Which Authority: My 2 Cents

I am inclined to echo Hannah A’s question:

It seems to me that the question under the question is this: Where does a man in pastoral leadership derive his sense of authority? Does he see it as stemming more from his maleness or from his office?

If the relationship between pastor and maleness is like thumbs and fingers (all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs) then a female challenge of any kind is a double insult, since she isn’t a pastor, and disqualified from becoming so. But can’t a challenge from a male be depicted the same way? Does the usuper role still apply to male members of the laity?

But even if authority comes from the office regardless of gender, a challenge can still be threatening. In egalitarian congregations, laity, or educated/trained but non-ordained persons can still play the role of child, seductress or usurper.

I would also echo the concerns about pastoral authority and ecclesiastical tradition. I am part of a denomination in which the rigour of the ordination process has been challenged by some. Also, the “authority” of the office of Pastor is somewhat limited in many contexts. Baptists lean heavily towards congregational governance, and tend towards a preference for consensus than leadership. This is of course a double edged sword. We also have had ordination open to women since 1947. Of course, local church autonomy means views on gender roles are non-binding (i.e. individual congregations and pastors can be complementarian if they choose, without consequence). In some of our congregations the office of pastor in invested with considerable authority. In others, not so much (I even had a colleague who was ordained, but not allowed to attend deacons’ meetings).

I admit I struggled with the article (as I do with much of TGC’s material). The whole tone and content of it seemed completely foreign and strange to me. The whole notion of women as a threat was something I just didn’t (and still don’t fully) know what to make of. I wonder how common this is in other traditions and congregations?

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