Skip to content

Hearing her Voice – Some Personal Reflections by Dani Treweek

After my recent interactive book review, it was also worth including these reflections sent to me by Dani Treweek, a friend and colleague involved in Anglican ministry in Sydney. Dani is the Women’s Ministry Trainer and Coordinator at St Matthias Anglican Church, Centennial Park. She joined the St Matthias staff team in 2009 after graduating from Moore Theological College and is passionate about teaching the Bible to women of all ages and stages. She works with the women of both the morning and evening congregations to help them grow in their service of God’s people, and to further equip and train them to use the gifts God has given them in their ministry. You can read more about Dani (including her distaste for coffee!) here.

In the weeks since the publication of John Dickson’s new e-book, Hearing Her Voice, a number of reviews have been posted online.1 Most of these reviews have engaged with, and sought to question, John Dickson’s central premise about how the verb ‘to teach’ is to be understood in 1 Tim 2:12. After reading Hearing Her Voice, I also was not persuaded by John’s argument and instead found myself in agreement with the theological conclusions of these reviewers.

However, as a complementarian woman serving in full-time Christian ministry here in Sydney, my reading of Hearing Her Voice also led me to a number of personal reflections on the publication. I’m thankful to Lionel for providing me the opportunity to share one or two of these reflections here.

Whilst I personally agree with John’s call for evangelical Christians to be much more intentional in enhancing opportunities for women to exhort, encourage and prophesy in church meetings (where it is appropriate and where there is a clear understanding of what those activities actually are), I was also disappointed with some other aspects of the e-book.

A disappointing oversight

One of the aspects which disappointed me the most was the absence of any mention of the extensive preaching ministry that is currently occurring amongst women within evangelical Sydney churches. There are many, many qualified women preachers who regularly teach the bible to groups of women throughout Sydney (and beyond). Women like myself are regularly preaching at our (and other) churches’ women’s groups, at training days for women, at evangelistic events for women and also at large women’s conferences. Indeed, from a personal point of view, I have more opportunities to preach (and by that I mean prepare and deliver 20-50 minute sermons to groups of women) than I am actually able to accept. I know that I am not the only female preacher to find herself in this quandary!

As I was reading Hearing Her Voice I found myself thinking: “Surely John Dickson is aware of the preaching ministry that is already happening amongst women in Sydney?!” Unfortunately, if he is indeed aware of it, he appears to have chosen to simply not acknowledge it. In fact, to the best of my recollection, he makes no mention of it whatsoever in his e-book.

I found this both strange and disheartening – particularly because his book seeks to promote the preaching ministry of women. As a result, the only assumption that I could make was that John doesn’t believe my voice can truly be heard unless it is being heard by men. This struck me as far more troubling than liberating. Indeed, I ultimately felt that John was devaluing the ministry of the very women whose voices he wants to hear!

Those of us who do preach to other women consider it a very special, unique and wonderful ministry. We love teaching God’s word to other women – after all, they have equally been made in God’s image as their male counterparts and equally desire, and need, to have God’s word brought to bear on their lives. As such, it is very disheartening for Christian women to not even read any acknowledgement of this unique preaching ministry happening amongst us, and by us, in a book which is supposedly all about enhancing opportunities for women to preach.

A book about women but for men

The underlying tone of the Hearing Her Voice seems to suggest that women throughout Sydney are eagerly longing to have their voice heard from the pulpit, but are being ‘forbidden’ and ‘excluded’ by their male ministers from having such an opportunity.

I have no doubt that this is true for some women preachers and teachers in Sydney. But it is certainly not true for all. Indeed, it seems to me that a very large proportion (perhaps even the majority?) of the capable and qualified women that John refers to have chosen, of their own accord, not to preach to men because of their own understanding of Scripture. And yet strangely, in his e-book, John doesn’t acknowledge this group at all. Let me explain what I mean.

In the introduction to his book John writes that –

[…] I want to invite my friends and colleagues to reassess (again) the biblical basis of their own reticence to invite women into the pulpit. (Loc 67)

However, the further I read, the more and more convinced I became that this is a book written about women, but for men. The permeating language of ‘invite’, ‘allow’ and ‘forbid’ reveals that the minds John is really interested in changing belong to the male ministers who are responsible for this inviting, allowing and forbidding. There is no occasion on which John appeals to complementarian women like myself to reassess our position – even though it is our voices under discussion! I cannot help but to think that this book was written about us, but not for us.

