Women In Leadership

Jump to Grant Hickman's video teaching, Viewing Scripture Through a Redemptive Lens. This video is helpful in understanding the decision process used by the elders.

We believe that women and men leading, ministering, and utilizing all the spiritual gifts together is both God’s original and redemptive design. We believe Scripture teaches the full equality of men and women as co-heirs with Christ. We believe that God utilizes both women and men to teach, lead, and serve together in the ministry of reconciliation given us by Jesus Christ. This conviction leads us to involve women and men in full participation, collaboration, mutual support, and unity of purpose. Each person is valued and encouraged to use and develop their gifts to build up our local body. Therefore, at our church, women are fully included in the life of the church, and both men and women are free to participate in all ministries and positions, including the roles of elder, teacher, and Lead Pastor, as we inspire others to know, love, and follow Jesus.

Unity, Liberty, Love

We do not claim that this discussion is cut-and-dried. The fact that brilliant, Spirit-filled scholars committed to the inerrancy of Scripture land on both sides of this question points to the complexity of the challenge. So we will respect anyone who disagrees with us. We do believe, however, that the discussion of women in leadership is a secondary doctrinal issue. Primary issues deal with the essentials of the faith: Scripture, the Trinity, the unique roles of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and God’s plan of salvation through Christ. Scripture is categorically clear on these issues. But there are issues that are not emphatically clear and that lend themselves to robust discussion and debate. Positions concerning the end times, the spiritual gift of tongues, particulars about the Lord’s Supper, and women in ministry would be examples of this category. Our conviction for years has been:

In essentials, unity.
In nonessentials, liberty.
In everything, love.

The purpose of this article is not to champion an agenda or even advance the debate. The doctrinal purpose of this article is to examine the question through the lens of the New Covenant and decide how best to continue our mission to inspire people to know, love and follow Jesus.

The Process

In early 2017, the newly combined Board made up of Willamette Christian and Beaverton Christian heritage elders met and decided to closely study the biblical treatment of women in leadership. Each elder set out separately in his study of the Bible, as well as books and articles that offered varying points of view and arguments. The rationale behind this step was to allow each individual the necessary time and space to read deeply and allow the Holy Spirit to guide his decision. Each man came from a different background and set of life experiences—from deeply complementarian to egalitarian upbringings and places in between. We were cognizant that traditions inform presuppositions, so we entered this study with open hands and receptive hearts.

As part of our process, the Board of Elders believed it was essential that we avoid confirmation bias—that is, that we not reach a conclusion about what we believe and then tailor our study of Scripture to that conclusion. Instead, we avoided reaching conclusions. For John 13:14–15, NIV, 1 Corinthians 11:12, Matthew 23:8–12 and Mark 10:42–43, Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 4:12, and Mark 10:41–45 until we conducted our study of Scripture. Faced with texts that in some cases free women, but in other cases restrict them four alternative responses are possible:

  1. We take the texts that approve women’s ministry and ignore the others.
  2. We focus on the apparent restrictive statements of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 and overlook the implications of there being in the New Testament women teachers, deacons, prophets, (possibly elders), and an apostle.
  3. We conclude that the New Testament is ambiguous enough to leave us free to choose whatever position seems most relevant to our time, culture, comfort, and preference.
  4. We examine the historical settings of the restrictive texts to see if there is a more consistent outlook with the positive statements.

We followed option 4. We accept without question that God's intent was not to divide the church over divinely inspired passages written by Paul on the subject of women in the church. They must be harmonized, not ignored or glossed over.

During this study, the elders met regularly to discuss what each was learning and how each one was growing from this shared experience. What developed from this process was the type of growth and unity that we understood as the leading of the Holy Spirit. After individual study, our Lead Pastors and teaching team members were invited to bring scholarly input, along with individual study to help inform the understanding of our Elder Board. During these seasons, we made steps toward alignment on the role of women serving in leadership at all levels, not including the role of Elder or Lead pastor, and confirmed our support of women serving as Teaching Pastors.

