Friday, February 17, 2006

Faithful Women

And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. 2 Timothy 2:2 NRSV

The notion that women were not among the teachers in 2 Timothy 2:2 would never have crossed my mind, if I had not talked to Dr. Packer last week. Experience had taught me otherwise. Of course, I understood that women must be silent in the church. But there was no rationale attached to that, not that I was aware of. I simply lived in many worlds at once. In one world only the men spoke in church. In another world the women taught Greek and Latin. These worlds were adjacent but not congruent.

One of the women who influenced me as a teenager was Grace Irwin. This influence was indirect, she never actually taught me herself. She had retired by the time I got to high school. However, she taught my older sisters and was a family friend.

Grace Irwin taught Latin and Greek for 38 years at our high school in Toronto. She is an author, poet, public speaker, patron of the arts, and ordained minister. She also received an honourary doctorate of Sacred Letters from Victoria College, University of Toronto.. She is a very petite, beautiful and outspoken women. I drove her to a speaking engagment last spring. Now 97, she is still a great speaker. She is in good health and lives on her own. I think she gave up driving a couple of years ago.

Among her books are Servant of Slaves, about John Newton; and The Seventh Earl about Lord Shaftsbury. She is an important Christian author, and the winner of a Leading Women award in 2002.

When Grace Irwin retired from teaching high school, a group from a local church which was looking for a minister, simply went over to her house and asked her if she would please honour them with her ministry. And so she became a minister.

She has written her autobiography and I will be getting a copy of it soon. Then I will write more about her.

When people write about Evangelical Feminism like it was some regrettable aberration of our contemporary culture, they simply don't know what women really are. There were no men fussing about whether Grace Irwin could teach men.

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