Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bishops' magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them! (Updated)

Oh, dear, oh dear!

That's what we say Down Under about the dear old C of E when it gets its pantaloons in a knot.

Imagine discovering after a bishop has laid hands on you for confirmation or ordination that just before the service he had used the loo and forgotten to wash his hands afterwards. (Possible) Shiver down the spine stuff (some aren't fussy). "My hair is tainted. Pass the shampoo!"

But imagine discovering that a few days or weeks ago or even years ago the aforementioned bishop had had a moment of toiletry forgetfulness. "No problem, mate. Surely he has washed his hands more than a few times since. Why, he might even have had a shower or a bath since then."

Most taint is washed off. But not all. As you can read at Thinking Anglicans or on Anglo- Kiwi. Apparently if a male bishop touches a woman in an ordaining kinda way then no soap known to humankind, not even a powerful disinfectant can wash off the taint which lingers ... forever.

Now we are quite brainy down here Down Under and we can spot a compromise faster than David We-play-hard-but-fair Warner can spot some underhand play from the other side. (Underarm bowling is, of course, harder to spot.) So, dear old C of E, we do understand the 'dilemma' of how to keep everyone happy. We even engage in a bit of that compromise stuff in ACANZP.

But is there not a point where grown adults, living in the 21st century (i.e. able to critically read the Bible) ask simple questions such as, Does God require untainted hands for ordination to be ordination? Is apostolic succession about who has touched whom or about safeguarding the gospel?

And: what, just what are we saying about 50%+ of the human race when we say that their presence within the leadership of the church causes 'taint'?

And we wonder why people are not coming to church!?

Update:
- keep reading on Thinking Anglicans
- Bosco Peters makes an astute and needed point about 'Anglo-Donatism' here.
- the underlying theological issue, according to New Directions, is not 'taint' but 'theology and communion' or 'impaired communion' but that does not take us far from 'taint' because it is all about hands and who the hands have touched. 'Tainted communion', if you prefer!
- the question remains, Why should touching women impair communion as though there is something intrinsically problematic about women? This is the great challenge for catholicity (Anglican and Roman and Eastern) in the world today!

48 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

There could actually be a way around this problem. When I was confirmed, in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry in the 1940s, the Bishop wore white gloves.

One wonders whether, if Bishops still wore white gloves, they could have the same bishop performing episcopal rites but with a different set of gloves for each candidate.

In this way, 'sacramental assurance' could be ensured by the gloves - rather than whether the bishop was female or male. W@ould that help the C. of E.?

Andrew Reid said...

Perhaps we need similar reasoning here to the Article (I forget which one) which states that the efficacy of Communion is unaffected by the worthiness of the priest conducting it?

Pageantmaster said...

Wash and make yourselves clean...
though your sins are like scarlet
they shall be as white as snow
Is 1:16&18

Pageantmaster said...

Might it be worth trying the washpots of Moab?

Pageantmaster said...

Humour aside, since no one else has stepped up to defend Philip North, I would just say that the Church of England and from it, the churches of the Anglican Communion have always been scrupulously careful to maintain the Apostolic succession, even through some links from the Old Catholic bishops. That was what caused the PECUSA [TEC] to go to the Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate its first bishop, until the requirement for the oath of allegiance was removed enabling American bishops to be consecrated by English Bishops. Even in the modern church this will have been observed for your bishops including Bishop Victoria in Canada, Peter+

The irony of all this is, that it is those who take this linkage the most seriously, the traditional Anglo-Catholics who have been most vexed at the potential break in male apostolic succession.

It is those who feel most threatened and at risk of a central part of their faith and ecclesiology being undermined in the mainstream church, who in fact care more than most of the rest of us about all this.

So amidst all the hoots and derision, and the jokes [and I admit to a little levity myself], it is important to understand that this is not a joke for those concerned, or for Philip North.

Whether one agrees with them or not, it is important to understand what their issues are, that is if we truly want our churches to remain united.

Pageantmaster said...

The Rochester Report has a thorough history of the issues of considering womens' ministry for the purposes of considering them in the Episcopate. Sadly we never properly debated it, and probably few read it. It is excellent however and if you are interested, here are the links:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/39784/gs1557.pdf
There is a shorter digest of the report here:
http://www.rochester.anglican.org/Documents/Admin/WomensDebate/A%20digest%20of%20the%20Rochester%20report.pdf
It is a superb examination of the historical role of the priesthood, episcopacy and role of women, which I suspect you will find as interesting as I did and an aid to understanding why different parties feel as strongly as they do.

Peter Carrell said...

What a brilliant set of comments. Thank you!

I totally get this compromise from the perspectives of politics and psychology but am alarmed by it from other perspectives.

Father Ron Smith said...

An interesting sideline to this matter is that the ABY has already assisted at the consecration of other F.i.F. bishops - even though he has also laid hands on women priests. It appears the the ABY only demurs in the current situation because he will by that time have laid hands on a woman BISHOP. This appears to be the non-negotiable straw that would break the camel's back for F.i.F.

It appears not to matter if a bishop has laid hands on a woman priest, but the 'taint' is only valid when the episcopal role has been given to women. So it's all a matter of hierarchical attainment - not priesthood, for F.i.F.

MichaelA said...

"We even engage in a bit of that compromise stuff in ACANZP"

Say it ain't so... ;)

MichaelA said...

"And: what, just what are we saying about 50%+ of the human race when we say that their presence within the leadership of the church causes 'taint'?"

Nothing much different to what God himself said when he told us that priests and bishops were to be men.

I don't agree with the anglo-caths that apostolic succession is a physical thing, but I see no need for cheap shots at them, or at our Lord for that matter. Still, some think they know better than Him.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
It would be interesting to find out where "God himself said [that] he told us that priests and bishops were to be men." Such a clear statement of intent would be most helpful!

If we are going to ask questions about whether we know better than God, I think a pertinent question is whether we know that what Jesus intended for the church was an ordering of its leadership taken to the point where if a leader lays hands on a women (ordination-wise) then that taints the succession process or understanding of communion connected with such action. It is simply bizarre to think for a nano second that the Jesus who healed on the Sabbath in order to bring life intentionally set in motion a process by having twelve male apostles which leads to the casuistic thinking going on in the mind of the ABY this week.

I do not know better than God but I do know, from God, that Christ came to set us free from such legalistic approaches to working out the life of God's people.

tachesterton said...

'Nothing much different to what God himself said when he told us that priests and bishops were to be men.'

Given that in the New Testament 'priest' = 'Christian', that's a rather bizarre statement.

I considered this issue at some length on my blog a few years ago:

https://tachesterton.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/the-ministry-of-women-a-biblical-affirmation/

Tim

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,

I see that suffragan Burnley and Stockport are 37 miles apart; closer than Christchurch and Ashburton. Perhaps the diocesan bishops of Blackburn and Chester will encourage dialogue. From my RC point of view, Rev Mr North will probably be concerned with obedience. It is, after all, better than sacrifice.

Nick

Father Ron Smith said...

And there is then, of course, the matter of the 'priesthood of all believers' that IS mentioned in Scripture. Does that exclude women, too?

Peter Carrell said...

One of the ironies of the situation, Nick, if we are looking at this from an RC point of view, is that there is no need to worry about 'taint' within Anglicanism. Options such as the Ordinariate exist to help Anglicans who prefer communion with Rome to obedience to changed canons.

Another irony is that, in my view, if Rome ever did permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopacy it would require obedience from all its bishops and not allow division into (so to speak) tainted and untainted wings.

Pageantmaster said...

Peter+
"if Rome ever did permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopacy it would require obedience from all its bishops and not allow division into (so to speak) tainted and untainted wings"

Indeed, Vatican I as far as I know led the Old Catholics to break off, and I think one or both of the two Portuguese members of the Anglican Communion may have came from there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusitanian_Catholic_Apostolic_Evangelical_Church

Then following Vatican II came the departure of Cardinal Lefevre in France and others, the Society of Pius XII.

That, is what we are trying to avoid, with little help from some quarters in England.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,

From the links that you have provided, it seems that the Church of England has (no doubt with good motives)caused its own problem. The five guiding principles do not sit well together if principles 1 and 4 contradict each other. They do contradict each other if 4 is wide enough to include bishops as receivers of ministry. Regardless of that, it seems that the spirit of gracious generosity has been applied by the provincial. This is all within the system voted on and apparently enacted. So, perhaps the system is working?

I accept that there need be no taint in Anglicanism, as you say, because Anglo-Catholics can be received through the Ordinariate. I assume some Anglo-Catholics have difficulties with certain Roman dogmas though and might have more in common with the Greeks.

As for Rome ordaining women, there is the real problem of ordinatio sacerdotalis, written by a very charismatic Pope recently canonised. Of course, if Rome did admit women, obedience would be required of clergy. The Orthodox and no doubt some Anglo-Catholics would then dispute the validity of Rome's holy orders.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick,
Precisely!

MichaelA said...

"It would be interesting to find out where "God himself said [that] he told us that priests and bishops were to be men." Such a clear statement of intent would be most helpful!"

Seriously Peter? This is nothing new - its been gone over on blog entries before, including one I remember on Julian Mann's blog in which you were a participant. Still, here it is:

“Therefore a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife … he must manage his household well …for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” [1 Tim 3:2-5]

“appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers” [Titus 1:5]

The word “elder” is presbyteros in Greek or as we shorten it in Anglicanism, “priest”.

