The Pulse Has Arrived

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We’re proud to unveil the latest edition of the Pulse, the official publication of the EFCC. Once again we dive into an important debate with input from two gifted writers. In this issue, we address the issue of Ordination of Women — you won’t want to miss that! There is a summary of this past summer’s Conference (Regenerate: Plant. Water. Grow.) in case you weren’t able to attend. And there is plenty more news and views presented in these pages that we believe you will be interested to know.

Clicking on the following link will enable to you read the Pulse, and there is even an option to download a copy for yourself if you’d rather print it out:
http://www.efccm.ca/pulse103/

Please share this page with anyone and everyone that you think would be interested. And after you’ve read it, we invite your own comments below.

28 replies
  1. Communications
    Communications says:

    I’m trying not to read into this too much, but the day I posted this was a record-breaking day for traffic on this site!

    May we all be encouraged by the dialogue and quest that this Pulse edition raises for us!

  2. Jack
    Jack says:

    I am so glad to hear that this will be debated. The hope is that we will listen to each other and not be afraid to move forward

    • Communications
      Communications says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jack!

      Let me assure you that this is being debated very articulately, and with great deliberation by several EFCC pastors through e-mail, particularly inspired by this edition of the Pulse. This has been greatly encouraging to me. And I hope that by putting it in the Pulse, available to everyone, that the debate will be had at all levels, not just the pastors.

  3. Wendy Peterson
    Wendy Peterson says:

    Although there is feedback here– limited as it is –okay, almost no feedback,the disadvantage and reluctance I felt as one of the writers is in knowing the other writer has full access to feedback via the pastors’ link. This feels rather isolating. Then again, it may be a blessing. wendy

    • Communications
      Communications says:

      Wendy, as a contributing author, I recognise your desire for feedback. We’re trying to figure that out on our end. The discussion on the Pastors’ Link is now sprawling to a variety of other related and even unrelated topics, which you may or may not want to be involved in. :-)

      I’ve asked someone to ‘curate’ this discussion with the aim of presenting an archived version to the public, but I haven’t had any traction on that, and don’t have time to do it on my own. It’s a good idea though, so we’ll keep chasing it.

      What might be an effective solution is to solicit contributors in the pastors’ discussion to write a Letter to the Editor. That would be a way to get this discussion formalised, and public. And I can invite them to contribute here, as you have.

      I’ll contact you privately for more details.

  4. Ann Little
    Ann Little says:

    Am I to understand from the comments above that even though the articles in the Pulse were for everyone, the continued discussion of women in leadership in the Free church of Canada is a “men’s only discussion?”

    • Communications
      Communications says:

      Ann: no, that is not our intention at all. In fact, that is something that we’re actively trying to prevent. It just happens that most of our pastors are men, and the Pastors’ Link (e-mail “broadcasting” system) is the most viable place for this discussion at this time. (Website commenting hasn’t been used as much yet.)

      Home Office is asking about how we get this discussion into the open, and some ideas are bubbling up. One idea on the table is to request a formal definition of what ordination means to the EFCC. That seems like an important place to start, because it means that we’re all talking about the same thing, and it sounds like there’s a few differing opinions just on that part of it. That would hopefully prompt in an open, public discussion.

      I will continue to update the EFCC blog as things develop.

  5. Rick Ratzlaff
    Rick Ratzlaff says:

    From Communications “One idea on the table is to request a formal definition of what ordination means to the EFCC. That seems like an important place to start”

    Ya I’d agree, that IS the place to start. Any discussion/debate without definition is blowing smoke, dangerous, and just rhetoric.

    I believe we have the recourses for someone to simply draw out the Biblical definition, and I trust that’s the definition that will address “what ordination means to the EFCC”.

  6. Chris Willis
    Chris Willis says:

    Wendy and Ann,

    Isn’t Brad doing a great job with the website? Good job Brad. One of the unfortunate aspects of discussion is there is continued discussion on the pastors link, but no discussion on the website. It sure would be great if people would post comments on here. I agree with you. I don’t think that its due to a desire to exclude women or anyone else from the discussion.

