Sometimes both bloggers and media reporters do not always have the time, space, or historical background to adequately represent the perspectives of their sources or subjects. Also, it is often difficult for any reporter to express the 'tone' or 'spirit' of any exchange, dialog, or statement. As a consequence this can at times result in misunderstandings and misinterpretations of positions and relationships. The following is offered as a clarification for Sam Hodges' article which appeared in Saturday, August 23, 2008 edition of the Dallas Morning News:
Having taught Bible study methods and hermeneutics (interpretation) for more than 30 years, and finding the arguments for the differing views on the egalitarian position or the "ethics on the way" view for the roles for men and women to be less than persuasive, I found it necessary to withdraw from my role on the speaker team at Irving Bible Church.
In the spirit of full disclosure and to more adequately clarify my position and the cherished relationships with the great people of IBC, I include my letter of withdrawal addressed to IBC Pastor Andy McQuitty along with the existing DTS position statement on the roles of men and women in the ministry.
Letter to Pastor Andy of IBC
July 1, 2008
Because of my position at the seminary and the potential for misunderstandings and misperceptions which may arise by my "official" involvement as a part of the speaker team at IBC, after much prayer and deliberation, it would seem prudent for me to step away from that role. Andy, you along with the IBC staff and elders have sought to be transparent, humble, and honest at every turn. As you no doubt understand there remains some ambiguity and uncertainty as to where the women in the ministry issues will lead.
As I mentioned to you, our appreciation for IBC as a church and for your ministry as a pastor is immense. We are committed to not being a source of contention or schism. We will quietly recede and not speak evil of anyone. For both personal convictions and professional reasons of keeping our alignment with the seminary position unquestioned, we believe before God that such a decision is warranted at this time.
If, from time to time, as with Mark Matlock or others, it would be seem beneficial in your eyes and those of the leadership, we would more than welcome an invitation to fill the pulpit or represent the seminary. I am committed to fostering the great relationship DTS and IBC have sustained over the years.
Andy, this has been a very difficult decision, but one Barby and I both believe is wise for all concerned. Our love for you and Alice and the rest of the team is great and genuine. I would rather have had this conversation in person, but we are in Arizona for the week and I know Steve is wanting to move forward with planning for August. My prayers will continue for IBC wherever we end up. I will be listening by podcast as I do now. I also remain at your disposal as a friend and would love to do breakfast or lunch from time to time. I also still value your continued involvement and contribution to DTS as a seasoned pastor and alum.
With much affection for you, my friend,
Mark and Barby
Dallas Theological Seminary's Position Concerning Male/Female Roles within the Seminary and in Christian Ministry
Students, staff, and constituents of Dallas Seminary inquire at times about the Seminary's position concerning the roles of men and women in the Seminary and in Christian ministry in general. On many questions raised, the Seminary has taken no official position and faculty members have no consensus. However, Dallas Theological Seminary does hold the position that the Scriptures limit the roles of the local church elder and senior pastor to men. For further reference, a research paper entitled "Women in the Church: Biblical Data Report," prepared by an ad hoc faculty committee and published by the Seminary, is available from the Seminary for any interested person.
The 2008–2009 Dallas Seminary Catalog contains the following two statements:
Page 20: "While all programs at Dallas Seminary are coeducational, the Seminary holds the position that Scripture limits to men the roles of elder and senior pastor in the local church. Therefore the Seminary programs of study are not designed to prepare women for these roles."
Page 28: "While Dallas Seminary holds the position that Scripture limits to men the roles of elder and senior pastor in the local church, it also affirms that local churches, denominational structures, parachurch organization and ministries, educational institutions, and missions agencies all present strategic ministry opportunities for women. This track [The Women's Ministry Track] is designed to equip women to organize and lead women's ministry programs in a variety of these settings."
Since Dallas Theological Seminary is not the local church, over the years under each of the Seminary's five presidents women have been invited to address students in the Seminary chapel. In addition, women serve on the Board of Incorporate Members and on the faculty, staff, and administration to function within their giftedness but according to the guidelines and teaching position as outlined above.
All of Dallas Seminary's academic programs are open to women students, except for those programs specifically designed to prepare students for the role of the senior pastor. Growing numbers of women come to Dallas Seminary for training, and the Seminary is committed to providing the best possible ministry preparation for all of its students. Both women and men as believers with spiritual gifts require quality education to develop their spiritual gifts for serving the Lord effectively vocationally and personally. We believe women and men are colleagues and fellow-servants of Christ, and therefore the relationship between them, whether they be faculty, students, or Christian leaders, are to be of mutual esteem, encouragement, and fellowship.
Entrepreneurial ministries, schools, colleges, seminaries, and mission agencies all hold significant leadership opportunities for women and men alike.
Mark L. Bailey, Ph.D.