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Fee on Women and the Spirit

A number of fine folk have pointed to this article, the first I saw was Nick so I'll HT him, here's the section of the article dealing with Fee's stance on women in minstry:

“It’s a given,” he says. “The real question is, Which comes first, gender or gifting? What [opponents of women in ministry] are trying to tell me is that gender comes above gifting. How can that be? The Spirit gives the gifting. If a woman stands and prophesies by the Spirit, and men are present, does the Spirit not speak to them? Come on! How dumb can you get?”

His advocacy, Fee says, is on behalf of the Holy Spirit rather than women. “The Spirit is gifting women,” he says, “but many evangelicals are not prepared to adjust because of the ‘box’ they’re in.

“I’ve been blacklisted over this issue,” he adds. “People have said, ‘We can’t have Fee speak because he’s pro-women.’ I am pro-Holy Spirit! I just can’t get over that some people think gender comes before gifting.”

Let me know what you think :-)

Comments

  1. What I think will be totally rejected by complementarian evangelicals because it does not fit their own interpretive method of reading scripture. But...

    Yes, of course, the Spirit moves where it (or should I say "She"?) wills and gifts who it wills. Scripture tells us that "God is no respector of persons" and then we humans add our "excepts" to this...God uses everyone...except the differently abled...except children...except black people...except women...except the poor. Lord when did we see you sick or in pain and didn't help you? When did we hear you teaching and not listen to you? Er, when you thought that the messenger was more important than the message.

    If these guys doesn't recognize the message of the Gospel when it is spoken by a woman, how can I be sure that they know the Gospel at all?

    Complementarianism does not, in my view, pass the test of Occam's Razor, the argument is too convoluted: God's truth is God's truth in my mouth when I teach it to women and to boy children. God's truth is polluted in my mouth when I teach it to men. As as long as I speak God's truth as testimony, it remains God's truth, but if I get uppity and "teach" God's truth, it is no longer God's truth. (Will someone please tell me the difference between "giving an address" and "preaching"?)

    This is all to save the pride of the men involved. And pride is sin.

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  2. Oh dear. Pam, your understanding of complementarianism is nothing that I as a complementarian recognise. No wonder there is such difficulty in discussing the matter!

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  3. To be fair Ali, Pam is addressing complementarianism as it is used to oppress women in the church, you can't expect her to address the niceties of your personal view. However nuanced or "soft" one's complementarianism is, the end result in the church is inevitably that women are treated and made to feel second class citizens. I know what is claimed for "biblical complementarianism" but I have never seen its actual fruit to be anything other than sour.

    I've got a book of essays on evangelical approaches to gender coming soon for review, I look forward to some robust discussion!

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  4. I'd be interested to hear Ali explain what possible comp view does not place restrictions on women in ministry that are granted to men, or does not view the messenger as more important than the message-- or the Source of that message. Such a rarity would not be recognized as comp teaching by anyone.

    Comp teaching is, in essence, an obsession with authority and hierarchy. It's all about role playing and enforcing flesh-based privilege.

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  5. I wish you were being fair, Jonathan. What Pam is describing is not the complementarianism I have experienced or read very widely about. Can you give me solid examples to back up these "fair" claims?

    Let me give you a couple of examples of sweet fruit:
    Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church
    John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church

    Now, you might get negative testimonies from people who disagree (my unfortunate experience is that those who disagree can make the best things sound like hell on earth), but the majority of those involved are very positive about these church's positions.

    I'm aware of the book you're referring to and the positions of the editors. Perhaps Myk can reassure me, but if the perspective of the egalitarians involved is the same as Pam's (and I suspect it is), I'm not hopeful for any worthwhile discussion about it here, especially if you yourself continue to maintain such a jaundiced - and yes, unfair - view of complementarianism.

    :)

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  6. Oh dear. Pam, your understanding of complementarianism is nothing that I as a complementarian recognise. No wonder there is such difficulty in discussing the matter!

    Perhaps Myk can reassure me, but if the perspective of the egalitarians involved is the same as Pam's (and I suspect it is), I'm not hopeful for any worthwhile discussion about it here, especially if you yourself continue to maintain such a jaundiced - and yes, unfair - view of complementarianism.

