By Brian Mavis
Colleges are training them. Churches areÂ using them. And Christ is being exalted.Â Here”s what we learned when we talked to women who preach and the professors who have taught them.
Jodi Hickerson”s journey of becoming a preaching/teaching pastor began at 19 when she joined the teaching team for the high school ministry at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. A few years later she was part of the programming team at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, and then at 26 became one of the teaching pastors at Heartland Community Church, Rockford, Illinois. Today she is part of a four-person teaching team at Mission Church Ventura in California. Hickerson represents a small but growing trend in Christian churches””women who preach/teach.
A few more examples would include Jen Oakes, who is another teacher on the Ventura team; Rhesa Storms, who is part of the teaching team at Forefront Church in Manhattan (New York); and Jess Alston, who teaches occasionally at Mosaic in Baltimore, Maryland.
Additionally, Christian church colleges are training more women than ever in homiletics and expository preaching. Five years ago the preaching faculty at Ozark Christian College decided to revamp how they included women interested in preaching. The motivation for this came, in part, from a survey of students. Damien Spikereit, director of the preaching department, said, “When we asked, “˜What do you want more of?” the female students said, “˜We want what the guys get. We want the preaching classes too.””
“We then,” said Spikereit, “had to ask ourselves, “˜How do we do that? How do we do this in a way that honors Scripture and our tradition?””
So What About Scripture and Tradition?
There are two passages, found in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2, that the Ozark professors had to address because many Christian churches have applied them in ways that preclude women from preaching or teaching in a church assembly. “The key issue,” Spikereit believes, “is differentiating between the act of preaching and the role of preacher. Preaching has to do with proclamation, edification, and teaching of the gospel. The role of the preacher is more than that. [A preacher is] the teaching elder, the spiritual leader of the church. In contemporary language, [a preacher is] the “˜senior minister.” The act of proclaiming the gospel and exhorting fellow believers with the Word is not equivalent to authority. If a woman is gifted to preach and teach, [she is] free to do so under the authority of the elders. By the way, men are also to teach in submission to the eldership””it”s no different.”
Daniel Overdorf, dean of the school of congregational ministry and a professor of preaching at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee, agrees.
“I believe the boundary falls within the function of an elder,” Overdorf said. “Because the senior pastor functions like an elder, I”m not comfortable with a female senior minister. I am comfortable, though, with a woman on the preaching team who is under the authority of the eldership.”
For those who still don”t see it that way, Mark Scott, former academic dean at Ozark, makes another point about the validity of training women to teach and preach.
“The work of the kingdom is larger than developing preachers for a church,” Scott said. “The preaching of the Word is much broader than what happens in the assembly. Women can preach and teach in ways and places””in missions, parachurches, and campus ministries””that don”t conflict with even the most restrictive applications. The issue might not be women and preaching but women and the preacher.”
Training Women to Preach and Teach
Hannah Randolph enrolled for the new class””Biblical Communication for Women””that Ozark created as a result of the survey and study. The class was identical in design and content to Homiletics, with the only difference being the gender of the students. Randolph went on to take Expository Preaching and Advanced Biblical Communication, both of which were coed. Today she is on the youth ministry teaching team at Christ”s Church of Oronogo in Missouri.
“I was apprehensive at first,” Randolph confessed. “I had never seen a woman preach or teach. I didn”t have a female role model, so I had trouble picturing myself doing it. But I was looking for something that would grow and use my gifts to teach. The first class, the female-only class, gave me confidence to enroll, and it was a comfortable environment. The next two advanced classes only had three or so girls in them, but the guys were very encouraging and supportive.”
Jodi Hickerson didn”t attend a Christian college or study preaching in a classroom, but she had tremendous training from the churches she attended. “I wish every young communicator””boy or girl””could have had the experiences I had. I was encouraged by all the churches and given opportunities to develop the communication gift God gave me. They gave me a safe place to learn and grow in front of them. I wish more churches would take risks like that. When church leaders see the gift in a person, the church needs to develop the gift, regardless of gender. It would have been nice to have a female role model, but I really didn”t have one. My dad (Mike Breaux) was my biggest role model, and then people like Jon Weece, Rusty George, and Gene Appel, whom I had the privilege of sitting under on a regular basis. It isn”t about men communicators verses women communicators; it is about each of us doing our very best with what God has given us and relying on the Holy Spirit to speak through us.”
What Value Will ChurchesÂ See by Including Women Â in Their Teaching Teams?
So if more women become a part of preaching and teaching teams, how will it affect the church?
“Well, women are half of the human race and the other half of the image of God,” said Randolph. “No one would say that men and women think alike. In general, women tend to be more compassionate, and we would probably understand better what a woman needs to hear in terms of application.”
Rhesa Storms said, “It became obvious that a sermon series would benefit from a woman”s perspective. A natural one was a sermon series on marriage. But for a woman to teach, the topic doesn”t have to be just about women”s issues. It”s about what God has to say about human issues.”
Spikereit saw several benefits.
“In the classes I”ve taught, the girls have had different insights into a text. Not different in a peculiar way, but in a fresh way,” he said. “For example, I”ve heard a ton of sermons on Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, but it was a girl in my class who preached on Hagar and what it must have been like to be her. I”ve never heard that. And it wasn”t about novelty. It was a neglected text. Female teachers will bring sensitivity to issues that women relate to. They bring an emotional content that men sometimes miss.
“Another benefit,” Spikereit continued, “is that by seeing a woman use her gift to teach, women in the church are empowered to think, maybe I have something to offer. In most churches, 60 percent of the congregation is women. This can encourage and unleash many gifts that are being held back in the church.”
Storms echoed that thought, “I find it exciting to see women pick up more roles. Honoring how God has created us.”
But It”s Really Not About Women Preaching
I will end this with an editorial note. When I spoke with the three women quoted in this article””Jodi Hickerson, Hannah Randolph, and Rhesa Storms””all three emphasized that the preaching/teaching issue isn”t about the gender of the preacher or teacher. What mattered was that Christ was being exalted””Christ was the cause. I found all three of them humble, sensitive, and thoughtful. Personally, I would love to have the chance to hear them teach the Bible and lift up Jesus as Lord.
Brian Mavis is executive director of the Externally Focused Network. He also serves as community transformation minister at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado.Â
Vic C. –
While this discussion is not primarily about women being overseers of the church, it is rather difficult to see how a female might be “the husband of one wife.” But wait . . . on further review, given our culture’s view of marriage, I suppose there is now an important homosexual sense in which a woman might well be “the husband of one wife.” I stand corrected. Please disregard my first sentence here.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, under husband, the word used in 1 Timothy 3 … “Aner” … denotes in general “a man, and adult male” in contrast to “anthropos” which generally denotes “a human being, male or female.” He then informs us that context decides if “aner” should be translated man or husband. Under man he says “aner” is never used of the female sex.
Timothy says of the overseer that he is to have but one “gune.” Vine’s says under woman this word means wife or woman. ”
So “aner” is male or husband and “gune” is female or wife.
So Vic, you are misinformed. Elders are males with one wife or a one woman man. There’s no problem with traditions when they are the commands of the Lord.
And why blame the KJV? NIV says, “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer he desires a noble task.” It also says, “the husband of but one wife.” I do not have the inclination to check other translations, but I suspect you will not find one that says otherwise. However, one will no doubt come out soon to push the idea of women elders. Progressive scholarship has a way of finding things that call into question 2,000 years of understanding.
I do not think it would hurt for you to spend some time with a Vine’s or a Thayer’s.
Your article would hold greater sway with me if it was rooted in the Word of God. Unfortunately it weighs entirely on current circumstance – that is, illustrations of women who currently preach and teach. Too bad. As a contributing editor I know we are better than this when it comes to journalism or Biblical scholarship. Where was the counterpoint article? If you present one opinion only, people will gravitate towards it, especially if it espouses that which itchy ears long to hear. Disappointed.
I love God’s Word. I strive to live by it, though I fail often, and am compelled to rely on His Grace and mercy given to me by faith in the Lord Jesus.
While I believe this is worthwhile discussion, I would also add that there are many male preachers and teachers who shouldn’t be where they are. I have witnessed sloth, irreverence, arrogance, racism, and other sinful actions and attitudes from those in the pulpit. I assume there are and will be female preachers and teachers participating in this same sinfulness.
My point is that we often engage in discussion over the dot and tittle and ignore the heart of the matter: Holiness. We are called to aim for holiness to the degree of perfection, just as Father is holy.
