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And, in other news…

June 24, 2010

On the topic of all things Australia, our fair nation now has its first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. We also have a woman for Governor-General, and, of course, our ultimate ruler is the Queen. Nice.

And no, there was no election. The Labor party (and don’t ask me why they don’t spell their name ‘Labour’), which is the party in power, simply decided to dump Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from the role – who, I think, seemed like a pretty nice guy. While it’s exciting to have a woman in charge, I don’t think it’s likely to make me vote Labor. Not when they don’t even spell their name in Australian English spelling.

I liked my husband’s (sarcastic) comment that the woman Prime Minister should “be accountable to a man”. As members of an egalitarian church (gender and ethnicity have no bearing on an individual’s God-given capacity for leadership), it seemed a fitting joke, in light of recent resumed arguments (surprisingly, debated by women) that our church is “wrong” to allow women pastoral and teaching roles. All theological nit-picking aside, I personally think it’s great to witness an historical moment for Australian women.

And, as a few people I know have pointed out, it’s about time a “bogan ranga” gets the job as head of our nation.

To translate for my international readers, both bogan and ranga are somewhat derogatory terms. As to how to explain them, umm… let me consult wikipedia…

Ranga – http://blogs.abc.net.au/nsw/2009/07/whats-a-ranga.html?program=702_weekends I have to admit, I don’t make a habit of calling people this term. As the token brunette  in a family of red-haired people, it would be ridiculous of me to have a go at people with red hair. I know some red-heads who’ve embraced the term, but others see it as a form of racism. I tend to avoid it out of recognition that those of us with Celtic heritage tend to get harassed a fair bit for our skin and hair colouring. As in, other white people tell me I’m too white. Pffft. Everyone is what they are, there’s nothing innately wrong with one skin tone compared to another.

Bogan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogan – I don’t know how to explain this one. If you’re Aussie, you just kind of know what it means and you know how to apply the term for offense, endearment, and humour! It’s often associated with mullet hair cuts. I personally think it’s a bit like what you get if Australian culture just stopped somewhere in the 1980s.

More information:

http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/sys_gov.html

Australian Government fact sheet – a simple introduction to the structure of the Australian Government

The Governor-General – http://www.gg.gov.au/governorgeneral/category.php?id=2

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27 comments

  1. ‘On the topic of all things Australia, our fair nation now has its first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.’

    Priority #1, she has to get you Aussies to stop playing so much Rugby and related and playing more football, so you have a better shot at winning the FIFA World Cup.

    Outlaw rugby union, rugby league, Australian rules, cricket, surfing and beach sports.

    ‘As members of an egalitarian church(gender and ethnicity have no bearing on an individual’s God-given capacity for leadership),’

    Not my position in light if Epheshians 5, I Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 3.

    But, men and women are equal (Genesis 1: 27) made in God’s image.

    I do grant though that in the modern world a woman could be the most educated theological and Biblical person in a given church and most spiritually mature in some cases.

    This education was lacking in the New Testament era.

    Perhaps in some rare cases a woman is the best to lead, for a time.

    I know we have discussed this on this blog before and are both pretty moderate.

    ‘that our church is “wrong” to allow women pastoral and teaching roles. All theological nit-picking aside, I personally think it’s great to witness an historical moment for Australian women.’

    Being spiritual head is not the same as being government head.

    Biblically a woman can be head of state.

    Russ:)


  2. hahaha hmmm yeah, well… I don’t know how to answer the FIFA World Cup question!

    I hear what you’re saying regarding gender issues in churches, and in my church they teach that we are to realise that different churches hold different views.

    Indeed, there are plenty of people within our congregation that disagree, but then these women seem to get hung up on the concept that they can’t do anything outside of their husband’s direct permission. I have spoken with some women who have clearly spent a lot of time wrestling with this idea, seeing themselves as lesser beings than their husbands, and getting frustrated at the sense of powerless submission to their husband’s demands (even if the husband himself does not necessarily exercise this power of his wife).

    It can very easily lead into abusive situations. My church runs emergency housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence, for example, and this is in contrast to reports of churches where abused women have been told by male pastors to simply “submit more to your husband” [http://www.crosswalk.com/marriage/11602500/]. Our senior minister is a man but he works in close partnership with his wife, who is also a pastor, to run the church. They set a very good example of a marriage relationship based on mutual honouring, as opposed to female subordination.

