As a proud conservative evangelical Calvinist complementarian, I really like getting the rare opportunity to be even slightly edgy. Most times this shows up in my staunch charismaticism (son of a Vineyard-preacher man), with which I like to ruffle the theo-practical feathers of my brothers and sisters who give only lip service (if that) to the gifts. But when the charismatic well of edginess runs dry, I fall back on other rare edgy positions. Thus far the most notable has been my defense of gay marriage, which drew some attention, but I'd like to think that my complementarianism combined with my willingness to call a woman a pastor qualifies as well. This leaves me then with precisely three edgy to moderately edgy positions.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I read these words from Ken Berding's What Are Spiritual Gifts?:
It is probably proper to think in terms of the role of a pastor (literally, a shepherd) in New Testament times as synonymous with overseer and elder. Note particularly Acts 20:28: 'among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God'; and 1 Peter 5:1-2, 'Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as a co-elder...shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising oversight.' - Berding, 296 (fn. 15 from p. 90).Perhaps you see the problem: if elder and pastor are synonymous and I think that women cannot be elders (which is indeed what I think) according to NT teaching, then women can also not be pastors. Which leaves me with only two edgy positions.
So here's my edginess-saving resolution: is it possible that all elders are pastors but not all pastors are elders? I think so, and here is why:
1. Pastors are never told to do the work of elders in the NT- the examples Berding gives necessarily point towards elders doing pastoral work, but not necessarily the other way. So the position is possible.
2. Besides generally exemplary character, the Pastoral Epistles (esp. 1 Tim. 3) give two major requirements for being an elder: having a good home and being able to teach. 1 Tim. 5:17 seems to indicate that some elders did not, in fact, teach. Still, this was likely a major role. It is less clear that "pastoring" necessarily includes teaching. But what about Eph. 4, you ask? Keep reading!
3. This corresponds well with the oft-noted hendiadys in Eph. 4: pastor-teacher is two parts of the same position. If my thesis here is correct, then "pastor-teacher" is basically another way of saying "elder" in Ephesians. So why not just say elder? Is it so far-fetched to think that perhaps some people were doing only one part of those roles, such that while mostly elders would be in mind, God also equips His people by providing leaders who labor primarily (though not necessarily exclusively) in only one of those ministry roles? That is, perhaps there are more leaders than just elders, and Paul wanted to include an at least slightly broader range of equippers in his ministry list in Eph. 4.
4. This makes practical sense. How many people in your church can you name who shepherd other people? Probably more than just the elder(s). But how many consistently teach, or even have teaching as a major part of their job description? Probably mostly just the elder(s). That is probably in part because no single or small group of elders can pastor an entire congregation. Healthy congregations have more functional leaders than just those who are official leaders. But they tend not to have too many teachers, which seems reasonable enough.
OK, so maybe it's a stretch and maybe I am doing nothing more than trying to maintain my edginess. But I do honestly like reading Eph. 4 with that recognition of the hendiadys in mind while still maintaining a distinction of positions, and I do really think it makes sense.
Funny thing is, since I first came up with my "Just Call Her a Pastor" position for women, it's still been really difficult for me to conceptualize calling a woman "Pastor so-and-so." I'm stuck in the limbo of my own wannabe edginess.