The book by (Rev.) Clarence Boomsma was distributed to delegates of the CRC Synod ‘93 as a valuable contribution to the deliberations on women in church office. Cornelis P. Venema unmasks some of the grave assertions made by the author. In this one year allotted by Synod ‘93 for further discussion in the churches, members and office-bearers ought to seriously wrestle with this argumentation to determine not only where they stand on women in church office, but more basically on the God-breathed inerrant authority of the Scriptures for the faith and life of the church, That is the basic question.
Those who have followed closely the long and often painful process by which the Christian Reformed Church has struggled with the issue of the ordination of women to office in the church know that the central issue has always been the authority of Scripture to regulate the life of the church. Once you strip away, so far as that is possible, the societal pressures and strong emotions that have so often influenced the debate, the question at the heart of the struggle has always been, what does the Bible teach on this controversial subject?
Clarence Boomsma understands this well and has, therefore, authored a brief study, presenting the Biblical arguments in favor of the ordination of women: Male and Female, One in Christ: The New Testament Teaching of Women in Office.1 Boomsma writes from the perspective of a seasoned veteran in the struggle. A retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Boomsma served on the ad hoc committee appointed by the 1991 synod to gather the Biblical grounds from various synodical study committees that support the decision of Synod 1990 to open the offices of the church to women.
In the introduction to his book, Boomsma discloses the reason for contributing yet another book to the by-now wearying list of studies on this issue. According to Boomsma, the decision of Synod 1992, not to ratify the proposed change in the Church Order, permitting the ordination of women to office at the discretion of local church councils, was a carefully crafted political compromise. Though this compromise was crafted out of a laudable interest to preserve the fragile unity of the denomination, it failed to address the grounds presented by the ad hoc committee of which he was a member. Furthermore, the synod’s authorization of women “expounders” of the Word granted women the practical right to “preach” in public worship, but without the normal safeguards and provisions for oversight required of men who exhort or preach in the churches. It was a compromise that only “muddled” the situation further and left the denomination with an unfinished agenda.
Thus, Boomsma writes this book in order to assist the denomination in finishing the agenda of women in office and to redress the 1992 synod’s neglect to consider the ad hoc committee report. As he remarks, “I believe it may be of some use to share with others the fruits of my odyssey through the Scriptures as it bears on the role of women in the offices of the church” (16). In so doing he hopes to show that advocates of women in office are not guilty, as their critics often have alleged, of “calling into question the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible”(18). Advocates of women in office are prompted by Biblical data that needs to be acknowledged by their opponents. In addition to this purpose, he hopes to place opponents on the defensive by showing that, “unless it is clear that the teaching of the Scriptures requires such prohibition, to continue to bar women from the opportunity to exercise fully their gifts in the life of the church, including the substantial and influential roles of teaching and leadership, is to perpetuate an injustice against women and possibly be in disobedience to the Word of God” (17).
BOOMSMA’S CASE FOR THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
Boomsma’s case in favor of opening offices of church to women is based upon three pillars. The first pillar in his case is Galatians 3:28 and its “social implications.” The second pillar is the parallel he discerns between the New Testament’s instructions concerning slaves and women. The third pillar is what he regards to be the limited application of the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15. Before evaluating Boomsma’s case, a brief summary of each of these pillars is required. The implications of Galatians 3:28.
Perhaps the most important of these pillars to Boomsma’s case is the first. After briefly summarizing the way in which the New Testament dramatically alters the status of women (e.g. in the life and example of Jesus. the outpouring of the Spirit upon men and women at Pentecost, and the practice of the early church), Boomsma cites Galatians 3:28 as the key text in making a Biblical case for the ordination of women.