    Still, I can easily understand why many Christians can put forward an argument for the man over the wife. I just can’t imagine that going down too well in fairly liberally-minded Australia!


  3. ‘It can very easily lead into abusive situations.’

    Yes, and instead the husband to is love the wife (Ephesians 5: 25).

    Russ:)


  4. ‘Still, I can easily understand why many Christians can put forward an argument for the man over the wife. I just can’t imagine that going down too well in fairly liberally-minded Australia!’

    The gospel and Bible is often counter-cultural.

    This is a challenge for those in the Church.:)


  5. You packed a LOT into this one…

    I think it is great to have women in positions of authority in politics and business…my direct supervisor is a woman and she is fantastic…

    In Canada…we had our first female Prime Minister in 1993…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Campbell

    …and we have a very sharp female Governor General…
    http://politicsontheblade.blogspot.com/2010/04/replacing-michaelle-jean-governor.html

    …and of course we also have our Queen that lives in a different country…*momentary waving at passing motorcade*

    …as they spell it Labor and not the correct Commonwealth application of Labour they must be in the pocket of the US 😉

    I would humbly disagree on female pastors…I only see Biblical support for male pastors (particularly in regards to a Sunday morning joint gender service)…not because men are smarter etc…simply because it is my conviction that God has ordained such a dispensing of rolls…

    *Livingsword quickly ducks* 😉


  6. Yeah, I hear what you’re both saying on gender-based pastor roles, and, due to my lack of theological prowess, I simply submit (!) to my own pastors’ position on the issue. My senior pastors have posted our church’s position at http://markconner.typepad.com/catch_the_wind/2009/09/women-in-minist.html and they just told me (as of, 10 minutes ago) to read the website http://www.cbe.org.au/ for more information. Apart from that, I’m not particularly equipped to discuss this in depth – i’d just be repeating my own pastors’ theological position! 🙂

    Ah yes, I saw the Canadian Governor-General sitting on the Opening Ceremony in the Olympics!

    haha – as for being in the pocket of the US, I think it’s the Australian Liberal Party that gets accused of that – which, funnily enough, is on the conservative side of the fence as compared to the left-wing Australian Labor Party. Not that either party appears particularly different. I tend to be a swinging voter, and I’ve voted in various elections for the National / Liberal parties, Family First and even the Greens. Never Labor, though!


  7. Oh, and yay for sharing the same Queen!


  8. Sigh… we’re not still discussing this surely???
    Russ… Ephesians 5 is about husbands and wives, NOT about ministry in the church.

    I Corinthians 11 is about women wearing veils WHILE PRAYING OR PROPHESYING IN CHURCH. Last time I looked, these are public ministries.

    As for Paul instructing Timothy to appoint elders… yes, men were the absolute heads of households in the Mediterranean world and hence generally the “heads” of house churches, the only churches that existed in the first century. But this is not exclusive in the New Testament… John wrote to an elder woman in II John, Lydia had a church in her home, Junias is called “outstanding among the apostles”, Phoebe is described as a deacon, women appear to have followed Jesus throughout his ministry (Matthew 27:55).

    My feeling is people cherry-pick verses to defend what they FEEL comfortable with, without really digging into good theology in any kind of depth. I think the CBE material referenced is great.

    Or if you’re keen, you can pick a fight with me at:

    http://www.exiles.net.au/?p=219

    http://secret-womens-space.blogspot.com/2009/06/more-on-women-in-ministry.html

    http://secret-womens-space.blogspot.com/2009/04/position-position-positions.html

    http://secret-womens-space.blogspot.com/2010/03/glimpses-of-quiet-witnesses.html

    http://secret-womens-space.blogspot.com/2009/07/two-long-years-of-tea.html

    http://secret-womens-space.blogspot.com/2009/03/top-ten-reasons-why-men-should-not-be.html


  9. hahah wow, Janet, thanks for the pile of links. It’ll take me a while to look them up!


  10. ‘Russ… Ephesians 5 is about husbands and wives, NOT about ministry in the church.’

    Most women were married in that culture.

