Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sydney's version of Being Anglican under Stress? (UPDATED)

UPDATE Very interesting article now from Julia Baird in the SMH about responses to the issue, including the unprecedented (in my experience) of seeing a Sydney blogger backtrack!

(Incidentally, coming into my Inbox today was a link to this article, touching on areas involved in the issues of this post, but from a 'catholic' approach to thinking about connection between gender and liturgy. Not, in my view, First Things' finest article).

ORIGINAL Down Under internet trawlers over the last week or so might have noticed that SMH journalist Julia Baird has led something of a calling out on the doctrine of male headship/female submission, a doctrine which, diplomatically, we will say is not unknown nor un-taught in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. And, we must also say, it is taught in other churches around the globe (yes, I am thinking of you, John Piper).

A few days later this initial article was followed up with a personal story of abuse in a marriage. One anecdote does not make for anecdata, but apparently a few more stories are forthcoming, according to Johanna Harris Tyler, writing on the ABC website. Even then a series of stories at best may represent evidence of distortion of a doctrine otherwise sincerely held and lovingly maintained by couples mutually agreeing to live their marriage in a particular manner. That doesn't sound right ...is it submission if I mutually agree with my husband to embrace the doctrine of headship?

The better point to make (albeit with urgency in the light of personal stories of abuse) is whether the doctrine of headship is true or not. On that matter Johanna Harris Tyler makes a good case that the doctrine is certainly not incontestable and likely not true.

One question I have been pondering lately is this: why do we talk about headship of men and submission of wives leading to a description such as 'doctrine of headship' when we could as readily talk from the same Bible passages about the doctrine of sacrificial love (husbands for their wives)?

Clearly some vigorous discussion will be occurring around Sydney dinner tables, if not Lord's Tables. So we see a robust response to Julia Baird here by Sarah Colyer. David Ould has three posts on his site. (In part David's is technical, exegetical and if you want to comment on his exegesis, please do so there and not here.)

One problem. What Sarah Colyer writes looks like a doctrine of mutuality in marriage not a doctrine of headship and submission. Her happy marriage sounds like my happy marriage!

What I would like to see is an intelligent writer like Sarah engage with a response to this item in Johanna Harris Tyler's article:

"A forthcoming conference at the Priscilla and Aquila Centre, linked to Moore Theological College, entitled 'Submission and the Christian Life', only advertises male speakers, all of whom are strong advocates of female submission."

Is a smart woman who is able to speak publicly via the medium of the Sydney Morning Herald going to defend an all male line up for such an event?

What, incidentally, we might ask, is the difference between a woman teaching a mixed gender SMH readership about the doctrine of headship and a woman teaching a mixed gender congregation?

It is from this kind of observation that I suggest the greatest stress will fall on Sydney Anglicans who continue teaching headship. To continue to teach the doctrine is (I predict) to increasingly provide examples of the doctrine being problematic.

Here is another instance. Sandy Grant, senior minister in Wollongong cathedral, offers a rebuttal to Julia Baird which in substantial part is a clarion call to understand that the doctrine of headship involves many exceptions to the teaching that the husband is head of the wife. Abuse exempts a wife from submitting to her husband, and 'abuse' is widely defined by Grant so there are many exceptions to the application of the doctrine:

"Often we've just not been explicit enough in naming 'domestic violence' and the fact it refers not only to actual violence, but to threats, verbal abuse, restrictions on movement, and other emotional or psychological abuse.

So let's be clear for any Christians who missed the memo. The Bible says any abuse or aggression from one spouse to another, whether physical or verbal, is wrong."

But nowhere do the Bible verses which are used to teach the doctrine offer such exemptions. In rightly pointing out that husbands who abuse their wives are doing wrong, Grant in fact is trumping one doctrine (headship) with another doctrine (do no harm). In making this theological judgment, Grant is being a theologian, not a Bible exegete. He is offering a fuller theology of marriage than the doctrine of headship itself gives.

Further, he highlights that the doctrine of headship is problematic because it needs rescuing whenever it goes wrong. It needs to be propped up against misunderstanding and distortion.

Are we not heading into the territory of the absurd?

Absurdity is difficult to defend.

It may take decades, or it might be achieved with the election of the next archbishop, but I predict that the doctrine of headship in Sydney will die a quiet death and become a slightly embarrassing footnote in future histories of the Diocese.

It is much easier to teach (what I call) the doctrine of mutuality in marriage, a doctrine which draws together both texts on marriage, texts on respect for other people, and texts on responsible action in relationships to teach marriage as a relationship of mutual love and responsibility between spouses and for any children in the marriage.

The interesting observation about Sandy Grant and Sarah Colyer's contributions to the debate to which I have discussed above is that they more or less teach the doctrine of mutuality in marriage while straining to retain the subject heading of 'headship'. They are half way there :)


107 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

""A forthcoming conference at the Priscilla and Aquila Centre, linked to Moore Theological College, entitled 'Submission and the Christian Life', only advertises male speakers, all of whom are strong advocates of female submission."

Perhaps one needs point to nothing more evidential than this - of Sydney's rootedness in sexism; which, according to the teaching of Jesus Christ, has no place in the teaching of the Church!

Bryden Black said...

For many years Peter I have to confess I have found this "headship" issue that surrounds Sydney Diocese not just problematic but offensive. More offensive however is their denial of many workings of the Holy Spirit in today's Church. Surely such a denial is addressed by the teaching of Ephesians as well? Viz 4:30!

Might these two issues be linked? I suspect so!

Anonymous said...

Bryden, your remarks are VERY offensive to those women who choose to believe that the Bible clearly teaches one thing, while we accept with I hope more graciousness, that others, namely you and Peter, believe it teaches something quite else.

For instance, I would say of both of you, that you are not accepting the responsibility that God has given you .. that of headship .. and that if you can’t take it within your marriages, then you certainly won’t take it within your roles within God’s church. Peter, mutuality is a given within marriage, a starting point if you like, and to divide mutuality and headship shows me that you are not listening at all to women like myself .. just as you have not appeared to listen to those ordained men with SS attraction who have made the hugely difficult decision to trust God and remain celibate. No wonder I think of them as great preachers .. they have suffered personally and privately in ways you’ll never know. Ephesians 4:30 my foot!!!!

Rosemary Behan

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I would be genuinely interested in why you say that "mutuality is a given within marriage."

Such talk is music to my ears, except that I am not so clear that it is a 'given' when we are in the midst of a discussion about headship. Hence my view that mutuality in relation to headship needs some advancement and apologia.

I also appreciate that what you believe about headship and mutuality might be different from the specific articles I have cited above.

As your brother in Christ, and I hope, friend, I want to gently resist any notion that I give the impression I have not listened to those ordained ment with SS attraction who have made the hugely difficult decision to trust God and remain celibate. They have my admiration and I cannot think of any course of reasoning which would change that admiration.

Anonymous said...

Rosemary gets my vote!

When Fr Smith speaks of the "many workings of the Holy Spirit in today's Church" in relation to homosexuals he gets castigated by Dr Black for not being biblical enough. And when people are biblical Dr Black castigates them for neglecting the "many workings of the Holy Spirit in today's Church"!

It's not difficult for the observer watching to see that one starts with one's position and then picks and chooses one's methodology in accordance with whether it will lead to the held conclusion or not!

Rosemary... you go girl!

Jane

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Rosemary for your spirited reply! I would expect nothing less from you, knowing you as I do.

The reason however for my own strong language (you would speak of a lack of graciousness I’d imagine) is this. The repudiation by Sydney Diocese of anything charismatic in today’s Church as legitimate is indeed a “grieving of the Holy Spirit” (Eph 4:30). One does not need to be a Philip Jenkins to come to this conclusion. True; not everything (either in the First World or the Majority World) that goes under the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Spirit ‘banner’ is genuine - in my view. The NT is very clear also about discernment after all. Then the link (I suspect) between this particular issue and that of “headship” has to do with an excessive European masculine sense of rationality, which then reveals itself in how to perform many an exegetical exercise. Call it a partial Enlightenment legacy, culturally, if you wish. And that cultural dynamic becomes vital when we dig more deeply into matters of headship.

Women and men have often come to similar conclusions about belief, just as in certain key situations black folk have acknowledged the belief they are truly descendants of Ham - and so, along with that, all that that seemingly entailed for them. The content of belief however is not at all necessarily a function of gender or race - although it is certainly to a large degree a function of (sub)culture; even as both gender and race are also to a degree socially mediated (I deliberately do not say, socially constructed). What this all means for both of us is this.

Just how deeply are we prepared to dig into our respective hermeneutical traditions? What sorts of things - usually, transcultural encounters - might it take to shift our root paradigms? These sorts of questions I trust reveal to you that I take the matter of “responsibility” with utmost seriousness. For built into that word is the complex dynamic of response and accountability, authority and legitimacy, and essentially a humanity before a God Who Speaks. And it takes more than a few biblical texts here and there (1 Cor 11, Ephesians, say) to establish a hermeneutical tradition. ANY sort of reading of the 4th C Arian controversy and the establishing of the Nicaean Legacy reveals this. And one thing about mentioning that sort of historical case study is that it takes time, and much to and fro among competing traditions, before the dust settles.

You and I are stuck (it might seem) in this corner of the world, where a number of issues are spilling over, and where there is little ‘settlement’ to date. What I sense we must do however is to disentangle the threads of these issues and not conflate them - as you do towards the end of your comment. Issues pertaining to GLTBI communities are not necessarily to be equated with the matter of OW - or “headship”. For, lastly, it might be useful for you to know I have had to shift myself from denying Ordination of Women originally in the 70s to acknowledging my error on this issue by the late 80s - just as during the last 30 years, and not for want of trying, I have yet to encounter a viable Christian argument in favour of same-sex relationships; in fact, everything I have come across confirms my conviction such supposed positive claims are a “tragic irony”. Of course, I might be wrong on both counts. But to date, no-one has quite demonstrated this adequately to me.

Bryden Black said...

Hi Jane! If only it were as simple as you try to make out ...

Anonymous said...

Peter, you are not really interested Peter, otherwise you would have listened to me before, because I have kept re-iterating the same thing over and over and over. I am your equal, I am Wally’s equal, the thing is that he knows it, and you don’t acknowledge it. You say and I believe that you acknowledge your own wife’s ‘equalness’ .. but you sure don’t acknowledge mine, or that I might have a logical, rational and biblical reason for my stance. The fact that ‘men’ and I mean preachers in the pulpit have rarely if ever taken Jesus’ stance on our equality, and taught about the mutuality in marriage .. very nearly meant that I joined the femimists in their stance, if only to get listened to. However, I couldn’t, they took it too far as far as I was concerned, and I mean to be clear, they took it too far biblically. Yes, the Bible definitely teaches mutuality, but it also teaches headship .. MAINLY .. that of Jesus over all of us!!!

Rosemary Behan

Anonymous said...

Jane .. thank you. I’m a little bitter I’m afraid .. it’s a long battle. Rosemary

Anonymous said...

