Question: Is it ever right to ask unconverted though moral people to teach a Sunday school class or do other definite Christian work in the church?
"Ever" is a pretty comprehensive word. The ideal way is to have only thoroughly regenerated and spiritually-minded people teach a Sunday school class or sing in a choir. The church with which I connected takes the position that the very first condition of admission to membership in our choir is that the person applying must give good evidence of being born again. The second condition is that they have a good singing voice. But I can think of situations in which it would be warranted to have an unconverted person teach a Sunday school class. For example, suppose I were to go into a town to hold evangelistic meetings where there was no Sunday school and no religious work of any kind. If I could start a Sunday school there before I left, and get some moral person to teach the Bible - if there was no regenerated person available - I believe I would start the school and trust that the Spirit of God would use the Scripture as a blessing to both the teacher and the students. I would take the appointment of this person as a teacher as an opportunity to urge upon him the necessity of a personal acceptance of Christ.
I have held evangelistic meetings around the world, and the committees that organized the choirs for these meetings often received people who I do not believe were really converted. I have used the fact that they were in the choir as an opportunity of presenting the Gospel to them, and hundreds of people have thus been converted to God.
Question: What authority is there for or against women being prominent in the work of the church?
There is no authority given in the Bible for a woman to have the place of supremacy in the church. When she takes it, she steps out of her right place. She goes against the plain teaching of the Bible when she takes the place of the authoritative teacher in the church. "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12).
However, there is abundant authorization in the Bible for a woman being active and, in that sense, prominent in church work. Women were the first divinely commissioned preachers of the risen Christ. Jesus Christ Himself sent them to declare His resurrection to the men disciples (John 20:17-18' Matthew 28:5-10). Women were endowed by God with prophetic gifts (Acts 21:9). It is significant that in the very book in the Bible in which women are forbidden to do idle talking and ask questions in the church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35), there are directions as to how a woman should prophesy, that is, how she should speak in the power of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 11:5). The apostle Paul spoke of the women who had labored with him in the Gospel (Philippians 4:3). There is clear indication that Priscilla was more gifted than her husband Aquila. She was associated with her husband in taking the preacher Apollos aside and expounding to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26), and her name is mentioned first.
~R. A. Torry~