Does Trinitarian Theology Support Women in the Pulpit? (Part 1 of 3)


Part 1: An Introduction


The issue on the validity of women in the pulpit has long been debated. Those who promote it and those who oppose it both have an arsenal of scriptural references, doctrinal beliefs, allegiance to traditionalism, egalitarian versus patriarchal hermeneutical understandings of male-female relationships, and an array of biblical criticisms to support their particular view. Despite the increasing volumes of theological works and biblical studies regarding ‘difficult’ passages of the bible in regards to the role of women, the war on the calling of women continues—and is not likely to end until the parousia of Jesus. Rather than focus on a list of scriptural references that support women in the ministry of proclamation, is it not more viable to approach the issue by examining the relational theology of the Trinity and its implications on the meaning of the imago Dei—thus revealing God’s explicit intentions in regards to a faithful and ethical proclamation of the word of God? Since it is God’s word that is to be proclaimed, it is imperative that the image of God is fully represented in the pulpit. An accurate understanding of the imago Dei is founded on Trinitarian theology. An egalitarian understanding of the Trinity reveals that there is no gender hierarchy, and thus no valid claim for persons to not allow women any position of leadership in society or in the church, including that of preacher. The egalitarian relationship of the Triune God is replicated in human relationships because the male-female relationship is created in the image of God.

The imago Dei is important for understanding how humans are to relate to God and one another. The first thing that scripture tells us about humans is that they are created by God, and in God’s image. Therefore, to understand what it means to be human, first and foremost, requires a biblical and theological understanding of the imago Dei.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them [emphasis mine] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female [emphasis mine] he created them.[1]

Karl Barth asserts that in order to understand what is meant by ‘the image of God,’ one must understand the ‘Let us’ who created humankind in his image.[2] Therefore, it is imperative that any discussion of the imago Dei must be preceded by a serious theological reflection of the Triune God. “William Temple, former Archbishop of Canterbury, insisted that if our concept of God is wrong, the more religious we get the more dangerous we are to ourselves and others. Our concept of God must be a true representation of the One Who Is, the God with whom all of us ultimately will have to deal. In fact, nothing is more important for anyone or for any society.”[3]



[next post—Part 2: A Reflection on the Trinity]


[1] Gen 1:26-27, NRSV.

[2] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 3, The Doctrine of Creation, Part 1, ed. G. W. Bromiley and R. F. Torrance, trans. J. W. Edwards, O. Bussey, and H. Knight (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 182-84.

[3] Dennis F. Kinlaw, Let’s Start with Jesus: A New Way of Doing Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), loc. 89. Kindle.

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