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Church Leadership

Moody, You Are Worth the Fight

Some backstory…

Moody-Bible11 years ago this week I graduated from Moody Bible Institute. The moment of walking across that stage, shaking Joe Stowell’s hand, and knowing that I had done it, goes down in history as one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

I had defied every odd stacked against me.

 

  • A family history of poor academics.
  • I got to college without having a single useful study skill. I sailed through high school without studying or ever doing homework. Moody was relentless academically and I was ill-prepared.
  • Culturally, I didn’t fit in. I hated the holier than thou sub-culture of some of the students. Hate might not be strong enough. (Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Many of my best friends in ministry are bonds formed because of our disgust.)
  • Academically, I competed against students who had been groomed for Moody. They had lots of exposure to the Bible, theology, and even the vernacular. I constantly played catch-up in the classroom.
  • My family support system crumbled during my 2nd year… there was no financial help, not because they didn’t want to but because they had bigger challenges to face.
  • A few, low-level Moody employees said vile things to me. Discouraged me from continuing. Told me to quit. Told me I wasn’t the type of student they wanted to invest in. Told me I wasn’t good enough. And I’m not exaggerating. (There were others who encouraged me and kept me going.)
  • I returned to Moody as a married student with a full-time job. I worked from 4 am – noon 5 days per week, attending class in the afternoons, for 3 years. My last year I worked 45-55 hours per week, had a 10 hour per week internship, and Megan was a newborn. Every day was a physical and mental challenge.
  • Somehow I fulfilled or begged exemption from a huge myriad of undergraduate obligations. I fulfilled as many as I could, but some just weren’t possible.

I am proud to have walked across that stage. No one gave that to me. I earned it. I fought for it.

It was worth fighting for. I wanted to finish. I wanted to learn. And I wanted to stand with the thousands of alumni who love that place, were trained by that place, and gone on to do great things for the Kingdom.

I soaked up my education at Moody like a sponge. They didn’t just teach me stuff. My professors taught me how to think. Brick by brick they built a foundation for not just how to do ministry stuff, but how to minister to people, and more importantly… to deeply understand the questions that define “why” we do stuff.

I share all of that because you need to understand my great respect and love for my alma mater.

Historically, she fits the mold for a place which has helped lead the church. The church desperately needs a ministry training school like Moody.

The Problem She Faces

But she is struggling. She is in trouble. While she has traditionally been a place for all kinds of protestant believers, she’s taken a turn to the right. She’s anchored herself to the tug boat of conservatives pulling her further and further into the dark seas of isolationism and lost her place as a place of neutrality.

Consequently, her alumni are increasingly ostracized and shunned.

Shockingly, those who are being shunned or just flat out ignored are not doing so because they hold views divergent from the historical Moody Bible Institute. Alumni are being pushed away because we’ve taken the very things they taught us and applied it to our ministries in exactly the way we were taught to.

Her alumni, engaged in that for which we were prepared, are left wondering where she is going and why she is acting the way she is acting.

And in the meantime we are left on the outside looking in. We aren’t invited to come and ask questions. We aren’t even responded to. Some have even been officially told to go away, quite literally pushed out the door.

An Example From Yesterday

An early catalyst for the creation Moody Bible Institute was a woman named was Emma Dryer.

There is a men’s dorm bearing her name. So much of the DNA that is Moody Bible Institute reflects Emma’s work. (The video above captures this.)

Moody was an exceptionally progressive place where women received a formal education in preparation for vocational ministry. Long before most Christian colleges and seminaries trained women, Moody Bible Institute was on the forefront. Moody was one of the first colleges in Illinois to admit women. 35 years before women could vote in the United States, they were educated at Moody.

Historically speaking, Moody has been progressive… even cutting edge… on the role of women in the church.

Wherever you go in the world, you will find women trained at Moody Bible Institute, doing Kingdom work as missionaries, teachers, and leaders.

That all began to change in late 1990s. Right around 1999 or 2000 Moody actually added this section on gender roles into their “Moody Believes” statement specifically mandating that women not be prepared for pastoral ministry. (This is the document that every student, staff, and professor signs as part of their connection to the school.)