The scriptures are clear that bishops and elders require a number of qualifications, including that they be male.

"I do not know better than God but I do know, from God, that Christ came to set us free from such legalistic approaches to working out the life of God's people."

That depends on whether you force the plain words of scripture to conform to a human-created principle.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
Nowhere do those texts say, 'You shall have male bishops and male presbyters.' Those texts presume that bishops and presbyters will be male and thus that their respective spouses will be 'wives' etc. That presumption may represent the eternal will of God or it may represent the life and times of the NT which was a life and times in which assumptions were made about men leading things.

I place such texts alongside the roles women did take up (Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, etc) and ask whether the writer of 1 Timothy is being used of God to imply an eternal rule against the inclusion of appropriately gifted and called women to the episcopacy or to the presbyterate.

MichaelA said...

"Nowhere do those texts say, 'You shall have male bishops and male presbyters.' Those texts presume that bishops and presbyters will be male..."

I have to disagree with you right there, Peter. This is not a case where isolated use of the pronoun "he" in a passage leaves room to think it might be used in a representative sense. Rather, these passages do say in so many words 'you shall have male bishops and priests', just as they say, 'your bishops must be self-controlled', 'your bishops must not be drunkards', 'your bishops must not be lovers of money' etc.

The apostle Paul couldn't have said it any more plainly if he had tried.

Our duty as Christians is not to try to 'spin' the plain words of Scripture until they fit in with the latest world view, but rather to accept that we need to adjust our world view.

"I place such texts alongside the roles women did take up (Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, etc) and ask whether the writer of 1 Timothy is being used of God to imply an eternal rule against the inclusion of appropriately gifted and called women to the episcopacy or to the presbyterate."

The Apostle Paul is not implying it, he's stating it. And yes, there are many ministries in the church to which both men and women may be called. But to certain ministries only men (and only some of them) may be called.

There is a reason why the Church for 2,000 years has not had female priests or bishops and that reason comes back to the clear teaching of scripture.

Father Ron Smith said...

"That presumption may represent the eternal will of God or it may represent the life and times of the NT which was a life and times in which assumptions were made about men leading things."
- P.C. -

Good point, Peter. Such presumptions may also be related to lots of things happening in the Church today - even in the R.C. Church of your guest, Nick.

So many things have been overturned - some by Vatican II. However, some of them have been furtively restored. Which may just go to prove that what is deemed admissible in one era may be rejected in the next, And vice-versa. Even in the Early Church there was the painful issue of circumcision for men!

The Spirit blows where she wills!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
I object highly and hugely, on the theological grounds of the oneness of humanity in creation and in redemption to any criticism of women in ministry which implies that some kind of bending the knee to cultural change is going on.

The benighted state of women around the world as objects of sexism, patriarchalism, oppression and so forth should give every Christian pause to think before making statements accusing the church of some kind of cultural cringe as it seeks to work out what the full participation in the body of Christ means for women.

I appreciate that you personally may not have a patriarchal or sexist bone in your body, but the church as a whole has a somewhat sorry record of treatment of women as it has sought to preserve male privilege in leadership and out of that leadership to presume to know what is best for women.

Back to 1 Timothy: I suggest consistency requires that the church treat the implied 'rules' of this book with caution. If they are eternal rules, valid for all times in the life of the church, then we should apply the instructions concerning widows. But we do not. I think it might be useful to reflect on why that is so and whether we might apply our willingness to acknowledge that life has changed (so we no longer follow those instructions) consistently to passages such as 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Timothy 3.

Suem said...

The theology of taint depresses me- and yet what wonderful news that we have finally got a female bishop in the UK at last. Also she is in my diocese!

Jean said...

Hi Michael/Peter

Yes the role of women as indicated by scripture has been debated endlessly, and arguments over what is contextual and what is 'God's Will' comes according to the predisposition or approach of those doing the reading.

I would have to agree with Peter, however, on the non-negotiable words of Christ about the one-ness of humanity in Christ Jesus. "For there is neither Jew or Gentile, Male or Female, slave or freedman.... all are one in Christ Jesus."

It is difficult to interpret this as anything other than equality in the structural ordering of society as well as the worth of the individual.

Gentile's who would never have been considered members of God's people let alone Priests became so through Christ's death on the cross.

Equally woman who were considered in their own way unclean (having separate seating in the synagoge and during their monthly) at this time were also fully justified in position and worth.

Note this does not mean slaves were immediately freed nor women's worth and roles in society immediately altered, nor even gentiles immediately accepted by God's people. However, in the course of history there is little doubt of God's working through His people to acheive this in the past and now.

