Responses to question #5
In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her fifth set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post. This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #5 and Mike’s rejoinder. Mike’s matching blog post is here.
Cheryl Schatz responds:
Mike, this has been a wonderful discussion, and I thank you for your participation and the kind way that you have responded.
I would like to respond to several things that you said that I would like to question and challenge you at the same time also in a cordial manner.
Mike, you said that Paul urges men and women to prophesy, but then you said that this is different than preaching and teaching. However “preach” and “expound” are in the very definition of “prophesy” according to the Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament:
(1) generally, of speaking with the help of divine inspiration proclaim what God wants to make known, preach, expound
The Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament says the word prophesy means:
proclaim God’s message, preach; prophesy, predict…
An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon says prophesy means:
II. in N.T. to expound scripture, to speak and preach under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon writes this about the word prophesy:
1C to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation. 1D to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or praise of the divine counsels. 1D1 under like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others.
There is enough evidence from the lexicons that “preaching” is indeed well within the meaning of “prophesy” just as “refuting” is a work of those who prophesy (a clear indication that judging prophecy is a work of everyone capable of prophesying) see the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon above. There is no direct prohibition against a woman or anyone else that would forbid them from judging prophecy. Even Paul submitted himself to being judged by those who were wise and sensible:
1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak to sensible people, judge for yourselves what I say. (ESV)
To deny women from judging is to deny the universal call to judge, discern and test all things. In 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21 we are all told not to despise prophetic utterances, but we are all to examine everything carefully!
1 Thessalonians 5:20 do not despise prophetic utterances.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; NASB
The Greek word in 1 Thess. 5:21 that is rendered “examine” is “dokimazo”. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says about “dokimazo”:
This word is very rare, there being no instances prior to Paul. It means “testing” or “certifying”.
The Analytical Lexicon of the New Testament says about this word:
As making an examination put to the test, examine, prove (by testing)
The Complete Word Study Dictionary says of this Greek word:
To try, prove, discern, distinguish, approve. It has the notion of proving a thing whether it is worthy or not.
As I recorded in our second post, the weighing of the prophetic utterances was done in a question and answer discussion/debate format which all were given the opportunity to be a part of the testing and proving. This is the judging that Paul was speaking about in 1 Cor. 14:29. I notice that you did not respond to any of the scriptures I gave that proved that discernment and evaluation are to be a part of each one of our lives as we grow toward maturity. These are Christian activities that are commanded for all to participate in. All of us are to test and judge. Why? Because in the next age, we will all judge the world and the angels.
1 Corinthians 6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?
1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
Surely if women are going to judge the world and the angels in the future, they are also to be mature Christians who are obedient to the command to judge prophetic utterances here in this life as Paul commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21.
Can you list even one clear verse that says that women are not to judge prophetic utterances? Can you list even one clear verse that exempts women from the duty to test all things and to judge prophetic utterances?
Paul also made it clear that we are to desire spiritual gifts (plural). Prophesying and teaching are two of the gifts of the Spirit. Paul’s point is that all in the body are to be edified so it would be out of place to have Paul commanding that women should desire spiritual gifts but then have Paul refuse to allow part of the body (women) to use their gifts for the common good. All of the body is to be edified, and all of the members of the body are allowed to edify Christ’s body.
The quote in 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 is completely out of character and out of line with both verse 36 and the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 that appears before these two “out of place” verses. The only solution to the contradiction that these verses bring to the passage is to accept that Paul is once again quoting from the letter that the Corinthians wrote to him. The fact that this is the longest quote that Paul makes from the letter in no way exempts it from being a quote. It just means that it was a quote that Paul felt needed to be quoted exactly as it was written so that he could properly refute the quote in the following verses (1 Cor. 14:36-40). If this is not a quote from the Corinthians, then what was Paul refuting in verse 36? How could Paul possibly have made so many commands for all of us to test and discern all things (including prophesying) and then turn around and say that women were not to test the prophesying? This would make God out to be one who contradicts His own word.
If women were to listen to this unclear “law” and refuse to use their gifts for the benefit of all, where would this leave them in the eyes of the Lord? What happens when some refuse to edify others in the body of Christ? Warren Wiersbe comments that the Corinthians were selfish instead of loving one another by looking for the common good. He writes:
To edify means “to build up.” This concept is not alien to the “body” image of the church; even today, we speak about “bodybuilding exercises.” There is an overlapping of images here, for the body of Christ is also the temple of the living God. Paul’s choice of the word edify was a wise one.
The mistake the Corinthians were making was to emphasize their own personal edification to the neglect of the church. They wanted to build themselves up, but they did not want to build up their fellow believers. This attitude, of course, not only hurt the other Christians, but it also hurt the believers who were practicing it. After all, if we are all members of the same body, the way we relate to the other members must ultimately affect us personally. “The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee” (1 Cor. 12:21). If one member of the body is weak or infected, it will affect the other members. W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition commentary.
Body ministry requires the gifts to be used for the common good. Can you show even one Scripture where Paul or any other apostle say that women are to teach exclusively women and children? Can you quote a verse that says that women are to teach, prophesy, interpret tongues for women and children alone? Rather than a divided body, the body is to function with all the gifts for the growth of the entire body so that we grow together. What use would it be to have huge arms on the body if the body nourishment was denied the legs? Would puny legs that get only half the nourishment be acceptable for a healthy, well-functioning body? Does the brain discriminate against the legs and provide only full nourishment to the arms? Not at all. In the same way, the body of Christ has each body member work to build up the entire body with the gifts that God has given to each one. The leg cannot say “Let the arms minister to each other. I, as a leg, don’t need the work of the arms to benefit me.”
You wrote as a quote:
Paul is likely forbidding women to speak up and judge prophecies (this is in line in the immediate context; cf. 1 Cor 14:29) since such an activity would subvert male headship. ‘ Law also says’. Paul is probably thinking of the woman’s creation “from” or “for” the man. (see 11:8-9; Gen. 2:20-24) as well as a general pattern of male leadership among the people of Israel in the OT.
Here I notice once again that the terms “likely”, “probably” “general pattern” are quoted. This is an unclear bugle sound that cannot produce a clear prohibition against women who are willing to obey the command to test, judge and discern. Nowhere does Paul ever say that women are exempt from the command but should trust their husbands to discern for them. We are commanded to be mature and to think and reason for ourselves using the clear foundation of the scriptures. And any “pattern” of male leadership that is “general” but which had clear exceptions created by God Himself even within a patriarchal society, is not a “law.”
Mike, when you say that “it is difficult to see this as an absolute prohibition”, you show that women speaking in the assembly whether by prophesying or by judging the prophesying cannot be considered a sin. An absolute prohibition is always a sin. Exceptions disprove a universal law.
Again you have used the term “likely”. However, sin isn’t something that we should ever be unsure about. God has given us the terms of his law with two or three witnesses and in a clear and understandable fashion so that we can stay away from sin. The sin defined as “not judging prophecies” is not only an unclear law that cannot bring a judgment of sin, but it contradicts the fact that women are to judge for themselves here on earth and in the future when they too will be judging the angels. Judging the world and the angels is something that the body of Christ will do – not just the men.
There is also no such thing as universal male “headship”. The husband is the “head” of the wife in a one-flesh union, but no man is the “head” of anyone else. The only other “head” is Jesus Christ who is the “head” of the body. Any other “headship” is adding to God’s word.
Without a hard and fast “rule” that forbids women from teaching the bible to men or forbids them from serving men with their leadership abilities, there can be no charge of sin. If there is no charge of sin, then we are not to put a stumbling block before another believer. We are to let them serve in freedom as a servant of Christ.
I would like to end this response by quoting a public challenge that Wade Burleson (a Southern Baptist Pastor) recently gave in an address at the Midwest Regional New Baptist Covenant Conference in Norman Oklahoma. Pastor Wade’s words about building bridges are very appropriate for our discussion. Pastor Wade said:
Tonight I speak for myself only. My confession and corresponding repentance is personal, spoken with a heart that genuinely desires to do my part to build bridges between all Baptists who name Christ as Lord….
I do not know of one time when Christ has ever withheld from me any good gift, has stifled my expression of any praise of Him, or shut me up from proclaiming His Word – so logically His commandment to love my sisters in Christ as He has loved me should negate any and every attempt to withhold from our faith community a Baptist woman gifted by Christ. Our obedience to His command should preclude any attempt to stifle a Baptist woman compelled to publicly praise Jesus Christ. It should lead us to resist any effort to shut up or censor any Baptist woman called to preach Christ and Him crucified. It is impossible for my Baptist brothers to point to any text – let me repeat this – it is impossible for my Baptist brothers to point to any text, that is properly understood in its context, that ever compels Baptist men to suppress Baptist women in terms of ministry. On the contrary, we are called by our Lord to support and love those women of faith just as our Lord has loved us…
You may not like the fact that women are now being called by God to preach, or called by God to do missions, or called by God to teach. You may even consider it a violation of your principles for a woman to teach a man, or preach Christ to a man, or baptize a man, or lead a man, but there is one thing that you and I cannot – we must not – forget.
You and I are called to love each and every sister in Christ who feels called to ministry. We are called to affirm the dignity of every Christian woman called to minister. We are commanded to treat them with respect and civility. We are also called to love, respect and affirm the autonomy of local Baptist congregations and denominations that utilize these gifted women in ministry as they see fit. To censor them, reject them, abuse them or condemn their character is a sin of the first order. (See the full transcript of this speech at Wade Burleson’s blog.)
Indeed we are called to build bridges. This is the time to build bridges towards our sisters in Christ who have been called to ministry. Is it not a time to love them and affirm their gifts instead of stifling them and holding them back from serving the body of Christ?
Mike Seaver’s rejoinder:
Thanks again for your response.
I just wanted to clarify with you (and everyone else) that my intention in blogging is not to be able to answer absolutely every question. You critiqued me for not answering a question, but as I cut and pasted your response, it was 7 pages long. I can’t answer every question you ask and still keep my day job. I’m enjoying the debate, but know that I am purposefully limiting my interaction due to time. I know you understand, but I just wanted to say that to clarify.
There are tons of questions you ask in your response and I appreciate them. I am going to focus on your first question, and this is about whether prophesy is the same as preaching and teaching. Obviously, women can prophesy, so if preaching and teaching are included in prophesy, then the logical conclusion you make is that they can preach and teach.
I understand the definitions you gave, but what I don’t understand is how you can make a blanket statement definition of prophesy for your argument and use every use of the definition and say…basically, “so there…the Greek Lexicon says it, so it’s true.” Well, yes, the Greek Lexicon does say it as you quoted, but most scholars would agree that there are different types of prophesy. The prophesy in 1 Corinthians 14 is not the same as when “prophesy” is used in other parts of the New Testament (and Old Testament). I don’t think either of us would say that the prophesy in 1 Cor. 14 is on par with Scripture, but rather it is a prophetic word that is given while seeing through a glass dimly (1 Cor. 13:9-12)…and should be judged. Scripture should not be judged in this same way. The Mark 7:6 uses the word “prophesy” and the meaning does refer to a passage of Scripture.
Mark 7:6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
And this use of prophesy should be included in a Greek Lexicon definition and it is. Isaiah was preaching and teaching and had authoritative, but the “prophesy” referred to in Mark 7:6 is different than 1 Cor. 14’s use of the same word.
Paul also speaks of prophesy as being different from teaching.
Romans 12:6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;
1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
If Paul wanted to group prophesy and teaching together, he could have, but he didn’t. To Paul, these were different gifts. Could someone have both gifts, sure, but should we say that all who prophesy are also given the authority to teach? I don’t think so.
As for Wade Burleson’s quote. If my position is correct, am I loving my sisters in Christ by inviting them to do what Scripture forbids? Consistency with my position would say that would be unloving. You are calling “love” what I am calling “disobedience to Scripture.” You are calling “sin” what I am calling “trying to live by what the text says.” I do not hate my sisters in Christ, those who know me can attribute to that.
However, I will do what I can in my life to not compromise on what Scripture teaches, whether it is on fundamentals of the gospel like justification by faith, or on issues like biblical roles. Here I stand. Hopefully, humbly…hopefully willing to engage those who oppose my views and willingly be challenged. Hopefully building bridges of communication and friendship and respect.
Thanks again, Cheryl for being willing to debate this matter.
Comment by Cheryl Schatz:
Mike Seaver has requested that we have a break before starting the second part of the debate due to his busy schedule. I understand busyness as my schedule can be so busy that many days I am finishing my ministry work between midnight and 2 a.m. I want to be very respectful to Mike and his time constraints especially since he is the first complementarian that has agreed to publicly discuss this issue with me. I am very grateful to Mike for his willingness to go public. No matter how much we may disagree on this issue, I have to give him full credit for sticking it out this far and for continuing to work hard to keep this discussion/debate focused in an irenic way.
The bottom line for these discussions always comes back to whether it is a sin or not for a woman to teach the bible to men. In the first five sets of questions I have allowed Mike to have the last word. I look forward to the time when Mike asks me questions and then allows me to have the last word.
I would like to sum up this section with a word to those who have been following the interaction between Mike and myself. I have argued extensively from the scriptures that there cannot be a charge of sin against women for faithfully teaching the bible. I have argued that there is no sin listed that attaches to females because of the free will decision of a man who comes to receive what the Holy Spirit has to say through a Spirit-filled member of the body of Christ. I have shown time and time again that every universal law follows a pattern that has been established by God Himself – a pattern that was designed for our safety. I have also shown that the so-called “law” that charges a woman with sin for teaching the precious words of God to a brother in Christ fails every single test of a universal law of sin. I am not asking anyone to go against the scripture. I value and hold up the Scriptures as God-breathed and we are to believe them and obey them. What I am asking is for those who love the truth to test all things. Verify God’s way of establishing a universal law of sin and then test it against the single unrepeated prohibition that was written personally to an associate of Paul’s who was sent to stop those who were ignorantly teaching error. Once you verify the context surrounding the prohibition, look at the end result of the prohibition to see if 1 Timothy 2:15 is clearly and distinctly written with a universal application for all women (married or single) as if all Christian women (married or single) are in need of something else besides Christ for their salvation? Once you have tested this unrepeated prohibition against God’s documented standard for charging a person with sin, judge for yourself if one can be faithful to the inspired Word of God and see 1 Timothy 2:12 as a focused solution by Paul designed to deal with a specific situation in a specific church that had been challenged by false teaching, myths, endless genealogies and misunderstanding of the law of God?
I will let you know when Mike is ready to continue the second part of our debate. I am willing to give him whatever time he needs to attend to the first things in his life and his ministry. If he only has time to do one post every month or so, then that will have to do. I am not interested in pushing Mike beyond what he is capable right now, but I do look forward to defending our godly women against the charge of sin. This is both a privilege and an honor for me as my nature is that of a peace maker.