Bryden, you and Peter both know me well enough to know that I am NOT a ‘submissive’ wife in the way you use the term .. and yet on this subject, I’m trying to swim against a tidal wave.
Bryden .. the so called ‘repudiation’ by the Sydney Diocese of anything charismatic is a red herring, it’s got nothing to do with what I’m saying and I’m afraid I won’t be side tracked by it .. although I have plenty to say as you can imagine. And while I might [if I believed it to be true] throw the “Headship has to do with an excessive European masculine sense of rationality” at the two of you, who both declare your friendship and your Christian brother/sisterhood with me .. that too is a red herring.

Leaving us with .. “Just how deeply are we prepared to dig into our respective hermeneutical traditions?” Good question.
I am prepared to go over the issues once again .. for the umpteenth time in nearly 30 years, as I go over it with myself all the time. However, I don’t feel as confident that you will ‘listen’ to me. Your whole post to me seems to be one bombastic parade of reasons why I’m so mistaken, culturally and biblically.

As to conflating the two issues, you know as well as I do, that this has already happened. If I may repeat the words of the author of the book reviewed by Ian Paul on his psephizo blog. The author is Ed Shaw .. and he says about the sheer numbers of people who try to convince him WITHIN the church that he can accept his sexual preferences .. that they’re fine and Godly .. he answers ..

Think for a moment of your greatest besetting sin. The thing God asks you not to think or do, but you keep on thinking or doing. Consider how much your efforts to say ‘No!’ to it would be undermined if suddenly you were told it wasn’t wrong any more or, at the very least, if a few voices started to raise doubts in your mind. When next tempted, things would be much more challenging, wouldn’t they? Why resist thinking or doing that if it isn’t really a sin any more? If Jesus doesn’t mind – if Jesus would actually approve! Welcome to one of the fiercest challenges of my life.

If I thought Ed was going to get the support he deserves, I would not ask it for the huge numbers of women you are NOT supporting within the church. Good, Godly women who are your equals.

Rosemary Behan

Father Ron Smith said...

" Of course, I might be wrong on both counts. But to date, no-one has quite demonstrated this adequately to me."
- Dr. Bryden Black -

Hooray. Bryden, for your honest admission here that you 'might be wrong' on both your understanding of headship and homosexuality. This admission alone affirms my opinion that theologians are not infallible. As Pope Francis recently told ordinands in Argentina: Theologians need to get out from behind their desks, smell the roses and get out among the sheep - and even admit that they are also - sheep!

The Holy Spirit has a lot to answer for but I believe She can take the credit for most of the modern understanding of gender and sexuality that is gradually filtering into the heads and hearts of today's theologians. Sometimes, there seems to be more evidence of God's activity in the world than there is in the Institution of the Church!

Father Ron Smith said...

Further, on the subject of 'headship' - the supposed need for submission of the woman to the man in married life; I wonder how many clever women realise that it is better for them to let their man feel he is the boss.

As my esteemed (departed) father-in-law once said of the situation in his own home:"We have agreed that I make all the big decisions, and my wife makes all the small ones. So far, there have been no big decisions!"

I suppose the clue is: Who does the most talking about who is the boss!

Kurt said...

And a "Right on!" to both Fr. Smith and Dr. Black re: male "headship" in Sydney diocese!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY
(Where I saw my first spring flowers today!)

Jean said...

La de dah, la de dah...

I am not convinced the passage is enough to warrant a doctrine of headship. If it were I think along Peter's line there is just about as much need for a doctrine of sacrifical love.

I also think along Bryden's veiws regarding different issues, LGTB, Women's Ordination and Headship in Marriage - I think they are different topics and need examination of their own merit.

Rather I think the passage in question and those which follows are models for relationships of love which are to be used as a guide.

Yes the passage says Men are the head of a marriage (a.k.a. have legitmate authority or position); Yes women are to submit (voluntarily support out of love; nb: not subjugation - being subservient without choosing/wanting to).

Yes Men are to do everything possible to give up their own position for the good of their wife, cater for, provide, protect and if necessary die for their wives. Love them unconditionally.

So ummmm one could say a hard ask for both sexes?

Heading into dangerous territory:

Doesn't it make a little sense that wives would be encouraged to respect, support their husbands in love; knowing myself even not married I am sometimes apt to think oh my gosh men just don't get it, with criticism and not praise first off my lips...

Doesn't it make a little sense that men would be encouraged to give up their own self interest in favour of benefiting their wives? Oh ouch umm dare I mention the male tendency to be a little egotistic at times...

It is a little interesting how teaching on these verses has tended to focus on the first set of advice. For example "Kids Obey Your Parents" as opposed to "Parents do not exasperate your children so they do not loose heart".

I rather think if they were expounded accurately women would understand this section of scripture has nought to do with putting up with abuse. As the children obey your parent verses has nought to do with justifying child abuse.

Where in present day western secular society does authority or position let you off the hook if you abuse verbally or physically a woman? Even less in the christian case of marriage where men are entreated to treat wives as one's own body, flesh of my flesh.

I vote for a doctrine of christian marriage. I do not think headship, or dying for ones wife, in and of themselves a doctrine make.

Blessings
Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
I hope it is possible to listen to you, to hear your argument, to respect your conclusion and yet to disagree.

I cannot think of any part of my own argument that implies I do not treat you as my equal.

I hope also that you are hearing what I am saying which is not to deny the teaching on headship in the Bible but which is to try to understand what it means in the light of all biblical teaching on marriage and on the meaning of our humanity in Christ as new creation.

hogsters said...

re Ron: The Holy Spirit has a lot to answer for.....

could you unpack that statement for me a little Ron.

Thanks

blessings

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, of course it’s possible to disagree, we already do and have done for years. However, I stand by my remark which can be summed up as you know, by the expression, “Equal but different.” In other words, we are equal, but have differing roles. It follows that anyone such as yourself who sees the ‘equal’ part of that equation, but denies the responsibility of the ‘headship’ part of it .. cannot in my opinion, be trusted with any other sort of ‘headship’ within the church.

Rosemary Behan

Anonymous said...

I understand, Dr Black. On this site no one ever appears to measure up in their comments to the depth of your thinking. Expanding Fr Smith’s quote of you, in no discussion here have I ever seen anyone quite demonstrate adequately enough for you to change any opinion you hold.

If Mrs Behan quotes the Bible, then she holds an excessive European masculine sense of rationality. If Fr Smith repudiates this excessive European masculine sense of rationality then he is not prepared to dig deeply enough into his hermeneutical tradition.

If I laud them both for their differing consistency, then such a celebration of difference can never be as simple as I try to make out.

I would stand with Kurt and Fr Smith, or with Rosemary Behan, on both gays and women - simple though that may be, there appears a consistency there that your having-your-cake-AND-eating-it has never quite demonstrated adequately enough for me or many others to understand sufficiently to find ourselves in agreement with you on both.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Jean, I appreciate your post as I read it more carefully a second time. With regards 'headship,' have you any indication anywhere in Scripture that women should exercise it? Or that it should be shared?

Jean said...

Hi Anonymous,

As far as I know the verse in question is the only one that seems to appear as saying the man is the head of the women, and it is referring to the context of marriage - but I have not searched so there may be others. I also think one has to be a little wise about defining what being the head of something or headship entails in the fullness of the light of what Jesus models as the head of the church.

On other posts I have indicated my view in regards to women being a leader in the church and this is that I am totally for it if they are called by God to do so, but with all who are called to leadership in the church I see their positions as subject to the authority of Christ. I have not come across any verses when examined carefully indicate women should not be in leadership in the church.

In terms of analogy that which is used in the marriage situation; the church the bride and Jesus the bridegroom. The head position in relationship to the church is Jesus, and his sacrificial love is evident. In my reckoning that places all of humanity (male and female) in the place of chosen submission to Him because of this Love.

Cheers
Jean

Jean said...

Dear Anonymous again : )

Just to back up my analogy the 'followers of the Way' in the NT are often addressed as brothers and sisters which is appropriate if Jesus is the Head, following alongside the connection between Christ and His church and marriage, which if scripture deems a mystery I am unlikely to fully discern.

Brothers and sisters as an address gives a sense of an equality or lack of hierachy based on gender because siblings are on the same level in family placement, even given cultural interpretations of males being more valuable, the 'in Christ' reference often added to the end of this statement adds another degree of equality (for all are equal 'in Christ).

Hence, this is why I believe careful research into the few scriptures where Paul infers women are not to teach has been undertaken.

Paul uses the address of brothers and sisters numerous times. And directly addresses his brothers and sisters in the context of the following two scriptures which speak for themselves:

"27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts."

"14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. "

These scriptures do not say but assume all aspects of spiritual gifts and positions are available to women and men alike as the scriptures are addressed to both. This assumption almost carries a stronger case for equality of headship whether you include being an apostle, or teaching or preaching or... or as church headship; as it implies it was not even deemed necessary to justify the inclusion of women.

Father Ron Smith said...

"re Ron: The Holy Spirit has a lot to answer for.....

could you unpack that statement for me a little Ron." - Hogster -

Well, hogster, as bearer of the ultimate Truth, the Holy Spirit has lots to answer for - but not to - Her recipients. After all, Jesus did not tell his apostles that" When the Spirit comes (the Spirit) will lead you into all Truth" - the extent of which Jesus spells out pretty clearly. The Spirit is still performing that task of ongoing revelation. There is more yet to come!

As the Church is bidden we pray: "Come, Holy Spirit, kindle within us the fire of your Love" - not the fire of your judgement!

Father Ron Smith said...

"So I would not apply head or headship to a context outside of marriage. I believe in women being leaders within God's Church in all senses of the word." - Jean

Thank you, Jean. I believe you have the right idea. As Paul says: "In Christ, there is neither male nro female". Either Paul is right or Paul is wrong! We need to discern the truth here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jean, you have wonderfully proven that women are fully equal, not that I doubted it you understand. That Jesus loved women completely, extravagantly and without reservation, He proved over and over. Being God, He also knew how brave women were and are, and that their loyalty is above and beyond that of many of the male gender. It was women who went to the tomb for example. So why didn’t He choose any women to be His Disciples?

To answer that, I go back to the earliest chapters of Genesis, to discover why He created women in the first place.

Rosemary Behan

Anonymous said...

Jane, Ron, and Rosemary are quite correct, contra Bryden, Jean, and Peter. Either you follow the Bible consistently as interpreted for 2,000 years on ordaining women, marriage, and divorce (etc), OR you follow the movement of the Spirit on these things. You cannot change methodology from following the Bible as understood in the tradition when you like those things and then switching to the movement of the Spirit when you don’t.

Josh

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Josh,
Could you please point us to where commenters here have made their views known on matters such as divorce, wearing of head coverings in church, the meaning of communion bread and wine and the recital of psalms in worship services. These are matters on which some churches have consistently interpreted the Bible for 2000 years. Before being consigned to the category you consign me, I would like greater assurance that those not in my category really really deserve the approval you give them.

Incidentally, while it is mildly interesting that you play 'judge of the commenters', I am interested in your own views on these matters. Do you, for instance, subscribe to Paul's system of care for widows in 1 Timothy? I have never found an opponent of the ordination of women who supports that scheme!

Alternatively, have you sold all your possessions and given them to the poor? It is fascinating the number of Christians who feel the Spirit is not leading them in that scriptural direction.

