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.
I admire McLane for acknowledging this as an issue at all and I think that his article was well-written and well thought out. A friend of mine wrote a comment and his response was not thought through as well.
One of his main points is that Moody has been empowering women to serve in ministry for generations and that in the late 90s they stopped and wrote into their by-laws that they believed that women should not be pastors. He was surprised that an institution that once prided themselves on their progressive stance in the Christian world would be so conservative. He calls alumni to fight this and to encourage Moody to allow women to register for their conference.
I haven’t done enough research to reach a definitive conclusion on the issue of women as pastors. However, it is my belief that if a woman is called by God to be a pastor that, most of the time, it is because a man was not qualified to fill the position or refused to. That being said, it seems ridiculous to me that women aren’t allowed to register for the conference. God has put them in that position at that time for a reason and they also need to be reinvigorated and refreshed by the Word of God. So I agree with Mr. McLane, that it is a little weird that women can’t register.
However, I also know my school. I don’t believe that they have ever had the position that women can be pastors. It may have been written into the bylaws only recently, but it is not a new standard for them. So I take issue with McLane’s belief that this is an easy problem to fix.
He stated in a comment that
“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.”
First of all, it’s Dr. Nyquist. Failure to recognize the President of Moody’s well-earned title is disrespectful to the institution he claims to love so fondly. Secondly, Dr. Nyquist is held accountable by the Board of Directors. He can’t simply call and change the rules without serious consequences. This a board that for 125 years has consisted of men and only recently admitted its first woman. This change was announced at graduation to applause and cheers from all who recognized this achievement in the audience.
When you look at this change, it is hard to believe that Moody will allow women to register simply because one alumnus or several alumni seem to think that they should, especially for a conference mere weeks away. Most of them are younger as well and are not the donor base from whom Moody receives much of its income. The ones donating the most money are older, more established alum who are complementarians. I realize that this is a broad generalization, but it is my experience that the younger you are, the less income you make, the less you donate to any cause let alone to your alma mater. Also, the older generation that came from Moody is often more conservative in their views. Moody isn’t going to change it’s laws for those that aren’t supporting them at the risk of alienating the ones that do. I’m not saying it’s right, or purely financial either, but that is part of why they are so staunchly conservative.
The most important reason that they will stay this way is that they believe that women being pastors is directly against what the Bible says. Their interpretation is that women should not hold pastoral positions. They won’t change their hermeneutic simply because outraged people tell them to. They will stand by their biblical beliefs because that’s who they are. Moody is consistent and has been for 126 years. I respect that. If this change were to occur it could take another 125 years. I hope not, but I think it’s almost unreasonable to expect immediate change.
The most we can do is pray. I don’t think one blog post, or many blog posts, will change Moody’s opinion. I do believe that they are alienating a large group of future donors and that is detrimental to who they are as a tuition-free school. However, I hope and pray that those who were hurt by their unyielding view of gender roles will remember the solid biblical education they received and hold no grudge.