Setting The Record Straight—A Response To J. I. Packer’s Position On Women’s Ordination -- By: Grace Ying May

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:1 (Winter 1997)
Article: Setting The Record Straight—A Response To J. I. Packer’s Position On Women’s Ordination
Author: Grace Ying May


Setting The Record Straight—A Response To J. I. Packer’s Position On Women’s Ordination

Grace Ying May

Hyunhye Pokrifka Joe

Grace Ying May (Yale University, BA) and Hyunhye Pokrifka Joe (University of Denver, BA) first met at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where they both received M.Divs. Currently Grace is pursuing a Ph.D. at Boston University School of Theology with a Major in Theology and a Minor in Missiology Grace also serves as clergy intern on the pastoral staff of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, and is a candidate for ordination in PCUSA. Hyunhye is pursuing her ST.M. at Yale Divinity School with a concentration in Old Testament. She serves New Haven Korean Church as Sunday School director and, with her husband, as co-pastor of college students.

Introduction: A Summary Of The Argument

On February 11, 1991, Christianity Today carried an article by J. I. Packer titled “Let’s Stop Making Women Presbyters.” In it Packer asserted that Protestants are abandoning the position traditionally held by Roman Catholics, Orthodox and evangelicals with respect to the ordination of women. Packer attributed the growing trend to five factors:

1. Feminism has infiltrated the church. According to Packer, “feminist ideology demands equal rights everywhere, on the grounds that anything a man can do a woman can do as well if not better.”1

2. The socialization of women since World War I has permitted them to enter spheres previously open only to men.2

3. The New Testament passages on women speaking in church (1 Cor 14:34-35) and teaching men (1 Tim 2:11-14) have proved “problematic” both in their interpretation and application.3

4. God apparently has blessed ministries led by women.

5. Ordination with its incumbent status and privileges has provided a certain degree of “job-satisfaction” to females in professional ministry roles.4

Packer concludes his introduction by claiming that if his analysis is correct, then “the present-day pressure to make women presbyters owes more to secular, pragmatic, and social factors than to any regard for biblical authority.”5

In considering Packer’s article, we at last feel compelled to respond because his specific arguments continue to be so widely cited. We hear the objections that he rai...

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