1/24/2010

The Women-in-Leadership Scale (a self-study)

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Where do you come on on the WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP scale?


So what do YOU think?

35 comments:

vanilla said...

10. Calling and gifts. And performance.

Tim Hawk said...

Definitely 10. All positions should be based on gifts and calling regardless of race, gender, etc!

Anonymous said...

10.

I would say I used to be a 5 & was raised in a culture that said women were 5's. I received mixed messages from church and college, and, even after seeking it, did not receive clear teaching or even clear opinions.

It wasn't until seminary that I found the rational answers I was looking for. And even then, it wasn't until my personal break-through with God about my calling that I really understood kingdom theology and was able to break out of my cultural bias. (This is really not about equality to lead; it's about equality to serve.)

My denomination historically affirmed women in ministry. We practically denied women in ministry in recent years. We're still making progress here. I'm very thankful for the leadership of headquarters in this area. Now we need to see it practically play out on district & local levels.

Have been having conversations with a student at IWU recently, & am realizing that things are SO different from when I was there 11 years ago. The questions are not the same. They're more about deployment & less about identity. That's been encouraging!

Also, I spoke with my DS the other day. He has few resumes from women. He believes it's because recent female college grads are typically not looking for solo pastorates, & that's typically the position he's seeking to fill. (The larger churches typically fill their own staff positions.) He says that many of the female students he speaks to says that they don't want to preach.

Thanks for this scale. Good food for thought.

Christy

Wes McCallum said...

I’m guessing that holiness, Pentecostal, and charismatic groups may tend to rate as follows:

Denominational leaders #9-10
Senior pastors #8–10.
Young adult members #8–10.
Senior adult members #4–9.

The early Wesleyan-holiness movement fostered women’s suffrage and ordination in the 1840’s – a full century before the United Methodists approved women’s ordination in 1956. However, today it is the mainline Protestants who more fully affirm women’s leadership than the evangelical churches. It’s not just men that may reject a woman preacher; often it is the women sitting in the pew as well. It’s curious that many women prefer to visit a woman physician, yet are more reserved about a woman pastor.

Chap said...

8

I'm a recovering egalitarian evangelical...worked with women pastors and for many reasons-- biblical and pragmatic would never condone a woman senior pastor. I also now serve in a denomination that shares that point of view.

Dave Ward said...

Well, I am late in the day here and the discussion will likely not return. But I am an 11. I used to struggle with this before I converted from rigidly literalistic exegesis in my seminary days. The women in ministry issue was THE presenting issue for me in discarding that exegesis as fundamentally inconsistent. It took me a while though to find people and sources that could help me deal with scripture on the issue and discover scripture's own internal dialogue and the gender bias of our current English translations.

p.s. Christy, you really need to get a blogger account. ;)

I now find this issue more than any other to determine whether or not I will likely not only agree with a person in their broadest theological categories, but just enjoy being around them in general. Theologically it is rooted in our perspective of the Trinity (boo to subordinationism for my part) and interpersonally it saturates our ways of relating to persons in general.

Dave Ward said...

Chap, when you use recovering language does that mean you think of supporting women in ministerial leadership as a mental disease or behavioral disorder akin to alcoholism or sexual addiction? The language is a little troubling. :) I suppose of course you would just say we are in "denial" if those of us at a 9 or 10 don't think we have a problem. ;) Chuckle.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I just try to follow what it says in the Bible and have realized that there is good reason Paul told women to keep quiet! So, I'm not sure where I really fit. Haven't had to make a firm decision.

I guess time will tell whether the Wesleyans are right or wrong with women in leadership? God's anointing usually follows right!

Chap said...

Dave,

I think we'd share many theological convictions and I'd like to think you'd have a lot of fun around someone like me (and we might even learn something).

By recovering (perhaps that was a bad word), I mean I used to be an egalitarian evangelical based probably on many of the same books and literature (contemporary and old) you've read. I also served with women pastors unlike many 'rigid' Christians who haven't ever met or worked with a competent, gifted female pastor.

I'd also like to think I've reached an informed, systematic and biblical view that affirms gender differences without the mistake of seeing us as unequal.

