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Questions Raised by the Story


Questions Raised by the Story

How A Narrative Catechism Could Help Us

By Bishop Emeritus David W. Kendall



The church today is filled with people who do not know the Scriptures. Even though they claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word, pastors and church leaders often lament there is little evidence that such “belief” means much.

Indeed, religious polls reflect a sad reality. Many who identify as Christian — even as “born again” — do not know or subscribe to some of the most basic teachings of the Bible. For example, a surprising number of professing Christians are uncertain whether their faith or the Bible claims Jesus as the only Savior of people and the world. In one poll of 2,000 church people, 61% believe all faiths are of equal value, and 60% believe that people can earn their way into heaven if they are “good enough.” Likewise, 62% of respondents said that the Holy Spirit is not a member of the Triune Godhead but simply a vague representation of God’s attributes.1


Many who identify as Christians are confused about the differences between the Old and New Testament. Some assume that the New has rendered the Old no longer relevant. Others affirm both Testaments are inspired and thus apply select verses from either Testament in much the same way.2


2 This represents common ways Bible-believing church members understand and apply Old Testament passages especially.


Moreover, professing Christians believe and practice things they assume are in the Bible but are not. Consider these popular sayings commonly attributed to biblical writers: God helps those who help themselves, cleanliness is next to godliness, and God won’t give you more than you can carry.3 Yet, none of these expressions can be found in the Bible. Worse, how such sayings are used to promote or discourage action leads to conduct that is questionable if not simply wrong.

Finally, surveys on how Christians live their lives suggest there may be little difference between Christians and non-Christians. The incidence of adultery and divorce, the use of pornography, and spouse or child abuse do not vary radically among those who claim to follow the Bible and those who do not. Indeed, people who subscribe to the Bible as God’s Word are no more honest in their relationships than those who do not.4

Who can doubt that churches struggle to help their members understand the Bible and live according to its teachings? I suggest a “catechism” could help us all. And perhaps you wonder:

What’s a “catechism”?

3 Relevant Magazine (Online), January 16, 2020. Other sayings include: God wants me to be happy; we’re all God’s children; bad things happen to good people.

4 Consider the fact that respondents to surveys often misrepresent themselves, a fact that must be taken into account when interpreting survey findings.

The word “catechism” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to teach or instruct.” Early in the Christian Church catechisms were developed as a means of teaching children and new converts the essentials of the faith. Because many could not read for themselves, these catechisms were organized in a question-answer format to help learners remember what they were taught. And, for much of church history, the use of catechisms was central to the teaching ministry of the church.

Churches today could benefit from a catechism that helps their people learn how to follow Jesus well — a catechism of questions and answers that rise out of the Bible itself in the way the Bible presents them. I call it a “Narrative Catechism.” Or, more simply, “Questions Raised by the Story.” Let me explain what I have in mind and why I think it can help us.

To begin, I’m not suggesting a primary focus on a list of questions exploring essential doctrines we all must know and believe. Because, although what we know and believe is important, it is not most important. Rather, and most importantly, we must focus first on what God has revealed to us in our Bibles, how God has revealed it, and why?

Since the Bible is essentially a story, the focus will be on questions that rise out of the Scripture- Story as the Story itself raises and then answers them. Thus, we begin with an overview of the Story and note questions the Story suggests and observe how the Story answers them. A list of questions and answers like that has several advantages. Here are three of them.

First, we are honoring the nature of the Bible as God’s Word to us. When we allow the Story to tell us what is important and how it is important, we are submitting to the authority of the Word God has given us. After all, it’s not just a story, it’s The Story by means of which God has chosen to guide His people in relating to Him, one another, and the world.

Second, by observing how the Story begins and then unfolds, and how its various sections and episodes elaborate and clarify the unfolding Story, we are in a better position to answer the questions it raises. We will see how the Story answers a question at one point and then sharpens or adjusts the answer as the Story proceeds. We will also understand that some questions have more than one answer, depending on “where we are” in the Story. For example, a question about God’s Law will have an answer at one point in the Story that is different than at another point. And, by allowing the Story to direct us to the question and then offer its varied answers, we gain deeper and more comprehensive understanding.

Third, and most importantly, questions raised by the Story are more likely to draw us into the Story itself, where we meet the Triune God who invites us to follow His lead. As we do, we come to know the Storyteller who enters His Story in Jesus, and we learn to love His ways. It will be good to know the proper answers as the Story offers them, but even better to know the Storyteller and learn to love His ways.


Bishop Emeritus David W. Kendall is the author of the forthcoming book “Questions Raised by the Story:

A Narrative Catechism” from Light + Life Publishing. His other books include “Prayers for the Seasons”

“Follow Her Lead,” and “God’s Call to Be Like Jesus.” He has served the Free Methodist Church as a bishop (from 2005 to 2019), superintendent, and pastor.

FMs Respond

FMs Respond

Dear Free Methodist Family,

Entering the season of Lent this year, the suffering of our world weighs heavily on all of us. In addition to the escalating war involving Russia and Ukraine, there are many countries where our Free Methodist members are experiencing unimaginable economic, political, Covid-related, and other hardships. In fact, several countries among our 100+ are embroiled in war. Please remember our global family in your daily prayers.

Since our statement earlier this week, several people have asked about sending care packages to Ukraine or neighboring countries where our churches are involved in relief work. Our leaders advise us that sending physical goods is costly and risky and would incur shipping and customs costs that could easily exceed the value of the items. The best way to help, besides praying, is to give to the Bishops’ Crisis Response Fund and mark your donation “Ukraine.” Funds can be transferred to our partners, who are most appreciative.

We also have relied upon the wisdom of our leaders in Eastern Europe in carefully nuancing our statement so as not to jeopardize the safety of any of our personnel in Ukraine or Russia. Please continue to pray for peace and that our loved ones are protected from harm.

Together in concern and united in purpose,

Bishop Linda Adams   Bishop Keith Cowart   Bishop Matt Whitehead and designate it for "Ukraine"

To Donate by Check:

Checks can be made out to The Free Methodist Church USA and mailed to PO Box 51710, Indianapolis, IN 46251. Please write Bishop’s Crisis Fund – Ukraine in the memo line.