I urge you at some point to hear the humble testimony of Junko Preston who was audibly called by God to the Ministry (this was not her idea) and then to introducing via NZ the ordination of women in her home country Japan.

Or to consider once again whether Jackie Pullinger who has lived a life of mission, teaching and leading a church in Hong Kong; it is difficult to believe a Ministry so evidently displaying the works of the Holy Spirit is not of God.

If God is the one who justifies, then who are we to condemn?

Cheers
Jean

Anonymous said...

In Peter’s “object highly and hugely” comment, and others following, please use “find and replace” women to gays, sexist to homophobic, and then also leave ordination as it is and secondly replace it with marriage and blessing.

Jane

Father Ron Smith said...

Jane, exactly what is it you're saying?

Anonymous said...

Really, Fr Smith, I didn't think my point was obscure. Let me do it for you:

"I object highly and hugely, on the theological grounds of the oneness of humanity in creation and in redemption to any criticism of gays in ministry which implies that some kind of bending the knee to cultural change is going on.

The benighted state of gays around the world as objects of homophobes, oppression and so forth should give every Christian pause to think before making statements accusing the church of some kind of cultural cringe as it seeks to work out what the full participation in the body of Christ means for gays.

I appreciate that you personally may not have a homophobic bone in your body, but the church as a whole has a somewhat sorry record of treatment of gays as it has sought to preserve heterosexist privilege in leadership and out of that leadership to presume to know what is best for gays.

..." etc.

Jane

MichaelA said...

Peter, fair point, but I don't think it is unreasonable for others to make such an assumption if they see a command of scripture being disregarded, and that happens to coincide with what is popular in our society. Of course others are welcome to rebut the assumption.

Re your second and third paragraphs, are you really drawing a link between (a) belief in a male-only priesthood and (b) the oppression of women, such as domestic violence or lack of civil rights? Whilst I haven't systematically researched it, I suspect you would find that such things as rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, covering up the foregoing, denial of civil rights, and the like, continue to happen in jurisdictions which admit women to the priesthood, and at much the same rate. And conversely, there are examples where those that do hold to traditional ways score well in regard to these issues. I just don't know what the balance of evidence is, but if its not a real link, then those that are put in the category of contributing to patriarchalist or sexist attitudes simply because they support a male-only priesthood might themselves have grounds for objecting highly and hugely, if you take my point....

"Back to 1 Timothy: I suggest consistency requires that the church treat the implied 'rules' of this book with caution. If they are eternal rules, valid for all times in the life of the church, then we should apply the instructions concerning widows. But we do not."

We don't? That is news to me, but I am happy to look more closely at it.

Mind you, supposing the end result of that enquiry is that we don't in fact comply with the apostolic prescriptions about widows, then what should our response be? I would have thought the proper reaction would be to seek to obey God on both issues, rather than using our own failings in one area to justify our own failings in another area.

MichaelA said...

"I would have to agree with Peter, however, on the non-negotiable words of Christ about the one-ness of humanity in Christ Jesus. "For there is neither Jew or Gentile, Male or Female, slave or freedman.... all are one in Christ Jesus"."

Hi Jean, why are those words in particular the "non-negotiable" ones? Because we like them better than other parts of scripture?

More to the point, why is there any inconsistency between Paul's teaching that all are equal with regard to salvation (have a read of the whole of Galatians 3, not just verse 28 by itself, in order to see what I mean), with his specific instruction that only males (and only certain males) can be priests and bishops? We are promised that salvation is for all, but nowhere are we promised that being a priest or bishop is for all. Those two teachings are not inconsistent.

"Or to consider once again whether Jackie Pullinger who has lived a life of mission, teaching and leading a church in Hong Kong; it is difficult to believe a Ministry so evidently displaying the works of the Holy Spirit is not of God."

Who said Jackie's ministry is not of God? You seem to have misunderstood what I am saying. *Even if* Jackie's ministry involves her taking a position that she is excluded from by scripture, then she is being disobedient to God in that respect, but it doesn't mean her ministry is thereby not of God. (I say "even if" because I am not sure that Jackie does in fact hold the position of leader of a congregation, i.e. a priest, but I am happy to assume it for the sake of the debate)

Consider David – he was led by the Holy Spirit yet in some things he was disobedient. When God told Nathan the Prophet to publicly rebuke David, Nathan did not say, "Lord, David's ministry is obviously of you and blessed by you, so he just can't be wrong about his relationship with Bathsheba. Sorry Lord but I'm not doing this".

The same goes for Moses – he disobeyed God and was rebuked for it, but nowhere is it suggested that his ministry was thereby "not of God". I suggest these examples were put in the scripture precisely to warn us against the argument you are employing.

