By Ron Halbrook
“Why not? Shouldn’t religion change with the times?”
Most people are shocked to learn that Jesus Christ did not give the world a religion of change! He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life.” He gave all men the one right way to the one true God – through one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” The unchanging Christ warned against “false prophets” who bring “divers and strange doctrines” (Jn. 14:6; Eph. 4:4-6; Heb. 13:8; Matt. 7:15).
To understand the issue of a woman bishop, we must first understand the church Jesus built with the shedding of his blood. When sinners believe Christ And are baptized into him, he saves them by his blood and adds them to his church (Matt. 16: IS; Acts 2:4.7; 20:28). He organized his people into local churches to do his work, and gave them a plan for each congregation to develop its own overseers or bishops – also called elders, pastors, and presbyters (Acts 14:23; 20:17,28). Also, he provided for evangelists or preachers to proclaim his word, but the preacher does not have the authority to oversee a local church like bishops or pastors do (Eph. 4:11).
The Lord ordained men to lead as bishops and to preach as evangelists. He did “not allow a woman to teach” or in any other way to “exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:12, NAS). The work of bishops and of preachers involves the authority to lead the mixed assembly, which is not the woman’s role. To qualify for “the office of a bishop,” a person must be “the husband of one wife” and have children (1 Tim. 3:1-7). A godly woman can be the wife of a bishop and a great asset to the church, but the church of Christ has no female bishops.
There was no separated priesthood for clergy in the church Jesus built. Both mew and women were priests, a synonym for Christian or one who worships God (1 Pet. 2:5). A priest did not mean a preacher or a public leader. The modern idea of a formal or clerical “priesthood” distinct from other Christians was never authorized by Christ.
The Episcopal Church is a denomination with a national organization. A “bishop” presides over many local churches in a region called a diocese. Their preachers are a distinct clergy called “priests.” This denomination voted to allow female priests in 1976. Barbara Harris has now been “elected” as a bishop by the Boston diocese and the election ratified by a vote of the “standing committees” of the nation’s 118 dioceses. Mid-January 1989 marks the final step, confirmation by a majority of the Church’s 118 diocean bishops. Sounds like a political campaign, doesn’t it? She will be officially “consecrated” as a “suffragan (assistant) bishop,” something else not found in the Bible (Time, 26 Dec. 1988, p. 81; Houston Chronicle, 5 Jan. 1989, p. 7-A).
Harris is a divorced feminist and a social activist who wants practicing homosexuals to be priests and bishops. And why not? If God’s Word means nothing when it limits bishops to service in a local church, and dioceses can be organized; if the Bible’s limit of public leadership in the church to men means nothing, and women can be preachers and bishops; if the New Testament limit of the office of a bishop to married men means nothing, and bachelors, maidens, and divorcees can be bishops; then why should God’s prohibition against sexual perversion mean anything?
By such logic, those who practice the sin of polygamy can be Christians, those who desert their mates to enter adulterous marriages can be preachers, and homosexual perverts can be bishops. Unreasonable men hinder the truth when they lose respect for God’s Word and for the urgency of repentance, leaving sinners in polygamy, adultery, and homosexuality while promising them eternal life with God. “Be not deceived … .. they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21).
Women bishops – what difference does it make? There is no logical stopping place when we begin to compromise the authority, truthfulness, and steadfastness of God’s Word. Denominationalism, modernism, and liberalism breed the spirit of compromise. We must “ask for the old paths” of divine revelation in all things, “where is the good way, and walk therein,” if we would find true rest for our souls (Jer. 6:16). To serve God and save our souls, we must esteem all the precepts of God “concerning all things to be right” and “hate every false way” (Psa. 119:128).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 9, p. 265
May 4, 1989