Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


A Letter, Now Opened

posted by Scot McKnight

This letter about what it is like to be a woman at a seminary, in this case TEDS and I’m convinced her experience is found at other seminaries. If you know about my book, mentioned below, I tell some of my story about women in ministry when I was a professor there, and she mentions that at the end of her letter. Folks, the experience of this woman (now minister) is in the last decade.


Here’s one point I have to make: if seminaries permit women to take M.Div. degrees or professional ministry degrees, those same seminaries are obligated to support and help to find ministry opportunities for those women. If the churches their placement offices are dealing with are not supporting women in ministry, then the school needs to be forthright about such matters. Tuition-driven schools are obligated to face this issue with honesty and integrity.

There are of course other issues, and I leave it to you to respond…
Dear Scot…
My name is …. I am almost finished reading your book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
.  I was moved to email you after reading your comments about your time at TEDS and your apology to women students at TEDS.  I was a student at TEDS.  I graduated summa cum laude in two different Masters degrees. Before I was at Trinity, I graduated with honors from a Midwest university with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.  
But, my three years at TEDS were some of the hardest years of my life.  Having grown up as a driven, intellectual, successful person, I felt beaten down over and over again as a woman during my time there.  I spent many days in tears, feeling completely rejected as I simply tried to follow the call that God had placed in my life.  I felt called into vocational ministry when I was 14 and never doubted that call as the years went by.  I initially thought that I might go to medical school and do medical missions, but as my husband and I prayed about where God was leading us, we sensed God leading us both toward seminary and to church ministry.  

My husband was a student at TEDS at the same time that I was.  At times other students wouldn’t even look me in the eye.  They would carry on conversations with my husband without even acknowledging my presence.  When they did acknowledge my presence, they would ask me if I was in a typical female occupation such as nursing, teaching, or a stay-at-home mom.  It was so humiliating to me.  
When it came time for my husband and I to graduate, we both registered with the placement office at TEDS which was supposed to help us connect with churches or organizations looking to hire graduates.  My husband received numerous inquiries from churches, while the professor in the placement office practically laughed in my face and told me that no one would hire me.  He was right.  I never got a single call from a church. 
I did find two professors … who actually encouraged me while I was there.  They were really a blessing to me during that time.  Luckily, my husband and I connected with a church during our time at Trinity that values women in ministry.  Since that time, I have been able to grow and learn and serve in ministry through various positions including serving as a pastor at a church and planting a church two years ago with my husband.  My husband has been my biggest cheerleader for me.  He’s encouraged me to keep going even during the frustrating times and recognized gifts in me that I didn’t always see. 
 
While I wasn’t even at Trinity while you were there, your apology in the book was meaningful to me.  It is validating to know that someone understands the experience of some women students.  I really appreciated your words.  Thank you very much.


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Daniel Mann

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:40 am


While I deeply regret the way that this woman was treated, there is another side of the story that needs to be recited, a side that political correctness now banishes from acceptable conversation.
The teachings of Scripture are so patently consistent that there are male-female role distinctions. Paul is unequivocal that women should not teach nor have authority over adult males (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:34-37; 11:1-3). His instructions regarding to their relative roles within the family also reflect this order (Eph. 5:22-31).
I wonder whether our embattled churches and families would be fairing much better if we would take these teaching more seriously. I think that these issues deserve a fair hearing even if some might regard such a discussion as offensive. After all, the Gospel too is an offense.



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JoanieD

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:52 am


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaVVXleoAdU
Daniel, if you have a chance, watch/listen to this little video (less than five minutes long) of N.T. Wright responding to the question about women in ministry. He has studied the Bible well too, and things are not as clear-cut as you present them, in my opinion.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:57 am


Daniel,
Thanks even if I think you’re drawn to one set of Scriptures and neglect another set — those with women leading, guiding, judging, teaching, praying, and prophesying, and these might have something to do with women in seminaries too. I’m not so sure, however, your point is at all at work in the problems of this letter.
In particular, a seminary that permits women to attend and to gain MDiv degrees, which involves women preaching and learning how to guide a local church … don’t you think there’s some responsibility to treat the women more equally and to strive to help those women find positions in churches?



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John W Frye

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:07 am


Scot,
Apart from the seminary named in the post, what kind of “Christian” men would treat a human being the way this woman was treated? Not even acknowledging her presence? Ignoring her in conversations? How does a alleged “biblical view” of women in ministry allow women to be treated as non-entities?
Daniel (#1), you need to read MUCH wider on this theological and pastoral topic. You have blinders on, my friend.



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Burly

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:34 am


Scot said “…if seminaries permit women to take M.Div. degrees or professional ministry degrees, those same seminaries are obligated to support and help to find ministry opportunities for those women. If the churches their placement offices are dealing with are not supporting women in ministry, then the school needs to be forthright about such matters.”
On the need for seminaries to be forthright about not dealing with supporting women in ministry – I fully agree AND I think the issue is much bigger than that. I started my MDiv. at TEDS in 2002 (possibly when the author of the letter was there). In our orientation, there was an emphasis that we were all “called to be there.” I couldn’t understand how they could make such a bold and sweeping declaration – besides the fact that keeping us all there affects their bottom line. I watched as men and women alike came and went from Seminary – many not finding the “vocational” pastoral opportunities they had hoped for. To be fair, the women did have many fewer opportunities.
Grant Osborne (egalitarian as it relates to church ministry – I’m going to begrudgingly label myself later, so I get to label him) was my advisor. He was in my apartment on campus every week for “advisee group.” We had two women in the group – one flourishing in a para-church ministry and the other longing to be either a professor and pastor (but struggling due to her perception and/or reality of the TEDS context – I’m not denying the reality of the struggle, just know that some was perceived where it was not really there). Grant was very helpful to me in pointing out the flaws/missed-nuances/etc. in my complementarian position. I’m still *technically* a complementarian (if I must be labeled), but I *hope* a sensitive one (I’m not claiming to be “radical middle” or anything that provactive, because I’m not sure where I would be pegged on the spectrum).
I saw so many women and men (myself included, mind you) with a perceived call to vocational ministry (and nothing less than that specific perceived call) – to the point where it had become an idol. Where our identities were as “future pastors-of-a-specific-kind” and/or “future professors” and not as members of the family of God – entering into His stories as PARTNERS in proclaiming and living the Gospel.
I’m not trying to evade the topic of women in ministry and TEDS (and other seminaries) neglect to prepare women for the hard road ahead. I am saying that the issue is deeper and broader.
A FEW of the women I met on campus were like MANY of the men I knew on campus. Students who KNEW what God was calling them to and willing to accept NOTHING LESS than that perceived calling. Most of the time it was to be a professor or a lead/senior pastor. These men and women (not all, mind you) were not demonstrating a willingness to be used of God where they were, but aiming for the future vocational ministry SPECIFIC CALLING that was self-imposed.
Grant Osborne helped me think through the implications of my position. In my current context now as a lay pastor (with no higher aspiration to “vocational”), I have not yet had to deal much with the issue. And I know it’s more than “an issue.” Due to Grant’s helpful prodding on the issue, when I served as intern at my last church, I encouraged some of the women in a Bible study I led to facilitate some of the discussion (which by necessity includes “teaching”). They could neither be elders, nor preach from the pulpit, but in my context at that point I was allowed to empower them to use their gifts in the context over which I had control.
Didn’t intend for this to get so lenthy. But I’m not doing anything about it;o) …



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Brian

posted February 24, 2010 at 8:01 am


Not to distract the conversation, but there are many other groups of seminary students who find difficulty in placement after graduation. Single men is one such large group that receives little attention.



