http://www.wkrn.com/node/76702#top

I don’t know Dr. Frank Page personally.  He was pastor at Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Ft. Worth when I was a student at Southwestern Seminary, and I’ve heard him preach on several occasions.  If I’m hearing him right in this particular report from WKRN TV in Nashville, it seems that he thinks that the issue of women’s ordination might be up for discussion and negotiable within the ranks of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

There will be those on the conservative side who will point to this as a sign that the “slippery slope” toward liberalism once again has a gate that’s been left open to the SBC, and they will insist that this is a sign that the current “Memphis Declaration” blogging movement are either closet moderates or liberals.  Since Dr. Page’s election seems to be the direct result of blogging, that’s the direction the argument will likely go.

The other side of that argument is whether women’s ordination, for the diaconate, or even as a pastor, is an issue of liberal vs. conservative.  Since I graduated from a Baptist college back in 1979, I’ve heard all kinds of debate on the issue.  Back then, in Baptist circles, a woman serving as a pastor was unthinkable, but there were two female ministerial students at the college I attended, and both of them succeeded in getting a call to a pastorate upon their graduation from seminary.  They went to churches in remote communities in the West, where there were struggles to get a pastor of any kind.  Perhaps their call to service was an issue of conservative vs. liberal theology, though I saw it as a matter of practicality, but neither of those ladies was theologically liberal.  Far from it, they were as conservative as anyone I knew.  And the prognosticators on campus who predicted their early demise were wrong.   About a decade after that time, I heard that they were both still pastors, one in the church in Nevada that originally called her, and had successful ministries. 

I’m not really sure the SBC is ready for this debate now.  As ugly as things have been over private prayer language, and to a lesser degree, Calvinist influence, I’m not sure that this will generate a civil discussion.  There was a time in Dr. Page’s career when he was apparently favorable toward women being ordained as both deacons and elders, but he clearly backed away from that position at some point between his departure from Gambrell Street and his election to the SBC presidency.  This particular news report is somewhat vague on his position at the present time, and focuses mainly on Dr. Jon Roebuck at Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville.  However, the reporter did apparently get a statement from Dr. Page that confirms the door to this discussion may be open. 

I’m all for a civil discussion.

I’m guessing that the discussion related to Dr. Klouda’s dismissal has prompted the interest.  Frankly, it is something that I’ve put on a back burner myself, and have delayed studying and researching on my own, simply because there are other matters that have consumed my time, and I am not in a church situation where it would ever come up. 

I’d sure be interested in observations and comments on the news story from WKRN in particular. 

The reporter gives a bit more information regarding Dr. Page’s comments at http://www.faithandethics.com .  Thanks to Wes Kenney for that link.  Dr. Page apparently clarified the discussion to be limited to women being ordained as deacons, and perhaps as associate staff members, but not senior pastors.  This is still new ground for Southern Baptists.  Are we ready for this? 

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

8 responses

  1. Wes Kenney says:

    Lee,

    I thought it was interesting that for a story all about Southern Baptists and disagreement, they used as a backdrop the logo of the Baptist World Alliance.

    I’m all for discussion, but it seems the time for discussion as it relates to women as pastors passed with the adoption of the BF&M in 2000. What am I missing?

  2. lees1975 says:

    This was a Nashville television station, WKRN, which does as many reports on SBC controversies as any local TV station in the country. It was quite a surprise to me. I was so wrapped up in the content, I didn’t notice the BWA logo in the background. That’s interesting.

    I don’t know Dr. Page well enough to comment on why he would want to put this topic back on the table at this time. When I was at Southwestern, and he was pastor at Gambrell Street, he and his church fell squarely on the side of including churches with women deacons and pastors in the broader tent of SBC cooperation. Apparently his views on that subject changed, but something has prompted him to consider re-opening that discussion. It would only be speculating on my part to think that, perhaps, the recent incident involving Dr. Klouda at SWBTS has changed his mind.

  3. Wes Kenney says:

    Lee,

    I contacted the reporter who did the story, and gave me a link to his blog (www.faithandethics.com) where he gives a bit more info. Apparently, Dr. Page was adamant that he was not talking about expanding the conversation to include women as pastors, only to ordaining women to serve as music, youth, children’s ministers and such.

  4. lees1975 says:

    Thanks for that link.

    Still, the fact that he wants to discuss ordaining women at all is big news, don’t you think?

  5. B Fank says:

    apparently they speak enough words per day to carry the monologue part, and I notice that Proverbs refers to wisdom in the feminine almost exclusively

  6. lees1975 says:

    I’m all for having this discussion, in a civil, respectful manner. I think it is something that Southern Baptists and other evangelicals are eventually going to have to resolve among themselves, considering the prevailing differences of opinion and ways of interpreting scripture. However, I don’t want to see this topic used to draw lines in the sand and get added to the list of doctrinal disputes for the sake of gaining a political advantage, or for sifting out who falls on what side of the political spectrum. We don’t need something to create more divisiveness at the moment, and I think this would do it.

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    Alycelee

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