Sunday, May 6, 2018

Paige Patterson, Women as Teachers, Divorce, and Perspicuity of Scripture.

Paige Patterson has been at the center of controversy the last week or so surrounding his comments made, back in 2000, about his advice to women concerning abuse in marriage. Much ink has been spilt on these issues.[1] I ultimately disagree with Patterson’s wording and would not advise a women exactly as he did (I would probably refer them to my wife, a reasonable Christian counselor for more in depth conversation and/or advice, or the police). To be clear, I condemn any emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse (of any kind or to any degree) and do not endorse it as that is what the Christian message (in its totality) ultimately means by reasonable submission. Moreover, maybe Patterson should step down (retire) as Ed Stezer has called for because of his string of gaffe’s and/or intentional statements that are at least highly questionable, if not outright wrong.[2] However, I will let the trustee’s decide that issue. Yet, I do have some things to say that have not really been addressed in this debate thus far, which are of moderate-heavy importance. Do SBC commentators hold that women cannot teach at all? Moreover, is the teaching on divorce “clear” as Patterson states in the Bible?
Women Teachers and/or Pastors?
            As far as complementarianism goes (e.g. that men and women are of equal worth before God, but have different roles at times), Patterson’s views are held by some in the SBC. As far as women teaching or having authority over a man, he states in his New American (through B&H SBC press) Revelation commentary
Additionally, there is nothing inherently destructive about the fact that she [Jezebel] is teaching in the church, since Titus 2:2 makes clear that mature women not only may but must instruct the younger women of the church. Further, clearly Timothy, as a child, was instructed by both his mother and his grandmother (2 Tim 1:5).

However:
On the other hand, in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, there is a clear prohibition forbidding women to teach or have authority over men (1 Tim 2:12).[3]

However, this is not what all Southern Baptist commentators believe on the subject. As far as 1st Timothy 2:12 goes, in 1992, the late Southwestern dean Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin state:
The role of the teacher mentioned in this passage is most closely linked with the office of the pastor or senior pastor in contemporary churches. The normative principle behind Paul’s directive is that the woman should not carry out the role of senior pastor. This does not amount to a prohibition against a woman’s teaching or against her ministry to men. The New Testament has examples of significant teaching roles by women (Acts 18:26—both Priscilla and Aquilla were involved; Titus 2:3–4; 2 Tim 1:5; 3:15—women teach the faith to other women and children; 1 Cor 11:4–5—women prayed and prophesied).[4] (emphasis added)
Additionally, though he thinks women should not be elders and/or pastors, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary New Testament professor Thomas Schriener states:
there are contexts in which women can address both men and women where there is no violation of the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:12, and some have wrongly ruled out any churchly words from women on the basis of this verse.[5]
In comments about Acts 18:26, where Apollos is taken to the side by Priscilla and Aquila to explain more to him about the gospel, (maybe former?)[6] Southern Baptist NT professor John Pohill’s commentary on Acts (through SBC B&H press) states, “It is noteworthy that Priscilla took an equal role with her husband in further instructing Apollos.”[7]
Though not a Southern Baptist professor, NT scholar (writing through SBC B&H press) Craig Blomberg states that the normative principle is that women should not be senior pastors and/or however church polity is setup:
The bottom line for this interpretation would then be that the ultimately authoritative teacher in a given church should be male (or at least not a married woman teaching her husband). In congregationally structured churches this would be the senior pastor; in other forms of church government it might be a person “higher up” (e.g., a bishop or pope). Team ministry, however, is a more helpful model, even if there is one who ultimately supervises.[8]
Thus, women, depending on the congregation, can teach and, even sometimes, be pastors (depending on the autonomous church), but not senior pastors or however church polity is setup. Charges of androcentrism (men focused society) abound even if one takes this position (showing it is not friendly to the "world" that some harder complementarians charge against it). However, women complementarian credentialed (masters or above) biblical scholars such as Susah Foh, Ann Bowman, Melissa Travis, and Sheri Klouda also hold a similar position.[9] Nevertheless, the point is Patterson’s view is not the only viable option for Southern Baptists, nor really complementarian’s in general.[10] Moreover, nor is his teaching on wife submission to her husband, but that is beyond the scope of this post. [11]

Perspicuity (Clarity) of Scripture

            Patterson, on the issues surrounding divorce, states in his press release, “The Bible makes clear the way in which God views divorce.[12]
The word “clear” means (for this context), according to the Webster “free from obscurity or ambiguity: easily understood” [13] or according to Concise Oxford Dictionary, “easy to perceive or understand.”[14]  But, this is not the case. It might be “semi-clear” or “partially clear” but it does take at least some, if not allot of intellectual homework to properly understand. Here are a few issues dealing with the passages on divorce.

1. Jesus is recorded seemly saying in Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 that he is against all divorce. However, Matthew twice includes an exception clause (Matt 5:32, 19:9) for adultery. So what do we do with these different sayings?
2. As far as the exception clauses go, there is some debate as to what the NASB translates as “unchasity” or in the Greek porneia (πορνεία), actually means. One noteworthy lexicon states it means, “unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication.”[15] But it takes some looking to understand what Matthew (or whoever wrote the gospel) actually means here.
3. Paul includes an additional exception clause for abandonment in 1st Cor 7:15, so do we take this exception clause into concert with Jesus teaching in Mark and Luke, or do we adhere to Jesus teaching?
There is more, but as you can see, this is not “clear.” This is why statements on the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture usually limit the doctrine to doctrines such as those covering salvation (e.g. Jn 3:16).
 For example, the Chicago Statement of Biblical Hermeneutics of 1982 (signed by over a hundred conservative evangelical leaders/scholars including Paige Patterson himself* along with J.I. Packer, Adrian Rogers, Wayne Grudem, Norman Geisler, John MacArthur, Carl Henry, etc), Article 23 states:We affirm the clarity of Scripture and specifically of its message about salvation from sin. We deny that all passages of Scripture are equally clear or have equal bearing on the message of redemption. (Article 23)[16] 

 In 1649, the Westminister Confession was drawn up. The pertinent part on the perspicuity of Scripture states:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them (emphasis added). [17]
Similarly, Southern Baptist scholars, the late L. Russ Bush and Tom Nettles, agree saying that the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) confirms the perspicuity of Scripture is limited to salvific claims.[18] Similarly, The Philadelphia Confession of 1742 (Paragraph 7) has similar wording. [19]
The great Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge (1797-1878) essentially agrees stating:
It is not denied that the Scriptures contain many things hard to be understood; that they require diligent study; that all men need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to right knowledge and true faith. But it is maintained that in all things necessary to salvation they are sufficiently plain to be understood even by the unlearned. (emphasis added) [20]
However, B.B Warfield (A.D. 1851-1921), who according to Edgar and Olihphit  was probably one of the best exegetes and systematic theologians at Princeton, held to a robust doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture.[21] Warfield was very cautious about a hierarchy that might build over the laymen if the perspicuity of Scripture was done away with. He wrote:
If this means all that it seems to mean, its proclamation of an indefinite Gospel eked out by an appeal to the Church and a scholastic hierarchy, involves a much greater loss than Dr. Sanday appears to think—a loss not merely of the Protestant doctrine of the perspicuity of the Scriptures, but with it of all that that doctrine is meant to express and safeguard—the loss of the Bible itself to the plain Christian man for all practical uses, and the delivery of his conscience over to the tender mercies of his human instructors, whether ecclesiastical or scholastic.”[22]
 As you can see, Warfield did not want to build a hierarchy where the laymen would be left out of the loop on biblical interpretation, like Roman Catholicism had done before the Reformation and soon after. However, Warfield himself was very well educated and saw the value in scholarship.[23] Moreover, he defended the Westminster Confessional theology, which we just covered above that the salvation statements on essentially clear.[24] Thus, this implies that he held that Scripture was understandable in parts and obscure in others, as those who had come before him. However, Warfield was also explicit that not all doctrines are of equal clarity in the Bible: “It is, of course, not absurdly intended that every Biblical doctrine is taught in the Scriptures with equal clearness, with equal explicitness, with equal frequency.”[25] Thus, clarity, yet, obscurity depending on the doctrine, but salvific doctrines were clear.
In essence, salvific passages (e.h. Jn 3:16, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 10:8-10) are mostly clear and take little work to understand. However, much of the Bible takes some to allot of work to start to properly understand, yet, it is understandable for the learned and the unlearned, but with aide. Though Patterson is welcome to hold that the teaching on divorce is clear, he is mistaken because this is the neither the confessional nor Scriptural view of the perspicuity of Scripture (e.g. 2 Pet 3:16).[26]
As far as teaching on divorce, I think a case can be made that abuse is abandoning the marriage, thus 1st Cor 7:15 applies. The Zondervan book on 3 Views on Divorce and Remarriage is a good starting point for such questions. But it is not “clear" as even Patterson tacitly admitted in 1982 by signing the CSBH statement. 
 Notes: 