The truth of this seems to have been confirmed by the fact that a complimentary copy of the publication has recently been sent to (as I understand it) all the senior ministers/rectors of Sydney Anglican churches – yet not to the ordained or commissioned women in the diocese who surely constitute a significant portion of the ‘trained and godly women’ whom he wants to see preaching on Sunday mornings!

Please believe me when I say that I in no way resent not being sent a complimentary copy of Hearing Her Voice. Not at all! I only point this out to reiterate my reflection that this is a book written about women such as myself, but not primarily (or even significantly) for us.

The effect of this has, again, made me feel somewhat alienated as well as disheartened.

In conclusion

There are a number of other personal reflections on Hearing Her Voice which I could go on to share. However, I think these two were perhaps the ones I felt were the most immediate to me as a woman who serves in full-time Christian ministry, and who is presumably one of those whom John argues should be invited to preach from our church pulpit on a Sunday.

Whilst I remain unconvinced by John’s argument as a whole, what really surprised and disappointed me about Hearing Her Voice is that, in my opinion, it has in fact devaluedthe unique and significant ministry of women in Sydney (and beyond). John’s silence about our existing–indeed, our thriving–preaching ministry, as well as the absence of any representation of, or even appeal to, women in my position, means it is hard for us to conclude anything except that he believes our voices are not, and will not, be truly heard, unless they are heard by men, on Sundays, from a pulpit.

As such, I fear that ultimately, ‘Hearing Her Voice’ will only serve to dishearten a good number of the very women whose voices John Dickson claims to want to hear.

With the ministry year about to swing into full gear, bible study groups to finalise, meetings to schedule (and attend!) and a number of church and conference talks to write, unfortunately Dani doesn’t have a lot of time for follow up discussion on her reflections at the moment. As such, comments will be closed for this post. Thanks for your understanding!

Published in1 TimothyChurchMinistry

House of Windsor Editing Services

Bronwyn Windsor - House of Windsor Editing and Proofreading Services

Are you writing a thesis, book, academic article, resource, theological monograph, or anything else?

Bronwyn Windsor offers professional editing and proofreading services for writers. Press here to find out more: House of Windsor Editing Services

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

All posts

Recent blog posts

  • Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on UnsplashWhat’s wrong with the world? Is there hope? (Ephesians)
    Guilt, weakness, spiritual slavery, prejudice, arrogance, tribalism, conflict, war, victimhood, persecution, pain, suffering, futility, ignorance, lying, deceit, anger, theft, greed, pornography, sexual sin, darkness, fear, drunkenness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, workplace abuse, spiritual powers... In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says many things about the problems we face in this world. He also gives us wonderful reasons to find life, hope and healing in Jesus Christ. Along the way, he provides practical teachings about how to respond and live together.
  • What does Ephesians say about reconciliation?
    We humans are not very good at living up close with others. This is especially true when we have a history of conflict with those others. Reconciliation isn't easy. No matter how much you might want healing, it’s hardly ever a matter of just everybody getting on and pretending the hurts didn’t happen. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says some very important, fundamental things about peace and reconciliation, and gives many other very practical teachings about how to live together in light of these truths.
  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on EphesiansLift Your Eyes – How it works
    Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians. Here's a video where I explain how the free online resource works.
  • Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
    I need to understand the people around me, so I can live for the gospel among them and speak the gospel to them. To do that, I need to understand the people around me. That's where Carl Trueman's book is so incredibly valuable.
  • What does Ephesians say about church?
    There are so many ideas about what the church is should be. How do we navigate them all? Here are ten key reflections from Ephesians.
  • Reading Ephesians & Colossians After Supersessionism (Cover image)Supersessionism and the New Perspective
    Here are my views on the issue of the New Perspective and Supersessionism, in light of a debate in the Harvard Theological Review.
  • The powerful Christian life: according to Ephesians
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of powerful people? Here are seven key reflections on power from Ephesians.
  • Liturgy Song – Moore College Revue 2020
    Here's a tribute to our online chapel experience in mid-2020 at Moore College, in the full spirit of parody. I wrote it for our Moore College Revue, and had much fun performing it with Jordan Smith and Monique New.
  • My grandfather’s part in a WWII mission over Modane
    A journey of discovery of some of my family history. My maternal grandfather, Allan Fisher DFC, flew a mission over a rail yard in Modane.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryWhat can we learn about prayer from Ephesians?
    Prayer: What are you doing when you pray? Who are you praying to? Why does it matter? Here are three reflections on prayer from my series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. #liftyoureyes

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor