Archive for August, 2017

A Chosen Race Is Not a Superior Race


I once worked on a cattle feedlot when I was a young man. It was a good education to say the least—I learned what not to do for a career. Those I worked with occasionally would get bored and start cow pod fights, and the fresher the manure the better. The fact is that no one is a winner in a cow pod fight—anyone throwing cow manure is a loser. Regrettably, I fear that engaging in this topic is a lot like throwing manure; but nonetheless, I feel compelled.

What many of us are failing to discern is that what is referred to as the “Alt Right” is the fruit of Social Darwinism. In other words, the theories involving macro-evolution, which assert that the changes between species are the result of natural selection where only “the fittest” survive, has now bled into our political engagements and cultural consciousness. For generations we have subsidized and allowed this lie to be promoted in our public schools, and now these chickens are coming home to roast.  First, I wish to voice my objection to having to use the label “Alt Right” to refer to hate groups such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis. I greatly disdain using the label “Right” since all White Supremacy groups are not politically right of center, and they certainly are not morally in the right. But given that it’s the current nomenclature I must use it in order to have an intelligent discussion. White Supremacy groups argue that they are only promoting their culture and seeking to preserve their ethnic purity, which they affirm is “Anglo.” If you ask them why, the quick answer is that such is their “right” and their heritage; thus it is necessary in their desire for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What they state behind closed doors, however, is that their race, heritage, and culture are superior to all others, and in order to preserve it requires political activism and possible militant force. The most extreme of these groups understand that the logical endgame of this rational is the rejection and possible annihilation of all other races, ethnicities, and cultures. In that vein there is little difference between them and Stalinism, Nazism, and ISIS. They represent the worst type of human destructive behavior, sin, and hatred. You cannot embrace Hitler’s worldview without inevitably accepting his “final solution.”

There will be some Secularist and Atheists that are offended by some of the things that I’m asserting concerning atheistic Darwinism. Nevertheless, the fact is that without a morally good God there simply is no functional concept of intrinsic moral goodness or evil.  There is only biological nature and brain chemistry. There is only the herd, and it is the herd that ultimately determines what is “advantageous” for the majority of the herd, and if you are in the minority, then you are in jeopardy. Regrettably, America is quickly turning into a land of competing herds, with groups of people using violence to combat what they view as offensive. As Christians we are called to engage people in the sphere where the real war is being waged—which is the spiritual realm (Eph. 6.10-20; 2 Cor 10.3—7). Consequently, we are called to overcome evil by doing good—with God being the standard for what is “good” (Rom 12.21). This approach requires the rejection of violence as an acceptable means of protest.  The truth is that no one can overcome Fascism by adopting fascist tactics.  We must stand by the power of the Spirit, in the name of Christ, with nothing to shield us but that which is holy, right, good, and objectively true. We must engage all sides with love while rejecting their lies and calling them to repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Believe it or not, Jesus also died to save White Supremacists, and he has not called us to use clubs to send any of them into a Christ-less eternity. If you pick up a bat and smash anyone on the head, then you are the one in the wrong, and you are the one endangering the lives of someone that Christ died to save.  Think about it.  We are called to a higher standard and a greater mission.

So back to the premises of White Supremacists; the concept of a “superior race” is not a biblical concept. The Bible teaches that there is only one human race, and that we all are descendants of Adam and Eve, regardless of our skin color (Acts 17.26). And just for the record, whatever their appearance was, they were not fair skinned and blonde. Nevertheless, we are all equally loved and valued by God regardless of our ethnicity (John 3.16), and in the body of Christ there are no special privileges or superiority based upon one’s ethnicity (Gal 3.28). Instead, in Christ we are unified into one group regardless of our ethnicity, gender, or social standing; thus we are all equally valued and loved by God. However, the Bible does explain that at times God chooses different groups of people for different purposes. For example, God chose Abraham and Sarah and their descendants in order to provide salvation for “all the families of earth” (Gen 12.1-3). God’s choosing and blessing of the Jews was not because somehow through natural selection they possessed a better genomic profile. In fact quite the opposite is true, as God explained to Israel that He didn’t choose them because they were already a great people (Dt 7.7).  In other words, they weren’t chosen by God because they were culturally advanced or ethnically superior. When God chose Abraham to be the father of the Jews, he and Sarah were both barren Bedouins somewhere in the boonies of the Middle East. It was not that God bet on the best horse to win. Instead He chose an infertile elderly couple and miraculously blessed them so that in the future anyone in the world might have the opportunity to gracious receive the blessing of salvation through the Savior foretold of in the Garden of Eden, who God also promised would be their descendant (Gen 3.15; Gal 3.7-9).

