IVCF Affirms Egalitarianism -- By: Anonymous
IVCF Affirms Egalitarianism
For many decades the lord has richly blessed the ministry of InterVarsity on college campuses. Its publication arm, InterVarsity Press, continues to print books that advance the work of the kingdom around the world. For these things we thank God.
But we are troubled by some recent trends. Observers of InterVarsity have suspected that the Press division has favored an egalitarian position for quite some time, having produced such works as God’s Ideal Woman, Gender and Grace, Women at the Crossroads, Women in the Maze, and Women, Authority and the Bible.
Despite these publications, the position of the ministry as a whole on the ministry of women and on women’s ordination was not clearly articulated until IVCF president Stephen Hayner released a position paper, “Women in the Ministries of InterVarsity,” in October, 1993.
Hayner presents a survey of IVCF history, justifying past policy on the basis of the urgency of their mission, and shifting blame for gender inequities in the early 1970s to the influence of Dallas and Westminster seminaries (p. 3).
The practical questions are: Should women staff members exercise ministries on campus which would not be permitted in their own church? and Can a woman exercise positions of authority over men in roles such as chapter president, campus staff member, or staff director?
Hayner answers that, since the issue is not central to their mission, and since biblical scholars disagree, IVCF has “never been willing to let gender be the determining factor which qualified some for leadership selection, especially above the criteria of gifts, character, essential theological faithfulness, and experience.”
Next, he argues that IVCF is not a church, but a parachurch organization exempt from following some of the requirements for church officers found in Scripture. Hayner writes, “We are part of the Church, but organizationally, we are not a church. No matter what an individual church…may come to believe about the scope of women’s leadership and ministry, InterVarsity has accepted the ecclesiological analysis which places these church structural restrictions beyond our primary organizational concern.”
Finally, then, in a consideration of biblical and theological issues, Hayner quickly summarizes many texts to dismiss any pre- or post-fall role differentiation, and concludes that the New Testament places no restriction on the ministry of women in the local church. He notes, “…any practice which inhibits the use of gifts based on gender…is biblically flawed.
The policy statement separates the freedom to hold convictions from the freedom to act on those convictions. According to Hayner, IVCF staff may personally believe tha...
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