    Wives were not spiritual heads of family, at least by that Biblical example.

    The deduction is that women were not to be spiritual heads of a church.

    Reasonable.

    We still have 1 Timothy 3 where an overseer is a husband.

    ‘I Corinthians 11 is about women wearing veils WHILE PRAYING OR PROPHESYING IN CHURCH. Last time I looked, these are public ministries.’

    So. Does this override the concept we discussed?

    ‘As for Paul instructing Timothy to appoint elders… yes, men were the absolute heads of households in the Mediterranean world and hence generally the “heads” of house churches, the only churches that existed in the first century. But this is not exclusive in the New Testament…’

    You are assuming it is not universal for today. Which Scriptures support that?

    ‘John wrote to an elder woman in II John, Lydia had a church in her home, Junias is called “outstanding among the apostles”, Phoebe is described as a deacon, women appear to have followed Jesus throughout his ministry (Matthew 27:55).’

    We have female deacons in our church. I did not state women could not lead at all. Deacon does not necessarily equate with spiritual headship/overseer.

    ‘My feeling is people cherry-pick verses to defend what they FEEL comfortable with, without really digging into good theology in any kind of depth. I think the CBE material referenced is great.

    Some do, but not all.

    ‘Or if you’re keen, you can pick a fight with me at:’

    Why are we looking for a fight? We should be seeking to learn with an open-mind.

    This is not about my feelings. Please check out my blogs before you take this approach with me.

    I do theology for a career.

    thekingpin68

    satire and theology

    Thanks, Russ


  11. Please accept my sincere apologies… I was stirred up, but I agree discussion should always be respectful.

    I’ll write more tomorrow, as I don’t have time this minute… my basic thesis however is that it is not legitimate in the New Testament to have “heads” of local churches at all… except for Christ. Overseers, elders and servants/deacons, apostles… these are legitimate servant-leadership functions to preserve the teaching and health of the church, but nowhere in the New Testament is the term “head” used in a local church context (unless it refers to Christ). Even there we need to remember that “head” was generally used to mean “source” (eg headwaters) in the first century in other Greek writings, whereas Lord or Master were used for terms of authority. Particularly in the light of Matthew 23: 8 -11 and other teachings of Christ on the subject, I think the whole complex theology that has evolved around “headship” is probably syncrenistic.

    However, I’m happy to stand corrected and to dialogue on this.


  12. Thank you, very kind.:)

    Just to be transparent. I am not stirred up, and really don’t have a strong philosophical objection to women in leadership (have appreciated female profs. teaching)and won’t state in absolute terms that a woman could never be an effective senior pastor. So, I am not a chauvinist, but I am also not a feminist.

    I do recognize that a lack of female overseer leadership in the New Testament as applicable for today can challenged due to educational considerations, as in the modern world, unlike the New Testament one, far more women could be educated enough to be overseers.

    I can from personal experience, from former members admit that in our church a wife of a Hebrew Bible professor was quite educated and frankly in my mind, would be a better spiritual leader than the great majority of men.

    So, I acknowledge the exceptions.

    That being stated, it seems to me that my point on Ephesians 5 stands and as for 1 Timothy 3 it seems to imply and teach that a husband/man is the overseer.


  13. The Continents

    or if html code does not work here:

    http://satireandtheology.blogspot.com/2010/01/continents-teaching-myself-geography.html

    😉


  14. Thanks Russ. Cool blogs.

    Just to expand on my brief comments last night, I have come to the view that the church is not meant to have human “heads” at all… so rather than arguing whether churches need “male headship” or can have “female headship”, I think there’s a good case for saying churches should reject the “headship” idea altogether, for the following reasons:

    1. Jesus appears to have warned against titles of authority in the church, because the church is to have one lord, head, and master… Jesus Christ. (Matt 23:8 -11)

    2. Paul stressed the church has ONE head, Jesus Christ. Note Ephesians 4… Various spiritual leadership gifts are described with the purpose of all growing up into the One Head, Christ. (v15)… not in being local “heads”.

    3. Paul was very explicit that those exercising leadership functions were simply servants and the focus should be on Christ not on the servants (See I Cor 3… “5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

    4. Contrary to later Catholic doctrine, Peter is not described by Christ as the head of the church… he is called a rock, a foundation. I believe this is a picture of all leadership in the upside down kingdom of God… Mark 9: 33 – 37, esp. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last.”

