A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself. AW Tozer
On my recent vacation, my husband forgot his Kindle and confiscated mine to read Killing Lincoln. I did not mind since I had brought along a few books to read, just in case. True book lovers will understand what I mean by "just in case." I love reading on my Kindle. However, because I am a book fiend, I still have books that have not been read, which are strewn all over my house. I am working my way through them.
One of them was a Christian fantasy called The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock link. I am, and always will be, a devoted science fiction and fantasy fan. I expect to be an old and confused lady living in a protective Alzheimer's Unit muttering about CJ Mahaney and demanding that they play reruns of Stargate Atlantis.
The protagonist of the book is a young man, Abramm, who was born to be a king in his world. But, he gave it all up to devote himself to pursuing a vocation as a religious leader. He entered a religious order and spent eight difficult years during which he was devoted to learning how to become worthy enough to touch and tend the Sacred Flames of Eidon, around which the faith of that world revolved. He expected, due to his very real sacrifice and devotion, to be blessed by the Flames in this endeavor. But, he learned that the Flames, and those devoted to them, were evil. He had to confront the fact that his sacrifice to the rules was for naught. He faced terrible trials, betrayed by the religious order and sold into slavery by his royal family. In the midst of his suffering, he begins to find the truth.
While reading the book, I stopped many times, contemplating the many times we have discussed legalism on this blog. It seems to me that we are far too willing to short sell grace in order to obtain a set of rules that will "prove" our devotion. Just like Abramm, we like regulations so that we can check off all that we have done in order to substantiate that we are really Christians.
There are some who would claim that, in the absence of rules, we would become "out of control." I would contend that those who understand grace are the ones truly understand their inability to be perfect and who pursue a life of consistent gratitude for the One who provided the Way.
I also have a theory that there are many, who, due to the doctrine of election, fear that they might not be one of the chosen. So, they are driven to "prove" their salvation by showing how closely they adhere to the rules set forth by others who they believe hold the key to salvation. These rules and mandates must be correct since such men are obviously saved because they preach election and are admired by truly great men who must also be elect. So, if these men say that people must do (fill in the blank), they do it, hoping it means they are one of the elect. The faith becomes a set of dos and don'ts.
Wayne Grudem is one of these obviously elect leaders. He has been focused on defining the rules for women which he believes falls under the banner of complementarianism. Complementarians have done poor job in defining what this looks like in marriage. In fact, the more we post on this matter, the more complementrianism looks like egalitarianism except for the name.
I think that men like Grudem realize this and have focused their efforts on "rules" for women in the church. The local church is increasingly becoming the center for Calvinistas to carry forth their agenda. We are told that the local church holds the keys to authority and can define who is, and who is not, saved. Al Mohler has gone so far to say that an individual cannot leave her/his local church unless they obtain permission from the pastors. The only reason to leave is serious theological problems. Wanna bet that, if I have trouble with the following Calvinista theology, Al would not give me permission to leave? (To which I say-watch my dust-but I digress).
I first learned of Grudem's rules for women from a great blog by Australian Marg Mowczko called newlife link. Here is how she addressed the matter.
In an article entitled “But What Should Women Do in the Church?” (his emphasis in italics), Grudem has gone to the trouble of painstakingly listing 83 church ministries in – according to him – decreasing order of the “authority” and “influence” needed to minister and participate in these ministries. He has categorized these 83 ministries into three lists.
- List 1 includes ministries that involve “governing authority”;
- List 2 includes ministries that involve Bible teaching;
- List 3 includes ministries that involve public visibility and recognition.
According to Mowczko, this was first published in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Volume 1 No.2 (Fall 1995) and was published on the CBMW (Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) website which continues to be down after 8 months. (TWW thinks they are scrubbing the site of all sorts of references to women as gullible and easily deceived, getting rid of some Driscoll material and eliminating all references to the tie in of complementarianism and housekeeping, in spite of the presence of Dorothy Patterson. Time will tell!)
