Truly there is nothing new under the sun. After reading this article I felt as if I had just read the same old argument repackaged with a new bow. Feminist for over a generation have been trying to push this agenda. Unfortunately with the uni-sex movement gaining momentum in our culture it seems the age old arguments of liberal theology, which once were defeated soundly, are somehow gaining a foothold in our colleges and churches. I suspect this is the case because our current generation has lost the ability to critically think. Instead they soak up the latest trend like a sponge rather than filtering things through their own study of the Word of God and logical thinking. I appreciate Mr. Proctor’s willingness to work from the “principle of harmony,” “principle of history” and “principle of humility”. Yet, this must be tempered in our own minds with the reality that sincerity does not dictate truth. In opening this way I want to make it clear that I am not making a judgment on Mr. Proctor's character or the OCC staff. I am simply responding to their 'new' doctrinal position because I believe it is false. Our movement was founded on men, who loved God, willing to debate topics in open forums so that the movement as a whole could come to further understanding and I am glad we can still carry on this tradition.
His first point is that the OT leadership was “primarily” reserved for men but women led on occasions. What are his examples?
- He cites Miriam (Exodus 15:20, 21)
- the ladies in the choir (1 Chronicles 25:5, 6; Ezra 2:65; Nehemiah 7:67) helped lead worship
- Deborah the judge/prophetess (Judges 4:4)
- Miriam, Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), and Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3) were also called prophetesses.
Let us park here for a moment without missing the implications of the scenery. Time, space and my lack of energy will deter me from dealing with these OT passages in greater detail. I will simply state two things.
- Isaiah found it a great insult that women should rule over Israel (Isa 3:12). The very fact that Deborah was a judge during the ‘Judges’ period proves this point. The message of Judges is that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. God used the “weak” things of the world to shame them during this time. Think about it; he used Samson who was immoral, Ehud a left-handed warrior, and Deborah a woman!!!
- Which covenant are we in? We are in the New Covenant. Regardless of what happened under the Old Covenant we must follow the rules in the New.
His second point is that we find Women in leadership roles in the New Testament. What examples he has now?
- Mary and Mary Magdalene, who were the first to announce the resurrection to the Apostles. One wonders how this qualifies for a leadership role but I digress.
- Anna and Philip’s daughters were called prophetesses (Luke 2:36, Acts 21:8-9).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “It should be noted, however, that women like Miriam (Exo_15:20), Deborah (Jdg_4:4) and Huldah (2Ki_22:14) were not credited with the seer's insight into the future, but were called ‘prophetesses’ because of the poetical inspiration of their speech.” A simple word study on the term “prophet” shows us that it can also be used in reference to singers who sung inspired songs (Cf. 1st Sam 10:5, 10:10-12, 19:20, 19:24). Therefore, these women did not hold the same office as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, et al.
- Phoebe is called a deacon (Rom 16:1)
It has also been said of Phoebe that she was an official Deacon because Paul called her a διάκονος (deacon). There are a few points to be made in response to this.
- The term διάκονος (deacon) can refer to an official office (1st Tim 3:8) but can also be a general term simply referring to anyone who serves. Notice that all Christians are called to be a διάκονος (deacon) in passages like Mark 9:35 and Matthew 23:11. Also the term is used in reference to non-christians (John 2:5, 9); certainly they are not official representatives of the church! Therefore, context will determine whether the term is being used specifically or generally. Since other Biblical passages exclude women from being official Deacons (1st Tim 3:8ff) we must understand this term to be used generally in this passage.
- Some have inaccurately claimed that the term διάκονος (deacon) in Romans 16:1 is masculine, therefore (and this is a huge leap of logic), it is referring to Phoebe as an official deacon in likeness to those in 1st Tim 3. Unfortunately those who have said such things have not done their Greek homework. The noun διάκονος (deacon) has masculine and feminine forms which look exactly the same in their declensions. Therefore we must rely on context to determine which form is used. In our context the noun διάκονος (deacon) is linked to the participle ουσαν (from the verb εἰμί “to be”) which is a Present-Active-Participle-Accusative-Singluar-FEMININE. Therefore, the noun διάκονος (deacon) is in its feminine form. Therefore, it cannot be linked to the deacons of 1st Tim 3 based on the gender of the noun.
In the following posts we will discuss Junia as a supposed female Apostle, Euodia and Syntche as women leaders, 1st Corinthians 11 and 1st Timothy 2.
What you will NOT find throughout my response is a devaluing of women. Remember FUNCTION DOESN'T EQUAL VALUE. We are all valued the same in Christ but we have different functions.