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Month: August 2007

Are God's gifts segregated?

Are God's gifts segregated?

Segregation is the policy or practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups. The question for this post – are God’s gifts meant to be segregated into races, classes or ethnic groups?

Let’s look at some biblical examples to help us answer this question. Concerning Paul, Acts 9:15 says:

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;

So was Paul’s ministry and gifts only meant for the Gentiles, kings and Jewish men? We see that in the world, Paul started with the Jews, but because of a command given to him by God, he turned to the Gentiles after the Jews rejected his message. Acts 13 says:

Acts 13:45-47 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'”

Here we can clearly see that someone may be given a gift to evangelize a particular group of people for Christ. In fact my own ministry started with a ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses. For sixteen years I ministered to Jehovah’s Witnesses and ex-JW’s by operating a support group for those who had left the Watchtower. This is a very specialized area of ministry and God gave me compassion for reaching this largely unreached group of people who after leaving the cult group found themselves too fearful to enter a Christian church. Unless a Christian helps them with sorting out their doctrine, they can be very difficult to reach even after leaving the Watchtower.

So we can understand that people are gifted for ministry to certain ethnic or cultural groups to reach the lost, however in the church with the members of Christ’s body are people given spiritual gifts exclusively for the benefit of a race, class or ethnic group? Let’s look further into scripture to see if God’s gifts are given for the exclusive use of one type of people.  Let’s pay attention especially to see if God’s gifts are to be given for the exclusive use of either men or women.

The church started with all the Christians at one place at one time.

Acts 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

When God gave gifts to the body of Christ, did he separate the men and women? No he didn’t. We find the believers, men and women all together.

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Here are the disciples male and female in one place at one time. The Holy Spirit came upon them all and all began to speak with other languages. No sign that there is to be a segregation of the gifts of the Spirit.

Then Paul’s teaching on the gifts of the Spirits starts with this astounding word:

1 Corinthians 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Each one has the individual gift or gifts that the Holy Spirit gives them for the purpose of the common good. Paul sums up the teaching of the commonality of the gifts by saying:

1 Corinthians 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

There is to be no division in the body or segregation in the body. The word “division” means to split or tear. A schism, division, tear, as in mind or sentiment, and so into factions.

The early church did not have women’s ministries where women were segregated away from the men in order to have a place for women to teach. Instead, Paul teaches that when the entire church gathers together, this is the proper place for God’s gifts to be used. The gifts are for the common good. Paul teaches further about body ministry starting with 1 Corinthians 14:23 regarding the whole church assembling together. He then goes on to say:

1 Cor. 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;
1 Cor. 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
1 Cor. 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

The emphasis is on full body ministry. The gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good. They are not given to be segregated and kept away from anyone.

What does this all mean? It means that men have been kept away from women’s gifts in opposition to what the bible teaches. The bible never once says that a woman who is gifted in teaching the bible should keep her spiritual gift for the use of women alone. You can look high and low in scripture but you won’t find women teaching the bible to other women. You will find women teaching other women to love their husbands and women teaching women to keep the house but you will never find an example of a woman teaching the bible to another women.

Do I think that this means that women shouldn’t teach the bible to other women? No. I think though that scripture has not given us one example of a woman teaching the bible to another woman because then this could be used as a restricting factor regarding what God wants for the use of his entire body. God wants full body ministry. The entire church worshiped together and the entire church ministered together. When we keep men away from women when God has gifted godly Christian women with his Holy Spirit’s gifts, we are acting like we don’t need one another and that segregation of the sexes is a better idea than oneness. But how do we reconcile this with what God said through Paul:

1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

After reading all the “you all” verses from 1 Corinthians 14, I wonder if Paul would have looked at the way we have kept women teachers away from the benefit of the men and I can imagine him just shaking his head in disbelief. Would he have said to us:

The hand cannot say to the eye, “You have no need of my teaching” or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of your teaching.”

