(This is part three of a three part series. Here is part one and part two.)

Ministry

The fourth word, following equality, complementarity, and responsibility, is ministry. In this section Stott looks at the implications of headship for ministry. Here again we see Stott hesitating between two positions. On the one hand, he rejects the efforts of those who want to limit 1 Timothy 2:8-15 because of a never-seen-in-the-text heretical feminist movement in Ephesus. Stott believes the principle of submission is rooted in creation (“for Adam was formed first, then Eve”). Yet on the other hand, he thinks the requirement of silence is a culture-bound application of submission similar to head coverings (349). Stott figures the prohibition in 1 Corinthians 14 might have been addressed to talkative women as opposed to all women (348). He never considers that the silence in the second half of 1 Timothy 2:12 is Paul’s explanation of “I do not a permit a women to teach” in the first half of the verse. Likewise, he doesn’t consider the argument that 1 Corinthians 11 (women praying and prophesying) is not at odds with 1 Corinthians 14 (let them keep silent) when you consider the context of the latter is the authoritative weighing of prophecy (14:29).

In the end, Stott’s position is a half-way house between egalitarianism and complementarianism. He believes because the Spirit is bestowed on both sexes, no gifts are restricted to one or the other, and therefore, there should be no limitations on the exercise of those gifts (348). But the logic of this position runs into Stott’s exegesis when later he requires that women can teach men “provided that in so doing they are not usurping any improper authority over them” (349). With the right explanations, complementarians agree that it is not wrong for women to teach. Women can certainly teach other women and they should instruct children (Titus 2). The example of Priscilla and Aquila correcting Apollos may suggest that one-on-one teaching by a woman to a man is legitimate (though not all complementarians think this is a fair inference from Acts 18:26). The point is, women are not forbidden to teach nor are they prohibited from exercising their gifts. But they must teach and exercise those gifts in their God-given roles. The Bible allows for, gives examples of, and even expects lots ministry from women. Imagine how impoverished the church would be without the contributions of women! But what Scripture does not allow is for women in the church to teach or have authority over men. Preaching, governing, and eldering are the work of qualified men.

So there is a complementarian way to affirm the ministry of women while still maintaining God’s design for men and women. But this isn’t how Stott explains his proviso. Instead he gives three conditions women must meet in order to teach men. 1) The content must be true. 2) The teaching should be in a team context. 3) And the women must not be rude swashbucklers. These are fine conditions, but with the possible exception of the second one, they are conditions for any teacher, not just for women. It’s hard to see how these conditions do anything to guard the authority men are to exercise in the church. Even the requirement for team teaching feels arbitrary. Are we really to think that if Paul saw a woman preaching in Timothy’s church he would have said “Don’t worry about it. She’s part of a team that includes men.”? Over the long run, this attempt to meet the culture halfway will just get us into more trouble. Our rules—that the Senior Pastor must be a man or that the women preaching is under the authority of the elders—will seem like meager attempts to get the letter of the law right without abiding by any of the spirit of it. We’ll look like the boyfriend and girlfriend trying to justify making-out into the wee hours of the morning in a dark, empty room because they “didn’t go all the way.” The logic, not to mention the restraint, won’t hold for very long.

Conclusion

I love John Stott. He’s done more for the Lord than I could ever dream. But this chapter felt like a convoluted effort to rationalize a ministry direction that can’t be supported in the text. Stott takes big categories like equality and servant leadership and then uses them to negate the particulars of Scripture. So he concludes that “what is forbidden women is not leadership but domineering over men” (353). Likewise, he asserts “the central issue is not what offices are open to women (presbyter, rector, bishop), but whether their leadership style is consistent with Jesus’ teaching on servanthood” (353). But Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, 1 Timothy 2 and 3 are not about style at all. They are about the roles of men and women. To say the Bible is only concerned about how women teach not only begs the question “why these special instructions for women when men are to be servants too” it also twists the pertinent passages into a discussion of matters palatable to us but foreign to the texts themselves.

Complementarianism is a big deal not just because the roles of men and women matter and ordering the church God’s way matters. Complementarianism matters, perhaps most of all, because how we handle the Scriptures matter. I know, love, and respect many egalitarians. But the sloppy exegesis, special pleading, and hermeneutical sidestepping required to get to Stott’s modified complemegalitarianism (not to mention positions far to the left of his) are troubling. They make the text get where the text just ain’t supposed to go. And that’s not the way forward in ministry, whether it’s a third way or not.

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Comments:


80 thoughts on “Go Big or Go Home: Why Complemegalitarianism Doesn’t Work (3)”

  1. Meredith Nienhuis says:

    Somehow i don’t think Janet Parshall or Beth Moore or Nancy Leigh Demoss are much hindered in serving the Lord and His Church, and i would be interested in their “take” of the subject conversation.

  2. Sue says:

    Henry,

    You have already linked to those two posts. I assume that people will read them. I assume that you have read them. Could you cite anything in those posts which actually supports the notion that episemos en tois apostoolois means “well-known to.”

    I have read every citation in context, in the original Greek, and I have found no support at all in any of those examples for the idea the person, place or thing that is episemos, is NOT a part of the group to which it is being compared. To the contrary, in every example, the person, place or thing is a part of the group to which it is compared. The conclusion then is that Junia is an apostle.

    If you understand this data differently from me, please explain it. I do know that Wallace and Burer suggest at one point that it is the use of en plus the dative which means that the person, place or thing qualified by episemos is not part of the group. However, if you are familiar with NT Greek, you will know that en plus the dative and the partitive genitive function as synonymous systems in most cases. It is very common to use en plus the dative to compare someone to a group that they are a part of. There are several such examples in the NT.

    What details would you like to discuss with me, and what data would you like me to present?

  3. Sue says:

    Henry,

    I had honestly forgotten that Dr. Grudem agrees that Junia is a woman. I thought you were suggesting that EFBT provided other ways to ensure that Junia did not have authority.

    I agree, perhaps she was a non-authoritative apostle, but often arguments are made on the basis of apostolic authority. The Bible does not clearly differentiate, although I don’t think there is any evidence either way.

    I am as always happy to debate the details. I stand by my conclusions.

    Scott,

    Thanks, I did read your posts and they are great.

  4. ScottL says:

    Sue -

    Thanks for stopping by. I have more articles to post over the next weeks. Feel free to stop by again and share your thoughts.

  5. Skeeter says:

    It is not hard to understand why people resist the authority structure God has put in place from creation. To the world this seems oppressive and this thinking has infiltrated the church. God designed the authority structure for the home, church and government for our protection from the domain of Satan and to bring us back into unity with Him. The world has so distorted and corrupted the authority structure that most women do not realize that they have more power in the home and church then the men who are called to the leadership positions themselves. If we reflect back through the Bible we will find that those who were in the position of influence had more power to turn and direct a situation then the one who held the position of authority. The Bible says so strong can be a women’s influence that she could win her unbelieving husband without a word being spoken.

  6. Sue says:

    Here is Dr. Grudem’s summary from CBMW,

    “Egalitarian claim 7.2: Junia: There was even a woman apostle, Junia (Rom. 16:7). If a woman can be an apostle, she can hold any other church office as well. (223)

    Answer 7.2a: The name that is spelled iounian in the Greek text of Romans 16:7 could be either a man’s name or a woman’s name simply according to the spelling. (224)
    Answer 7.2b: In light of the most recent research in Greek grammar, the verse means, “Greet Andronicus and Junia(s)…well-known to the apostles.” (224)
    Answer 7.2c: There is very little comment on this name in the first four hundred years after the New Testament, and the comments are mixed regarding the gender of the name. (225)
    Answer 7.2d: However, evidence from Latin seems to favor the view that this was a woman’s name, Junia. (226)
    Answer 7.2e: The word translated “apostles” could just mean “church messengers” here as it does elsewhere in Paul’s writings. (226)
    Answer 7.2f: In conclusion, the feminist claim that there was an apostle named Junia is built upon one uncertainty (the gender of the name) on top of another uncertainty (the meaning of “apostle” in this verse) on top of an improbable meaning of a phrase (“well known among” rather than “well known to”). (227)”

    Henry,

    I want to be fair to Dr. Grudem. Here is my response,

    Response 7.2a Junia was a common name for a female. The masculine form of the name is completely unknown – has never occurred.

