Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Presupposition Complicates Everything

In my last post, I wrote about Douglas Moo and how he fails to notice the impact of the false teaching on the church at Ephesus—although he spends quite a lot of time referencing it. Here in this post I will show how Moo’s presupposition—as that of the complementarian mind—will not release them to see clearly how they skew the last few verses of 1 Timothy 2 to fit their personal beliefs.

Let’s look again at Douglas Moo’s article, “What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men?”:

“In order to understand 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we need to back up and begin with verse 8, where Paul requests that ‘men everywhere…lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing’…THIS CAUTION ABOUT ANGER AND QUARRELING DURING PRAYER IS ALMOST SURELY OCCASIONED BY THE IMPACT OF THE FALSE TEACHING ON THE CHURCH, for one of the most obvious results of that false teaching was divisiveness and discord (see 1 Timothy 6:4-5)” (178).

Notice that regarding verse 8, Moo says that false teaching was responsible for this disturbance. But notice that verse 8 mentions NOTHING about the false teachers:“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”

What about verses 9 and 10? Do they relate to false teaching?

“The exhortation of verses 9-10…might also be directed AGAINST THE IMPACT OF THE FALSE TEACHING IN EPHESUS. For ostentatious dress, in the ancient world, sometimes could signal a woman’s loose morals and independence from her husband” (178, 179).

Verses 9 and 10 don’t mention false teaching at all; yet and still, Moo believes that these verses, too, involve the false teachers. What about verse 11?

“In verse 11, he commands them to ‘learn in quietness and full submission’…THESE WOMEN HAD PROBABLY PICKED UP THE DISPUTATIOUS HABITS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS, and Paul must therefore warn them to accept without criticism the teaching of the properly appointed church leaders” (179).

So in verse 11, the false teachers are to blame for women rising up against their instructors. But look at what Moo writes starting at verse 12:

“Verse 12 is the focus of discussion in this passage, for it is here that Paul prohibits the women at Ephesus FROM ENGAGING IN CERTAIN MINISTRIES WITH REFERENCE TO MEN” (180).

Here, Moo doesn’t seem to even CONSIDER the possibility that verse 12, regarding teaching and authority have ANYTHING to do with the false teachers! However, he doesn’t seem hesitant to acknowledge verses 8-11 concern false teachers (although there is no direct evidence from the text). The only two things Moo addresses with regard to verse 12 are whether or not Paul is appealing to all women or wives only, and whether or not “epitrepo” (the Greek infinitive) is translated “permit” or “forbid.”

After discussing these two things, Moo goes into what constitutes the nature of teaching that Paul is prohibiting. However, Moo just said earlier in his article that no one knew the nature of the false teaching! Next, he asks a question:


Instead of explaining what this verse means, Moo simply jumps to what “teaching” would have been discussed here. And the answer he gives is totally based on presupposition:“In light of these considerations, we argue that the teaching prohibited to women here includes what we would call preaching…and the teaching of Bible and doctrine in the church, in colleges, and in seminaries. Other activities—leading Bible studies, for instance- may be included, depending on how they are done” (181).

Once again, what “authority” over men is not given in the text—but somehow, complementarians ASSUME it refers to ecclesiastical authority. Adam however, didn’t have ECCLESIASTICAL authority over his wife, but HOME authority—being the head of his household (Genesis 3). The church hadn’t been created yet, so how could Adam receive “headship over the church” from God? Secondly, notice that Ephesians 5 refers to Christ as “head of the church.” Christ, then, NEVER relinquished His title as “Head of the church” to anybody—not even husbands. What other authority did Adam have PRIOR to Genesis 3—authority given to him as THE FIRST HUMAN! This is why he was allowed to name his wife—because he was created first! There is authority that came with being the first human; but we can’t take that and read a much-later created church authority back into a text that is much older. While Paul later wrote in Ephesians 5 that Adam and Eve were concerning Christ and the Church, he doesn’t say that Adam and Eve were a symbol of LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH!

Moo simply fails to address his biggest issue—his presupposition. We’ve seen it through his exposition of verses 8-15. When someone can address every other verse as referring to false teachers EXCEPT verse 12, there seems to be something suspicious happening. Presupposition complicates EVERYTHING…

- DMR (

No comments: