Corinthians 14:33–35

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Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
I guess these verses have been discussed a thousand times here but it's kind of new to me. Just a few questions..

1. Is there a traditional Protestant/Reformed conclusion on whether woman should read scripture to the congregation at a Sunday church service?

2. Have or are these 'conclusions' changed or are changing in recent history?

2. Are there any useful discussions on the Puritan Board that I can be directed to?

Thanks
 

Redneck_still_Reforming

Puritan Board Freshman
I read on a thread here an argument like this:
1) Scripture is authoritatuve
2) The reading of Scripture is an authority position
3) Only men are allowed authority positions before the congregation
4) Therefore, women may not read Scripture before a congregation as it is a place of authority reserved for men.

I do not want to take credit fo another person's ideas but I cannot remember where I saw this on PB. If someone knows, I can edit.

I know this wast exactly what you were asking for. When I wanted to find out more, I just typed in women read scripture in the search bar.
 

ryanpresnell

Puritan Board Freshman
2. Are there any useful discussions on the Puritan Board that I can be directed to?
The above thread specifically addresses this topic a few posts in. I hope it will be of some use to you. I coincidentally read it this morning and thought of it after seeing your post.

I'm not well-read enough to speak for the Reformed or Protestant traditions, so I don't think I would be much help on the other two questions.
 

Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
I read on a thread here an argument like this:
1) Scripture is authoritatuve
2) The reading of Scripture is an authority position
3) Only men are allowed authority positions before the congregation
4) Therefore, women may not read Scripture before a congregation as it is a place of authority reserved for men.

I do not want to take credit fo another person's ideas but I cannot remember where I saw this on PB. If someone knows, I can edit.

I know this wast exactly what you were asking for. When I wanted to find out more, I just typed in women read scripture in the search bar.
That's very helpful thank you.
I like the points out like that, it's a good summary and I've never heard or seen it stated in such a way.
And yes, I will use the search bar to do that.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
1. Is there a traditional Protestant/Reformed conclusion on whether woman should read scripture to the congregation at a Sunday church service?

Yes. The Westminster Standards are the accepted conclusion / consensus of the Reformed on the matters which they treat. The Directory for Public Worship states that "Reading of the word in the congregation ... is to be performed by the pastors and teachers". Allowance is also made for "such as intend the ministry" to both read and preach if allowed by the presbytery, but in any case, both the rule and the exception necessarily exclude women from reading the scriptures aloud in the congregation, although every person that can read (including women) are to be exhorted to read the scriptures privately.
 

Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes. The Westminster Standards are the accepted conclusion / consensus of the Reformed on the matters which they treat. The Directory for Public Worship states that "Reading of the word in the congregation ... is to be performed by the pastors and teachers". Allowance is also made for "such as intend the ministry" to both read and preach if allowed by the presbytery, but in any case, both the rule and the exception necessarily exclude women from reading the scriptures aloud in the congregation, although every person that can read (including women) are to be exhorted to read the scriptures privately.
That's good information thanks. I know about the Confessions but don't know much about the Standards so will look them up and see if it's possible to obtain a copy if they aren't too large.
So if a church wanted to be as Reformed as possible in Church practices such as who is permitted to read ect, what are good sources of instruction? I'm presuming the Westminster Standards is one by the sounds of it?
 

Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes. The Westminster Standards are the accepted conclusion / consensus of the Reformed on the matters which they treat. The Directory for Public Worship states that "Reading of the word in the congregation ... is to be performed by the pastors and teachers". Allowance is also made for "such as intend the ministry" to both read and preach if allowed by the presbytery, but in any case, both the rule and the exception necessarily exclude women from reading the scriptures aloud in the congregation, although every person that can read (including women) are to be exhorted to read the scriptures privately.
Where is the 'Directory of public worship to be found '?
 

Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
I've ordered a copy by Dever and Ferguson.
I'm in a free church of England church so where would my church have gotten it's practices from?
The pastor is a Godly man who would want to do right by God if presented with biblical instruction about an issue but would a free church of England church adopt presbyterian practices? Maybe in some areas.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I've ordered a copy by Dever and Ferguson.
I'm in a free church of England church so where would my church have gotten it's practices from?
The pastor is a Godly man who would want to do right by God if presented with biblical instruction about an issue but would a free church of England church adopt presbyterian practices? Maybe in some areas.

To judge from briefly perusing the internet, Free Church of England is a small denomination of around 20 congregations. The raw data comes mostly from Wikipedia (I don't recommend the source as fully reliable, but it is handy).

Located mostly in the UK, FCOE congregations represent a breakaway group from the mainline Church of England about 180yrs ago, in 1844. The formation is said to derive from a reaction to the influence of the Oxford Movement and the reintroduction of a variety of Romish particularities, a potent challenge to the general Protestant character of the state church at the time.

