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Three Alternatives to Biblical Fidelity

November 6, 2007

Tempe church elects first female pastor, BGCT elects first female president, UMC transgender pastor remains in the pulpit.

As more new egalitarian arguments are proposed each year through dozens of book and articles, the biblical vision of manhood and womanhood, espoused by the church for nearly 2000 years and championed since 1987 by CBMW, remains the same.  Research over the last 20 years has not led to any fundamental interpretive changes of our understanding of the key gender-related passages of the Bible.

Why is this important? Pastor and noted complementarian J. Ligon Duncan once said, "Biblical authority is at stake in the debate between complementarianism and egalitarianism — because if you can get egalitarianism from the Bible, you can get anything from the Bible."  Below are three examples from this month's news that demonstrate the progression of what can happen when churches do not cling to Biblical authority:

Tempe UCC church appoints first female pastor

First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Tempe, Ariz., late last month appointed Pamela Hines as the first female senior pastor in the congregation's 100-year history.

Prior to coming to Tempe, she was an associate pastor at the United Church of Sun City. A graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, Hines is a former probation agent for the Michigan Department of Corrections and also worked as a probation officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Phoenix.

"I get a lot of, ‘You're too pretty to be a pastor,'" she told The Arizona Republic. "What does that have to do with it? They expect me to look like a nun, I guess."

Fenner becomes first female president of BGCT

Joy Fenner of Garland, Texas, made history last Monday in Amarillo when she was elected as the first president of the General Baptist Convention of Texas, narrowly defeating West Texas Pastor David Lowrie 900 votes to 840.

Fenner served 14 years as a missionary in Japan alongside her husband, Charlie. For two decades, she also led the Women's Missionary Union of Texas. She was elected first vice president of the BGCT last year. The BGCT formed in 1853 in Larissa, Texas. The moderate group split with conservatives in the early 1990s, with the conservatives forming their own convention in the state.

Methodist transgender pastor will remain

The top court of the United Methodist Church has ruled that a transgender pastor may remain behind the pulpit of a Baltimore church.

At a recent meeting in San Francisco, UMC leaders agreed to allow the pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church to remain due to church policy which dictates that a "clergyperson in good standing cannot be terminated without administrative or judicial action having occurred."

The case involved 48-year-old Ann Gordon who, following a "gender-reassignment" procedure in 2006, changed her name to "Drew Phoenix," to reflect her new male gender identity.

 "The gender I was assigned at birth has never matched my own true authentic God-given gender identity, how I know myself," Phoenix/Gordon said, according to The Baltimore Sun. "Fortunately today God's gift of medical science is enabling me to bring my physical body in alignment with my true gender."

At the annual gathering of the Baltimore-Washington Conference last spring, the pastor reportedly received a standing ovation from fellow Methodists, and Phoenix/Gordon expressed hope that the situation would spark conversation about sexual identity so that younger clergy who come after him would have an easier time voicing their identity issues.

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