Monday, February 28, 2011

Apostles and prophets

Addendum: John Hobbins has linked to this post. He then said something about me. He then said that if I rebutted his post, he would link to my rebuttal. I responded to his post but he now says that this is not a rebuttal so he won't link to it.

Mike Heiser has not attempted to argue that Junia was a man, or that she was not among the apostles. However, he sets up a dichotomy between an apostle, basically an itinerant missionary; and local church leadership. According to Mike, it is the local church leadership which has authority. Women can be apostles in the sense of being itinerant missionaries, but they cannot hold authority in the local church. Mike writes,
the ... definition of apostle would technically exclude a “stationary” (“normative” for today) pastorate — and create or allow for the sort of category, notorious among some egalitarians, of “woman missionary who isn’t actually a pastor.” But maybe that’s actually closer to the NT model than “non-missionary woman church pastor/leader staying put in a local church.” I’m fine with the former since it seems suspiciously like what the NT is describing for Junia. I’m not convinced the latter is consistent with that. I’d have no trouble getting over that hump if the NT didn’t seem to *distinguish* apostles from local church leaders.
So Mike argues that women can preach as long as they don't remain stationary. Women cannot remain in an established church. Women can travel overseas, and they can preach to the unchurched, and they can teach and translate the Bible. But once a congregation is established, a house is purchased,and a salary is in view, women have no right to any of this.

Right across the street from me here in Vancouver, lives a woman just my age, with the same job as me, and a husband and three children. She is conservative, generous, modest and ethical. She will never experience going to church. Her father, a farmer in the north of British Columbia, vowed many years ago, never to return to church after the woman missionary who established the church he attended, was replaced with a salaried male. He wanted none of it.

I am ashamed that in many churches today no progress has been made. There is no biblical justification for saying that a woman minister may not settle down. There is nothing which says that an apostle (other than the twelve) is without authority, and without the right to stay in one place.

If one holds the Bible as a standard and guide, there is no reason to say that a woman can have a gift as long as she is not paid for it, as long as she does not stay in one place. There is no passage which divides the gifts, on the one hand, into non-authoritative apostles, and prophets; and on the other hand, into authoritative pastors and teachers. On the contrary, Eph. 4:11 says,
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,


EricW said...

On this subject of women having leadership positions in the local church, the (in)famous John Piper strikes again, in a clip that is so cringeworthy he probably doesn't even realize it:

Does he move his hands so much in order to deflect attention away from his words? Because if you listen to what he is actually saying....

*bang-head-against-wall emoticon*

Paula said...

He's actually trying to say that men can only withstand being "feminized" for a limited time! "Hit and run" leadership only, for women. And quite obviously from the video, his motivation is to excuse the many hypocritical instances where he allows women to teach men. Notice that women are allowed to make money through "hit and run ministry", but heaven forbid these women carry permanent authority and receive tithes. It's really Gnosticism, truth to tell.

Anonymous said...

This is the 3rd was to deny Junia was an apostle. Make apostle into something without a pastor's authority.

However, in my understanding, each of the 5-fold ministry gifts is an elder or overseer. So while an apostle may not mean pastor, both are elders of a congregation and part of the leadership of same.

Don Johnson

Kristen said...

Mike Heiser said this earlier in the discussion:

"For me, the only real argument for female ordination is the fact that one can find women as heads of house-churches in the early church. There is such textual and archaeological evidence. But all that means is that *some* early Christian contexts tolerated or embraced this (we don’t know which verb is appropriate, and maybe both are for a number of reasons). We have no idea what was behind the decision. It certainly wasn’t normative, but I’m not sure what that ought to mean to me, either. I’d also suggest we don’t want early church data to necessarily drive our exegetical conclusions."

I don't know what he means by "normative" (given the scarcity of names of church leaders in the NT -- male or female-- how can he determine that it wasn't normative?), but if women like Nympha or Chloe were actually leaders of house churches, then any difference between "embracing" or "tolerating" this is moot. The fact is that it was clearly not prohibited. This means Paul's words in 1 Tim 2 have to be interpreted differently than the way they are traditionally interpreted.

But if Mr. Heiser wants to claim women can't have pastoral authority on the basis that Junia was not a pastor, what does he do with Nympha and Chloe? If even one woman can be found with pastoral authority, his argument falls. And I would say that if he finds the matter inconclusive, then restricting women based on inconclusiveness alone, is fundamentally unjust.

Kristen said...

With regards to what's sometimes called the "fivefold ministry," it looks chronological to me. First the apostles come and start a church. Then the prophets receive God's direction for the new church. Then the evangelists bring in new members, and finally the pastors and teachers nurture and educate the new members.

How the person who started a church can have less authority than the one who cares for and teaches it, is beyond me. Didn't Paul say, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth"?

I totally agree that the Bible teaches no such thing-- and if it did, as you have clearly shown, Suzanne-- it would be an injustice to set things up that way. God is not the author of injustice.

Mark said...


"There is no passage which divides the gifts, on the one hand, into non-authoritative apostles, and prophets; "

This seems like too much of a blanket statement. All relevant texts must be considered.

For example, Rev 1:3 indicates that this word of John is a "prophecy". The book ends with a warning against taking away or adding to the words of the book (22:18-19), therefore i am inclined to believe this is an authoritative prophecy.

Yet, 1 Cor 14:29-33 indicates that some prophecy needs to be weighed/judged and that porphets need to control themselves. Therefore again. i am inclined to believe that such type prophecies are not necessairly authoritative sinc they may contain error.

Therefore, i would conclude that although there is no "one single text" as you say, when the whole counsel of God is considered there definately seems like a distinction at least within "prophecy" of authoritative and non-authoritative.


Anonymous said...

Their interpretations get sillier and sillier.

Maybe the "stationery" males don't want any competition so they approve hit and run preaching for women.