I respect your view and what is likely to be most others in this blog (since most are weslyans) I just disagree with it.

I'd state it here, but I think Wayne Grudem has done it better than anyone in his exhaustive work in "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth" and his smaller book "Evangelical Feminism: A new path to liberalism."

What I don't appreciate are caricatures that you paint (which many are accurate) of contemporary "complementarians" (current definitions of course are very elastic and differ from author to author).

I would also hestitate to throw out subordinationism as you seem to do flippantly, since, it seems to me contemporary versions miscast God's character.

Anonymous said...

"In the beginning it was not so..."

The all wise creator determined that the human race would consist of two equal but significantly different units, male and female. The patent called for a union between one man and one woman with the deliberate forethought that such a union would result in the propagation of the human race and establish a thoroughly functioning human society. From the outset, and from necessity, specific roles were assigned to each. These roles were not only tailored to their unique constitution, but as such, defined their place in God’s creation as male and female. God intended that females be “feminine” and males be “masculine”. Even a cursory reading of the Scriptures one can determine that the assigned roles of male and female were unquestionable.

The Bible does not prohibit by words that sex with a turkey is a sin; something so obvious needs not be dignified with any comment one way or the other. In the same way there was no need to prohibit men acting like women or women acting like men as the very idea was ridiculous.

Our Western humanistic and godless culture for decades has been hard at work to override God’s role assignment. The gargantuan effort by a variety of organizations working in unison with Hollywood has, by anyone standards, accomplished considerable headway in attaining their goal. What seems to be at the root of the whole thing is making sure women have and/or receive all the rights, benefits and abilities as men, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. (i.e. women in hand to hand combat) For some this means eliminating even physical characteristics (genitalia) as far as it is humanly possible. Unisex for everybody!

The Church today unashamedly argues for equality between the sexes in every reasonable way. However, in the process of proving women as fit as men in leadership roles within the Church it seems to be inching ever so close to striking through certain Scriptural passages that speak to this matter even though such passages appear to be in sync with the Genesis telling of the creation of the human race.

A defining question that is left begging, “In our efforts to galvanize women to consider the ministry as their life’s work, assuring them of acceptance in leadership roles at all levels of church administration; are we straining, in the light of a culture in open rebellion against God, to be in sync with God’s patent regarding the role of women in His creation?

Follow up question. If science figures out a way for men to have babies, and again, in light of the creation story, will the church be just as quick to assure men they will have the Church’s blessing if they choose to do so?

Anonymous said...

Well, I really only seen the Spirit and power of God manifest itself through an all male leadership. And, when I say manifest itself, I do not mean in a sensual way such as tongues, etc.

Anonymous said...

For me then, the question is not, what do I think, what theological perspective have I chosen, can I rightly divide the Word of God.

No, for me, I go wherever God is free and powerful (except I hate the side of that power that makes you look like a drunk that can't stand up straight or other like stuff).

And since I can only find that flow of God in an all male leadership, I am draw to that type of leadership!

I also realize that God needs different leadership for different situations, needs, or His will at a specific time.

Therefore, I will not take a side as I think one can acceptably argue both sides from the Text. Many have already done it quite well.

Dave Ward said...

Chap,

Glad to see you answered! :) As for caricatures of complementarians, not sure where I painted one? Perhaps you can point that out to me?

If you were referencing my statement that I usually can tell whether or not I will like being around a person, I hope you weren't offended. I have just noticed over the last seven years that this issue comes up in so many more ways in life than one might think and affects the way we relate both across genders and in same-gender power dynamics. As a result, over time though I may like a person in general (as it seems I would you), I find it hard to enjoy being around them long-term since my sensibilities are consistently pricked.

As for subordinationism vs. current castings of God's character, subordinationism was condemned in the second council of the church. It's actually a conservative position to argue against it as I do. You could make a case for "relational subordination" as not being a heresy as some do, but I disagree with the distinction since God is love and hence a discussion of God's nature has to be a relational discussion. Further, what else do we make of "all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me?" Maybe Chris Bounds or John Drury would correct my thoughts here. You might fall into the relational category, just a guess. Maybe you are a full blown nature-of-God-subordinationist but I doubt it.

