Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Some discussion I've seen on this leaps a bit hastily to "what this proves about NIU" and the like. There are more important questions: is there a biblical basis for restricting women from serving in this way? Is a Bible college a church? Is it consistent to have women on leadership boards but not allow them to address the organizations they help lead? Is an inspiring lecture with Bible verses in it "preaching" in the local church sense?

The answers are not obvious enough to just assume.

Jim's picture

  • Starting with agreement with Paul: "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." (1 Timothy 2:12). I agree with this statement completely but observe that it applies to churches and a church context.
  • Observation #1: NIU is not a church. Say to have a female teacher teaching on various subjects like math, English, music, et cetera - no issue for me
  • Observation #2: I regularly hear women teach in various non-church functions: work, Toastmasters, work-related conferences. I don't have a problem with this
  • Observation #3: In over 28 yrs. (of secular work), I estimate that ⅓  of that time I have had a female manager (functioning as my authority). I don't have a problem with that (in fact in all my years of work I've had two terrible managers - one who tried to fire me (too bad ... I far exceeded my sales' goals!) - and both were males.
  • Observation #4: In a church setting, I don't have a problem with women teaching male children (although at about adolescence (say Jr High), it strikes me that a male teacher is much preferred.
  • Observation #5: In a church setting, over decades, I've listened to a number of female missionaries share testimonies, the nature of the work, et cetera. I don't have a problem with this
  • Observation #6: For a para-church organization, I don't have an issue with female board members (nor in the corporate / secular world)
  • Comment / question: What constitutes "chapel"? Is "chapel" = "church service" at a Bible college?  Not so sure ... see observation #1. What about "assembly"? In HS we used to have "assemblies" in the gym or auditorium with various speakers. I listened to about 7 min of the above speech ... it was interesting. I don't see the woman as a pastor. 
Ian Columba's picture

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." (1 Timothy 2:8-12, ESV)

1. Does "every place" refer to "every church meeting" or "every situation". 

2. Does "teach" refer to any teaching or is it to be taking in conjunction with "exercising authority" as in teaching with authority (i.e. pastoring). 

I don't have time to dig into the Greek right now, but I think those are the questions that should frame the discussion.

Empathetic Apologist

iancolumba.com

Jim's picture

Re Chapel at Bible College, I don't see the importance of it. Christians should be members of churches where they are taught, worship, and serve.

Assemblies for special programs ... makes sense from time time time (Ad Hoc) 

paynen's picture

Personally, I don't think that we can necessarily say that 1 Timothy 2 is just for the church setting. I think it is more specific to the worship ministry of preaching in general to the teaching of the Word of God over men. The preaching of the word of God in any context church or no The teaching of the word of God over men in any context church or no. A college chapel is not a church service, but it is a worship service where in a normal setting the word of God is being preached. Biblically according to this passage Northland's female preacher in this video is unbiblical and unacceptable. If it was a special "chapel" in which a guest speaker came to speak on an extrabiblical topic that would be acceptable, but from the little I listened to the given message that is not the case. Has anyone seen comments from NIU about this?

Greg Linscott's picture

This link from Kevin Bauder might be of interest in thinking through the topic...

http://seminary.wcts1030.com/publications/PD2009Mar-Session2-Bauder.ppt

BTW- interesting fact, but I believe one of my wife's grandfathers actually came to Christ under the ministry of Amy Lee Stockton, mentioned by Kevin Bauder in the link I provided... She was licensed to preach by Wealthy Street (now Wealthy Park) Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, MI, a prominent GARBC church for many years...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jim's picture

paynen wrote:

Personally, I don't think that we can necessarily say that 1 Timothy 2 is just for the church setting. I think it is more specific to the worship ministry of preaching in general to the teaching of the Word of God over men. The preaching of the word of God in any context church or no The teaching of the word of God over men in any context church or no. A college chapel is not a church service, but it is a worship service where in a normal setting the word of God is being preached. Biblically according to this passage Northland's female preacher in this video is unbiblical and unacceptable. If it was a special "chapel" in which a guest speaker came to speak on an extrabiblical topic that would be acceptable, but from the little I listened to the given message that is not the case. Has anyone seen comments from NIU about this?

  • As I indicated above, I listened to about 7 min of it (time constraint that I had). Her topic was "it's Ok to fail" (I speculate that the direction was ... give all to God ... see what He may do (not a bad idea!)).  My recollection is that she had not gotten to any text up to the time I stopped listening (may have been less than 7). Suppose she had not used any text at all! Would that be OK? 
  • Suppose you have a woman talking on any topic (pick one ... for the sake of argument the topic is "The Cake Flopped and I Cried" (a newlywed story). Suppose at the very end she throws in Ephesians 5:28, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her". And she said, "I learned an important lesson today ... even though my cake flopped, my husband loves me ... reminds me of a devotional study Ephesians 5:28 ... et cetera). Does that constitute preaching (I'm sure that is deep for some IFB preachers Smile
  • Take the female missionary observation I made earlier. Here is a very very smart female Bible translator Here she has a blog post that deals with a translation issue. Suppose she shared that on a Wednesday night. is that preaching?  Or is it only appropriate that she speaks to a non-Biblical topic of "Domestic animals in Chad"?
  • Or take an ABF class (I sometimes teach young adults ... mixed gender). You know people generally come completely unprepared to a Sunday School class - they are barely awake! Suppose during a discussion time a woman (horrors!!!!) cites another verse that cross-references the lesson of the day? Preaching? Does she need to stick to messages like "The cake flopped and I cried")?
  •  
Don Johnson's picture

