Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Southern Baptist Pastor Speaks to His People About the Power of Women

As I was cleaning out some of my old files I came across a letter sent to me in 2008 from a Southern Baptist pastor who was not very happy with Dr. Sheri Klouda losing her job as Professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Theological Seminary. The letter, published in his church's newspaper, portrays an uncommon courage among Southern Baptists. This highly educated Ph.D. graduate of one of our SBC seminaries (2008)is pretty cogent and clear. I enjoyed the letter, and with the author's permission, offer it to you for your reflection. For those who wish to object, "But what about Paul's words in I Timothy 2 commanding women to keep silent and not taking any authority over men?" This conservative inerrantist responds: Go buy Jon Zens new book.


Dear Church family,

In Acts, Chapter 18, we are introduced to Priscilla and her husband, Aquila. Let's consider some characteristics of Priscilla:

(1) She was career woman, a tent maker by trade. We know this because Paul refers to her and Aquila in the 3rd person plural when he speaks of his own experience in the trade.

(2) She was a teacher perhaps similar to a seminary professor in the sense that she taught Apollos a clearer understanding of orthodoxy (Acts 18:26). So great a teacher was she along with her husband that when Apollos arrived in Achaia, he greatly encouraged the Christians there and powerfully defended the faith (Acts 18:28).

(3) She was obviously a devoted wife for she is constantly mentioned along with her husband, Aquilla, beside whom she served the Lord faithfully.

Isn't it interesting that in the first century church, a woman could have a career (okay... a trade), be a teacher OF MEN (oh... perish the thought), and still be a devoted wife? Why do so many leaders in my denomination insist that a woman cannot be a "biblical" wife and still have a career while enjoying equality in the church as one who is "made in God's image?"

As a Southern Baptist and as a doctoral student at one of our seminaries, I have been utterly embarrassed by the way one of the other seminary presidents treated Dr. Klouda. It is absolutely insane. So why am I bothering you with all this now? Well, it seems that ever since the Klouda fiasco, some Southern Baptists have been pouring out of the woodwork to somehow defend their twisted and unjust view of gender issues. On his blog, Wade Burleson has commented on this phenomenon which seems to be getting out of hand. You can read Wade Burleson's latest blog article by clicking here.

Before you run off to Burleson's site, let me say one other thing in the way of empirical testimony that has shaped my understanding of gender issues more than the Klouda case or anything else going on in this "La La Land " known as the Southern Baptist Convention. My mother was a career woman out of necessity not out of feminism or any other social movement. The 70s was a time of mind-boggling inflation, and it was no time to be worrying about social movements especially if you wanted to put food on the table. As a single parent, my mom worked hard for little pay. Nothing was saved; it took all she could make just to live.

Now, don't get me wrong. Strong godly homes with two godly parents (Mothers and Fathers) are the ideal. Single-parenthood is nothing to strive for, and I take my own responsibilities as a husband and father to be the MOST important responsibilities that I have. Yet, when I was young (and I think my sister would agree), our best days spiritually, emotionally, and morally occurred in the absence of a man in the home despite the financial burden. I was brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in the absence of man in the home. When I found myself wanting to be like my earthly father instead of my Heavenly Father, that's when I ended up in trouble as a teenager.

I know many of you do not care for Barak Obama, and as pastor (not to mention an elections official), I'm not endorsing or condemning Obama in anyway. However, I've heard him say something recently concerning the one time that he met his father at the age of ten that has resonated with me and it's this: "I considered the absence of my father to be a strength."

I say all that to say this: My mother, when left alone, was able to work and be a mother raising a future attorney (my sister) and a future Christian minister (me) doing doctoral studies at the seminary. It was only when the man returned to the home from time to time that much of my mom's work was undermined and at times, seemingly destroyed (and would've been if it had not been for God's grace).

Thus, like Priscilla who helped prepare Apollos for his ministry in Achaia, my mom did more for me shaping my future ministry than any man ever could. Unfortunately, the giftedness of such women in the church is being stifled for the goofiest of reasons. Therefore, I speak out now because as I watch many Southern Baptist churches become stagnate and slowly die or being built around personalities rather than the Holy Spirit, I know that the church will continue to decrease in relevency until ALL those gifted for ministry by the Holy Spirit are allowed to serve the Lord just as they were allowed to do in the first century when one woman helped prepare a man for the mission field.

Pastor Billy

May the tribe of men like Pastor Billy increase in the SBC.


Lydia said...

