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Notes from the 10th International Conference

On August 11, 2007

Greetings, bloggers, from the Denver CBE Conference!

First, a little introduction is in order. Hello, I'm Rob.

And I'm an egalitarian.

Until now, I've only supported The Scroll from behind the curtain with occasional technical issues. Many kudos to Marissa, Megan, and Will for their dedication to the blog! But now, I've been asked to contribute since my wife and I are attending the Denver conference. So, if you'll humor my clunkiness, I'll post some of my observations.

We got to the conference in time for the evening dinner. We met some really interesting people at our table from all walks of life, one of whom was an Episcopalian bishop from Burundi, Africa. Mr. Simeon jokingly asked me how many cows I paid my in-laws for my wife as a dowry! We discussed how much of Africa is still very stuck in old-world traditions. He told me that he is convinced that the church doesn't grow without the co-leadership of women.

After dinner was a lecture by Roger Olson, author of How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative. Olson ascribes to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which uses four sources for a theological framework: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. His talk tonight revolved around the latter. Olson considers himself a ‘post-conservative’ having attended a church led by a woman pastor for several years. He joked that while his church experience might suggest otherwise, they do in fact believe in the ordination of men.

He spoke mainly about the need for interdependence between women and men. From a Christian perspective, Olson says gender differences should be ontological, not behavioral and cultural. Such artificial differences are the result of a breakdown in healthy interdependence.

In Olson's experience, a church for women is not inherently better than a church for men. The better solution is a church for both women and men, wherein the leadership opportunities are shared openly with those that are gifted. After all, truth - not office or role - is the ultimate authority.

He said that when true interdependence breaks down, one gender tends to be marginalized and withdraws from participation. Olson offered a case in point as many men today are not actively seeking leadership positions in church.

One of Olson's analogies I appreciated was in describing true Christian interdependence as a ‘sibling solidarity.’ If we begin to see each other as fellow sisters and brothers in Christ, then we can more truly bind together in an interdependent community.

This first day was a wonderful start! I'm very excited to be attending. Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow...

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