This has been one of the most confusing seasons in our lived history. Take a pandemic; mix in a bunch of weird political stuff; add a few racial inciting events; and call it 2020-21. To refer to the last 18 months as a challenge, would be a huge understatement. However, one of the benefits of hard seasons is that they have a way of exposing some rough spots in each of our lives, our leadership, and our organizations. As I have paused and reflected on what we are emerging from, I realize that there is a new set of underlying assumptions which we must adopt and allow to fundamentally change our approach, particularly in the arena of church ministry, if we hope to remain relevant and effective moving forward.


1. ACCELERATED REALITY: We lost a decade. Today, we are living in what 2031 would have looked like, but it happened now. We can resist this and drift into obscurity, or we can embrace it and position ourselves to play a significant role in helping people navigate the challenges ahead. No doubt this will require taking risk, learning from our mistakes and quickly redirecting our efforts.


2. THE GREAT RESIGNATION: This season is marked by the largest loss of senior pastors and church staff in known history. As organizations and churches navigate these often unwanted and perhaps even unexpected staffing transitions, let me offer you a hope-filled perspective: First, God is still in control. Secondly, the church is His bride, and He will fight to protect and preserve her. Finally, I wonder if part of the great resignation is actually a strategic God initiative to reorganize and deploy His church leaders. I believe that God is always working to position His leaders in just the right place, at any given time, in order to contribute to the kingdom in ways that would not be possible otherwise.


3. THE BIG SWAP: The people who came back to church didn’t necessarily come back to the same church they left. Many individuals and families are taking this opportunity to reconsider what is most important to them. Interestingly, those who are coming back seem to be leveling up in their commitment to Christ and, thus, are looking for a church that is serious about helping them apply their faith in meaningful ways to their everyday lives.


4. THE SAD GOODBYE: Due to the ripple effects of the pandemic, many churches have had to shut down or are in the process of closing their doors. According to Barna Research Group, around 20% of smaller churches will not survive.(1) On top of that, Barna along with several other researchers have stated that approximately 32% of regular church attenders did not make the shift to online services during the shutdown.(2) Now more than ever, we need to look around our auditoriums and notice who is missing. Who is no longer connecting with us and what will we do about it?


5. LESS PEOPLE WILL RETURN TO IN-PERSON CHURCH: According to Warren Bird of Lifeway Research, overall church attendance is predicted to recover at 80% of 2019 levels.(3) However, that mark is still a long way off. Current attendance levels are trending well below that mark for most churches.(4)


6. ONLINE IS REAL CHURCH: Online church isn’t going away. If you haven’t already, this is the time to embrace a permanent hybrid: in-person and online. Do you remember just a few years ago when people debated if online church really counted? We bantered back and forth wondering if meaningful connections and spiritual development could really be accomplished in a virtual setting? Worship is essential. Christianity is both personal and corporate. We are called to gather. Over 30 years of ministry, I have not met a single person who is remotely mature in their faith who is not connected regularly in community. In this last season, I have seen many individuals take significant spiritual steps through our online community.


Before the pandemic somewhere around 3-4% of church goers viewed online church as a viable and preferred option for them and their families.(5) Moving forward, online will be a legitimate spiritual community for many more, plus another large percentage of our physical attenders will take advantage of a virtual option in addition to occasionally attending in-person.


7. BALKANIZATION IS OUR CURRENT REALITY: Balkanization is a term used to describe the division of a people into smaller hostile units of like-thinking groups. We are definitely experiencing balkanization on issues of critical race theory, LGBTQ, masks, vaccines, and politics. Americans have chosen distinct camps and want to be in a church that reflects their particular camp. Interestingly, this extreme polarization has resulted in transfer growth for the hyper-right.


The pandemic has changed life for everyone, and churches along with their leaders are certainly no exception. The future, especially the next 18 months, will be precarious for a number of churches, but for the nimble and focused it will provide significant opportunities for outreach and kingdom expansion.


Benjamin Sigman, D.Min., is the lead pastor of Timberlake Church and the co-superintendent of the Reach Conference.


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Justice Network Summit 2021

“Jesus made himself an immigrant to break the system.” Host Pastor José Reyes of Iglesia Nueva Vida in Cleveland, Ohio, began the 2021 inaugural Justice Network Summit challenging the church to take seriously how to fix the broken immigration system. He commented that the immigration system all over the world needs to be addressed, citing the difficulties in his native land of the Dominican Republic and how its citizens discriminate against their Haitian neighbors.  

Reyes’ opening address led into a panel of his church members sharing their stories of immigration. Both panel members and the congregation shed tears over their heart-wrenching stories, including one woman watching her husband being shot on the steps of their church. Their stories of suffering and struggle spoke volumes about the need for the church to step into this process. 

Pastor Jaymes Lackey delivered another challenging message titled “A Methodist Ethic of Justice.” Pulling from both John Wesley and B.T. Roberts, Lackey reminded the church that the Wesleyan tradition would focus on action first, then spiritual needs. “If we have to pick acts of mercy or piety, we [as Methodists] pick acts of mercy.” Lackey also noted, “We are educated beyond our level of obedience.” His drawing on our traditions rooted the current movement in our past. 

Thursday evening keynote speaker Superintendent Amelia Cleveland-Traylor pushed the audience to be truly free, beyond the masks worn and the roles played. She lamented in particular the pressure on people of color to assimilate to majority White culture and how that prevents them from being truly themselves. She proclaimed, “Jesus saves us from our sin and breaks the yoke of oppression” and “If we were free, we would not be afraid.” 

Worship at the event included a diverse team of Topher Noyes (who planned the selections), Eric Logan, Vanilda Reyes de Noyes, Amizielis Figueroa, Jaymes Lackey, Soo Ji Alvarez and Ephram Wilkoff. Songs focused on justice issues and aimed to equip the churches for engaging on this at home. The host church’s dance team Ministerio de Danza (Ministry of Dance) along with flags by Serena and Jeff Oriero added physical expression to our musical and spiritual offerings during the evening sessions.  

