James Beck’s Two Views on Women in Ministry offers the egalitarian and complementarian sides of an evolving inside-outside church debate over whether women should have equal access as men to all church leadership positions. In short, the book says the debate needs more time to solve issues, become more irenic, and review new ideas. I like the word irenic because it comes from the Greek word “eirene” meaning peace and is a theology that promotes unity in the church. This post will search for unity on this debate but will definitely stay on the periphery and fly a high cover and observation position watching the fight from above. I will try to send my other LGP8 members emergency aid and commentary relief if their literary posts become injured or pushed out of the fight. While I believe this is one of the great schemes from the principalities and powers to divide God’s people from each other, there is still hope. Why, because God reins, and we have the authority of Christ’s victory on the cross to withstand and overcome this battle.
First, I must do a little “virtue signaling” to let all of you know, according to Dr. Jason, how righteous the next words in my blog may or may not be… I trained women officers to fly fighter aircraft for service in combat. Think about that for a few seconds… Ok, sorry, I remember, this post is for women leaders serving in ministry. I forgot where I was, I thought we were going to war. Well, I suppose you could envision flying the pulpit around your congregations is like flying in combat sometimes, right?
Second, after going through the for-against debates over LGBT+ attending, serving, and leading in ministry in last week’s Zoom conference I wonder what will happen next. Will the LGBT+ argument soon overshadow and take priority from the debate for control of the pulpit? Instead of coming to a consensus on women leading men in ministry, the fight may be changed very soon and look nothing like it did a few years ago.
Third, after reading around this book, looking at a few reviews, and comparing what other authors have said about hierarchicalism versus biblical feminism it seems a lot like war to me. The Bible has something to say about that. The Apostle Paul says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” Nevertheless, the egalitarian versus complementarian struggle is focused on flesh and blood strategies and looks like it could be another long and drawn out war that successfully divides God’s people from their primary task of finishing the Great Commission.
One author, pre-Beck, who wrote a book about the struggles of women in ministry is Michelle Lee-Barnewall. She describes how the debate “crystallized” in the late 1980’s referring to the two opposing positions as either hierarchicalism or biblical feminism. Barnewall offered a third position on the debate that was neither egalitarian nor complementarian. Her position focused more on “unity and inclusion” over equality and freedom and projects “love and humility” over authority and privilege. Her proposal was ultimately rejected by both sides, but there is that “unity” theme again that I said I like from the Irenicism theology introduced by Beck. Barnewall wishes both sides of the debate would come together in a “spirit of love, unity, humility, and selflessness” and study the Biblical texts and find some middle ground, agree to disagree, and get on with Kingdom building and get off fighting with each other. Another author, Robert Buchanan, in his dissertation, highlights that Satan’s goal, using his principalities and powers, is to separate the Savior from the servant, separate God from His people, and alienate His people from one another. And a final review, from Sarah Sumner, proposes that the argument over women in ministry “has been inappropriately reduced to one of roles when it is more fundamentally one of relationships.”
So, what is my position on the egalitarian-complementarian role design. First, how many engines does it have? Seriously, here is my aviation perspective. Women fly fighters in combat.
Fighter pilots almost never fly solo in combat, and as such, they train together and share the responsibilities of being the lead and wing positions on any mission. In other words, each pilot takes turns flying on the other pilot’s wing.
While there may not be anything scholarly about combat aviation theology, I have been there, flown together, survived together, fulfilled the mission together. Women fly, fight, survive, and overcome the challenges of combat aviation. I believe they will survive this challenge too.