Previously, they had been silent but largely affirming towards the role of women in the church. As someone who was a student at the time you need to understand how much this new addition to the doctrinal statement divided the campus. The topic dominated the classroom. It was beyond disruptive. Professors– the most powerful voices on campus– were hamstrung, they either complied, keeping their mouths shut, or left their tenured positions.

This was the marking of a huge turn towards conservative isolationism. (At the same time, many  undergrad professors moved on. Some of that was surely related to this gender roles issue. In other capacities it was related to some leading the way on something they coined “Progressive dispensationalism.” It was a course correction to dispensational thinking, one which the board of Moody rejected, further turning the school towards the conservative.)

The point is that for decades Moody was one place within evangelicalism that was progressive on issues of women in ministry. But that course radically turned, became frozen, and is now tailoring a regression on the roles of women in the church while at the same time most evangelicals are embracing the roles Moody is now officially against. (There are TONS of conservative evangelical churches with women in pastoral leadership. It’s not on the edges anymore, it’s a mainstream reality within evangelicalism.)

So that’s why I find it offensive that Moody’s Pastors Conference doesn’t allow women to register to attend.

Women can get their undergraduate and graduate training at Moody. Many go on to pastoral roles. But come back to campus for encouragement, further training, and the common bonds of spending time with fellow pastors? Not allowed!

As their website so clearly describes… women may attend general sessions of the Pastors Conference with their husbands. But they cannot register as an attendee nor can they go to any breakout.

And this is the response I got from Moody’s Conference department about the policy:

So many digs in 140 characters. Women aren’t seen as pastors. They aren’t worth refocusing, refreshing, or equipping as full participants, much less under the title of pastor or leader. And then the arrogance of the last phrase… “Praise God for other conferences… hashtag HE PROVIDES!”

My jaw fell open in sadness when I saw this. I couldn’t believe that someone at Moody thought it was OK to say that. U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E.

Further, their policy makes no sense to me. It doesn’t align with their historical progressive stand on women in ministry. It certainly does not lean into their heritage with historical ties to Emma Dryer or the tens of thousands of women they’ve trained for ministry.

Instead, the attitude that women are secondary in their role within the body of Christ continues to drive a wedge between people who love the Institute and those who refuse to support the degrading of women’s roles.

Join Me in Asking Moody to Lead the Change

Trust me. It would be easier if I just let it go. It’d be easier if I just wrote off Moody. But I love her too much to stand in silence. 

I understand the idea of an institutional preference. (Much more so than poorly constructed proof-texting to create an exclusion of women from pastoral roles.) But I can’t understand an institutional preference which separates you from your historical posture.

So I am continually, out of love and respect, asking Moody to change its policy. I’m asking that they allow women to fully participate in every undergraduate and graduate program. I’m asking that women be allowed as fully registered participants at their annual Pastor’s Conference. I’m asking that they invite women pastors to speak and train both men & women at the conference.

And yes, I’m asking Moody to re-embrace their leadership position on the role of women in the church which proudly supported thousands of opportunities for women to serve the church to their fullest giftedness from the late 19th century until the end of the 20th century.

Until that time, this proud alumni respectfully stands in protest. 

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

48 replies on “Moody, You Are Worth the Fight”

Thank you for fighting this battle. As a woman trying to stand for equality for women in the church realm, this speaks volumes.

Moody’s conservative antagonism towards women in pastoral roles is nothing new. I graduated in 1991. I have friends who attended in the 70s and 80s. Women were never allowed to take the some of same pastoral classes as the men. They could take Speech Communication but not Homiletics, for example. It was regularly stated by professors and administration that only men were called by God to be pastors. When a woman spoke at chapel or Founders Week it was made clear that she was “speaking” not “preaching.” And at FW women would be placed behind a lectern, not a podium. Women were encouraged to major in Christian Education or Missions or Communication but were not allowed in the Pastoral Studies program. I have acquaintances who were harassed for wanting to take Hebrew or Greek as their academic pursuits implied some desire to have teaching authority over men.

