Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You are not Paul, I am not Timothy

John Dickson has noted with surprise that none of the evangelical critiques of his recent work 'Hearing Her Voice' have really done the work on the text of the Epistles to prove him wrong.

I'm not so surprised. Partly because of the way the Pastorals are taught in Sydney.

There is very little room for a special theological place for the Apostles. People equate their own opinions and words directly with the words of the Apostle Paul.
The logic goes, if I am the preacher, then I am like Paul. If you are my little ministry intern, then you are Timothy. It is a kind of helpful way to teach the Pastorals as a 'handbook for ministry' 'passing on the baton' yadyada...

So, then John Dickson asks, 'What is Paul actually talking about here?". But the person who has been through their ministry training program doesn't need to do linguistic work, contextual analysis, historical reflection, precisely because THEY HAD PAUL STAND RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM to tell them what it means. Their ministry trainer 'was' Paul.
In fact, if they have started preaching, or if they have ministry interns now, THEY have become Paul. Their words from the pulpit are the apostolic deposit.

The real offence of John Dickson's argument in 'Hearing Her Voice' has nothing to do with women. The real offence is telling male preachers and ministry trainers that they are in fact, not Paul.
That the words coming out of their mouth may, or may not be, the infallible apostolic deposit of the gospel.
That those words have to be tested against the text, and preferably with responsible methods of interpretation, like context, decent linguistics (not just equivocating), historical consideration. The very things John is attempting to do.

1 comment:

Mike Bull said...

Well, Peter was already whining about how hard it was to unpack Paul. But I don't think that's what the problem is at all.

John Dickson wants to equate "teaching" with the "apostolic deposit." This makes it a temporary prohibition.

But what was actually temporary was the apostolic gifts, like prophecy. They were a sign to Israel, and possessed by the firstfruits church.

Sydney Anglicans won't get this because they don't understand a lot of what is going on between AD30-70 or the book of Revelation - and that goes for both sides of the debate. They wouldn't be know a Covenant lawsuit if it hit them in the face. Why is it that so many theologians have no literary sense? Is "recapitulation" too big a word for them? I thought they liked using big words to label simple things.

Yes, the apostolic church was temporary. But teaching wasn't. I don't think it's an ego thing at all. It's about the difference between heaven and earth, between word and response at it is built into humanity. Adam crushes the serpent and Eve sings, and together they call down the Covenant curses upon the wicked. It's not hard. It's in the Bible over and over again.