A funny thing happened on the way to an issue that was originally planned to emphasize the family. The Southern Baptists came to Orlando, not far from my new home, and they were in the news daily as their convention took another step in affirming women as unequal with men. You may recall the furor resulting from action taken at the SBC’s convention two years ago to declare in their official “Baptist Faith and Message” statement that a wife must “submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”
We wanted first to reprint an article by Joe Trull on the family and headship (with a sidebar by Brian Neuschwander), and follow with other material on the same general theme. But as things were developing for the SBC meeting about to begin, it seemed appropriate to follow Joe’s fine article by interviewing this longtime professor of Christian ethics who had retired abruptly after the 1998 action.
So we talked to Joe and had him trace the recent history of the Southern Baptist Convention for the readers of Priscilla Papers, and we also discussed their declaration, in June, that women are unfit for pastoral ministry.
After interviewing Joe, we obtained an article from Bill Tillman, also a professor of Christian ethics, on his perception of how formerly unspoken rules for some in the denomination have now risen to the surface. Finally, we asked a woman, Rosalie Beck, professor of church history at Baylor University, to provide us with her viewpoint. What we have here is a package of articles describing the regressive actions of the past several years.
“Why should I care about the Southern Baptists?” you may wonder. The truth is, what has happened in this group could well occur in others. In fact, the Presbyterian Church in America followed on the heels of the SBC in Orlando to say that women may not speak from the pulpit. So we need to teach vigilantly the biblical basis of the full equality of men and women in Creation and in redemption. This is what Christians for Biblical Equality is all about.
So read about the Southern Baptists and be enlightened. Then pray for them and their leaders that they will one day renounce actions that deny women the full freedom and equality the Bible teaches.
We did include one other family-related article by Evelyn Bence. She brings a refreshing view of what it means to be single in family-oriented churches.
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Beginning with this issue we have listed the names of several people who have agreed to serve on a new panel of Consulting Theologians (listed above). All will be available for consultation regarding theologically based articles planned for future issues of Priscilla Papers. I welcome their input since I have never personally undertaken an in-depth study of theology. We hope their input will ensure the sound basis for all biblical articles we publish.
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Finally, don’t forget to give us your thoughts about articles in Priscilla Papers. We have a good selection of letters to the editor on page 22, and we invite you to send us your comments on this and future issues.