Aussie debate on women in ministry

Aussie debate on women in ministry


fight3 on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

There is a good natured debate going on over at the Women in Ministry blog conference at the Presbyterian church in Ryde blog between myself and Peter Barnes.  Those who would like to watch an Aussie and a Canadian duke it out over the issue of whether there is a “law” that forbids women to teach the bible to men can see the “brawl” (tooth and nail fight!) happening on this post linked here.

In the meantime I am visiting with my elderly folks for the next few days and will be in and out of my own blog as I have time as I also try to make time to help an Aussie realize that all of his arguments are invalid 🙂

27 thoughts on “Aussie debate on women in ministry

  1. It’s too long!
    Can’t read it all!
    Even in several sittings.
    Haven’t given up yet.
    Be back to read more, layta.

  2. Because of a couple of family medical emergencies, I was unable to see much of the debate until it was over. I’m disappointmented over Peter Barnes running out on the discussion. As with other debates, the complementarians always seem to excuse themselves from answering any of the very “meaty” questions at this point. If it was not such a serious topic, it would be laughable – they follow the same pattern over and over when the discussion gets to a certain point – they quote some things other Christians have always taught that 1 Timothy 2 means and then they excuse themselves or run. Every time. As usual, I was hoping Peter wouldn’t run like all the rest.

  3. Kay,

    I just posted a comment on my own post at the conference at in answer to Martin who is now admitting from my reasoning that using 1 Timothy 2:12 to stop women from ministry or teaching men is “ill advised”. I praise God that at least some are hearing and taking notice.

    I trust that Peter Barnes will also hear in time. He apparently is a man who loves to jump into a debate and a good challenge spurs him on. Even though he said that he had “pulled up his stumps” he did come back one more time because of all the challenges I gave him. I think these challenges will keep him awake many nights knowing that he could not keep in the debate on this issue and he could not answer the hard questions. If he is a man of integrity (which I have no doubt that he is) this will nag him until he does something about it.

    I have offered to him in a private email to continue the discussion and we will see if he eventually takes me up on my offer. All we can do is pray for these men that their conscience bothers them because of the strong argument they have heard that they cannot answer.

    I too was hoping that Peter wouldn’t run but what else could he do? Until he is at the point where he is willing to change his view back to what he formerly held and admit that his was convinced to the complementarian position by invalid arguments, he can’t do much else but run away because he has no answers. I have been praying for Peter. I pray that God won’t give him peace until he deals with this issue.

    I believe that reaching out and influencing even one pastor who has been teaching that women are not allowed by “law” to be in ministry because of 1 Timothy 2:12 will eventually bring great fruit. When Peter’s eyes are opened he will then be able to touch a whole lot of other people in that great land of Australia. Perhaps he will even be used to touch a few pastors here in North America where we are inundated with men taking authority over women and stopping them from being used for God’s glory.

    This issue cannot be won merely by logic or argumentation. It must be won through prayer. I am going to keep praying that God will do the work that we cannot do. He can touch the heart and turn it from a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

  4. I also feel so guilty that I have neglected my own blog to spend time on arguing my position on the Australian blog conference. I am now finishing the corrections on my DVD project and creating a new DVD menu and so my time is still somewhat limited. I will be back here in time as this issue is always on my mind and I love the respectful people who frequent my blog.

  5. Cheryl,

    You’re so right, this issue cannot be won merely by logic or argumentation. The Holy Spirit must pave the way.

    I do feel rather frustrated at times just trying to get the word out there so that it can even be considered by them though. Today I needed your reminder to be gracious…thank you.

  6. Kay,

    I don’t see you as anything other than gracious! I am the one who needs to be reminded that prayer and God’s power is the key. My tendency to argue from logic will turn me toward my own ability if I am not careful. I was preaching to myself there and I will gladly admit it. My logic will not turn anyone toward the Lord Jesus without His empowerment and I admit my dependency on Him for without Him I can do nothing.

  7. No, but your logic must be firmly and prayerfully in place because, in general, men really must see the logic of it. Some of them must be given the chance to try to blow holes in the logic because they are just so sure the Bible says things it doesn’t. That stronghold is deeply rooted in them.

    It’s the prayer against the scales on their eyes that will help prevent them from going off the deep end and declaring black, white, and white black just for the sake of being right, or entitled men, or whatever is going on inside of them (only God really knows their hearts).

    So you may be downplaying your logic, and I understand why, but I had to let you know that I really appreciated it and that it is of premium importance in the equation along with prayer.

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. Thank you Mara. What a blessing you are to me too today! I will take your precious words, revel in them for a bit and then turn them over to the Lord who is worthy of all praise.

  9. Just wanted to thank you Cheryl for all your work at our blog while you neglected your own. It has been greatly appreciated, and I have marveled that I stumbled upon your blog and felt led by God to invite you along. What a great God!

    Just to join in the current discussion, Cheryl I think your logic and ability to think through these issues is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I guess we should not rely on ourselves alone, but God does (amazingly) choose to work in us and through us as he has through you over the last couple of weeks (not to mention your other areas of ministry)!

  10. Thank you Pastor Dave for your encouragement!

    We indeed do have a marvelous, awesome God who gifts people in ministry. For a very long time I downplayed the gift that He had given me feeling that admitting one had a gift seemed rather prideful. But I have come to the place where enough people have told me that I am gifted that I realize that if I do not accept what God has given me as a gift and if I do not give Him the praise for the gifts instead of downplaying these gifts because they are in me, then I am failing to acknowledge God in His rightful place as the Giver.

    The bottom line is that I now recognize that what I have to offer is unique and that many people can benefit from my insight and I am challenged to keep on doing what I do by God’s grace until I see unity in the body of Christ in this issue.

    I have so enjoyed debating with Peter on your blog. It isn’t often that I even get a complementarian willing to engage some of my arguments. Once they see the way I systematically and logically dismantle the traditional interpretation, they usually just run for the hills. At least Peter didn’t run right away. His comments about my argument as being like the emperor that had no clothes really made me chuckle. It is easy to charge such a thing without actually engaging the argument itself. It is a deflection in order to side-step the fact that he has no answers. But I know that God is a loving God who is gently able to remove the blinders so that Peter can see that his accusation actually describes the complementarian position. There are no clothes on THAT emperor!

    My game plan has always been to fight a strong battle with my brothers in Christ remembering how I would want to be talked to if I was the one in the wrong. As much as I am able to, I try for gentleness and respect because it is these things that softens my own heart and makes me love the one who shows me my error in a way that allows me to hear without being defensive. These are characteristics that I see in Jesus and I desire to be like Him.

  11. Cheryl,
    Peter’s comments about your argument as being like the emperor that had no clothes is so often what I encounter because it is just so easy to charge such a thing without actually engaging the argument. I confess that at that point in each dialogue, I must fight to keep my very dry sense of humor and a penchant for sarcasm “under” as Paul might say.

    I’m thankful that you stumbled upon Cheryl’s blog as well. It’s a blessing to know that this issue has supporters around the globe. I’ve also enjoyed your input here.

  12. Kay,

    I LOVE humor. Sometimes I find that in a tense situation a good laugh can really break it up. Of course we do need to temper the way we use humor so that we don’t seriously offend, but I do think that humor has its place. Peter has a dry sense of humor too so it would have been fun to see you two bounce off of each other. I also think the humor can work too if we make fun of ourselves. Sarcasm can be a little more biting so that needs to be tamed.

    I am always amazed at how complementarians use “thought-stopping” techniques to shut down the discussion when they don’t have an answer. The “emperor has no clothes” was one of the cutest thought-stoppers I have heard. Usually I just get the typical personal insults.

  13. This comment is for truthseeker who was posing questions on the nature of sin before the host blog shut down the comments. Just follow my link that I gave before the comments were shut down and you will find my answer to your questions.


  14. Cheryl, I just went through the “Aussie” debate you had with Peter Barnes. I’m sorry the debate ended before I could make a comment or two on some points he made that piqued my interest.
    1. Like you, I did a thorough study of the prophetic gift and ministry in both the NT and the Early Church. I noted that in his discussion on Irenaeus and the problems of Montanism, he failed to note that while Irenaeus was against the excesses of Montanism, Ireneaus did not deny men and women could pray and prophesy together, nor that the Holy Spirit still gave this gift and ministry to both men and women. In his dispute with fellow bishops who spoke against both John and Paul’s teaching on the Holy Spirit and his gifts as the cause of the Montanist movement, and who forbade those writings of John and Paul that promoted this “heresy” from being read in their churches, he charged these bishops with sinful overaction. The answer to this problem he argued, was not the suppression of the prophetic ministry by men and women in the orthodox churches, but in the strict enforcement of the Pauline guidelines laid down in 1 Cor 11-14. And for them to do otherwise was to sin against the Holy Spirit himself. After exposing and refuting the errors of the Montanists, here is what Irenaeus says about these anti-charismatic bishops:

    Others, again, that they might set at naught the gift of the Holy Spirit, which in the latter times has been by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not accept the Gospel of John in which the Lord promised he would send the Paraclete; but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Wretched men indeed, who in order not to allow false prophets set aside the gift of prophecy from the Church…These men cannot admit the Apostle Paul, either, for in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts, and recognizes [both] men and women prophesying in the church. Sinning, therefore, in all particulars, against the Spirit of God, they [i.e., the anti-charismatic bishops] fall into irremissible sin (AGAINST HERESIES, III, 11.9).

    And it is also a know fact that later in his life, Tertullian, whom Elder Barnes would recognize as a orthodox Christian theologian, also became an active Montanist, who wrote one or two books defending the movement, prior to some members in the movement going extreme. My point here is, of course, you can find material in the early Christian writers that can be used either by a egalitarian or complementarian. The question is if it is quoted out of context or if it truly expresses the writer’s view on a given subject. Ooops! I have to run an errand. So I will close for now.

  15. Sorry I had to end my last comment so abruptly, but I had lost track of time when I realized I had to run an errand I could not put off until later. And so I would like to complete the few observations and comments I started to make earlier. But before I do that, I just want to say that in the debate, both Cheryl and Pastor Dave gave solid, rational arguments from Scripture that more than adequately answered Peter Barnes’ ojections to men and women fully sharing in ministry and leadership. And several comments made by Kathy and Paul were excellent as well. I had prayed for you both several times during the conference, that God would give you strength and wisdom in proclaming and defending the truth, and so from the evidence I would say my prayers, and the prayers of others, were answered. And with that, I will move on to my brief observations and comments.

    1. Here I wish to make a further observation and comment on Mr. Barnes’s portrayal of Montanism. It bothered me that, by comparing them with certain Gnostic groups, Barnes not only wished to paint the Montanists as heretics but as sexual deviants as well, perhaps implying that any movement that calls for the spiritual renewal and reformation of the Church inevitably leads to heresy and sexual deviance. The Montanist movement was a prophetic movement that began as a call for the Church to return to the Apostolic faith of the NT, both in strictness of doctrine and moral purity of life, living and serving in the fullness of the Holy Spirit as had the NT church, tending to strict views regarding marriage, divorce and celibacy. In fact, it was these very emphases that won Tetullian over to be active Montanist himself. Concerning this, D. F. Wright has written, “Nothing strictly heretical could be charged against Montanism…Although none of its catholic opponents doubted the continuance of prophecy in the church, Montanism erupted at a time when consolidation of catholic order and conformity preoccupied the bishops. The prophets’ extravagant pretensions, while not intended to displace the emergent NT of Christian Scripture, were felt to threaten both episcopal and scriptural authority. Recognition of the Paraclete in the New Prophecy (i.e., Montanism) was their touchstone of authenticity” (“Montanism,” EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, pp. 733).
    And as Wright also points out, the developing, predominantly male episcopal church was hostile to Montanism not only because women were prominent in this movement, but also because it bodly criticized the church’s accommadations to the surrounding Greco-Roman culture, declaring the Church’s need to repent and prepare for the imminent Second Coming. So if Barnes wishes to use Christian history to illustrate his criticism of spiritual reform movements in general, and of egalitarianism in particular, let him do so with thoroughness, honesty and integrity. Indeed, whether we’re egalitarians or complementarians, may we all avoid prejudicial and selective use of historical materials.