While our society has overthrown much of the "traditional" western view of male/female roles, the issues are rooted in God's purposes in creation. The relevant passage, 1 Tim 2.12, for example, is supported by an appeal to creation, 1 Tim 2.13. See also 1 Cor 11.2-16 and other passages.

Our society is pushing back against the created order on all sorts of fronts. While I don't get too exercised by female leadership in society (i.e., politics, the workplace, etc.) it is still contrary to the created order. The fact that female leadership is a minority exception is something that tends to support the notion that "nature itself teaches us" about these things. (Of course, feminists have said it is the evil male patriarchy, etc.) To date there has never been a female president of the USA. Canada has only had one female prime minister, and she didn't last long. There have been some female leaders at lower levels of political office (governors, premiers, cabinet level positions), but they are still in the minority overall.

The church (at large) is heavily influenced by the world. So it is no surprise to see Christians caving in on this issue, but it is one issue that must be heartily resisted in every Christian venue. It really doesn't matter that a college isn't a church - it is the activity that is a usurpation of God-created roles. It is the usurpation of God's order that causes us to notice this.

I would refer everyone to the work of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (an organization that has some problems on a ecclesiastical association level). They have produced some excellent resources that provide well-reasoned exegetical support to the Creation mandate. You can download pdf copies of some of their resources here, at no charge.

As for NIU, specifically, I don't have much to say. Their whole direction is on a trajectory that I don't follow. Given their history of fundamentalism, I have regrets about that decision, but what more can we say about them than has already been said?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

paynen's picture

In my opinion preaching isn't necessarily using a text. (good preaching is) but based off of a sermonic proposition such as God says this so therefore you MUST do this. Teaching about God would be using texts and teaching about them. She definitely was telling her audience what God does and does not want one to do.

Don Johnson's picture

Jim wrote:

  1. Does  your church support female missionaries?
  2. Do they speak before the church?
  3. Do they use the Bible?
  4. Is it teaching? 

We don't support any single women missionaries. I have specific views on this, but don't want to derail the thread. However, as long as I am pastor, this position will never change.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

paynen's picture

similar to what I said before, is it a presentation or is it authoritative? A female missionary presents her ministry and can use the Bible to show how Scripture has impacted her ministry. Once it crosses the line from a presentation of her ministry to a proposition from the word of God it has crossed the line into authoritativeness.

mmartin's picture

I guess I'm not surprised by NIU having a woman speaker in chapel.  After their Redeemed rock band fiasco and all of the other philosophical changes they've made, should any of use be surprised by this.  But hey, at least now there's more hope for the gospel now more than ever, right?

At a time when NIU needs to provide clarity of who and what they are so that people can start to develop a sense of confidence needed in order to send their kids to NIU, having a woman speaker in chapel isn't helping their cause.  The changes keep coming and coming.

On the one hand should we be surprised?  No.

On the other hand, you still wonder when are the changes going to stop.  Just when NIU needs to provide certainty in order to have a sustaining enrollment, this does not help.

Brenda T's picture

Thanks for the link. Is there an audio file that accompanies it?

Greg Linscott's picture

I don't know, Brenda.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Larry's picture

Moderator

In my opinion preaching isn't necessarily using a text. (good preaching is) but based off of a sermonic proposition such as God says this so therefore you MUST do this. Teaching about God would be using texts and teaching about them.

I don't want to get this too far off track, but can you defend this notion from Scripture?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Along this line of thought, what is the dividing line for women in the church then. Someone has mentioned missionaries, but what about music? We have women sing music individually and in groups. Since this isn't for entertainment purposes, doesn't it fall under the "leading in worship" umbrella? What about having a woman give testimony? If this is for edification of the gathered saints, is it substantially different from presenting a lesson? What about "leading" in prayer?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

paynen's picture

The dividing line is authority. If something is authoritative it is wrong. I don't think missionary presentations are using the Word of God authoritatively, I would say that is true for music as well as giving testimonies. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

The dividing line is authority. If something is authoritative it is wrong. I don't think missionary presentations are using the Word of God authoritatively, I would say that is true for music as well as giving testimonies.

I don't know if this is an answer to me or not, but if it is, it is a non-starter. Can you defend the notion that preaching is authoritative and teaching is not from Scripture? In other words, can you use Scripture to show that preaching is authoritative and teaching isn't?

TimNT's picture

The Zichtermans must find this direction so ironic and affirming of the some of the issues they expressed disagreement with so many years ago.

mmartin's picture

Just watched about 10 minutes of this chapel speaker.  I've never heard of her before.