MBI, a product of the late 19th century revivals that sought to stem the tide of liberalsim in the churches–and as an institution that has been consistent in its dispensational theology and and inerrantist view of the Bible since its very beginnings has, while respecting the gifts of women, maintained that men and women are called to act in different spheres of influence and ministry. That they would not allow women to register for a pastoral conference now is consistent with their past practices and beliefs particularly as more churches and denominations now are questioning gender roles now and affirming and encouraging women in the ordained ministry.

I don’t disagree with this, Joel. My point is that MBI was, at a time, fairly progressive in the training of women. And now they seriously lag behind.

I would also imagine that women have NEVER been allowed to register for the Pastors Conference.

Is the point you’re trying to make that women can/should be pastors? Or, is it more nuanced than that? I have no axe to grind, because I have no association with Moody. But, I read your post after seeing a friend who did graduate from Moody post a link to your article on his FB page.

I have no ax t grind, either. (Spent 500+ words in this post addressing that.) The point of this post is purely about Moody Pastor’s Conference specifically excluding women from registering. But, as stated near the end of the post, I’d like to see MBI elevate the role of women in ministry to reflect the change that the church she wants to serve has undertaken in the past 10-15 years. (It’s really not unusual to find women in pastoral roles serving in evangelical contexts.)

I remember 29 years ago – Gregg was accepted and heading to Moody. We were newlyweds and I had a degree in broadcasting. I had accepted a job working with WMBI — allowing me to work, Gregg to work part time and us to afford the opportunity. Then, we unexpectantly found out we were pregnant. Moody would not allow Gregg to attend as a student if he had children and his wife worked. His wife had to be a stay at home mom. He had to withdraw before we made the move. I don’t have regrets – God had a plan. Our path was much different. Tragically, we lost that child – our first – half way through the pregnancy. It took him another year to get back into college and pursue his dream. But, I wonder, how many other Moody students back them would have pursued an education there. And, how many women feel marginalized by the decision about the conference and also the view of women in leadership that may be implicit or explicit in other decisions. I have much respect for the training ground Moody is – but I join you in this protest.

The most beautiful sermon I ever heard at Moody was during Founders Week 2000 or 2001 when Jill Briscoe preached from Jeremiah. Truly inspiring, convicting, profound and humbling. It was quite soon after that they amended their requirements for women “speakers” at FW, including, I believe, that they had to submit their talk beforehand for approval. I’m not surprised by the ongoing grip they have on conservative gender roles/patriarchy as we – as Christians – tend to overreact to cultural trends in the opposite direction, but it is disheartening nonetheless, especially when the history of the school has been so celebrated (and taught). I’m hoping with the most recent president things will change and the damage the Easley administration has done to the school will be repaired. I, too, love Moody and all it gave me (not the least of which was my spouse, the encouragement we received to go into full-time ministry, and the status quo disenchantment within the communications department :)), but I also mourn where we now part ways theologically and in practice. Thank you for sharing this here, Adam. I don’t remember you, but it’s entirely likely we crossed paths a time or two. 🙂

Miriam (Moses and Aaron’s sister), a prophet. Deborah, a prophet and judge. Huldah, a prophet. Esther, Ruth, Tabitha (Dorcas), Priscilla, Aquila, Phoebe – the list goes on – all discounted as pastors and church leaders?! Surely not! I’m with ya! The arrogance! I understand the value of men’s conferences, such as Promise Keepers and others. I understand the value of Women’s Conferences, such as Women of Faith and others. But if you’re going to call this a PASTOR’S conference, and express it’s primary intent is to refocus, refresh and equip PASTORS and CHURCH LEADERS, women must be included! In looking at biblical passages relating to the role of women in the first-century church and and desiring to apply biblical principles to contemporary church practice, I fail to see any biblical foundation for restricting the role of women in ministry. The Great Commission -“go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) – is that somehow only directed toward and restricted to men? Surely not! Praying for a change of heart.

