Irving Bible Church, Irving, Texas, 2008
This past Sunday, as reported by Sam Hodges of The Dallas Morning News, Mrs. Jackie Roese preached the Sunday morning message to the 3,500 people who attended the Irving Bible Church. Jackie preached, according to Executive Pastor Steve Roese (who is also Jackie's husband) "under the authority of an elder board that will continue to be all male."
Elders of Irving Bible Church spent 18 months studying the question of women in ministry, including whether women should be allowed to preach. Their key conclusions were:
(1). The accounts of creation and the fall (Genesis 1-3) reveal a fundamental equality between men and women.
(2). Women exercised significant ministry roles of teaching and leading with God's blessing in both the Old and New Testaments.
(3). 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.
(4). Key New Testament passages restricting women's roles were culturally and historically specific, not universal principles for all time and places.
(5). Though women are free to use all of their giftedness in teaching and leading the church, the role of elder seems to be biblically relegated to men.
This last point, number five, is precisely what the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message states in Article VI on the church; "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture." Conclusions 1-4 are interpretations of the elders of the Irving Bible Church, supported by a 24 page White Paper that is linked on the front page of the church's website. Through their interpretation of the infallible text, and after identifying the particular giftedness for teaching possessed by Mrs. Roese, the elders requested she teach during the Sunday morning worship service.
The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, stated that Irving Bible's Church decision to have the Executive Pastor's wife preach last Sunday morning was "a matter of grave moral concern." The Council, including Southern Baptists Paige and Dorothy Patterson, Al Mohler, Bruce Ware and others plan to publicly express their "moral" concerns over what happened at Irving Bible Church last Sunday. Tom Nelson, pastor of a neighboring Bible church to Irving's Bible Church, expressed the sentiments of the Council when he stated to the Dallas Morning News, "I believe this issue is the carrier of a virus by which liberalism will enter the evangelical church. [Since she was allowed to preach], then maybe the Bible will not be finally true on premarital sex, the homosexual issue, adultery or any other moral issue."
Some days I really wonder if God intentionally made us who are conservative evangelicals mentally dull. To be a trophy of grace means you have to be in need of His favor, and maybe that from which we need to be rescued is moral stupidity. Let me show you what I mean.
(1). Irving Bible Church is a conservative, evangelical church that believes the Bible - as evidenced by their White Paper. Their conclusions on women's ministry in the church parallel EXACTLY those of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
(2). On secondary issues, such as whether or not a woman can preach or teach in the congregation under the authority of male elders (and in Irving Bible's case, the woman's husband), the Irving Bible Church says the Bible allows it. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says the Bible does not allow it. Fine. There is disagreement.
(3). But those fellow conservatives who disagree with Irving Bible Church's conclusions, including the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, have called the decision of Irving Bible concern "a matter of grave moral concern."
(4). Irving Bible Church and her godly, Bible believing elders are now being compared to people who condone sodomy, adultery, and sexual immoral activity - all because a woman who believes in the inerrant, infallible Word of God, preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners in need of a Savior. Ugh.
Folks, this is precisely what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention. The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message forbids a woman from serving as Senior Pastor. But a small, select group of SBC leaders are seeking to force an interpretation of the Bible that goes well BEYOND the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message on ALL Southern Baptists. Women, say these leaders, cannot teach the Bible (or Hebrew) to men; women can't lead men on the mission field by being in a position of "authority" over men (and thus women are being removed from administrative positions in the IMB); no Southern Baptist woman can serve as a hospital, business, or military chaplain; and no woman can "preach" the gospel in a local church (without risk of being placed in the category of "moral concerns") - even though EVERY ONE OF THESE ISSUES is not addressed by the 2000 BFM!
Southern Baptist women should work at home, teach the kids, do the dishes, and for HEAVEN'S SAKE, never, ever think about teaching a man anything about the Bible! That is, unless your name is Beth Moore and you pull in $750,000 an event for LifeWay at rallies and Bible studies across the nation attended by both men and women.
I personally agree with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message on male eldership (pastors), and our pastoral staff at Emmanuel has eight men in that role. So does Irving Bible Church. Why, then the name calling? I shiver when I hear my fellow evangelicals call a church that asks a woman to preach the gospel on Sunday morning a church of "grave moral concern." WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT FEMALE PASTORS!
That my friends, is an illustration of what I see happening in the SBC. We have been told cooperation is around affirmation of the 2000 BFM, but a select group of leaders have narrowed the doctrinal parameters of cooperation by forcing conformity of belief on doctrines that FAR EXCEED the 2000 BFM.
Somebody has got to stand up and say enough.