Friday, June 20, 2008

Complementarianism vs. Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:11-16 says, "11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

Those of you who have been following my blogs may derive that I am an egalitarian in almost all things except when it is about marriage and divorce. Hence, I am strictly egalitarian when it comes to the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, especially as listed down in verse 11.

Complementarians are quick to say that the Greek for "pastor" and "teacher" are both masculine. My quick response is for them to note the words I highlighted in red in the above passage. ALL of these are in the masculine gender. Hence all the gifts in verse 11 are MASCULINE. Well and good for the complementarians who consider it anathema to see women preaching or teaching from the pulpit much less pastoring their own churches.

My response is simple as you can see. Note that the Greek words for "saints", "we", and "children" are masculine if you check your Greek Bibles. So should one be therefore strict and say that women are not part of the edification process in verse 12, since the word "hagios" for saints is masculine???? Does the phrase, "that WE may no longer be CHILDREN" only apply to men since they too are of masculine gender??? Or when verse 13 talks about "mature manhood" or "perfect man", does this ONLY apply to men and NOT women???

So you see, here is one argument where the gender of the words have no relevance to whether or not women should be pastors and teachers. The defining line is how the Jews practiced genderism in their religious and social affairs and what the coming and outpouring of the Holy Spirit has changed.

The Jews of course did not allow women to be priests. This was as much the implied commandment of God when He assigned priests and Levites to serve in the temple as it was a socio-religious differentiation of their time and age. Women priests during that time were associated with women gods of sexual fertility and the abominations of Ashtoreth and Baal. They were more of temple prostitutes but they were called priestesses.

The people of God had to be different, and God wisely chose a way to show the rest of the world that He was and is a different God. This direction, however, seems to be applicable only as far as differentiation was necessary between the people of God and the people of other gods.

Complementarians, however, stretch their beliefs to women in leadership or women pastors and teachers without the authority of some male leadership. This is such a faulty application of the design of God. Had this been true, there would never have been a Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, who led the nation during the time of nation building. And Christians would then never have a Margaret Thatcher, or an Indira Gandhi.

Even the Jews had their Deborah during the time of the judges to whom Barak submitted to redounding to victory for the Hebrews. And the Jews had women prophets like the prophetess Anna in Luke 2:36. Since there has never been a clear declaration of when women could become prophets, though there was a preponderance of men prophets in the Old Testament, it seems quite clear that the office of prophet by God's choice and by Israel's acceptance have NEVER BEEN LIMITED to MEN. But remember that the Greek word for "prophet" is masculine!

To the credit of the Holy Spirit alone, (no thanks to the complementarians) do we have great Christian women leaders in the Church of Christ. I believe, complementarianism in this situation is an offspring of Roman Catholic practice which is an offspring of the Roman Empire Senate (simply changed external clothing by Emperor Constantine) which is dominated by male (oftentimes homosexual) rule. Most if not all cultures of the pagan world during this time (except perhaps for the Amazons, but who really knows?) were dominated and led by men.

It is clear that the coming of the Holy Spirit which happened during the era of the great Roman Empire, had to now differentiate between the Christian church and the rest of the world. In this case, it was the giving of charismatic gifts to the church WITHOUT RESTRICTION AS TO GENDER. It was time to show that women had as much value to God as men, that women had the same rights and privileges under the Holy Spirit as men do and that there are times that women had the better brains than men did - - - especially in the ekklesia of the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

The spiritual and practical implications of one's understanding and practical application of this passage and concept are bigger than normally thought. Point to me a complementarian denomination or church, and I will show that MOST PROBABLY this group does not believe in the healing gifts of the Holy Spirit nor in tongues. It is also most probable that there is very little excitement in these churches and the excitement they have is limited to church growth (they may rejoice in evangelism mostly because it grows their church, and not necessarily because it make God and heaven rejoice). I will guess that in these churches, only a few are really givers and perhaps not because of the teachings of the church but just out of their own personal walk with God! I will will show a church that may be busy with evangelism and activities but motivated by an intellectual belief instead of being pushed and prodded by the joy and excitement of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

On the other hand, show me the egalitarian churches and denominations and I can show you people who rejoice and marvel at people being healed, people praying and praising in tongues, people serving sacrificially with joy, and people giving beyond their means. And a majority of members "admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs".

Why do I make such sweeping conclusions and judgments you say. Well, it is not really my own but the Bible tells us NOT to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20). If one quenches the Spirit in any ONE of His gifts, he opens the door to quenching the rest of what the Holy Spirit can dispense. Worse, if a whole church or denomination does just that - - - quench the Spirit in ANY ONE of His gifts, the church suffers the consequence of the Holy Spirit aborting His ministry in the church. This is why Holy Spirit revivals where men fall on their knees in surrender to their Savior and people are healed physically or freed from the shackle of their many "prisons" of addiction and fetishes, are few and far between.

It would be good practice NOT to limit our studies to just simple word studies in Scripture but to expand it to include the works and acts of the Holy Spirit in the history of the Israel, the church and the world. Then perhaps, we can interpret parts of Scripture like this correctly.

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