Should we have women pastors? (A historical perspective.)

28 Aug 2021 3:05 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

There have been women pastors and Bible teachers in the history of the church, but there were almost none up until 1850. There were very few from 1850 to 1950, although some charismatic groups and some groups that placed a high emphasis on personal calling and evidence of effective ministry (such as Wesleyans and Nazarenes) did have some women pastors.

The most significant increase in the number of women pastors occurred from 1950 to the present, and it has come largely in more liberal denominations. However, some evangelical groups have also been part of this trend, particularly since the 1970s and 1980s.

So in the last 150 years, there is some historical precedent for women pastors and Bible teachers, but it is not as strong as egalitarians would have us believe, and it is small compared with the entire history of the church. In any case, our final standard of what is right and wrong must be Scripture, not church history.

Claims of God’s evident blessing on women’s pastoral ministry, claims that God is calling certain women to be pastors and Bible teachers to be men, claims about the uniqueness of this time in history, and claims that manhood and womanhood aren’t really different must be answered with the affirmation that the Bible alone is our final authority, not our experiences.

Therefore, the egalitarian claims in this chapter do have some interest, and they must be considered, but ultimately the answer to the controversy must be found in Scripture, not in evidence from history or personal experience.

Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More than One Hundred Disputed Questions (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 489.

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