Friday morning began with a proclamation from Superintendent and Pastor Charles Latchison, who exhorted the congregation with “whatever spirit fullness looks like for you, we need you to walk in that more.” He noted, “Love smells differently after you’ve been restored.” Latchison also asked, “Lord, is there anything broken in me that needs healing so I can hear you well?”  

Larissa Malone, a professor at the University of Southern Maine, addressed the topic of critical race theory, explaining its origins and some common tenets. To put it basically, critical race theory examines the relationship of race and racism and society. It began in the legal field because scholars noticed that justice was actually not blind but seemed biased against people of color. Questions from the audience helped the attendees to acquire a better understanding of this theory and how it intersects Christianity. 

Women Clergy of Color Panel: Pastors Marissa Mattox Heffernan, Amelia Cleveland-Traylor, Marianne Pena, Soo Ji Alvarez and Katherine Callahan-Howell.

Superintendent Michael Traylor spoke on the “Relationship of Diversity and Justice in Church.” Traylor noted, “Justice leads to diversity. Diversity doesn’t always lead to justice-centered churches.” 

Several panels during the event addressed various issues such as immigration, discipling for racial justice, women clergy of color, and preaching. The stories of the women of color clergy moved many and helped understand the barriers they have faced as both female and minorities in a predominantly male and White clergy denomination. 

The preaching panel included Pastors Ben Wayman, Katie Sawade Hall and Joe Alvarez all bringing their take on Isaiah 50:4–9, the lectionary passage for the upcoming Sunday. Sawade Hall proclaimed during her segment, “If there is anything the last 20 years have made clear, it’s that White, evangelical, American Christians have struggled to know how to suffer for the sake of the gospel.” 


In addition to the main sessions, eight workshops allowed participants to gain more hands-on approaches to anything from parenting to worship to rethinking incarceration.  

Friday evening’s keynote speaker Dominique Gilliard shared from the theme of his new book, “Subversive Witness,” which each attendee received. Gilliard shared this particularly striking commentary, “We cannot allow the gospel that we proclaim to be dictated by what our members are ready for on their own terms. As pastors, we are called to disciple our members into faithfulness, not acquiesce to their disobedience.” He also noted, “When we really look at why young people are leaving the church, it’s because they see it as a social club without moral or spiritual authority.” His talk and book give a spiritual basis for justice work rooted in biblical examples. 

Pastor José Reyes

On Saturday morning, the previously formed ally groups gathered to share their future intentions and what they had gained from the conference. Bishop Linda Adams closed the event with an address titled “Wake Up!” in which she said, “We are calling the church to a path of discipleship that asks about our founding charism and calls us to embody it in the 21st century.” She also served communion along with Bishop Matt Whitehead. He also shared on Saturday, “Thank you for both the hopefulness of this conversation and for the prophetic finger in the chest. It’s just been wonderful to be here.” 

Pastor Marissa Mattox Heffernan served as emcee for the event, and noted that, “Justice is the result of community salvation. We were created to walk in relationship.” The Justice Network is posting talks from the summit on its resources page. Save the dates of September 8–10, 2022, to attend the next summit in Southern California. 

Katherine Callahan-Howell is the founding pastor of Winton Community Free Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Love-Driven Justice

Love-Driven Justice 

References from Scripture, the Book of Discipline, and L+L Articles  

The recipients of the grace and mercy found in Jesus’ mission. 

  • The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19 (emphasis added)) 

God’s heart for just action revealed in His Word. 

  • As to Foreigners: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33–34) 
  • As to the Weak, Fatherless, Poor, Oppressed: Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (Psalm 82:3) 
  • As to Our Obligation to Fairness and Equitable Treatment of Others: Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:9) 
  • As to Defending the Oppressed: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17) 
  • As to Our Commitment to Be Merciful and Compassionate: This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9–10) 
  • As to Our Call to Mirror God’s Holiness, Righteousness and Justice: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) 
  • As to Religion That Is Acceptable to the Father: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27) 

Our pledge to active concern: 3221 and 3222 of the 2019 Book of Discipline  (See the 2019 Book of Discipline for the entire content of these paragraphs) 

Dignity and Worth of Persons (Introduction to ⁋3221) 

We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans, including the unborn, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, socio-economic status, disability, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection. 

The Old Testament law commands such respect (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). 

We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help. Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial, as Christians we must grow in awareness of the rights and needs of others. 

Sanctity of Life (Introduction to ⁋3222)

God is sovereign: the world and all that is in it belongs to God. Though God’s eternal purposes may never be thwarted by human action we are still free and responsible to make God consistent choices in matters of life and death. Christians live in the reality that human beings are created for an eternal purpose. As we attend to human suffering, we acknowledge that the ability of medical technology to end human suffering is finite. Therefore, we accept our responsibility to use this technology with wisdom and compassion; honoring God, who is ultimately supreme. 

Read  Love-Driven Justice by Bishop Matt Whitehead

Discipleship Materials: Engage small group conversation using this four-part small group series based on Bishop Matt’s L+L Article. They contain additional Scripture references and application. 

Christ-Compelled Multiplication

Christ-Compelled Multiplication 

References from Scripture, the Book of Discipline, and L+L Articles  

Bringing life from life is found in the First Commission and the Great Commission.  

  • God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22) 
  • So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (Genesis 1:27-29) 
  • Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

FMCUSA Statistics that support our call to awaken to multiplication: 

  • A quick review of our most recent annual report reveals that many of our churches have not reported a new convert in years. Very few have seen significant growth from reaching people who are not already following Jesus. 
  • In terms of the number of churches in our movement, the first Free Methodists planted 500 new churches in the U.S. between 1860 to 1880. Over the next 20 years, that number doubled to more than 1,000. Over the last 120 years, our total number of churches has declined to fewer than 850 churches. 
  • When it comes to membership, our movement climaxed in 1992 at more than 74,000. Our most recent count (2018) was just over 68,000. 
  • Our greatest area of growth has come in worship attendance with averages rising to more than 100,000 a few years ago, but even this figure has declined to just under 92,000 in our most recent annual report (2018).

