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July 8, 2017

Priscilla -- The Heroine of Christo-Feminism

By Anthony Wade

Eddie Hyatt is at it again. Twisting God's word to sell his book on Christo-feminism...


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I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. -- 1Timothy 2: 12-14 (ESV)

The title of the article is what grabbed my attention. "The Priscilla Challenge: When the Wife Is Called to Be the Pastor." It grabbed my attention because anyone who understands the Bible knows that there is never a time when God would call the wife in a relationship to be a pastor. That's right -- never. I know it is a hard lesson to learn but the Bible says what the Bible says, even the parts that we may not like. As I have said before this topic brings me no joy because I know many gifted women serving God with their whole heart and the object is to not discourage but to teach. The author of this article on Charisma News opens by claiming that there is an unhealthy preoccupation with male authority within the church. I found this amusing since it seemed that Eddie Hyatt has an unhealthy preoccupation with ignoring the Bible on this one subject as this is the third such article he has written in the past few months regarding it. Then I realized why. He has written an entire book pushing back against God on the matter! No wonder then he is trying to stir up so much nonsense regarding this subject like speculating that Priscilla, who is mentioned in all of six times in the entire canon of Scripture, was actually Paul's pastor. Obviously, this is not true but when you are trying to sell books, why let a little thing like biblical truth get in the way? To establish his groundwork, Hyatt does not go to Scripture because he knows he cannot. Instead he spins a yarn about meeting a man on a tour of Israel who handed him his business card, which was from a Pennsylvania church. The card listed the man's wife as pastor and himself as Assistant Pastor. From this exchange, Hyatt jumps the shark:

"Because of an unhealthy preoccupation today with male authority, many in the church will not stomach such an arrangement in which the woman is the out-front teacher and pastor. The Bateses, however, were merely functioning according to their gifts. She obviously had teaching and pastoral gifts, while his gifts were administrative. Her gifts required her to be publicly out front, while his gifts were most effective behind the scenes." -- Eddie Hyatt

This may come as a shock to Mr. Hyatt but just because someone fancies themselves as stronger in one area than another does not equal "gifting" or "calling." Many have noted that Paul was not a strong orator at all and he in fact bragged about it because human eloquence often detracts from the Gospel. We see that rampant throughout the church today with a cult of personality type leader who people worship over God. When Moses said he could not speak for God the Lord assured him that He would give him the words. It is the word of God that matters, not our human abilities. The reality is that Mr. Bates abdicated his God assigned role within his marriage and his ministry and to Eddie Hyatt that is a point of celebration. That is assuming his conclusions are even valid! He did not know these people. He is assuming her gifts and his gifts. He is assuming she was a great teacher and he was great at stuffing envelopes. Based on what? Empirical evidence? Proof based on research? No beloved. Based on a business card that fit his pre-conceived opinions. Hyatt now tries to leverage Scripture but we will see this pattern of absurd assumptions will continue:

"In Romans 16:3-5, Paul greets such a couple named Priscilla and Aquila. This couple is always mentioned together and always referred to with the plural pronouns "they" and "them." They obviously functioned in a close partnership for they are never mentioned separately. There is also evidence that Priscilla was the out-front one in ministry and the pastor of the church they hosted in their home. While in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos, a convert of John the Baptist, speaking in the synagogue in Ephesus. Realizing that he was deficient in his understanding, "they" took him aside, and "they" explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26). Luke makes it very clear that both were involved in the instruction of Apollos." -- Eddie Hyatt

Yes this couple was always mentioned together. Yes Priscilla maintained a prominent spot and role in ministry -- as can any woman today. They did serve in close partnership and are never mentioned separately. Then Hyatt starts drawing assumptions that fit his narrative. There is zero evidence that Priscilla was the out front one in their ministry. There is even less than zero evidence that she was the pastor of the church. This is only made up in the wickedly deceitful heart of Eddie Hyatt who is looking to increase his book sales. As for the correction to Apollos, it is true that Luke uses the plural to infer that both Priscilla and her husband Aquila gave him deeper insight from their time with Paul. Does this mean that if Aquila had a business card that Priscilla's name would be listed as Pastor? Of course not. Mind you, the scripture clearly says that they took Apollos to them in order to provide him with more in depth knowledge to add to his zeal. This was not correction as much as illumination. It also happened in private. No one is arguing that a wife cannot provide valuable insight within such a context. That does not however mean the wife should usurp the role God has ordained would belong to her husband. Beloved, Paul only states two things as being not allowed for women. One is to exercise authority over men and another would be to preach/teach men. He even gives us the reasoning in the key verses today. Because it was Eve who was deceived. I know even this biblical truth is under fire from Christo-feminism that claims Adam was somehow right there and knew what Eve was doing and therefore he was equally deceived. No he was not and the key verses clarify any confusion we might have regarding that matter. Hyatt continues:

'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:

"This is the time when God is pouring out His Spirit around the world, and sons and daughters are being moved by the Spirit to speak and to act (Acts 2:17). Modern day Deborahs, Priscillas and Phoebes are experiencing the call of God to speak and act in His name. Will the church quench these gifts, or will she encourage these gifts and thereby help facilitate the greatest revival the modern church has yet known?" -- Eddie Hyatt

Beloved, my preoccupation is with people who twist God's Word to suit their own needs and desires and then lead people away from Christ as a result. I am entirely too preoccupied with this to be absorbed anywhere else. I would just as soon never write again about the gender roles Gods has ordained. People need to stop trying to rewrite the Bible on the subject however. Notice how cute he tries to get with the verse from Acts, which is actually quoting the Prophet Joel. These verses do not say that sons and daughters are being moved by the Spirit to speak and act, which is presented purposefully ambiguous here by Hyatt. It says they will prophesy, dream dreams and see visions. Nothing about teaching/preaching and holding authority over men. According to Eddie Hyatt the road to the greatest revival of the church in history is paved by utter disobedience. He is wrong. The gifts of women should be encouraged by the church within the paradigm that God Almighty has clearly set up. There is no "Priscilla challenge." She is mentioned six times in the Bible, always in a greeting or thanking perspective, along with her husband. Four times she is mentioned first and twice he is. This is not some secret code to crack. It is just how Paul wrote the letters. We base doctrine off of clear instructions not vague inferences the suit our pre-determined desires. Women are not victims in the church Eddie. Stop making them out to be.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- June 26, 2017

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.