passage. As we learned from John Howe twenty years ago, it appears that Paul is quoting what is going on in the Corinthian church and then giving his instruction. The next line after the passage about it's shameful for women to speak in church, Paul admonishes the men for falling on their jobs of preparing their wives for worship - not keeping them out:

36 What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?

37 If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.

38 But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

39 Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

40 But let all things be done decently and in order.

I Cor. 14:36-40

Paul's point is that things should be in order, not that only men speak and teach. He says, "What! was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?" He's just dripping with sarcasm. "What? It came to you and you alone????" Hah!

The answer is no - God does not just speak to men and men alone, God does not expect only men to speak and men alone, but He gifts men and women according to His purposes and expects us all to do things decently and in order - that' the point. Because women had for so long been cut off from full worship privileges they did not know what to do - and Paul is telling these husbands to teach their wives before they get to worship so they aren't interrupting or carrying on because they don't know what's going on. You can totally see it. Everyone is excited, but it's out of control. And the men are doing nothing to help their wives understand. B

Paul has no intention to shut down the ministry of women - quite the opposite. Once again, it's important to read the entire passage and not pick out the bits.

That "what" is one of my favorite lines in scripture. Thank you, John Howe.

And thank you, St. Paul.


Kevin said...

The Ammessblies of God also have a very different understanding of their pastors, Anglicans have a sacramental priesthood. A fact often denied by Evangelicals, those it actually is inn the 39 Articles and Catechism (interestingly more flushed out in 1979 BCP Catechism than in past). This was the point that cause the REC to leave, but obviously a lot has change in a 100 years since they were willing to sign onto the 1662 BCP (the very issue) and full 39 Articles (which has loss of justication and necessary Sacraments as acts of grace).

BB - You gave the classic ruse!!!!!
Biblical arguments never exclude women or men, but he did delineate, I think you'll find it hard pressed to make a case above deaconess, even Deborah gets odd because she operates inside parameters of her time.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Interesting interpretation of the 1 Corinthians 14:36-40 but as with any interpretation of Scripture one must compare it with how other commentators have read the passages in question. Here I think that you find some difference of opinion.

The real big issue for Evangelicals in regards to women in ordained ministry is not whether they should preach or teach but whether they should exercise authority over men--headship. John Stott did not believe that Scripture ruled out women pastors completely but questioned whether they should be appointed as rectors of a parish or as bishops. He saw no problem with them serving as part of a team ministry. Where they exercised authority over men, it would not be their own authority that they were exercising but that of the rector or bishop.

Prophesy is a form of exhortation and the New Testament does not appear to suggest that women cannot exercise the gift of prophecy. In the early Methodist Movement the first women preachers were recognized as "exhorters," exercising this particular gift.

In a number of Anglican provinces that do not ordain women, women nonetheless exercise public teaching and preaching ministries in the Anglican Church, serving as gospel workers.However, they are not ordained as "elders" and "overseers" of the Church. The main issue is one of authority.

The Thirty-Nine Articles may mention sacraments but makes no reference to a sacramental priesthood which would be at odd with its teaching about justification by grace by faith and rejection of the doctrines of transubstantiation and of the sacrifice of the Mass. Newman tried to reinterpret the Thirty-Nine Articles but failed. Realizing the implications of this failure he joined the Roman Catholic Church. The Post-Tractarians called for the abolition of the Articles and their replacement by the Book of Common Prayer as the standard of faith and worship for the Church of England. They were more able to reinterpret the Prayer Book in a "Catholic sense." The Catechism of the 1979 American Prayer Book departs in a number of significant ways from the Articles and the catechism of the 1662 Prayer Book and is one of the reasons that Evangelicals criticize the theology of the 1979 book. It hardly "fleshes out" the Articles and the 1662 Catechism, albeit a revisionist might make that argument. But isn't that what revisionism is all about--asserting that contemporary innovations are in line with historical Anglican doctrine?

Deborah was a judge of Israel--a distinction that some fail to recognize or make. Elizabeth I was queen of England. The English bishops accepted her authority over the Church of England as the English monarch. They understood the New Testament to teach that all rulers are divinely appointed and subjects are required to obey their rulers.However, they did not regard her as being able to preach the Word of God or to administer the gospel sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

One of the controversies that gripped the post-Reformation English Church in the reign of Elizabeth I was whether midwives should be permitted to baptize infants, a practice that the 1559 Prayer Book permitted. The Puritans insisted that only an ordained minister was the rightly minister of the sacrament of Baptism. They eventually won the day. The 1662 Prayer Book does not permit lay baptism. However, lay baptism is an ancient Catholic practice. It does not matter who administers baptism--man or woman, pagan or Christian, as long as he or she baptizes the child or adult with the intention of doing what the Church has always done.

Anglo-Catholics are insistent that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is invalid if it is not administered by a man ordained by a bishop in an unbroken line going back to the apostles. However,the New Testament says nothing about who should administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper only that Christians should observe the Lord's Supper in remembrance of Christ. In eating the bread and drinking the cup, they proclaim--make know to their fellow human beings--Christ's death until he comes again.

The problem with the ordination of women is not whether God gives the same spiritual gifts to women that he gives to men and whether and how women should exercise these gifts but that women's ordination has become bundled with what liberals and revisionists refer to as "full inclusion," the setting aside of the authority of Scripture, normalization of sexual conduct that both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach are immoral, and the endorsement of theological views that are heretical--the rejection of the divinity of Christ, the denial of faith in Christ as the only means to salvation, and the like.