  7. Jack
    Jack says:

    I am with Wendy and Ann. This discussion needs to come out into the open so that the rest of us know what is happen and thus have a chance to be a part of it. If it stays in the pastor forum it will probably not make it into the “churches” until much later. I think openness is key. And we need to have women take part in this discussion and without hearing them we lose half the voice of the church.

  8. Communications
    Communications says:

    Jack (and everyone) — until such time as another venue is made available, please feel free to post your opinions on the subject here.

    At this point, the only discussion in this comments section is *about* the discussion, which is a fascinating discussion avoidance technique! :-)

  9. Jack
    Jack says:

    Well I for one am in favour of giving full rights and freedom to women. We allow women to be missionaries and plant churches and take part in church leadership in other places. If we can do that in foreign places then why not at home?
    But I also say this in light of the way that I see the bible. I think the bible is a radical call to freedom. When we look at the OT laws and compare them to the laws of the day, they deal with the same subject matter: stealing sheep, slaves, etc., but with a huge difference. The Bible elevates human life over money and things compare to the other laws in effect at the time.
    When we come to the NT Jesus does the same thing. He elevates women and the outcast of his day. And we see the leaders of Jesus’ day having huge problems with it. Writers like Luke show us that the women get it while the men don’t. I think that the whole call of the Bible is to move forward and not try to stop at a certain point in time. If we did that we would still have slaves. I think our call is to be leaders in our society in matters of the way we treat people, and if we are not leaders then at lest to take what is happen in our culture and purify them. Lets make the way we treat others more important then the world does because they are made in the image of God.
    It is time to take seriously, Paul’s statement that there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither female nor male. I think it is the call to go back to Genesis where both male and female are created in the image of God. In Genesis chapter one there is no ranking of order.

  10. Scott Myers
    Scott Myers says:

    This argument is not about a ‘ranking of order’, but instead a God-ordained order of created things. God over man; man over woman. Paul explains this in 1 Cor 11: 8-11.

    I would suggest, if we go back to Genesis 1 & 2 we see that there is a joy found in this relationship of authority and submission, for at this time, no sin had entered the world.

    This joy in submission can be seen in the perfect relationship of Jesus Christ and the Father. While Jesus is equal to the Father – he was in fact 100% God, he “emptied himself” in submission and became 100% man. What is beautiful about authority and submission is that because Christ was “humbled to the point of death, even death on a cross (a most vile and low method of execution)” God “highly exalted him. Paul exhorts us to have this attitude (Phil 2: 5-11)

    Regarding the point about the Law – Jesus Christ is the end of the law – his death has power in that it made us one with God. The reality is, however, if someone is not saved, they are still under the law, and the penalty of the law is death. Yet, while we are now free from the law, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, we have died to it and become bond-slaves to Jesus Christ. This means that we are to live within the God-ordained order of Genesis 1 & 2.

    A complementarian understanding of Scriptures is based on seeing God as the centre of our universe, not ourselves. To adhere to this means that complementarians believe that it is God who spoke his word, and his word is to be heeded by all.

    While it could be said that in other cultures women find themselves in positions to be “missionaries and plant churches and take part in church leadership” this must only take place within the context of God’s spoken word – his ordained will. Consider Carl F.H. Henry’s comments on God’s revelation to mankind in the Scriptures as it relates to other cultures:

    In the global megalopolis of modern man, everyone is encouraged to do his own thing in respect not only to styles of dress but also in respect to private piety and religious preferences. Religious claims are considered adequately proved by personal relevance rather than by universal validity. But Christianity contends that revelational truth is intelligible, expressible in valid propositions, and universally communicable. Christianity does not profess to communicate a meaning that is only significant within a particular community or culture. It expects men of all cultures and nations to comprehend its claims about God and insists that men everywhere ought to acknowledge and appropriate them. p 229. “The Method and Criteria of Theology (II): The Role of Reason, Scripture, Consistency and Coherence” in God, Revelation and Authority Vol I.

  11. Jack
    Jack says:

    I think you have missed the points I was trying to make.
    The point I tried to make about the law is the moral part of the law and not the sacrifices. Yes Jesus is the end of the law, but even us Christians have ethics by which we must live. It was the ethics part that Jesus moved forward.
    Your other point about Genesis 1 and 2 needs some clarify. In Gen 1 the only relationship between male and female is completely equal. However, we argue that humans are the climax of creation because they are the last ones created and everything leads up them. If we use the same argument for Gen 2 then everything leads up to the creation of the woman. She is the last thing created and the word used for her to be a help mate, speaks of someone who helps a weaker person or equal but never of someone who is in a lower position of authority. Most of the time it is used it speaks of God helping humans.
    I know this does not deal with 1 Cor. 11, but I think we need to be ever careful because there are number of difficulties with it. Eg. What about the Angels? Clearly Paul wants men and women to get along and that we need each other, but at the same time there are a number of different ways of seeing it.
    The point about the women starting churches, is that we send them from Canada and they start churches in other parts of the world and we are fine with that, In many of our churches we are not willing for them to preach here.
    I agree that God should be in the centre of our world, but we still live in culture, always have always will.

  12. Rick Ratzlaff
    Rick Ratzlaff says:

    I think it would be fair to find out who Jazck is. Some of us don’t know, maybe some do?

    Thank you Scott for being so clear.

    • Communications
      Communications says:

      I appreciate that you want people to be identified for clarity’s sake, and to be as rich a community as possible. Buy by asking for Jack to be identified, what exactly are you asking for? In other words, how much information are you requesting from him?

      Personally, I’m comfortable with a level of anonymity to protect people’s privacy, as long as they are stating their opinions honestly, clearly, and charitably. Keep in mind that it’s not just an identification to the EFCC community, it’s a wide-open public disclosure for the whole internet.

  13. Scott Myers
    Scott Myers says:

    Thanks for your comment Rick!

    Clarity is a requirement in this discourse – I hope I helped keep things on the level and reveal more than an just a personal ‘opinion’, and instead fundamental truths of our faith.

  14. Scott Myers
    Scott Myers says:

    As a thought, I wonder if this a good opportunity to bring to people’s attention some good biblical resources on how we can better understand biblical views on roles of men and women in marriage and family, as well as in the church.

    The Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood can be found here:
    www (dot) cbmw (dot) org

    • Communications
      Communications says:

      Scott, I let your comment go through, but after an initial glance, I need to say that I take great issue with the tone of that website. In my opinion, that website is now preaching to its own choir because it’s combative enough to turn anyone else away. Even if it’s right, it’s wrong, if you get what I’m saying.

      Furthermore, if that arrogant, condescending tone is reflected here in this discussion, I will close the comments section on this post permanently.

      Somehow we need to be able to engage this matter peacefully and humbly, not by throwing rocks at ‘the other guy’.

  15. Lisa Cataford
    Lisa Cataford says:

    Remember, the Bible is a Jewish book that blesses the world, therefore it is vital to understand some Jewish culture and history (Talmud). Keeping in mind the “who, what, where, when, and why’s” of the passages on women.

    The Bible, which is called light, does not leave us in doctrinal darkness on this issue. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost taught “Gospel equality” and the New Testament reveals to the careful student the awakening of that equality during the transition period between law and grace.

    It is inconsistent with the Gospel to send women as missionaries, but not let them speak at home. It is inconsistent to sing the songs they write during worship, but not let them have an audible voice. It is inconsistent to say they are equals with equal gifts, but prohibit them from using them in the church.

    I have written an article revealing what cleared up the difficult passages for me if anyone would like to read it. Please feel free to contact me at cataford@omineca.com.

    I would love to send a copy to Wendy, Anne and Chris if they would please contact me.

    Thank you!
    Lisa Cataford –
    Old Landmarks (Evangelical Free) Christian Fellowship
    Burns Lake, BC

  16. Jack
    Jack says:

    Hi All:
    Who I am is a fair question, but then I might ask the same thing about Rick Ratzlaff, and Scott Myers. I really don’t see what difference it would make, unless I say one thing where I am not know and another where I am know. Let me assure that I am part of the Efree church of Canada, and that I have done my homework. If there is a really good reason to be identified beyond that let me hear and then I will see about it.
    I think it is better to debate what we believe the text (Bible) to be saying then who we are. Good ideas can come from unknown people and bad ideas from highly known ones.

  17. Scott Myers
    Scott Myers says:

    Hi Lisa (and all):

    Thanks for your comments – I don’t want to get tangential, but could you clear up for me what you mean by “the New Testament reveals to the careful student the awakening of that equality during the transition period between law and grace.”?

    I do not want to misunderstand you, but I was under the understanding that there is no transition between law and grace, outside of our justification, sanctification and glorification through Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 1: 4-14; Col 1: 13-14; Rom. 8: 28-20).

    I believe ,instead, we still are either under one or the other. In this way, Abraham the father of us all who are believers was always under grace. Paul speaks to this in Romans 4:13-25. In this way, unbelievers are still under the law, regardless of the reality that we are in NT times (Revelation has not yet been fulfilled).

    I say this in order to suggest that while we do need to understand Jewish and Greek culture when we interpret the Scriptures, what God calls his people to is a Sabbath Rest – as it was on the Seventh Day when he completed his creation seeing that it was “very good”. This is why complementarians understand male headship to be a creation ordinance, not simply a cultural issue, for God sanctified or set apart this day as holy. For as you are aware, both Jewish and Greek culture was highly oppressive for females, not to mention the lame and outcast. It is only in Christianity that we see women honoured and esteemed as God has created them.

    I agree it is hypocritical and inconsistent with the Gospel to send women as missionaries, but not let them speak at home.
    It is inconsistent to sing the songs they write during worship, but not let them have an audible voice.
    It is inconsistent to say they are equals with equal gifts, but prohibit them from using them in the church.

    I wonder, however, if the real issue is not equality and use of spiritual gifts, though I appreciate that these have been abused as you have mentioned, but what God ordained in the beginning, and what we are returned to through Christ’s death and resurrection (cf. Heb. 4: 1-11) In this way, as complementarians my wife and I strive to fulfill the different yet equal callings God has ordained specifically for us as a man and a woman. I say this, because while ordination of women as overseers is predominantly the issue raised by The Pulse, we all, must take Scripture and apply its teaching to our daily lives.

    I hope I have been irenic and carefully heard your concerns. I myself would love to read your paper, and if you are willing, can sent it here: sandtmyers (at) shaw (dot) ca

    Blessings,

    Scott Myers
    Parkdale Evangelical Free Church
    Victoria, BC

  18. Lisa Cataford
    Lisa Cataford says:

    Hi Scott,

    There was a transition period between law and grace in the fact that believers did not immediately depart from the synagogues. The book of James was written to Jewish believers who were still meeting in synagogues (James 2:2) as was Corinth for some time, until Paul tells them to come out in 2 Cor. 6:17 – (and no, it’s not because they were visiting pagan temples). From James forward, “lawish” thinking was lovingly corrected – which is really fun to follow the progress.

    Lisa

  19. Lisa Cataford
    Lisa Cataford says:

    One more thing Scott,

    I find a huge flaw in your theology that we are returned to the status of the original creation through Christ’s death and resurrection.

    Adam and Eve were not created righteous, they were created innocent. The first creation is not our standard any more than the first birth is our standard for living. It is the new creation brought about by the new birth and now we have a standing of righteous through faith in Christ.

    I’m not going back to the “good ol’ days” brother, I’m on higher ground.

    Blessings!

