Anticipating God’s New Community: Theological Foundations For Women In Ministry -- By: Stanley J. Grenz

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:4 (Dec 1995)
Article: Anticipating God’s New Community: Theological Foundations For Women In Ministry
Author: Stanley J. Grenz

Anticipating God’s New Community:
Theological Foundations For Women In Ministry

Stanley J. Grenz*

Although most mainline Protestant denominations have settled the question of women in ministry, in many evangelical groups the discussion is far from over. Denominations as diverse as the Mennonite Brethren 1 and the Christian Reformed Church have recently found themselves embroiled in what perhaps has become the most divisive debate they have faced in decades. The battle is being fought in denominational periodicals 2 and on convention floors. Through it all, the people of God—whether laity, pastors or academic theologians—are becoming increasingly polarized.

Some Christians (many of whom prefer the designation “complementarians”) conclude from their reading of the Bible that the Spirit neither calls women to, nor bestows the necessary gifts on women for, certain aspects of ministry. Other believers (“egalitarians”) find in Scripture indication that the Spirit may call both men and women to any responsibility in the Church.

Generally, discussions of the issue focus on a select number of isolated Biblical texts (1 Tim 2:12 versus Gal 3:28, for example). To date, however, the exegetical debate seems to have led to an impasse: Credible Biblical scholars come down on opposites sides of the discussion, for there is no consensus on the meaning of the individual texts in question. 3 In the face of this apparent impasse, is there a way to move forward?

Of course the ongoing attempt to gain clarity on the Biblical texts must not be abandoned. But there is another dimension of the question that is rarely given its full due: theology. The central evangelical theological commitments we share are crucial for this discussion, for they suggest that women and men ought to be full partners at every level of Church life, including within the ordained ministry.

* Stanley Grenz is professor of theology and ethics at Carey/Regent College, 5920 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1J6.

I. Woman And The Nature Of God

At the heart of the Christian faith is the Biblical conception of God. As Christians, therefore, we look first to our understanding of the nature of God for guidance in questions about Christian life and practice, including the role of women in the Church.

1. Gender and God. Some complementarians advocate limiting the pastoral office to m...

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