Declarations of the Apostle Paul that stir us to be a movement once again: 

  • “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
  • “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). 
  • “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
  • “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7–8).

¶6030 Disciple-making. 2019 Book of Discipline 

Disciple-making is the great commission of our community. The church earnestly engages in evangelization and disciple-making. We are not casual about pointing out the way of life and holiness. We are concerned for the spiritual growth of all those in our charge, whether pre-Christians, new Christians, or longtime Christians. 

Visit beginning April 1, 2021 for “Christ-Compelled Multiplication” by Bishop Keith Cowart and discipleship materials related to this value of The Free Methodist Way 



Cross-Cultural Collaboration

Cross-Cultural Collaboration 

References from Scripture, the Book of Discipline, and L+L Articles  

Scripture Passages 

Jesus Crosses Cultures. 

  • In John 4:4-42. The Samaritan woman at the well is a well-known passage, but indeed highlights Jesus, crossing cultural lines to offer living water. 
  • Acts 1:8seems to echo the event of John 4:4-42 as Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus includes Samaria in His declaration. 

Nations were united through a common message on the day of Pentecost. 

  • “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”” (Acts 2:4-11) 

Jesus prays for us to be one, in loving mutuality – shalom. 

  • Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and comes to restore people to loving mutuality in Him. Jesus prayed, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father,protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:11) 

Revelation describes a kingdom made up of all nations. 

  • After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, peopleand language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10) 


Dignity and Worth of Persons. ¶3221 of the 2019 Book of Discipline 

We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans, including the unborn, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, socio-economic status, disability, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection. 

The Old Testament law commands such respect (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). 

We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help. Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial, as Christians we must grow in awareness of the rights and needs of others. 

  • See also the subsequent points of this paragraph from the Book of Discipline:
  •  A. With Regard to Poverty 
  •  B. With Regard to Racism 
  •  C. With Regard to Immigrants, Refugees and Those in Bondage 


Sanctity of Life. ¶3222 of the 2019 Book of Discipline 

God is sovereign: the world and all that is in it belongs to God. Though God’s eternal purposes may never be thwarted by human action we are still free and responsible to make God-consistent choices in matters of life and death. Christians live in the reality that human beings are created for an eternal purpose. As we attend to human suffering, we acknowledge that the ability of medical technology to end human suffering is finite. Therefore, we accept our responsibility to use this technology with wisdom and compassion; honoring God, who is ultimately supreme. 

  • See also the subsequent points of this paragraph from the Book of Discipline:
  •  A. Reproductive Technology 
  •  B. Abortion 
  •  C. Euthanasia 
  •  D. Other Ethical Dilemmas 

Free Methodist World Missions 

  • Free Methodist World Missions provides this statement demonstrating our commitment to overcome Colonial mindsets and ethnocentrism: Free Methodist World Missions makes disciples by mobilizing the global church and empowering international leaders to establish transformational churches. 

Visit beginning May 1, 2021 for “Cross-Cultural Collaboration” by Bishop Linda Adams and discipleship materials related to this value of The Free Methodist Way 

God-Given Revelation

God-Given Revelation 

References from Scripture, the Book of Discipline, and L+L Articles  

The Scriptures – Authority: ¶108 of the 2019 Book of Discipline 

The Bible is God’s written Word, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit. It bears unerring witness to Jesus Christ, the living Word. As attested by the early church and subsequent councils, it is the trustworthy record of God’s revelation, completely truthful in all it affirms. It has been faithfully preserved and proves itself true in human experience. 

The Scriptures have come to us through human authors who wrote, as God moved them, in the languages and literary forms of their times. God continues, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to speak through this Word to each generation and culture. 

The Bible has authority over all human life. It teaches the truth about God, His creation, His people, His one and only Son and the destiny of humankind. It also teaches the way of salvation and the life of faith. Whatever is not found in the Bible nor can be proved by it is not to be required as an article of belief or as necessary to salvation. 

Scripture Passages 

The Eternal Nature of God’s Word 

  • Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

The Sustaining Nature of God’s Word 

  • Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)
  • He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

The Authoritative Nature of God’s Word 

  • For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, jointsand marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) 

The Heart that Yearns to Live Obediently to God’s Word. 

Psalm 119 is unparalleled in depicting the heart of one who desires to live in obedience to the Word of God. It beautifully depicts the self-awareness of the benefits of living according to the Word of God.  

  • Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalms 119:1-11)

The Prophetic Nature of God’s Word 

  • Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18)

The Unified Authority of the Old and New Testaments 

  • 63 times in the New Testament (NIV search), the phrase, “it is written” appears, calling forth the prophecies of the Old Testament to substantiate the authority of Christ as our Messiah. 

Visit beginning June 1, 2021 for “God-Given Revelation” by Bishop Matt Whitehead and discipleship materials related to this value of The Free Methodist Way 



Life-Giving Holiness

Life-Giving Holiness 

References from Scripture, the Book of Discipline, and L+L Articles  

The Scriptural Call to be Holy People. 

  1. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15–16, quoting three occurrences in Leviticus). 
  1. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NRSV). 
  1. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14). 
  1. Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1). 

The work of the Spirit. 

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:6. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 
  1. Ephesians 2:8–9. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 
  1. Galatians 3:2b-3Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 

Holiness in Action.  

  1. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48). 

The Spirit Gives Life: 119 of the 2019 Book of Discipline.  

Sanctification is that saving work of God beginning with new life in Christ whereby the Holy Spirit renews His people after the likeness of God, changing them through crisis and process, from one degree of glory to another, and conforming them to the image of Christ.

As believers surrender to God in faith and die to self through full consecration, the Holy Spirit fills them with love and purifies them from sin. This sanctifying relationship with God remedies the divided mind, redirects the heart to God, and empowers believers to please and serve God in their daily lives.

Thus, God sets His people free to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves. 

Sanctification 3108 of the 2019 Book of Discipline. 

Christ gave himself for the cleansing of His church (Ephesians 5:25-27; Hebrews 13:12). His disciples are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Corinthians 7:1). Christ provided for believers to be entirely sanctified in the atonement (Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:8-10). Accordingly, Paul prayed “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Sanctification begins with regeneration. It continues throughout the believer’s life, as the believer co-operates with the Spirit. A deeper relationship with Christ is possible as the believer is fully cleansed in heart (Psalm 51:5-13; 1 John 1:5-2:1).