[3] Paige Patterson, Revelation, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 39, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 114–115.
[4] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 100.
[5] Craig L. Blomberg, “Women in Ministry: A Complementarian Perspective,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and James R. Beck, Revised Edition., Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 2005), 192.
[6] Could not find him on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary page: http://www.sbts.edu/theology/faculty/ (accessed 05/2018).
[7] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 397.
[8]Blomberg, Craig L.. From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (p. 365). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
[9] Biblical scholar Susan Foh concludes, “My understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12 is that it refers specifically to the duties of the elder.” Susan T. Foh, “The Head of the Woman Is the Man,” in Women in Ministry: Four Views, ed. Bonnidell Clouse and Robert G. Clouse, Spectrum Multiview Books (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1989), 95; Ann L. Bowman states, “In today’s church I think we may also say that the role of senior pastor is reserved for men. At the same time, I see nothing that would prevent women from serving as staff pastors in a local church.” Ann L. Bowman, Women in Ministry: Two Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 290;  Apologist Melissa Travis also holds a similar view, stating, “With that said, I would also like to say, for the record, that I am not convinced that this means God intended for women to be senior pastors (or bishops, etc.). Jesus Christ was incarnate as male, and surely there was a reason for that, though for now we must be content with the mystery of it. It seems to me that those shepherding flocks under His name should be father figures in that sense. However, I harbor no thoughts of judgment whatsoever when I see women holding such positions.
See: https://hcchristian.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/eliminating-false-teaching-not-females-teaching/  (accessed 05/2018); OT scholar Sheri Kouda (PhD Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), overall, concurs with this position (though she is hesitate to call women "pastors" per say). Email: 05/24/2018.
[10] Southern Baptist Theological Seminary New Testament professor Thomas Schreiner says of Blomberg’s conclusions, “…rightly concludes that a diversity of ministry positions are open to women, but the office of pastor or elder is confined to men.” He goes onto say that in 1st Timothy 2:12 that Blomberg is essentially right. “Still, I agree with Craig that there are contexts in which women can address both men and women where there is no violation of the prohibition of 1st Timothy 2:12 and some have wrongly ruled out any churchly words from women on the basis of this verse.”  Thomas Schreiner’s response to Craig L. Blomberg, “Women in Ministry: A Complementarian Perspective,” in Two Views on Women in Ministry, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and James R. Beck, Revised Edition., Zondervan Counterpoints Series (Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 2005), 191-192; Based on 1st Timothy 2 (considered in context for the rest of the pastoral epistles) and 1st Cor 14, Frames concludes, “She is not forbidden to teach, or even to teach men; she is only forbidden to occupy the special office.” John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, A Theology of Lordship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), 639; John Frame also says elsewhere, “Special-office teaching requires special gifts of character and competence (1 Tim. 3:1–7), and (as I understand 1 Timothy 2:12) that teaching is restricted to men only. Women may and do participate in general-office teaching.” John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, A Theology of Lordship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010), 259; Geisler says that spiritual gifts are for both sexes, “Nor are women inferior to men in the area of spiritual gifts, there being no sex indicators on the gifts.” Thus, the gift of teaching would be open to women (Rom 12:7), just they cannot occupy the office of elder, bishop, or however church polity it setup.  Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 111;Based on their comments on 1st Timothy 2:12, Southern Baptists (through a Southern Baptist affliliated publishing company B&H) Thomas Lea and Hayne Griffin state in a footnote, “There is no intent by Paul to ban all teaching by all women at all times. In Corinth women prophesied (1 Cor 11:5) and provided some teaching (Acts 18:24–26). The teaching Paul commended for women is more informal and less ‘official’ (2 Tim 1:5; Titus 2:3–4).” They go onto say later that, “The role of the teacher mentioned in this passage is most closely linked with the office of the pastor or senior pastor in contemporary churches. The normative principle behind Paul’s directive is that the woman should not carry out the role of senior pastor. This does not amount to a prohibition against a woman’s teaching or against her ministry to men.” Thus, in a limited capacity, women can teach even, in some instances, to men. Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 100; Biblical scholar Susan Foh concludes, “My understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12 is that it refers specifically to the duties of the elder.” Susan T. Foh, “The Head of the Woman Is the Man,” in Women in Ministry: Four Views, ed. Bonnidell Clouse and Robert G. Clouse, Spectrum Multiview Books (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1989), 95; Ann L. Bowman states, “In today’s church I think we may also say that the role of senior pastor is reserved for men. At the same time, I see nothing that would prevent women from serving as staff pastors in a local church.” Ann L. Bowman, Women in Ministry: Two Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 290;  As for the language in 1st Timothy 2:12 prohibiting a single role instead of two see Payne, Philip B. "1 Tim 2.12 and the use of Omicron]Upsilon]Delta]Epsilon] to Combine Two Elements to Express a Single Idea." New Testament Studies 54, no. 2 (04, 2008): 235-53; John Koessler states, “Both the syntax and the broader context suggest that Paul was prohibiting women not from all teaching but rather from the authoritative teaching of the Scriptures that is associated particularly with the office of overseer or elder.” John M. Koessler, “1 Timothy,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1898. See also Hoehner, Harold W. "CAN A WOMAN BE A PASTOR-TEACHER?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50, no. 4 (12, 2007): 761-71; Norman L. Geisler and Thomas A. Howe, When Critics Ask : A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992), 496;
 Apologist Melissa Travis also holds a similar view. See: https://hcchristian.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/eliminating-false-teaching-not-females-teaching/  (accessed 01/2018); For an update on Blomberg’s position see http://www.lionelwindsor.net/wordpress/wp-content/2015/04/women_in_the_pulpit.pdf (accessed 02/2018); Robert Saucy’s views, see http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/37/37-1/JETS_37-1_079-097_Saucy.pdf  (accessed 03/2018); Robert Saucy also says in a publication, “Similarly, it is not all exercise of authority over men that is prohibited. In the family, there are certain areas over which the wife and mother exercises considerable authority and is respected for such by her husband, all without destroying his headship.” Moreover, Saucy says, “The leaders would affirm the women in their giftedness and free them to serve accordingly, including functions of leading under the ultimate leadership of the church.” Women and Men in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective (Kindle Locations 5241-5242). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition; Philip Ryken states, ‘Teach’ and ‘exercise authority’ are closely related terms. The activity they most clearly suggest is preaching, or any other form of doctrinally authoritative teaching in the church.” Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Daniel M. Doriani, and Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 95.  For a contrasting view see George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 14; Lawerence O Richards state, “Apparently Paul did not permit a woman to be ordained to such an office of responsibility.” Though, he is not dogmatic about this. Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 980.