In October of 2021, after seasons of personal study and regular meetings, after years of reading, prayer, and discussion an enthusiastic support for women as Elders was declared and affirmed. It was a defining moment for our church and a precious moment of unity for our elders. The elders did not make this decision quickly or take it lightly. Nor did they seek to implement it immediately, but rather to ensure that the immediate and most urgent needs of ministry were being met, while equipping staff to understand the journey, the background, the scripture and the posture we have taken.

We are thrilled that the Spirit has led us to this place and look forward to seeing God move through our women leaders in new ways. Whereas it is impossible to exhaustively address the discussion of women in leadership in a paper of this nature, the elders believe it is important to communicate the scriptural and hermeneutical support for our decision. The remainder of this paper will concisely explain our theological and biblical perspective.


  1. Romans 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:8-12, 13-28; Eph 4:11
  2. Eve is made as a “suitable helper” for Adam. This is not a role of subordination, but one that means “one who meets our needs” or “indispensable companion.” God is frequently described as the “helper,” being one who does for us what we cannot do ourselves.
  3. From the Fall forward God consistently and repeatedly gives women more dignity, authority, and responsibility than was acceptable in the culture around them. (i.e. Ex 15:20-21; Num 12:1-2, 15; Judges 4:4-9, 14; 5:7; 2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Sam 20:15-22; The Book of Esther, Luke 10:38-42, 23:49, 55-56, 24:1; John 4:4-42; Acts 1:14, 5:14, 8:3, 9:2, 16:13-15 17:34; Phil 4:2-3)
  4. See Rom 8:15-17, Gal 3:28; 4:4-7
  5. See Appendix A “Concerning 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12”
  6. Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Esther, Bathsheba, Anna, Mary of Magdala, Priscilla, Chloe, Mympha Apphia, Phoebe, and Junia all led in Israel or the early church.
  7. 2 Cor 5:18
  8. Gal 5:21
  9. Heb 10:23-25; 1 Thess 5:11
  10. See Appendix B “Concerning 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9”

It seems that the Board is simply going along with a progressive culture. How do we maintain biblical integrity in a rapidly changing culture?

The Christian church comes from the Restoration Movement tradition. This is a tradition that, at inception, was trying to examine our teachings and practices to ensure they’re consistent with the teachings and practices of the apostles and the record they left behind for us in the New Testament scriptures. By using the redemptive lens to interpret Scripture, we are holding to that same tradition.

This decision did not come about because of a cultural shift, but rather from a study of scripture and a humble realization that perhaps we had been interpreting scriptures (particularly 1 Corinthians 14:34 and l Timothy 2:11–15) regarding women in church leadership selectively and differently than the original churches would have understood them. Some assume that today, we are shifting this perspective due to the prevailing “inclusive” culture around us. However, what drove previous generations to adopt their positions should also be asked. We wish to respect the previous consensus about the meaning of scripture. Still, we need to face the fact that long-standing agreements have been shown to have been driven by cultural standards of their day and need to be reexamined in light of how the early church would have understood these texts.

For example, there was vast justification for slavery by Christians in the 18th and 19th centuries, and more recently, the position on the superiority of one race over another as practiced in the southern United States, Colonial Africa, and elsewhere. Neither of these issues would be acceptable today as legitimate and biblically justifiable. However, based on their interpretation of certain parts of the Bible both issues were fought for by some Christians for many years.. The issues at stake were not challenged because this was the practice of the culture at large, so it was easy for Christians to avoid questioning them (with notable exceptions). Similarly, women have been denied equality with men as a general practice in most societies until recently, so the church in the United States has never faced this question as honestly and sincerely as it is being forced to today.

An underlying concern has been that using a framework for viewing scripture in this way may lead to a degradation of the authority of scripture and God’s Word. For our church, we do not believe this to be the case, and seek to ensure that the historical and scriptural view of topics like marriage, identity, and sexuality are aligned with our practices and beliefs. Meaning, we believe that God created man and woman in his image, male and female He created them. We believe that marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and that sexual relationships are to only happen within the confines of a marriage relationship.

Every generation is responsible for holding to the authority and integrity around their interpretation and application of scripture. This means things must be examined and reevaluated from time to time. The examination asks where we have let past cultural bias influence our interpretation and where we need to realign to the Apostles’ understanding. The goal has always been to let the Holy Spirit guide that process and not the culture. Having a redemptive lens allows us to do this with integrity.

