Women and SBC Ministry: Clarifying the 2000 BF&M

This post is written by Kevin L. Howard

Should Southern Baptist women use the Scriptures to teach or train men in Sunday school or other settings?  It’s a simple thesis with many implications, so let’s get into it.

The Baptist Faith & Message of 2000 and Scripture

Article 6, The Church, of the BF&M 2000, says, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

I agree with this BF&M statement.  I just wished it went further.  Scripture doesn’t say, “Women can’t pastor or hold the office of pastor.”  It actually says more.  First Timothy 2:11-12, says, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (NASV).  In similar fashion, the ESV says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”  For those who argue that this is just instruction Paul gave to the church of Ephesus only for their situation, then I’d ask them if we should interpret the rest of 1 Timothy in this manner, too?  Perhaps what we know about the office of pastor from 1 Timothy 3 is also cultural.  How do we know that 1 Timothy 6:10–“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (ESV)–isn’t also cultural for only that era?  (For a detailed analysis of the many Old Testament and New Testament texts relevant for this discussion, see my articlesWomen in the Teaching Ministry of the Church (1 Timothy 2:11-15) and Examining Bilezikian’s Book, “Beyond Sex Roles”).

If I’m right in my assumptions that women are limited beyond pastoring a group with men in it, the implications go much further than, “…the office of pastor is limited to men….”  Rather, the Bible says women can’t teach men the Scripture, nor can they exercise authority over a man.  Although I think there could be a lot of value in a denomination-wide discussion on women not ruling over men, in this article I’ll focus on women teaching Scripture to men.

While Article 18 of the BF&M 2000 doesn’t have as much bearing on my thesis, I’ve listed it here because it talks about a woman’s relationship to her husband and the home.  It says, “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image.  The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people.  A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family.  A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.  She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

For married SBC women, I’m not sure how a wife can serve as a helper to her husband to whom she’s supposed to submit, while at the same time teaching him Scripture in a Sunday school class or on the mission field.  Any role where she has authority over a man seems to violate the biblical standard.  (This is not to say that a husband can’t learn something biblical from his wife in the course of their daily lives.  He can be a learner without her functioning as a teacher.)

Conforming to Scripture

I’m thankful for our denomination’s stand on this sex-gender issue with the BF&M of 2000.  It was definitely a counter-cultural move.  By God’s grace the BF&M of 2000 marked that our denomination had been (mostly) purified from the moderate and liberal streams that previously polluted it.  And we’ve been spared, again by God’s grace, the battle of over homosexuality that threatens most mainline denominations.

I hope our churches will reflect the true spirit of 1 Timothy 2 and the other passages in Scripture about women serving in their proper roles.  My prayer is that every aspect of our SBC church and mission field structure reflects conformity to Scripture.  Here are a few examples that reflect the biblical model:

  • Male Sunday school teachers (for adults with men in the mix),
  • Male bosses at every level of the church (except for where women are leading only other women or children),
  • Men training adults (with men in the mix on the mission field), whether that involves training IMB personnel or nationals.

The simple fact is, our methodology says what we really think about the Bible and God.  My suggestion is that Southern Baptists soon modify the current BF&M to reflect a more accurate picture of what Scripture says on the sex-gender issue.

  • Can a woman pastor?  Yes, as long as she pastors only women or children.  Ministry is something that all believers enter into once Christ brings them into the kingdom.  Thus, God may grant some women the gift of shepherding, but it must be used in the right context that Scripture outlines.
  • Can a woman serve in such a way at a church where she’s leading men or ruling over them?  Scripture says no.
  • What about on the mission field where workers are few and the harvest is great, and men seem less likely to sign up in the number that women do?  I’m grateful to the many godly women who’ve served our Lord faithfully through the years in a variety of ways, but we’ll always stand on safe ground when we honor all that Scripture teaches rather than trying a plan that God didn’t set up.

The Issues at Stake

1. The furtherance of the gospel matters.  By gospel, I don’t mean merely the simple plan of salvation.  Rather, the complete gospel is about the joy that the triune God has in being God.  It’s about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bringing fallen humans into fellowship with him so they too can taste and see the goodness of God–and thus glorify him forever.  God has ordained that men teach men (and where appropriate, men may teach women and children) and that older women teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5), and, presumably children.  If a man isn’t available to teach a man or a group of men, like in a Sunday school class or on the mission field, perhaps we’re sometimes too ready to allow women to teach rather than to wait for God to raise up the right man for the task.  Getting the gospel to the lost and discipling the saved are important, but methodology matters, too.  Reproduction in church planting needs the right methodology to be scriptural.  We can’t talk about the importance of accurate doctrine, as with, say, the Trinity and the trustworthiness of the Bible, but ignore Scripture’s methodology for how the gospel spreads and how discipleship takes place.

2. The integrity of our witness is on the line.  Integrity means standing where Scripture stands.  No one except God can truly say that the growing feministic influences in the evangelical church will always lead to liberalism regarding the cardinal doctrines like reliability of Scripture, divinity of Christ, the Trinity, etc., but we should avoid blatantly ignoring the teachings laid down for us in Scripture on the sex-gender issue, even if such obedience flies in the face of our culture.

3. The generations to come need our help.  The present and future generations need the biblical picture modeled.  Without following the biblical model, we’ll end up with an abundance of weak men and a plethora of strong-willed women in our churches and on the mission field.  Such isn’t what Christ wants for his church and we shouldn’t want it either.

My suggestion to modify the BF&M is controversial, but we’re Southern Baptists, no strangers to controversy.  We should avoid unnecessary controversy when we can but not at the expense of Scripture.  By God’s grace, we can navigate through more discussion on these issues, and stay focused on the main thing–savoring the glory of God and taking that joyous delight to those who haven’t heard.

Comments

  1. says

    Note: The views expressed in this article is expressed by Kevin Howard alone and does not necessarily represent the views of SBC Voices. Remember that SBC Voices is a blog in which we allow different “voices” from all aspects of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I post this article by Kevin because I think he has some good thoughts that ought to be discussed…

  2. Penny L. says

    I do think you have to consider the culture in which scripture was written, for women’s roles in church as well as in the home. At the time, a woman teaching would have interfered with the gospel. If a woman teaching interferes with the gospel, then I would agree that she should not teach. But I think in today’s world there is plenty of opportunity for women to teach men who are fully receptive to what she has to say. That was not the case then. And the same goes for a woman being submissive to her husband, or under his authority. At the time, a woman was considered property. She was someone to care for the house and raise a family. She wasn’t necessarily someone to love. If a woman became a Christian at that time and her husband did not, it could have caused problems if she did not remain quiet and submit. Many men now (even in the SBC) are fine with having wives with opinions of their own and standing up for them. I think that is one of those things you need to figure out before you get married. You don’t marry a headstrong woman and then demand she submits.
    This is one of those subjects that I find pointless to debate though. I think you have to read scripture yourself and pray for wisdom. For anyone who might read this and think all SBCers are like the above, I wanted to leave a comment so they know we do not all agree on this issue. I disagree and thankfully, my husband does as well.

  3. says

    Southern Baptists have agreed to speak plainly in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 in two areas concerning the roles of men and women. We agree that a man is to be the leader in the church and in the home. I think most would also agree that a man should occupy the office of deacon.

    But how much further you go with that is then left up to the local church and the pastor. Baptists have never been in complete agreement over all the roles of men and women. But we basically agree on the above, then agree to disagree on the rest.
    David R. Brumbelow

  4. says

    David,
    Agreed. Mrs. Criswell taught men at FBC Dallas for years. I can name many others. I think the role and function are to be decided upon by each church outside of the areas that you mentioned where the Bible is clear and we in the SBC have been clear as well.

  5. Tom Parker says

    Kevin said:”What about on the mission field where workers are few and the harvest is great, and men seem less likely to sign up in the number that women do? I’m grateful to the many godly women who’ve served our Lord faithfully through the years in a variety of ways, but we’ll always stand on safe ground when we honor all that Scripture teaches rather than trying a plan that God didn’t set up. ”

    I’m sure glad Lottie moon was able to do her mission work which most definitely included sharing the Gospel with men before the 2000 BF&M.

    Also, it sounds like Kevin is saying if we can not find men who will share the gospel with men and women that we just can not have a woman share the Gospel with the men.

    So, we do not let a woman share the gospel with the men and they do not get an opportunity to hear the gospel.

    Personally, I find Kevin’s views extreme.

    • Mark M says

      I agree with Tom. What would Lottie say? Read below two letters from Lottie Moon:

      – January 8, 1889 Letter to Dr. H. A. Tupper

      “There is so much work to be done, too, that ought to be done by men. A young woman could not do the work & retain the respect of Chinese men … While I do not a little for the men & the boys, I do not feel bound to stay on their account. Still, I must add that the work is suffering & will continue to suffer in that department for want of a man living on the spot.”

      Published in the September 1877 Foreign Mission Journal.
      – April 14, 1876 Letter to H. A. Tupper

      “There was a large crowd pretty soon in attendance, so many that the hall would not hold them & they adjourned to the yard. I hope you won’t think me desperately unfeminine, but I spoke to them all, men, women, and children, pleading with them to turn from their idolatry to the True & Living God. I should not have dared to remain silent with so many souls before me sunk in heathen darkness.” (Harper, 32).

  6. Tom Parker says

    Kevin said:”By God’s grace the BF&M of 2000 marked that our denomination had been (mostly) purified from the moderate and liberal streams that previously polluted it.”

    What an outrageous comment that I will not let pass in declaring it outrageous. I love how he says (mostly).

    Some word argue that the 2000 BF&M was a culmination of how far the Fundamentalists would go in interpreting scripture and put in writing that women could not be pastors, but for Kevin it is not far enough.

    But maybe Kevin should bring this up at the 2010 SBC and see if the messengers that attend the convention would want to go on record of going as far as he wants them to go as far as the role of women in the SBC.

    If he is able to get the changes he would like to see with the 2000 BF&M (Creed) as it relates to women, then maybe he can remove the word (mostly)

  7. says

    Tom,
    Kevin offered a little bit of an hermeneutical analysis and based his understanding on that. You have offered only assertions and opinions without addressing how such is possible given Kevin’s analysis. Would you be so kind as to do so. Otherwise, you’re not very persuasive. I happen to agree with Kevin having had similar hermeneutical considerations. I’m certainly not perfect and consider that I could be wrong, although we must understand the scriptures to bear a necessary degree of perspicuity for the average reader with enough depth to challenge even the wisest and most intelligent among us.

    Kevin,
    Good article. In my church men typically lead. We have male deacons and a male ministerial staff. The exceptions would be our directors of preschool and elementary age children, who are not ordained but are facilitators for those who teach. There is occasion to allow a female speaker to a mixed gathering, but this occurs only under the auspices of a male leader.

    My wife and I met while members of an egalitarian denomination. She felt the need to minister and in that denomination ministry opportunities were scarce unless one fell into the pastoral track. Ministers of music were typically expected to play the pipe organ and direct the choir at the same time and youth ministers could only earn a pittance because they weren’t pastors. So she was planning to be a pastor. I sat down with her and studied these passages with her explaining the arguments and how the better hermeneutic clearly supported complimentarianism. She did three things:

    1) She submitted to scripture.
    2) She married me.
    3) She followed me to an SBC church.

