Women in Church Office?

by C.W. Powell

“And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry…” Ephesians 4:11,12

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man.” I Timothy 2:12

The church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is the head of the church and the director of all its parts. When he ascended into heaven, he provided for the welfare of his church by appointing the gifts of ministry. The purpose for these gifts is to bring God’s people into obedience to God. The visible church ceases to exist where these gifts are debased and corrupted. The corruption of these offices begins with the appointing of unbelieving or unqualified men, it proceeds with the appointing of women, and ends, I suppose, with the appointing of sodomites.

The intrusion of women into these offices is a direct affront to the authority of Christ. There are two reasons for this: First: Because of the creation order: Man was created first, and the woman for the man, according to the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 11:9). Second: The Holy Spirit has forbidden the woman to teach or to usurp places of authority in the church. (I Timothy 2:12) Jesus appointed twelve apostles, all of them men. Of course, he did not have the benefit of instruction from the National Association of Women. Otherwise, he might have known better. If God had had the benefit of such instruction, Messiah would have been a woman.

These are days for strong men. There are far too many public relations experts in the pulpit, who hold their finger up to the prevailing wind of public opinion, rather than seeking counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Far too many men are truant before God in terms of exercising the authority and dominion given to them. It is a sad day for the church when people do not know whether they are men or women, either in sex or in office in the church.

The arguments in favor of women in church office are all based in humanism, not Biblical principle:

  1. Equality: The humanist confuses equality of being with equality of office. The Holy Spirit always distinguishes between the two. In Christ there is neither male nor female, bond nor free. But that doesn’t mean we are to have unisex restrooms, or same sex marriages. Neither does it mean that women are to hold office in the church against the clear prohibition of scripture. It is a frightful sin for man or woman to usurp an office that God has not given. (Numbers16,17) All the congregation was holy, but that didn’t mean that Korah could be priest. This in no way minimizes the very solid contribution women made to the ministry of our Lord, and the labor of love they have performed to establish the church in all lands. That is another subject, and must not be confused with the matter of church office. These contributions are immense and available to any who wish to know.
  2. Pragmatism: “A woman can do the job just as well as a man can.” There is no doubt that there are women who are more talented, wiser, and morally superior to many men. There are also many talented men in the pews; but this does not mean all are to pastor churches. One of the most important duties of the church is to “try those who say they are apostles,” that is, to examine whether or not a person has a call for a particular office. No church bureaucracy can tender a true call, if God has not. Recognizing that only God could give the church worthy officers, the early church fasted and prayed before appointing them. In actual fact, the work of the Church can be done only by the power of God, for the church is spiritual. A faithful minister does not do the work in his own strength, but by the authority and power of Christ. A woman cannot do the job, because the task is to call people to obedience. A woman in church office is fatally compromised in this spiritual task because of her disobedience in usurping the office. She, of course, can lead the church to apostasy and ruin, just as a rebellious, unbelieving man can.
  3. Many men are unworthy. Rebellion always focuses on failure: children use the failings of parents as a reason for disobedience; citizens use the failings of government as an excuse for civil unrest; church members excuse their own sins by the failings of officers. The Heidelberg Catechism says that we are to obey those in authority “with all due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities, since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.” (Q. 104) The failure of those in office is no excuse for the rebellion of anyone against God’s order. Human failure is the reason that human government must be limited, with checks and balances, but a rebellious spirit is devilish, and overthrows all order. (I Samuel 15:23)
  4. Sentiment. Translation: I want it, therefore I should have it. The humanist makes much of feelings. “It makes me feel bad to be deprived of equal opportunity,” somebody whines, and the humanist caves in. “I just don’t feel the same about my marriage,” is excuse enough to break the marriage vows or to leave children for somebody else to rear. God’s rule is different: He doesn’t excuse us from our marriage vows, our church vows, or our legal responsibilities because someone gets emotional. But humanism cannot be extricated from the bog of emotionalism by logical arguments, because they equate sentiment with love, and pretend to have the high moral ground. “Aren’t we supposed to love?” they intone piously. “Why do you hate women?”
  5. Denial of apostolic authority: Paul was a chauvinist, a man of his times, and this flavored his instructions to the churches. Modern man is more enlightened in his efforts to “free” the woman. But Paul did not speak his own words: the words were given to him by God (I Cor. 2). Liberal theology spares no effort to substitute the words of man for the words of God. “Don’t listen to Paul,” they say. “Listen to us. We are scholars. We know better.” The premise is not true and is a subtle denial of the inspiration of Scripture. Besides, if Jesus is not God, but only an inspired man, then what makes him right? And if he is God, the appointing of men only to the apostleship makes a statement for all the ages, and is in line with the theology of Paul, Peter, and the other apostles. The Son of God knew what he was doing. He underscored apostolic authority by saying, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” He did not speak his own words, and they did not speak theirs.