    2. I noticed, too, in the exhange between between Barnes, Cheryl, and I think Dave, on how the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father is the basis of the permanent subordination of women to men–which, from my own writings and comments on the Trinity I have shared here and on the CBE Scroll, I regard as and condemn as a modern form of Arianism–Barnes revealed either a sloppiness or inconsistency in his thinking about the distinctions between Trinitarianism and Christology.
    a. In an exchange about how this subordination implies a multiplicity of wills among the members of the Trinity, with one having the will of the subordinate Son to the will of the peeminent Father, which implies a difference in Being, leading to the error of tritheism or worse, Barnes countered Cheryl’s cricism with a brief reference to “Monothelitism” to establish his view of unity of substance and difference of will in one person. (Cheryl, if I misunderstood or interpeted what Barnes said or implied in using this argument, I hope you’ll correct me.) Strictly speaking, “monothelitism” is an issue of Christology, not of the Trinity. It was a heresy prodominant in the Eastern church during the seventh century, which taught that Christ had but one nature, a divine nature enclosed in flesh, therefore he had one will. The intial response to this heresy was to argue that in the incarnation, the human and divine natures were fused into a third, resulting in the view that Christ worked a combined divine-human energy. However, seeing the inadequacy of this view, and its complete contradiction to teaching affirmed at the previous Council of Chalcedon regarding “One Person, Two Natures,” Sophronius, Bishop of Jerusalem, called for and organized another Council at Constantinople to resolve this issue, After John of Damascus gave a fine exposition and defense of Christ as one in two natures with two wills, the Creed of Chalcedon was amended to read that Christ not only had two natures in one person, but that he also had two wills, with his human will being subject to his divine will. So this heresy, and the orthodox refutation and explantion of what it meant for Jesus Christ, as God Incarnate, having two natures and how these natures related to one another, neither bears directly on the relationship of the Father and Son within the Trinity, nor on the relationship between men and women.
    b. Maybe because he is so influenced by Wayne Grudem and his heretical view of the Trinity, Peter Barnes has forgotten that while the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, in every other way, each is coeternal and coequal in Divine Being. And to so distinquish the Divine Person as to make the Father superior to the Son and the Spirit in will, power, authority and majesty is to fall back into the heresies of tritheism and subordinationism that were condemned by the Eastern Church in 381 A.D. and by the Western Chruch in 382 A.D. And the orthodox position, first set forth by Athanasius and Gregory the Theologian, remains the same, “All the Father is as God the Son is, except he is not the Father; all the Son is as God the Father is, except he is not the Son; and the Spirit is all the Father and Son are as God, except he is neither the Father nor the Son.” But that is all I will say on this for now. And again, if I misunderstood what Mr Barnes meant to say, I hope Cheryl will correct me. Well, now that I have gotten this off my chest, I look forward to Cheryl’s continuing dialogue with Mike Seaver.

  16. Great thoughts Frank!

    Please continue to make your comments at the post if you still have anything to say. Because so much of the PCAus is computer illiterate we are making a pdf of the Conference as well as a little booklet. From my perspective it is important that we put forward as strong a case as possible. I am assuming that Ken has not blocked any more comments as it is letting me still post comments on Peter’s post. Let me know if you cannot and I will try and get the window of opportunity to comment enlarged!

  17. Frank,

    I had prayed for you both several times during the conference, that God would give you strength and wisdom in proclaming and defending the truth, and so from the evidence I would say my prayers, and the prayers of others, were answered.

    It is so wonderful to hear that prayers have been made on our behalf and then answered by God. THANK YOU for your prayers. I know for one that I need them a lot!

    And as Wright also points out, the developing, predominantly male episcopal church was hostile to Montanism not only because women were prominent in this movement, but also because it bodly criticized the church’s accommadations to the surrounding Greco-Roman culture, declaring the Church’s need to repent and prepare for the imminent Second Coming.

    Very good points!

    Maybe because he is so influenced by Wayne Grudem and his heretical view of the Trinity, Peter Barnes has forgotten that while the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, in every other way, each is coeternal and coequal in Divine Being. And to so distinquish the Divine Person as to make the Father superior to the Son and the Spirit in will, power, authority and majesty is to fall back into the heresies of tritheism and subordinationism that were condemned by the Eastern Church in 381 A.D. and by the Western Chruch in 382 A.D.

