Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Role of Women in Ministry

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
~2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSV)
“Ministry is thus the result of God’s gifting and has nothing to do with being male or female, any more than it has to do with being Jew or Gentile, or slave or free.”
~Prof. Gordon Fee
(New Testament scholar)
There are many misinterpretations of one biblical text referring to women in the church—1 Timothy 2:11-12. For instance, people confuse male/female, husband/wives, and ministry roles and many gender mandates that the apostle Paul had. Besides the cultural underpinning there appears to be a clear example of false teaching regarding the women referred to in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
From that time until now, and certainly beyond, there have been endless arguments regarding the roles women should or should not appropriately fill within the church.
Many churches, and many church leadership structures, have insisted that men must fill leadership roles, based solely on passages like 1 Timothy 2:11-12. But Prof. Fee makes the point that this passage is the “odd text out” regarding Pauline theology for gender differentiation in the church. Any theology that separates out texts for its own benefit is a dangerous theology; indeed, it’s a false teaching.
New Creation Theology
A better way to argue the point of gender roles in ministry, if there was a point to argue, is the basis of Paul’s new creation theology.
In Christ, the person is a new creation. The person, disregarding gender but regarding gifting, is up and on the plate—using a baseball metaphor—for God’s use. They are not to be limited by humankind’s skinny, often warped, understanding of what they can do and how they should operate. Under the direction of God’s Spirit, and by evidence of their gifts, they may be called; and doubly called by the church—any group of believers whom fellowship together under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
It’s an ignorant view, really, to think that a woman can’t preach or teach or pastor or evangelise or prophesy as good as a man. Neither is it God’s will to install fear-structures, and broad sexist legalism, into the church. A woman is called just as a man is called—and to their post, for service, they should report for duty in God’s Dominion.
We would do well to continue to revert back to the new creation theology that embarks us upon a journey to the simplicity of God in salvation by Jesus. Jesus went to the cross and was resurrected to free humankind of the legalism we seem hell bent, without him, to impose. As soon as we sniff the semblance of rules we ought to, just as quickly, sniff the smell of brimstone—the judgment of God for installing structures over grace.
The correct ‘new creation’ view so far as women in ministry are concerned, so long as the culture will allow, is delimiting. Women are limited no more than men. Gifting is the priority of ministry, not gender.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Gordon D. Fee, Listening to the Spirit in the Text (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), pp. 56-76.

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