jonathan stone's blog

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this sucks

With a silent blog for a week one might assume I was at the International General Assembly of the Church of God this week. The truth is that it was my middle school job, and not my denomination that arrested my time this week. It sounds like I missed quite an historic meeting in Texas. Since G.A. wrap-ups currently abound in the CoG Blogosphere I will not try to do my own version here. But if you’d like to read some good ones I recommend reading this or this or this for starters.

One thing that is noticeably absent from most of the reflections that I have read is the thing that I consider to be the biggest disappointment of the meeting. That is, the failure to pass the resolution to allow women on Church and Pastor’s Council in the local church. In my opinion the outcome of this vote does not accurately reflect the predominant sentiment of the majority of Ordained Bishop’s in the CoG, but until we open ourselves up to something like internet voting I will never know if I am right about that. I also recognize that in many ways this rule forces virtually no restriction on me or any other potential pastor in the denomination. A local church does not have to even have a Church and Pastor’s Council. Furthermore, it can be governed by any council agreed upon by the church, and as long as that church does not give said council the name “Church and Pastor’s Council” it can be 100% female.

Nonetheless, tonight my therapist is grieving, and I’m reminded again that I am not even half of the therapeutic presence for her that she always is for me. I’m sad tonight because I don’t know how to comfort the daughters, mothers and sisters of our denomination. Emily is an Ordained Minister in the CoG. She spent much of her life reared in the denomination’s flagship church, and most of the rest of it in that church’s most famous church plant. She was educated in the denomination’s flagship training institutions–Lee University and the Church of God Theological Seminary. Even her Ph.D. program at the University of Wales is being guided by one of the CoG’s most famous biblical scholars. She is a direct descendant of R.G. Spurling, the founder of the CoG, and the mother of two 7th generation CoG daughters. Her experience in each of those places led her to believe that our denomination viewed her one way, but slightly more than half of the one thousand O.B.’s able to stand on the floor of the General Assembly this past week just told her something completely different.

I’ve heard people talk about the CoG as if it were a family. I’m glad they have experienced it that way. I have heard people who attended this General Assembly express genuine “love bursts” as they talked about healing and change that happened in Texas. I’m glad they experienced it that way. As for me, I don’t feel like much of a family with the CoG. Not when it continues to slap my real family around. Do I really want to raise my daughters in such an environment? I know we talk about all getting along with different opinions, and speak of having rich cultural diversity. But does it really make sense for someone like myself to stay, knowing that I will have to continue to watch the one’s I love get so hurt? That’s not a rhetorical question. I honestly wonder if it would be best not just for me, but for the CoG as well, if we just slipped out the door and found a movement where we could actually compare our experience with our denomination with our rich experiences with our families. Better for me for obvious reasons. Better for the CoG because it would not have to worry about its wounded daughters. Out of sight, out of mind…as the saying goes. Since the daughters are obviously already out of heart, why not seal the deal and exit the house altogether?

Our house is indeed too small. I can handle cramped quarters. But anyone has a natural flight reflex once suffocation begins.

My therapist points out that we always wonder why some spouses stay in abusive relationships, and then asks me with teary eyes why she should stay in the CoG. Why would she stay? Why would any of them stay? Why?

54 comments on “this sucks

  1. Don Warrington
    August 11, 2008

    The reason why I didn’t take an “open position” on this issue is because a) you took such an articulate position and b) you “outed” me on this issue with the link to my 2006 piece on the subject of women in ministry. The existence of the latter came as a surprise to some, as I found out at the Seminary reception Wednesday night.

    I told your mom that a) you and I would continue to pursue this issue and b) we would have a good time doing it. So you and your therapist cheer up. It’s going to get better.

  2. Rev. Todd Robbins
    August 11, 2008

    Brother Stone,
    While I appreciate your love for the women that have built and so faithfully been a part of our denom’s very fiber since it’s conception, and I appreciate your desire for a place for women to minister within this great church, I will have to disagree respectfully with you.

    If anything, I wish our church would be a little more restrictive in the leadership positions of women. IMHO, as I search through scriptures, I see that men and women are treated very differently within scripture and are not equal. This doesn’t make one lesser than the other, but just very different with very different roles to be fulfilled.

    I find within Scripture that the wondeful women within the family of God have many callings they can fulfill, and many offices they can serve in, even as a preacher, however; I take issue with women in ministry positions where they might be able to serve in authority over men.

    I personally do not interpret the scriptures to allow women to pastor (though our church does), or see the scriptures allowing women to teach men, or be in places of spiritual authority over men.

    I view a Church and Pastor’s Council as a position of spiritual authority that leads with the Pastoral team. Now, let me say, our congregation does not have such a Council anyway. But I see that as a leader position of authority, especially should the need come to remove a member from the congregation, provide discipline, enforce staffing requirements, etc.

    I truly believe if we open more opportunities for women to be in authoritarian positions in the church as a whole, you will see us lose churches on the other side of the issue. I can guarantee you I and others that share my belief would leave.

    So, as you stated, women can serve in a local church that interprets the scriptures differently than myself, and just not call it a Church and Pastor’s Council, and that local church can place women on that board.

    Isn’t that the best way to keep unity? Let those that favor it, utilize the loophole to meet their desires, without forcing it down the throats of the rest of us? If we change the minute book, and change the rules, then the slippery slope of allowing women to serve on the Council of 18, state boards, etc is allowed, and the more conservative churches will have to abide by the minutes and even allow it in their local congregations.

    Don’t we currently have the best possible compromise? And are you open to compromise?

  3. Don Warrington
    August 11, 2008

    Todd, the first thing that needs to be done is to resolve the “iffy” nature of authority in Evangelical churches:

    http://www.vulcanhammer.org/?p=417

    One possibility is to give the matter a “local option,” i.e., allow individual local churches to decide whether they wanted women on the Church and Pastors Council or not. Would the result at the General Council been any different had a local option been on the agenda? That’s a good question.

  4. Joel W. Clackum
    August 11, 2008

    John,

    I know exactly how you feel. I pray that your wonderful therapist will be encouraged in the Lord and know that man’s stubborn vanity cannot forever suppress the moving of the Holy Spirit. Most of all, I can tell you that the two of you are not alone in asking this question. Peace and Grace be with you in these days.

  5. Rev. Todd Robbins
    August 11, 2008

    Don – we will have to disagree on what scripture is stating in regards to Pastoral authority, etc., and women’s role within that authority that I believe is there. However, I believe there should be more liberty within the local churches, for sure, and if the local church is okay with it, then wonderful.

    But will they be happy stopping there? Or will they then push for women bishops, and women on state boards that have always been men, and women overseers? My only concern is that a move in that direction would really cause even more of a rift over this issue within our church.

    All I’m asking is that everyone realize, there are good, God loving folks, on both sides of the issue, who want unity within our body….and we all deserve a voice, even the ones I disagree with.

    Respectfully yours.

  6. jonathanstone
    August 11, 2008

    Todd,

    I sincerely appreciate your conciliatory approach to this issue, as it certainly has the potential of becoming a divisive issue in the CoG. Perhaps it would not be that dissimilar from some of what our mainline brothers and sisters have experienced with the issue of homosexuality.

    You raise an interesting question about whether or not our current state is the best possible compromise. And you are right that most would not want “to stop” at the issue of the C&P Council, but would push for female O.B.’s. That is my genuine desire.

    As far as your personal question to my willingness to compromise, I would have to say if it were only about my perspective I would certainly say yes. I am willing to leave room for a fairly broad swath of divergent opinions. However, since this issue affects so many others I cannot say at this time that I am settled on being willing to live with the compromise you mentioned. Here are my related thoughts:

    (1) If I shared your conviction I would be willing, though it would still be difficult I’m sure, to look my mothers, daughters, and sisters in the eyes and explain to them that I am sorry that this view causes them pain, but that I hope that they can accept me WITH my conviction, and not insist that I lose that conviction. However, being that I do not share that conviction I must currently look those ladies in the eyes and say something along the lines of, “I don’t really understand it, but some of my brethren feel strongly about this, and I have no idea if or when this will change.” In my estimation that is immeasurably more difficult.

    (2) I see the compromise that the mainline churches have attempted to walk over the issue of homosexuality. It seems to me that, ironically, while they have tried “to hold it together” they are “tearing the whole thing apart.” Thus, I would ask, is “the best possible compromise” a good thing? Is there a time when it’s better to separate?

    (3) You said that if we open up O.B. ordination to women that you and many others would leave. I understand that. In fact, I would say that scenario that you envision is not unlike my current situation, given my convictions. So, if I (and others like me) are willing to leave, and that would allow “the camp” (for lack of a better word) that you occupy to take a stronger position on the issue of female ministerial authority would that not be better for everyone? If it does pass, and guys like you leave, then what’s the point? It feels like we’re fighting for the rights to the 501-C-3…the name “Church of God.” But I do not wish to fight over that. I would rather leave with a prayerful blessing from you and others.

    (4) However, not all hope is lost on me regarding the question of a possible compromise. One thing that I think that many of us share in “both camps” is a desire to see less centralization, and a generally looser affiliation that puts the focus on the local church. If we were to move in that direction, I could more clearly envision the compromise you speak about.

    Again, I really do appreciate your sensitivity on the subject, and stand with you on a desire for unity. This is truly a tough deal, as it raises the question, “How do we stay together when are honest convictions seem to be pulling us apart?” I have no easy answer for that question.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

    In His Service.

  7. Nick Park
    August 12, 2008

    Jonathan,
    Like you I was extremely disappointed about this vote. It may take a generation to pass before things change – but I hope not!

    Meanwhile the rest of us get on with doing the work of the Kingdom and using the best people available tyo do so. I have two women on my 6 member Board of Elders and they do an invaluable job.

    Something else was pointed out to me at the GA and it was part of the GA Newspaper that is printed in Spanish. Apparently one of the Regional Overseers in Peru is a Pastora! Yes, that ‘a’ on the end is not a misprint. 🙂

    Nick

  8. jonathanstone
    August 12, 2008

    Joel, thanks for the encouragement! Who better to speak of the Spirit moving on behalf of our maidservants than Joel? 😉

    Nick, thanks to you also. I’m glad you mentioned the Peruvian Pastora…I had not heard about that!

  9. Don Warrington
    August 12, 2008

    Jon, Nick is correct. In the Thursday edition of GA Today, there’s an article on p. 14 about the National Convention of the Church of God in Brazil. One of the speakers was Melida Macedo, who is described as a “Supervisora” of a region of the Church of God in Peru.

    But it gets better…both your mom and dad were on the program with her! Also on the program was Mitch Maloney.

    This denomination is a howl!

  10. Johnny Taylor
    August 12, 2008

    Jonathan:

    As you know, I was also grieved by the vote on this issue. You may not know, there was a time that I would not have been grieved. That’s because growing up in the church that I did I essentially was taught that women are equal but not allowed to “have authority” over men. I remember hearing from a very influential person (that will remain nameless) that women shouldn’t be pastors because their “nuturing” or “motherly” traits would cause them to be overprotective and controlling.

    Through the years in looking at this issue in scripture for myself, living with six incredible women in my family, serving with and following brilliant women of God, and hearing those more versed in exegesis than I am, there is no doubt in my mind of our error in this area.

    Please tell the therapist I would follow her leadership anytime, anyplace, and anywhere

  11. Rev. Todd Robbins
    August 12, 2008

    Brother Stone – I agree, it is our deep convictions and desire for unity that seems to also provide a division between us within our church.

    I actually love a strong central church, but a strong central church with accountability, that was actually one of the things that really drew me to the COG, as I was not raised in this denom. I loved our strong sense of identity, district meetings, campmeetings, etc that gave me the impression of a big family of like minded people. Now, at 35, I see that is an era that has passed, and quite possibly more autonomy among our churches may be the only direction we can go.

    But I also don’t want to become a denom like others, like the Southern Baptist. Where no longer can you tell by the name on the door what doctrine will be taught, style of worship, or even basic principles followed.

    I want what is best for the kingdom work. I actually have done the opposite of my Brother Taylor. When I first entered the ministry, and was in my early years of being a Christian, I was open to female authority in the church and pastoral leadership by women, but in my pursuit for what I see in God’s Word, for me the direction has changed.

    I don’t say that I’m right and you all are wrong, that would be arrogant and innappropriate, I just know how I have to be true to what I sense in my spirit regarding the scriptures and this situation. I do beleve women can be leaders, but not in places of authority, which to me are too different things.

    I pray within our church, we can find a place to all come together on this, without feeling that we have left what we believe to be TRUTH.

    The great thing is, Scripture tells us if we lack wisdom, God will provide it, so I patiently await His direction for our church on this matter, so that we may go His direction, and not our own.

  12. jonathanstone
    August 12, 2008

    Todd,

    I stand with you on not wanting to leave the Truth, and appreciate your non-presumptuous approach. I also join you in prayer for the Wisdom that comes from the Father above.

    I have a different preference from you on your desire to see more uniformity in worship style and basic principles. In regards to doctrine I certainly I believe in non-negotiables. However, even within the realm of what is often called doctrine today there are many areas where diversity is permitted. I have heard preachers argue over the furniture of heaven and the temperature of hell. I have seen preachers lose their sanctification while arguing whether or not it is an instantaneous or progressive work. I do not wish to pursue uniformity on such issues. Even more so do I desire a diversity in worship and certain procedures. Liturgy that works in Atlanta does not necessarily (indeed, usually doesn’t) work in Seattle.

    In my estimation we need greater diversity. I share your heart for unity. However, I believe that uniformity is not only an unacceptable substitute for true unity, it actually stands in the way.

  13. michael mcmullin
    August 13, 2008

    You’re right . . . it sucks. i wish I had some pithy response to it but I don’t.

    I think you’re being very gracious with Rev. Todd about this issue. Phrases like “the slippery slope … to the Council of 18” and “will they be happy stopping there” would have caused me to answer with less kindness. But then again you are a scholar and gentleman. 🙂

    I think things will change in this issue, but I think it will be a long time.

    Perhaps not until it is seen as “our” problem not just “their” problem.

  14. Pingback: Speaking out about women in ministry. « incarnation

  15. jonathanstone
    August 15, 2008

    Johnny and Mike,

    Thanks for your encouragement. Perhaps I “hope against hope,” but I am still hopeful that this can change in the next 3-4 assemblies.

  16. Nicholas Fugate
    August 15, 2008

    I am arrogant and inappropriate.

    It is sin.

  17. Kindra Green
    August 16, 2008

    “Sucks” is an understatement.

    Every time I hear this crap again I feel like someone punched me in the stomach. I remember sitting there last GA as my fathers stood their ground fighting over this and feeling as though I was getting beat up. I held it together until I walked out of the building and then I broke. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs! I could not believe how disgusting and lowly a large part, indeed the voting majority, of my fathers felt about me.
    I wanted to shout, “No! You don’t understand. Jesus has healed me. I meet him at the cross and he redeemed me. In his blood I am covered. And that covering, don’t you know, it is full and complete. Can’t you see? I am not only saved but filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. If the Spirit of God has filled me then how can you discredit me? How can you refuse me from the table? Haven’t you prayed and prayed for laborers? Ones who might pick up the cross and come hell or high water would fight to build the Kingdom of God with love, mercy and grace. Well, here I am. God heard the call and answered your prayers…not just me but there are hundreds just like me rising up from all over the world. Spirit-filled, hearts exploding, hands dirty, feet beautiful, eager and willing laborers.”

    There were no ears to hear me. Not that terrible day and apparently not much has changed.

    I wonder Rev. Todd Robbins, what exactly do you think it feels like to be a woman and to be called by God, not just to stand in the background but, to lead AND then to be a part of the COG that refuses you that? You argue that to open the door for women would be ‘forcing it down the throats’ of you and your counterparts–what exactly do you think you are doing right now? You are forcing these rules down my throat (and every woman who is called)—and you have been for years! You force me to labor and fight in order to be obedient to God! You, and those who agree with you, have torn me away from Kingdom work and interrogated me, drilled me about obedience to men and threatened me with your power. You, and those who agree with you, have torn me away from Kingdom work and put me in a position of activist that I NEVER wanted. I have been called names from femi-nazi and lesbo to a female dog. I have been told to get in the kitchen where I belong. I have been told I was not welcome. I have been accused of being rebellious and ridiculous. I was told all women are stupid and manipulative. I was told I was prophetically out of control and guilty of witchcraft—ALL this because one fateful Sunday night at the age of 17 Jesus asked me if i would be a ‘fisher of human kind’? and I in my most honest and love-filled moments of my life could only look him in the eye and say, “YES!” To answer your question about compromise…my whole hearted answer is, “NO!” Because, in order to say yes to you I would have to literally no to God and chose to disobey him in order to pacify you! Really, is thdisobedience what you desire?