What about the many times throughout the NT that the role of women in the church is addressed. Look to Paul’s writings about the requirements of an elder. Aquila was a man by the way. Priscila and Pheobe were not pastors.

Hi – I don’t want to be a dissenter from the majority view here, but I do want to allow my own jaw to hit the floor on reading Tim Lillard’s post. There is a HUGE difference in restricting women from the pastorate, and the call of the Great Commission to disciple all Nations. No complementarian would deny the fact that all disciples, men and women, are called to obey the great commission. Women have a tremendous ministry in many fields, and they are equal in value and equal in dignity to men. But biblically they are restricted from taking certain positions of leadership. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 would be the strongest evidence that cannot be viewed through a cultural lens. It is clearly presented as a Scriptural directive for all churches in any culture. Furthermore, despite Tim’s claim on the role of women in the early church, I would challenge him to come up with even one verse that clearly (Gal. 3:28 says nothing about the subject other than the fact that we are all equal in Christ – men and women) teaches the egalitarian viewpoint.

Thanks so much for sharing! My little sister, a 20 year old with a strong call to preach and minister, has been accepted there in the fall. I will be praying and also standing in protest.

Hi Adam, As a woman who will be graduating from MBI in just two days, I certainly have feelings and perspectives on this issue. I appreciate your love for the school and your care to see her improve. I resonate deeply with that. I’ve been so torn throughout my time here between absolute devotion to Moody for what an amazing blessing so many parts of her are to me and a total frustration with her refusal to change.

I do believe that Moody has a history of empowering and educating women, but always within their prescribed roles. Certain administrations and individuals have tightened that hold and left a lot of damage. I think Moody’s problem fundamentally comes down to Moody’s strict hold to her legacy. The Institute’s insistence on sticking with her “distinctive,” namely complementarianism and dispensationalism, are, as you stated, isolating her and I believe restricting her future. The hold to these perspectives is, I believe, due to a relatively small group of high-ups, board members, and donors. Until they’re gone, it will never change. And I get the feeling these roles will be passed onto likeminded successors. As a student, I have been made aware that Moody’s hold to these perspectives is largely due to respet for the older donor base who hold them. That being said, I think Moody (already is and) is going to be in big trouble financially in the coming years. The donor base is, frankly, dying, and the next generation is largely not going to be willing to invest in an organization that is so narrow-minded. I think that change of policy and practice (on these fundamental issues and others) will be essential to Moody’s survival. At the same time, however, they are written into Moody’s DNA and her history. While I feel she should change, these perspectives are based on their established readings of Scripture, and I don’t think the complete change will come easily, if it ever does. Moody will, in many ways, have to abandon parts of her history and legacy to change (and, as you pointed out, embrace other parts).

As a woman (and an egalitarian, non-dispensationalist at that), I leave Moody with some scars in regards to my gender. I have sat in Torrey-Gray more times than I can count and heard women objectified or demeaned from the pulpit. I’ve had to walk out on speakers who were unbelievably disrespectful towards females. I’ve wept over the way I was treated as a woman. I’ve even had a professor lower my grade on an excellent paper because I argued for egalitarianism. These are the actions of a minority at Moody who are holding on.

But I’ve also heard and seen many others empower, equip, and send out women in their callings. Professors, students, and administrators alike. President Nyquist is making a lot of positive change in this regard; he’s put female faculty into the Pastoral department and is working on the Theology department. He came in at the same time that I did, and I’ve seen a great change over the last four years. We have women and men teaching homiletics to women and men. Jamie Janosz is writing a book on the women who formed Moody’s history.

I pray for Moody, and I pray for her to change. But I think we have to realize that these things are fundamental to her, and though we desire the change and believe that she needs the change, it is not going to be an easy battle, and it may be one we cannot win.

@twitter-38561476:disqus

A few thoughts.

First, those who have demeaned you in any way need to be fired. Pure and simple. Those scars are 100% preventable and the school needs to foster a fair place for all students to thrive. There’s no reason you should put up with that. Feel free to contact me at mclanea@gmail.com and I will stand with you on that. As an alumni, I apologize for not doing more, sooner, to prevent that. We cannot stand in silence. While those on campus don’t have to agree with everything students say/do. They must create a place free of hostility.

