-- Pastor Wade and Rachelle are overseas and will be returning to the States by next Monday. All comments are being moderated in his absence at our discretion. -- (Blog Administrator)
I was recently reading The Records of the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of ______, May 10-24, 1877 and came across this interesting anecdote. The infamous female SBC missionary, Martha Crawford, wife of T.P. Crawford, prepared a paper for the conference entitled "Woman's Work for Woman." She was one of four women missionaries who had been invited to prepare and present papers on various issues related to missions at the General Conference. Interestingly, in all four cases of the presentations prepared by women, a male read or presented the ladies' papers, an action that would be deemed very odd in modern SBC circles. However, it seems that in the 1870's the common belief was that the Bible prohibited women even speaking in church (I Tim. 2:11-12). The Records of the General Conference reveal that Hudson Taylor rose and said, "I wish that some of our sisters here could be induced to speak of their own work . . . " and it seems that shortly thereafter a Miss A.M. Fielde of the American Baptist Missionary Union did actually rise and present her own paper. This anecdote reveals four things to me:
(1). Interpretations of the sacred text will often change in time - as evidence by the fact that nobody in SBC circles would demand today women keep silent and not be allowed to speak in the presence of males while in church - an injunction universally agreed upon in the 1870's.
(2). It sometimes requires well-known and highly respected leaders of a convention to cause Southern Baptists to reevaluate interpretations that are possibly in error.
(3). To be dogmatic on tertiary doctrinal issues leaves a convention open for possible future embarrassment, and therefore, all Southern Baptists should embrace humility - and the possibility of being wrong - when articulating beliefs that are of a tertiary nature in regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ (eschatology, ecclesiology, pneumatology, etc . . .).
(4). History is the greatest anecdote against poor decisions in the future.
Lest we think the above anecdote has no relevancy to the modern SBC, I am reminded of a training conference not long ago when a young, immature recent seminary graduate refused to listen to a woman missionary teach him anything. He demanded her husband addresss him in the classroom setting.
Oh, that the SBC had her Hudson Taylors.
In His Grace,