Sure looked/sounded like preaching to me.  Doesn't matter if it is in a church setting or not, i.e. a church retreat or at Bible camp.

If she had simply given her testimony and a presentation of her ministry with a bible verse that was an encouragement to her - no problem.

But that was not at all what she was doing.  She sounded/acted/spoke just like any other regular chapel or church preacher I've ever heard.

NIU, what are you doing?  What's next, a student body dance?  As long as the music is Christian and we are celebrating Jesus, it's ok, right?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, things were going better earlier in the thread. I think there are some entirely legit. theological and philosophical questions. I had several female profs at BJU back in the day and of course they used Scripture in the classroom occasionally... and maybe even got a little 'preachy' now and then. There is a difference between the authority of an instructor and that of a local church pastor/teacher. Chapel isn't quite classroom but it isn't Sunday morning worship either.

I'm for letting folks do what they believe is right in this area and let the Judge of All the Earth do the judging.

(Lately, I feel like I have bigger problems to handle than getting worked up about what one school or another does w/its chapel hour)

Don Johnson's picture

But this story is two things:

  1. It is news about NIU
  2. It is a matter of significant debate in evangelicalism, has not really been a matter of debate in fundamentalism, with possible gray areas being the "missionary testimonies" and classroom instruction as you mention

I'm not particularly worked up about this story, but it is interesting. The ensuing debate shows, I think, that it isn't a slam dunk among us like it used to be.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

I reached out to some highly placed people at Northland and they are going to get back to me.  I'm not sure that this is a clear case of NIU deciding to have a "woman preacher" speak during chapel and would be floored - floored - if that was the decision they made.  NIU does not hold to an egalitarian position on headship and theological leadership.

Some of you may not be as...forgiving...as I am, but I do think this is a huge PR problem at a minimum and don't want to assume the worst without getting their side of the story first.

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. - Proverbs 18:17

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

paynen's picture

Larry wrote:

The dividing line is authority. If something is authoritative it is wrong. I don't think missionary presentations are using the Word of God authoritatively, I would say that is true for music as well as giving testimonies.

I'm sorry but that is not what I meant. I do believe teaching is authoritative. What I was saying is that preaching isn't defined by using a Scripture passage in a response to a post above.

I don't know if this is an answer to me or not, but if it is, it is a non-starter. Can you defend the notion that preaching is authoritative and teaching is not from Scripture? In other words, can you use Scripture to show that preaching is authoritative and teaching isn't?

Jay's picture

Daniel Patz put this on his blog (reproduced in full):

College Chapel and “Women Preachers”

Posted on April 23 in Northland, Theology

I shared a version of the following statement to Northland’s Faculty and Staff this morning. I also shared this with Dr. Lina AbuJamra, and she is supportive of me sharing this with you.

Earlier this semester, I asked Dr. Lina AbuJamra to share her testimony for the benefit of our students; she did so on Tuesday, April 22. Dr. AbuJamra has an incredible story.  Her family emigrated from Lebanon when she was a child, and her life was powerfully impacted by Northland Camp both as a camper and as a staff member.  She is a brilliant and godly woman.  She is a pediatric ER doctor in Chicago, a Christian author, a popular women’s speaker and a Northland board member.  Dr. AbuJamra is both fiery and passionate and serves as an outstanding role model for our students as a disciple of Jesus. I shared with Dr. AbuJamra my position on women and preaching; she agreed and told me that she would not preach. I trust Dr. AbuJamra’s heart. She is a godly woman, and I have much respect for her. She has a great message to share, and she shared some very needed things with our students and staff yesterday.

Apart from being personally jealous of how good of a communicator she is, I do agree that the tone and direction of her testimony was more than I anticipated and expected.  I am not referring to its rich biblical content, but that it was closer to what we call preaching or heralding the Word than I was comfortable with in that setting. This is true especially given how we have traditionally used chapel in the history of Northland.

While the Lord used this to bless many students and staff (they have shared this with me), I also know that there have been some concerns.  Are we embracing a form of egalitarianism? Are we going to encourage our lady students to be preachers? No. We are, however, wanting to teach all of our students, including women, to think well, to love God’s Word, to serve others, and to connect with others in all types of settings.

The college chapel setting is not the church; this is different than a local church congregational gathering. Often we consider chapel as a type of convocation. This was communicated in the introduction (not on livestream) to students on Monday and Tuesday morning.

However, I am concerned that we don’t practice or communicate something that we most certainly do not believe. I do not believe God has called women to the primary teaching and preaching ministry of the church as elders/pastors. I believe this, because I believe everything that Paul taught in the NT on this subject. I am strongly complementarian in conviction, and I do not believe women should preach in Northland chapel. I do believe that God does brilliantly gift women to know God’s Word and to communicate it effectively in so many ways.

Dr. AbuJamra wanted to minister to students from the testimony of her life and the Word of God. I think she blessed many, many people. Dr. AbuJamra shares my complementarian conviction as well. If there is anyone to blame, it would be me for not better considering the setting and context – both to her, as well as to the students and staff. I am grateful for God’s faithful and patient teaching as I strive to lead for His glory.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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