Summary of Packer's Arguments Against Women's Ordination | CBE International

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Summary of Packer's Arguments Against Women's Ordination

Packer: The authority of Scripture is at stake. No women in Scripture were presbyters. Therefore women ought not to be presbyters and ought not to be ordained.

Response: This argument is inconsistent and begs the question. The argument equates “presbyter” with being ordained and with the exercise of authority. This is inconsistent with the introduction to Packer’s own article in which he affirms that Scripture does not prohibit women teaching. There is no direct reference to ordination in Scripture. Paul was not “ordained” in the sense referred to by Packer. Only in Timothy is there any mention of ordination and that is not the same as today’s notion of ordination. Packer agrees 1 Timothy 2 does not prohibit women as teachers and preachers in the church but also says that they should not be ordained. This is contradictory. “He wants to have his cake and eat it too.”

Packer: Males “obviously” better represent Christ than females.

Response: The doctrine of the Incarnation emphasizes Christ’s humanity, to redeem not just men but all humans; not maleness but humanness. That he became flesh, not that he became male, is the emphasis of the New Testament. For the argument to revolve around Christ’s maleness is an extraneous intrusion into the biblical argument.

Packer: The significance of gender determines one’s roles. Females are serving, subordinate and supportive; males are initiators and leaders.

Response: This is a cultural argument and not a biblical argument. It also misreads Genesis 2 and reflects only the traditional, patriarchal, male-centered paternalistic attitudes about gender roles that we see in society.

Packer: The example of Mary is a model for women—the “final proof” of not needing ordination for women. She subordinated herself to Jesus.

Response: This is a remarkable argument, that Mary proves the non-necessity of women’s ordination. If anything, she is the proof of the non-necessity of ordination of anybody, male or female. Why just women? What Packer draws from the example of Mary is that here is someone who plays the servant role. She subordinated herself to Jesus. But is not that something men need to do also? Apparently only women, according to Packer, need to model true discipleship. Packer thus uses Mary as a model exclusively for women. He misreads what Mary’s discipleship meant. He confuses ministry and service on the one hand and ordination on the other. If ordination is to have any biblical sense at all it is ordination to be a servant.

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