Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Bible Questions’ Category

Conclusion

Perhaps a healthy thought would be to consider that like Priscilla in Acts 18:26, that the church’s best interest is served when men and women serve and even guide and lead together. Certainly, even if a team of men or a man lead a church, their wives and the women in other roles of leadership and ministry are co-ministers with them!

Perhaps if we were all healthier, we wouldn’t be as concerned as we get about who gets what role… and if women should not be in some role, or men, then we would all be happy about the roles that others get since we love them as much or more than ourselves.

Given that the instructions of Christ was that among His followers, the leader is the servant, it is vital that no one – male or female – would see leadership as their due – that they are somehow entitled to lead in Christ’s Church.

Some interpret I Timothy 2:11-15 as less about gender and more about the usurpation of authority.   I don’t necessarily agree with that conclusion, but I am confident that it is a good minimum application. That matches with Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10,

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   Mark 10:42-45

So, I hope the case has been made that I intended. Our church, which is led by a team of leaders, which is chaired by the Lead Pastor, does allow women on that team and also encourages women to be deacons… and could have a woman on staff whose title included the word “pastor”.

My goal isn’t to indicate that this is the only right or even best interpretation of all of these passages – but that it is an acceptable one while staying true to scripture.

I know that the width of my understanding could be wider than Paul (or the Holy Spirit) intends – though I pray not.

However, obviously I don’t think so, and those who made this decision for our church think the same. If I created my own church from the ground up according to my own preferred interpretations and applications, perhaps I would do a few things differently – however, these are easy places to submit to those who came in authority before me here.

Also, my general tendency is to seek freedom in the application of scripture… when the application is unclear.  I admit this is my bias.  So, when there are multiple biblically sound Christ-deferring possible interpretations, I like to default to less restrictive rather than more restrictive, so I can appreciate that aspect of this understanding as well.

To learn more about the church I am referencing, check out www.southspring.org

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

We can start with women as deacons:

The main passage that people reference in saying that women should not be in the role of deacon are found in the letters to his younger protégé’s Timothy and Titus in the criteria listed . For example:

I Timothy 3:12

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.”

This passage (and its sister passage in Titus) has been the main point of contention. Does the wording of this passage forbid women by saying “husband?” And remember, that the language can also mean “man of one woman”… the words in each of the passages are slightly different – but are all assigned the same word in Strong’s Concordance.  The distinctions, if of great meaning, are being missed by me.

Granted that this passage has also been interpreted to apply to single men and divorced men as well as women, but who is it meant to apply to? Who is being denied the opportunity to be a deacon?

Keep in mind that “deacon” means “servant”. Paul encouraged his young pastors to choose people as “elders” (later on that) and “servants” in the churches they led.

Could this verse be intended to reference a sex or gender or just the idea of fidelity to one spouse? People have disagreed since probably not long after Paul died and could not longer make it clear… but here are a few further factors to contribute to the uncertainty:

One is the previous verse:

I Timothy 3:11

Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”

Some translate this passage as actually “the women likewise…” (Remember the Greek word issue?) and that is specifically references the women who are deacons.

Most likely to have an impact on the correct interpretation of 3:12 are Paul’s warm words about a deacon in Romans 16:1-2

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”

The word here for servant is “deacon” and there is nothing in the context to indicate that Paul doesn’t mean to honor her as a “deacon” as described in the pastoral letters. In other words, I think it is very likely that Phoebe was a deacon, and she was certainly not the husband of one wife.

I think this also possibly means that phrase is not meant to be understood that way in the other places where it is used – it is not meant to forbid women from becoming deacons or perhaps not elders either, since the same phrasing is used there:

“Therefore an overseer (elder/bishop?) must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” I Timothy 3:2

Again, there are different words in the Timothy and Titus passages.  One common theory is that in each, Paul is referencing a total of three offices (deacon, Presbyter, Eklesion) or that the last two or different types of the same office or that he is using the last two terms interchangeably.  My research has not taken me far enough into the offices side of this conversation yet.  I hope to have the time to in the future.

In the meantime, back to the role of women…

Read Full Post »

Women in Ministry

Right now, I am the Lead Pastor at a church that allows and encourages women in roles that some other churches do not. Women can serve as deacons, as teachers in a co-ed Life Group, members of the Leadership Board (the main decision making board of the church), can be licensed as a minister, and could hold the title “pastor” (though not likely in the position of “lead pastor”).

Sometimes we get questions about these decisions and so I thought I would write an article to show why I believe that these are biblically acceptable options.

I want to note that language – biblically acceptable – is very intentional. I do NOT think that the decisions this church has come to are biblically necessary.

I have worked in other churches that had very different conclusions on these issues. Immediately before coming be on staff at this church, I was an elder at a church that would have said none of these were allowed, and I think that is a biblically acceptable option too!

I have no intention for this to be an in depth article about women in the church or home in general. Heck, it isn’t even a very in depth conversation in women’s roles in ministry – that takes books. This is just a simple explanation of why I think the options chosen by the church where I am are biblically within the margin of error, so to speak.

So, given so much margin in how to interpret the biblical teachings on the roles of women in the church, what are some of the complicating factors and how do I feel comfortable with the direction that our church has gone?

Here are some complicating factors:

Let me start with noting that I am not a Greek expert.  I have never been really trained in it.  I am including the insights I have taken from commentaries, notes, Strong’s Concordance, and others.  I apologize when the Greek is too simplified.  I look forward to hearing where I may be making mistakes here.

The Greek word for “man” (aner or some similar version of it) (for example, see Romans 4:8) is also the Greek word for “husband” (see Romans 7:2). There are times when this creates uncertainty in the language as to which is being emphasized (the sex or the role).

To further complicate matters, the Greek word for “woman” (gyne) is also the Greek word for “wife”. The meaning is based on the context entirely.

Go check out I Corinthians 11:3-16 and imagine how important this distinction would be.

How about the idea that women are to be silent in church from 1 Cor 14?

“…the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (ESV)

I think this passage is intended to be understood as “wife” each time.  I am not the scholar that many who disagree with me are, so take my opinion as not worth much, but to me, Paul seems to think that wives (not women as a whole sex) should be asking their questions of their husbands (verse 35) instead of their teacher… and this makes sense in the understanding that Paul thought of the husband as the spiritual leader of his wife.

But anyone can see how this can be confusing, especially given the Greek language! It is easy to see why there is a lot of room for interpretation of passages like this… and why there is great disagreement?

So, what about the roles in the church?

Read Full Post »

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/michelle_pokorny/this_is_your_brain…on_stress

Periodically, when I am introduced to a valuable article on another website, I try to let you know about it here.  This is an example! Enjoy.

Read Full Post »

Here are some key passages that reference some of God’s traits that clearly have a maternal feel to them:

Isaiah 66:13

For thus says the Lord:

       “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.  As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

 

Isaiah 49:15

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

When I was young, we raised birds. One of the things that some mother birds do, like turkeys for example, is to protect their young by covering them with their wings. They do this in storms, in particular. It is a particularly maternal thing. God refers to Himself in these:

Deuteronomy 32:11 (as well as Ps 17:8, Ps 57:1, Ps 91:4)

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him,

 

Luke 13:34, Jesus puts Himself in that same role, too.

 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets

 

and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

 

or perhaps a more ferocious animal?

Hosea 13:8

I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;

I will tear open their breast,

       and there I will devour them like a lion,

as a wild beast would rip them open.

Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells a parable in which the God-figure is a woman:

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Ps 22:9-10, Ps 71:6, and Isa 66:9 all put God in the role of a midwife. Though it says “he”, the midwife in Israel was apparently a female role.

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;

you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;

you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.

 My praise is continually of you.

Bless our God, O peoples;

let the sound of his praise be heard,

who has kept our soul among the living

and has not let our feet slip.

 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”

says the Lord; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God.

Our concepts of gender, though cultural and society, are connected to sex – which is biological. Honestly, we cannot know what role gender or sex will play in the new imperishable bodies that humans will have someday forever. Much less, the role of gender in God – but how could what we know as sex have anything to do with a self-existent Spirit being as God is with no need of sex or biological reproduction?

So, it is completely error to think that God being “He” somehow is a tipped hat to human sex or gender except as being in language that we would understand. God has reveled Himself somehow as “He” and therefore that is the correct pronoun for Him, but be

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo at the Sistine chapel, Vatican city, Rome, Italy

very careful about ascribing any meaning there – it is very easy to make big mistakes.

Remember that God so loved the world – all men and women – perhaps all of creation – that He sent His Son. God’s love extends to everyone and whether you are male or female, He treasures you.

Read Full Post »

Maternal Traits of God

Sometimes when someone reads that God I referenced as “He” in the Bible, they think that implies a sex prioritization or and sex hierarchy in the mind of God.

