Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mars Hill Bible Church

Below is an email response from Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. Rob Bell is the pastor...author of Velvet Elvis which I have not read. I was curious as to their view on the role of women in the church. Obviously there is no relation and should not be confused with the Mars Hill Church in Seattle...


Yes, we do have women in senior leadership. Both on staff and as elders. The following is an explanation.

Redemptive Movement / Cultural Analysis / Women in Leadership We believe that scripture is to be interpreted in light of a redemptive arc. This means that things that once were may no longer be. Therefore, our task becomes to apply the ancient text in light of our current context. Throughout scripture there are texts that speak to a specific group of people at a specific point in time. Scripture is not seen as static truths for all times; its context and ours must be taken into account. For example we cite I Timothy 2.11-12 where Paul says that women are not to assume authority over men. In light of a redemptive arc this is not considered a static timeless truth. It is to be applied to that group of people, at that point in history, in that specific setting. We have come to the conclusion that women in our context must have the freedom to serve in all capacities within the local church. For us, this includes the role of pastor and elder. We believe the church is to be a community of free and equal people.

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Isaiah 1.17

Nate Dawson
Community Life Team
Mars Hill Bible Church


Bill Bean said...

While I agree with the final position the explanation seems problematic. Of course, he can't take the time in this response to unpack the meaning of their "redemptive arc" hermeneutic. Did Paul envision a time when women would be able to have authority over men? Did he envision a time when someone in the Church would confront slavery? I feel like both of the camps on this issue have problems with their positions but I will choose to fault on the side of the egalitarians.

Bill Bean said...

Interestingly enough, Scot McKnight touched on this in blog entry of his i just read. Looks like i need to add a book to my stack.

Rose said...

Bill, I agree that explanations seem problematic when one can debate this issue from both sides. That's why many have said to me, why use the Scripture on this issue? I don't know what Paul envisoned but I would say if he did not envision a day the Church would confront slavery and he were alive today how do you think he would respond? I put the woman and any other marginalization issue in the same place. On another note, my presupposition to Genesis is that God created male and female and told them to rule...when I read how things wrap...all will rule with Jesus...everything that happens in between the beginning and when all things are put to rights is on a Redemptive arc to get there...Jesus being the focal point of the then, the now and what is to come...I'm with you...if the issue is debatable I would error on the side of freedom and equality for all people. I have been reading Scot Mcknight's blog thread on this...I appreciate him and his approach...I can barely read through the comments as I have such a different view on what it means for a man to "protect" be "responsible" the safety in that...this is probably getting too long...it will require a post...thanks for your comments

jeff greer said...

Just a few thoughts...
As far as "paul envisioning a time in the future about women and slavery", Paul was not a prophet, speaking about the future, he was an apostle/evangelist. You can also see in his writings that he seemed to believe that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Thinking this, he most likely would not be concerned with or be thinking about the church almost 2000 years later (probably not even 100 years later). Paul was trying to reach the culture of his time and help teach the churches of his time to deal with the problems they faced at their time, a time in which women were not even allowed to learn, much less, speak in public, lead or have any authority. That is not the case today, as women can have an equal opportunity to learn just as much as men. As you can easily read when someone like Rose writes (or speaks), it is obvious that she is nothing less than a very intelligent woman leader with some amazing Godly wisdom, so that tells that we have come a long, long way from 1st century Israel, in that regard. But I agree, there are problematic arguments on both sides, and I as well would rather err on the grace side for sure.

Mike Greiner said...

This hermeneutic is nothing new. In the last century, the main attack on the Scripture was to doubt it's authority. It seems in the opening years of this century, the attack is not on it's authority but on its clarity.

Expect Rob Bell's church to continually change to reflect the culture. Nothing like a good hereneutical arc to keep the slide downhill going.

You know, had we all read our Schaeffer in the 70's and 80's, we wouldn't be surprised.