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SHOCKER: Anglican Bishop says that the bible is not the Word of God

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 • 7:55 am


from here

Lee Gatiss reports that on Sunday 11th January the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stephens, appeared on the BBC’s debate show, “The Big Question”.  The issue was the consecration of women as bishops, something he himself is clearly in favour of.  As part of his contribution he signalled that what Scripture says cannot be taken as the word of God.

During the debate, Sarah Finch, a member of St. Helen’s Bishopsgate and a Lay representative on General Synod had quoted from 1 Timothy 2 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man”), a passage of Scripture which directly addressed the issue being discussed.  Yet the Bishop refused to countenance this, saying instead that “For Christians ‘the word of God’ is the life of Jesus.  The Bible is the product of those who sought to understand the life of Jesus.”

...more

I wonder if the bishop has ever read this?

...he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

If only the man who said that had been more enlightened…maybe the bishop will meet him someday.


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Comments:

Why is it that every time I read something about the Anglican/Episcopal dis-ease, I gag and wonder why anyone serious about the faith still thinks there is hope for this pathetic charade of a “church”.

[1] Posted by Dan Crawford on 01-13-2009 at 08:18 AM • top

I think he is mixing up the idea of the Bible being the Word of God and Jesus being the Word Made Flesh.

But still, how exactly are we supposed to know the life of Jesus with out reading the Bible, and why are we discarding the other ways God has Revealed Himself in the Bible (Moses, the Prophets, the Epistles, etc)?

[2] Posted by AndrewA on 01-13-2009 at 08:19 AM • top

Very sad.  Yes, I too am “shocked,” just shocked,that an Anglican bishop would say such a thing.

Now as regular readers of SF know all too well by now, I emphatically support WO, and I would agree with those who, like the Bishop of Leicester (whom I know nothing about), think that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is no longer binding on us today.  But I would never say that this controversial and much-debated passage isn’t the Word of God.  Like the great Pentecostal NT scholar Gordon Fee, for example, I think that 1 Tim. 2:11 was never intended as a universal, timeless principle; instead, we would take it as a specific admonition related to a particular, culturally-conditioned situation that no longer applies, but that is a long way from denying that it ever was the Word of God, etc.

We can disagree on the interpretation of the Bible and the application of the Holy Scriptures to this or that issue, but we can never simply dismiss the Bible as not being the Word of God written.  What we Anglicans are able to agree is “core doctrine” may have shrunken dramatically, especially in recent decades, but surely one of those essential, core doctrines is the authority of the Bible as truly being the Word of God.

P.S., Matt+, I’m very sorry the court case went against you and your flock there in Binghamton.  May the Lord reward you for your faithfulness and provide all you need.  You, your family, and your congregation.

David Handy+

[3] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 01-13-2009 at 08:32 AM • top

As far as I can see there are arguments both for and against women in ministry which can be supported from the scriptures.  It is unfortunate that the bishop’s comments can be read as discounting scripture, something he may come to regret.  Most of us believe the role of Scripture is set out in 2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work

[4] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 01-13-2009 at 08:36 AM • top

Pageantmaster,

I’m glad you weighed in.  I agree with you, but I’m also hoping that perhaps as a Brit, you can tell us something about Bishop Tim Stephens.  Is this appalling quote representative of the man, or has he been unfairly portrayed as a blatant skeptic, ala Bp. Charles Bennison, +Michael Ingham etc.?

It’s sometimes hard for those of us here on this side of the Pond to know who are the good guys in white hats and who are the bad guys.

David Handy+

[5] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 01-13-2009 at 08:46 AM • top

According to the oath I took at my ordination, I said that I believed the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to BE the Word of God.  They do not merely “reveal” nor “contain” the Word of God.  They are the Word of God.  I have more to say here.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[6] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 08:56 AM • top

#5 NRA Rev Handy
I don’t know much about the Bishop of Leicester but I am not aware of him blessing SSU’s and SSB’s, denying the divinity of Christ, resurrection, atonement, having whirling sufis, mandalas or prayer flags in his cathedral etc.  I would be surprised if he was a screaming revisionist.

His reply is slightly muddled as #2 Andrew A points out and it may be a case of an off the cuff remark made in live debate not having quite the theological depth or coming out quite as intended; something that happens sometimes in my comments if I do not use the preview pane.  But that is just my best guess.

[7] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 01-13-2009 at 08:56 AM • top

Ah yes… functional Christology raises it’s head again. Embrace the social movement of Jesus. That’s the best these guys have to offer, unless you prefer  the smoking section.

[8] Posted by Festivus on 01-13-2009 at 09:10 AM • top

From #7 - “not having quite the theological depth…”

Do tell.

[9] Posted by Festivus on 01-13-2009 at 09:11 AM • top

Subscribing….
Intercessor

[10] Posted by Intercessor on 01-13-2009 at 09:17 AM • top

Fr. Handy (#3),

I continue to be amazed by the circularity and plasticity of your reasoning.

