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WHY NOT ME?
By Beatrice Small
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Beatrice Small
All rights reserved.
The Body of Christ has been and will always be in need of the Gospel message. As it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4) Feeding on God's Word is more important than consuming physical food. In fact, the Bible declares that it is our food. Jesus spoke to His disciples "my meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish his work" (John 4:34). For this message to be heard, someone must be sent. Isaiah 6:8 heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then he said, "Here am I; send me." This truth is confirmed in the book of Romans 10:14 by Paul, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent...." As we look around the face of the earth, we find in many local assemblies messengers that are operating under the authority of being sent by God. "For without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). However, many are operating in the things of God without a permit. With the natural eye we see much more bondage and less freedom from sin in the Body of Christ. The message of the Gospel has not changed. Neither has the gender of the messengers, but for certain the debate over those called and sent, specifically women, have come into question many times over. Without question, among believers, non-believers, churched and un-churched, not to mention male, female and every nationality, social and ethnic group alike, in and outside the church today there are significant differences of interpretation of Scripture regarding almost everything written in the Bible. But the topic of "women pastors" has been and is one of the most debated topics today. Whether it is a matter of opinion or biblical facts the discussion can and has been embraced for hours, days, years and decades. You will have those that are for and against women as pastors as well as other leadership roles in the Body of Christ as a whole. The most important relevance is our ability to rightly divide the Word of Truth without bias. Jesus went up into a mountain and called unto him who He would ... and he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that He might send them forth to preach. (Mark 3:13-14). We know that the original twelve were men, but when it was all said and done they were not the only recipients of His calling.
The questions that guide this study are not related to the message but the messenger. Is it not God who calls and sends? Was it society or God that called gender into the equation regarding His message? What or whom should the emphasis really be on; the message or the messenger?
Background of the Study
Man's biblical interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is vital to this study. Scripture is the ultimate authority on which we depend. But scripture must be interpreted to ascertain God's message for us. How one approaches the task of interpretation makes a great deal of difference in the meanings discovered. Before examining the biblical basis for women in ministry, we will probe six principles written by W. Ward Gasque in his article "The Role of Women in the Church in Society and in the Home" which should be helpful in guiding the interpretation of Scripture.
First, the contextual principle will be explored: What is the author discussing in the surrounding verses? How does the verse, under scrutiny, relate to the theme and logic of the whole passage? The context (words or phrases that come before and after) provides insight on the meaning.
Next, would be the linguistic principle is explained. The bible was written in Hebrew and / or Greek. Translating the meaning from language to language is and has been a challenge. Understanding God's word for us requires an honest examination of a passage in its original language and the connotations of the words. It is important to know whether the implication of the text was accurately and fully translated into the English. Have translators used different English words for the same Greek or Hebrew word in different passages? For example, in Romans 16:1 Phoebe is called a "servant." The Greek word used here is usually translated "deacon" or "minister" in verses speaking of men. Why Phoebe is not similarly called a "deacon" or "minister", could it be a play on words?
The next aspect is the historical principle. Without an understanding of the historical setting in which biblical authors were writing, we often miss the radical nature of Scripture in contrast to pagan ways. Reading Paul's letters to the churches without knowing the historical setting is like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. Our interpretation may be distorted if we do not seek to understand the heresies being spread in the early church and the lifestyle issues which the early stage in development of Christians brought into the church. Continuing, the interpreting of a particular text within the context of an author's writing as a whole must be examined. To discern Paul's views on women, one must contend with all that he said on the subject and make sense of the whole matter. When there seem to be contradictions, the historical and contextual principles may help unravel the mystery. The principle of the analogy of faith is brought forward. Christians assume the consistency of scripture as a whole. Any individual text must therefore be interpreted in the light of the whole. Understanding the flow of scripture is important in discovering its consistency. Gilbert Bilezikian in Beyond Sex Roles suggests that creation—fall—redemption summarize the flow of scripture (Bilezikian, pp. 15ff). In Genesis 1 and 2 we find God's creation design; Genesis 3 records the fall and the rest of the Old Testament tell of God's first covenant with fallen human beings. The New Testament proclaims the story of redemption and the new covenant through which persons can be redeemed and empowered by God's Spirit to live in accordance with God's will—the creation design. When interpreting specific scripture passages, it is important to distinguish between the creation design, descriptions of God working patiently with fallen humanity under the first covenant, and God's vision for those who are redeemed. It is interesting to note that where persons begin their study of what the Bible has to say about women impacts their final conclusions. Some begin with statements from Paul and Peter which seem to limit the role of women in the church and make them subservient to men in the home. They then see the rest of Scripture through these verses. Others begin with Genesis 1-3 and move forward through Scripture. They are amazed by Jesus' treatment of women and equally excited by Acts 2:16 (which speaks of the prophetic promise written by Prophet Joel, concerning the Spirit of God being poured out upon all flesh) and Galatians 3:28 where humankind is considered equal in Christ Jesus. They celebrate the equality the bible portrays for women and men. In light of the whole, they wrestle with the difficult passages and discover the harmony of these verses when sound interpretive principles are used.
The last principle is the history of biblical interpretation. For centuries Christians used Scripture to prove the rightness of slavery (bondage). Finally, principles similar to those identified above were applied to the verses referring to slaves and nineteenth century evangelical Christians who began to call for the abolition of slavery. Their approach to biblical interpretation also led them to support the ordination of women. It is interesting to note that in the first chapter of On Ordaining Women, Roberts states, "If those who stood high as interpreters of reason and revelation, and who expressed the prevailing sentiments of their day, were so greatly mistaken on [the slavery issue] ..., is it not possible that the current sentiment as to the position which WOMAN should be permitted to occupy in the Church of Christ may also be wrong?" (Roberts p. 11). Sound principles of interpretation are needed to clear up misunderstandings and destructive error. The views of man concerning specific portions of scripture written by Apostle Paul in I Timothy 2: 11-14 and I Corinthians 14: 34-35 establish the compelling arguments of the past and future debates about women. These arguments hold the significant role of women as "Pastors" in the church, scripture states "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. What about the authority of a woman over another woman? For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." These verses are also connected to the scriptures found in I Corinthians 14 that presents the debate on the floor. They have brought forth much controversy as it relates to the biblical view on pastoral ministry in regards to "Women." Scrutiny of this passage for many sets forth an order of priority or governmental structure for the local assemblies. Church government and or policies are important because it speaks to the roles, duties and qualifications of those who will lead the body of Christ. The implication of superiority of divine order in relationship to male and female has carried over into the discussion of who is qualified to lead. Benjamin L. Merkle states church government directly affects who is qualified to lead or rule the church, He also stated that organizational structure of a church will affect the particular role of a church leader who is given the task of shepherding, teaching and equipping the congregation. Paul conveys his primacy of order between male and female from the book of Genesis 2:7, 21-22 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." When Paul instructs Timothy concerning proper administration in the church, he acknowledges the preeminence and the necessity of conformity to God's original design. Two important roles that are outlined in the bible concerning governmental structure and positions in the church are elders and deacons. The focus of elders in the New Testament church was regarded as "pastors" with other interchangeable names such as "bishops or overseers" of the church or flock. The functions or duties of this leader were to feed the flock of God, protect them against any false doctrine and nourish them with the Word of God. Several passages in the New Testament books speak to the specific biblical exegesis on eldership to include Acts 20:28; and I Peter 5: 2-3. However the focal point of this leadership is not limited to these passages only. Paul specifically outlines the qualifications of those aspiring to the office of pastor (elder) and implies that the aspirants should be men; "This is a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." (I Timothy 3:1) Additionally, he speaks that he must be "husband of one wife" and who rules his house well (I Timothy 3:3-4).
Many of Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus for the church were based on the culture in which he lived where women were expected to be subordinate. In Paul's Rabbinic teaching it is implied that Jews had a higher regard for men than for women. Therefore some of these views can be linked back to the differences between Jewish and Greek women in regards to their "religious" services in the name of their gods.
The concept of Paul's teaching comes from the Godhead order in which there is submission, respect and yet equality that allows for complete fulfillment. This deity of order had two tasks, creation and redemption. It was God the Father's plan. Jesus spoke creation into existence, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." And still maintains it! "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." And the Holy Spirit "hovered upon the waters." This communication reveal role differences based on God's plan at creation. God planned salvation, Jesus accomplished redemption by His death and The Holy Spirit applies the work of Jesus. Thus, in the activities of God, there is a division of labor and focus. Therefore in this teaching, according to Paul, equality and subordination co-exists. Based on this concept in relation to male and female, equality is established on "who each is," as a relational matter, and subordination on "what each does" a task oriented, functional matter. When this focus exists there is no reason for jealousy, strife, contention, or claims of superiority or inferiority. It is God who calls, ordains and establishes.
Statement of the Problem
The understanding of this investigation concerning "women" as pastors' deals with two main areas: different social norms, times and order as well as a person's reference point. Whether it is addressed in a doctrinal position or an exegesis position, careful analysis is required. The world and the things of it have changed drastically over the years. However, God and His Word have remained constant. Our present era has so evolved that there is possibly no position held by a man that a woman could not now occupy. As stated in the scriptures "For I am the Lord, I change not;" (Malachi 3:6). His faithfulness to what has been spoken over and in the lives of His people remains the same. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5). It is the integrity, sufficiency, authority, relevancy, and inerrancy of the scriptures "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jeremiah 29:11). The character of scriptures causes believers to obtain a sense of obligation and necessity to acquire the accurate interpretation of these scriptures, as well as to promote the faithful practice of the same.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine how and why the question of Women in ministry has been such a long contentious deliberation. A look at the bible shows us by divine order that, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16-17). No promise of God's Word is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one believer, He has said to us all. The scripture found in St. John 4:24 states "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The previous verse says "the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him." Some today, just like the Samaritan woman then, do not know who to worship, where to worship or how to worship. This is brought on by ignorance and unbelief. Faith in God, along with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the truth is the only acceptable worship of Christ. The only way to prepare the soil (heart) for the seed (truth) is to plow it up with conviction (certainty). Worship roles or leadership is no longer limited to a certain group. In spite of the Samaritan woman's ignorance she experienced truth: the Messiah was coming and would reveal all things. (John 4:25)
The underlying principle of this study was conducted through several methods of research. Each explains the reasoning for, addresses the questions asked and opinions held by many and will contribute truths, facts and principles learned throughout time thus far.
Authors that wrote valuable resources for this research include Gilbert Bilezikian (2006), J. Lee Grady (2006), James R. Beck (2005), Susan M. Shaw (2008), John C. Maxwell (2009), Jason G. Duesing, Thomas White, and Malcolm B. Yarnell III (2010), Cynthia L. Hale (2010), Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby (2004), Rick Warren (2002), Faith and Roger Forster (2010)
The following research questions guide this study.
1. In what way does God send those whom He calls?
2. Was it Society or God that called gender into the equation?
3. What or who should the emphasis be on; the Message or the Messenger?
Significance of the Study
The specific facts and or data collected in this study are relevant to the Body of Christ as a whole. Deliverance from, liberation in and reconciliation will change previously held beliefs concerning women in leadership roles in the church. The problem does not lie within the Word of God but with the interpreters. Therefore, many women in the Body of Christ have been wounded in their spiritual walk and held in captivity from the call upon their life.
Definitions of Terms
Exegesis is the practice of discovering the meaning of a text in its original cultural, historical, literary and theological contexts. (Melick, Jr., Ph.D. 1998)
Excerpted from WHY NOT ME? by Beatrice Small. Copyright © 2013 Beatrice Small. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction.................... 1
Chapter 2. The Ministry of the Gift (Pastor).................... 14
Chapter 3. The word "Ministry".................... 24
Chapter 4. Women designed of God.................... 34
Chapter 5. Government of the Church.................... 47
Chapter 6. Why Women Can Pastor.................... 56
Chapter 7. Pastoral Interviews.................... 66
Chapter 8. Conclusion.................... 86
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I loved this book! It was so informative and encouraging. I truly appreciate her candor and ability to connect with her audience!