Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Women as Church Administrators

The post below was made by the late Dr. Ken Schrable on the BereanSpirit newsgroup on Tue Oct 15, 2002 9:18 pm

This was a year or so before his death. He was a psychologist who was originally from the area around Mammouth Spring, AR. and was raised in the Church of Christ there. He attended Pepperdine and was a university administrator in the Northeast, if I recall correctly.

----- Original Message -----
From: "swallison"
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 5:53 AM
Subject: [BereanSpirit] Re: Woman as Administrators -- Secret of the

--- In BereanSpirit@y..., "Kenneth Shrable" wrote:
> TO: Steve Allison
> FROM: Kenneth Shrable
Steve, I inadvertently deleted your follow up post which
clarified further your statement above to the effect that "'the instructions
from Paul (concerning women) were clearly a function of his time and place"
and your later post explicated the basis for "it would be a great thing to
have women elders". I wish to agree with what I judge to be your thesis but
propose a variation in wording. .............
Grace, in Christ
Kenneth Shrable
Vancouver, WA

Thanks for the many interesting thoughts, Ken. They evoke a number of
feelings on my part. It is instructive that you mention the word
"elder" along with other offices of ancient times like
"procurator" etc. And, that they had a complex of meanings for people
living in
those times in their specific cultural situation. In order to
understand our scriptures and our heritage, it helps to know as much
as possible about the world of our first century spiritual forbears.
It helps to know what they meant with such terms. The frustrating
thing is that we know so little. In addition, knowledge about those
times is growing but difficult to access. You point out that the
qualifications for elders are similar to those for Roman Army
officers. You cite a book reference for that. I am sure there is
lots of relevant information on this topic but most of us do not have
easy access to the kinds of libraries that would have the kinds of
books and periodicals necessary to dig it out. It is hard work to put
it all together.

TO: Steve Allison
FROM: Kenneth Shrable

Steve, forgive my delay in responding to your thoughtful comments.
I will provide you with an abbreviated summary of the reference which I made
to Onosander's statements about the qualifications for a general. Liddell
and Scott (Greek-English Lexicon) reference the time of Onosander as the
beginning of the first century A.D. This would place him just prior to the
time of Jesus and the apostles.

There are discussions of the comparison between Onosander and the
Pastoral Epistles with regard to the qualifications of a general and that
of the overseer in first Timothy 2 and Titus 1 in several scholarly
publications. An extended treatment of this topic can be found in the
commentary by Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelman in the Hermeneia Series.
The qoute from Onosander is in the Hermeneia volume on the pastoral epistles
published by Fortress Press in 1972. The discussion of the qualifications
of the general as listed by Onosander is found on pages 158 through 160. I
will quote the opening paragraph on page 158. Onosander writes as follows:

"I believe, then, that we must choose a general, not because of noble birth
as priests are chosen, nor because of wealth as the superintendents of the
gymnasia, but because he is temperate, self-restrained, vigilant, frugal,
hardened to labor, alert, free from avarice, neither too young nor too old,
indeed a father of children if possible, a ready speaker, and a man with a
good reputation. "

Steve, the requirements of a tested and mature person for leadership
as expressed by Onosander seem self-evident in the culture of the period of
our NT. In other words, the culture understood such matters as the
requirement of demonstrated maturity when it came to the social role of
leader. What I find of most interest is the fact that both Paul and
Onosander provide an introductory statement concerning the importance of the
office in question and then take up their qualifications. Onosander follows
his abbreviated listing of the qualifications with an extended statement of
a rationale for each of his qualities. Similarly, Paul introduces his qualif
ication list with a statement of the importance or nobility of the office
and then provides a rationale for at least three of his stated qualities.
For example, 1 Timothy 3:4-5 provides a rationale for the requirement of
household management. First Timothy 3:6 also provides a rationale for the
requirements that one not be a novice. Again, in 1 Timothy 3:7 there is a
rationale given for requiring the overseer to have a good reputation. What
I find of interest is that the apostle seems to follow the format found in
Onosander except for the fact that Onosander provides a rationale for each
of the qualifications which he lists.

There are important similarities as well as significant differences
between the two lists just as one would expect. The apostle Paul has his
focus on the matter of proper conduct in the household of God (1 Tm. 3:15)
and his statement of qualifications would be expected to pertain closely to
the office in question wherein the example of Jesus as Lord and servant
leader would be foremost. In order that you might have a feel for the
fascinating way one can compare these two lists of leadership qualifications
from the first century, I will cite the qualification with regard to
reputation which gives the flavor of the way Paul and Onosander elaborate on
the statement of qualifications.

(Paul in 1 Timothy 3: 7). "He (the overseer) must also have (qualification)
a good reputation with outsiders, so that (rationale for qualification) he
will not fall into disgrace and into the Devils' trap" .

(Onosander. ). "The general should be (qualification) a man of good
reputation, because (rationale for qualification) the majority of men, when
placed under the command of unknown generals, feel uneasy. For no one
voluntarily submits to a leader or an officer who is an inferior man to
himself. It is absolutely essential, then, that a general be such a man, of
such excellent traits of character as I have enumerated, and besides this,
that he have a good reputation".

Steve, I hope this will be helpful in supplying the information of interest.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, J.W. McGarvey published a small
volume on the eldership in which he contends that the qualifications for the
elder are both general and specific. For example, the requirement "apt (or
able) to teach" would be both general and specific; in that ability to
teach, though somewhat generalizable, would vary with the constituency of
the congregation in question. Similarly, reputation will be both general in
an abstract sense and specific to a given community. One could extend
consideration to the way we might specify leadership qualities in a
community in a third world country versus the leader qualities required in
an advanced Western Democracy. Social roles are somewhat culturally
specific, as I would understand them.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Grace, in Christ
Kenneth Shrable

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