Well, you have gone and done it now. You will be accused of encouraging no fathers and working mothers.

But our Brother Billy has it exactly right.

Bob Cleveland said...

There's another angle to this that some may not consider. I'll have to tell a story to get the point across.

I went to a deli counter in a Supermarket to get a lunch one day when Peg was out of town. There was a VERY pregnant young lady standing next to me, and I told her that I thought ladies were at their prettiest when they were expecting. She laughed, thanked me, and said "I guess I have 3 more weeks to be beautiful, then!"

We left the counter and she went to the back of the market with her son of about 7, to get something to drink, and I went to the checkout lane.

She then walked up behind me in the lane and I said "Go ahead .. get in front of me .. you were here first". She thanked me again, and I said "Don't thank me .. thank my Mom .. she taught me all that."

It just popped out, but I thought a lot about that as I drove back to the office to eat lunch. Indeed, everything I remember learning about how to treat people ... please & thank you, ma'am & sir ... open the door for ladies .. walk on the curb side (which I still do) .. and a lot of other things, I remember learning from my Mother!

So Moms .. women .. don't just influence children. Their teachings flood the lives of grown men, too. Every bit as much as anything I ever learned from a "teacher". And, truth be known, a LOT more.

If it's so bad for a man to learn from a woman when he's grown, why isn't it bad for a child to learn things from a women, which will govern his life when he's grown?

I really don't see a difference.

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Foreword by Wade Burleson! I've got the site bookmarked and am planning on buying the book as sson as it comes out!

G. Casey said...

The more I read I Timothy Pastor Wade the more I think that it is not prooftexed enough. There is obvious a situation that Paul is specifically addressing in that circumstance concerning some women that have been troubling to Timothy and meddlesome. It reads as a response to some issues Timothy was facing. The reason I think this is so is that maturity of a women says something about their ability to take on role of leadership.

Rex Ray said...

I might agree with Pastor Billy’s and Obama’s “I considered the absence of my father to be a strength” if their father’s weren’t worth shooting.

Otherwise, my father was my biggest hero whose teachings and manor of life have guided me even today.

Now, not all his traits were the greatest. Once my mother yelled at him, “Dave Ray, all you need is for some idiot to follow you around all day and hand you your tools!”
My sister almost got a whipping when she said, “Looks like he has one.”
My mother started to grab her, but then started laughing.

On the other hand, my father’s father died when he was two years old, and he was raised by his mother. At my grandfather’s death, he told my grandmother that now she could make all the boys preachers. She had six boys and two girls – oldest 15 and youngest 6 months. Near 80, she inspired a group to raise money to build a church by saying, “I’ll give half my heard.” They raised the money in spite of one man saying, “Oh, Mrs. Ray, everyone knows you only have two cows.”

Anonymous said...

what a stupid article! What the heck are you writing about this for when Ergun Caner is going scott free for his lies and hypocrisy.

Wade, I used to respect you but you have sold out like all the other SBC leaders.

Anonymous said...

I have been following "Grace and Truth to You" for a long time now, but this must be the most worthless blog of the bunch.

Philip Miller said...

Chipping away...chipping away...chipping away. Eventually the whole tree will fall with great devastation to all around. All the way from Genesis to Revelation. Some will mourn the great destruction, but interestingly, others will dance and celebrate its' great demise. The most fitting epithet will have to be 2 Timothy 4:3.

Rex Ray said...

Bud McGlocklin?
I see a picture, but I don’t see any identity.

So you’ve been following “Grace and Truth to You” for a long time.

That sounds true, but with your sharp tongue, it’s hard to believe you’ve been biting it for that period of time.

I’ve been wondering when a certain person would cut Wade down AGAIN like in the last nine post:

1. This is off topic, but might be a "grace infusion" to the otherwise depressing comment stream.
2. I don't want to break my perfect record of pointing out your mistakes, so I should remind you…
3. I should have saved my raw sarcasm for other of Wade's posts where beating up good men of God is acceptable.
4. Oh for the love of Pete...Israel is Jesus? Howsabout Israel is umm...Israel? Save you types and shadows for your typewriter and chalk drawings.

This certain person has said:
“But one thing I am proud of is the fact that I never post behind the veil secrecy.”

Wonder if he can say that anymore?

Amy said...

Rex Ray,

Wow! Talk about spin. Someone disagrees with you and Wade so you automatically seek to discredit his opinion.

The more and more I read this blog I am reminded of the last pages of "Animal Farm".

shadowspring said...