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Pat

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:00 am


John at #4, you said, “what kind of “Christian” men would treat a human being the way this woman was treated? Not even acknowledging her presence? Ignoring her in conversations? How does a alleged “biblical view” of women in ministry allow women to be treated as non-entities?”
The same kind of Christians in local churches that do not acknowledge women until they’re in an influential position and even then that woman has to work harder and talk louder to be heard and even then may get ignored. Unfortunately, some seminaries may be reflecting the larger perception of the church. The Church as represented by local churches and seminaries still has a ways to go in its unequivocal acceptance of women.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:02 am


John,
How do you know how deeply I?ve read on this issue? It is you who might rethink your position ? equating the Biblical stance with relegating women to ?non-entities.?
Scot and JoanieD,
I think that this issue of the sex-specific-roles is very pertinent to TEDS and to other evangelical seminaries. I think that it?s because of their underlying ambivalence regarding the Biblical teachings and the conversation-stifling pressures of political correctness that these tensions (coarse behavior) or glitches occur. I think that they have to rethink their mission in the light of Scripture and proceed in a consistent manner.
The principles (the explicit teachings on role distinctions) are one thing, and the apparent exceptions (women as prophetesses?) are another. Exceptions should not overthrow principles and explicit teachings anymore than the reality of OT warfare should over overthrow ?Thou shalt not kill!?
Burly,
I like what you said about being a ?sensitive complimentarian.?



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Ray Ingles

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:15 am


The principles (the explicit teachings on role distinctions) are one thing, and the apparent exceptions (women as prophetesses?) are another.

Principles that admit of exceptions aren’t principles, they are heuristics.



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faith

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:18 am


seminary is really a challenge for women… my experience too was a challenge.



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Esther

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:23 am


“At times other students wouldn’t even look me in the eye. They would carry on conversations with my husband without even acknowledging my presence. When they did acknowledge my presence, they would ask me if I was in a typical female occupation such as nursing, teaching, or a stay-at-home mom. It was so humiliating to me.”
This is so sad.
I’m thankful that her story seems to have been redeemed and that she has found people to encourage her in her giftings and calling.
Maybe I’m wrong but I feel as though if a woman says she has been called into ministry it is questioned much more than if a man says it.



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Andy

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:25 am


I’m a current student at TEDS, and I have a close friend who is a female MDiv student and is thriving here. Given that this letter is from the “last decade” and when it was written it spoke to *past* experience, I wonder how much has changed since then.
All of that aside though, I hardly think it’s TEDS’ fault that the placement office didn’t procure calls from churches for this woman. TEDS does not create jobs, nor does it overtly influence the hiring choices of a church–it merely seeks to make connections where they are available. If there were no churches looking for pastors who were willing to hire a woman (because of theologically-informed beliefs, whether right OR wrong), TEDS cannot be held responsible for that. To blame them for lack of opportunities is ridiculous–it’s not like the placement office actively impedes women looking for pastoral positions. As far as “practically” laughed in her face, I’m guessing that didn’t me “actually,” but just meant that they (with honesty and integrity) clearly laid out that the odds of her finding a pastoral position with a church who would contact TEDS looking for ministers was incredibly low. Turns out they were right.
Pertaining allowing women to study, I appreciate what TEDS does. If a woman is convinced of her call, they cannot judge that they know and hear God’s voice better than she does. If He truly has called her so clearly, He will be faithful to bring her to the ministry position where He wants her, so that shouldn’t be a concern at all. If He didn’t truly call her, then why is TEDS being blamed for the students failure to heed God’s voice? I know a guy who got within one semester of finishing his MDiv, realized he hadn’t been listening to God, and dropped out–and he certainly didn’t blame TEDS for letting him spend tuition dollars there.
Furthermore, if a woman is going to serve in the Church, the school sincerely desires that she be as well-educated as possible. How is this blameworthy? A woman attending a more liberal seminary might find it easier to find a ministry position, but then they would also be receiving an inferior education (I know another female M.Div here who transferred from Princeton for that reason). At any rate, I imagine TEDS would draw a LOT more ire if they refused women on any grounds, even it it were “you’re not going to find a job, so we don’t want you to waste your money here.”
Let’s be realistic in what kind of blame we lay, and where. And for integrity’s sake, how about trying to get perspectives from current Trinity students instead of painting the current school in a highly negative light over issues that have gotten serious attention and resolution in recent years.



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Marcus

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:29 am


As a student at TEDS I would like to mention that TEDS is making some strides in the right direction. They now have a tenure track faculty member in the NT department who is a woman (my advisor, Dr. Harris who is fantastic!) as well an adjunct in the ST department who is currently a phd candidate and I assume will also be offered a tenure track position (like Dr. Harris was upon completion of her phd) when she’s done. From what I’ve heard, bringing Dr. Harris and Prof. Sung on board has helped change the environment some. Obviously TEDS isn’t where it needs to be, and what that woman experienced was deplorable, but things are changing.



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Andy

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:30 am


Oh, and in case you didn’t catch it, that woman is now a minister, and likely well-trained theologically for her position. Maybe TEDS wasn’t a total bust after all. As far as it being a difficult time of study, the vast majority of MDiv students I’ve met (male and female, myself included) have also found their time here to be incredibly hard for a variety of reasons, good and bad.



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Keith Cummings

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:32 am


This story makes me want to cry. I am happy this woman had a loving husband and a couple of decent teachers to help her through this trying time. The shame is this “trying time” should have been one of the best times of her life. Shame.
Daniel,
I used to think as you do and admire your boldness and dedication to God and the Bible. Personally, I think the passages you labeled “exceptions” are the “principles” and vise versa. Perhaps we both have more to learn.



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Vaughn Treco

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:36 am


Regardless of what else might be said about the emergence of women as recognized or ordained leaders in the Christian community, it is important to note that it represents a significant shift from – and perhaps an actual breach with – previous practice. If we keep this in mind it will not be difficult to understand why some TEDS seminarians allowed their basic human courtesy to collapse when they found themselves in the presence of a woman preparing for Christian ministry.



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Daniel Mann

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:42 am


Ray (and Keith),
You responded, “Principles that admit of exceptions aren’t principles.”
I think we’d find that there are few principles that don’t require some qualification. There are times when lying is commendable (Rahab), even stealing an enemy’s cache of weapons.



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Brian

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:46 am


What happened to this woman is a shame and inexcusable. I agree wholeheartedly that if you are going to accept women at your seminary you have the obligation to treat them with equality.
What I don’t understand and would be curious to hear is why would any women go to a seminary like TEDS? There are others that are much more supportive of women in ministry…both in word and action. I know it may seem like I’m blaming the victim here and that is not my intent. I simply want to know why you would go to a school like that. Was it convenience? Location?



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Dave Moore

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:51 am


Hi Scot,
My wife is also a summa cum laude graduate from TEDS (MA in Christian Thought, ’93). Though I am sure there were some knucklehead guys, my wife was treated with great respect both by her peers and by the teachers. Drs. Woodbridge, Nettles, et al. went out of their way to encourage her. And our adviser, Wayne Grudem, was wonderful. He was very impressed with Doreen’s abilities and said so on numerous occasions.
Best,
Dave



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Vaughn Treco

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:54 am


While I cannot speak to the interior motives present among TEDS administrators at the time that this letter was written, I can offer this witness. Each of the TEDS professors with whom I had to do in the mid-1980′s seem to have a genuine desire to facilitate greater opportunities for women in Christian ministry. This was true both for those who opposed the ordination of women (on biblical and theological grounds), and those who were convinced that the Scriptures supported the full incorporation of women into the leadership of the Christian community. While I believe that your letter of apology was probably in order, and it evidently was a healing balm to some, I would be reluctant to attribute ill-will toward TEDS as an institution.
It is easy enough to recognize the inadequacy of TEDS’s efforts to enlarge the ministerial possibilities for Evangelical women. Even so, it may be prudent to keep in mind the good that TEDS seems to have been seeking – even if its efforts were marked by fits and starts.



