Is Experience A Valid Point For The Church To Change Its Practice?

At the 2010 Summit Lectureship at Abilene Christian University, there was a panel discussion of several women who shared their experiences on the roles of women in the spiritual realm. It was called “Our Story: Experiences of Women In Churches of Christ.” Ken Curiowski served as the moderator for that event and started off by stating that we can “think theologically” about the issue of the roles of men and women using four sources: Scripture, reason, tradition (what we always have done), and experience. Curiowski wanted the women to share their past stories in the Lord's church by asking them several questions. In the context of this event, we must ask ourselves this question:

Is it true that experience is a valid reason for the Lord's church to change its practice?

  1. First, Scripture is the only authoritative source to which we must turn if we want to be pleasing to our God and obey His will (Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 5:8,9; 11:6).

  2. Second, it is God who has assigned the important roles for both men and women in God's kingdom. Women are not second class citizens in the kingdom and should never be treated as such. Please see more on this question: Is A Woman's Role Less Valuable Than A Man's Role?

In order to better see the fallacy of using“experience” as one’s authority for changing church teaching and practice, let us first place the “experience” concept into a logical syllogism:

Major Premise: Tragic (or sad) experiences that occur require changes in the teaching and practices that the church was following.

Minor Premise: The tragic (or sad) experience that women have had occurred in the spiritual realm.

Conclusion: Therefore, it requires changes in teaching and practices that the church was following (1 Timothy 2:1-15; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34,35).

Is this logical syllogism sound? No.

There is a movement led by Matthew Vine that attempts to affirm that Christians can practice homosexual behavior in the context of loving and committed relationships and still be faithful to the Scriptures [We have dealt with his argument in another question if you wish to read it: Is The Bible Only Prohibiting Homosexual Behavior That Involves Forced Rape?]. In a presentation Vines gave, he argued that the church needed to change on this issue based on the same type of false reasoning as those who advocate women preachers (his argumentation is reconstructed below):

Major Premise: Tragic (or sad) experiences that occur require changes in the teaching and practices that the church was following.

Minor Premise: The tragic (or sad) experiences that Christians were wanting to get married to their homosexual spouse in a loving and committed relationship was occurring. [NOTE: Vines used Matthew 7:15-20 to say that this was “bad fruit”].

Conclusion: Therefore, it requires changes in teaching and practices that the church was following (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:24-27; Jude 9; 1 Timothy 1:10-12).

The same Bible that prohibits homosexual behavior is the same Bible that prohibits females in taking a leadership role that belongs in the realm of men's authority (1 Timothy 2:1-15; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34,35).

God desires that women do their best in the kingdom of His dear Son by using their God-given talents and abilities, but not to the extent that they would abuse the creational hierarchy and disobey the authority of Christ by placing themselves in leadership roles that belong to the realm of men's authority (1 Corinthians 11:3; Luke 6:46). We must not deceive ourselves in allowing experience to trump over the Scriptures. We have tragically seen how many have followed the voice of the serpent in doubting the word of God (“Has God really said...?) [Genesis 3:1-6] and “did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Be warned - they did it also according to their own experience.

 

 

 



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