The burden of Boomsma’s treatment of this text is that it has implications that go far beyond the “vertical relationship” of believers before God. Though the text speaks directly to the matter of the “oneness” of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freemen, and males and females in Christ, it speaks indirectly to the way in which this unity in Christ and equality before God has “social implications for the life of the church.” Boomsma admits that this text does not spell out precisely what these implications might be (33). Nevertheless, it does enunciate a principle—spiritual oneness and equality in Christ—that provokes the question whether and on what grounds women should be excluded from serving in the offices.
According to Boomsma, this verse could be paraphrased to read: “Jews and Greeks are now equal, slaves and freemen are now equal, males and females are now equal, for you are all one in Christ” (37). Based upon this reading of Galatians 3:28, he maintains that “The equality of people’s potential for worth, function, responsibility, and authority lies in their unity with Christ” (38). Galatians 3:28’s “theology of their [women’s] equality in Christ” has implications that shift the burden of proof to opponents of women’s ordination. Unless those who oppose the ordination of women can provide “clear Biblical justification” for their opposition, Galatians 3:28 is the “Achilles’ heel” of their argument.
The parallel of slavery
The second pillar of Boomsma’s case appeals to the parallel he discerns between the Biblical exhortations concerning slaves and women. In both instances, the kind of grounds provided for the Biblical exhortations is similar: slaves are enjoined to stay within their present social circumstance and women are forbidden to exercise positions of leadership and authority in the church, because to do otherwise would have adverse consequences for the proclamation of the gospel. In a culture in which the institution of slavery was common practice and males typically took the lead, the gospel would be maligned, were it identified with a revolutionary program of emancipating slaves and liberating women.
To illustrate this parallel, Boomsma cites 1 Timothy 6:1, in which Paul urges slaves to show respect for their masters “that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” For Christian slaves to overthrow the institution of slavery immediately would be detrimental to the interests of the gospel, because it would suggest a “revolutionary” and “violent” spirit inimical to the preservation of order in society. Though the gospel ultimately undermines the institution of slavery, the apostle Paul forbade slaves the full exercise of their freedom in Christ for practical reasons of expediency. Boomsma believes the prohibitions against women serving in positions of authority may well have been based upon similar practical considerations. For example, women are required to be subject to their husbands in Titus 2:5, “so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Boomsma contends that this parallel between the Biblical commands for slaves and instructions regarding the role of women raises the question of consistency. How can opponents of women’s ordination consistently maintain that the commands for slaves are no longer binding, because they are not grounded upon permanent and universal grounds, while insisting that the instructions regarding women are permanently binding? Since the Biblical directives in each instance are based upon limited grounds thatare no longer relevant (both the cootinuation of slavery and the subordination of women to men have become today an obstacle, rather than a hindrance, to the gospel’s proclamation), why should they not both be regarded as no longer binding upon us?
The prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15
The third pillar in Boomsma’s case is, by his own admission, the most difficult to establish. This pillar is the argument that the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 against women teaching and exercising authority in the church is not valid for all times and places. The difficulty of this argument is evident from the fact that Boomsma devotes more space to it than to the two previous pillars combined.
Boomsma acknowledges that the prohibition in these verses seems at first reading to be based upon two grounds, the order of creation and the circumstances of the fall into sin, which are timeless and inviolable realities. Hence, he takes up each of these grounds in turn and asks whether this is indeed so. Are these grounds really of a sort as to give binding authority to the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–12?
According to Boomsma, the first of these grounds seems to be based upon an understanding of the “second creation account” in Genesis 2 which views Eve as created to be an “appendage” to serve Adam. However, in his view Genesis 2 does not teach the subordination of Eve to Adam. Eve was created to be a “helper” to Adam, that is, to be one who would be “equal to” or “corresponding to” him: “Eve as the helper is to be thought of as a coworker or enabler, who serves as an equal partner with Adam” (58). This means that “the apostle’s argument from Genesis 2 is without support in the text” (58) and is actually based upon “an interpretation of the passage supplemented by Genesis 3:16, where Eve is told that her husband ‘will rule over you’” (59) (emphasis mine). Since the apostle’s ground is based upon a misreading of the account of Adam and Eve’s creation in Genesis 2, Boomsma submits that “it does not appear to be a valid ground on which we may justify prohibiting women from functioning in the offices of the church today” (60).
Boomsma turns next to the second ground offered for the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15, the ground that “Adam was not deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Assuming that this ground affirms Eve’s incompetence and weakness as a woman to be entrusted with teaching and authority, Boomsma subjects it to the same criticism brought against the first ground. This ground also depends upon a faulty reading of Genesis 2, namely, that Eve was subordinate to Adam because of Adam’s priority in creation. Hence, Boomsma also contests the validity of this ground for the prohibition against the ordination of women.
After having addressed the two grounds offered in 1 Timothy 2 for its prohibition, Boomsma suggests that this prohibition, with its grounds, seems incompatible with the general teaching of the New Testament. The prohibition of 1 Timothy 2 does not appear to be consistent with the teaching of Galatians 3:28, nor with the tremendous responsibility Christ assigned to several women as eyewitnesses to the male disciples of His resurrection.2
Since this inconsistency seems so obvious, Boomsma suggests that there may have been special circumstances troubling the church in Ephesus to which the apostle Paul’s prohibition is particularly addressed. Perhaps, he surmises, the prohibition was needed to stave off the threat that women in that church, influenced by false teachers and stimulated by their awareness of their new freedom in Christ, would become “noisy, disruptive, and offensive” in their behavior during worship (69). This would also fit with Paul’s use of the unusual word, authentein, for “to have authority.” This word may well refer to the exercise of a “domineering authority” by women who were liable to abuse their gospel privileges, giving offense in what was then a “male-dominated society” (73).
THE PROBLEMS WITH BOOMSMA’S CASE
The question that must now be asked is whether Boomsma has made his case.3 This question cannot be avoided, not only because of the importance of the issue, but also because Boomsma makes rather bold claims for his argument. He declares that those who, in the face of the argument presented in his book, continue to oppose the ordination of women will be guilty of “an injustice to women and possibly be in disobedience to the Word of God” (17). Those are bold words indeed.
Testing Boomsma’s case is also necessary in light of the warm commendations on the book’s jacket cover from respected denominational leaders like James A. De Jong, president of Calvin Theological Seminary, and Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., professor of systematic theology at Calvin Seminary. President De Jong, for example, declares that Boomsma “offers compelling new insight into Galatians 2:28 [sic] and 1 Timothy 2:11–15 that warrants discussion widely in our churches.” Plantinga speaks of the “wisdom in this wonderfully thoughtful new book.”
I propose, therefore, to consider each of the three pillars of Boomsma’s case. Do they have the strength to support the argument he wishes to make for the ordination of women to office in the church?
What “theology of equality” in Galatians 3:28?
It would be no exaggeration to say that Galatians 3:28 is the linchpin of Boomsma’s whole argument. Were it not for the allegedly clear and compelling testimony of this passage to a “theology of equality,” the case for the ordination of women would not be nearly as strong as Boomsma believes it is.
Boomsma regards the testimony of this verse to be so compelling that he treats it as a kind of canon within the canon by which to test and measure the teaching of other Biblical passages. Unless a clear and irrefutable case can be made that the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2 is universally binding in all times and places, the “norm” of the “unity and equality of men and women” taught in this verse must govern the life and practice of the church (55).
But does this text teach anything like the “theology of equality” Boomsma finds in it?
