Sunday, August 21, 2011


Summer is the time for reruns on not blog posts? This was first posted some five years ago. I think it bears repeating with slight adaptation of language for clarification.

It's clear that all [men and women] are given gifts to be used for the good of the Body of Christ. It is also apparent that some women did this exceptionally well in the New Testament. [See Romans 16:1-2 as only one example of many Paul gives.] Add to that the fact that you have good people on both sides of the women being able to be deacons or pastors issue and you see the problem.

I've also personally come to appreciate the emphasis on the "laying on of hands" [Hebrews 6:2] which seems to have indicated the blessings of a fellowship on a person and their ministry. It may well be that this is the ONLY kind/form of ordination that you will find in the scriptures for anyone in ministry. 

Be that as it may, I don't believe you will find the system of ordination that we have put together the modern church in scripture at all, especially the idea of licensing prior to ordination. Which, by the way, has caused us to wind up with many men having a license to preach but no evidence of a call that qualifies them for ordination.

I do recognize and sympathize with the need for a church to say something that allows a potential pastor/preacher college student a reduction of cost when entering a Baptist school. But I wonder if something other than a license would not be better. Remember the Government recognizes the license to be equal with an ordination for tax purposes, in fact, for all purposes.

I'm not saying what we're doing is evil. In fact, it could be argued that it is needed. Ordination/licensing is demanded by government officials for those who marry the living and bury the dead.[Certainly if this is done with regularity or in the name of a church.] At the very least, one or the other, it doesn't matter which, ordination or license, is necessary when you start talking tax exemptions and government regulations.

So...I was faced, as were our seven Elders, in my last pastorate some ten years ago, [fifteen now] with how to recognize women in ministry and fit it into the "laying on of hands" and the "ordination" required by the government. Do we "ordain" them to the gospel ministry? [That would make them pastors in the eyes of the government.] Do we make the "laying on of hands" a meaningless gesture? What do we do?

We devised a system. Notice I call it "frail" in the title so I readily admit it's fallibility. We dropped licensing and designed two tiers [yes, tiers] of ordination. One tier was for the ordination of Pastors and Deacons. [Tier one] The other was for all other ministers [men and women]to such ministries as youth, children, counseling, and a myriad of other things that are legitimate and needed in the Body of Christ.  [We used tier one to include Elders/Bishops/Pastors since we view all three terms referring to the same person.]

The second tier was specifically for a ministry named, such as counseling or youth, and did not go beyond that specified call/ministry. We laid hands on them as well and gave to them an appropriate certificate of ordination [tier two] that reflected their being set aside for that specified work of ministry for as long as that ministry continued.

The first tier was reserved for men, though, as mentioned, some did not believe that was the clear scriptural position, but it was a major step in the right direction for our local felloship. [By this I mean some didn't see [myself included] scripture forbidding the ministry of deacon or pastor to women when passages that seem to say that are properly interpreted in context.]

But we were only a part of a body of seven elders and the elders were only seven of a whole congregation the majority of which disagreed with the view of having women pastors at the time. So we accepted the majority position [since it wasn't a issue of salvation] and lived by it while a part of that group. This, while at the same time some having, as I said, a bit of a different opinion including myself.

It worked well and there are at present people [men and women] working under that ordination method. One couple on the East coast ministers in a church counseling ministry, tier two, where both are ordained, and are able to operate in ministry with the blessings of both their local fellowship and their government.

This was an attempt to handle a local congregation's desire to create an effective way of recognizing women as a legitimate part of the Body of Christ and for them to be qualified to minister in the eyes of our culture.

 Perfect? Absolutely not. In violation of scripture? Show me where. A tool for working effectively in our culture. I think so. The final answer on the complex issue of ordination and need for rethinking it? Hardly. One church's effort to meet a need? Yes.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

..Which is a lot better than just drinking the Kool-Aid, you know. And autonomous local church acting like an autonomous local church.

Aussie John said...


Wow! I'm glad I wasn't called to a pastorate in the USA (maybe the USA is glad too).

I'm also thankful for people such as yourself, who are prepared to work through some of these issues, as a process of growth and maturity in understanding what is required of us as God's people.

