Last May, I wrote about the egalitarian shift at Irving Bible Church (IBC). The elders had just completed an 18-month long study and had concluded that they would allow women to preach in their church. Yesterday, IBC had a female preacher fill the pulpit for the first time since the elders’ findings were published. The preacher’s name was Jackie Roese.
Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News wrote Saturday about the changes at IBC, and he quoted from my forthcoming JBMW editorial on this topic. But the best lines from the entire news article come from Tommy Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church:
The Rev. Tom Nelson of Denton Bible Church said his friends in Irving are on “dangerous” ground.
“If the Bible is not true and authoritative on the roles of men and women, then maybe the Bible will not be finally true on premarital sex, the homosexual issue, adultery or any other moral issue,” he said. “I believe this issue is the carrier of a virus by which liberalism will enter the evangelical church.”
Mr. Nelson added that his church’s recent sermon series on the Bible and gender roles came in part because of Irving Bible Church’s conclusions about women and preaching.
Also of note, Hodges commented on IBC’s connection to Dallas Theological Seminary:
Another measure of the controversy is that Mark Bailey, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, has removed himself from a team of regular guest preachers at Irving Bible Church.
The Dallas seminary, which supplies pastors to Bible churches around the country, has long had close ties with Irving Bible Church. But Dr. Bailey said that he and his wife, Barby, were amicably distancing themselves for “personal convictions and professional reasons.”
Dr. Mark Bailey has a note of clarification on DTS’s website that further explains his separation from IBC and DTS’s stance on the gender issue. This is worth your time to read.
One final word of clarification is also in order. Hodges quotes from my forthcoming JBMW editorial in which I say that the changes at IBC are “a matter of grave moral concern.” By that, I do not mean to say that IBC has suddenly descended into a tailspin of immorality. I don’t believe that at all. In context, that line actually addresses the deeper issue of how the IBC elders are interpreting the Bible. By adopting a trajectory hermeneutic, they set aside the clear teaching of scripture in favor of misguided hermeneutical criteria. In this way, the authority of the Bible is at stake in the changes that they have initiated. Their hermeneutic threatens biblical authority, and that is what I identified as the “matter of grave moral concern.” That will be clear when the editorial comes out this Fall. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Jackie Roese’s sermon is now available for download from the IBC website. You can listen to it below if you are interested.