    Response 7.2b “well-known to” is now undefended since the publication of Linda Belleville’s article and Jake Epp’s book. It has always been the position of a small minority. It will remain undefended until Wallace and Burer choose to defend it.

    Response 7.2c Epiphanius was the single voice to call Junia masculine, along with Prisca. He is not accepted. Chrysostom says about Junia,

    “Greet Andronicus and Junia … who are outstanding among the apostles”: To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles – just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that that she was even deemed worthy of the title apostle. (In ep. Ad Romanos 31.2).

    Response 7.2d Evidence from the Latin is dated in the 10th century. Is that supposed to be relevant?

    Response 7.2e It is possible that she was a non-authoritative apostle. There is nothing in the text to indicate what status her apostleship gave her.

    In conclusion, Dr. Grudem does not have any evidence at all that Junia was not a woman who was named an apostle. There is only one uncertainty, and that is how much authority an apostle had.

    I am concerned that he has provided Epiphanius and a corrupt 10th century Latin translation of Origen as evidence, against 2000 years of Greek manuscript tradition, which without even one deviation, (once accenting started) accented the name as female and referred to her as female and as one of the apostles.

    I cannot accept that Dr. Grudem’s argument is a fair representation of the argument regarding Junia.

  7. Sue says:

    Skeeter,

    One would expect Paul to provide us with an example. If he had not wanted women to be visible in leadership, he would not have affirmed the ministry of Junia, Phoebe, Lydia (head of her house) Nympha and Chloe. I think Paul provided a poor model for the subordination of women.

  8. Sue says:

    Henry,

    I owe Dr. Grudem an apology on this one. I misread this answer of his, I did not notice that he wrote,

    Answer 7.2d: However, evidence from Latin seems to favor the view that this was a woman’s name, Junia. (226)

    Yes, you are correct. Here Dr. Grudem acknowledges that the name is feminine. I did not notice that. In that case, I am surprised that in his conclusion, he says that the gender of the name is “uncertain.” This onfused me.

    It is true that there is a boy named “Sue” so you are welcome to doubt my gender if you must. Going on the text alone, we can never know for sure someone’s gender.

  9. Skeeter says:

    Sue said, “I think Paul provided a poor model for the subordination of women.”

    I have a hard time throwing down the inspired word of God. Some try to dance around the subject of headship and try to look for so called loopholes because some do not want to come under the authority of the clear NT teaching for headship in the home and church. Not obeying the Word of God opens up the church to false teachings, causing the church to flounder and makes God out to be a liar. Over the past sixty or so years we are seeing a massive breakdown in the family, church and societal structures. Let’s face it . We just do not want God to tell us our business, do we?

  10. Sue says:

    Skeeter.

    Likewise!! Paul’s references to Phoebe, Prisca, Lydia, etc is also the inspired word of God. You are simply saying that you prefer your selection of the inspired word of God to my selection.

    I am single so headship has no meaning whatsoever to me. I provide for my family, protect them and lead them. Are you suggesting that I should not do this? Or are you simply suggesting that if men lead in the home, they also lead in church, but if women lead in the home, they may not lead in church?

    I think every century sees within that century a massive breakdown in family, society and the church. But it is not as gloomy as you suggest. Statistically, breastfeeding was at an all time low in the 19th century. The statistics from the last 60 years continue to show a steady and dramatic increase.

  11. Skeeter says:

    Sue said, “You are simply saying that you prefer your selection of the inspired Word of God to my selection.” To this I say not at all!

    Sue, I do not want to treat the Word of God so lightly as to cherry pick what I like best and disregard the rest. I believe that it is impossible for the Bible to contradict itself. Paul talks about headship not once, not twice, not three times but at least four different times in four different books and even ties in the Old Testament as an explanation for this truth. For the church to forsake such a straight forward teaching after nearly 2000 years because of cultural influence and feelings of oppression is heresy.

  12. Sue says:

    Skeeter,

    For 2000 years, Junia has been considered an apostle. Even now only four English translations at the most suggest otherwise. If you have altered the text, what God inspired, in order to make the Bible not contradict itself, where will you stop? I am appalled!

    I accept the ambiguities. I will not twist what is there in the Greek. If the best text criticism puts something in the margin, as in 1 Cor. 14, then I must ask if the margins of the manuscripts are equally inspired.