If we take your argument to its logical conclusion then no successful ministry can ever be wrong about anything. Yet the scripture warns us (and it’s a warning we should take to heart) that even (or perhaps especially) the most successful ministries can also be wrong on particular points.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
The point I am making might be over-subtle. I am not saying that male leadership as experienced today necessarily connects to oppression etc; but I am saying that as our eyes are opened to communities in which male leadership is exerted to the point where women, not beating about the bush, are second class citizens, we who as Christians believe in some kind of segregation to some degree between male and female should pause to consider what trajectory we are on.

As for obedience to Scripture: yes, we might find that we are disobeying in one area and thus we should take double care not to disobey in another; but we may also find that we are not disobeying in one area and thus not disobeying in another area.

It is very hard to find hats being worn in church these days ... or believing men with ponytails being shunned ... or for that matter, women with short hair ... As for those teetotallers refusing to take wine for their stomach's sake, I do not know what to do about them :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Jane. I now see your point. May I say that I'm with your reasoning here - 100%.

Jean said...

Hi Michael

Why would I consider those words in particular?
a) Because they were words Jesus spoke
b) Because if it is negotiable then I as a Gentile cannot be consider a daugter of God, let alone a leader.
c) The whole NT concept on access to God through Christ, as you mention salvation for all, the destruction of the temple curtain is summarised in these few words.

Why different than those Paul spoke re women?
a) Many of Paul's writings/regulations for the early church were based on specific social contexts of his time. Did Jesus who let a woman wash His feet with her hair seem concerned with headcoverings?

As I inferred in the previous post the interpretation of this passage implies salvation in the sense of standing before God ecompasses the possibility of position as well. The acceptance of a Gentile meant they were also eligible of leaders of God's people; the same with slaves; the same with women?

You are correct not everyone is called to be a Priest/leader. And not many chosen. And even less probably wish to be!

If you were to apply you analogy to Jackie Pullinger as you have to King David on the basis of leadership, it does not figure that part of her ministry is not 'of God' but the whole. It would be the equivalent of someone rebuking King David not for adultery, but for assuming He was called by God to lead His people.

This is because from the start she was it, the leader, called by God (as was David) - she had neither money nor support from any christian denomination or organisation. Other than the directives of a C of E Priest who said if God calls then Go, and He will direct you.

Yes she has led a church for some time mainly with drug addicts and prostitutes in Hong Kong. And the last thing she would do would be to claim this was her idea. And yes she recounts many times she was 'rebuked'; or 'humbled' by God during her lifetime.

If you have any desire to get an idea about her or God's calling on her life or to evaluate her theological position I suggest a youtube clip:

Eyes To See

Blessings
Jean

tachesterton said...

Jean says, 'Why would I consider those words in particular?
a) Because they were words Jesus spoke'

Actually, Jean, they are words of St. Paul, found in Galatians.

Tim

Jean said...

Thanks for the correction Tim, as us Kiwi's say "my bad".

Too much time online not enough in the Bible : )

Cheers
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

"Too much time in the Bible", could mean, not enough time working with, and out of the context of, the Word made flesh!

The 'Word in the Bible' had to become flesh before God in Christ was fully discerned. At the Incarnation, Jesus 'became flesh' in and for us ALL.

Remember, Jesus said to the scribes: "You read the scriptures, but you DO not...."

MichaelA said...

Hi Jean, I just don't follow your argument:

(a) Paul in Galatians 3 tells us that salvation is offered to everyone, no exceptions;

(b) Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus tells us that congregational leadership is not offered to everyone.

How are those two propositions in conflict? They seem fully consistent with each other to me.

MichaelA said...

"If you were to apply you analogy to Jackie Pullinger as you have to King David on the basis of leadership, it does not figure that part of her ministry is not 'of God' but the whole. It would be the equivalent of someone rebuking King David not for adultery, but for assuming He was called by God to lead His people."

I don't agree, because I have read quite a bit about and by Jackie Pullinger over the years, and even if she does violate scriptural teaching about congregational leadership (which, as I wrote above, I am not at all sure that she does), that has never been the primary focus of her ministry. She is devoted to the heavenly salvation and earthly care of drug addicts, and the way her ministry has built up has been only incidental to that burning mission.

You seem to want to paint me into a particular corner, where I am obliged to condemn all other Christians because they disagree with me about male headship. Sorry to disappoint you, but it just ain't so! I don't agree with Baptists about child baptism, but I still recognise their ministry, and I don't agree with Roman Catholics and some Anglicans about praying to saints, but I still recognise their ministry.

Jean said...

Hi Michael

Firstly, no I am not wishing to back you into a corner. I chose Jackie Pullinger as an example because her main emphasis is on converting the 'lost' rather than advocating for women's leadership or teaching; so one cannot say evaluation of her position in ministry is biased due to her personal stance.

My greatest desire is to 'seek understanding'. Scripture is my benchmark so to speak; (e.g. if there is a prophecy for me it has to align with scripture). So therefore when I encounter a part of scripture that appears contradictory I feel a need to investigate.

Has Jackie Pullinger led a congreagation or taught men? Yes. God used her to convert drug addicts and prostitutes, mostly men and then she taught them about Christ. Eventually as her ministry grew, especially at the time they left the Walled City they had a congregation of around 200 of which she was the leader and teacher.

Hence, although you compared the aspects of her ministry you believe to be not 'of God' such as congregational leadership to be like David when he committed adultery, I thought this an unequal comparison: Because it this aspect is not a one of part of her life in Christ's service but a position that has come about as the result of her calling to of those who have come to Christ through the ministry she initiated.

Galatians 3 and 1 Timothy I do think are a contradiction if they mean leadership or teaching is not a possibility for women, gentiles and slaves because Galatians 3 implies they have the same spiritual status through the salvation of Christ. As is supported by a number of other concepts presented by Paul such as 'mutual submission' and Paul's reference of women in leadership roles as well as his benevolence towards women in most of his writings as 'co-labourers'.

After looking into 1 Timothy, however my understanding has reached a point where I can see it is not in contradiction to Galatians 3.

Firstly: To learn 'in silence' (hesychia) - means to be respectful as opposed to not talking. This combined with 'in submission' was commonly used to refer to future or current leaders in Rabbical circles; (ie: proper fashion for students).

Secondly: The word 'authentein' translated often as authority is only used once in the NT and not by Paul ever to mean authority. The instruction not to teach is most likely related to this word as the word used as 'teach' is one which implies all teaching (to men and to women) and the connecting word 'oude' is often used to pair two words together. Although the exact meaning of authentein no one knows most scholars have it meaning the equivalent of usurp authority in this context. Hence the most probable interpretation of this sentence is women should not teach that they have authority over men.

3) Given the example of Eve in the last sentence. Paul uses Eve as example of being led astray in other contexts which imply men and women e.g. 2 Cor 11:3. Here he does so a but with reference to (what appears contextually) as some women who were at the time teaching anti-marriage and childbearing (1 Tim 5:14); and anti-creation (1 Tim 4:4).

Take all three together and the message that comes through is women should be respectful as they are being taught, do not let them teach that their position is above that of men, for contrary to what some of them are currently teaching Adam was created before Eve, Eve was the one deceived and childbearing is important and good.

To finish Andrew I am in favour of respecting that God works through all his churches and that even though I too do not believe in worshiping saints I too believe God uses the ministry of the Catholic Church. As I do the ministry of those who do not adhere to woman as teachers of men.

However, I think it is good for us all to investigate opposing views and to always grow in knowledge and understanding.

Blessings
Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
You write, "Secondly: The word 'authentein' translated often as authority is only used once in the NT and not by Paul ever to mean authority."

But if there is only one example of authentein in the NT I presume you mean that when Paul uses a word for 'authority' it is another word, not this word.

Long story short about 'authentein', I think the KJV gets it right when it translates as 'usurp authority', a phrase you also mention.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

You presume right. I and I have no doubt you are much more qualified to comment on the such as the above than I!

Have a great day.
Jean

MichaelA said...

Hi Jean, your teaching is leading you to some perhaps unintended results.

"Galatians 3 and 1 Timothy I do think are a contradiction if they mean leadership or teaching is not a possibility for women, gentiles and slaves because Galatians 3 implies they have the same spiritual status through the salvation of Christ."

Firstly, you know what my position is, so there is no need to overstate it! The scriptures teach us that women are not to lead congregations. I have never referred to leadership or teaching of other types, nor to any prohibition on slaves or gentiles.

But secondly, and far more importantly, you have effectively held that those who are not leaders have a different spiritual status to those who are - and you have expressed that specifically in light of Galatians 3 which refers to the salvation of all mankind.

So it is actually you who are cutting down Paul's teaching in Galatians 3!

I have seen nothing anywhere in the scriptures to indicate that the salvation of someone called to be a leader is one whit different to the salvation of those who are not. You have shown that your position on ordination of women is in fact based on an assumption that those ordained to leadership are "better" than those who aren't. Sorry, but I don't agree.

I will reiterate my point made earlier, because I don't think you have answered it:

(a) Paul in Galatians 3 tells us that salvation is offered to everyone, no exceptions;

(b) Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus tells us that congregational leadership is not offered to everyone.

There is no conflict of any sort between those two positions, (except for those who see congregational leadership as a matter of status, rather than servanthood).

