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Azusa Pacific touts female pastor in Campus Crusade ad

February 12, 2007

Azusa Pacific University gave a clear indication with regards to its stance on the issue of women in ministry in a recent ad printed in a Campus Crusade for Christ publication.

Where does Azusa Pacific University’s Haggard Graduate School of Theology stand on the issue of women in ministry?

The university gave a clear answer to this question with an advertisement in the January/February issue of Worldwide Challenge, the bimonthly magazine published by Campus Crusade for Christ.

Azusa Pacific’s ad on page 26 of the magazine touts female senior pastor Elizabeth Talbot as a 2006 graduate of the institution and as the first female senior pastor in her denomination, which is not specified.

Randy Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, says potential students of institutions such as the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific should be aware that an embrace of egalitarian views is often merely one large step along the path to further theological error.

"One by one, theological institutions around the country are accommodating culture and undermining biblical authority by advocating and teaching an unbiblical view of manhood and womanhood," he said.

"Those considering financial support of these institutions, or those considering enrollment in these institutions should be reminded that there will be many other theological aberrations to follow."

Regarding Worldwide Challenge’s publication of the ad, editor in chief Judy Nelson said it probably should not have appeared in the magazine since Campus Crusade does not formally take a position on the issue of women in ministry. In the screening process, the ad simply slipped by editors, she said. Typically, Worldwide Challenge does not promote issues on which Campus Crusade does not take a formal stance, she said.

"Our policy as a mission is not to take a side one way or another, and I understand that by allowing an ad in Campus Crusade's magazine, we are guilty of suggesting we have a public position on this issue," she said in an e-mail to Gender-News.

Nelson said the magazine will not likely print a retraction or clarification in an upcoming issue of Worldwide Challenge because Campus Crusade neither wants to draw attention to the ad nor desires to be unkind to Azusa Pacific.

While Stinson said Worldwide Challenge is to be commended for admitting the oversight, he fears the editors’ decision not to address the ad in a future issue will mislead readers. Also, Campus Crusade’s "non policy" on the gender issue really amounts to a policy de facto, Stinson said.

"It is certainly understandable that mistakes can and will be made when there are dozens of ads to be sorted and strict deadlines to be met," he said. "I am grateful for Campus Crusade’s acknowledgement of their oversight. However, it seems then that there would be some attempt at clarifying their mistake.

"Being nice to Azusa Pacific is one thing, but it is unclear to me why potentially misleading thousands of people regarding your position on women in ministry would not heavily outweigh this concern. Collegiality should not trump biblical and theological commitments.

"Claiming to have no position on this issue, never really works. It almost always eventually leads to a clear egalitarianism in practice. Most of the time those claiming to hold no position usually have a clear position, they just don't want to tip their hand."

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