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Taking it to Extremes

Someone has suggested that this whole issue of women being excluded from opportunities to preach and teach from behind a pulpit could be solved if we rid ourselves of non-biblical terminology in the life of the church. The proponent of this view suggests that the terms Pastor/Leader/Reverend are not biblical terms and the incidence of anyone standing behind a pulpit is nowhere to be found within the New Testament.  The term Reverend certainly falls into this category because there is no such reference or allusion to it within Scripture. In fact people who would lord it over others by the use of such titles and the abuse of such offices by the attaching to themselves of an expectation of unbridled allegiance is strongly disavowed by Jesus' own words concerning how power is demonstrated in the world and his expectation from his followers. I can readily see that when we place undue emphasis on a person's status within church life like, Canons, Archbishops, Reverend Doctors, Holy Fathers, Cardinals and Pontiffs we are treading on dangerous and non-biblical ground. In that respect I can understand and have a sympathetic ear to some people believing that we have embraced non-biblical terminology for our representative denominational leaders.

But words, or positions of leadership like Pastor, Teacher do appear in such passages as Ephesians 4:11-13 along with Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists. Such people are seen in NT Scripture as being gifts to the Church given by Christ Himself for its growth and maturity. The Apostle Paul spent an extended time in the church at Corinth and while there encouraged them to support those who lived by the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, even though he himself, along with Barnabas, chose to forego that privilege.There should not be any argument that these titles are evidenced and legitimised in modern day church and denominational structures. When it comes to from where that evangelising, prophesying or teaching takes place, be it a lectern, pulpit, radio, television, internet or literature medium one can't be expected tie the place to a biblical reference. For that reason I think that it is an extreme position and unwarranted generalisation to suggest  that the modern day church is non-biblical and that we should separate ourselves from this monstrosity.

The people who take this extreme position believe that it is wrong for women to strive to be leaders in the church of today and copy, what they see as, non-biblical roles like Pastor/Leader/Reverend. They believe that it is wrong for women to want to be 'behind a pulpit' because that is not a word that appears anywhere in Scripture. I can only imagine that people who hold to this position would also not believe in the necessity of designated church buildings because the early church met in homes. There is no question that church, as we know it, has the potential to be abused and corrupted. Church history provides an abundance of examples. But God, in line with his giving gifts to the church, has sent along prophets, revivalists and reformers to bring the church universal back into intimate fellowship with himself. No one church or denomination possesses all truth. That is a given. We need courageous leaders who will hear from God and refine the assembled church life of the congregations to which they belong. By the grace of God they, both men and women, may be used to revive denominations, or create new church movements to the praise and glory of God. It has happened in the past, it surely can happen again and again.

Rather than take the extreme position of damning and leaving the organised church we need to, if possible, work within the existing structures to bring about fresh, Spirit inspired life and growth. That is why we need women behind the pulpit. If women are not present in positions of influence and leadership we are using only half of the gifted people that Christ gives to his church, which is representative of his body on earth. 

Naturally I'm very interested in what others may think about these few thoughts. 


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