Churches have clung stubbornly to their complementarian teaching, to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 which was written by some of the same people who penned the Danver’s Statement in 1987.
Stubbornly? Surely I must mean Biblically. But look at this: Churches now allow divorced men to be deacons which is not “biblical,” but few allow a woman to be a deacon. The SBC apologized for their stance on slavery, a stance that was previously thought to be “biblical.” We drink grape juice for communion when the Bible clearly says “wine” is the Body of Christ, and is not “biblical.” From this we see that we make accommodation to the Scriptures when we choose to do so.
In Matthew 23 Jesus lays out the case against the Pharisees. Their interpretation of the law had become more important to them than the people. They sought to kill Jesus because they were afraid of what he was teaching and what it would do to their established beliefs about God. We Christians are in danger of doing the very same thing with the new Law that we have created against women. How do you kill Jesus today? You ignore Jesus’ liberation of women.
Men have left churches by the droves and recently women have followed. The world doesn’t reside in churches. We see a larger world and body of people that is calling for equality for women, whereas the church is not.
For decades, women have been more likely to attend church than men. In recent years the gap has been shrinking—but it’s not necessarily good news. In the mid-1980s, 38 percent of women and 25 percent of men attended church at least once a week in America—a 13-point gender gap, according to Pew Research analysis of General Social Survey data.
By 2012, that gap had shrunk by more than half, to 6 points. The change, however, did not come primarily from an increase in men attending church services. The gap shrank because women’s church attendance dropped. While men experienced a 3-point drop in weekly church attendance, from 25 to 22 percent, women’s regular attendance fell by 10 points—down to 28 percent.
Now digest this. “There are no countries where Christian men are significantly more likely than Christian women to attend services weekly,” according to Pew.
How did the Church go so terribly wrong?
When I wrote the following for my book Dethroning Male Headship (2013), this was the situation and was also the situation when I demanded an apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) on July 24, 2010.
Look to the seminaries for the answer to where the Church went wrong. Especially look to those seminaries of the founding members or later members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, who devised the Danvers Statement, and composed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Only a few of the members have been mentioned in this book:
- Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Dorothy Patterson, Adjunct Faculty, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (wife of Paige Patterson)
- Wayne Grudem, Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary
- Mary Kassian, Professor of Women’s Studies, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- George W Knight, Adjunct Professor, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Not mentioned elsewhere in this book is Chuck Kelley, President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who helped write the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and is also the brother of Dorothy Patterson. Kelley’s wife, Rhonda Kelley, is the Director of Women’s Academic Programs at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is Professor of Women’s Ministry at NOBTS’s Leavell College, which is the college for their undergraduate program.
Complementarianism and the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 is all in the family. Of the 55 SBC seminaries and their satellite campuses, the Patterson and Kelley families preside over 26 of those. Their complementarian influence is far-reaching. And do not think for a minute it is just Baptists that are affected. Many other denominations secure pastors and youth ministers from these seminaries. That is one reason complementarianism and the BF&M 2000 has successfully transcended denominational lines.
UPDATE: Dr. Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy were fired in 2018 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for Paige’s handling of rape investigations. Chuck Kelley has retired.
These people owe us an apology. Demand it. I did.