Byrd's "Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood"

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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Now this discussion was good. Very balanced and helpful.

And to echo Ms. Tanner, I don’t think it’s the Reformed church that is looking to market fru fru literature to women or keep them separate. From my experience, men and women are joined together in study and worship under the authority of male teachers.
So what’s the problem? Now, unfortunately she does seem to want to take it a little further....

But none of our circles are fostering a patriarchal-CBMW mentality.

I’ll move on from this thread, but I learned a bit, this was an interesting discussion nonetheless. And I’m relieved that I don’t have to man-up more than God requires. Fortunately, I was never made to feel like I had to.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've met a few, some in pastoral candidate interviews. Patriarchy of that type isn't widespread, in God's mercy, but it does exist among Reformed.
But she is advocating for female teachers, readers and study leaders (not all female- but I think single sex groups are better for topical group discussions more than bible study) or at least opening that door. She could have asked Carl and Todd how well that would go over. Can she promote the legit issue that has biblical support and/or neutrality and not the unbiblical one? She set herself up to get hurt by ones who could have been allies in her pursuit for clarity and faithfulness.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Can she promote the legit issue that has biblical support and/or neutrality and not the unbiblical one?
If you were to ask her that she would rightly respond that you have begged the question over legit vs. unbiblical. It's like asking someone if he stopped beating his wife.
She set herself up to get hurt by ones who could have been allies in her pursuit for clarity and faithfulness.
She won't get hurt. The only people who can bring sanctions against her is the OPC, not Geneva Commons. I doubt the OPC will be acting any time soon.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don’t get it. Her thesis is female subjugation -but then she uses it to make a case against biblical teaching authority. Isn’t that clear cut? How does asking someone if he stopped beating his wife fit metaphoricaly here?
If you were to ask her that she would rightly respond that you have begged the question over legit vs. unbiblical. It's like asking someone if he stopped beating his wife.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Isn’t that clear cut?
No. It's poisoning the well. What is considered "biblical teaching authority" is the crux of the debate. When her title says recovering from biblical manhood, she isn't talking about what she thinks the bible is teaching. She is talking about the movement.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the element that is most controversial, and I don’t know if this is part of her book, it is discussed in the podcast episode, is the concept of female readers, bible study leaders, and teachers. In the OPC that is reserved for church office holders. That is the bridge too far and makes her a target of criticism even in her own circles. The content related to Biblical Manhood and Womanhood movement seems much less controversial (at least from our majority view as previously discussed on this thread). I believe the podcast episode helps lay down these lines of distinction, which I believe are reasonable. I trust Carl and Todd to be charitable, loving and distinct in these matters as they are in the episode.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
female readers, bible study leaders, and teachers
Per female readers, Presumably you mean within the official church office.

Per bible study leaders within the church, do you mean, or does she mean, women teaching over men in the church?

Per teachers, does this rule out women bible teachers in a local college?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I think the element that is most controversial, ...is the concept of female readers, bible study leaders, and teachers. In the OPC that is reserved for church office holders.
Reading Scripture (1Tim.4:13) is an element of worship, and (regardless of what is done irregularly wherever) belongs to the church's ministry, a function of authority. The controversy here should be with the practice of lay reading. Lay reading, to get the people "involved," is a mistake; however, even then the perception is often not that authority is being wielded. And many who do such (and invite female participation) don't intend to make this an official act. Hopefully, lay-reading (male and female) is uncommon in OPC churches, and will remain so.

Bible study leaders. There has to be a line drawn between worship/official church business, and other stuff. Otherwise, what will be done with Priscilla, Act.18:26; Rom.16:3? Titus 2:3-4, expressly gives at least one context in which more experienced women are commanded to teach. So, here we're shown a positive example, and a command for religious instruction. It's not worship, it's not usurping the exclusive function of the ministry.

Teaching. Again, if the most qualified person to speak is female, it is pride or fear on display if men resist taking the opportunity to hear--unless such teaching is presented as an overthrow, or in order to to overthrow church order. [Natural order, btw, can't be overthrown--try challenging gravity--real violations of natural law are invariably punished; and unlike church order, natural order is filled with exceptional and unusual adjustments; nature harbors variety.] Teaching allowance, performed even by males, is often overseen (by the ministry) in careless manner as well, to the detriment of good order and discipline.

Seen in a certain light, the entire issue being bandied about today is actually an effect of squeamishness on the part of late-modern Christians to affirm God-given order. People who are content to say, "This is how things must always be done, simply as a result of divine command," are in fact freed to listen to anyone or read an author's book without nervously considering if such learning is subversive in the nature of the case.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes, I was strictly speaking of official church offices and official church activity. I believe this would exclude laypersons.

I would think all church-sponsored bible study, readings, etc. would be led by a church-appointed authority. Those are the vital distinctions.

I may be wrong about what is permissible in the opc and where the line is drawn.

So I believe I’m agreeing with you both. And I thought that’s what Amiee was challenging, but if I heard her wrong that’s my bad. Young children are obviously an exception as far as Sunday school is concerned.

As far as non-church study and activity, I’m not too concerned about that.

As far as ministry training and education, I would think ordained ministers should provide that. But again, I’m not sure where the lines are drawn or if Ms. Byrd is challenging any of that.
Per female readers, Presumably you mean within the official church office.

Per bible study leaders within the church, do you mean, or does she mean, women teaching over men in the church?

Per teachers, does this rule out women bible teachers in a local college?
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Reading Scripture (1Tim.4:13) is an element of worship, and (regardless of what is done irregularly wherever) belongs to the church's ministry, a function of authority. The controversy here should be with the practice of lay reading. Lay reading, to get the people "involved," is a mistake; however, even then the perception is often not that authority is being wielded. And many who do such (and invite female participation) don't intend to make this an official act. Hopefully, lay-reading (male and female) is uncommon in OPC churches, and will remain so.
I sincerely appreciate the concern for the integrity of worship, but I don't agree. I see nothing in God's Word that requires such a narrow policy. I involve the men of our church in both reading the Scriptures on the Lord's day and offering prayers in our prayer meetings. Those invited to perform these things are those men who have proven themselves both faithful churchmen and having the ability to read and pray unto edification. Hearing the voices of the men of the church reading God's Word and offering up prayer has a very salutary effect on the life of the body.

It does not follow that involving lay men requires involving women. We don't involve the women of the church in public reading of Scripture or public prayer because it would be contrary to the straightforward teaching of Scripture.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.—1 Cor. 14:34, 35
 
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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
What is the difference between a seminary and a divinity school?
As someone who went to "seminary" at a "divinity school," I have always understood it this way: Seminaries are standalone institutions, while divinity schools are seminaries within a university. So, for instance, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are standalone institutions, while Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, and Beeson Divinity School are all schools within universities.

I could be totally wrong, but this is how I always understood it.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I always saw it as divinity schools aren't necessarily ministry-oriented, so if you went to a divinity school you could go on to a top-tier research program (which sometimes but not always doesn't accept M.Divs).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I sincerely appreciate the concern for the integrity of worship, but I don't agree. I see nothing in God's Word that requires such a narrow policy. I involve the men of our church in both reading the Scriptures on the Lord's day and offering prayers in our prayer meetings. Those invited to perform these things are those men who have proven themselves both faithful churchmen and having the ability to read and pray unto edification. Hearing the voices of the men of the church reading God's Word and offering up prayer has a very salutary effect on the life of the body.

It does not follow that involving lay men requires involving women. We don't involve the women of the church in public reading of Scripture or public prayer because it would be contrary to the straightforward teaching of Scripture.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.—1 Cor. 14:34, 35
I think that some of the disparity between your view and mine is attributable to different ecclesiology.

Plainly, under one view there's a logical fallacy that can be demonstrated: if one sex has not a limitation, this does nothing to show if the other sex has not that limitation.

On the other hand, it is a different but also logical deduction under (historic) Presbyterian principles: all service functions within worship (to distinguish between those and the works of the congregation) are the purview of the ministry; no laity are the ministry; ergo, no laity should perform a service or ministry function in worship. For the purpose of this argument, I include all the ordained servants (including elders and deacons) under the church's ministry broadly defined. [A more technical description recognizes elders and deacons as lay distinct from clergy/ministers; their ordinations are what engages them with the ministry]

Corollary to that deduction is one that pertains to the makeup of the ministry. All ministry functions are confined to the ordained; all the ordained are male (by prescription); no female is also a male; ergo, females may not perform ministry functions.

