Seminaries and Pastors

Back in the early 80s when Tim and I were students together at Gordon-Conwell the percentage of our classmates who had no intention of pursuing pastoral ministry was startlingly high. Over the years since that percentage has only increased at seminaries across the board.

The New York Times contained an interesting article on the phenomenon last week.

Students with no intention of pursuing pastor ministry aren't the only demographic trend altering the face of modern seminaries. An increasingly-large proportion of seminary populations is comprised of women and second-career 40-plus-year-olds.

It's going to become increasingly obvious in years to come that while seminaries can prepare scholars and parachurch leaders, the Church itself is the best training ground for pastors. Doug Wilson nails this here.

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**An increasingly-large proportion of seminary populations is comprised of women and second-career 40-plus-year-olds.

I attend a seminary which has a rather large population of both of these groups. I can't imagine a school that didn't, and I certainly would not attend it. Are you suggesting that women and people over 40 are not qualified for the ministry?

I am not addressing women preachers (I already know and disagree with your view on that subject), but women and "elderly" ministers.

Without agreeing with mine host, might it be the case that ordinands over 40 will not serve in ministry, especially parish ministry, as long as a 26 year old ordinand? That's the main point i heard being made, and one i hear good liberal mainline/oldline agency heads make. If they spend, oh, about $100,000 in total costs from endowments, fundraising, etc. beyond tuition per student, and the number who go into parish work is down from 68% to 25%, and two-thirds of those leave parish work by the five year mark, AND they're age 50 by then, i think one could not be dissing women in preaching positions to say "Houston, we have a problem."

Among others.

Peace,
Jeff

No one here is "dissing women in preaching positions." Rather, we are faithfully proclaiming the commandment of our Heavenly Father Who Himself has explicitly said:

***But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:12-15)***

So, Skeptic and (maybe) Jeff, if you both oppose this foundational doctrine of Scripture, that women are forbidden to exercise authority over men by the order of creation and the explicit command of the Holy Spirit here in 1Timothy, what authority have you turned to in exchange for the authority of Scripture?

The world is full of unfaithful men who hate God's commands in this area. They are destroyers of souls.

The attack upon the meaning and nature of sexuality is just that serious. May God keep both of you from becoming such men.

I find it frustrating dealing with objections raised by those who haven't bothered to think through my posts. Did I say--or even intimate--that 40+ year olds cannot make good pastors?

In fact, I'm in the process of urging a 40-+-year-old to enter the ministry right now in my own church.

But schools comprised primarily of those who have no intention of entering the pastorate, avocational students, are no breeding ground for warrior-husband-lover-prophet pastors.

To the extent that we don't believe the ministry should be engaged in by red-blooded men, the trend is fine. Let academics teach women how to pastor. But to the extent that we view ministry as a calling for male leaders capable of leading authoritatively in the full vigor of manhood, we see how much of an obstacle to the training of such leaders seminary is by its focus on women and dilettantes.

So, fine with 40+ men who are called to expend their lives in the fields of Christ's Kindom. Peter may well have been such a man. So too Paul. But ichabod (assuming there was ever a chabod there to begin with) on institutions of pastoral training where femininity and dilettantism reign unchecked.

In Christ,

David Bayly

"So, Skeptic and (maybe) Jeff, if you both oppose this foundational doctrine of Scripture, that women are forbidden to exercise authority over men by the order of creation and the explicit command of the Holy Spirit here in 1Timothy, what authority have you turned to in exchange for the authority of Scripture?"

I cannot speak for either Skeptic or Jeff, but I cannot accept your premise here. Your premise is that those who disagree with you on this point do not accept the authority of scripture. This is a false premise. There are many faithful Christian men and women who have a high view of scripture, believe in its inerrancy, and after much prayer and study reach the opposite conclusion you do.

First, John Doe, as we've asked time and time again, please use your real first and last names. If I asked people to address me as "Truth" and it were my choice, and not my parents, it would be highhanded. So you'll understand that our good readers' use of "Skeptic" and "Light" is also not an appetizer for dialog. So again, would you please use your real names instead of being anonymous? I'd be grateful.

Second, maybe I'm missing something but what I wrote was that those who reject Scripture's command that women not exercise authority over men have rejected Scripture's, and therefore the Holy Spirit's, authority.

Are you saying that those who reject this direct command of Scripture, if they do it after much conscientious study and prayer, are not rejecting the authority of Scripture and it's Author?

Light is my given name.

I believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures. I do not believe your interpretation of this verse, however, is inerrant. And again, I do not accept your premise -- that this is a direct command which applies to all believers for all time. It is not. The verb tense in the original language "I am not now permitting" indicates an action that is not everlasting, but temporary. Context is important, which you have failed to take into account when applying this verse. I'm sure you have heard all the arguments on both sides of this issue, so a rehash of this is a waste of time.

I assume that you have humbly and prayerfully studied the scriptures, reached your conclusions, and strive to obey to the best of your understanding. So do I. Therefore, I would appreciate it if you would extend the respect and courtesy to those of us who also hold the same inerrant, high view of scripture but reach a different conclusion, and not resort to implying we are disobedient or rebellious.

Dear Ms. Morton, Thank you for identifying yourself. We appreciate all commenters doing so.

Turning to 1Timothy 2, the tense doesn't change the order of the sexes since the order of the sexes--women not exercising authority over men--is grounded in the order that God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall. This is not confusing, nor is it a matter of interpretation. Those who deny it deny the authority of God's Word and its Author, the Holy Spirit.

So again, here is the simple command of God--not Paul, but God:

***But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1Timothy 2:12-15)***

Light,

If somebody has told you that "I am not now permitting" is the correct reading of the Greek in I Timothy 2:12, that person is taking you for a ride. It is a simple present-tense verb: epitrep. The word "now" does not appear, nor is there any other grammatical hint to support the reading you are offering. The Bible says, "I do not permit."

See Ben Witherington's blog on blogspot from Feb 25 of this year. Bible translator Linda Belleville has also discussed this in her writings.

Dear Ms. Morton,

In the piece you referenced above, Dr. Witherington directly contradicts Scripture. He is not giving us another possible interpretation of God's Word, different from my own, but he is directly contradicting Scripture and seducing other souls to follow him in his rebellion. He is one of those whom the Apostle Paul warns us against when he said to the Ephesian elders, "...from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert..."

From that one post alone, a number of examples of his perverse things could be given, but I will limit myself to only one. Dr. Witherington writes about the text of 1Timothy 2:8-15 that, "nothing is said here about women being subordinate to men."

Wrong, and not even carefully wrong. In 1Timothy 2:8-15, the Apostle Paul explicitly states that women are not to exercise authority over men. What is the prohibition of exercising authority over men other than for women to be subordinated to men?

And if we had any question remaining, the reason the Apostle Paul gives for this prohibition immediately afterwards casts all doubt aside: "For it was Adam who was created first, and then Eve."

God subordinated Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall, and by this subordination God taught (and commanded) us that we are to observe this same subordination in the relationship of the sexes across history. It's timeless because it's in the order of creation.

Dr. Witherington is engaging in a sophisticated sleight of hand when he disagrees with the plain meaning of the Greek word 'authentein,' denying it's clear meaning, and then acts as if he's justified his rebellion in writing that "nothing is said here about women being subordinate to men." If the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul were not speaking about the subordination of woman to man, He would not have called in the account of the creation order as his basis for His command.

Dr. Witherington then goes on to make extraordinary claims that, across man's history, have never been heard before the past few years. His interpretations are so strained as to be laughable, were there not so many modernists following him in his error today, man of whom have academic credentials that are quite intimidating. And interestingly, Dr. Witherington knows that discerning readers of his destruction of the text will, by the time they get to the end of his words, be smelling a rat. They'll be suspicious.

So he ends his piece with these two short paragraphs:

***You will notice that all of this interpretation comes after the fact. You might never deduce some of this simply from reading the mere words in the passage above. Unless the text is studied in its historical literary, rhetorical, religious etc. contexts we are bound to distort its meaning and misuse it. A text without a context is just a pretext for whatever you want it to mean.***

***The only proper hedge against misuse of such controversial texts like this is careful detailed study of the text in its immediate context, in the context of the Pastorals (noting for example how elsewhere in these documents Paul talks about older women who are mature Christians doing some teaching), in the context of Paul's letters in general, and in the context of Ephesus and the social world to which these words were written.***

To those with spiritual discernment, this should say it all. The subtext (unstated, but present) message of these words is that only men with the proper training in Greek, hermeneutics, and exegesis who are steeped in ancient history are capable of reading this text in such a way as not to be misled by its plain meaning, seeing instead the real meaning behind the (wrong) plain meaning. And in this way, at the same time Dr. Witherington both further defends his own rebellion against God, and intimidates anyone who would question his rebellion saying they don't know enough to question him.

Such tactics are precisely what permeated the medieval Roman Catholic Church in their chaining their Bibles to their pulpits and telling men like Peter Waldo that they were not competent to read the Bible without having been trained first, by the church's scholars. And how did the Protestant reformers respond?