    If I am not married then I cannot do anything about the headship passages, and I cannot scale down the ministry of women to fit without denying the full leadership of women missionaries. I will not deny history, the Greek language and every other reality I know, just because a few people have received a “special revelation” in the 20th century that Junia was not an apostle.

  13. Sue says:

    My preceding comment would have benefited from a few commas. Sorry bout that.

    I hope you can begin to understand that egalitarians do not share a common text with complementarians. This is the most pressing concern that I have. I find it quite fascinating.

  14. Sue says:

    Of course, you can still be a complementarian and not alter the text. I don’t think it is necessary to do so. I regret that complementarians have felt the need to innovate in the text.

    Complementarian innovations are –

    1. Junia not an apostle
    2. authentein – to exercise authority rather than to usurp authority
    3. formatting Eph. 5:22 as a separate paragraph with its own heading

    Egalitarian innovations are

    1. rejecting 1 Cor. 14:34 since it was in the margin

    Actually, some egalitarians feel that these verses were inserted by a complementarian 1900 years ago. We do know that the text was altered to remove honour from women in other places, reversing the order of Prisca and Aquila, and altering the gender of Nympha.

    My main point is that just as complementarians think that egalitarians are not true to the text, many egalitarians think the same thing about complementarians.

  15. Skeeter says:

    Sue, I would like to get your understanding as to the purpose for headship?

  16. Sue says:

    I believe that it relates to Paul’s cosmology. God shares his nature with Christ, man shares his nature with woman, and Christ finally in becoming human, shares his nature with man. This ties together God and humanity in an organic way. This is Paul’s concern.

    I am getting on in years, and so far, I have not yet perceived any moral or practical use to having men in authority. As women get older, gender-based leadership has no function, either spiritual or in any other way.

  17. Sue says:

    What I meant to say is that gender-based leadership never has any function in the church, work or home, (- except in warfare at a tactical but not strategic level. Warfare is not the highest level of leadership, but has always, since Plato’s Republic, and Jahweh’s restrictions on David, been a second tier leadership function.)

    So for most of us, gender-based leadership is futility, but as we get older, the futility of gender-based leadership becomes clearer.

  18. Skeeter says:

    Sue, My understanding of what you are saying is the Bibles teaching on headship has no purpose because it is Paul’s opinion and based on your your experience gender-based leadership is futile. Do I understand you correctly?

  19. Sue says:

    Skeeter,

    I said nothing of the kind. Is this your idea of fun, to be disrespectful and put words into someone else’s mouth? Because no one who does that should have authority over a goldfish.

    I said that the Bible’s teaching on headship teaches us about the organic unity of the human race, and how Christ brings us into relationship with God.

    I then said that male or rather gender-authority has no use, because it is the opinion of males in the first place that they should be in charge.

    I do not equate what the Bible says about kephale with authority. If you read 1 Cor. 7, it is crystal clear that the relationship between the sexes must be based on reciprocal authority. It is unequivocal. Why deny what is so clear?

  20. Skeeter says:

    Sue said,” the Bible’s teaching on headship teaches us about the organic unity of the human race, and HOW Christ brings us into relationship with God.”

    Sue, I think I finally agree with you on the above point. May I please expand on your statement? HOW does Christ bring us back into a right relationship with God through the cross and restore what Adam and Eve has corrupted?

    “And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the women being deceived fell into transgression.” I Tim 2:12-14.

    God said to Eve.”Your desire shall be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” Gen 3:16.
    God said to Adam. ” Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree….Cursed….” Gen 3:17

    Romans 13:1-2 “for their is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.”

    We don’t find in Scripture where God forces us to get under His authority, However when we do get under His umbrella of authority we will find protection from Satan’s domain and restored fellowship and freedom.

    Submission has become a four letter cuss word in our society. It actually is an act of faith and trust.

    “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is…submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife; and also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

  21. Sue says:

    Okay, I get it. Americans will not be saved until they subordinate themselves to Queen Elizabeth and repent for their rebellion against the monarch that God put over them. I await the day, Skeeter. And it is a relief to me that Americans won’t be in heaven.

    Sorry for the sarcasm. I really don’t mean it. I am in the States right now at a conference, and I enjoy American hospitality very much.

  22. Radiance says:

    Food for thought:

    “We reject the self-exaltation and self-directed theology of our times. And we also reject the proud human tendency to value and define people by their roles, knowing that our Savior modeled and commended the role of a servant to His followers. Female Christ-followers are first His disciples who, at various times in life, labor in differing roles as He assigns them.

    ** The lives of individual female Christ-followers will never look exactly alike, so we must never reduce the message and definition of biblical womanhood to that of a role. Nor should we allow others to define this message as such, **

    for being a woman made in the image of God and rescued from corrosive, indwelling sin by the atonement of Jesus is the preeminent definition of biblical womanhood.”

    ~ Carolyn McCulley

    “I think I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Martha and Mary that did not attempt, somehow, somewhere, to explain away its text. Mary’s, of course, was the better part–the Lord said so, and we must not precisely contradict Him. But we will be careful not to despise Martha. No doubt, He approved of her, too. We could not get on without her, and indeed (having paid lip-service to God’s opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her. For Martha was doing a really feminine job, whereas Mary was just behaving like any other disciple, male or female; and that is a hard pill to swallow.

    Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man–there never has been such another. A prophet and a teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously;

    **WHO NEVER MAPPED OUT THEIR SPHERE FOR THEM,**

    never urged them to be “feminine” or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.”

    ~ Dorothy Sayers

  23. Skeeter says:

    Radiance,

    Martha and Mary were incredible women of God. I am blessed by the testimony of their lives. I never looked at Mary as “just behaving like any other disciple”– that’s interesting. Truely Jesus was all that Dorothy Sayers said He is. I am glad that Jesus set the example for men to follow and that men are commanded to love and cherish their wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself… Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephs 5:22-33.

    Mary and Martha certainly fit the character of what a a godly married women would look like in 1 Peter 3:3-5. … Do not let your adornment be merely outward–arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.

    The picture that Dorothy paints is a beautiful model of a loving marriage relationship between a husband and a wife and Christ and His church.

  24. ScottL says:

    Here is a new post on the role of women at my blog.

    Thanks for any interaction.

  25. e-Mom says:

    To answer the question of why John Stott has tried to carve a middle way through this issue, we must think of him in the context of his life. A never married celibate, he lacks the experience of intimate manhood and womanhood as portrayed in the Scriptures. He might think differently if he had struggled to create compatibility with a wife.

    Also, Stott is living in the very left-leaning country of England. No doubt, on some level, Stott accepts the values of British politics. He can’t escape the facts of a successful modern head-of-state (Margaret Thatcher) and a long-term female monarch (Queen Elizabeth).

    Stott’s life-long church, All Souls (he’s Rector Emeritus) is an Anglican church. No doubt this church is dealing with the same ordination issues that the Church of England is currently wrestling with around the globe.

    I’m not defending Stott’s error; I’m only pointing out that it’s difficult to escape one’s experience, church denomination, and cultural mileu, UNLESS one is willing to submit completely to the Scriptures. Which apparently in this case, Stott is not.

    Let this be a warning to all of us!

    Thank you for bringing Stott’s position on this issue to light. Coincidently, recently I posted a piece on Reverend Stott and the influence of his books in my life. In case you have an interest:

    http://chrysaliscom.blogspot.com/2010/06/john-stott-in-spotlight.html

    Blessings, e-Mom @ Chrysalis

  26. Sue says:

    E-mom,

    I read your excellent post on John Stott. I heard him preach in Toronto, and he also had an influence on my life. But since then I live in British Columbia, where you were brought up, and for many dark winter evenings I watched British Columbia’s most well-known and best-loved evangelist on TV and took courage in the Lord. This provided nourishment for me when I was isolated and without much fellowship. I would have to call Bernice Gerard a “mother in the Lord.”

    It would be such an impoverishment if the church were to eliminate the public teaching and preaching of women.

  27. Radiance says:

    As one wise believer told me, there is a difference between thinking BIBLE-VERSELY about a subject, and thinking BIBLICALLY.

    I believe that too many segments of the complementarian community often reflect the former. Some risk making idols of their interpretations of passages such as 1 Timothy, Titus 2, et al. but fail to, with the same fervor, break down the meanings and implications of passages such as The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 25 (about visiting prisoners and inviting in strangers), or Acts 2.

