World magazine has a report about Daniel Harman, the leader of the University of Louisville chapter of Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade). The long and short of it is this. Cru recently relieved Daniel of his duties because of his complementarian approach to campus ministry. He has been with Cru for 11 years, 8 of which were on the mission field in Eastern Europe. Since 2009, he’s been directing the ministry on UofL’s campus. His complementarian views were no problem overseas, but they became more of an issue since he returned to America. It all came to a head recently when the leadership of Cru learned that he was not allowing female leaders to teach men in Cru weekly meetings. World reports:
This fall, however, one of Louisville’s female Cru staff members asked Harman for clarification about whether women could teach the Bible in mixed-gender Cru meetings, and Harman said they could not. The exchange came to the attention of regional Cru officials, who met with Harman and reiterated Cru’s policy of “men and women leading together.” They gave Harman three weeks to reconsider his position, and said that if he remained “dogmatic” about the issue, he could no longer serve as Missional Team Leader. Harman decided that he would not change the practice, and Cru demoted him.
As campus director at Louisville, Harman has permitted female staff to speak in front of mixed-gender audiences on a number of ministry-related topics, and to assume numerous leadership roles relative to both female and male students. But Harman contends that Scripture prohibits women teaching the Bible to adult men (including those of college age), based on passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12, in which Paul says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
I commend Daniel for standing upon the truth of God even at great personal cost. This conflict threatens not just his ministry but his livelihood. This is not the kind of disruption that a man with a young family needs. I’m sure it would have been easier simply to let it go and revise his personal beliefs in order protect his position. He didn’t do that, and I am grateful for the stand he has taken.
A Cru spokesman told World that this incident amounted to a disagreement over policy not over theology. That is nonsense. Cru’s policy represents an egalitarian view of ministry roles, and that stance is irreducibly theological. Daniel was demoted because of theological conviction, not because of an arcane dispute about Cru’s bureaucracy. Certainly Cru has the right to set their own policies. I hope their constituency knows that it excludes consistent complementarians.
From time to time, I will hear people argue that complementarianism only applies to the church and should not be applied to parachurch groups. This has never been a compelling argument to me. It is true that parachurch groups are not the church. They cannot baptize or administer the Lord’s supper. There is a worthwhile discussion to be had about the existence and role of parachurch organizations in relation to local churches. At the very least, I think everyone should agree that parachurch orgs should never adopt ministry practices which would undermine the teaching and discipline of actual churches. For that reason, the complementarian/egalitarian issue cannot be skirted by groups like Cru.
I’m grateful for the great work that Cru has done over the decades. I have had many friends who have been deeply involved in this ministry. But this latest story is a sad one. I hope they reconsider their views on this. Daniel Harman is a good man and a faithful brother. Cru could use more like him, not less.