You also wrote:

"Firstly: To learn 'in silence' (hesychia) ... Secondly: The word 'authentein' ..."

Firstly, why are you engaging with the peripheral issues instead of the main issue? I thought my point was clear - Paul teaches specifically that only men are to lead congregations. He says in 1 Tim 3:

"Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife ... He must manage his own household well..."

So Paul also says in Titus 1:

"...so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife..."

In English or Greek, Paul speaks plainly - the leaders of congregations are to be male. Yes, the words hesuchia and authentein in 1 Tim 3 have some relevance in teaching us the principles behind this command, but they aren't the command itself.

"Here he does so a but with reference to (what appears contextually) as some women who were at the time teaching anti-marriage and childbearing (1 Tim 5:14); and anti-creation (1 Tim 4:4)."

This is not really on the point, but it requires a response nevertheless - because I cannot find anything to indicate that this is the focus of Paul's teaching. Furthermore, he definitely says nothing about women in particular teaching it.

"Take all three together and the message that comes through is women should be respectful as they are being taught, do not let them teach that their position is above that of men..."

I just do not agree that you have shown any rational link between these verses, nor that Paul's focus at any time is to hold back a teaching that women are better than men. He just doesn't mention it or refer to it, at all.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
Your logic is impeccable if we can place the weight on 1 Timothy 3 which you place on it.

That weight is that when the writer wrote in a way natural to the culture in which he lived, assuming that the presbyter or overseer would be a male so necessarily a husband etc, concomitantly he was laying down the law for all times and all cultures and thus for every conceivable situation in which the church might find itself, including the situation of the world today where women are treated as equal to men, including equally able to participate in advanced education such as for theological degrees as well as to participate in the work force in a variety of roles far removed from the days when women gave up work to marry.

We live in a different world and the question some of us are asking here is whether there are any signs in Scripture of women in ministry which suggest that God's plan for the church always and everywhere precludes women from teaching congregations and from leading congregations.

Cutting a longer story short, I do not read the roles of Priscilla, Phoebe, Euodia, Syntyche, the Lady of the Johannine letters, Mary Magdalene and Lydia as telling us that some roles are available but limited by a glass ceiling. Rather they tell us that in a far off day the incipient signs of women and men mutually participating in every aspect of the life of the church were present.

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter,

Sure. In a sense all I am doing is defending the complementarian position against misunderstanding.

But I am happy to engage generally also. The difficulty I have with your first argument is trying to spot where Paul made assumptions, as opposed to speaking plainly. There are a number of ways that he could have written in a gender neutral sense - e.g. Doretheus of Sidon used the word "monogameo" to mean only married to one person at about the same time Paul wrote. Or he could have said "remaining faithful to the one married to" which is simpler in Greek than it sounds in English - incidentally the same word you would use "syzygos" is the term for "spouse" in modern Greek.

Instead Paul goes out of his way to emphasise gender: "a man of just one woman", "mias gunaikos andra" - and he writes this twice in separate letters.

There is no more reason to doubt what he is saying here than there is reason to doubt his strictures against clergy being lovers of money or addicted to wine.

"Cutting a longer story short, I do not read the roles of Priscilla, Phoebe, Euodia, Syntyche, the Lady of the Johannine letters, Mary Magdalene and Lydia as telling us that some roles are available but limited by a glass ceiling."

Since none of those ladies were involved in congregational leadership, doesn't their very number tend against your point?

Peter Carrell said...

(Jean: apologies: I accidentally pushed 'Delet' for the comment below which means it cannot be published save for cutting and pasting it into a comment under my name)

Hi Michael

I hardly see how you conclude I ascertain leaders have a higher status by inferring men, women, gentiles, slaves and freedmen have the same/equal spiritual status. Having the same spiritual status means all these groups are equal recipients of Christ's gifts (Ie: teaching, prophecy, speaking in tongues etc). As pointed out not all will speak in tongues etc but all should desire the spiritual gifts.

There is no mention of congregational leadership in the 1 Timothy passage there is teaching (generic men and women) and ursurping authority.

Yes the other passages refer to Pauls instructions regarding choosing male elders as overseers with most the emphasis on the character required. This is not conclusive. Were most of the congregational leaders in his district men? Was it more culturally appropriate at that point that men were considered elders like in Egypt at present??

Congregation as far as I understand it simply means a gathering of worshippers; it would be difficult to negate the women mentioned by Peter above did not have any role in leading a gathering of worshippers. In what aspect can a woman teach or be a leader if is not of a congregation? Are not leaders of prayer meetings leading a congregation? Are not leaders of women's bible studies leaders of congregations?

