Letters Opened

I got both of these encouraging notes on the same day this week. This first one is from a pastor about The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.

For the past 30+ years, there has been an ongoing discussion at our church about the role of women in the church.  Over that time, there were slow steps forward that got us to the point we had been at for the past several years – women could teach and be pastors, but could not be elders or the senior pastor.  The last time the discussion of women elders was brought up with our elders, it was 9+ years ago and it was sharply divided among complementarian and egalitarian lines.

I just got back from an elders retreat this past weekend where we decided to resurface that conversation as a part of the retreat.  This time, however, I thought we should frame it differently. I wanted to start with a discussion of hermeneutics rather than to make the beginning point a discussion of women in ministry. We used your book as our starting point with all the elders having read it, and I had one of our elders lead the discussion of the book and hermeneutics, also using some of William Webb’s stuff from “Slaves, Women and Homosexuals”.

We then moved the discussion to women in ministry.  What I thought would be an issue of serious conflict instead became a robust and engaging conversation, where many elders who had previously held strongly that women couldn’t serve in certain roles in the church admitted that they understood the Scriptures differently now.

Although we have yet to finalize it and to make it fully official, and to figure out our strategy for how to talk about it – we left that weekend unanimously deciding that there are no restrictions on women in the church as long as it does not impede the gospel.  It was a huge significant moment that has been 30+ years in the making.  I was proud to be a part of it.

I wanted to thank you again for your book because it really helped to frame the conversation well and opened our elders up to reading the Bible as a story and looking for a narrative arc as opposed to pieces here and there.

On the same day I got a note from a woman who struggled with some who opposed her calling, and this is a clip from her letter:

I now live in [the South] with my husband and still keep in close contact with two of my best friends, both of whom are still MDiv students. One way that we keep in touch is by reading the same material and dialoguing about it. Recently, one of these women recommended that I read The Blue Parakeet and I was hooked from page one.

You see, even though I didn’t know it at the time, one of the reasons God led me away from the seminary was to lead me into what has long been a dream and what is becoming my career: to establish a professional, academically rigorous non-profit organization to revolutionize the way evangelicals view and practice cross-cultural ministry. Reading your book has only galvanized what I believe is the essential foundation for the organization: reading God’s Word in our time, with tradition and the illumination of the Spirit, to practice it in ways appropriate for our time. Thank you for your encouragement and for your clear and intelligent defense of adopting and adapting the forever-truths of our Lord.

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  • Peter

    “a professional, academically rigorous non-profit organization to revolutionize the way evangelicals view and practice cross-cultural ministry” – I would love to learn more about that!

  • Charlie Clauss

    I wonder if Christians for Biblical Equality’s (CBE) work (www.cbeinternational.org) would be a helpful starting place to think about the cross-cultural piece.

  • Pat Pope

    Very encouraging indeed, particularly since this issue has come to the fore in my own church where I have served as an elder for three years. Contemplating posting it on my Facebook page, but don’t know if I want to stir up the hornet’s nest anymore.

  • That’s an encouraging pair of letters, Scot! It reminds us not to assume and be discouraged that the status quo will always prevail.

    (Pat, I cast my vote for the prophet in you. 🙂

  • Winky

    @ Peter: That was precisely my reactive thought: “please tell me more about that”

  • Mollie

    Thank you for the Blue Parakeet. I have questioned my Christianity as of late–not sure it is safe to speak out and wondering if my views of women in the church have a place in traditional Christian pedagogy. At the risk of saying, I have a strong feminist spirit that will not allow me to believe that women do not have a greater role in the church. Greater than ministering to children and other women. To no discredit to these ministries, I feel that women can and are called to serve in other roles as well. God is showing me…I only recently learned of the lost gospels of Mary Magdalen. Although I am still not ready to speak up, your book is getting me closer. Thank you.

  • Dinah

    Just finished your book, but you did not answer the argument re creation order, that Adam has priority because he was created first, also because he named the animals and eve …. I know this doesn’t make sense, but can’t find the words so was hoping your book would help …….
    But thank you for writing this book, will pass it around so hopefully will generate some healthy debate