Doesn’t the Bible teach that men are the head of the church?

Honestly, no. Ephesians 5:23 tells us in no uncertain terms that Christ is the head of the church. We must be careful to define ministry in the church not in terms of hierarchy and status, but of service and submission.

The entire church functions under the authority of Jesus Christ. He is its head, and our service is to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (under his authority, on his initiative, and by The Spirit’s power). Therefore, discussing roles within the church, whether male or female, is to discuss servanthood, not hierarchy; submission, not authority.

Wait, what about Eve being created as the “helpmate” of Adam?

Eve is made as a “suitable helper” for Adam. This is not a role of subordination but one that means “one who meets our needs” or “indispensable companion.” The same Hebrew word is used frequently to describe God as our “helper,” one who does for us what we cannot do ourselves. It is a word of companionship, not subordination.

God places his image equally on both man and woman. This mutuality of women and men is confirmed when God charges both the man and the woman together—without distinction of roles—with the joint responsibility of ruling over the creatures, rearing children, and stewarding his good creation (Gen 1:26-28).

Aren’t there two passages in the New Testament that expressly forbid women from
being leaders or teachers in the church? What do you do with 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2?

See Appendices A and B below.

Are women more easily deceived than men? Is Paul making a statement of fact concerning a female’s ability to discern as a reason for restricting her from leadership?

The question here is, was Paul referring to a timeless principle in 1 Timothy 2:13-14? Because Adam was created first, and Eve first deceived, is this a foundational principle for all churches for all times, or is it limited to a local church dealing with primogeniture (rights of the firstborn) and patriarchy?

Let’s start with verses 13-14: “For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam whom Satan deceived. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.” Here, Paul is reviewing history. This is his summary of Genesis 3. At stake here is primogeniture. That is, the family's rights and inheritance go to the firstborn. Although this was true culturally throughout the Old and New Testaments, the Bible never affirms this as a cultural norm. In fact, Scripture often subverts this idea. God chose Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David–none were the firstborn. Jesus himself is the “last” Adam, and Jesus exercises the most significant authority. Finally, the Gospels themselves teach that the first will be last, and the last will be first in God’s Kingdom.

Then comes verse 14. Yes, Eve was deceived first, which seems to be a real issue for the church in Ephesus. The women there were being deceived like Eve; therefore, Eve is a good example to bring up for this church.

However, does that mean that all women for all time are susceptible by their gender also to be so easily deceived? If so, this is the only place in scripture that teaches this principle. The totality of scripture teaches that all humanity has a sinful bent to be deceived by the Enemy, the World, and their own nature.

Further, the track record of men throughout scripture is vastly tainted, and yet we do not hold their faults against an entire gender. For instance, Jacob is the ultimate deceiver. He deceives others and was deceived by other men. Yet no one would argue that every man since Jacob should be considered as easily deceived as Jacob was.

The “deception” argument does not consider women such as Pricilla, Phoebe, Junia, Euodia, and Syntyche among Paul's trusted and wise colleagues in ministry. Paul trusted men and women to make wise decisions concerning the church and their ministry. Oh, and Pricilla was in Ephesus.

So, are women easily deceived? Yes, but not any more than men.

Finally, this same text is often used to depict women as being more sensitive in nature and countenance than men. Nowhere does Scripture present women in such a way, but instead, we are reading a biased understanding of masculine/feminine attributes back into texts. At the risk of redundancy, no gender gets to claim to be more sensitive in any given social context than the other.

But when Paul gave the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3, he said that elders need to be “the husband of one wife,” which means only men can be elders. Right?

Interpretive Approaches

Originalism is an interpretive process that holds that the meaning of a text or policy should be determined based on the author’s original intent at the time that it was written or enacted. Originalism stands in contrast to “Living” or “Broad” interpretive methods which suggest that the interpretation of a text or policy should evolve and adapt according to changing societal values, norms, and circumstances.

While Broad Interpretive Methods place a high significance on the current values and desires of the interpreter, Originalism places a strong emphasis on adhering to the original meaning and the historical context of the text and its author.

