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Published Date: October 22, 2014

Published Date: October 22, 2014

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A Warrior Priesthood Is Essential: Really? – Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2, I introduced why Alastair Roberts’ view that an all-male “warrior priesthood” is essential is both non-biblical and illogical and looked specifically at the context of this in the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2. Today, we examine how the Bible supports unity and mutuality among men and women, which can only be fully restored in Jesus Christ.

Unity and Mutuality, Not Male Dominance, the Core of Biblical Anthropology

Therefore, the idea of “Man is created to be the authoritative leader, woman as his submissive assistant” is foreign to these texts, and has to be read into them from another source by those who hold to this idea.[1]  Nor do these texts in any way support the concept of a masculine leadership, wherein aggression and the lust for conquest are essential elements; this too, is a foreign concept being read into them from some other source.  It is simply false to assert, as does Mr. Roberts, that the core of biblical anthropology is “male dominance.”  Rather, the core of true biblical anthropology, as we have demonstrated from Genesis 1 and 2, is one of mutuality, partnership and equality.

And as for Genesis 3, where we have the record of the Fall, with Adam and Eve being “partners in crime” as it were, I fully agree with the assessment of the late Dr. David M. Scholer, Prof. of New Testament at Fuller Seminary:

The woman and man sin together (Genesis 3:1-7).  Although it does not show in English translations, the serpent addresses the woman with the plural “you.”  Genesis 3:6 states that the woman “…gave some [of the fruit] to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”  The fact that the man was with her (a phrase sometimes omitted from English translations!) indicates that both partners are together involved in disobedience to God. This is also seen by the fact that it is said: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened…(Genesis 3:7).

The statements of judgment for disobedience (Genesis 3:14-19) are descriptive ones of future realities, which involved a supremacy/subjection relationship between man and woman.  These statements are not creation mandates; rather the relationship of mutuality, partnership, and equality portrayed in Genesis 1:1-3:7 is now sadly marred by sin.[2]

Restoration of the “Blessed Alliance” Brought About by Christ Jesus

Someone once described “the battle of the sexes” as an ongoing conflict between patriarchy and matriarchy, with patriarchy being defined as “the public and unquestioned domination of women by men” and with matriarchy being defined as “the public and unquestioned domination of men by women.”   I suppose there might be some element of truth in this proposition about the Fall and its after-effects, but from what we have learned in our discussion so far, Genesis 1-3 gives no divine warrant for either patriarchy or matriarchy.

But there is a clear warrant for the creation, marring, and restoration of what Carolyn Custis James describes in her books[3] as “the Blessed Alliance” of mutuality, partnership and equality of man and woman as God’s vice-regents:

When God created the man and the woman, “God blessed them” (emphasis added) before giving them their mission to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).  Men and women are God’s A-Team, called to join together as a Blessed Alliance in this global mission to fill the whole earth with worshippers of the Living God and to rule the earth as he would—with justice, mercy, righteousness, and peace.[4]

Carolyn Custis James, in the course of her exposition of the Book of Ruth—The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules—demonstrates that not only did Ruth and Boaz willing, in submission to God’s revealed will, not only formed such an alliance to preserve the family name but also to found the Davidic dynasty through which Jesus the Messiah, and his redemption of creation and humanity, actually came into the world.  And this is not some novel idea dreamed up by James.  For it is clear from Paul’s own teaching in Gal. 3:26-4:7 and Eph. 4:1-16 that Christ’s work of redemption and reconciliation involves, among other things, this reclamation and restoration of both the Blessed Alliance of Gen. 1 and 2, and its incorporation into the congregational life and ministry of the Church as the Messianic and eschatological community envisioned by the OT prophets.  And it is this Body, under the Lordship of Christ, gifted and directed by the Spirit, that carries on Christ’s ministry of redemption and reconciliation until he returns, (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-21).

Now if Mr. Roberts is going to argue that, from the beginning, male or masculine leadership must be understood in terms of a “warrior priesthood” from which women are forever excluded because they are “the weaker and gentler sex,” let him clearly demonstrate it from Scripture, if he can.  But what we do know, in fact, from Scripture and Jewish tradition (cf. Gen. 6:1-8, Jude 5-7, and 1st Enoch) is that before the intermarriage of the fallen angels with human beings and their training human beings the arts of warfare and weaponry, there were no human warrior king/priests setting up their little empires here and there in the world.   Not until the rise of Nimrod, who was apparently “a mighty warrior” descended from one of these abominable angelic-human unions, do we see the rise of warrior kings setting up empires (Gen. 10:8-12).  And this being the case, I would argue the rise of a warrior king/priesthood, at least in the early chapters of Genesis, is more the result of human sin and demonic influence, rather than something rooted God’s creation order.

[1] As Dr. Alan Myatt has demonstrated in On the Compatibility of Ontological Equality, Hierarchy, and Functional Distinctions, and Dr. Robert K. Wright has demonstrated in The Two Trinities: A Study in Apologetic Strategy, this idea is more clearly rooted in the Neo-Platonic “chain of being” concept that later crept into Christian thinking in the second and third centuries, than it does in the actual teaching and practice of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

[2] David M. Scholer, Women In Ministry:  A Biblical Basis for Equal Partnership (Fuller Seminary Publications, 2005 reprint), p. 2.

[3] Carolyn Custis Jones, When Life and Beliefs Collide (Zondervan, 2002); The Gospel of Ruth (Zondervan, 2008): Half the Church (Zondervan, 2010).

[4] Carolyn Custis Jones, “What Women Want To Know,” The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules (Zondervan, 2008), Footnote 5, p. 211.