In respect to the context of false woman teachers in Ephesus and its relation to the passage on Eve. As I understand it Ephesus was the centre of worship of the Goddess Artemis who was regarded as a virgin Mother and just like Eve Artemis was called "the Mother of all living." It is not difficult therefore to see why the place of Eve might have been outlined in the 1 Timothy passage in order to correct false teaching about her prominence.

Regardless, if one is prayed for by three different men, all of whom prophecy regarding preaching the Word of God and being a leader in His Church, and the later calling was the furtherest from your mind. What do you do if one is a woman? Do you follow man or God?

Blessings Jean

MichaelA said...

Hi Jean, you wrote

"I hardly see how you conclude I ascertain leaders have a higher status..."

Because you said so in so many words, when you wrote: "I do think are a contradiction if they mean leadership or teaching is not a possibility for women, gentiles and slaves because Galatians 3 implies they have the same spiritual status through the salvation of Christ."

"Having the same spiritual status means all these groups are equal recipients of Christ's gifts"

That may be the gospel of Jean but it is not what Paul wrote. When he wrote in Galatians that there is neither male nor female etc in Christ, he said nothing at all about spiritual gifts. The passage is about salvation.

Those who set such great store by leadership that they do not think they are equal Christians without it would do well to contemplate Matthew 18:1-5.

"There is no mention of congregational leadership in the 1 Timothy passage there is teaching (generic men and women) and ursurping authority."

I beg to differ. 1 Timothy 3 does not talk about teaching at all (except in that one of many qualifications of an overseer is that he is "able to teach"). The passage is all about leadership. That is what an overseer means. Secondly, we know from Titus 1:5-7 that Paul equates both elders and overseers with congregational leadership. Thirdly, there is no reference to usurping authority in this passage - Paul is stating the required qualifications for overseers.

"...it would be difficult to negate the women mentioned by Peter above did not have any role in leading a gathering of worshippers."

Since the scriptures never say or even hint that they do, its not a matter of being "difficult to negate" - the concept is simply not there to begin with.

"In what aspect can a woman teach or be a leader if is not of a congregation?"

Many and there are plenty of examples in scripture for those willing to read it and learn. In Acts 18:26 we see Priscilla and Aquila take Apollos into their home to teach him. There is no indication that they are elders or that they presume to teach the congregation. In Acts 15, Lydia appears to be the leader of her household and takes the lead in inviting the apostles to her home. There are other examples.

"Are not leaders of prayer meetings leading a congregation?"

No. A congregation is the assembly (ekklesia) of all the Christians in an area for regular worship under the elders. Another word Paul uses for it is "the church".

"Are not leaders of women's bible studies leaders of congregations?"

No - see above.

"In respect to the context of false woman teachers in Ephesus and its relation to the passage on Eve. ..."

What does this have to do with the clear teaching by Paul in another part of the letter that only men are to be overseers, and with his equally clear teaching in Titus 1 that only men are to be elders?

"Regardless, if one is prayed for by three different men, all of whom prophecy regarding preaching the Word of God and being a leader in His Church ...."

If those men prophesy contrary to the clear teaching of scripture then their "prophecy" is not from God, period. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" [Is 8:20] and "That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you." [Deut 13:5] True prophets do not prophesy contrary to scripture.

Jean said...

Hi Michael

Apologies I was mixing my Timothy's, I meant to say 1 Timothy 2:12 regarding teaching and usurping authority.

In respect to Titus and 1 Timothy yes there appears instructions for choosing men to lead. However, I do not see any "and only men shall lead congregations" unless this is implicitly implied somehow, and generically implied for all contexts and generations.

According to the gospel of jean; the spiritual gifts are available once a person has received salvation and they are not exclusive but possible gifts without restrictions to whosoever are saved, therefore, if any scriptural passage is read in light of their being restricted once given (e.g. the teaching of men) one must examine this very carefully and cautiously. The gospel of Jean does not assume because one is not called or does not receive the gifts to be a teacher or leader one is not equal in salvation.

But we do at least agree on something : ) - True prophets do not prophesy contrary to scripture. Knowing the men involved I daresay you would have difficulty casting them as evil but for privacy's sake I will not devolve their names on a blog.

We shall just have to wait, and if my knowledge of the prophecy and the person involved ever comes to pass, and I remember, I will let you know.

Blessings Jean

Anonymous said...

As I have pointed out previously, the arguments in favour of ordaining women as ministers, and having them teach and lead a congregation (change of context, personal experience, Galatians equality, etc), are the same ones to bless and marry gays, and ordain gays as ministers. If you follow the arguments about one, don't complain if people "find and replace" (as I've said) and use the same arguments for the other. And people are rightly surprised about those who hold to one major change in Christian history, but stubbornly resist the other.

Jane