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Dave Moore

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:57 am


Hi Scot,
My wife is also a summa cum laude graduate of TEDS (MA in Christian Thought, ’93). Though I am sure there were some knucklehead guys, Doreen was treated with great respect by her peers and the faculty. Drs. Woodbridge, Nettles, et al. went out of their ways to encourage her. And our adviser, Wayne Grudem, was wonderful. He regularly told Doreen how impressed he was with her abilities.
Best,
Dave



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Bill Kinnon

posted February 24, 2010 at 10:56 am


Let me begin by saying I am an egalitarian and believe that position is biblical no matter what proof texts my complimentarian friends (and I have many) want to use to beat me over the head. :-) Rebecca Groothuis has been particularly helpful in this area for me.
But I believe the bigger issue in all of this is how folk end up at seminary. Fuller’s Eddie Gibbs, in an interview I shot with Al Roxburgh and Eddie, spoke of the need for seminaries to be sent by their local churches for a number of reasons. The first being the “sensing of the call” which Eddie (and I, for that matter) believe should come from within the Christian Community that the potential seminarian is a part of. The second reason is that that same community should be providing significant financial support to the “sent ones”, males and females. And when those “sent ones” complete their studies, their Christian Community would work with them to find appropriate positions for them – whether in local church leadership, continued theological study, church planting, global missions, church leadership elsewhere in their denomination, etc.
Eddie commented on how his real estate agent and bank manager were both Fuller M.Div.’s. The ability to service the debt they incurred while at seminary prohibited them from any kind of church planting or small church leadership. Only a megachurch would have paid them enough to service that debt – and that was not where they felt called.
How the woman who wrote this email was treated by males at TEDS is appalling. But what is also appalling is how too often local Christian Communities abandon their responsibilities in discerning who is called to ministry and then supporting them in that calling. And how many seminaries are willing to except students simply because they need the income from their tuition. Lord help us all.



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Danny

posted February 24, 2010 at 10:57 am


Interesting how this post dovetails with the previous one about Criticizing the Church, Defending the Church. Of course TEDS is an institution within the church that charges for services but it is still a part of the church.
As to people having a conversation with a woman’s husband but not with her, it is possible there is more going on here than just sexism. As a man who put in his time at TEDS in the 90s, even though happily married, I found myself keeping close guard on how close I would let myself get to females. Of course I could control myself but I also know my weaknesses. I don’t know how single men approach it.
Also, the placement office did not help me get a job teaching in the university. Do colleges and universities contact the placement office for staffing needs?



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Jinny

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:08 am


As a current TEDS student who is female, I can witness to the change in TEDS attitudes towards women. I have not heard one negative word about my intention to go into full-time ministry from either professors or peers. I LOVE IT HERE!
From one of my local churches, the tale is different. Thankfully, I learned very quickly from that one phone call where I didn’t want to be.
TEDS has actually improved their placement program, offering a comprehensive list of area churches that do or do not allow women in positions of deacon, elder, or pastor (very relevant for field education and internship placements). There are also pastoral scholarship positions available to men and women offered by an EFCA (the denomination affiliated with the school) church. It is basically a job offer that also pays for your last year of tuition. One of my former classmates is currently there as a pastor. She is even single!
Old rumors circulate about TEDS that are simply untrue today. While at undergrad (Scot, you know which school I’m talking about), I took classes at the seminary there. I was told there were only 3 women in the TEDS MDiv program (amazing how I can find more than that in one classroom, now!). I was told, ‘Don’t go there,’ and heard a horror story about one woman’s experience 20 years ago (they approached her husband about her career). I heard much that outweighed these rumors. The high quality education, the challenging professors, the more in depth language studies (I had taken nearly every language course at the seminary in undergrad).
The seminary at my undergrad is actually more negative in its attitude towards women than TEDS is now. I witnessed a female seminary student in tears after a conversation with one of the male professors. I have yet to see that at TEDS. Unfortunately, the attitude took a turn for the worse after I graduated. I ended my application interview with the seminary (it was supposed to be one of my back-ups to TEDS) in tears because I was sharing a significant, but painful part of my story. The reaction from my interviewer was not encouraging or supportive, but I was somewhat surprised by the rejection phone call. It stung, of course. My undergraduate experience was very good, and my grades were definitely not an issue. I didn’t realize the overall attitude of the seminary outside of the language department at the time. Around the same time, a supportive female professor I had was fired, more than likely over something other than the quality of her teaching. My heart aches for the women who are going to seminary there.
I thank God for leading me to my undergrad and then to TEDS. It is an amazing fit for me (who else but God could make it happen?). I am challenged to think; I have interesting conversations with classmates and professors in and out of class; and because of the practical requirements for graduation, I have learned much about the local churches. I am currently in a pastoral internship with a supportive pastor who preaches expository sermons with great depth. The session and staff here are welcoming and full of excellent mentors for me. I would not have found this church without TEDS’s supervised ministries department.



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Julie Clawson

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:21 am


I think the comments here serve to illustrate why women still have such a hard time in the church. Not only do we have to navigate those calling us sinners and heretics for serving God, we are called prideful for wanting to use our gifts in the church at all. And then those that intellectually believe we are people too, say stuff like “well if God wants them in ministry He will magically open doors for them (i.e. men are totally off the hook in the whole need to be respectful and helpful realm)”
Can we step back here and see that we are debating whether or not an entire gender should be treated and respected as a human being here? The language is “what we ALLOW women to do” “should men acknowledge her existence”. Do you really think women aren’t listening and being affected by this? And you wonder if women still have a harder battle to fight to just make it through the day?



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Ted

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:22 am


I think we should stop with all the castigations about churches and/or seminaries not being supportive of ?women in ministry.? This phrase is ambiguous at best and distortive at worst. Outside of a very small fringe number of churches there are hardly any in America (even the most complementarian) that do not believe women should be doing ministry. Specifics help here and we need to be honest and say the discussion is about women as pastors, or more often, women as senior pastors.
I say all of this because framing the conversation in a manner in which it is made out that all who are complementarian are against ?women in ministry? is a discussion killer and not a manner in which those who hold to a complementarian view would recognize as their own view.



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Amanda

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:22 am


I graduated from TEDS with my MDiv last Spring. My time at TEDS was a very rich time, and after graduating I received one of the most profound blessings of my life: the church in which I invested during my time at TEDS brought me on staff full time as an Assistant Pastor. Having served as president of the “Trinity Society of Women” (an organization for female TEDS students), I’ve thought a lot about this issue and how it plays out at TEDS. I’ve heard from women who have had very negative experiences from students and faculty at TEDS, as well as from women who have experienced nothing but affirmation and encouragement. I personally experienced both during my time in seminary.
While it is true that the atmosphere for female students has greatly improved in the past decades, my impression is that it has actually gotten more difficult for TEDS women in the last couple of years — not explicitly, but there are some strong undercurrents of what I call “gender fundamentalism,” particularly among the male students of TEDS.
The biggest challenge for evangelical women who feel called to ministry is actually finding a church that will hire them — and not just as a children’s pastor (not to diminish the importance of this ministry, but the majority of ministry positions that are open to women in evangelical churches fall into this category, and the majority of female sem. students do not feel called or gifted for children’s ministry). Unfortunately, many women do not come face to face with this reality — the fact that so few full-time ministry jobs are open to women in evangelical churches — until they are about to graduate. Talk about discouragement!
Seminaries can change all they want, but until evangelical churches recognize THEIR responsibility to the gifted women who desire to serve among them, female seminary students will continue to struggle with discouragement and doubt in the face of limited ministry options.



