The Don Martin - Jeff Smelser - Mark J. Ward Discussion on
I Corinthians 14:34,35
The following is brother Mark J. Ward's next in the exchange on the proper meaning and application of I Corinthians 14:34,35 for folks today.
Subject: Re: I Corinthians 14:34,35
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 22:18:12 -0500
From: "Mark J. Ward" <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Mark J. Ward here to Don Martin, Jeff Smelser and the list:
Don has asked if "prophetesses" were included in the meaning or sense of the word(s) "women" and "woman" in verses 34,35. Don does NOT believe that they were. Don argues that an affirmative answer to this belittles and deprecates the prophetesses. I deny that such has to be the case. Please read on.
Don asserts that prophets and prophetesses were doing exactly the same thing in the SAME CIRCUMSTANCES. I AGREE that they both were "prophesying", but I DISAGREE that women who prophesied were allowed by God to remove themselves from their God-given roles at times of prophesying and usurp authority over men while exercising that gift! Don has no scripture, has tried to use an OLD TESTAMENT prophetess in Anna (and other Old Testament prophetesses) who didn't even have to wear an artificial covering according to the law of Moses! The careful student will notice how Don's "parallel" breaks down even between New Testament prophetesses and Old Testament prophetesses in this regard <g>. NOTE: I do NOT, believe that OT prophetesses usurped/exercised authority over men with God's blessings either.
I have accused Mark's position of belittling and deprecating the prophetesses. Through various maneuvers, Mark in our exchange on I Corinthians 11: 1-16, reduced "prophesying" to uninspired teaching (in order to have present day application). Now, I believe both Mark and Jeff are seen undervaluing the work and nature of the prophetesses. Why do I say this?
I submit that the prophets and prophetesses were considered equal in as far as the inspiration of what they taught and foretold (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). This being the case, why would Paul write in the case of prophetesses, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their
husbands at home...." (I Cor. 14: 35). I kindly submit that the "yes" answer provided by both Jeff and Mark to my above question makes the prophetess inferior to her prophet husband.
If the "husbands" are not the prophets, then the "yes" answer underrates the prophetesses even more. In other words, let these inspired prophetesses who do not know something ask their uninspired husbands at home.
MY POSITION ON PROPHETESSES
We will look at Don's writing quoted above more than once in this particular post. Don incorrectly represents my position, which we have brought up before. He may not mean to, but knows that I am sensitive to this, since readers could get the wrong impression of my position from the way in which he writes above <G>. I believe that "prophesying" as used in I Corinthians 11 INCLUDES prophesying whether inspired or uninspired teaching, whether in or out of the assembly of the local church, whether in public or private settings. Does such appear that I "reduce" the meaning of the word? Since I am on a diet right now and trying to start an exercise plan <G>, I would think that Don would rather accuse me of "enlarging" the meaning of the word <g>! I realize that the "application" of the word for us today would be only to those who are uninspired, since no folks are living who posses miraculous gifts, but the MEANING I place on the word is inclusive and not exclusive. Thanks!
ONE SITUATION, IS NOT THE ~ONLY~ SITUATION BEING PROHIBITED
Further, Don makes a grave error, in my estimation, in his argumentation just above (in his last three paras quoted immediately above. Don takes ONE SITUATION about women among many possibilities and tries to make that a ONE SIZE FITS ALL jacket to place on ALL WOMEN. If one but properly understands the "b" part of verse 35, "for it is a shame for a woman to speak in church", one will properly realize ~THAT~ IS WHY a "prophetess" (or any other woman, for that matter) is not to speak in either an authoritative or non-authoritative way, ask a question, prophesy (in the sense of addressing the mixed audience and usurping authority over the men), etc IN THE CHURCH. It's really not that hard. Don has to go to great lengths in efforts to shore up his unusual theory. I hope the reader can see the great lengths to which Don's "spiritual gifts position" has to go in order to attempt to remove the applicability of BOTH of these texts (chapters 11 AND 14, wherein we are specifically discussing them) for folks today.
TEST DON'S ~INFERIOR ARGUMENT~ REGARDING WOMEN AND MEN USING UNINSPIRED TEACHERS
Lastly, on this particular part of Don's reasoning being examined, Don's argument is faulty when we compare it to UNINSPIRED men and women teachers. Please re-read Don's last two paras above (quoted below):
Don wrote, "I submit that the prophets and prophetesses were considered equal in as far as the inspiration of what they taught and foretold (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). This being the case, why would Paul write in the case of prophetesses, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home...." (I Cor. 14: 35). I kindly submit that the "yes" answer provided by both Jeff and Mark to my above question makes the prophetess inferior to her prophet husband.
"If the "husbands" are not the prophets, then the "yes" answer underrates the prophetesses even more. In other words, let these inspired prophetesses who do not know something ask their uninspired husbands at home."
IT IS TRUE, first of all, that the prophetesses' TEACHING was "equal" (if we want to use that term??? <g>) to that of the prophets with regards to TRUTH and INSPIRATION. Such is really NOT AT ISSUE. But that does NOT make the prophets and the prophetesses EQUAL IN ALL RESPECTS, now, does it? A "babe in Christ" for example can teach a "truth" and such is EQUAL (in truthfulness and authority from God) as a 40 year old Christian who is very mature and trained in God's Word, but does that mean that the BABE IN CHRIST is EQUAL to the MATURE CHRISTIAN??? Certainly not! Please read on.
IS it true (I write ~IS it TRUE~) . that to argue that prophetesses were to be subject to men, including prophets, in such a way as to not teach over them and not to speak in the assembly, that such would DEMAND that prophetesses would be "inferior" to a prophet (to use Don's wording)? I don't believe so at all!!!. Please consider the following truism: LIKE God's Word teaches that women who are uninspired are to be in subjection to men (included in the women in I Cor. 11:3-5; I Tim. 2:11,12) and are not to speak when the whole church be come together into one place (I Cor. 14:34,35) and in so doing ~they are NOT inferior to men~, SO prophetesses could be so regulated and not be inferior to men! If not, why not?
REGULATION/LIMITATION DOESN'T EQUATE TO INFERIORITY
Is it because the prophetesses would have to LIMIT or "hold back" from using ~their gift of prophecy~ at times stated in the text (as to why Don might think this would have them, in his mind, to be made ~inferior to men~)? We are not yet told. But the answer is a big NO, it can't be for that reason for the ~male prophets~ were also taught to regulate, limit, or keep their peace/silence at times, as well as male tongue speakers (See I Cor. 14:27,28,29,30,40)! See the point here??? The ~inferior argument~ Don promotes really has no weight, brother Don. It's invalid and does nothing to support your present theory that prophetesses could, with God's approval, exercise authority by exception to God's rules for women and would simply wear a "sign" that they were "in subjection" or "respected authority of men"??? while NOT being in subjection to man (in teaching over them in an authoritative way by exception as you assert continually without scriptural proof)! I STILL have not seen you reconcile that paradox! <g> [i.e. prophetesses DOING ONE THING (prophetesses in Don's way of thinking were teaching over men) and SAYING ANOTHER (wearing a covering to show subjection while exercising dominion/authority over men in an audience, including prophets)]!
Repeating here, but looking at a different aspect of his approach this time,
I submit that the prophets and prophetesses were considered equal in as far as the inspiration of what they taught and foretold (I Cor. 11: 4, 5). This being the case, why would Paul write in the case of prophetesses, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home...." (I Cor. 14: 35)."
ARE ALL SCENARIOS GIVEN HEREIN .WERE ALL PROPHETESSES EVEN MARRIED???
First of all, please note that ALL PROPHETESSES WERE NOT NECESSARILY MARRIED! Before you jump on the bandwagon in agreement with brother Don, please re-consider <G>. Paul is NOT giving ALL the scenarios that could possibly exist concerning a woman speaking in church in this text (by a long shot). Please consider: Other than in being asked a direct question of an elder, for example, I cannot presently think of anything that would SEEM to be as "innocent" (unassuming, non-confrontational, for a good purpose, etc) as a woman's asking a question for clarification/understanding/learning (in the proper spirit)! Such a scenario or example is exactly what God's wisdom, through Paul, chooses to use as ONE EXAMPLE (of many that could have been used) that would be forbidden by a woman when the whole church be come together in one place. Jeff wrote it better than I in his last post <g>. If women can't even ask a question to learn...how could they be preaching
in the assembly over the men in that assembly???
