I bowed my head in prayer before responding to the Oct. 12 column entitled “A faith in perpetual transition” by George B. Reed, Jr. pertaining to the Baptist faith.
I am not a Baptist, but I am a Christian. I do not know Mr. Reed, but from his article and self-identification, he seems to be an honorable man, yet biblically unsound.
In his not so subtle swipe at the Baptists for their lack of 21st century sophistication in regards to the feminine gender’s “place” in the church, Mr. Reed did not give a single biblical reference to support his hypothesis. I am not so much concerned with what Mr. Reed or the Baptist denomination has to say, but I am eternally concerned with what the “perpetual” word of God has to say about women’s role (not “place”) in God’s church or any other subject.
Mr. Reed, the word of God lives and abides “forever” (I Peter 1:23). It abides in its historical form (Jude 3). It does not need to be “updated” to accommodate anyone’s 21st century philosophical rationale (Galatians 1:6-10). Look at this nation’s founding document if you want to see the results of revision and post-modern thinking on the covenant all Americans had with our founding fathers. I notice you are twice-retired. Are your retirement contracts subject to a literal interpretation, or should they be subject to outside pressures or social whims?
You speak of smorgasbord Christians who pick and choose what scripture they will obey and what they will not. It is true the only scripture we truly believe is the scripture we obey, and sadly I see a lot of unbelief in most American churches today.
However, your “critical” review of the apostle Paul reveals more about your thinking than it does about the Apostle Paul’s life. You say Paul “uncritically accepted the thinking and traditions of his day.” Are you accepting the thinking and traditions of our day (II Timothy 4:3,4)? The apostle Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:1). Born out of due time, (I Corinthians 15:8-10) what he wrote pertaining to women or any other subject was by the inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16). Have you read Acts 9 lately?
Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul elevated women to a position of equality in the home, in society, in marriage and in the church (Ephesians 5, Galatians 3:26-28). However, being one in Christ does not negate our gender or God-ordained gender roles (I Corinthians 11:1-16). God, the Holy Spirit at I Timothy 2:12 records through the apostle Paul that a woman in the church is not to have teaching authority over a man. Five verses later, the Holy Spirit reveals “God’s” (not man’s) definition of a bishop. I Timothy 3:1 “If a “man” desires the position of a bishop, he must be blameless and the “husband” of one wife. Man and husband are the same word in the Greek i.e., Aner, a man, with reference to sex and so to distinguish a man from a woman (Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon pg. 45). A “bishop” is (Thayer’s, pg. 243) “a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly.” He is the superintendent, head or overseer of any Christian church. Is that the uncritical thinking and tradition of a 1st century unmarried, celibate, biased apostle, or is it the inspired word of God? You decide.
In the only scripture that Mr. Reed cited, (I Corinthians 14:34, 35) the apostle Paul, by inspiration, is regulating church conduct for peace (vs. 23), edification (vs. 26) and order (vs. 40). It in no way renders women inferior to men. Each have God-ordained roles. To keep silent (v. 34) is not a blanket silence. Male and female are commanded to “sing and make melody in their hearts unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19. In the assembly at Corinth, there were times when the men were to “keep silent” (cf vs. 28, 30). To accuse an inspired apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ of spiritual misogyny is to indict the One who inspired him to write (I Corinthians 14:34, 35).
Friends, we all should be students of God’s word. None of us are masters. We are all ignorant, just in different areas. It should be obvious to all that “we” are getting further and further away from the inspired word of God.
Thank you Mr. Reed for your thought provoking article. Thank you Messenger for this forum. To God be the glory in the church (Ephesians 3:21).
Larry Gordy, Flintstone