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October 8, 2019

RT Wright Explores His Imagination to Support Christo-Feminism

By Anthony Wade

Same old tired and unbiblical arguments for women preaching with authority over men...


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I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 1Timothy 2:13-14 (ESV)

NT Wright is theologian and former Anglican Bishop. Charisma News highlights a recent interview at the link above where he defends the notion of women in leadership positions over men in the church. I often read pieces like this in the hopes that someone would come up with something new to research but the arguments are always the same old tired recycled lines. They avoid what is clear instruction given by God in favor of wild interpretations and assumptions of what Paul really meant. They seemingly stop at no end, changing the actual meanings of word to prop up their unbiblical points. They open up scripture to the wiles of their imagination in order to make Junias an apostle or Phoebe a deaconess. As I have said before, this subject gives me no joy. I know godly women who can preach the paint off the walls but that does not change what God has said. So let us reason together once more through scripture and reality through the above link and try our best to listen only to what God is saying.

"N.T. Wright says that the New Testament clearly shows that women can be church leaders and preachers, and added that many American churches that deny women opportunities to lead do so off a "highly selective reading of Scripture" that misses the bigger context. In an interview with Premier's Justin Brierley, Wright bases his argument off the existence of female church leaders in Romans 16. "Romans 16 is explosive," Wright says. "Paul greets all these church leaders in Rome, many of whom are women who are church leaders in their own right, one of whom is an apostle--he says so, Junia. There's been a huge attempt to try to make out this as Junius, a man, but the scholarship is quite clear. This is a female name and she is an apostle. For Paul, that means somebody who has seen the Risen Jesus and is thereby commissioned to be an authorized representative." Wright adds that Paul selected a woman to be the carrier and likely reader and expositor of the letter which became Romans, which means both Paul and the church recognized she possessed a certain level of authority." -- Charisma News

The truly sad thing about people who insist on disobeying the key scriptures today is that they all recycle the same tired arguments that have been thoroughly debunked by Scripture over and over again. Mind you, what we see in the key verses are clear and directive scripture. The language is definitive and final. I do not permit. Period. Full stop. We do not have to wonder or speculate what Paul means. To claim this is selective is asinine. This is not interpreting scripture -- it is reading it. When Wright is forced to view the closing salutations in the Book of Romans and assume conclusions in it that are not supported by other scriptures, the context is not "bigger." It is "weaker."

Romans 16 is not "explosive." It is Paul giving greetings to those who have helped him and the cause of Christ and let us not lose sight of what we are discussing. No one is suggesting females cannot serve Christ in His church. What we see in the key verses is they are forbidden from serving with authority over men in teaching and preaching. God then does something extraordinary -- He explains why! Probably because He knows how our depraved hearts will try to be disobedient in this area, God explains that it is because Eve was deceived that this prohibition exists. This also should put to rest the fanciful teaching that Adam was just as much to blame as Eve in the garden. His sin was different. He listened to his wife instead of God. Eve on the other hand listened to the devil instead of God. Wright's assertion that Junias was a female is untrue. Many scholars believe Junias to be a male, especially in light of the text itself referring to Him as a "kinsman."

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. -- Romans 16:7 (ESV)

However, we do not even need to be sure of the gender of Junias because there is no way they were an apostle! Read the text! It says that Andronicus and Junias were "well known to" the Apostles. So among the Apostles, these two men were well known. They themselves were not Apostles. These are the lengths people like Wright will go to in order to prove their unbiblical point. To dismiss clear and directive scriptures in favor of redefining someone's gender and then twisting the one scripture they appear in to create doctrine out of whole cloth. The scholarship of the gender is only clear to those wishing to dismiss the key verses and the larger point is it is irrelevant. What is most sad here is that Wright actually goes as far as to say Junias must have therefore seen the risen Christ even though this is mentioned nowhere in the entire canon of scripture.

Next Wright claims that Phoebe must be an example of a woman with a certain level of authority because Paul assigned her the task of delivering the letter to the Roman churches. I agree she was given the authority to deliver the letter because the text reveals that. The text however reveals nothing further, other than Phoebe being a servant. Now, being assigned this task does show that Paul trusted this woman implicitly, no argument there but it does not mean we toss out clear and directive scriptures spoken by the same exact source! In order to make their case, people like RT Wright are forced to leave the surety of scripture for the whims of their imaginations.

