Let’s Keep On Ordaining Women -- By: Hugh McNally

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:1 (Winter 1997)
Article: Let’s Keep On Ordaining Women
Author: Hugh McNally

Let’s Keep On Ordaining Women

Hugh McNally

A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the Rev. Hugh A. McNally is Pastor of the United Baptist Church, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. This article first appeared in the April 1987 issue of Atlantic Baptist and is reprinted by permission.

The role of women in ministry is a controversial issue in evangelical churches today. Books on the subject continue to flow from the presses. On one side are the “traditionalists” who firmly believe that women should not be permitted to teach, preach or hold any position of authority in the church. They are strongly opposed to the ordination of women to the Christian ministry. They would restrict women’s involvement in the church to a helping role—teaching women and children, visiting the sick and shut-ins, singing in the choir and serving food. On the other side are the “biblical feminists” who firmly believe that God calls women as well as men and equips them for ministry, and when he does, they should be allowed to teach, preach and hold positions of authority in the church. They strongly support the ordination of women to the Christian ministry. They believe that women should not be barred from any office or position in the church simply on the basis of their sex.

There are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of this issue. The difference between the two is not the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. Both would agree that the Bible is “the only perfect, supreme, infallible and sufficient standard of faith and practice.”1 The difference is in the area of hermeneutics—how to interpret the Bible and apply its message to life today. Another difference is the cultural background and life experience that the interpreter brings with him to the task of interpretation. No interpreter approaches Scripture totally free of presuppositions.

When an issue becomes controversial, people tend to divide between those who are for and those who are against. When this happens, it becomes difficult to approach the Bible with an open mind. We are tempted to look for proof texts to support our views rather than being willing to examine our attitudes and views critically in the light of what the Bible teaches. As J. I. Packer himself argues in “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, we must be willing to subject our judgment to the written Word of God.

Before proceeding, I would like to tell you how I came to my present position. First, I was predisposed to have an open mind on the question of women in ministry by the early influence of the Rev. Josephine Moore on my life and the later influence of the able and gifted women with whom I served in Indi...

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