More important might be the inconsistency in positions 4-9. I can at least respect the argument of 1-3 for its consistency. Women are on all levels incapable of leading at all times. 4 simply goes against the bald facts of experience not to mention the scriptural passage of Deborah and the indications of Priscilla's role. You have to at least allow for exceptions for highest level female leadership based on scripture. 5 doesn't really say anything different than 10 since all that is in question is the number of "exceptions" and since I regularly find women preachers and leaders to outstrip men in my classrooms I think its a moot position (as well as in churches). Just keep piling up the exceptions until they are the norm. 6 says that women are only allowed to lead the most impressionable which makes no sense of Paul's argument using the fall... if they are easily deceived or lured away, they should only be allowed to lead men who are supposedly less likely to be misled. 8 means women can do anything leadership-oriented in a local church actually and thereby removes the category of authority from the discussion which is what most base their scriptural argument on (usually ignoring different greek words for authority). After all, if a woman has spiritual authority over a man at any time for any reason in the system, we are being inconsistent with a nature/creation-based difference argument. Preaching, leading, shepherding, even pastoring are all allowed in this one. #9 splits it the reverse way, saying ordination is fine but only to do things underneath a senior pastor. Since large churches allow church-sized leadership roles to women in these positions the distinction seems to fall apart. It also goes against the consistency rule above. It means women could teach men, lead men, have authority over men, and do all other things which required authority as long as a figure head sits over them structurally.

Of course all of this is moot since scripture can be used to either support or deny the claim. If, however, someone is willing to force women to wear head coverings, long dresses, avoid jewelry and makeup, keep completely silent during church at all times, and never lead a male in any capacity at any age then I think I can honor their consistent hermeneutic.

All this said, I am sure to receive a passionate and thoughtful response from you Chap. I look forward to it. To Keith, I hope we haven't hijacked your comment section. :)

Keith Drury said...

Chap, Dave et. al...
post away... I was hoping for some longer thoughtful posts in this area... and you are not disappointing me. Yjanks-- have at it.. as you continue to be kind.

keith

Anonymous said...

I'm a 10 - in every way.
I'm a newly licensed pastor and female (the two are not incompatible). I serve in a small restart church. I have a very supportive husband we enjoys being the reverend mother's significant other. As a rookie, I'm blessed to be mentored by a young godly male pastor. I preach in my church at times. I have received a very positive response from other pastors and from the people in my church.
Sometimes I think I'm crazy to have started all this at 50 years old (that's two strikes against me - old and female). But then people like my brother remind me that we just need to say yes to God wherever and whenever that may lead.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Mrs. Anon....

a thought: Is perhaps your age an asset? Are older women less sexualized than younger ones--by both males and females? Maybe it is an asset for you.

Chad

Chap said...

I think the point of Keith's scale is to demonstrate that all of us "draw a line" when it comes to women in leadership in the church.

I would never presume changing the thinking of someone like Dave (or others) on a blog.

I happen to have a strong conviction that the bible does draw a line and never intends to extend the line to full ordination of a teaching pastor or elders who are in authority of a church. I think your criticism (dave) of my position that draws the line at 8 is legitimate since to do so acknowledges that I don't believe some cultural components (head coverings etc..) of passages are transcultural.

However, to explain away so many passages that clearly teach exclusive male leadership (in role, not equality) from Gen. 1 through the new testament sets us on a path to begin to justify all scriptural oughts, propostional truth, ecclesiology as "for that time only".

This is why I've drawn the line at 8. To me-- reserved male leadership in role (elders, ordination) more accurately preserves the intention of Paul etc... It preserves the orthodox issues of headship, the function of the Tri-unity of God rather than creating more hermenuetical gymnatics created by current egalitarian thinkers (William Webb et. all).

For example it seems to me that evangelical egalitarians are at the mercy of always needing to defend their position on homosexuality or slavery(even considering William Webb's noble attempt at differentiating them). Or they must abandon a position because Paul (and others) were misinformed, or culturally "in the dark".

It seems much more coherent to say, the Scriptures prohibit things like homosexuality and women in authority because of God's positive view of both gender differences and exclusive sexual practice. They were intended for the good (a gift) of the church and human sexuality, not repression.

