Sunday, December 02, 2007
Mormonism, Blomberg, and Me
This weekend has proved to be an interesting one! Over on the ACFAR Blog, I have begun posting relevant links in a weekly round-up along with some brief thoughts. Last Friday, two of those links were Rob Bowman's "Do Mormons believe 'that Jesus was fully God'?" and "Christianity Today, Mormons, and the Deity of Christ" from the Parchment and Pen blog.

So what? You may ask. Well, I was also critical of some of the comments in Bowman's entries posted by Craig Blomberg and Paul Owen. Much to my surprise, Dr. Blomberg commented on my blog! Today, I posted a response. Again, Blomberg commented.

But I'm not simply trying to get you to read a he-said-he-responded dialogue. I believe our interaction was both informative and gracious. What do you think?

Lord willing, I hope for more of this kind of conversation at the recently launched ACFAR blog. You're welcome to join us!

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posted at 11:00 PM  
Comments (4)

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Elijah said...

Greetings! I am a student at Indiana Wesleyan University and I have written a final paper for a class some time ago, and was wondering if you would be interested in a dialogue with me concering women in ministry. If not, do you know of any good Baptist blogs that may? Thanks

Here is my paper.......

Confronted for the first time with the complimentarian views, from leading members of my home church, I had no question of whether a woman should be a senior pastor or just any role of ministry. After all my denomination has always been known as a people of the Book, and whenever there is a doctrinal challenge, most Southern Baptists that I have encountered return to the Scriptures, or at least their understanding of the Scriptures. Here lies the great issue or problem that I have come to recognize: the interpretation of Scripture.
When coming to Indiana Wesleyan University, I have encountered a rather controversial thought for the first time: the possibility of women being called into the ministry and participating in all levels of ministry roles, including the senior pastor position. Now, I would like to say that this thought had originally brought discomfort to me, and I have felt that my comfort zones were being infiltrated by demonic doctrines. My first immediate thoughts when I encountered this thought were what are these wicked Wesleyans up to? Nevertheless, my attention had been directed to many women in ministry, such as Dr. Constance Cherry, an IWU professor and many other women in ministry, including Rev. Joy Butler, a pastor at a local church in Grant County, Indiana. I have also have read a few articles and chapters from books that addressed this issue.
After hearing lectures on this particular topic from Dr. Ken Schenk and Dr. David Smith, both IWU professors, this has helped me come to the conclusion that it might be a good idea to read Scripture in its original, historical context. The failure consider the historical context of Scripture, I believe is the greatest error that many Bible readers who desire to understand church doctrines and ideas yield themselves to. Many of those who fail to regard the original, historical context take a literal approach to Scripture. Others may approach Scripture with their pre-understandings of what the text means, and they are unwilling to have these understanding change or shifted into a better direction. Many Bible readers approach the Scriptures with their personal experiences and skewed reasoning as a means to interpret the text. Nevertheless, when used in its proper place, experience and reason has had its effect upon my view towards women in ministry.
Before my attention was directed to the idea of doing an exegesis on Scripture, I came to the conclusion that the idea of women being a pastor was an idea that clearly violated Scripture, and my reasoning for this was because elders and leaders in my church knew more about the Bible and it would be of insanity to challenge their interpretations. After coming to IWU and with the help of this class however, I had begun to look and remind myself to look at Scripture in a new light. After taking Dr. Smith's Old Testament Survey class and Inductive Bible Study class, I learned and was reminded of one thing, even if I could not remember all that was taught: context is everything.
Dr. Smith also pointed out the importance of reading the Scripture as a whole. He noted that there was nothing spiritual about reading verses in isolation away from the other passages of Scripture. I know that when I isolated verses from all of the others ones, I began to develop a skewed conclusion about theological matters. It was not until I learned to actually read the books of the Bible as a whole that I could actually find the original meaning of the text. Reading the Scripture in its context has helped me try and understand the historical setting and audience. I was able to ask the questions, Who? What? Where? Why? and these questions help me better understand many of the controversial texts that seem to prove that women are not to be in all levels of ministry.
The Baptist tradition confirms the primacy of Scripture, and I have learned this with no doubt. I feel that many of those from this tradition, and even I myself at times, have allowed presuppositions to receive the priority in forming and shaping our thoughts, and we are unable to see the truth derived from the Scriptures, because we have set out to prove our own agenda. It was not before long a profound thought occurred to me: that I could be looking at Scripture in a wrong way and that God actually gives meaning to the text. I begun to realize that there are many sexists that may have possibly given their own meaning and I have bought into their brainwashing.
Upon entering The Role of Women in Ministry class at IWU, I had previously entertained the thought that women are indeed called to ministry, and who is to stand in the way of people who have the call of God on their lives and have the church to confirm the call? Before entering this particular class, I had made a decision that I would continue, even after I leave this class to do research upon the idea of women being called into all levels of ministry.
One of the great things that interested me in this class was this idea that God has no gender, and many people view him as male. Of course Jesus was a man and in the Trinity we find God being referred to as "Father and Son," rather than "Mother and Daughter." This idea, however, should in no wise render any disvalue on the female gender in humanity. Furthermore, my greatest desire, when reaching people with the gospel message is to expose them to the pre-Fall Genesis account of creation. What was God’s original plan for us, for men and women? In Genesis, Dr. Cherry pointed out that both genders were needed to portray the image of God. Perhaps, that is the best place to start: were God ended His creation and everything was very good.