Somehow God being “He” also makes Him more like a male human than like a female human (or a male human more like Him than a female human)…

But I think that is a misunderstanding, mistake or in some cases, abuse.

What does it mean that I am male? It means that I have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. It also probably means that I have certain sex organs and plumbing. It probably means that I choose, as a preference or daily, between boxers and briefs.

So, obviously (I pray it is obvious) God being a “He” doesn’t mean the same things as those. Either there is something about His essence that links to something that all males (not just humans?)

That seems to be the case, but that is also quite a mystery, as revealed in Gen 1:27

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Something about being created in God’s own image is linked to us being create male and female, but what exactly is open to great speculation… but a clear implication is that man and woman are BOTH created in God’s image.

Woman are not a lesser version of God’s image, so God being a “He” must not be meant to imply that men are somehow closer to God’s image.

In fact, the main focus for this little article is to draw attention to the maternal traits of God.

I do not think that masculinity or femininity are biblically founded concepts. Male and female clearly are, but gender traits are entirely culturally based. (not man or woman – that is genetic, but “manly” or “lady-like” for example.) More on that in another article.

I have long said that though there are many biblical roles that can only be held by men (father, son, brother, husband, for example) and there are roles that can only be held by women (wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc.), but with very few directions for men or women outside of roles like this.

There are clearly passages that indicate paternal traits of God – and being referred to as “Father” and “He” are certainly examples that we are used to – but what about God’s maternal traits?

We are called to the roles in people’s lives as parents… for our children and other people’s children.

How would that be possible for women if God’s traits were only masculine?  Next we look at God’s maternal traits.

Read Full Post »

I am sorry that this two part article got broken up.  You might go back and refresh yourself with the first part again.

This level of “oddity” is so “common” that it inspired Tom Clancy to say that “the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”

Mark Twain is given credit for “…Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.”

Recent events of flooding in South-East Texas have led to dozens of “unbelievable” accounts of people being rescued.  Unlikely though they may be, people are alive because of them.

But would the historians of the future think them merely myths, legends, or miracles – an ignorant people trying to explain something they didn’t really understand?

At church we went through a sermon series for a few weeks of looking at some of the “extraordinary” lives in the Bible… the likes of Paul, Mary, Zacchaeus, David, and others… and at the same realizing that their lives are extraordinary… Just like ours.

I think many people imagine that the accounts of people’s lives in the Bible for example, or biographies of other great men and women, are radically different from their own… but exactly what makes their lives believable are the ways they seem “out of the ordinary.”

And yet, they happened.

Is it likely that a client told me that that God has woken her up in the night for her to pray for the baby we were pregnant with – having never met my wife – even though we weren’t pregnant?

Or rather, didn’t know that we were?

That seems like a miracle.

They meet astonishing people. They are caught up in events that define their times and history. Unlikely things happen all around them.   Sometimes when we look back on our own lives, these things seem unbelievable, but they happened.

Is it believable that some orphan, Esther, spends a night with Xerxes? That some kidnapped Hebrew kid, Daniel, meets Nebuchadnezzar and Darius? That David faces a Philistine warrior giant and kills him?

It doesn’t seem so, does it? And yet, everyday “normal” people interacted with Napoleon Bonaparte, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln, Shaka Zulu, etc.

Normal people become everyday soldiers and periodically everyday soldiers become extraordinary heroes.

But all extraordinary heroes are also normal everyday people, too.

The fact that biblical characters have strangely, unlikely, even miraculous unexplainable events is part of what makes them believable!

What seems to unite our lives are the “unbelievable” things that happen.   The vast majority of people, when I have asked them, say that they have experienced “miracles”.

So, Ehrman says that since historians can only accept as accurate what was “most likely” to have happened and by (his) definition, miracles are “the least likely things to happen,” and therefore cannot be accepted as historically accurate.

But in this is a serious problem. So, all of the radically unlikely things that have happened to me, and you could not be part of history? Historians of the future cannot accept those as historically accurate?

In that case, they will miss the truth, because we were present for these events… for these extraordinary, unlikely events.

But they happened. I assume things like them happened to the people of the past,

too. So, it is exactly the accounts of them experiencing miracles that make their life accounts believable – not less believable.

The unwillingness to accept what is unlikely to have happened makes it impossible to accept what does & did happen. This understanding of history makes history a science utterly incapable of accurately describing the unlikely events that are universal to human experience and apparently always have been!

To dismiss the miraculous is to miss out on an accurate understanding of the human experience… and maybe what makes it the human experience.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »