Man and Woman, One in Christ 18 (Final)
Philip Payne’s Man and Woman, One in Christ is, I believe, the most comprehensive treatment of Pauline texts in relation to men and women in the life of the church. The reader will benefit from a steady and close reading of each of the twenty five chapters with their Bible open. The interaction with the Greek text may be off putting for some readers, but there is ample explanation for those not acquainted with Greek grammar and differences in manuscripts.
Clearly the matter of women’s roles in the Church has become a most contentious issue, particularly in the last few decades. In my own journey, it was my wrestling with Scripture that gradually moved me from a complementarian position (that I grew up with) to an equality of men and women, in all respects, including public ministry in the Church.
As I read and studied, pondered and prayed about ‘women’s ministry’, I:
- noted numerous instances of sloppy exegesis by proponents on both sides of the debate;
- became increasingly concerned that this matter has become, in some quarters, to be a prominent test of orthodoxy;
- reflected back on my own experience of growing up in complementarian churches, where a whole set of man-made rules, about what women could and could not do in public ministry (that bore simply zero connection with Scripture), were the accepted doctrinal infrastructure. Interestingly, in churches that spoke loud and often about the authority of Scripture;
- recognised that in our frailty, the struggle to live out sola Scriptura and semper reformanda is very real.
Philip Payne has made an enormous contribution to this tragically contentious issue in the Church. How significant will it be in bringing greater unity on this issue? I’m not overly confident, if the concluding words in Tom Schreiner’s review of the book in the April edition of Themelios are anything to go by:
“Most of what [Philip Payne] says is not new, and his egalitarian readings are unpersuasive. Surely he will convince some, for many in our culture today ardently desire egalitarianism to be true. But it will not hit the scholarly world like an avalanche. It is closer to being another drizzly day in Portland, Oregon.”
Wow!! I do trust that Philip Payne finds his encouragement in Christ and not in book reviews!
The Holy Spirit speaks only truth and God does not contradict Himself. The complementarian and egalitarian readings of Scripture cannot both be correct. The challenge for all followers of Jesus is to roll-up our ‘Bible reading shirt sleeves’ and seek to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, notwithstanding the baggage that we all bring to biblical interpretation.
The full list of my posts on Man and Woman, One in Christ are: