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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Becoming a better reader of the Bible:
An approach to Bible Study preparation

We have about 4 different names for small group Bible studies at my church. I mostly call them
growth groups, and I regard them as the backbone of the congregations. What follows is part of
training I ran focussed on the core of the activity of such groups: helping others engage with what
the Bible says. Ben Underwood is Associate Minister at St Matthew’s Shenton Park.

Pastoring through helping others read the Bible well.

Since pastors teach the Bible as a central act of leadership, the best resource we have to be pastors and teachers, is the word of God written in the Bible. Thus we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The basic positions may not have shifted in the ministry-and-gender conversation, but the cultural context around it has. Kara Hartley looks at it from the complementarian point of view. Kara is the Archdeacon for Women in the Diocese of Sydney.

 When it comes to the ongoing disagreements in evangelicalism about the Scriptural teaching on the roles of women in Christian leadership the phrase from Ecclesiastes 1:9 comes to mind, ‘There’s nothing new under the sun.’ That is not to say nothing has been written. On the contrary, over the last 20 years there have been numerous books, blogs, articles, and talks given to the topic. Commentators from both sides continue to advocate their position with passion and vigour. I have been asked to write about whether there have been any new developments in these debates, without necessarily repeating all that has gone before. My conclusion is that despite all the ink that’s been spilled (or keyboards that have been thumped) no real game-changing arguments have emerged. The disagreements so passionately debated are generally a rehash of what has been said already. Yet while the arguments haven’t necessarily changed, the context in which we have them has. Various conversations around sexuality and gender, movements like #metoo and issues relating to domestic violence have certainly placed a renewed spotlight on Scripture’s teaching on roles of men and women, in both the home and in the church.

Unveiling Paul’s Women: Making Sense of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Lucy Peppiatt, Wipf and Stock, 2018

her recent book, Unveiling Paul’s Women, Lucy Peppiatt writes with reference to 1 Corinthians 7-10, that ‘The only real application of these verses, if we think that Paul wrote them, and we think that he is an authoritative voice for the church, is that women should wear head coverings in church when they pray and prophesy’ (p. 55). She had just pointed out that ‘there are no cultural reasons given in these verses for the shame that an uncovered woman and a covered man causes … the disapproval comes from God and the angels’ (p. 54). To deal with this Peppiatt proposes a bold re-reading of the passage. By an act of interpretive judo, she flips everything around and finds that Paul is actually arguing against the practice of women’s head covering. She writes, ‘Paul was faced with a group of domineering, gifted, prophetic men who had implemented oppressive practices for women in Paul’s absence. They constructed a theology to support their practices that was a blend of Paul’s original thought and their own distorted view of the world’ (p. 86). Paul is presenting their thinking (not his own) in vv4-5 and 7-10, which Paul then opposes with his own corrective in vv11-16. Verse 13 expects the answer ‘yes’, and the uniform custom of the churches is to allow women to pray and prophesy without a head covering.

Although the debate between complementarians and egalitarians has not been revolutionised
lately, there are still real developments that the egalitarian Tim Foster wants to draw our
attention to. Tim Foster is Vice Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne. 

For many the gender debate is like Groundhog Day, playing out in predictable ways, retracing old steps and unable to move forward. And yet there have been some interesting developments that may not have decided the matter, but which served to move the discussion forward. There are two major developments that I will consider. The first concerns a shift in the biblical discussion away from the Pauline corpus to consideration of how women are understood in a broader range of NT texts. The other concerns the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, whether the Son is functionally subordinate to the Father and what bearing it has on the submission of women to male authority.

That the late Archbishop Donald Robinson’s thought and ministry have already had a significant influence in Australian Anglican circles is clear. Here Chase Kuhn puts his finger on the conviction at the heart of Robinson’s enduring influence. Chase R. Kuhn lectures in Christian thought and ministry at Moore Theological College.

Archbishop Donald W. B. Robinson’s most enduring influence has been, and will no doubt continue to be, his high esteem for the Word of God as the governing authority of all of the Christian life. This esteem for Scripture was a hallmark of his biblical theological studies, agreeable with what he believed to be the best of Anglicanism, and therefore definitive of his ministry.

Is complementarianism on the way out?
he Masculinist thinks so.
In an issue largely themed on the state of the Christian discussion on gender, it might be worth finishing by noticing emerging energy for critiques of complementarianism from quarters which are dissatisfied with the character and direction of the cultural take on gender, and dissatisfied with egalitarianism and complementarianism as faithful and viable roads to walk.

What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women
Kevin Giles, Cascade, 2018

This book is, in my opinion, the best book available today on the controversial topic of the status and ministry of women. It is wide ranging in scope, very well researched and easy to read. The book is the fruit of Kevin Giles’ forty years of careful study of the scriptures and of debates with those of counter-opinions both in Australia and on the international scene.

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