Speaking of helpmates and mothers...

Phil Henry, a Presbyterian Church in America pastor serving in Tucson, Arizona, has a good post critiquing an article in the latest issue of our denominational magazine, byFaith. Written by Carolyn Custis James, the piece is titled, "A CHALLENGE FACING THE PCA IS HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE GROWING POPULATION OF FEMALE THEOLOGIANS: Women Theologians: A SPIRITUAL GOLDMINE FOR THE CHURCH." And yes, that's a long and loud title, but without the use of small caps, that's about what it looks like.

There's a ton that could be said about this (and other) pieces in this issue of byFaith, but I grow weary. Pastor Henry is a younger man, though, and so you might want to watch him tilt at windmills.


Tim knows where I am on this women in leadership business. However, the PCA does not have women pastors. Therefore these "women theologians" are all people insulated from the business of preaching the Word and disciplining the church. Gold mine or land mine?

Revive, good pastor! Your forthrightness on this issue has been an encouragement.

I have read James' first book and found a good idea and a disturbing one.
The good idea is that women should be theologians and good ones. I have spent the better part of my life teaching my wife to be a good theologian and she passed with flying colors, although for some odd reason she keeps on reading and learning. She is truly a godly woman of the Book.
The disturbing idea was that the last 2/3s of James' book sounded more like whining than anything really positive. After hearing her at the last GA in Chattanooga, TN I was dismayed. Has anyone ever taken the time to tell the PCA women flocking to seminary that they can't be Elders and Deacons?
I was asked to make a small contribution to a new book co-authored by Susan Hunt & Ligon Duncan entitled "Women's Ministry in the Local Church." I would HIGHLY recommend it. It is well written, compassionate, practical, and--most of all--biblical.
Rattlesnake 6

I like the way Mr. Henry approaches the issue: the problem isn't so much women being well educated, per se, but the question, "What will I do with this degree?" I think that might apply to *any* field of study. Our cultural tendency is to start off with "What degree am I going to get?" instead of "How can I best serve God as a woman?" And I'll skip a few steps of my thought process, but the issue leads me to ask where the Titus 2 mentor types are in our churches. These women theologians are asking the wrong questions because they've not been trained to ask the right ones.

In related news, my friend Carmon Friedrich has recently taken the question back one step further by writing a series of nine provocative blog posts on girls and college. You can start reading here -- http://buriedtreasurebooks.com/weblog/?p=1302. (Caveat: While Carmon would welcome readers, she has requested further comments on the series.)

Phil Henry speaks too loudly and too easily (at least that's what I get from reading his article).

>What is remarkable about this article--even astounding--is that not one mention is made of motherhood, the highest and most excellent post for women theologians to occupy. No mention of mothers reading Sacred Scripture to their children; no mention of sons being catechized by their mothers; no mention of wives praying for their husbands.

Must every article written for or about men reference fatherhood and being a good husband? Surely that's the highest calling of male theologians as well? Mrs. James cannot say everything. Let's not confuse omission with dismission.

Henry appears so ready to critique the "evangelical chic" position of including women as theologians that he is unwilling to critique his own position of assuming that Mrs. James' goal is to remove all gender differences and pervert God's good two-sex creation.

If there's going to be a discussion, let there be a discussion. What exactly does it mean for women to receive theological instruction? How can they use instruction for the betterment of the church? What are gender-specific roles and how and why are they defined? Instead we get a "Carolyn disses motherhood" post. That's unfair. I would hope that someone ordained to the pastorate would give a response filled with wisdom if he had a legitimate disagreement.

I offer Mr. Shakleford and others thanks for reading and replying to my essay. And, since Mr. Shakleford has asked...

1. Responses Filled with Wisdom.

Wisdom is defined by Solomon as the fear of God. A man ordained to the pastoral ministry, out of his fear of God, attempts to expose worldly motives of nave and acculturated professing Christians. That's what my article does. Now, Tim, with affection, referred to my attempt as a tilt at a windmill. I'd refer to Mr. Shakleford's response merely as a "tilt." (Is he old enough to have played pin-ball before I wonder?)

2. Omission vs. Dismission.

a) Shakleford argues: if an article about male theologians does not mention their calling to be fathers and husbands is legitimate, then so also is an article about women theologians that fails to mention their calling as a wife and mother legitimate.

b) However, Shakleford ignores the basic sex assumptions of Sacred Scripture:

(1) women are called not to be professional or vocational theologians but mothers and wives;

(2) the Bible doesn't say that men will be saved by childbearing, but women; not that the man was decieved by a doctrinal discussion with the Devil, but the woman; not that the man was the theologically weaker vessel, but the woman;

(3) Scripture calls women, not men, to ask their husbands at home (say what you will about the meaning of this verse, except that its not there);

(4) the Bible is a book that describes the calling of a man, not a woman, to watch his life and doctrine closely, for in so doing, he will not only save himself but his hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).

c) No, it is Mr. Shakleford who confuses omission with dismission, for the Bible, in omitting to speak about certain things SPEAKS. The principle used in understanding how to apply the rules of Scripture is this: either going beyond, or falling short of, what the Scritpure says, is sin. The Bible's omission, in short, is a dismission.

Well, if that's not enough of a response for the few intrepid comment-box readers out there, I've finished it over at my own blog site (http://philuptheblog.blogspot.com) where I can comment without being cramped in a (or cluttering up someone else's) comment box. Tim is welcome to include, or reference, my whole reply here if he chooses.

My initial critique of Mr. Henry's essay had little to do with what he said but how he said it. How we say is as important as what we say in displaying Christian witness to the world.

I can see now that my comments were misguided. I was directed to the website through a link to this blog posting only and was not aware of the myriad of other postings on the topic on the blog. I truly was the one "tilting at windmills" to assume a calm, fair, loving discussion on the article by Mrs. James. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

When I referred to wisdom, I was referring to the fear of the Lord. And how does Solomon define the fear of the Lord? Proverbs 15:33 is a good place to start. There is a parallel drawn between the fear of the Lord and humility. Humility before God, of course, but also humility before other people.

Here's where my comments about pastoral character come in: there is an appaling lack of humility in any of the posts I've read here (mine included). Men are trying so hard to win the argument that they have forgotten that to do so while losing fellowship is no victory at all.

Mrs. James is not a "wolf". She is a fellow believer and should be treated as such. Correct her, if you believe she is wrong, with respect and with Christian love, not with hateful words criticising her character.

Mr. Shakleford confesses that his critique of my essay exposing Mrs. James's teaching was not about my words but about my tone: "not about what he said but about how he said it."

I suspect this is because he can't argue with what I said, and must rather content himself with vague idealisms along the lines of "He used a harsh and unloving tone." Either he can't, or he won't.

Is it because he's afraid of criticism? Afraid of looking me in the eye?

As it is, his vague, non-specific notions about "humility" so-called are actually quite proud and, becaues of that, obstructing Christian love.

I suppose if he can bring himself to comment on something I said--anything, really--then we might have a discussion, perhaps even have fellowship.

As I quoted Chesterton in my original piece, I'll do so again. Speaking of "cowardice" he observes:

"Some people do not like the word 'dogma'. Fortunately they are free and there is an alternative for them. There are two things, and two things only, for the human mind, a dogma and a prejudice....A dogma [or doctrine] is a definite point; a prejudice is a direction.

"It is not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay a difference of creed unites men--so long as it is a clear difference. A boundary unites....'I say God is One,' and 'I say God is One but also Three,' that is the beginning of a good, quarrelsome, manly friendship."

So, if Mr. Shakleton desires a good, quarrelsome, manly friendship, let us have his doctrine on the subject; he has mine. Then we shall be friends, and, agree or no, we can be men.

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