God the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Coming into one’s life at conversion, He fills with His unrivalled presence when the Christian’s consecration is complete, cleansing the heart and empowering for witness and service (John 3:5; Romans 8:9; Galatians 3:3; Acts 1:8). He sheds God’s love throughout the heart and life of the Christian (Romans 5:5; 1 John 4:12-13).

Accepting the promise of God by faith, believers enter into a deepened relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6-7). They are enabled to love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind, and their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40; Galatians 5:25-26). They know an inner surrender to all the will of God, and their lives are transformed from inner conflict with sin to glad obedience (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16-25).

Sanctification cleanses Christians from sin and delivers from the idolatry of self (1 Peter 3:2-3; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:15-20). When they are cleansed, they are not made perfect in performance, but in love (Hebrews 6:1; 12:14; Matthew 5:43-48; 1 John 4:12-13). 

Read “Life Giving Holiness” by Bishop Linda Adams 

Discipleship Materials: Engage small group conversation using this four-part small group series based on Bishop Linda’s L+L Article. They contain additional Scripture references and application. 

Wesleyan Perspectives on Women in Ministry

This presentation was created to address a need in Free Methodist churches for education about the ordination and placement of women pastors in order that people in and out of the church might experience the salvation of God as preached and enacted by women pastors. In spite of our formal denominational stance, which is to ordain women as elders and located them, Free Methodist women face opposition from local congregations who have not resolved objections to women ministers.  Many steps have been taken to ameliorate this problem, which is, to a significant degree, one of lack of education, exposure, and experience. One such step, this paper, requested by the Board of Bishops, was created to address objections, and answer questions regarding women pastors.

 Those who resist women preaching and ministering often do so on the grounds of 1 Cor. 14.34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:12-15, which seem to restrict first century Corinthian and Ephesian women from conversing and teaching in the emerging church. However some of the Free Methodists among these are unaware of why their church ordains women. Like many Christians, they think the New Testament allows women to serve in all sorts of capacities in the church except that of senior pastor. Thus, a large part of the discussion below examines these passages.

Free Methodist churches claim the Wesleyan theological foundation for faith and practice. The term “Wesleyan” means a holistic methodology that widely embraces Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience and evaluates the applicability of each point of the quadrilateral to present concerns, such as women in ministry. Thus, although the following includes examples of John Wesley’s his approach to Scripture and decision to encourage certain women to hold services and preach, it is not exclusively an examination of his view of women in ministry.

I begin, nonetheless, with Christ’s affirmation of women and the unfolding practices of the Jesus movement and early church in this regard. I then discuss in some detail the New Testament passages used most often to restrict women from preaching the Gospel and baptizing converts: 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2, using Reason, Experience, Tradition, and Scripture itself to interpret Scripture. I will turn to John Wesley’s approach to women preaching and ordination in his day and conclude by presenting the arguments of B. T. Roberts, the founder of the Free Methodist church, who also tackles the “restrictive” New Testament passages, as well as practical concerns, using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to effectively argue for the ordination and placement of women.

Jesus and Women

In this discussion of women in ministry, we must first recall the revolution God created by becoming incarnate in Jesus and by pouring out the Spirit of Christ indiscriminately on all flesh, male and female (Joel 2.28-32; Acts 2.17). According to the Gospels, Jesus taught, discipled, touched, and healed women; he was himself cared for by women throughout his ministry; they followed him to the cross and to the tomb. Several of these women became apostles, sent by the risen Christ to tell his frightened, grieving friends in hiding that he had come back to life and to meet him in Galilee.[1] Jesus (especially in Luke) claimed an imminent reversal in cultural systems of hierarchy—the humble would be exalted, the mighty laid low.

Women were among the downtrodden and responded to Jesus’ message and association with them. God’s Spirit in Acts 2 descended upon women and men who began prophesying as the age of the immanence of God in the form of the Spirit dawned. Women were active in the earliest gatherings, including especially those forming around Paul.[2]

Women in Paul’s Churches

Paul believed that the new age had begun to dawn with a new creation: those baptized in Christ must not be divided along social lines, but unified. Gal. 3.28 is a baptismal formula for all sorts of people as they enter the community of Christ. Women must have been relieved to learn that in Christ they were not incomplete and inferior to men.[3] Although Paul preached that in Christ there was unity, he did not seek a social revolution such as freedom for slaves and equal opportunities for women. He saw differences between men and women reflected in the customary social roles (1 Cor. 11.3-16). Most importantly, time was short (1 Cor. 7.17)!

A passage often used to oppose women as senior pastors is 1 Cor 14.34-5.[4] Some argue that this is not Paul’s stance, but rather his opponents’ argument that Paul repeats in order to refute. (Such method is his custom elsewhere, and there is no Scripture “law” that says women are not permitted to speak in the assembly).[5] Others see vv 34-5 as an interpolation, since, in the earliest manuscripts, this section is found in different places throughout the narrative. If inserted into 1 Corinthians at a later point in the transmission process, it would reflect the accommodation to society’s mores that is also reflected in the Pastoral Epistles, to be discussed below. Clearly, it is a change of subject, for if vv 34-5 were removed, there would be no break in the topic under discussion: order in prophesying. In any case, vv 34-5 advises women against conversing and asking questions in the churches; it says nothing against them prophesying, preaching, or praying, which obviously occurred without censure for under these circumstances they were to cover their heads (1 Cor 11.5,13).[6]

Although he attempted to enforce customs such as head coverings, in Paul’s churches there was a clear movement toward equality that reflected Jesus’ attitude toward women—openness to women and their gifts. However, there are marked differences between the early letters of Paul and the Pastoral Epistles. To help us understand these differences, we must look at the perspectives of people living in first century Greco-Roman culture where the weak were expected always to be subservient to the strong. For example, women were to be dominated socially and sexually by men. To be dominated and/or penetrated would indicate loss of honor. Women who spoke or displayed any authority in any public setting were thought to be unnatural. The women who did attain levels of authority, contrary to custom, were accused of not knowing their place, being sexual aggressors, shaming their husbands and families. But Christian churches were started in households, the domain of women. Thus, it was only natural that women would be involved and prominent in their formation and the spread of the gospel. However, the inordinate number of women in the early churches was viewed as a weakness by the opponents of Christianity. Pagan writers criticized this movement and it appears such criticism affected later Christian writings, such as “the Pastoral Epistles.[7] The many defenders of the faith denied other accusations, but never this one.