You said:  …“core doctrine” may have shrunken dramatically, especially in recent decades…

You also said: … Timothy 2:11-15 is no longer binding on us today.

You also said:  …instead, we would take it as a specific admonition related to a particular, culturally-conditioned situation that no longer applies…

You also said:  But I would never say that this controversial and much-debated passage isn’t the Word of God.

Let me try to get this straight, acknowledging in advance that I probably am unable to do so.  God really said it.  However, He really didn’t understand its potential lack of applicability in a few thousand years, He was able only to think and express Himself in terms of that moment and that place.  So you and other scholars will help Him out by providing your “culturally-conditioned” rejection of His Word.  After all, neither God nor His Son Jesus Christ had a PhD; therefore They could not have understood as well as a 21st Century scholar.

“Core doctrine” surely has “shrunken dramatically”, Fr. Handy, primarily as the result of the conceit of the circularity and plasticity of your and your colleagues’ attempts to twist God’s Words to justify human behavior clearly condemned by Him.  You don’t deny He said it; you just presume to reject the clear meaning of His Words and impose your own superior (to God’s) level of understanding of His intent.

Wow!

To paraphrase President Reagan, there you go again, Fr. Handy!

[11] Posted by Ol' Bob on 01-13-2009 at 09:22 AM • top

I can only imagine what “An interview with Jesus” would look like after being edited and allowed a rebuttal on TV.  Thank God there was no TV in the first four centuries of the church. Even church fathers like St. Augustine and Aquinas and my contemporary hero Thomas Merton probably said things in normal conversation that would make us blush. After delivering a thoughtful and careful homily, I still sometimes ask myself why I chose to say certain things (I don’t preach without a net). Should there be a disclaimer that the views expressed may not reflect accurately the doctrine of the church when a bishop speaks?

[12] Posted by Fr. Dale on 01-13-2009 at 09:23 AM • top

this is how we in the Episcopal church got into such trouble…this person clearly should not be in a position of authority, we have allowed leaders in the past to go off on the most outrageous non Christian tangents and done nothing…or worse yet we have praised them for being free thinking

[13] Posted by ewart-touzot on 01-13-2009 at 09:27 AM • top

For me, the bottom line is, why do these folks expect anyone to go to church or give money to the church.  To see a really well executed ceremony?

[14] Posted by Judith L on 01-13-2009 at 09:39 AM • top

Just goes to prove that even being a bishop won’t get you to heaven.

[15] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 01-13-2009 at 09:55 AM • top

Amazing isn’t it, how we’re continously asked to believe in, and worship a God who loves us exactly as we are, and then choses to leave us right there.  Forever.  Period.

Such a diety, surely, would be unworthy or worship?  Perhaps the revisionists have been drinking their own KoolAid so long, that they’ve begun to believe their own drivel.  In that situation, surely nothing in 1 Timothy would be binding today.

I’m just trying to grok all this…

and KTF!...mrb

[16] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 01-13-2009 at 10:11 AM • top

I do believe this bishop may have made the mistake of using the TEC version of the Lectionary, hence he is unfamiliar with Revelation 22:18 and 19. 

The real pity here is, of course, not so much that the bishop can say this after decades in the clergy and years of seminary.  It is that his archbishop did not step in front of a TV camera to issue a correction for the faithful out there who might be mislead by the bishop’s comment. It does look like the progressives in CoE are following exactly the same strategy developed to take over TEC 30 years ago.  First, force the Anglo Catholics out by enforcing WO, then liberalize the speech of the church to the point that you can promote heresy with impunity, meanwhile working on inserting people into all the “democratically elected” lay offices.
If all the conservatives in England do not back the Anglo Catholics in the coming Synods, they will reap what they sow- and in 15 years, KJS will be Archbishop of Canterbury.

[17] Posted by tjmcmahon on 01-13-2009 at 10:13 AM • top

#17 and then it will be “BeerKat and the PHIPS:  The World Tour!”
By then I’ll be so far into Rome that I’ll speak fluid Italian….

KTF!...mrb

[18] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 01-13-2009 at 10:15 AM • top

amen to comment #17…but kate as archbishop that is even more than I can imagine

[19] Posted by ewart-touzot on 01-13-2009 at 10:16 AM • top

First, force the Anglo Catholics out by enforcing WO, then liberalize the speech of the church to the point that you can promote heresy with impunity, meanwhile working on inserting people into all the “democratically elected” lay offices.

The importance of the “liberalization” (i.e., free it from any meaning whatsoever) of the language of the church can’t be emphasized enough.  Once the words don’t mean anything, anybody can say them, which is why on several SFiF threads in recent days “dialogue” has seemed more like Groucho’s gag with the mirror than anything remotely connected to conversation.