I could function as a pastor, with all of the duties of pastor (marriage, funerals etc.), as long as the denomination gave it's approval. The government then honored that acknowledgement and licenced us to marry and bury. Any other function is a matter for the church.

Pressure was applied to me several times regarding ordination, which I refused,for the reasons you state, "Be that as it may, I don't believe you will find the system of ordination that we have put together the modern church in scripture at all, especially the idea of licensing prior to ordination. Which, by the way, has caused us to wind up with many men having a license to preach but no evidence of a call that qualifies them for ordination.

I still see ordination as the province of the local church, and no one else, and the autonomy of the local church, in these matters, as precious.

Tom Parker said...


Of all the issues that the CR could have lead, why do you think the issue of women being ordained and then ultimately women not being allowed to preach in SB churches was one of the major ones? My thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

“He is risen!” Is that the Gospel?
Instead of trying to copy what early Christians did, why don’t we copy what the Lord did? He chose a woman to do his bidding. It was a woman to first tell the ‘Good News’. No one ‘laid hands’ on her.

But like then, some Southern Baptists also treat women like second class Christians. Before being removed, our proposed church bylaws stated: “The office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture” which is in the BFM 2000.

The BFM also states: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband…and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

In other words, women were to be in the kitchen like Martha requested Jesus to send her sister. But Jesus said, “There is only one thing worthy being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42 NLT) Except by people who push the BFM 2000.

The old Conventions of Texas and Virginia have rejected this ‘one man and his 15 friend’s paper they kept in secret before it was pushed through the SBC.

Man has always downgraded women…even blaming God: “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

“I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. It was not Adam who was fooled by Satan. The woman was deceived and sin was the result.” (1 Timothy 2:12,14 NLT)

Yea, Adam wasn’t deceived—he did his part without being deceived.

Adam tried to put the blame on Eve, but God didn’t buy it. In my opinion, in this verse that some Baptists harp on, Paul put the blame on Eve also, but since God didn’t agree with Adam, why would he agree with Paul or the ‘put-down’ of women by the BFM 2000?

Paul Burleson said...


You're right. Who would have thunk that an autonomous local church would act autonomously? LOL

Aussie J,

Our government does recognize whatever the denomination says about ministry by taking the
license OR ordination certificate as valid for whatever the denomination says it's for.

They do view ANY approval on paper as a document that is valid for ANY church ministry even if the denomination sees it as specific. It's a little confusing but, hey, when in know the rest. ;)


I'm not sure I fully understand your question and that's my problem I'm sure, but, I would think the SBC makes such a big deal about the women thing because their view of women fits with our traditional culture in America over the past couple of hundred years and they're uncomfortable with anything else. Women have been second class citizens and under the control of a male dominated society in America for years.

They would probably say that our culture is changing about women, and they'd be right, and that my view is embracing the NEW cultural view. They's be wrong.

I would say my view is the best interpretation of the biblical text and they would counter that their's is. So there we are with that glass darkly thing.

I guess we'll all find out one day. It really would be wise for us ALL to practice loving one another regardless until them it would seem to me.

I'll bet you'd agree with that if what I've read you say other places is who you are. Thanks for stopping by.


I have to say I agree with most, if not all, of your thoughts in your comment. I really do think you see the women thing correctly. Thanks for commenting.

Christiane said...

well . . . Christ's experience on this Earth was such that women can, in living their own difficulties, learn of Him with more understanding, I think.
His Words were met with ridicule and misunderstanding, and He was despised and rejected during His Passion.

That 'connection' with Our Lord's experience is a lesson that can only be learned by living it . . . and women HAVE, over the millenia, lived marginalized lives, much misunderstood, and women HAVE had their own God-given gifts rejected by men, even as Our Lord's gifts have been marginalized by so many who have sought to lean on their own understanding.

That special bond with Christ has only given women more desire to serve Him with all of theirs minds and hearts and strength.

The gospel tells us that the first to witness the Resurrection were women.. . . even then, the 'last' were permitted to be 'first'.

Paul Burleson said...


I do not need to say how much I appreciate what you have to say. I've declared that to be so many times and nothing's changed. Thanks.