Gradually, the church grew and took on a more public presence. More and more Gentiles were converted and their views on gender relations, thoroughly hierarchical, became influential. These views were called “natural.” Some interpreters of the Jewish Scriptures used them to support negative perceptions of women.[8] For example, some Christians used Jesus and Paul as support for celibacy and/or equal participation for women in the church. But this was unpopular with others! In addition, it was obvious that celibates could never produce new generations of believers.

The Pastoral Epistles

Instead of urging people to remain unmarried (1 Cor 7.8), 1 Timothy 5.14 urges young widows to marry, bear children, and protect their modesty, which was “natural.” And, as it is usually translated and interpreted, 1 Timothy restricts women from teaching (1 Tim 2.12-15). I will discuss this passage further below. Ironically the groups which now ordain women are accused of accommodating to society, which, were it not for the clear precedent of the Gospels’ pictures of Jesus’ and Paul’s ministries, would be a valid point. But it is not to the credit of God’s people when they do not lead the way, but follow.

We are shaped by what we see and don’t see; experience and don’t experience. Even in churches like the Free Methodist, which affirms the ordination of women, the power of exposure, custom, or the lack thereof, etches deep marks in our inner beings. Some Free Methodists recall the female ministers they knew as a child. They remember and tell stories about them because they impacted lives. Nonetheless, most Christians are accustomed to male pastors. Women converse, teach, and ask questions in our churches all the time, but women pastors are not common. We associate pastoring with males because of our experience and yet we believe it is the New Testament that says women can do everything in the church except preach and pastor.

My transformative education, in this regard, began the day I attended a lecture by Dr. Gordon Fee in the summer of 1988 entitled “Women in Ministry.” This New Testament scholar exposed 1 Tim 2.12-15 (“I don’t allow women to teach. . . “) in the context of the concerns expressed throughout 1 and 2 Timothy about the church at Ephesus. Fee argued for the ordination of women, asserting that the words about women in 1 Timothy were applicable only to that time and place, but were not part of a church discipline manual created for all churches for all time. Plenty of evidence in the letters indicates that there were false teachers leading young widows astray in their own homes and teaching others these false doctrines.[9]

A Wesleyan approach to this issue summons reason and experience alongside of Scripture to ask: Do the conditions present in some of the earliest churches exist today? Are women in this part of the world today still uneducated, unruly, and new to the forum as they were in Corinth; are they young widows, vulnerable to false teachers who settle in their homes to teach false doctrines and proselytize others as they were in Ephesus?  Experience answers, “No, these conditions do not exist here today.” Reason concludes: “If the conditions do not exist, neither should the rules.” In fact, this is how we treat most of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Do we insist on keeping the case laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers? What about the ritual for the wife of a jealous husband found in Numbers 5.14-31?  Do we insist that women cover their heads because of the angels when they come to church to pray and prophesy as 1 Cor. 11 urges? Do all Christian women have long hair and all Christian men have short hair?. Do we enroll widows and provide for them as prescribed in 1 Timothy, the same epistle where the English translations indicate that the author prohibited women from teaching in general?   Providing for the widows in local churches would be a humane practice, yet churches that jettison this insist on keeping the prohibition against women teachers—or rather, they distort the Greek understand it to mean no women preachers. In other words, they allow for women teachers, but prohibit women pastors and preachers. There are countless other examples of admonitions found in Scripture that that we glibly read over with no concern for making them normative

Nonetheless, there is more that must be said about 1 Timothy 2.12-14, which is the primary Scripture appealed to by churches and individuals against preaching, teaching, and pastoring women. A Wesleyan approach to this issue first examines 1 Timothy 2.12-14 in its original language as Catherine and Richard Clark Kroeger have done.[10] Following the Greek closely, they translate this passage: “I do not allow a woman to teach[11] that she was the author or originator of man,[12] but she is to be in conformity[13] with the Scriptures. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. …” The Kroegers proceed to point out that this passage could be directed against a proto-Gnostic mythology glorifying Eve as the enlightener and savior who preceded man in creation and led him to knowledge of the high God through eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The man had been deceived into thinking he was made before Eve; it is this mythology the writer of 1 Timothy 2 attempted to refute.

A Wesleyan approach summons reason to ask, when examining 1 Tim. 2.12-15:  “Does Genesis 2 teach woman should not teach because man was created before woman, or is the author countering this theme embedded in demi-urgical creation myths, that woman was created before man and enlightened him with knowledge of the high God through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”[14]  Clearly, in spite of a tradition of interpretation otherwise, the point of the Genesis 2 narrative is not who came first, or which is inferior, but that it is not good for humans to be alone, that God turned what was one and alone into two who became joyfully together, united in unashamed intimacy. One became two to solve the loneliness problem, then the two become one again and the first marriage was created.

Reason demands that we proceed to examine 1 Tim 2.15, which is normally translated: “But she will be saved through the childbearing, if they remain in faith and love and sanctification with good moral judgment.” The antecedent for ‘she’ is the prototypical woman of verse 14, who was deceived—unlike the enlightened, original woman of the Nag Hammadi documents. Woman will be saved in the situation of bearing children—in spite of the warnings against marriage and childbirth by the false teachers who forbad marriage and childbirth (1 Tim 4.3, 5.14). The Kroegers, in writing I Suffer Not a Woman . . . , are right when they say that this means that bearing children precludes no one from salvation. This directly relates to the corollary admonition for young widows to marry and have children (1 Tim 5.14-15).

Reason, experience, and tradition all affirm that no one in the Pauline tradition would assert that women are saved by means of motherhood—salvation is by the grace and faithfulness of Christ. Women could certainly obtain salvation even though they are mothers. Women don’t have to be celibate and childless in order to attain to salvation, as the false teachers were claiming. Salvation is for everyone, child bearer or not, who continues in faith, love, holiness, and good sense.[15]

Let us turn now to John Wesley’s belief and practice in regards to women preachers. Wesley was a realist, a pragmatist, and a reasonable man whose opinions evolved over time and influenced his practice as he responded to his world and to the needs and gifts of those in his large parish.

John Wesley and Women Pastors

Initially Wesley denounced the Quaker practice of allowing women to preach to a church assembly, but in his Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, he qualified the 1 Corinthian admonition that women be quiet by saying: “unless thy are under an extraordinary impulse of the Spirit.” He observed the effectiveness of women speaking in the cells and he had to wrestle with the difference between women “exhorting” or “testifying” and “preaching.”

Wesley was a reformer in regard to women in ministry. His assumption was that Paul forbade women preaching, but his experience demonstrated that women were some of the best preachers and pastors. He noticed that Paul’s experience included women praying and prophesying in the church. Thus, at first Wesley encouraged women touched by God to “testify” and avoided the word “preach.” Later he claimed the movement of God of his day was an extraordinary situation similar to the Acts 2 narrative where God was clearly no respecter of persons in pouring out the Spirit. He began encouraging women to preach in society meetings. At the end of his life, when he finally began to ordain ministers, he ordained two women. Sarah Mallet was an effective Methodist preacher whom Wesley advised as was Sarah Crosby who was a tireless itinerant preacher. Their success was aided by the backing and support of Wesley who believed that opposition to women in ministry decreased in his later years. But after he died opportunities for women to minister publicly quickly declined.[16]

It is ironic that the Free Methodist church has so few women pastors given that her founder, B. T. Roberts, argued for women ministers and wrote the compelling treatise, “Ordaining Women,” 101 years ago. This document should be shared in its entirety with our churches, especially where the Bible has been used to thwart the present call of God on women. I will express only a few high points of his argument here, and urge any reader to purchase the book through Light and Life Communications.[17]

Addressing 1 Cor. 14.35-36, Roberts said:

There was disorder and confusion in the Corinthian church, all wishing to speak at once, to advance different views. Corinthian women were perhaps recent converts from heathenism, ignorant, incompetent. The text says women should learn in quietness not silence and doesn’t apply to preaching at all, only to learning and the manner of learning. Paul rebuked these women not in their effort to preach, but in their effort to learn. This is a remedy for a specific difficulty, and to construe it against public efforts of competent and orderly female teachers… in the face of all the unanswerable proof that females did teach under divine sanction is doing violence to the word of God.

Roberts points out that all through out the epistles we have evidence that women did pray and prophesy (i.e. preach) and teach in the earliest churches (1 Cor. 6. 5, 6, 13, 14, 15; 11. 6; Phil 4.3, Ro 16 passim [Junia was an female apostle v 7], 2 Pet 3.15). Stating that the situation discussed in 1 Timothy 2.11-15 is similar to Corinthian situation where the church is composed of converts from heathenism, affirms:

When a woman is properly authorized to teach, she does not usurp authority. The authority duly given her, she has the right to exercise in a proper manner and within the proper limits. If woman, in using her voice, in praising God, or declaring His truth, in your churches, is a transgressor, then silence her at whatever cost; if she is doing right then remove all shackles and give her the liberty of the Gospel. These are the only passages of the kind in the Bible. If a denomination applied these literally they would not allow singing, praying, testifying, teaching, or writing religious books.

Citing a letter by governor Pliny to the Roman Emperor, Trajan, dated about the year 107 C.E., which refers to the torture of two young women ministers of the Christian church, Roberts protests: “Women, it seems could be ministers of the church at this early age, while it was poor and persecuted, but afterwards, when it became rich and popular, they were set aside.”

He answers an objection often raised against women ministers: “If women are to preach, why did [Christ] not choose a woman among the 12? We ask, if gentiles are to preach, why did he not choose a gentile among the 12?”  After showing how woman’s condition has been one of slavery in most were cultures, Roberts says: “Though Christianity has greatly ameliorated the condition of women, it has not secured for her, even in the most enlightened nations, that equality which the Gospel inculcates.” Using the example of the enslavement of Africans which was SUPPORTED by many churches until finally made illegal, Roberts says: Roberts goes on to ask the world of his day:

If those … who expressed the prevailing sentiment of their day were so greatly mistaken on a subject which we now think so plain that it does not admit of dispute, that every man has a right to freedom, is it not possible that the current sentiment as to the position which WOMAN should be permitted to occupy in the Church of Christ may also be wrong?”

Roberts noted that Wesley didn’t regard ordination as bestowing on the ordinand a Christian, much less an angelic or godlike character. Ordination was necessary to prevent improper persons from thrusting themselves into ministry, and thus bringing the Gospel into contempt. The following are direct quotes from Robert’s treatise.

Why then we repeat does not Christianity root out all false religions? And why does it not have a more marked effect upon the lives of those who acknowledge its truth? There must be a cause. The reason is that the vast majority of those who embrace the Gospel are not permitted to labor according to their ability, for the spread  of the Gospel. . .. It is said that about two thirds of all the members of all the Protestant churches of this country are women. Yet in these churches a woman, no matter what may be her qualification, and devotion, and zeal, is not permitted to occupy the same position as a man. The superior must, sometimes, give place to the inferior. The bungler must give directions, the adept must obey.  The incompetent coward must command. A Deborah may arise, but the churches, by their laws prohibit her from coming to the front.  And these laws must be enforced though all others are disregarded.  She suffers in consequence, but the cause of God suffers most. It is impossible to estimate the extent to which humanity has suffered by the unreasonable and unscriptural restriction which have been put upon women in the churches of Jesus Christ. Had they been given, since the days of the first Apostles, the same rights as men, this would be quite another world. Not only would the Gospel have been more generally diffused among mankind, but its influence, where its truth is acknowledged, would have been incomprehensibly greater. Our so-called Christian nations would have been more in harmony with the teachings of Christ, in their laws, their institutions and their practices. The great Command of Christ requires that they who make converts should be invested w/ authority to administer the sacrament of baptism. Woman must either be permitted to baptize, or she must not be permitted to make converts. . ..Men had better busy themselves in building up the temple of God, instead of employing their time in pushing from the scaffold their sisters, who are both able and willing to work w/ them side by side. Reason and grace should serve to overcome prejudice. Christian men and women should not wait until a righteous cause is popular before they give it their influence. Those who do, are simply following fashion, while they may think they are following the Lord. It is not enough to say the right will ultimately triumph; if we claim to be righteous we should help make the right triumph.

