Monthly Archives: September 2014

Women in pastoral leadership

This is a hot button topic! As a Foursquare pastor, I of course come down on the side in support of women in pastoral leadership, plus my wife is one! But I acknowledge it is a tough issue for many, and there are Scriptures that seemingly can go either way. What I feel is important is that we stand on what we believe, but not let it become an issue divisive to the Body of Christ. Our mission is to go and make disciples, not spend long hours arguing over several verses. At the same time, today I got a call from a pastor friend of mine who is in our town and who I’ve been fortunate to develop a good relationship with. His church lands on the other side of this issue and his wife is teaching on 1 Timothy 2:1-15 tonight at a women’s bible study. He was gracious enough to give me a call and ask me my opinion on this passage as a Foursquare pastor and one who agrees women can serve in pastoral leadership. 1) How great is it that we can have this kind of dialogue within the greater Body of Christ! Instead of picking sides and building bunkers, he’s wanting discussion on it! 2) Below is my response. Let me say a great thank you to Kelly Tshibaka, Jennifer Manginelli and Daniel Brown for their great book “The Problem With the Problem With Women in Ministry Leadership.” And yes there are two “Problem Withs” on purpose. Here’s my response to my friend:

The landing spot for this particular passage comes down to the original Greek word translated as “authority.” What’s interesting about this particular word is that it is not used anywhere else in Scripture. It is unique to this passage and this situation. The transliteration is “authenteo” which references someone who does not acknowledge any kind of authority over themselves but acts independently. Eve did not acknowledge that Adam had given her instruction as one in authority who had directly heard from God and set herself up as her own authority on the issue of the Tree and fruit. Foursquare would subscribe to the belief this passage does not restrict women from any pastoral/elder role as it does not use one of several other Greek words that clearly define “authority” as headship or leadership, but instead Paul intentionally used “authenteo” to describe someone who is unwilling to submit to higher leadership or instruction. It is a warning against self-appointed leaders and those that are unwilling to submit. 

On a personal note, this is a sticky issue for sure. Ultimately where I land is that the Scripture verses can be, I believe, logically exegeted either way. Wayne Grudem and John Piper in “Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood” disavow the interpretation I just gave for this verse. But the way I see it and read it, it truly can go either way. For some reason, however Paul chose to use a very specific word for this one passage that is not used anywhere else. If this were meant as a mandate against women in pastoral leadership it seems to me more time and attention would have been given to it and a more specific Greek wording regarding pastoral authority/leadership would have been used. 
At the end of the day, for me, I’ve seen too many women with powerful gifts of leadership at work in the church. It is very difficult for me to deny their call to pastoral leadership as the fruit is evident in their lives. This is true of women I personally know (including my wife) and the work of Foursquare’s founder Aimee Semple McPherson. I’ll be the first to acknowledge there are questionable elements to her life and story (as there are of nearly every “hero” of the bible) but there is no denying the incredible Kingdom-impact her ministry had and is still having around the world. If she had not been allowed to pastor and preach because she was a woman, there would literally be millions who would not have been saved over the course of 90 years of Foursquare ministry around the world.
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