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Beck on the Complimentarian/Egalitarian Controversy

Last week, I raised a question concerning the Complimentarian/Egalitarian debate. Since that time, I have begun reading “Two Views on Women in Ministry” –a highly regarded entry in Zondervan’s “Counterpoints” series. This book brings together four New Testament scholars (two egalitarian and two complimentarian) who each pen an essay outlining their position. Each of these essays are followed by brief rebuttals from the opposing viewpoints.

I have been told that this book is the best, most scholarly and even keeled explanation of the issues involved in the discussion. Those recommendations not withstanding, I could never find compelling enough justification to pursue it (hey, I’m a busy guy). However, this semester it was offered as a final project for a class I’m taking.

Privileged to bear that burden, I began reading it the other night and thought you all might appreciate the editor’s introduction, especially the second paragraph.

The four contributors to this volume recently gathered for lunch at the Atlanta Hilton. Together with a representative from our publisher and me, we enjoyed renewing our friendships and planning this revision of the first edition of Two Views on Women in Ministry (2001). Normally one would assume that the production of a volume dealing with a controversial topic would require the editor to serve as a referee among the various contributors, all of whom hold strong views on divergent sides of the topic. The assumption doesn’t hold true for this project. The six of us are friends. We enjoy one another’s company and strongly respect the scholarship of each member of this team. Our hope is that our camaraderie can serve as a model for other scholars working in this difficult area of gender and ministry.

One of the more important accomplishment of this working lunch –a lunch that would hardly qualify as a “power” lunch– was the crafting of a statement to which all the contributors and the editor could agree: We believe one can build a credible case within the bounds of orthodoxy and a commitment to inerrancy for either one of the two major views we address in this volume, although all of us view our own positions on the matter as stronger and more compelling. The implications of this simple statement of concord are enormous and merit close attention by all students of the issue of women in ministry.

Belleville, Linda. L, et al.. James R. Beck ed.Two Views on Women in Ministry. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005 . P 15.