    Now, she is the full-time ministry director of the local CEF chapter. We both are very active in missions. She has even been able to take our kids on her own for several weeks at a time and support church planting activities in South America under the direction of our church’s mission board. They lead Bible studies for cell groups for women and children and she is authorized to speak on behalf of our board in the absence of one of our male leaders there. She has been the mission fundraising coordinator of our church as well as participating in the leadership of women’s ministries. I teach, preach, and even lead worship in local churches as well as in various places around the world as often as my vacation schedule will allow.

    My point is this: what is taught in scripture is often counter-intuitive. We are exhorted to at least tithe our resources. When we do so, we are met with an abundance of resources. It would seem that ignoring the commands of scripture regarding female leadership would empower women to be more than they could be otherwise. One could even find female pastors in egalitarian denominations that would testify that they feel fulfilled in their ministry. They generally don’t have the experience of actually being obedient to scripture, however. When we assume the roles that God has commanded for us out of a desire for God to be glorified and not us then I suggest that mere fulfillment in ministry is demonstrated as being a rather trite goal; for we are not to worship ministry or our own fulfillment lest they become as idols to us.

    And what of Lottie Moon? I confess I have not studied Lottie Moon’s theology in this matter, but I have heard Elisabeth “Elliot” Gren on this matter. We know that she went back to the Indian tribe that killed her husband, Jim Elliot, and along with Nate Saint’s sister ministered among them for several years teaching them of Christ. Elisabeth is no egalitarian. So can one lead a mission in the field in the absence of a man without compromising the scriptural principles of complimentarianism? I believe so.

  8. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    You said:”Kevin offered a little bit of an hermeneutical analysis and based his understanding on that. You have offered only assertions and opinions without addressing how such is possible given Kevin’s analysis. Would you be so kind as to do so. Otherwise, you’re not very persuasive. I happen to agree with Kevin having had similar hermeneutical considerations. I’m certainly not perfect and consider that I could be wrong, although we must understand the scriptures to bear a necessary degree of perspicuity for the average reader with enough depth to challenge even the wisest and most intelligent among us.”

    Kevin offered a little bit of a hermenutical analysis you say. I did not see it as a little bit. He has come to the conclusion that only men lead in a church.

    I may be wrong on my understanding of the scriptures also.

    And I’m not trying to persuade anyone. My mind is made up as yours and Kevin is also.

    I just do not interpret the scriptures as to saying all male leadership and you and Kevin do.

    I’m glad your church does as it does, but please do not impose it upon all SBC churches.

    I really believe the autonomy of the local church is going to be very important in the days ahead as some in the SBC try to dictate their views of scriptures on others, particularly as they relate to women.

  9. says

    Tom,
    We already impose standards on churches in order for them to be SBC churches. The autonomy of the local church is important, but making standards for the SBC has no bearing on the existence of a church. If a church doesn’t want to be an SBC church, so be it. They can be an independent Baptist church. But it says something that a standard of theological and ecclesiological integrity is held up among churches who desire accountability in such an association. All I ask is for an honest approach to understanding the scriptures. I haven’t heard that from the egalitarians yet, and apparently those who influence the BF&M haven’t either. I think all Kevin wants is a measure of refinement to what the BF&M already holds to be true.

  10. says

    It’s so funny how moderate/mainstream baptists belly ache “Don’t you impose your beliefs on me” but still want to be a part of the SBC. As much as some people would love to lead a Mainstream Resurrgence [(c) 2008 Joe Blackmon-All Rights Reserved’ and how they’re ready to march from Enid to, well, just outside of Enid to spread the word, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s a pretty clear choice–get with the program, get out, or we’ll show you the dorr (Decatur FBC). If you don’t believe the Bible, you can take your church and go join the CBF. You’d be much happier there anyway.

  11. says

    “The views expressed in this article is expressed by Kevin Howard alone and does not necessarily represent the views of SBC Voices.”

    Matt,

    I take it you don’t agree with him either? I certainly don’t.

    Not that I don’t think that following through on our BF&M as consistently as we can is important, I just think it’s debatable whether a woman’s refraining from the office of pastor necessarily entails her refraining from speaking in Sunday School to a mixed group (and let’s face it, any such speaking would involve, to one degree or another, teaching). Adding an additional qualifier to the BF&M is the last thing we need. It will divide us in a time when the importance of our unity has never been as apparent.

    It’s not that I think keeping women from teaching with authority over men in the church isn’t important. I just think our unity in the gospel (and all those other already spelled out BF&M doctrines) is even more important (and by “gospel” I don’t mean some sort of comprehensive system of beliefs, but I simply refer to the kerygma of the apostles … the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus).

    But … we’ve had this discussion before think, so I digress.

    Bradley

  12. Bill says

    This all smacks of a power-thing to me. If anyone has followed the female deacon issue over at SBC Impact, you’ll see the same thing. Women can do pretty much anything in the church, as long as they are not recognized by the church. Women can do anything a deacon can do, as long as we don’t call them Deacons. Women can teach men, as long as they are not a Teacher of men.

    At what age does a male go from being under a woman’s authority to being an authority over her? At what age does a woman’s knowledge, wisdom, and experience become forbidden fruit for men?

  13. says

    This is a good discussion to have, to be sure. Two related things:

    First, I’ve observed the practice of making vague statements of belief for a Christian denominational entity for the purpose of “unity”. It tends to breed disunity, mistrust, and ultimately the demise or decline of the denomination into liberal obscurity. As counterintuitive as it sounds, more clarity, not less, lends itself to unity especially where Truth prevails in the clarity. It has the effect of culling those who breed dissension and offering a certain foundation for discussion for those who desire the truth and struggle for yet greater clarity.

    Second is that the Christian goal must be properly understood. That is to say that we are not about restricting behavior for the purpose of control, but that we are to be about facilitating the desire for God unto salvation among all people. A great musician should not perform in church if his heart is not for the glory of God. A great speaker should not preach if his heart is not for the glory of God. For glory includes both Truth and Love as well as righteousness. And it is not our righteousness we seek, but the righteousness of God. In the making of rules for conduct or the recognizing of boundaries for our associations we must understand that such is not for the purpose of restriction, but freedom within the purpose of glorifying God.

    I heard the following as an example and it makes a good analogy. In one town was a fenced-in playground on a larger wooded lot. One man in the community drove by and observed how the children would play all the way against the edge of the fence. He went to the town council and petitioned that they remove the fence so the children could play in the whole woods. They did so. Afterward, the man drove by again and saw the children huddled in the center of the playground. Without boundaries, their effective play area was diminished rather than widened.

    We are not God and should have appropriate boundaries. Only God is boundless. Bad rules and fuzzy boundaries have the same result of undue restriction. Only clear boundaries as elucidated in the full revelation of scripture offer the greatest freedom within the Kingdom of God.

  14. volfan007 says

    Kevin,

    Great post. You hit the nail on the head. The issue is whether our SBC and our Churches are gonna follow the Bible, or follow the culture of our day, or society. Following the Bible is hard sometimes, and many times it’s not popular; but it’s always the best.

    It’s amazing that liberals/moderates continue to stay in the SBC after we’ve clarified many, many times that we’re gonna be a Bible believing, Bible practising, conservative theological SBC.

    David

    • says

      007

      Wasn’t it II Peter where we read about false teachers coming up among the true believers?? That’s why we see lib/moderates in the SBC, huh?

  15. Bill says

    David: You seem to agree that the BFM needs to be tougher. What further restrictions would you place in the Baptist Faith and Message?

  16. Tom Parker says

    Bill:

    You said to 007:”David: You seem to agree that the BFM needs to be tougher. What further restrictions would you place in the Baptist Faith and Message?”

    007, We await your restrictions–I personally wonder how many it will be?
    Surely, David, you’ll want those women to be silent in those SBC churches.

    Hey, 007, prospose that restriction for the newer BF&M.

  17. volfan007 says

    I didnt propose anything new for the BFM2K. I like it the way it is. It’s always funny to see angry people put words in my mouth. I do agree with what Kevin wrote, though.

    David

  18. Tom Parker says

    007:

    Surely, you don’t like the 2000 BF&M. I would think that it does not go far enough for you on the “women folks.” Surely you can find a way to make them be put more under the authority of men.

    You don’t even have a clue as to what the 2000 BF&M has done to our denomination.

    I like many others wish you and the others that think or do not think like you do would have just set up your own denomination instead of taking over ours.

    • says

      You don’t even have a clue as to what the 2000 BF&M has done to our denomination.

      Um, affirmed it as theologically conservative?? Yeah, that would be it.

      I like many others wish you and the others that think or do not think like you do would have just set up your own denomination instead of taking over ours.

      I’m sure the theological conservatives, the majority in the SBC, wish those moderates/liberals/mainstreamers would leave and join the CBF. They’d be happier there.

  19. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    Maybe you havent noticed, but the BFM2K was voted on the SBC, and it was an overwhelming vote. In fact, I voted for the BFM2K to be what it is today. So, I guess the SBC is more for what I want it to be, than it is for you and those like you want it to be.

    Would the BFM2K be a document that you would wholeheartedly sign as a statement of your beliefs?

    David

    PS. I still agree with kevin, and would encourage any Church and Christian to agree with what he wrote; because he just shared with us what the Bible says…

  20. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    I guess I should add here for clarification. I agree with what Kevin wrote….for the most part….99.6 % of it. I’m really not interested in modifying the BFM2K beyond what it says now, although I would consider it, prayerfully, if someone proposes anything new.

    David

  21. Tom Parker says

    007:

    Sorry, but your views about women are well known on many blogs and to say the least they are FUNDAMENTALIST VIEWS!

    • says

      Sorry, you had a typo there. Let me help you out.

      Sorry, but your views about women are well known on many blogs and to say the least they are completely biblical, conservative, Christian views.

      Just helping.

  22. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    I could sign the BFM2K without any reservation. Could you? The BFM2K that was voted for by a large, large majority of the SBC.

    David

  23. Tom Parker says

    007:

    BTW a major difference between me and you is I’m not willing to sign any creed and there is a lot of Baptist history that supports me on this and not you.

  24. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    I’m gonna take that as a no, you could not and would not sign the BFM2K. This tells us where you’re coming from, in case anyone had any doubt.

    David

  25. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    One more thing…you dont have to sign it. Let’s just hear you say that you agree with it. Surely, not having to sign a creed has nothing to do with just saying that you believe the BFM2K…that it’s statements agree with what you believe the Bible to say? Do you agree with it?

    David

  26. Bill says

    “I guess I should add here for clarification. I agree with what Kevin wrote….for the most part….99.6 % of it. I’m really not interested in modifying the BFM2K beyond what it says now, although I would consider it, prayerfully, if someone proposes anything new.”

    David: Thanks. That clarifies it for me. You see, I don’t agree with Kevin, and yet my beliefs are within what is proscribed in the BFM2K. That is the real issue here. Did the writers of our confession, in their wisdom, lock in the absolute essentials, but leave enough freedom of interpretation so that different views on non-essentials won’t disharmonize our churches and our collective mission.

