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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wayne Grudem: Setting scripture against scripture

In Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, Dr. Grudem writes,

    The role of prophet is surely an honoured role, and a vitally important one, for God speaks through a prophet to his people. But prophets and teachers have different roles in the Bible. ...

    Women were able to prophesy in both the Old Testament and the New (see 1 Corinthians 11:5) They could deliver messages from God to his people. But women could not assume the role of teacher over God's people in either the Old or New Testament (see 1 Timothy 2:12, 3:2, Titus 1:6...) page 137.
But in 1 Corinthians 12:28 we read,

    27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

    And I will show you a still more excellent way. ESV
Although Paul wants to show us a more excellent way, it is nonetheless clear that a prophet is before a teacher in order and prominence, it is a higher gift - one we should desire earnestly.

To say that a prophet is a more restricted office than that of teacher counters the clear teaching of scripture. Either we believe that ALL scripture is inspired by God or we don't.

I do, however, agree wholeheartedly with this quote of Dr. Grudem's,

    Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:1-2 ESV

23 Comments:

At Sun Dec 17, 08:42:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

"...it is nonetheless clear that a prophet is before a teacher in order and prominence..."

"Clear"? Hardly.

This is an assumption which may or may not be true. You state that "a prophet is before a teacher in order, and yet this is not true of the order of the list.

Furthermore, your assertion regarding "prominence" seems unfounded as well. What is it in the text that makes you think the "prophet" held more prominence than the apostle?

 
At Sun Dec 17, 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I read the list as saying 'first apostles, second prophets,third teachers'. Have I missed something?

Are you claiming apostleship for present day pastors?

 
At Sun Dec 17, 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Suzanne,

Sorry, I misread your post. I read it as 'is nonetheless clear that a prophet is before a apostle in order and prominence.'

I thought you were arguing that prophets were before apostles (not teachers) in order and prominence.

My mistake...

 
At Sun Dec 17, 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Its okay, Jeremy,

I attacked someone else's writing in the same way recently.

I claim it is my age, the fact that I need bifocals - my privilege as as an older person (well middle-aged, anyways) ;-) to misread a word here and there.

 
At Sun Dec 17, 12:09:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Grudem writes,

But women could not assume the role of teacher over God's people

I am fascinated by the way in which Dr. Grudem imitates the wording of the TNIV here - that 'suspect and novel translation'.

Is he for or against this phrasing? Is he aware that his use of the word 'assume' could be atrribtued to his being under the influence of a so-called 'feminist' version? Is this a way in which he too has buckled to culture without knowing it?

 
At Sun Dec 17, 02:42:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Unfortunately, I can't claim it is my age (or my vision).. just my ability to read, I guess.

 
At Sun Dec 17, 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I think y'all are doing a fine job heckling Dr Grudem. He needs it. The more I read his stuff the more I feel he is going over the top on the women in ministry issue.

 
At Sun Dec 17, 05:29:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I'm not sure what this post has to do with Bible translation, but I don't think the argument here should be very convincing. Paul certainly lists prophecy as more desirable than teaching as a gift to pursue, but how does that entail prophecy as involving more authority than teaching? If it does, this passage doesn't show that. In context, the reason it's more desirable is because of its greater potential for fruitfulness in building the kingdom. Notice that apostleship is first, and he's telling people to desire that gift, which means he's probably not talking about apostles in the sense that the 12 and Paul are apostles but in the sense that Paul's companions were all sent ones (i.e. missionaries). Does that kind of apostle have more authority than teachers?

I also don't think the relationships among the others would stand up. Does healing give someone more authority than administrators have? Do miracles give someone more authority than those who merely heal? The last sentence sounds like complete nonsense to me. The one before that sounds like it could only be answered in the negative.

Also, you speak as if this passage is about offices. It's not. It's about gifts. Complementarians do not think God restricts gifts.

Finally, Carson and Grudem are right about what prophecy is (and I happen to be convinced by them, as I think most scholars on I Corinthians have been at this point), then NT prophets are fallible and must be evaluated in a way that OT prophets were not. That means prophets' being evaluated in the congregations shows that they have no more authority than those evaluating them.

 
At Sun Dec 17, 10:00:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

Here are a few casual thoughts, nothing scholarly, just me, sitting around having coffee with you.

The scriptures can be read in different ways. For example, line up your ducks in one direction - hierarchy and the subordination of woman; line up your ducks in the other direction - equality and reciprocity.

If you can only chose one of these 24/7 as a rule for your marriage - which one will you pick? 1 Cor. 7 is pretty clear.

So that wraps it up for me.

As far as men and women in the church, let's just start by observing that authority rests on accuracy and truth, not on masculinity.

It seems that those men who stress masculinity risk not being careful with their facts because they somehow seem to think that their masculinity is a standin for accuracy.

I don't know how else to describe it. This does not mean that I feel this way about all complementarians, only those who stir up trouble for others in the form of statements against others.

 
At Mon Dec 18, 06:06:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I wouldn't choose one of two important and complementary truths if I believe both are firmly taught in scripture.

 
At Mon Dec 18, 07:41:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy wrote: "you speak as if this passage is about offices. It's not. It's about gifts. Complementarians do not think God restricts gifts."

But if teaching is a gift, according to this passage, do complementarians think that God gives the gift of teaching to some women, or that he restricts it by not giving it to women?

As for "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers", I was struggling recently over how to translate this. Does it mean in order of authority, or of time, or simply the order in which Paul chooses to list them?

 
At Mon Dec 18, 08:05:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter asked:

But if teaching is a gift, according to this passage, do complementarians think that God gives the gift of teaching to some women, or that he restricts it by not giving it to women?

Complementarians do believe that God gives the gift of teaching to women. They believe, however, that there are limits to where women may practice that gift. Most complementarians believe that women should not teach biblical doctrine to men, at least not in a congregational setting. Complementarians vary in their understanding of what the limits are.

 
At Mon Dec 18, 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I wouldn't choose one of two important and complementary truths if I believe both are firmly taught in scripture.

I find hierarchy ad equality to be contradictory, not complementary, as are subordination and reciprocity. Maybe it looks a little different from the point of view of the one who is subordinated. The underside of a hierarchy is different from the upper side.


I can't help but compare it to slavery, in some ways, but that is just me. These are the presuppositions I bring to the text. Everyone has these presuppositions. Men must admit that hierarchy benefits them, that is their presupposition - it is good for me!

 
At Mon Dec 18, 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

So, Wayne, God's gifts to women come with strings attached, but his gifts to men don't?

Suzanne, not all men believe in hierarchy because it benefits them. There are at least two who don't, Jesus and me! And probably a few others.

 
At Mon Dec 18, 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Peter,

That is my Plymouth Brethren background showing through. Hierarchy is not such a favoured word. They do hold traitional beliefs on marriage but not on church government.

 
At Tue Dec 19, 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Nick Steffen said...

Perhaps I'm confused. The post reads, "To say that a prophet is a more restricted office than that of teacher counters the clear teaching of scripture." But isn't Dr Grudem saying the opposite (that the office of teacher, since "women could not assume the role of teacher," is more restricted than that of prophet)?

Also, I must disagree with Suzanne, in that I don't find hierarchy to come close to slavery at all. One can easily come up with hierarchical structures that men join (even when they know they will be slaves, I suppose), eg military, politics, business, etc. There are also involuntary hierarchies that have some level of neccesity, eg children in families, pupils in schools, etc. I guess I don't really understand the presupposition against hierarchy, even when people advocating the contrary position are remarkably shortsighted (then again, that's probably just my pair of glasses) :-)

 
At Tue Dec 19, 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Nick Steffen said...

Perhaps I'm confused. The post reads, "To say that a prophet is a more restricted office than that of teacher counters the clear teaching of scripture." But isn't Dr Grudem saying the opposite (that the office of teacher, since "women could not assume the role of teacher," is more restricted than that of prophet)?

Also, I must disagree with Suzanne, in that I don't find hierarchy to come close to slavery at all. One can easily come up with hierarchical structures that men join (even when they know they will be slaves, I suppose), eg military, politics, business, etc. There are also involuntary hierarchies that have some level of neccesity, eg children in families, pupils in schools, etc. I guess I don't really understand the presupposition against hierarchy, even when people advocating the contrary position are remarkably shortsighted (then again, that's probably just my pair of glasses) :-)

 
At Tue Dec 19, 02:17:00 PM, Blogger Nick Steffen said...

Perhaps I'm confused. The post reads, "To say that a prophet is a more restricted office than that of teacher counters the clear teaching of scripture." But isn't Dr Grudem saying the opposite (that the office of teacher, since "women could not assume the role of teacher," is more restricted than that of prophet)?

Also, I must disagree with Suzanne, in that I don't find hierarchy to come close to slavery at all. One can easily come up with hierarchical structures that men join (even when they know they will be slaves, I suppose), eg military, politics, business, etc. There are also involuntary hierarchies that have some level of neccesity, eg children in families, pupils in schools, etc. I guess I don't really understand the presupposition against hierarchy, even when people advocating the contrary position are remarkably shortsighted (then again, that's probably just my pair of glasses) :-)

 
At Tue Dec 19, 02:18:00 PM, Blogger Nick Steffen said...

Perhaps I'm confused. The post reads, "To say that a prophet is a more restricted office than that of teacher counters the clear teaching of scripture." But isn't Dr Grudem saying the opposite (that the office of teacher, since "women could not assume the role of teacher," is more restricted than that of prophet)?