EAT AT HOME DOESN'T MENTION A RESTAURANT EITHER .
The KEY that unlocks brother Don's door, in my estimation, is the proper understanding and application of verse 35b, " for it is a shame for a woman to speak in church." IF one can see (and some can't yet <g>) that in I Cor. 11:34, for example, "if any man is hungry, let him eat at home" is not the ONLY circumstance under which a social common meal would be prohibited when the church comes together, one should be able to see that "if any woman has a question, let her ask her husband at home" is not the ONLY CIRCUMSTANCE under which a woman speaking in the church would be prohibited in I Cor. 14's teaching.
Don writes (in part):
Moreover, I continue to stress that the "women" were in all probability the uninspired wives of the prophets.
Can we not see the ~conjecture~ in Don's position in his writing (as he does) above?
Don also writes (in part):
I Corinthians is one of the earliest written books comprising the New Testament canon. Hence, knowledge outside of miraculous inspiration was sparse. Prophecy was one of the main sources of the infusion of knowledge at the time of I Corinthians. I believe "let them ask their husbands at home" certainly implies some capability on the part of these husbands and more capability than the inquiring wives. This is one reason I have insisted that the circumstances of I Corinthians 11 and chapter 14: 34, 35 are unrelated. Therefore, it does harm to try to use chapter 14: 34, 35 to regulate chapter 11: 4-16. These prophetesses were doing exactly the same work and in the same places as their male counter-parts the prophets. They, I repeat, were the exception to I Timothy 2: 12.
Don's para above contains some truth, but more conjecture is inserted above by our brother Don. Can you recognize it? Do you see the parts that are sound and the parts that are pure assertions in his writings? I want to be loving and kind, yet pointed and clear, brother Don (he knows I love him dearly).
God said "every woman" who prays or prophesies was to cover her head. But, brother Don, in that passage (chapter 11) EXCLUDES ALL WOMEN except for his theory's special class of prophetesses and ONLY WHILE THEY WERE LEADING (praying or prophesying)! In chapter 14, 35b, God instructs, " for it is a shame for a woman to speak in church" and Don's position EXCLUDES ALL WOMEN except for his theory's special class of prophets' wives ONLY (and I am not sure but what Don's position would even allow THEM TO SPEAK in the assembly, so long as they were not asking a question of a "prophet", were not causing disruption, and were not exercising authority over men in so speaking??? Is that right, Don?). There are too many assumptive leaps in brother Don's positions for me to join up with him and teach such.
I love brother Don (and brother Jeff), but we must have sound scriptural reasons for our understanding of scripture. I fear Don does the opposite of what he accuses brother Jeff and I of doing Don ELEVATES the prophetesses above that which is written! I say this in light of his theory's contention that, in his words, they " were the exception to I Timothy 2:12." No passage, no unavoidable conclusion is given, just an assertion by Don that women could address men, in such a way as to be exercising dominion over them in public and private settings while prophesying, (but they had to "cover" with a covering like brother Cavender and others assert must be the case IF a man were present who had a like gift)! He thinks its in I Cor. 11, but friends read it yourself...it's just not there!
I am enjoying the discussion and appreciate brothers Don and Jeff so much for their willingness to discuss openly and lovingly a matter of importance and difference on a Bible topic. May God continue to bless us with this oppty. Please give careful attention to brethren Don Martin and Jeff Smelser's next as we discuss more along this line.
In Christian love,
Mark J. Ward
The Religious Instructor
The Golden Isles church of Christ
(from MARS-List Digest 4035, March 25, 2003)
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[Editors Note: This is one of the most in-depth, comprehensive studies between brethren on the issue of whether the women in the "b" part of verse 35 of I Corinthians 14:34,35 is "all women", including women today, or whether those women were only the "prophets' wives". We hope all readers will continue to study all Bible topics with open minds, willing to conform to God's Truth. Thanks for reading! - Mark J. Ward firstname.lastname@example.org]
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