Feminist Flood Waters Rising: Another Division On the Horizon?

Several months ago I wrote two blogs detailing the coming gender crisis about to engulf the Restoration Movement (particularly the independent Christian Church; see here and here). I wrote then that feminism has taken root in some of the Christian Universities and Bible Colleges, and I documented how some churches were now hiring women as preachers and ordaining them as elders in local churches. I also argued that such action has historically led to addressing God as “Mother” and eventually to affirming homosexuality. In fact, I documented how calling God “Mother” has already been proposed by Theresa Garbe of Milligan College when she presented her paper (entitled “God Our Mother: Rediscovering the Maternal Divine in Prayer”) at the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference.

Those blogs I wrote could not have been more predictive of the impending onslaught of feminism in the Christian Churches. Just this week, the flood gates of feminism broke and the flood waters are beginning to rise upon the Christian Churches with Brian Mavis’ article, “Women Preaching,” in the Christian Standard (see here). Mavis’ article confirms what I wrote in my blogs: feminism is entrenched in some Christian colleges and evidently more than what many believe, including myself. Not only do Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Milligan College, and Hope International University have faculty members who endorse and teach feminism, but many others. And it seems that Mavis’ article is serving as an official endorsement of feminism in the churches by the Christian Standard.

So what do we learn specifically from Mavis’ article? We learn first that Ozark Christian College and Johnson University, institutions once known for their strong conservative biblical stance, also have faculty members endorsing and teaching feminism. According to Ozark’s Damien Spikereit, director of the preaching department, “The key issue . . . is differentiating between the act of preaching and the role of preacher. . . . The act of proclaiming the gospel and exhorting fellow believers with the Word is not equivalent to authority. If a woman is gifted to preach and teach, [she is] free to do so under the authority of the elders.” Johnson University’s Daniel Overdorf (dean of the School of Congregational Ministry) agrees, saying, “I am comfortable . . . with a woman on the preaching team who is under the authority of the eldership.” Moreover, Mark Krause of Nebraska Christian College has also come out in support of women preachers in response to Davis’ article: “Let women preach and be preachers. We need them” (emphasis original; see blog here).

The problem, of course, is that the Apostle Paul has a scruple with such a feminist stance. Paul himself says that women are not to have authority or teach men in the church (1 Tim. 2:11-12). This would necessarily exclude them from serving as preachers and teachers of men (e.g., serving as elders and preachers, as well as teachers of men in Sunday school classes and Bible studies).

It seems, however, that Paul’s teaching has no place in this conversation. Mavis concludes his article by stating that the three woman preachers he interviewed (Jodi Hickerson, Hannah Randolph, and Rhesa Storms) all emphasized that “the preaching/teaching issue isn’t about the gender of the preacher or teacher. What mattered was that Christ was being exalted—Christ was the cause.” Juxtaposing this comment with Paul’s statement on gender roles clearly shows that they are in direct opposition. It does not matter what Scripture has to say on this issue; women are going to serve as elders, preachers, and teachers of men no matter what Scripture says.

From Mavis’ article we also learn that there are more women preachers in the Christian Churches than once thought. In my blogs on feminism, I noted that Mandy Smith (wife of Jamie Smith, Professor of New Testament at Cincinnati Christian University) served as the “senior pastor” of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, OH. I also documented other women serving as preachers and elders in other Christian Churches. But now, Mavis informs us that there are more churches which have hired women preachers/teachers. Jodi Hickerson and Jen Oaks are two of four preachers at Mission Church Ventura in California; Rhesa Storms preaches and teaches men at Forefront Church in Manhattan, NY; Jess Alston teaches men at Mosaic Church in Baltimore, MD; Hannah Randolph teaches youth* at Christ’s Church of Oronogo in Missouri. The list is growing, and it appears that it is not going to abate anytime soon.

