DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

If You Ain’t Dutch, You Ain’t Much!

Written by: on September 7, 2018

Adler [1] taught us how to read a book, so in my “reading” it was obvious to me the Editorial Team of Theology of Leadership Journal [2] was strongly Dutch. Names like Huizing, Hamstra and Schuringa sound like families of my Dutch high school in Denver, Colorado. Nothing against the Dutch, especially since I am 50% Dutch (My mom was 100% Dutch, with the last name Rozendal). We all liked to say often, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much!”

Not sure if many people know this, but the devotional called Our Daily Bread [3] comes from a Dutch denomination called the Christian Reformed Church. A few of my Pastors growing up were contributors, and I have met with Jesus through those pages on countless occasions.

Now, to the heart of my Blog. I want to ask your patience as I work through an important topic personally. An issue that has captivated me during the first year of our DMin program is the topic of WOMEN IN MINISTRY. This summer I read dozens and dozens of position papers during our time away from each other on this topic. By now, you probably know that I lean complimentarian, but possibly not as far as you think.

This position in our Elite 8 Cohort involves risk! I have endeavored to keep an open mind, and have tried to properly engage Jake, as his dissertation interests are closely connected to egalitarian. I very much hope that I have not offended or mistreated anyone in our good group, especially our more than capable and brilliant women, which I believe Jean, Jenn, Trish, and now Colleen certainly are.

During our first Zoom chat of our second year together, referring to Howell’s Weak Enough to Lead [4], Jenn brought up the amazing thought that there was no concept of leadership before the fall, that in the garden sin produced the structure of hierarchy.

This got me thinking so much, and after I read the article she quoted, I immediately decided to blog on it. So, here goes…

Some background for the reader: I have had wonderful and not so wonderful female pastors, even back in the 1960’s at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, we were way ahead of our time in this issue of women in ministry.

My CRC high school had this position:

“All congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America may allow women to serve in the office of minister, elder, deacon, or commissioned pastor. The CRC recognizes that there are two different perspectives and convictions on this issue, both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. In keeping with their understanding of the biblical position on the role of women in ecclesiastical office, churches may declare that women may not be delegated. All duly elected and ordained men and women may be delegated to synod, but officebearers will not be asked to participate against their convictions on this matter.” [5]

I attended two universities, both Nazarene, who have ordained women since their founding. The Nazarenes are part of a group called THE GLOBAL WESLEYAN ALLIANCE, 14 denominations closely aligned doctrinally. The town in which I was called to be a Pastor had no Nazarene church, but they had one from the Evangelical Church (one of the supporting groups of George Fox University), and a member of the GWA. Interestingly, we are the ONLY member denomination of the 14 NOT to ordain women. We commission, license and encourage women in all areas of ministry, except in the area of ordained itinerant elder. It is one of our distinctives, but not something we lord over from the pulpit.

The three main Biblical concerns I have with women as ordained elder come from these three Scriptural foundations:

  1. Spiritual Authority – Paul says in I Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man…”
  2. Headship – Paul says in Ephesian 5:22-23, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
  3. Helpmeet – Biblical roles were established early, in Genesis 2:18 says, “it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Before someone says Paul’s context was simply cultural, I would ask if we get to throw out the entire books of I and II Timothy because they don’t apply to our cultures, including how to organize church and how to pastor a flock?

Before someone says headship only applies to marriage, I would ask if churches were mistaken for 1800 years the Biblical accountability for men to lead spiritually, or have hundreds of qualified leaders been dead wrong when they implore men to step up and lead?

Before someone says all roles are exactly the same for men and women, I would ask why we have both male and female genders,   was it only for procreation? Even in the Trinity, we see the Son and Spirit surrender to the authority of the Father.

I decided to look into Willow Creek Community Church, a leader globally in the area of egalitarianism. I know they are broken now, due to moral failure, but nonetheless they have been on the cutting edge of this issue. To my great surprise, I found one of their leaders, with the official title of Pastor to Men, wrote a book called Noble Journey: The Quest for a Lasting Legacy [6]. In this book, Craig Glass writes:

“Are men necessary, other than the purpose of sperm donation? We are different physically, psychologically and spiritually. Unfortunately, men’s leadership has been anything but sacrificial and loving. However, men’s roles are to be a covering, authoritative (not authoritarian), and as a servant leader. A man’s nature is to be protective, to be careful not to wound women, as many men have done, rather to earn her trust and lead well, as her spiritual warrior.”[7]

LGP8, please help me! Gently if you would, dialog with me. I am trying to understand, in fact I have leaned in often to hearing other viewpoints. Please respond, if you wish, to the three Biblical points above…

 

[1] Adler, Mortimer Jerome, and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

[2]. Theology of Leadership Journal, Vol 1 No 1, 2018. http://theologyofleadership.com/index.php/tlj/issue/view/v1i1/v1i1

[3]. “Our Daily Bread Ministries.” Edited by Haddon Robinson, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2018, ourdailybread.org/.

[4]  Howell, James. Weak Enough to Lead: What the Bible Tells Us about Powerful Leadership (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017). 98-100.

[5]. Timmermans, Steve. “Women in Ecclesiastical Office.” Christian Reformed Church, 2018, www.crcna.org/.

[6] Glass, Craig M. Noble Journey: The Quest for a Lasting Legacy. Chicago: Peregrine Press, 2017.

[7] Ibid., 151-166.

 

 

 

About the Author

mm

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

14 responses to “If You Ain’t Dutch, You Ain’t Much!”

  1. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Hi Jay. Love this. Here are some thoughts. I dont think you are in disagreement with Jake’s dissertation. I believe he is writing for churches who call themselves egalitarian but do not behave as such. In your case, you know what you believe and your words and action match! I am a big fan of complimentarian, and that’s where many of my peers fall, following after the increasing popularity of the reformed pastors like Mark Driscoll. I do however lean heavily toward Egalitarianism

    here are some thoughts to your questions.

    Before someone says Paul’s context was simply cultural, I would ask if we get to throw out the entire books of I and II Timothy because they don’t apply to our cultures, including how to organize church and how to pastor a flock?

    + great question. If Paul is really meaning this as a prescription of the whole church, more than just a description of the one church he was writing too, how does that align with Jesus’ action of using women in ministry? and OT woman leaders? And Paul partnering with many women? Using scripture to interpret scripture, I can’t see to understand this scripture as universal. It seems it refers to people who were uneducated and rebellious, which in that culture was the women!

    Before someone says headship only applies to marriage, I would ask if churches were mistaken for 1800 years the Biblical accountability for men to lead spiritually, or have hundreds of qualified leaders been dead wrong when they implore men to step up and lead?

    + yes, I think the church has been wrong many times before.

    Before someone says all roles are exactly the same for men and women, I would ask why we have both male and female genders, was it only for procreation? Even in the Trinity, we see the Son and Spirit surrender to the authority of the Father.

    + I think the Trinity models mutual submission to eachother. In a dance, sort of way. see Divine Dance. https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Dance-Trinity-Your-Transformation/dp/0281078157/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536445968&sr=8-1&keywords=the+divine+dance

  2. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jay, I always appreciate your transparency and vulnerability – especially your openness to dialogue. This is why I value you!

    As I try to compose my thoughts on your complex questions, Iam sharing a male professor’s response to a paper I submitted on this very issue. (since you’ve already read my blog and know my thoughts :))

    “The part of the first portion of your essay that caught my attention concerned the faith community that total bars women from ordained ministry. This effectively means that roughly half of the available participants are forbidden to preach, serve on council, and so on. Such a policy seems terribly misguided and inequitable.”

    “Even in the early church, saved women and men ministered together as equals in the body of Christ for the glory of God and the advancement of the divine kingdom. In this understanding of the gospel, there is no distinction between believers based solely on gender.”

    “Such an egalitarian stance impacts how ministry is understood and promulgated. Here there are no second-class believers. Additionally, there are no artificially imposed restrictions on which less esteemed groups, based on humanly contrived, artificial standards, are sequestered to the periphery of church life and ministry.”

    Let’s dialogue more on this in Hong Kong!

  3. First of all, Jay, I want to say thank you for caring enough about this issue to look into it so carefully. I believe you want to fully understand and rightly apply the word of God on this matter, and I share that desire with you.

