Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Women, Ministry, and the New Covenant

I originally wrote the following to only two people in my life who were willing to listen last month.  I was pretty much banned by my elders to write anything of substance on my Facebook notes page so now I am back to writing things that matter to me on this anonymous blog!  I truly believe that women are being underutilized when it comes to spreading the gospel.  My aim to show my reasons for believing that women should be taken more seriously by church leadership, and at the very least encouraged to give more of themselves to the task of world missions in some form or another.
"Originally I was going to write an in depth note outlining what I believe concerning the ministry of women in the new covenant age, but I do not think it would be a productive use of my time. However, I will share a few of my beliefs without adding a large of amount of detail. The main principle governing my beliefs concerning the role of women in ministry is that we are living in the new covenant age. I do not believe that women can be pastors, but I believe that women can be called and enabled to do ministry that specifically relates to the sharing of the gospel. It is my understanding that the reformed divide "ministry" in to two categories: general and special. All Christians are called to general ministry which includes any good works done for the glory of God. The other category is "special" ministry, which refers to the ministry of a teaching elder. The ministry of a teaching elder means that one has been called to "gospel ministry". This calling consists of an inner call and an external call. It is my understanding that the inner call involves God working in a man's heart to give him the desire to "preach the gospel" and the external call is the Church's recognition of that calling. So how does this relate to ministry of women in the new covenant age?
First, I believe that one of the many blessings of the new covenant age is that there is a fuller enjoyment of the Holy Spirit's ministry than that enjoyed by saints in general under the old covenant when it comes to rendering spiritual service to God. For example, all Christians in the new covenant age have spiritual gifts whereas only a few saints prior had spiritual gifts. Only a few were prophets, others divinely enabled craftsman, Solomon had exceptional wisdom, etc. This fuller expression of service that Christians enjoy in the new covenant was anticipated by Joel and other prophets (see Joel 2:28-29). Under the new covenant saints enjoy the fullness of revelation because Christ, who is the Word, has come. The diverse spiritual gifts attest to the Lord Jesus' supreme role of being the one by whom God spoke the final word (Heb 2:3-4). I affirm along with the reformed community that the office of apostle and prophet are non-extant and that the gospel must go out to all nations, but it seems that I differ in that I still affirm that women can be called and enabled to share the gospel. This has to do with what I believe the purpose of prophecy is, that is to testify of Christ (Rev 19:11). Some women in the old covenant were enabled to be prophetesses but considering the clear doctrines concerning the roles of men and women, I believe that the way in which they served was different than the way that male prophets did. So although I believe that women cannot be pastors, I still believe that it is possible for women to be called to spread the gospel. Considering the fullness of the new covenant age when it comes to the knowledge of Christ and the saints service to Him it is hard to reconcile that with the idea that women are no longer called to ministry that specifically relates to spreading the gospel of Christ. There are other differences that I have when it comes to ministry and spiritual gifts, but this is the difference in a nutshell."
I am a PCA deacon's wife and this is what I believe.  I believe I have such a calling but am well aware that the church believes that my calling is not valid.  But I cannot help but think about what happened immediately after God called me to "Preach the Lord to everyone", the enemy immediately began to persecute me heavily attempting to get me to doubt my calling.  And the enemy has never left me alone but changed strategies to get me to doubt the calling.  The fight has never been more difficult than it is now when it seems entirely plausible (humanly speaking) that I may never fulfill the call of God due to the Church's low view of women when it comes to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.


Anonymous said...

Be encouraged. You are still serving the LORD effectively as a deacon's wife. Your wisdom and knowledge are also gifts from God (1 Cor 12) for the edification of the church.

Reformed Church

Wesley Allen said...

Has the leadership in your church told you you can't spread the Gospel to others because you are a woman? You can't be a pastor (elder), as God has reserved that position of the church for men, but certainly you can be a layman who loves to evangelize! You shouldn't be preaching for a congregation or administering the sacraments, but please DO tell others about Christ. I'd be interested to know which part of scripture, the WCF, the shorter or larger catechism, or the PCA BCO your leadership is using to tell you you shouldn't be spreading the Gospel. Very bizarre.

Anonymous said...

GOD has not reserved elders just for men! If you are called to ministry then you are called to ministry, and do not listen to those who try and to make sure that in Christ there is male and female. Mary Magdalene proclaimed the resurrection to men, and there were female elders in the early church.

Loye Young said...

Preaching is a service to which lay persons of both genders can be called. The sacraments are indeed

My fiance and I are lay members of the worldwide Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in the Roman Catholic Church. The Third Order of Preachers has been in existence for about 800 years and has always included both men and women. The Catholic Church, as you know, is very clear in its teaching that only men can be priests and deacons, but has always recognized that women are also called to preach. The only exception is that only the clergy can preach the homily. So out of the 168 hours of the week, only one (1) is reserved to the ordained.

I do not doubt, my sister, that you are called to preach the Gospel. Bringing the lost to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is not limited to the clergy.

Go do it!

Committed Christian said...

Thank you all for your contributions. It has been a difficult time for me lately. My elders were more offended that I somehow challenged their authority simply for having different convictions than seeing that I was only making the point that we should do more to enable members to whatever gifts they have. I saw that women were getting the impression that we cannot do much and that the Bible teaches that women are more valuable for the kingdom than we give them credit for.