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SWBTS adopts statement asserting male headship
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
October 29, 2009

SWBTS adopts statement asserting male headship

SWBTS adopts statement asserting male headship
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
October 29, 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary has adopted a policy statement that declares men and women

equal before God but created for specific roles of headship and submission in

the church and home. _ь_ь

Seminary trustees voted Oct. 21 to add the Danvers

Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to the seminary’s policy manual under

“Guiding Documents and Statements.” _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

The statement,

composed in 1987 in Danvers, Mass., by the then-new Council on Biblical Manhood

and Womanhood, responds to “widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture

regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity” and

“increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism” in church and culture. _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

It affirms, among other things, that “Adam and

Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in

their manhood and womanhood,” that “distinctions in masculine and feminine

roles are ordained by God as part of the created order” and that “Adam’s

headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a

result of sin.”

BP file photo by Matt Miller

Paige Patterson

“Complementarianism,” a conservative theological

view that men and women have different roles and responsibilities in marriage

and religious leadership, has been gaining ground in the Southern Baptist

Convention for 20 years. _ь_ь

Detractors say it is nothing more than Bible-sanctioned

male chauvinism. But proponents say

that choosing to live by what they interpret as God’s design is in reality a

form of women’s liberation. _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

The opposing view, known as “egalitarianism,”

takes a view that values giftedness over gender distinctions. Egalitarians say

men and women should share equal authority and responsibility in marriage and

have equal leadership opportunities in the church. _ь_ь

The Southern Baptist Convention chose sides in

the debate in 1998. That year, the group inserted a family article into its Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement that says the husband “has the

God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family,”

while a wife “is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her

husband.” _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

Two years later the convention again amended the

confession of faith to add, “While both men and women are gifted for service in

the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

Mimi Haddad, president of the Minneapolis-based Christians for Biblical Equality, said it is illogical to say on the one hand

that men and women are equal but different in their access to authority.

“To claim that men and women have equal access

to salvation and equal access to the spiritual gifts is to suggest that the

Holy Spirit may provide individuals with gifts not according to human

prejudice, but according to God’s pleasure, as we clearly note throughout

Scripture especially in the New Testament,” she said.

Haddad,

who has a Ph.D. in historical theology, said a good example of that principle

is Lottie Moon, a famous Southern Baptist missionary to China in the 19th

century whose unconventional ministry was so influential that an offering named

in her honor is collected yearly in SBC churches to this day.

The Baptist Faith and Message remains

Southwestern Seminary’s only confessional document, meaning professors are

required to teach within its confines.

The additional statement, seminary

President Paige Patterson said in a news release, will be used to establish “the

general posture of the school” regarding gender roles. _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

Patterson, who had a hand in drafting the

Danvers Statement, said it will serve as a guide in hiring and evaluation

processes. In 2006 Patterson terminated Sheri Klouda, an Old Testament

professor hired by his predecessor in 2002, saying he did not believe 1 Tim.

2:12-14 permitted a woman to teach the Bible to male students in a seminary

classroom. _ь_ь

Klouda sued

the seminary for gender discrimination in 2007, but a judge dismissed

the case the following year. He said the dispute was over a religious matter

protected by the First Amendment. _ь_ь

Klouda, now associate professor of Old Testament

at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., said the Danvers Statement “makes a break

with the realities of a fallen world” in its idealized view of family

relationships. She said the statement assumes that all Christian husbands

exemplify superior biblical leadership in a marriage, which may be desirable

but is not always the case. She said it also reinforces the notion that spousal

abuse by husbands is in some way the fault of the wife — and it fails to

address a course of action for wives who must work outside the home to support

their family for reasons of illness, disability or death of a husband.

“There are no allowances for the stuff of real life,”

Klouda said. “I have experienced several of these situations, and the church

failed me consistently.” _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

Also in 2007, Patterson announced

the seminary would begin offering a new bachelor’s degree with a concentration

in homemaking. Parodied

by one popular Baptist blogger as the “Mrs. Degree,” Patterson said the program

was a way of “moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender

roles as described in God’s Word for the home and the family.” _ÑŒ_ÑŒ

In April Southwestern Seminary dedicated

the Sarah Horner Homemaking House, an educational building equipped with a teaching

kitchen, clothing and textiles lab, formal dining room and parlor in addition

to library and classrooms. It is home to Southwestern students working toward a

B.A. in humanities with a concentration in homemaking. _ь_ь

The concentration requires 22 hours of instruction

in a wide range of homemaking skills like meal preparation and clothing

construction out of a total 127 hours to earn a bachelor’s degree. _ÑŒ

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

has offices on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in

Louisville, Ky. The group’s president, Randy Stinson,

declined to comment for this story.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for

Associated Baptist Press.)