The key to Christian unity is an attitude of “you can all…” kind of full body ministry. Allowing full body ministry to only one sex is not God’s best. For sixteen years I discipled men and women alike in the Christian faith. I never once turned away one man that wanted to learn. Is God saying that I sinned because I refused to turn men away? Or is God saying to us through Paul that full body ministry is God’s gift and desire for all of us?

A couple of interesting links

A couple of interesting links

Well, I am off for a weekend of rest at the lake.  In the meantime you may want to check out a couple of interesting links.

The first link is from Chuck on The Christian and authority.  Good thoughts that have some obvious ramifications regarding the women’s issue.

The other is a blog post by Ben Witherington where I have been fighting for the inspiration of scripture and scripture to be taken as it was written.  I have posted my reasoning regarding why Isaiah 7:14 is a prophesy regarding Jesus alone and not a prophesy fulfilled in the days of Ahaz.  For those of you who are passionate about the inspiration of scripture as I am (I hold to inspired words and inspired grammar) you will find the comments interesting here.

Keep the comments coming and I’ll save my responses for when I get back.

Are women's gifts to be used outside the church?

Are women's gifts to be used outside the church?

In my blog entry called “Are women’s gifts secondary?” I documented the complementarian teaching that women’s gifts are secondary to men’s gifts and that women to use their gifts outside the church.

The question for this post is, are women’s gifts really meant to be used outside the church or are they to be used for the purpose of growth for the body of Christ?

To answer this question our most important resource will be the bible. Although there are several women mentioned who are co-workers with Paul, complementarians who refuse to allow women to minister in the church will tend to disregard these women co-workers because they say there is no documented evidence of their public ministry. So let’s look outside the box for a minute and look at the documented public ministry of a woman few people have reason to consider. The reason we will study this woman is not just for what is said about her, but also what is not said. In Revelation 2:20 we read:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 2:20 was written to the church in Thyatira. In this church is a particular woman named Jezebel is leading and teaching those whom Jesus calls “My bond-servants”. These men are committing adultery with her in seem by verse 22.

Now let us pay close attention to what Jesus says about Jezebel.

Revelation 2:21 ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.

Jesus gives Jezebel time to repent of her immorality.

20 ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Jezebel calls herself a prophetess or an inspired woman prophet and she was teaching and leading men to sacrifice to idols and to commit adultery with her. Now there is something missing here that is very important. Did you notice that Jesus did not reprove Jezebel for the act of teaching but rather for the content of her teaching? It was her teaching and leading into adultery and leading people to eat things sacrificed to idols (teaching about the “depths of Satan”) that Jesus reproved her for. But wouldn’t this have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to have given a second witness to the “law” that stops women from teaching men? This would have been the very best place to repeat the “law” if one existed since here we have a case of a woman publicly teaching men. But Jesus says nothing against a woman teaching men but he only stands against the substance of her teaching. Jesus also doesn’t rebuke Thyatira for letting her teach men publicly. He rebukes Thyatira for tolerating immorality.

In verse 22 Jesus gives Jezebel’s punishment along with the punishment of those who practiced immorality.

Revelation 2:22 Behold, I am throwing her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their deeds.

The extent of this woman’s ministry is shown by God’s judgment against her:

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

All the churches will know that God is the one who searches the minds and hearts because of what he will bring upon this woman. Again notice that it doesn’t say that God will kill her children with pestilence because she is teaching men. Her punishment is because of her immorality.

Now that we have seen an example of a woman teacher inside the church who was a bad leader, where are women’s gifts shown to be good gifts inside the church? 1 Corinthians 14 talks about the gifts and the assembling of the church.

1 Corinthians 14:23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;

When the whole church assembles together, Paul says that they all are allowed to prophesy. This is body ministry and this includes the women in the church.

Where does it say that women’s gifts are not allowed in the church and not allowed for men’s profit? And where does it say that women are not allowed to pray with the men in the church as some prominent complementarians teach? The practice of the early church was that they were all together devoting themselves to prayer.

Acts 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

When we are challenged that God has forbidden women from having any kind of public ministry, it is time that we answer back from scripture. God does not forbid his women “sons” from having a public ministry or from preaching the gospel of Christ to every creature!

