Role of Women in Ministry Focus of Talk

Post a Comment » Written on January 31st, 2008     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (January 31, 2008) – Long before the modern feminist movement, the four basic tenets of evangelicalism led its adherents to heighten the role of women in the church and society because of the movement’s commitment to converting individuals and unjust social norms, Mimi Haddad told the annual breakfast gathering at the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Midwinter Pastors Conference today.

Haddad currently serves as president of Christians for Biblical Equality and as an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary.

The traditional four basic tenets of evangelicalism, Haddad, said are commitments to personal conversion, activism resulting from a person’s conversion, emphasizing the correct reading of scripture, and life rooted in the cross.

Numerous women – including many who were graduates of conservative Bible institutes – led people around the world to become followers of Christ, Haddad said. Having experienced God’s love, converts knew that they were called to improve the living conditions of others.

Haddad drew from examples of women such as freed slaves Sojourner Truth and Amanda Smith as well as Salvation Army co-founder Catherine Booth. Newspapers took notice of their work that brought about justice for a wide range of people, including the most downtrodden and slaves.

The desire to justify the ministry of women led evangelicals to examine the scriptures closely, Haddad said. “They were biblicists of the highest order.” They rejected the “plain reading” of scripture and emphasized understanding what was culturally conditioned and what was timeless truth. That resulted in a theology based on Paul’s call for ministry to be based on gifts and not gender or ethnicity.

It was the work of Christ on the cross that was even more foundational. “(Evangelicals) endlessly preached on the cross and basically drove people crazy,” Haddad quipped. A favorite verse preached repeatedly was Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Evangelicals also have advocated for the role of women in ministry because of the cross, which formed a new community, as Paul noted in Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“The cross brings the distinctives together in a way that strengthens everyone,” Haddad said.

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