Andrew is doing a great job of unpicking some of the arguments, and lancing some of the boils that tend to surround this issue, and I hope he begins to make an impact beyond the current readership of this blog. However, what Andrew has been writing gets me thinking not so much about the nuances of exegesis of those scriptures concerning the roles of men and women, but about ecclesiology more generally.
A couple of weeks back I read Stephen King’s On Writing (HT: Justin Taylor) in which King makes the point that for a story to be effective readers need to be shown it, not just told it. And this is where ecclesiology comes in. We do need theological tellings – the setting out of arguments and the fruit of diligent exegetical labour – but this will only get us so far. Crucially, we also need to be shown how something works out; and in the case under consideration, that means we need churches where a healthy and holy and biblical expression of men and women being and doing what they are called to be and do is demonstrated.
My contention would be that often the debate over the roles of men and women has raged so fierce because church life has been so poor. By definition, almost, my observation would be that this debate hardly features in those churches which are flourishing and focussed in their mission and purpose – even if the way their leadership is structured shows considerable diversity.
So the task must be (and I know Andrew would agree with this as he serves in a great church) to build great churches – where saints are being edified and sinners are coming under the sound of the gospel and Jesus is being worshipped, and where men and women, both, are experiencing the amazing grace of God.