Arguably, Mary Wollstonecraft can be as relevant today as she was in 1792 when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her critique of societal norms and the education of women and children was revolutionary when she wrote it, and it still has the capability to be influential today.
Last June 14, the SBC adopted a further revision to their doctrinal statement at their convention, this time disallowing women as pastors. Dr. Trull discussed with Priscilla Papers the history and effect of these revisions. That interview follows in condensed form.
The subject of Southern Baptists and women in ministry is complex. What follows is my opinion and interpretation of some of that complexity. Having been associated with this discussion for many years, I am cognizant of my subjectivity. My hope is that what I can add as an involved bystander will provide some clarity for those both inside and outside the workings of the SBC.
Jesus Christ wants his body to become one—every church, every person. He wants his body to experience the unity with him and with each other that he experiences with his Father. But this unity is hindered by barriers of many kinds.
In recent years many writers have been reminding the church of the exemplary women who have held positions of authority and power in the Bible as rulers, prophets and martyrs. Deborah certainly has been often mentioned as a faithful ruler, a judge, prophet, and a military strategist.
A superficial glance at the New Testament in translation, combined with an expectation of a subordinate role for women, results in generalizations that Paul commands women not to teach or have authority (1 Tim 2:11–15), except in the case of older women teaching younger women how to be housewives (Titus 2:3–5), and women are not to teach in official, public, formal positions in the church, but they can teach in informal, private, one-on-one situations in the home.
Although evangelical and Canadian histories have tended to under-examine the contributions of women, an emphasis on the example of Phoebe Palmer readily offers a visible standard of Canadian evangelical emancipation.