To be fair to those who claim the Spirit is leading them in a progressive direction concerning homosexuality, I mostly find they resist notions that the Spirit is also leading them in a progressive direction on abortion or the restoration of capital punishment for heinous crimes.

In short, I suggest that interpreters of the Bible are not so easily divided into two groups as you suggest.

Anonymous said...

Anti-male-only-headship-in-church Jean claims

“Paul uses the address of brothers and sisters numerous times. And directly addresses his brothers and sisters in the context of the following two scriptures which speak for themselves:

"27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts."

"14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. "

***

Actually, Jean, the two scriptures which you quote don’t speak for themselves in the way you suggest AT ALL. You have used a politically-correct translation. Contra your claim that Paul uses the address of brothers and sisters numerous times, I cannot think of a SINGLE example when he uses language such as adelphos kai adelphē . Can you in fact find a single case from the New Testament period when adelphoi refers to the gender-neutral rendering you assume is Paul’s meaning?! The only cases found are when a brother-sister pair was referred to. Only when we would say, "they are brother and sister," could the Greek write "they areadelphoi."

In fact your approach makes nonsense of the New Testament, particularly in the discussion about the place of women in church. You would translate 1 Corinthians 14:39 as "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy," making complete nonsense of the nearby verses 34-35 where he says "women should keep silent in the churches" and "it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

So I repeat: either follow Ron or follow Rosemary – you cannot have it both ways merely based on your own whim and the (mis)translation that agrees with your whim.

Josh

Anonymous said...

"In short, I suggest that interpreters of the Bible are not so easily divided into two groups as you suggest." Peter Carrell

You are merely affirming my point, Peter!

Picking and choosing which passages you want to follow the Bible and which passages you want to ignore what the Bible states certainly results in more than two groups!

Josh

Anonymous said...

Here is what you say Peter ..

The interesting observation about Sandy Grant and Sarah Colyer's contributions to the debate to which I have discussed above is that they more or less teach the doctrine of mutuality in marriage while straining to retain the subject heading of 'headship'. They are half way there :)

How many years have you known me Peter? And how many years have I spoken about my belief in equality AND headship? And yet you can say 'they are half way there?' Why pick on Josh, I keep telling you that there are MANY such as myself around. If we need teaching, then debate the issue.

Rosemary Behan

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh
A friendly warning: if you continue to use words such as "whim" to describe the views of another commenter, I will not publish your comment. Everyone here is seeking to follow Jesus, to live out the gospel in the light of both Scripture and the exigencies of life. No one here is representing a position which is based on a 'whim'.
You are entitled to think differently as you characterise the views of members of the body of Christ but you always have the opportunity of starting your own blog to do so if you do not meet the criteria here of respectful conversation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh
Your 4.27 pm comment is witty and I like wit. However you are not addressing the issue which I may not have spelled out clearly: it is not obvious to me that all commenters here are so consistent that they deserve the accolade of being placed in a group of consistent interpreters of Scripture. We simply do not know enough of each others views of Scripture to be able to determine that.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I was commenting on the articles I linked to. Please do not extrapolate from that comment to a conclusion I am drawing about all people who hold views either the same as or similar to your own. As a matter of fact I find your views to have a distinctive quality which I do not always see in others holding similar views!

Yes, I am happy to 'pick on Josh': not because he holds a view on X (he has conspicuously, until his 4.13 pm comment, omitted to tell us his views) but because he makes the claim that he knows which groups people can be assigned to as interpreters of Scripture.

Jean said...

Hi Rosemary

From all appearances of scripture it seems in Genesis God decided it was not good for man to be alone, but there was not a suitable help-meet (a being who was of equal worth (meet) ) who could assist him (help) with the responsibilities? God intended for him.

So God formed a women in His image, out of a man's rib, and named her she-man. Male and Female he created them. So they are both in the image of God but have different natures.

Probably this is not very different from how you would see things?

I guess where we may differ is in the interpretation is I see women in this sense created to help men by carrying out the same (sharing the load) tasks/responsibilites men have been given, whereas you may interpret it as women helping the men to acheive the tasks (I do not intend to put words in your mouth it is just a calculated guess).

Bearing in mind overaching theme is God didn't think it was good for man to be alone, without company of equal stature. ]

I am all for acknowledging women and men in many cases have complemenatry nature's in terms of what naturally suits their make-up. However, looking at different couples this can vary. Sometimes the man manages the finances for a family, in other cases the woman seems better at it; sometimes as per one couple I know here the man is more home orientated so he chooses to look after the daughter while his wife can't think of not working.

For me it is the same experience in the church, mostly in my experience women don't gravitate to wanting to speak in public or take on the responsibility of leadership but some do and are called to.

Blessings
Jean

Jean said...

Hi Josh

'Tis a whim and a prayer.

Admittedly I have not studied Greek or Hebrew so rely mainly on modern translations of the bible and my friend google. I think Peter would be better equiped to contend on any issues where language is in question, however, this is my attempt at a response.

I believe the word for brother which you used in greek which was used in the passages I referred to can means bretheren (but can also mean brother) or more broadly in the time it was written christians or those who were followers of the way. Hence I guess the translation used in the current NIV bible 'brothers and sisters' is used as with the understanding that we are all brothers and sisters IN Christ.

One could argue brethern may only mean men but then it would be necessary to conceed that such verses as:

Mat 7:5
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

also apply only to men and not to women.

I interpret the Holy Spirit leading us into truth as being the personal conviction of the truth about who Christ is (primarily), and also helping us (as He too is a helper) to understand what is rightfully meant in scripture, and also being God's conduit for His word to us in the present time. Therefore, I see no difference between Ron referring to us listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church and Rosemary's use of scripture to form understanding. Hopefully they both use both!

I do not think oh I will look at something this way because it has been done so for 2000 years, neither do I look at at think the modern interpretation is this therefore I will go along with it because it fits in with todays thinking.

I like to understand, so I examine scripture in light of other scripture and in light of my own personal experiences of Christ through the Holy Spirit. And then I like to make my conclusions. And also like Bryden I am open to changing my conclusions or opinions because I am not God and I make mistakes.

NB; I follow neither Rosemary nor Ron I follow Christ.

Blessings (from the one who believes Christ is the Head of the Church)
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

" It was women who went to the tomb for example. So why didn’t He choose any women to be His Disciples?" - Rosemary

Jesus may not have named any women among his 12 disciples - perhaps because (as was the case with Mary of Magdala, though sent by jesus to tell the male disciples of his resurrection, they would not believe her) - they would not have been taken seriously in that patriarchal society. It took Paul - later, after his personal conversion - to admit that, "in Christ, there is neither male nor female - all are Baptized into the One Spirit".

However, in being 'sent' (apostello) by Jesus to tell the Good News to the male disciples, many in the Church believe that Mary M. became an 'Apostle', as well as a disciple, of Jesus.

At its base, the word disciple means a devoted follower. I'm sure there were many such among the women of Jesus' day


Anonymous said...

Peter, Pope St John Paul II refers to this passage from Ephesians in Mulieris Dignitatem and speaks of mutual subjection of the spouses out of reverence for Christ. I appreciate that this is not an RC blog, but I suspect that those of us with long joyous Christian marriages don't need much of the theory from Sydney or Rome. I hope people are praying for the Middle East instead!!! Nick.

Anonymous said...

My apologies, Peter, for using “whim” if it means to you not seeking to follow Jesus (etc). I was using it in the sense of “inclination”.

Whilst you mock my 4.27 pm comment, reducing it to witty, I am merely categorising broadly into approaches by the self-declaration of the commenters. Rosemary appears to me to declare herself in the Bible-alone position, Bryden in the now-Bible-now-Spirit category. If I have mistakenly viewed a commenter in the wrong category, again I apologise.

Jean, I think you are drawing a long bow from Matthew 7:5 to we can ignore the New Testament teaching on the role of women in church. We have no right to mistranslate adelphos in Mt 7:5 unless we have strong evidence that adelphos can mean “sister”. We do not have such evidence. Greek has a perfectly good word for “sister”.

Josh

Jean said...

Hi Josh

Rather than advocating brother in Matthew 7:5 be replaced with brother and sister, I was using it is as an example to illustrate how the word brother can be interpreted as brethren, which in the christian sense applies to all believers (as I believe its meaning is intended to be in a number of Paul's writings).

For example when Jesus tells his family that these (his followers are his family) a direct translation would be Jesus saying to his mother, 'these are my mother and brothers', hopefully I am justified in thinking there may have been a few single women present and the word brethren or brothers as also including women, may actually be more accurate in the sense of intended meaning.

Would you not agree the verse on removing the speck in you own eye applies to all christians?

Or agree that Jesus was most lkely saying to His mother that He sees His followers as family... mother and brother and sisters...?

One could look at many uses of the word brother used by Paul in verses where one would hope are also to be applied to/folllowed by women.

The same type of concept - the fellowhsip of all believers - is supported by Romans 12:5 which is amongs the verses I originally referred to which once again proceeds the gifts given by the spirit including being an apostle, 'the body of christ' :
"5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."

With your obvious knowledge of and interest in the origin of words would you consider women to be included as part of the "one body in Christ?".

Blessings
Jean

Jean said...

Hi Ron/Rosemary,

I agree with Ron's summation of women and why they were not called to be disciples. A more accurate rendition is they were not called to be one of the original 12 disciples.

Ron offers one possible reason for this which makes sense, just talking to a woman put Jesus in the radical category. There could be multiples reasons, including Jesus task was to bring forth the Kingdom of God, it didn't come in all fullness until after his death on the cross where believers become one with Christ and co-heirs.

Rosemary I think it is also important to consider we do not know when the bible refers to to say the 70 disciples that women were not included in this bunch.

It is self evident women have since become disciples of Christ, and even like the original 12 less Judas plus one; and Paul even apostles.

Cheers
Jean

Jean said...

And Nick I totally agree the persecuted church may roll their eyes at the things we spend our time on!

As J Lee Grady recounts:

One evening after a meeting with these humble Chinese leaders, I returned to my hotel room and discovered two of the female leaders waiting at my door with a translator. "They would like you to pray for them," the translator said. "Are you pastors or evangelists?" I asked, hoping to better understand their needs. They smiled and replied, "Yes." "How many churches do you oversee?" I inquired. The translator pointed to the woman on the left. "This one oversees 2,000 churches, and this other one oversees 5,000 churches," he said.

I was stunned. Some denominations in the United States are still arguing about whether a woman can stand behind a pulpit, I said to myself. Meanwhile, women in China are engaging in dangerous missions and governing thousands of new churches. There's something wrong with this picture!

MichaelA said...

"including the unprecedented (in my experience) of seeing a Sydney blogger backtrack!"

It happens all the time Peter, but only when those opposing have the knowledge of and respect for scripture to explain where the blogger went wrong. Think about that.

"ORIGINAL Down Under internet trawlers over the last week or so might have noticed that SMH journalist Julia Baird has led something of a calling out on the doctrine of male headship/female submission, a doctrine which, diplomatically, we will say is not unknown nor un-taught in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney"

I have indeed noticed that Julia has written articles that are factually inaccurate and give the appearance of being more concerned with the debate over headship doctrine than about DV itself.

