Saturday, December 5, 2009

"there are no great woman theologians" pt 2: every woman is a practical theologian

many if not most of the people who comment on my blogs on theological topics are men.

however, one of my biggest passions (and one of the reasons i blog) is to spread a love of theology among women. (dont get me wrong- i always like to hear the male perspective on what i am thinking... i just wish that there were more women passionate about theological topics)

the reason for my passion is because i truly believe that every woman is a practical theologian. even if you dont profess to love theology, your every action speaks to what you truly believe about God. in fact, i would even say that despite what you would describe as what you believe about God, the way you live IS the true testament to your actual theology.

do we act as if our beauty, husband/boyfriend, or chocolate is our savior and satisfaction, or that Christ is our only hope and savior?

do we demand roles in the church and family based off of what society says we deserve or what the bible says we are graciously allowed to perform?

do we follow the world's commands to delay marriage and motherhood for the sake of happiness/success/career, or do we choose to follow Christ's commands to live for the Kingdom today?

are we indifferent to people going to the horrifying hell we claim to believe in or are we deeply, passionately living out each day to share the good news that Jesus saves from the tragic consequence of sin?

do we live like we trust ourselves to bring people to the knowledge of the truth or like we trust the Holy Spirit to do the work, using us in the process?

right theology isn't being able to answer questions right about God if we had a multiple choice test... it stems from deep seated convictions based on the Word of God leading to an outward change in our lives and actions. and my passion is that women would study and grow in truth, and from that live lives based upon the truth from God's word.

[to give credit where credit is due, though this is something i have been thinking about for a while, reading this blog today encouraged/inspired what i wrote]


  1. Amen, sister :) You know I whole-heartedly agree with you that theology is just as important for women as for men. I would definitely say that real theology is a deep love of and commitment to Truth. That love and commitment inevitably comes out in the choices we make and the way we interact with others. In John 4 Jesus says "a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." Seeking out a deeper theological understanding of God and allowing that understanding to penetrate our lives is a beautiful modem of worship. How else is God to be our "rock," "foundation," "fortress," and so many other things the Psalmists and so many others praise God to be if we don't take an avid interest in seeking out the deep Truths of His Word. Every woman and man would do well to make that their life-time goal and passion. I pray that I persevere in making it mine as well.

  2. I know this is an old post, but it is linked from your "About" page. As a man, I am proving your above point.

    I'd like to offer a hypothesis to your question about the lack of women who are passionate about theology. Andy Stanley has made popular the maxim, "Your systems are perfectly designed to get the behaviors that you are getting." I am convinced there are some structural/systemic issues within the Church that have long encouraged and allowed women to become dispassionate about rigorous theological exploration. As an aside, I think it is great how invested you are in reading, learning, and exploring the depths of our faith.

    To get back to my "hypothesis," I believe the very kind of "biblical" womanhood that your blog advocates for is part of a system that devalues women and their intellectual contributions for the building up of the Church. There are rare instances where someone like you sees that they can and should be involved in this kind of theological exploration. But for the most part, the women I know who have been influenced by this movement have been led to believe that theology is men's work.

    My hypothesis could certainly be off, but I think its worth exploring since there are other "biblical" ways to identify the purpose and function of men and women.

    1. I personally know several women who are deeply intrigued with theology, but I can also see the point that Theologista is making. I would place more of the blame on our culture, particularly the feminist movement. Girls and women are being taught that it's beneath them to desire to be wives, mothers, and homemakers. I think you'd be surprised just how much intellect it takes to do those jobs, especially motherhood.

  3. Jamasina, thanks for your response. I'm not exactly sure the point you are trying to make. To talk about "the feminist movement" as if it is one, mono-chromatic movement of likeminded people doesn't help. There are certainly movements within feminism that belittle the work a woman might do in the home. However, feminist movements have been largely responsible for the re-valuing of educating women. The kinds of intellect that Theologista and myself are talking about is not the kind that is required to work in the home, but rigorous theological and biblical study. This kind of study and learning is undervalued by a church culture that doesn't value a woman's voice in the church and that doesn't believe women have anything to teach men. The women you know that are "deeply intrigued with theology" are thus because of some of the less radical versions of feminism.

  4. Hi Curtis. I am curious as to what your beliefs are on what kind of roles women should be allowed to have in the church. I would agree that the theological education of women is important, but we also need to recognize God-given roles in the church. The Bible speaks against women being pastors (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

  5. Hi Jamasina. Fair question. Can you help me understand how you came to the conclusion that 1 Timothy 2:11-14 gives us the basis for establishing a doctrine about God-given roles? I'd like to understand how you connected "pastors" to this passage. Also, would you agree that women must remain silent? Finally, will a woman be saved through childbearing?
    It has been a consistent practice of the Church through history to not establish doctrine from difficult, or unclear passages of Scripture. It seems to me this passage needs to be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture.
    Thanks. I'm excited to engage these questions with you.