Broad Interpretive Results

Broad Interpretive Approaches to I Timothy 3 have produced many acceptable doctrines within the Evangelical community and are currently practiced as Western Christian cultural norms. Here are just two:

  • Many churches exclude unmarried men from positions of Eldership as this passage implies marriage and children as a pre-requisite: A married man who rules his wife and children well is the training ground for ruling the family of God.
  • With the rise of No-Contest Divorce in the 20th century, Evangelicals looked to I Timothy 3 to stem the tide of divorce by interpreting that the passage forbade divorced candidates from applying for positions of Eldership.

While both interpretations abound within American Evangelicalism, neither is the result of the Originalist Approach. Both interpretations demonstrate the desire to combat a current problem (The declining structure and unity of the American family & the dissolution of marriage as a social institution) by extrapolating certain inferences identified within the text.

Difficulty arises with these Broader Interpretive Methods when confronted by the full testimony of Scripture. Under the first illustration, the Elder is seen as functioning as the Husband and Father of the church, positions held by Jesus Christ (Eph 1:22-23), and God the Father (John 20:17). Under this doctrine neither Jesus nor Paul could have served as elders within the churches they founded or planted.

In the second illustration, Scripture clearly lays out the acceptable process for divorce (Matthew 19:9, I Corinthians 7:15). Should a “Biblically Divorced” candidate be restricted from Biblical Eldership? The Broad Interpretive Approaches to any passage of Scripture generally offer immediate relief from an urgent problem while simultaneously creating new problems.

An Originalist Approach

For context, we understand that Paul was not ministering in a culture that was facing the pressures of increasing divorce rates and challenges to family roles brought on by modern social dynamics. He was, however, facing the problem of polygamy. A husband having more than one wife was a pervasive problem at the time of the author’s writing, in fact, the problem of polygamy was common during the first three centuries of the church’s existence.

We believe that in order to restore marriage to its original (Edenic) intent, Paul is forbidding polygamists from leadership, with the goal of bringing polygamy to an orderly end within the Churches of Jesus Christ. When applying an originalist approach to interpreting Paul’s statements in I Timothy 3, we believe that the clearest and most literal understanding of the passage is that gender is not being addressed as a qualification for candidacy. To assert that the passage excludes candidates based on gender is to extrapolate an inference based on pre-existing preference.

In holding to this Originalist interpretation of I Timothy we do not deny the inference of masculine gender in Paul’s message. He is clearly addressing a primarily male audience, and why? Simply because Paul is addressing a primarily male issue. For Paul to have addressed women, or even multiple genders in his original writing, he would have had to be facing the issue of polyandry (a wife married to multiple husbands). This is something never mentioned in Biblical texts, and virtually unknown in either the Mediterranean or Roman world of the first century.

As a result of holding the Originalist position on I Timothy 3, we do not extrapolate a gender disqualification from inference, especially when that inference exists for an easily identifiable original intention. The phrase “husband of one wife” does not exclude women from serving as Elders in the church; it excludes polygamists from serving as Elders in the church.

The most compelling case for the Originalist Interpretation of this passage is that the author’s intent for this passage has come to fruition – in the places where Christian Churches proclaim the Gospel and teach people to obey all that Jesus commanded, polygamy disappears, and marital virtue is restored.

Also, see Appendix B.

Don’t our bylaws require that elders be men?

No. Our bylaws do not refer to gender as a condition of filling the office of governance.

What perceivable change will this decision cause?

Very little. Currently, our elder Board is comprised of all men, who have appointed one Senior Leader who reports directly to the Board and has ultimate responsibility for the overall organization, staff leadership, ministry plans, vision, and mission. Right now, the Senior Leader the Board has appointed and the Spirit has called is a woman. She leads a professional staff that is made up of male and female pastors, preachers, and support staff. This change means that moving forward, our church can now appoint female elders. Those elders will go through the same onboarding, vetting, and prayerful process that every elder has always gone through.

Each campus will continue to function with outstanding leadership entrusted to lead locally while keeping unity within the organization. Dynamic worship, teaching, discipleship, missions/outreach, students and kids ministry, and leadership development will continue just as it has. The vast majority who call our church home will not notice any real perceivable change.

