Egalitarian vs Complementarian Views on women in ministry in Pentecostal Theology: A Combined Discussion on Tradition and Praxis
Kenneth J. Archer: A Pentecostal egalitarian view of humanity does not diminish, dilute, or demote maleness or femaleness but instead properly elevates both to mutual dignity, honor and love through mutual submission and service as individual followers of Jesus properly image the Social Trinity relationally in community.
Troy Day Absolutely! My other comment was asking exactly that. Thank you for posting in the topic http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/did-you-know-that…/
Amanda Walker I don’t understand how complementarianism ever crept its way into Christianity. Inequality between genders was a worldly, secular custom.
Troy Day We’ve discussed before the IPHC Council Position paper on WOMEN in MINISTRY after the Trinitarian model, adopted by the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. TThe Council of Bishops addressed the 7 deadly sins of the church, one of those being male domination…http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/?p=10733&preview=true
Joe Butler So the IPHC has women in leadership at all levels?
Troy Day Dr. Dayton says it best here: ” This church hosted the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention of 1848 (which first called for women’s suffrage), participated in the ordination of Congregationalist Antoinette Brown, the first woman to be ordained (founder Luther Lee preached the ordination sermon) and originally founded Wheaton College-though in recent years the church has been identified as a “holiness church” and since then has been incorporated into the fundamentalist/evangelical tradition.”http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php…
Lee Theology Department Statement on… Women in Ministry | “Statement on Women in Ministry”
“The Department of Theology supports the full participation of women in all vocations of the church. We affirm that God the Father incorporates persons into the body of his Son Jesus Christ and pours out the Holy Spirit upon them without discriminating according to their sex. We affirm that God calls women to every activity, office, and level of ordination in the church. We both renounce any restrictions on the ministry of women based solely on their sex and commit ourselves to the removal of any such restrictions. Finally, we strive to provide a learning atmosphere in which women can find their voices and discern, understand, and pursue their many indispensable vocations.”
Aaron Scott@actscelerate: It is a noble sentiment, almost always arising from well-intentioned hearts. Alas, for whatever reason, the Father, appears to have chosen otherwise when it comes, NOT to ministry, but to church-at-large leadership. Having served under highly intelligent and powerful women in Fortune 25 companies, there is little question of their ability to lead well. Having a lovely wife of organizational intensity, I know this truth with even greater clarity. And yet plenty of God’s ways don’t fit mine. Divorce. Why can’t someone make a new choice and become much happier…instead of having to wait for adultery or death? Since only 4% or so of those 25 or older are virgins, the whole fornication prohibition does not at all seem effective. I wouldn’t doubt if more than 70% who marry are not virgins. You get the idea. Plenty of things in God’s plan need adjusting to better fit with the world. The same with women in church-at-large leadership. We all know women of remarkable ability. Women that could almost assuredly do a better job than sitting or hopeful presidents of today. I know I’d vote for them! But for the church, it seems God does not at all consult the human economy. He tells us to GIVE in order to receive…to turn the other cheek…to believe before you see…that works don’t save us…on and on. So many things that the world does so very differently. You would think that as important and as crucial as women are in the secular AND RELIGIOUS arenas, the answer to women in leadership in the church would almost be tautological. But it is anything but clear! We all acknowledge the impossible debt the church owes to our women. No other demographic comes close to their drive and energy. As a pastor, there was a time in my youth when I thought preaching and altar calls were the essentials of it all. Then I became a pastor and found that without my wife (and the other women), very little graciousness remains. No Children’s Church, Sunday School, fellowship opportunities, homecomings, etc. The Father spoke oh, so, true when He spoke of women being a “help meet” to her husband! What glorious harmony is possible because of God’s plan to put us together! And yet…and yet…. Still the Father did not put this supremely talented creature over the sometimes less able husband…. TO BE CONTINUED
UncleJD@actscelerate: So a pastor has to be married?
Ricky Grimsley Ok….so i just had a fb conversation about Kari Jobe and how she was heretic because she believes that jesus died on the cross and then went to hell to take the keys to death and hell. That aside. The conversation broke down to how she should not be preach or teach the gospel anyway because she is a woman. So in light of 1 corinthians 14….what does it mean. How far do you take it. Does anyone actually believe that women are supposed to remain silent in the church?
Manmade religions, denominations, movements and churches may make all of the rules, declarations and bylaws they want in an attempt to change things according to their own desire, but that does not change the order which God Himself has established for man and women for as long as we live on this earth in its present state. What this means for ministry and the church is that men and women may serve together in ministry, side by side, but at NO time may a woman rise to a place of spiritual authority over a man. 1 Corinthians 11:5 says that a woman should not even pray without having a covering. To do so brings dishonor to her “head” (covering authority). In other words, together as equals, women and men ministers may discuss reason and debate and make decisions concerning the polity and doctrine of the church. But women may not rise to a position of authority over men in God’s church. This may not be convenient or pleasant for some but THIS IS the will of God as revealed in His Holy Word. Times change, opinions change, cultures change, but the Word of God remains unchanged as the only standard of truth and written revelation of His will for us.
Aaron Scott@actscelerate: BOTH sides of this issue have good, godly, and sincere folks.
However, both sides are not equally supported by Scripture…or the Spirit. If we make this change, the Holy Ghost will continue to save and reach those who are lost. The church will not fly off the tracks as soon as the vote is over. Jesus is to gracious for that. But there are always consequences for failing to discern His voice….
If there are wrong intentions on either side, it might be that those will be visited upon us. I have this suspicion that if women get these rights…but then subsequently do not soon rise to key levels of leadership, we will hear more on this (perhaps a certain percentage of seats will be requested set aside just for women, etc.?).
Academia does not have the scriptural backing on this that the other side does. That doesn’t mean academia is not filled with sincerity and love. Rather, they are simply coming from a place where more than scripture is being weighed. They are looking at scripture, cultural norms (within Christian boundaries, of course), and so forth.
The other side (us) tends to focus ONLY on the scriptures…sometimes to our detriment. Consider that if we went ONLY on the scriptures, then it is a “settled,” if contradictory fact, that women are to keep silent in church. In the vast majority of believers, we find a way to at least allow the ladies to teach Sunday School, sing, testify, speak in tongues, etc. It’s a good thing we allowed a little common sense to go along with our scripture, right?
At the same time, it does sting when, even though we pay–or have paid–many bills to keep Lee going, our views as sincere, Church of God folks is apparently renounced…. Kind of like Mom and Dad laboring for years to put a child through university, only to have the child return after graduation to tell the parents they are really not very bright, that atheism is the only logical path, etc. Just an imperfect analogy, but you get the idea.
Lastly, while we must take more than just the text into account, we must not give more weight to those non-textual elements. We are a supernatural people. God has us believe and do things that are at odds with everything from science to finance (e.g., five loaves and two fishes will not feed 5000 people…and then have more than you started with…unless God gets in it, as He did in my IRA some years ago). So we best take care that in our well-intentioned efforts to take a holistic view, we do not flaunt the act of faith and obedience that God placed to bless us.
Christopher Stephenson@LeeU Before I begin, I want to stress that the following comments are my own. I make no attempt to speak on behalf of any of my departmental colleagues. The Statement speaks for the Department; I now speak only for myself.
Thank you to everyone who read the statement. That is the sole reason that I shared it–for it to be read. I see little value in crafting a statement like this if no one knows that it exists.
The Statement was adopted by the Department of Theology–not any other department(s), not the entire School of Religion, not Lee as an institution. If the Statement frustrates you, please do not spread your frustration around to others unnecessarily. : ) It is a Department of Theology Statement. This is a theological issue.
The Statement neither mentions by name nor is directed to any single denomination or church tradition, including the Church of God. To assume that the statement relates only to the Church of God is to assume that the Church of God is the only church tradition with which the Department is concerned. That would be to assume too much. Such restrictions are undesirable in every church tradition in which they exist, not only the Church of God.
At the same time, I choose to believe that the leaders of the Church of God value the insights of the professional theologians at one of its premier academic institutions. While the Statement is not directed to these leaders, I hope that it can somehow be of benefit to them. Perhaps it could encourage those who agree with it and give those who do not agree something to consider further.
The Statement speaks about the Department, its stance on this issue, and its commitment to try to bring change. It neither makes demands of anyone else nor calls upon anyone else to do anything nor criticizes anyone for anything done or not done on this front to this point.
To the extent that the Statement does apply to the Church of God–for it is one of the churches with such restrictions–the Statement is not a stance against the Church of God but a stance *from within it.* There are twelve full-time members of the Department. By my count:
–Ten regularly attend a local Church of God congregation–I am one of them. –Nine are members of the Church of God–I am one of them. –Six are credentialed Church of God ministers–I am one of them. (And my monthly reports are up to date. : ) –Five are ordained bishops–I am one of them. (There would be one more if she were eligible!) –One is a career missionary, married to a Church of God national/regional overseer.
“Renounce”–to reject something publicly–is the right word. I publicly reject the idea that these restrictions are adequate or desirable.
With respect to the Church of God, the primary restriction in question is a matter of *polity,* not *doctrine.* It does not occur in the Declaration of Faith, Doctrinal Commitments, or Practical Commitments, but rather in the descriptions of the ministerial rank “ordained bishop.”
The International Executive Council, International General Council, and International General Assembly “renounce” aspects of Church of God polity every two years by proposing changes to it. Implicit in the mere creation of an agenda for the International General Council is a rejection of the idea that the polity is already perfect and that revisions do not need to be considered.
The Statement renounces restrictions, not persons. It says nothing about the intellect, character, or sincerity of persons who support such restrictions. It refers only to the restrictions themselves.
The Statement does not indicate a refusal to abide by the restrictions as long as they are in place–as if anyone had the ability to “ordain women as bishops anyway” in spite of the restrictions. Of course, I abide by the restrictions. Yet, in the same breath I immediately say that I want the restrictions to disappear completely because they are not funded by what I consider to be the best theological insights on the matter. Remember from the 2014 General Assembly that I am required only to “adhere to” not necessarily “agree with” all matters of polity. : )
Anyone who might feel that renouncing this small set of restrictions amounts to renouncing the Church of God as a movement per se has a significantly narrower view than my own of the essence and significance of the Church of God, which could not possibly be exhausted by any single matter of polity such as this.
I do not assume that my own experiences are universal, but most of the young people among the best and brightest in the Church of God with whom I have contact see these kinds of restrictions as an incentive to leave rather than an incentive to stay. Just one more reason that I want the restrictions to disappear yesterday.
As far as the timing of the Statement, the Department finalized it about a month ago. I did not investigate whether it had been publicized elsewhere before I shared it here, but I waited to share it here as long as I did because, frankly, I did not want to prompt some of the kinds of responses in the thread during Lent. I know that this is a contentious issue for some, and there are better ways to prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery than contention. I recall no mention whatsoever in our departmental conversations of any attempt to influence anything that may or may not be discussed at the 2016 General Assembly. As for myself, I submitted a formal request for the removal of the ordained bishop restriction to be placed on the 2016 agenda, in response to the International Executive Council’s invitation to make such requests. I hope that we have the opportunity to consider it in Nashville.
While I was typing most of these words, my older daughter (age four) awoke from sleep and came to where I was typing because she had not seen me all day due to my teaching responsibilities. As I hugged her tightly, I cried and prayed that she would have the strength to be faithful to the Church of God and that she would not grow up in a church that keeps her at arm’s length as it currently does her mother, who, along with me, has found the strength to be faithful to the Church of God anyway. I am a fifth-generation member of the Church of God, and I want both of my daughters to be the sixth.
Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to read the Statement.
Please remember that this post is my own thoughts. To the extent that they pertain to the Church of God, they are grounded in my commitment to the Church of God. The fact that I want to see change is a sign of my engagement with and concern for the Church of God. I believe that critical commitment is more valuable than apathy or complacency.
The Church of God and the Department of Theology need each other, and both are better together than they could ever be if they were apart.
Post from the Chair: [@LeeU] Thanks to everyone who has read the Department of Theology’s (DoT) recently posted statement on women in ministry; I have appreciated reading the responses on the board.
That statement, which was crafted over a month ago during a department meeting wherein all full-time, ranked faculty of the DoT were present, was a revised version of a statement the DoT had adopted back in the fall of 2007. This revision was approved by the DoT on March 03, 2016—without dissenting voice—and it comes at the END of an intentional, three semester engagement with this issue among ourselves, our students and leaders in the Church of God, Lee’s sponsoring denomination. It started with a three part symposium on Women and Authority in the Church back in the Fall 2014. The first symposium investigated the role of women in the New Testament church, the church after the apostles and the medieval church. What we found was an ebb and flow within the history of the church regarding the ministerial freedom or restriction placed on women; that is, in some periods and in some places there were women who had official positions like men. In other places, not so much. The second symposium considered the question for the contemporary church, but was not limited to the Church of God because (a) the student constituency of Lee University spans multiple denominations and (b) the students being trained in the School of Religion are not solely from the Church of God (take, for instance, our Pentecostal students from the Assemblies of God: their denomination has NO restrictions on the ordination of women nor the positions they might hold in the denomination. In fact, a woman sits on the committee that is similar to the COG’s Council of 18!) Our third symposium that semester was specific to the Church of God, and the panel that night consisted of two denominational leaders and a full professor from the COG’s Pentecostal Theological Seminary.
I think that I need to spend a moment to talk about that third symposium because the panel spoke about the ebb and flow of women’s authority, position and credentialing in the COG. A series of decisions were made from 1909-1925 that increasingly circumscribed the role of women, delimiting their functions within the church, specifically in governance AND “sacerdotal” functions (that is, performance of baptisms, communion, marriages, etc). Prior to 1925 women were allowed to do water baptisms, communion, marriages, etc—even if it was not normative—but the 1925 General Assembly (GA) decided to remove “sacerdotal rights” from women’s ministerial duties. This decision was attributed to the influence of A.J. Tomlinson, who was considered the “pastor of the church” as the general overseer. Around 1940, the COG changed the wording of its levels of credentialing so that only men could be called “licensed ministers,” and only licensed and ordained ministers could perform the sacerdotal functions. It remained this way until 1990, when women were permitted to attain the level of “licensed minister,” and thus once again were authorized by the church to perform the ordinances and officiate weddings, but they could not become an “ordained minister.” What did not come out in that symposium or the Q&A following it was this: a) 1992, women were granted the right to speak on the GA floor; (b) 2000, a call was made “from the field” to alter the wording of the credentials such that the second level, licensed minister, became an ordained minister and the third level became ordained bishop, this latter level women were not permitted to attain; (c) 2006, women began to be officially appointed as missionaries rather than simply acting under the “covering” of a husband; (d) 2010, the GA decided women could serve on Pastor’s Councils, which since the 1960s had been limited to only males; (e) and finally, in 2011, Emma Sue Web was appointed as a district overseer in California by the state overseer!
Now, back to the main narrative of the DoT’s three semester engagement on this issue. In November 2015, the SOR invited Sandra Kay Williams to be the keynote speaker at our Homecoming Alum breakfast. In that speech, she told her story (and those of other women she knows) of ministerial marginalization because of womanhood, and she pleaded for a revisiting of the polity that restricts women to full credentialing in the COG. Not 30 minutes later, after a lengthy Skype interview with Margaret Gaines, a long-time COG missionary and this year’s recipient of the SOR’s Alum of the Year award, I—along with over 100 other people—watched as the General Overseer of the COG publicly apologized to Margaret for the way the denomination treated her (and at times hampered her ability to minister). It was a righteous moment, and one that I will never forget—it was when I knew that this denomination was being led by a holy person, Mark Williams.
The construction of the statement was placed on the DoT’s agenda in January 2016, but was tabled until March because of other, institutional responsibilities that took the entirety of the January and February meetings. The delay in its posting to the DoT’s FB page was a miscommunication between me and the department secretary—there was no other reason for its tardiness, nor was there some strategic plan for its posting “on that day.” Now, some responses to the statement see us as “drawing battle lines,” or “being at odds” with the denomination, or even as “renouncing the bible.” Truthfully, those kinds of posts surprised me. First, while I admit that the word “renounce” may sound harsh, we meant it in the strictest, grammatical sense of the word, namely, to reject something publicly. Since statements of the type we posted are often formulated with concise wording, we chose a word (renounce) that could be elongated to this idea: “we announce in public that the DoT rejects, as biblically or theologically necessary, the restrictions still placed on women’s credentialing or judicial functions.” Chris Thomas, an ordained bishop in the COG and a professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, published an essay in the book, Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Preaching (chp 6), in which he explored the biblical texts surrounding this topic, determining that restrictions on women are not biblically necessary. My own colleague in the DoT wrote an essay in that same book wherein she argued that being “Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26-27),” coupled with Acts 2 and the Day of Pentecost, provide a theological justification for women preachers and the removal of all credentialing restrictions. Thus, our “renouncing” of restrictions is not a rejection of the bible nor its authority in our lives or its foundational place in our theology.
Secondly, we posted a “statement,” not a declaration or a resolution. So, rather than imagine ourselves as “drawing battle lines” for war, we were engaging in a conversation. Think about this: a true conversation between people only occurs when a series of statements are made that illicit response and dialogue. The DoT is talking, we are discussing; we publicized this to invite more conversation partners and to move our talking outside the “ivory tower” of the academic environment. What surprised me the most was the supposition from some respondents that GA decisions are inviolable and unalterable, and therefore undiscussable. But this is not the impression that I get when I read the Minutes of the first few GAs. They did not see themselves as setting up laws that were timelessly binding because only Christ was the Law Giver who had such authority. Rather, they gathered to interpret and apply scriptures in their current, historical setting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In fact, a motto of those first GAs was, “Walk in the Light as Light is shed on our path.” Early on, Tomlinson would say things like, “This is what we have done in the past, now let’s see if there is new light from the Holy Spirit for our present.” The idea was this: it is the church’s responsibility to continually return to its judicial or governing decisions to make sure that the Holy Spirit did not have something “new” to say to the Body.
