Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jill Briscoe and CT online

Jill Briscoe answered a question about women in ministry at ChristianityToday.com. She is the executive editor of “Just Between Us,” a magazine for ministry wives and women in leadership. She also serves as Minister-at-Large at Elmbrook Church in Milwaukee.

Her presentation in this article was very superficial and her knowledge of this subject that obviously is close to her heart is somewhat disturbing. Her argumentation is weak, as the comments below are intended to show.

She said: “So, after becoming a Christian, imagine my dismay when I first joined a church where women weren't allowed to do any of the things in which I knew they excelled!”
Response: I’m sure there are churches like this, but it seems to me that the majority of churches that I’ve been a part of would say that women can’t teach MEN, not that they can’t teach. The Bible never says they can’t teach … just not over men.

She said: “It wasn't that those who challenged me thought I shouldn't be exercising my gifts—it was that they believed "God thought" I shouldn't! This went against the very root of my identity and calling.”
Response: So she must believe that God has called her to teach men … the very thing the Bible speaks against in 1 Timothy 2:12. So, what should we trust more: someone’s subjective experience in their relationship on God’s life OR what the Bible clearly (yes, 1 Tim 2:12 is clear) declares? The answer may seem obvious to some, but obviously not all. This is similar (though the example I’m about to give is a much worse situation) to when a man says that God told him to divorce his wife and marry his secretary … after all, God wants him to be happy, right?

She said: “They believe Paul felt that because Eve was deceived, women are gullible and therefore mustn't teach men.”
Response: Somewhat of a straw man. Actually, Paul gives two reasons for why women shouldn’t teach men. The first one she ignored because it is a nearly impossible argument to defeat … because Adam was created first. Thus, it is bound up in creation (not culture). Instead, she focused on the second argument that is: a) controversial, and b) not held by all who are complementarians. So, somewhat of a straw man: she mentioned what some would consider the weaker argument used by complementarians (those that say women should not teach nor have authority over men in the church) and she ignored the stronger, more often used, argument.

She said: “Others think Paul was addressing specific circumstances in Ephesus …”
Response: She can now make this argument since she ignored the argument from creation. So, she points to culture as the reason for Paul’s argument, ignoring the very reason he gave for the command of 1 Tim 2:12 (“for Adam was created first”).

She said: “Years ago, when I discovered I had gifts half the Christian church didn't think I should have …”
Response: For the record, I don’t deny (along with many, if not most, who hold my position) that women can be gifted in teaching. They can also be gifted in pastoring (if you believe in such a gift). That is NOT the issue. The issue is the USE of the gift. She very well may have the gift of teaching (I don’t deny this), however, if she is teaching men she is MIS-using that gift according to God’s clearly revealed Word.

She said: “I don't want to get to heaven and hear him say, ‘Half-done, thou half-faithful servant.’”
Response: Well, at least she didn’t try to manipulate emotions J

She said: “I don't believe women should bury their gifts or let anyone else bury them.”Response: We are in agreement. Don’t bury your gifts women; men, don’t force them to … however, use them appropriately. Just as with most gifts, there are appropriate and inappropriate uses for our spiritual gifts.

1 comment:

marv said...

I agree, 1 Tim 12:2 is clear, in regard to women teaching. I have to disagree with one of your statements, though. You say that the Bible nowhere says that women cannot teach. I agree that taking the whole picture of the relevant Scriptures, there are references to women teaching younger women and children. However, in 1 Tim 2:12 Paul does prohibit women teahing: he allows women to learn but not teach. The verb teach has no object. And the word "man" is both in the wrong case and quite too distant from "to teach" (in a different clause) to be grammatically or even semantically connected to it. So I agree, that on the whole, taking the contexts in consideration, there is place for women to teach. But 1 Tim 2:12 is quite a bit stronger in its wording than English translations generally indicate and than most people realize. I also agree that the subjective, me-centered presentation offered by Ms. Briscoe is a sad commentary on the state of evangelicalism both in regard to the gender issue and the authority of Scripture issue.