Many are wrongly framing the controversy in the Church of England as liberal (pro-women) vs conservative (anti-women) or Bible (anti-women) vs culture (pro-women). In fact, the Scriptures themselves have far more to say in favor of women than many realize. And cultures have tended to hold women back, while Christians have often been the ones elevating them based on the Bible.
Many conservatives, who believe Christianity to be a revealed religion, based on the fully inspired Scriptures, support women in leadership on biblical grounds. We simply consider EVERY relevant passage, not just one. Christians were the first to elevate women. It got them in trouble with the pagans (contrary to popular opinion). Paul himself wrote strongly about our equality before God. Whatever the often controversial Timothy and Corinthian passages are referring to, they don’t trump everything else the Scriptures say. Most of the energy behind hindering women from using their spiritual gifts in leadership is based around giving a single passage the first and last word in the debate. Good interpretation has to be in context and in light of all the New Testament says. I respect people on all sides of the issue. But a lot of people don’t seem to know all the evidence.
Here are just a few key passages for biblical conservatives who support female leaders…
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29 NIV)
“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17, 18 NIV)
Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. (Acts 21:8, 9 NIV)
This passage implies mutually held appreciation for female servant-leaders between Paul and the Roman believers:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (Romans 16:3-7 NIV)
More passages not making value-distinctions between the important leadership contributions of women and men in the early church…
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. (Colossians 4:15 ESV)
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14 ESV)
Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. (Romans 16:15 ESV)
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2, 3 ESV)
At the very least these passages indicate Paul saw women as equally valuable, not only theologically, but as partners in ministry. If women prophesied in the early church, they clearly were teaching and also therefore not always silent in church. The question of the meaning of “have authority over” in the Timothy passage becomes a focal point. But in light of all Paul and Peter wrote there’s plenty of room to support leadership based on spiritual giftedness rather than gender. And it seems in certain regions Paul operated with culturally-conditioned methods based on needs and human resources.
Regardless of your conclusion, please make your decision based on more than one New Testament passage… And let’s not falsely label each other as biblical vs cultural.
I received a copy of Andy Stanley’s new book: Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. There’s no doubt he’s an excellent communicator of biblical truth and all of us have a lot to learn from him as a strategist. He has built teams and developed vision for life-changing ministries. It seems this is his “everything I’ve learned so far” book. I’ve read the first 50 pages and if you’re connected to ministry in North America the story is a page-turner. Like many of my generation, Andy is someone I watched grow up in the spotlight of his father’s ministry. I’ve had opinions of various shades from gushing to sincere appreciation to doubts. Reading so far I’ve experienced all three again. Quite a bit of what I’ve read confirms what I’ve intuited from afar. There’s complexity and I’m not sure everything adds up as he explains it. But I came away with greater appreciation for his Father and for the support my wife has always given to my ministry. He takes a jab back at his critics who call his model “attractional” and point out its flaws. Instead of embracing their critique he fires back, using their preferred term “missional” somewhat sarcastically. This is unfortunate. But hopefully later in the book he’ll be a bit more balanced and positive.
I’m intrigued to read more and will eventually have a full review. I’m most interested in his take on spiritual formation, which apparently contains attractional elements.
Sad to hear of Stephen Covey’s passing. Ironic that it’s at age 79 when he had us imagine our 80th birthday party to begin with the end in mind. His son stated that all the children were there for the last hours the way he’d always wanted. Vision realized. No small feat to maintain positive relationships with 9 children! No doubt he lived to help others fulfill their potential as few have! Complications from a fall off my bike on a steep hill in Utah at age 79? Yes, I would take that exit ramp! Thank you, Stephen, for a great book that not only didn’t conflict with Scripture, but enhanced its application in my life.