FCOE appears to maintain a "low-church" liturgy based on the Book of Common Prayer. I interpret this to mean their practices derive from the settlement of the state church in the post-Reformation period. Their structure is episcopal, so governance of the church follows that historic model; it's a model that was held over from the pre-Reformation days of union with Rome, with the monarch of the realm replacing the Roman pope as earthly head of the church. In practice, the state church regards the Archbishop of Canterbury as England's top clergyman. FCOE maintains its own bishops, but apparently accepts COE recognition of its clergy (since 2013). I cannot tell from the available information if FCOE clergy regard the national Archbishop as occupying any kind of ecclesiastical position, with or without actual authority.

In simple terms, as far as church organization goes the FCOE and Presbyterianism are distinct. The former regards organization of the church as a matter of prudence and history, a pragmatic approach; whereas strict Presbyterianism regards church organization as matter of divine right, i.e. the structure of the church is predetermined by the biblical data, and is non-negotiable.

Where Presbyterians and the FCOE are similar is in the overlap of the Reformation doctrines found in the historic confessional documents of both branches. Presbyterians rejected the uniformity demanded by prayer book services. A low-church Anglican service is certainly a lot more comfortable to the average committed Presbyterian than any high-church liturgy. Some Presbyterian churches today have adopted certain practices from the BCP, for instance the introduction of various unison prayer readings (typically confession of sin). A move to such practices typically makes a "high church Presbyterian," so there's a kind of curious common ground there with low-church Anglican. For a "low church Presbyterian," such a move (adoption of Anglican practices) tends to look like the beginnings of a slippery slope.

Hopefully, you can see there are affinities between low-church Anglicans and Presbyterians in practice, although there are clearly differences as well. Those of either tradition who value the Bible, confess its perspicuity, and reverence its authority, and who retain commitment to the historic theology of their respective historic, confessional documents will find considerable common ground in comparable articles of faith. Yet, in the end, the more each side values its own tradition, the less likely a representative will be to adopt the other's practices.
 

Redneck_still_Reforming

Puritan Board Freshman
Offshoot question: Would the Bible allow female pastoral interns or for women to help with sermon prep sitting on a board with men?
 
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jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Offshoot question: Would the Bible allow female pastoral interns to help with sermon prep?
Why would a church have a woman in such a position? An internship suggests the person is headed toward a career in pastoral ministry a position not supported by scripture. That tells me something about both the church and the intern: they are not accepting the authority of God's word.
 

Redneck_still_Reforming

Puritan Board Freshman
What about general sermon prep on a council with both men and women? They arent preaching but coming alongside the pastor with others to help brainstorm and make the sermon clear?
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems very common nowadays in even more faithful Church of England churches to allow readings of the Scripture to be given to women. For example, my church (and previous church for that matter) has Scripture reading given sometimes by men, sometimes by women, and sometimes by children. I think it’s just not seen as preaching or teaching by the ministerial team so they don’t have any issue with it.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
What about general sermon prep on a council with both men and women? They arent preaching but coming alongside the pastor with others to help brainstorm and make the sermon clear?
I'm not exactly sure what such a council would look like, but I have often discussed sermon material with my wife, or had her read sermon drafts for feedback, and I have found her help invaluable. Usually, it involves helping me not to say something idiotic or offensive rather than perfecting my exegesis, but sometimes she would also suggest possible avenues of application. Sometimes she can be a helpful conversation partner when I can't seem to make progress on a passage. Having listened to me preach for thirty years now, she instinctively knows where my sermon should be heading better than most. Not every wife is equipped to do that, so I imagine others could also serve to give feedback on sermons, especially to younger preachers (before and/or after delivery). Like most ideas, it could become toxic in lots of ways, given the human propensity to sin, but with the right people and the right remit it could be a great blessing.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
What about general sermon prep on a council with both men and women? They arent preaching but coming alongside the pastor with others to help brainstorm and make the sermon clear?
In what context would a pastor ever need a council to prep his sermons? If a man doesn't know how to write a sermon he isn't equipped to pastor a church. If he doesn't have enough time to do his own research for a sermon, then he is placing wayyyyy too much time on less important things.
 

