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Two Views On Women in Ministry

 

James Beck and Craig Blomberg, eds., Two Views On Women in Ministry (Zondervan, 2001), 383 pages.

In the first century the apostles had to struggle with the Gentiles. Can they be accepted as equals in the faith? Can they be raised to positions of deacons, overseers, and elders? Can a Gentile actually be ordained to lead a congregation?

Before Christ, these questions would have been considered absurd and not given a second thought. Yet through the blood of the Lamb, the absurd was becoming commonplace.

Now we find ourselves in an era that has its own questions and challenges. What about women in ministry? Zondervan Publishing House has taken on the task of examining that question in Two Views On Women in Ministry by editors James Beck and Craig Blomberg.

To the book’s great credit, efforts have been made to avoid vocabulary that inflames many such debates and belittles other brothers and sisters of the faith. As a result, even though the reader may not agree on every point (after all, the book presents two views), when “cooler heads prevail” it is far easier to hear and consider both sides of the issue.

The 2005 Revised Edition.

Another appreciable quality to Two Views On Women in Ministry is a general avoidance to compare modern secular feminism to any claim the Bible does or does not make regarding women in ministry. This keeps the reader engaged in God’s Word and its culture, rather than allowing the subject matter to be influenced by contemporary societal forces.

The debate is not always centered specifically on Paul’s epistles, but—on the whole—takes a “complete Bible” approach, allowing the reader to reach his or her conclusions on a much wider field of vision and biblical scholarship.

Each of the four units, two on egalitarianism and two on complementarianism, conclude with poignant questions from the book’s editors—giving readers a more intimate glimpse into each writer’s position.

Craig S. Keener aptly espouses various doctrinal issues from an egalitarian position—with a fair amount of time spent in the Old Testament. At the very least, he poses questions the complementarian side does not answer in this book. Linda L. Belleville tackles the tedious topics of Greek translation, likewise challenging some of the more traditional arguments of women in leadership. If you’re not up on your Greek, this section may prove trying, but is worth the investment. Both professors were amply published in the 1990s, but Two Views presents materials and scholarship new for this century.

On the complementarian side (also known as traditional or hierarchic) we have authors Thomas R. Schreiner and Ann L. Bowman.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2002

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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