[11] Southern Baptist Old Testament professor Duane Garrett states, “One cannot exclude the possibility that she [wife] also sets her husband right from time to time.” Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 251; Professor Garrett teaches at Southern Seminary: http://www.sbts.edu/academics/faculty/duane-a-garrett/ (accessed 03/2018)

[12]https://swbts.edu/news/releases/press-release-paige-patterson/
[13] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
[14] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[15] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 854.
[16] Quoted from Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 139.
[17] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1181; John Frame says about the confession, “But Scripture itself (as in Deut. 8:3; Pss. 19:7; 119; Matt. 4:4) says that God’s written Word is for everybody. We live by it. The Confession, of course, agrees. But the Confession’s statement does not encourage autonomous or lawless Bible study. It does not make every layman an expert in Scripture. It recognizes that not every part of Scripture is equally clear to everybody. Laymen, indeed all Christians, need to watch their step in studying the Bible. There are mysteries in Scripture beyond anyone’s understanding, and there are many things in Scripture that we cannot understand without more knowledge of the languages of Scripture and its cultural background.” John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, A Theology of Lordship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010), 202–203.
[18] They write, “As Peter affirmed concerning Paul’s letters (2 Pet. 3:16), the writers of the Second London Confession stated that “all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all.” However, the central message of salvation is so predominant and so clearly laid out in Scripture that any person “in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” L. Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, Revised and expanded. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 48.
[20] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 183–184.
[21] Edgar and Oliphint state, “Warfield was, in all likelihood, the best of the Old Princeton intellects, with expertise in areas of Old Testament, New Testament, church history, systematic theology, and apologetics. He died in 1921. “William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, eds., Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, From 1500, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 391.
[22] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Revelation and Inspiration, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 171.

[24]He was a defender of confessional theology, working in depth, through various articles, on the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, eds., Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, From 1500, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 391–392.
[25] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Revelation and Inspiration, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 208.
[26] I have a forthcoming publication on this very issue.
* Email from Norman Geisler's assistant Christopher Smith confirmed Paige Patterson did sign the 1982 document with photos of the typed named signatures.

Updated 05/24/2018 


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