But what does humanism care about the Bible? What really counts is man’s word, man’s feeling, and man’s glory that counts. Or should we say womyn’s word, womyn’s feeling, and womyn’s glory?

Objection: Didn’t God use Deborah as a prophetess? What about Joel’s prediction that women would prophesy? Of course, if the Bible does not speak with authority then we can disregard these places, can’t we? But if it does speak with authority, these places must be reconciled to the prohibition of women “usurping” authority and teaching in the church. The reconciliation is simple: God is free to use whatever means he wants to convey his message at special times. One time he used a small child to predict the end of the house of Eli, the high priest. Another time he used an ass to speak to the prophet. Shall we install children and asses in church office?

Those who reduce all debate to emotional paroxysm will now accuse me of equating women with children and asses. Rebellion is never rational, but only emotional, and cannot be subdued with debate. This ad hominem argument is refuted by stating that I love both women and children. I have been married to the same delightful woman for over thirty years. Her friends know her as a strong woman who kept her home, taught in Christian school, and reared six sons, and labored as a helpmeet to her dinosaur husband. I fought those who tried to restrict a woman’s “place” to the home. I never knew many donkeys and so cannot claim affection for them.

We cannot cut the knot by saying that Paul was speaking to the culture of his day, and forbade women to usurp authority because it might offend that culture. If true, then feminists of the last generation should have given that generation the respect Paul gave his. But it isn’t true. Paul says that women are not to usurp office because of the order of women in creation: “Adam was first formed and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression..” (verses 13,14) In the created order, before sin had even entered the world, the woman was cast as a helper, not as one to exercise dominion and authority over the man. The Holy Spirit speaks in a similar manner through the Apostle Peter, commanding wives to be in subjection to their own husbands, and husbands to give honor to their wives as to the “weaker vessel.” (I Peter 3) Peter also teaches that the true adornment of the woman is a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Such ideas are not fashionable in today’s “enlightened” society, but that does not make God’s word void, or change the nature of men and women. Some think they are wiser than the apostle, and can tell us what he meant to say. Every age has those who try to re-interpret the Bible to fit the public.

We are all to live under authority. Ephesians 5:21 commands us to be “filled with the Spirit,” and then tells us what that means: joy in the heart; thanksgiving to God; and submission to each other. Then, he tells us what this submission is (5:22-6:9): Husbands and wives are to submit to the order God has provided for the home; children and parents are to live in God’s order; so are masters and servants (management and labor). Slavery is not living under authority, but being forced to live under unlawful authority. Those who impose the rule of women in the church are subjecting the church to unlawful authority, to slavery. (Isaiah 3:11,12 David put it clearly: “I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” (Psalm 119:45) There are fearful warnings to those who would presume to speak for the Lord, when He did not appoint them: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings…. I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor.” (Jeremiah 23:21,22,30)

Note: “Humanist” in these papers means one who makes man the reference point in his thinking, rather than God and the scripture. Though he speaks of “God,” the humanist denies that God has revealed Himself in the Bible. He relies upon his own thoughts, feelings, and intuition about God, and uses the Bible only to confirm these thoughts, feelings, and intuition. Those who have other definitions should defend their own turf.