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Richard

posted February 24, 2010 at 11:30 am


Danny @ 22. I appreciate your candidness in living in that tension in how to treat sisters in Christ with honor without overstepping any bounds, especially now as a married man. I wrestle with that tension and balance as well sometimes, especially living in a culture that is very physically affectionate and complimentary after having grown up in a home with little or no physical affection. It’s a strange shift for me but part of adjusting to the culture I serve in.



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Sacred Frenzy

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm


Julie (#25),
So complementarians don’t think that women are people? Only egalitarians think that women should be treated as humans?



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Pat

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm


Richard and Danny, as a woman I appreciate your willingness not to fall into temptation, but as one who has been around Christian men who act so awkward as if they don’t know what to say to a woman, is there possibly a middle ground between having healthy boundaries and engaging women in dialogue without crossing those boundaries? We are after all human beings who enjoy good, intellectual dialogue like our male colleagues,



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Kacie

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm


I think Richard and Danny are correct, and some of the interactions with male students may have less been about her being a woman attempting to train for leadership and more about their awkwardness in knowing how to interact with a woman.
I absolutely also agree with Pat that this is a sad state of affairs. I have spoken to men my husband about the atmosphere at his seminary, and while I understand that seminary is often filled with men that are perhaps overcompensating from moving into the (generally) very flirtatious world of undergrad into seminary, and many of them into married life. They have had the message ground into them that they need to guard their hearts and their minds, and often they simply either have never had or have lost the ability to interact with a woman as a friend, the same as the guys around them.
Boundaries are appropriate, but I also think that it’s quite important that men learn to interact with ease with the women around them. The awkwardness is damaging and isolating.



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Danny

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm


Pat (#30)
You are right. The problem was/and is mine. I am responsible for the damage I have done to my life and many of the “issues” I deal with. I did not grow up a clean “church boy”. I made a mess of my life and relationships in the past and, even as a Christian who had graduated from seminary with advanced degrees, I still wrestle with how to interact with the fairer sex. Hopefully my attempts at friendly exchange on ideas will not be interpreted as hitting on someone.



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Kristen

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm


I am also a TEDS graduate now serve at Christ Community Church, an Evangelical Free church that has a pastoral fellowship program to train and equip the next generation of leaders for the church, as Jinny #24 mentioned. Christ Community hired me as a full-time Associate pastor for two years and then will help me with placement as I look for a position after this. They are a complementarian church that allows me to preach on Sunday mornings and teach in many different contexts, because they recognize Christ has given both men and women as gifts to His church for the building up of the body of Christ, and they are committed to equipping me for a lifetime of service. I think it’s important that churches recognize the gifts that the Spirit has given women, according to His good pleasure, and allow those gifts to be released into the church. My church has recognized my calling and gifting and wants to see me serve the church.
All that to say, there are churches out there, but I could not agree more that the placement office at TEDS needs to be more proactive in finding churches that will allow women to use their gifts and training in the church. I did not use the placement office, and most women I know put no stock in it. We need an advocate in placement, and the placement office is not currently doing that for us.



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John W Frye

posted February 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm


Danny Mann #8,
You conflated my comments. I was referring to the lady’s report that the TEDS seminarians would not even acknowledge her presence, i.e., she was treated as a non-entity. I know committed complementarians who treat women courteously. Second, the way you opened the comments (see #1) is so patently flat-footed. If you truly do acknowledge the egalitarian view as a biblically viable position(though you disagree with it), you would have offered comment #1 in a less strident manner.



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John Mark Harris

posted February 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm


The issue is not the role of women in church governance.
The issue is a school that accepts applicants for training into a specific field who do not possess a reasonable potential of success in that field.
Is there an obligation on the part of the institution for the placement of it’s students?
Well, outside of some desire of the institution to have a high percentage of students “placed” at graduation, I say no.
If someone wanted to go to medical school who had no hands, should the school reject them because it would be hard to do a residency without the use of opposable thumbs? Could the man with no hands sue the school because he couldn’t get a job in any ER even thought the school trained him with the knowledge of an ER doctor? That’s silly.
TEDS (or any seminary) can accept whoever they want, and it’s a great bonus that they make an effort to get students jobs, but that’s not the school’s job. It’s the student’s job to get a job.
I never submitted any resume through my Seminary. I started as an involved member, moved to a teacher, became and intern, then an associate, then a full-time staff member, then a Pastor. After that, I got a job at another church as a Pastor.
I see more of an issue of entitlement rather than gender issues. No student deserves a job in the “vocational ministry” just because they graduated. It’s a disease that Gen-X and our parents the Boomers are plagued with.
On the one hand, no Christian should treat a human being as though they don’t exist, that’s just bad people.
On the other, the MAJORITY of people who ever enroll in seminary never have a vocational ministry position (let alone become a pastor).
We like to take an antidotal experience (especially when it’s our own) and use it to have a “boo-hoo” pity-party.
Life is hard, nothing is given to you on a platter, you have to work for everything in this world. Getting good grades is super, but grades don’t get you a job, work does, and there’s a difference between work and school-work.
If she had found a “woman-friendly” well respected church to serve when she enrolled in seminary, worked her way up letting everyone know she had a desire to be a vocational-minister she probably would have had a different experience, and she would be in a better position to complain about the jerks who treated her bad.
We’re all created in the image of God, male and female, so there’s no excuse for any believer to treat someone as described in this article.
However, churches have legitimate interpretations on both sides of the gender isle. The majority of evangelical churches take a more traditional view of women in ministry. It’s not a civil rights issue, it’s an interpretive issue.
I’m not a Dispensationalist, I’m not a calvinist, but I’m a Southern Baptist, I’m young and I prefer more “up-to-date” type churches. I have the option of complaining about how few options I have, or I can accept my calling and get to work.
I chose the latter, and have had a wonderful career thus far.
Boo-hoo – there’s no crying in baseball (or ministry)



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Your Name

posted February 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm


I think you raise a valid point, Scot, about the financial pressure on an institution and the resulting temptation towards dishonesty in vocational opportunities. As the father of a student headed (hopefully!) to TEDS, I pray earnestly for Godly leadership and counsel in their life – particularly from the faculty – and the willingness to speak honestly and directly about their giftedness and potential ministry opportunities. I’ve posted on this as well previously, but I continue to feel sad about the dismissive attitude demonstrated by some of the comments above towards the Complementarian understanding of gender roles in leadership… Unlike Julie (#25) who in this forum and others repeatedly cites the language of “domination and oppression” whenever the issue rises, we all do well to realize that the issue continues to be about what the Bible says and requires, and would do best to steer away from the appeals to emotion. After all, we are all called to obedience in ways that are profoundly at odds with both culture and our natural preferences, aren’t we? And John (#34), perhaps some of us (gasp) don’t view egalitarianism as “a Biblically viable position.” OK, now I’m in trouble. :)



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Wes

posted February 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm


Sorry – I intended to take credit for my comment (didn’t want to look like I was hiding!)



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Richard

posted February 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm


@30 and 31
I agree with Dan in 32 that in no way are we implying that our awkwardness is “okay”, it’s just an area we’re growing in. And it’s because of other committed brothers and sisters in Christ that have been patient in helping me navigate that middle ground that I’ve grown at all in it.