If I disagree with this, do I need to leave the church?

No, absolutely not. This is not a decision to break fellowship over. We are one in Christ; his Spirit unites us, We share the essentials of the faith, even if we disagree on secondary issues. The goal should be unity, joined as a whole; not unanimity, agreement by all. There is full unity among our elders and staff who all sit at different places on the spectrum of this decision. Please, agree to disagree and jump back into serving. There are lost people all around us who need to be touched by God’s grace.

How can I learn more?

We encourage you to be open to the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit in your life for learning and growth. Do what the elders/staff did and submit to a process of exploring God's heart in this matter, which will take time, study, and prayer. Start by reading this paper carefully and looking up all the Bible passages. Read the surrounding context and ask the Spirit to guide your discovery. If you are still hungry for more, the following books will help you understand the elders’ position more clearly. However, not all the elders would agree with everything written herein.

And if I still have questions, who should I reach out to connect with?

Please reach out to Chris Yarco, Grant Hickman, or one of our elders.

Appendix A

Concerning 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

This text is perhaps the most easily understood as not limiting women from speaking in all places and at all times but to a specific place, culture, and time. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. However, this is not ONE church but a cluster of churches (1 Cor 1:11-12), and they are at odds with one another. Paul first heard of the dissent in Corinth from Chloe, and his chief concern in the letter is one of unity.

Even before one arrives at 14:34-35, Paul has already stated that women, as well as men, pray and prophesy as part of the worship gathering: But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head (1 Cor 11:5). This, by itself, addresses that Paul is referring to a specific and limited kind of silence rather than a general absolute silence. Commentators widely accept that this is a difficult passage to understand. Before we unpack it, however, it must be noted that few, if any, enforce the “head covering” portion of this text and instead point to the spiritual gift of prophecy and public prayer as the forbidden thing for women. Regardless of one's interpretation of women and their role around public prayer and prophecy, at a minimum, Paul allows it as long as their head is covered.

Today, the most common view among those who oppose women speaking with authority in the church is that Paul forbids women from evaluating prophecy (1 Cor. 14:29). In this view, women may prophesy but may not judge prophecy because that involves a higher level of speaking authority which is not open to women. There are two significant problems with this view. First, the word “speak” in 1 Corinthians 14:34 does not have the connotation of evaluating prophecy—neither the word itself nor the immediate context of verses 34-35. Second, the general concept of there being two levels of speech and that the higher, more authoritative level of evaluating prophecy is only for men is not found anywhere else in Paul’s writings. Indeed, Paul’s explanation of prophecy in this chapter strongly suggests that prophecy is at the highest level of authoritative speech (14:1-25).

A more likely view is that Paul refers to a specific and limited kind of silence for women. In context, it may be that Paul is forbidding women only from asking disruptive questions during the worship service. This fits precisely with Paul's instruction about how to solve the problem: “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home” (14:35). This view also agrees with the larger context of Paul’s concern for unity during the worship gathering so that people may be genuinely edified (14:26-40).

1 Timothy 2:11-12

To understand, “Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly,” one must grasp the context of 1 Timothy. Paul is writing to Timothy to affirm his place in the church, encourage him, and give instruction to those under his care. The congregation(s) that Timothy is leading is still new and struggling with how to work out their faith.

Continuing the earlier theme that God reveals himself and his divine plan in time and to a specific context, one can see how Paul continues in this pattern. He writes to a particular church in a particular context and uses what they know to help them see what they should be doing. The first thing that should be of note is that in the immediately-preceding context, Paul prohibits elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold, pearls, and expensive clothing (v.9). Most interpreters do not consider these commands binding today in the strictly literal sense because they were so specific to Paul’s first-century cultural context. Therefore, since the culture binds the instructions of verse nine, the same process of interpretation and application ought to be followed when looking at verses 11-12.

