“The Southern Baptists read the Bible literally, and it has commandments but it’s not a rule book. It’s a book of faith and there are many stories of women, who have had the faith and followed Jesus, and have ministered to others,” said Pastor Marty Anderson, who has served as co-pastor of Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia alongside his wife, Robin, for the last seven years.
“Even Jesus’ whole ministry was really financed with women... I’ve always looked at the Bible as where there is timeless information then there is timed constructed information… and a lot of that is cultural."
Allen was quick to rebut the arguments of progressive denominations, arguing that they are not looking toward the New Testament for their convictions and that the belittling of any Scriptural commands as “a first-century cultural expectation” is dangerous and shortsighted.
"Paul himself roots his argument not in the first century but in the creative order of Genesis 1 and 2. That’s where Paul takes his argument in I Timothy 2. He takes it back to Genesis and to the creative order," Allen explained. "People often misunderstand what evangelicals, Southern Baptists do and practice. Sometimes that leads to stereotypes and caricatures."
The idea that theological conservatives and denominations like the SBC subjugate women is a trope and a strawman, Allen continues, explaining that a woman in his denomination has myriad avenues available for serving God and the church—all of which either explicitly biblical or not explicitly prohibited by the Bible.
“The Bible believes in honoring women. The Southern Baptist Convention believes in honoring women. We have women in a whole host of roles. I’m president of a seminary. A significant portion of our student body is female," Allen said, noting that about 1/3 of the Midwestern student body is female.
While Allen says the school obviously cannot mandate what its students do after graduation, he explains that its female students are made plainly aware of what to expect in ministry within the denom:
“We’d be doing a disservice to our students if we said ‘come study, spend a bunch of money on your degree and be ready to pastor a church when you graduate.’ We’d be misrepresenting to our female students what they should expect after graduation."
His seminary's female students are "preparing for positions in ministry," especially in missions and counseling programs, Allen continued, "but that step to be elder or to be pastor or co-pastor" is not something he supports.
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