Under your ecclesiology, permission to perform certain ministry functions is determined by additional criteria to ordination. 1) "Worthiness" (proven them faithful in your terms above) as judged presumably by the elders; but you might have another procedure, either as judged by the pastor alone or by the congregation as a whole. 2) "Competence" (ability to unto edification) again, as judged.

And, because ordination is not alone decisive, though its makeup be already limited; yet further must be stipulated: the criteria of 3) "Male," but not because ordination is restricted to males only (because every ministry function isn't assigned exclusively to them). But because e.g. 1Cor.14:34.

I know this has come up before, but how one interprets and applies 1Cor.14:34 has bearing then on a wide range of church activity, from the church's stated worship to other assemblies and works of the church. So, as the three criteria (1,2,3) above are regarded as qualifying standards for lay-engagement, stated worship is not "set off" for unique treatment. But also we see above in your post the stated prayer meeting is a place to apply those qualifiers.

Elsewhere (on the PB), we've seen that a different manner of interpretation and application of 1Cor.14:34 (not based on doubts about the authority of Scripture, but rather on distinct ecclesiology) yields a different kind of participation in prayer meetings. If 1Cor.14:34 is understood as a statement that excludes females from the church's ministry—not specifically excluding them from leading by reading or by praying in mixed company, nor as some might extremely interpret it (not attributing it here to you) not even allowed to sing in the worship assembly—then there's nothing about Paul's prohibition that would prevent women's vocal contributions in a church prayer meeting.

It turns out that the difference doesn't boil down to "narrowness" vs. "broadness," but to where and how narrowness and broadness is thought to apply. The Presbyterian ecclesiology described above is "narrow" in regard to stated worship, setting limits on ministry functions in general; but in regard to prayer meeting is "broad," when compared to the standards conceived by the alternative ecclesiology set in view.

The alternative proposes one fixed policy (using additional criteria besides ordination standards) in at least two distinct varieties of ecclesiastical gatherings. In practical terms, this means that in stated worship those invited or summoned to spokesmanship is "more generous" than the policy to which I am committed. And in prayer meeting I am committed to the "more generous" policy that encourages females to pray out loud as equal participants to the males present. It's because I don't think 1Cor.14:34 is applicable to a prayer meeting scenario.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Another friendly, yet critical review, picking up on some of the same concerns Rev. Castle highlighted in his review:

I just had a chance to read this review this AM. I thought it was an accurate summary of the problems I saw with the book, which I articulated earlier in less detail. I think he nails it when he notes that the book tries to take on way too much and ends up with half-developed arguments.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Scott Swain has written a very interesting article about anthropology in relation to this discussion.

Steven Wedgeworth, after reading Swain's article weighed in with some more thoughts here.

I think these are both very useful contributions to the ongoing discussion.
Really good articles. Thanks for linking. I appreciate both for bringing in the dimension of 5th Commandment notions (superiors, inferiors, equals) that is often lacking in these conversations. When you use that paradigm, there are times when even a woman is in a superior relationship (with respect to dignity and deference) and, as Wedgeworth notes, may not be in authority but requires deference and respect either way.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Really good articles. Thanks for linking. I appreciate both for bringing in the dimension of 5th Commandment notions (superiors, inferiors, equals) that is often lacking in these conversations. When you use that paradigm, there are times when even a woman is in a superior relationship (with respect to dignity and deference) and, as Wedgeworth notes, may not be in authority but requires deference and respect either way.
I think Swain's is really good. I think W's isn't; it's hit and miss far as I'm concerned.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think Swain's is really good. I think W's isn't; it's hit and miss far as I'm concerned.
I think the latter raises some theological ideas that are useful but incomplete.

As I was reflecting upon the idea that if Byrd had dealt with the issue of relationships within the Church according to superior, peer and inferior duties (per the WLC on the 5th Commandment) she might have succeeded in what she (seems) to be aiming at but ended up using egalitarian authors to achieve.

You can sense that Byrd is trying to argue for this: "Hey, sometimes women are in inferior relationships within the Church but they also occupy superior and peer status with respect to other members of the Church."

When everything is flattened down to male-female relationships then you have to use egalitarian arguments to say: "Hey, sometimes women are just as smart as men (equals) or sometimes they are wiser than men (superiors)."