Second, you said “The Institute’s insistence on sticking with her “distinctive,” namely complementarianism and dispensationalism” That’s not entirely true. That has always been the mainstream view of Moody, but for decades MBI was a place for ALL denominations. I’ve met people from many denominations, backgrounds, and parts of the spectrum of the church. When I first came to MBI in 94 there was much, much more diversity of thought than when I left MBI in 02. So while there are voices doing some revisionism stating that MBI has always been that way, it’s just not true. There has always been room for everybody at Moody… until recently.

Third, all Mr. Nyquist has to do is make a single phone call. There’s simply no reason women are not allowed to register as full participants at the pastors conference in just a couple of weeks.

Fourth, please continue to use your voice. You’re about to level-up in Moody’s eyes. If you walk across that stage, you join a powerful chorus of alumni that they do and must listen to.

Adam, I totally appreciate your efforts to try to stick it out with an institution that’s being so, so…well, stupid. However, 50% of me (okay, fine, 86% of me) just wants them to wither from the starvation that results when you cut out half of the population. I’ve just run out of patience for it, you know? It’s twentyfreakingthirteen for goodness’ sake.

“…primarily intended for pastors”? Puke.

@MelanieCrutchfield:disqus Yeah. It is puke-worthy. My hope is that approaching it with hope, love, and respect will catch the attention of the small group of men who can actually just fix it in a phone call. I’ve contacted them privately several times and either gotten no response or the same dismissive tone as the tweet.

Pushing for change is messy!

Fascinating post!

Like you, Adam, I love Moody. And like you, Andie, I’ll be graduating in just two days. Like both of you, I have been audience to much discussion on the topic of women in leadership and Moody’s failure to support that. I have heard it discussed at the dinner table, in class, in the dorms, with numerous female colleagues, female professors, etc for the past three years.

To be honest, one change I have seen at Moody lately, and which concerns me a little, is exactly this – the push to being more culturally relevant. There’s a fine line between contextualizing and compromising which, as a Missions major, I have studied in depth. If something is becoming more mainstream it would be ignorant to assume that its increasing prevalence makes it correct. What we should do, is go back to the Word to see what God has to say, rather than depending on our own intellect exclusively.

I understand the danger behind Moody holding to strictly to her heritage. Even traditions have to be re-examined. But what I think we’re missing is the fact that our society is moving away from the Christian perspective at an alarmingly fast rate, and so when it comes to the subject of Moody keeping up with culture… well… does Mount Hermon mean anything to you?

Yes, Andie, newer alumni may not be supporting Moody financially like the older ones did. But I think this goes much deeper than Moody’s doctrine. I believe it is the result of a country that is becoming post-Christian – more focused on self and less focused on God.

Moody is far less conservative than some of her sister Bible colleges, and in fact many of them think that we are quite liberal! I have always appreciated how Moody goes back to the Word when taking a theological position. Even if we disagree with Moody’s positions, I have to respect them for their determination in remaining a Biblical institution. I have never found Moody, as a Whole, to be narrow minded.

Growing up in a context where women objectified and ridiculed MEN (or men even ridiculed themselves), I do understand the pain this inflicts. It robs you of respect you deserve as a human being and groups your entire gender into one, awful, stereotype… Whether these scars were intentional or not, it is regretful. I believe Moody is more aware of this than in the past, and it has made some important changes toward fixing this. But, in the end, you cannot satisfy everyone. Someone will still be hurt…

Like both of you, I pray for Moody to change, as well, in areas where it should change and t remain the same in areas that is should remain the same. I also pray for God to give Moody wisdom as to the state of our culture and the Gospel’s power to change it.

@disqus_cUU3AyQr38:disqus Thanks for your comment. As an alumni I congratulate you for finishing. It’s hard. You did it. And you’ve got a lot to be proud of.

This post is for you.

While you probably feel supported by MBI right now, this post is pointing out that your relationship to MBI is about to radically change. The amazing education you’ve received ends. And when you return to campus for encouragement, further training, etc… you won’t be segmented any more into your interests. As of Sunday you will be segmented in MBI’s conferences purely by your gender.

That’s what this is about. I’m asking MBI to not only train undergrad and graduate female students, but to stand behind them and support them institutionally at every level.

Hopefully, what your missions degree will show you is that you must engage with the society/culture you want to reach. Jesus never called us out of culture, he called us into the mess both here and abroad. It’s awesome that you want to serve Christ overseas! But don’t forget the men and women struggling for The Way right here in the States, for our task is hard and noble as well. 🙂

Thank you Adam for putting yourself out there in the line of fire by writing this. Thank you for sharing some of the history behind MBI, where they once took the lead in educating and supporting women in vocational ministry. Most of all, thank you for showing love, value, respect, and advocating for basic manners towards your Christian sisters.

Funny. I don’t find it sad at all that they are following exactly what God’s Word teachers about “gender roles”. It is difficult to feel as though they are doing something wrong when the overwhelming biblical evidence is in their favor. I applaud them for standing up for what is right.

Jay, I would ask you to consider how your male privilege may be informing your confidence that a biblical exegesis that suppresses women is both infallible and immutable. Questions like, “How has my gender made life easier for me?” “How has my gender limited me from accomplishing my goals?” and “What passions of mine would be off-limits if I was of the opposite gender?” may at least create a more meaningful discussion.

As a woman, it’s hard to take your voice seriously when you’re essentially shrugging and saying, “Welp, the bible says it, so tough cookies ladies.”

So sorry that good biblical exegesis keeps women from taking a role that as a woman you want females to take. It has nothing to do with privilege. God designed the home in a certain way and he designed the church in a certain way. If we begin here to choose to ignore the explicit teachings of the Bible (and I am not saying women are not called to be Christ followers and disciple makers but the Bible is clear that the pastoral role is limited to men) where does this end? As a homosexual, one might see heterosexuals as a privileged group reading the Bible through that lens. So, then they will use their own “exegesis” to determine that they not only are not in sin, but are qualified to pastor. Perhaps a non-Christian would say that they should be able to lead a congregation because for centuries Christians have led the church and they have abused their privilege. Your assertions taken to their logical end opens up the Bible up to a vulnerability that questions its authority.

By the way, gender privilege has not affected me in the manner you seem to believe. It appears that you, too, bring a bias to the table. You obviously feel as though your life has not been all it could be because of the gender God chose to give you. I am sorry that you feel as though you have been oppressed. However, I am not one who does not know how social stereotypes affect a person’s ability to succeed.

I am a man and I do have the honor to serve God in this biblical way. However, I am from a low economic status. My parents were share croppers. Neither graduated high school. We struggled to find food money. We were frequently denied opportunity because of our financial status. I had no money and have found a way to rise above those things. I never looked to my limitations as excuses. I am not saying that out of haughty pride. You brought up privilege and I felt the need to remind you that other factors contribute to lack of privilege.I am certain that my maleness comes as a right of privilege in your eyes and I fear most of my concise arguments will be ignored through you looking through a gender based lens. However, God has given women gifts and abilities for Christian service. Women can affect the church and be vital without being in a pastoral role. Perhaps perusing looking at the Bible in an accurate way will create a more “meaningful discussion”. However, it seems that in some cases meaningful means agreement.

And I make no apologies for intelligently saying that the Bible has certain commands and we are called to follow them. I am not sorry that using it as my standard means even obeying the parts I don’t like.

Also, I have to take a bit of offense at the comments that say this view will kill Moody. In the past 20 years Southern Baptist Seminaries have returned to this Biblical model and are thriving. They have increased enrollment by leaps and bounds. While this has occurred more “liberal” seminaries are seeing a decrease in attendance. I don’t think Moody is in any danger. It is a solid institution and their stand on this issue will more than like help rather than harm.

I once had President Nyquist on my floor at Moody for a Q&A session and I raised the question of women in ministry. I asked why MBI had veered from the views of DL Moody regarding women in ministry. His response burned me. He simple said “D.L. Moody was an evangelist not a theologian”. Followed by the room erupting in laughter. The level of degrading women is unbelievable and unbearable at times.

Nathan,
thanks for this post. it is helpful and respectful. I am a complementarian but I still believe that a school should still allow women into pastoral ministry training. What? Yes! I believe there are differing roles for men and women in the church but that doesn’t mean that women are not gifted by the Spirit of God for pastoral care and concerns. For me the issue is finding the appropriate ways and means for women to exercise their pastoral gifting within a complementarian framework.

Complicated? Yes. Inconsistent? Not necessarily.

I am suddenly and infinitely grateful for having been raised in a ‘tradition’ (or anti tradition?) of allowing women in the ministry … and being currently in a church that is part of movement with a very long history of the same —
many prayers for the conflict –and for resolution —
this is so frustrating in 2013 that this is still such an issue! ARGH!

Wow. Fellow alum (’03). Saddened by the postion, practice, and (as @jeffgoins:disqus said) incredible overuse of hash tags.

I’m not sure it is worth the fight. I left Moody after two years (1993-1995), in no small part due to the prevailing attitudes towards women. It disgusted me. It was demeaning, demoralizing, and against everything that Jesus taught. If this is what Moody stands for, it absolutely should wither and die. Teaching young people that half of the world’s population is inherently worth less than the other half, that men have God-given authority over women, and that women are required to submit (i.e., shut up and take it, and be grateful that God still loves you in spite of your sorry lack of a penis) is WRONG. The old men in charge can point at scripture to support their misogynist views all day long, but that doesn’t make it right and it never will.

This article makes me even prouder of my alma mater. God bless the school that D. L. Moody founded, firm may she stand tho by foes of truth surrounded.

[…] About a week ago, an alumnus of my alma mater Moody Bible Institute, Adam McLane, wrote a post about women pastors and the fact that Moody won’t allow women to register for their annual Pastor’s Conference. He had initially tweeted at them and they responded poorly. I sincerely hope that their social media liaison has learned a valuable lesson. This post is a response to his article, which you can find here. […]

99% of denominations that have turned Gods word upside down and placed women in the place of pastoral leadership have thrown Gods design of masculine responsibility and headship, in the church and in the home, directly in the trash. Most of these same denominations now allow gay clergy and have thrown most of Jesus’ teaching out because they are nice. These decisions and Mr. McLanes attitude and progressive thinking will not stand when tried by Gods word. Never. Period. Men and women are different with different roles and responsibilities at home and in the church body and will both be held to very different standards of accountability when we stand before Him at our day of judgement. Moody did the right thing by replacing this liberal theology which is in fact doctrines of demons because it does nothing but promote confusion and strife. Repent and be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I also noticed that you great list of accomplishments doesnt give God any glory but instead you are highly exalted. Test yourself and see if you are even in the faith. 2 cor 13:5. You wont even take your next breath without His approval, IF your truly His child, you should be deeply convicted of this.

Emma Dryer! I graduated MBI in 92 and lived on Dryer 3 for a couple of years before becoming an RA on Colby 7. I remember writing a paper entitled “Emma Dryer: The Force Behind the Founding” in which I argued that Dryer almost single handedly established MBI.

By the time I left MBI I pretty much hated* the place for its patriarchy, conservatism, literalist black/white theology, and lifestyle militancy. I would have left after my sophmore year, actually, if I didn’t have a group of Moody friends (and a very small handful of professors) who dared to think outside of the box. Oh, and I loved Chicago so much! I haven’t been back since and am not surprised to hear that they still have made so little progress on growing up on these issues.

After leaving Moody, I embraced liberal theology, and attended two progressive seminaries where at least half of my colleagues and professors were women. I was ordained a Lutheran minister in 2000 and stayed in ministry until 2012 when I made a career change to become an employment counsellor. Looking back on my ministry I can’t imagine the church without the excellent leadership provided by women. Our national Bishop is a woman and many of our best pastors are women.