    1. Curtis,

      Let me start by first stating the obvious -- that you avoided answering my question. For the sake of simplicity I am just going to address your question on how I connected pastors to 1 Timothy. We can dive into your other questions later if you want, but I wanted to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time.

      Verse 12 says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." John MacArthur, in his study Bible comments: "Paul used a verbal form of this word [to teach] that indicates a condition or process that is better translated 'to be a teacher.' Thus Paul is forbidding women from filling the office and role of the pastor or teacher.... Paul forbids women from exercising any type of authority over men in the church assembly, since the elders are those who rule... They are all to be men (as is clear from the requirements in 3:2,5)."

      Taking a look at chapter 3, it says "If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy..." etc. (emphasis added). The statement "husband of one wife," would indicate a man for this role.

      I just finished listening to a message by Alistair Begg on the qualifications of elders, and he addresses this topic in much greater detail than I am capable of. I have provided the link below.

      Please give it a listen. I'm interested to read your thoughts.

    2. Hi Jamasina,
      You got me! You're right, I didn't give an answer to your question. In discussions, it always turns out that my response to this question requires me to have a better understanding of where someone is coming from and how they read particular passages. 

      Thanks for your initial responses. I think they gave me enough to start answering your question.

      I'm still struggling with the 1-to-1 correlation you've made between one who teaches or has authority and pastors. In Ephesians 4:11, pastors and teachers are two gifts for the church (separated by an "and" in the Greek). I'm curious if you then link all of the gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 as roles/offices of authority within the church? More specific, I'm wondering if you see a prophet or evangelist as having equal standing with a teacher/pastor? Or would you attribute to a prophet or evangelist as having an authoritative voice? I ask this because we cannot ignore Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians for women who are to speak prophetically in the assembly of God's people. So there are two questions that arise: is a prophet a voice of authority and how does one who is speaking (authority or no) remain silent?

      I suppose I have another follow up question to your point that "they are all to be men." Are all teaching/pastoral authorities within the church also to be married? Must they also have children? If we are to take "The husband of one wife" as prescriptive (prescribing what is to be done), you are right that this authority must be a man. But, a prescriptive reading would also require us to indicate a married man for this role. Verse 4 then also prescribes him children (more than 1). The same instructions are also given for deacons. May a deacon only be a married man with children? Romans 16:1 describes Phoebe as a "deacon." This appears an awkward contradiction. Either Paul has abandoned his own prescription for deacons, he has made an unusual allowance, or his instructions in 1 Tim are to be understood as descriptive of the Ephesian context (i.e. all the deacons are in fact married men with children, therefore he is instructing them about their specific situation).

      I think this raises two important issues for interpretation. 
      1. How do you determine whether a text is prescriptive or descriptive. Christians do not read 1 Corinthians 15:29 as prescriptive for good reason. But how do we make this decision? We must be careful that we never establish Christian norms and doctrine from descriptive passages. 
      2. What do we do with exceptions to our rules? If Paul says silence for women but then allows women to speak we must determine whether the silence is actually the rule or the speaking is the rule and then which is the exception. If Paul says complete silence is the rule, it becomes very difficult to explain an exception. If Paul says women speaking is the rule, there are plenty of situations where silence makes sense (when the women are uneducated, when they are abusing their speaking privileges). In fact, these exceptions then make sense for men as well. 

      Thanks for engaging me on this. I would love to hear if I am missing something from your perspective. 

  6. This is by no means a completely thorough response, but I eventually wanted to get something posted!

    In regards to your follow-up questions, I encourage you to listen to the message I linked to above. It may answer some of your questions.

    Here are some other things that I have found:

    In regards to 1 Corinthians (starting at 14:27): Women are told to keep silent in the context of questioning prophecy. This does not forbid them from the gifts of prophecy, but does forbid them from examining and interpreting prophecy. This is in line with 1 Timothy chapter 2, which forbids women to be in a position of authority over men in the church (which includes the roles of pastors). (Check out this video for a more thorough explanation:

    According to Ryan Fullterton, being saved through childbearing is not a reference to salvation (which is a blatant contradiction to the rest of Scripture), but is a means of working out our salvation through fear and trembling. (

    Additional Resources: (How do we determine prescriptive and descriptive texts?) (a brief explanation on dealing with “exceptions” in the Bible)