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« Re: Biblical Illiteracy | Main | MLK Jr., Men and the Church »

September 28, 2006

RE: Biblical Illiteracy

It's obvious from the number of comments that this post touched a nerve. Many of you evidently have a story similar to my own: you had a heart that was hungry to know and experience God, and you were blessed when the Spirit honored that desire by leading you to a place where your soul could be filled with His Truth. I want thank all of you for sharing your testimony and offering your own insights.

There was one comment, however, that I would like to address directly. This was the post which mentioned women pastors, obviously in a less than approving light. When I read this, it struck me that one thing we have to be careful not to do is to assume that the Spirit is going to lead us to "unanimity." I know Christians who love the Lord as much (if not more) than I do, who love and cherish His Word as much (if not more) than I do, and who lead a Spirit-led life as much (if not more) than I do .... who nevertheless disagree on this and many other issues. It's a mystery to me why God doesn't just zap us with the same opinion on everything: isn't Truth the Truth, and shouldn't we all see it the same way? But for whatever reasons, He does not. 

This particular issue (the ordination of women and whether women should ever teach a Bible class which includes men) is one I have had to personally wrestle with. After spending most of my life in churches that said women should not occupy these roles, I began to "test the teaching" about 16 years ago when a friend asked me to. She trusted my scholarship and my objectivity to help her see the issue clearly after a conflict arose on a mission trip to Africa. 

Without going into details, let me say that the quest I then embarked on was a surprise. I read lots of books and articles from each end of the spectrum -- from feminist harangues (mostly against the Apostle Paul, who I admire greatly) to works that would make any misogynist proud. Fortunately, I also found serious scholarship by people who followed sound hermenuetical principles -- and even they disagreed when it came to understanding what Paul really meant in passages like 1 Timothy 2. Over a period of years, I not only continued to read the scholars, I also began to notice the women mentioned in the NT, and the roles they played (church-starters, church leaders, deacons, apostles, co-laborers for Christ, co-prisoners for the gospel, etc.), and I began to see the issue from an egalitarian perspective.

It took about ten years to wean me off what had been drummed into my head for so long by pastors who I respect and love to this day. But, the Spirit and the Word led me to disagree. I know they would disapprove, but I must be more concerned with God's approval than man's. Now, my husband and I are members of a Baptist church which has both male and female pastors, a church where I regularly teach a large adult SS class which includes both men and women (BTW, my husband of nearly 40 years is a member of my class). All I can say is that it's a wonderful place to worship and fellowship and serve. I have no axe to grind with those who see this issue differently; I'm just thankful for where the Lord has led us.

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Kathy Haywood

Like you, I have been on a similar journey to find out if what I have been taught about women not being allowed to minister is truly what God intended. For me it was a matter of trying to understand why he would give obvious gifts of leadership and scholarship to women and then not expect them to use those gifts to further the mission of the church. Personally, I'm not sure I'm ready to become a member of a church that has as its sole pastor a woman, but I believe there is much more room for women to minister within the church than what is currently available. I believe they were much more active in the early church than they are currently, but that is beginning to change and I say, "Hallelujah!" In our current society where it is taking more and more of our time just to earn enough to support a family we must all of us work as hard as we can to further God's work. To exclude anyone who is otherwise qualified just because of a happenstance of birth is a very dangerous move to make.


You tested the teaching, and the Spirit and the Word led you to disagree.

Could it possibly be that your scholarship and personal feelings led you to a egalitarian perspective?

But what does the Bible say? Eve tested the teaching too; so congratulations on proving that some things never change.

Wesley Brice

You say the Lord led you to teach men in the church. And to a church where women are pastors. Impossible. The Lord could not lead you where he forbids you to go.


Diane, thank you for your story, your honesty, and your measured, careful tone. This is still a difficult issue for many people, as illustrated by these comments, but you approach it with prudence and relate your personal experience with grace.

When C. S. Lewis asked Dorothy Sayers to write a critical response to the ordination of women in Asia's Anglican churches, she refused - not because she rejected biblical teaching or the authority of men, but because she saw the issue as you do. It is worth noting that in her response to Lewis, she never harangued him, but wrote from the same spirit which they shared.


God the Holy Spirit joins Himself to the Scriptures, He does not contradict them.

Test the spirits.

It is the Word that we -know- is true.


This is why we need both the Word and an earthly authority to interpret it.

Diane Singer

Dear Puzzled,

What do you do when "earthly authorities" disagree? Sooner or later, we must rely on the way the Spirit and the Word are leading us. BTW, for all who are wondering, it's not the Word of God I disagree with; it's the way some people have interpreted His Word on this issue. There are plenty of godly pastors and theologians who support an egalitarian position.

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