That’s not White Supremacists believe. White Supremacists are not only dangerous politically; they also make bad theologians and poor biologists. In order to be a White Supremacist you must reject the clear teachings of the Bible. The scriptures teach that there are no “superior humans,” instead the word of God points out that left to our own vices and without Christ we are all morally bankrupt and without hope (Rom 1.16-3.18). No cultural or ethnicity can advance through their fallen human capacity, they can only degenerate—and the existence of hate groups clearly demonstrates this spiritual truth.  Social Darwinism and Secular Humanism, however, teaches that humanity can in fact improve itself without God’s help. White Supremacists also believe this; however, they assert that in the end humanity can only reach its ultimate greatness through the Anglo race. White Supremacists claim that only through their specific ethnic purity, and by extension genetic uniformity, can the world obtain a superior race and culture. This is not only contrary to the scriptures; it is also contrary to basic biological experimentation.  Biology repeatedly demonstrates that the health of any species is promoted through greater genetic diversity.  In other words, the more isolated a species is the more uniform its genetic pool becomes, and thus it is more prone to abnormalities produced by detrimental genetic variations (deformities), not to mention also loosing the capacity to ward off environmental dangers (e.g., diseases). Conversely, generally speaking the biological health of a species is promoted through greater genetic diversity because recessive genes are less likely to be matched with the other recessive genes. And while these facts are hard for many cultures to accept, it is nonetheless true. While many parents around the world hope their children will marry someone of their same ethnicity and culture, there is nothing wrong or unhealthy with marrying someone of a different ethnicity. God created the human genome with a diversity of possible combinations, thus he is not offended when such diversity occurs. Instead, he is glorified when the beauty of human diversity is realized.

Today the church is God’s “chosen race.” The body of Christ does not promote a single ethnicity over others. Instead we are one people from multiple ethnicities and cultures from all around the world. Christ does not destroy our diversity within the church, instead he uses it to reach others with the gospel (1 Pet 2.9-17). We were not chosen by God because we were inherently good or better than others (1 Cor 1.26). The fact is that God first loved us in spite of our wickedness (1 Jn 4.19; Rom 5.8-10).  He called us for his own glorious purposes, and he has commissioned us to proclaim his gospel throughout the world (2 Cor 5.14-21), which is the ultimate proof of his love for humanity. Consequently, it is time for us to be sober minded, controlled by his Spirit, and led by the mind of Christ.  This means recognizing that Jesus died to save those marching in demonstrations for both the Alt Right and the Anarchist Left.  Hate begets hate, and no one is won to Christ through hate. Fighting hate with hate and violence is like participating in a cow pod fight, everyone loses. Even if you win the fight, you still have dishonored the Lord and stained His cause. As we publicly stand against hate whatever form it takes and wherever it is expressed, we must do so with the love that God has for all people. God is constantly reaching out with love to all the lost regardless of their political affiliation. Consequently, if God loves them, then how can we who claim to know Him do any less?

The Cross 3


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Should Women Be Involved in Ministry?

This blog is posted for students in my courses. However, you are welcome to read it. That being said, try not to be distracted if you get a sense that I am addressing a specific audience.

I recently posted a blog on the question of whether women should serve as pastors and elders of local churches. If you have not yet read that blog, then I recommend that you do so before reading this blog. In that blog I promised to answer to some objections that my first blog may have raised; consequently, the blog you have before you is an attempt to keep that promise.

Should women be active involved in ministry? Simply and emphatically stated, yes! While women should not be pastors or lead elders over men in local churches, all believers should aspire to some form of ministry regardless of gender and spiritual maturity. So, before elaborating more precisely on what this means, it is first necessary to establish a few universal biblical principles. One caveat before I begin, this blog deals with ministry in and outside the church. It does not address secular professions. Simply put, there are no biblical mandates prohibiting women from participating in secular careers such as: teachers, governors, presidents, queens, senators, garbage collectors, stock car racers, plumbers, CEOs, etc., etc. With respect to women participating in such employment, there is no biblical prohibition against women participating in financially productive careers or offices of public service. That being said, however, every parent’s first responsibility, whether they be mothers or fathers, is to actively and properly care for and raise their own children in the ways of godliness so that they become functional Christians, and in general this specifically requires that mothers leave the work force for a season for the sake of their children (Prov. 31.10-31; 1 Tim 2.15; Tit 2.3-5).  However, if fathers and mothers functionally abandon their children to the care of others in order to pursue careers that they think will be more “self-fulfilling” instead of raising their own children, then the consequence will be that many of their children will grow up to reject the gospel, and the end result will be that their parents have done immeasurable damage to both their children and the cause of Christ. Lastly, Israel enjoyed the leadership of women as judges and royalty, and we do not find the prophets denouncing them for being leaders simply because of their gender. If they were rebuked it was for the injustices that occurred under their authority or the apostasy and heresies that they fostered and protected, but not simply for their gender. With that said, let’s begin.

  • All believers regardless of gender receive spiritual gifts. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 12.4-6 that the Holy Spirit gives each believer a spiritual gift or gifts, while the Lord Jesus Christ determines the ministries in which they are to be used, and God the Father empowers them to be effective. Consequently, spiritual gifts are a blessing conferred by God upon all believers regardless of gender.
  • All believers are equally valued by God. Paul explained that we are all one in Christ (Gal. 3.26-28). This passage is by far the one that is most abused by Feminist and Christian Egalitarians. Clearly God loves all believers equally, and both men and women are equal inheritors of the kingdom of God. Nevertheless, God created us differently; consequently, we function differently both in life and in the body of Christ with respect to ministry (i.e., the local church; although the term “body of Christ” can also refer to the universal church). Remember that in 1 Corinthians 12.5 Paul explained that it is the Lord who determines our ministries, both in and outside the church. He further elaborated more precisely on these issues by providing the qualifications of elders for local churches in the Pastoral Epistles. It is poor theology and exegesis to pit what Paul stated in one letter against what he clearly taught in other letters. Paul knew what he wrote in Galatians 3.28 (Galatians probably being his first epistle), and it didn’t prohibit him from providing further clarification concerning ministry qualifications and responsibilities in the Pastoral Epistles. Paul was not schizophrenic as the Holy Spirit inspired him to write; consequently, he did not contradict what wrote in Galatians by what he wrote in the 1 Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles. Lastly, there are a few who assert that because Paul described specific women as “servants” of the Lord at the end of some of his epistles (e.g., Romans 16) it necessarily means that these women must have been fellow pastors or elders. This is a poorly defended assumption. Paul certainly did refer to some women as partners with him in the ministry, but that does not demand that they were pastors of local churches, or that they were prophets or theologians that taught entire congregations. There is little doubt that there were women who assisted and partnered with Paul by making preparations for his ministry before his arrival in cities where he intended to preach (e.g., Phoebe). And just as with Jesus, it is highly probably that Paul relied upon spiritual mature women to disciple and mentor new female converts into the Christian faith. Nevertheless, it is irrational to conjecture that Paul partnered with women in his ministry by allowing them to teach and instruct men and local congregations while at the same time prohibiting other women from serving as pastors and elders of these same churches. Let’s give Paul more credit than to assert that he promoted such an obvious and transparently ludicrous contradiction. Consequently, there is no objective biblical example in which the women who partnered with Paul in ministry functioned as pastors or elders of local churches.
  • All believers regardless of gender receive the Holy Spirit when they place their personal trust in the Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. While preaching during Pentecost Peter explained to the crowd that had gathered that what they were witnessing was the arrival of the Holy Spirit as promised by God and proclaimed through the prophet Joel. As he did so he quoted the specific prophecy of Joel indicating that the Holy Spirit would be given equally to all believers regardless of age or gender (Acts 2.16-18 and Joel 2.28-29 are the relevant verses for this discussion). Therefore, women should not be perceived as possessing a lesser measure of Holy Spirit. Moreover, we have clear biblical examples of women referred to as “prophetess” and spoke under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1.39-56; 2.36-38; Acts 21.8-9; 1 Cor. 11.5). Consequently, all believers receive the full measure of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. This of course does not mean that all are equally guided by or in submission to the Spirit’s influence and direction. Submission to the Holy Spirit, however, is not an issue of spiritual capacity but an issue of spiritual maturity; consequently, all believers are called to grow in maturity in Christ. Moreover, the New Testament knows nothing of the doctrine of a “second blessing.” It does, however, encourage all believers unto greater submission to the Holy Spirit’s power, influence, and guidance. And as believers begin to mature in their faith and relationship to the Lord then they will also learn more about how to use their specific spiritual gift(s) as they walk with Christ and live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit—irrespective of their gender.
  • Gender does not demand that women are inferior teachers. At this point I must take a brief side bar. There is a difference between the natural ability to teach, and the spiritual gift of teaching. Simply because one is a professional teacher (e.g., math, English, history, social studies, cooking, etc., etc.) does not mean that the Holy Spirit has given them the ability to insightfully teach on spiritual, theological, or biblical matters. The spiritual gift of teaching refers to a Spirit given and God empowered capacity to serve in the kingdom of God by imparting spiritual insight and knowledge from the Scriptures for the purpose of enlarging the church and building up of the body of Christ. For example, I may be a giving person with my finances; however, that does not mean that the Holy Spirit has given me the gift of “giving.” When the Spirit gives a person the gift of giving it means that God uses that believer in a supernatural way by multiplying his or her generosity to accomplish God’s desires no matter what or how much that believer gives for the cause of Christ. Moreover, one does not even have to be rich in order to possess the spiritual gift of giving. Consequently, while all believers are called to give of their means to support the ministry of the gospel, not all believers have the gift of giving. All believers are called to share the gospel, not all believers are gifted as evangelists. Now concerning the spiritual ability to teach, in Titus 2.3-5 Paul directed older spiritually mature women to teach and disciple younger women. Paul was not simply asking older women to teach home economics, but rather that older godly women disciple and teach younger women in the ways of godliness as they minister within their families and to other women. Additionally, Paul also reminded Timothy of the godly influence that he received from his mother and grandmother. These were godly women and they faithfully guided and taught young Timothy in the ways of godliness while he was a child. No doubt their influence was instrumental in preparing Timothy for God’s calling upon his life as an adult. And at this point I need to take another brief side bar. The New Testament knows nothing of cross-gender one-on-one discipleship or counseling. Those who engage in such are setting themselves up for disaster. Discipleship and spiritual counseling are incredibly intimate endeavors that naturally draw people closer. Those who engage in these ministries while crossing gender lines should not be surprised if sexual temptation occurs, or if rumors begin to spread. Consequently, discipling and counseling in one-on-one contexts should be carried out by those of the same gender, and to be honest this is just a matter of common sense. For example, no husband or wife really wants their spouse being alone and talking to someone of the opposite sex about their sexual problems—enough said. Furthermore, Jesus had female disciples (Luke 8.1-3), and we can be assured that as women came to Jesus for healing (e.g., the woman with an issue of blood, Lk 8.40-48) or in repentance and for forgiveness (e.g., the prostitute in Lk 7.36-38), that Jesus would eventually, and for obvious reasons, direct them to spiritual mature female disciples for further discipleship and mentoring. So, while women had access to Jesus’ public preaching and personal teaching (Luke 10.38-42), the biblical model for one-on-one discipleship is gender specific, as Jesus himself modeled for us through his discipleship of the 12 apostles. If cross gender discipleship had even a possibility of being a productive idea, then Jesus would have selected a few women to be among the 12, but he did not. Moreover, there are some ministries that only women should fill, such as chaplains in women prisons; sexual abuse recovery ministries for women; indigent care for women. The principle here is that there are many ministries in which women are more gifted and better qualified to carry out, and in such contexts men generally make very poor substitutes.

So, should women be in ministry, absolutely! However, somewhere along the line in the “business” of Christianity, the modern church has been deceived by the impression that “effective” ministry mostly occurs when large audiences gather, sit, and passively listen—let’s call it the Mass Media syndrome for lack of a better description. As a result Christian Egalitarians and Secular Feminists, because of a worldview that promotes the lie there are no such things as God-designed differences between the genders, demand that women have equal access to these “important” ministries. This is one of the greatest tragedies inflicting today’s Evangelical church. Lasting ministry, authentic fruitfulness, and significant impact for cause of Christ does not occur only on Sunday mornings merely by speaking over largely passive audiences. The most fruitful and enduring ministries occur through small groups and one-on-one discipleship. This Mass Media approach to ministry has caused untold passivity among millions of believers, both men and women, resulting in spiritual lethargy and biblical illiteracy.

What about Christian education? Should women be allowed or encouraged to participate in undergraduate and graduate biblical studies—unquestionably! All believers should do so, and if not at Evangelical universities and seminaries, then at their local churches. The church is not served by being filled with biblically illiterate believers and spiritual infants. We all start out as babes in Christ, but we are certainly not called to remain as such regardless of our gender. And the stark reality is that half of the world’s population is female; consequently, the Lord is not pleased and the church is not served by discouraging or prohibiting women from actively participating in ministry or Christian education. The bottom line is this, women are essential for effective well-balanced ministry, both in and outside the local church. Furthermore, there are no biblical prohibitions against women having influential and effective ministries. However, if anyone, whether male or female, pursues graduate degree in biblical studies with the purpose of finally setting right the church’s “archaic” view of women so that they can finally have equal assess to all the church’s ministries and find self-fulfillment by being lead elders and/or teaching pastors in local churches, then they are already standing at the precipice of a very slippery slope. No one can undermine clear biblical instruction and theological principles and think that they are not inflicting great damage to the cause of Christ. Remember, while the Holy Spirit gives us our spiritual gifts, it is the Lord who is the head of the church; consequently, He is the one that determines our specific ministries inside and outside the local church. So if you believe that there nothing wrong with women functioning as lead pastors or elders within local churches, then your conflict is with the Lord Jesus Christ and the scriptures.


Copyright, © by Monte Shanks, 2016


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Blog: Should Women Be Appointed as Elders and Pastors in Local Churches?

This blog is posted for students in my courses. If you are not a student of mine you are welcome to read, but just be aware that if it sounds as if I am writing for a specific audience, it is because I am.

There may be no more divisive issue facing Evangelical churches today than the question as to whether women should be appointed as elders/pastors in local churches (hereafter: simply “pastor”). I specified “Evangelical churches” simply because I assume them to be “biblically grounded.” There are far more serious issues facing many traditional mainline denominations that have abandoned the belief that the scriptures are the foundational guide of our faith and its proper practice—thus, this important qualification. There is no doubt that the Evangelical Church in America is heading in the wrong direction on this issue. I know of a mega-church in Rockford Illinois that claims to be a “mainline” church, but their elder board was comprised of 5 “elders,” two of which were women, and none of which were the “lead teaching pastor.” Now I’m not sure how a church can claim to be mainline if you don’t even understand what it means to be a “pastor” or “elder.”  Regrettably, some New Testament introductory textbooks are somewhat vague and/or evasive on this topic; consequently, I feel compelled to address it in a blog. Undoubtedly, doing so will make me a less popular prof for some; but so be it.

This blog will defend the traditional position concerning the office of pastor, which is that the scriptures mandate that the office of elder/pastor be reserved for qualified men that are of sufficient spiritual maturity and giftedness.  There are several common contrarian arguments to this position that are grounded upon faulty presuppositions and poor arguments, and I have had several students articulate them as the basis for their positions in their assignments. This blog, therefore, will attempt to address this topic by engaging several of these common arguments; thus, it may appear somewhat fractured and not as fluid as some of my other blogs.   Furthermore, and for obvious reasons, this blog cannot be exhaustive—no one likes book length blogs.  Consequently, approach this blog in the same manner as you would Paul’s first epistle to the church at Corinth (only not inspired—lol).  In other words, I will be addressing this issue from several different objections and angles, and although they are somewhat different, in the main they are all still related to the same basic subject.  If you find this blog frustrating, please be patient, a second related blog will follow tomorrow, and it is my sincere hope that it will satisfy some of your unanswered questions generated by this blog. Nonetheless, this is the best I can do for now, and with that, please read below.