    To answer your question Jon (and Emily) about staying…how can we go?? Argh! This too is my home! These are still my fathers…they continue to slap me but they are my fathers! These same fathers preached to me–as a PK my whole life–at youth camp and winterfest. Only then they told me God had called me and had a purpose for my life. At The Mission, Lee and Seminary I was taught more about our beautiful, beautiful heritage and the hope the Spirit can offer not only to us but to the world. I was told Jesus was Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, Spirit Baptizer, and Soon and Coming King and that ALL of that was offered to everyone of us–male and female.

    But then…how can I possibly stay? The COG has declared: This is not your home. You are not welcome. You are not even allowed at the table for the discussion. You are an outcast. You are not a part of this family. You are unworthy. You are un-called. You are un-saved.

  18. darrellbjr
    August 16, 2008

    Jonathan,

    Every time the General Council discusses this issue it gets more and more interesting. The rhetoric increases (though the arguments remain the same), we come to a questionable vote which leaves people on both sides of the fence upset.

    My mom sat in the stands and wanted to slap a few guys (very out of character for my mom). My dad voted against it while my brother and I voted for it. I wondered why my mom didn’t slap my dad. Instead my mom looked at my dad and reminded him, “Honey, you only have a pastor’s council of one…and that’s me”.

    If I am not mistaken, the vote was lost by less than 150 votes…and that was a retake after the vote had already been declared closed and some international and missions personel had left to get dinner before the missions service. But to appease the 10 to 15 people who didn’t get their vote counted in the first vote we re-took the vote without ever knowing what the original vote was. I wish someone would have said, “Gentlemen, we have the results of two votes on this issue and they both agree…” but we did not receive that re-assurance. Now I admit there probably were not more than 150 votes for the change that walked out of the building, so please don’t think I am trying to stir up controversy.

    As I posted elsewhere, in my church I have to get special permission to allow non-Spirit baptized men to serve on my council (men who have not received the Baptism in over 30 years of seeking and multiple anointed pastors’ and evangelists’ prayers). At the same time I can not get special permission to allow tongue talkin’ women who flow in the Spirit to serve on my council. It just seems wrong to me and doesn’t make any sense.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad this issue keeps coming up, and I believe we are getting closer…I just really thought this was going to be the season.

    Thanks for letting us vent,

    Darrell Buttram, Jr.

  19. Rev. Todd Robbins
    August 18, 2008

    Kindra – My prayer is that you would never link me to anyone that would say those terrible and innappropriate things to you.

    I’m not sure how my stand and beliefs on Women Pastorings, being on boards, and councils discredits your salvation experience, your Holy Ghost Baptism, or your value to our church. Where in my post did I say anything about any of those topics?

    Woman and men are not created equally. The female creature is a beautifully compliment to man, and they together can work for the kingdom of God in a great way. There are many ministries that are very much better left to the nurturing, compassion, female attributes within our church.

    My disagreement comes from my belief of spiritual authority, and who can serve in certain leadership roles. But how does that discredit women from ministry and being fulfilled overall? It’s just certain places that I BELIEVE, God has said are for the guys only.

    I’m a single man. According to scripture, I cannot pastor a congregation. Do you think I’m happy about that? Unless one day God sends me a wife, I will always be a Minister of Music, or Associate, or Student Ministries Pastor, but will never be able to be the lead pastor of a congregation because I have never been married, and God’s word if very clear that I must be the husband of one wife to be a Bishop (overseer of a church).

    In our state, I can’t even partake in the minsiter’s death fund, as it is only for married credentialled ministers, not single.

    It’s just the way it is. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a fruitful laborer in the harvest, and make a huge impact for the kingdom, and neither does it for you. Why does the inaccessibility to one or two places, mean someone is painting a broad brush of, “sit down and keep your mouth shut.” If that’s what you are hearing from me, then you aren’t listening to what I’m saying.

    Respectuflly yours….

  20. jonathanstone
    August 18, 2008

    Todd,

    For years I have heard men argue the complimentarian position, painfully articulating their position while trying to simultaneously emphasize that it is a question of “roles” and NOT a question of “equality.” I have always argued that while our current position claims to NOT be a view of inequality in principle, it nonetheless is one in practice. However, I have to admit that I do not recall conversing with someone who was blatantly taking a position of inequality.

    You said: “Woman and men are not created equally.”

    You are GREATLY mistaken in your statement. Scripture is extremely clear about the equality of all persons (Gal. 3:28 et al).

    You are also mistaken in your assertion about singleness. Under that view neither Paul nor Jesus would qualify to pastor a church or serve as a bishop. Both Jesus and Paul encouraged singleness for individuals that had the grace to handle it. Single pastors and bishops pervade Christian history in every culture, era, and movement until this very day.

    I will let Kindra answer your questions for herself, but I can assure you, as one who has known her for several years, that her references to having her salvation and Spirit baptism discredited are tied to specific, face-to-face conversations that took place long before this conversation or your post. She did not get those things from your comments, only re-lived the wounds.

    I consider a position of inequality to be a great injustice, a wrong that needs to be corrected, a sin that needs to be covered. I do not reject you as a person, but I consider the position you espoused to be sinful (love the person hate the sin). In leadership I would feel the need to reject such a view in the strongest and most unequivocal terms.

    Shalom…

  21. Don Warrington
    August 19, 2008

    Jon, although I agree that basic equality of people is an important New Testament concept, I think a good deal of our problem is that we spend too much time investing our church with secular objectives. In this case, that has bedevilled (literally) both how we got into the situation we’re in and how “Main Line” churches have attempted to come up with a solution.

    Church is the place where everyone, endued with gifts of the Spirit of all kinds, can find the value that God invested them with in the beginning but which was lost in the Fall. The church has always gotten into trouble when it superimposes secular goals and authority structures into its life and mission.

    It’s fairly easy for Pentecostals, in our own history, to see how this has worked out in the issue of the role of women in ministry. I dealt with that in my own article. The thing that we must avoid, however, is, in working our way through this problem, to adopt a secular view of men and women to solve what is a difficulty of the church.

    That’s the mistake that the “Main Line” churches have made. Main Line churches incorporated women in ministry because of their adoption of a “feminist construct,” not out of a Biblical view of the church. The result of that and many other forces is that they have many in ministry–men and women alike–who are better feminists and secularists than they are Christians.

    The current Episcopal Presiding Bishop is a good example of this. What they have is a first-rate Diotrephes running the church, who will bankrupt the church and empty its pews with her bull-headed insistance of the primacy of secular goals and the unquestioning obedience of those under her. It’s noteworthy, however, that her Scriptural “role model” was male.

    That’s why I have come to realise that the issue of women in ministry and the issue of the nature of authority in the church are inseparable. As long as we see the church as another authority-bearing institution like the state, we’re going to have problems. But if we see the church as the “called out” ones who are set forth to live the life that Jesus has placed in us, then everyone will find their place.

    And if we’re serious about the “inverted pyramid” concept–one that has root in the New Testament–we see that placing women in ministry is actually calling them to go to the bottom, not the top. But Bill Isaacs deals with this issue (and I responded) at

    http://forwardleadership.org/blog/?p=130

    I know I’ve gone on at length and in a way that will seem far-fetched to some. But real Christianity is a radical business, one that even Evangelical churches spend too much time conventionalising.

    Finally: Todd, I was flabbergasted at your statement that single people could not serve as pastors of a church. Jon’s response is correct. Unfortunately there are too many people in our church who are of like opinion. I know one youth pastor who was bluntly told that he “needed a wife” to go on in ministry.

    It’s noteworthy that, in general, Pentecostals have a higher marriage rate than other Christians, but a higher divorce rate to go along with it. Christian marriage is not to be entered into lightly, but social pressure in our churches encourages just that, especially with ministers.

  22. Kindra Green
    August 19, 2008

    Todd. I would be happy to answer your questions…also, I would really like you to answer mine. Would you like me to be disobedient to God in order to appease you and others like you? Would you like me to deny the gifts he has given and the calling on my life? Is that the kind of church you want to build and be a part of?

    While you did not call me those names or treat me unkind I do consider you to be a part of that same group that did because while your actions may be tempered the attitude and the heart are one and the same. To treat any person less than equal, less than human is ungodly and unjust no matter how you slice it. It is oppression. Also, know this, each of those incidents were real and I experienced them while I was living in VA, TN and NV and they were all encounters with ministers of the COG or young men in training for the ministry with the COG!