This is hardly surprising - anyone on the ground here knows that those who believe in headship doctrine are at the forefront of real pastoral work to prevent DV.

MichaelA said...

Peter wrote:

"These are matters on which some churches have consistently interpreted the Bible for 2000 years."

"Some churches" is not what Josh wrote - you could at least do him the courtesy of responding to his point. The ordination of women is a very recent innovation by a few churches - that alone is a pretty clear warning that those who believe in it are just twisting the scriptures to allow them the comfort of conforming with the spirit of the age.

That of course is not our primary argument - we hold that the scriptural teaching is clear in itself. But the argument from church history provides an important warning.

"A friendly warning: if you continue to use words such as "whim" to describe the views of another commenter, I will not publish your comment."

The word "whim" was entirely appropriate. Josh's point was that Jean was picking and choosing the arguments she used without being consistent in her methodology. As her put it - you can follow Ron or you can follow Rosemary, but you can't *consistently* follow both. That is a perfectly appropriate and reasonable argument to put. I note that Jean did not attempt to evade it, but answered it, and quite well I thought.

"Yes, I am happy to 'pick on Josh': not because he holds a view on X (he has conspicuously, until his 4.13 pm comment, omitted to tell us his views) but because he makes the claim that he knows which groups people can be assigned to as interpreters of Scripture."

Such judgments are made regularly on ADU - people categorise others all the time. I am at a loss as to why it was an issue here.

MichaelA said...

Jean, you quoted J Lee Grady:

"They would like you to pray for them," the translator said. "Are you pastors or evangelists?" I asked, hoping to better understand their needs. They smiled and replied, "Yes." "How many churches do you oversee?" I inquired. The translator pointed to the woman on the left. "This one oversees 2,000 churches, and this other one oversees 5,000 churches," he said.

This statement is inherently unlikely, not to say impossible, unless these ladies belong to the Communist endorsed official church. There is also a significant issue about meanings and translations. I would be far more interested in hearing from someone who has actually studied the church in China, rather than from a noted partisan for women's ordination giving a third hand version of one conversation through a translator.

In any case, what does it prove? Let's suppose that these two ladies are in fact occupying the position of chief pastor, i.e. bishop of 2,000 congregations and 5,000 congregations each, how does it support your point?

It would show that those churches are being disobedient to scripture, but what is new about that?

MichaelA said...

"A more accurate rendition is they were not called to be one of the original 12 disciples."

They weren't ever called to be apostles, that is the point.

"Ron offers one possible reason for this which makes sense..."

No it doesn't. Society had not changed when Paul wrote, and he taught the same as Jesus - the gospel is preached to all, men or women, slave or free, but only men are called to be church leaders.

"It is self evident women have since become disciples of Christ"

Of course - nobody has argued otherwise.

"and even like the original 12 less Judas plus one; and Paul even apostles."

No, they never did. hence why there is no reason to doubt Paul's clear command that only men may be bishops and priests.

Bryden Black said...

[Apologies for this tardy response; but serious computer glitches demanded addressing ...]

Thanks again as ever Rosemary for your further reply [March 12, 2015 at 9:38 PM]. My own approaches now from another angle first up.

A. I fully appreciate many in the Church, lay folk and clergy, feel betrayed one way or another by their ecclesiastical organization and its members. Their sense of betrayal hurts and the wounds often seem to fester. So; I get it! Yes; I do! Over the years when I meet such good people, I have developed a question for them: what kind of support might you be seeking from me? Naturally, part of any answer will depend upon the nature of the hurt. And there’s more ... But I think you might be getting my drift. For I have a similar question of you specifically: what might constitute actual support in your case? I ask, as I am on record (here on ADU and elsewhere) saying you have the right to the doctrinal view you wish to hold regarding “headship”. Just as I too have the right to oppose it - and express my own, and others’, sense of offence with regards to it. Yet, I think you think things like OW are ‘second order’ matters (correct me if I’m wrong). Otherwise, why would you have remained in this form of ecclesial organization? On the other hand, I have heard people like Peter Jensen state same-sex relationships are a first order concern because such behaviour impinges upon salvation. So; I get that too! And I am well aware as well that the St Michael Report from Canada tried to suggest ss matters were not “core”, as in not creedal - even though they are not merely “pastoral” since the doctrine of marriage is directly implicated; so, somewhere in between. I get that too - but seriously disagree, since I have come to view it as not just affecting the doctrine of marriage, but ss matters reflect an essential Christian anthropology and beyond that an appreciation of Imago Dei and so things Trinitarian. I.e. we are back to the Creed. [And just to complete the picture: for RCC there is no distinction between matters of faith and matters of order, as there is for many a Protestant. It is a matter of faith that the episcopacy is in due apostolic succession, just as there is the Petrine Office and that it is found in the Bishop of Rome. All these things are articles of faith - even as there might still be some ‘hierarchy of truths’ in RCC.]

Why rehearse this with you now? To underscore we are in ‘heated agreement’ Rosemary about so very much!

Bryden Black said...

B. Back now to the details of your response, Rosemary. The first “red herring” is with respect no such thing. It highlights a basic hermeneutical and exegetical stance by the Sydney Diocese. How we ‘read’ Scripture is far more than merely a ‘head’ thing. It is furthermore directly linked, I sense, therefore with how they ‘read’ such matters as 1 Cor 11 and Ephesians, and so “headship”. It’s all about the “spectacles people wear on the ends of their noses”. In a way, not too dissimilar to your own mention that people - other people - elide the Ed Shaws of this world (some of whom I too BTW know ... and support directly!) and OW concerns. BUT that is their problem not mine: for each issue should be taken on its own merits - even as each will of course be governed by common hermeneutical assumptions, since that is what it means (once more) to be human, for Sydney/myself/yourself. And my own assumptions include the requirement, the acknowledgement there is no such thing as naked human experience; all our experience comes preloaded, as it were, with understanding; there is ever only experience-cum-understanding. The thing therefore is to be able to better evaluate our understanding of our experience. That means to dig and to dig again ... This is not bombast! It is but the call to vocational Christian conversion, and is the reason I am so fond of citing that fulcrum pair of verses from Rom 12:1-2 (which incidentally uses the NT Catechetical form as well, and so is absolutely basic to how the NT saw Christian formation and discipleship).

So; Rosemary. I seriously trust you may be able to share the fellowship of Christ’s suffering with dignity and freedom, to know therefore the joy that comes from sharing in the Gospel. For in the end, that is the true Offence, as we seek to lay no other obstacle before “men” as we present Christ Crucified, the Wisdom of God and the Power of God for those who believe. (ref Phil and 1 & 2 Cor)

Bryden Black said...

Welcome aboard Jane; good to see you become a participant as opposed to merely an observer. That said, I’d appreciate a better rendering of the position you try to claim as my having-my-cake-and-eating-it-too. Your mix-and-match/cut-and-paste methodology (in classic postmodern bricolage style) confuses and distorts the lines of argument originally presented. Just so ...

1. Firstly, the charismatic/Pentecostal. I do not know how familiar you are with this tradition. My singular ‘beef’ with Sydney Diocese on the one hand and the likes of Ron on the other goes like this. The NT Scriptures clearly show “the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4) at work, “manifesting” (1 Cor 12) a rich variety of phenomena as the New Age of the Messiah, Jesus, breaks into the world God is redeeming. Where however does the NT state these phenomena are to cease? Trying to claim they have stopped after the closing of the apostolic canon, for example, simply does not do justice to Church history. For example, the jubilatione or congregational singing in tongues, mentioned by the likes of Augustine in the early 5th C, was still extant in the 7th in the East. Some musicologists see a link between this practice and the emergence of the chant of plain song. All the while too other phenomena are often mentioned in the writings of Church leaders: Thomas Aquinas, St David of Wales, Teresa of Avila. So; we do not have to wait until Azusa Street, 1903, to say Pentecostal phenomena have been ‘alive and well’ for centuries in the Church. Though of course, the start of the 20th C did witness a new form of the Wind of the Spirit blowing through the Church.

All of which meanwhile has its twin, its corresponding lode-star, the NT Scriptures. Because these phenomena are in the pages of the NT, the entire 20th C Pentecostal Movement and its spilling over into the mainline churches of the 1960s is able to claim to be “biblical”(with due discernment, as mentioned previously). The difficulty with the likes of Ron is just this: his and others’ claims to be able to discern ‘the movement of the Spirit’ in certain contemporary ‘movements’ needs to be corroborated by the written testimony of Scripture, if it is to warrant as being duly “Christian”. The trouble however is this: the NT Scriptures are steadfast in their condemnation of, for example, same-sex behaviour. That is why I have myself steadfastly deduced such claims as Ron’s to be expressive of the Zeitgeist rather than of the Holy Spirit, who is the ultimate Author of Scripture. Where Scripture has been brought to bear upon the subject - as with Robin Scroggs for example - the claim is made that such passages as 1 Cor 6 or Rom 1 are rather addressing phenomena unknown in the NT cultural context. Supposedly therefore the plain sense of the Scripture is rendered null and void in the face of what passes for contemporary ‘experience-and-understanding’. Frankly, I’d side with the likes of Thiselton’s NT exegesis over that of Scroggs any day - once one examines their actual arguments and data.

Bryden Black said...

2. And now for the Ordination of Women (OW). Such matters are never decided by the lauding of a text or two. That was why I mentioned the Arian controversy of the 4th C. For example, what are we to make of the likes of Mk 10:18 or Jn 14:28? [Sure; at this point enter into the discussion an entire recent agenda that would instill an essential subordinationism into the Triune Godhead. For which please simply read Kevin Giles’ excellent rebuttal!] Instead, one has to seek to discover the basic grammar of the story that is the cosmic redemption of Yahweh through Israel’s Messiah and the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Mutatis mutandis, the same applies to “headship”. In the first place, once more I’d refer to Thiselton and now his magisterial commentary on 1 Corinthians, notably his rendering of ch.11, which is where the matter of headship first emerges. Yet, there is also a vast amount of textual material to be incorporated into the discussion of male-female relations in general: Luke’s Gospel; the famous Gal 3:28, and the sheer logic of the overturning of the “curses” of Gen 3 by means of Messiah’s own “curse on the tree”; the primordial foundation of Imago Dei in Gen 1:26-30 and its relationship with the Gen 2 Creation Story; the list is long in fact. So that when we come to the material of Ephesians, with its seemingly ‘plain reading’ of “headship”, in similar fashion to the 4th C we need to ask: how does all this gel together? What does the coherent whole look like? At root, in the New Creation established in Jesus, what is a due Christian anthropology?

The upshot will be a richer anthropology, especially vis-à-vis male-female relationships, than Rosemary seems to allow. While naturally the notions of “equality” and “mutuality” will be to the fore, such differentiation of “roles” that may exist will also preclude any notion of “headship” as popularly perceived, any notion of priority and/or “submission” (NB this is the first time I have used this last word). On the contrary, the climax of being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18, a plural imperative) will be just as it states, “mutual submission” (v.21, the climax of the string of participles in Greek, 19-21), the condition that exemplifies and embodies the fulsome kenotic relationships among ALL the Persons of the Trinity, in Whose image humankind is made - “male and female created He them” - and who are together being renewed and fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

All in all, welcome once again Jane! Power to your own exegetical prowess; and above all else, dig into your own hermeneutical presuppositions - and enjoy, especially as you evaluate this process according to Rom 12:1-2, and the entire NT Catechism.

Jean said...

Hi Michael

Did Paul really command men only to be apostles or church leaders or did he outline instructions about the character traits of leaders/overseers with reference to men?

Junia was a woman and an Apostle and a contemporary of Paul.

It appears to me that it is God who assigns gifts to the different parts of the body (do not all are to eagerly desire the greater gifts the number one which is listed is to be an Apostle), and the manifestations of the spirit are given through the Spirit. It also appears these are available both gifts and manifestations to all who form Christ's body:

"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."

It is what I have witnessed in my own Christian journey to be the case.

As for China. Since it appears the church in general there don't subscribe to only men being leaders; around 50% of their pastors in the official and unofficial churches combined are women, with around 60 million +christians in china, 80% women. It seems lets say at least 50 million Christians give or take 10 million just in case there are a few who disagree, by your reckoning are incorrectly interpreting scripture; and this is a land which perhaps has the fastest growing christian population. A population who suffer constantly for their faith, treat the bible as gold, and biblical learning and prayer as paramount, and risk their lives in spreading the Gospel. How could they be right and you possibly be wrong?

Cheers
Jean

Anonymous said...

Jean, firstly you are mixing together what Jesus actually said in the Bible and how we might apply that, say, in a sermon. You are reading back from the sermon-application to a completely different text and context!

As a different example, to help understand the issue of your confusion, all Christians might identify with something Peter does in the Gospel, but then you cannot just go and replace “Peter” with “all Christians”! In Jesus’ words and context, specks and logs are in men’s eyes (not a lot of women carpenters in his day and culture!). We might apply his point to women as well, but you cannot leap directly from that to argue for women leading church services!

As to your second point, you say: “when Jesus tells his family that these (his followers are his family) a direct translation would be Jesus saying to his mother, 'these are my mother and brothers'”. Actually, when I look at the original text (adelphos kai adlelphe), a direct translation is, contra you, “my brother, and sister, and mother”!

You are merely affirming my point, Jean! And undermining your own!

Josh

Father Ron Smith said...

"No it doesn't. Society had not changed when Paul wrote, and he taught the same as Jesus - the gospel is preached to all, men or women, slave or free, but only men are called to be church leaders"
- MichaelA -

When I was a small boy, during the 2nd World War in England, I remember one of my favourite characters from ITMA was the one who made great statements, which he defied anyone to refute - always ending with his signature sign; "Funf has spoken".

This statement of Michael's, above, sounds very much in the same vein. Just because you make a statement, it is not necessarily infallible - for any of us.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
A few responses which is not a claim to response to all issues addressed to me (having trouble keeping up).

1. I am trying to distinguish between claiming that a commenter tackles issue X differently to Y (a fair point of argument) and claiming that some commenters on XYZ etc are consistent and other commenters on XYZ etc are inconsistent (an unfair claim when we do not, in fact, know how consistent commenters would be if we knew about their views on Z let alone "etc."
2. I am amazed that a caveat is placed on translating "adelphoi" as "brothers and sisters." We are heading for very difficult territory if Paul is addressing only one gender in his general remarks to whole congregations.
3. I am surprised that people presumably from a Protestant background are troubled by the ordination of women overturning 2000 years of church practice: what was the Reformation if it was not the church overturning (or turning its back on) 500/1000/1500 perhaps (re orders of ministry) 1900 years of church practice?
4. I am also surprised by Protestants treat Scripture itself as offering rock solid, unchangeable, clear teaching on order in ministry when Protestants across our width treat Scripture as offering flexibility on ministry order so that Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, non-episcopal Lutheran, Lutheran/Anglicans and Plymouth Brethren all understand Scripture to understand their differing understandings of order.

Jean said...

Hi Josh

Ha, ha you got me with your second point!

As for the first I am glad Jesus was only addressing men, and us christian women don't have to be too concerned we see fault with others rather than the bigger faults in ourselves : )

Does the masculine plural include the feminine plural in the bible as it does in many writings using the greek language? Peter might be able to help me out there.

So Brethren might refer to males and females, like guys today refers to men and women?

And was it common in the greek use of language to use a singular example to generically illustrate a point that applies to all sexes - e.g. an overseer should be a man of one wife; and that the example use was often of a man?

As per Leviticus 14 which outlines how to treat a male leper (with no example being given for how to treat female lepers). Although we may assume there were female lepers, actually I think the previous chapter says there were.

Here I think we might be getting into what Peter asked us not to, exegesis?, but I am not overly sure of the meaning of that word either - smile.

Enjoy your week
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for clarifying the issue of how Church Order had actually changed - in accordance with what has been clearly revealed as the growing understanding of gender issues.

Mary's conception of Jesus raised the feminine to a status hitherto unknown to the world of organised religion under the Abrahamic tradition. For a woman to become so intimately connected with the Holy Spirit of God as to give birth to the Son of God might well be called a priestly activity - bringing forth the Word of God in her womb.

Anonymous said...

Dr Black’s methodology is focused more clearly by his use of phrases such as, “I have come to view”, and “I have myself steadfastly deduced”. It certainly is “all about the “spectacles people wear on the ends of their noses”” – that was the very point I was making! To underscore we are in ‘heated agreement’ Dr Black about so very much!

Please allow that others have themselves steadfastly deduce quite different conclusions, and have come to view things otherwise. That includes those who bring a more straightforward reading of the biblical texts (a la Mrs Behan), and those who see a similarity between the development on women in leadership and homosexual committed couples (a la Fr Smith). [Is it fair to say/ask if Mrs Behan, like Fr Smith, also sees that similarity, but consistently comes to the opposite position on both?]

What we view, and what we steadfastly deduce from that viewing, is dependent on the spectacles we choose to do that viewing.

Jane

Anonymous said...

My Sunday’s are a little busy, my apologies to all for being late in replying.

First Peter, your comment at 6:32 on March 14th. Sorry Peter, but the remark you made was both patronising and disparaging .. strange when you say that you view women as equals in all things wouldn’t you say? IMHO, you owe an apology to Sandy and Sarah, whoever they are, and perhaps need to consider whether you are ‘half way right?’

Jean .. your post March 14 at 8:15. The word ‘helpmeet’ is used three times in the Bible, but only there with regard to women. The other two times it refers to God Himself. It’s where we get the words to the hymn, “O God our help in ages past.” It appears to me that God has given us a task that is huge, difficult and extremely important. With regard to the rest of your remarks, I have tried very carefully to listen to His words [plural meaning the Trinity] rather than the experiences of sinful mankind.
With regard to your post on 15th March at 9:24am. Hmm, I don’t really know where to start. The Kingdom of God still isn’t here in all it’s fullness Jean, it won’t be until He comes again. At the moment, we still see through a glass darkly, even though the Holy Spirit illuminates parts when we are ready to hear it .. perhaps it’s sufficient if I just say that to help you re-think some matters. I have absolutely no problem that women are Jesus’ Disciples, I’m one myself.

Bryden, in response to your two posts .. I don’t seek any support from you Bryden, my husband is quite sufficient. You and I have debated this issue before, so I don’t seek your support either. I simply state my views .. which are contrary to your own. God doesn’t make two blades of grass the same!


Rosemary Behan

Bryden Black said...

"What we view, and what we steadfastly deduce from that viewing, is dependent on the spectacles we choose to do that viewing." - Jane

But the great thing about being human is the possibility ALSO both to view those "spectacles" (to a real degree) and to thereafter be able to change them, to a significant degree. Otherwise the entire business of "conversion" wld be an empty game.

So; once more, there's the need to examine how we have come to deduce certain matters. It seems that you have still to declare your hand - being content to hover merely in the methodological wings and not actually land ... An adage by Bernard Shaw comes to mind.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I am sorry you found those remarks patronising and disparaging: that was far from my intention because I do find your views distinctive. Precisely distinctive in terms of your emphasis on the theme of 'helper' (as you have mentioned here in this stream of comments). That is not something I am generally finding in reading what others write about headship. So, yes, I do distinguish your views from other views. I disagree with you on the implications you draw out of the theme of 'helper' but I do not disparage or disrespect that view.

Jean said...

Hi Rosemary

Thanks for your reply.

I agree totally with the regard with which the term helper/help meet/help is held, and am aware it has been used of God and the Holy Spirit, as our help/hellper. To this end I do not hold to the position of women being also called by God on occasion to leadership within the church, as it being by any means because a person as a leader is more superior than any other - for who can be personally exalted by a gift God has given in the first place : ).

I also hold in highest respect above many of my friends, two married women who have seen it as their calling to assist their husbands in their occupations, one a minister, the other a professor.

With regard to the Kingdom of God I also agree. It has not fully come on earth. However, with Christ's death I believe we are able throuogh our restored relationship with God in Christ to be members even co-heirs of God's Kingdom spanning earth and heaven. Hence, things changed with God's transforming power through Christ, not least that we are able to live under Grace and Truth by the Spirit rather than be slaves again to the Law.

So although we differ now in our understanding, I to in sincerity pray the Holy Spirit may convict us of the truth as we continue to work out our salvation.

Go well,
Jean

Anonymous said...

Peter, if you are amazed at those who take care about translating adelphoi, are you similarly amazed when the Ten Commandments are translated with care to address men? Does women being able to apply the Ten Commandments to their lives give you permission to update the original to make it more in tune with our current cultural sensitivities?

In all the examples that spring to mind (in Euripides, Andocides, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and Epictetus, for example) the masculine plural, adelphoi, was used for a brother-sister pair. The New Testament is perfectly capable of using adelphous e adelphas (see, for example, Matthew 13:55-56; 19:29 Mark 10:29-30; Luke 14:26) NOT, as you would expect, simply adelphous.

The common visualization of the relatively recent practice of couples happily sitting together, and genders mixing in the congregation, anachronistically projected back into the New Testament period means most will nod in agreement with your amazement.

The shock to our current sensitivities (including yours) is that while the letters are addressed to mixed audiences (cf the Ten Commandments) it is probable that the author may have been thinking primarily of the men.

Josh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh
I would like to know more about 'probable that the author may have been thinking primarily of the men'.
If this means (something like) Paul writing thought as men do in a man's world and envisaged himself addressing men while not giving women in the congregations much thought (as, say, we blokes seemed to do when 'man/mankind' was in vogue in the English language), then, yes, I think 'probable' a possible estimation of the likelihood. Of course such an estimation would need to consider what was in Paul's mind re the gender he was addressing when in Philippians 4:1-2 he moves from addressing the 'brothers' to addressing Euodia and Syntyche.
If perchance such an example means that Paul was thinking of men and women in his congregations when he wrote to them then we have some probability that adelphous addressed both sexes.

But if I am wrong on these matters I then need to ask, re your remarks about anachronistically reading back our view of mixed congregational gender life back into the first century churches, what are you saying? Are you saying that women were not in church and thus not addressed when Paul's letters were read out?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter, women may have been present, and in the quote you mention, referred to. [You claim that the women in your quote are addressed directly. They are not. Their names are in the accusative case, not the vocative.]

adelphoi does not address both sexes in the manner you suggest. It is used to address a group exclusively of men (Matthew 22:25, Mark 12:20, Luke 20:29). Can you (or Jean who also contends it is gender unspecific) find a single example where it is used for a group solely of women?

