Woman Pastors and Leaders



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  • Woman Pastors and Leaders

    There are many churches in my area that have women as associate
    pastors. Is this ok?

  • #2
    Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches often employ female pastors, as do other faiths. I do believe scriptures and God lean in favor of the male being the spiritual leader, however, there are exceptions in many cases. For example, Junia is a woman who was imprisoned along with Paul for working to spread the gospel. She was not only an apostle but also “prominent among the apostles” (Rom. 16:7, NRSV). It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when prejudice against women became prominent, that anyone doubted Junia was a woman.

    In understanding scripture, one must have a grasp of its origin and authors. It may surprise many to learn that the books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were most likely written by pseudonymous writers, not Paul himself. Paleography and epigraphists state this is plainly evident from the original Greek manuscripts, like a fingerprint, writing styles are unmistakable, revealing that Paul did not write 1 & 2 Timothy or Titus. Although attributed to him and potentially containing oratory comments from him, they were written 35 to 80 years after his death. Many of the critical scholars agree on this. Whoever the author(s) were, it was their intent to answer the problems of the Church in their day in the way that they thought Paul would have advanced.

    It wasn't until 1753 did the two epistles to Timothy and the letter to Titus have the title "pastoral epistles," thanks to the initial acclamation from Paul Anton in his book "Essays on the Pastoral Epistles". Friedrich Schleiermacher noted in 1807 that the linguistic differences between them and the accepted Pauline letters were virtually impossible to have been written by the same authors. It wasn't until 1835 did Tubingen scholar, Ferdinand Christian Baur note that the three epistles' stylistic and thematic homogeneity were deutero-Pauline. It was argued that pseudonymity was a cloak for anonymity, but this does not aid the validity for the canonical Pauline letters.

    Another denoted departure of the Pauline teachings, Paul's leadership was based on the charismatic model, meaning that the people were the body, all are equal with the Holy Spirit as the leader. This position draws upon the egalitarian view which holds that all human beings are created equally in God's sight--equal in fundamental worth and moral status. Paul instructs the whole church at Colossae to “teach one another” (Col. 3:16). The books of Timothy and Titus are different from Paul's position. Paul's teachings dealt largely with the Christology of the faith, while the pastorial epistles were focused on the ecclesiology of the church. They are written later and are shaped on the ecclesiastical model, or that male Bishops, Elders and Deacons be appointed as overseers. This might also be referred to as the complementarian view, which holds that differing, often non-overlapping roles between men and women, manifested in marriage, church leadership, and elsewhere, are biblically required. Women were stricken down as acceptable leaders and forced into subservience in this model.

    A little study of the undisputed Pauline letters reveals much on this subject:

    Women such as Anna (Luke 2:36), Philip’s four prophesying daughters (Acts 21:9), the women who prophesied at Pentecost—the birth of the church (Acts 2:4-21)—and the women in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:4-5; 14:31) offered leadership to God’s kingdom as prophets. Both Luke and Paul acknowledged a female teacher—Priscilla—who instructed one of the most gifted evangelists in the New Testament, Apollos. Apollos is arguably the writer of Hebrews, and I agree after reading his attributed letters. Well schooled in Scripture and an expert in Hebrew history, Apollos lacked information, which Priscilla and her husband provided. Apollos received Priscilla’s instruction without reservation (Acts 18:26). Far from condemning her for having taught a man, Luke and Paul recognized Priscilla’s prominence in teaching Apollos. Lydia was an evangelist, as well as a house-church and business leader (Acts 16:13-14,40). She launched the first church in Philippi, which was also the first church in Europe.

    Lydia was not the only female house-church leader or church planter. There was also Apphia, who oversaw the church in Colossae (Philem. 1-2). There was the “elect lady” mentioned in 2 John 1:1; Nympha (Col. 4:15); Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11); and Priscilla (Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:3). Priscilla’s authority in the early church is highlighted by Paul, who calls her his “co-worker” (Rom. 16:3), a term Paul uses to identify male leaders such as Mark, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Clement, Aquila, Apollos, and Luke. Moreover, her name is listed before her husband Aquila’s in four of the six times they are mentioned, suggesting that Priscilla was the more distinguished of the two.

    Paul said that women such as Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis “worked hard in the Lord” (Rom. 16:12), a phrase Paul used to describe his own missionary efforts. Similarly, Euodia and Syntyche “struggled beside” Paul (Phil. 4:3) in the work of the gospel, and thus Paul affirms Euodia and Syntyche as leaders in the church at Philippi. Phoebe was a deacon who served the church of Cenchrea. She also delivered Paul’s letters to the church in Rome. Paul refers to Phoebe as prostates, or “benefactor” (Rom. 16:2), which literally means one who is in authority or one who presides over (as in Communion). Paul uses the verb form of prostates in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, where it means “exercising leadership.”

    But in order to manage heresy, disruption and false teaching Paul did limit the expression of some women’s freedom in Christ (1 Cor. 14:34). Yet, in the absence of these problems, both women and men from all tribes and socioeconomic groups were given the freedom to exercise their spiritual gifts as equal members of Christ’s body, in which there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. Again, this subject is another example of where the traditions of the church have superseded both the original church and its teachings. Many denominations take a stand against female teachers and forbid their teaching in nearly any capacity. This can be found among some conservative churches (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Restorationism).

    My comments on the authorship of the Pastoral Letters and the woman's role in the church will most certainly present a case for contention. My understanding isn't based on passive acceptance of a predetermined conclusion steeped in tradition but after much study from available resources and from speaking with respected leaders filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. I fully believe men are the first preferred as leaders, although God will not overlook women, granting them the spiritual gift of leading and teaching within the proper context.

    As a side note, what I find very interesting in comparing the Qu'ran to the Bible, is that where the Qu'ran was (and is) concerned, the primary mode of transmission was ORAL not WRITTEN. The earliest generations of Islam were decidedly an oral culture who chose to memorize, and where women were among the first scholars of Islam, as was Priscilla among the Christians. I was at a lecture given by a scholar of Islam (also a woman as it happened) and I brought the issue up, that this was an oral culture originally. She agreed and told the audience that as soon as the oral culture shifted to a written one, the female scholarship of Islam was dismissed and subverted, all female scholarship. This is a side issue if an interesting one as a comparison.

    We do have issues in our demographics, where the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana is providing training for those who pay for courses, and among these are women clearly not called into ministry. My wife and I have sat under a few of these misguided women, whereas it is obvious they are fully outside their calling, evaluation by means of objective discernment. I might add, there are a great number of men who are in pulpits too, that have not been called of God either. "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers..." James 3:1a.


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