I'm afraid like many issues in the church our history of male repression justified by our incorrect application of Scripture (women are unequal to men) is swinging all the way to another inaccurate understanding of Scripture (women are equal and roles in the church are equal).

The result will unfortunately mean more men stepping out of leadership in the church as more women fill the gap.

We all draw a line (even our views on how literal we should take the book of Revelation), the question is at what point does it miss the intent of the authors inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak to us today. So, I'm an 8...and I'm pre-milennial because you've got to draw a line somewhere in what seems to me to be a march towards making everything figurative or culturally antiquated in the Scriptures.

I just hope that everyone is open minded enough to be challenged by reading Wayne Grudem in this area. At a minimum it will sharpen your own hermenuetics.

Anonymous said...

I accept Wayne Grudem's hermeneutic... which is why I refuses to permit single males to be ministers (thay cannot be "the husband of one wife" and I also follow Grudem's policy of taking the Bible to mean today exactly what it says--which is why I do not permit any man to be ordained who does not have children--for how can we know if his children obey him unless he has children. I want to be totally honest in my hermenutic and not apply it by picking and choosing places where it applies and explaining others away. (which is why I also refuse to support the ordinaion of anyone under 30--they obviously cannot be "elders."

Name witheld

Grace said...

Interesting that you must withhold your name.

...its also obvious you've never read Grudem...he addresses those types of issues.

by your straw man hermenuetical principle nothing in Scripture is what it means which is the "danger" I fear looming for parts of the church...uggh. The problem is our newest attempts to explain can often lead to more disastrous results or cutting off our nose for our face.

I really did't intend in getting into anything heated-- unfortunately those kinds of responses mean I'm done talking about it. I think I clearly conveyed my point with no expectation to change anyone's mind--except those I've been called to shepherd.

Sad some can't have an honest exchange without getting in to cheap staw man arguments...of which the ones you gave are the easiest to explain.

Chap said...

oops, signed in under my daughter's account...this is Chap.

Anonymous said...

chad:
I'm the old female pastor, Mrs. Anon. So you are saying only old, ugly females should be pastors? (MY tongue is placed firmly in my cheek)

bookworm said...

New at this so bear with me. No. 5 is the closest answer to my thinking. I once would have said 7, but seems to me 7 draws a false distinction between "in church" and the rest of life. Neither are exactly how I would put it. In light of my own observation women are on average not as inclined toward leadership or as equipped for leadership as men - with exceptions that do not negate the rule. Scripture, and observation, leadsme to believe women are not - again I'll use the word "generally" - intended to be the leaders in the world. Again there are exceptions that do not justify disregarding the rule. I know I haven't really explained why I say these things. Maybe in another post - if I survive the stoning. If it makes anybody feel any better I think I'd come closer to be converted to a 10 than anything less.

Keith Drury said...

BOOKWORM:
Your post is welcome here... the church is still trying to work this out (which is why the feelings are so high). With just another 100 years we will have come to consensus (including the Roman Catholic church too). Reasoned discussion is how we'll do that--even if at times the rhetoric is a bit hot and we all must take our lumps at being considered stuck-in-the-past conservatives or Bible-stretching liberals. Reasonable people will overlook the rhetoric and try to explain their own positions as the church finds a common ground. I expect consensus before the year 2100.

I don't expect us to find consensus this week. But we can fairly and openly discuss the issue and try to persuade others kindly and gently.

And (in the mean time) there are practical considerations too-like, what does a woman do who is convinced she is called into the ministry but is a member of a denomination that rejects that call for women?

Thanks for the (generally) calm and collected discussion here so far.

Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...

Re: DS's...

I found the DS's who visited IWU when I was a student to be across the board...I met with some and thought "I'll never work in his District as long as I live, what a jerk!". I met others and was more than enthused when thinking of the privilege of working in the team environment of that district.

Anonymous said...

What about an 11 or 12???

Women should be given a preference in clergy hiring until gender disparities in clergy pay scale and hiring dissapear.

Any thoughts on this?

Glenn Knepp

bookworm said...

Keith, thanks for the welcome. I haven't been camping in the weselyan neck of the woods all that long yet. Interested to find out more about what's there. I was rather under the impression the whole Women-in-Leadership question was long since settled in weselyan rooted churches. Not quite so? Right or wrong how much further would such churches have to go in the direction of affirming women in ministerial leadership. Has anyone besides me come to the conclusion that whatever is correct inside the church is correct outside the church and for the same reasons?

Anonymous said...

Can we hear the board's statement on women in leadership?

superrustyfly said...

The point of view from Genesis is that women were created as equals to men. The text serves as commentary on a society in which men were the only leaders. From a Pauline point of view, I stand with the view that when Paul says that he does not allow women in leadership, that he is actually presenting the view that the opposition proposes, since he continually recognizes women as leaders by recognizing their positions which would have been over men in the early church. The only biblical explanation for women being negatively submissive would be that the fall caused a curse on humanity (a curse which Christ broke). So I guess that leaves me with the option 10. and since I am a Wesleyan, theologically and denominationally, I must keep on supporting these views.

I like this interaction.

bookworm said...

Superrustyfly,

Honest question - what does "negatively submissive" mean?

The problem I have with the view that relates the issue soley to the fall is that Paul also references the creation.

For those who posit one either has to accept women in any and all kinds of leadership or else agree that women may not wear jewelry, a few questions. 1) Is 1 Tim. 2:9-10completely irrelavant to us today (if not taken literally), or does it teach any timless principle, if so what? 2) What timless principle might v. 12 teach?

Semple said...

10. Clearly.

Christy...we don't know each other, but I wish we did. I found your comment regarding the conversation with your D.S. interesting. Preaching is one of my favorite things to do! I wonder why so many women shrink away from it?

FYI for the others who have commented...Dr. Joseph Coleson wrote a booklet that unpacks the egalitarian view based on the creation account. It was one of the most influential written pieces for me on my own journey.

Heather Semple

Chap said...

ok, i said i wasn't going to comment again, but a recent statement by Bishop Robinson highlights my concern on how many scholars are interpreting the Bible today.

Please don't presume that I find a parallel with the sin of homosexual acts with women being somehow inherently sinful/flawed.

Bishop Robinson answered: “The question you ask (is homosexual acts in Romans 1 against nature) takes about two days to answer, but I’ll try to give you the Cliffs Notes version which is: One of the things we have to understand is that any piece of scripture needs to be understood in its own context. (my comment: YES ABSOLUTELY) We have to understand that the notion of a homosexual sexual orientation is a notion that’s only about 125 years old. (THIS ISN'T CONTEXT WITHIN SCRIPTURE)

“That is to say, St. Paul was talking about people that he understood to be heterosexual engaging in same-sex acts," said Bishop Robinson. "It never occurred to anyone in ancient times that a certain minority of us would be born being affectionally oriented to people of the same sex. So it did seem like against their nature to be doing so.”

This hermenuetical principle suggests that Paul was not enlightened yet about modern day notions of homosexuality. This is the fatal flaw of the "redemptive spirit" of the text. If I begin to read back into every text our modern day "understanding" of things we really don't have much left that is inspired.

Read many of Jesus' words in the gospels about demonic activity (is really epilepsy), supernatural miracles (mind over matter) etc... with this principle, you'll begin to see at least the potential danger of throwing out the baby (propositional, transcultural truth) with the bathwater (culturally time-bound statements).

Can we really read back into the mind of Paul--especially holding to an evangelical view on inspiration and inerrancy...pretty dicey.

Anonymous said...

Chap, I want to avoid being testy here (or Drury will delete me as he has others) but help me. I am sympathetic to taking the Bible seriously and holding up a strong hermeneutic. I do not believe God’s truth changes over time either--as far as Truth goes.

But help me understand how you work with other passages on practice. How do you use deacons and elders in church organization--or are we free to use them differently?

Or how do you come out on disallowing a man to divorce his wife for no cause expect for the marital unfaithfulness of the woman? Is that fixed too? Can a divorced person join your church?

Or how do you deal with the clar statement disallowing a woman to appear in public without a head-covering. Or wearing of gold and silver?

I’m not being argumentative, I'm just asking how your “strict constructionist” hermeneutic works it way out in passages like these. Help me see how you hold a consistent hermenutic on these things too.

Chad

Chap said...

It would take quite a long explanation to answer those questions. Many of these are textual and grammatical issues, as well as my self-admitted prejudice that accepted teaching in egalitarian circles is based on a lot of bad exegesis (many of it repeated enough not to be challenged).

I will be the first to admit that I don't have an air-tight hermenuetic--as well as I would hope that those who side on a 10 would. My real issue on this matter is if our hermenuetic "cuts us off at the knees" in a lot of essential areas (doctrine of eschatology, hell, and orthopraxy like homosexuality, divorce and remarriage etc...)

How do you use deacons and elders in church organization--or are we free to use them differently?

Bishop, deacon, elder, overseer in the NT are terms that often are interchangeable. This is the reason we have so many differences in church polity. We've chosen to reserve overseers (as male only) and deacons as both male and female. This is open to critique, but a way I have chosen to preserve NT and OT teaching on male leadership/headship. We also would never hire a female youth pastor as well, for that and many practical ones. We do have a female children's director (of which again my hermenuetic has apparent technical holes and tensions I'm willing to live with).

Or how do you come out on disallowing a man to divorce his wife for no cause expect for the marital unfaithfulness of the woman? Is that fixed too?

Yes, apart from the other exceptions listed in Scripture, marrying a divorced person is sin--but not unforgiveable...it misses the mark of God's ideal for marriage.

Can a divorced person join your church?

Yes, of course as much as any repentant sinner can. We differentiate between a "regular attender" and a "member". Members undergo classes, demonstrate a personal testimony of conversion, interviewed personally by an Overseer before they can be affirmed as members. This helps us to maintain a membership based on regenerate Christians, not a roll to maintain. We also are considering covenant membership--having each member opt back in or opt out bi-annually based on the expectations of our covenant.
Having regular attenders helps us walk the tightrope and tension of reaching out and enveloping the lost and allowing God to progressively bring them to a point of membership.

Or how do you deal with the clar statement disallowing a woman to appear in public without a head-covering. Or wearing of gold and silver?

This is a difficult one. Where an obvious cultural issue like headcoverings (much like ceremonial laws vs. moral laws in the OT)is concerned we should read it as cultural, yet in principle (modesty in dress) it should be maintained. An issue like male teaching authority grounded in post and pre-fall creation texts and affirmed throughout the Scriptures should be read trans-culturally.

This is a modest, not exhausitive attempt to answer your question from my perspective. I recognize fully the now and not yet tensions of ministry and walking in grace and truth--it is a difficult one.

Dave Ward said...

Chap,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I commend your faith and passion.

Your thoughts though are driven by a commitment to a philosophical position that gives us an either/or dichotomy. This is rooted in a "propositional" view of truth that is "trans-cultural" etc. The idea is to extract propositions from texts like a timeless kernel from a time bound husk, or the baby and bathwater illustration you give.
This philosophy comes late in the day in world history and is highly tied to the enlightenment project. It doesn't really emerge from scripture itself. (The NT doesn't make the truth a proposition, but a person.)

I would argue this dichotomy is dangerous. To throw out the bathwater of the context would itself be a mistake, not just the baby of truth as you call it.

The bathwater, time-bound context as you say, is part of the truthfulness equation. What Paul is doing by what he is saying is just as important as what Paul is saying. Paul is doing something with these words we find in scripture, and he is doing it in his context using practical discernment in connection with given revelation. To throw out context is to throw out the pursuit of truthfulness through the text.

In my philosophical view, texts don't just say things (propositions), they do things.

There is of course an argument (several actually) you could make against the bishop here, but it isn't the one you make I don't believe. I think jumping to the Bishop though would be both a red herring (distraction from the issue of discussion) and a slippery slope argument (if we choose this hermeneutic we necessarily end up approving homosexuality). The issue, you are right, is how we interpret. His hermeneutic does not guarantee that result. You can hold to his hermeneutic and disagree with his application, premises, or conclusions. The hermeneutic simply shifts the criterion for decision away from unexamined positions (Bible says it, that settles it) and requires us to do a lot more work than just translation.

