Women and the Word of God
This past week, the American Christian world has been in fierce debate over the words of Pastor John MacArthur towards Pastor Beth Moore. Pastor MacArthur said in a recorded public forum, that Pastor Beth Moore should “go home”, that she is fundamentally unfit to preach the word of God because she is a women. Many have risen up to defend Pastor Beth in the face of these comments. Many have defended Pastor John and his comments. Much ink has been spilled on both sides, and I’m not here to rehash those arguments. You can look them up if you would like.
What I want to do is bring clarity for any who would read this. Clarity in our denomination’s position, in my position, as well as a position to move forward as the church.
First, briefly, the ECC position. As from the ECC document Called and Gifted, (click here), “The Evangelical Covenant Church affirms women in all ministry and leadership positions within the church, both lay and clergy. We believe that the biblical basis for service in the body of Christ is giftedness, a call from God, and godly character—not gender.” The ECC has ordained and called women to the pulpit in its church around the world since 1976.
The ECC comes to this understanding from Scripture by looking at the full redemptive work of God in the Scriptures. Woman are continually called to lead, teach, correct, guide and instruct all people at all times. This is further expanded and charged with the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.
Again, from Called and Gifted “In Christ, we….are defined by being a new creation in Christ. As a result of becoming a new creation, a believer’s primary identity is his or her new life in Christ. Our old identities—those of gender, race, or social class—become secondary to our true identity in Christ. In our culture, like that of Jesus and Paul, maleness and femaleness matter. But our beliefs and practices ought not to be determined by earthly cultures, as our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The domination of one group by another group is one of the effects of sin that Jesus came to abolish.”
Furthermore, the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit in all believers gives us our direction in how we pursue understanding the gifts of those among us. One last time, from Called and Gifted, “As a result of this unbiased indwelling of the Holy Spirit, women were involved in all ministry positions and activities, including apostle (Romans 16:7); prophetic speaking (Acts 1:14; 2:15-18; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 10); serving as ministers, leaders, elders, or governors (Romans 16:1); coworkers (Philippians 4:2-3; Romans 16:3-5; Acts 18:2, 18-19); and gifted teachers who instructed men (Acts 18:24-26).”
Messiah Church has greatly benefited over her history, from a list of Godly women who have been called to faithfully preach and teach the Word of God. As just one example, our sister Carol Schenk (who will be with us this Sunday) was commissioned by former Pastor Dick Bieber to go to the Cass Corridor to preach and the teach the word of God and lead both men and women to knowledge of the saving work of Jesus Christ. She is just one of a list of many women from Messiah (many who have come and gone, many who worship here still today!) who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, given the spiritual gift of preaching and teaching, and are called by God to preach the gospel to all nations.
Women have preached and taught the Word of God to my children and have told them that they are called to preach that word into the world. Women have faithfully preached to me, on Sunday mornings, correctly and precisely exegeting the word of God for my own edification. Women should continue to be encouraged, exhorted, and called to faithfully preach the word of God to all creation, with the full unwavering support of the local church (especially financially!), as they pursue education and further study to teach the Word.
I am grieved by the words of Pastor John MacArthur, as many others have been. I believe he is in the wrong, that woman are fully called to preach and teach the word of God by the same Holy Spirit that lives in men and women. I believe this from thorough work in the same Scriptures the he claims to uphold.
My 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter were playing Minecraft one Sunday after church. They had created a world together that included a church (pastor’s kids!). My daughter reminded my son, that it was Sunday and they needed to go to church. My son walked in and sat in the pew. My daughter walked up to the pulpit, and began preaching the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ to all the creation of Minecraft.
I would be proud to attend my daughter’s church one day.
Pastor Ara Koliantz