Are you arguing to similarly change Deuteronomy 5:21 to “spouse”?

Josh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh
Back up the horse a little, please!
I am not contending that 'adelphoi' is gender non-specific per se, just as in older times I am sure an Englishman beginning a speech 'We need to man up' was referring directly to the men present. I am contending that the letters nevertheless were addressed in their contents to the whole congregation, a mixed gender congregation as far as I and others can tell. (Except, of course, when men were addressed re contents, women likewise). Thus I agree with NRSV and other inclusive translations when they translate adelphoi as brothers and sisters but rightly retain a footnote that makes clear that adelphoi = brothers.

I possibly might translate Deut 5:21 as spouse. I don't think my wife would be too happy about other wives coveting me :)

Anonymous said...

In what sense is the horse backing up, Peter?

You are clear you are happy to make inclusive what is originally clearly gender specific.

A group of women might use the term "we need to man up". A group of women would not have used the term adelphoi.

Josh

Jean said...

Hey Josh

With how you reason I am left trying to fathom why, my Lord who knew of what was to come, and still does, would use the Holy Spirit to inspire the writing of the Scriptures. For what desire would such writings hold or me if, being a woman, so little is relevant to me?

Per see you may so much focus on defending a branch you inadvertently place it's import above the tree itself.

Bless
Jean

Jean said...

News flash in a mixed group a woman may use the word guys, in a group of women she often uses girls.

Anonymous said...

There is a meme on this site. Whenever a discussion tends to be uncomfortable for the accept-women's-ordination-don't-marry-gays axis (and other givens) here, out comes: you are making a mountain out of a molehill; you are straining a gnat...; you are missing the wood...; and other belittling of the commenter's expertise and interest. Today's is: "you may so much focus on defending a branch you inadvertently place it's import above the tree itself". If the belittling is from anyone who challenges the axis-givens then the moderator will issue a strong warning.

Jane

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jane
As moderator here I do not see the issue you see. The comment you think is 'belittling' I think is a fair (but arguable) critique of an emphasis within recent comments on how we understand the word 'adelphoi.'

The tree (in my view) is the overall approach of the NT to women and men in the church of God, the branch is a view that 'adelphoi' means women were not being addressed. I think that is a fair point ot make. But it is arguable and I think those supporting the arguments in favour of a narrow reading of adelphoi are welcome to come back and defend their case, e.g. that the branch is not a branch but the tree itself.

Peter Carrell said...

[Josh: some kind of gremlin has inflicted itself so that the Publish button won't publish your comment. Hopefully this way will do it]

Jane [Ed: I think you mean 'Jean'?]

I'm not sure of the tone of your comment to me - are you serious or sarcastic or what?

I can find a message to me when, in the Bible, something is addressed to a Jew, a Pharisee, a woman, and so forth, although I am none of these. I distinguished the text and its application in a comment above, and I am astonished this would be new or difficult.

You and Peter want to, instead, alter the text so that where you find a message to you, your translation makes it address you explicitly (when the original didn't).

Yes I care for each branch of the tree God gives and do not think the solution is to build a different "tree" using some of the chopped-down wood from the God-given one.

Josh

Jean said...

Hi Josh

Sorry I think my tree analogy missed the mark; although Peter's interpretation was my intent - must contain that creative mind ....

"You and Peter want to, instead, alter the text so that where you find a message to you, your translation makes it address you explicitly".

1)

Finding a message to you or applying it to yourself, where something is not addressed to you.

Actually I started with that approach regarding leadership/teaching being applicable to women but my presumption was disputed on the basis that it was addressed to men only or brothers.

My comment was to illustrate where the following of a particular way of reading the Scriptures would lead to. If the basis for excluding women from being leaders in the church is because the use of text implies it is not addressed to them, only brothers, then following that logic all other verses only addressing brothers must not be applicable to women either.

2)

Alter the text - I would refer to it as dispute the intending meaning of a word.

A similar debate could be entered into around the text neither male nor female etc "for you all are Children of God" and "you are all one in Christ". The difficulty here being the words, "Children" actually literally means Son or Sons, the word all means "every person" (that is all believers), and the word "one" means 'as one person'.

So .... all are sons of God and the same in Christ.

Hence I would interpret the literal masculine text Son's to mean and address son's and daughter's, even though there was no doubt a word for daughters to. For the mention of you all, and the mention of male and female, in the surrounding text leads to this reading.

Cheers
Jean

Anonymous said...

Rosemary, if you are still reading, come to our help!

Altering what clearly means "wife" to "spouse" to make it include women in the 10 commandments is more than merely "disputing the intended meaning of a word".

Jean, if you think people base male-only-church-leadership solely on the meaning of the word adelphoi then it is you, not me, who is focusing so intently on a small branch that you are not seeing any of the rest of the tree at all!

I'm sorry, but I think I have exhausted my usefulness.

Josh

Jean said...

Hey Josh

I don't advocate you have to change the word wife to spouse (although some translations of the bible obviously do use intent as a reason to alter a word) just realise it probably applies both ways. (e.g. one hopes Do not covet your neighbours wife, applies equally to do not covet your neighbours husband, and now that may apply to men as well : ) !!).

Not to worry I have exhausted mine to.

Please note though that I never said male church leadership was based only on the word adelphoi you were the one who bought it up when question my use of brothers and sisters (which for less grammar versed me was just what was written in my bible).

If there are other foundations for your stance which Rosemary shares, which I am sure there has to be for so many to hold the view, outside of women's position within marriage and the two Pauline verses (as I think that both have been well covered in this thread and a previous one) - then I think it's worth airing them. It is always good to understand.

Blessings
Jean

Anonymous said...

Hi Josh, I’m still reading and am surprised by the length of the comments here. I’m not at all sure that I can say anything helpful, but perhaps a bit of personal history might help.

I have been pondering these issues for over 26 years. At first my response was instinctive, but slowly, I believe the Holy Spirit has led my thinking. The first time I really confronted the issue among women was at the Anglican College in Auckland, when I was told in the handbook with which we were issued, that I would be known as Ms Behan, because it was not good to be known by my relationship to a man. I insisted that I was Mrs. Behan, and very proud to be so, and so I would insist that any reference to me was to be as Mrs Behan and not Ms. As I say, that was instinctive. But I’ve got to say that if you read the Bible as a woman, [I don’t speak or read Greek, though I did do a year’s study of Hebrew] read it seriously I mean, with the help of commentators, it is a very uncomfortable read for women. All the mistakes made seem to be made by women, Jesus doesn’t choose a woman as a Disciple, we’re saved by childbirth!!! It just seems too much. Slowly I realised that God honoured us in the Old Testament with our role, what a tremendous honour He gives us. And Jesus demonstrated His love for us in the New Testament extravagantly, overwhelmingly, and that this countered a lot of the rest. But as I said above, it’s the role of women that must be discussed AND taught more frequently in churches. And taught by men, not by women. Both genders are biased of course, both genders have pressures put on them, but I would love to have what Bryden would call a ‘majesterial’ work on this subject. Just think, probably over half the people in the church are women, and their difficulties are ignored. They are instinctively loyal to Jesus, often completely without knowledge as to why. The equality theme is really no help at all, just puts a lot of pressure on women to be more than God calls them to be. I think I too may have outlived my usefulness. Most of the male commenters here cannot hear me, and yet obviously feel superior to me. One has been extremely rude to me in public, I suppose I’m a little tired.

Rosemary Behan

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
In case I am one of the 'most male commenters' I continue to say that I do hear you.

If I have come across as 'superior' I regret that and apologise for it.

It is as an equal that I continue to disagree with you on some points.

(I agree with you on other points: e.g. from above, yes, it would be important to discuss the role of women, and, yes, it would be good to have a majesterial work on the matter).

MichaelA said...

"This statement of Michael's, above, sounds very much in the same vein."

As do most of yours, Fr Ron. Pot, kettle, black, much?

When your response to my statements is purely ad hominem, all you do is send a signal that you don't feel able to respond to my actual points.

"Just because you make a statement, it is not necessarily infallible - for any of us."

Since I have never claimed otherwise, why bother to write this? I have set out my position unambiguously – if you can show reasoning as to why it is incorrect, then feel free to respond. That is the purpose of debate.

MichaelA said...

Hi Jean:

1. "Did Paul really command men only to be apostles or church leaders or did he outline instructions about the character traits of leaders/overseers with reference to men?"

I appreciate it is tempting to say about any part of the bible that challenges us, "Did God really say…?" It’s a question with a long pedigree. :)

But the answer is not difficult – Paul says in plain language that he is referring only to men. In fact, its difficult to see how he could be any more clear about it:

2. "An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient." [Titus 1:6]

In Greek its even more clear: "A [male] elder must be blameless, a man of one woman, a man whose children believe…" etc. Each of those words are male-only. If Paul had wanted to talk about "spouses" and "people", there are ways in Greek he could have done so.

I don't see why we should see ambiguity in these words, any more than we should see ambiguity in Paul's requirements that elders and bishops should be hospitable, self-controlled, not addicted to wine, not pursuers of money etc. He is just stating what criteria the churches should apply. Some are qualities, some are gender, some are matters of history.

3. "Junia was a woman and an Apostle and a contemporary of Paul."

I agree that there is ambiguity in the language, but one ambiguous verse is hardly a basis for any doctrine when there are many unambiguous verses to the contrary – it is not clear whether "Junias" is male or female, and the correct sense of "well-known among the apostles" appears to be that Junias is not an apostle but is well known to them.

4. "do not all are to eagerly desire the greater gifts the number one which is listed is to be an Apostle"

I think someone may have already responded to this, and apologies if so. My response is, that's not waht the passage is saying. Paul does not say that being an Apostle is a "gift". I appreciate that Paul starts off this discourse by referring to gifts (1 Cor 12:1), but he then broadens the principle to cover different kinds of *gifts*, different kinds of *service* and different kinds of *working* (1 Cor 12:4-6). IN the ensuing passage he discussed gifts and other things, and the same is true of his list in verse 28:

5. "And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, THEN GIFTS OF healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues." [my emphasis]

He seems to go out of his way to say that only some things in his list are gifts, and that is consistent with the rest of the passage.

When he then says "Earnestly desire the greater gifts" the obvious meaning is that he is not talking about the things that he has not called gifts, and which are in fact offices or "services" (note that prophecy for example may be a gift, but being a prophet is not – the one does not follow from the other, as many examples in the Old Testament will show).

I should add, that I do not think 1 Cor 12:31 is referring specifically to the preceding list anyway. Rather, Paul is saying: "So, [in summary of everything I have written in chapter 12] yes, you should desire the greater gifts, but let me show you an even better way".

The other verses you cite show that God alone decides who will get gifts, services and workings – I strongly agree.

To be cont.

MichaelA said...

Cont, my response to Jean's posts:

6. "As for China. Since it appears the church in general there don't subscribe to only men being leaders;"

From the limited information that I have that is not the case, hence my general scepticism about the quote from Lee Grady. In any case, both what you write and what he writes is capable of multiple meanings in this context – what does a "leader" mean? The Bible doesn't forbid women from being leaders. It just forbids them from holding the office of elder or overseer of a congregation.

7. "around 50% of their pastors in the official and unofficial churches combined are women"

If this is meant to refer to leading congregations rather than prayer groups or acting under the authority of other pastors, then the information I have (such as it is) indicates otherwise. I doubt that anyone knows for certain anyway.

8. "A population who suffer constantly for their faith, treat the bible as gold, and biblical learning and prayer as paramount, and risk their lives in spreading the Gospel. How could they be right and you possibly be wrong?"

Firstly, I have spoken to some Christians from China and not one of them would describe the church there in this way. It has all sorts of levels of unfaithfulness, compromise, treachery and heresy, mixed in together with remarkable faithfulness, obedience and devotion, just like every other church on earth.

Secondly, remember that we are talking about God's Word here. Thus your question should be, "If 50 million people believe one thing and God has taught another, is it possible that those 50 million people could be wrong?". The answer to a Christian is very obviously Yes.

9. "And was it common in the greek use of language to use a singular example to generically illustrate a point that applies to all sexes - e.g. an overseer should be a man of one wife; and that the example use was often of a man?"

Pretty much the same as it is in English. When Paul says that an elder (presbyteros) must be a man of one woman etc, and when there are alternative ways he could say it to indicate both men and women, but he doesn't, well...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your clear logic Rosemary and Michael.

I tried to express the consistency of Ron OR of Rosemary.

Once we start changing "wife" to "spouse" because it suits modern sensitivities, Ron's logic holds sway consistently. If it's "spouse" when it suits us, but "man and woman, husband and wife" when it doesn't, we have no clear foundations, just texts massaged to fit our inclinations.

Ron and Kurt are contemporary in holding to ordaining women and wanting to bless homosexual couples; Rosemary and Michael are traditional in eschewing both.

Josh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh or Michael or both,
Are you contemporary in application of Paul's instructions concerning widows in 1 Timothy or traditional?

Anonymous said...

Peter has asked yet another question. There are no absolutes for Peter who claims to know and likes to think that he's making US think and wonder. If we listen to you Peter, because above you're being very divisive .. or trying to be .. we would have no Scripture left to believe in at all. Sigh.

Rosemary Behan

Anonymous said...

I've been rude again .. my besetting sin. Peter, I know you honestly don't understand, but sometimes when we don't understand something in the Bible, it's as if God says, "Because I say so." We either learn to submit to that [and I truly believe I understand what I've just said in many respects] or we fail and become 'seekers' again.

With respect, Rosemary Behan

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I forgive you ('no absolutes' was not fair).
It is good to have you commenting again and long may it continue.
With my very best wishes
Peter

Anonymous said...

So that I do not risk again being the subject of your reprimand, Peter, and the possibility of having my comments not published through misunderstanding and using words differently to your usage of them, please could you clarify what you mean by the contemporary application of Paul's instructions concerning widows in 1 Timothy and what you mean by the traditional application? If Michael understands your question - perhaps he might answer it. Or Rosemary.

It is very noticeable that, rather than responding to any of the comments, Peter, you appear, instead, to be changing the direction of the discussion. Perhaps your problem with the widows could have been the subject of another blog post, rather than distracting from the good discussion here. But it isn't for me to say how you should run your site.

Josh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Josh
I am trying to make the point in respect of our response to one command in 1 Timothy that we might ask whether we should treat commands in 1 Timothy consistently, hence raising the question of widows in chapter 5.

I should have used the word 'modern' rather than 'contemporary' as the latter could mean 'at the same time as Paul'. And Imshould use the word 'original' instead of 'traditional' since I am not sure there has been a continuous application of the chapter through 1950 years.

So, my question is whether 5:9 is obeyed in respect of keeping a list of widows in the church and making a distinction between those aged over 60 and those less than that age.

(We might also ask about payment of presbyters in terms of verse 17)

Jean said...

Hi Michael

Thanks for outlining your position much of it I understand and think it could be read as you have interpreted it. About three points I contend more strongly with but may do so more in depth over the next day or two when I will have more time : ) ...

Best Wishes
Jean

Jean said...

Hi Josh and Rosemary

I think perhaps it is comforting that most in this debate most likely do believe in absolutes, that Jesus was God's Son, that He died for our sins and rose again to repair our relationship with God. So despite differences we do have a few points of agreement, perhaps the most essential ones!

My interpretation of what Peter is doing in his challenges by responding with a question is to challenge how we apply or analyse scripture. A lot has been said about consistency.

If we are to look at women's ordination in the light of scriptural texts without taking the context of those texts into the equation, then to be consistent needs must we follow other scriptural text in the same way. For example that women wear head coverings to church when taken without regard to context suggests we should be doing so today. But obviously this does not happen in many NZ churches.

To me the same is applied to language. Although my expertise is not in the study of languages as per Peter and you Josh, I think insight into how languages work especially when translating from one to another can help determine the intended meaning of the author.

A common statement still used today is "all men are created equal". Now of course we could use, men and women and children, or humankind instead of men in this sentence. However, there is not the need because there is an understanding by most people who speak english today that men, the male plural, can refer to the whole human race.

Just as we look at the books in the bible and realise they follow different literary traditions such as the psalms are songs; Revelation uses apocalyptic language/analogies; such knowledge I believe aids our ability to read scripture more accurately rather than the reverse. Hence, modern english translations of the bible are considered more 'true' to the original writings than older ones.

Notwithstanding I love meeting people like a younger woman this week whose knowledge of scripture and education is weak - she does not recognise nor know how to pronounce the word resurrection. But her experience and convictions from the Holy Spirit outweigh any I myself have known. In which case I joy in God still choosing the weak things of this world to
shame the wise.

I do not know about Peter but my reservations around the homosexual debate have been guided in the same way as I have formed views around WO.

Note-ably the context in which homosexuality.sodomy is referred to in the bible is in parts is pretty in-your-face (ie: one verse puts homosexuals amongst the immoral, murderers etc etc) another is written in the context of sins committed. Therefore I in the words of Rosemary 'I cannot just brush this aside' even if I would like to fully embrace same-sex relationships.

The contention/debate around how in biblical times there was no mention homosexual behaviour within a life time commitment or celibate same-sex attracted individuals, is where new territory enters that I am uncertain of.

Blessings
Jean

Anonymous said...

Jean, could you please reference the bible parts where homosexuality is pretty in-your-face (ie: the verse that puts homosexuals amongst the immoral, murderers etc etc & the other that is written in the context of sins committed such that you cannot just brush this aside even if you would like to fully embrace same-sex relationships?

Jane

Jean said...

Hi Jane,

Texts below.. If you can add or help in my understanding of them I am open to listening.

Best
Jean

1 Corinthians 6:9New International Version (NIV)

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a]

Footnotes:

1 Corinthians 6:9 The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.


Romans 1:26
26 For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one,
27 And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another—men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.
28 And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome,

Anonymous said...

Peter, as long as people are consistent, they are credible. Hence, those women who agree with Josh must cover their heads (or if their community allows hair shaving) shave their heads. The men must follow the widow rules. Priests with non-believers for children need to resign. Unrepentant sinners need to be excluded. Who knows, it might work. It doesn't sound much like Jesus, but perhaps we have created Father Christmas with church culture. Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Nick!

Anonymous said...

You are right Jean, we do share the absolutes you mention, and in that regard, the issue of the ordination of women, is adiaphora .. a secondary issue. Important though .. mostly for women, but also to remind the male gender to stop falling into the Sin of domination, and encourage them to hold to that of dominion.

I disagree with your second paragraph, indeed with the post from Nick for which Peter is so grateful. Let me say this, but first, Nick's post.
“Peter, as long as people are consistent, they are credible. Hence, those women who agree with Josh must cover their heads (or if their community allows hair shaving) shave their heads. The men must follow the widow rules. Priests with non-believers for children need to resign. Unrepentant sinners need to be excluded. Who knows, it might work. It doesn't sound much like Jesus, but perhaps we have created Father Christmas with church culture. Nick”

First he establishes a premise .. “that as long as people are consistent they are credible.” [Hmm, where have I heard that before?] Which means that he and Peter are convinced that they ARE both credible and consistent, those of us who do not agree with them, are not. Do you find Peter and Nick consistent and therefore credible? Why should they ask me if I cover my head, or imply that I should do so to be consistent, they purport to believing that I am an equal .. and yet a scarf will apparently prove my consistency? I would like to know too, exactly what Peter and Nick do with regard to widows, because apparently, the proof is in the pudding on that one? We have a non believing son, I have four sons, but one is an unbeliever .. at the moment!!!! Should my husband resign .. have they any unbelieving children that has caused them to resign? Do these questions sound like the ones that practising gays often put .. should we not eat shellfish in order to prove what we believe? Oh .. and anyone who doesn’t agree with Nick and Peter, believes in a type of Father Christmas with a church culture. How polite of them, how gracious, how very Christian!!!! Despite the fact that he SAYS, “It doesn’t sound much like Jesus.” I’m afraid I’m sick of this discussion, because it’s not a discussion, it’s folk who feel very superior acting just like the Liberal branch of our church. I’m mindful that Jesus told us at a certain point, to shake the dust off our sandals .. and walk on.

Rosemary Behan

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,

You have shown on this post and elsewhere that you are really good and skilled at word studies in the Bible, and can explain and massage a passage so it fits your understanding. Why, if you “would like to fully embrace same-sex relationships”, have you not managed this with these two texts?

Why give these two obscure verses such weight and not the many, many texts Peter keeps bringing up that most (including you) happily ignore?

Any book or website exploring blessing or marrying homosexuals from a biblical perspective will discuss these two texts and a few others. Peter himself has provided resources on your two passages.

The changing of the NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 should be cause to pause at their blunt footnote (including wondering why their translation in the text does not say what their footnote says the text means!)

Malakoi literally means soft. It normally refers to laziness, degeneracy, decadence, or lack of courage. Arsenokoitai is a word so rare, one would need to guess at its meaning.

The Romans text is in the context of idol worship. It speaks of abandoning our natural desires (a heterosexual abandoning heterosexual desires, could, following your logic above, mean it is sinful for a homosexual to abandon homosexual desire). Paul’s “God haters” are not people of homosexual orientation who love God and want to live with integrity committed to one partner in a stable, loving homosexual relationship among people of faith. These are experimenting against the grain of their normal desires to seek thrills or as part of cultic worship.

If you are really open as you say, Jean, get one of the many books on the topic and do some deeper reading.

Jane

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
It was Jane (I think) who first questioned people such as myself being inconsistent.
My reply - now some days ago - was to point out that consistency (in exegetical argument) is quite hard to achieve if we go beyond a list of two major presenting issues.
I thanked Nick for his point this morning because he seems to understand my point that consistency in exegetical argument is difficult to achieve.
If we are going to talk about consistency in a more personal sense (and thus focus on 'credibility' in terms of personal credibility rather than credibility of an argument within a discussion), then I am not a consistent or credible person: I have many shortcomings, fail often and disappoint people, including my own family.

