24 replies on “Rob Bell Has Women Elders”

  1. From whatever perspective you look at it, Paul says women are not to teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim 2:12), and he says that elders are to teach and exercise authority over the church (1 Tim 3:1-7). Therefore, women can’t be elders.

    Are we conforming ourselves to the Bible or conforming the Bible to the world?



  2. Thanks Jim;
    That’s what I’m been saying for years – is the Church impacting the world, or is the world impacting the Church? We have to get back to the biblical basics.

  3. I wouldn’t say that I would call it fascinating…mean and one sided, yeah. What is it about us that forces us to throw rocks @ each other.

    Why just not say, “You know I don’t understand what you are doing there; I disagree, but I appreciate what you are doing to advance the kingdom.”

    I also don’t think that he or people with his belief are conforming…they see things differently. They are walking in the light that they have through their study of the word and leading of the Holy Spirit…and it is different than the light that you have or even I have. I follow Bell’s teaching pretty closely; I don’t agree with everything that he says but he is no doubt passionately teaching and leading his people to follow what he believes that the scriptures teach.

  4. Paul said:

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Tim 2:12).

    An elder’s role is to teach (1 Tim 3:2) and exercise authority in the household of God (1 Tim 3:5).

    What kind of light is it that leads people to do things that the Bible does not permit?


  5. “Paul said:

    “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Tim 2:12).

    An elder’s role is to teach (1 Tim 3:2) and exercise authority in the household of God (1 Tim 3:5).

    What kind of light is it that leads people to do things that the Bible does not permit?”

    Nicely put! It is in fact so clear and unambiguious that it’d take a theologian to screw this up. What part of “I do permit a woman to teach” don’t they understand?

  6. I am an active, worshipping member of mars hill church so permit me to chime in here. I was recently talking to a friend about martin luther king – and his historic impact on the civil rights movement – to which my friend responded, “well, you know, he had an affair outside of marrige”. You see, my friend discounts the importance of a great man because he can’t get passed that issue. So ok, hypothetically, let’s say rob bell is wrong on the women in office issue – are we to dismiss the fact that he is bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ in a fresh new way to tens of thousands each week? Is God one day going to say to rob, ‘i know you’ve been fanatical follower of mine and lead many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, however, you got the ‘women in office’ thing wrong – so you are denied entrance into the kingdom? Does this make sense to you? Here’s what I know to be the truth – God is at work at mars hill and through men like rob bell. period.

  7. BUt Mark, no one is taking issue with Rob Bell personally or criticising him on any issue other than this. Because he does the good work of evangelism should we keep silent on an important issue? Because someone is a great evangelist should he be above accountability to the holy scriptures? I’m sure no one here has anything against him personally, it’s a purely doctrinal matter.

  8. I know this is a blog, so it’s almost impossible to go into indepth discussions about a complex issue as a woman’s role in the church. That’s why people give us links to articles and other resources for further study. But if someone is unable to see that there are in fact substantive, persuasive arguements for an egalitarian position, they’ve done very little listening in this debate. I’m a complimentarian, but there are some egalitarian arguments that are fairly persuasive to me. So quoting 1 Tim. 2:12 isn’t quite sufficient. And again, I’m a complimentarian. So imagine how that comes across to an egalitarian. You’ll do a great job at getting your point across, but a poor job engaging a brother or sister who thinks differently.

  9. Good point Brian. And yet, though arguments for egalitarianism may be persuasive (though I persoanlly haven’t heard any) it’s funny how no one thought to argue them until AFTER the women’s movement of the1960’s. I mean, historically this wasn’t even an issue until after the great egalitarian revolution decade of the 60’s and the rise of feminism. Clearly, if egalitarianism is correct then the Holy Spirit must have needed to be shown more light from the worldly left that led the social revolution of that decade.

  10. But then the Holy Spirit has needed a lot of illumination throughout history in all kinds of areas. God has seemed to permit his people believing and behaving in all kinds of ways throughout history that we today would consider either silly or abhorrent. I mean, before the 60’s the vast majority of “Christian” churches were quite comfortable in their racism (some leading evangelical preachers like Dr. Dwight Perry still call it the greatest sin in the American evangelical church). Maybe we need to broaden our understanding and application of the long-suffering of God. I know what your getting at, but maybe there’s more to it than caving pastors and churches to the political agendas of the popular culture.

