Because many of my readers know our interest in women in ministry and as you may recall our interest in Ruth Tucker and what happened at Calvin, you might want to know about this. On the term zealotry, see the series I began some time ago.
The principle I see operating now in some seminaries is this: What is expected of a pastor is also expected of a seminary professor. This make sense (to some) if the seminary is a genuine church-sponsored institution. But, what does this mean for other things? Where will it stop? Is it wise? Is education at an academic institution different than in a church?
My big question today is general — Should seminaries require the biblical standards for elders/bishops for their professors? I’m concerned about what is going on at Southwestern and other seminaries, but more important is the general question about the applicability of elder standards for professors.
I want to admit up front that, and readers of this blog know where I stand, I don’t agree with the theological stance of the SBC on women in ministry nor for whether or not women should be teaching Bible and theology etc to men in seminaries; I’m for women in ministry and, because I think the redemptive trend has cleared the way, I don’t see any restrictions. And I think not permitting women to do what they did in the NT leads to what I defined some time ago as “zealotry.” A consistently patriarchal approach blocks women doing today what women did in the NT (teach, pray publicly, prophesy, lead). So, I’ll begin by pushing back against the women’s issue — knowing full well they disagree with me — and then I’ll press forward into the difficulty of being consistent in these matters.
Let’s begin with this, if the seminary is going to restrict women because its denomination believes in restrictions for women’s ministries: Should we take tuition from women whose intention is to become professors? Or from women whose intention is to become pastors? (Even if the seminary’s sponsoring denomination does not believe in women’s ordination, there could easily be seminary students who are female who want to be ordained in another denomination or who hope for change in that denomination.) Or, can female students ask questions in class?
Should we permit women to attend such seminaries if those same females will teach on the mission field? Should we permit male seminary students to read female scholars (like Morna Hooker) because by reading them they, in effect, become our teachers? (I don’t buy any logic that distinguishes the public, direct teaching vs. private, reading, and indirect teaching; that’s zealotry.)
Now what about this one — especially if the logic is “if for the pastor, then for the seminary professor”?
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respct. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Tim 3:4-5). And Paul develops this more clearly in Titus 1:6: the leader must be “a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.”
If pastors need to have believing children, and if seminary professors are in effect leaders and mentors of pastors, can anything less be expected of them? Do we know of any seminaries that cut professors because their children don’t believe?
Should we then extend this to college professors who teach the Bible and theology? To Christian high schools and Christian junior high schools and Christian grade schools?
How do we measure “unbelieving”? I could go on with the lists for elders/deacons in the New Testament, but I probably don’t need to.
Do you know how many seminary professors and teachers at other levels would lose their jobs if we followed this line of thinking?
Consistent zealotry leads to these questions I’ve asked. If it weren’t so serious, I’d just laugh out loud. I can’t. I fear for the evangelical movement in the USA. The Southern Baptist Covention claims around 6 million folks; that engulfs the evangelical movement and that is why I’m calling your attention to these matters.