August 27, 2008

Women in the Pulpit - Even in Conservative Texas Church

Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Irving Bible Church had a woman in the pulpit for the first time in its 40-year history last Sunday morning. The church's elders – all men – spent 18 months studying the Bible, reading other books, hearing guest speakers and praying. They concluded that despite "problem" passages, the Bible doesn't prohibit a woman from instructing men in theological matters.

Their key conclusions:

•The accounts of creation and the fall (Genesis 1-3) reveal a fundamental equality between men and women.

•Women exercised significant ministry roles of teaching and leading with God's blessing in both Old and New Testaments.

•Though the role of women was historically limited, the progress of revelation indicates an ethic in progress leading to full freedom for women to exercise their giftedness in the local church.

•Key New Testament passages restricting women's roles were culturally and historically specific, not universal principles for all time and places.

For some of us, their conclusions are no different than we arrived at many years ago; but it was a major step for this male-oriented church.

The Irving Bible Church identifies itself as an independent, nondenominational church with three worship services each Sunday. In its Beliefs Statement is this introduction:

In presenting our beliefs we keep in mind the following 3 principles:

  • In all essential beliefs--we have unity.
  • In nonessential beliefs--we have liberty.
  • In all our beliefs--we show love.