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Two Views On Women in Ministry

While Professor Schreiner articulates his position well, apart from Genesis 1-2, he avoids entirely women’s leadership in God’s community of the redeemed in the Old Testament. This seems to weaken the “whole Bible” argument and from this reviewer’s perspective, weakens the integrity of his case. His conclusion states, “The Bible speaks with one voice on whether women should fill the pastoral office, and it also seems to me that it forbids women from teaching and exercising authority over men” (p. 232). Yet his proofs are based solely on 2 chapters in Genesis and Paul’s epistles—not a “one voice” approach at all.

In what can only be a twist of irony, Ann L. Bowman—a woman—is chosen to instruct readers, many of whom are presumably men, the complementarian view. While this seems an obvious contradiction of the complementarian tenet that women should not teach men, she takes a decidedly unique approach to the subject. Bowman’s position leaves the theological and linguistic arguments—in fact, the whole leadership debate—to the other three essays and focuses instead on what it means to “minister” and how the Holy Spirit empowers individuals in ministry. After the other three essays, Bowman’s reads as a breath of fresh air and likely, really speaks to the book’s title—women in ministry (as opposed to leadership).

In the book’s conclusion, editors Beck and Blomberg write, “Neither position is an exact representation of New Testament practice, although each position argues that it is the best expression …” (p. 321). I concur. It is not likely that a reader’s opinion will be greatly influenced one way or the other. Rather, it is hoped that each side of the issue may better understand the other. In this at least, perhaps a civil and spiritually mature dialogue may thrive, exploring what continues to be a nexus issue in the days in which we—male and female—search to love God with all our heart, soul, and might.

Reviewed by Kevin M. Williams


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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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