Daniel Kirk, Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, has posted some thoughts on whether or not Paul was a misogynist. I commend his reflections to all, even those who may disagree with him. I especially appreciate him framing his comments by questions of what the Bible is, what we should expect from it, and how we live out its authority. What does everyone think? (more…)
August 26, 2008
June 9, 2008
Below I have quoted various writings from the ancient Mediterranean on women in relation to specific questions and issues. I have not included references to the sources/authors from which the quotes come—I will provide them later. For now I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the snapshots of the varied ancient Mediterranean discourse on women, specifically how components of the varied patriarchal consciousness connect with views of women as inherently deficient.
There are many many more passages from which I could draw. Below is simply a minor sampling…
[on womankind] “…is inclined to be secretive and crafty, because of its weakness…You see, leaving women to do what they like is not just to lose half the battle (as it may seem); a woman’s natural potential for virtue is inferior to a man’s, so she’s proportionately a greater danger, perhaps even twice as great…”
“How can one reach agreement with a woman?” “By recognizing,” he replied, “that the female sex is bold, positively active for something which it desires, easily liable to change its mind because of poor reasoning powers, and of naturally weak constitution. It is necessary to have dealings with them in a sound way, avoiding provocation which may lead to a quarrel. Life prospers when the helmsman knows the goal to which he must make the passage…”
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel… (more…)
May 20, 2008
I have been lurking in Art’s post below regarding Dr. Lillback’s essay, and caught a comment that I think is worthy of a new thread. GLW had this to say:
I am most uncomfortable with the recent developement of what goes by the moniker ‘trajectory hermeneutics’ and even more so when that concept is applied to the arguement that Enns’ is on a trajectory that was set by Warfield- never mind that BBW during his career opposed similar concepts that were being advanced by C.A. Briggs . It is much the same with the advocates of trajectory hermeneutics-they dispense with the Biblical texts on homosexuality and the role of women in the Church-never mind what Paul actually saying- we have to interpret those texts with this trajectory in mind at all times-one word captures this-waxnose. (The highlighting is mine.)
This is a topic of serious interest to me. If I’m understanding GLW correctly, he’s saying that those who employ trajectory hermeneutics “dispense with the Biblical texts on . . . the role of women in the Church.” I think that’s worth discussing, especially in light of the upcoming PCA GA debate about the ordination of women deacons.
It’s no secret that I am an advocate for opening all leadership positions in the church to called and equipped women. It’s been a pleasure on those opportunities I’ve had to sit under the preaching of a close friend and classmate as she proclaims the gospel in her PCUSA church while preparing for ordination. The parishioners of her church are blessed by her teaching, and the gospel is going forth powerfully. But am I dispensing with the biblical texts in my support for her and others?
I would argue not, and here are a few reasons why:
- Judges 4-5, the Deborah narrative, refers to Deborah in 4:4 as “Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth . . . “ She speaks the words of Yahweh to Barak, and he recognizes her authority. She is later referred to as a judge (4:4-5) and a mother in Israel (5:7).The formula of her biblical introduction is echoed in 6:8, describing the prophet to the people of Israel who delivers an indictment against them for their faithlessness which led to the Midianite oppression.
- 2 Kings 22:14, Huldah is a prophetess, who delivered the word of Yahweh to Hilkiah the priest and four others in service to Josiah.
- Acts 16:40 describes Lydia as householder with a church in her home, and Acts 18 portrays Priscilla as Paul’s colaborer and teacher.
- In Romans 16:7, Paul names Junia as “outstanding (or of note or prominent or highly respected) among the apostles.” (NIV; NASB; KJV; Young’s Literal; NLT; NRSV). The ESV alone takes ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις and translates it “well known to the apostles,” something of a stretch as far as I’m concerned.
- I note that in 1 Cor 1:11, Paul indicates that his letter is at least partially in response to the report from “Chloe’s people.”
- Nympha oversees a house church in Col 4:15.
- Euodia and Syntyche were Paul’s colaborers in Philippi along with Clement, (Phil 4:2-3), and reasonably part of the leadership group referred to in Phil 1:1 – overseers and deacons.
And so on.
There is a wealth of texts in both the OT and NT that point to substantial leadership roles on the part of women. There are texts that say something different, with 1 Tim 2:11-12 as the strongest among these, but there are quite reasonable exegetical approaches that tame the force of the the plain reading. These, I might add, are not particularly tied to a trajectory hermeneutic, but rely primarily on the overall context of the book, and Paul’s concern about the power of the false teachers over young widows (1 Tim 5:11-15, and esp. v. 13).
I’d like to know what you, our readers, are thinking about on this subject, both in agreement and disagreement. I would welcome discussion particular to the PCA debate, and of course, in general.
November 3, 2007
John Piper on women in the military: Is this a necessary or charitable expression of Biblical Masculinity?Posted by setsnservice under Evangelicaldom, Gender issues
If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.
Taken from World Magazine. Justin Taylor posted the original quote here.
September 4, 2007
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The Athenians waived their claim in the interest of national survival, knowing that a quarrel about the command would certainly mean the destruction of Greece. They were, indeed, perfectly right; for the evil of internal strife is worse than united war in the same proportion as war itself is worse than peace. It was their realization of the danger attendant upon lack of unity which made them waive their claim, and they continued to do so as long as Greece desperately needed their help. (Herodotus, Histories 8.2)
Following the deaths of the Spartan King Leonidas and “his brave three hundred” at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., the various Greek city-states decided they needed to pull together. Xerxes’ gargantuan army and navy were poised to overwhelm Greece, indeed the whole of Europe. At the eleventh hour the Greeks realized they needed each other.
