This is the part 6 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”. Today I am posting his sixth question, Suzanne McCarthy’s answer and my own questions below that.
Question #6 from Wayne Grudem:
6. Women teaching false doctrine at Ephesus: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ many of you say the reason for Paul’s prohibition is that women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus (the church to which 1 Timothy was written). Our problem in understanding the basis for your claim is that we see no evidence inside or outside the Bible that tells us that any women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus. More than that, since Paul’s prohibition applies to all women, it seems to us that your position really needs to show that all the women at Ephesus were teaching false doctrine. So we are wondering if there is any text that tells us that all (or any) Christian women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus.
We recognize that some women were gossiping at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:13), but that is not the same as teaching false doctrine—we all know people who gossip but who don’t teach false doctrine! And we know that there were pagan religions in Ephesus where non-Christian men and women did a number of things that were not done by Christians—but to say that they did such things after becoming Christians just strikes us a speculation, not evidence.
In fact, we have read evidence in the Bible about people teaching false doctrine at Ephesus, but they are not women, they are men. So, for example, Paul talks about “Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some’’ (2 Tim. 2:17–18). He also speaks of “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme’’ (1 Tim. 1:20), but these are men, not women. Similarly, Paul warns the Ephesian elders, “from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them’’ (Acts 20:30), but here he says these false teachers will be men (Greek andr?s), not that they will be women.
So our question is this: Will you please show us one reference in all of ancient literature, whether inside or outside the Bible, that states that all the Christian women at Ephesus (or even that any Christian women at Ephesus) were teaching false doctrine?
If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.
We know that there are many other questions of interpretation on which we may differ, and we realize that these matters do not solve all of those questions. But we thought that these matters might be the simplest to resolve, since they just involve questions of factual evidence.
Are there any real facts to support your claims?
Suzanne McCarthy’s answer:
Dr. Grudem writes,
6. Women teaching false doctrine at Ephesus: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ many of you say the reason for Paul’s prohibition is that women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus (the church to which 1 Timothy was written).
Will you please show us one reference in all of ancient literature, whether inside or outside the Bible, that states that all the Christian women at Ephesus (or even that any Christian women at Ephesus) were teaching false doctrine?
This is an argument from silence. What we do know is that there was a goddess Artemis worshiped at Ephesus. She was the patron goddess of women in childbirth and there were priestesses in her service. This was clearly a very contentious issue and caused a considerable commotion in Acts 19:34. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” It is therefore possible that Christian women at Ephesus were still faithful to Artemis in some way. While any answer to these three questions of Dr. Grudem’s can only be speculation, I hope that I have demonstrated that the balance of the evidence does not support the complementarian view to the exclusion of the egalitarian view.
Comments and questions from Cheryl:
In 1 Timothy 1 Paul has told Timothy to stop the false teachers from teaching error. Then in chapter 2 Paul against stops “a woman” from teaching and he links the prohibition to deception. Paul ends the prohibition with verse 15 where he gives a confident assurance of salvation “if” “she” and “they” continue in the faith. Because of the issue of deception and the question of the salvation of those who have been stopped from teaching, we can be confident that Paul is not demanding the stopping of true doctrine.
I would also like to pose my own question to Wayne Grudem to ask him where in the scriptures does Paul ever stop true Christian teaching by anyone? If the problem was only with the person who she was teaching and not the doctrine that she was teaching, then Paul would have just steered her towards the women. The fact is that deception and false teachers are the issue in the bok of Timothy and Paul does not say that Timothy is left behind in Ephesus to stop the false teachers AND the women. It is only the false teachers who were stopped. Any other reasoning is illogical and unbiblical.