Women in Ministry: Intro

The controversy of women in ministry leadership remains a hot topic.

gospelgeeks.net

Research out of the Renovate Church Revitalization conference demonstrated that one of the top reasons people are leaving the Evangelical church is its stance on women in the ministry. [0]

Before I continue, let me say that people leaving cannot be a reason to alter our standards or beliefs. People leave for all kinds of reasons, and we can’t and shouldn’t cave for every new wave of popular thought. Our prime directive is sola scriptura. That is, we believe the scripture is the word of God and truth. Cultures rise and fall, and public opinions change like the tide. We must hold fast.

Nonetheless, if people are leaving, we must be certain of what the text says and be prepared to give a rational, reasonable, and scriptural response.

I recently wrote a 92 page dissertation on this very topic. This was not my doctoral dissertation, but part of the requirements for this particular program. This was not written for the masses, but for insiders. Read at your own risk.

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Former President Jimmy Carter was a third generation Southern Baptist. From an early age he had a deep commitment to the faith—even today he is an active deacon and Sunday school teacher. Unfortunately, in October of 2000 he officially severed ties with the SBC. Why? Because in that same year, in response to an ever-changing culture, the SBC adopted an official stance on women: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”[1] The SBC position website says this about women in ministry:

Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact…While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.[2]

The New York Times called Carter’s action “the highest-profile defection yet from the Southern Baptist Convention.”[3] In 2009 Carter gave a speech to the Parliament of World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, where he further clarified his stance:

The truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter…This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions—all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.[4]

Regardless of what one thinks about Carter’s politics or his stance on women in ministry, his actions are a symbol of a greater culture war that is erupting on multiple fronts in evangelical life. Clearly, contemporary Western culture finds itself at odds with Biblical teaching. Since we are told, “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” we must be prepared to explain and defend the scriptural position of God’s created order and boundaries, if any, for each gender.[5]

Women in Ministry: Intro
Women in Ministry: Genesis 3:16
Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Women in Ministry: 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Women in Ministry: Romans 16:1-2
Women in Ministry: Romans 16:7
Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Women in Ministry: 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
Women in Ministry: Galatians 3:28
Women in Ministry: Current practice & belief of the SBC
Women in Ministry: Personal practice & belief
Women in Ministry: Epilogue

Footnotes:

[0] Dr. Rodney Harrison and Tom Cheyney discuss Dr. Harrison’s research “Why people are leaving the church?”

[1] “Comparison of the Baptist Faith and Message,” sbc.net, accessed March 8th, 2014, http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfmcomparison.asp.

[2] “Position Statements,” Accessed March 3rd, 2014 http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/positionstatements.asp.

[3] Somini Sengupta, “Carter Sadly Truns Back On National Baptist Body,” New York Times, October 21st, 2000, accessed March 5th, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/21/us/carter-sadly-turns-back-on-national-baptist-body.html.

[4] “Speech by Jimmy Carter to the Parliament of World Religions,” cartercenter.org, accessed March 8th, 2014, http://www.cartercenter.org/news/editorials_speeches/parliament-world-religions-120309.html.

[5] 1 Peter 3:15 (CSB).

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