  11. I see what you’re saying brother but I don’t think the comparison with racism is valid. To begin with it was hardly universal. Let’s not forget that it was Christians-British Methodism and Northern American evangelicals as well as Quakers, that were instrumental in ending slavery and pushing for racial equality. Also the Bible clearly and unambigiously teaches that against male/female equality. Though some tried to justify it throughout history there were Christians who stood against it racism. Let it be said to our shame, that we in the south mostly did not. Theres hardly an egalitarian equivelant of the abolitionsit movement. No, I think it’s pretty clear that egalitarianism is just another example of the church slipping into the sin of worldliness again, something every generation struggles with.

  12. Anybody interested in these issues should check out Denny Burk’s comments here: http://www.lifebloodproject.com/denny/wordpress/?p=412.

    It’s interesting that one of the qualifications that Paul lists for elders is that they “must hold firmly to the trustworthy word as taught” (Tit 1:9). I think Paul would have included his own teaching in texts like 1 Tim 2:12 in what counts as “the trustworthy word as taught.”

    David Wells comments in NO PLACE FOR TRUTH that most modern evangelicals probably wouldn’t care much for Paul if they were to meet him face to face. Paul was far too dogmatic, far too concerned about church discipline, and far too little influenced by the intuitions of other people The Word of God was simply too central in his thinking! I think Wells is probably right about that.

    And I refer again to the essay I linked in the initial post for my own view about how these issues shake out.



  13. Jim;
    I agree with your comment about Wells’ view of Paul. The apostle was focused on the truth of the Word and how Christianity would “get off the ground” and become the followers of Christ carrying out the Great Commission.
    Let us all be honest and candid; he would be called every name under the sun by every group opposed to the gospel. Would he cave in and change the message to become “tolerate” to wordly standards? I don’t think so. Now where does that leave us?

  14. HOWZIT

    I’m reading this discussion and thinking, these guys are way to clever for me, and I’m supposed to be a pastor!
    I have studied the Bible and some church & cultural history (study is,..a strong word) browsed would be more correct) and have come to the realization that certain things that paul said were aimed at the culture of the day…?
    Actually I don’t really want to enter this arguement_… I really just wanted to say that I was wondering what God’s view would be!?
    I think Rob Bell is a really good role model and I see the reflection of Christ in what he teaches. STOP GETTING CAUGHT UP IN MINOR ISSUES THAT JUST CAUSE DIVISIONS AMONG US (FOLLOWERS OF JESUS). This blog is also for those who don’t believe in Christ.



  15. Deon,

    You ask what God’s view of this matter is in your comment, and I submit to you that God has revealed his view on the matter. By his Spirit, God inspired Paul to articulate his view.

    You mention in your comment that you think some of Paul’s statements are culturally constrained, and I agree. For instance, I think that Paul’s statement that believers should greet one another with a holy kiss doesn’t necessarily mean we have to kiss each other. But there is a principle in the statement that does apply to us: Christians do need to greet each other with warmth and love, however that is expressed in our different cultures.

    But when it comes to what Paul said about women neither teaching nor exercising authority over men in 1 Tim 2:12, please note that the reasons he gives in 2:13-15 are grounded in the pre-fall created order. Paul’s reasons why women should not teach and exercise authority over men are thus trans-cultural. He is dealing with the nature of reality as God created it.

    God created humans with diversity when it comes to gender to reveal himself to us–there is equality within the Godhead, but the members of the Trinity take on different roles. So also, there is equality between men and women, but God has designed us for different roles.

    So when you say at the end of your comment, “Let them also see him!”

    I say, “Precisely!” This is exactly why we need to maintain the gender roles prescribed in the Bible and object when people who claim to represent God reject what the Bible says. We “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, giving instruction in sound doctrine and refuting those who contradict” (paraphrase of Tit 1:9) because this is how people will come to know God truly–through what he has revealed in his Word.

    Hope this helps!


  16. Hey

    Deon again! Does this mean that woman who are travelling around as five fold gifts to the body and in our local churches are infact not called by God and in direct rebelion to our Lord?

    Personally, I think not!


  17. Hi. I’ve never posted before so here goes. I’m not sure where I stand on women teaching in the church. I know from historical accounts that women were looked down on greatly during that time in history. Their testimonies were not even valid in courts of law. What does everyone think about the idea of women submissiveness being a cultural thing during that time? I will say that when I hear of a woman pastor, I am greatly turned off by it, but is that because of the “Truth” within me or from a life of growing up in a culture that is still prodominently anti-women pastorship? Not sure. And of course we should go to the Word of God on all matters, but I don’t know if using half of one verse is sufficient. using “part a” of 1 Tim. 2:12 kinda beats around the bush. Look at all of 1 Tim 2:11-12…”Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach over a man; rahter, she is to remain quiet” Now it seems to say that a woman not only can’t teach, but should not even utter a word, which during that time was very acceptable. In the John Calvin commentary it says that, “Quietness means silence. They should not allow themselves to speak in public, which is clear from his instruction that he goes on to give that they should not teach.” In the Towner commentary you will find two opinions on the matter. On the first opinion it says, “Women will be quiet during the teaching portion of the service – they will not teach or question” Pretty stern. The second opinion stated is, ” [some] insist that the passage contains a temporary restraining order issued to curb the activities of a group of women who (most argue) were teaching the heresy in Ephesus.” Do you have a wife, girlfriend, or woman friend talking in public or asking questions in church? Do you think it is really wrong? There are other factors too. What about Deborah and other women God gave authority to? What about Galatians 3:28? What about when the Word speaks of slaves obeying their master? Doesn’t that imply that slavery is okay because if it wasn’t, surely it would say that masters should own no slaves. Or, is it that some things were so ingrained in society that they could not just simply be overturned in one letter, but would only cause uproar and intense persecution? Maybe when Paul speaks of women not teaching is it because it would cause an intense uproar to say anything other? Even in America, it is recent that women were allowed to vote. I don’t know. I am not giving a thumbs up to women pastorship, but at the same time I am not dismissing off the bat. Just something to think about. What do you think? Thanks.

  18. I was in a conversation on the same topic about women Elders in the House of God. I believe that Gods word never changes and it stays the same. Hebrews 13:8 quotes , Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. So to state that the Word of God was only for that time when paul was planting churches is hilarious.

  19. I believe that God is the same forever. I believe the Bible is a bigger authority than the women’s rights movement. The Bible puts women in high respect, but Paul’s reasoning against women pastors is not the culture, but the honest to God fact that God made us differently! You want to ‘change your beliefs’ because of the culture? Join Mars Hill. I read Velvet Elvis, and I gagged. My entire bible college disliked it, and the church Rob came from won’t associate with him because he has gone so astray.

    Perhaps its time the blind saw the error of their ways. This is something I devoted a lot of time to studying, and I have watched many of my former friends who were Rob Bell followers read the Bible and realize, ‘oh wait, its not my interpretation vs yours, its God’s Interpretation thu me’.

    Although, I can’t say that Mars Hill doing something unchristian is news to me… after reading that book of Rob’s… it will take a long time for me to think otherwise.

  20. Hi everyone

    I managed to find some biblical evidence of woman in leadership in the Bible

    Acts 21:8-9: Phillip(the evangelist) had four daughters who prophecied
    Romans 16:7: Junia(an apostle) a woman
    Acts 18:2,18-26: Priscilla(an evangelist) a woman
    Romans 16:1-2: Phoebe(a minister) a woman
    Philipians 4:1-3: Euodia & Syntyche(fellow workers with Paul) both woman

    As you can see by these scriptures there is clearly Biblical evidence of woman in leadership, in fact there is lots more evidence.

    If I may ask Josh: What exactly in the book, “VELVET ELVIS”, made you and your fellow students of the Bible gag!?
    I am just interested, because I read the book and would like to see your perspective.



  21. Deon,

    For my responses to these examples, none of which shows that a woman served as an elder in a church, please see the essay I link in the original post.

    All the best to you in Christ,


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