Wade, Bob, Rex: thanks for being.

Rex Ray said...

Sometimes, ‘Actions speak louder than names.’

It’s been done to Wade before.

1. A MISSIONARY jumped on Wade.
2. I jumped on the missionary as a mouse in his pocket smelling like a rat.
3. Brad Reynolds complained to Wade that I had called him a ‘rat’.
4. Wade asked him where I had called him a rat and he would delete my comment.
5. I said to Reynolds: “You accused me of calling you a ‘rat.’ No, I accused a mouse in someone’s pocket of smelling like a rat because that someone was masquerading as an IMB missionary.”
6. Reynolds made no other reply.

Rex Ray said...

And neither did the MISSIONARY.

If I’m wrong, I will apologize. said...


I think you should appreciate that you, a woman, are free to express your opinion on this blog without fear of reprisal, and with all the respect deserving of you as a person.

Wade said...

G. Casey,

You make an excellent point. I have read Zens manuscript and I think he will prove precisely what you are saying. said...


You ask "What the heck are you writing about this for when Ergun Caner is going scott free for his lies and hypocrisy."

I answer: Because it is never my desire to punish any fellow Christian. Look up where the phrase "scott free" came from and you will se what I mean about punishment.

My goal is to simply write what I believe to be truth, and people -- like you and Amy -- can draw your own conclusions about my character and others.

I am uninterested in "bringing anybody down." I am only interested in the truth, both the written inspired truth of God, and the truth about individuals be told.

In His Grace,


FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Has anyone checked on Joe Blackmon? I hope he is all right, as he should have been here by now.

:) said...

His wife has him doing honeydo's.


Jack Maddox said...

Bud said

"What the heck are you writing about this for when Ergun Caner is going scott free for his lies and hypocrisy."

I am sure glad i get to go "Scott free" or maybe I should say "Jesus free"


Inkling said...

A couple of years ago Wade posted an article by Jon Zens on 1 Tim. 2, so I assume the book is a more fleshed-out version of the same argument. Has anyone tried to refute Zens' argument, and if so, does anyone have any links?

James Hunt said...


While I truly respect you for the stand you've taken on many issues and against many abuses in the SBC, I do disagree with you regarding your view (apparently) of the roles of women in the church. I do think it's stupid that seminaries fire women professors - they are not churches (!) after all. I also have personally witnessed what a cult-like fundamentally minded (or should I say 'spirited'?) church can do to a woman. I am against such churches telling women to shut up, sit down, get in the kitchen, have another baby.

However, the passage in it not instruction regarding how corporate worship is to be done when the church is gathered? If this is the case I just do not see a way around the fact that women (while encouraged and gifted to do many wonderful things for the Lord) are not to publicly preach and teach in corporate worship.

I've read how some dance around the subject peering into ancient Ephesus' culture - and I disagree that it was a women-based-lead culture (that evidence is mostly conjecture and extrapolation).

I love women, heck, I have a single mom who reared 5 kids on her own without the help of my derelict father...and, I'm married to a wonderful bride who's mom to our adopted son. I even help lead a group of guys to go help an abused lady escape with her 3 kids to a safe place (just yesterday). She was abused by a dominating husband and abusive, cult-like church.

Anecdotal evidence, however, does not make for a good theological foundation.

Sheila said...


I think you've just identified the spirit of Wade's post (at least from my perspective.) You stated that you can respect someone whose views may be different from yours. You are not calling anybody a "wild-eyed liberal" or a "heretic." You have not stated that Wade (or Zens) does "not believe in biblical authority." You are polite and gracious. While being charitible towards a Christian brother is the bottom rung of Christian behavior, I am afraid that rung is over the heads of many. said...



James, thanks for you spirit.


John Notestein said...

Thanks for the post. I'm looking forward to reading Jon Zen's book. The thing I like most about being Baptist is that we can disagree with one another but still have love for one another, or at least most of us can. And it helps to be able to distinguish between a mountain and a molehill.

Lydia said...

Anecdotal evidence, however, does not make for a good theological foundation.

Fri Mar 05, 02:02:00 PM 2010

It is not anecdotal. The grammar is singular not plural in those passages. And women certainly do not have to bear children to be saved.

I am afraid your interpretation totally negates the Joel Prophecy and Pentecost. Like you, I have heard all kinds of anecdotal excuses why that was only for that day and not the church age.

