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Women in Ministry: The Ecclesiastical Journey
in The Christian and Missionary Alliance

by K. Neill Foster

Loyola University, Chicago

 © June 9, 1998

At General Council, the annual gathering of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina in May of 1997, President Paul Bubna wryly observed, "Forty years ago we were meeting in this city and the main subjects under discussion were divorce and women in ministry." No one had to be reminded that the proceedings in 1957 included a focus on the same issues.

The purpose of this reappraisal of women in ministry in The Christian and Missionary Alliance is threefold: 1) to readdress an issue which seems to defy settlement in a conservative evangelical body; 2) to describe and explore the helpfulness of the sodality/modality models made famous by Ralph Winter as they apply to this struggle; and in addition, and most critically, 3) to offer a solution which can be embraced without the abandonment of a high view of Scripture.

To accomplish these tasks, this brief paper will offer a capsule history of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, a survey of women in ministry patterns past and present within the denomination in the United States, a side excursion into an illuminating series of events in Canada and the postulation of a proposed solution that need not abandon a high view of Scripture and which at the same time could influence the various and large sectors of The Christian and Missionary Alliance which are still open to irenic debate.

Some Caveats

There are some caveats. The phrase, "women in ministry" often means single women who have never married; the married women in ministry tend not to feel disenfranchised since, in the majority of cases, they tend to minister from the platform of their marriages and their husbands' ministries. In addition, as one friend has observed, "A program to train the pastor's wife to minister with her husband [as is done in the Alliance with a missionary's wife] in submission to his authority would also open the gate to wives in ministry more broadly" (Cuccaro 1998a).

To think as we will in this paper could also change the paradigm of discussion about women in ministry in The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Many have hoped to prevail by hermeneutical persuasion. The option presented here reverses the field and suggests a much less resisted alternative, a methodological (versus hermeneutical) option that is a more readily opened door to wider ministry. The arguments here, while not unscriptural, are, to begin with, not scriptural but procedural. In the end they do become scriptural. And, and surely this is a powerful plus, the integrity of Scripture is neither sacrificed nor overturned with these alternatives. Historical drift need not be embraced.

One Final Caveat

Para church groups who see themselves as other than the church or not submissive to the church or not responsible to build the church or not responsible to obey the great Head of the church, are without legitimacy and are not included here.

1. A Brief History of the Alliance

The history of The Christian and Missionary Alliance cannot be separated from the life and ministry of its founder. Dr. Albert Benjamin Simpson was born in the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada in the year 1843 (Niklaus, Sawin, Stoesz 1987:18). His parents were of sturdy Scottish ancestry and hardy Presbyterian stock. He early showed an interest in spiritual things and was soundly converted in 1858 through the reading of Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (Niklaus, et. al. 1987:23).

Later A.B. Simpson came into the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, although he was not a "tongues-speaker" nor was that the vocabulary related to tongues-speaking in his era. It was nevertheless a clear and crisis experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Stoesz 1986:112). Still later, in the midst of a ministry-threatening heart condition, A.B. Simpson made Jesus Christ His Healer (Stoesz 1986:113). In a serious commitment to bear witness to the healing life of Jesus Christ, Simpson for many years carried on Friday Meetings for the advocacy of divine healing. At the summer conventions he organized, hundreds of dramatic physical healings became part of the spiritual context.

Simpson's view was forthright:

Divine healing is not the most important truth of the Gospel, but it is a truth that God has shown to us. Holding it in its subordinate place, let us hold it fearlessly and confess it manfully. . . (Sawin 1986:11).

Ultimately, through his embrace of premillennialism, a strong position on Christ's second coming was advocated - particularly as it focused on the lost world and Simpson's missionary passion, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14, NKJV). From these four concepts he formulated what is still known today as the Fourfold Gospel - Jesus Christ our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.

Along with Simpson's experiential journey, there was an ecclesiastical journey. He was first a Presbyterian minister in Hamilton, Ontario; then Louisville, Kentucky and finally New York City (Niklaus 1986:33). It was in New York that he finally resigned his prestigious pulpit and launched out in faith, creating what would today be called a parachurch movement - in his case, he formed two of them, The Christian Alliance and The Evangelical Missionary Alliance. In 1897 those two organizations became merged into one in what now is called The Christian and Missionary Alliance (Niklaus et. al. 1986:99). Gradually, through the years, the parachurch society became a church, a denomination. Simpson never intended that, any more than Wesley ever intended to form the Methodist Church, but it happened.

