I’ve been thinking of letting this little experiment go–going back to journalling in a black notebook or on the computer, but just for myself. Not that I was ever a very good journal-keeper, but I do have notebooks full of something or other. But I think I will keep this up for a bit, but just keep in mind that I am doing it for me. If someone else ever finds it, fine; if not, that’s okay, too.
In the Lectionary reading in Acts for this Sunday, Peter recalls his experience with the sheet coming down from heaven and what transpires after it. He says this: “If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” (Acts 11:17). These words give me the chills because I think as Christians–and, yes, in my experience, as Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians–we work pretty hard at hindering God. (I’m sure other Christians hinder God in other ways, but my experience is with the Fundies.) A few weeks ago I came across a blog entry (I’m so sorry, I have no recollection of whom I was reading) that talked about one of his criteria for understanding women as ministers is that God has gifted some women as such. One can make arguments for and against based on scripture. And I know Peter is talking specifically about the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Acts passage. But if we believe in spiritual gifts–and I do–and if we believe these are gifts from God and not merely talents–and I do–then who are we to hinder God if he gives such a gift, through the greater gift of the Holy Spirit, to a woman. If Peter could change his whole way of thinking about Gentiles based on what he saw God do, can we shift our ways of thinking a little? Now, John Piper, also in a blog, says that women so gifted can lead women’s ministries or teach children. Isn’t that special? They’re not the same gifts and they don’t work the same way. A person gifted with Pastoral gifts shouldn’t be relegated to setting up small groups for women and leading a yearly tea or overseeing the Sunday School program. Maybe a person with particularly administrative gifts, sure. But not leadership and teaching and prophecy. My case in point, my anecdotal evidence, is my own pastor. I have tremendous respect and love for other pastors I have had and for friends of mine who are pastors, but I have never had a pastor who is more gifted by God and by grace than our current pastor. Our historical, mainline church is alive and growing–a little to her amazement, I think. The Holy Spirit is at work. And we are being led. And if our denomination said no women pastors, what would she be doing? My best guess is she’d be a counselor or a teacher somewhere and maybe teaching the occasional Sunday School class or in some sort of leadership position, but she would be divided and she wouldn’t be using the gifts God has given her to the extent she is currently using them. It may be time to stop hindering God.
Just to say, a lot of my friends in my former denomination would have agreed with me at least at one point in their lives. We haven’t talked about these things recently as John Piper and that idea of separate but (not really) equal (I mean complementarianism) has reared its deceptively attractive head.
More on complementarianism when I can articulate just why I think it’s a logical fallacy.