Sunday, 25 January 2009

Flourish - women's ministry conference

It has been very quite on the PTC blog since we've been busy finishing up the the year and then been on leave. In fact I'm embarrassed to see that the last post was almost 2 months ago!

As the new academic year starts comes closer I hope we will get a bit more active.

I'd like to point you to the website for Flourish, a national conference on women's ministry for the Presbyterian Church of Australia. I am on the committee and I think it will be a great conference. Too often in the last 20 years women's ministry has been a topic of controversy in the PCA. We hope this conference will encourage women to be active in their lives to serve the Lord, and help churches find ways of helping women flourish.

There is also a facebook group.


Dave said...

Thanks for the info about Flourish John, I noticed that you are the convener (or were) of the committee, and so I was wondering if you could help me with a query I have about the Biblical basis provided at the Flourish website.

There are several passages given for the headship of men in marriage and in the church. As I read them I noted that a couple point towards headship in marriage (though this would be debated by some), the Ephesians passage would appear to be talking about mutual submission (if there is any headship it would appear to be Christ), and the Timothy passage comments on a woman not teaching or having authority over a man (but not about a man having authority over a woman, an issue on which it makes no comment).

It just seems to me that if people have a quick glance at the site, then they might well think our Biblical basis is not very Biblical. I noted that there were similar issues with some of the other points and the references given. Just thought I'd draw to your attention what might be the perspective of a visitor to the site!

John McClean said...

Thanks for the comments Dave. Sorry it took me so long to post them and then reply. I've been slow getting to the blog at the start of the year.

The goal of the statement is not to prove our case, but just to set out where we are coming from. The area of women's ministry can be painfully controversial (painful for the women involved) in the PC Australia as much as anywhere else. This conference is clearly working from what is usually called a "complementarian" view and we want our presenters to be OK with that and people attending to know it.The texts we refer to would be commonly used in supporting that position and we would refer to a whole range of books and articles that do that.

The conference is not about what women can't do! Our committee is quite open to a range of ways in which complementarianism could work out in a church. We just don't think that the conference will be helped if it becomes mainly an ideological debate.

We'd say that the family texts are relevant because of the connection between family and church. I don't think Ephesians 5:21 does refer to "mutual submission".

On the Timothy passage the logic would be that there are people in the church who have authority and Paul is excluding women from that office. Our position is certainly not that all men have authority over all women.

Hope that helps clarify our statement.

Dave said...

Thanks for the reply John...I had nearly given up waiting – I had only a little faith!

I understand that the area of women’s ministry can be very painful. That is one of the reasons why I decided to ask the questions I asked. The complementarian view (a word my spell checker does not even recognise!) runs the risk of appearing patronising to women. In the light of this I thought it would be prudent to draw your attention to what appear to be short comings in what is claimed to be the Biblical basis for the conference.

Thanks for your brief explanation of the texts. I had only briefly outlined my concerns, and you only briefly responded to them. So I was wondering, is there room on the PTC Blog to have a forum where we have a discussion on these issues? I know there are many people who really are struggling to know and understand the issues involved. While I was at the PTC I felt I was given only one perspective and would have appreciated a forum where we could openly examine both perspectives. Perhaps a series of posts? Each one dealing with a specific ‘problem’ passage? Just to kick off discussion?


Carmelina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carmelina said...

Hi Dave,

that's exactly what the next 2 lectures for Ministry Training For Women (see PTC blog 24 Feb) are on! Shame you can't come! :)
But I can recommend a book for you to read. I am hoping to do a blog on the book once my lectures are written (!). It's called God's Design For Women by Sharon James. The book is written from the complementarian point of view but she does also give the egalitarian view points in extended appendices. It's not a detailed book about the 'problem passages' but a very good introduction to the topic. The best thing about the book is the way she is so positive and affirming about women's ministry - encouraging women in all the ways they can minister within a Biblical framework.
I hope you don't mind if I end this post with a personal comment. When I was at uni, I bought into feminism big time! I reacted against the authoritarian, oppressive regime of the Italian men in my family and then I reacted against injustices against women in Christian circles. The problem was that I then read the Bible through that filter. Anything that didn't give men and women exactly the same roles and opportunities was either a misreading of Scripture or else it was oppressive and I had to find a way out of it. It wasn't until a very patient and kind man (Dr Don Carson) encouraged me to work from the premise that God loves women, he made them and he would never want to harm them, that I thought I should read the Scriptures as they are and if they are saying something that I find hard to stomach, then I need to ask God to help me to see it his way. As I did this, I went from finding the 'problem passages' patronising to where I am today - considering God's wisdom of male headship in marriage and in the church a gift from God for women (and men) and delighting in the different roles God has given men and women in the home and the church.
Hope this helps.

Dave said...

Thanks Carmelina! So, did you guys want to do the forum?