A good month after Silena Holman's article appeared in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE, A.A. Bunner replies and takes issue with what he considers to be wrong with Sister Silena's treatment. Bunner knows how to engage in polemics, by exploiting an innocent turn of phrase, the author's claimed "woman's standpoint," and insinuates that this viewpoint might yet turn out to lack scriptural warrant. While Bunner disagrees with the elder's narrow interpretation of the activities of women in the church, which had given rise to the original query in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE, he seriously questions the PUBLIC nature of female activities in the early church. Sister Holman is also accused of engaging in faulty hermeneutics when explaining a circumstance in one biblical book, such as the prophesying of Philip's four daughters in Acts, from an understanding of prophecy as a public act in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. To highlight the alleged faulty logic of such exegesis, Bunner introduces an example of his own where two entirely unrelated passages are "yoked up" in order to explain each other. For him none of the examples cited by Silena Holman warrant any relativizing of Paul's famous dictum about the general silence of women in the church. EDITOR
Woman's Work In the Church.
by A. A. Bunner (GOSPEL ADVOCATE, 20 June 1888, 5)
(GOSPEL ADVOCATE, 20 June 1888, 5)
Sister Holman in the ADVOCATE of May 2d under the caption "A peculiar people," looks, as she expresses it at the above question "from a woman's standpoint." Now if she will bear with us a little we shall try and look at it from a scriptural standpoint. Our good sister says "I sometimes think the brothers and sisters know that passage from Paul, 'Let you women keep silence in the churches' better than any other passage in the whole Bible, so often is it quoted to those women who like the women of the early church desire only to labor in the gospel like those who labored with Paul in the gospel." Now I would be glad if our good sister would tell us if she when looking at this question "from a woman's standpoint" sees all or any of those women who labored with Paul in the gospel acting in the capacity of public proclaimers of the gospel of Christ. If she says that she does, then indeed will we be forced to conclude that looking at anything "from a woman's standpoint" is very far from looking at it from a scriptural standpoint. Indeed in looking at the question of woman's work in the church from a scriptural standpoint we find many ways in which women can labor in the gospel besides acting in the capacity of public proclaimers of the gospel. That brother was wrong who withdrew himself from the church because women were allowed to teach the children in the Sunday-school for I believe they have a right to teach the children the scriptures. I also believe they have a right in a quiet way to teach the men the way of life and salvation, but not publicly in the church for when the women get up publicly in the church of God to teach, then they disobey the apostolic injunction "Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak." 1 Cor. xiv: 34.
But right here I am, reminded by sister H., that Philip, the evangelist, had four daughters who did prophesy. Acts xxi: 9 and that Paul in 1 Cor. xiv: 3 tells us what prophesying is. "He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort."
So you see our good sister yokes up 1 Cor. xiv: 3 with Acts xxi: 9 in order to prove that women have a right to act in the capacity of public teachers, but in doing so she did just what the man who yoked up the passage, "Judas went and hanged himself" with "Go thou and do likewise" in order to prove that it was right for a man to commit suicide and in proving his position in that sort of a way he made the scriptures contradict themselves, and if sister Holman proved by yoking up 1 Cor. xiv: 3 with Acts xxi: 9 that it is right for women to act as public teachers in the church of God then Paul is made to contradict his statement in the 34th verse of that very same 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians which reads "Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but let them be in subjection as also saith the law." Now if Philip's daughters could prophesy or speak unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort publicly in the churches of Christ and at the same time obey the injunction, "Let your women keep silence," etc., then I would like our sister to tell us just what they would have to do in order to disobey said injunction.
But further on our good sister H., tells us that Philip's daughters were public expounders of the scriptures for she says, "So we find that Philip's four daughters did publicly expound the scriptures."
Now if our good sister will not consider the question an impertinent one, I would love to ask her for my own special benefit to give us chapter and verse where she found that "Philip's four daughters did publicly expound the scriptures," and when she does then that will forever settle the question with me. So while I believe that Philip's four daughters did prophesy and to prophesy is to speak unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort," still I also believe that Philip's daughters could and did exercise their gifts of prophecy without doing it publicly in the churches of Christ.
Now while I am willing to admit as true all that sister H., has said concerning our Savior's conversation with the woman at the well of Samaria and of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the servants and handmaidens in order that they might prophesy and of Priscilla and Aquila instructing the eloquent Apollos in the right way of the Lord and how Paul commended Phoebe a servant of the church at Cenchrea and of our Savior having a greater following of women than any philosopher or teacher or rabbi or reformer that ever appeared on this earth still that does not invalidate or set aside Paul's instructions, "Let your women keep silence in the churches."