Barney

Puritan Board Freshman
In what context would a pastor ever need a council to prep his sermons? If a man doesn't know how to write a sermon he isn't equipped to pastor a church. If he doesn't have enough time to do his own research for a sermon, then he is placing wayyyyy too much time on less important things.
I have to agree here.
I'm almost sure I read once that Martyn Lloyd Jones did most things himself that many churches today have lots of different people doing.
I know that heading a church can't be easy and I'm using an example of a special man here so i don't want to be hard on Ministers.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
I have to agree here.
I'm almost sure I read once that Martyn Lloyd Jones did most things himself that many churches today have lots of different people doing.
I know that heading a church can't be easy and I'm using an example of a special man here so i don't want to be hard on Ministers.
I appreciate your desire to be charitable to ministers, but sermon prep is the main (or, first) duty of a "minister of the word". If he isn't equipped to prepare and preach a sermon, then he isn't equipped to be a minister of the word.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
Again, without knowing exactly what this council is doing, it is hard to evaluate whether it is wise or not. The assumption almost seems to be that "sermon preparation" must take place with the minister in a hermetically sealed box or he is somehow failing to do his duty. This is hardly the case. I remember once hearing Eric Alexander talking about how it was his regular practice to sit down with his wife over lunch on a Thursday to go over what he planned to preach for Sunday. I very much doubt that she corrected his exegesis, but I'd be surprised if she might not have sometimes had a question that helped him realize a point on which he needed to be clearer. Certainly, that has been my own experience. Likewise, I have often heard Practical Theology professors who have suggested from time to time enrolling a cross-section of the church to give a young minister feedback on his sermons. That could also be wise, though again there are cautions to be heeded; some might prefer to assign that task to elders, but there can also be value in hearing from less well-trained people. When I preached to a congregation largely made up of street kids in England, I created simple kid's sheets that went along with the sermon for them to fill in. I often learned more about what had been gleaned from the sermon (rightly or wrongly) from looking at their sheets with them after the service than from discussing it with the theology Ph.D. candidates in the same congregation.

On the other hand, I have also had women (and men!) in my congregations who would have loved to tell me what to preach and who it would have been very unwise to give any input. In one of our church plants, we had an "advisory council" for a while which almost destroyed the church, even though the church we got the idea from had found it very helpful. Few things are simple and black and white in ministry, which is why we ministers should constantly be asking God for wisdom.
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
So if a church wanted to be as Reformed as possible in Church practices such as who is permitted to read ect, what are good sources of instruction? I'm presuming the Westminster Standards is one by the sounds of it?

Yes, generally speaking, this is true in the English-speaking world. The Dutch also produced good sources of instruction ( https://reformedstandards.com/three-forms-of-unity/church-order-dort.html ), but they tend to be less specific in the area of Church practices. The Westminster Confession was part of the work of the Westminster Assembly in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland to bring about "sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endeavor, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us." ( https://www.apuritansmind.com/westminster-standards/the-solemn-league-covenant/ ) So there is more to the Westminster Standards than just the Confession, although it and the catechisms are the best known.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
Again, without knowing exactly what this council is doing, it is hard to evaluate whether it is wise or not. The assumption almost seems to be that "sermon preparation" must take place with the minister in a hermetically sealed box or he is somehow failing to do his duty. This is hardly the case. I remember once hearing Eric Alexander talking about how it was his regular practice to sit down with his wife over lunch on a Thursday to go over what he planned to preach for Sunday. I very much doubt that she corrected his exegesis, but I'd be surprised if she might not have sometimes had a question that helped him realize a point on which he needed to be clearer. Certainly, that has been my own experience. Likewise, I have often heard Practical Theology professors who have suggested from time to time enrolling a cross-section of the church to give a young minister feedback on his sermons. That could also be wise, though again there are cautions to be heeded; some might prefer to assign that task to elders, but there can also be value in hearing from less well-trained people. When I preached to a congregation largely made up of street kids in England, I created simple kid's sheets that went along with the sermon for them to fill in. I often learned more about what had been gleaned from the sermon (rightly or wrongly) from looking at their sheets with them after the service than from discussing it with the theology Ph.D. candidates in the same congregation.

On the other hand, I have also had women (and men!) in my congregations who would have loved to tell me what to preach and who it would have been very unwise to give any input. In one of our church plants, we had an "advisory council" for a while which almost destroyed the church, even though the church we got the idea from had found it very helpful. Few things are simple and black and white in ministry, which is why we ministers should constantly be asking God for wisdom.
Amen. To be clear my replies were not aimed at this. I was responding to the practice of many church where entire teams of interns, lay people, and elders help prepare the sermon with the pastor (as if he were to busy to do exegesis and background research and application). That is unsound.
To your point, a good minister is with his people often, knows their needs, their questions, their struggles, and where they are doctrinally strong/weak and gains much insight for his preaching ministry from this. I have always practiced digesting what I'm going to preach about through conversations with my wife, children, close friends, and members of the congregation. Sermons that go deepest in the hearts of people are sermons that come deepest from the heart of the minister. Not that ministers are to tailor make their sermons according to the whims of the people, but they craft them, by God's help, for THEIR people, not for the internet or the publisher.
 
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