    I enjoy reading the way you word this. This has been a big issue for me and it is appalling to me to see complementarians revert to a subordinate will of Jesus in the Trinity mere to try to enhance their view of the sub-standard status of the woman’s will and her apparent inability to act without a superior’s order of command. This is the place that they put Jesus and I scratch my head in wonder how those who believe this could possibly correct a Jehovah’s Witness on their teaching of the subordinate place of Christ.

    As far as Mike goes I am not yet sure if he will continue with our debate. I think that his idea that the Scriptures were so clearly in his favor took a bit of a beating and he is not so inclined to continue. I will pray and I ask you to pray with me that Mike will be open to allow my view to be questioned. This is where we are at right now. It is a precarious position to be in to question your opponent and allow them the opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is within them. If he cannot knock down my hope and my reason, then where does that leave him?

  18. Well, Cheryl, it is no trouble to support and encourage a fellow soldier of Christ, who shares my concern to uphold and guard the essential truths of the Christian faith, in whatever way I can. It flows from my understanding of Jude 3-4, and from my understanding of Richard Baxter’s dictum: “In essentials, unity; in disputable matters, liberty; but in all things, charity (love).” And I am glad you like my writing style though, like myself, you may have missed the typographical errors in the quotes you made: I wrote “Divine Person,” when I meant “Divine Persons”; “Western Chruch,” when I meant “Western Church”; and “bodly,” when I meant “boldly.” So next I write a little piece for you, not only will I maintain my pleasant and engaging style, but also better mind my p’s and q’s when it comes to grammar, syntax, and especially spelling!

    Dave, other than what I have shared so far here, I am not sure what else to say. But I will review the debate posting, and make further comments there as I feel are appropriate. Also, if you’re going to put together a booklet containing our comments on the debate, and if you feel my comments so far are pertinent to the debate and will not result in “stirring up another hornet’s nest,” as we say here, please feel free to use them in your booklet. And may God bring about renewal and transformation, not only in the PCAus, but in all churches that truly desire to know, live by, and proclaim the Gospel of Christ in all its renewing and tranforming fullness. Amen!

  19. Frank,
    I think I could read your mind because I totally got what you were saying.

    Also I think Dave meant that you should post what you wrote on the Australian blog conference. That way your comments will not just be posted here on this blog but will be included in the conference PDF version. I think that is a great idea!

  20. Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to this conversation. I have been enjoying some time away from the computer lately!

    Yes, Cheryl is correct, I was hoping Frank would post his comments on our Blog so his great comments can be included in the pdf. I could cut and paste them, but in case some think I am simply trying to unfairly help the egal cause post conference I would prefer if it was done by Frank!

    I also wanted to thank you for your prayers Frank, they were greatly appreciated.

  21. Dave and Cheryl, I did it! It took some time to edit and post my comments to the “Aussie Debate,” but I did it. Since I was one of the few Americans responding (Lin was the only other, as far I know) I began my posting with a little bio-sketch so that people would know who I was and why I was joining this conversation among Aussies and Canadians, whose countries were members of the former British Commonwealth. I may be a a “Semi-Canadian” (wink at Cheryl), but I didn’t want to offend any blue bloods. Ha, ha! Anyway, besides correcting spelling errors and restructering some sentences, the only thing I added was a further comment on what the orthodox view of the Trinity, as regarded the distinctions and interrelationships of the Divine Persons, was and that this is why all orthodox, evangelical Christians should recognize ESS as a deadly heresy and repudiate it. So if I have now stirred up a hornet’s by these additional comments on the Trinity, I’m sorry Dave. But as passionate as I am about Biblical equality, to which Cheryl will testify, I am more passionate in guarding the doctrine of the Trinity, whole and undefiled, firmly resisting those who twist and distort it in order to promote what I regard as a wicked and injust agenda.

  22. Frank,

    I’m glad you are posting on the Aussie blog – dealing with the ESS heresy is vital. It is one of the main reasons I feel so strongly about defending the true position of women in the church and home. Subjugation and subordination of people (women) is one thing, but when you start messing with my Savior – you have definitely stepped over the line.

    Am I the only U.S. citizen participating here? Years ago I lived in Australia, but sadly have never even visited Canada …as yet.

  23. Kay,

    Am I the only U.S. citizen participating here?

    I know that Dave is from Australia and Frank is from the US. I don’t know where Mara is from. I think that most people who post on my blog are from the US. I am usually the only odd duckie.

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