[20] Posted by oscewicee on 01-13-2009 at 10:19 AM • top

#12 - Deacon Dale,

Thanks for this cautionary note.  We should all realize that the Bishop’s words may have been taken out of context.  Everytime I have been at an event reported by the press, the press has gotten something seriously wrong or out of context.  And what we have here is a report of an edited show.

All the comments about the Bishop should be read as if preface with “If the Bishop truly believes this…”

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[21] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 10:28 AM • top

Maybe someone could ask the bishop to clarify his words?

[22] Posted by TLDillon on 01-13-2009 at 11:10 AM • top

#18, Mike B. “By then I’ll be so far into Rome that I’ll speak fluid Italian…. “
Michael, Michael, Michael, as a retired psychologist I feel an obligation to point out the fact that you may have offered up a what is referred to in the trade as a “Freudian Slip”.  Were you possibly thinking about the WINE and not the language when you used the term “fluid” not fluent.  Maybe you would like an opportunity to clarify what you meant.
Blessings Mike

[23] Posted by Fr. Dale on 01-13-2009 at 11:33 AM • top

#23 Dcn Dale, OH you so got me!!  I am ROTFL at myself!  But yes, I was craving something light, sweet, and not too dry to go with my chicken biscuit!  Maybe even a cheerful Prosecco!  I had some wonderful ones when I was last on the continent (2006, I believe it was).  Ah, those were the days….

Freudian indeed….

KTF!...mrb

[24] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 01-13-2009 at 11:48 AM • top

There’s nothing inherently wrong in drawing a distinction between Jesus as the Eternal Word of God, the Logos, and the Bible as the Word of God written. Certainly one of the squabbles between “Anglicans” and sectarians in the reign of Elizabeth I was over the matter of whether all practices must be sanctioned by Holy Writ or whether there were matters of discipline and worship (matters indifferent) which might be allowed or disallowed by competent authority as that authority judged whether they tended towards edification or not at a given time.

What “Anglicanism” did not teach, at least in earlier times was the use of the distinction about the term “The Word of God” and the difference between “matters essential”, that is those things necessary unto salvation, and “matters indifferent” or adiaphora, as calling into question the veracity and authority of Holy Writ as it reveals God’s will for the human race and particularly in the saving presence and works of the Word made Flesh.

To this moment Anglican clergy assent to this classical concept in the oaths taken at ordination and consecration.

Of course if clergy are not taught these things in seminary or if they are, as propositions to be dismissed, it is little wonder that they find no dilemma in taking oaths they do not understand or intend to observe.

[25] Posted by wvparson on 01-13-2009 at 12:38 PM • top

Just one minute, Ol’ Bob (#11).

Do you believe that 2 Tim 4.13 is the Word of God? if so, why have you flagrantly disobeyed it today and every day of your life? It is not as if Paul’s instruction isn’t crystal clear.

It is quite possible to believe that a scripture is the Word of God but does not apply to us today in exactly the way it did to its first readers (unless I’m wrong and you are on your way to Troas to pick up that cloak right now!).

[26] Posted by William S on 01-13-2009 at 12:41 PM • top

1 Timothy 2 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man”)

This expresses a personal preference of Timothy’s. It is not God’s word unless Timothy is God which he is not. Timothy could have said “God does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man’, but he did not. Can’t anybody here read?

Now Snyder takes a different tack saying:
“According to the oath I took at my ordination, I said that I believed the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to BE the Word of God.  They do not merely “reveal” nor “contain” the Word of God.  They are the Word of God.”

This has some problems associated such as in the King James where in the opening pages James I lays claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. This is the word of God? No doubt that God speaks through the Bible but overarching statements such as Snyder’s of his claim of an ordination vow allow mischief where God would have none. God is there, but you do have to read to find him. Not all utterences are God’s words.

[27] Posted by ctowles on 01-13-2009 at 01:04 PM • top

Isn’t that actually St. Paul’s advice to Timothy?

mrb

[28] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 01-13-2009 at 01:14 PM • top

#27 (ctowles)
I affirm that 1 Timothy 2 (and the rest of the letter) are the Word of God.  Now I do not believe that Paul’s statement to Timothy (I do not permit…) is a command for all time for the whole Church, but it is a local and cultural preference of Paul.  Note that Paul does not say “God does not permit….” or “I received from the Lord that we should not permit….” 
The Word of God in Holy Scripture is, like the Word of God Incarnate, fully human and fully divine.  It is God breathed - inspired - of divine origin.  It is also written by specific men in specific places with specific cultural backgrounds and, in some cases, to deal with specific problems (such as Paul’s letters to the Corinthians or Galatians or Ephesians or Timothy, etc.).

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[29] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 01:32 PM • top

Now Snyder takes a different tack saying:
“According to the oath I took at my ordination, I said that I believed the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to BE the Word of God.  They do not merely “reveal” nor “contain” the Word of God.  They are the Word of God.”

This has some problems associated such as in the King James where in the opening pages James I lays claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. This is the word of God?

C’mon ctowles, you can do better than that.  Not even James I claimed that his “authorization” was part of either the Old or New Testament.  The words of King James authorizing the “Authorized Version” for use in the Church of England are not part of the Canon of Scripture, which is what Phil Snyder has vowed to uphold.

[30] Posted by tjmcmahon on 01-13-2009 at 01:34 PM • top

This has some problems associated such as in the King James where in the opening pages James I lays claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. This is the word of God?

Lamest.  Straw.  Man.  Argument.  EVER.

That has got to win some sort of award…

[31] Posted by Fine Young Calvinist on 01-13-2009 at 01:52 PM • top

#31 Fine Young Canibalist

This has some problems associated such as in the King James where in the opening pages James I lays claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France

Not really, just a statement of fact.  Individuals can leave the kingdom, but countries can’t.

[32] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 01-13-2009 at 02:10 PM • top

#32 Pageantmaster, “#31 Fine Young Canibalist”
I think you mean “Fine Young Calvinist”.  As Mike B. would add ROFWL.

YBIC

[33] Posted by Fr. Dale on 01-13-2009 at 02:19 PM • top

Thank you, Ol’ Bob for your #11 in reply to David Handy. You said what I would have wanted to say in a much more irenic way than I would have said it!

[34] Posted by Allen Lewis on 01-13-2009 at 02:24 PM • top

#32 Pageantmaster, “#31 Fine Young Canibalist”
I think you mean “Fine Young Calvinist”.  As Mike B. would add ROFWL.

..And I often skewer small children when in my cups…  wink

[35] Posted by Fine Young Calvinist on 01-13-2009 at 02:30 PM • top

We should notice how the issue is women in leadership.  The bishop is committed to this, and, unlike many of his evangelical allies in this issue, is also honest with what St. Paul said…and his feminism trumps his obedience to the bible.
I’m one evangelical who is in full accord with our Anglo-Catholic brothers on this issue of women in leadership over men.  I honestly do not think that one can consistently acknowledge scripture as God’s Word and accept an interchangeability of the work of men and women in the Church (or family, for that matter). Women leading men in the Church is also against Tradition…which I would hold as a supportive, 2ndary argument.

I do not believe women in leadership over men in the Church rises nearly to the level of heinousness as that of homosexual clergy.  However, acceptance of women in leadership is the camel’s nose under the tent… If you can run roughshod over holy Scripture, then Reason and finally Tradition, in this area, you can bring anything inside—like Sodomite bishops…

[36] Posted by banned4Life on 01-13-2009 at 02:31 PM • top

#35 Sorry FYC
Pidginmaster

[37] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 01-13-2009 at 02:33 PM • top

I will second your nomination (#31), Fine Young Calvinist!

[38] Posted by Allen Lewis on 01-13-2009 at 02:33 PM • top

OK tjmcmahon,
  How about the line at the end of King James Luke 20 (workers in the vinyard as I remember) “while many are called few are chosen” which is not in the new Standard Revised. Does that mean God has gone out of existence or he took it back? My point here is that the Bible is but an imperfect representation of the divine concept that exists beyond it. It is edited which one does not do to the word of God. Is The Apocrapha (a group of 14 books, not considered canonical, included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate as part of the Old Testament, but usually omitted from Protestant editions of the Bible.)the word of God now? It was at one point. What imperfect man makes this decision for God?

[39] Posted by ctowles on 01-13-2009 at 02:37 PM • top

#37 Pungentmaster:

Aprology acceptulated! tongue laugh

[40] Posted by Fine Young Calvinist on 01-13-2009 at 02:37 PM • top

William S (#26),
You said: “Do you believe that 2 Tim 4.13 is the Word of God? if so, why have you flagrantly disobeyed it today and every day of your life? It is not as if Paul’s instruction isn’t crystal clear.”
King James Version, 2nd Timothy, 4;13: The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.

With respect to 2nd Timothy 4:13, If, William S, I have “flagrantly disobeyed it today and every day of “my life, it is clearly because I am a poor miserable sinner, who fails regularly to obey God’s Word for which I offer my confession and declare my intention to lead a new life, knowing full well that I will still be a miserable sinner, hopefully mercifully forgiven by God for my confessed sins.  Not very eloquently put, William S, but the best I can do in the limited time I can allocate to this at this moment.

Thanks for your response to my comment and God bless.

[41] Posted by Ol' Bob on 01-13-2009 at 02:51 PM • top

Is he part of this Anglican Communion that we’re all fighting about?  Let’s kick his branch out.  He is not doing it right, just like the Episcopalians.  What is it, The Church of England, or what?

[42] Posted by RoyIII on 01-13-2009 at 02:58 PM • top

ctowles, I don’t find “many are called but few are chosen” in Luke 20, KJV or not. Matthew 22:14 has “For many are called, but few are chosen” This sense is retained - even the phrasing pretty much the same - through every version I checked (all the English language ones, I believe). I admit that I didn’t check the “Standard Revised” because I didn’t find anything named that. But all the translations I checked were agreed on the sense of the phrase. The sentence is omitted in some translations in a different verse, however, those same translatiosn include this sentence in Matthew 22:14 - so it is not like this phrase has been dropped from the Bible. In any English language translation I could find. Over to you, ctowles.

[43] Posted by oscewicee on 01-13-2009 at 03:16 PM • top

ctowles (#39)
Are you sure about that citation?  I checked all of Luke 20 in the KJS (http://www.blueletterbible.org) and did not find the word “few” there.  I did a quick verse by verse comparison of Luke 20 in KJV and RSV and did not see any significant differences.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[44] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 03:17 PM • top

I checked all of Luke 20 in the <u>KJS</u> (http://www.blueletterbible.org) and did not find the word “few” there.

Ha!  I wasn’t aware that Kathi had published her own translation of the Bible!  Thanks for the laugh…

[45] Posted by Nikolaus on 01-13-2009 at 03:23 PM • top

#29 Phil Snyder:
I see 2 problems with seeing this as merely a personal opinion of Paul:

1) You’re really saying that somehow you, in the wisdom of the 21st Century, are wiser on issues of leadership than St. Paul, personally…(no offense, but if it comes to St. Paul’s personal opinion vs. yours….or the ‘wisdom’ of this age…I’ll go with St. Paul!)

2) The issue of women’s leadership over men in the New Testament is not limited to this one passage of I Tim. 2..  I Cor. 11:3-16, particularly the argument section of this passage, clearly teaches that women are to be under the authority of men—most particularly in worship, and hence even their mode of dress (hairstyle or covering, be that as it may) should reflect that. Apparently even Angels think so (v. 10)....if we take the inspiration of God’s word seriously.  Paul makes his argument from pre-Fall creation…which gives it the strongest universal application possible.  If this were merely a Greco-Roman culturally specific command, I cannot imagine St. Paul arguing this way—as he does argue cultural specific arguments regarding meat sacrificed to idols (I Cor. 8). 

The big problem with assigning currently unpopular commands in the New Testament to the “cultural specific” discard-bin, is this is EXACTLY the same method the pansexualists have used to attempt to nullify God’s commands on sexual ethics as well.  (Paul was only talking about homosexual prostitution after all…or abusive relationships…tweak the Greek! Monogamous, loving, “Spirit blessed” homosexual relationships are a new thing, a new movement of God, right?  BUNK!) 

I’m not saying that the heinousness of female leadership is anything as bad as putting sexually immoral persons in leadership—I am saying though, that group uses the same cultural-neutering technique of passages inconvenient to their agenda as evangelical feminists.

A seminary professor of mine put it this way:  The GREAT majority of New Testament scholars, from very liberal to very conservative agree, the Apostle Pau’s writing shows he did NOT permit women to teach or lead men in the Church.  The liberals, like this bishop, simply dismiss Paul (and God’s Word) as out-dated, and irrelevant on this issue…but at least they are honest to what he said.  Conservatives, acknowledging the binding authority of God’s Word, specifically in the New Covenant (New Testament) era—even in seeming cultural variables, obey it. 

At the edge of evangelicalism however, is a small group which wants to acknowledge God’s Word infallible, but just cannot swallow what culturally to us today appears sexist. Hence this small part of NT scholarship, twists and bends, and does hermeneutical acrobatics, to prove what Paul plainly said, either he didn’t…or, that somehow these New Testament commands do not apply to us today.
Demonstrably, this is a VERY slippery slope.

[46] Posted by banned4Life on 01-13-2009 at 03:25 PM • top

King James: 20 Matthew 1-16
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Oxford Standard Revised: 20 Matthew 1-16
16 So(I) the last will be first, and the first last.”

[47] Posted by ctowles on 01-13-2009 at 03:37 PM • top

You link doesn’t go to Matthew 20, but what you are referring to is the verse I mentioned in #43 - however all versions I found include that omitted phrase in Matthew 22:14. Perhaps you would check your Oxford Standard Revised for its translation of Matthew 22:14? If it doesn’t include that phrase, it is out of line with every other English translation I could find - which would make me doubtful about it rather than about the Bible.

[48] Posted by oscewicee on 01-13-2009 at 03:49 PM • top

Sorry about the links of others that I adopted. The point stands that the last line of the parable of the workers in the vineyard is in dispute, ergo under others reasoning “the word of God” is in dispute.