Finally Roberts cites Gal. 3.28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

We must understand Gal. 3.28 to teach, as it actually does, the perfect equality of all, under the Gospel, in rights and privileges, w/out respect to nationality, condition, or sex. It cannot apply only to salvation or the female would not have been mentioned, for all regarded women as included in the general provisions of salvation of humankind, though all (like Peter) did not regard Greeks and slaves in these provisions from the outset.

On the subject of Galatians 3.28 a sermon by Rev. Luther Lee preached at ordination of Miss Antoinette Brown 9-15-1853 in NY is also enlightening.

I cannot see how text can be explained so as to exclude females from any right, office, work, privilege, or immunity which males enjoy, hold or perform. If the text means anything, it means that males and females are equal in rights, privileges, and responsibilities on the Christian platform. If I deny her the right to exercise her gifts as a Christian minister, I virtually affirm that there is male and female, and that we are not all one in Christ Jesus, by which I shall contradict St. Paul…” If males may belong to a Christian church, so may females; if male members may vote in the church, so may females. If males may preach the gospel, so may females; and if males may receive ordination by the imposition of hands, so may females. The reason being Gal. 3.28.

To conclude this article I concur with the conclusion reached by B.T. Roberts who said: “Then we conclude that there is nothing in the creation of woman or in her condition under the law which proves that no woman should be ordained as a minister of the Gospel.”

I say if women may be ordained they must be given churches or their ordination, their call, their training, their gifts mean nothing; and we work against God instead of cooperating. To break the barriers our churches must be trained and educated and it is the responsibility of all of us in leadership to do this.

Expositions and arguments are persuasive for many, but personal experience is far more effective with the general church population. We can have the greatest impact on our world and encourage women and men called into ministry if we educate our congregations regarding the ordination and location of women pastors and give them women pastors.


[1] Matt 27.55, Mark 7.24-30, 15.40-41, Luke 3.1-3, 23.49, John 4 and 20.

[2] E.g., Acts 16.1-15: Lydia: head of household and head of church. 1 Cor. 11.4-6: women prophesying. Romans 16: Phoebe, a deacon at Cenchreae carries a letter to Rome. Prisca, responsible with Aquila for Gentile mission and correcting Apollos, a teacher might in the Scriptures (Acts 18), supports a congregation in her home, Mary works among the Romans, Tryphanena, Tryphosa, Pirsis (coworkers for the gospel), Julia mother of Rufus, and Junia “foremost among the apostles.” Philippians 4.2: Euodia and Syntyche. Thecla, a story of a celibate woman, seems to have drawn a fierce reaction against church from outsiders. Though fictional it shows women were drawn to chastity and freedom gospel offered.

[3] In antiquity, people thought of men and women as different, not in kind, but in DEGREE. The male was the more fully developed human; the female was the less developed human. Women were born on their way to becoming men, thus they were imperfectly—only partially formed in the womb. Their lungs had not fully developed and their penises had not yet formed. What’s more, their development, unlike that of adolescent boys, would NEVER be complete. Men were made to be penetrators and women penetrated; therefore this was additional proof of women’s lower status and men’s right to dominate. Thus, by their very nature, women were WEAKER VESSELS. See Bart Ehrman’s The New Testament: A Historical Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 341-350.

[4] It is very important that the reader refer to the passages under discussion to follow my argument.

[5] See Gilbert. Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985).

[6] The Greek term laleo usually translated “speak” means “converse.” There are numerous Greek words for speak, but only laleo means converse. See further, John Bristow, What Paul Really Said About Women. New York: Harper and Row, 1988, 63-65; 49—66 for further discussion.

[7] In fact, the Christian church came under severe fire for the responsibilities women shouldered; see Against Celcius.

[8] The earliest blaming of the woman for the humans’ disobedience in the Garden and extrapolating this to women in general is found in Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 25.24 (second century B.C.E.). To trace interpretations in this regard, see Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender, ed. Kristen Kvam, Linda Schearing, and Valarie Ziegler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).

[9] 1 Tim 1.3-7, 4.1-5, 7; 6.3-5.

[10]  I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Tim. 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, by Catherine and Richard Kroeger, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, especially chapter 16 and pp 171-177.

[11] Didaskein elsewhere refers to the content of teaching, never the activity of teaching.

[12] Authentein, usually translated “have authority over” means to dominate or to claim authorship and ownership. Kroeger shows that authentein was also used in the first century to mean murder or simulated murders in religious rituals (185).

[13] Hesuchia, usually translated as “be silent” means harmony or conformity. The next reference is to Genesis 2.

[14] A “demi-urge” is an evil “god” found in numerous documents in the Nag Hammadi library. Often associated with “Gnosticism,” these documents vary widely, except that most refer to the demi-urge as the creator of humanity and the material universe. This demi-urge was himself a mistake, misbegotten, and produced the decaying world, as well as mortal humanity, which, with each generation, founders farther away from the high god of enlightenment. See Michael A. Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism  An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

[15] Ibid.

[16] Antifeminist prejudice hardened in the decades following Wesley’s death and nineteenth century Methodism was far less liberal on this matter than Wesley had been.” See Ruth Tucker and Walter Liefeld, Daughters of the Church, (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1987), 240.

[17] Original Printing, 1891; reproduction, 1992, second printing 2003, (Indianapolis: Light and Life Communications. I am using the oldest version whose page numbers do not align with the recent publications. I am combining quotes from different pages that treat the same passage. Please refer to the book.