    5. Jesus forbade the exercising of any temporal authority… See Mark 10, esp. 42 – 43 “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

    6. Search for the word “head” in the New Testament, and it only ever refers to Christ in the church, or to husbands and wives (a distinct issue to leadership in the church). There is no biblical precedent for saying churches are to have human “heads”, as the scriptures do not use that language… indeed, it is antithetical to much of the clear teaching of Jesus and Paul on the subject.

    7. The word “head” (if used analogously) was more commonly used to mean “source” than “boss” in other 1st century literature. Therefore we need to interpret some passages more tentatively than we do… “the source of every husband is Christ, and the source of the wife is her husband, and the source of Christ is God” is a legitimate translation… a relationship of interdependence noted further in I Cor 11: 11

    3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

    (However, I would note here we are sliding back into the nature of the marriage relationship, and sliding away from what leadership means in local churches… a “slide” that tends to dog these kinds of discussions).

    Based on the 7 dots points above, I argue that most Protestants haven’t “Reformed enough” in their theology of church life.

    When Christianity ultimately became the State Church of the Roman Empire I believe this greatly accelerated syncretistic tendencies. Instead of rejecting all forms of temporal authority and “headship” as Christ directed, a complex system of authority was established in the church. Whereas the state had the emperor, the governors, the procurators etc. in civic life and the emperor, the generals, the commanders etc. in military life, the church developed a system involving a pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests etc… a male chain of authority, which was able to exercise civic powers (eg burn heretics at the stake!) I happen to think the radical Rabbi from Galilee didn’t exactly have this in mind for the organic “Kingdom of God” he spoke about in parables and modelled in deeds of humble service.

    When the early reformers developed the idea of scripture alone as the reference point, they often failed to critique the traditional governance structures of the church in the light of scripture (some groups did, but got persecuted for it amongst other matters!)

    It’s a simple matter for Roman Catholics… the Holy Spirit led the church this way so it’s the right way. So I say: “God bless you, but that’s the end of the discussion… our starting point on the ‘weighting’ of scripture and church tradition is different.”

    I would state that the argument that the church is meant to have human “headship” based on the New Testament is extremely weak. It’s one of the ideas that emerge out of Catholic theology that hasn’t been rigorously re-examined in the light of teaching of scripture. I reject it altogether. The church to me has one Head, Christ, and under-servants, some of whom exercise functions of oversight, teaching, prophetic ministry, apostolic function etc… but these people aren’t exercising top down “headship”, they’re exercising bottom up “servantship”.

    This issue is very significant for the discussion on whether women can exercise ministry, because I happen to think the idea of “male headship” is the shaky house of cards on which most complementarian arguments are based. I just don’t think there are strong answers to the question: “So where does the New Testament teach there are to be human ‘heads’ of churches?” Without this idea of “male headship of the church”, the complementarian house of cards pretty much collapses in my opinion.

    But I do invite your considered critique to my views.


  15. WOW! I switch off the computer for a day and get all this. Thank you both Russ and Janet for the thoughtful, interesting discussion. I can sympathise where you are both coming from, though, as I have noted before, I am more sympathetic to the partnership model of marriage and egalitarian church style. I am definitely interested in this no headship model.

    Ah, Christianity. We can make things so complicated for ourselves. 🙂


  16. Thanks Russ. Cool blogs.

    Thanks, Janet.:) Much appreciated.

    Just to expand on my brief comments last night, I have come to the view that the church is not meant to have human “heads” at all… so rather than arguing whether churches need “male headship” or can have “female headship”, I think there’s a good case for saying churches should reject the “headship” idea altogether, for the following reasons:

    The Scripture-Eph. 5 states Christ is the head of the church and the husband head of wife. So there is male headship in at least a sense.

    An overseer as mentioned from 1 Tim., is the male leader of a local church body. The word overseer is from the Greek episkopos and means one that looks over others for the good. Liefeld p. 811. In the NT there is a connection between episkopoi and elder. There is an identity suggested between elder, pastor and overseer. A separate word and concept than deacons. Liefeld p. 812. I quote Liefeld from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

    1. Jesus appears to have warned against titles of authority in the church, because the church is to have one lord, head, and master… Jesus Christ. (Matt 23:8 -11)

    This does not cancel out the need for an overseer and related.

    2. Paul stressed the church has ONE head, Jesus Christ. Note Ephesians 4…

    Yes, as discussed.

    Various spiritual leadership gifts are described with the purpose of all growing up into the One Head, Christ. (v15)… not in being local “heads”.

    Yet, the husband is head of the wife.

    3. Paul was very explicit that those exercising leadership functions were simply servants and the focus should be on Christ not on the servants (See I Cor 3… “5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

    They are servants.

    4. Contrary to later Catholic doctrine, Peter is not described by Christ as the head of the church… he is called a rock, a foundation. I believe this is a picture of all leadership in the upside down kingdom of God… Mark 9: 33 – 37, esp. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last.”

    Good point.

    5. Jesus forbade the exercising of any temporal authority… See Mark 10, esp. 42 – 43 “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

    This does not override the NT need for apostles, or the present need for overseers.

    6. Search for the word “head” in the New Testament, and it only ever refers to Christ in the church, or to husbands and wives (a distinct issue to leadership in the church). There is no biblical precedent for saying churches are to have human “heads”, as the scriptures do not use that language… indeed, it is antithetical to much of the clear teaching of Jesus and Paul on the subject.

    I am sorry but that is a word game that will not prove your point, because the idea of overseer and elder is established and these are males, whether you want to call the overseer ‘head’, ‘leader’ ‘pastor’ ‘Reverend’ or other.

    If one is going to argue for female overseers, it would have to be more of a philosophical argument based on what I mentioned earlier in regard to education and culture. The Bible won’t be much help, although one could state perhaps that with education the NT era female deacon could be a modern overseer.

    But this assumes that women were not overseers based on culture more than nature.

    7. The word “head” (if used analogously) was more commonly used to mean “source” than “boss” in other 1st century literature. Therefore we need to interpret some passages more tentatively than we do… “the source of every husband is Christ, and the source of the wife is her husband, and the source of Christ is God” is a legitimate translation… a relationship of interdependence noted further in I Cor 11: 11

    Yes ‘source or origin’ is understood by some according to Rayburn p. 497 but in the case of husband and wife, even if this is accepted it would not cancel out the idea of male authority. Also from the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

    This would make sense in context.

    There is mutual dependence. Headship and leadership does not donate dictator.

    3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

    (However, I would note here we are sliding back into the nature of the marriage relationship, and sliding away from what leadership means in local churches… a “slide” that tends to dog these kinds of discussions).

    Again there are overseers and elders.

    Based on the 7 dots points above, I argue that most Protestants haven’t “Reformed enough” in their theology of church life.

    The Church is not perfect. There is the possibility of abuse with any leadership as well.

    BTW, I am not gifted as a pastor or overseer. I will never lead a church and yet with my degrees I do yield spiritual authority and although I submit to my overseers have also advised them at times.

    This could the case with a female scholar certainly.

    When Christianity ultimately became the State Church of the Roman Empire I believe this greatly accelerated syncretistic tendencies. Instead of rejecting all forms of temporal authority and “headship” as Christ directed, a complex system of authority was established in the church.

    Yes, there was also a dangerous mix of religion and politics.

    Whereas the state had the emperor, the governors, the procurators etc. in civic life and the emperor, the generals, the commanders etc. in military life, the church developed a system involving a pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests etc… a male chain of authority, which was able to exercise civic powers (eg burn heretics at the stake!) I happen to think the radical Rabbi from Galilee didn’t exactly have this in mind for the organic “Kingdom of God” he spoke about in parables and modelled in deeds of humble service.

    The gospel was not lost as some would state (restoration movements) but the Church was in need of reformation and is today.

    When the early reformers developed the idea of scripture alone as the reference point, they often failed to critique the traditional governance structures of the church in the light of scripture (some groups did, but got persecuted for it amongst other matters!)

    There is a danger of looking at the Scripture through chauvinistic and feministic eyes.

