This post originally started with a link to the video of Lauren King’s interview. The video has unfortunately been removed from public use. I image this is due to the overwhelming response and criticism.
I listen to the podcast from Fourth Avenue Church of Christ on a regular basis, so I admit that I wasn’t all that surprised when I heard a woman preaching with Patrick Mead on November 23, 2014. Patrick Mead is currently the senior minister at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, and I have been listening to Patrick since he left the Detroit area and started preaching in Colorado Springs a number of years ago. I don’t know Patrick personally, but I know he is a very educated and intelligent man who grew up in a missionary family for the Churches of Christ. He is a gifted speaker and writer who often challenges many of the traditional and deeply held doctrines within the movement.
I haven’t always agreed with Patrick, but I am a fan of learning which means I need to hear both sides of an issue before forming any conclusions. The young woman who spoke at Fourth Avenue is Lauren King, a student at Lipscomb University who was recently hired as preaching intern at Fourth Avenue. I don’t think she could have envisioned the reaction that has taken place. The YouTube video posted above is from an interview with Lauren and Patrick done by Wineskins.org. It was posted just a couple days ago, but it now has been viewed thousands of times, and the word is just starting to get out. Patrick is used to the attention, but I really feel for this young woman who is obviously talented and sincere in her faith. She is also courageous and young. I have no idea how the publicity will affect her, but I wish people would be more considerate before writing what they do.
I have seen this issue coming for a number of years now and it, like the instrumental music issue, is not going to go away. But I have been challenged to go back to the Bible and reexamine my deeply held beliefs from an exegetical standpoint. I am seeing a whole lot of comments from people who obviously have not taken the time to study the issue. They spout off, often in very hateful things, before they have taken the time to solidly investigate the matter. It is complete futility to argue with ignorance, and there is no way to really go into details in the comments on some social media page.
There are all sorts of books on this subject, but people will rarely read the books that they know disagree with what they already believe, and that is what has to be done if you are going to understand the issue and objectively form conclusions.
I don’t have a horse in this race. I am not a woman. I preach for a church where the majority of members hold to the tradition views they have been taught their whole life. My interest is in truth as it is revealed through Scripture. I am sure that is where most of the people on both sides of this issue are coming from, but some have not taken the time to research the matter and that is where it has to begin.
Therefore I am going to recommend some books as a starting point. You can start with Robert Rowland’s book, “I permit not a woman–to remain shackled”. This book has remained in my library for years before I actually read it because I was too afraid to read it. Now however, I understand the best way to deal with conflict is to first seek to understand the opposing view then you will be prepared and equipped to form your own non-biased conclusions. Once you have done this, then you will be more likely to be understood by others.
Rowland’s books is an easy read, it is also available on the internet for free if you just click the graphic to the left. This will acquaint you with some of the thinking, and hopefully dispel the misconception that those clamoring for equality in the church are doing so out of ignorance or rejection of the Bible. However, Rowland’s book has many shortcomings. So don’t form any conclusions yet. Just consider his points and concerns. He also has some worthwhile things to say.
For a more compete analysis, I recommend Carrol Osburn’s book, “Women in the Church.” This book is solid research and exegesis. It is thoroughly filled with citations from the leading people on all sides of the issue. By following the sources referred to in the book, the reader will be able to get acquainted with the experts on all sides of the issue. I don’t think Carroll leaves any stones unturned.
I’m not going to waste time giving my personal views on this subject. What I think really doesn’t matter anyway. I just wish people would educated themselves before they start the name calling and bickering that isn’t doing anyone any favors. It is just turning people away from the church and giving Jesus a black eye.
I’m not asking you to agree with Roland or Osburn either. I merely want people to understand each other. People get angry, depressed, and hurt before ever taking the time to investigate. I’m not saying research will change your mind. It may just confirm and solidify what you already believe. But I do believe it will give you a different view towards those with opposing views. We are all trying to follow God to the best of our understanding and ability, but we are not always going to agree. Conflict can be a good thing if it promotes learning and consideration. When you find yourself feeling threatened, fearful, and agitated, it’s a good time to stop and analyze why.
Are those who disagree your enemies? Is honest and sincere investigation a bad thing? Can you honestly blame a person for seeking God’s will and trying to live accordingly? The restoration movement is based on honest investigation of the biblical text. No human authority is recognized over another. Congregations are autonomous and have no authority over others. There are going to be differences. Discuss them. But please quit fighting and dividing every time there is a disagreement.