T.C. Robinson has posted several brief ideas concerning the subjects of women in ministry, prophecy, & preaching (found here and here). I think he (and others) bring up some good questions regarding the subject of women in ministry. People on both sides of the debate often bring up 1 Cor. 11:5 and have questions regarding how it is to function and support one’s position. What strikes me as interesting in some of these conversations is how it seems that the words “prophesy” and “preach” or “prophet” and “preacher” are often defined. Those who hold to Continuationist Complimentarian views will define those terms differently than Cessationist Egalitarians and Cessationist Complimentarians will define them differently than Continuationist Egalitarians. And the circle goes around and around!

Everyone can stack up scholars who support their views regarding the nature and definition of both the gift of prophecy and the role and nature of a preacher. Those who define prophecy as being distinct from preaching will certainly see 1 Cor. 11:5 differently than those who believe they are essentially the same thing.

I find this discussion kind of fascinating because as I think through it and consider how the various scholars line up, it seems that everyone’s presuppositions are easy to spot. It’s a good case study for the role of how those ideas will shape our interaction with the text of Scripture. For example,

  • Some who believe that prophecy and preaching are the same thing will point to 1 Cor. 11:5 and say that the Bible clearly indicates that women can be pastors because Paul advocated women prophets, which, they suggest, is the same thing as advocating women preachers.
  • Others who believe that prophecy and preaching are different will point to 1 Cor. 11:5 and state that the Bible clearly indicates that women can share prophetic messages but are not to preach because preaching is reserved for pastors.
  • Yet others will suggest that the connection between the activity of preaching and the role/office of a pastor are less clear than some assume. In other words, we read our current experience (pastors preach) into the text and arrive to conclusions that were somewhat foreign to Paul.

As you can see, one’s presuppositions plays an active role in how one decides the roles women can take, the function of prophecy and preaching, as well as how those subjects interact and are applied today. It’s fascinating!

What do you think? Are prophecy and preaching essentially the same thing? Or are they different? Are pastors the same thing as preachers?

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