Today we had Brian Rosner from Moore College give us a lecture on 1 Corinthians. He’s got a commentary coming out so he was telling us about the distinctives of his argument there and then we got to ask him any question we wanted that had been raised for us in studying 1 Corinthians this term. Obviously I wasn’t going to let him get away without asking him about 1 Corinthians 11!
Rosner’s a complementarian but he’s written the commentary with Roy Ciampa, an egalitarian. While one person in my class thought that was a funny mix “because one of them’s right and one of them’s wrong” it will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I thought it was excellent. I have long maintained that complementarians and egalitarians should be able to work together and respectfully interact with each other’s views while holding their own.
Anyway, the exciting thing for me was that they basically come down where I do on the issue of women in ministry. They see prophecy as a broader overarching category for a wide range of speaking ministries – and that, in a culturally appropriate way, this is a ministry open to women. Rosner does think women are excluded from the ‘elder’ position (i.e. senior pastor – he gets this from 1 Tim 2) but after that, he sees ministry for women, especially speaking ministries, wide open. I was almost beside myself with excitement hearing an expert in the field with such a similar view to my own.
Women in ministry is such a polarising issue, I often feel that the middle road where I sit is not well populated. And though I’m convinced that my position best represents the evidence in the Bible, I often wonder why I feel so alone. Does my position lack integrity? Is it just my way of getting the Bible to say something that I feel comfortable with? Is the middle ground in the end, just mediocrity? These are still questions I have to ask but I must admit great relief to find that I am not alone after all and, even more, an Australian scholar whom I respect has got there too! Obviously there are other experts who are more polarised and this discussion is not about getting as many experts as possible on your ‘side’. But I was encouraged anyway: the middle ground may be a nuanced place to be, but that doesn’t make it inherently tenuous.
Incidentally, Rosner did comment on where he and Ciampa disagree. They have the same exegesis of the controversial ‘women’ passages but where they disagree is hermeneutics i.e. how to read and apply it today. Also, just to give it another plug, the book he recommended which we also think is the best read on the topic is Two Views on Women in Ministry.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.