    It always amazes me that despite the debates about Calvinism, (fundamental disagreements over the nature of God, how and who He saves, for whom Christ died, etc) no one (or few) really suggests that Calvinists or non-Calvinists can’t be good Baptists. And yet a female adult Sunday School teacher or deaconess is considered to be a major stumbling block to the Gospel. I don’t get it.

  27. Tom Parker says

    Bill:

    You said to 007:”It always amazes me that despite the debates about Calvinism, (fundamental disagreements over the nature of God, how and who He saves, for whom Christ died, etc) no one (or few) really suggests that Calvinists or non-Calvinists can’t be good Baptists. And yet a female adult Sunday School teacher or deaconess is considered to be a major stumbling block to the Gospel. I don’t get it.”

    Bill:

    It is this narrow mindedness by 007 and others that is slowing killing the SBC but they are like the emperor that was wearing no clothes.

  28. volfan007 says

    Tom,

    It’s all about what’s Biblical. That’s what matters to me and countless others in the SBC. Thus, our stand on the BFM2K. We must be faithful to the clear teachings of the Scripture, in order to really do God’s work on this Earth.

    Bill, if you can say that you agree with the BFM2K, then we can cooperate together all day long. I still think that the Bible teaches against women Deacons and women teaching men the Bible. And, I would encourage anyone to study the passages in Timothy and other places to see it.

    David

  29. says

    Tom,
    Only Christ has the words of eternal life. There is no life unless we hold to that which reveals him to us: the scriptures which he gave us. You assert that “fundamentalism” and “narrow mindedness” is “killing the SBC”. However, you fail to back this assertion up with a clear understanding of what it means to be “killed”, what it means to have a healthy church or a healthy association of churches, why clarity is a bad thing, and so many other questions that you beg. If churches balk at the investigation of Truth and leave the SBC, then they need to go. Even Jesus culled those who followed him with hard teachings when he noticed that they had the wrong intentions. If the SBC is filled with people who don’t truly follow Jesus then it would be better for the SBC if they left. A high number of people and churches does not a living association make if the bulk of them are dead. And how will they live if not clearly taught the truth? We worship the One who himself is the Truth, not people who believe they can invent their own truth or even our own status as a large denomination. It must be therefore our goal to discern and distill the truth for our association as faithfully as possible to the revelation of the Truth that has been given to us. For therein is life, not in the ministrations of men, but in our Lord, Jesus Christ, whose body we are. We do not take the heart and transplant it into the brain or the arm and exchange its place with that of a leg. We each have been given our roles and there is a reason for us, not that one should lord power over another, but that we should function as God has ordained. This then is the crux of the argument which you must now address. Do you follow Christ as he has been revealed to us or do you follow your own flawed cultural sensibilities? For our culture must be understood in light of the scriptures, but we cannot understand the scriptures in light of our culture.

  30. Tom Parker says

    Jim and 007:

    The 2000 BF&M is not a Bible. It is the interpretation of some men and that is all. IMO the 2000 BF&M was reworded from the 1963 BF&M to put more power in the hands of some and relegate women to a 2nd class citizen in the kingsom of God.

  31. says

    I find the the BFM 2000 on the issue of women in ministry to be poorly written, wanting in reflection, and utterly unaware of Baptist and Puritan History. Take, for example, Sandy Creek Baptist Church which had at least two eldresses, and we know the name of at least one of them, Eldress Martha Stearns Marshall. Since the records were burned in a fire that consumed the house of the clerk of the assn and church around 1800, we do not know if they recorded their reasonings behind it. I had always held to the view that a woman was not to teach or usurp authority over man. I had members across the year who disagreed, but they never really disturbed my understanding. Then, one day, I decided to take a closer look at what the scripture actually teaches on the subject. I will say that my method was intellectual, analytical, and synthetical. By intellectual I meant a consideration of the ideas that the Bible presents in its various statements on the issue of women and their place in life, home, church, and society. This, of course, involves an analysis, something we humans excel in doing. In fact, analysis is our problem. We can reduce a matter to bits and pieces, but we we have a problem of seeing things as a whole. Our filters are all analytical. I had begun to develop a more comprehensive way of looking at issues, one that put things together, for example, seeking to put all the statements concerning women and their conduct together in order to get a handle on what the Bible actually teaches. My study of the Sandy Creek view on women in ministry was only established by going to the Puritans (what most people forget is Stearns, Marshall, and their followers were originally Puritans and that was very likely a factor in their thinking). What I found was that there were Puritans who believed that women could have a ministry – even to men. Perhaps the key to my address on the subject, “The Genius of Orthodoxy: Eldresses,” was a comment on Paul’s remark, “”I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over men.” Matthew Poole, a Puritan Commentator and one of the fountain heads of Puritan theology, stated that Paul was right about the woman “except she be a specially called, gifted, and endowed woman such as” and went on to name most of the women prophetesses and leaders of the Old and New Testaments. In other words, like the man she had to be called and gifted to the task, and this was recognized as a special thing. However, even so, not to receive her and her message would be the same thing as rejecting any true messenger of God, that is, the rejection of God Himself. Later, I would find another Puritan who said much the same thing. Nearly 25 years later I would realize from looking at I Tim 5:1,2 That if verse one is translated, Rebuke not an elder, it could reasonably follow that the word rendered aged women could be rendered, “eldresses,” something the early church had done as there are references to eldresses in the early church fathers. Interestingly enough, the reference in I Cors.14:34, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” is paralleled by the statement in I Cors. 14:28 concerning one thinking to speak in tongues without an interpreter, “let him keep silence in the church.” Since reference had already been made to women prophesying (I Cors.11:5ff.), it follows that the reference has to do with speaking in church and the proper time and circumstances for speaking.
    Along with this approach is the reality concerning Lottie Moon. It is reported that she did a number of things that were considered to be the work of men. Some one is supposed to have asked her:”Were you ever ordained?” To which she is said to have replied, “I was never ordained, but I was foreordained.” A good calvinistic remark, and what I would expect from advocates of that perspective due to the influence of paradoxical intervention. Any one interested in reading further in that area might google – dr. james willingham, theology and paradoxical intervention – and click an item titled – commentsby thirdgreatawakeningcom.blogspot.com…Back Take -. Someone must have been interested as they put a bot (?) to crawl the net and gather what I had written on various blogs. The results are some four pages with as many as 16 items per page. Few people realize how open, liberal, persuasive, convincing, balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic biblical orthodoxy can be and actually is, when it has the freedom to function. Otherwise truth makes progress under restraints. Even so truth will win the day eventually. The Bible plainly says, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.”(Ps.22:27); “and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen and Amen.” The powerful thinking and devotional service of Shubal Stearns, Daniel and Martha Stearns Marshall stands as a bold challenge to Christian leaders today, for they took such action in a day when there was not question about their following the Bible and no diverting intrusiveness of outre radical feminism. They were simply very good students of the word of God written which they believed and obeyed. Regular Baptists had a time with the Separates over the issue, and with Stearns and Marshall passing from the scene there was no one to maintain he strength of their principles. Besides there were some who did not like the Sovereign Grace theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the origins of the Great Century of Missions, and they set out to divide and conquer. One way was to put people on both sides of issues and have them run things into the ground, into extremism. It took over a hundred years to drive out the Sovereign Grace views; it took even less time to stifle the idea of women have any ministry. However, there were some remnants of the practice, scattered here and there.
    O yes, perhaps I should add that many years ago, I was called a male chauvinistic pig by one of the radical feminists. I am glad I did not let that interefere with my investigation into this area of the word of God as I had a friend, a woman, who founded a church and gave it to the Baptists who will not let it be claimed that it was founded by a woman originally. That woman was a rare and godly person, a Cherokee Indian. One of her sons was a dear and close friend of mine. We – that son and I – use to tell her she should not be out trying to win people like she was doing (she was then visitor for a church). Her response was to smile and go on about her business – she knocked on 10,000 doors, if memory serves correctly. She was an avid student of the Bible. I can remember when she stumbled on A.W. Pink’s Sovereignty of God.
    I could continue, but let me close by saying that the Moderates made no response to my address as chairman of the Historical Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from that day in 1985 until now. They did film the address, and it was in the Communications Dept. of the Sate Cionvention. A conservative friend and editor read the paper and simply said he disagreed with it but never wrote me an answer. No conservative would touch it with a ten foot pole as the old saying goes, while the moderates did not seem to want anything to do with anything that smacked of verbal inspiration – even if it supported something they supposedly believed. I understand that they are not quite so rigid now, but the conservatives remain as they were…which is not necessarily a good reflection of the biblical othodoxy of Stearns and Marshall. And yet, my hope is that they all will one day wake up to the reality of the wonderfully balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic nature of the written word of God, that it is far more liberal, compelling, attractive, winsome, engaging, inviting, drawing alluring, fascinating, liberating, captivating, charming, cheerful, pleasant, pleasing, pleading – even in its most opposite and paradoxical forms. I am sure that this is coming. I just don’t know when, and I do know it will enrage some to see the whole world begin to turn to Christ, because, as the lady told my friend, Dr. Gene Spurgeon, when he won her to the Lord Jesus, “Oh, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it. About 40 years later, he came to the conclusion that she was right (Spurgeons are careful thinkers, I believe) and came to believe that, too (about the same time he found out he was kin to C.H. Spurgeon according to some genealogist). Isn’t God wonderful? His Gospel of His son the Lord Jesus Christ is glorious beyond words. I can never forget that I saw Him when I was a full fledged atheist, knocking at my door in a vision or hallucination – how does one tell? and I ran and yet He opened that door for me, and I asked Him to forgive me of my sins. Rev.3:20 & Acts 16:14 sum up my experience perfectly.