    In your post you did not say that you discredit my salvation however in your actions and your assertion that all women have to be under a spiritual authority you have done just that. To declare that all women must be under some sort of authority IS saying that there is something unruly about all women. Furthermore, not just all women but all of the Godly, saved, Spirit-filled, baptized, healed redeemed women of our denomination. The issue is further exasperated because of the COG’s stance on not allowing women to be Bishops and therefore never allowing them to lead at the state or national level.

    With all due respect Todd, you are wrong about women not being equal. While women differ from men–both men and women were created in the image of God:

    “Genesis 1:27 (KJV)
    27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

    Every woman and every man has been created and crafted in the image of God. Equally. The fall wreaked havoc and laid curses upon us all, however, Jesus Christ poured out his blood so that every person, male and female, may be redeemed to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). There is NOT a male salvation that redeems your sinfulness and revokes the curses bestowed upon you and a female salvation that only partially redeems my sinfulness and only partial revokes the curses bestowed upon me. To say/live this is hieratical! It says that Jesus is not enough. His blood was weak and his sacrifice incomplete. He can only half way save women AND it places human men on God’s level saying they are needed to redeem women by keeping them under their authority.
    THIS IS NOT BIBILICAL!

    This friend is what breaks my heart. How can we as the COG dishonor Christ and disregard Scripture? We have taken two relatively short and contextual passages and lifted them over chapter and verse about the redemption of Jesus Christ. It is not merely “the inaccessibility to one or two places” it is a question of our Christology and Sotierology. It is the very basis of my life and my relationship with Christ and for that matter EVERY woman that attends our churches–what does it say to this entire demographic of our communities of faith? I believe, we are telling them by our actions that Jesus is not enough. We are lying to them. We are not preaching the Gospel.

    Furthermore, I grieve with you for the injustice you suffer as a person who is single. As Jon has said, the injustice you suffer is not biblical–again we are discrediting Jesus, who himself was a single person. I do, and in the future will, stand beside you to fight that injustice. If I was ever allowed to vote I would stand up for you and vote to change those laws. I do not believe that because I have suffered injustice that it is acceptable to allow others to suffer as well. That is not biblical.

    Another question I have–with the many, many biblical examples we have of women in leadership (Zipphorah, Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, the Woman at the Well, Mary Magdalene, Pricilla, Junias and so on) why is it that there is never an instance of God punishing the people and this woman leader for “inappropriate authority”? Why is it that Jesus calls the Woman at the Well to be an evangelist bringing the good news to an entire village, and presumably having some authority over others including males? I cannot stomach our disregard for the many instances of women leading and the very acts of Jesus Christ while we cling to Paul’s passages that even the best scholars have trouble with (see Gordon Fee’s textual criticism of 1 Cor. 14 or for a COG perspective read Hollis Gause’s book ‘Women in Leadership: A Pentecostal Perspective’).

    If you have not I would also encourage you to read the AG’s understanding of scripture there is a link on the previous discussion on women.

    Also, I beg you Todd, please pray over this. I admire and applaud your dedication to Scripture. I pray that we have more people like you who are committed to the word of God. Our tradition also believes that the Spirit guides and speaks to us. Ask the Spirit about this too. Is it the nature of God to withhold things from his children or to liberate them? Also, please take a moment and think about what it is like to be a woman and to be told your salvation is not quite enough. Think about what it has been like to be called the terrible things I have by my Christian brothers and see in this attitude not the heart of Christ but a heart of hatred and oppression. Please ask Jesus why he called me. Ask him why he gifted me to lead and to preach and to organize. Ask him why he called the Woman at the Well. Ask him about Margaret Gaines and Cheryl Bridges Johns, Mary Ruth Stone and Kimberly Erwin Alexander. Ask him about Dawn Hendrix and Kelly Rodriguez. Ask him about Kelley Thacker and Lani Johnson and Alycia Small. Ask him about Jessica Freeze, Rosalyn Harper and Katherine Knoke. Ask him about Emily Brown-Stone–these women are you sisters and your mothers of the faith–ask him how he wants you to treat them.

  23. Brenton
    August 19, 2008

    In lieu of something wholly original, I thought it may contribute to this conversation to share a quote from politics in 1955:

    “Two years ago the leadership of this House, Republican or Democrat, would not have dared to place a Negro on either of these two committees because both were committees which dealt with segregation. Our Veterans’ Administration rigidly maintained the bars of segregation, especially in our veterans’ hospitals. Two years ago, this Capital was a cesspool of democracy where not only I, as a Negro congressman, was banned from a public places but also visiting chiefs of state and their representatives, if their skin happened to be dark. But under the vigorous leadership of H.V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs, there is no longer any segregation in any veterans’ hospital. And under the leadership of District Commissioner Samuel Spencer, from Mississippi, if you please, this Capital has become a glorious place, truly representative of the finest of our American way of life. And, again I repeat, all of this was done without the help of the Congress and ofttimes done in spite of the opposition of the Congress. ”
    – Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
    http://www.infoplease.com/t/hist/powell-civil-rights/

    I stand wholly ignorant of any other detail about the speech-giver quoted above, so please understand that my reference is limited to the quote and not necessarily with the character of the man or even with the portions of the speech I did not include.

    Don made a great point, and hopefully I will not butcher it by re-stating it in brief: We should not take on the endeavor of accepting women into positions of “authority over men” in order to satisfy secular views about women, but rather we should do so as a matter of organizing the church as Christ would. If I have misunderstood Don’s point, I welcome correction.

    While I absolutely agree with that point, and clearly see the error of those who have missed it, I cannot ignore the gut reaction that I have when I witness a Man of God displaying passive racism. My reaction at its mildest is rolling my eyes, and at its most aggressive is ranting to anyone I can find with ears that I’m sick of the representatives of God’s Church STILL culturally ignorant or outright racist. It disgusts me. And I see no lack of parallels in this current situation. That said, I don’t think that invalidates Don’s point at all, but I would suggest that while we shouldn’t be implementing change in the church’s policies based on what secular movements expect of us to fit in, we should absolutely be concerned about (and continually re-examine) those areas of our policy that seem to be outright institutionalized sexism. As the Spirit leads, of course.

    Spirit-filled Christians of both genders fought (and continue to fight) institutionalized racism around the world and did so to enact the freedom and equality that they enjoyed in Christ. I am proud of this and feel connected with that fight. Why do I not feel the same way on this topic?

    My eyes are tired of rolling.

  24. jonathanstone
    August 19, 2008

    Don:
    I echo Brenton. That is, I agree in principle with what you are saying about investing our church with too many secular principles. However, in no way do I think that we are in danger of doing that when it comes to the issue of equality in the CoG. I would also add that in many cases secular institutions have picked up what the church neglected. Art and science, for example, were once driven by Christian scientists and artists that were funded and/or partially supported by the church, which took a vested interest in those fields. Indeed, at one point in history it seemed that the world looked to the church for truly great art, which arose out of Christian worship from gifted individuals. The same is true with certain causes, many of which the church was slow to take the lead on. Brenton gives us a classic 20th century example with the Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of equality we are lagging behind many secular institutions. However, we still have the opportunity to advance those causes, as the secular versions are only a fragment of the radical, biblical vision to be set forth by the church. Furthermore, it’s ultimately an issue of valuing life, and the secular institutions are, by and large, far behind in that regard, and we still have a great opportunity to be a testimony of light to the world in those regards.

    Kindra:
    Thanks so much for passionate response and poignant questions. And thanks for hanging in there and having the courage to fight for change in the midst of injustice.

    Brenton:
    Well said. Thanks for stopping in. My eyes are tired of rolling too!

  25. pzefo3
    August 19, 2008

    Todd,

    I think you need to re-examine your hermeneutics.

    And, dude, you’re a youth pastor and our age, quit referring to yourself as “Rev.” and everyone else as “Brother.”

  26. Don Warrington
    August 20, 2008

    Since the issue of racism has come into this discussion, I think some things need to be brought out.

    To start with, if we look at the history of modern Pentecost, we see that early Pentecostal churches were innately multi-racial. They only separated themselves racially as a result of pressure from the outside world, because that world wasn’t ready for the colour blind vision they had received. It’s an example of secular pressure adversely affecting the church. Now we must recapture that vision and reality in our churches. That, of course, parallels the whole history of women in ministry in Pentecostal churches–started out moving forward, then backtracking, now struggling to get back to where we started.

    Back in 1996, I went to the airport to pick up some tickets. While there I ran into Lamar Vest, who was preparing to go to South Africa. His mission there was to present two simple alternatives to our church there: either end the institutional division of the church along racial lines or get out of the Church of God. But sometimes it’s easier to get things done in South Africa than it is here.