If 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is interpreted as a general, universal, and timeless prohibition against women teaching and exercising authority in the church, it would be inconsistent with what Paul teaches and practices in his other letters, specifically, with how he values and speaks of women leading. In addition, verse 11, although carrying a negative connotation when read today, was revolutionary at the time. Today we emphasize “quietly,” yet the audience he is writing to would have been appalled that he was allowing a woman to learn at all! The teaching that a woman should learn the Law is a radical and liberating departure from the Jewish view that women were not to learn at all! Therefore, if Paul is not limiting but liberating women in the Ephesian church, how too might we continue that tradition?

Furthermore, since Paul does not mention this “limiting” in any of his other letters, particularly to Titus, in which he repeats his instructions regarding elders and deacons, it is our view that Paul is addressing a specific, local context in Ephesus. That contextual coaching is that there were many false teachers in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3-20; 4:1-7; 6:6-10, 20-21; 2 Tim 2:16-26; 3:5-13; 4:3-4). As mentioned before, Jewish women had not historically been allowed to learn the Law or any form of “higher education.” Thus, they had many questions as they were not permitted to learn. The false teachers among them can easily influence and persuade these women away from the Gospel that Paul had preached to them. In addition, this sheds light on why they were not to speak but to listen quietly. There is only a set amount of time in any given service, and since a worship gathering is not a classroom, the speaker should not be interrupted with questions. This is no different from a sermon today, where there is no back and forth with the congregation but a one-way speech later discussed in circles throughout the week. In these circles, people can ask questions, dialogue, and learn.

Considering this situation, Paul applies the general principle of needing to learn in quiet submission before teaching to the uneducated Ephesian women led astray by false teachers. In our contemporary context this principle would apply to anyone more susceptible to false teaching, male or female. It would be inaccurate to generalize and say that women today are always more prone than men to believe false teaching. This raises the fundamental interpretive issue of changing contexts and the question of how what was appropriate in the Greco-Roman world of the first century should be applied to our very different times and culture. In other words, even if we conclude that Paul prohibited women in Corinth and Ephesus from having authority over men in the church, does this necessarily mean that they should not have it in 21st century Portland?

Appendix B

Concerning 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9

1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9 both speak to the qualifications for elders/overseers and deacons. We believe these qualifications are not job descriptions or gender-specific qualities but moral and character qualifications. In the original Greek text, there are no masculine pronouns. Instead, Paul uses the generic pronoun tis, meaning “whoever” or “anyone.” This means a more literal translation of 1 Timothy 3:1-6 would read:

“Trustworthy is the saying: Whoever [tis aspires to [the office of overseer desires a good work. It is necessary, therefore, that the overseer be without reproach, a “one-woman man” [literal translation , temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, apt at teaching, not an excessive drinker, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy; managing one’s household well, having children in subjection with all gravity—but if someone [tis does not know how to manage one’s own family, how would one care for God’s church?—not a recent convert, lest being puffed up, one become conceited and fall into the devil’s snare” (Witt 319-20).

Therefore, aside from the “one-woman man,” nothing in this passage indicates the sex of the “overseer.” This phrase translates in many ways within the faithful modern theological interpretation. I.e., “the husband of one wife” (KJV, NASB, ESV, NET), “married only once” (NRSV), and “faithful to his wife” (NIV, NLT). So, does this mean that elders/overseers must be male? The faithful translational evidence says no. Rather than focusing on the sex of an individual, the evidence points toward being faithful to one’s spouse. Therefore, the close parallel with the later passage about a widow being a “one-woman man” (1 Tim 5:9) indicates that both passages refer to sexual fidelity in marriage.

However, it is also worth noting that the qualifications for an elder and the “one-woman man” do not imply that a person must be married and cannot be single. Nor do the following statements about managing one’s household and children imply that an elder/overseer has children. Paul is simply taking for granted that the person would be married and have children, which was an expectation of first-century Greco-Roman households. In other words, the phrase “one-woman man” is to disqualify adulterers from serving as elders/overseers, not to establish a minimum job requirement.

Therefore, we see the office of Elder/Overseer as being open to both men and women who are above reproach, faithful to their spouse (should they have one), exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. They must not be a heavy drinker or violent. Nevertheless, be gentle, not quarrelsome, and generous with their possessions. They must also not be new to our faith but have proven themselves over many seasons.

