Thursday, March 3, 2016
In the sixties, Mission Magazine made its debut. This was followed by Integrity. Writers in both supported a greater role for women in the public assembly other than the two actions, singing and making the good confession, which were approved. In response to those publications, rebuttals appeared in the Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate, lectureships, church bulletins, and other venues. The primary focus on both sides dealt with a woman’s role in the public assembly.
If one will search through the CD sold by Freed Hardeman University, titled 1937-2015 Freed-Hardeman Lectures, as well as published literature on the role of women in the church, the primary focus addresses women in the public assembly. Some will point out the differences between a woman’s activity in that assembly in contrast with her actions in the private sector. From the Old Testament, such women as Deborah and Huldah are highlighted and in the New, Priscilla is produced to show God’s approval of women teaching men God’s word. However, it is emphasized that they were involved in teaching scripture to men outside the public assembly, not in it.
One writer stated the following concerning the public and private meetings of Christians,
“The fact that we have now seen this specified in at least five different passages shows that it is important to distinguish between Paul’s teaching related to private gatherings and his discourse that are directed to the church assembled. Paul drew a clear line of demarcation between the two. Should we not do likewise?”
Article after article pointed out that a woman has the authority to teach or speak in the public assembly only when she sings or makes the good confession. However, if she speaks beyond those two activities, she is accused of violating 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and is charged with usurping authority over the men who are present (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Few if any of the articles address details of a woman’s role outside the public assembly. Priscilla is mention as being “commendable” and a “biblical example” of “the right way” a woman may teach a man God’s word in private. Few, if any venture into making specific applications on how her actions may be implemented in today’s world. All writers praise Priscilla, but a few seem close to applying the silence rule from the public assembly to the private meetings as though Priscilla is pushing the envelope. However, all believe she was scriptural in teaching Apollos. No one accuses her of violating either 1 Corinthians 14 or 1 Timothy 2. Yet, there seems to be an underlying attitude that a modern Priscilla is severely limited in practicing what the first century one did. This position seems to be more prevalent in the twenty-first century church than it was in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century ones when David Lipscomb, E.G Sewell, and C.R. Nichol were writing on the subject.
Is it possible for the principle of Priscilla’s practice outside the public assembly to be reactivated as a part of the Restoration Plea in the twenty-first century?