Southern Baptists And Women In Ministry -- By: William M. Tillman

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 14:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: Southern Baptists And Women In Ministry
Author: William M. Tillman


Southern Baptists And Women In Ministry

Reflections On Some Tacit Rules.

William M. Tillman,

William M. Tillman is T. B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics at Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas.

The subject of Southern Baptists and women in ministry is complex. What follows is my opinion and interpretation of some of that complexity. Having been associated with this discussion for many years, I am cognizant of my subjectivity. My hope is that what I can add as an involved bystander will provide some clarity for those both inside and outside the workings of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

My Association With This Discussion

The only church life I have known has been Baptist. My early rearing was in an SBC-related church. Mine was a conservative church upbringing; I was given a Scofield Reference Bible when I was ordained.

My theological education and vocational practice is that of a Baptist, Christian ethicist. After my seminary work, I was employed with SBC institutions specifically to address social and ethical issues. With master of divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, I worked for more than three and a half years in Nashville, on the staff of the Christian Life Commission (CLC), now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, dealing with social, ethical, and moral issues.

I was invited in 1981 to join the SWBTS faculty in the Department of Christian Ethics, serving until 1998 when I became part of the staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) as Coordinator of Theological Education. In January 2000 I returned to classroom work as the T. B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics at Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas.

Some Tacit Rules Underlying The Discussion

In an ordered society, there must be rules of operation. Many are written down and related orally or by other means of communication. Tacit, implied but unspoken, rules also underlie the operating procedure for every system and institution. Tacit rules may have more impact than those written or spoken. Perhaps as an ethicist I have become aware of some of these at work in SBC life.

I want here to lay out clearly what I mean by tacit rules in SBC life. I will rehearse some of these tacit rules (in italics) and follow each with some interpretation (prefaced with I) as to how these affect the matter of women in ministry in Southern Baptist life

1. Southern Baptists and women in ministry is a simple issue with which to deal.

I: The scale of the debate ...

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