To return to arguments: no, I am not convinced at all that I am credible and consistent. And, yes, I do think we all need to work at consistency but it is mighty hard to achieve.

If (to take some examples from your comment) I think it is alright to eat shellfish but same sex relationships should not be blessed in God's name while it is okay for women both to have short hair and not to wear headscarves, then it is mighty difficult to work out the consistent principles by which we reach such conclusions. In part I blog in order to have people critique my thinking so it gets sharper.

Obviously a number of commenters above do not think I am that consistent. But this is not all about me - mostly I put forward arguments that many people share - so if I am wrong then so are quite a number of people in our church!

I can only express my sorrow that a comment I published here has caused you grief I never anticipated.

Jean said...

Hi Jane

Thank you for your reply.

I appreciate your comment that I am good and skilled at word studies, however, it is mostly comes out of researching when a topic comes up or a comment that I then try and find more about it. I find myself lacking in that I have to learn each time not knowing Greek/Hebrew.

Regarding explaining/massaging a passage to fit my understanding. I hope I don't do this. My intention
is when there is apparent contradictions within scripture itself to work out why and to see if this is indeed the case or is it the interpretation of them that is incorrect. This is because I am by nature a black and white person so trying to understand is important to me, as is actually deciding where I stand. I think standing on the fence is a bit of a cop out, even if ones position proves wrong in the end.

Yes although I have done some looking into it, I do have to do some more reading around the same-sex issue presented by both 'sides' of the 'argument' to really ascertain where I stand. As I pointed out at the end of my last comment I understand the concept of homosexuals in a long term stable relationship is not present in the bible. And I also read after your/my posts that homosexuality as an orientation was not a concept at the time.

What I a saying at the moment is that from where I have got so far on this topic I am yet unable to ignore the scriptural text that point to the act of same gender-sex as sinful despite the changing nature of the practice of such acts. I may get there yet!

Blessings Jean

Jean said...

Hi Rosemary

I can see indeed this issue has caused ongoing frustration for you! : )

My idea of consistency in application refers to how we apply our interpretation to scripture, more especially so if the scripture is from the same book and in the same area.

Hence I referred to the wearing of head-coverings for women as it directly proceeds the addressing of people be pastors/teachers etc the topic we were discussing. Noting the original bible just flows without chapters.

If I were to read the idea of head coverings as one within it's context (it was the respectable thing for a woman to do at that time) then also I read the following passage regarding positions in the church and spiritual gifts in like manner (to address 'brothers' at this time usually included women too, hence most bibles translation (not me Josh not me, the experts : ) ) of brothers and sisters).

I do not know Nick, but from the times I have met Peter he appears a genuine fellow... : )

Blessings Jean

MichaelA said...

"Hence, those women who agree with Josh must cover their heads ..." etc

No Nick, they don't. You need to read scripture!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
Could you explain more about how we read Scripture and end with the conclusion that women need not cover their heads?
I would be interested in the key hermeneutical steps your explanation involves.

MichaelA said...

"Arsenokoitai is a word so rare, one would need to guess at its meaning."

No, Jane, those with some facility in Greek don't need to guess at all. Its meaning could not be more plain, nor the reference to the Old Testament in it.

Peter Carrell said...

I agree with you Michael re arsenokoitai!

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter, I note you have just responded to my post above, but as I was already typing something on this I will send it first. The same principle applies to head covering as to widows:

Peter, I am less than impressed with your frequent references to the widows passage. My reaction would be different if I had seen articles or posts by you which said, in effect:

"I am really concerned about whether we as a church are being faithful to Paul's teaching about widows. I want to compare our contemporary practice with scripture, and if we are not being faithful to scripture, then I am going to work to change our practices regarding treatment of widows to bring them into conformity with scriptural teaching".

But I have never seen that. Instead, your argument appears to be, in a sense:

"If I have difficulty with a passage of scripture about e.g. women in ministry that appears to be contrary to my beliefs, then I bring up the widows passage as a counter-argument, by implying that if the church isn't being faithful to the teaching on widows, then we can't expect anyone to be faithful to other bits of scripture either".

Of course I have stated that in a somewhat over-hyped fashion, but I hope you get my drift. We are called to be faithful to all of Christ's teaching, not use our (alleged) failings in one area to justify failings in another.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
That is fair criticism of my argument because I have clearly not stated what my primary argument is.

My primary argument is not as you characterise it so let me try to express it:

If, on the question of widows, we have interpreted the instructions of Paul for the church in one context as being able to be set aside in a different context for the church (including 21st century welfare society, 21st century approaches to personal insurance, pension funds, access to work even in senior life), may we not also interpret the instructions of Paul regarding women/teaching/leadership/silence in one context for the church as being able to be set aside in a different context for the church (including being a post Nicene creedal church, theological education of women to same standard and quality as men (nearly always learning, incidentally, side by side in the same classes, in which both sexes are encouraged to speak up to ask questions of their lecturers), recognition that women are not intrinsically prone to be deceivers)?

My argument is not about the inconsistency of faithful on one versus unfaithful on another (though that is my point of criticism for those who laud faithfulness on 1 T 2 but do not seem to laud it on 1 T 5). My primary argument is about consistency of interpretative moves we make in modern life.

MichaelA said...

Peter, since you ask:

I am of a similar view to John Calvin and the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith, i.e. that Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 is urging his readers to follow *contemporary* custom, but for *universal* reasons.

This brief extract from a Presbyterian paper on the subject summarises my position well:

"Thus, when Paul appeals to the order of headship in 1 Corinthians 11:3 (“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”), he begins by laying down the unalterable, moral principle of male headship and female submission. This, in reality, was the truth that was being denied when the men covered their heads and the women uncovered their heads contrary to the accepted cultural custom in Corinth."

This principle flows through several chapters of 1 Corinthians - we obey particular norms because our obedience/disobedience has higher implications, not because those cultural norms constitute a command of God per se.

The same principle applies in many other instances. For example, there is no rule in scripture that I must address a civil judge as "your Honour". But if I decline to do so, this has universal implications: I am showing disrespect to human authorities whom God has told us to respect, and therefore by implication I am showing disrespect to the entire created order and to God himself. Thus there is a "universal" reason why I should respect a local *particular* cultural norm.

The same applied in first century Romano-Greek society: men were expected to have heads uncovered in places of worship and therefore Paul taught that Christians should do the same, even though God had never commanded this, rather the opposite (see e.g. Leviticus 8:9, Ezekiel 44:18).

But I want to emphasise the following: If someone can show me that my interpretation of scripture is incorrect on this point, then the correct action by me is to change my practice in regard to female head-covering, NOT to use it as an excuse to be disobedient to another passage of scripture!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
It is a strong argument and, as a short-haired guy with non-hat wearing wife and daughters, it is congenial to me!!

But I wonder, does the argument from principle to context deal with the way Paul frames up his argument in 1 Corinthians 11 which involves appeal to nature, and to the angels? If it does not, are we setting aside aspects of Paul's argument which in turn raises questions about how we approach other arguments of Paul in his other writings?

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter,

Yes, I agree.

But I think we need to remember that this is not just a curious issue with some oblique bearing on women ministers – there is a growing movement in many churches to require head coverings for women in church. You might think that is fanciful, and I have so far seen no sign of it in Anglican churches in Sydney, but it definitely exists and it appears to be growing in traction around the world. Therefore, our examination of this passage needs to also consider how it impacts on our response to that movement.

This is how I see the flow of 1 Corinthians 11:

In verses 2-3 he sets out the universal (Godly) principle.

In verses 4-6 he sets out the cultural reality, i.e. that "all men" (not just Christians) who pray or prophesy with head covered are seen as dishonouring their head, i.e. cutting down their own authority as a man, whereas "all women" apply the reverse. He is not saying what *should* happen, but what *does* happen, and not just in churches.

In verses 7-12 he shows how this has particular application to Christians, and its implications when the cultural norm that he has already described is viewed in light of Christian teaching. He says there is actually a good doctrinal reason to conform with the cultural practice.

In verses 13-16 he tells them to judge for themselves, and he allows that *in principle* that they could have differing views, but in practice none of the churches do (which follows logically from his earlier arguments).

I gather from your comment that you think the reference to "nature" in verse 14 may be a killer argument for the physical-head-covering movement. I don't see it that way. Firstly, "physis" is a complex word, taking into account inherent inclinations, but also human customs and tendencies. Aristotle's comment "Man is by nature a political animal" is a good example – he is not saying that all men are political.

Secondly, Paul sees nature as being God-created, yet fallen. Take Romans 1:26 for example – Paul says that homosexual acts are "against nature". Some take this as being a condemnation of homosexuality per se, so that "contrary to nature" is written with an overtone of moral disgust. But I don't think it is – Paul believes that homosexual acts are sinful because the Old Testament says so, not because they are "against nature". Rather, his point in the appeal to nature is to give one of several examples in Romans 1:18 – 2:26 as to why humans cannot claim ignorance of God's law, even when they have never read it – it is obvious that homosexuality is not the normal way for humans to interact and therefore they should have known that there was something wrong with it. So Plato, Socrates et al, can't say they acted in ignorance.

When Paul appeals to "nature" (physis) in 1 Cor 11:14, his readers know that he is not appealing to an immutable law of God, otherwise the Old Testament would not require head covering by priests during prayer. Rather he is simply saying that "it’s the natural thing to do" and this is an added reason why the churches conform to the cultural standard that he sets out in verses 4-6, but it hardly amounts to a reason why Christians now should conform to 1st century dress standards, even if they could be sure what they were.

I am not entirely sure what the reference to "angels" means in verse 10, but I do note that at this point Paul is not talking about why women should physically cover their head. Rather, he has gone into a discussion of the higher universal principle of authority in verses 7 – 12. In other words, he is not saying, "Women should physically cover their heads because of the angels" but "Women should be under authority because of the angels". Whatever it means, I can't see how it assists the physical-head-covering movement.

Peter Carrell said...

THanks Michael
Need to push through on some things before Easter ... will try to remember this comment and come back to it ... between buns and eggs, services and sermons :)

Peter Carrell said...

It is a good argument, Michael, and it is a helpful way both to understand appeals to 'nature' and to counter the movement you mention (of which I see no particular signs here in NZ).

My takeaway food for further thinking concerns 'nature' and whether you understanding of it is consistently applied in Romans and 1 Corinthians, whether it needs to be consistently applied across two different contexts; so forth; as well as thinking about your acknowledgement that others take a different view on 'nature'. In turn, that would raise the question what are the limits of diversity on understanding 'nature' in the Bible ...

Jean said...

Hi Michael A and Peter and anyone else interested,

I recently came across a book entitled "Women and the Kingdom" (Author Forster); I haven't made my way through it yet, and yes it does come from the perspective of mutuality. Even so it has points of interest that I had not noticed before or considered before.

For example from memory, that Abraham took orders from Sarah and God backed her up. I had to look that one up to believe it : ) ....

... that Phoebe in her role as Deacon (the word which comes from the root 'servant of the King' a masculine term also used of others including Jesus) issues a challenge to the idea that positions of service which hold authority/leadership are applicable only to men when a masculine term is used to explain them...

Cheers
Jean