The Nanny Church and the Nanny State

by C.W. Powell

“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3,4

Humanist nanny theology prepares the way for the humanist nanny state. Because the humanist theologian thinks that Jesus is telling us things that we must do in order to become worthy of heaven, his whole understanding becomes corrupt and he is powerless to resist tyranny.

In Matthew 18, Jesus is not describing character which makes a person worthy of being called his disciples, for salvation is by grace. Instead He is describing the Christ-likeness of the true believer. This Christ-likeness is the result of conversion, something that is done to us. The humility that is the result of this “converting” is a grace given by God, the work of the Spirit, and not a work of the flesh. We are not “converted” because we are Christ-like, for then we would not need to be converted. We are converted from being very un-Christlike to Christ, as a new nature in His likeness is imparted to us by grace alone.

Because they do not understand grace and the power of God, the humanist model is false humility and childish weakness. Humanist religion teaches men to be weak and childish, and the model becomes a means of attack against those who are godly. “Don’t stand up for what you believe; we are supposed to be childlike,” the line goes.

Faith does not make a man weak and childish. “In understanding, be men” (I Cor. 14:20). “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (I Cor. 16:13). Heb. 11:34 speaks of faithful men who “out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens….”

We do not receive the kingdom of God because of our proud adult abilities and strengths, for the kingdom can only be received as the little children received the blessing of Jesus Christ. And those who receive the kingdom of God trust Christ and reject their own work as any means of blessing. But this does not make them childish and wimpy. Instead they are strong in their confession of faith.

“When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God’s and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat….” Hebrews 5:12

Faith gives strength and fortitude. Faith brings liberty and confidence. Faith brings assurance and hope. Faith delivers from the tyranny of either church or state. Faith teaches complete dependency on Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because of the blood of Christ, the conscience is cleansed from dead works, so that the believer can serve the Lord. He is alive in faith, and confident toward God, for all his hope and confidence is in Christ. Nothing else but faith can clear the conscience toward God.

But the humanist state and the humanist church nurture dependency. How nice it is for governmental and ecclesiastical nannies, when people think of themselves in terms of childish dependency! “We are your children. What presents have you brought us? We cannot take care of ourselves and we love you for taking good care of us. What will you do for us? How will you meet our needs, and feed and clothe us?”

Childish people in the nanny church have the same attitude: “We are dumb sheep. Please tell us what to do. Make rules for us. Teach us what is right and wrong. Be our theological nannies and our moral gurus. Do our studying for us, and do our praying for us. How comforting it is to know that we have wise and good men looking after us. We never want to grow up.”

“I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old….” Heb. 8:10b-13a


No Creed But Christ

by C.W. Powell

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before me, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32,3

“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9, 10

Why is it essential for a church to have a written creed, and why must Christians confess one?

Because Faith Is Not Ashamed.

(Romans 10:11) Understanding this clearly, the early church was fearless in their confession, and encouraged one another to be faithful. Only the pagans around them believed that there were many paths to God: the church of the martyrs knew better. Jesus had claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life, and the believers were ready to die for that.

Jesus said that what you say is important.

Evil words are spoken by evil men, and good words are spoken by good men. Eventually, what you say will reveal what kind of person you are. Pilate showed what kind of person he was when he responded to Christ, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). By this he showed that he was not a child of the truth and had no faith, even though what he said was the politically correct thing to say.

The devil hates certainty.

It doesn’t matter to him what lie a person believes, as long as he does not believe the truth. Truth is one, and there is only one version of the truth. Lies take many forms. For example, it is true that God created the world and man in his image. There are many lying versions of how this happened. As another example, there is only one standard of ethics, and this is to seek the glory of God in obedience and faith. There are many man-made systems of ethics.

This brings us to confession.

