Quotation of the Week

Discussing a recent article published about the ministry of Anne Graham Lotz:

Twenty two of the article’s 27 paragraphs discuss her gender. Is she suited for a teaching ministry? What does her father think? How does she justify her work? And then, one more time, can a woman be suited for a teaching ministry? Do evangelicals’ eyes really go “ba-zoink-a-zoink” like cartoons when they hear of a woman teaching? It would seem so. It’s a point that cannot be part of the context — instead it sets the context for all else. Lotz herself points out that she doesn’t even have formal theological education, which is rarely mentioned as a criticism of her ministry. Only her gender, and that over and over.

Ultimately, says Lotz, “My daddy says that the only explanation for my ministry is the Holy Spirit. I agree.” That reminds me of a history paper I wrote 15 years ago (so this might not be very accurate). Didn’t John Wesley say of Phoebe Palmer, “The Holy Spirit owns her for the saving of souls, and who am I to forbid the Holy Spirit?” Something like that…

Two hundred years later we’re still respecting women’s giftedness only as an exception that falls straight from heaven…

From Jenell Williams Paris


  1. Dr. James Forbes Jr. when asked at my first church in Indiana in 1983 about what he thought about “lady” preachers. He pushed back his chair with a smile and said, “Well, if you’re not willing to ordain them, certainly don’t baptize them.” The room was silent and the topic never came up in the church again.

  2. Wesley did ask his mother, Susannah, about women’s fitness to preach, to his question she asked, “does her preaching bear fruit?” Unfortunately JW never had the opportunity to know Phoebe Palmer, as she was born over a decade after his death…and in New York City.

    But the basic point is a good one, and I especially appreciate Dr. Forbes thoughts!

  3. Biblical teaching. Christian tradition. Current experience.

    The trinity of authority for ‘reasonable evangelicals.” At least theoretically we evangelicals listen first to the teaching, emphasize current experience, and then consult Christian tradition last.

    Tradition largely speaks for itself. The ancestors largely vote no.

    Current experience votes yes. And I think that includes folks like Piper, etc. I don’t know many conservative evangelical leaders who wouldn’t acknowledge the tension they feel between what they think the bible and tradition teach and what they experience. Secular feminism has changed the whole playing field, though many religious conservatives struggle to acknowledge it.

    Biblical teaching?

    Well, those of us who pay more attention to experience hear the text differently than those who pay more attention to tradition.

    Having said that, since the biblical texts were mostly written a very, very long time ago they clearly trend toward the very conservative and traditional.

    If you’re a person with progressive leanings who has committed herself to evangelical Christianity, well, you’re getting what you deserve in terms of frustration and potential discouragement. Institutional religion is mostly the realm of the cautious and conservative.

    The good news? Evangelicals will receive experience as a part of their ‘hermeneutic.’ So the folks that value experience more than tradition have just got to keep pushing :^)

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