Galatians 3:28 is undoubtedly an important and crucial affirmation of the oneness or unity of believers in Christ. In the context of the argument in Galatians, the apostle Paul is clearly making a profound statement about the common status, dignity and worth of all believers in Jesus Christ. All believers are, through faith in Christ, heirs of the promises of God’s covenant (vs. 29), recipients of the gift of sonship, and children of God who may now enjoy free access to and acceptance with God (vs. 26). This holds true for all believers who are justified by grace alone, whether they be Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. So far as their standing with and before God is concerned, distinctions of race, of social status, of gender, are irrelevant and without any importance. The one is not the inferior or the superior of the other; they both stand on an equal footing before God.4
It is highly doubtful, however, that this verse also teaches the “equality of people’s potential for worth, function, responsibility, and authority” that Boomsma alleges it does (38).5 There is simply no evidence for this idea of equality in Galatians 3:28, in its immediate context, or, for that matter, anywhere in the Scriptures. This idea of equality is an abstraction that is not found in the text.6
It is interesting to notice how, in his zeal to find evidence for this idea of equality in Galatians 3:28, Boomsma unwittingly undermines his own case. He does so by noting that this verse uses the expression, “there is not” (ouk eni) three times (lit., it reads, “there is not Jew or Greek, there is not slave or free, there is not male or female”). Though Boomsma suggests as a paraphrase of this expression, “Jews and Greeks are now equal,” such a paraphrase does not begin to do justice to the force of the expression in the Greek. Literally, this expression denies the existence of differences of race, social status, and gender; it does not simply affirm the equality of those described by these differences. The reason Paul can use such forceful and absolute language is because he wants to affirm the irrelevance (non-existence) of such differences so far as the believer’s standing before God is concerned. It makes no difference whatsoever to God whether you are Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, so long as you are through faith one in Christ.
However, if this text were using this language to teach the irrelevance of any gender differences for social relationships, as Boomsma tries to argue, then a serious problem emerges: The “theology of equality” of this text would squarely contradict the teaching of any Biblical text which bases its directives on differences of gender or of social position! Any such texts would have to be “reconciled” with the teaching of Galatians 3:28, and it is difficult to see how this could be done.
For example, if Boomsma’s discovery of a “theology of equality” in Galatians 3:28 is warranted, then there is no consistent way in which the Biblical view of the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, can be upheld as binding for our time.7 The unguarded and undefined way in which Boomsma speaks of “equality” leaves all of these Biblical texts vulnerable to criticism based upon an appeal to the teaching of Galatians 3:28.
Or to cite another, more controversial example, Boomsma provides no hedge against the use of this text in defense of the equality before God and before fellow believers of gays and lesbians who demand acceptance of their disposition and lifestyle. His protest against this use is naive and unconvincing. For surely his readers have the right to take him literally, when he argues for the far-ranging social implications of Galatians 3:28. If this text says that all gender differences are simply irrelevant, not only so far as our relationship with God is concerned, but also so far as our relationships with others are concerned, then there is nothing to prevent us from drawing the most radical egalitarian conclusions from this text. Nor is there anything to prevent those who would cite the “theology of equality” of Galatians 3:28 in support of the ordination of homosexual ministers of the gospel. Whether Boomsma would support the ordination of homosexuals is not the issue. The issue is whether his approach to Galatians 3:28 provides any safeguards against others drawing this, more radical conclusion.
Is there really a parallel with slavery?
The second leg in Boomsma’s case has even less merit than the first. Though it may be useful to lump opponents of women’s ordination together with Christians who in previous centuries defended the institution of slavery from Scripture, Boomsma fails to prove the parallel he alleges between these two issues.
At first glance this argument looks impressive. Just as the church slowly came to acknowledge that the Biblical commands to slaves were temporary expedients to remove any obstacle to the gospel’s progress, so the church today is slowly coming to realize that the Biblical directives to women were also temporary expedients based upon similar considerations. However, this argument fails on several counts.
First, as Boomsma himself acknowledges, slavery as an institution is nowhere taught in Scripture as an ordinance of God for human society. The institution of slavery, as it was practiced during the New Testament era, was not the fruit of Scriptural teaching or the product of Biblical directives. There is not a
hint in either the Old or New Testaments that this institution represents the will of God for the ordering of human society, or that it is rooted in any permanent features of the creation order.