So, in this discussion above, we must first take the time to seek holiness, seek God’s heart and His will. I have, and while I personally have never chosen to be a member of a congregation led by a woman, I am not so bold as to say I understand the perfect will of God so exactly that I would denounce a gifted and talented woman who proclaims the word of God in power and truth. If God gives the gift, I will not stand in the way, much like the council who examined Peter after He preached to the Gentiles for the first time. They listened to Peter, they examined the fruit, and they believed and accepted the will of God. Perhaps we are to do the same. I tend to err on the side of Grace, and examine most things individually, rather than universally.
Go, therefore… speak the truth in love.
Would someone explain to me that when some one disagrees with another, and they correct an error and explains the truth, that they do not love the one with whom they disagree? My Bible tells me that open rebuke is better than secret love.
And if these girls want to be preachers they will need to reprove and rebuke and exhort like men have to do. If they are going to take the work, they have to meet the respondsibility of the work. They will have to exsperience being called bigots, proud, lacking love, lacking grace,being neanderthals just like any other evangelist.
They will have their motives questioned and suffer criticism just like we who oppose women doing what they are forbidden to do.
Eve fell to the first sin when she failed to proper answer the question, “Did God really say…”. Is that not the same question we are addressing today? The Word of God clearly states that a woman shall not teach or have authority over a man. Yet, we are asking the question did God really say that? We are wrestling with a question that is as old as the Garden of Eden. When Eve fell for Satan’s line, sin entered into the world. Do we expect anything different? If God’s Word states a command, then we have no right nor authority to debate it. The ultimate issue here is not women preachers as it is how we view God’s Word: changing or unchanging. If we are to argue that this command was cultural or temporary, by what standard do we use to determine this? If this command is temporary, then how many others are also temporary? This is a very dangerous path to go down and we had better use more caution than what was shown in this article.
Surely, then George, you won’t mind a bit of rebuke in love. How about not disrespectfully referring to these young ladies pejoratively as “girls” and instead call them “women,” which they truly are.
Also, for those who seek to follow so literally “the word of God,” how about practicing what you preach. “Elders” does not equal “preachers,” and you should not use some advice given to Timothy in one context, and apply it to a whole separate situation. The Bible makes no sexual qualifications on proclaiming the message of God. Indeed, in the practice of the Lord’s Supper, Paul states all of us, whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, “we,” meaning all who do it, “proclaim” the Lord’s death. The Lord’s death, “Christ Crucified,” is the essence of the gospel message. There are no limitations on its proclamation by gender, race, or social status.
The advice Paul gives to Timothy should be understood in its context. You may not like that approach, but it is proper, responsible biblical interpretation. Restoration “preachers” need to grow up in their exposition of the “word of God.” Failure to properly interpret scripture is not better than scripture twisting.
All christians bear a responsibility to “reprove and rebuke and exhort,” not simply men, as this is the very purpose for which the tool of scripture has been God-breathed (2 Timothy 3.16-17).
Paul writes to Timothy in Ephesus that “he” doesn’t permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Now, what exactly does he mean by that, and how universal is that practice to be followed is another matter that can be answered properly only after serious examination of the text and the context of Paul’s words. If the command is temporary then so be it. But it is poor biblical interpretation to make it a permanent command simply because of a fear that doing so could be taking us down a dangerous path. It is at least as dangerous to go down the path of poor hermeneutics.
You write, “When Eve fell for Satan’s line, sin entered into the world,” and yet, the Apostle Paul writes, “sin entered the world through on man (Adam).” Which one is it? Paul’s or your word? And, who then, is truly responsible? Women for the sins of the world? Adam? Each of us him/herself?
Reading an article about women preaching stirs up quite a few emotional responses within me. I am naturally inclined to be against such an idea largely because of the writings of the Apostle Paul urging women not to teach or have authority over men. I also have a visceral reaction stemming from what I have observed in those churches that have women elders. My take on that is not so much an objection to female leadership in and of itself, but to the fact that so often, when women begin to take on leadership roles, the men associated with that church often become more passive and drift into the background. Having said that, I have been listening to a female television preacher lately and enjoying her down to earth practical biblical advice for Christian growth. Twenty years ago I would have never thought I would ever willingly listen to a woman evangelist preaching the gospel. My theology has not changed, but my practical ministry has turned a corner. Now I see that God can use whoever He chooses to do his work: male, female, Balaam’s donkey, or even the dog next door.
Jeff, you bet I can accept your rebuke of love. It is not your fault that all the threads on this article are not still accessible. My answer was in answer to someone who quoted 1 Tim 3;1 ff stating that the words in the description of an elder were all neuter. I naturally answered his obejction from the Greek, as that letter inferred women could also be elders. Also, someone else had commented on the idea they could elders. So you must have missed that and thought I was equating the two offices. Your quite right, the functions are not the same. The original article says a preacher is playing the part of a preaching elder. Of course this is not true. So my response is perfectly legitimate. I did not want to pick at every little error in the original article. Timothy and Titus were young men and not Pastors. In fact a lot of our troubles would be avoided if we realized the books written to these young men are not pastoral epistles, but were written to evangelists. It gives job descriptions of an evangelist, and how they are to behave, preach, and correct the leaders and members of the congregation. So I was pointing out the young ladies have to do what Timothy and Titus did if they are going to be preachers. The word “girls” has no disrespectful connotation in my mind any more than when I refer to my daughters in their 40s as girls and my sons in their 50s and the students in our college as boys. Of course, I am happy to apologize to any women offended by the word “girls,” but since to me it is not an insulting word at all it will be hard for me to break. That is another politically correct word evidently that I will have to remove from my vocabulary. People take insults where none were even imagined. People often called me Reverend or Pastor. I am not offended and do not correct them then and there. I just imagine someone in the congregations will eventually tell them I am neither. But you are right. A preacher is not an elder (presybter), pastor (shephard), or bishop (overseer) unless the congregation ordained him to be such. I like to call Bible things by Bible names. Am I a legalist? Some say so. I just like to use the words the Holy Spirit chose and see people not go beyond what is written.
You asked about my comments on”When Eve fell for Satan”™s line, sin entered into the world,”. First, let me state that my comments are in reference to Paul’s comments in 1 Timothy 2:14 “And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” When Eve disobeyed by doubting God’s Word, she became a sinner (hence the statement that sin came into this world, how can one be a sinner if sin was not in the world). Adam is credited with sin at the fall, I am not arguing that. My point was not to put the blame at either Adam or Eve (I used Eve’s name because that is who Paul stated was deceived and that is who the book of Genesis presented as being deceived), but it was to examine that doubting God’s command directly led to the sin. I am stating that sin came into the world because Eve doubted God’s Word, which is in line with Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 2, the text that is being debated in the article.
As far as this being a temporary command, what aspect of the chapter states that it is temporary or leads you to believe that it should be viewed as a temporary command? Does Paul state that it was? What is your standard of saying that this aspect of the letter is temporary but the other commands in this same letter are eternal? Or do you believe the entire letter is temporary? What is your standard?
I find it interesting and intriguing that the majority of responses to this article are men. My hope is that women in ministry simply do not feel the need to defend their right to use the gifts with which God has blessed them. As a woman who has been in ministry my entire adult life, I appreciate the men who have taken their stand to support us.
I will say this, women, you are joining a long line of women in ministry. A tradition that is traced back to Scripture, not culture. Continue in your work for the church and for the Gospel with the knowledge that you have the prayers and support of millions behind you. The work you are doing is changing the world for the better and for God. He will continue to bless your ministries as you continue to follow him!
You brought to mind some comments that were published in the Christian Standard back on Jan 2, 1892 as a yearly report “From the Field” by Mrs. Clara C. Babcock:
“Rock Falls [IL], Nov 1 — Have closed my year’s labor, and have received a call to the fourth years’ work for Erie and third for Thomson, and have entered upon the new year hopefully. Although I have not reported work done since my last annual report, I have not been idle. My eye has caught from time to time contributions from the fertile brains of my strong brethren, with some editorial hints against woman’s work in the ministry, as well as some words of encouragement. Regardless of all this I have patiently and steadily worked on, and can say with the apostle, none of these things move me. . . . The visible results of my year’s work are 96 additions . . . preached 240 sermons, 16 funerals . . . , 12 weddings, 470 visits made, 1,500 miles traveled to and from my labor. Am now in perfect health. Have not missed an appointment in over four years. I feel strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and in his strength shall continue the heart-to-heart conflict with the enemy of souls and for the extension of God’s kingdom.”
