Women in Ministry, Four Views by Bonnidell Clouse and Robert G. Clouse, Editors

Using an increasingly popular format the Clouses have placed within one volume not only four separate views on the role of women in ministry, but have given each author the opportunity for rebuttal of the positions of the others. I find this an interesting and useful methodology as knowledgeable scholars can challenge, refute, correct and even call the bluffs of their counterparts.

In this volume Robert Culver supports the “traditional view” proclaiming not only that women are not to take certain leadership positions in the church, but that the reason for this restriction lies in her nature. A woman is more susceptible to temptation through deceit and it is not in her nature to lead men. He even challenges the radical feminists to give up and quit since, “normal, universal, female human nature is against them” (p41).

A less extreme understanding is taken by Susan T. Foh in her essay, “A Male Leadership View: The Head of the Woman Is the Man.” Foh strikes some good blows against her opponents while making her case. She draws the most fire from the others in her explanation of Genesis 3:16, believing that this passage teaches that women desire to control their husbands, and apparently desire to take over leadership in the church.

Walter L Liefeld (“A Plural Ministry View”) took the, “I don’t know the answer but I will ask enough questions to see if I can confuse you” approach. Liefeld does not try to deny the biblical limitations concerning women, rather he attempts to dance around them. Proclaiming that if we only knew the circumstances behind what Paul wrote we would know that he really did not mean what he said. If you can’t buy that, try this: Paul may have conformed to the cultural norms of his day for the sake of the gospel. Since cultural norms have changed, so have Paul’s prohibitions. Conveniently the restriction texts apply to no one today.

The egalitarian view is nailed down by Alvera Mickelsen who not only dismisses I Corinthians 11,14 and I Timothy 2 but declares that restrictions on women are the result of sin and/or cultural influences. You get the point.

I personally did not agree completely with any of the authors and would point readers to Leadership is Male by David Pawson (watch his charismatic tendencies); The Role of Women in the Church by Charles Ryrie (some great history here); and H. Wayne House’s The Role of Women in Ministry Today.

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