Second, unlike the Biblical passages addressing the institution of Slavery, those addreSSing the matter of authority relationships between men and women, whether in marriage or in the church, typically appeal to God’s ordinances and tile order of creation. Though Boomsma cites in support of the alleged parallel between slavery and women’s subordination in the church an isolated text like Titus 2:5, he conveniently chooses to ignore passages that undergird the relationships between men and women by appeals to God’s ordering of human life at creation (e.g.: Matt. 19:3–8; Eph. 5:22–33; 1 Cor. 11:2–16; 1 Cor. 14:33–35).
And third, there are clear Biblical teachings which militate against the perpetuation of the institution of slavery as an institution. For example, the apostle Paul condemns slave traders (1 Timothy 1:10), urges slaves to become free if possible (1 Cor. 7:21), and writes to Philemon in a way that undermines the slave-master relationship. This is not the case, however, in respect to the relationships between men and women. The Scriptures conSistently counsel women in marriage and in the church to be subject, without a hint that such subjection would conflict with their privileges in Christ (Eph. 5:22–24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1–8). The idea that equality of status in Christ and a woman’s subjection are inherently inconsistent is an idea alien to the Scriptures, a prejudice of contemporary post-Enlightenment, Western culture.
It should also be pointed out that the validity of this second pillar in Boomsma’s argument hinges upon his ability to prove that passages like 1 Timothy 2:11–15 do not appeal to permanent features of God’s will for the relationship between men and women in the church. It seems strange, therefore, that Boomsma places his discussion of the alleged parallel between slavery and women’s subordination before he deals with 1 Timothy 2:11–15. Since he has not yet shown the limited applicability of 1 Timothy 2:11–15, it seems premature for him to argue the parallel in advance of his consideration of this passage. If the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 is based upon permanently valid features of God’s wilt then this second pillar in Boomsma’s case collapses.
The prohibition of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 revisited
Perhaps the most interesting of the three pillars in Boomsma’s case is the third. What is interesting about his treatment of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 is his argument that the grounds the apostle Paul offers for his prohibition of women teaching and exercising authority are invalid. The apostle Paul, according to Boomsma, confuses Genesis 2 and 3, reading the relationship between Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 in terms of the curse of Genesis 3.
Despite the rather radical character of his second-guessing of the apostle Paul’s argument in 1 Timothy 2, Boomsma offers no supportf rom the text for his position. It is Simply astonishing that Boomsma could argue that, when the apostle Paul says, “Adam was formed first, then Eve,” he was misreading the account of Genesis 2 as though it taught a subordination of Eve to Adam as a kind of “appendage.”8 It would seem that Boomsma regards himself a better exegete than the inspired apostle! What is clear from the text is that the apostle cites the account of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2, in which Adam has priority, to support his prohibition against a woman’s exercising authority or teaching over a man. Boomsma offers no textual evidence for his bold claim that the apostle uses an invalid argument here, in which Eve is wrongly viewed as a kind of “appendage” to Adam.
Similarly, in his treatment of the second ground given by the apostle Paul, Boomsma alleges that the apostle is assuming Eve’s incompetence and weakness to exercise authority and leadership. But this has no basis in the account of the fall into sin in Genesis 3, so that, whatever the apostle Paul’s intention in citing this as a ground for his prohibition, it is not a valid argument for us today. Here too Boomsma simply dismisses the validity of this ground, not for any textual reasons but for the purpose of setting aside the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2 for the modern church. Though it is true that the apostle Paul does not elaborate upon the significance of this second ground, he clearly understands Eve’s initiative and subsequent deception in the circumstances of the fall into sin to be an important reason why women should not teach and exercise authority in the church. That should be enough for us. It is, however, clearly not enough for Boomsma.