Mrs. Babcock continued to preach and baptize in a number of Church of Christ and Christian Church congregations until suffering a debilitating stroke in Savanna, IL, at the age of 74. Her obituary (published in the Christian Standard on July 25, 1925) reports that she “was taken sick at the Sunday evening services after administering baptism to two candidates, making 1,502 she had buried in baptism.’
She is only one among many who were/are part of a long (and continuing) heritage of women and men “patiently and steadily” serving together in the work of the gospel in the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches.
I am deeply disappointed by the tone of a majority of the comments on this post! I have the honor of being the Lead Pastor of Mission Church in Ventura, CA…i have the honor of having Jodi Hickerson (my wife) and Jen Oakes on our team. Jodi and Jen make exactly $0 as part of the sacrifice to plant Mission Church…they work selflessly, tirelessly, and are extremely gifted! They are two of best mother’s that i know! They have two of the purest hearts on anyone i know!
Jodi and Jen did not ask to be mentioned in an article, nor do they need a “platform” out of an unhealthy drive.
The decision for them to teach is mine, i am their boss, servant, leader, advocate and friend—any quarrel about if they “should” teach is a quarrel with me asking them to…some of the previous comments jumped to some pretty crazy assumptions about the character/motive of these women!
You can challenge a lot of things…but when you challenge the character of Jodi, Jen, and Rhesa (also a great friend)…you are so far out of line…and out of your league!
-At best this is a non essential…which i think means liberty.
-Cultural context (of that day and today) has to play some role in how we understand this topic
-Historically there is lots of room to land on both sides of this topic…without being evil
i won’t go back and forth with any of you on a message board–in fact i’ve already wasted too much time on this one, but if you want a legitimate conversation (vs telling me how wrong i am) here is my email: [email protected]
I know I am late to the discussion, but I echo one of the comments above that I am embarrassed at lack of interpretive skills in some of the above comments. I am also ashamed of the sexism and derogatory comments about women.
The first time I heard a women preach, I almost left the sanctuary. I studied the relevant passages a few times and heard a woman preach again a few years later. I didn’t want to leave this time, but I said to myself, “Boy, she’s a bad speaker.” I read some more, took some classes at a Restoration Movement school and heard females preach in my preaching class. My first thought was, “She’s a better preacher than I am.” Then I got a seminary degree from an RM school and don’t even blink when I hear a woman preach.
It is hard for me to articulate an argument in favor of women preaching without making analogies to racism throughout the last 200 years or so, without foregrounding Galatians 3:28, without using Greek words, and without discussing the context of women’s role in the first century.
The argument I would make is this: in the verses surrounding the “women” passages we find contextual commands (braided hair, max of three speakers, head coverings, etc) that we ignore…I mean apply what it means rather than what it says. We need to do the same thing in “confusing” passages that we do for “easy” passages. What works for Acts 2:38 works in 1 Timothy 2 or 1 Corinthians 11 or Titus.
Don’t over think things. God did not intend us to spend hours debating how old a boy becomes a man, how many men in a group makes it a mixed audience, whether prayers in between songs are the same as prayers before communion, whether missionary reports are the same as sermons, whether communion meditations are a teaching time, or whether teaching adult Sunday school is the same as teaching the whole church. God intended us to use the gifts the Holy Spirit gave us to best serve God’s church. In God’s church there is no “male nor female, slave to free, Greek nor Jew…we are all one in the body of Christ.”
What gets me about these arguments is how little time is spent looking at what Paul DID in his churches.
Complementarians spend their time trying to universalize Paul’s prescriptions for two extremely unhealthy churches (Ephesus and Corinth) while ignoring what other NT books tell us was Paul’s practice in less problematic situations.
An illustration: my mother is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. To oversimplify (because that’s about all I understand), chemo is poison. The purpose of chemotherapy is to give you poison in such a way that it kills your cancer faster than the cancer or the chemo can kill you.
Would a good doctor prescribe chemotherapy for a healthy person? MH GENOITO, of course not. So why do we universalize Paul’s prescriptions for two very sick churches and try to apply them to every church in every time and situation?