  32. says

    I find the the BFM 2000 on the issue of women in ministry to be poorly written, wanting in reflection, and utterly unaware of Baptist and Puritan History. Take, for example, Sandy Creek Baptist Church which had at least two eldresses, and we know the name of at least one of them, Eldress Martha Stearns Marshall. Since the records were burned in a fire that consumed the house of the clerk of the assn and church around 1800, we do not know if they recorded their reasonings behind it. I had always held to the view that a woman was not to teach or usurp authority over man. I had members across the years who disagreed, but they never really disturbed my understanding. Then, one day, I decided to take a closer look at what the scripture actually teaches on the subject. I will say that my method was intellectual, analytical, and synthetical. By intellectual I meant a consideration of the ideas that the Bible presents in its various statements on the issue of women and their place in life, home, church, and society. This, of course, involves an analysis, something we humans excel in doing. In fact, analysis is our problem. We can reduce a matter to bits and pieces, but we have a problem of seeing things as a whole. Our filters are all analytical. I had begun to develop a more comprehensive way of looking at issues, one that put things together, for example, seeking to put all the statements concerning women and their conduct together in order to get a handle on what the Bible actually teaches. My study of the Sandy Creek view on women in ministry was only established by going to the Puritans (what most people forget is Stearns, Marshall, and their followers were originally Puritans and that was very likely a factor in their thinking). What I found was that there were Puritans who believed that women could have a ministry – even to men. Perhaps the key to my address on the subject, “The Genius of Orthodoxy: Eldresses,” was a comment on Paul’s remark, “”I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over men.” Matthew Poole, a Puritan Commentator and one of the fountain heads of Puritan theology, stated that Paul was right about the woman “except she be a specially called, gifted, and endowed woman such as” and went on to name most of the women prophetesses and leaders of the Old and New Testaments. In other words, like the man she had to be called and gifted to the task, and this was recognized as a special thing. However, even so, not to receive her and her message would be the same thing as rejecting any true messenger of God, that is, the rejection of God Himself. Later, I would find another Puritan who said much the same thing. Nearly 25 years later I would realize from looking at I Tim 5:1,2 That if verse one is translated, Rebuke not an elder, it could reasonably follow that the word rendered aged women could be rendered, “eldresses,” something the early church had done as there are references to eldresses in the early church fathers. Interestingly enough, the reference in I Cors.14:34, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” is paralleled by the statement in I Cors. 14:28 concerning one thinking to speak in tongues without an interpreter, “let him keep silence in the church.” Since reference had already been made to women prophesying (I Cors.11:5ff.), it follows that the reference has to do with speaking in church and the proper time and circumstances for speaking.
    Along with this approach is the reality concerning Lottie Moon. It is reported that she did a number of things that were considered to be the work of men. Some one is supposed to have asked her:”Were you ever ordained?” To which she is said to have replied, “I was never ordained, but I was foreordained.” A good calvinistic remark, and what I would expect from advocates of that perspective due to the influence of paradoxical intervention. Any one interested in reading further in that area might google – dr. james willingham, theology and paradoxical intervention – and click an item titled – commentsby thirdgreatawakeningcom.blogspot.com…Back Take -. Someone must have been interested as they put a bot (?) to crawl the net and gather what I had written on various blogs. The results are some four pages with as many as 16 items per page. Few people realize how open, liberal, persuasive, convincing, balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic biblical orthodoxy can be and actually is, when it has the freedom to function. Otherwise truth makes progress under restraints. Even so truth will win the day eventually. The Bible plainly says, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.”(Ps.22:27); “and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen and Amen.” The powerful thinking and devotional service of Shubal Stearns, Daniel and Martha Stearns Marshall stands as a bold challenge to Christian leaders today, for they took such action in a day when there was not question about their following the Bible and no diverting intrusiveness of outre radical feminism. They were simply very good students of the word of God written which they believed and obeyed. Regular Baptists had a time with the Separates over the issue, and with Stearns and Marshall passing from the scene there was no one to maintain he strength of their principles. Besides there were some who did not like the Sovereign Grace theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the origins of the Great Century of Missions, and they set out to divide and conquer. One way was to put people on both sides of issues and have them run things into the ground, into extremism. It took over a hundred years to drive out the Sovereign Grace views; it took even less time to stifle the idea of women have any ministry. However, there were some remnants of the practice, scattered here and there.
    O yes, perhaps I should add that many years ago, I was called a male chauvinistic pig by one of the radical feminists. I am glad I did not let that interefere with my investigation into this area of the word of God as I had a friend, a woman, who founded a church and gave it to the Baptists who will not let it be claimed that it was founded by a woman originally. That woman was a rare and godly person, a Cherokee Indian. One of her sons was a dear and close friend of mine. We – that son and I – use to tell her she should not be out trying to win people like she was doing (she was then visitor for a church). Her response was to smile and go on about her business – she knocked on 10,000 doors, if memory serves correctly. She was an avid student of the Bible. I can remember when she stumbled on A.W. Pink’s Sovereignty of God.
    I could continue, but let me close by saying that the Moderates made no response to my address as chairman of the Historical Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from that day in 1985 until now. They did film the address, and it was in the Communications Dept. of the Sate Cionvention. A conservative friend and editor read the paper and simply said he disagreed with it but never wrote me an answer. No conservative would touch it with a ten foot pole as the old saying goes, while the moderates did not seem to want anything to do with anything that smacked of verbal inspiration – even if it supported something they supposedly believed. I understand that they are not quite so rigid now, but the conservatives remain as they were…which is not necessarily a good reflection of the biblical othodoxy of Stearns and Marshall. And yet, my hope is that they all will one day wake up to the reality of the wonderfully balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic nature of the written word of God, that it is far more liberal, compelling, attractive, winsome, engaging, inviting, drawing alluring, fascinating, liberating, captivating, charming, cheerful, pleasant, pleasing, pleading – even in its most opposite and paradoxical forms. I am sure that this is coming.

  33. says

    Thanks for your comments. I’ve enjoyed reading the various insights offered, and, I’ll continue to read any others, if more are posted.

    Those who had particularly interesting things to say, whether agreeing with me or not, were: Penny L, David R. Brumbelow, Jim Pemberton, Bradley, David (volfan), Bill, Joe Blackmon.

    While I appreciated what Penny L said, I don’t find the “cultural argument” very convincing. In fact, I argue against it in my article.

    As someone pointed out, perhaps Jim Pemberton, Scripture must be reckoned with at this issue (of the extent of women’s ministry), and that point is lost on some. It’s easy in a discussion like this to talk about culture or hurt feelings among some SBCers over the BF&M 2000’s position but then to never come back to analyzing what Scripture says.

    Tom Parker is right in saying, “The 2000 BF&M is not a Bible.” But he seems to make this statement for different reasons than I would. Part of my point is, if we’re going to have meaningful confessions, statements of faith, creeds (or whatever you wish to call them), then we ought to get as close to the biblical explanation as possible. I’m not sure if Parker is one, but I suppose some people would have us do away with all such attempts at confessions, etc. It would be nice if we could just hold up the Bible and say, “I believe this book from cover to cover,” and we would all know what that means. But we don’t live in such a world. Confessions and the like clarify many of the issues.

    Either way, regarding the BF&M 2000 wording on women and their ministry, it could be and should be closer aligned with the Bible.

    kev

  34. says

    What about the fact that Steans and Marshall had eldresses? And that in the period, when they would not even dream of questioning or going counter to the written word of God? I throw it down as a gauntlet to all conservatives that the part of the Baptist Faith & Message about women in ministry is poorly informed and poorly written due to its abysmal ignorance of the Sandy Creek actions in this matter? “The Genius of Orthodoxy: Eldresses” never had an answer from conservatives (try and get such a work published) and no time of day from our so-called moderates. One of my ancestors made it into the Alabama History of Baptists by H. Holcombe, Elder Holland Middleton, and he might well have been one of the two officers of the court appointed to execute the will of Elder Daniel Marshall as a “Holand Middleton” is one of the two listed. And then I have Craigs in my ancestry list, and had as a personal friend a direct descendant of Elder Elijah Craig (who made the agreement with the colonial legislators that in exchange for their freedom, the Baptist ministers would go back to their communities and encourage their young men to enlist in the patriots’ cause (all IRS people and people United for Separation of Church and State take note…This means encourage participation in a Civil War). By the way according to the volumes of the DAR there was one whole colonial regiment of Craigs in the Revolution in Va (I was so dumbfounded when I stumbled over that information that I wrote down the names of all 2000 members of that regiment, not so hard as they all had the same last name, and many the same first name???). How could people in that day, when they believed the Bible encourage participation in a Civil War, and how could they appoint Eldresses? Satan set out to destroy the records of Sandy Creek Assn. and churches. Besides the records of the original churchand assn being burned up in a fire that consumed the home of the secretary of the assn and church, the records of another curch were stolen by a minister (this church had experienced a great ingathering of souls in the Second Great Awakening) in the 50s or 60s. And then the records of a church which also experienced the Second Great Awakening and had a vast number converted were destroyed by the deacons (as one pastor told me) back in the days of the civil rights movement due to their fear that the Blacks would come one day seeking admission, claiming they could as they had been members long ago in the past (talk about a work of deception – it neither understands blacks nor history). This is the area that must be addressed. Dr.Akin called for dealing with prejudice, something I have been praying to see ended for years. Women in ministry also needs to be addressed. Another area that needs addressing is the issue of reconciliation with reference to theological differences. Think of this: A whole nation established a reconciliation commission in seeking to deal with the issues of apartheid and violence done. While their progress was perhaps minimal at best, still to my mind (I wept when I saw episodes of the commision on tv) it is one of the shining lights in world history where people tried to deal with irreconciliable differences with a Christian ideal and approach. They set an example, those folks in South Africa, that, even if they did come far short of the goal, we ought to really see what could be done…in our day and with our situation vis-a-vis conservatives and moderates. The only time it is too late, is the time of death, and we know of one time when for many it worked (our Lord’s death in behalf of us). We also need to hold in our minds the sop which Jesus our Lord offered to Judas, and also remember how Jonathan Edwards called attention to the issue of Judas as a warning to go slow (to say the very least) on clobbering the unconverted ministry.

  35. Mom4Christ says

    I have just one question. Why are we spending so much time arguing the roll of a woman in the, church, home and society? What about the roll of the man in those same places? I am a member of a sbc church, we have male pastors (the associate pastor is my husband), a male music director, male Adult Sunday School teachers, male deacons, and male trustees. All other rolls of the church are fulfilled by both male and female members. I can tell you the single item our head pastor does that sets our church up for unity is he never teaches only on the roll of a woman in the church. He always teaches about the counter roll of the man. You cannot teach submission to a woman without teaching love and Christlike leadership to the man! It is counterproductive for unity. I have no problem submitting to my husbands will, provided that he is in God’s will and he is showing Christ’s love along with that authority (which he does very well). If we continue to worry and debate so much over the roll of a woman without also teaching the men or our churches to be men of Christ we will cause many to turn away from the truth of the scripture. Too often you see women who have no choice but to step up to the roll of leader because the man either can’t or won’t lead. I have yet to meet a woman who feels fulfilled in a marriage that she must take the leadership roll in. I see men in our churches who are glad to let a woman take a leadership postiotion while he continues to sit in his pew. If we do not start teaching boys to grow into Godly men there won’t be much choice but to allow women to fulfill the leadership rolls. 1 Timothy 2 was pointed out in reference to a womans roll in worship but it doesn’t stop there it goes on to speak of the leaders of the church as well. I don’t know many men who fulfill all those requirements at all times and we don’t ask it of them. Do we rebuke a man if he gets mad a the football game? Or yells at his kids? Tell me how is that “above reproach, temperate, or self-controled” as Timothy 3:2 calls for? I have a hard time expecting women to remember to be meek and quiet at all times when we don’t expect the same obedience to scripture from our men. If our men step up and fulfill the rolls God has called them to and they do it in a Christlike manner most of us ladies won’t have an ounce of a problem taking a seat a simply learning from them. Until that day comes you are arguing a useless debate. I love hearing God through my husbands words and seeing Christ in the men of my church! Just my two cents, may you all have a blessed day!

  36. Tom Parker says

    Kevin:

    I really hope you are in the minority of your position on women and the 2000 BF&M as far as expanding it on women. Women have already been hurt by the 2000 BF&M and I fear any further tweaking will only hurt them even more.

