Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Formal Rebuttal on women in ministry

Addendum; I just received an email response from John Hobbins that he will not link to my rebuttal - even though he said that he would - because he claims that I have not discussed "whether women are to be ordained to the offices of elder/priest and bishop." Thank goodness this was a good story anyway.

Here is my rebuttal to the following statement,
McCarthy has manufactured a strawman. Not only Heiser, but the “many churches today” of which Suzanne speaks do not argue along the lines she proposes. Rather, the argument is that it is better to err on the side of sticking to the practice of the early church on a number of questions of church order (for “Bible-only” churches, on the basis of the NT witness; for tradition-minded churches, based on the normative teaching and practice of the first four or five centuries of the life of the Church). Said churches motivate their position with care and acumen, as anyone familiar with the debate knows.
Do the churches that I have had contact with hold the belief that it is better to err on the side of sticking to the practice of the early church? And do they motivate their positions with care and acumen?

Let me respond. In the last century, Northern British Columbia was the last frontier of the British Empire. It collected an amazing group of women who left their homes in England or eastern Canada and rode horseback summer and winter through mountain passes. The next wave of women trained in jeep maintenance and drove the gravel roads through bush and swamp.

These women were trained as deaconesses, and licensed as lay readers. They taught and preached, they blessed the sacraments, they took funerals, they planned organized series of doctrinal sermons, and planted churches throughout the north of this province. These were Anglican women.

One of these women, Monica Storrs, also called God's Galloping Girl, took on the Canadian government in 1939 to protest that we did not shelter more Jews leaving Germany.

While the country was still a frontier, women were welcome as leaders and temporary incumbents. When the churches were more established and could afford a regular minister, the women were replaced by men. One of the farmers from Storrs' church, left when she was replaced and never went back. It was about 35 years later that women were finally ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada.

But now in Vancouver today, in the church where Jim Packer and David Short teach, women are not welcome as ordained ministers. These men associate with John Piper and Bruce Ware. Somehow, the thought of either of these two men on horseback makes me chuckle. And not only horseback through the mountains, but on your back under a jeep. Anyway, Piper says that men may not diddle in the garage, so we know why women had to do it.

Yup. I am ashamed at the stance of any Canadian Anglican church which does not support the ordination of women. And, no I don't think that the Anglican church which I attended handled this issue with care and acumen. I don't know how much to say on this score. I think the conservative leadership were somewhat deceitful on this issue. They did not articulate their position on the ordination of women in public. It has all come out in a roundabout way.

It is not an issue of maintaining a traditional stance, but it is a matter of an Englishman, an Australian and an American all united in trying to stuff Canadian women back in the box, after they have been out of it since the middle of the 19th century, when intrepid British women with nothing better to do, came to the last frontier and traveled through the north to succour isolated farmers and trappers.

Note: These women may have all been oddities and eccentrics, but their ministrations were much appreciated at the time, and they did not lack initiative and assertiveness, analytical skills or hard headed decision making ability. They give the lie to complementarianism every which way.


Kristen said...

It was certainly not a "straw man" to take the idea, "Junia was an apostle only in the sense that she was a missionary, but this doesn't mean women can be pastors" to its logical conclusions. If a woman can be a missionary but may not be a pastor, then in essence she is being told, "Come and get the job started, but if you want to stay after it's established, you must step down, sit down, and be quiet."

Daughters of the Church by Tucker and Liefield details countless women in the last two centuries who were allowed to be missionaries with authority (including authority for pastoral tasks like counseling the young, growing flock) until churches were well established, and then made to step down. The book doesn't mention Monica Storrs, but she is clearly in the ranks of Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, Lottie Moon, and many others.

kulibali said...

Tradition, care and acumen were no less in use in the doctrines of the church before that gadfly William Wilberforce.

There are some things it's not OK to "tolerate".

Anonymous said...

I am confused. Isn't John Hobbins' wife an ordained minister?

Mara Reid said...

Bravo, Suzanne.
As the descendant of homesteaders in the U.S. and with family in Wyoming, the first state to give women the vote, I appreciate these words more than you know.

I come from pioneer stock and will never fit into the sweet, little box that Piper, Ware, or any other men try to build for me.
In their zeal to define and supposedly protect womanhood, they destroy souls and crush the God-given pioneer spirit often referred to evangelism.

I'm sorry that those in the Anglican Church have given ear to this horrid teaching.
May the resistence to such madness increase.