Witnessing on Worthy Boards

Witnessing on Worthy Boards

Hey all,

While I am working on the next post regarding spiritual gifts, have a look at a bulletin board where the majority of people are hierarchists. I have posted a topic on the need for two or three witnesses to establish a matter. There can be quite lively discussion so if you want to know how complementarians think, give the thread that I started on Worthy Boards a read http://www.worthyboards.com/index.php?showtopic=67810&st=0. If you are brave you can join in. I’ll warn you though that this board is known to hack apart a loving egalitarian and sometimes the posts get shut down because there is at times more heat than light. With that in mind, if you want to read, come on in. If you want to join in, try to keep the light of Christ shining brightly so that those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ will see Christ within us. Remember that some day these same folks may be fighting on our side. Lastly remember that Satan is the true enemy of the body of Christ, not our brothers and sisters who do not agree with us on women in ministry.

Are women's gifts secondary?

Are women's gifts secondary?

Last post we referenced 1 Corinthians 12:7 teaching us that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good of the body of Christ. But are women’s gifts somehow secondary? According to leading complementarians women’s gifts of teaching are not equal to men’s teaching gifts at all.

John MacArthur tells us that the woman gets her knowledge from the man. Listen to clip #1 here.

So according to John MacArthur the man gets his spiritual gifts directly from God.

Man’s spiritual gifts come from God

However the woman is different in that she gets her direction and her significance through the direction of the man. Listen to clip #2 here.

The woman learns from the man John MacArthur says that the woman is not the glory of God. Instead she is only the glory of the man and she then is under the man’s direction. In this way she manifests the man’s authority not God’s authority. Listen to clip #3.

This view makes it clear that men are needed in the church and they are the ones gifted by God to use their gifts for the common good of the body of Christ.

Men’s gifts in the church

However this same view shows that women’s gifts are not given for the church. They are not for the common good. They are to be used outside the church.

Women’s gifts for outside the church

Listen here to clip #4 as Pastor John MacArthur limits women’s prayers and women’s gifts to outside the church building.

So then are women allowed to use their spiritual gifts on the mission field? Well, no, they cannot use their gifts of teaching on the mission field either if there are unsaved men present according to leading complementarians. Listen to clip #5.

Last year CBMW was asked a question about women’s teaching of the bible. Can a woman give her insight on scriptures to a man? According to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood she can teach a man privately but her teaching is subject to man’s original authorship. This means that if man has originated the teaching, then she can learn from the man and teach women and children and she can also teach a single man in private. However if her insight has not first originated from a man, then her insight is invalid. God apparently does not speak through a woman directly, but only through a man. John MacArthur concurs with this view and he shares that the greatest spiritual source for a woman will always be a man. Listen to clip #6 here.

So although one might think that complementarians give full freedom for women to minister to other women, it appears that even teaching other women, women teachers are second class citizens because a woman is only a secondary spiritual source for other women. A man is always the greatest spiritual source for a woman according to leading complementarians.

So what does this really mean?

Women not needed

It means that women really are not needed and their spiritual gifts are so secondary that they are not even the best spiritual mentors for women. This also explains why CBMW has completely ignored and has refused to refute the teaching in “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” The teaching in the DVD set has been considered by many to be a fresh understanding of the hard passages of scripture in their proper context. But since I have taken this understanding from scripture alone and not from another man’s writings, my exegesis is considered invalid by these men. My explanation of the phrase “because of the angels” in 1 Corinthians 11:10 as a reference back to 1 Corinthians 6:3 is considered by some as the most straightforward understanding of the passage, yet the fact that commentaries written by men take a more complex view of the phrase in their guessing what Paul could have meant and none before me have apparently seen such a simple explanation from the context already established by Paul, then my view is considered invalid. Huh?

Let’s think this through. If this is God’s view of women’s secondary gifts, then why did God place both men and women together in one place at Pentecost? Why were women not segregated away from the men when they were filled with the Holy Spirit? Why were both men and women speaking in tongues and both were inspired to speak forth the praises of God to all gathered around them? What do you think? I would love to hear your views and more of my thoughts in the next post.

