Yesterday, Scot McKnight posted an interesting article about the release of a book that looks at well-known evangelicals who have changed their minds about the roles of women in the church. The article starts off:
Alan Johnson, well-known and much-loved professor at Wheaton, has edited a collection of stories of well-known evangelicals who have in their own ways changed when it comes to women in ministry. His book has a great title: How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals.
McKnight goes on to say:
Every person who is either “for” or “against” increased roles of women in leadership needs to read these stories.
He, then, specifically looks at how Dallas Willard came to have his mind changed. McKnight shares these 3 summary points about how Willard had his theology reshaped:
1. Those gifted by God for any ministry should serve in the capacity of that gift and churches (“human arrangements”) should facilitate their service. There is no suggestion anywhere in the Bible that gifts are distributed along gender lines. Go ahead and read the gift passages — says 1 Cor 12-14, Eph 5, 1 Pet 4 — and show how gifts are connected to gender.
2. It is misleading to deal with this issue along the lines of rights and equality alone. When it comes to talents and gifts people aren’t “equal” and it’s not about “rights” but about gifts and our obligations.
3. Excluding women leaves women generally with the impression that there is something wrong with them. They may be mistaken in that but Willard makes the important observation that if God excludes them there must be some very good reason — God doesn’t just flip coins. And the so-called complementarians can’t find clear passages where such things are clearly taught.
I can imagine many complementarians not appreciating #3, though I believe I understand where Willard would be coming from. Still, nonetheless, the first 2 points must definitely be grappled with.
I have done an extensive series on the role of women here at my blog (about 15 articles, which you can find a list of them here). I do have a couple more posts I would like to put up in the coming weeks to finish out the series.
In all, I am convinced the church is moving more and more towards egalitarianism (though I think the word complementarianism is a helpful description, but the word is used by those who would not allow women in major leadership roles, hence the use of another word). I don’t believe the church is heading towards ‘egalitarianism’ because it is becoming more and more lukewarm or heretical or ungodly. I think we are realising even more over the past decade or two that, what the previous generation began to realise about the social structure of skin colour, gender also does not determine our roles and giftings in God.