S. M. Baugh on Women in the Church

The issue of women’s ordination, and more generally women’s involvement in the church, is a modern issue which continues to generate numerous books, articles, and even supporting societies. The worst thing we in Reformed communions can do is ignore the issue simply because we do not ordain women to the special office ministries. There are some excellent discussions in print on the issue of women in the church, and while I do not claim to have read that deeply on the subject, I have yet to find one that begins from what is a fundamental category for our Reformed understanding of the matter: the general office of believe. Read more»

S. M. Baugh, “Women in the Church” (2010).


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  1. Thank you for the link, the article gives much the think about carefully.

    One of those things are, when SM Baugh writes: “However, both the doctor and the lawyer that the pastor has in mind for the adult classes are women.”

    Now, my question would be: is the doctrine of godly male leadership only limited to church and church activities ?

    In other words: must be keep voting women out of the offcie of elder, but it is OK to vote her into the magistrate’s office (Sarah Palin?) ?

    • Was Queen Elizabeth I legitimate? Are their 2 kingdoms or 2 distinct spheres under Christ’s dominion? Is the Isrealute theocracy expired? Does natural/creational revelation forbid female magistrates?

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  2. Timely, indeed. This is one of the key issues that seems to have afflicted American evangelicalism, perhaps more than any other. The hinge point that I’m reading in Baugh’s article is one of “ordination.” It is clear practice in many sideline groups, for example, that the elements of the Lord’s Supper may only be consecrated and distributed by an ordained pastor. And in almost all of these (that I am aware of) only a male may be ordained into such an office.

    But the mainliners have opened the door to female ordination and from that position it becomes impossible to close it again for anything else that a woman might want to do in their churches. So they have, among other things, women “deconesses” running around giving communion to shut-in’s, etc.

    Therefore, it seems fair to say that once one has run rough-shod over what Jesus tells his disciples (ergo men) in Matthew, what Paul tells Timothy and some of the other congregations in Asia Minor, and the Hebraic tradition as established in the OT (not to mention the natural order established in Genesis), anything else can go in just about any direction in a given congregation.

  3. I do endorse Baugh’s principle that a woman can do what an unordained man can do, but that just pushes the question across to “what can an unordained man do”?

    I think Baugh is overly cautious in the area of Sunday School. As long as a Sunday School teacher is under the supervision and subject to the correction of the session, I don’t see why it should be any big deal whether the teacher (and/or students) are male or female. (Besides, “Sunday School” is not church, so why is there even a question?)

    In church though, I would be equally comfortable with men or women for public reading of the word (which of course is clearly distinct from Preaching the Word).

    The question gets tough for me in terms of the Prayer of the Church. Some think it should be done by the teaching elder (pastor) only, but I think any elder is fine, and probably deacons too. I’m not comfortable with nonordained men doing the prayer of the church, and partly because (on Baugh’s principle) if an unordained man can do it, then an unordained woman should be able to do it.

    What say you all?

    • Echo,

      Did you miss the change in comments policy? No more pseudonymous or anonymous comments unless it’s a serious hardship. See the comments link on the left.

  4. I enjoyed reading this article because I have never thought of the general office of the believer. I am new to Reformed theology and have greatly benefitted from this type of thinking that Dr. Baugh presents.

    I am going to share this with my pastor because we are regularly thinking through how to open opportunities to women whom God has gifted that would greatly benefit the body of Christ. Like he stated,

    “…the general office of believer gives women certain proper opportunities to teach and admonish in the church alongside non-ordained men who hold the same general office. ”

    I thought the illustrations were great, and really helped clarify the point he was trying to make.

    Thanks for the link!

  5. Good article. I’m not at all saying Baugh is incorrect ultimately, but he didn’t really explain why it would be OK to “overrule” (you know what I mean) 1Tim 2:12. He just makes an assertion that if an unordained man can do it then a woman can do it. That seems to be begging the question to me.

    “Hence, as a starting point, one should say that a woman can do anything in the church that a non-ordained man can do. There is no principled basis for saying otherwise.”

    Isn’t that the question being asked? Where is the principle derived? Why does this assertion overrule 1Tim 2:12? I may have missed it as I read through. I’m honestly not picking a fight and I don’t know that I disagree ultimately, I just didn’t see any true argument for the main assertion. I affirm the office of believer, but Paul knew that too and still made the point in 1Tim 2:12. Baugh never answers the question, but rather, just says that there is an overriding (but unargued or proven) principle.

    I did appreciate the general points of the article. I do think it is helpful to think in the terms laid out. I just don’t think we can dismiss 1Tim 2:12 as if it shouldn’t inform what women should and should not do.

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