The words of Christ take away all neutrality from us. Modern men and women do not like commitment and run from it. This may be the very definition of irresponsibility. Modern man lives his life in terms of this lack of commitment. People choose churches in terms of their own irresponsibility. “We have no creed but Christ,” they say, thinking they have said something very religious and pious. What they do not realize is that they have said something religious, but it is not Christianity. We are called to confession, not evasion and irresponsibility.

The highest form of the expression of ideas is in words.

Birds sing to communicate, but it is easy to misunderstand. You may think the bird is happy, but in reality he is staking out territory by his songs. The songs sound beautiful, but they are really saying, “Come over here, and I will tear your heart out.” The early church realized that the great ideas of Christianity needed to be expressed clearly. They took truth and responsibility very seriously: hence, the creeds. The Holy Spirit said to “confess with the mouth, believing in the heart.” The confession was to be in words that came from the heart. There was to be content in the words, and the words were to express the truth.

Man cannot escape confession, for he is in the image of God. He either confesses the truth, or he confesses a lie. He cannot escape by silence, for Jesus said that we will be justified by our words. No words, no justification.

No Creed But Christ?

A church may boast, “No Creed But Christ,” but people may be unaware of the true message. It may sound as beautiful as the song of a bird, but the real message is ugly. What they mean is, “What is true about the Bible is not important.” Some may go so far as to say that anything a person wants to believe about Christ is permitted. Hence, they are denying Christ, by refusing responsibility to confess the truth. Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. The Son is not just another name for the Father. He took a true human nature, that in that human nature he could suffer and die for the sins of his people. He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. He established his church, and appointed officers to bring his people to the fullness of the faith and maturity as the body of Christ. He appointed the observing of the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism until his return.

The Bible is God’s record concerning His son, and must be believed.

All these things, and much more about God and the world are absolutely necessary for a Christian to confess and believe. Irresponsible churches, just like irresponsible individuals, do not want to entangle themselves with confession and vows, because they want to leave their options open, so that they can serve themselves later if they so desire. The faithful confession of individual members is no substitute for the confession of the church as an institution.

If a church does not have a confession of faith, then it is no honest church of Jesus Christ. There may be fine Christians there, they may do many good works, but it is dishonest, and it leads to a dishonest fraudulent message. The church of Jesus Christ is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). An honest church will not pretend that truth is unimportant in order to get members to support their “ministry.” If the ministry is not of the truth, then it is no ministry of Christ. It is not noble and “spiritual” to refuse to say what you believe. Paul said that he “had renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully….”

The crooked seducer says to his target: “It is what we have in our heart that counts. We do not need a piece of paper to prove our love.” After he has satisfied his lust, he goes on to other conquests. Commitment and vows are scorned only by the naive or the dishonest.

Put It in Writing!

A few years ago I was in a lawyer’s office. The man is a friend of mine, and he was in despair because a client of his had entered into an oral agreement with someone and had been defrauded of a great deal of money. “How many times have I said to get it in writing,” he moaned. Business has to be in writing, because men are crooked. For the same reason God put the words of His covenant in writing, and honest churches will put their confession in writing. There are as many crooked people in religion as anywhere else. The church or minister who will not confess a creed has an agenda that he keeps hidden in order to attract people who might not come if they understood the agenda. Dishonest preachers like this because they do not have to be accountable to anyone for their behavior or practices. In other words, they want to be responsible to none but themselves. This is no responsibility at all. Because of this we have home-made churches, self-appointed preachers, and the Christian people are continually taken in and defrauded.

All Things to All Men?

But didn’t Paul say “I am all things to all men?” Didn’t he say he had caught them with “guile?” Paul was not speaking of concealing his true beliefs, but of appearing before them as a servant, and not raising issue that did not really matter. He was as a Jew to win the Jews, and as a Gentile to win the Gentiles. But he did not pretend that confession, ideas, and truth did not matter. Just the opposite. He labored tirelessly among the churches and wrote letters to bring them to the unity of the faith of Jesus Christ.

To Paul, there was only one faith, and he was not ashamed to express it in words. If you want to be part of a real church, find one with a creed. These are the honest ones.