Friday, 26 December 2014

Women Pastors and Elders: A Degradation of Scripture

It is very common today, even in churches that have elders, for there to be women elders. Many today see no problem with this and in fact see it as a great advancement from what was perceived to be male domination in all areas of leadership including the church. A great imbalance that existed between men and women has thus been addressed by the ordination of women elders into the church. And yet the ordination of women elders into certain churches emanates from two main presuppositions which are either that:

1) Culture has advanced since the time of the writing of the bible. What was written then was for that culture and is no longer relevant for today. We have come a long way since then. The male biases and domination in authority need to be overthrown and this is especially true in the church. This presupposition places culture as the defining factor as to how Scripture is interpreted and how it is applied in the church today.

2) The bible is unclear about whether women elders are allowed in the church. The bible lacks clarity as to its context, interpretation and application as to the ordination of women elders in the church. Based on this supposed lack of clarity there is therefore no prohibition against women elders. The Scriptures are simply silent about the matter. Thus we simply do not know and so in light of how the role of women in society has progressed it is appropriate that women should be allowed the same leadership positions as they do in other areas of life. 

Both of these positions undermine the authority of Scripture. The first position because it makes culture as the lens through which the bible is read and when the bible does not line up with culture it must either be reinterpreted so as to fit or be rejected altogether. The second because it supposes that God has spoken with so little clarity in the bible about elders that it is not binding or that the bible simply does not address it at all. So whether it is the lens of culture or supposing that God has not spoken clearly, what is being undermined is the authority of Scripture to define elders not only for today but for the church in every generation.

It is right, I believe, that wherever such an approach to Scripture is adopted that then allows women elders it will inevitably be followed by other teachings that fall outside biblical parameters. This is because what is at stake is not primarily female vs male elders in church but the authority of Scripture to teach us what God has spoken with clarity. What at stake is the bible as the sole source of teaching both for Christian faith and living especially as to how Christ's church is to be led and who is to lead it. What under girds the belief that women elders are allowed today is the belief that the biblical teaching is no longer applicable or is no longer clear and if this is so with regards to elders then it stands to reason that when biblical authority and clarity is degraded then the doors are opened for a whole plethora of unbiblical teachings to come into the church because when Scripture is no longer the measure of what is true and what is right men and women will be.

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