We also learn from Mavis’ article that the Christian Standard now officially endorses feminism—at least this is what appears to be the case. This is not too surprising, considering that it has had numerous articles over the last several years all from a feminist perspective (which I detailed more specifically in my other blog posts). Why is the Standard printing articles that deal with gender roles almost entirely from a feminist perspective? Is it because the editors are all feminists? Where are the non-feminist voices?

A more important and poignant question is, what will these rising flood waters of feminism ultimately do to the Christian Churches? If we look to history, we cannot fail to recognize that it will divide it . . . again. Surely the feminists among us are aware of the divisions that have occurred in denominations when feminism was introduced? There is one thing I do know: a house divided cannot stand. And it is clear that the house of the Christian Churches is divided over this important issue. May God help us if and when division comes.

Grace,

Peter Jay Rasor II

*The original post indicated that Randolph was fulfilling the role of preacher. This has now been corrected to reflect accurately her position at Christ’s Church of Oronogo as recorded in the Standard article. I apologize for the oversight.

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20 Responses to Feminist Flood Waters Rising: Another Division On the Horizon?

  1. Mike says:

    I think the article’s author’s last name is Mavis, rather than Davis. Agree with your analysis.

  2. David Miller says:

    Yes! I too was quite troubled two weeks ago when this article ran in the Standard. A couple of years ago I had learned of two churches in CA. which had appointed women Elders. If the test of Scripture means nothing to some of the Elders who are allowing this to happen, then here is another Scripture I will make them aware of; II Co. 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Let’s continue to lift them up in prayer and hope their eyes are opened to the folly of going against a clear Scriptural directive.

  3. Mark Powell says:

    Thank you Peter. The “Christian Standard” article exhibits a “low” view of Scripture.

  4. Susan says:

    Its Millgan College – not Milligan Christian College.

    • prasor says:

      Susan, thank you for the correction. I’ll update it. It almost seems a little too appropriate that the word “Christian” really isn’t a part of the name, doesn’t it?

      • Shannon says:

        So let me see if I am hearing you correctly in the above statement. Are you asserting that because Milligan College affirms the humanity of women and the Holy Spirit’s gifting of women, that the college is therefore un-Christian? Is the issue of gender an issue of soteriology? Seems a little extreme to me. What, in your opinion, qualifies a school to carry the designation of “Christian”? And upon what grounds are you qualified to make a blanket statement about an entire community of people?

        • prasor says:

          Shannon, thank you for your comments. Notice that I said “it almost seems a little too appropriate.” So, no, I do not believe this feminist issue to be one of soteriology. My comments were an attempt to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek (humorous). I’m sorry if you mistook my comments.

  5. The G says:

    PJR II, please keep writing about all these things. What is it going to take to wake up the church? I’m so afraid so few now care if the God really means what He says in the Scriptures because the preaching is so shallow as to treat God as some cosmic Santa Claus instead of the holy and almighty on He is indeed. CDF, Kairos [their opportunity!] Legacy Partners, and Stadia are all in cahoots to close down small struggling Bible churches to fund whatsoever it is one wants to call these assemblies that have women “preaching” (if you can call it that) to men. Their advertizing to say they are providing care to them is doublespeak. We need a new mechanism throughout the Restoration Movement to counteract all that is going on and we need it now. We need to educate all existing congregations plainly all the faults and the evidences of them current at this time. We must now put in place some kind of strategy, but let’s not do nothing! I am desperate for anyone concerned to unite and speak up and out. Standard has just resold again!

  6. Lyle Gregory Lott says:

    Peter my Brother, I concur with everything that you have stated in your blog. I believe that we already have division among us and it is because of not following Biblical guidelines. People have “itching” ears and want to follow the ways of the world instead of Scripture. Another good example of where some are headed in the Restoration Movement and where they would like to others can be seen by looking at this year’s NACC and a few of the main speakers there. Tis’ a sad commentary on a once great movement.