    It’s a simple matter for Roman Catholics… the Holy Spirit led the church this way so it’s the right way. So I say: “God bless you, but that’s the end of the discussion… our starting point on the ‘weighting’ of scripture and church tradition is different.”

    Well, I am Reformed. I am not going to defend Rome on many points.

    I would state that the argument that the church is meant to have human “headship” based on the New Testament is extremely weak.

    Again, I think this is word games as there are overseers and elders that can be ‘heads’,’pastors’ ‘bishops’ etc.

    It’s one of the ideas that emerge out of Catholic theology that hasn’t been rigorously re-examined in the light of teaching of scripture. I reject it altogether. The church to me has one Head, Christ, and under-servants, some of whom exercise functions of oversight, teaching, prophetic ministry, apostolic function etc… but these people aren’t exercising top down “headship”, they’re exercising bottom up “servantship”.

    Yes I do agree that all leaders should be servants. And some of these leaders will be women. But if a woman/wife is not spiritual head of the home then it is questionable that she should be the overseer.

    At least that is the Biblical implication and I would state is generally the case today as I noted exceptions.

    This issue is very significant for the discussion on whether women can exercise ministry, because I happen to think the idea of “male headship” is the shaky house of cards on which most complementarian arguments are based. I just don’t think there are strong answers to the question: “So where does the New Testament teach there are to be human ‘heads’ of churches?” Without this idea of “male headship of the church”, the complementarian house of cards pretty much collapses in my opinion.

    I think that is Biblically and theologically weak. But I do agree with some of your other points.

    But I do invite your considered critique to my views.

    Cheers, Janet. I think this has probably taken its course but I am willing to discuss theology with you on this blog, mine, whatever.:)


  17. ‘WOW! I switch off the computer for a day and get all this. Thank you both Russ and Janet for the thoughtful, interesting discussion.’

    Thanks.:)


  18. Correction:

    There is mutual dependence. Headship and leadership does not donote dictator.


  19. Thanks for your interesting comments Russ.

    I did not actually dispute the need for overseers in the church… I noted that I don’t believe it is biblically defensible to call this “headship”. I realise you think I’m being pedantic on this point. I come from a church tradition (Churches of Christ) that has historically stressed the importance of “biblical terms for biblical things”. So for me it DOES matter that terms are chosen carefully… that we don’t use the word “headship” (only used for Christ in the church and the husband in marriage) for the biblical term of overseer.

    Language is something that creates reality for human beings, and as such, we need to chose words with care. The other reason that I lean toward the pedantic on this is not only because of its specific use in the NT, but because of the current baggage around the term “headship”. For in the Western mind, heads are in charge. Heads contain the brains, and brains control everything, and brains need to know everything. Heads are “bosses”… department heads, Headmasters, Heads of faculty. If we’re going to allow sliding between terms (oversight = leader = headship = eldership) then I think the word “headship” needs a lot of redeeming if it is to truly represent the sacrificial oversight of biblical Christian leadership.

    Some of the things I’ve heard in Christian circles around headship border on “magical” thinking… “Are you under headship? You’ll be up for spiritual attack if you’re not under headship! Who is your spiritual head?” etc. etc. This seems to point people to men rather than to Jesus IMO and stunts maturity… being “under headship” is like a magic spell in the more Pentecostal end of the church spectrum. It’s not a term I have a lot of fondness for, and I don’t see a strong case for keeping it in use in this context.

    A further point I would make is around the idea of whether precedent creates a binding condition for the church of all time. Because Paul asked Timothy and Titus to appoint male elders in a particular time and place does not (I believe) mean it’s a rule for the church universal for all time.

    To pick some obvious silly examples… I do not think it binding on the church for all time that brotherly kisses of greeting are required. Nor that women must wear veils in church in all cultures for all time. Nor that disciples should always/only go out on mission two by two as if the model of Jesus sending the disciples out in mission created a legalistic precedent.

    I believe this is also the case in this instance. And it does sound like you’re part-way to agreeing that in a society like ours where women are as well educated as men, and have equal rights under law, is a context that makes sense to allow suitable women to exercise spiritual leadership, rather than being bound by something directed for 1st century Crete and Ephesis.


  20. ‘Thanks for your interesting comments Russ.’

    Welcome, Janet.

