This Sydney church is reconsidering the place that women have within the eldership of their churches. A motion has been put before the general assemblies seeking to change the laws of the church to only allow male elders. The church has become concerned and feels the need for open discussion of the implications of this.
Within the last few decades, the issue of gender differences and positions has come to dominate discussions within western “evangelical” type churches. You might have come across the terms “Complementarianism” and “Egalitarianism”.
Complementarianism claims its perspective shows how men and women were created by God to work together (to “complement” each other), but that within this God has ordained a created order in the roles that each are to undertake. A key theme within the arenas of marriage and ministry for the complementarian is the idea of “submission”, for example of a wife to the authority of her husband. The ideal would be for this to be under the environment of Godly submission to Godly leadership. Many complementarians would argue that women and men are indeed equal but have different roles.
Egalitarianism claims that its perspective shows how men and women were created to work together within marriage and the work of the church, and argues that scripture does not prescribe roles within these realms which are exclusively reserved for men over women. A key theme for the egalitarian is that there is indeed complementarity, but no gender hierarchy within marriage or the church. In marriage “the two would become one”, and roles in ministry for example would be based on giftedness rather than gender. Many egalitarians would acknowledge difference but stress the equality of the genders in all areas.
Both agree on the authority of Scripture and investigate scripture to come to their conclusions, practising exegesis and hermeneutics.
Exegesis is about bringing out the meaning of a text (“ex” = “out of” ), involving understanding context, the original language and how a passage accords with the rest of scripture.
Hermeneutics is all about interpretation, coming to an understanding of scripture and what it means for us today. Interpretations of scripture have to be tested and scrutinised within a community and always against the text itself. We seek not to impose our own prejudices onto the text. This is very difficult since we all have baggage and presuppositions. We are all shaped by our experiences and so trying to be completely objective is perhaps impossible. We all fail because of the fall and see but 'in a mirror dimly'.
You are invited by the church on Ryde to contribute your views to the discussions.
2nd Sept – Peter Barnes: “Women Elders?”
4th Sept – Dave Woolcott: “What is Submission?” (Ephesians 5:21-33)
6th Sept – John McLean: TBC, re: how men and women can work together in church
8th Sept – Cheryl Schatz: “1 Timothy 2:11-15 – Universal sin or an Ephesian situation?”
10th Sept – Doug Haley: “Women and Ministry – equal but sometimes different”
12th Sept – Final contributor and topic TBC
14th Sept – Ken Finis: Conference wrap up (a summary of discussion)
15th Sept – Conference Close, though discussion still welcome!