Overview of Two Views of Women in Ministry -- By: Todd L. Miles

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 06:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: Overview of Two Views of Women in Ministry
Author: Todd L. Miles


Overview of Two Views of Women in Ministry

Todd L. Miles

[Assistant Managing Editor, Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Louisville, Kentucky]

Two Views on Women in Ministry. Edited by James R. Beck and Craig L. Blomberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, 383 pp., $16.99.

Two Views of Women in Ministry, edited by James Beck and Craig Blomberg, features essays by egalitarian scholars Craig Keener and Linda Belleville and complementarian scholars Thomas Schreiner and Ann Bowman. The editors introduce the book with the conviction that while the evangelical church has not yet arrived at a clear-cut consensus, when the debate is conducted with integrity and a generous spirit, the church can only benefit. Beck and Blomberg offer reflections on both the egalitarian essays and complementarian essays, followed by some concluding thoughts. Blomberg also provides, as an appendix, an essay on gender roles in Paul, written for another volume.

The following presents a summary of the argumentation and positions that the contributors offer in this book. No critique is offered; rather summary statements within each section are meant to reflect the author’s own position and perspective.

Craig S. Keener (Egalitarian)

To Keener, the reason believers hold different views on the issue of women in ministry is because “different passages, taken by themselves, seem to point in different directions” (27). For example, different passages permit women’s ministry under “normal circumstances” while others prohibit it only under “exceptional circumstances” (29). He argues the one biblical passage that prohibits women from teaching “is addressed to the one church where we specifically know that false teachers were effectively targeting women” (29).

Keener then provides biblical examples of the ministries conducted by women, emphasizing the role of prophet and apostle. Keener structures his argument as follows: In the Old Testament, the most common form of ministry with respect to declaring God’s word was the prophetic ministry. Although the priestly office in the Old Testament did carry numerous restrictions, the prophetic office “depended on personal calling and on gifts” (31). By virtue of these gifts, he reasons, “[i]n the biblical period some women held an office more directly influential than offices now frequently denied them,” because a “prophetic commission connotes some sort of authority or authorization” (31–32). Deborah is cited as the leading example. Because of a prophet’s authority, the prophet is the closest equivalent to the New Testament apostle. Although one would not expect to find many female apostles ...

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