  37. says

    Tom said: “Women have already been hurt by the 2000 BF&M…”

    You haven’t brought up any scriptural arguments yet to support egalitarianism enough to warrant ditching the 2000 BF&M. Do you want to explain how a scriptural complimentarian position in the BF&M has hurt women? Give specific examples please. You might want to also give us your definition of “hurt” (and how your definition is specifically classified as necessarily or sufficiently evil) so we’ll have a basis for addressing the questions you’re begging. Otherwise, your arguments appear to be mere talking points designed to viscerally sway the opinion of people who lack the skills to think critically.

    ——————————————–

    Dr. Willingham,

    I can appreciate the fact that Steans and Marshall had women they referred to as “eldresses”. Yet for all your verbage you admit that you don’t quite know the nature of those titles within that congregation.

    You also state that the puritans believe that women can have ministry even to men. In what way? I believe that there are plenty of Biblical cases where women are to have ministry to men. There are a few key areas where they are not. The Bible seems to be clear on this and the reasons are also given in these same passages whether we like them or not. For example, the reason Paul gives for his instruction in I Tim 2 is in verses 13 and 14. That’s simply the logic of his argument. I don’t think he intended for it to prevent women from ministering in many other ways for he often commends specific women and the ministry they have.

    But whether the Puritans, historic groups of Baptists, or any other particular group we may otherwise agree with turn out to be egalitarian is entirely beside the point. The truth in the Bible must needs supersede all tradition (although tradition has its place) otherwise we would have no foundation for the Reformation.

  38. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    There are books full of stories of how the 2000 BF&M has hurt women. I encourage you to read some of them.

  39. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    BTW, do you think based upon the tactics of the CR that destroyed the lives of many men that any woman would dare challenge the role of women in the SBC without suffering dire consequences.

  40. says

    Seems like my comments were carelessly read. Note the reference to eldresses in I Tim 5:2, and the fact that there must be exceptions to Paul’s statement in I Tim.2 as witness the fact that women could and did speak in church. Now add that the first person with the message of the resurrection was the apostle to the apostles, Mary Magdalene, that it has been pointed out that the whoever desires the office of a bishop is not limited to the masculine gender but is in the form that is used with reference to salvation. Our present day conservatives are not able to think outside the box of their own logical perceptions, but one old Arminian Southern Baptist preacher set me straight one day, when he asked, “Don’t you believe the Bible? Have you ever read where God told the man to do what the woman said?” He was referring, of course, to God’s word to Abraham about Sarah and her desires with reference to Hagar. While there are complementary motifs to the relationships between male and female, thre are also egalitarian relationships. And when God specially calls and gifts a woman, then woe to the man who refuses to hear her, for it is the same as when one refuses to hear the man whom God has called and gifted with His Spirit and message. The point I am seeking to make is like hat which must be made in the field of eschatology in Jonah and his prophecy to Nineveh. Jonah’s unconditional prophecy to Nineveh was not literally fulfilled (which meant under OT law he should have been stoned), and Jonah knew that it would not be fulfilled though he wanted it, waited, and watched for it. The purpose as we all know was to bring the Ninevites to repentance which it did. An unconditional prophecy so stated is not the point. In other words a statement as it stands is not necessarily what will happen; it is the purpose for which the statement is made, what God intends for a precept to accomplish. In such cases, the statements must be balanced against other statements on the subject with the outcomes available. Our problem is that we have forgotten that the Bible is inspired by the Omniscient Being who made Heaven and earth. Consequently, it must reflect a depth of intelligence and wisdom commensurate with that fact – which it does. Women, like men, have their place in Go’s plans and purposes. Sometimes, He can at His discretion appoint one to pastor men, and He will equip her to do as good a job as any man any time and any place – all depending on His purpose and His sovereign will and choice to rule and do as He pleases. Remember, sir, you very salvation is an exception to Divine law, that is, it is a work of Sovereign Grace, unconditional favor. If God followed His law as strictly as you would have the women obey the rules (which men also have to obey), neither you nor I would be having this discussion. We would be in Hell which we earned, deserved, and merited from the get go and aggravated by our many transgressions. Yes, the gentleman above is quite right about the women paying a terrible price for male aggression just like little black children paid a terrible price for segregation and the idiocy that whites are superior to Blacks and other coloreds. A dear lady in the First Baptist Church of Orangeburg, a teacher of children in primary school, told me 40 yrs. ago that she chose to go and teach the Black children and she said, “Mr. Willingham, I cried, when I saw what segregation had done to the personalities of those little black children.” If you had been exposed to the knowledge I have imbibed across many years of study in Black History, you would wonder how Southern Baptists could even call themselves Christians. If you had studied the Waldensians and other persecuted minorities in all 2000 years ofchurch history as I have, you would be grief stricken at how the majority of believers went along with so much ill-treatment. I have read where the Bishops and Priests and I know not what other leaders in the catholic church went and fell down on their faces before the Waldensian ministers sometimes in the past 30-40 yrs (?) in Italy and begged their forgivenness for 800+ yrs. of persecution. And have you ever read about Tutu and the reconciliation commission of South Africa. While it might have accomplished little, it set an example that shines with a terrible brightness of Idealism that calls to all Christians to do everything they can to seek reconciliation, to win others by true earnestness, true love, true persuasion, the presence of Heaven in and upon us. Now what I say about these other areas comes back with a terrible force upon the mistreatmnt of women. Regardless of what you think, to give any human being so much power over another is to subject the one so subjected to great exposure to great harms, for man being a fallen creature will transgress. Germany was a country where the man was lord and master in the home (the Bible on man being lord and master has to do with love and tenderness not bossism), and look what happened to that nation in the 20th century. Everything is a balance in order for freedom to be maximized. Man is normally the head, but somtimes the woman must lead, must speak out, must oppose (if you don’t believe me just study incest for a while and remember God never allowed for any man to run the show unrestrained and unchecked…with fallen man there are always checks and balances). Would to God in our return to so-called Reformed theology (so-called as it is really our perception of it – not necessarily what it truly is), we would look for what He has provided in His book in the way of checks and balances and corrective catalysts. God help us, the depth of ths book is beyond our comprehension even in its clearest statements. Like my friend who looked down at the stream he was going to wade across, judged it to be 2-3 feet deep as he could see the grains of sand rolling along the Bible, stepped off in to it, and nearly drowned as the depth was actually about 18-20 feet. The Bible says, Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Even when you think you clearly understand its limpid simplicity, you are in over your heads. Like the Navy captains say to their young men, when they let them go swimming in the deepest swimming hole on earth, “You are welcome to try and reach the bottom, but I doubt that you will mke it.”(they are speaking of the Mariannas Trench off the Philippines). So the Bible is like that depth of the ocean, a depth which we can never fathom. God grant us the humility to deal with these issues of gender instead of the fears that so often really control our perceptions of what God is saying to us in Hi word.

  41. volfan007 says

    (said with tongue in cheek)

    I always wanted to take over a bank, and run it as a dictator runs a country. I wanted to be the Boss, and I wanted to take money as I wanted to take it. But, those mean Federal Auditors will not let me do that, and those trustees at the bank wont let me do that. And, if I tried to take it by force, then those mean policman would take me to jail.

    I have been deeply hurt by these people. I wanted to take over the bank in Memphis, and run it like I’ve said above. But, I couldnt do it. Those mean, ugly people wont let me. This has hurt me beyond measure. I will be writing a book about it soon. I want the world to know how deeply hurt I am. Those mean federal people, and those mean trustees and those mean cops are mean, nasty people. Why? because they wont let me do what I want to do. I dont care about guidelines. I dont care about rules. I dont care about laws. I’m free from guidelines. I’m free from rules. I’m free from laws. I want to do what I want to do!!!!!!!!!!! NOW, LET ME!!!!

    I just wish people like Tom and Dr. Birmingham would plead my case, and tell those nasty, mean trustees and feds and cops a thing or two.

    Signed,

    A Deeply Hurt, Would Be, Bank Dictator

    • says

      I hear some homosexuals have been hurt by the way evangelicals have interpreted Scripture.

      When I became a Christian, the Southern Baptist Church I attended expected me to give up smoking pot. My wife still tells me I can’t go around beating people up or running cars off the road. The nerve!!!

  42. Tom Parker says

    Stan:

    Thanks for the humor. But I really do not think it is very nice of you lumping the issues of women and homosexuality together. Not nice at all.

  43. says

    Re: the remark about hurting homosexuals. How about when the homosexuals hurt those who don’t agree with them? In the 50s we had one in a class in high school. He was always trying to bother those who were not of his view point. Finally, one day he was threatened that if he did not cease and desist from bothering certain ones who did not wish to be bothered, there would be a response he did not like. His response to that was specific and exact and involved him and his gang as to what would be done. The difference between the threat of those who did not wish to be bothered by his practices and his threat against them is that before graduation, he beat an old man to death on the streets with his fists and was facing a murder charge the last account I had of him. In other words, the straights did not want to be bothered and simply wanted him to stop. In return, he was willing to use violence of the most extreme kind to do what ever he pleased. God can save a person who practices sodomy just as He can save an adulterer or fornicator or thief or murderer, but it is useless to talk of salvation or hope where the practice, the sin, from which God saves such, is continued. This is not to say such cannot be saved, but it is to say there can be no assurance or comfort in such cases. And it is certain that the Lord will chastise His children for disobedience.
    As to the relations between husbands and wives there is the issue of incest in some cases. Some years ago the Foreign Mission Board had a case where the wife eventually sued the Board as they did not deal with it as it deserved. Man’s position of leadership is a matter of balance; it is not unlimited. Even a King could not do as he pleased. The Divine right of any one is limited by the rights of others. Only God’s right is unlimited except by His attribute of Goodness and Love and Justice.
    Another issue regarding homosexuality is that of pedophilia. Often one sees in Gay Parades the signs of NAMBLA, North American Man Boy Love Association. Even the most superficial of investigations into the issue of adult/child sex reveals that it is utterly devestating to children. One of the reasons I earnd an M.A. in Counseling was due to the fact that as a pastor I had five cases in one three month period. During my work for the degree I wrote a 50 page term paper on the subject (which my professor thought was publishable, but I never had the time to polish it for that purpose), and when I was employed as a counselor in a Sr. High School with a large counseling staff incest and pedophilia was my assigned area of responsibility as it involved dealing with the law.
    None of this is easy or simple. Everything is a matter of balance, or people will suffer. Just like a wheel out of balance, the pounding of the road will wear it down more quickly. So with unchecked authority in any area, there will be those who experience trauma. Even the rules regarding crimes like murder demand a balance. I was reading today of a man who was executed for the murder of his three children. Whether he was guilty or not, I do not know. However, there were serious questions raised about some of the evidence used to convict him. Think of how many cases of rape have been reversed by DNA, setting the innocent free from long prison sentences and even leading to the conviction of the real guilty parties. But think also of the women who have been raped and did not report it due to fear and due to the lack of concern among law enforcement officials. New York City recently began to work on a vast backlog of cases, making use of DNA. Other cities were even more remiss on the matter.
    I have said all of that to says this regarding biblical teachings: One must be balanced, balanced, balanced, in one’s teaching of the truths of Holy Scripture. Exegesis of a text is not only an analytical task; it is also a synthetical one, one that draws together all that the Book has to say on an issue in order that God’s messengers might be balanced in their presentations.

  44. Bill says

    This is an old tactic and I guess I’m pleased it hasn’t been used sooner in the discussion. Either ridicule the other side or lump women in with homosexuals and druggies.

    Let me ask this plainly. Do you believe a woman adult Sunday School teacher is a more egregious error than a Pastor who believes and teaches that Christ did not die for everyone? (I’m a Calvinist by the way)(obviously this question is directed at non-Calvinists)

    Kevin: I appreciate your measured response to the comments. Let me just say this, when you say that the BFM2K should be revised to more closely follow the bible, what (I believe) you are saying is that it should be revised to more closely follow your interpretation of what you think the bible says about women.

    My point is that I think the crafters of the BFM realized that there are different interpretations on this issue, and that locking in a single viewpoint on this issue was not worth disharmonizing the churches, as opposed to something like the deity of Christ or believer’s baptism, where the doctrine itself is more important than potential disharmony.

  45. says

    A major league pitching coach who I believe is still working so I’ll leave his name out of it, use to tell his pitchers to “make somthing happen”. That they had the ball in their hands, knowledge of what the batter can and can not hit, and if he does hit it where the ball will go. But you can’t stand there with your cap off and rub the ball forever. “Make somthing happen”. Nowhere in reading these posts do I see anybody who feels the ball is in their hands – that they can help control where it goes and in stead of listening to what others want to do and try to guess the answer – throw the ball and make somthing happen. Where are the pitchers, the movers and shakers? Instead of “What are they going to do for me – a church of 80 ?” Why not ,”This is what will improve my position. Are you considering this?” The more people privvy to the problems the more solutions can be considered and the more understanding of the decisions people will be. Everybody can’t be a sheep !

  46. says

    Not every one realizes that true liberalism comes out of biblical orthodoxy, even out of calvinism (though I still prefer the term Sovereign Grace as people were dying for the doctrines of grace before John Calvin was born or born again). The most freedom came out of the so-called calvinistic republics of Western Civilization.
    Look at Germany and remember that they had man as the head honcho with few, if any checks to his power, and we all know the result in two World Wars and the millions upon millions killed. Biblical Christianity always gives an apparently contrary idea in order to provide a balance.
    While we are about it will some one please tell me why Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses? And why Phoebe was called a Deacon wherein the masculine term was used to describe her office or service to the Church at Cenchrea? And why the term is rendered Aged women in I Tim 5:2 instead of eldresses, when the masculine term is rendered Elder instead of aged men?
    When did we ever think we had the latest word on the meanings of the Greek terms in our NT? I have a Sunday School Quarterly of the Brethren on the Gospel of Luke date in 1880 or 81, and it is a Greek interlinear wih footnotes. O yes, and why did God tell Abraham to do what Sarah said out Hagar – after all he was Boss, Lord and Master, or was he limited in his powers by her rghts and by God’s purposes? And is ayone aware of the fact tht the Puritan members in New England took nots on he pastr’s sermon as he preached? It is always possible that Stearns might have taken notes and might have known of what Matthe Poole had to say about women in ministry.
    Every doctrine as far as I can tell is composed of two truths that are apparently contradictory (note I said apparently) and they are evidently designed to set up a tension in the human mind in order for the believer to be balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic. Think Trinity/Unity, God immutable and yet self-moved, Jesus as God/man, the Bible as involving divine/human elements, worship as formal and informal. etc. I once made a list of about 30-40 doctrines of this nature.
    My thesis for the M.A. in American Social and Intellectual History had to do with how God calls and qualifies a person for the minsitry, namely, educaton/illumination. Baptists being from the bottom of socity so-to-speak had to depend primarily upon illumination. Later as the moved up some switched over to education and rejected illumination, but the doctrine is two sided involvind a gift and requiring study with all that that entails. the period of the greatest outburst of creativity and accomplishment was when that doctrine and others were held in balance, a tension, which enabled people to study and at the same time to depend on God for the help that only He could supply. The issue of Sovereignty and human responsibility was set forth in terms of an antinomy (by Dr. J. I. Packer in his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. I developed the term Crisnatology…from the words Christ and dissonance as all things are dissonant without the unifying presence and power of our Lord. Without Him, we polarize on one pole or the other. In discussing this with the chairman of a psychology dept at a state university many years ago as an explanation for some forms of insanity, he became very interested, inviting me to do my M.A.; Ph.D. in psychology, saying he was doing research in that area right then. I had said this due to my findings in Baptist history where I saw the efects of polarization on one side or the other of any particular doctrine that was in contention instead of being held as a whole. People choose one part or the other of any two-sided truth, usually the one their experiences and prejudices incline them to prefer, and then they apply it expecting the results that would be commenurate with the truth. Failing to get what they expect they redouble their efforts and eventually it leads to a breakdown, Or else they can switch sides or they can embrace both sides which will lead to balance, flexibility, creativity, and attractiveness as that of a mature believer, God’s aim in the whole process. This is no game; it is as serious as eternity, and it is fraught with consequences then and now. Women will be treated according to how we peceive them, and , if our view is not biblical, they will eitehr be treated as godesses or as peons or slaves. But the aim is for every believer to be a true servant of God, devout, faithful, sacrificial for His glory, one serving with a view to advancing His glory and honor. Both male and female are to be dedicated to that end, and it is the Lord Himself who decides what role and function they shall have in life. Normal patterns might well be for the wife to be in the home, while the husband makes the living. Sometimes, however, the roles might be reversed as in the present when jobs are being deliberately removed that will provide for the employment of men (this is due to the fact of automation, computerization, and robotics as well as to the fact of the desire of corporations to break the power of unions as well as the aim of some people of power to promote civil war in oder to coer their aim to eliminate great segments of the population in order to reduce the population by 5.5. or 6.5 billion people in order to take the strain of their resources (when did they own all the resources). What we need is another Great Awakening in order to offset the forces tending to anarchy an bloody revolution in which the excess populaton can be eliminated. that was what saved Great Britain in the 1700s. In France, they actually would move boats of people out to the middle of lakes and sink them in order to get rid of people wholesale as the guillotines(sp?) were not gettng the job done on the scale desired. And Thomas Carlyle pointed out that they established factories to tan the hides of those killed and used them for shades (lamp shades?). Has any one read C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength?

  47. says

    I mistakingly left my prior message on this site before Dr. Willinghams last on this site as a mistake. Should have been posted on ” .. . the average churh of 80″ Sorry. Will anybody forgive me?

  48. says

    Dr. Willingham,
    I appreciate the biblical argument you made and I’ll answer here in a moment. First, I want to share an observation for your benefit that your comments in this format paint in broader strokes than are necessary or helpful. I recognize that much of your discourse is at least tangential to the discussion, but is too often difficult to determine particular relevance. I do have to apologize for not responding very quickly at all. My place of business is actually doing very well in this economic climate and I’ve been busy with that and working of various ministries at church as well as helping my wife with her own.

    Now, you mentioned I Tim 5:2. I don’t claim to be a Greek scholar, but I believe “presbuteras” can refer generally to those wise in years as well as particularly to those of a certain office. Your translation as “eldresses” as though it were the office is not shared any of the translations I’ve looked up. In fact, the context favors the general meaning as elderly women ans it does for elderly men in the first verse.

    Even if it were to mean an office of eldress, nowhere do the scriptures qualify such an office as either alike or different from that of the office of elders. Where the scriptures are explicit are such passages as in 1 Tim 2. We just don’t like it because of our particular cultural sensitivities.

    What I must say with regard to God’s intent is that we are most free when we agree with God and less free when we do not. From a practical standpoint, women can bear as much fruit as men when acting within God’s prescribed manner. The goal should never be to exalt ourselves, but to glorify God. From the scriptures the examples seem to make this clear although the manner of ministry often differs between men and women. The goal should never be to exalt ourselves, but to glorify God.

    [@Mom4Christ - This is why we debate such things. To ensure that we are rightly glorifying the living God we serve.]

    therefore, I’ll not alter my hermeneutics because passages like this are not culturaly comfortable. Instead, I’ll offer what the scriptures clearly teach so that we may thrive in the glory of God rather than falter in self-aggrandizement.

    The scriptures may indicate that from time to time, God has used women to perform the purposes where he otherwise used men. I don’t have a problem with this. But it’s never an excuse to go against where the scriptures are clear otherwise. For example, the scriptures are fairly clear that we are to have one spouse. Nevertheless, God tolerated much bigamy in ancient times. We even read where Jesus spoke out against divorce saying that God allowed it in the time of Moses because of the hardness of men’s hearts. the culture by the time of Christ had changed and teaching against divorce was more accepted. for this reason, if I’m going to come down on one side of the hermeneutical aisle, it’s going to be for clear teaching rather than historical example. However, if God can be gracious toward the ancient Hebrews by allowing them divorces and multiple spouses, then I can be gracious toward groups of Christians who cannot bear the clear teaching of scripture.

    However, we have the clear teaching of the later revelations of scripture where they did not and as such we cannot honestly ignore the teaching. You mentioned being balanced, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and I believe this is the balanced teaching.

  49. Tom Parker says

    Jim B:

    You and others always want to say the Bible has clear teachings on such things as the role of women in the church and it is only clear to your way of thinking, it agrees with your biblical view.

    There was a time in the SBC that people were allowed to have different views and get along, but this is not so since the CR.

  50. says

    If God is omnipotent (knowing to whom he communicates) and the scriptures are his record of explicitly objective revelation to us, then they must need be perspicuous on important points, with this caveat: those who are not his will not understand them. That’s why Jesus spoke in parables to general audiences and spoke plainly to his disciples.

    Since we’ve been talking about 1 Timothy, I’ll use it as an example. You don’t have to dig deep into hermeneutical principles to see the clarity of the letter. Paul wrote it to Timothy to reinforce the instruction he had already given him to stay in Ephesus and keep people from teaching false doctrine (1:3). This would be a matter of love (1:5). Paul encourages him by pointing to the foundation for his calling in Christ (1:11-17). However, it would be a battle (1:18). The law is good if used lawfully and those who are lawless Paul judges righteously (1:8-10). Blasphemy is worthy to turn some over to Satan (1:20).

    I’ll pause here and mention that if there is such a thing as blasphemy, then we must be able to know what the truth is so that we can keep from blaspheming.

    Paul’s first task for Timothy is prayer (2:1ff). In this context, Paul delineates a distinction between men and women in the corporate gathering between vv 8 and 9. So as Timothy is to pray, he is to engage the men of the church to pray in every place and the women to be respectable, modest and exhibit self-control. Also women are not to “teach or to exercise authority over a man” and be quiet. Then he makes an apologetic reference (to the creation/fall account) for his reasons for this teaching (2:13ff).

    Then he gives some brief qualifications for church leadership in chapter 3 followed by his reason for telling him all this: “…so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (3:14b,15)

    Chapter 4 is a series of specific admonitions and instructions regarding those who will fall from the faith, devoting themselves to demonic teachings (4:1) and that this is why it is good to read the scriptures and teach good doctrines. Then in chapter 5 he gives some instruction on pastoral wisdom and conduct, and in chapter 6 that he should teach these things. Then he comes full circle with a summary at the end of the letter.

    That seems pretty clear to me. So what shall I say? Shall I pass on what Paul has instructed Timothy or do I wonder that it means what it says for fear that people who would teach some other doctrine would be offended by it? The role of women seems a lesser issue to be sure, but Paul equates it to the practice of praying. Therefore, we are all to be in subjection whether called to lead or to follow, that our calling is made certain in Christ to his glory.

  51. says

    As to Jim P., he does not read replies very closely. He is sold on clarity and is sure he can perceive its depths cause God wouldn’t make any one have to dig and think (obviously he has never read Jn 5. and search the scriptures which is like hard rock mining and implies that the truth only yields to severe study). He also is not aware of the fact that clarity can be a cover for callous, calamitous and catastrophic cruelty. Behold the Pharisees. O it is so clear, you can perceive the bottom. My friend nearly drowned, because he could see the grains of sand rolling along the bottom, never realizing the magnifying power of another medium (in this case clear water). Also Jim P. hangs himself on the horns of his own dilemma. The book is clear and yet Jesus speaks in parables and explains things to his disciples? I hold to verbal inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility, but I have learned that I don’t always understand what I think I do, that what is clear can have an immeasurable depth of wisdom to it. My field of study for my M.A. in History was American Social & Intellectual History, and the Puritans and their views were the first group I studied. As I thought upon those people (who took notes on the preachers sermons and kept records and even tested their children upon the finer points of the messages), it struck me that the Bible was inspired by the Omniscient Being and that it must reflect the kind of wisdom and intelligence commensurate with that fact. That opened the flood gates of insights and understanding like nothing else could do. Real leaders are more indirect, leading by example, motivation, etc., and the old saw of bossism is due to be replaced by the more exciting Lord of Light and Love who can also be firm and truly judgmental when the occasion requires. The depths of our Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings on the inspiration of Scripture, propitiation, etc. are yet to be assessed and mined for their wealth of perceptions and precepts truly grasped and applied. God will do as He pleases. He does it all the time. Salvation for example is by exception, exception to His iron and rigid and unbending law, exception by mercy and grace which satisfy the just claims of the law with the law being most agreeable to such satisfaction. Such being the case, it should be no hardship to figure out that God can make exceptions anytime, anywhere, as He did with Nineveh – though the prophet Jonah wanted the whole thing utterly destroyed. And God can do the same with a woman as a man, and woe betide that man who arrogantly thinks God is tied to his perception of what God is teaching. As to the silliness and even wickedness of tying the issue of women to sodomy, thiose who do so will soon find themselves tied to an irreconciliable and painful problem. God is about the business of saving sinners and making them His children. Personally, I hope I don’t wind up in a position vis-a-vis God over the gender issue of one of His children in the matter of service without the matter of peversion for the bandit’s pains. The norm is the man as leader, but that will not stand up, when God chooses to use an exception which He does now and then as He pleases. I was going to the SBC before perhaps most of the writers on this blog were born. I was present and voted on the ’63 BFM along with many others, because we thought we were going to stop the doubtful approach to the Bible then being taught in our seminaries without any checks and balances, I have been sneered and called ignorant for believing the Virgin Birth (I now look back and wonder what they would have thought had they known me in my atheist days with the desire (unconscious at the time) to do in all believers, regardless of beliefs), paid my way to vote my convictions, even when I was warned that some of the so-called Bible believers had a hidden power agenda (true to my despair). People forget that the Pharisees held the same view on the Bible as the early Christians, and it was very clear to them that no prophet comes out of Galilee. Liberalism (not skepticism) in its truest and best sense of the word has its origins in calvinism. Behold, Jonthan Edwards rebuking Whitefield for his campaign against the unconverted ministry and warning, so I understand, against such things on the basis of Judas being selected for the ministry by our Lord. This does not mean free indulgence; it does mean care must be used. I have a book on Scandals written by John Calvin. O that people would really do serious research before they shoot from the hip. Fast draw gun fighters (supposedly my great grandfather was one) worked at it which is to say real Bible believing Sovereign Gace Southern Baptist ministers are people who will not be satisfied with anything less than in-depth, exhaustive study of the Bible first and then of our history…as well as other fields germane to our responsibilities like thinking through issues.

  52. says

    Dr. Wellingham,
    You become personally offended too easily. I need to offer no defense for myself for it is God’s revelation through the scriptures that are at stake – not our qualifications. So, I apologize for any personal offense I seem to have made, for I didn’t know your age. All I ask from you or anyone else, is that you interact with the scriptures. If I am wrong on that basis, then I will easily admit it once I am shown. If we cannot trust the clarity of the scriptures, then we have no reason to trust the clarity of the gospel (and likewise the nature of God) revealed therein.

  53. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    You are back once again to your clarity arguement and it is just not as clear as you say that it is. You say once you are shown, but I think your mind is already made up.

    You interpret the scriptures one way and so do others.

    Why must one always be right and the other wrong?

    You said:

    “If we cannot trust the clarity of the scriptures, then we have no reason to trust the clarity of the gospel (and likewise the nature of God) revealed therein.”

    It is just not that dire of a situation.

  54. says

    Tom,
    To be sure, both may be wrong. Truth is absolute because God is absolute and he is Truth; therefore two people who disagree on Truth cannot both be correct. If we are concerned about who God is, we will look for his revelation of himself and submit our thinking to him. If we are concerned about our own flawed sensibilities, then we will seek to justify them regardless of any revelation of God.

  55. says

    Offended??? About what, other than human obtuseness? Any one who attends 11 institutions above the secondary level finds that idea laughable. Mr. Pemberton is trying to evade the issue, the problem with insisting on the one hand about biblical clarity and on the other conceding that Jesus used parables to keep people from understanding him is a case in point. The real issue in our discussion is the matter of authority. In this case, God is Sovereign, and He can and does do as He pleases. His precepts serve as our guidelines, but He has the right to insist that there can be and are exceptions. I refer back to the view I stated earlier, that all biblical doctrines are two-sided (composed of two ideas) which are apparently contradictory, that they are so constructed, that if one holds both sides of a doctrine (e.g., ministerial qualifications, education and illumination), they set up a tension in the mind which enables the person to be balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic. This was what was evident among the Baptists in the period from 1740-1820 and explains their immensely creative accomplishments in that period. They made decisions and acted in a way that evinced a truly worthwhile and admirable and beneficial approach to life and the Lord’s service. Polarization, on the other hand, removes the tension, shuts off all disagreement, and, sooner or later, leads to its own destruction. Suggestive and illustrative is the Civil War, the result of slavery, wherein Baptist closed off all debate on the subject as it was obvious to them in the South. Never mind that there were some that found scripture speaking to the contrary. The price of not listening to the latter: 650,000 battlefield casualties. We will pay a price for closing off all debate on the issue of women in ministry and in other areas of life, due to an irrational fear of a threat to the male ego. The price will involve mistreatment of women, the abuse of children, and subjection to the chimeras of dictators as in the case of Germany. And all because we cannot read the Bible and grasp its balancing principles.

  56. says

    Dr. Wellingham,
    Your ad hominem is showing.

    Tom,
    It is that dire of a situation as I hoped a closer look at Paul’s letter to Timothy would reveal. There is such a thing as false teaching and false teaching must be opposed so that it can be revealed for what it is lest people follow a false gospel. I would also address this observation to Dr. Wellingham who insists that theological tension is pervasive and fruitful for doubting our ability to understand the scriptures.

    As it is, Dr. Wellingham, perhaps I can’t be sure, but from your remarks it would SEEM that you believe one cannot understand the scriptures without much age and several years of theological training in the halls of higher learning and long-time membership within a particular denomination. Is it true that you believe this? If not, then why tout your credentials as though to ensure us that you know whereof you speak? And why do you make assumptions about my character and level of education as though I fit within some stereotype that it makes any difference as to the truth?

    To both of you:
    You act as though I’m wrong, yet you both insist that there can be different legitimate understandings of the truth. You don’t see a logical problem with that?

  57. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    The problem is that you do not see the different understandings of the scripture in regards to the role of women. It is clear to you and that must mean you think we are wrong. The problem is with you not with Dr. Willingham and I.

  58. says

    Tom,
    You must understand with regard to the role of women, that the hermeneutics required to arrive at your conclusions on the role of women where applied to the passages where the gospel is elucidated change the meaning of the gospel. That’s why I appeal to the clarity of 1 Timothy. If it’s not clear, then the deity of Christ, much less penal substitution, is not clear either.

    There are areas of theology that are debatable because the supporting scriptures are not clear. I believe this is by design. This is theological tension which is fruitful for focusing us away from what is less important to what is truly important if we approach it with the earnest desire to know the truth of the matter aside from our pet beliefs. The role of women as an area of theology related to salvation is decidedly unimportant. However, God has chosen to make this an unambiguous passage. There’s not much wiggle room here with regard to solid hermeneutics or I would be glad to concede the point.

  59. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    I am not the only one to arrive at a different conclusion about the role of women. The 2000 BF&M however slammed the door on women and any significant role in the life of the SBC. It is pretty much an all male leadership club today.

    In the current envirnoment Lottie Moon would not have a chance.

    You keep saying the role of women is clear, but it is only clear if you want it to be.

  60. says

    Tom,
    You’re exaggerating. It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned my wife and all she does. Lottie Moon wouldn’t have any trouble today. And I mention hermeneutics and say “it’s only clear if you want it to be.” I didn’t invent reason, I only use it. Please interact with the text we have been discussing. I have given my reasons based on scripture. I didn’t bring any preconceived notions to the scripture that I haven’t had to abandon because the scriptures proved me wrong. There was a time when I would have agreed with you, but I have had to change my mind over the years as former presuppositions of mine have failed when pitted against the revelation of God.

  61. Tom Parker says

    Jim:

    You say I am exaggerating. I am not. Read some of the publications written about Lottie Moon and notice all she did on the mission field and you will find there would be no place for her in the current SBC environment.

    She went way beyond the parameters set for women today.

    I’m glad you find the Bible clear on this issue, but I and others do not. But always remember you have the 2000 BF&M to fall back on.

    You get to have it your way.

  62. says

    Thank you, Tom, for getting my name right. Bro. Jim P. seems to be stuck on misspelling my name as if he has a hard time staying focused which is exactly the problem with folks who really have a hard time believing the Bible reflects the intelligence of the Omniscient Being who inspired it. Bro Pemberton, don’t you believe Jesus, when He says, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves?” and Peter when he says Paul had written “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” ? Evidently, you have never wound up with egg on your face as bro. Tom and I have across may years of being so down right sure we knew exactly what the word of God said. Well, like Jonah we could say what it clearly and exactly says, only, unlike that prophet, we didn’t have the sense in those earlier times like some we could mention to realize that the clear statement can have some other purpose involved than what is exactly stated. Do you gather what I am saying, dear bro. Pemberton? Like my friend on the mountain stream up near Danville, Va., many years ago, you have stepped off in water that’s over your head. Bro. Tom is quite right the folks that are running the show right now would put Ms. Moon out for doing some of the things she did then just like a bunch preachers turned their chairs around and showed Dr. Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, their back, when she had the temerity to preach to them at some one’s invitation in some meeting a few years back. Mrs. Lotz was not pastoring; she is like her father only an evangelist though primarily to women but like Lottie Moon willing to proclaim the Gospel to the men, too. I should say also that like Mary Magdalene, whom some in the early church referred to as an Apostle to the Apostles, she could bear the news of His resurrection to others, including men. Would you turn your back like those preachers did (I understood it might hve been several hundreds of preachers)? I repeat from years of experience that far too many of those whom I know that really push the issue of male dominance have been people who mistreated women. Me thinks I smell the presence of Old Rome in worst times long and, hopefully, forever past. Go back and read the female comments above. One as I remember plainly pointed out that they would have no problem following a man, if he truly followed Christ, but there was no call to follow one who ordered a female to do wrong or ordered the good in hateful ways. That sunded like the voice of experience speaking. Even Paul made a point of saying follow m as long as I follow Christ.