They denied that God's Word was only for scholars and those they initiated into the mysteries of understanding that word. Rather, they said that God's Word was intended to be read by the common folk, and that God had ordained for it to be written in such a way that those common folk would understand Scripture's truths, in the main, because Scripture was perspicuous--that is, able to be understood by the normal Joe in it's basic message and truths.

No common Joe would ever come up with Dr. Witherington's strained perversions. Not in a million years. And that's why across church history we look in vain for the church to hold to his perversions. Instead, we find boring unanimity that this text teaches the subordination of one sex to the other, woman to man, because Adam was created first, and then Eve.

Years ago, Dr. Wayne Grudem was asked in a class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where a dear friend of mine was present, "What does Paul men in 1Timothy 2:8-15?" Dr. Grudem answered, "You remember back when you first became a Christian and read that passage, what you thought it meant back then? That's what I think it means today."

Dr. Witherington can fault Dr. Grudem for being ignorant in his reading of the text, lacking knowledge of Greek or rules of hermeneutics and exegesis or familiarity with the history of the ancient world, but Dr. Grudem has his BA from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Cambridge. So it's not likely that Dr. Grudem is in error due to ignorance.

Then Dr. Witherington can claim that Dr. Grudem is willful in his error, being one more in a thousand year line of male chauvinist pigs who have inherited a culture of oppression against women, and not being able to escape that culture, read Scripture through their prejudices and twist that Scripture to suit those prejudices. To which I respond making the simple observation that the cultural conditioning argument cuts both ways. If Dr. Grudem can be called a male chauvinist pig, Dr. Witherington can be called a man who is in lockstep with our feminist academic culture, looking for ways to explain away the passages of Scripture that are revolting to those who have defied God's creation order and who defy that order in their lives and work.

But honest men who fear God will back off of the men themselves and look at the text. And doing that with a clear mind and prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead them, they will see that the text is absolutely clear and lodges its command in God's actions in the Garden of Eden, prior to the Fall, when He created Adam first and then Eve.

May God cause us to fear Him and to turn away from all those evil men who seek to destroy souls by leading them away from obedience to God in this most basic area of our lives--the relationship of authority and subordination of the two sexes, one to another.

A servant of the Word,

Tim Bayly

Tim,
We disagree.

I will add one thing, and then I will bow out of this discussion. I was a complementarian all my Christian life. Then I was asked to teach a Bible study and to use Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood for some of the study materials. It was in reading that book, with its poor scholarship, faulty exegesis, and bad logic that ripped the veil of falsehood from my eyes and showed me what the Bible really says. Oh, I put up a good fight - for about five years, if I recall, holding on to the position espoused by Grudem et al by my fingernails, practically til the tips of my fingers were bloody. I prayed, studied, prayed and studied some more. But finally, the veil of falsehood was stripped from before my eyes and the so-called "truths" of complementarianism crumpled before my eyes. I had every reason to believe and want to believe in it. But I no longer could. "The truth shall set you free," said Christ.

Living in freedom of biblical truth is a wonderful thing. I pray that you, too, will find it.

Peace, brother.

No, today anyone who leaves Scripture behind and becomes a feminist has EVERY reason to do so, inheriting as payment for your change the approval of the entire world. Feminism is man's wisdom, today, and man's wisdom is feminism. So it wasn't truth that came to you, but you were deceived and the veil of Satan's lies descended rendering you blind.

And so I call you to repent and turn, Ms. Morton. This is my loving exhortation. You and I don't disagree--that would be to personalize, and therefore trivialize, this matter. Rather, your argument is with the Living God.

There are two things that I have forever written on tablet of my heart:

1. Christ and the cross are foolishness to the wise of mankind (1 Corinthians 1:23). I pair this with the verse that says friendship with the world is enmity toward God and the verse that says they will persecute me because they persecuted Christ, and I find myself comforted with the truth I find in what Tim is saying.

But more importantly:

2. "Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" He said, "No; rather I indeed come now {as} captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" (Joshua 5:13-14).

We need to submit ourselves to the Words of Scripture. Dr. Witherington's words do not hold power when what he says contradicts the word of God (and he DOES contradict God when he denies the clarity of Scripture). He intends to add a great deal more than a jot or a tittle to the complete Word of God.

Insofar as he rejects the inerrancy AND sufficiency of Scriture, he is not humbling himself before God. Joshua humbled himself when he was shown the error of his man-centered reference. Joshua asked the captain of the LORD's hosts, Is God with the Israelites? The captain of the LORD's hosts said, Wrong question. Are the Israelites with God?

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