Beck, James R., ed. Two Views on Women in Ministry
Revised 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.
Systematic Theology II
THEO 530-B07 Fall 2012
Professor Keith Church
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
September 23, 2012
This book looks at the ever present controversial topic of women in ministry. Since the 1990’s and what has been called the “third wave of feminism,”1 men and women have been advocating gender equality in society.2 The theological implications of this have resulted with the question of whether or not limits should be placed on the leadership roles of women in the church. There are two primary views concerning this topic. First, there is the complementarian or traditionalist view which limits the role of women in leadership positions in the church. Second, there is the egalitarian view, characterized by a belief in the equality of all people, which believes that no limits should be placed on the role of women in leadership in the church. The title of this book is a misnomer; the main issue is not women in ministry, but women in leadership positions in the church hierarchy. There does not appear to be a middle ground in this on-going controversial subject, as shown by the four essays and the critical responses to them in this book. Book Summary
James R. Beck brought together four New Testament evangelical scholars, each holding seminary faculty positions to write an essay concerning the topic of women in ministry. Two of the scholars were self-confessed egalitarians and the other two were self-confessed complementarians, all of which were defending their point of view on this topic. All agreed to “build a credible case within the bounds of orthodoxy and a commitment to inerrancy”3 before writing their essays. Each contributor was able to build a powerful case for their perspective only to be taken apart by their fellow scholars in the critical responses following.
There are five main biblical texts that each contributor looked at, some briefly and others thoroughly, which are considered to be the basis for this ongoing dispute. They were Genesis 1-3; Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:33-38; and 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Using various other biblical texts, the ministry of women leaders in the Old Testament, mostly that of prophet, was analyzed along with the roles of women mentioned in the New Testament, especially the ones mentioned by the Apostle Paul. One point of contention seemed to be the definitions of the terms used to describe these roles.
Each contributor applied their own personal style of analysis to defend their perspective on the subject of women in leadership positions in the church. The five basic steps of hermeneutical principles, according to Henry Virkler’s book A Christian’s Guide to Critical Thinking4, were used in creating their defense. Even when using the lexical-syntactical analysis of the same biblical scriptures, the contributors interpreted the information in a way to support their perspective on their essays. Virkler warned that “There is a very real danger of conforming the biblical message to our cultural mold,”5 and this can be found in each essay. The responses of each contributor in their critiques of the essays followed along the lines of their essay, even at times not totally agreeing with the contributor of their own perspective. An Egalitarian Perspective
Linda L. Belleville and Craig S. Keener are the contributors of this book that present the egalitarian perspective on women in leadership positions in the church today. Each one took a different approach in coming to the same conclusion – that women should not be limited in their role of leadership in church. Linda L. Bellevue
Bellevue begins her essay by establishing the basic male-female relationship described in Genesis 1-3. Looking at what she considers to be the four basic passages used...
Bibliography: Beck, James R., gen ed., Two Views on Women in Ministry, rev. 2nd ed., Counterpoint Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.
Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998.
Hoggard-Creegan, N. “Feminism, Feminist Theology.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., 445-7. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
, “Ordination of Women.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., 1286-89. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
Rampton, Martha. “The Three Waves of Feminism.” Pacific 41, no. 2 (Fall 2008). http://www.pacificu.edu/magazine_archives/2008/fall/echoes/feminism.cfm (accessed September 22, 2012).
Talbert-Wettler, B. “Christian Feminism.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., 448- 451. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
Virkler, Henry A., A Christian’s Guide to Critical Thinking. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005.
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