Unknown said...

Headship is not about hierarchy (that is the result of the fall), but about ordering, as in who is at the alphabetical head of the class, who is at the head of the list, who is at the head of the line, who was first. The Firstborn of all Creation is Jesus. Adams was created before Eve, so he's at the head of Eve. It's not domination, which again is the result of the fall. But when we become Christians we become a new creation and our prayer is now "thy will be done on earth as it is heaven," with heaven breaking through, not because of what we have done, but what Jesus has accomplished through the cross and His resurrection.

Headship is where we are in the creation order, not who gets to lord it over others. Jesus' own example contradicts this hierarchical view where his example was to wash his followers feet and to raise a woman to the status of disciple and priest, sitting at his feet and anointing him before He went to the cross.

To learn more about this view, go here:

I am a long time supporter.


Kevin said...


I think you are talking past each other, I'm not sure you'll find too many who truly seek after the Lord who'd disagree with you (not to say you couldn't find thousands and thousands who sought to use the Scriptures to their own ends).

I'm uncomfortable with your declinations, because I do think their are good and bad hierarchies. I believe the Lord called some to be deacons, priest and bishops but also others to be lay witness for Him, but I fully agree that the bishop should be the one washing the most feet.

Maybe fewer unqualified might seek out any office if they understood the cost of leadership.

Robin G. Jordan said...

The New Testament tells us God calls all believers to be "a royal priesthood". The notion of a group of believers that are set apart from other believers to serve them as a caste of priests, representing them to God and God to them, and functioning as a mediator between them and God, does not come from the New Testament. Indeed it is at odds with the teaching of the New Testament.

The New Testament also tells us that God gives to each believer a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Each manifestation is given for the common good of the "ekklesia," or church.

The New Testament further tells us that some God calls to be pastors, teachers, some prophets, and so on.

The New Testament speaks of office of elder-overseer and that of deacon. But nowhere does the New Testament speak of hierarchies or "the three-fold ministry of the bishop, priest, and deacon."

Catholic ecclesiology is only indirectly derived from the New Testament: It uses New Testament terms but gives its own meanings to those terms. The Imperial Roman administrative system shaped Catholic ecclesiology more than anything else.

BB appears to assume that because I point to the attention of our readers that conservative Evangelicals' understanding of headship primarily lies behind their objection to women in ordained ministry, that I myself embrace that particular view. She is also assuming that they particular view of headship that she herself embraces is the "right" view. A number of the more conservative commentators upon the New Testament do not share that view. She has also raised the issue of "dominance" but nowhere in my discussion did I suggest that I interpreted headship to mean dominance over women. Indeed I did not even discuss what I thought it to mean.

What I have done so far is identify two difficulties that conservative Evangelicals have with the ordination of women. Both relate to how certain passages of the New Testament should be interpreted, and whether these passage mean that women cannot serve as teachers and elders of the local church, two roles that are often combined in the office of pastor.

Anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, accepts him as Savior and Lord, and seeks to obey his teaching and emulate his example is a follower of Christ. All whom God has called out of darkness into his marvelous light to proclaim his excellencies are priests. They, however, are not just ordinary priests, they are royal priests, and the king whom they serve is the King.

Nowhere in the New Testament do we find any passages that PRESCRIBE who should administer the gospel sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. But we do encounter certain passages that appear to PROHIBIT one group of believers from functioning in the roles of teacher and elder to a gathering comprised of both men and women. How we should interpret these passages is where Evangelicals differ with Evangelical leaders and New Testament scholars like Peter Jensen taking one position, John Stott another, and Michael Green a third.

Unfortunately the issue of the ordination of women and women bishops has become linked to "full inclusion." For example, the recent statement of TEC Bishop Jean Dixon:

"I think the decision to ordain women as bishops speaks volumes about the Anglican Church’s respect for the dignity and worth of women. Now we must move further to embody the biblical witness of all being created in the image of God by fully including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."

Rev R Marszalek said...

I have found this thread very interesting and I have posted on it at Re vis.e Re form - a blog I created just over a month ago to explore these sorts of issues. It has since been a very busy time as I've done much to explore GAFCON, evangelical feeling on the decision of synod and my own position on these things is being shaped as I explore them. I was reading Robin's post on 1 Cor and thinking I should draw his attention to the work of Belizikian and was interested to come across John Howe whom I have not read yet but would now like to do so.
Rachel at

Robin G. Jordan said...

Reform London has a article and a talk by Professor Gerald Bray on the topic of women bishops on their web site:

For those not familiar with Professor Bray, he is an Evangelical theologian, writer, and research professor for Samford University. He previously taught at Beeson Divinity School, where he continues to teach specialized courses. Prior to teaching at Beeson, he served as lecturer in theology and philosophy at Oak Hill College in London and was visiting fellow at General Theological Seminary in New York.

His writings include The Doctrine of God (Contours of Christian Theology) (IVP, 1993)and Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present (IVP, 2000)He has written several New Testament commentaries--1-2 Corinthians (1999, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (2000), and Romans (2005)--for The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series (IVP)

Professor Bray also edits the Church Society's quarterly Churchman.

An interview with Gerald Bray conducted by David Ould - in four parts - can be found at this website:

Professor Bray is also the Director of Research at the Latimer Trust. On 5th and 6th November Gerald Bray delivered the 2007 Jordanstown Lectures on Biblical Interpretation. Links to the texts of these lecturces can be found at