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r

posted February 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm


i was a student at TEDS when this woman was. i know her from classes there. she is brilliant. *brilliant.*
i am familiar with her experience. And I can confirm her notes on how she was treated by staff and classmates. We had some fabulous professors, who supported us, and we had others who, well, not so much.
I, however, was single at the time. While I also received the blank stares, diverted eyes and questions about what I would (possibly!) do with my degree (loaded questions that were meant to be answered with thoughts on how I could use it when raising small children in the privacy of my home–which, I do and cherish!), I also received questions like if i “played piano” or I was “*willing* to do this or that in life”. As in, how could I shape my existence to fit into someone else’s call. Well, we all hand over our lives to another when we marry, but this was not a question rooted in mutual sacrifice.
These are questions meant to field a wife (a pastor’s wife), not to better understand my goals in life or, gasp, Calling. (I wanted to answer “No, but i got the highest grade in the apologetics debate and finished at the top of the class in the sermon writing, and can program my own VCR, thank you.” Kidding on the last one, but you know, you always need three. :))
I ended up snagging my own pastor’s husband. :)
And like the writer, he is my biggest cheerleader, a brilliant pastor himself.
Seminaries have to get it together, but so does the Christian public at large. I briefly*** peeked at some of the comments, and knew it was time to quickly look away. That’s a lot like hopping from a “Christian” (I’m more of a “that should be a noun not an adjective girl”, but moving on…) mom blog to another “Christian mom blog” and finding yourself somewhere lost in the blogosphere and before you know it, reading some mom’s love for justice, jesus and the proclamation that women who deceive you that they are called to ministry, should be cast from the earth. Forever.
I’ve begun to keep my blogosphere much, much smaller. It’s too painful otherwise.
It’s a tough world out there. We thrive on the divisive. We hurt each other. We speak before we seek God. And we create cultures that destroy the personhood of one another even as we seek to serve.
Some of us girls like to cook, garden, dance, scrapbook, craft, etc. Some of us like to throw a football, run fast, read Volf, study sciences, go to seminary, pastor, etc. Outside of scrapbooking (notonmylife), I like all of those things.
I also like to counsel & exegete–even speak time to time, and consider it a humble privilege when I am called to do so.
But I need cheerleaders, and while my husband is incredible, I need my pool of cheerleaders to extend beyond him. We’re all in this together, and we can’t be ripping at one another’s seams. Or diverting our eyes because it’s easier to pretend one of us doesn’t exist.
Shalom in this place.
We can do better.



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MarkE

posted February 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm


Wes:
I don’t think you are being honest. Are you saying that you cannot acknowledge that it might be possible that other intelligent, God-loving, bible-studying believers would come to hold an egalitarian position? If that is at all possible, then say so. They might be wrong. You might be wrong. Once we all figure out where we are wrong, we can stop it. In the meantime, let’s all be a bit more humble.



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Clarissa

posted February 24, 2010 at 3:07 pm


This letter resonated with me as a fellow graduate of TEDS (2005). I became the real “elephant in the room” when I finished my last year of study at 8 months pregnant. Imagine my surprise when a professor remarked (after addressing another woman in class by the wrong name), “All you women look the same to me!” Apparently, even in my very pregnant state, I was indistinguishable from the handful of other women in the room.
Since I graduated, I have enjoyed four years of rich ministry — and two subsequent births. In the midst of those pregnancies, I am pleased to note, no one in my congregation ever mistakened me for a non-pregnant woman in the room! I am thankful my congregation was more comfortable with my femininity than my seminary professors were!



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Your Name

posted February 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm


MikeE,
I’m saying only three things:
1. I agreed with Scot’s primary point about the importance of seminaries honesty with, and support for their students in seeking career placement (my primary point);
2. Arguments like those from Julie (#25), which are frequently posted when gender issues are raised, distract from the central question of what the Bible says and requires – which is all-to-frequently at odds with our natural inclination; and
3. As I didn’t think it was fair for John to characterize Daniel’s initial comment (#1)as “patently flat-footed” and “strident,” I wanted to point out that it was possible to be “fully convinced” of the incorrectness of the egalitarian position.
In this last point, I wasn’t …suggesting that I cannot acknowledge that it might be possible that other intelligent, God-loving, bible-studying believers would come to hold an egalitarian position” – only that it is reasonable for another God-loving, bible-studying believer to think reasonably that they are wrong in doing so.
MarkE, are you really saying that people throughout Church history who have held a definitive position on something like this aren’t “humble”? I’d suggest that humility in these matters goes more to avoiding an attacking posture and tone – something which I found far more evident in posts other than the ones identified by John. Perhaps you think I’m not doing well at this, but if so, I trust its because of the way I’m saying it (or at least the way you’re reading me) and not because I believe that on issues like this we may – even must! – be “fully convinced” (Romans 14:5). That’s not arrogance.



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Wes

posted February 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm


I did it again, too… forgot my name on my reply.



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Esther C

posted February 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm


The letter is sad, but not surprising. I recently graduated from a seminary with a MDiv where women were more excepted and expected to be called into ministry. However, I joined the Evangelical Covenant Church and became licensed bi-vocationally. I found that there are male pastors (quite a few) having a hard time with accepting women in pastoral roles. If men are not comfortable with it, they should not join a denomination that supports women in pastoral ministry. Furthermore, I think the leaders in the denomination need to provide more leadership so that women can thrive in ministry, not feel like they are constantly being judge or watched or not welcomed.
Andy at #12, I actually just had dinner with someone 5 months ago who shared very similar experiences as the letter writer as a woman completing her MDiv at TEDS. She graduated last year so I don’t think it’s an issue of the last decade.
For me the main point is, if you don’t agree and think it’s not biblical for women to be preachers and pastors, as much as I disagree with you, I’ll respect your position (which means, I won’t have much to do with you), but the fact that denominations and seminaries allow women to complete MDiv degrees and license them to minister but fail to provide an environment where they feel safe and accepted is not acceptable to me.
I am currently in the process of deciding whether I’m going to stick with ECC and pursue ordination. I’d rather folks tell me, no you’re not welcome here, than tell me that I am welcomed when I am really not.



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John W Frye

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm


We know that many mainline churches ordain women for ministry. I have sat under some of these gifted sisters’ pastoral leadership. However, along with the mainliners, many evangelicals are egalitarian: Vineyard churches ordain women (and the egalitarian position is the official position of the Vineyard of Canada). Many evangelical/conservative Wesleyan Methodist churches have women elders. We know that Willow Creek Community Church dared take on the evangelical establishment (and caught the hot end of the poker on it) on this issue. The Evangelical Covenant Church denomination (sister denomination to the Evangelical Free Church) holds the egalitarian view (even though various congregations or individuals wrestle with it). Now, what should we conclude about these brothers and sisters in Christ? They can’t handle the Scriptures correctly (i.e., “rightly divide the word of truth)? They are blinded by Satan? They have been seduced by the women libbers? Or, could many godly scholars and pastors have taken this issue on exegetically with all that exegetically entails, and have concluded that not offering gifted, called and prepared sisters in Christ equal positions of church leadership is both biblically defensible and ecclesiologically healthy? I don’t mind being on the side of R. T. France, N. T. Wright, Gordon Fee and Scot McKnight, to name just a few–all deeply respected New Testament exegetes and theologians.
For Wes (#36) to suggest that the egalitarian view is not a “viable biblical position” is beyond arrogance IMO. I and many egalitarians can accept that complementarians disagree with us, as evangelicals disagree on many *interpretations.* I, for one, give a wide place in the body of Christ for complementarians to believe, teach and practice their view. No problem. I would not say their view is not biblically viable. I would say that many others and I disagree with it and offer another interpretation and practice.
So, Danny’s comment #1 was patentedly flat-footed in view of the letter that was posted.



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John W Frye

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm


OOPS! Big error in wording in comment #45– the sentence should read “Or, could many godly scholars and pastors have taken this issue on exegetically with all that exegetically entails, and have concluded that offering gifted, called and prepared sisters in Christ equal positions of church leadership is both biblically defensible and ecclesiologically healthy?” Delete the “not” before “offering.”



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DC Cramer

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm


As a recent TEDS grad (MDiv ’08, MA ’09), I can testify that a number of my female friends had difficulties as students that I didn’t face as a male. Much of it is not direct put-downs but rather subtle messages that add up over time. The most blatant example is when Mark Driscoll and Acts29 were invited to campus for church planting week. Driscoll’s views and rhetoric were no secret to those who invited him, yet he was given an entire hour chapel to step on women over and over. The chapel director was left to apologize and try to pick up the pieces after the fact, but the damage was done. Worst of all, few professors and students spoke out against it after the fact. It was that week that finally convinced me to get involved with Christians for Biblical Equality!



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Current female TEDS student

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:37 pm


I’m in my second year of the MDiv program at TEDS. I have been able to find a handful of professors who are willing to step out and actively support my desire to go into ministry (at least, ministry to more than women and children). But TEDS is not done dealing with this issue yet.
Last year, after I’d been at TEDS just a couple of months, I had a professor – with no warning, we just showed up one day and he sat us down to lecture about this – spend an entire class period explaining why the complementarian position (in terms of both marriage and ministry) was the only biblical position. He caricatured the egalitarian argument as one held only by those who reject the authority of the Bible and want to give in to culture, and went off on a long tangent about how contemporary egalitarianism comes out of feminism, and therefore by rejecting the complementarian position, you are in effect supporting the same movement that led to the legalization of abortions.
I sat with my head down, staring at my paper for the whole class period, and listened to the other two girls in the class during our break discuss how asking women to take on these “extra” responsibilities in ministry and marriage was adding on a burden that should not be theirs, that really it was better for everyone involved for women to stick to women’s ministry, or just taking care of their kids and supporting their husbands. I had a conversation later with a male student in the class who told me he agreed with “pretty much everything” that the professor had said.
This experience has profoundly shaped my time at TEDS and my path toward discovering God’s calling on my life. I’m so thankful for those who have been supportive and encouraged me to keep persevering.
TEDS may be better than it once was, and not everyone runs across that much opposition, but it’s still out there, in both the faculty and the student body.



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Cheryl Schatz

posted February 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm


When women are stopped from fulfilling the calling that God has given them there is deep hurt. I would like to share with you a letter that I received from a woman who had a call from God and the struggles that she went through when she realized that the restrictions she accepted kept a hole in her heart. Her letter really touched me and I hope it helps all to see inside a woman’s heart. Here is her letter.
_________________________________
Dear Cheryl,
I?m not sure if you are the one I should write to, but I wanted to let someone know that I watched the DVDs ?Women in the Ministry? twice and my reactions to it.
For three days I was an emotional wreck. I got angry, I cried, I?d stopped watching it and walked around the house talking to myself. I fell to my knees and told God I didn?t understand. I even was asked by others if I was feeling ok or if I was sick. It tore me up inside. Please, let me explain.
I am a woman in my fifties..My background is a lifetime of being in conservative, fundamental, baptist churches and have been married for thirty some years to a man with a similar background. Our women are restricted in serving the Lord and are constricted to servant roles in our churches. We should only wear skirts and dresses which must be mid calf. We should not be bare armed although to the elbow short sleeves are permitted. We may cut and style our hair, but it should be at least shoulder length. We cannot preach, period, or teach males once they are 13 years of age and we cannot hold any type of leadership position, even on committees or panels. A man (usually the husband of the woman who really needs to oversee the event or function) is usually appointed the position of leader even if it is only a figurehead. We are taught that our roles are ?separate, but, equal.?
Through the workings of the Lord (though some may say the devil) I came across your web site. I was intrigued and ordered the DVD set WIM. I have always thought that something wasn?t correct about the restriction we are forced to be under. When I was a teenager, before I truly and fully understood this restriction, I felt called to be a missionary. I felt sure I knew to whom I was called and where I was to go. I counseled with my pastor as all good congregational members do and was shocked, confused and hurt to find out that I couldn?t be the missionary I felt led to become. I was told that no mission board would back me because I was a single woman and that the only way I could be a missionary to the people I felt called to was if I married a man who was also called to the same. But truth be told, I had to be wrong about my calling, because God calls men. God prepares the heart of a woman to follower her husband into the mission field, but doesn?t allow her to answer the call of a leadership position because the Bible says so. If I truly was called, it must be only to help my future husband in his ministries.
I couldn?t understand why God would do this, after all, men were as sinful in His sight as women were and women were just as equal in God?s sight as men. I wanted to do what was right. My choices were thin, I could either accept God?s Word or be in rebellion. As time went on, I came to accept that men just might be more special to God than women. So I pushed my ?calling? aside and accepted my role as a woman in the church. I married young, raised my children, helped my husband in his ministries, taught the 4 + 5 yr. old Sunday School, sang in the choir, played organ/piano for services, etc., etc., etc., but I never really had peace. It was as if there was a ?little tiff? between me and God. It was as if I had a hole in my heart. And when a man stood up behind the pulpit to preach on women and their roles, I would cringe, I would resent it and fight back the tears. That lost, confused and hurt feeling I felt that day so long ago would rise to the surface. I would tell myself that that was just my sin nature resisting the commands of God. After all nobody likes to be told what to do.. I would then ask God to forgive me for being rebellious and I would force it all back down.
I watched the DVDs the first time with the reaction I mentioned at the beginning of this letter. After all, this was not what I had been taught. How could this be right? How could Bible Scholars, men who had spent their whole life studying the Bible backwards and forwards, have missed this? After I had settled down, a few days later, I watched the DVDs again with my Bible and a concordance with a Hebrew/Greek Bible Dictionary and I followed along. Everything that was being discussed seemed correct and I greatly rejoiced. The hole in my heart has started to heal, because I now know that man is behind the restriction, not God.
I, also, mourn. For although I now embrace the truth and will defend any woman who would dare claim these teachings for her own, it?s too late for me. I cannot do the same because to do so could mean I might lose my family. If I could not convince them that these DVDs speak the truth, I would be labeled a heretic.
Oh how I do so wish that the Scriptures used in the DVDs were from the King James Version. It would take a miracle for me to convince my husband or some other man from the church to watch these. On the off chance a miracle would happen, as soon as the first Scripture is read and he/they realize its not KJV, they will dismiss it. They will mock. They will give no value to it. It doesn?t matter that the study goes back into the Hebrew and the Greek, if the scriptures are not from the KJV then it is a work of Satan trying to corrupt the Word of the Lord.
Thank you so much for producing these DVDs. They not only started a healing process in my life, but also, I am now wondering about other things that I have been taught as Bible truths. Some are: 1. marriage. This would seem to go with the WIM (How submnissive is submissiveness supposed to be?); 2. women?s apparel (How are we supposed to dress?); 3. KVJ verses other Bible Versions; 4. Pastor Rule. (Does he really have absolute authority?); 5. Church Discipline (Is it necessary and, if so, what is the proper way to administer it.) Perhaps you will consider making DVDs on these subjects.
I wish to know what church or denomination you are from. Perhaps there is a church in my area I could attend, ifone day I am able to break away from mine. It is so hard to attend now that I have watched the DVDs and know the truth. A visiting evangelist made a statement in which he cruelly denounced women counseling men and the men of the congregation responded with a hearty ?Amen.? It hurt.
I pray that Christian men will have their eyes opened to the truth as they read their Bibles and put away their preconceived notions and beliefs. I pray that they will soon liberate Christian women everywhere. However, I feel like Moses. I am looking over into the Promised Land, but I won?t see it in my lifetime.
In Christ,
(name removed by request)



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DW

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm


I’m curious to hear more about why you as a woman might attend a seminary that doesn’t support women in ministry? I attended a seminary from a denomination that affirms women in ministry, but it was still interesting to hear some fellow students’ stories of prejudice against them going into ministry.



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Rob

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm


This is a tangent to the original post, but having read through all the comments, I wish to comment on a thread that has come up several times already from other pertaining to the TED placement office.
As recently as 5 years ago, I was chairman of our church Sr. pastor search committee. Obviously it is a common practice in a church search process to post their opening with fraternal seminaries. I posted our opening with 8-10 different seminaries, all of which are well represented in our conservative evangelical denomination, including TED. Entering into the process, I privately thought our next pastor would probably come from TED because of their numerous alumni within our denomination. TED’s placement office was entirely unique from the others in that they did not openly post church openings for their students and alumni, but rather tried to correctly match potential candidates with the right opportunity. For lack of a better term, they attempted to function like eHarmony. While the intentions seemed good, I found it rather controlling that they did trust their own alumni to view and respond to postings directly. Secondly, TED was the only seminary that didn’t provide online technology to submit a posting. They would only accept snail mail. Overall, their match-making process was a failure. Of the handful of candidates the placement office did send to us, absolutely none of them were qualified for ordination (no MDiv, denominational affinity, or relevant experience). It was as if they didn’t even read our church profile or requirements. We received over 300 applicants to our opening and less than 10 were TED grads. TED was the least represented of all the seminaries I contacted. After our process was completed, I made some notes for future reference and one of them was to not post with TED in the future. It was a waste of time.
All of this to say coming from the perspective of someone in the position of hiring/calling: if you are a TED student or alumni, unless things have improved in the past 5 years, I strongly advise you to look and pursue a potential calling outside of your placement office.



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Rob

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:30 pm


Correction to my previous post. The following sentence was missing the word “not”.
It should read: While the intentions seemed good, I found it rather controlling that they did “not” trust their own alumni to view and respond to postings directly.



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Current female TEDS student

posted February 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm


DW: TEDS is not officially unsupportive of women in ministry. The administration is very much outwardly on board with providing theological education for women who want to go into all types of ministry. I spoke with an alum before going to visit, and he told me he had female friends and basically that everyone got along great. Many professors will tell you that it is no longer an issue here. It all very much depends upon who you run across in your time.
Most of the opposition is not outright – it’s more subtle, in ways described in the letter in Scot McKnight’s original blog post. There is a level of denial for many involved in promoting Trinity and dealing with potential students. And the faculty/administration can’t do much to control the subtle social sanctions of the mostly-male student body.



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drita

posted February 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm


I am a current seminary student who has 14 years on ministry experience. I spent my first full year striving for 100% on everything. My husband asked me why, and I replied, I am trying to earn my right to be heard. When I speak in class, I am emotional- because as a Latina I value the connection of mind and heart, and I am very passionate about scripture, evangelism, and reconciliation. However, my classmates often seem to dismiss people who display emotion (including professors). Therefore I need to earn my 98%’s in Dr so and so’s class so that these men can see I am for real! I may express myself differently, I may be the only one in class not wearing blue, brown, Khaki or grey, but I have a lot to offer my peers.
The fist week in suicide Greek someone asked me if I was a women’s ministry pastor because I was such a strong leader. They probably thought they were giving me a complement. NOT! Then they asked my husband during orientation at every stop what program he was in- he said “my wife is in the MDIV”. Then for the next three years I got stares when I would tell incoming students I was an MDIV student and I was looking at church planting. Oh church planting week is hilarious at my seminary since our denomination won’t ordain women. It’s like a whole week excluding me, without acknowledging it. It’s all so subtle.
But I do faculty and admin do have influence over the environment but being sensitive in discussions, bringing in female leaders, speaker, faculty not just for “wives” and mom’s events, but for the whole student body to learn from. I think they can acknowledge where in their curriculum they are lacking in the female voice. (for example ALL of the options of books we were given to read for counseling were men. I know there are ones written by females that are excellent resources.
Going to seminary that is not for women has been purposeful for me because I know these men NEED me! Ask any person of color why we go to any U.S. seminary :)



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r

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm


tagging on to #53-
Please keep in mind that each student gets a different professor pool, and each their own advisor. So, to each her mixed bag. TEDS itself is a mixed bag theologically and practically when it comes to women. Some professors support women, some don’t. But don’t blame women for going there- it’s a great school, a fine institution, a great academic ride and a woman shouldn’t have to refrain from studying there with some great theologians to avoid arrogant and crude fellow students who behave inhumanely towards women! And TEDS is better for having men AND women there!
The burden here falls on the students, pastors, congregations (and ehem, and readers of blogs) to treat each other kindly even as they disagree with each other on theory and practice.
And yes, subtle is still terribly, terribly painful!!! Death by paper cuts. Passive aggressive offense. (Professors who grade down women to make their statement they don’t think women should be there.)
Further, visiting professors can be pretty rough on the ladies, as well. i had one tell me he didn’t support women in seminary, and didn’t support us being in his class. he was known for grading down women, and i experienced just that. i was a student who received almost straight A’s, and received a C in his class (and one class i screwed up on my own- full disclosure :). ruined my GPA.
pretty creepy stuff.
let’s also keep in mind the letter writer didn’t say ALL people and ALL STAFF were terrible. she told **her experience. that’s not an argument well fought by arguing you “have one female friend who is fine.” please expand your research, but better, please more deeply engage your compassion meter.
when you hear of a person experiencing pain, suffering or oppression of any kind, it’s a healthy practice to set your immediate emotions aside and delve into your compassion meter. Hold judgement, imagine what it’s like to be them, don’t discount this or that because of your particular experience, and try to deeply feel what it’s like to live in that person’s experience.
It’s a good practice for a pastor, it’s a good practice for person.
If a seminary student can’t kindly and compassionately disagree with another person on a theological issue, how is that person going to pastor a congregation and engage in the world with people outside Christian belief systems? We are the builders of shalom- yet how do we treat each other? How do we represent ourselves- Jesus- to the world?
Shalom.



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Amanda

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm


DW: For those of us women who desire to go into ministry AND remain in evangelical churches, our options in terms of theological education are limited. I chose to go to TEDS because I wanted to learn theology and biblical languages in a place that I knew upholds the authority of Scripture, where I didn’t have to justify my high view of Scripture in my classes. It is ironic that some would question my commitment to Scripture on the basis of my egalitarian position on women in ministry. Perhaps the greatest strengths of evangelicalism correspond with its greatest weaknesses…



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Mary

posted February 25, 2010 at 12:29 am


I want to respond to a comment made awhile ago (I have just had the opportunity to read this thread). Comment #35 stated that students shouldn’t expect their institutions to find placement for them. I absolutely agree with that assertion. I do not have a seminary degree, but do have a Ph.D. in theology. When I was looking for employment, I did not expect my institution to find a job for me. That was, of course, my job. What I did expect (and what I experienced (and full disclosure–I did not attend an evangelical institution)) was to be assisted in the job search process in the same way that any male student would be assisted. In the context of my school this meant asking faculty members to write recommendation letters and receiving coaching on the job application and interview process.
If the placement office at TEDS is consistently assisting significantly more male students than female students (proportional to the make-up of the student body’s gender ratio), then it seems legitimate to ask whether or not they are fully being fair to their female students. It is probably not the case that the placement office is intentionally failing to seek positions welcoming to female students. However, it may very well be the case that they are not really trying to assist female students with placement (and this seems particularly the case if their procedure is as described in #51).
What I think is very difficult for many in the conversation to understand is that gender discrimination can be extremely subtle and often come from those who claim to support and affirm women in the church (or the academy or any number of other contexts). It can be the case that those who make such claims genuinely believe that they are being supportive of women even when their actions say otherwise. Even though these types of things can be very subtle, they are not lost on the women faced with them and they can be utterly devastating.