    Modern Pentecost is a fulfillment of Joel/Acts 2: that the Spirit be poured out on all flesh. The endless challenge of any Pentecostal church is to avoid becoming a unicultural expression, because that’s not what Pentecostal churches are for. Many times I feel like I’m not a part of the predominant culture, because I’m not! We must facilitate allowing people to reach their highest potential–all people–because the mission we are set here to do requires it. That imperative is why I support women in ministry, internationalism and multi-culturalism in a Christian context, and–and this is something that hasn’t been broached in this thread–a role for the laity that is consistent with the New Testament. (If you achieved that, a lot of the rest of this would be a lot simpler!)

    To look at the last point another way: I watched as much of the General Council as time permitted from the “cheap seats,” along with the women, other laymen, and of course the non-bishops. I’ll be glad to see the day when Kindra and others can display the same eloquence we’ve seen in this thread on the floor. Just don’t leave the rest of us who are paying the bills out in the process!

  27. gregjohnson
    August 20, 2008

    Kindra, I love you and I am sorry!

  28. Rev. Todd Robbins
    August 20, 2008

    Brother Pzefo3 – I refer to everyone as Sister or Brother on here, as I don’t know if they are a Rev. or Bishop, as they have not included that in their name. To me, it’s the upmost in respect, to call someone Brother or Sister and use their last name, especially since I don’t know them personally. It is considered very rude to seem overly familiar and call someone by their first name when you don’t know them personally, so I call them Brother or Sister. I use the Rev. title, as I as a credentialled minister of the COG should use that title every time I post my name anywhere. I’ve worked hard for it, and I believe it helps keep me accountable as a minister of the gospel. At least I’m using my name, and not a screen name.

    And your slight that I’m just a youth pastor, well my dear brother, I’ve served as Associate Pastor, Minister of Music, Evangelist, and other areas of ministry. Not sure why the fact that my present place to serve as a Student Ministries pastor is something you think you can publicly deride, but this ministry to young people is no less important than anyone elses.

    Sister Green – Once again I feel like you are adding words in addition to what I have written, and attributing thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions to me that I personally am not guilty of of. I can only account for me…and that’s the only person i represent when I communicate here.

    MEN AND WOMEN EQUAL – I think this is semantics. Just because someone isn’t equal, doesn’t mean that one of them has to be inferior. I do believe that we were all created in the image of God, PRE-CURSE, but we are in a POST CURSE world, and NT scripture shows so many different approaches to the ministry of women compared to men, and there are so many areas that women can lead and minister that men can’t, that doesn’t discount them in to be a inferior child of God at all, and I never meant to inferr that. You said it yourself, men and women are different, and in my terminology, which may be differnt than yours, means, they aren’t equal. Shoot, even my Senior Pastor and I aren’t equal, in where God can use us, or how He can use us….He’s married, I’m not.

    SALVATION – I never made any statements about the salvation of women compared to men, I will not even debate that as I never even said a thing about salvation. Where did I ever say men are needed to redeem women? Where did I ever say anything like that? or that God were on teh same level as men? My dear Sister, your crediting thoughts, words and actions to me, that I never claimed. That is not fair, needed, nor right, and you know that.

    AUTHORITY – We’re talking government here, not Spiritual authority. There is definately an ability for women to minister and lead in so many ways, but governmentally scripture has placed limits within the New Testament for men and women who were redeemed. Just like there is are limits to me as a single man on what I can do in the ministry and can’t do.

    SINGLENESS – I never said that I suffered an injustice because I’m single, and I apologize if I intimated that. I accept the teachings of scripture here, and live by it. My flesh may be frustrated by it, but it’s the way God wants it, therefore I submit myself to it…and walk in it. Just because I’m limited in what I can do, doesn’t limit how I can do what I can do.

    WOMEN IN SCRIPTURE – First off, we don’t live under the OT, so I look for NT scripture for how we should govern the church and it’s operations. But nevertheless, Zipporah – I see her mentioned 3 times in the OT, and I see her ministering, but I don’t see anywhere where she was given any governmental authority over men in a spiritual role? Did I overlook it? Miriam – I see that she was a prophetess, and looking up that passage in Strong’s it’s referring to her being endowed with a gift of song. And she did have a strong spiritual leadership ability, but I still don’t see her governmental authority over men stated in scripture. Deborah – I see where she is called a prophetess, same word used for miriam. And it does include that it could also mean, someone that is consulted for advice, but that’s isn’t governmental authority within the church over men. – Huldah – same song, different verse…..Woman at the Well – okay, far leap there. Everyone has the right and the ability and even responsibility to publish the gospel. I don’t see where she pastored, or was given any governmental leadership authority of position, did I miss that? I happen to love Sister Jackie Smith, a great woman evangelist that I love to hear preach and wish I could hear more….but I’d submit that scriptures says she cannot Pastor or serve in any governing boards that have authority over men. Mary Magdeline – she pastored where? Was on what governing committee within the NT church? Pricilla – a strong Pastor’s wife, but don’t see where she pastored by herself, or where she was on a governing authority board or commission over her church. Junias – Appearing as Junia in the King James, it does state in Strong’s this is a Proper Feminine Noun. Okay, and it says Junia was a kinsmen and among the apostles. I don’t see however wher Junia was an apostle, or a pastor, or on a governing authoritarian NT church board.

    YOUR QUESTIONS FOR ME: Please note, I mean no offense, and this is said as humbly as I know how, you are my sister, and I just want to answer. The gifts that any woman has, can all be used within guidance of scriptural note to how God says the operations of the local church should be. There are many places and talents that woman can minister, and make a huge impact on the kingdom work. I do want to say though, I don’t believe the voice of God will contradict the Word of God….and any well meaning, God loving woman that says God has called them to do something that is contrary to Scriptures, is mixing their own desires with their call. Take for instance Joan of Ark…..she had men under her leadership…..though God probably was leading her, she should have never had authority over men….and God blessed in spite of their construing of God’s call.

    Let’s say a man is married to his second wife. Both marriages since conversion. And the first marriage did not end because of adultery. That man may be called to preach the gospel, but God will never call him to be a Senior Pastor, as it doesn’t fit within the scriptural requirements for local church Operations.

    God won’t contradict himself.

    In closing….this is a place of discussion and presentation of different opinions and ideas. I have painstakingly attempted to treat everyone with as much respect as possible…using the term Brother and Sister, last names, and never attacking anyone’s personal character or beliefs, and I would appreicate the same respect.

    We are all adults here, assumedly adults who name the name of Jesus. We will not all agree, but can at least generate understanding and tolerance, as those are very different than agreement and acceptance.

    We are all family members who disagree. There must be somewhere that we can gain the broader vision of Kingdom, and find a way for us all to get into the harvest field and bring that harvest in together. No matter who is holding the basket, driving the tractor, or picking the fruit.

    Though I don’t attempt to represent all who oppose changes to the role of females in our governmental structure, can’t I present a different point of view without words being put in my mouth, or being personally attacked because I’m “just a youth pastor” or using the rev. title that we all should be proud to use?

    And for the record, though I don’t favor loosening of guildelines for women in our governmental operations of the church, I also stand opposed to any women being treated with disrespect when her desire is to serve the kingdom. Any woman being treated with anything less than the same respect and love Christ gives the church is wrong.

    Now, let the feeding frinzy begin on me….

  29. Emily Stone
    August 20, 2008

    Brother Robbins,

    Thank you for responding to so much. I do not have time to engage much at the moment, but will post more later. However, I did want to ask you, in regards to “singleness,” how do you interpret the fact that both Paul and Jesus were single, that both of them encouraged singleness, and that neither would qualify for a pastoral role under your rubric?

    Thanks in advance.

    Jonathan

  30. Jonathan Stone
    August 20, 2008

    sorry for the confusion, that above comment was from Jonathan, not Emily.

  31. K E Alexander
    August 21, 2008

    I have waited to respond to this because I’ve been so hurt and so angry and in so much grief and, I confess, I am not going to do this in a very credible way. I just cannot read all of TR’s rhetoric. I’ve heard it all before.

    I am going to say the following (these are actually bullet-points)

    I am very tired of persons of privilege (in this case, male ministers) telling the oppressed how they should feel.

    I am tired of being told to be patient. In this case, patience is toleration of sin. (Thank you MLK, Jr. for this insight)

    While I appreciate (greatly) male ministers who say, “Well, we will just have to get around the ruling by doing it in other ways (i.e., Elders, Boards of Ministry, etc)”, it is extremely important that our church say things in the right way. We need legitimization.

    My husband (a male pastor and Ordained Bishop) has been so maligned and mistreated in the past by male council members who were overly-emotional, bore grudges, gossiped and plotted treachery that none of the arguments of the opposition based on the stereotyping of women even make sense to me.

    We cannot claim to be a biblically guided organization if we maintain this polity. We can claim to be a culturally guided one. Our organization is being guided [in this instance] by a sinful, fallen worldly model of oppression. If we use their hermeneutical approach then we will have to re-structure Women’s Ministries in our churches and put male members only in the job of waiting on tables (i.e. – serving food at our fellowship functions). That is the Deacon’s job according to Acts.

    I am offended that my male brothers would sit back and allow other men to say the things that are being and have been said about women to remain unchecked. If similar things were said of African-Americans, Latinos or Jews they would be ruled out of order immediately.

    I could go on and on but I am tired, very tired.

  32. Kindra Green
    August 21, 2008

    Sigh.

    Dr. Alexander, I wholeheartedly agree. I am so very tired and I have not born this suffering nearly as long as you. I weep and pray and hope with you. Take heart and know this–of the many, many reasons I have to leave COG I think of you and it always encourages me to try harder and hold on just a little longer.

    Greg! A much long and overdue, “Hello!” and “I miss you!” As always your words and your kind heart bring a much needed healing balm to an impossible situation. It means so very much to me that you care.

    Revered Todd Robbins: sigh. My heart is heavy and I dislike the way this conversation is going. I feel as though we are talking AT each other instead of TO each other. I do not feel you have taken my words and my heart seriously. You stated that “I never made any statements about the salvation of women compared to men, I will not even debate that as I never even said a thing about salvation.” What I have been (perhaps poorly) trying to explain is that if you (and the COG) create and institute the laws that you have you are in fact targeting my salvation and my standing with Christ. During the Civil Rights movement many used the same argument that you are using. To force a person to use a different restroom, a different drinking fountain and the back section of the bus in no way meant that those who were segregated were less than equal. But, my friend, we in fact know that to be a lie. That is why the United States Supreme Court stated that ‘separate but equal’ was an injustice that had to be corrected. This language is strong but not as strong as Scripture which promises that we are all one and saved by One (Eph. 4:4-6).

    I am not seeking to be unfair to you and I strongly disagree that “I know this” instead I would say to you, with all due respect, you have no idea the amount of suffering this injustice wounds me and the depths to which I struggle. I assure you that I hold scripture in the highest regard and have dedicated my life to studying it and dedicated my heart and soul to being faithful to its commands.

    I have a difficulty with the way you view the OT. I also disagree that we do not live under it. The author of Hebrews does not agree with you either–as the author takes all of chapter 11 to discuss the OT and heroes gone before us. Paul also disagrees with you as he states in 1 Corinthians 10 that all of the OT serves for us an example. And, if you cannot comprehend how Zipporah had authority over Moses as she performed an emergency circumcision on his sons an–well, my friend, I am not sure I can explain that to you. Furthermore, she acts as a priest offering up the sacrifice to God literally standing between Moses and God interceding for her husband and covering him in the blood of the covenant. This is no small thing. I fear that you are taking the chapters and verses about women to be of less weight than the two verses that are restrictive. Why is that?

    Also, Deborah was indeed a prophet (nabiim) but she also was a judge (shaphat–same word used for the High Priest Eli and of Samuel in 1 Samuel) who judged (mishpat) over Israel and in Judges 4:4-6 she rules over the Leader of Israel giving him God’s orders (Judges 4:6-10). At the end of the day her leadership brought victory to Israel and a song of praise to their lips (Judges 5).

    Furthermore, You stated that “I don’t believe the voice of God will contradict the Word of God.” I, again, will point you to Dr. Hollis Gause’s book where he points out Numbers 27 where the daughters of Zelophehead had no rights to an inheritance according to God’s Law. But Moses seeks the Lord and the Lord changes the law because it is unjust for these women! Not only do I disagree with you but so does the Bible. There are many, many instances of God just not working in our little box we have for him. He is constantly throwing wrenches into our idea of what it means to be holy and be a part of His way. For instance, a hooker and brothel owner lies in order to save herself and her family and she is marked as one of FAITH by the author of Hebrews…not only that but she is in the lineage of Jesus Christ! The great-grandmother of King David was a foreigner and a hooker!

    You said, “God won’t contradict himself.” But we have multiple instances of him doing just that–for instance with King David whose great-grandmother was Rahab and grandmother was Ruth which meant he ought to be considered a foreigner (a foreigner was considered so until the fourth generation of living among Israel–David was only the 3rd generation of Rahab and Salmon’s union and only the 2nd generation of Boaz and Ruth’s union!) So when Samuel pours the oil on David in 1 Samuel 16:13 as God commanded he is violating Exodus 30:33 (33 Whoever compounds any like it [oil], or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.’ “)
    Also, every outsider who enters the Temple will be put to death (Numbers 1:51) but David enters and even dances half-naked and not only does he survive but he is called the one who is after God’s own heart.

    In addition, since you enjoy the NT, take Peter’s little visit to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10-11. The governing rule of the church at that point was clear about gentiles and yet the Holy Spirit had the nerve to fall all over them breaking the churches rules–they even speak in tongues. This was clearly outside of the church’s laws and yet Peter proclaims, “17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:17-18 (NKJV)

    As a Spirit filled, tongue talking woman…I ask you the same: Who are you to withstand God?

    As for women “mixing their own desires with their call” do you also accuse Peter and David of such un-holiness?

    Furthermore, Paul’s organizational structure is not the only model given in the NT. Search the Johannine books for a very different model based on communal leadership and practice. Also, I would recommend any of Dr. John Christopher Thomas’ work on these very books if you want to see another model that is just as biblical but is very different, some may even say contradictory, to Paul’s. Also, speaking of contradictions how exactly do you understand:

    1 Corinthians 11:5 (NKJV)
    5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

    and

    1 Corinthians 14:34 (NKJV)
    34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.

    These verses contradict one another–for every time I have prophesied I have indeed found that speaking was essential.

    So which is it–women can speak as long as their heads are covered or they are not to speak at all? Ironically, Paul is pretty contradictory isn’t he? Silly Paul.

    I hope and pray for you Revered Todd Robbins. I do not wish there to a feeding frenzy. I want to hear your heart and I hope that you will take the time to hear mine. There is some tongue and cheek in my perspective—this is not meant to disrespect you but to, hopefully, add a little levity to a very dark subject.

    Jon—perhaps we can also talk about something else to do with this topic. For this law is not the only matter at hand. These are not merely words on paper but attitudes and mindsets that pervade the COG. I know the things that I have encountered being a woman training for ministry. I would like for other women to share too because, I think, if we see the fruit this mindset often produces this would perhaps aide us in determining whether or not it is scriptural or godly.

    Furthermore, I would appreciate others perspectives on what exactly they feel women could bring to the table with their leadership. Obviously, I have some thoughts but I would appreciate to hear from others—on both sides. What danger does it pose? What positives could it hold?

    Thanks!

  33. Todd Robbins
    August 21, 2008

    Sister Green – I know you don’t know me, and I’d rather not interject any levity into this matter, as I believe that would be disrespectful to the very heart of the matter.

    Maybe I should tell you at this point that I have a female family member who like you believes very differently than I do regarding her call and ability to serve in a governing role. I see the hurt it causes her, and I hate it for her, but I have to be true to my conviction of scripture.

    You and I do hold a very different opinion and interpretation of the scriptures you mentioned, especially Old Testament. You and I will never see eye to eye on this, and you know what, that’s okay. There is so much we can do in unity for the kingdom, this is where we must agree to disagree. The good news for you is, there are many more in our denom that would side with you than with me as we become a more liberal denomination, so if the pendalum swings any direction, it will be yours.

    Brother Stone – Jesus didn’t pastor, and it was at his death and resurrection the New Testament Chuch and Covenant was born, so, that would be like asking if Moses or Noah were qualified to pastor. Pastoring is a New Testament concept, in my understanding of it. And as for Paul, you’re right. That’s why I believe Paul served in an advisory role, more like an overseer of Pastors in his ministry and never pastored one of the local congregations as far as I can see in scripture….and her certainly still made a great impact on the kingdom of God.

    And by the way, I encourage singleness for ministers, as long as you can control your desires, but not for Pastors…anyone seeing over a congregation. Just my personal interpretation of scripture.

  34. K E Alexander
    August 22, 2008

    Kindra, thanks for taking this on! I trust you to do so!!

