Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scripture, women in ministry, and correcting problems

From Toledo, IA, USA
New Testament scholar, Ben Witherington III, has two short videos that very quickly address some scriptural interpretation issues around women in ministry, and how those "problem texts" in the New Testament have been appropriated by subsequent Christian traditions to, for instance, rule out women from ministry. Check 'em out...

In the congregations and traditions which have shaped my Christian discipleship (Brethren, Presbyterian, Mennonite, and now Methodist) - women in ministry, specifically in leadership roles, has never been a problem. (Humility check: I'm a man, though, so perhaps women in those same congregations at those same times may say otherwise.) But in large swaths of American Evangelicalism and also in more conservative Brethren and Mennonite circles, it is.

So I think these quick videos are helpful to normal Christians grappling with this issue. It affirms what I take to be sound biblical teaching - that women do indeed have an equal place in the mission and ministry of the church, including in leadership roles. Witherington points out that the "problem texts" which get used to rule out women from certain ministry roles are being read incorrectly, and should be seen in their contextual settings - both situationally and societally/culturally. Each text was "addressing problems" that were contextual and were in fact introducing something new and challenging to dominant patriarchal paradigms of the day. It is therefore a mistake for us to take those particular corrections and make them prescriptive and normative for all the church in all times in all places.

So the problems we have to address now are the mistaken readings of these texts and their negative impact on the rightful participation of women in ministry in Christ's body.

(Via older posts on Scot McKnight's blog - here and here.)

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