House Church Talk - Re: hc, women JL

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at
Tue May 4 22:21:29 EDT 2004

Hi Glenn,
Welcome to HC-Talk! I hope you'll feel free to become a regular participant 

Thank you for your additional observations in I Corinthians which support 
the the view that "brethren" are indeed males just as "sisters" are indeed 

You seem to be the first to respond to my challenge:" show from 
scripture that the silence of women in house gatherings of believers was 
ever practiced by the first century church or is ever commanded in 

Dear brother, I would like to respond to your comments with a number of 
(1)You wrote:"A simple scriptural answer to this is that the sisters 
remaining silent is a practice which was established universally for 
observance "in ALL the assemblies of the saints" (I Cor. 14:33).    Is a 
"house gathering of believers," as you say, an "assembly of the saints," as 
our Lord says in His word?  Certainly it is.  The command is not for only 
combined city-wide gatherings of saints from several assemblies, but notice 
rather that it is for "ALL the assemblies."  [It is especially for the far 
more common smaller assemblies, which may not be city-wide--but whatever, 
the type matters not--it is indeed for "ALL."]

First of all, let us examine the context of the phrase "as in all churches 
of the saints" in 14:33.  Please notice that this precedes but does not 
follow verses 34 and 35!  It speaks of the fact that GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR 
OF CONFUSION BUT OF PEACE in all churches of the saints.  I would heartily 
agree with you that whether one considers house churches, whole churches in 
cities or the church which is Christ's body, God is not the author of 
confusion but of peace IN ANY KIND OF CHURCH composed of saints. But I do 
not believe nor does the context of I Cor.14 demonstrate that "as in all 
churches of the saints" applies to the silence of the sisters!

(2)I think I already listed many actual examples of church gatherings in the 
new testament where women participated vocally in house church gatherings. 
The text is clear in some instances that these women were moved to speak BY 
THE HOLY SPIRIT, HIMSELF!  There is not one instance of women speaking in 
house church gatherings where there was any apostolic correction or reproof 
of such vocal participation. So, brother, if you believe that women are to 
be silent and not to speak "in all churches of the saints" (specificly in 
house church gatherings), how do you explain these instances of women 
speaking under the guidance or empowerment of the Spirit of God and apart 
from any apostolic correction or reproof?

(3)You wrote:"It is shameful for women to speak *in church*" (I Cor. 14:35). 
  This being the case, the only way one can try to get around the plain 
thrust of the passage is to say that "house *gatherings of believers*" are 
somehow not an "in church" context !)."

Dear brother, "in church" (14:35) obviously has a CHURCH GATHERING in view. 
The reason I say this is that, from the moment of conversion, every believer 
is "IN THE CHURCH WHICH IS CHRIST'S BODY", but obviously sisters are not 
required to be silent in all circumstances following conversion!  Also, as 
long as a believer is in a particular city, they are "IN THE CHURCH OF GOD 
IN THAT CITY" but obviously, sisters are not required to be silent at all 
times that they are "in" such a church!  So the context deals with a CHURCH 
GATHERING, and the context of I Cor.14:23-40 is a specific KIND of church 
gathering, namely when the "whole church is come together into one place". 
Now to read "house church" INTO THIS CONTEXT seems to me at least, without 
any warrant whatsoever!

(4)You continued:" Ultimately, I think to propose what you have is to say 
(very conveniently to those who have no desire to obey it) that this portion 
of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" is something which will 
rarely--if ever--be observed today.    Thus I hope you will reconsider your 
present position and practice...

Dear brother the fact that few, if any, of us have ever experienced a whole 
church gathering in our community does NOT have anything to do with the fact 
that such gatherings were common events in the first century and are 
obviously God's desire and intention! If they were not, why would the Holy 
Spirit have devoted I Cor.14:23-40 to regulating such gatherings??   That 
being said, both you and I should be envisioning, working towards and 
willing to participate in such gatherings OF ALL SAINTS in our own 
communities. If I am unwilling to envision, work towards and to participate 
in such gatherings with all believers in my community regardless of their 
background, I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM (denominationalism/sectarianism) RATHER 

(5)Brother Glenn, you told us that you are not a newcomer to gathering in 
simplicity in homes. Therefore, I am assuming that your view of the silence 
of sisters is likely practiced in the house gatherings in which you 
participate. Could you describe those gatherings for us relative to the 
vocal participation of sisters from the time they arrive at the door until 
the time they leave to go home?  How do you define or explain (scripture 
please) what your understanding of a church gathering is and thus when 
sisters must be silent and when they may speak?  Any that I have had contact 
with who share your view hold a very artificial view of what constitutes a 
church gatherings!  It is defined (a)by time (i.e. church goes from 10:30 to 
noon on Sunday morning) and women may chat or converse before 10:30 or after 
noon because "church" is only during that time period! Or (b) it is defined 
by specific purposes or activities (i.e. the church gathering is when the 
saints gather for "public or corporate worship, praise, teaching" etc)  but 
when they eat a meal and remember the Lord, this is no longer regarded as 
"church" and so the women are not required to be silent at such meals!

(6)I think you and I both agree that "brethren" are males. But may I ask 
you, do you understand any "one another" instruction in the new covenant 
scriptures to be addressed exclusively to males?  I am thinking (for one 
example) of Hebrews 10:24 and 25 . This passage instructs us as to the 
"agenda" when saints assemble together. They are to be EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER 
definitely church gatherings which are in view, but it seems to me that your 
view would require that "one another" in such a passage is exlusively 
restricted to males!  How do you respond to this? I look forward, as you 
have time and opportunity, to hearing from you relative to my answers above.

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce Woodford  (four wheels on a board!)

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