Women in Ministry, an Interview with N.T. Wright

3.16.2011 — 10 Comments

Thanks to my buddy Heath Mullikin, I stumbled upon this quick interview snippet from New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright.

My favorite pull-quote from the interview:

“There’s a lot of serious, hardworking, Christian women in (Romans) chapter 16 and I don’t think they were just making the tea after the church worship service either.”


Scripture references from the clip (open them in new-browser-tabs as you watch):
Romans 16
1 Corinthians 14
1 Corinthians 11
John 20
1 Corinthians 15
1 Timothy 2

As a Wesleyan pastor, I’m proud of our denomination and its vocal stance on valuing women in ministry, though I acknowledge that we have a long way still to go.

What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.nashvillefirst.com David Gould

    I am going to lead with the controversial part… mainly to hook the pro women-in-ministry people. Most people who advicate women in the most prominent ministry roles don’t sit under one. That isn’t a knock on women. It is a knock on the supposed supporters. That is true even in the Wesleyan movement. The Wesleyan Church has promoted something that most of its ardent supporters don’t live out, and mostly for practical purposes.

    That said, women have probably done more ministry in the last 2,000 years than men. And much of that has involved ‘making tea’. Which brings me to my main point… what kind of a chauvinist devalues ‘making tea’ in the work of God? When people say stuff like that, they show that they don’t truly understand God’s economy. They make it seem like women who make tea are inferior in the work. My grandmother ‘made much tea’. She was a true servant/minister, often setting up tables for fellowships when men were ‘too busy’ doing other stuff. She would have laughed at the idea of being ordained. Not because she didn’t understand it. But because she already had God’s calling on her life, and didn’t care where it took her. Lack of ordination shouldn’t hamper service/ministry. If it does, we’ve missed the point.

    In my life, some of the greatest ministry has been done by women. And they wouldn’t have made good senior pastors. (Come to think of it, many senior pastors have no business being senior pastors. But that’s another blog, I’m sure.) My daughters can have great lives of service in the Kingdom without becoming senior pastors… just like many of the men in my family and life.

    I think we need to value ministry as God does, and spend less time pumping up women for something that the ‘pumpers’ don’t truly believe anyway. Maybe I am just tired of people like N.T. Wright diminishing ministry that doesn’t have a piece of paper attached to it. Sorry, but it went all over me when I read/heard that.

    • http://www.stevansheets.com Stevan

      I’m impressed with the in-depth and quick-reply, David!

      I would be cautious to label someone a chauvinist (and writing off the whole thing) simply by hearing a phrase during a 4-minute clip of an interview discussing the ice-cap of issues surrounding women-in-ministry.

      And by the way, as an ordained man-in-ministry, I love finding myself along side those who ‘make much tea’, as it is often a more fulfilling role than the others.

      • http://www.nashvillefirst.com David Gould

        The ideas have actually been brewing over a period of time. I am neither in-depth, or quick. ;) I am just not disciplined enough to write it all out.

        As far as whether or not Wright is a chauvinist, I was obviously blogging off steam while trying to make a point. He says something on the fly that can be damaging to ‘tea-makers’. If I were to suggest that the medical field is full of women that aren’t just taking someone’s temperature… it would be liegitimate for someone to call me out. And I was careful to put it in the form of a question for the reason you gave. But still.

        We apparently have similar testimonies when it comes to working with ‘tea-makers’.

        What do you think about my point regarding the lip-service paid to ‘women in senior pastoral roles’ by those who could, but don’t find a way to sit under their ministry? And I am talking key proponents. Is it a disconnect between political correctness and God’s order? Could it be that nature actually does guide the reality? Maybe you didn’t want it to go this deep, and I respect that.

        • http://www.stevansheets.com Stevan

          David – your point about “lip-service paid to ‘women in senior pastoral roles’ by those who could, but don’t find a way to sit under their ministry” is older than I am. (I’m thirty-one, by the way..)

          It seems that you have some deeply-rooted opinion on the matter maybe stemming from a personal situation that I obviously know nothing about. And I sympathize with (and I stated in my original post that we have a long-way to go) the fact that our denomination may not be doing “everything within our means” to promote reversing this status quo.

          However, I don’t BEGIN to claim to understand/imagine all of the behind-the-scenes conversations, meetings, fights, questioning, rationalizing, etc., that takes place on higher-leadership levels that prevents the ‘breakthrough’ I think you and I would both like to see.

          I just used a lot of words to nod to your “maybe you didn’t want to go this deep”. :)

          But it’s not really that I don’t want to go “this deep”, but rather that I’m not sure I know how – or better yet, that a blog post and comments-section is even the right place to begin such deep-level discussions (rants?).

  • Mark

    If you would have asked me 20 minutes ago who Jesus appeared to for the first time, I would have told Mary and thought nothing of it. However, hearing Prof. Wright explain that she was the first to spread the news that Jesus is alive is…eye-opening. I find it interesting that men will sit in their suits and pews and scoff women who will serve God in any way, while those same men will find any reason to not serve. It pains me, as a man, that we allow this double standard. While I certainly do in fact believe that God can call women to serve in any position, it shames me that so many men have not answered the call.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • http://www.stevansheets.com Stevan

      Thanks for chiming in again, Mark! Glad to be a resource-sharer!

  • David Gould

    I’m sure its older than Wesley. Definitely didn’t mean to sound like I am ranting. No painful story here. Just a guy trying to claim some land between the extremes. Hope I didn’t disrupt what you were trying to do.

    • http://www.stevansheets.com Stevan

      I hope I didn’t offend YOU with my previous comment, David! You absolutely did NOT disrupt ‘what i was trying to do’ – i’m not even sure I knew what that was! I think I was just reading into the length and poignancy of your comments as meaning that this area of discussion is one that often strikes a nerve in you..

      • http://www.nashvillefirst.com David Gould

        You did NOT offend me. I enjoy reading your thoughts, and just want to be a graceful guest. This topic gets my attention because it is hard to have. I do believe that women are incredibly and uniquely gifted, and God has the right to use them however He see fit. I just don’t believe He created them to naturally succeed in certain roles. But then… I don’t believe God created men to naturally succeed in certain roles as well. As you can imagine, I catch it from both sides.

  • http://www.jessicasheets.com Jess

    Wow. Until I heard this even I didn’t recognize the significance that Jesus appeared to a woman first.