  35. Brenton
    August 22, 2008

    I feel somewhat out of place in this conversation. I would describe myself as an average COG member, with no formal training or education. So I’m tempted to keep out of it because I’m not properly credentialed. But I suppose none of the apostles were formally educated in Christian theology or doctrine, but their credential was that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. So I’ll continue to give my perspective.

    Recently I was voted in to serve on the board of elders at my church, and only afterwards found out that women couldn’t technically serve in the same role, if we were to abide by the COG laws. This took me by surprise, to put it lightly, especially considering that the two people who had influenced me most in the prior year were women who had stepped into leadership roles in my congregation. I suppose they may not have had any technical “authority”, but their leadership was directly responsible for the most significant move of God in my life and others in the congregation that I can remember. The idea that neither of these two women, who without question are no less qualified than I am, would be allowed to serve on this board, is appalling to me. So when I learned of these restrictions, my position was that I would have to ignore or cut through any red tape and legislation that would undoubtedly hold back the Gospel. It may not be the most convincing argument in a conversation involving interpretation of scripture, but my perspective is that the Spirit of God within me moves me to stand against any policy that would bar women from serving in any position a man can.

    Reverend Todd Robbins, just a clarification, does your interpretation of scripture indicate that women should be barred from having ANY authority over men, or that they should ‘only’ be barred from holding COG government positions, or that they should ‘only’ be barred from being Pastor/”Ordained Bishop” in the COG? Or could you define the restriction more clearly using different words?

    And, just a thought, would your “female family member” be interested in joining this conversation? You’d let her do that, wouldn’t you? 😉

  36. Todd Robbins
    August 22, 2008

    My female family member doesn’t do the internet, or have a computer, so….probably not, lol. She puts computers and the internet with TV. and she’s never owned one of those…..she’s so old time Holiness, it makes me look like Kenneth Copeland.

    Clarification – in my interpretation of scripture, which frankly only guides my life, and provides me one vote when votable, and is my personal conviction……I believe God’s NT model is that women hold no Spiritual Authority over men. I believe there are many wonderful ways women can lead, and be used of God, and be very annointed, but I don’t believe women are to have authority over men within the NT church. I believe SS Teachers, Min of Music, Associate Pastors, Youth Pastors, Pastor’s Councils, Deacons – in my understanding of those offices have some spiritual authority. So in my personal conviction, a woman could only serve in any of those positions as long as no men were under her authority in that position. (I can feel people gettin hot already).

    Furthermore, in my personal life, in my secular job I would prefer to never hire a woman if that position could have any supervisory role over men, and never vote a woman to an elected office because of the authority it carries. But I realize that in the secular work world, and in our society, spiritual laws about the structure of the church don’t apply, but maybe that will help you have a better idea of where I’m coming from.

    Yes, I’m what would be called a sexist. But I have never believed that women are a lesser being, or form of a person. Women are not inferior or lesser than men in any way…comparing men and women to find equality is like comparing apples and oranges, in my most humble opinion.

  37. Pingback: Positive Infinity » Blog Archive » Liberation Ordination and Women Priests in Roman Catholicism

  38. darrellbjr
    August 23, 2008

    Brother Todd,

    I don’t have much time, but I have to point out that your concept of Jesus not being a pastor is incorrect. He is referred to as the “Chief Shepherd” meaning the Pastor above all pastors.(1 Peter 5:1-5)

    Without Him as the model Pastor, then the rest of us are hopelessly wasting our time.

    So again, I reiterate Jon’s question about how to justify the singleness of Christ disqualifying Him from serving as a pastor or even a bishop?

    Darrell Buttram, Jr.

  39. jonathanstone
    August 24, 2008

    Reverend Robbins,

    Well, following your posts is quite an adventure–you never know what you’ll hear next. My impression (though I certainly may be wrong in my perceptions) is that you are sincere in your beliefs, but not very open to hearing other perspectives. I’m still not sure what your interest is in the dialogue–i.e. what you hope to get out of it. And I consider your logic and your hermeneutical framework to have some significant holes, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Here are a few things that are puzzling to me.

    (1) You seem to want to dialogue with others on this issue and have expressed at least some sentiment of warmth towards everyone as a brother and sister in the Lord. Yet, you want to maintain a certain distance, spurning “familiarity” and expressing a desire to use formal titles (brother, sister, reverend, pastor, etc.) in order to make it clear that there is no familiarity.

    (2) You chose to refer to men and women as “not equal,” an extremely loaded term, and people expressed offense. Yet, your response was not one of “I’m sorry you misunderstood me” and “I should have used a different term.” Instead, you backtracked by saying it’s just a matter of semantics, and made no attempt to express any concern about choosing your words more wisely and trying not to unnecessarily inflict pain on your brothers and sisters.

    (3) You have elevated marriage to a place that has eliminated both Paul and Jesus from the qualifications of pastor.

    (4) You have referred to other reasonable interpretations as “a stretch,” and yet turned around and “read into” Scripture your own significant speculations such as your idea about Paul not being a Pastor because he was single (which is an extreme stretch by the way).

    (5) You have misunderstood Pete Zefo’s reference about youth ministry as “a slight,” as he has worked with youth for much of his ministry, and works with youth today. He only meant that the youth you minister to are not likely to relate very well to your own cultural sensibilities and formalities of titles such as brother, sister, and reverend.

    (6) You have used the term bishop and pastor interchangeably. Yet, when it was pointed out to you that Paul would not qualify for pastoring under your own rubric you said that you viewed Paul not as pastor, but as a pastor to pastors. In the CoG, and in just about every other major Christian movement that uses the term at all, that’s called a bishop. How could Paul not qualify for a pastor, but qualify as a bishop?

    (7) Kindra took the time to carefully address the issues in a long and eloquent post filled with compelling thoughts, and you mostly ignored her post altogether in terms of responding to her specific points.

    ( 8 ) Finally, just when I thought I could not get any more puzzled about both your motivations and logic…just when I thought I had heard it all….you claim to be a bonafide sexist, and confessed that you would hire a man over a woman because of your sexism…something that is considered illegal in the United States–something that would make you liable in a U.S. court of law.

    I would encourage you to examine yourself in regards to these things. As you said, Scripture promises that God will help anyone who lacks wisdom and asks for it. I honestly don’t know what else to say to you.

    On one other note, I appreciate the fact that you want to be respectful with the name and title thing. I have reciprocated in my posts since you mentioned that. However, if that is something that is genuine in your heart then I would ask for you to refer to me as either Jon or Jonathan from now on. As it is what I am most comfortable with, and in so doing you would be respecting me and respecting my request. I will continue to call you Brother or Reverend Robbins.

    Shalom.

  40. Pingback: Positive Infinity » Blog Archive » Women in Ministry: Starting Something You Can’t Finish

  41. Heather Dawn Duggins
    August 25, 2008

    Well I am Kindra’s sister and would like to say I have never been more proud of her!!! I am writing as a woman with No formal training in the Bible or Theology, but a life long relationship with a loving savior who has also been called into the ministry, no not as a senior pastor of a church, but as a sunday school teacher, children’s pastor, prayer leader, sidewalk sunday school teacher, running a skate park ministry and so on…I do not say these things to brag but to ask: If I didn’t answer the call who would of? Todd you say women shouldn’t hold these positions if there are men under them. I ask men or boys? Because eventually those “boys” who were in my Sunday School (Brenton, an elder in my church), skate park, children’s church, will become the men of our church. Do you know how many ministries are run by women????? I can honestly whole heartedly say that many if not most churches would fall apart if there had not been women to answer the call and minister where there needed ministering, and all while being “in authority over men”. You say that they shouldn’t be over men in spiritual authority, but if were are truly Christians, then isn’t every aspect spiritual? Isn’t being a mother an authoritative position over a man? I know without a doubt that i was placed in those postions by God, that I was led by the Spirit and through His grace and mercy lives were changed, lives of girls and boys, men and women…And no matter what you believe that is something you can not take away from me or any other women who has listened to God’s Heart!

  42. Pingback: Positive Infinity » Blog Archive » The Woman Who Outed the Archbishop of Canterbury

  43. Todd Robbins
    August 26, 2008

    Brother Jonathan…I will respond that way to you, but I feel that it is overly familiar and disrespectful to you since I don’t know you and have never met you. I’m old school in manners and etiquette, and feel that you should never use anyone’s first name until you have some basis of a relationship with them.