  7. David says:

    One observation that often gets overlooked in the ordination of women preachers: denominations that ordain women ministers (United Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal Church, etc) have a VERY difficult time reaching unchurched men. The ratios of women to men in churches that ordain women is around 80-20 (80% women and 20% men). Churches that ordain men only have a 50/50 ratio of men and women in the pews. Maybe the apostle Paul knew EXACTLY what he was talking about- he knew that male leadership in the church would bring equal numbers of men and women to the churches, while female leadership would bring mostly women. A church without men, or with very few men, is not a good thing.

    • Jeff says:

      I am skeptical about these statistics. A quick Internet search shows that the United Methodist and Presbyterian (PCUSA) denominations are about 58% and 55% female, respectively.

  8. Joan Humphries says:

    My mouth dropped open when I read the article! The church has moved away from the Biblical stance on so many issues in the past few years. I guess it’s now important to many leaders in the Christian Church to be politically correct also! So sad!

    David’s reply today is VERY interesting but not surprising. I have commented to people in the past that since women seem naturally more prone to accept church attendance and spirituality, I think that’s one reason why God saw fit to choose men as the leaders–so other men wouldn’t think of church or spirituality as “something for the women.” Looks like that’s pretty much what’s happening!

  9. Thanks for your watchman-like publication. And to those worried about the cancer eating the movement: As long as there are elders and preachers and ‘pews’ (excuse the term) who love the Lord, His word and His church more than the world – the 1st century, apostolic church will continue. At His appearing there will be vanishingly few left (see GEN 6 and REV 20, also LUK 18:8) so do not be discouraged at the sight of a great apostasy (certainly be grieved!) but remain faithful unto death.

  10. racheal says:

    How many men who read this and/or contribute to this post are married? And how many of those who are married at least consider the wisdom of their godly wives? If you do, then you are being instructed by a woman. Practicing homosexuality is a sin, but so is pride and arrogance. Being a woman is not, but that is what you are saying when you equate the ordination of women to practicing homosexuals.

    • prasor says:

      Racheal,

      Thank you for reading my blog and commenting on it. In regard to your question of whether husbands listen to their wives, I would imagine that most do. But that is a red herring and has nothing to do with women being preachers or elders in the church. I assume you bring this up, however, because you think it shows an inconsistency or contradiction to the idea that women in the church are not to teach or have authority over a man, as the Apostle Paul says (1 Tim. 2:11-12). But I see no inconsistency here. Why? Because Paul’s command is in the context of church leadership. But, then, you may ask, what about the marriage relationship? But again there is no inconsistency here. Paul never says that a wife cannot share her insights and wisdom in the context of marriage. Note, however, that the husband still has authority over her in marriage (see Eph. 5:24). In such a case, a wife is free to express the things she has learned, but she still is to submit to her husband. There is no contradiction or inconsistencies here because the contexts are different–one is about marriage and one is about church organization. But note that in both cases men have the authority, not women. Paul is entirely consistent.

      Finally, I believe you have misunderstood the argument when it comes to homosexuality. You say, “Practicing homosexuality is a sin. . . . being a woman is not, but that is what you are saying when you equate the ordination of women to practicing homosexuals.” No one is arguing that practicing homosexuality is the same as being a woman. If there is any comparison to be made here, it would simply be that women fulfilling men’s roles in the church is a sin just like homosexuality is a sin. The sins are not the same, but they are sins nonetheless because Scripture clearly prohibits homosexual practice as well as women having authority over men or teaching them in the church. So, if one is practicing homosexuality, he is sinning; if a woman fulfills a man’s role in the church, she is sinning. To claim, as you do, that I or anyone else is claiming that being a woman is a sin is fallacious.

    • Ed Kostelnik says:

      Racheal,
      I am sorry that you posted a reply to someone that fails to interpret the Bible correctly but rather in such a narrow minded way. First the Timothy passage is not as straight forward as they would have you believe. There is no difference in Greek for man or husband as well as wife and woman. Second notice that it is “Paul” who say that he does not permit a woman and not from God. As he say in Roman concerning marriage.Third if this is to be up held shouldn’t we also be making sure that women are not braiding their hair or wearing gold and expensive clothes?
      But unfortunately there are narrow minded Christians that want to bind up the people with their interpretation. It is this same type of argument that tried to keep blacks inslaved, after all Paul does talk about how slaves should be obedient to their masters. He also sent Onesimus (a slave) back to his master.
      There are only two passages that point to women not being allowed to function in the worship services; this one 1Tim. 2:11-12, and 1 Cor. 13:34. A quick, open minded, look at each suggests that there is some problem in each of these two churches that merited such a statement. In both it seems that the author is striving for some order in the worship services? In Corinth we know there was a problem with a chaotic service, especially in the context of the Lord’s Supper. Then in Ephesis, that is where Timothy was leading the church, this was where Paul was accused of starting a riot and the whole city was shouting great is Artemis, who was a female god of the pantheon and would of had many women priestess (Acts 19). So one could see how allowing women to serve in a leadership possition could put the church there in jeopardy. What we must remember is that in the letters we have but one side of the conversation. To this we must not assume that each issue addressed to a particular problem at a particular place is to become a “Thus says The Lord.”
      There are also many other passages that do contradict this bigoted interpretation, that is there are passages that show women as preachers, prophets, and ever deacons. But some of these are hidden in the English translation like where deaconess is translated servant. Or if it is translated deaconess it is suggest that this must mean the wife of a deacon.
      But a good study of the New Testament that is a holistic view of what is trying to be conveyed will show that Paul is trying to break down these social distinctions. He is trying to place all Christians on an equal plane. Which is a continuation of Jesus’ ministry. No the Gospel is not a new Law to which Christians are to be enslave as the Israelites were to the Law of Moses. It is freedom from law, freedom from sin, freedom to preach God’s love that comes to us through Jesus the Christ.
      What is important is that Christ is preached, whether that be by a man or woman makes no difference. It is therefore every Christians obligation to preach the gospel.
      God bless you Racheal may you alway know the love that He has given unto us and may you never be afraid to proclaim it.
      Ed

      • prasor says:

        Ed,

        Thank you for commenting on The BLADE blog. Let’s break down your comments to Racheal here.

        First, let’s dispel with the informal fallacies, such as your ad hominems. To simply say that a non-feminist (such as myself) interprets the Bible in a “narrow minded/bigoted way” and “binds up people” is simply attacking the person rather than dealing with the argument. A non-feminist (like myself) is not narrow minded and bigoted because he disagrees with a feminist (such as yourself). Disagreement does not equal hatred or bigotry as you suggest. (If it did, then you would be just as bigoted.)

        Second, I’m not sure exactly what you are getting at when you say that the Greek term “aner” in 1 Timothy may be translated as “man” or “husband” and “gune” as “woman” or “wife.” How is this an argument against a non-feminist interpretation of this passage? As you are probably aware, a word cannot be translated in isolation from its context. Because of the context, the word for “women” in 1 Tim. 2:12 is (and always has been) rendered “women.” The context clearly demands the word to be rendered “women” not “wives.” For example, 2:8 shows that Paul is talking about “women,” not wives, because (1) he is drawing a comparison between what he wants “men” (not husbands) and “women” (not wives) to do (as seen by the word “likewise” in 2:9) and (2) the connection with 2:1 & 2:5.

        Third, to say that “it is Paul who says that he does not permit a woman and not from God” shows that you believe that Paul’s instructions are less than authoritative. We can follow them if we want to, but we do not have to; they are just Paul’s own opinion. This, however, entirely undermines the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I do not have the time nor space here to elaborate on the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, but let it suffice to say that what Paul says is inspired of God (see, e.g., 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Not to mention that if you believe that this is just Paul’s opinion, then we have to ask why you care what Paul says here at all about women? Why do you take so much time to argue that the terms “women” and “men” do not necessarily mean “women” and “men” if we can just throw out Paul’s teaching because it his “just his opinion?” It seems unreasonable to me to waste so much time on trying to interpret this passage correctly (as you do) if it is just Paul’s opinion. In short, all your attempts to interpret Paul’s words in 1 Timothy in a feminist manner are all undermined and self-refuting by your argument that it is “just Paul’s opinion.” Which is it? Paul’s own opinion that can be thrown out, or is he giving a feminist teaching? It cannot be both.

        Fourth, your argument that if we are to follow Paul’s instructions in 1 Tim. 2:11-12 about women, then we should not allow women to wear braided hair and expensive clothes is a superficial and fallacious interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-10. First of all, are you conceding to the non-feminist interpretation that women are not to have authority over men or teach men? Above you were arguing contrary to this–this is inconsistent on your part. Which is it? Is Paul commanding women not to teach and not to have authority over men or not? Your arguments seem confused, as if you wan to have your cake and eat it too. Second of all, Paul is not saying that women cannot at all wear braided hair and nice clothes. If one were to read 1 Tim. 2:9 only, then certainly one would get that impression. But that would be isolation a verse from its context. What Paul is saying, after considering 2:10 as well, is that women should not be concerned about outward beauty but inward beauty. This is the same thing the Apostle Peter iterates in 1 Pet. 3:3-4.

        Fifth, your comment that the non-feminist interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:11-12 is analogous to the argument for slavery is fallacious. I do not have the time nor space to elaborate on it here, but let it suffice to say that (1) all slavery is not inherently evil (e.g., indentured servanthood), although the majority of slavery practiced in early America was, (2) Paul argues for Philemon to accept Onesimus as no longer a slave, but better than a slave (Phil. 1:16), (3) Paul does argue for slaves to be obedient to their masters, but how is this a condoning of slavery, especially the kind that was found in early America?, (4) Paul, in fact, argues against slavery when he urges Christians to be free and not slaves (1 Cor. 7:21).

        Sixth, your argument that 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and 1 Cor. 14:34 (I assume you meant this verse and not 13:34, which does not exist) are just about a located problem in Ephesus and Corinth are refuted by the contexts and other NT writings. Paul’s reason for women not having authority over men or teaching them is given in 2:13-14, and it goes all the way back to creation. In other words, Paul reasons that his instructions are rooted in creation, not some cultural, located problem in Ephesus as you say. The meaning of the prohibition for women to be quiet in worship services in 1 Cor. 14:34 is made clear by the context: it has to do with preaching and teaching in the church assembly, which is entirely consistent with what Paul teaches in 1 Tim. 2:11-12; 3:15.

        Finally, your idea that there are many places throughout the NT where women are preachers, prophets, or even deacons is false. Are there women prophets? Yes. But how does this contradict Paul’s teaching about how women are not to have authority over men or teach them in the church? I do not see that it does. Do we see women preachers in the NT? No, we do not. I challenge you to give one example. Furthermore, we never see women elders in the NT. Are there women deacons? Maybe Phoebe in Rom. 16:1, but that is debatable and would not go against Paul’s prohibition anyway. Deacons do not teach or have authority over men in the local church (at least scripturally they are not supposed to), elders and preachers are the ones in authority in the church.

        All this being said, one cannot make any logical sense of your arguments when taken all together, because on the one hand you say it is just Paul’s opinion, then on the other hand Paul did not mean what he said and that the passage in question means something else. The arguments contradict one another.

  11. Brian says:

    This is not a recent development. I know a preacher, a graduate of KCU in the late 1960’s, who was senior minister at a large church in CA in the early 70’s, where these things were being practiced during that time. He told me that, one day, he finally had a “V-8” moment, he realized that what was going on was not scriptural. He resigned, and went over to the acapella brotherthood.
    From the nosebleed seats, looks to me like it all comes down to one thing – do we believe the Bible is the sole authority in faith and practice for what we do as an individual believer, and as a corporate body (local church),…..or do we not? Some may think that is pretty simplistic. Guilty as charged.