July 2017

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TruthTalks: Women’s role in the Church

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Dr. Christopher Peppler and I discuss women’s role in the church as it was, is, and should be.

Apart from really enjoying and gaining (in my opinion) much needed insight into my faith when I do these TruthTalks with Christopher Peppler, it can still feel disheartening when I think of how few people know about this podcast and therefore don’t gain what I do from them.

As I edit the audio I try to remind myself that if just one person gains Spiritually, or sees things in a different light, then our work hasn’t been in vain. Please note that you can now subscribe to the TruthTalks podcast directly from each post (just above the heading and top image) in a variety of ways and you will be notified when new TruthTalks are available (normally every second week). Oh, and how about sharing this with your friends.

I hope and pray that you will enjoy this weeks TruthTalk, which came out of THIS post, because I believe that it really helps clear up misconceptions about women’s role in the church of today.

 

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Women’s role in the church

Women In Church

In which roles may women function in the church? My answer is ‘all and any’. Which offices may women fill within the church? My answer is ‘Deacons but not Elders’.

In 2010 I wrote a short article on this subject where I based my contention for male Eldership mainly on the biblical pattern of ‘headship’. However, I did not even touch on the so-called ‘limiting texts’ that Paul penned in First Timothy and 1 Corinthians. I have just re-read Frank Viola’s article on the supposed limitations placed on women within the church. He contends that a responsible reading of scriptures within their original contexts cannot result in female suppression. I agree with him but thought that I too should comment on some of the key issues.

But first I must restate the three ‘golden keys’ to responsible Bible interpretation, which are:

  1. Context

    An informed evaluation of biblical, textual, historical, and socio-economic context which yields the ‘first intended meaning’ of any particular passage. This usually yields the essential meaning of the passage. We then apply the truth of the passage into our current historical and cultural contexts.

  2. Christocentricity

    This is what Jesus taught, modelled, and revealed of the Godhead, and, is for me the final determinant of the meaning of a biblical passage. 

  3. Exhaustive Reference.

This requires a consideration and appreciation of what all of scripture has to say about the matter in question.

All too often church leaders come to their understanding of a passage by reading back into it the current conditions of their society. The role of women in the church is a prime example of this. Women play major leadership roles in post-modern politics and business so surely they should play a like role within the church. But, if we truly believe that the Bible is our trustworthy guide to faith and life then we must start with what we responsibly understand it is teaching, and then apply this in our current situations.

However, a responsible, interpretation of scripture must take full account of original Context, Christocentricity, and Exhaustive Reference. I am critical of the arguments based on current conditions, but I am equally critical of arguments based on a superficial and de-contextualized reading of scripture.

The two ‘limiting’ texts most often cited by those who restrict the role of women in the church are:

1 Timothy 2:11-15 ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety’.

 

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 ‘Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church’.

Read the Frank Viola article for details of alternative, yet valid, ways of understanding these passages within the context of the churches of that day in Ephesus and Corinth. I really don’t need to add anything to his analysis in a short article such as this.

‘The Message’ translation of the Bible is very interpretive, but this is helpful in understanding how Eugene Petersen understands key texts. His rendering of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 supports Frank Viola’s understanding – ‘ I don’t let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first — our pioneer in sin! — with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this’.

Now, if we apply the Exhaustive Reference principle the matter becomes even clearer because the Old Testament, the Book of Acts, and Paul’s teaching on the gathered church point strongly to the kind of interpretation presented by Viola and others (myself included). For instance, just consider Acts 2:1-18, 16:11-15, 18:26, 21:9 and then add to this Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 on praying and prophesying .

As to the Christocentric principle, Jesus did not teach directly on the subject in question, but He did model an acceptance of women in ministry. For instance Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus accepts Mary positioning herself as a disciple by sitting at His feet to learn from Him. Also, read Luke 8:1-3 and 23:49 for insights into how Jesus interacted with women.

I think that a biblical context-based understanding of both prophecy and teaching also opens the door to the acceptance of women preachers and teachers within the church.

Just to be clear, I believe that women can and should minister in all capacities within and through the church, including that of Deacons, but should not serve as Elders, which is a headship function… but church government is another matter requiring another article.
Roughly one-half of mature and gifted Christians are women, yet in many churches they are relegated to teaching children, counselling other women, and doing admin-type tasks in the church… and this because a few texts are taken out of context – what a shame!

