Thursday, March 26, 2009

Colloquium Day at IWU: Women in Ministry

Today was our semesterly colloquium. This semester was on women in ministry. If I can get Kristina LaCelle-Peterson and Russ Gunsalus' video, I'll post it here later.

Kristina gave a great sweep of the biblical information, largely by presenting the arguments of nineteenth century holiness writers. I've recommended her book here before:

Then Russ gave the response which was really the punch, since he thought she wasn't combative enough :-) His five points:

1. Think about things as people issues, not gender issues.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not a "black" holiday. It is a day for all people to celebrate America's core value of the equality of all people. The problem is not with men who are controlling or women who are this or that. The problem is with people who have certain negative traits.

2. Watch your mouth.
If you wouldn't feel comfortable replacing the word "women" with "Asians," "blacks," etc., then don't say it of women or men either. The biggest problem with stereotypes is that they tend to "essentialize" a characteristic that is not usually true of all people in a certain category. It is simply not the case that all women are more nurturing than all men or that all men are better leaders than all women.

If the Bible really taught this, then we simply could not avoid the conclusion that the Bible was flat wrong. That should be pretty motivating to conclude that the Bible really doesn't teach that. By the way, the main points are Russ's, but I'm doing some significant expansion of illustration and comment here, which constitutes my Amen.

3. Tie goes to equality.
Russ made the argument that if the evidence seemed roughly balanced to you for or against women in ministry, give the tie to egalitarianism. If this seems a little vague, let me give his answer to a follow up question during the later Q & A.

Which would be the worse side to fail on--let's say this hermeneutic is used by practicing homosexuals (which I should clarify Kristina showed clear distinctions in the two issues). What is the fall out, he posed? We give justification, as he put it, to 4% of the population, perhaps most of whom are not interested in evangelical Christianity. What is the potential fall out on the side of the complementarian hermeneutic? The practice of slavery that put thousands of people under constant torture, rape, and sometimes murder.

Which potential hermeneutical consequence seems less Christian--the complementarian hermeneutic?

4. Quit ignoring people.
I liked the way he put this. Everyone yawns when you mention inclusiveness or diversity. Putting it this way gets the point across. If you're ignoring a person because of their race, gender, etc, then you're not being Christian in relation to them.

5. Listen to God.
Russ's conviction that a person who truly seeks God's will on this matter will end up an egalitarian came through loud and clear. He's not worried about what God will tell you. Pray about it and be willing to listen to His answer...

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