[49] Posted by ctowles on 01-13-2009 at 03:56 PM • top

It seems to be human nature for women to want to be with men, but for men to resent it if women take the lead.  Since the goal is to spread the Gospel, and since the most effective way to do that is to involve the man as “head of the household,” WO is more likely to be counterproductive than productive.  I find that the Bible is terribly practical, and advises well in matters of health and welfare of the community, Jewish or Christian.  To go with Scripture seems to lead to better results than to go against it.  Since the result of leading all people to Christ is the goal, why divert with WO?

[50] Posted by ann r on 01-13-2009 at 03:57 PM • top

What hole did this Bishop crawl out of?  Better look at those who laid hands on him…  There may be more trouble here.

[51] Posted by Tom Dennis on 01-13-2009 at 03:59 PM • top

The point stands that those exact words remain in all translations available to me, just one chapter over. Did you check Matthew 22?

[52] Posted by oscewicee on 01-13-2009 at 04:00 PM • top

The GREAT majority of New Testament scholars, from very liberal to very conservative agree, the Apostle Pau’s writing shows he did NOT permit women to teach or lead men in the Church.

I think I would disagree with this.  I would say rather that the GREAT majority of New Testament scholars, from very liberal to very conservative, agree that the Apostle Paul’s writing shows a certain ambiguity on the role of women in the church.  On some occasions, under certain circumstances, he did NOT permit women to teach or lead men in the Church.  On other occasions, under other circumstances, he DID permit women to teach or lead men in the church, with the classic example being the team ministry of Priscilla and Aquila.

Hermeneutically, the question that cannot be avoided—regardless of whether one is liberal or conservative—is whether any particular biblical imperative is intended for all time, or, rather, has a particular temporal application.

This is not a new issue, in consequence of liberal Protestant desires to lessen the authority of Scripture.  Augustine discusses the issue at length in The Confessions 8.15, where he mentions the specific issue of the “offenses” of Sodom, as always and everywhere being forbidden by divine law, but that other elements in Scripture are relevant only to the particular customs and laws of cities and nations.

It was the hermeneutical issue of present application that led to the disagreements between the Puritans and Richard Hooker.  The entire point of Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity is to address the question of how we know which biblical imperatives are permanently binding, and which not.  Hooker insisted (against the Puritans) that not every biblical imperative has permanently binding authority, and laid out hermeneutical principles to help distinguish the permanent from the temporary.  Against the Puritans, Hooker insisted that some biblical commands are merely of historical interest, and are entirely descriptive, not prescriptive.  That is, they applied to a particular situation at a particular time, but have absolutely no binding authority today.

So, even if it were the case that Paul uniformly forbade women to have teaching authority in the church—and that is a highly questionable statement—it does not necessarily follow that this is a permanently binding admonition.  One has to know the theological basis for Paul’s admonition.  One has to be able to answer questions like: Is this a matter of eternal law (rooted in creation and therefore always binding), a consequence of the fall that might be redeemable, a matter of civil law, or ecclesial law—either one of which can be (for good reason) altered.

What theological position lies behind the prohibition, if any?  Under different circumstances, might a different practice affirm the same theological value?

It is only after one has answered these questions that one can decide whether a particular biblical admonition or prohibition has contemporary relevance, and in what manner it is to be applied today.

Some contemporary examples of biblical scholars who insist emphatically that biblical teaching about same-sex sexual activity is permanently prohibitive, but do not believe the same about the pastoral admonitions against women teaching in the church would be Richard Hays, Robert Gagnon, and Ben Witherington.  It is interesting that those biblical scholars who have written the best studies on the issue of same-sex practice have also argued strongly for female equality in the church.

[53] Posted by William Witt on 01-13-2009 at 04:13 PM • top

ctowles - When I pulled up the NKJV it had a note that some manuscripts omit the phrase “Many are called….”
So, it would seem that the earlier manuscripts omit that phrase, thus the new translations (which used the best sources they could find) did not have that phrase.  Textual scholars have unearthed many older manuscripts since the Textus Receptus.

So, which is the Word of God?  I submit that both are.  Isn’t that a good Anglican solution?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[54] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 04:21 PM • top

Do you think he possibly meant, Christ as the Word made Flesh. that is how I read that.

I also feel that the Bible is a divinely inspired recorded by Man. I don’t feel that this makes it any less Holy or valid. I think it is Holy accounts of man’s interaction with the Father. More importantly the Bible is just a text without the Spirit to make it meaningful

[55] Posted by rodgerj2 on 01-13-2009 at 04:22 PM • top

YMKOA Phil, (You’re my kind of Anglican) Now Phil, recently it was discovered that in Exodus The Reed Sea was written as the Red Sea for two thousand years. Does this mean then that God can’t…you get the point. Literal translations are .... dog wagging his tail for Joy.

[56] Posted by ctowles on 01-13-2009 at 04:33 PM • top

ctowles, and yet ...

Matthew 22:14 (New International Version)

14"For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

It’s still there…. A place name is hardly doctrinal? (Reed Sea or Red Sea)

[57] Posted by oscewicee on 01-13-2009 at 04:56 PM • top

ctowles - may I recommend a post on my blog on this subject?  Please read <a href=“http://deaconslant.blogspot.com/2009/01/word-of-god.html”>The Deacon’s Slant</a?>. 

I think you are accusing us of a docetic heresy regarding Holy Scriputre.  I suggest that we here at Stand Firm all recognize the fully human nature of Holy Scripture.  I wonder if you recognize the fully divine nature of Holy Scriptures.

My wife is calling for dinner, so I best leave it there.  I’ll be back after dinner and a bit.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[58] Posted by Philip Snyder on 01-13-2009 at 06:46 PM • top

#53: William Witt:
If I’m not mistaken, the early Puritans Richard Hooker had to deal with, had some trouble distinguishing what parts of the Old Testament law were directly applicable today, and not.  Hence in Salem, Mass (100 years after Hooker) they took the civil law of ancient Israel, “Suffer not a witch to live” entirely literally, and misunderstood that this was an ordinance meant for ancient theocratic Israel, not for Christian nations later. This is where the later Puritan (and general Protestant) distinction between the Civil, Ceremonial, and Moral parts of the Old Testament commands come from… Did Hooker also apply his standards to New Testament commands?

Using your mentioned criteria however:
One has to be able to answer questions like: Is this a matter of eternal law (rooted in creation and therefore always binding): Umm, yes, Paul’s arguments in I Cor 11, and 1 Tim 2 both explicitly base their arguments on the pre-Fall created nature of men and women….

, a consequence of the fall that might be redeemable, a matter of civil law, or ecclesial law—either one of which can be (for good reason) altered.
  None of Paul’s arguments in this make a provisional argument on the basis of post-fall altered fallen nature—in the relationships between men and women.

What theological position lies behind the prohibition, if any?
That would be the nature of Jesus’ submission to the Father within the essential eternal nature of the Trinity. (A more basic theological assumption I cannot imagine)  Under different circumstances, might a different practice affirm the same theological value? As no other circumstances are mentioned, and, since Paul mentions specifically that this was the universal practice of all the churches (1 Cor 11:16), I think not.

[59] Posted by banned4Life on 01-13-2009 at 07:10 PM • top

It’s interesting how conclusions can cleave people together, while premises can cleave them apart. 

- Moot
(Off to hug an Anglo-Catholic)

[60] Posted by J Eppinga on 01-13-2009 at 08:58 PM • top

LuxRex,

The particular practice that Paul refers to as being universal in the churches in 1 Cor. 11:16 is head covering, not teaching.  He nowhere mentions teaching in this passage. Of course, head covering is a practice that is not universally practiced in modern churches—as most women do not wear head coverings in church.

If the prohibition of 1 Tim 2 is a matter of eternal law, founded in creation for all time, that women should never teach or exercise authority over men, then you have to deal with the fact that Paul seems not to have been aware of this eternal principle in the case of Priscilla and Aquila.

My point was not to engage you in an argument about the issue, but to disagree strongly with your claim about what the GREAT majority of New Testament scholars say about Paul’s teaching on women.  Unlike the issue of homosexual activity, on which there is a GREAT majority of scholars who agree that there is universal biblical condemnation, there is no corresponding agreement that Paul NEVER permitted women to teach—quite the contrary.  Moreover, the arguments and methodology used are NOT the same arguments used by those who advocate same-sex blessings.  I would refer you to the actual writings of those I’ve mentioned above—Hays, Gagnon, Witherington, Christopher Seitz, or William Webb.  In fact, there seems almost a consensus among those who have done the best exegesis on the same-sex question that the women’s issue is different.

I think Dr. Priscilla Turner made a good point here a week or so ago when she pointed out that no one has written the kind of definitive exegetical text on the women’s issue that Robert Gagnon wrote on the same-sex issue—because the case is just not there to be made.

And, no, Hooker was not dealing primarily with disagreements about which parts of the Old Testament were binding, but which parts of the New Testament—specifically concerning issues of orders and Christian religious ritual, i.e., liturgy, the liturgical year, etc.  Hooker actually argued (against the Puritans) that NT polity was not binding on the post-apostolic church.  Even if the apostles clearly practiced a presbyterian form of church government (which was the Puritan argument), the church had the freedom to embrace an Episcopal form instead.

Moreover, it is simply a leap to move from Paul’s discussions of head coverings, what he says at some places about women teaching (but not everywhere), the issue of headship—which Paul never explicates in any depth—to the question of women’s ordination, since, again, as Dr. Turner pointed out, there is no detailed discussion of ordination in Scripture, whether of men or women.

Blessings.

[61] Posted by William Witt on 01-13-2009 at 09:38 PM • top

Dr. Witt (#53 & 61),

I’m glad you chimed in and added one of your typically clear and incisive posts.  As usual, I wholehearatedly agree with you. 

It wouldn’t be hard to buttress your argument by expanding your short, illustrative list of eminent biblical scholars who firmly oppose the “gay is OK” delusion and yet are pro-WO.  Besides Richard Hays and Ben Witherington (both Methodist), Robert Gagnon (Presbyterian), and Christopher Seitz (Anglican of course), whom you appropriately highlighted, there are other renowned centrist scholars like Marion Soards (Presbyterian), Karl Donfried (Lutheran/ELCA), and our own illustrious Anglican model of a very scholarly evangelical bishop, N. T. Wright.

As for my detractors like Ol’ Bob above, I’m sorry if I provoked you again.  My comment was intended irenically, hence my allusion to that marvelous Pentecostal scholar Gordon Fee.  After all, Dr. Fee is an inerrantist and a defender of the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Letters (including 1 Timothy), but he also strongly supports granting women full freedom to preach and function as pastors.

Or consider the case of a man who isn’t a scholar at all, but who is a very influential evangelical, charismatic leader, Loren Cunningham, the much-admired founder of YWAM (Youth With A Mission).  Cunningham recently wrote a fine and very accessible book defending the place of women in ministry; it’s called “Why Not Women?”  Both Fee and Cunningham interpret 1 Tim. 2:11 as a text whose appplicability is limited by implicit cultural factors lying in the background (as is also the case with regard to the similar issue of whether all women still universally have to wear veils in church, ala 1 Cor. 11).

In other words, Dr. Witt is quite right.  There are good, conservative church leaders and eminent scholars on BOTH sides of the WO issue.  But they would all agree that homosexual behavior is clearly contrary to the consistent and emphatic teaching of the Bible, which is unequivocal on the subject.  And they would all stoutly uphold the divine authority of the Bible as truly being the Word of God.  Just as I also do.

Peace to all,
David Handy+

[62] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 01-13-2009 at 11:51 PM • top

“For Christians ‘the word of God’ is the life of Jesus. The Bible is the product of those who sought to understand the life of Jesus.”

And without the Bible we’d know about the life of Jesus ... how?

[63] Posted by st. anonymous on 01-14-2009 at 10:18 AM • top

It was always my understanding that Saul (later Paul) received his commission to spread the gospel directly from Jesus during his vision on the road to Damascus. Jesus told Saul that he would be directed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I would conclude that Pauls advice in his Epistles is instruction directly from Jesus.
Ctowles states, “1 Timothy 2 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man”)
This expresses a personal preference of Timothy’s. It is not God’s word unless Timothy is God which he is not. Timothy could have said “God does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man’, but he did not. Can’t anybody here read? “
First, Timothy did not make that statement.Obviously, Timothy is not God. However, the statement was made by Paul, God’s/Jesus’s emissary, to Timothy.  I believe that Paul meant the statement in the context of women in the church. Paul had a high regard for the support that women provided to him in his journeys through the Middle East and later in Rome. They definitely had a role to play in the development of the church but not as ordained Priests or Bishops. Paul is very clear on who qualifies to be an Overseer (Bishop)in 1 Timothy 3 and elsewhere. It is not a woman.

[64] Posted by athan-asi-us on 01-14-2009 at 01:45 PM • top

the issue of headship—which Paul never explicates in any depth—

At the risk of sounding ungracious, William, may I say that this is not quite accurate? What Paul says about headship in Eph. 5 is both deep, intellectually and spiritually, and completely explicated. This is the only place outside I Cor. 11 where ‘headship’ is mentioned at all, and the reference is explicitly and exclusively to marriage. Women are commanded to subject themselves to THEIR OWN men, i.e. to their husbands (I use ‘i.e.’ in its proper sense, Latin for ‘that is’). Paul then proceeds to teach a JOINT ‘headship’ of parents over their children and by implication over their whole household, including any servants and slaves.

I have suggested in one of my articles referred to in the recent long thread on women bishops and the ACNA that this wording of Paul’s is deliberate, because some had taken the I Cor. 11 passage to mean that ALL women were to think of ALL men in the Church as endowed with ‘headship’ over them. Another point in favour of this view of the teaching in Eph. 5 is that the Apostle is emphatic that even Christ’s headship was earned (cf. Phil. 2), so that the husband’s headship must be such as to call out a willing and grateful response from his wife.

Paul is very clear on who qualifies to be an Overseer (Bishop) in 1 Timothy 3 and elsewhere. It is not a woman.

I’m sorry, dear friend and brother, but this is no way to read a sentence, in Greek or English. It is a polygamous etc. etc. man who cannot qualify. Otherwise Phoebe of Cenchreae, undoubtedly a woman, and one praised and thanked by St. Paul, could never have qualified as a deacon.

[65] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 01-17-2009 at 06:49 PM • top

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