Wayne’s World Without Women Pastors
Wayne Grudem’s and Barry Asmus’s book may fall into the hands of women who are church leaders, even pastors, in poor nations.
If you’re one of those, how should you then read it?
The male authors, both respective church leaders (and heads over their respective wives too), are on a mission, out of their own wealthy nation, to save the world from poverty. Suzanne introduced BLT readers to their new book here (and I followed up yesterday here); but, really, to whom is this work written?
And for whom is it not intended? Here’s what the two men write on pages 31 and 32:
Written to leaders, especially Christian leaders [who are just men not women], but also those who are not Christians [who might be either men or women]
Our primary audience for this book is [male] Christian leaders in poor nations (but also non-Christian leaders [whether male or female]— see below). We are writing especially for Christians who believe the Bible and are willing to follow its principles for economic development. And we are writing to leaders, because they are the ones who can bring about the necessary changes in their countries.
By “leaders” we mean government leaders, business leaders, education leaders, non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, charitable organization leaders, and certainly [male-only] church leaders, especially [only men] pastors (because their preaching and teaching can eventually change a culture). We also hope that some who read this book will be inspired to seek to become leaders in their nations so that they can begin to implement the changes we outline.
However, we also hope that Christians in more prosperous nations will read this book, because many of them can have influence on poor nations through mission organizations, mission trips, friendships, development organizations, and denominational networks. We hope that some readers in wealthy nations might even be moved to devote their lives to helping poor nations escape from poverty in the ways we outline here. (Also see some practical suggestions at the end of chapter 5.)
If you are reading this book and do not consider yourself to be a Christian, or do not think of the Christian Bible as the Word of God, we still invite you to consider what we say here. Many of our facts and arguments are taken from economic history, not from the Bible. As you read the parts that are based on the Bible, we invite you to at least think of the Bible’s teachings as ideas that come from a valuable book of ancient wisdom, and consider whether the ideas seem right or not.
Now, lest women who are church leaders, even pastors, in poor nations be confused, let’s see what Wayne Grudem means for the world. If you’re one of those, how should you then read it?
With John Piper (another of his wealthy-nation male-pastor husband-head-of-wife co-authors), Wayne Grudem has clarified:
As we move out from the church and the home we move further from what is fairly clear and explicit to what is more ambiguous and inferential…. When it comes to all the thousands of occupations and professions, with their endlessly varied structures of management, God has chosen not to be specific about which roles men and women should fill…. For this reason we focus (within some limits) on how these roles are carried out rather than which ones are appropriate.
That’s from “An Overview of Central Concerns,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.
So it’s fine to be an economist, if you’re a woman like Dambisa Moyo, whom both Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus have listened to and have read and quoted from and have learned from.
And It’s fine to be a political royal in power, like the exemplary of “Biblical Womanhood,” Queen Esther, whom both Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus valorize in their new book (on page 40) as a particularly responsible leader:
The responsibility of leaders
Leaders in poor nations have a special responsibility and a special opportunity in this regard. Sometimes one courageous leader, with the help of God, can change the direction of an entire nation…. Queen Esther’s courageous intervention before King Ahasuerus saved the people of Israel from destruction (Esther 5-9)…. If you have a leadership role [even if you’re a woman] in any nation on earth, the Bible is very clear about the purpose for which God put you in this position: it is to do good for your nation.
But it’s just not okay to be a leader in your home in your poor nation, not if you are the wife (much less a daughter). Wayne Grudem makes this clear, in his wealthy nation, where he writes against those dangerous evangelical feminists. He writes in [both his first and his latest November 7, 2012 reprinted edition of] Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions:
But the Old Testament never approves women taking authority over their husbands.
The godly women portrayed in the Old Testament are always seen as submissive to the leadership of their husbands. In fact Peter sees a pattern in their behavior that Christian wives should imitate, for he says, “For … Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord….”
Instances where women seized ruling authority over God’s people in the Old Testament are always viewed negatively.
Queens such as Jezebel … led the people into evil when they gained power.
There were wise queens such as Esther, a wonderful example of a godly woman, but she did not rule as a monarch, since the authority rested with [the man] Ahasuerus the king, and she was not queen over Israel, but over Persia.
God used Sarah and Esther — just as he will use all Christian wives who obey their husbands and call them “lord” (or if he’s king “king”), and these women were leaders in their poor countries. But the Bible, both the Old Testament and the rest of it for Christians, does not allow headship in the home. If you’re in a poor country, and if you find Wayne Grudem’s and Barry Asmus’s book in your hands, then please understand that it is not intended for you to use it as some sort of justification for your leadership over your husband (much less your father).
And it’s not at all okay to be a church leader in a poor country, if you are a woman. You’ll have to find your leadership elsewhere (not in your home, not in your church) to let this rich book educate you about the poverty of your nation.
As Wayne Grudem writes with such sense in Making Sense of the Church: One of Seven Parts from Grudem’s Systematic Theology, page 121, there are indeed some evangelical feminists who may “point to women who had leadership positions in the ancient church.”
But we have to educate ourselves about the Pre-Paul Time-Table and the Aquila-Authority Husband-Headship; and so we can read what he writes further:
Paul was writing to [men in] Ephesus, which was the home church of Priscilla and Aquila [where he not she would have been the head, the authority]… It was in this very church at Ephesus that Priscilla [because of asking her husband of course] knew Scripture well enough to help instruct Apollos in A. D. 51… Then she had probably learned from Paul himself… No doubt many other women in Ephesus had followed her example and also had learned [from their own husbands and] from Paul. Although they later went to Rome, we find Aquila and Priscilla back in Ephesus at the end of Paul’s life… about A. D. 67. Therefore, it is likely that they were in Ephesus in A. D. 65, about the time Paul wrote 1 Timothy (about fourteen years after Priscilla had helped instruct Apollos). [In other words, Priscilla got schooled by Paul a little late, otherwise she would not have presumed to lead and to teach a man.] Yet Paul does not allow even well-educated Priscilla or any other well-educated women at Ephesus to teach men in the public assembly of the church. The reason was not lack of education, but the order of creation which God established between men and women.
To put a fine, conclusive point on it, Wayne Grudem shares his own teaching with men and also with women, since he can, since he is a man; here’s one of his conclusions from Making Sense of the Church: One of Seven Parts from Grudem’s Systematic Theology:
My own conclusion on this issue is that the Bible does not permit women to function in the role of pastor or elder within a church.
You must conclude, then, if you are a woman leader within a church in a poor country (or even in a wealthy one) that you, in said role, must not read Wayne Grudem’s and Barry Asmus’s book. God’s established order of creation prevents Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus from writing to you and for you. Wayne Grudem’s own Biblical Conclusion prevents him.
Get outside your home, get outside the church, then lead. Now will you buy it?