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TruthTalks: 3 Myths concerning Christianity + Q&A

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Last week Dr Christopher Peppler (a.k.a “Daddy”) wrote THIS post about debunking myths about Christianity. In this audio episode he goes into some more detail and then I get to have a Question and Answer session with him where we end up discussing the topic, along with Jewish folk, and C.S. Lewis vs. Lewis Carroll.

I do hope you enjoy it and God bless you.

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Three Myths concerning Christianity

3 Myths about Christianity

Critics sometimes claim that Christianity is based on myths and that it is an unreasonable, exclusive, and unloving religion. However, these claims are the actual myths.

The myth that Christianity is an unreasonable Faith.

Atheists and secular philosophers are very fond of levelling this accusation. Even when they don’t say it, the implication is that Christians are ignorant folk who can’t or won’t concede that their faith is in something unscientific and illogical. They usually cite biblical creationism and claim that evolutionary theory discredits and disqualifies the naive claim that God created the universe. The theory of evolution is elevated, without observable, measureable, or repeatable evidence to the status of ‘fact’. Creationism is written off as a ‘non-fact’ without much, if any, consideration of the genre of the book of Genesis, which contains the record of the creation, or the several different legitimate ways of understanding the biblical account. Critics also disparage biblical miracles as unscientific and focus especially on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the biggest ‘whopper’ of all. Ironically, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the best attested and certainly the most researched and written about event in human history.

To anyone, atheists included, who take the trouble to honestly study the scriptures, examine the volumes of research available, and carefully weigh the evidence, he or she will find that Christianity stands on very reasonable intellectual ground. Believers need never think that their convictions are based only on blind faith; faith, yes, but also facts.

For those interested in verifying what I have said, and more, I give just two of the many reliable sources:


The myth that Christianity is an exclusive Faith

In an age where it is deemed improper to claim exclusivity for any belief, or to hold dogmatically to any contention, Christian dogma declares boldly that only in and through Jesus is there salvation. Religions like:

  • Hinduism and Buddhism set out their paths to blessed eternal life but do not claim that theirs are the only paths.
  • Atheists are offended by Christianity’s claim because they don’t believe in eternal life and
  • agnostics generally don’t care enough about such things to be more than just irritated by Christianity’s claims.

It is true that Jesus taught that He is ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6) and then immediately went on to say that “No one comes to the Father except through me”. So yes, Christianity presents just one means of salvation but all who genuinely wish to may avail themselves of this means. Jesus likened himself to a gate and said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). One ‘gate’ but ‘whosoever’ may enter through it.

The claim that Jesus is the only means of blessed eternal life is based on simple logic. The biblical revelation is that Jesus is God incarnate, and He has declared that faith in him alone is the ordained means of salvation. Christianity’s contentions are not elitist or attempts to exclude anyone from being ‘one of us’, but simply a belief in what God had revealed as truth.
Despite many futile attempts over the millennia to disprove the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, or to ‘prove’ that the Bible is unreliable, both stand as well attested truths. The two resources I have already cited give ample and compelling evidence of this.

The myth that Christianity is an unloving faith.

In our day, Christians are often accused of being unloving towards those who do not conform to biblical standards of behaviour or lifestyle. Words like intolerant, prejudiced, and even hateful are flung in the faces of those who believe that the Bible condemns certain human attitudes, actions, and lifestyles.

In the Old Testaments the prophets often spoke as God’s direct mouthpieces, and here are some of the things that God declared that He hates:

  • Isaiah 61:8, “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity”.
  • Amos 5:21, “I hate, I despise your religious feasts”.
  • Zechariah 8:17, ‘ “do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord’.
  • Malachi 2:16 ‘ “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel’.

So, God hates robbery and iniquity, insincere religious feasts, false swearing, and divorce. All of these are things that some people do, but they are behaviours and not the people themselves. The New Testament revelation is even clearer. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Paul wrote that ‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good’ (Romans 12:9).

Christianity cannot be accused of being an unloving Faith because love is one of its central tenets. In fact, the Bible, Christianity’s foundational document, declares that love is the dominant characteristic of God himself. John wrote that ‘God is love’ and then immediately wrote that ‘whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him’ (1 John 4:16).

The claims that Christianity is unreasonable, exclusive, and unloving are simply unfounded myths. So, have confidence in the fact that our Faith is logically defendable, open to all who will repent, believe and confess, and is loving to its very core.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.