    Also, as far as the Brother and Sister thing….I teach my youth to call everyone Sister or Brother within the church. That is part of our subculture within the culture around us. It shows that we have a level of respect and identifies the other as part of the family of God. I correct my youth when they don’t call someone Brother or Sister first. My job as a youth pastor is to teach my youth that we are a subculture, and we should look, talk, and act very different than the youth of this world. Their language should be different, music, clothing, etc….and that’s what we try to teach. We are in this world, but not of this world.

    I am here, to provide a voice to those that differ in belief about this subject than you. Also, to understand where you are coming from. But just because i want to understand, doesn’t mean I will end up agreeing. I just don’t see it in scripture….and you know what, that’s okay. Within our church, we’ll vote on issues like this, and the majority voting will rule. And if it ever goes a way that I can’t live with, I’ll leave or learn to live with it. I’ve learned to live with other things that I don’t approve of in our great church, and this wouldn’t be the first.

    I didn’t apologize for saying women and men aren’t equal, because I don’t believe scripture teaches they are. Why apologize if I believe that is the stand of scripture? If I believe your reaction is just the reaction to the cutting of the word…..then I believe you just needed to get cut.

    In regards to my hiring practices…I follow the law, but think it’s very, very wrong. Because of my personal religious convictions, I don’t believe a woman should be in authority over a man…ever. That’s just how I believe.

    And finally. Jesus was prior to new testament church birth in Acts, but…no he would not fit the scriptural requirements to be a pastor….in my opinion. Doesn’t make him any less Jesus, Savior or Lord. And Paul had to lead other pastors, and was able to give them wisdom in so many ways, and guide the body from the role of leading pastors, but I do not believe he was qualified to be the local pastor of a local congregation. Just as I am not because I am single.

    Overall, my purpose is to let you know, there are many of us who hold to the belief of men having their place and women having theirs…but we don’t mean it any way of harm. I’ve seen it operate very well for many churches and there be no issue, or anyone feeling slighted at all.

  44. jonathanstone
    August 27, 2008

    Reverend Robbins,

    Thank you for your response. Here are my thoughts:

    (1) In light of the extensive dialogue that we have exchanged here on my blog I fully believe that we have “some basis of a relationship.” I’m sorry that you do not feel the same.

    (2) You are certainly not being disrespectful to me for calling me by the name that I requested to be called by.

    (3) I disagree with you about not considering how the word cuts. Peter defended Christ with his sword, and he was rebuked by our Lord for doing so. Furthermore, he cut off someone’s ear in doing so. Once a spiritual ear is cut off the Truth cannot be heard–lest the Lord restores and heals the ear of that person. You and I are both responsible for how we choose to swing our sword (the Word–the Truth). If we cut off ears by carelessly flinging it around then we will be judged for that. I have never asked someone to compromise their convictions, much less the truth. However, if the Lord shows you that you need to reconsider HOW you talk about certain truths in the Word will you be willing to submit to His will? If so, I challenge you prayerfully consider the use of certain “loaded” terms that might be cutting off ears from hearing your message. “In as much as it is possible with you, live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). You are willing to go out of your way “to honor others above yourself” (Rom 12:10) with titles and greetings. If that honor is sincere then I expect that you would be willing to go out of your way to present the truth with love and gentleness. Honestly, your choice of a few terms and unwillingness to consider “the better way” (without compromising the truth) causes me to doubt the sincerity of the lesser honor you show with “old school etiquette.” Maybe it is sincere to you. But I do not experience it as sincere. And I suspect that many others do not as well.

    (4) Your position on singleness still makes no sense to me. Paul could lead pastors but not pastor? Makes no sense. Jesus not qualified to shepherd but be the Chief Shepherd? Makes no sense.

    (5) Let me clarify something. And I hope you hear me on this. I don’t think that those who hold the belief of women and men having different roles “mean any harm.” In fact, if you go back and look in the archives on my blog you will find that you are not the first person to take that position on this very blog. Those discussions went very well, and at the end of them we always simply agreed to disagree. And I am sure that you and I will do the same. HOWEVER, one thing that makes your posts different from previous ones is your insistence on using words that speak of lesser value, not just lesser roles. And calling yourself a sexist? I would label that inflammatory, as I do not see any redemptive value in choosing that rhetoric.

    Shalom.

  45. K E Alexander
    August 27, 2008

    There were, no doubt, slave-holders/owners, who treated slaves well, who did not beat them, who cared for their illnesses, etc. In a literal sense, they “meant no harm”. However, to see humans as not created equal (or some as sub-human, in the case of slaveholders) is to “do harm”, and that beyond the physical.

  46. darrellbjr
    August 30, 2008

    Brother Todd,

    On the issue of the role of pastoring not existing until after the “birth” of the Church, again you are mistaken. The word “pastor” is a word for “shepherd”. Before the Church was birthed Christ identified Himself as the Pastor/Shepherd (John 10). Before the Church was birthed Jesus called Peter to be a Pastor/Shepherd (John 21:15-17). And last but definitely not least, Christ gave the Gift of the Pastor/Shepherd upon His ascension from captivity…aka His resurrection and subsequent ascension…which transpired before the birthing of the Church (Ephesians 4:7-12).

    It’s kind of like this…I work with several 501 C 3 tax exempt organizations. Before any of these organizations could begin, they had to have their leadership offices already established. Without those offices already in place, and the bi-laws that they would put together, the organization would not be recognized. In most cases these organizations were already working toward their mission before being recognized, but until the officials were in place their organization was not technically “born” yet.

    (Bear with me, because here is the point).

    The office of pastor had to exist before the church was born. All offices had to exist before the “birthing” took place, otherwise the business meeting in the upper room to replace the apostle Judas prior to Pentecost was in vain.

    Ephesians 4 bears this out; that Christ established the five ministerial offices before Pentecost and not after. One of those offices is that of pastor (literally shepherd). As you read on in the passage you find He did this for the purpose of building the entire organization of the Church in relationship to its connection with the Head of the Apostles, Head of the Prophets, Head of the Evangelists, Head of the Pastors and Head of the Teachers…who is the Head of the Church…Christ…who gave each of these offices Himself because they were already His to give.

    Brother Todd, I just want to encourage you. I remember being single and wondering what if anything that I could do in the CoG. The truth was then as it is now, “I can do all through Christ who strengthens me”.

    Its not about single or married, male or female, Jew or Gentile, nor bond or free anymore…it is all about Christ-the Head- and how I am helping others to connect with Him.

    It is far to late in the day to continue limitting ourselves like this when we serve a God who is limitless.

    Darrell Buttram, Jr.
    pastor, bishop, and the Chief of Sinners

  47. jonathanstone
    August 30, 2008

    Darrell,

    I always appreciate your insights. Your analogy of the offices and bi-laws of a pre-recognized 501-C-3 with the pre-Pentecostal church is one of the most helpful insights I have come across in a while. Thanks so much!

  48. michael mcmullin
    September 3, 2008

    I know that my comments won’t help carry this conversation to any new level of understanding but . . .

    If there wasn’t a website attached to Brother Todd, I would think someone is pulling our collective leg. Some of the comments are almost so incredible that I can’t imagine they are sincere. I don’t mean to insult anyone but, is this real or some kind of weird joke?

    There are some serious issues here surrounding the interpretation of scripture in light of church government. I can only imagine what an exploration of other doctrinal points would yield.

    Regarding the issue of women in the church, I think we have chosen to ignore the honoring of our mothers (sisters, daughters). I don’t mean we need to honor them with some type of banquet or special plaque or other recognition but actually change/correct our perspective. We belong to each other and each of us is traveling along the same road.

  49. michael mcmullin
    September 5, 2008

    Good thing Sarah Palin just wants to be VP and doesn’t want to be on the pastor’s council.

    😉

  50. darrellbjr
    September 9, 2008

    LOL

  51. Don Warrington
    September 9, 2008

    Something tells me that, no matter how this election turns out, her candidacy (especially in view of her AG background) just might move this issue forward.

  52. K E Alexander
    September 12, 2008

    Funny, Don, I fear it may set it back.

  53. Don Warrington
    September 12, 2008

    Kim, the theonomists are already working on that:

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/16062/

    But I don’t think the theonomists are going to get any further with this than they have in American politics the last thirty years.

  54. viking auto
    August 25, 2013

    Howdy, I’m new to running a blog and websites in general and was curious about how you got the “www” included in your web address name? I see your domain, “https://jonathanstone.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/this-sucks/” has the www and my domain looks like, “http://mydomain.com”. Do you know the simplest way I can alter this? I’m
    using WordPress platform. Thank you very much

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