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.
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.