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Ray Ingles

posted February 25, 2010 at 10:27 am


Daniel Mann –

I think we’d find that there are few principles that don’t require some qualification. There are times when lying is commendable (Rahab), even stealing an enemy’s cache of weapons.

I just think that means a lot more things are heuristics, not principles. The principle is “you shall not harm others (or allow others to come to harm) unnecessarily” – the application leads to the heuristic, “it’s hardly ever a good idea to lie or steal”.
Even the Ten Commandments don’t ban lying altogether – just a particularly egregious and contemptible lie, the bearing of false witness. Any case where I can imagine bearing false witness to be anything like a good thing, it’d involve an invalid or so-biased-it’s-broken court… in which case I’d think think it wouldn’t be legitimately a “witness” at all.



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Wes

posted February 25, 2010 at 11:56 am


John (#45),
I’m sorry that you miss my point so completely, and resort to slander as well. If you read my thought with a little bit of charity, you’ll see that I am not suggesting anything beyond that which I believe you claimed for yourself… If you are egalitarian (and I have many friends and people in ministry who I deeply love and respect), you believe your understanding on the topic is correct. It governs how you conduct yourself… you believe it to be the Biblical position. It is false humility (IMHO!) to suggest that somehow, others who have wrestled with the topic are arrogant in saying that they are settled on the topic as well.
My point, dude, is demonstrated in the vast majority of comments in this thread: The problem in discussing gender roles here isn’t primarily the arrogance of complementarians, but the continual reliance of egalitarians on emotional arguments. By the way, John: Where’s your ire towards the many, many egalitarian commentors here who don’t appear to allow any possibility that they may be wrong?
Ironic. My point point originally was that I agreed with Scot. I noted also that I have a personal interest in the problem raised in the post, as well. All I was saying was that, in addition to questioning “fairness” in her circumstance, the woman in question ought also allow for the possibility that the complementarian understanding is correct. That’s not arrogant. Please stop and listen.



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Eleanor

posted February 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm


I graduated from the TEDS extended learning program with an MA in Religion in 2006. I chose the program because I could do it on weekends (it took me six years and I put 25K on my car, but it worked out) and because of TEDS’ good reputation with scripture.
I agree with those who have said TEDS is a mixed bag for women. In my time there, I had classes with egalitarians like Dr. Osborn, but also with folks on the complementarian side.
I took ST III from an adjunct professor who made it quite clear in the first class that women were not to lead in any capacity in the church. He felt he was going out on a limb because he once had allowed a woman to offer spoken prayer in worship. There were three women in this class, and we all just kept our heads down and our mouths shut to make it through the semester. Whenever “women in ministry” came up, the male students in the class would discuss, while we few women did our best to keep blank looks on our faces until the subject passed.
This was by far my worst experience in the six years.
The other thing worth noting is that pretty much across the board, those who had the strongest feelings against women in ministry were my male classmates. Often even the complementarian professors would step in with words to moderate their views. I took classes in seven different cities, and so saw many different groups of students. This attitude was pretty well ingrained across the student population.
Having come from a mainline church, all this was new to me. For what it’s worth, my experiences at TEDS helped prepare me to respond to those I come across as a pastor who try to convince me that women should not hold this role because of my gender.



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John W Frye

posted February 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Wes (#58),
You wrote, “And John (#34), perhaps some of us (gasp) don’t view egalitarianism as “a Biblically viable position.” OK, now I’m in trouble. :)”
Of course, complementarians believe they are correct in interpreting the Bible and, thus, so do egalitarians. And I am not into emotional leverage, but into good, exegetical work with the central texts on the issue. I do disagree with the complementarian view (a view given me during my years at DTS with George Knight III et al). So, Wes, dude, by your own admission, you don’t support egalitarianism at a biblically viable view. What is it, then? If I recall, the egalitarians look at, exegete and discern theological truths from the same BIBLE texts that complementarians look at, etc. That’s all.



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Paul

posted February 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm


Wow…having just finished a series on Phil Payne’s latest book, I’m deeply sadened to read these accounts of how women were/are treated at TEDS. The Church of Jesus our Lord has much to learn in this regard. I am prayerfully hopeful that perhaps the 2011 renovation of the NIV?TNIV can be one effect means toward reconciling “man and woman, one in Christ.”



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Matt Barker

posted February 26, 2010 at 7:13 am


I loved your book, Blue Parakeet, as well. I think that your arguments for women in ministry make very logical and biblical sense and it breaks my heart to read of this woman’s story here. How many gifted women have we turned away due to our inability to move beyond this subject?
One of the weakest arguments I’ve read lately is at the link below:
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/02/why-women-cannot-be-head-pastors/
I also read a great paper that same day, if anybody is interested:
http://www.intervarsity.org/mx/item/4175/download/



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Faith

posted February 26, 2010 at 8:01 am


in response to post 50… why would I attend a seminary in a denomination that does not affirm Women in Ministry.
Practical… contrarty to popular belief that any woman attending seminary is a liberal, i was an evangelical. Second, it was near my home and accessible as a mom of teens.



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Your Name

posted February 26, 2010 at 10:42 am


I have been the Placement Director at TEDS for the last 10 years. Right now I am feeling quite defensive. I feel like I have been maligned, motives have been imputed to me, some untruths have been presented, and the scriptural admonition about going to someone directly with whom you have a difference has been avoided by going public with the negative comments.
I do not believe I have ever treated a woman in my classes or in the placement process any differently than I have any man. If someone feels like I have, I apolgize.
25% of the churches who contact our office are open to considering a women for their position.
The EFC accepts women in ministry positions and will credential them with a permanent ministry license. I helped Sherry through that process recently.
I repeatedly receive affirmative comments about our fittedness process. Rob, sorry that God did not use that approach to lead you to your pastor.
For t
10 years anyone can go to tiu.edu/tedsplacement and fill out and submit on-line a ministry information form. I receive them regularly and also information about the church, all of which arrive electronically.
I just scheduled a session to meet with the Wednesday women’s group to talk with them about placement and writing a resume.
If I can serve you in your placement needs, please come talk to me and I will serve you as best I can. Really! And I promise not to laugh in your face.



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Wes

posted February 26, 2010 at 11:23 am


John (#61),
Boy, your beating that drum. I really, really believe that you’re reading my post in the least charitable way possible. Your unwillingness to acknowledge my other points (which were the focus of my post) and failure to otherwise engage is puzzling. I’m not surprised by commentors who dismiss people on the basis of positions they don’t like, but I’m don’t see the logic in people – especially pastors – who seem to demonstrate in their responses the very arrogance that they criticize in those who don’t hold their position.
Let me demonstrate: I believe you suggested that you would be willing to acknowlege that a complementarian understanding of the Scriptures may actually be correct (and that you might be wrong) – am I correct? If so, why wouldn’t you agree with my point, which was that the woman in question would do well to consider whether her conflict may possibly be the result of pursuing a wrong direction?
Perhaps I didn’t say it well enough, Pastor, but you seem to demonstrate a lot more grace to those with whom you agree.



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Julie

posted June 30, 2010 at 11:30 am


I am trying to write a dissertation on women counseling men. I can find many artilces that address women teaching and preaching, but not counseling. Can anyone help? If so email me at jeckert@psci.net.
Thanks



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