Thirdly, insofar as the above is correct, the DoT does not see itself as “at odds” with the denomination. Our loyalty to the COG does not prohibit us from discussing issues. The faculty of the DoT are indeed loyal to the COG—the Statement is not a stance against the Church of God but a stance from within it. There are twelve full-time members of the Department, ten of whom regularly attend a local Church of God congregation—I am one of them. Nine are members of the Church of God—I am one of them. Six are credentialed Church of God ministers (I am not one of those because the TN board required my wife to be interviewed before I could be credentialed, but she refused to be interviewed because she was not going to subject herself to interrogation by a board that would not ordain her). Five are ordained bishops, and one of us is a career missionary, married to a Church of God national/regional overseer. We love this church, and we work to train students to minister within this church we so dearly love.
I am a fourth generation COG Pentecostal. My great-grandMOTHER was a founding member and first pastor of the Sandy Valley COG in Ohio (she was removed from the position when a man wanted the job, even though the church wanted her to remain pastor!). My great-grandfather was one of 13 charter members of the Canton Temple COG, in which church I was dedicated as a baby by Raymond Crowley—former General Overseer of the COG, and by which church I was sent off into ministry in April 1990. I went to Duke Divinity school after graduating Lee in 1994. At Duke I was forced to intellectually defend my Pentecostal heritage and practice (at least one time receiving a lower grade because of my refusal to recant my belief in the Holy Spirit’s continuing empowerment and present revelation to the church and Christians). And now I spend my days teaching, defending and modeling my Pentecostal spirituality and theology to hundreds of men and women in my classes each week at Lee University. And my DoT colleagues are no different than me, even if their personal stories are not identical to mine. Further, our disagreement over this polity issue is certainly not the same as a rejection of the theological commitments contained in the COG’s declaration of faith, which each of us subscribe to. In fact, 2.5 years ago the DoT sponsored a special service on Baptism in the Spirit where over 90 students came forward for prayer to receive the baptism (view the service athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE7oNKaVR98 ), 2 years ago we had a special healing service (view the service at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWKCsjXHcP0 ), last semester we had a special service on the end times (view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJoU25AazOE ); plus, in the summer of 2015 we had a special service dedicated to sanctification and the pursuit of holiness, and this semester we had a breakfast and prayer service for those seeking spiritual gifts (over 50 students were present, at least half of them were NOT COG).
We are a faithful bunch who love the Lord, are dedicated to prayer and searching the scriptures, and who seek the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit each day for ourselves, our students and our denomination. Come and meet us; let us meet you, and let’s see what the Holy Spirit will do among us!
~Skip Jenkins, PhD
1 Tim. 2:12-14 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
There is an obvious authority structure set up by God. The woman is not to have authority over the man in the church. This is not speaking of the political and economical world, as we see that even Deborah was a judge in Israel over men. This is about the church. Women supported Paul in many areas and have been and are great helpers in the church. In fact, some of the best leaders, singers, musicians, teachers, etc. are women. No one is denying that. Paul is talking about the relationship between men and women in the church structure, not a social or political context. Look at the bishop/overseer in Paul’s teachings. He is to be a husband of one wife, who manages his household well, has a good reputation, etc. Notice in Titus 1:5-7 what Paul says.
Titus 1:5-7 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,
Paul interchanges the word elder and overseer. Each case shows that an elder, deacon, bishop, or overseer is instructed to be male. We see no command for overseers to be women. Men are obviously singled out. Why? Because it’s the created order of God that Paul references. We see countless mentions of priests in the Old Testament and every one was male. No once do we see a female priest. It just isn’t the job for women.
All throughout scripture we are shown an order and a balance. Being a pastor or an elder is to be in the place of authority and within the church, for a woman to be a pastor or elder, she would be in authority of men in the church which contradicts what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:11-14. God’s Word clearly tells us that the elder is to be the husband of one wife and a woman cannot qualify for this position since she is female. It’s not the popular stance today, but it’s the Biblical stance. It has nothing to do with women being less than men, believe me. I’ve seen more women in ministry positions make a bigger impact then men. If anything, men need to step it up, but I digress. Women are equal to men, and vice versa, but when it comes to authority in the church, the template and standard has been given us in scripture and as true Christians, we are to adhere and align our beliefs and practices to God’s Word and the concept of women pastors just doesn’t jive.
As far as Kari Jobe, I think she’s an incredible singer and worship leader and I have no doubt that she could speak and lead, but as far as being a pastor (Is she even a Pastor?) it would go against the Bible and would be wrong. God bless.