Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Women and Elders/Bishops/Pastors

In a discussion about complementarianism – the position that men and women are equal but different and that God has assigned different roles to men and women – and the ordination of women, Bart Barber posted the following well-made comments:
...the larger and underlying problem is the erosion of the biblical office of pastor/elder/overseer that becomes so evident when we consider the practices of many of our churches on topics like this one.
1. When precisely the same roles are entitled “Pastor” in some cases and with other terminology (“Director” or “Minister”) in others, not because of any actual difference in the role, but simply because one occupant is ordained while another is not, we’re missing something.
2. When we write qualifications and job description documents for offices like “Pastor,” for which qualifications and at least some concept of a job description are given in the Bible, and yet in those documents little or no mention is made of the relevant biblical materials (as though we are authorized to redefine what God has defined in scripture), we’re missing something.
3. When we make the key differentiation in theological discussions to be the question of whether one serves in a role (“Senior Pastor”) which, if it appears at all in the New Testament, certainly does not come with its own set of biblical qualifications and responsibilities, we’re missing something.
Bart finished by saying that he was not opposed to having all sorts of other people working at church (a point where we might differ slightly) and concluding: “Have all that you pragmatically require IN ADDITION TO the biblical offices of pastor and deacon, and I’ve got no problem with it. I simply don’t want us to do so at the cost of either (a) weakening the office of pastor/elder/overseer by applying it to a whole host of people who really do not serve in that biblical role, or (b) losing sight of the office of pastor/elder/overseer by failing to set apart specifically as pastors those who serve in that role.”

* Bart is pastor of First Baptist Church, Farmersville, Texas

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