In addition to this disposal of the apostle Paul’s grounds for the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2, Boomsma makes a number of questionable and arbitrary leaps in his treatmnent of 1 Timothy 2. He suggests, for example, that the Greek word for “to have authority,” authentein, likely refers to a “usurping” of authority or a “domineering authority.” Though this allows him to conclude that the text does not prohibit women from exercising authority in a non-domineering way, he provides no evidence for this translation of the term, despite recent studies that show rather conclusively that it has the simple meaning, “to exercise authority.”9 Furthermore, he claims that it is not clear whether the two verbs, “to teach” and “to exercise authority” are coordinate. Here too it should he noted that there is no instance in the New Testament where the kind of grammatical construction used in these verses joins two ideas that are not coordinated.
Remarkably, Boomsma concludes his consideration of the prohibition of 1 Timothy 2 by setting forth a hypothesis regarding the circumstances of the church in Ephesus. According to Boomsma, the real reason for the prohibition of 1 Timothy is not given in the grounds expressly stated in the text; the real reason lies in the noisy and disruptive behavior of some weak women in Ephesus who were abusing their gospel privileges. One can only marvel at Boomsma’s boldness at this juncture! After having set aside the explicit reasons given by the apostle for his prohibition, Boomsma creates a hypothetical circumstance that really explains the prohibition, but renders it irrelevant to the circumstances of the church today. One cannot help being reminded at this point of the adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention”!
It should be evident from the preceding that I do not believe Boomsma’s study adds much that is compelling to the argument for the ordination of women. Much of his study is a rehash of arguments that have been tried and found wanting before. There is really nothing in this study that could legitimately be described as “compelling new insight” on the subject of women’s ordination. Certainly, none of the three pillars in Boomsma’s case can support the weight he seeks to place upon them.
But it is not only the weakness of Boomsma’s case that is noteworthy. Weak arguments for the ordination of women have been offered before. It is also the nature of Boomsma’s case, particularly his casual, even cavalier treatment of Biblical texts that I find especially disturbing. Though Boomsma frequently affirms his commitment to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, and even at one point invokes the good name of Louis Berkhof in his defense, his handling of the Scriptures does not measure up to the standard of the Reformed confessions.
So as not to prolong this review of his study, one further look at his treatment of 1 Timothy 2:11–15 should be sufficient to illustrate what I have in mind.
If there is anything new in Boomsma’s study, it is his insistence that the apostle Paul engaged in some rather shoddy exegesis and argumentation, when he supports his prohibition by appealing to the priority of Adam in creation and the initiative and deception of Eve in the fall into sin. Though he does acknowledge that the stated reasons in the text for the apostle’s prohibition refer to creation and fall, to permanent and inviolable features which suggest that the prohibition is not simply limited in its application to the circumstances of the early church, he finds these reasons invalid and unconvincing. Thus, Boomsma brushes aside this text so as to open the way for the triumph of the “theology of equality” he finds in Galatians 3:28! He simply declares on his own authority that the apostle, who serves “at the command of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 1:1), didn’t understand Genesis 2 as well as he does!
Readers of Boomsma’s book will have to judge for themselves whether this constitutes the “compelling new insight” or “wisdom” others find in it. I find it neither compelling nor insightful nor wise.
I am at a loss to see how its treatment of the Biblical texts conforms to the high standards of a Reformed view of Scripture. Though this book may serve its purpose well–to pave the way for the ordination of women to office in the Christian Reformed Church–it does so by dismissing the authority of Christ speaking through His inspired apostle in 1 Timothy 2.
1. Grand Rapids:Baker Book House, 1993.
2. Boomsma regards the witness of several women to Christ’s resurrection as on “astonishing fact” to which “serious consideration” must be given, when considering the issue ofthe ordination of women (24). But this is to ignorethe Biblical distinction between the–personal witness–to the resurrection on the port of many early believers (compare 1 Cor. 15:6) and the “official witness” of those whom Christ appointed as apostles (compare John 20: 19–23; 1 John 1:1–4). The church’s faith in the resurrected Christ rests not upon the personal testimony of these women as any others; it rests upon the authorized testimony of Christ’s apostles (Eph. 2:20).
