I have a confession to make. I am not fond of women’s ministry programs. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sisters in Christ and enjoy fellowshipping with them. But programs that involve some type of teaching, such as workshops or conferences, generally don’t appeal to me. Why? In my experience, gatherings to hear teaching have been little more than encouragement sessions to make us feel better about being “God’s women”. Unfortunately, I find the same thing on women’s blogs, even ones that have been advertised as a place for serious thinkers. There are a few exceptions, but generally, I find them lacking in rich theological substance.
Now I will be the first to admit, that women are more geared emotionally. Generally, and of course there are exceptions. We seem to need some type of emotional connection to things to extract value. Therefore, the tendency will be to look for some type of emotional appeasement when it comes to Christian education. That is not to say that there is not Biblically based teaching or even, expository or inductive teaching. But it has to feel good for us, if we’re honest.
This is precisely why I think women should study theology. Instruction in theology proper will force an objectivity that I think might be not otherwise be present, as Christian women strive to grow in their Christian walk. Theology will provoke us to evaluate how we think about God, His plan and our Christian faith. Charles Ryrie indicates that theology is how we think about God. In this way, everyone is a theologian. So studying theology should challenge us to examine how we are even approaching the Bible. What is our hermeneutic, historical-grammatical-canonical or reader response subjectivism? Are we studying the Bible to make ourselves feel better or studying to understand the revelation of God? A study in theology should pry us from the former, while clarifying the latter. Moreover, it will encourage us to examine the presuppositions that we bring into reading the Bible and reduce responses to seemingly affronts to womanhood or our sensibilities.
I desire for my fellow sisters in Christ to understand God’s plan and program. I desire for my sisters to study the Bible with as much objectivity as possible, to learn what He has communicated to us. I personally fear that too much of the highly marketed teaching out there, is not properly equipping women to grow in grace and the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, as Peter puts in 2 Peter 3:18. It makes us feel good about being women. But is it enough?
I am especially concerned because I think that women are more likely to be susceptible to distorted doctrine and unscrupulous teachers. Paul says this to Timothy,
“In the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
I think we do see some of this. All you have to do is turn on the TV, and see this in action under the guise of blessing and favor from God – glorified greed and self-focused teaching. That’s just the popular version that most likely is a small representative of un-televised, like minded ministries. Let’s not be fooled, such type of people can even exist in Biblically solid, doctrinally sound churches. Church discipline has been replaced with “programs”, making it easier for preying men with unholy motives and deceptive leanings to move amongst the congregations undetected.
Because Paul goes on to say that “from among them are those who will enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7). This describes the type of woman who does not have a good grip on her theology and understanding why she believes what she believes. This describes a woman who is interested in subjective, emotionally charged teaching rather than systematic teaching rooted in Biblical truth derived from sound hermeneutics centered in God’s revelation. This describes the type of woman who goes to “conferences” but does not really understand the basis of her faith, lacks discernment and therefore is easily scoped up in disorienting schemes by teachers who proclaim “Biblical” truth. This is the type of woman that wants to feel good about her theology but can open herself up to false teaching and unscrupulous men, primarily because there is a void that the “true knowledge of Jesus Christ” is meant to fill and challenge her sinful pulls.
I am not saying that all women’s minstries lack substance or that there are not serious women leaders out there, instructing women in God’s truths. But I am saying that the very nature of women, in general, lends itself to want “feel good” theology and therefore must be countered with more objective learning. I think our commitment to Christ is worthy of learning as best we can, the great salvation that has been handed to us and God’s communication to us through His written word. God forbid, we be the woman that Paul describes that become subject to distorted teaching, unprincipled men and unholy motives leading us dark and troubled path, always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I don’t expect for most women to share in my unusual interest in theology and exegesis (or so I’ve been told). But I would hope to garner some interest in studying theology, to encourage greater thinking about what God has so graciously condescended to reveal to us and to hopefully avoid the pitfalls of needing emotionally charged learning that may never lead us to where we need to go.