Saturday, May 23, 2015

Can Women Teach Under the Authority of Elders?

In case you’re just tuning in, a good in-house conversation among complementarians is going on between John Piper, Thomas Schreiner, and Andrew Wilson over whether or not women can teach in a church gathering under the authority of the elders. In order, see Piper here, Wilson here, Schreiner here, Wilson here, and Piper again here. Previously, Tim Keller has also presented Wilson’s side of things here, while John Frame has offered that same side here. (I’ve been told this conversation at Mere O is good, but I haven’t listened to it.)

Everyone agrees that there are times when women will open their Bibles and instruct men, as Pricilla does with her husband Aquilla when instructing Apollos (Acts 18:26). And everyone agrees that there is a certain kind of teaching that women must not do, based on 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.”

The question is, what are the criteria for saying when we are in the first domain versus the second domain? What’s the fence between one side and the other?

There are two things I hope to contribute here. First, I’d like to offer the simple observation that what seems to be driving the different approaches to 1 Timothy 2:12 are Presbyterian versus congregationalist conceptions of teaching and authority. And any congregationalist who agrees with Wilson or Tim Keller or John Frame is relying upon a Presbyterian understanding of teaching and authority (which is not to say a Presbyterian must adopt Wilson’s position). Second, I’d like to offer a more congregationalist distinction between authoritative teaching that occurs in the context of the gathered church, and teaching that occurs outside it. Keep reading

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