By Don Barnhart
Your article about “Women of the Cloth” (Aug. 18) was informative about the views of local women who serve as pastors in local congregations. The article noted that there is controversy concerning women serving as pastors. It should be noted that such controversy has only been since the mid-1800s. Before that time the church, from the Founding Fathers to evangelical theologians of the late 1800s, all were convinced that the Bible restricted the role of pastor to men. (Daniel Doriani, “History of Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 in Women in the Church,” Baker Books, 1995.)
What is really at stake is the authority and inspiration of the Scripture. All agree that 1 Timothy 2:9-15 teaches that the office of pastor/elder in the church is restricted to men only. (1 Timothy 3:8-13 also adds the office of deacon to those limited to men only.) In our day of equalitarian views about men and women, the historic understanding of 1 Timothy is under attack. Some suggest Paul was affected by his culture, some simply ignore the Scripture, others suggest that 1 Timothy 2 does restrict women in ministry but that it was a temporary instruction for a particular for a particular church and time. They suggest Ephesus was in the throes of rampant feminism. (Historical research debunks that view: S.M. Baugh, “A Foreign World: Ephesus it the First Century in Women in the Church,” Baker, 1995.)
Also, Paul in verses 13 and 14 ties his instruction to God’s order in creation. So Paul says his instruction is for all time this side of eternity.
Our generation tends to confuse worth, value of the person, with the role or job of the person. There is no logical reason to think that way. Our worth as a human being is that we are created in the image of God. God has every right to assign roles for us to fill, and that does not change our worth.
But sinful human nature wants most to do what God restricts us from doing.
The Bible is our sole source of truth as to what to believe and how to live. It alone has authority to tell us about God and his will. Its authority rests on the fact of its inspiration by God. We understand the Bible is fully God’s Word – it does not simply contain God’s Word here and there.
To act contrary to clear instruction in the Scripture is to be in rebellion against God. Either the Bible is our authority or our own desires are. God is not confused, saying one thing in the Bible and another by a “call” to ministry to those He has said may not be pastors/elders/deacons in this Church.
Those women who feel a strong desire to serve Christ in his church should do so in the roles he has for them.