Don’t just look at Paul’s prescriptions, look at what happened in his churches, the roles women had, the things which he and Luke refer to as as being matter of course.
In the seventies I was a student at one of our Bibles colleges. I had known from the age of five that God had called me into His service. Discouraged with the lack of validation as a woman, I was ready to walk away from my calling. A professor challenged me to do an honest exegetical study of women in the New Testament. I did so and my lot in life was set. I was the first woman to preach in chapel at Dallas Christian College, thank God many talented and Godly women followed my footsteps. I have been on the mission field for 34 years. During that time God has given me the opportunity to preach in many churches and to many audiences. I have always done so under the authority of my husband and the local elders. When I stand before the throne of God I trust that I can say that I have been faithful with the talents that He gave me and the passion for the lost that He placed in my soul. I do not aspire to be the “preacher” of a congregation but I am a preacher of the Word of God. It is who I am not what I do. I aim to live my entire life in such a way that the love of Christ shines through me in every action and word. I preach every moment of the day and when it is necessary I use words. What a tragedy that the Christian church continues to allow tradition and culture to color our Biblical interpretation. Why is it that men in the Christian church have no problem with reading a book written by a woman or singing a song written by a woman but cringe at the idea of a woman standing in the pulpit? Which by the way can’t be found in the New Testament. Paul says it best. “Who are you to judge another man’s servant”. Instead of arguing semantics and roles maybe we need just to get the job done.
What about a solution from Restoration Movement history?
Those who believe that women should be able to preach and teach despite Paul’s inspired, direct teaching:
1) Should be allowed to hold that belief as a private opinion.
2) Should refrain from promoting that private opinion in order to maintain unity.
3) Should refrain from imposing that opinion on others (i.e. not preaching in large mixed audiences where there are likely people who hold the orthodox position).
4) Should not be seen as “less Christian” for that heterodox belief, and should be treated with love.
Though I love a courteous theological debate as much as the next person, and with an MA in church history and past teaching at a Jesuit university, probably love it even more than I should, my comments here are not theological ones.
Jodi Hickerson is one of my pastors. I have had the extraordinary experience of sitting under her humble and yet extremely powerful, teaching. When she preaches, you don’t see Jodi, you see Jesus lifted up. Though I am close to twice her age, when she teaches, I’m challenged and changed.
God has chosen to use her and I praise Him that she has the courage and strength to do all she does, even though many in the Body of Christ challenge her choices.
A similar issue to women in ministry but rarely discussed is the absence of single men in these same positions. Neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul (and possibly others) was a “husband of one wife,” yet a single man has no chance of obtaining a pastoral position in most churches. It should make us consider at least the possibly that we have misinterpreted the scriptures in question.
These kind of articles and the inclusion of the NIV2011 in the Lookout, just makes me want to drop everything published by Standard. It is just not sound. There should have been some counterpoint. Was there in the paper edition? Online it appears the editors of the Christian Standard have went full blown denominational. I have been seeing these types of things more and more.
There needs to be articles to stretch thinking, but this just comes off as Ozark and Standard jumping on the Liberal bandwagon.
Women preaching is an abomination. Those who argue for it are equally wicked if not more so. Christ is ashamed not exalted
I have not read all the comments, so disregard any redundancy in my comment. The role of women in the church has progressed to the discussion of women as elders or preachers. These issues would not even be discussed were it not for the cultural pressure on the church. Women’s role in culture is changing, therefore, there is the expectation of it changing in church. These issues do not arise from a need to restore Biblical principles.
Analyzing the comments I have read produce some interesting ideas. The comments could be divided into two camps–legalists vs. liberals. If that is offensive, how about exegesis vs. eisegesis. Or, maybe historical vs. hysterical. I imagine that someone has wielded a very thin knife to be able to split hairs to reach their conclusion.
Those haunting word of Paul, “kai. mh. suschmati,zesqe tw/| aivw/ni tou,tw|( avlla” Do not be conformed to this world… conformed-imperative present middle/passive-do not keep on being conformed or shaped (this is a command); world–not kosmos but aioni–the current times; but (alla) connoting contrast. What follows Paul’s haunting words is not “be transformed by the rationalizing of ideas.” What is God’s will, not the latest cultural trend, not what is acceptable in the eyes of men, not what keeps the church up to date with the world (it must be right because look at how many like it)?