I have been reading Zens for a while and I think he gets it based on a whole other level. He is not looking at the New Covenant through a 'human authority/follower in the Body' filter.

That filter keeps many from seeing the real truth about unity in spiriutal matters whether it is the head/body unity metaphor or the One Flesh Union metaphor.

They are too busy drawing mental org charts of chain of command and putting genders/offices in them.
In reality, it is very Platonic as in Greek thought on Chain of Being.

Has nothing to do with the Body of Christ. It is worldly.

Lydia said...

"If it's so bad for a man to learn from a woman when he's grown, why isn't it bad for a child to learn things from a women, which will govern his life when he's grown?"

Bob, many are asking this question. Kostenberger says that woman are more likely to accept wrong doctrine so that is why they are not allowed to teach.

But this makes no sense. Why allow women to teach other women (who would accept wrong doctrine easier) and children who believe what they are taught? This makes NO sense.

Wouldn't it be safer for women to teach men who supposedly are not as easily decieved?

linda said...

What a ridiculous stretch some of this is.

Maybe Priscilla was not the equivalent of a seminary professor.

Maybe she was a bonafide homemaker, doing what bonafide homemakers often do: sharing the truth about Jesus while she stirred the gravy.

I know that isn't cool.

And I know women DID function outside the home.

I am just so everlasting tired of the strong hints that to really "be" somebody important a woman has to be something more than "just" a wife and mother.

Lydia said...

"Maybe she was a bonafide homemaker, doing what bonafide homemakers often do: sharing the truth about Jesus while she stirred the gravy."

It is not really a stretch since the Word states that she was also involved in making tents:

Acts 18

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation THEY were tentmakers."

She was probably stirring the gravy, too. :o) said...


I think you may have missed my spirit.

I think a woman who is a mom and wife and does not work is as valuable and significant as a woman who works--period.

I don't think anybody here is saying anything different.

believer333 said...

""Maybe she was a bonafide homemaker, doing what bonafide homemakers often do: sharing the truth about Jesus while she stirred the gravy.""

It seems more relative to the truths of Scripture that no one has to be married, a parent, or "a homemaker", farmer, or whatever to be bonafide. And FWIW, all of those things are good things to be. But being used of God does not require that we first be any of those. And it does not mean we cannot be used of God in a bonafide ministry if we are also any of those things.

Those who wish to spiritualize and anoint every day life as if, for women only, it were equal to the ministries of the Holy Spirit need to consider why those things are not spoken of more in the NT. It is likely that many of the apostles, teachers, evangelists, fellow workers and believers were married and had children. But in the economy of the work of the HS, those things do not matter. They are blessings no doubt, and important no doubt. But they are not more important than the work of the Kingdom.

Bob Cleveland said...

This whole thing gets pretty silly. God appointed, in the Old Testament, women as Prophet(esse)s Priest(esse)s, Judges, and Queens.

Now I don't suppose that, when Jesus died, women suddenly became less able to to that stuff, and I don't think His death means God made a mistake in the Old Testament times. And CERTAINLY the Holy Ghost coming upon ALL believers would make women today more capable than they were in the Old Testament times.

Add to that the fact that Paul said HE did not allow a woman to teach, etc, and I might believe Paul was somewhere that would be inadvisable to do. Gee. He was.

And the little Jewish guy Paul is the same one who said to throw the guy having sex with his stepmother clear out of the church and not even associate with him, so I figure he knows now to give pretty plain instructions, like, to Timothy. If he didn't want women teaching anywhere, he would have said so.

Proverbs 16:2 says that all of a man's ways are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Amen to that!

My mom never worked outside the home. Dad always provided. I turned out as I have.

My wife had to work. My sons turned out as they have ... one of them has been Chairman of our Deacon body several times. So I'd say there's not a nickel's worth of difference, and that both fulfilled their duties in the family, my mom and my wife.

I just love it when people get to saying what other people can and can't do. I got enough trouble with myself on that score.

And besides, why don't they name ships after guys? HMS Queen George, anyone?

I haven't had this much fun since Brian almost pulled Aunt Jessie's casket over.

believer333 said...

"I haven't had this much fun since Brian almost pulled Aunt Jessie's casket over.

Is Brian your brother, son, nephew??? Sounds like a funny incident. Love those memories. :)

Bob Cleveland said...


Son. He was 5 when Aunt Jessie died.

She wasn't my aunt.


believer333 said...

well, I am ever so glad that he DIDN't pull aunt Jessie's casket over. LOL :) What a rucus that would have been.