If you don't stick merely to the male-female distinction and adopt the richer framework of superiors, inferiors, and peers then you can understand why David could listen to the counsel of a wise woman (a mother in Israel) without having to do the "everything that a man can do a woman can do." The question really has to do with the station of the individual. That's why it's dumb to wonder whether a mom can still rebuke her teenage son. Shell always be (in a certain manner) in a superior status to him even as she might end up being in an inferiror status to him in some civil or ecclesiastical sphere.

When one adopts this Scriptural paradigm then it moves us beyond tropes. You don't have to fear saying general things about masculinity or femininity because very few things hinge (in terms of superior roles) on the sex of an individual in a relationship.

I was interacting with my kids the other day about how movie reviewers like to give higher critical reviews to movies like Captain Marvel because it portrays the woman as "strong". The problem is that it makes the mistake (almost like this divide) of equating strength with the kinds of things that men excel at. I told my daughters that you don't need to be able to "kick butt like a man" in order to be heroic. There are feminine virtues that are prized precisely because women have a kind of strength and tenderness that is to be prized. I don't "box them in" by prizing their femininity nor do I restrict intellectual or theological pursuits in them but they will do so as women. They will be inferiors to some, peers to some, and superiors to others - not because they can be just like men but due to their gifts, station, age, wisdom, etc.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Freshman
I was interacting with my kids the other day about how movie reviewers like to give higher critical reviews to movies like Captain Marvel because it portrays the woman as "strong". The problem is that it makes the mistake (almost like this divide) of equating strength with the kinds of things that men excel at. I told my daughters that you don't need to be able to "kick butt like a man" in order to be heroic. There are feminine virtues that are prized precisely because women have a kind of strength and tenderness that is to be prized. I don't "box them in" by prizing their femininity nor do I restrict intellectual or theological pursuits in them but they will do so as women. They will be inferiors to some, peers to some, and superiors to others - not because they can be just like men but due to their gifts, station, age, wisdom, etc.
It's funny how this translates into the current youth mindset.

We were discussing male/female roles in one of my classes (I teach 11th and 12th grade in an international school), and I made what I thought was the rather obvious statement that adult men are physically stronger than women, on aggregate. I could feel the discomfort in the room, as though I had said something seriously taboo, instead of a basic fact. I continued that, of course, individual differences had to be accounted for and, with training and relevant genetics, some women could become stronger than an untrained man.

One student finally spoke up and, with some sarcasm said, "So you're saying that with work, women can overcome their natural inferiority?" I was shocked to hear it cast in these terms but replied, "A chimpanzee is far stronger than a human. Are you presuming that chimps are superior to humans, due to their greater physical strength?"

None of the students knew how to respond, but the unease never left the classroom. I found the whole exchange absolutely fascinating.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
She is now no longer affiliated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Rather tellingly, I think, she posted the announcement on Scot McKnight’s blog.


While one may question the anonymous questions put to her and the impersonal way she was let go, to my recollection at least, most of the questions are legit and should be answered.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
She is now no longer affiliated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Rather tellingly, I think, she posted the announcement on Scot McKnight’s blog.


While one may question the anonymous questions put to her and the impersonal way she was let go, to my recollection at least, most of the questions are legit and should be answered.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yep, saw that coming a mile away.....
I hope there will be transparency about the breaking point.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I read the blog post. So Mrs. Byrd is off the Truitt/Trueman podcast as well? She said something about no bookings for recordings so wasn't clear. Who is McKnight and why is that "telling"? Can someone list the questions?

She is now no longer affiliated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Rather tellingly, I think, she posted the announcement on Scot McKnight’s blog.


While one may question the anonymous questions put to her and the impersonal way she was let go, to my recollection at least, most of the questions are legit and should be answered.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yep, saw that coming a mile away.....
I hope there will be transparency about the breaking point.....
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I read the blog post. So Mrs. Byrd is off the Truitt/Trueman podcast as well? She said something about no bookings for recordings so wasn't clear. Who is McKnight and why is that "telling"? Can someone list the questions?
She'll no longer be on MOS.

I find this all very sad. I know some of the players here and they are sad as well. Many are puzzled that she asked for counsel instead of just answering the questions.

The problem with being in leadership is that you often can't blog to give the other side of matters. Nobody is perfect and above reproach but I think the ACE board was reasonable.
 
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