'"Here's the crunch: The first woman mentioned in Romans 16 is the bearer of the letter to Rome," Wright says. "Now if you're Paul and you know in your bones you have just written a letter which is the most explosive piece of theological writing you can imagine, who are you going to give it to to take it to be read under Caesar's nose in Rome? Well, presumably some strong man. No, a deacon woman from the church of Cenchreae. We assume she's an independent businesswoman--Phoebe--and she's on the way to Rome and what we know about the way letters worked in the ancient world was if you sent a letter via a friend or somebody, the chances are--you can't prove this--the chances are they will be the one to read it out. They might well be the one to explain it to people who, I mean, faced with Romans, would have a thousand questions. I'd have a thousand questions: 'Phoebe tell us...' So the probability is that the first person to expound Paul's letter to the Romans was a woman, a deacon from the church in Cenchreae, and I want to say, 'Get used to it, guys. This is explosive, but it's the sort of thing that happens when new creation is going forward.'"' -- Charisma News

This entire paragraph is assumption and conjecture. Wright does not know what Paul felt in his bones. Considering Caesar, it would make no difference if the deliverer was "some strong man." Why assume she is an independent businesswoman? There are only two verses in the entire bible that mention Phoebe and Wright already has a Curricula Vitae drawn up. She was a helper in the church and Paul trusted her. That is all we can glean from these two verses without venturing into our imaginations. The notion that she was a deaconess is linguistically ridiculous. You see the word for servant at the time Paul wrote this letter was Diakonos. Now it is true that the church would take this word and create the position of deacon and deaconess but that would not happen for another thousand years. So the notion that a thousand years before the term ever meant deacon, Phoebe was a deaconess is just simply wrong. So I am used to it Mr. Wright. I am so used to these arguments because everyone from Eddie Hyatt to J. Lee Gardy have tried the same tired old defenses that hold no biblical water whatsoever. All to avoid the clear and directive scriptures found in the key verses today. The letter was to the church in Rome, not to the Romans themselves and the notion that Phoebe would have to undergo questioning for simply delivering the letter is equally unfounded. These are all speculations unsupported by actual scripture.

'Wright says that because Paul and the early church allowed women to preach and lead congregations, it doesn't make sense for churches today to prevent women from assuming leadership roles. "To row back from there and to say, 'Well, Paul didn't really mean that,' I then want to say, What are the forces in our culture today--particularly I have to say in America--which are forcing some churches and some people to fasten on one or two verses from elsewhere to say 'Oh, no, no, we can't have women doing this, that and the other'?" Wright says. "Because that's a highly, highly selective reading of the Scripture, and as with all other theological answers, the best place to start is with the resurrection of Jesus and then everything that flows out from there."' -- Charisma News

This is also a clever technique Christo-feminists use. They present unsupported arguments and then write as if their conclusions are now accepted fact when they most certainly are not. Paul and the early church did not allow women to preach and lead congregations and do you know how I know this for fact? Because the key verses tell me so! Without any ambiguity. Without having to read things into the text! Without having the change people's genders and assume all sorts of things that are simply not mentioned in the actual texts. The notion that simply reading the key verses means I am being "highly selective" is ludicrous. In order for Wright to be able to make a single point in support of his position, he must leave the surety of scripture for the vanity of his imagination. Mercifully, the article concludes:

"Wright says in the Easter story, women are the first people to hear the news of Jesus' resurrection and bring that news to others. Wright says this both makes women the first carriers of the gospel message and also makes the gospel accounts more historically believable (as no one would have made up such an account at the time). Watch Wright's full interview here." -- Charisma News

I chose to not review the entire video because I can tell the arguments are the same as has already been debunked, like this yarn about Easter. Yes the women were the first ones to go to the tomb that morning but the bible tells us why! It was to prepare the body for burial. This does not make them the "first evangelists" as I have heard argued. It also does not make them the first "carriers of the Gospel." These are leaps in illogic based on a desire to prove an unbiblical tenet. In fact, it ignores the actual story told in two of the four Gospel accounts:

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back--it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -- Mark 16:1-8 (ESV)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. -- John 20:1-10 (ESV)

So according to the Gospel of Mark, the women fled trembling and said nothing to anyone for they were afraid. That does not sound like evangelists to me. The account in the Gospel of John reveals that they did not know He had risen at all! Look at what they tell Peter! That they have "taken the Lord out of the tomb and they do not know where they have laid Him." Even after the men saw the empty tomb they as of yet did not understand what He had meant when He said He would rise from the dead. So the notion again that the women were somehow chosen to be the first evangelists or Gospel carriers is as unsupported as the rest of the arguments from RT Wright.

Once again beloved, this subject is not joyful but I had too many people, mostly women, ask for clarification. Any fair reading of the bible must make you conclude that while women play an important and pivotal role in the church God has said no to one thing. Like the fruit in the garden however, we want to reach out for this one thing away and discard clear and directive scripture. It does not however change what God has said.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- October 7, 2019

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.