Also, I must disagree with Suzanne, in that I don't find hierarchy to come close to slavery at all. One can easily come up with hierarchical structures that men join (even when they know they will be slaves, I suppose), eg military, politics, business, etc. There are also involuntary hierarchies that have some level of neccesity, eg children in families, pupils in schools, etc. I guess I don't really understand the presupposition against hierarchy, even when people advocating the contrary position are remarkably shortsighted (then again, that's probably just my pair of glasses) :-)

 
At Tue Dec 19, 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Nick and others, I think it might help you to read this post at Kruse Kronicle about two kinds of hierarchy. This is in fact much the same argument as I was independently making in a discussion with Donna in comments on Adrian Warnock's blog. As an egalitarian I have no problem with temporary and voluntay hierarchies. The problem I do have is with the kinds of involuntary and permanent hierarchies which Grudem and others argue for, in the church, in the home, and even in the Trinity.

 
At Wed Dec 20, 03:37:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Nick,

I think a temporary hierarchy is essential. It is a pragmatic working relationship and I do well in my organizational structure in the workplace. But in a permanent intimate relationship, 24/7, there is something a little odd about an asymetrical relationship, which accords the opportunity for fulfillment to one partner and not the other.

 
At Mon Dec 25, 12:38:00 PM, Blogger rhutchin said...

Gruden says, “Women were able to prophesy in both the Old Testament and the New…But women could not assume the role of teacher…”

1 Corinthians 12:28 is cited to oppose this. We first need to define terms. Apostles can refer to those who were chosen by Christ. They wrote about Christ and all that Christ did. Prophets (both men and women) now have the responsibility to tell others that which the Apostles wrote about Christ. Teachers have the responsibility to explain what the Apostles wrote. The application of the teaching would be through miracles, healing and the rest as people apply that which they are taught. Paul asks the question “Are/do all X?” With the exception of prophets, the answer seems to be, No (so does Paul mean that all do not prophesy?). For purposes of this discussion, if everyone is able to prophesy – tell others what the Apostles wrote about Christ – then is teaching a gift that God limits or can anyone teach as anyone can prophesy? Is there a difference?

Does God really restrict teaching to men and not to women? 1 Corinthians 12 does not resolve the issue from what I can see. To argue from 1 Corinthians anything about the respective roles of men and women seems to be pushing the verse to say more than it does. The discussion seems to turn on Gruden’s other arguments for the roles of men and women which are not cited here.

 
At Thu Dec 28, 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Peter said:

As for "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers", I was struggling recently over how to translate this. Does it mean in order of authority, or of time, or simply the order in which Paul chooses to list them?

One thought I've had is that it's in order of the most to the least direct role in terms of the increase of the kingdom. I'm not clear on what exactly the order is supposed to be, but one thing I'm sure of is that there are at least several alternatives to its being about order of authority that seem to me to be more likely than that.

I find hierarchy ad equality to be contradictory, not complementary, as are subordination and reciprocity. Maybe it looks a little different from the point of view of the one who is subordinated. The underside of a hierarchy is different from the upper side.

Think Philippians 2 and the various statements about Jesus' subordination to the Father throughout the Gospel of John amidst his insistence on equality with the Father.

So, Wayne, God's gifts to women come with strings attached, but his gifts to men don't?

Why would you think that? Jesus had some very harsh words for those who abuse authority and of the greater burden of those who are given more responsibility than others. I'm convinced that egalitarian objections like this simply assume a view of authority contradictory to the one taught over and over in scripture.

Peter, complementarians believe that submission in the church is to be voluntary. It's a flat-out misrepresentation of Grudem to say that he thinks submission should be compelled with force, which is what it implies to say that it's not voluntary. Now it's true that there is a difference between saying that submission is a moral obligation and saying that it's a good thing to do willingly but not a moral obligation. But in both cases the person's doing it is voluntary. I have a moral obligation to love my wife. That doesn't make such love non-voluntary. Why then call it non-voluntary if it's a moral obligation to submit? I think I submit voluntarily to those in authority over me, including Christ. This is despite its being a moral obligation.

As for permanency, does Grudem think eldership over local congregations extends past death? Does he think husband-wife relationships extend past death? I would imagine he doesn't on either score.

The Trinity hierarchy is permanent, but I think that's so well-established as permanent (e.g. I Cor 15) that I don't think egalitarians should question that (as Craig Keener doesn't despite his egalitarianism).

But in a permanent intimate relationship, 24/7, there is something a little odd about an asymetrical relationship, which accords the opportunity for fulfillment to one partner and not the other.

I'm at a loss as to your meaning. Who in this debate is arguing that only one partner's fulfillment matters? Wayne Grudem considers his wife's needs so important that he made some pretty huge career sacrifices for her. Maybe I'm not understanding your point, but it sounds pretty unfair to me.

 

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