Editorial: A High-Profile Conversion to Egalitarianism -- By: Denny Burk
JBMW 13:2 (Winter 2008) p. 2
Editorial: A High-Profile Conversion to Egalitarianism
*Editor, Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
Dean of Boyce College
Associate Professor of New Testament
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Irving Bible Church (IBC) is a large evangelical congregation in the metro area of Dallas, Texas. Over the years, IBC has been the church home for many professors, administrators, and students of Dallas Theological Seminary and is commonly associated with the constituency of that school. Both the church and the seminary have an historic commitment to the complementarian position.1
Beginning in 2006, however, the elders of IBC began a year and a half long reconsideration of the church’s stance on the gender issue—the results of which were published in the Spring of 2008 on the church’s website.2 On page two of a 24-page position paper titled “Women and Ministry at IBC,” the elders summarize their findings as follows:
(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 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 in the church, the role of elder seems to be biblically relegated to men.
Several things are clear from these findings. The elders have clearly moved the church to an egalitarian-friendly position, despite their limiting the role of elder to men. That the office of elder only “seems” to be limited to men suggests that the elders are less than certain about their conclusion on this
JBMW 13:2 (Winter 2008) p. 3
point. What is perhaps most significant here is the fact that the elders have adopted a trajectory hermeneutic in their understanding of the relevant biblical texts.
The process that led to these findings included consultations with various professional theologians. The elders write on the IBC website that, “we sought godly counsel, and invited three professors fro...
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