J. R. Daniel Kirk is a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.
He recently presented at the Christians for Biblical Equality Conference in Houston.
Dear men, it is not enough to be supportive in your hearts. If your church is excluding women from service, you need to be creating opportunities to overturn that practice.
You need to speak. You need to ask.
I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, a conservative institution that has a firm commitment to the Bible. I am very grateful for what I received while a student there, all while disagreeing with the seminary on this facet of the church's doctrinal teaching: I believe that women who are called as ministers of the gospel can be ordained and installed to serve as elders, pastors, deacons, and ministers, not only to women and children, but to the church as a whole. I do not believe that a woman's role is limited, and that there are reasonable approaches to 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 (to name two problematic passages for those who hold my position) that do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the office of pastor, teacher, or elder should exclude women.
It is on us, inasmuch as God has entrusted the church to his people and we are called to be faithful in it and act to conform it to God’s will.
We must create the kind of church that will receive not just our sons but our daughters, not just our brothers but our sisters, in the fullness of who God is making them to be, in Christ, by the Spirit.
I do not believe that these two texts are where the matter is settled, however. I believe there is much more within the witness of Scripture that should lead us to believe that women, this side of the cross of Jesus Christ, who have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and the loving approval of the church, can serve faithfully as leaders within the body of Christ.
Jesus' public ministry was supported by women, as we see in Luke 8.
A woman, Mary, sat at Jesus' feet as his disciple, as we see in Luke 10.
A man and a woman, Priscilla and Aquila, served together as co-laborers in the gospel, or so we read in Acts 18. Priscilla's name, often appearing first, may indicate she was known as preeminent of the two. Together they instructed Apollos further in the truth of the gospel.
Other examples abound, not to mention occurances in the Old Testament of women in positions of leadership.
I am well aware that problems do remain, and the hermeneutical concerns surrounding these passages and others are tricky. But I, for one, through the study of both Scripture and church history, believe that my conviction that women are fit to serve in leadership far exceeds sentimentality or a desire to better love my wife, who is a minister of the gospel. Rather, I believe my conviction rests firmly upon Scripture and the use of reason.
Those who disagree, please know that I love you in Christ, and ask only that your disagreements be shared in a spirit of charity and love, befitting the commands we find in the New Testament to loving seek the truth in love.
To those who agree, I ask that you be loving towards those who disagree. Convictions of the truth should be held both firmly and humbly, open to reproof and correction. Our ears should always be prepared to listen.
I agree with Professor Kirk. Those who believe that women are equally fit to serve as leaders, and find biblical warrant for such a claim, must speak up. In the process, they must develop their position biblically and theologically, and be open to criticism and challenges. But in the face of such criticism, if their minds remain fixed, they must teach others why they believe what they believe.
Women in leadership is not a modern concern, carried on the wings of modern ideological movements. It is a biblical concern, one we would do well to revisit the text in light of. That, my friends, is the task.