Reading the Bible With a Redemptive Lens

Pastor Grant Hickman

We all view the Bible through a lens. This training helps us identify our lens and informs the decision process used by the elders regarding the mutuality of men and women in serving roles.

Download the slide deck for this teaching.

Continued Reading and Resources

The Making of Biblical Womanhood book cover
Barr, Beth Allison. The Making of Biblical Womanhood. Brazos Press, 2021.

This book moves the conversation about biblical womanhood beyond Greek grammar and into the realm of church history--ancient, medieval, and modern--to show that this belief is not divinely ordained but a product of human civilization that continues to creep into the church. Barr's historical insights provide context for contemporary teachings about women's roles in the church and help move the conversation forward.

Women in the Church’s Ministry book cover
France, R. T. Women in the Church’s Ministry: A Test-Case for Biblical Hermeneutics. Reprint edition. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock, 2004.

Explores questions of biblical interpretation raised by the serious disagreements among Christians over the nature of women's ministry. France primarily focuses on the issues as they are manifest in evangelical circles, where appeal is made instinctively to the authority of Scripture. He challenges readers to think through what it means to claim that our theology and practice are biblical. His insightful arguments help Christians move beyond the seeming impasse over the role of women in church ministry.

Tell Her Story book cover
Gupta, Nijay K. Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church. IVP 2023.

This calls us to bring women out of the shadows by shining light on their many inspiring contributions to the planting, growth, and health of the first Christian churches. He sets the context by exploring the lives of first-century women and addressing common misconceptions, then focuses on the women leaders of the early churches as revealed in Paul’s writings.

Freedom To Choose book cover
Howard, James M. Freedom to Choose: What to Do When the Bible is Unclear. Xulon Press Elite. 2020.

This book is practical and fills a hole in the literature of biblical interpretation. It provides practical and proven steps to equip the reader with tools to use when reading difficult biblical passages.

Dictionary Of Paul And His Letters book cover
McKnight, Scott, Cohick Lynn H., Gupta, Nijay K. eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: A compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. Bible Dictionary Series. 2nd Ed. 2023.

This work bridges the gap between scholars and pastors, teachers and students, and all interested readers who want a thorough treatment of key topics in a summary format. In curating and compiling these articles, the editors have sought to make them comprehensive, accessible, and useful for those pursuing further research on particular subjects.

Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women book cover
Peppiatt, Lucy. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. IVP Academic, 2019.

Lucy Peppiatt offers her work on interpretation of the Bible and Christian practice. With careful exegetical work, Peppiatt considers relevant passages in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, and 1 Corinthians. There she finds a story of God releasing women alongside men into all forms of ministry, leadership, work, and service on the basis of character and gifting, rather than biological sex.

Discovering Biblical Equality book cover
Pierce, Ronald W., Fee, Gordon D, and Groothuis, Rebecca Merrill. Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy. IVP Academic, 2005.

In this volume twenty-three evangelical scholars, firmly committed to the authority of Scripture, explore the whole range of issues relating to gender relations. They offer historical, biblical, theological, hermeneutical and practical perspectives to dispel many of the myths surrounding biblical equality, and to promote discussion. Their sound, reasoned case affirms the complementarity of the sexes without requiring a hierarchy of roles.

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals book cover
Webb, William J., and Darrell L. Bock. Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. 1st edition. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

This tackles some of the most complex and controversial issues that have challenged the Christian church—and still do. He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings.

Icons of Christ book cover
Witt, William G. Icons of Christ: A Biblical and Systematic Theology for Women’s Ordination. Baylor University Press, 2021.

Icons of Christ addresses these voices of opposition, making a biblical and theological case for the ordination of women to the ministerial office of Word and Sacrament. Uniquely, it treats both Protestant and Catholic theological concerns at length, undertaking a robust engagement with biblical exegesis and biblical, historical, systematic, and liturgical theology. The book’s theological approach is critically orthodox, evangelical, and catholic.

Surprised by Scripture book cover
Wright, N. T. Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues. HarperOne, 2014.

Helpful, practical, and wise, Surprised by Scripture invites readers to examine their own hearts and minds and presents new models for understanding how to affirm the Bible in today’s world—as well as new ideas and renewed energy for deepening our faith and engaging with the world around us.

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