  20. Jack
    Jack says:

    I am with Lisa that the goal of the Bible is not to return to Eden but to move forward and beyond Eden. Revelation 21 and 22 describe a scene far greater then what we find in Genesis 1 and 2. But even if we want to use Gen 1 and 2 as the ideal, Scott, I think that we are hard press to find there that women are not to be leaders. They are either fully equal, or as the word for “help mate” suggests the woman is the great then the man. Even in the New Testament when Paul speaks about the created order, he does not forbid women to speak (1 Cor. 11). In 1 Co. 14 Paul does tell women to be silent in church, but I think his whole argument is about having order in church, because that church well know for its disorder. I would suggest a look at what NT Wright has to say about this http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm. I suggest him because he is known for his work on history and how the bible speaks to that culture. It is not that we have to agree, but I think we need to listen.

    Plus whenever we find women breaking out of their traditional roles, they are honored for that: The Midwives of Exodus, Zelophedad’s daughters (Numbers 36), Rabah, Deborah, Ruth, etc, etc. The point is not that they stepped out of their normal roles but that they were honored for it.

    In the same way the writers of the gospel honor the woman who come to Jesus. They are the first to spread the good news of the gospel the other apostles. The women in the Gospels are honored above the men. And that was a huge switch from the culture of the day.

  21. Scott Myers
    Scott Myers says:

    I think some have misread my comments. It is, however, interesting that Jesus Christ is called the last Adam and it is only through his righteously lived life and death that we, through him alone, can enter the Kingdom of God as sons of God. This kingdom rightly is more glorious than Eden.

    It is, I would surmise, in the Kingdom of God that Paul is telling his readers to live in when they practice male headship in marriage (cf. Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3: 18-25).

  22. Jack
    Jack says:

    I think there are issues that we need to agree on before we will make much headway in our discussion.

    1. Do we understand the Bible to be written for us without the need for understanding the culture that it was written in and to, or must we understand the Bible within its own culture? Either of these two approaches will make us look at these texts in a much different way.

    2. Do we read and debate individual verses or do we try to find the themes of the whole passage and see how the individual passages fit into the big picture of what the author is saying? Again our approach will give us very different understanding in many matters.

    3. Is the text under debate restricting or freeing? Is there a problem that is immoral because of sin or does the text seek to free people from oppressive practices? Take the example of slavery: When Paul tells slaves to obey their masters like they obey Christ, is he supporting slavery, or does he set in place a way of looking at human relationships that allow us to say that slavery is wrong. When Paul told the slave owners to treat the slaves fairly and like full humans, he set in place a way of thinking that allowed us to see slavery as a gross sin.

    I would suggest that if we want to do justice to the text we need to do three things: 1. We need to understand the culture as best as we can, and what was happening in the churches that Paul wrote to. 2. We need to understand the themes that he is writing about in each book. 3. When we look to the relationship part of his writings, they are for the most part freeing, compared to what was happening in their culture.

    In Ephesians and Colossians Paul is arguing for unity with freedom. Slaves are to be treated fairly. I don’t think any of us want to argue against freedom for slaves, so why would we want to argue from the same passages that the position of women is restrictive? I think the way husbands and wives are described, is freeing to the women, yes women are to be subject to their husbands, but then husbands are to love their wives. The part about loving their wives is racial, the husbands, like the slave owners need to treat their wives like people and not property. I think we need to see it the same way that we see slavery. It is time to take the next step and give full rights and freedom to the women in our churches so that they can use the gifts that God has given them.

    I realize this does not address the issue of headship but that will have to wait for another time, because this is long enough, but the issues are the same.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

  23. Communications
    Communications says:

    We were just contacted by someone who wanted to comment on this post and couldn’t. Comments were set to close after 60 days as a spam prevention method. (In fairness, the vast majority of posts go ‘cold’ well before then.) This restriction has now been removed, and comments are re-opened.

    Sincerest apologies to anyone who felt like this discussion was prematurely terminated. That was not intentional.

Comments are closed.