    Take for example this rather startling verse:

    “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

    *Gasp* YES, this is straight from Acts 4:32-35, not the “Communist Manifesto”…(actually it might be in that too I don’t know?)

    At the end of the day, does GOD care more about whether an elder is married, or whether we are living out the communal virtues of Acts? Does GOD care about head coverings, or whether the church is preaching Christ, caring for the widows and orphans, and spiritually speaking: seeking out the leprous, and washing the feet of the lost?!

    ** Which brings me to my next thought:

    I was thinking the other day about a missionary friend who told me about how her late husband air-dropped Spanish translations of the Gospel of John in rural Mexico.

    And I thought to myself, “Is the Gospel of John sufficient?”
    Nowhere in it does Jesus say women cannot be pastors. Oh no!
    What if a woman ends up with a copy, falls in love with Jesus, and decides to start preaching the Gospel in public! What if she starts to run her own services by the market? What if she starts baptizing people, even men? Oh the horrors of having only the Gospel of John in one’s possession!

    And then I thought, wow: even PAUL warned against elevating him over Jesus! We are not to ultimately hinge Christianity on Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”~ 1 Corinthians 1:13

    I am NOT suggesting that “ALL” Scripture is not profitable…but it is definitely safe to say John 3:16 (and the entire book of John for that matter) is far MORE “profitable” than 1 Timothy 2.

    Our eternity does not hinge on 1 Timothy 2 and neither does the church.

    I question the agenda behind the picking and choosing which passages to prioritize over others. It can border on being Pharisiacal.

    I was disappointed the other day, when John Piper took time from his hiatus from ministry to post a video blog essentially condemning “working women.” This is during a time when millions of people are facing unemployment and even the most committed of stay-at-home moms have had to seek work in order to help their husbands make ends meet.

    I was disappointed when Al Mohler wrote an essay explaining how the lack of men in the work force indicates an impending “end of men.” I felt his article did far more to promote the false, materialistic notion that men are to find their identities in their jobs and titles rather than in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Are we to view perpetually unemployed believers 3rd world countries as “less manly?”

    For all we know, the LORD is allowing for a season of unemployment to call men to repentance for selfish ambition and vain conceit, for making idols of their careers, and perhaps to have them spend more time with their kids and to read the Bible!

    This is a time for the church not to condemn and promote reactionary fear mongering, but rather, to be charitable in good works, to help those in need, and to share the indiscriminate LOVE of Christ.

    I do not believe that in economically trying times, Jesus would make “working women” the issue — I believe our LORD would have scolded the American church for not doing more to HELP the unemployed, to GIVE to the uninsured, to SHARE with the needy, and to ASSIST people both inside and outside our congregations in finding work.

    “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” ~ Matthew 23:4

    ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ~ Matthew 25:45

    And finally:

    “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” ~ Revelations 2:4

  28. Nate Archer says:

    Radiance,

    I’m not really sure what your argument is here. In one place you say that you “question the agenda behind the picking and choosing which passages to prioritize over others. It can border on being Pharisaical.” You warn against elevating some teachings above others. Yet the obvious thrust of your post is to downplay the importance of 1 Timothy 2.

    Sure, 1 Timothy 2:11-3:16 is less profitable than John 3:16 as far as telling us how to be saved. But 1 Timothy 2:11-3:16 is MORE profitable than John 3:16 in telling us “how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household” (1 Timothy 3:16.)

    We need to deal with all Scripture, and that includes 1 Timothy 2-3. No one can think Biblically about something without dealing with the parts of Scripture that make up the whole. Scripture needs to be interpreted in all levels of context, including the meanings of individual statements, or else it will end up with whatever subjective theme each person wants it to have.

    Yes, God’s Word tells us other things that we need to deal with as well. We do not have the option of ignoring any instruction that God is giving to us. But it is not a good argument to imply that since you think that some Christians don’t deal with other teachings that you don’t have to deal with the teachings in 1 Timothy. That is a distraction, not an argument.

  29. Nate Archer says:

    Correction: “how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household” is 1 Timothy 3:15. (Sorry)

    “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” -1 Timothy 3:14-15

    You could get the impression from this that Paul thought that Christians need to know and obey these teachings.

  30. Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the good work.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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