We cannot simply toss water (context) out without damaging baby (content). To toss either is to damage both. The two are so intimately connected as to be more like first-trimester baby and womb, the baby doesn't live without the context. That's a very limited analogy though of course. We have to discern what Paul was doing in the context in which he lived, and seek to do analogous work in the time in which we live. And the emphasis is of course heavily on WE. I advocate an ecclessiological hermeneutic rather than an individualistic one, since we as individuals cannot come close to claiming apostolic authority.

That said, I have read Grudem and dealt with his hermeneutic and found it also to be deeply indebted to a particular philosophy without a full willingness to admit that the philosophy was guiding the hermeneutic and to discuss the philosophical hermeneutic separate from claims to faithfulness and other laden terms for Christians. The claim usually comes across as though his hermeneutic is "biblical" when it is really philosophical just like everyone else's. (I don't find the apostles using his hermeneutic in the New Testament, except for when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles.) On the other side, throwing out propositions would also be going too far, some things can be stated in propositions...but how those propositions are used in context of course would then be a major part of understanding their real meaning.

May I suggest Woman in the Bible by Mary Evans on this topic? She deals with every passage of scripture that has direct or closely related but indirect bearing on this issue and gives multiple interpretive positions for each. It opens up space for discussion and outlines in many places the position on gender in the Bible that I find to be most consistent and appealing.

Dave Ward said...

Chap,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I commend your faith and passion.

Your thoughts though are driven by a commitment to a philosophical position that gives us an either/or dichotomy. This is rooted in a "propositional" view of truth that is "trans-cultural" etc. The idea is to extract propositions from texts like a timeless kernel from a time bound husk, or the baby and bathwater illustration you give.
This philosophy comes late in the day in world history and is highly tied to the enlightenment project. It doesn't really emerge from scripture itself. The NT doesn't make the truth a proposition, but a person.

I would argue this dichotomy is dangerous. To throw out the bathwater of the context would itself be a mistake, not just the baby of truth as you call it.

The bathwater, time-bound context as you say, is part of the truthfulness equation. What Paul is doing by what he is saying is just as important as what Paul is saying. Paul is doing something with these words we find in scripture, and he is doing it in his context using practical discernment in connection with given revelation. To throw out context is to throw out the pursuit of truthfulness through the text.

In my philosophical view, texts don't just say things (propositions), they do things.

There is of course an argument (several actually) you could make against the bishop here, but it isn't the one you make I don't believe. I think jumping to the Bishop though would be both a red herring (distraction from the issue of discussion) and a slippery slope argument (if we choose this hermeneutic we necessarily end up approving homosexuality). The issue, you are right, is how we interpret. His hermeneutic does not guarantee that result. You can hold to his hermeneutic and disagree with his application, premises, or conclusions. The hermeneutic simply shifts the criterion for decision away from unexamined positions (Bible says it, that settles it) and requires us to do a lot more work than just translation.

We cannot simply toss water (context) out without damaging baby (content). To toss either is to damage both. The two are so intimately connected as to be more like first-trimester baby and womb, the baby doesn't live without the context. That's a very limited analogy though of course. We have to discern what Paul was doing in the context in which he lived, and seek to do analogous work in the time in which we live. And the emphasis is of course heavily on WE. I advocate an ecclessiological hermeneutic rather than an individualistic one, since we as individuals cannot come close to claiming apostolic authority.

That said, I have read Grudem and dealt with his hermeneutic and found it also to be deeply indebted to a particular philosophy without a full willingness to admit that the philosophy was guiding the hermeneutic and to discuss the philosophical hermeneutic separate from claims to faithfulness and other laden terms for Christians. The claim usually comes across as though his hermeneutic is "biblical" when it is really philosophical just like everyone else's. (I don't find the apostles using his hermeneutic in the New Testament, except for when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles.) On the other side, throwing out propositions would also be going too far, some things can be stated in propositions...but how those propositions are used in context of course would then be a major part of understanding their real meaning.

May I suggest Woman in the Bible by Mary Evans on this topic? She deals with every passage of scripture that has direct or closely related but indirect bearing on this issue and gives multiple interpretive positions for each. It opens up space for discussion and provides a clear space for the position on gender in the Bible that I find to be most consistent and appealing.