I have just received a second suggestion for the worst argument favoring women’s ordination.Let’s call it the “We Already Knew” (WAK) attack.This little gem can go in one of two ways.First, one can simply state that failure to allow women to be priests/senior pastors is on its face unjust. Being unjust is bad. . . therefore it is bad to bar women from the priesthood.WAK!How do we know. . . because “We already knew!”Of course the very issues at stake are whether the priesthood is like a “job,” whether men and women have equal qualifications for the “job” (if it is a job), or whether inequality in function is part of the divine order.However, there are positive aspects to this argument. The Green Bay Packers (bless them!) have never asked me to try out as their place kicker. I feel called to be a Packer. I love the Packers. I can place kick. (Dare anyone question my sincerity? If so, then I will cry or scream or both.) Why shouldn’t I get a try-out? Am I not a human? Am I not a citizen created equal before the Almighty?It is unjust that the Packers do not let me play for them given my passion and calling. Since it is bad to be unjust, they must give me a try out.WAK!Can anyone say “circular argument?”Of course, there are advocates of women’s ordination who do not stoop to this level of argument by brow beating, but there are an amazing number of church leaders who do.The second technique is to claim that God has called one to pastoral ministry. How can anyone deny a call from God based on theology? Aren’t we led by the Spirit?Pentecostal churches have been particularly vulnerable to this sort of argument.Their history is abused, distorted, and an overly robust individualism (common to all Americans!) is exploited to make a subjective and highly manipulative appeal look like an argument.Why should women be ordained? Why it turns out that “we already knew” they should!(“Are you saying, Mr. Smith,” said the candidate with tears in his/her eyes, “that I am not hearing our precious Saviour?”WAK!Any counter argument based on reason will make the foe look like he or she has a hard heart and is led by the law and not the Spirit.I can think of no objective standard immune to this WAK attack given the state of the culture.Any Anglican knows that this method will not end with women’s ordination.)Of course, this argument could be used to justify making just about anyone a minister who claimed a call . . .including people that the advocates of women’s ordination would agree should be excluded. (For example, suppose Bob were the husband of two wives. . . )At that point, the advocate (one hopes) would point to Scripture, Church history, or some standard within their community to limit the subjective feelings of the membership.So the truth is none but the mad think anyone should be a priest/pastor simply on the basis of receiving a call.A call is a necessary, but not sufficient condition.Bringing this issue up simply distracts from the point.What is the point?We all agree that our culture (meaning the US/Western Europe. . . these people often talk a global Christianity but on this issue aren’t) believes equality of persons demands some kind of equality of function.Is this a good idea? Is it Biblical? Is it just? Does it comport with the traditions of the Church? Is it reasonable?One cannot beg these questions with fetching anecdotes. In many churches the laity ends up going along with change that makes them uncomfortable based on these bad argument. Lightly educated seminary grads with an agenda can push and push. The folk don’t have an agenda, don’t have much training in this area*, and so can be worn down by advocacy “scholarship.”*Fun example: Let’s call this the Greek bluff. A seminary grad with very little actual Greek skill claims that Paul has been misread. “By the goddess, he is not really a misogynist like he seems. After all, how could he be? Isn’t the Bible true?” The poor traditional elder ends up looking like he is attacking Paul and the Bible.Does anyone with Greek skills outside the evangelical sub-culture take evangelical feminist exegesis seriously? Paul stands in the way of what they want so the advocates simply misrepresent the Greek to people who don’t know better. Seminary grads further down the food chain repeat the lies in all sincerity. Church elders are told: “Head means source in the Greek!” and they don’t know the proper response is to laugh.
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