Traditionally, Greece looked to Sparta for leadership on land and to Athens for leadership on the sea. But in this case there were misgivings about giving Athens command of the city-states’ combined fleets (despite Athens’ contributing the largest number of ships). Herodotus isn’t clear whether the reluctance was due to lack of confidence in or envy against Athens, or due simply to a recognition of Sparta’s moral capital.
The point is: Athens “got it,” to quip Herodotus: civil war in the face of an external threat is suicide.
Or, in Facebook-speak: mutual defenestration means self annihilation. When the enemy is at the gate, that’s not the time to be throwing each other out the window.
Rather than lobby for their traditional right to command, Athens accepted Spartan command of the navy as well as of the army. The result: two brilliant victories — one by Greece’s combined navies (at Salamis) and one by Greece’s combined armies (at Plataea) — and one huge and final retreat by Xerxes. The result: daughters of neither Athens nor Sparta were exported to harems in Persepolis.
There are times that call for a sense of measure and proportion — times when you need not to be doing a smack down on each other. Fifth century B.C. Greece it figured out. Will we?
On one front, we face militant Islamists who have declared a reverse Crusade on us, demanding we either grovel before a disincarnate cosmic monad, or die.
On another, Mormons, arguably the fastest growing religion on the planet, knock on our doors with their terminal niceness (with, as Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven chillingly recounts, notable exceptions) and their uber-Disney promise that not only can you wish upon a star but you can get your own star where you’ll be a god or goddess.
Then there are the angry atheists who grouch about the immorality and intellectual suicide of faith. And just wait until this Christmas season’s (how deliciously ironic) release of the movie based on Philip Pullman’s vision of anti-Narnia: The Golden Compass.
Meanwhile, mainline Western churches languor under the sway of pre-pagan eros and post-Christian heterodoxy, embodying in a way that couldn’t be more precise Jude’s prescient warning about “ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
Meanwhile evangelicals headbutt each other … and do everything we can to our nearest neighbors to let them know we’re more against them than against what should be our common enemies.
Sisters raise voices of orthodoxy in pulpits long abandoned by theologically conservative men — and we have the temerity to tell them they are more wrong for pursuing those pulpits than we are for giving up on their denominations.
A minority of voices ask whether we in the Presbyterian Church of America (my denomination) ought to look more closely at whether our preaching adequately reflects the corporate nature of the apostle Paul’s vision — they suggest even that our view of the unity of the covenant implies that perhaps it’s worth considering whether our children belong with us at the Table (as Hebrew children did at Passover).
The answer: a study paper (passed — I note with chagrin — overwhelmingly) not on the biblical merits of the positions considered, but on whether they pass confessional standards (as interpreted by a tendentiously and carelessly written paper). When the point of the positions was never whether the standards were wrong, but whether more needed to be said than the standards say.
Suggest that we might do a better job representing Paul’s view that the Body and Bride are elect as a whole, and get accused of denying that Paul teaches individual election.
Suggest that more could be said about the way Jew and Gentile oneness in the gospel demonstrates the righteousness of God than the Westminster Standards say, and get accused of denying justification by faith.
Suggest that all parties ought to be a part of this conversation, and receive a fluffy, but smugly cute repartee about the folly of inviting the accused to join the jury — have the derisiveness compounded by a disingenuous faux-rebuke of the “righteous applause” with which the vacuous remark is sycophantically met.
Battle as relentlessly and courageously as the Church of England’s N.T. Wright does to champion the view that Paul’s theology is animated by a comprehensive and integrated story of promise and fulfillment — scoring points against both the postmodern deconstruction of the biblical meta-narrative and the dispensational fracturing of the singular story of “the Israel of God” into dichotomous stories of “Israel” versus the “church” — and what do you get from your potential allies in the conservative reformed world? How about getting dismissed as importing an alien biblical theology into the established categories of systematic theology, as being vague about the atonement, and as compromising biblical authority? While we build careers at our potential friends’ expense, the hostile armies and navies amass. Nice work.
Write courageously, as does Duke University’s Richard Hays, into a most liberal Methodist environment about Paul’s seeing in homosexuality the red light on the cultural dashboard, champion Paul’s theological method as building upon Old Testament themes and texts and Jesus’ ministry as being the embodiment of Israel’s story, and get accused of Nestorianism because you believe that complementary to Paul’s teaching that we are to believe “into Jesus” we are also supposed to have a faith that was like that of the incarnate Jesus? Puhleeze!
As the Scoutmaster once said to his troop of Boy Scouts who couldn’t do anything but bicker: “Boys, it’s time to start whizzing out of the campsite instead of into it.” (Apologies to my friend Wes Sumrall for the euphemism.)
Is it possible that Sparta and Athens understood better what was at stake in their time than we do in ours? Can we stop devouring our own? Can we make common cause against common enemies instead of against one another?
We’re better than this. We’re wiser than this. And the gospel deserves better than this, because more is at stake than when the beneficiaries of the sacrifice of King Leonidas and “his brave three hundred” took stock of the price that had been paid for them.