Things biblical feminists do not believe

Things biblical feminists do not believe

Today I would like to refer you to a post by Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) called “Some things biblical feminists do not believe“. Although I do not like the term “feminists” or “feminism” because of the connection with secular feminism that complmenetarians try to read into the term “biblical feminism”, I do think that the list that CBE has come up is a worthwhile read. Do you think that most complementarians misunderstand the beliefs of those who believe in biblical equality?

10 thoughts on “Things biblical feminists do not believe

  1. 1. We do not want to see women usurp authority over men.

    I am still confused about how any pastor or teacher has ‘authority’ over anyone. Perhaps I am confused about what that word really means.

    What would ‘authority’ have meant in a NT church?

  2. I think I would add to point #1 that we do not want to see men usurp authority over women either.

    I have asked the same question of those who believe that certain men in the church have an authority over other believers. I ask them the same question – what is that authority and where is it found? One fellow said that the authority is God’s authority to tell people that the interpretation of the Bible that the Pastor gives to the church must be accepted as God’s truth. If that is God’s “authority” given to a man, then the church has no right to question the Pastor’s interpretation. But Paul has told us that we need to test all things. He was glad that the Bereans tested his own teaching by scripture. Anyone who says that their interpretation is not to be tested and must be accepted as truth without checking it against scripture is not following scripture. I have yet to hear any other “authority” that God has given to those in leadership that would give them permission to take authority over those in the church.

    However those who are complementarian somehow think that those who believe in biblical equality are trying to put women into a position of authority over men i.e. taking an authority that belongs to men alone. Where is this “authority” in scripture? Jesus said that the one who wanted to be the greatest was to be the servant of all. He also said that the disciples were not to lord it over the church as the worldly leaders exercise lordship. The only “authority” I see is the authority that everyone has to test teachers by the word of God and the “authority” to use their God-given gifts for the good of the entire church.

    I am still waiting for someone to tell me where in scripture any leader in the church is ever told to take authority over another believer. Servanthood, yes; “authority over”, no.

  3. Hello Cheryl and Lin

    (if this is too much of a tangent, pls feel free to delete it cheryl… i am just ‘processing’ my own thoughts!)

    i have been having a bit of a look at the issue of ‘authority’ this week – especially in terms of how this might relate to the analogy of Christ as head (kephale) of the Church as husband is head of the wife (eph 5). What amazes me is that so far in my reading (and it’s not been exhaustive by any means, so correct me if i have missed something important…) scripture does not actually emphasise Christ’s authority OVER the church. I do believe that as King of kings and Lord of lords Jesus has all power on heaven and earth (eg Mt 28:18) which of course includes the Church. Yet Scripture does not (from what i have studied so far) highlight Christ’s authority “over” his Body. Rather, Christ’s authority is over the “principalities” and “powers” of (eg: Eph 1:19-23) and exercised FOR his Church (Eph 1:22). Col 2:10 states we (the Church/Body of Jesus) have been given the fullness of Christ who is the head over every “power and authority”. It seems that those who misunderstand authority/power described in the verses that follow in Col 2:16-19 etc find themselves disconnected from THE HEAD. The ONLY head of the Church or ‘in’ the Church is Jesus Christ himself. No pastor/apostle/prophet etc is ever to be called/understood as the ‘head’ of the church. The example scripture uses to describe the husband as “Head” over the “wife” in Eph 5 as Christ is head over the Church has no emphasis on ruling or authority, but the most radical example (esp in the patriarchal society of the day) of selfless martyrdom – demonstrated by our wonderful Lord himself. Matt 20:20-28 emphatically states Jesus’ teaching on “authority” – the members of his Body are NOT to Lord it over one another as the “gentiles” do… but follow his example and become servant to all. Even when Jesus sends out his 12 disciples in Matt 9 it is about them using his authority over sickness/ disease/demons etc…. not over other people.

    Cheryl, I heartily agree wtih your comments that no pastor has inate authority over a congregation. He (or she!) may be called to teach, but the Body is called to test everything he says in a loving Spirit-filled manner so that all may grow up into maturity together in Christ – not all grow into “being” the “head” themself. “All authority on heaven and earth” remains Christs. He works HIS power/authority through us as we represent him as His Body. But I don’t believe anyone gets to “claim” authority over another person. Even Paul ‘defending’ his apostleship to the Corinthians states “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. ?? For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Cor 10:17-18). Paul tells the Galatians to watch out that neither he/ nor even an angel bring a ‘new’ gospel (Gal 1:7) and congratulates the Bereans for testing everything (Act 17:11), a sentiment echoed in other passages (cf. 1 Thess 5:21).

    Dear Jesus, please help us to exercise YOUR authority over powers, principalities, demons and sickness but help us to serve our brothers and sisters in humility and submission.

    (-:
    kerryn

  4. Kerryn,

    Very good thoughts! Thank you! The one correction that I would make is that Ephesians 5 does not say that the husband is head over the wife but head of the wife. “Head of” refers to a body relationship. There is no authority over implied here and the head is not spoken of as being “over” the wife as if he were authority and she were an underling. The basic concept is unity and oneness as one body. Keep those thoughts coming and as we go into the topic of the gifts next, I am sure you will have some more good thoughts!

  5. Cheryl, This is the one I have seen most quoted about submission to authority in the church:

    Hebrews 13:17

    17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

  6. Thanks Lin!

    Hebrews 13:17 actually says that we are to “be persuaded” by the leaders – those who keep watch over us. It doesn’t say that these leaders are taking authority over us, but rather that we are to allow them to persuade us of what is right. Also it doesn’t say that they will give an account for us. Instead they will give an account to God for how they have done their work in the flock. If this verse was about leaders taking authority over the flock, then God should have used that terminology. There is nothing about taking authority. The responsibility is for the sheep to submit to the gifts of the leaders. The leaders have been gifted by God to protect from doctrinal error. When the sheep refuse to listen, then those who are trying to protect cannot do their job. They have no authority to protect unless we allow them to convince us of the truth and protect us by teaching us true doctrine. The onus is on us to be convinced, not on the leaders to take an authority over the sheep.

  7. kerryn, thanks for you comments…you have given me much to think about. One of my new commands to myself is to be a Berean on everything I am taught!

  8. I agree with you about not caring to see the use the term feminist or even Biblical feminist to describe my beliefs, I refer to myself as a Biblical egalitarian. I see it as a more accurate short term. I can also refer to myself as someone who believes in gender complementarity without hierarchy.

  9. Lin,
    That is a great question and gets to the heart of all the arguments over male headship and women in ministry. I think most of the people who believe in male headship and reject women in ministry do not stop to ask what authority means. They assume authority means that there is a hiearchy of some kind, a pecking-order of some kind. I do not think that is the biblical view of autrhority. I wrote a long essay about it a year ago, which you can read here-
    http://yuckabuck.blogspot.com/2006/04/christian-and-authority.html
    It actually deals with all kinds of authority in the church, and not just issues relating to women. The thesis is “I believe authority is not vested in a position, whether it be pastor, pope, or husband. But God grants authority in situations. In those situations, I should recognize where God has poured out authority and guidance, and follow that.”

    Cheryl,
    I appreciate your website here and pray that God would bless it and you. You seem to be making the most of the “talents”/ gifts God gave you.

    God bless you,
    Chuck

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