Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Women In Ministry: A Wesleyan & Pentecostal Perspective

It is true, I'm not Pentecostal.  I'm from that part of the Wesleyan tradition that has had a long history of . . . competitiveness with Pentecostals.  -  Oh, who am I kidding!  Anyone who knows the history of the Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal Movement knows that they did not get along, to say the least.  Nevertheless, the two traditions share many things in common, owing to their shared history.  And, after many years of . . . difficulties, the academic wings, at least, of the two traditions have shared a number of regular interactions.  This is most notably seen in the joint meetings of the Wesleyan Theological Society and the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
One issue about which the two groups seem to be on the same page is the issue of the place of women in ordained ministry.

I came across an article on this topic from a post on Facebook by theWesleyan Holiness Women Clergy.  (Their Facebook page can be found, here.)  The article entitled, "Was Paul For or Against Women in Ministry?" was posted in Enrichment Journal.  It was written by Craig S. Keener, a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Given the fact that Wesleyan Anglicanism (i.e., those Wesleyans who embrace Wesley's Anglican liturgical and sacramental side, along with those Anglicans who embrace Wesley's general theological leanings) often find connections with those in the midst of the transition of Anglicanism in America (viz., folks in the ACNA, as well as some of the other "continuing" Anglican groups), and, given the fact that the role of women in (ordained) ministry is a major issue for many within the ACNA, I thought I would post a link to this article.  It is also worth posting for those within the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition who, with their "conservative" evangelical emphasis, have sometimes been too influenced by "conservative" evangelicals from outside of our tradition.

Perhaps this article will be helpful to some who have, heretofore rejected women's orders.  On the other hand, perhaps it will prove to fail to address other issues of which Pentecostals and Wesleyans are, as yet, unaware.  In any case, I hope that the article is insightful.  Though I have only skimmed through the article, I am confident that it shows that, at least for the Wesleyan-Holiness & Pentecostal traditions, the commitment to women's orders took place long before the "liberal" women's rights movement, and Wesleyans and Pentecostals looked to (not away from) the Scripture in order to support women in the role of clergy.

The article can be found, here.


Fr. Steve said...

What Craig (a personal friend of my family) writes speaks to the Ministry of the Word, which is teaching, preaching, and prophesying. What Craig does not address (and given his background, probably never will) is the Ministry of Sacrament. More specifically, the two sacraments addressed by the 39 Articles of Religion. The Sacrament of Baptism is given by any Christian. So does that also argue for Holy Communion to be open for Women to administer? If all of the Gifts of the Spirit are given to all Christians, do the Sacraments qualify as Gifts of the Spirit?

This is a tricky question. I know its one that don't have much meaning to non-Sacramental Christians, but it has much more weight to those who are.

Todd Stepp said...

Fr. Steve,

Thank you for your comment! Yes, I have run into this issue more than once when talking with Anglicans. You are absolutely correct in your reading. Wesleyan-Holiness (and Pentecostals) have always defended the ordination of women to the order of elder (presbyter/priest) as being apostolic and biblical, but they have always (to my knowledge) focuses on the preaching aspect of the order.

Anglicans who have disagreed to women's orders (at least as presbyter) have (often) agreed that women may preach, but have questioned (or denied) that women can serve at the Table. Thus, they have often argued against women's orders.

I believe that a certain Nazarene elder has done doctoral dissertation work in the area of women's orders, and that she may address this issue. However, to date, I have not seen this issue addressed. - It certainly needs to be.

I think, for what it is worth, the kind of arguement presented in the article is helpful, but it does not resolve everything. If, however, it can resolve those issues that it does address, it may help to focus the remaining concerns.

Thank you for your comments!


Kevin Jackson said...

My Grandmother was an ordained Nazarene minister. She and my grandfather served as a pastoral team, and she was the better of the two speakers. :)

When the holiness movement started, most of the churches were small and a lot of pastors were also farmers. Oftentimes a church couldn't afford to pay a full time male pastor (who needed to be able to provide for his family), but they could afford to pay a female to be full time.

Fr. Steve said...

My father was once upon a time a United Methodist Pastor and he served a 7 point charge with a woman pastor. I don't know why I wound up in the Continuum, which don't ordain women, but here I am. God moves in mysterious ways.

Kevin said...

I think Alice Lindsey over at Just Genesis has written some of the best material against WO.

Lindsey herself had been a Priestess in TEC and knows the ins and outs of the subject.

Todd Stepp said...

The women at Wesleyan/Holiness Women Clergy suggested that an article by Ken Schenck on behalf of the Department of Education and Ministry of The Wesleyan Church might indirectly address the sacramental issue of women presiding at the Eucharist. In particular, it is suggested that Schenck's first point is relevant.

The article can be found at Wesleyans Favor Women in Ministry-Schenck.pdf