Documentation:

Clip #1

The woman is the vice regent who rules in the stead or who carries out man’s wish, as man is the vice regent who carries out God’s wish. That’s why, you see, I Corinthians 14 says, “If a woman needs to know something, tell her to go–” Where? Ask whom? Her husband, because man is the sun, and woman is the moon. “She shines not so much with the direct light of God but that derived from man.”

From “The Role of the godly woman” by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1845

Clip #2

She demonstrates her significance in the world in response to the direction of men who are given divine dominion. That’s a general truth. That’s a truth that goes beyond the walls of Christianity and the church. It’s just in general.

From “The Role of the godly woman” by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1845

Clip #3

Man, then, according to verse 7, “is the image and glory of God,” but look at verse 7 again. Here comes the other part. “But the woman is–” not the glory of God but what? “The glory of man.” Not even a definite article there. “Woman is glory of man.” In other words–listen to this–in other words, the woman was made to manifest man’s authority and man’s will as man was made to manifest God’s authority.

From “The Role of the godly woman” by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/1845

Clip #4

If it says here a woman praying or prophesying, there’s one place where she won’t do it. Where’s that? In the church. There are other places where she will do it. She will pray in many different places, with other people, with other women, with her family, with close friends.

There are places where she will speak and proclaim the Gospel to unsaved friends and neighbors and to other women and whatever, but the one place where she will not preach, where she will not lead, is in the church.

From “The subordination and equality of women” by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1844

Clip #5

And somebody else says, “Well, what about missions? What about missions? We need missionaries, what would we do without women missionaries?” God bless women missionaries, but I don’t think women being on the mission field necessarily have the right to violate the Word of God.

From “God’s high calling for women part 4″ by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gtycanada.org/resources/sermons/54-17/gods-high-calling-for-women-part-4

Clip #6

Listen, men, that is a grave responsibility. A woman’s deepest and greatest spiritual resource is a man. A man. Vital.

From “The role of the godly woman” by John MacArthur, transcript and audio found here http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1845/the-role-of-the-godly-woman

Are women's gifts for the common good?

Are women's gifts for the common good?

Today I am starting a new set of posts on the spiritual gifts which are given to each person in the body of Christ. I would like to start with 1 Corinthians 12:7. Here Paul gives us the reason for the gifts that have been given to the body of Christ. Why did God give us spiritual gifts anyways? Paul said:

1 Corinthians 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

The gifts, Paul says, are for the “common good”. The New King James says it this way:

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

So our gifts in the body of Christ are given for the benefit of the entire body because they are “for the profit of all”. When the Holy Spirit was first poured out on the believers they were united together as a group.

Acts 2:1 … they were all together in one place.

In unity they received gifts from God.

Acts 2:3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Notice that the emphasis is on unity and each one’s participation. All received and all spoke forth God’s praise. These disciples were men and women receiving and participating together. Acts 1:13 names the men who were gathered together and with them were the women :

Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

It wasn’t just the men who spoke God’s words and were given God’s gift for the profit of all. It was the women too who were filled and who spoke. If we are to believe God’s word then we must also accept that women’s gifts are for the common good. We must also believe that women’s gifts are for the profit of all.

But those who promote the hierarchical understanding of scripture would have us believe that women are not allowed to teach the men in the body of Christ. With this understanding then we would have to see that women’s gifts are not at all for the common good. Instead of promoting unity and the profit of all, these men end up promoting segregation and the separation of God’s gifts in the body. Is this really scriptural? Should we be creating women’s services or a women’s church so that women can use their gifts? If we segregate our women away from the men because we believe men are not allowed to receive the benefit of women’s teaching, then are we not guilty of saying to one part of the body that we have no need of them? Are we not guilty of making some members of the body of Christ second class citizens because their gifts are not for the common good?

In the next post I will reveal some interaction with CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) that shows their mindset regarding the secondary nature of women’s teaching.

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