The thing I like best about Jonathan (apart from the fact that I so badly want to see him turn a deck of cards into a weapon), is how he reminds us that women in ministry is not some crazy new idea. It’s not, as Mark Driscoll would have us believe, a spineless capitulation to a culture that only recently came to value the equality of women (as if that’s such a bad thing anyway).
There’s at least one Christian tradition (which just so happens to be the one Jonathan represents) that has embraced women in ministry for ages — long before the rest of us were willing to entertain the thought of female pastors and priests. And they (rightly, in my opinion) see women in leadership going all the way back to the apostolic church.
To quote from Jonathan’s blog (or better yet, go and read the whole thing):
The argument that Mark lays out [against women in ministry] is not so much from Scripture but his own culturally conditioned assessment of the role of women in leadership. I come from a very different cultural context that tells a very different story…
As a third generation Pentecostal preacher who has been and continues to be shaped significantly by women in ministry, this time I had enough. Within my tradition, which is theologically very conservative, we have never had prohibitions about women in leadership. From the beginning, we have believed that the Spirit given on the day of Pentecost causes both “sons and daughters to prophesy.” We had women pastors and leaders while at the same time forbidding our congregants for many years to wear make-up or jewelry, go to the movies, swimming pools or beaches; play cards or play sports. Women were not allowed to wear pants or wear their hair short, men could not wear their hair long or wear shorts. And yet in all of this—women were fully authorized to preach, teach, marry, bury, baptize and serve communion.
We did this all in a tradition that had an extraordinarily high view of the Bible (I would argue a much higher and even more terrifying understanding of the Word of God than the fundamentalists)… We did it because we believed there was in fact serious evidence in the New Testament that women were in fact leaders in the early church.
We had no connections to liberal social movements, but were demonstrating racial equality in pockets all around the world years before the modern civil rights movement. We weren’t demythologizing the Bible or playing down the blood or the cross of Jesus or the judgment of God (as Mark’s logic would suggest these are interrelated with the ordination of women as pastors). There was a new social order coming in not through politicians or seminarians or professors, but from ordinary people who were taking the Bible and the Spirit seriously.
While there isn’t a hint of self-congratulation in Jonathan’s post, it’s a good reminder nonetheless that if you’re lucky enough to be part of a Christian tradition that welcomes women as full participants at every level, you should thank a Pentecostal. They were our trailblazers on the path to a better understanding of how God can use anyone in any capacity, regardless of gender.
Do yourself a favor and read the rest of Jonathan’s post.