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WOMEN SPEAKING IN THE CHURCH: What Does the Scripture Say?
Benjamin B. Warfield, Robert L. Dabney & Geoffrey Thomas


Two classic pieces join together with a contemporary one to address an increasingly thorny issue facing the church. The first piece is a brief article by B.B. Warfield (1851-1921) which is an exposition of Paul's words to the Corinthians concerning women speaking in the church. He concludes with these words:

"The difference in conclusions between Paul and the feminist movement of today is rooted in a fundamental difference in their points of view relatively to the constitution of the human race. To Paul, the human race is made up of families, and every several organism, the church included, is composed of families, united together by this or that bond. The relation of the sexes in the family follows it therefore into the church. To the feminist movement the human race is made up of individuals; a woman is just another individual by the side of the man; and it can see no reason for any differences in dealing with the two. And, indeed, if we can ignore the great fundamental natural difference of sex, and destroy the great fundamental social unit of the family, in the interest of individualism, there does not seem any reason why we should not wipe out the differences established by Paul between the sexes in the church. Except, of course, the authority of Paul. It all, in the end, comes back to the authority of the apostles, as founders of the church. We may like what Paul says, or we may not like it. We may be willing to do what he commands, or we may not be willing to do it. But there is no room for doubt of what he says."

The second and longer piece was writtern by Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898) and first appeared in The Southern Presbyterian Review for October 1879. It begins with these words:

"In this day innovations march with rapid strides. The fantastic suggestion of yesterday, entertained only by a few fanatics, and then only mentioned by the sober to be ridiculed, is today the audacious reform, and will be tomorrow the recognized usage. Novelties are so numerous and so wild and rash, that in even conservative minds the sensibility of wonder is exhausted and the instinct of righteous resistance fatigued. A few years ago the public preaching of women was universally condemned among all conservative denominations of Christians, and, indeed, within their bounds, was totally unknown. Now the innovation is brought face to face even with the Southern churches, and female preachers are knocking at our doors."

The third piece was written (after being preached) by Pastor Geoffrey Thomas, who has retired after more than 50 years of ministry in the same church in Aberystwyth, Wales. Thomas speaks with the same message but does so in the 21st century, expounding and applying the word of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12-14. We are delighted to be able to add his wise words to make this booklet even more substantial.


"When it comes to the late nineteenth century the names R. L. Dabney and B. B. Warfield are in a peculiar class--the foremost class of biblical theologians. Those familiar with their writings will not be surprised that they wrote on such a contemporary topic (then and now) as women and their role in the Church. They were acutely aware of cultural currents and pressures and offered incisive biblical-theological answers. The Church can only benefit from the abiding truths they mined from Holy Scripture. It's good to have their contributions in one volume. Readers beware: you may not like what you read in this little book, but you better not dismiss it!" -- C. N. Willborn, PhD

"This project is a must! Feminism and egalitarianism are insidious errors, striking at the heart of both home and church and probably society as well. Both God's creation ordinance and the character of the the church are affected. Warfield and Dabney deal with these matters biblically and powerfully. I cannot urge you strongly enough to get these two great works into print. You must do this!" - Pastor Don Lindblad

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