Genesis tells us that woman was created to be man's helper. This strong language of being his "helper" really convinced me all the more about gender equality. Dr. Cherry led a discussion in class one particular day that really enlightened my thinking on the whole idea of created order. Could only leadership positions be preserved for men, because they were created first? If this argument is true, instead of eating bacon for breakfast, I suggest that we start ordaining pigs into the ministry.
Dr. Cherry also introduced or reminded us that there were many leaders even in the patriarchal world of the Old Testament. These women were greatly accepted as God's handmaidens, ordained for his use. Sadly, Dr. Cherry pointed out in another lecture, we can find throughout history that there are groups that view women as being inferior to men. The Greeks for example, have believed that women have two main purposes: producing children and providing sexual favors. Upon hearing this and reading books for the class, I have grown greatly disturbed with the way that women have been and are still being treated. Just as many arose to fight for African Americans' rights, I feel a need that someone fights for a woman's kingdom rights.
Reasoning does have its place indeed, and I would have to say that I have a perfectly good reason to support the idea that women are called into all levels of ministry. My conscience persuades me of this, and what is very interesting of this is that the idea of “respecting the individual conscience” plays a major role in what creates a distinction between the Baptist denominations than any other denomination. Man cannot come between another man and his conscience. The only problem with this is that the matters in the conscience must line up with the true, hermeneutical teachings of Scripture.
Thus, I have seen much evidence in Scripture with the aid of thoroughly and careful, scholarly work that have provided proof for me to stay true to my conscience. The same words that came from Martin Luther echo my same thoughts in regard to my position on women in ministry: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”
Looking at Tradition, Dr. Cherry pointed out that in the medieval period we find that women took a major role in the ministry. Sadly, however counsels began to meet and those who were members of it were educated people who began to shape skewed ideas of the role of women in ministry. In the Wesleyan revivalist period, we can discover that women were provided with an opportunity to express their calling in different roles.
These types of revivals seem to indicate to me that we are gaining a foretaste of what the kingdom will be like when it full is realized. I agree with Dr. Schenk’s thoughts in one of his articles when he talks about the "Kingdom Trajectory.” If we know what the kingdom will be like, should we not attempt to move closer to it? Dr. Schenk also talked about the age of the Spirit and how women and men, both would be actively involved in ministry. I would have to say that opposing women in ministry from this perspective is just not "kingdom."
Dr. Schenk has also noted some of the "bad" reasons that people are against women in ministry today are the husband headship idea and the deceivability of Eve. I believe that Dr. Smith and Dr. Schenk did an exceptionally well job at explaining these issues and how the views have been skewed. Starting in the pre-Fall account in Genesis, I believe is the most important and crucial part of leading someone to a paradigm shift. Furthermore, I have learned that it is God who has created gender, and therefore in his divine nature he is not distinguishable as male or female.
I am convinced that God calls women into the ministry and what ever role that calling may lead them into, that is for God to direct, the church to confirm, and for me to encourage and support the move of God. I refuse to back away from my denomination, because many oppose the idea that women are called into ministry. Why not move to another denomination where my beliefs are accepted as the denominational doctrines? God may use me as an instrument of confirmation and encouragement to women who need strengthened to continue to carry out God’s will for their lives.
Moreover, I also find that it is important to preserve the unity of the church. We can find in Scripture that a unified church is what Christ has in mind; I will not intentionally tare down or cause a schism in the church. I want to build up the kingdom of God, and as God permits me, I would seek to inform members of my denomination and others who greatly oppose my position, and I will do it in love.
One thing of importance that I learned from listening to a cassette of Nancy Beach, who spoke with Bill Hybels, is that I will not open my mouth and start teaching or preaching anything, unless I know for certainty that it is the truth. I will study the Scriptures and continue to do research to find out what the Scriptures really have to say about women in ministry. I will attribute my attention to highly credible scholars and what they have to say about this issue. I believe that it is one issue worth fighting for, because the Church cannot fully be the church on this earth, if in fact many of its members are being rejected to express their God-given gifts and call.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger John Divito said...


Your paper does bring up the important issue regarding women in ministry. However, I admittedly disagree with your conclusion. I am a complimentarian, and I am not one simply due to a patriarchal culture or because of tradition. I am convinced that Scripture teaches the offices of pastor/elder and deacon are specifically limited to qualified men.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to discuss these issues right now. But here are a couple of helpful sites:

Gender Blog, from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Biblical Foundations, the blog of Andreas Köstenberger, a Baptist New Testament scholar and contributor to the book Women in the Church: An Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Jenney said...

I think you mean you are a complementarian, not a complimentarian.

Women and men complement one another, that is, we are equal on value but differing in role and function. This would be as opposed to the egalitarian view that we have identical roles and functions within the family and the church (exspecially in leadership).

If we compliment one another, then we sit around saying nice things about each other. This may be sweet, but i don't think it is what you had in mind! :)

At 10:11 PM, Blogger John Divito said...


Thank you for the correction! Too bad spell check doesn't find all of my errors!!!


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