Thankfully, the entire article is still available at this link. Grudem starts off with an amusing warning which rings hollow as I read his interminable lists. He states:
These lists do not rank importance to the church!
He claims that these lists are incomplete! I am most grateful that he ran out of time or we might have had a book as thick as his Systematic Theology link with which to contend.Good night! As an amusing side note, Dee taught this entire tome, along with my husband and another dear friend, to a mixed Sunday school class. I taught the section on women and commented that Grudem would not be pleased that I was doing so. Of course, I did add my own 2 cents which was hardly necessary since I was obviously disobeying rules!
The following are the c descriptions of church functions under each list. I cannot list all of them. You may find the comprehensive list at this link. The numbers beside each item are Grudem's numbers. Number 1 has the most authority and the responsibility declines as the list goes on.
List 1 -Governing Authority
- 1. President of a denomination
- 5. Senior pastor in local church
- 6. Member of governing board with authority over whole church (for example, elder in many churches, deacon or board member or church council member in others)
- 7. Presiding over a baptism or communion service (but see List 3 for serving communion or performing a baptism)
- 8. Giving spoken judgment on a prophecy given to the congregation (I think this is what Paul forbids in 1 Cor. 14:33-36)
- 9. Permanent leader of a fellowship group meeting in a home (both men and women members)
- 10. Committee chairman (or "chairperson") (explanation: this item and the following two have some kind of authority in the church, but it is less than the authority over the whole congregation which Paul has in mind in 1 Cor. 14:33-36, 1 Tim. 2:12, 1 Tim. 3, and Titus 1)
- 11. Director of Christian Education
- 14. Moderating a Bible discussion in a home Bible study group
- 16. Leading singing on Sunday morning (note: this could be listed between 8 and 9 above, depending on how a church understands the degree of authority over the assembled congregation that is involved)
- 17. Deacon (in churches where this does not involve governing authority over the entire congregation)
- 22. Meeting periodically with church governing board to give counsel and advice
- 23. Regular conversations between elders and their wives over matters coming before the elder board (with understanding that confidentiality is preserved)
- 24. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling one man)
- 25. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling a couple together)
- 26. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling another woman)
Grudem speaks to this list.
My own personal judgment in this matter is that in the area of governing authority I would draw the line between numbers 9 and 10; that is, I would approve of a woman as Director of Christian Education or Superintendent of the Sunday School, or as a committee chairman within the church. These activities do not seem to me to carry the sort of authority over the whole congregation that Paul has in view in 1 Timothy 2, or when he specifies that elders should be men (in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1).
I am startled to note that:
- There is more responsibility involved in counseling a man (24) than in counseling a woman (26).
- It appears that overseeing Christian Education (11) for the church is at a lower rank than leading a home group (9).
- Leading singing (16) has more responsibility than counseling a woman (26).
Why? Can anyone tell this easily deceived woman why?
List 2 -Bible teaching ministries
- 1. Teaching Bible or theology in a theological seminary
- 5. Preaching (teaching the Bible) regularly to the whole church on Sunday mornings
- 6. Occasional preaching (teaching the Bible) to the whole church on Sunday mornings
- 7. Occasional Bible teaching at less formal meetings of the whole church (such as Sunday evening or at a mid-week service)
- 8. Bible teaching to an adult Sunday school class (both men and women members)
- 9. Bible teaching at a home Bible study (both men and women members)
- 10. Bible teaching to a college age Sunday school class
- 14. Writing a commentary on a book of the Bible
- 16. Writing or editing a study Bible intended primarily for women
- 17. Bible teaching to a women's Sunday school class
- 19. Bible teaching to a junior high Sunday school class
- 22. Working as an evangelistic missionary in other cultures
- 23. Moderating a discussion in a small group Bible study (men and women members)
- 24. Reading Scripture aloud on Sunday morning
- 35. Singing hymns with the congregation (in this activity, sometimes we "teach" and exhort one another in some sense: Col. 3:16)
Here is where Grudem draws his line.
With regard to areas of Bible teaching, I would personally draw the line between points 10 and 11. Once again, I think there is a strong similarity between a home Bible study which is taught by a woman (item 9) and the local church meeting in a home in the ancient world. Therefore I do not think it would be appropriate for a woman to be the regular instructor in a home Bible study.
He also restricts the age at which a woman can no longer teach a young man.
In our own culture, if children graduate from high school, move away from home, and begin to support themselves, then surely they are no longer under the instruction of their mothers at home, but are functioning as adults on their own. A new household has been formed. In that case, the young men are certainly adult men, and it would not be appropriate for a woman to teach a class with them as members.
Many college students are already living away from home, supporting themselves at least in part, and functioning in our society in all other ways as independent adults. In fact, most college students would be insulted if you called them "children"! For these reasons, it seems to me that a college age Sunday School class (item 10) should have a male teacher.
I find these rankings unbelievably insulting to women and missionaries.
- Writing a commentary on a book of the Bible for men and woman (14) is a greater responsibility than writing a study Bible for women alone (16).
- Bible teaching to college students (10) ranks higher than Bible teaching to women (17)!
- Working as a missionary in another culture (22) ranks far lower than teaching a home Bible study (9) or teaching a junior high school class (19). Yeah, tell that to the martyrs!
Once again I say, why?!! Can anyone tell me why? Can someone show me where this is in the Bible?
List 3 -Public Visibility and Public Recognition
- 1. Ordination as pastor (member of the clergy) in a denomination
- 2. Being licensed to perform some ministerial functions within a denomination
- 3. Paid member of pastoral staff (such as youth worker, music director, counselor, Christian Education director)
- 4. Paid member of administrative church staff (church secretary or treasurer, for example)
- 5. Performing a baptism (in churches where this is not exclusively the role of clergy or elders)
- 7. Giving announcements at the Sunday morning service
- 8. Taking the offering
- 9. Public reading of Scripture
- 10. Public prayer
- 11. Prophesying in public (according to 1 Cor. 11:5 and 14:29, where this is not understood as having authority equal to scripture or Bible teaching)
- 13. Giving a personal testimony in church
Grudem than attempts to show he is a man of good will, after all.
I personally would also draw the line between items 1 and 2. I do not think that women should be ordained as pastors, but I think it is entirely appropriate for them to have other full-time positions on the "pastoral staff " of the church (such as youth worker, music director).
However, I find this list quite odd and wonder why he felt compelled make it.
- Giving announcements ("We need help making the coffee) comes in at (7) while giving a testimony is (13)
- Public prayer ranks (10) but collecting the offering is (8).
- Prophesying in public is (11) but being the church secretary is (3).
Finally, this list was made back in the mid 1990s. Recently, both Tim Challies and John Piper, both good buddies of Grudem, have said that women should not read the Scriptures out loud in church nor should they pray behind at the pulpit. I do not know if Wayne Grudem has changed his views on these two matters. One thing I do believe is that Grudem has not become more open to the role of women within the church since compiling this list.
This brings me back to the topic of legalism. I think these lists remind me of a whole bunch of people in the New Testament who thought it was their duty to define, in depth, how to live out the faith. In doing so, they added burdens to God's people. They were called Pharisees and Jesus called them "snakes." He did not take kindly to them making the faith about a bunch of rules and, instead, emphasized love. Could it be that these complementarians are modeling themselves after the rule makers instead of the One who took us to the Cross to give us the gift of grace?
Let me ask our readers a question. When you look at this list, do the words "grace," "love" or "freedom" immediately jump to mind. Or do you feel weighed down, discouraged or weary? I look forward to your responses!
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 19:1-20:29 Luke 1:1-25 Psalm 56:1-13 Proverbs 11:8