    Interestingly, it was my husband, David, who moved to an egalitarian stance before I did, so I often (jokingly) say that I moved to an egalitarian stance out of submission to my husband. Speaking personally, little changed in my actual life and experience in making this shift in my theological understanding, since either way, I, as a woman, am called to submission. (Eph. 5:21 makes submission a co-ed game).

    I’ve wrestled with many of the passages that you are wrestling with, and would love to discuss this matter in person in Hong Kong, so that we can actually dialogue about it. In the meantime, I’d like to respond to one of your comments, and then offer a perspective that was most convincing for me, but which few people consider.

    First, in response to this paragraph:
    “Before someone says all roles are exactly the same for men and women, I would ask why we have both male and female genders, was it only for procreation? Even in the Trinity, we see the Son and Spirit surrender to the authority of the Father.”
    I believe the roles are open to all precisely BECAUSE men and women will bring different things to those roles. The role is not the person. It is because men and women (TOGETHER) are made in the image of God that we need both men and women serving together in the body of Christ. If we were all the same, then it wouldn’t really matter if one sex was excluded from certain roles. I think this is why Paul is so careful about balancing out his charges to both men and women in I Cor 11, and insisting on our interdependence.

    With respect to the Trinity, you bring up a theological hot potato! The theology to which you are alluding is called Subordinationism, which holds that Christ is not equal with the Father. Subordinationists believe that Christ’s obedience on the cross was not voluntary submission, but both necessary and eternal. This is a longer conversation than we can get into here, but many verses contradict Subordinationism, particularly the eternal reign of the Lamb of God on the throne. Nevertheless, I agree that one’s understanding of the Trinity is helpful in this conversation.

    Finally, I’d like to share what finally convinced me of the egalitarian view point. It was in studying eschatology. There is no indication that there will be any distinction in roles, powers, or abilities of men and women in the eternal Kingdom of God. Given that, and my belief that (from NT Wright) the Church is an outpost of that future and coming Kingdom, I believe that Church should rightly reflect the Kingdom of God. It can only do that if men and women are on equal footing.

  4. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    I almost missed the first week going to visit my Mom in Colorado! I will do my best to catch up with the team.
    I looked up “complementarian” to make sure I remembered the context that men and women in ministry are ontologically equal but functionally different. Well my friend, you have definitely opened the “risk” door as we start our 2nd year with LGP8.
    I look forward to seeing the responses and engaging with you and others in these important, but not salvation changing, topics.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jay,

    Great post as usual. Open, honest, reflective and demonstrating a willingness to learn and grow even in regard to difficult issues.

    I believe the Church has since its inception arbitrarily interpreted certain scriptures culturally and then others authoritatively. The problem is that to me it seems the ones we choose to apply authoritatively often permit certain groups to retain power at the expense of others. (Priests, men, white people, etc.) Most of our denominations no longer require head covering for women or ban the wearing of jewelry but these are directives straight from Paul’s writing.

    The scriptures have always been interpreted contextually. We even see this in the variations found in Paul’s writing as he addresses different churches throughout the Roman empire. I believe that this fluidity is what gives the Gospel of Jesus its strength. It is not a dilution but rather a cultural and contextual application of the essence of the scriptures. To me that means that as our context changes and women’s place in society changes it might be necessary to interpret the scriptures in light of this.

    As you rightly point out we have some incredible women in our cohort. I would find it all but impossible to prevent them from assuming a role within the Church that they felt a call from God to do simply because they are not male. I believe this to be part of God’s progressive revelation in a similar way as that which was displayed in the New Testament as they permitted the eating of ‘unclean’ foods.

    Of course I could be completely wrong on this and God really does want to silence women in the Church. Guess we will all find out in eternity. Until then I’m gonna make room for my daughter and others of her gender to lead as they feel called and ordained to lead.

    Keep up the good work brother. Looking forward to HK and time with you.

  6. Thank you for your honesty and giving us a glimpse into your journey. It’s interesting, I’ve been an egalitarian ever since I could speak; however, God has currently placed me in a wonderful church, that happens to be complementarian. The pastors and I have wonderful dialogues and equal respect even though we differ greatly on a variety of topics, including women in the church and gender roles.

    Your post reminded me of Wantaate’s discussion on comparisons within leadership methods. He highlighted the idea of Masculinity and Femininity as one of the factors that that shapes one’s theology of leadership and praxis. Wantaate’s explanation of gender roles was actually more on the conservative side; however, his view on gender, even though it differed with my own, did not negate my preference for his article.

    Egalitarianism, in its purest form, is the allowance for Christ to be represented through the hands and feet of all men and women. When we understand that all are made in the likeness of God and that all are called to the same expectation of servanthood, then we come to the realization that we must allow men and women to live out their calling in response to God’s individual call on their lives.

    I’ve known that I was called to pastor and preach since I was 6 years old. This was always the call of God on my life. At the end of the day, I’ve been supported by some and disowned by others, but my purpose is not tied to the appeasement of the crowd, but the pursuit of Christ.

    Cultural context also falls within the walls of gender expectation and theological perceptions. This is why it is important to not only understand the racial dynamics of one’s team or audience, but also denominational views. When we take time to understand the reasons behind someone’s belief, it gives us a greater picture at the heart of their conviction.

    Whether we claim to be egalitarian or complementarian, the only claim that I want to lay hold of is to be a child of God who walks out the will of God.

  7. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jay,
    Way to step out, I too struggle mightily with this subject as well. I have written about the strength of my wife, I have served under women (and men) who should have never been in a position of authority. I struggle with the same scriptures that you bring to the forefront. I land on the side of a complementarian but am open for the discussion of egalitarianism. I know that my denomination is one that is strongly against women in the pulpit and so far in my ministry I have not gone against. But, I am open to the discussion.

    In Christ

    Jason

  8. Chris Pritchett says:

    Wow Jay this was a dynamic post! So engaging and inspiring and you were brave to put yourself out there with a minority position (or maybe not, I don’t actually know or really care). I truly believe that how we hold our views is equally if not more important than the views themselves. I don’t have much more to add to this conversation, other than to say that I am grateful that you are Christlike – specifically kind, generous in affirmation, and compassionate and encouraging – in how you present your position on women in ministry. It would be very fun to talk about Paul and his texts on this subject in HK! Thank you brother. Though there may be disagreement in our group, the old adage still applies – “They will know we are Christians by our love…”

  9. Shawn Hart says:

    Ummmmm MOM!! Jay opened a giant can of worms and they are getting everywhere!! LOL. Just kidding. The fact is that this question has always been one of those hot buttons in the church. To agree with the idea that women have the right to preach or serve as elders used to classify you a liberal; to disagree usually made you a sexist or conservative. Sadly, I believe you hit upon part of the problem with your brave question Jay, and that is the interpretation of the Scripture and its impact today. I knew that a program like this would eventually prompt this discussion, though I was as surprised as you were that it flared up so aggressively in South Africa; it seemed there was this animosity toward the men in our group almost from the beginning…more so from some of those in other cohorts though.

    When I look at the scriptures, I see them much as you do; however, I think it so important that to have a view such as a ours, it does not in any way negate the gifts or abilities of the women; it just means that we believe there were limitations given in Scripture. For me, the instructions for elders and deacons given to Timothy were all directed toward male roles; furthermore, though we see women serving in scripture, we never see them designated with the positions that are given to men. These conditions cause pause in the reader; though some have no reservations in putting these off as cultural or out-dated, I have also struggled to make those allocations.

    With all that said however, I believe that women are still crucial to the cause of the Christ, and as some have already pointed out, seem to be a primary aspect in every successful ministry mentioned in the bible.

    I commend you on the bravery I know it took to make this post; it is not always easy to to address an issue like this one.

  10. Dave Watermulder says:

    Jay!
    You’re like the NFL: scheduling big time match ups in the first week of the season :). Seriously, I appreciate your questions and your openness, vulnerability and even curiosity. I enjoyed reading what others have written above and I will look forward to some ongoing dialogue with you (and everybody). See you soon, brother.

  11. Thanks for your honesty and humility once again. Refer to my response to your comment on my post and I look forward to more dialogues in Hong Kong.

  12. Jay… I am just reading this before our cohort goes live. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    Mark

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