First, a common argument for women being allowed to serve as elders in local churches is that Paul’s instructions prohibiting women from functioning as pastors were only his “opinions.” They were not doctrines that were inspired by Holy Spirit.  This is a poor argument since Paul did not present his letters as providing a collection of his preferred “best practices” that were the product of his own personal opinions; and in the very few occasions when he did provide his “opinion,” even then he claimed that he did so by the direction of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 7.40).  There is a catastrophic danger for the church and the gospel if we start identifying parts of Paul’s writings as only his “opinions.” It will basically become open season on everything Paul wrote.  Moreover, we would no longer have a functional doctrine of inspiration since anybody, armed with nothing more than their own personal opinions and preferences, could start rejecting specific parts of the Bible that they viewed as undesirable or unspiritual.

Secondly, some assert that since Paul was not a “prophet” then he did not speak with prophetic authority.  It may be true that Paul never identified himself as a prophet.  Nevertheless, he was an apostle commissioned by the risen Lord to spread the gospel and build churches, and as he did so the Holy Spirit inspired him to provide the foundation instructions for what it meant to live for Christ and how to build New Testament churches.  Moreover, in 2 Timothy 1.11 Paul specifically stated that the Lord had appointed him as a “teacher”; consequently, his Spirit inspired instructions to the church should be viewed as authoritative. Additionally, especially with respect to women functioning as pastors in local churches, he instructed that any prophet present should recognize that what he wrote was by the Lord’s command for the building up of churches everywhere and in all ages; thus his instructions were to be universally received, obeyed, and enforced (1 Cor 14.37-38; 11.16). Furthermore, anyone, whether a prophet or a layperson, who did not accept Paul’s instructions as coming directly from the Lord was no longer to be recognized as qualified to speak in the church.

Thirdly, some assert that the prohibitions that Paul wrote concerning women not functioning as pastors were because of some crises in specific churches instead of universal principles and mandates for all churches everywhere.  This is simply not the case.  Moreover, it is an extremely poorly defended argument to assert, for example, that when Paul wrote to Timothy, Titus, or the church at Corinth with respect to prohibiting women from leading or teaching as pastors that he was attempting to avoid a particular crisis that we learn about in his epistle to Philippians.  While Paul was writing his letters to different pastors and churches there was no such thing as a New Testament, or even a Pauline corpus.  In other words, the church at Corinth or Ephesus could not open their Bibles and turn to Paul’s epistle to the Philippians in order to understand what he was trying to teach them, or about a potential crisis that he was attempting to avoid.  Consequently, we should not marginalize what God instructed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament because we are of the opinion that the Lord was trying to protect other churches from a particular conflict at a specific church (e.g., Philippi), but now because that specific problem no longer exists we are free to ignore what Paul wrote.

Fourthly, some argue that since Paul used the same vocabulary to describe important women as he did himself (e.g., Romans 16), then women must have or can function as pastors and teaching elders in local churches. The problem with this argument is that the term “fellow worker” can mean any number of possibilities and/or responsibilities. Given Paul’s recognition that women are equal heirs in the Kingdom of God, it is not surprising in the least that he would refer to them in such a generic manner. That does not mandate, however, that they had to be elders or pastors of local churches. Moreover, Paul never referred to any women mentioned in his epistles as an “elder” or “pastor” or “teacher” in a church, even though there were congregations that actually met in their homes. The closest Paul came to referring to women as acting in an official “leadership” role is Romans 16.1 &7.  In Romans 16.1, Phoebe is referred to as a “servant,” or “deacon” in the Greek.  Paul wrote in 1 Timothy that deacons did not possess any official teaching responsibility in local churches. That does not mandate that some did not, but only that teaching was not their primary function in local congregations. As to the reference to Andronicus (masculine name) and Junias (feminine name) and their reputation with respect to the “apostles,” arguing that this means that Junias was an “apostle” is very suspect.  The grammar does not mandate that these two (presumably a husband and wife ministry team) were both individuals that were respected “as” apostles (i.e., a member within the group of apostles), but well respected by the apostles (i.e., not a member of the apostles, but respected by them nonetheless). But this is all rather academic since it shows a preference for non-explicit vocabulary (e.g., “servant,” “worker”) to countermand explicit vocabulary (e.g., “elder,” “bishop,” “pastor”) and objective didactic instructions concerning the qualifications that must be met before ministering in the pastoral offices within local churches. It is certainly possible that one can partner with Paul, or be respected by other leaders of the early church and not function as a pastor in a local church.