At a crucial time in life, a key ministry mentor handed me this book. Thanks, Jeren. The 7 Habits gave us all permission to pay attention to the deep Spirtual rhythms of life. Covey made the point that these enhanced productivity. In one sense, the 7 Habits are about living out the Sabbath principle in Scripture. Take time daily and a whole day each week to sharpen the saw. Productivity-Capability growth is the renewable long-term key to increased productivity. In these lean times where states and corporations are tempted to squeeze workers and cut benefits, I hope we don’t lose sight of these principles. Work people too hard and you actually reduce productivity. On the other hand, where people feel empowered to dream and grow with fair compensation, they will often work harder than you could ever get them to with a stick. Growth as a person is habit-forming. May the church always be the best environment to develop human potential. May the experiences there create more potential in work life and in the home & neighborhood.
I pray my ministry can grow great people who can be used of God to change their world!
“I told you this the other day and I believe it with all my heart: You’re good enough,” Gottfried told the team. “You’re good enough to do this. You’re good enough to advance. There’s a plane waiting for you, to take you to St. Louis. There’s hotel rooms waiting for you. There’s a game waiting for you to be played in St. Louis.”
(quote of Coach Gottfried’s speech to team by Luke Decock of The Observer)
This movie writes itself. Opening scene, actual footage from the last 5 seconds of 2010 National Championship Game, fading as the shot bounces off the rim…
TEN YEARS EARLIER appears on a black screen.
Young Brad Stevens is sitting in an office cubicle at Lilly. Picture of his girlfriend on his desk. He’s on the phone, but his mind keeps wandering back to big shots he made to secure victory for Zionsville High School. Then to the moment he received the Coaches award at DePauw.
His manager stops by to remind him how pleased they are to have him on the team. How he’s sure a bright young man like him will go far. Points to the hall where photos of Lilly leaders of the past and present line the wall. Someday you’ll be up there…
The phone rings.
“Better get that,” he says pointing again to the photo wall. “It might be your future calling!”
Picks up ringing receiver. “Brad Stevens, how can I help you?”
It’s a rather terse and disinterested woman in a very noisy office somewhere deep within the bowels of the Butler University Athletic Department.
“Is this Bradley Stevens?”
“Um, yes? Who’s calling?”
“I’m calling from Butler University. There’s an opening for a volunteer assistant position with the Bulldog basketball program. Coach wants to know if you’re interested in an interview.”
Face lights up like a Christmas tree. Drops the receiver. Starts shouting to the phone “Yes, Yes, Yes….” picks it up.
Glances at photo of girlfriend.
“…ah but I have to speak to someone else about this first… Can I call you back.”
“Yes, but let me know by tomorrow morning. Coach won’t want to delay…”
“Thank you. Thank you…um I’m sorry what did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t. But it’s Sally.”
“Sally. Sally, I think I love you!”
“Yeah, yeah. Just call me back by tomorrow…click”
On his lunch break, Brad calls the girlfriend.
“Are you crazy? You got an amazing break to get this job with a future! Our future! Remember, we talked about getting married?”
“I know, but you know it was my dream to coach. I just never thought…”
“I gotta go, click”
“Wait, no. Hello? Hello? Ugh!” end scene…
Brad is back at his cubicle prison trying to duct tape the cracked receiver when the phone rings loudly jarring Brad and us.
“Okay, here’s the plan:”
“Yes, Tracy, who else? Here’s the plan. I go back to Law school. Someone has to pay the bills for this fantasy camp! You live in Bob’s basement and get an hourly job. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Tracy, I love you forever!”
Music comes up. Brad shouts and raises his arms.
Next scene: we see practice ending and Brad is heading back to his Coordinator of Basketball Operations cubicle. New coach Todd Lickliter (in a cameo playing himself) steps up and invites Brad into his office.
Next scene: Brad carrying a box into an office where a janitor is screwing in a new nameplate above Assistant Basketball Coach.
Next scene: last few seconds of 2nd Round 2008 NCAA Tournament loss. Speech to team afterwards with freshman Matt Howard listening intently…
And the rest is history!
Will the movie end tonight? Or is the story just getting started?
Here’s to great real life stories that fill us with hope!