3. I would encourage readers to obtain a copy of Boomsma’s book and read it through, so as to test the accuracy of my summary of his argument.
4. In his desire to argue that this understanding of Galatians 3:28 is inadequate, Boomsma claims that “to limit the interpretation of Galatians 3:28 to the spiritual relationship between the believer ond God Is to render the argument redundant. The solvation of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, men and women was not in question when Paul wrote Galatians” (37). This claim is so remarkable as to suggest that Boomsma may be a—minority of one—in his readingof Galatians. Readers and commentators with whom I am acquaintedare generally agreed that Paul was doing combat in Galatians with “another gospel” that precisely did can into question the salvation of the Gentiles. etc. Not surprisingly, Boomsma offers no texual support from Galatians or elsewhere to support this novel claim.
S. It Is Interesting to observe that Boomsma uses the language, “potential for worth, function, responsibility, and authority” (emphasis mine). In his definition of the “theology of equality” taught in Galatians 3:28. On the one hand, this is odd language, since it seems to strip the text of its punch. It suggests that Paul was saying something like, “There maybe neither Jews nor Greeks…for they may be one in Christ.” But that actually denies what he is affirming! On the other hand, perhaps recognizing the problem created by his reading of this text. Boomsma wants to protect himself against those who might conclude that all believers, whatever their other qualifications, are eligible for office. But if this is the case, his argument from Galatians 3:28 for the ordination of women begins to collapse. For he has conceded that there are other Biblical passages, unlike Galatians 3:28. that are specifically addressed to qualifications for church office (like 1 Timothy 2:11–15; 1 Timothy 3:1ff.: Titus 1, etc.!).
6. Boomsma admits that Galatians 3:28 uses the Greek word for “one,” hen(as in “henotheism”), rather than the word for “equal,” isos (os in “isosceles” triangle), when it says, “for they are all one in Christ.” This does not deter him, however, from asserting that “one” here means “equal,” and not “equal” solely in the sense of equality of worth, but “equal” in the sense of equality of authority, Again, this is not exegesis on his part but textbook eisegesis.
7. Boomsma does provide a hint of the future in his discussion of the headship of the husband in marriage: “If the interpretation of the Galatians and Timothy passages in this treatise is correct. then the result may mean that we need to reread Ephesians 5:22–33 concerning headship in marriage” (96), Clearly, Boomsma is prepared to clear more brush than 1 Timothy 2:11–15, should it stand in the way of a consistent application of his “theology of equality.” Perhaps this is also the reason he finds the Biblical qualifications for office, when they speak of an elder as the “husband of one wife” and as one who “rules well his own household,” no obstacle to his position. Though these passages assume on analogy between the God-ordained relationships of men and women in the home and in the Church, Boomsma, having rejected those relationships for the sake of equality, no longer regards them as directive for the Church today.
8. It is instructive to notice how Boomsma treats any reading of Genesis 2, including the apostle Paul’s, that understands Eve to hove been created in a relationship in which she was subject to Adam’s authority as though this were to make her a mere “appendage.” The use of this term only serves to caricature the traditional reading of this passage, and does not serve the cause of truth. Surely Boomsma knows that the dictionary defines on “appendage” as “something added to a principal object,” and that it connotes something “lesser” or “inferior.” But those who read Genesis 2 (including the apostle Paul, by Boomsma’s own admission) to teach on authority relationship between Adam and Eve in which Eve is subject to Adam repudiate the charge that this makes her Adam’s lesser or inferior.
9. I would commend to the reader on outstanding, recent study of the meaning of authentein at the time of the writing of the New Testament: l.E. Wilshire, “The TLG Computer and Further References to Authenteoo in 1 Timothy 2:12,” New Testament Studies 34 (1988): 120–34. Wilshire provides extensive evidence for the traditional understanding of this verb. Boomsma’s suggestion that it be translated “to usurp authority” or “to be domineering” is speculative conjecture.
Dr. Venema teaches Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Orange City, IA.