Fifth, Paul’s instruction prohibiting women from functioning as pastors was exclusively for a specific congregation for a limited period of time, they were never intended to be universally applied to all churches. This is objectively not the case, Paul prohibited women from functioning as congregational leaders and preachers in the churches at Corinth, and he instructed both Timothy (at Ephesus) and Titus (at Crete) to reserve the office of teaching pastor to only qualified men, and lastly he specifically instructed Timothy to prohibit women from functioning in roles where they would be teaching or exercising authority over men.  In other words, we observed Paul’s instructions on this matter in 3 completely different ministry contexts, and he provided them for entire church networks throughout those regions, and he gave no indication that there would be cultures or times when they should be relaxed.  Consequently, the prohibition against women preaching and holding the office of pastor in local churches were not prohibitions that arose because of an unusual but temporal problem at specific church or because of cultural biases. They are foundational instructions of the New Testament’s theology concerning the leadership of local churches. Furthermore, Paul presented them as universal qualifications and instructions; consequently, they should be received and respected as such.

Lastly, some assert that Paul’s prohibition against women functioning as pastors is a relic of a “patriarchal culture.” This is an argument that is inherently flawed while also undermining the doctrine of inspiration. It is extremely problematic to assert that because Paul’s wrote while ministering within a patriarchal society that we no longer need to obey his instructions prohibiting women from acting as pastors. Such an assertion is also a functional rejection of the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, regardless if one claims to affirm these doctrines. Paul also wrote to polytheistic, sexually immoral, socially segregated, politically corrupt, dishonest, and vengeful cultures. Are we going to assert that the Holy Spirit could inspire the writers of the New Testament to command believers and churches to reject all of those cultural sins, but was somehow constrained by the patriarchal oppression of that time?  Of course not.  Furthermore, the prohibitions against women holding the office of elders and teaching men in local churches was not based upon some misguided attempt to protect a cultural sin, but is ultimately based upon God’s design for creation as revealed in scripture (1 Tim. 2.13; Gen. 1 and 2).  Some assert that the woman’s submission to the husband in the family was a result of the fall; consequently, the church’s main purpose is to “reverse the curse,” which means reversing all of the consequences of the fall.  Such a focus for any church is misguided, but that is a topic for another time.  Paul wrote that male leadership in the home was the design of God at the beginning of creation rather than the consequence of the fall; thus, he based the doctrine of qualified male leadership in local churches upon God’s revealed design at the beginning of a good and pristine creation.  Moreover, regardless of the period of history or what may be the acceptable cultural norms of any specific society, the instructions that the office of pastor be reserved for qualified men are to be universally affirmed by all churches everywhere and at all times. These biblical instructions are not relics of a cultural bias or the result of patriarchal opinions from which the Lord and the Holy Spirit were powerless to protect future churches located in enlighten and egalitarian cultures. They are directly from the Lord and were documented in writing by the power, inspiration, and guidance of the Holy Spirit; thus they are to be obeyed in spirit and practice in local churches everywhere.

In conclusion, there is such a thing as a “biblical church culture.”  Consequently, it is the calling of all churches in every culture to conform to that specific biblical model, rather than attempt to conform their congregational practices and leadership to the cultural norms of their fallen societies.


Copyright, © by Monte Shanks, 2015


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