    ‘I did not actually dispute the need for overseers in the church… I noted that I don’t believe it is biblically defensible to call this “headship”. I realise you think I’m being pedantic on this point. I come from a church tradition (Churches of Christ) that has historically stressed the importance of “biblical terms for biblical things”. So for me it DOES matter that terms are chosen carefully… that we don’t use the word “headship” (only used for Christ in the church and the husband in marriage) for the biblical term of overseer.’

    Yet, male overseers and related leadership was the Biblical standard.

    ‘A further point I would make is around the idea of whether precedent creates a binding condition for the church of all time. Because Paul asked Timothy and Titus to appoint male elders in a particular time and place does not (I believe) mean it’s a rule for the church universal for all time.’

    An approach depends on the Biblical context.

    ‘I believe this is also the case in this instance. And it does sound like you’re part-way to agreeing that in a society like ours where women are as well educated as men, and have equal rights under law, is a context that makes sense to allow suitable women to exercise spiritual leadership, rather than being bound by something directed for 1st century Crete and Ephesis.’

    I have taken a Biblical, contextual stand while admitting the issue is not black and white.

    You would have to make a primarily philosophical case.

    God bless, Janet.


  21. I agree it’s about context… I’m curious what you make of Junias “outstanding among the apostles”, Prisca/Priscilla teaching Apollos, the “elder” woman John wrote to, the church in the home of Lydia etc. Aren’t these women exercising a type of spiritual authority?

    I’ve just read “The Virtual Abbesses” thoughts related to headship in a “book review” post (http://abisomeone.blogspot.com/2010/07/abis-thoughts-about-rejesus-and-untamed.html)… don’t know if the arguments are philosophical so much as linguistic? You might have to explain this more so I get what you mean.

    And God pless you too!


  22. I mean bless, not pless!!! Typo!!!!


  23. Hi again, Janet.

    Re: Apollos: My issue was never with women teaching men in this discussion.

    Looking at the Greek for 2 John it is elder and states translated from an Interlinear KJV-NIV: The elder to (the) chosen lady and the children. The NASB uses similar language: The elder to the chosen lady…

    Different. She is not the elder. I see this verified by R.W. Orr in his John (s) commentary. p. 1587. The elder was John. From The International Bible Commentary. 1986.

    Browning of the Oxford Dictionary of the Bible states that Junia or Junias was prominent among the apostles, not the Twelve, but a further group working with the main apostolic leaders with significant authority.

    So, she was a leader but not a verified overseer.

    Russ:)


  24. Wow, this is so interesting! I don’t think I can really add anything useful. I’m clearly outweighed in the theology department here!


  25. Yes, well I’m dazzled by all the referencing too!!!! Very impressive.

    Another question… I would have thought that the apostolic function (which I’d see as the missionary/planting role) is actually a “higher” gift… or a gift that comes first in priority or order… than the overseer role:

    Ephesians 4:11 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. ”

    I Cor 12: 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”

    Would you agree or not? It would seem strange to allow a woman a “higher” function but not a “lower” one (not talking about status of course, but Paul’s next comment that we should: v31″eagerly desire the greater gifts.”


  26. Cheers.

    ‘Another question… I would have thought that the apostolic function (which I’d see as the missionary/planting role) is actually a “higher” gift… or a gift that comes first in priority or order… than the overseer role:’

    The twelve yes, would be above overseers, at least in several ways.

    ‘Would you agree or not? It would seem strange to allow a woman a “higher” function but not a “lower” one (not talking about status of course, but Paul’s next comment that we should: v31″eagerly desire the greater gifts.”’

    Desiring never overrides God’s purposes for certain persons.

    According to Browning’s work, Junias was not given the title of apostle, as in the twelve.

    Also:

    E.F. Harrison describes an apostle as one sent with a definite mission in which he acts under authority. p. 71 Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

    Twelve apostles were given special authority by Christ. p. 71.

    There were other apostles in a restricted sense only. p. 71-72.

    This includes Junias. She was under the authority of the twelve. p. 72.

    So:

    The word apostle in the NT was used in the more official sense of the twelve and also in the sense of messenger/minister.

    Russ


  27. […] The busiest day of the year was July 2nd with 135 views. The most popular post that day was And, in other news…. […]



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