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Devotionals

Priscilla -- The Heroine of Christo-Feminism

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'In Paul's greeting to Priscilla and Aquila in Romans 16:3-5, he greets them and the church that is in their house. Interestingly, he puts Priscilla's name first in the greeting. This is telling for, in doing so, he violated the normal, conventional way of presenting a couple in the ancient world. The proper way would have been to mention Aquila first, but Paul goes against accepted convention and mentions Priscilla first. That Paul would purposely mention Priscilla first is a powerful statement of her status and influence and of Paul's estimation of her. Many New Testament scholars see this as evidence that she was the out-front one in the relationship and the pastor of the church in their home. R.C.H. Lenski, for example, said, "She by nature was more gifted and able than her husband, also spiritually fully developed, due to having Paul in her home for 18 months in Corinth."' -- Eddie Hyatt

What Hyatt and Lenski engage in here is Bible interpretation by imagination. They read into something that is not there. Worse than that, they are not actually misinterpreting a text but rather an inference they assume from the order of words. It is beyond irresponsible to handle the Word in such a manner. Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times by Paul and always together, usually in some form of thanks or greeting. Hardly the spot to be drawing doctrinal definitives that run contrary to actual instructions contained in Scripture such as our key verses. In the key verses we see direct definitive instruction regarding the roles of women but Eddie Hyatt does not like those instructions. So he is forced to read into the fact that when writing their names, Paul put Priscilla first as somehow overturning these direct instructions. That is biblically absurd and dangerously sloppy in interpretation. By the way, in two of the six times Paul references this couple Aquila is mentioned first. Only four of the six have Priscilla mentioned first. My goodness! What can this mean! Absolutely nothing. These were personal letters at the time Paul wrote them. Perhaps Paul did think more fondly of Priscilla. Perhaps he just wrote as many of us do, without giving a second thought to something like whose name should go first. This was not exactly the crux of the letter to the Romans beloved. The fact that twice it was one way and four times it was another seems to indicate randomness, not some secret power structure Paul was trying to reveal as gnosis. Having laid this shaky foundation of poor assumptions, Hyatt expands:

"That Priscilla was the more gifted one and the pastor of the church in their house was obviously not a problem for them or for Paul. It never affected their love for one another nor their ability to work together. Aquila graciously accepted his supportive role and was, no doubt, blessed to see Priscilla flourish in her gifts and calling." -- Eddie Hyatt

Says no biblical text anywhere. Notice the deceptive nature of what Hyatt just did. Nowhere has he established anything. Now instead of wondering or proffering, he is speaking in absolutes that are simply in his own mind. He does not know that Priscilla was more gifted. He does not know that she was the pastor and in fact we can know for sure based on the key verses that she was not. In order for Priscilla to be a pastor God must be a liar. There is no scriptural evidence that Aquila graciously accepted a subordinate role to his wife. He is simply making all of this up because four out of six times Paul addressed them in personal letters he put her name first. That is not how doctrine is made especially when it flies directly in the face of definitive Scripture. Hyatt continues:

"I can think of other couples in history who functioned in a similar way and made a great impact on their generation. Phoebe Palmer had the support of her husband, Walter, and saw great revival in the northeastern United States, Canada and England. Marie Brown had the support of her husband, Robert, and built Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York City into one of the largest and most successful churches in the Assemblies of God. There are numerous other examples wherein husbands played supportive roles for their wives who were the out-front preachers and pastors." -- Eddie Hyatt

The history of Phoebe Palmer I read says that while she may have been better known, it was her husband who was the primary speaker. She also put forth the notion of Christian perfection, largely denied today. I can see that she led a women group that at some point some male bishops attended but I see no church that she ran. The history on Marie Brown indicates that she founded a mission, not a church called Glad Tidings. The first preacher that preached there would become her husband so this recreation of history where Robert played second fiddle seems off. Eventually the mission became a church that is still in operation today. Robert died many years before Marie but there is no indication that she was the leader before he passed away. Here is the larger point beloved. It doesn't matter. Even if the depictions Eddie Hyatt made were accurate it does not change God and what He has said. In the 1800s a man name Joseph Smith pretended that an angel led him to discover gold tablets with a new gospel on them. Over the years that one absurd lie has grown into the 40 billion dollar Mormon Church. Are we to believe that because it collects eight billion dollars in tithes every year that somehow it has become biblical? Hyatt is confusing carnal success with spiritual approval. That is not to say the Glad Tidings or the work of the Palmers were carnal in nature but if they truly succeeded by circumventing what God has said that does not change what God has said. He will use anything for His glory beloved. Hyatt continues:

"So, Mary and Morris Bates were not so unusual after all. Like Priscilla and Aquila, they functioned according to their God-given gifts rather than culturally-defined roles based on their sex. They could do this because, unlike much of the church today, they saw ministry as characterized by service and responsibility rather than authority and control. Because of an ungodly association of leadership with maleness and authority, many modern churches will not accept a Mary Bates or a Phoebe Palmer. Even if a Deborah were to arise in their midst, they would confine her to the kitchen and quench her God-given gifts. Deborah had a husband, who is mentioned in passing, but she was the one gifted and called to lead and judge Israel (Judg. 4:4)." -- Eddie Hyatt

Bzzt. Thanks for playing Eddie. The roles are not "culturally defined" -- they are God defined. The Word of God transcends time and culture Eddie. You also make a fundamental mistake. Just because someone is more gregarious than another that does not mean God has gifted them to preach. When I was still in training the last thing I wanted to do was preach. Public speaking had always been my crippling fear. I would rather write, research, and create than speak. God however knew this and knew that by forcing me to speak publicly, I would finally be 100% reliant upon Him. That was what He wanted. God can use anyone to preach beloved. He does not need me. He wanted me however to realize how much I needed Him. It is not about authority and control any more than it is about service and responsibility. It is about obedience to what God has said. How can you possibly preach the Gospel if you yourself are in complete rebellion to it? The church accepts the Mary Bates and Phoebe Palmers of the world Eddie. They can lead, prophesy, heal, and serve in nearly every single capacity that a man could. Except for two. They cannot preach/teach nor hold authority over men. I did not write it Eddie. God did. Deborah, who is the only example of female leadership over men in the 6000 + years of biblical history, is not a proud moment in Israel history. That God would have to turn to Deborah is an indictment against the men of her day. Deborah deserves the accolades she receives but you do not hold up one instance in history as directive doctrine. It is not about her gifts, his gifts, or anyone else's gifts Eddie. It is about God's Word. Thankfully, Hyatt concludes:

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