  63. says

    Dr. Willingham,
    Please forgive my typing. Looking back over my previous posts, I sure have been misspelling your name and not even realizing it. So many people are very touchy about that I have been most oblivious to the fact. I’m not sure if I will get forgiveness from you, however, given that you are increasingly ungracious toward me. You’ve become most haughty, arrogant and belittling, I’m afraid. I ask your forgiveness in any case.

    You have mused on “presbuteras” in 1 Tim 5:2 and to prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. Corinthians 11 is of no consequence. No mention was made of limits to whom one may prophesy in 1 Cor 11. Paul doesn’t get to that until 1 Cor. 14. You seem to have missed that connection. But I made an observation on Paul’s logic in 1 Tim 2 as well as the context of this section of his discourse. If I am truly in over my head, then you should have no trouble correcting my observation. (Please do so, for I desire to know the truth more fully.)

    Instead, however, you continue to berate me. You’ve characterized me Pharisaical and uneducated. And despite my stated desire to see women have the ministry that God would have for them, even building my own wife up, referencing Elisabeth (Elliot) Gren’s own history and standing on the matter, and even expressing the grace that I have shown to those who disagree with me on this matter, you proceed to question my character as though I were all about male dominance. I’ve said I need no defense for myself and I will give none except what I have already written. Such attacks on my character don’t anger me except where they could sully my own ministry, but I have to wonder at the source of your assumptions. I’ve already said that my only pursuit in this matter is Truth.

    I urge you to speak to me on those grounds rather than from baseless assumptions about my character. For this is most central to Paul’s teaching here. We are sinful creatures. Justified, yes, but yet undergoing sanctification. How does God take creatures who are yet being sanctified to mortify their sins on the one hand and free them up for his purposes on the other? He creates levels of relational structure that serve to humble us, hold us accountable, and fulfill our immediate emotional and spiritual needs so that we might minister in his Truth. Paul gives us the expected relational structure between husbands and wives in Eph 5 where both are to submit to each other. The wife to the authority God gave her husband and the husband most sacrificially to his wife’s needs. They were designed to be a revelation of the relationship between Christ and the Church in their own relationship. This structure should not be controverted by the structure of local church. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say that so I could be wrong on that point, but it makes sense. I believe that’s why Paul referenced Adam and Eve as the reason for the place of women in the church structure. Regardless, Paul indeed gave Adam and Eve as his reason. He did not give a reference to the current culture as he dis with some other instructions. In the churches I am working with in India, for example, many women cover their heads when they speak in church (yes, you read that correctly – there are occasions when it is good for a woman to speak). It is right for them to do so being mentioned in the Bible, but it is a cultural thing as Paul clearly says and not required. It is a statement of submission and respect for the Lord which is clearly recognized by all who observe women so moved. In such a way the Holy Spirit draws a distinction in the hearts of observers between the world and the body/head relationship his people have with him. But it requires mutual submission and I’m having trouble seeing that quality in you.

  64. says

    ??? Why in the world would I want to make assumptions about your education or lack of it, I am simply not interested in playing superior/inferior games, I consider such approach to be down right stupid. What Tom and I have been trying to get you to do is to think and reason in other ways than simply a narrow, analytical focus on a statement in which you make it the norm and explain all else in that light. What you are failing to do is to see the two-sidedness of Holy Scripture in its teachings on practically all truths that it presents. True education looks for truth – and is not deterred by eduction or the lack of it. About two weeks ago, I lost one of my dearest friends, the wisest man I ever met. He had a high school education, was a body shop mechanic (he repaired buick auto bodies). The man had done 16 yrs of research in Baptist church history on a home made microfilm machine and wrote one pamphlet and a few other manuscripts. I quoted him in a thesis in intellectual history. His influence on me was profound. He asked me one question that 5-7 yrs later went off like a bomb in my views of eschatology and totally demolished them. So it is not your lack of education (for all I know you could have an earned doctorate); it is your arguments. They are in need of more careful reflection, You need a greater fund of informtion and experience. And please don’t feel bad, if I call attention to such deficits. After all, I have been in the same boat. I just wished some one had given me warning that I was going to wind up with egg on my face (mtaphorically speaking) (and some really did, but I was too obtuse to see it then). This is not to say, I am now closed to changes. But we are carrying on an extended discussions, and the arguments can get heated without intending any derogatory results. That is how I take them – as the main thing is to pursue the truth and possess and present the same. I would imagine you are a good man, intending good. You profess faith in Christ. Our task is mutual, namely, to get a true understanding of what the Bible actually teaches about the position of women in society and life. How we answer that issue will determine how we treat them. Mr. Parker has pointed out, and I must second what he has said from my own experience and knowledge, that all too often the man is dominant crowd involves treatment that is less than Christian. Remember, if you had our experiences, you might feel differently. There are women who can and do function as ministers of the Gospel, and they are as faithful as any man and as good, too. There are bad ones just as there are men who are bad. What has always bothered me is to have men who believe like I do who are also bad. That is when your pain threshold is overwhelmed with grief. As to cultural and traditional stuff, I am more interested in the ideas involved, regardless of the dress they wear. I have found that it is in the balance of the ideas that one finds the most effective Christianity expressed. I have an article which I wrote back in 1977/78 for the newsletter of the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn. on the subject, The Climax of The Reformation. One of the greatest periods in world history involved the years from 1740-1820 with the two great awakenings and the great century of missions. During that period Protestantism transformed from being a Gospel recovery, feuding, persecuting movement into an outgoing, winsome, determined to win the world by persuasion effort, and Rome, dragging its feet, seems to be starting to follow along in the past 50 years. We still have the promises awaiting our pleading in prayer and God’s answer in awakening the whole world. Clarity and paradoxes are the secret that hides the answers in my opinion (which probably is worth very little) to a brighter tomorrow than any on earth have a right or even the idea to and of such a thought. I have been praying for a world wide awakening like Mr. Spurgeon in his Evening devotions for Aug.6 and Dec. 24, since 1973, when I first spoke to the pastors prayer meeting of the Sandy Cree Assn. on the subject, A Great Awakenng. I would preach the 5th and 10th anniversary sermon to that prayer meeting. The 10th was on the subject, A Third Great Awakening. It is interesting to me that the folks so blessed as to be converted in the First Great Awakening and found the churches and Association that would experience the Second, people who were sound in their theology (Sovereign Grace believers) and on the Bible (they thought so much of it that they could hardly swallow a Confession of Faith for fear it would be turned into a creed (they did have their abstracts of principles)) and yet they had Eldresses. My efforts to reconstruct their case found help in Matthew Poole’s brief remarks in his commentary (later I saw another Puritan who followed the same line) to the effect that their could be exceptions. I thought,”Wow!” These are the people who helped to produce the United Baptists, Southern Baptists, the Great Missionary movement, religious liberty (also note in conjuction wth Regular Baptists), and etc. As I reflected on their approach, I came to believe that it was more rational, biblical, reflective of the true spirit of the Christian Faith. I must close. Plase do remember, you are in the public arena, and arguments will be hot and heavy without necessarily meaning any harm. I do not take your remarks as harmful in any sense of the word. They are just as subject to being trounced as mine are. This is the ferment that went on among the Baptists in the 1700s which others pointed to with derision, but which merely showed they were alive, excited and involved to the degree that they blessed the whole world with religious liberty, missions by persuasion, etc. We will argue, but we will seek for the truth to prevail which what we all desire for His glory, surlely!

  65. says

    You are making assumptions whether you realize it or not. You apparently assume that I’ve always been conservative theologically by saying things like “if you had the experiences that Tom and I have had…” and “You need a greater fund of informtion (sic) and experience”. No, through my studies and my experience, the Holy Spirit has delivered me from the foolish counsel of liberalism which I followed for a time. Likewise, Christ has saved me from sins that would astonish most Christians – so I don’t consider myself a good man beyond the grace of God. I can tell you for sure that they have been forgiven although I have met Christians who don’t agree with me. Should I assume a balance between what I believe and what they believe and doubt that perhaps my sins have not been forgiven? The logic that you apply doesn’t work or this reason. As it is, I am not only educated, I am very educated, although my education has been less traditional. I am an autodidact and learn much faster than most collegiate courses can teach, so it didn’t take too many years and courses of study to leave the institutions of learning for my own self-study. I taught myself logic at age 9 and music theory by the time I started high school. I was composing orchestral works by my junior year and had a fully-developed philosophy by the time I graduated that could be likened to a dualistic existentialism. I dubbed it Paradomy. I was wrong, of course, but such things must happen.

    I don’t trust my intellect on its own. It will always fail. And I don’t trust intellectuals who trust in their intellects over the revelation of God. I don’t trust history, opinions, cultures or practices outside the revelation of God as something to refute the revelation of God. For example, the fact that there have been men who have lorded authority sinfully over women doesn’t change the fact that they may be technically right about some aspect of the scripture. That doesn’t mean that we are bound to legalistic obedience, but we are bound to the work of the Holy Spirit who will never contradict the revelation of God. And his purpose in us is less our behavioral obedience and more our intentional obedience, just as Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended it for evil but God intended it for good.” Understanding the difference between the living God who cannot sin and men who are sinners is important. If I get egg on my face for being right, then I’ll not waver. I’ve been in ministry where I have been spit on, physically attacked and cursed and sometimes for nothing more tame than offering a Bible as a free gift. Nevertheless, I cannot go against what is true even if my life is sought for it. I’ve been in war. Death doesn’t frighten me.

    I had made a decision to assume that your duplicitous approach to scriptural interpretation, in search of the “balance”, was formed on the observation of much theological tension. However, I doubt now that this is the case. You haven’t elucidated much except to say that there are “two-sidedness of Holy Scripture in its teachings on practically all truths that it presents.” I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I have an idea of several possibilities of what you could mean by it and none are apologetically sound. It is true that God is univalent and we are bivalent in our thinking. But this doesn’t mean that God, in translating univalent truth into bivalent propositions, intends that multiple interpretations are valid. Rather, the bivalence of created logic serves to focus us on one univalent truth despite the theoretical wranglings of many philosophers throughout the ages to the contrary.

    In any event, I must beg off this discussion for a very practical matter. My grandmother has passed away and I am endeavoring to reach the funeral in time. It is several states away and in a very snowy area. My wife desires to come with even though she doesn’t have to, bless her. So we are packing up the kids and braving the weather to commune with the extended family for a while during this time. Grace and peace to you.

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