    Hi Ali: Well, you've taken the time to twice say that you don't think that anyone will listen to you, so I don't really know how to respond.

    I'll say this. I'm happy to listen to your views. I'm not going to rush out and buy books on the subject. And, whilst I'd like to listen as respectfully as possible to your point of view, you are right that the reality of the situation is that I've never personally known anyone to be converted on any "hot topic" through a blog conversation.

    To me, it might be interesting to understand how and why our views differ, but I have no idea what your views are. Other than, of course, that you've taken the time to tell me that there is no point in talking to me. :-)

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  7. Hi Pam.

    I'm not sure what you read is what I actually said. Be that as it may, it is true that I don't tend to discuss gender issues when there is such a disconnect between what is perceived as complementarianism and what I understand complementarianism to be. My experience of many years is that such discussions have done little more than harden positions, and more detrimentally, hearts.

    Thanks for the offer. If it's any help, I doubt that what I'd say would be new to you, but right now I am on holiday in NZ (hi Jonathan) and family time takes precedence. Maybe in the future (near or far).

    God bless.

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  8. Oh, and I was hoping to get my first full blown flame war going, :-(. If I may editorialise a little, it goes to show the importance of defining terms, in Ali's defence he obviously didn't recognise the descriptions of complementarianism offered by Pam or Paula or myself, in our defence we need something to label the oppresive theological paradigm we do see in opperation, and complementarianism seems to fit best. A good discussion has to get beyond labels and into the actual details of what is believed and why. And we'll get there soon.

    Now if anyone is still reiding this thread, what did you think of Gordon Fee's distinction between being pro-women and pro-Spirit? Was he just being clever or is there a danger that he is only interested in the Spirit at the expense of the more "mundane" issues that affect women?

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  9. OK, Ali. I don't really understand the point of taking the time to say "I'm not telling you what I think because you won't understand." But, as they say, "it is what it is".

    what did you think of Gordon Fee's distinction between being pro-women and pro-Spirit? Was he just being clever or is there a danger that he is only interested in the Spirit at the expense of the more "mundane" issues that affect women?

    Ah, I'd missed that and it's an interesting question! I don't know his work well enough to make a conjecture. At surface level, it sounds a bit defensive in an evangelical context "No, no, please don't mistake me as someone who is pro-woman! My interest is entirely in the Holy Spirit."

    My question would be was Paul interested in being pro-Gentile or pro Holy Spirit? Was Martin Luther King pro-black or pro Holy Spirit? Was Jesus pro-poor (or pro-women) or pro God?

    One of my metanarratives is that God keeps trying to reveal that everyone is his child. That God really is no respector of persons. And humans respond "Oh right! You're for everyone! Except the Gentiles, right? Except those who haven't been circumcised, right? Except those who aren't Roman citizens, right? Except the poor, right? Except black people, right? Except woman, right?"

    And I'm sure that once we've worked through this list, we'll find someone else whose ontology requires them to be forever subordinated to those who hold established authority in the world.

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  10. Excellent comment, PamBG.

    Aside from definitions, another "meta" that needs to be addressed by supremacists of any kind is Jesus' "not so among you". Was there fine print, such that this would not apply when women were present? Would Paul later supply legalistic loopholes to essentially overturn what Jesus said? Did Jesus model "servant leader" for only men, and just "servant" for women? Can the Body model of the ekklesia be replaced by the "chain of command" model or the army model or the business model?

    Supremacist positions also typically employ the "plain reading" gambit, but when pinned down I've always found their application of that hermeneutic to be less than consistent. These and many more pertinent issues surely apply regardless of the specific brand of supremacism.

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  11. BTW, wlecome to the blog Paula, I see you blog too, I've added you to my reader.

    I think you raise a valid point that theologically it is a no brainer, but it is only a certain form of rigid biblicism that causes the problem, there certainly are problem texts, although my hunch, and one day I hope to be able to make it a firmer contention, is that those passages are more a result of traditional English translation rather than solid gramtico-historical exegesis.

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  12. Thanks JR! :-)

    I'm working on a free online NT study tool that I hope will eventually help expose the gaping holes in the majority of English translations. The popular dictionaries are a problem too, since even the LSJ has been pressured to revise away accuracy when women are concerned.

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