It has been so long since I was in MBI’s orbit of influence that I find it almost surreal that in this day and age they’re actually still debating these questions. Sad.

* It wasn’t all bad at MBI. I met my soulmate there. Linda and I are going on two decades of marriage! 😉

While taking a break from packing my bags, to head to Moody’s Pastor’s Conference with my husband, I came across your blog. I am looking forward to the Conference; I will soak up the interesting speakers in the main sessions, attend the Pastors’ wives part of the conference that Moody bends over backwards to provide for women that come, even though we are such a minority. This Conference within a conference includes main sessions and breakout sessions, (Jill Briscoe was our main speaker last year), and I will have a great time sharing in the worship there. Moody always validates the extreme importance of pastors’ wives, and I never feel undervalued, demeaned, or overlooked in any way.
In all my years of attending I have never felt “shunned,” “ostracized,” or “overlooked,” as you put it. What I do find hurtful is your own statement that if I, as a woman gifted with teaching/pastoral gifts, am not functioning in the position of Pastor, that I am somehow “secondary in [my] role within the body.” I have enjoyed using my gifts in glorifying God by teaching, mentoring, and discipling others, as well as being a partner with my husband in ministry. I would challenge you to rethink your criticism and consider those of us that are extremely comfortable and fulfilled in our role as pastors’ wives.

I’m always amazed by the folks who attend MBI, knowing full well what their positions are, gladly accept 4 years of college with no tuition, then gripe and complain about it afterwards. Amazing.

@daniel – Actually, MBI has gotten more conservative, specifically on the issue of women in ministry, over the past 20 years. And I was just as vocal as a student as I am today. (Of course, as a student, you are told two things. a. “if you don’t like it, leave.” Which is wholly anti-intellectual and dehumanizing. b. “When you’re an alumni we will listen.” Which hasn’t ever been the case. I’ve contacted MBI many times privately and never once been given a serious response.)

The fact that I did or did not pay tuition isn’t relevant to whether or not the school can change it’s position to something more historically accurate.

I stand ready to support MBI into the future. I have tons of respect for the institution and believe there is a need for a place like MBI to exist which focuses completely on ministry preparation. But my support is conditional, like anyone else’s.

I am a recent Moody Theological Seminary alumna. Stumbled upon your blog post today. When I began attending in 2010 I was aware of their position on female pastors, but are you aware that Moody holds the same position on female TEACHERS? That is not on their website, but is the official position that is read to you later in the program. When I was read this statement four years into my program, I felt deceived. Honestly, I may not have attended Moody in the first place had I known this as I was attending to be trained as a, you guessed it, teacher.

I worked incredibly hard and managed to excel (despite being a busy mother of two) and graduated as the only person in my program with a 4.0. Despite this, I could not take on a student position as a Teaching Assistant because to do so would require that I teach a class with men in it. Sure, I could check papers, but never teach. So no actual teaching training for women teachers either. I find this ironic because I was the freelance Hebrew tutor on campus. So I spent my time tutoring the MDiv students, most of them pastors themselves, but would not be welcome to teach a Hebrew class. Not surprisingly, men with TA training and subsequent faculty awards upon graduation have better opportunities for employment and/or acceptance into PhD programs.The end result of this position, unplanned or not, is that more vocational ministry positions are available for men, but equally qualified women are limited to volunteer or part-time positions.

As you say, Moody began with a rich heritage of embracing women. It is my prayer that Moody begin again to train and award them equally. Regardless of what beliefs they hold on female pastors, Moody is an educational and training institution. We don’t even ask them to hire us equally, just train us equally. That alone would be a huge step to growing the kingdom.

Thank you for taking up this torch for us all.

I hear all these arguments. Based upon our thoughts, our needs, our desires.

If we are going to have a good conversation let’s at least have a common authority to discuss such things.

What should we agree upon?

Experience
Culture
God’s Word
Privilege
Ethnicity
Emotion

Until that is decided, it just becomes popular opinion.

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