There are today across the country about fifty independent Full Gospel churches in association with the Alliances [this was the thinking before the joining of the two Alliances]. These churches, it must be clearly understood, are not Alliance churches. There is, in fact, no such thing as an Alliance church. Nor indeed can there be, for The Christian and Missionary Alliance is not a denominational body. . . (Pardington 1914:93-94).

Nevertheless, the Alliance inevitably and resolutely moved toward becoming a church.

Simpson's Passion

The missionary passion of A.B. Simpson was possibly without parallel in his day. For a period, there were more missionary graves in the Republic of the Congo than there were living missionaries. When it was almost a death sentence to go abroad as a missionary, The Christian and Missionary Alliance kept sending. In the 1990s the Alliance is still one of the preeminent Protestant missionary organizations in the world with over 1,100 missionaries overseas today and a worldwide constituency of about 3 million souls.

Simpson's pen was incessant. Through his productive lifetime he continuously edited magazines and became the author of more than 100 books. In addition to all that, he wrote scores of hymns and became one of the most powerful evangelistic voices of his era. D.L. Moody is purported to have said, "No one gets to my heart like A.B. Simpson."

So very much more could be said, but I must hasten to add that one of the innovations brought by Simpson was a willingness to encourage women in ministry and, like William Booth of the Salvation Army, he was not willing to surrender a major segment of his evangelistic force for gender reasons. Particularly in his parachurch days, A.B. Simpson saw the missionary mandate being accomplished, in part, by women.

The doors of missionary service are wide open for women. It is theirs to reach their heathen sisters as men never can; it is theirs to teach and train the children. . . . And it is woman who today is leading in the ministry of sacrifice, of prayer and of going, to evangelize the heathen world and prepare the way for the Master's coming. God multiply the army of the women that still are publishing His glorious Word (A.B. Simpson 1997:18).

It is clear that Simpson envisioned a ministry for women that was wide and free-ranging. It is also clear that he saw some restraints on women in ministry.

 Simpson was never able to resolve the ambiguity of his view of women. Woman is to be praised "in the gates" for her works. She is not to be hindered in her ministry. But it is a ministry with "true limitations." A woman's works are to speak for themselves, publicly, while at the same time they are to be restricted. The ambiguity revolves around woman's obvious giftedness - obvious because of her "works" and the need to channel this giftedness (Andrews 1986: 222-223).

Bedford is one of the researchers who has noted Simpson's view in 1895. "In specific answer to a question, he reiterated that women had the right to preach the gospel but not to hold an official ministry or governing position in the church" (Bedford 1992:144; A.B. Simpson, The Christian Alliance and Foreign Missionary Weekly, XIV [January 29, 1895], 79).

2. The High View of Scripture

The Christian and Missionary Alliance embraces the inerrancy of Scripture. Point six of our doctrinal statement is as follows.

 The Old and New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of man. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice (Statement of Faith 1965, 1966, 1974).

In the current religious milieu, this stance on Scripture is politically incorrect. It is also the major barrier between what evangelical feminists seek and what they are likely to accomplish in The Christian and Missionary Alliance. While there are hundreds of books and articles on the subject of women in ministry, Thomas Schreiner has one of the most helpful comments, in that he spells out one of several exact textual obstacles to full freedom for women in ministry in a church which takes the Scripture seriously. When some argue that the Titus 2:3 reference to older women as presbytidas means that they are to be assumed elders, Schreiner responds,

 The problem with this is that the usual word for "elders," presbyteros, could easily have been made feminine (presbytera) if Paul wanted to refer to women elders. Paul did not use a feminine form of the word prebyteros here; he used a distinct word that never refers to elders (Schreiner 1991:220).

I bring Schreiner's quite typical reference, chosen at random, into our discussion for a couple of reasons. It shows the character and nature of the biblical text when it is probed. It is a prickly, patriarchal book. Secondly, a high view of Scripture regards every word of the original text in a very formal way. We call it "plenary inspiration." While thus committed to Scripture, The Chris- tian and Missionary Alliance is not likely to interpret its way to political correctness. That it is being culturally tempted to indulge in an elaborate hermeneutical dance on this issue should surprise no one.

The intent to feminize the NIV was recently thwarted in a rather noisy debate among evangelicals. Now, curiously, a group of liberal-leaning scholars has banded together with Eerdmans to carry forward The Chicago Bible Translation Project. Its purpose is to preserve and translate the exact text of the Bible, (and not coincidentally, the patriarchalism), obviously believing that Paul moved on to egalitarian thinking at the end of his ministry (Bayly and Olasky 1998:1-3).

Clark Pinnock, a theological adventurer of the highest order, tenuously clinging to the name "evangelical" admits

 I have come to believe that a case for feminism that appeals to the canon of Scripture as it stands can only hesitantly be made and that a communication of it to evangelicals will have difficulty shaking off the impression of hermeneutical ventriloquism. . . . If it is the Bible you want, feminism is in trouble; if it is feminism you want, the Bible stands in the way (1986:57-58).

The ambiguity that Simpson felt relates to the intractable Scripture which, if a high view is maintained, does restrict the role of women, mandating particularly that elders should obviously be male, "the husband of one wife" (1 Timothy 3:2-5). Simpson was not urging ecclesiastic leadership for women, but he was affirming their wide ministry. Not surprisingly, women flocked to the banner of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. They became missionaries abroad and evangelists and workers in North America. The list of influential women in the early history of the Alliance is much longer than we can include here. Some of the more prominent: Carrie F. Judd of Buffalo Judd was remarkably healed, had a powerful ministry in Buffalo, carried on the publication of a magazine for many years, and after her marriage was instrumental in founding the Alliance "Branch" in Oakland [Paul King:1998]); Mrs. H.D. Walker of Rhode Island; Miss Mattie Gordon of Nashville; Miss Mary E. Moorehead of Pittsburgh; and of course Margaret Simpson, A.B. Simpson's wife. All these and many more served in the parachurch structure of Simpson's organizations, often holding key positions. But in the Gospel Tabernacle, as Simpson's Times Square church was called, the elders were always men (Sawin 1990).

3. A Possible Solution

Given the unique history of the Alliance and its resolute stance on Scripture, apart from biblical apostasy, there seems to be no hope of any kind of profound change in its position. A liberal view which sees Jesus only as an egalitarian prophet and Christianity as no more than a fellowship of equals in which all hierarchical relationships have been superseded (Wink 1998:65- 66) is inevitably and always resisted by the high view of Scripture. There is, however, a helpful understanding to which we now turn.

A Fascinating Aside

One of the patriarchs of the Alliance was W.C. Stevens. A contemporary of A.B. Simpson, Daddy Stevens as he became known was an academic of some stature who studied Hebrew, Greek, Latin and German. He had also imbued A.B. Simpson's passion for the lost world and his willingness to send an army of women to reach it. On the way from Nyack, New York to Simpson College on the west coast he stopped off in Kansas City for four years to lead and then close the Midland Bible Institute (Rendall 1987:8). There was only one male graduate of that school, but that man was L.E. Maxwell who promptly went to Alberta and founded the Prairie Bible Institute (Paul Maxwell 1997). Though the Prairie Bible Institute was once pictured on The Alliance Weekly and labeled as a new school of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, it never happened.

Maxwell was a conservative fundamentalist of the old order. The rules in his spartan institute were unrelentingly repressive of the lusts of the flesh. But curiously, in that most conservative of domains, L.E. Maxwell gave great freedom to women to preach and teach. Of the many hundreds of Prairie graduates on the mission fields of the world, a large number have been women. Known for his enthusiastic remarks after a woman had given a particularly effective message on the Prairie platform, Maxwell loved to say, "Never a man spake like this woman!"

Restricted Freedom

While A.B. Simpson was a prolific writer, his main commentary on women in ministry is collected in a booklet from Christian Publications (Simpson:1997). The definitive statement on Alliance women in ministry may have come from L.E. Maxwell, a leader who was schooled by a man (W.C. Stevens) who had caught A.B. Simpson's vision. In Women in Ministry, you will discover that Maxwell argues carefully for the widest possible ministry of women. But he stops short of ordination (Rendall 1987:9) and any kind of participation in the formal ecclesiastical structure, apart from the deaconess. Hence, if you want to know what the Alliance thought about women in ministry over the years, you should probably read both A.B. Simpson and L.E. Maxwell. Leslie Andrews calls the Simpsonian view "Restricted Freedom" (1986:219).

Now after this foray into Kansas and Canada, more about the historical scene in the Alliance in the United States. Some women became "pastors" in a movement that did not wish to admit it had churches, much less pastors. Then, as the parachurch "Society" moved toward churchly concerns, the women in positions wielding elder authority were slowly replaced by qualified men. A common complaint in the Alliance to this day is that we allow our women a more influential role in our missionary enterprise than we do at home in America.

In the context of this paper, I am saying that women continue now and will continue to have strong ministries in the Alliance so long as our penchant for church and ecclesiastical order alongside our high view of Scripture does not gobble up the opportunities for women in ministry in the still-vigorous missionary side, the parachurch side of our organization. We are, in process of evolution, a small evangelical denomination (approximately 2,000 churches in North America) that began as a parachurch organization but has become a church. There has been an ecclesiastical journey, mostly unobserved, but sensed by the women who have been gradually marginalized in the church's honest attempt to obey Scripture.

At this point, Keith Bailey responds to earlier drafts of this paper as follows:

I do not believe that our move to biblical order marginalized the ministry of women in the church, but rather corrected it in conformity to revealed Scripture (Bailey 1998:2).

Two Redemptive Structures

Ralph Winter, missionary theorist and writer has observed that there are two structures in God's redemptive mission (1974). Specifically, Winter sees (1) the formal church (he calls it a modality) and (2) evangelistic teams (he calls it a sodality). Both the modality and the sodality are themselves the church, the first formally, the latter informally. These terms derived from anthropology do, in my view, describe the two main structures of redemptive mission through which God forwards His redemptive activity in the world. They also describe how the two structures work. Winter effectively observes that the Jewish synagogue had a sodality/modality dichotomy as did the early church. His argument is that the church borrowed from the synagogue and we ought to be smart enough to borrow again if need be (Winter 1974:123). Maxwell was smart enough too. In his own institute, which was a sodality and among the many Protestant "faith missions," (which were likewise sodalities), L.E. Maxwell sent forth an army of missionary women, as had A.B. Simpson before him. "The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host" (Psalm 67:11, NASB).

Bailey reminds us that Winter was not the first to suggest the two structures.

 Though Winter uses new terminology, his idea has been around a long time. The Plymouth Brethren spoke of a dual structure almost a century ago. Watchman Nee made it popular with his division of the church from the work. In this mind-set, anything outside the local church was considered "the work" (parachurch) (Bailey 1998:3).

Though Ralph Winter was making historical not theological arguments, whether or not the sodality/modality concept is biblical matters to The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Paul's evangelistic teams in Acts certainly fit the sodality mold (15:36-41). First Paul and Barnabas, later Paul, Luke and Silas - they were the members of the early evangelistic teams.

Missing is the direct mention of women being involved in Paul's teams, but if Romans 16 gives a hint of the roles of women in the life and ministry of Paul's evangelistic and church planting teams, it is that Phoebe was indeed a deaconess of some stature; Priscilla (mentioned first) and Aquila seem to be some kind of church-planting, Bible-teaching pair; Mary and her prodigious labors are mentioned in verse 6; Junias, possibly one of the apostles, is mentioned in verse 7; Tryphena and Tryphosa in verse 12; the sister of Nereus and Julia in verse 15. Paul's Romans 16 greetings suggest that the women of the church at Rome were very active and - could it be - had been functioning in sodality-like contexts? At best, we can conjecture.

Like Congress?

The formal church, organized, ecclesiastical, stodgy, unshakable and often almost unmovable can be redirected and led, but, much like the turning of an ocean liner, movement is slow and gradual. The other redemptive part of Christ's church are those structures which are called religious orders, more recently parachurch groups, and now called enabling agencies. They are responsive, aggressive, mobile and effective. They are able to focus on tasks and get them done. In the kingdom of God they are like the Fire Department, the Marines, the police emergency team. Conversely, the church moves more like the United Nations or, God forbid, Congress.

And, Winter argues, missionary work or any other kingdom work gets done fastest by sodality-like structures. Not coincidentally, and certainly as exhibited in the Roman Catholic structures, women can and do achieve more prominence and exert more leadership in the sodality option. They do not ordinarily found or lead these sodalities, though they may. What they do is flood into the various levels of sodality leadership unimpeded by ecclesiastical prohibitions and restraints. A Roman Catholic hospital, for example, might be led by a priest, though that might be a mere formality. The army of religious women who run the institution make my point. In Christian colleges, the leadership is usually, though not always, male. But again, a host of women offer themselves for many enabling roles, unimpeded by ecclesiastical restraints. In a publishing house with which I am familiar, the leadership tends to be male but the editors, writers and enablers - male and female - function unimpeded, demonstrating my point once again.

The church which Jesus Christ is building, invisible though it is and universal though it be, is expressed in both the modality and sodality structures around the world. Some parachurch leaders do not respect the formal church as they ought, but most recognize that a parachurch organization has validity only as it builds up the body of Christ.

Many who have given thought to this matter wonder why the opportunities for women in ministry in The Christian and Missionary Alliance have tended in more recent years to be sodality ministries overseas, but not here in North America where the concerns of The Christian and Missionary Alliance have properly become ever more churchly, ecclesiastical and denominational.

Dissenting Views

In a written response to this paper, a former Vice President makes the following observations:

What you say about the Alliance is true. Its parachurch beginnings broke the mold of usual church order in many other ways. The branches, tabernacles and missions of the early days did not reflect a church pattern. A. W. Tozer lamented the era and spoke often of the weaknesses of what he called tabernacleism. I carne into the Alliance at the tail end of the tabernacle movement and would agree with Tozer that it was not our grandest hour. The whole movement tended to set aside clear church doctrine in favor of the pragmatic. It was in this context that the irregularities showed up. It was not until the Alliance began to grow out of the tabernacle mode that significant church growth occurred in America. During the period of branches and tabernacles, women took leadership roles that were not permitted later (Bailey 1998:1).

Another key Alliance leader and President of our college in Nyack also argues carefully on this point.

[Since] it has been appropriate for the C&MA in its earlier days and on the mission fields to allow women greater roles in ministry because those were/are "parachurch" situations, [and] whereas now that the C&MA is a bona fide church in the United States, we are obligated to limit the role of women. This argument is particularly attractive to people who want to vindicate Dr. Simpson, Alliance history, and missionary practice, while at the same time put greater limitations on the role of women in ministry today. Scripture, however, makes no parachurch/church distinction, so if the argument to limit women is a scripturally based argument, one of two directions must be followed. Either one must conclude that Dr. Simpson and others have violated Scripture [by limiting the ministry of women] or that Scripture does not limit women in ministry. The fact that the Alliance officially declared itself to be a denomination in 1974 did not elevate it to a new category in God's economy (Schroeder 1998:46).

A Funny Thing Happened to the Women When No One Was Looking

It is now clear that the opportunities for women were more plentiful in the parachurch era of the Alliance. In 1912, twenty-one percent of the Official Workers of the Alliance were women (Niklaus, et. al. 1986:125). In 1997, that number had eroded to 3.25% (Foster 1998). No one paused to observe, nor did anyone announce as the various steps on the winding journey toward denominationalism were being taken that women would lead less in the organized churchly, non-parachurch paradigm. There were for the feminists the bothersome Pauline passages about women teaching men and elders being the husbands of one wife.

Churches tend to read the Bible plainly and understand it at face value.

Now the overseer [elder] must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate and self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to much wine, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) (1 Timothy 3:2-5).

Church leadership would be male, these Scriptures make clear. However, since we observe the prohibitions pertaining to the organized church in the normal setting, parachurch leadership apparently could and would be both female and male. In the history of the Alliance it has been that way.

The Sodality as a Biblical Idea

Are sodalities biblical?

If the New Testament teaches two redemptive structures, then this approach rests on solid ground. Herein lies the difficulty. Nothing in the teachings of Jesus Christ or the apostles suggests such a dual structure. The only place to find it is in the Acts of the Apostles. But a careful study of Acts fails to yield either prescriptive or descriptive statements of dual structures. The evangelism, missions and church planting had their origin in the church and were held accountable to the church. One is hard put to produce a biblical basis for the parachurch (Bailey 1998:3).

After pressing Dr. Bailey personally on this issue, I find his resistance to sodalities almost entirely focused on the non-churchly and anti-churchly parachurch entities already set aside here. He was in fact comfortable with a publishing house or a college as churchly sodalities, seeing them as biblical expressions.

Still the question of fidelity to the Bible must not only be asked but answered. To begin with, are there any anticipations of this concept in the Old Testament? I am of the opinion that divine truth, New Testament truth, is necessarily going to be prefigured or anticipated in the Old Testament. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning. . ." (Romans 15:4).

3.1. Melchizedek. Abram was moved to tithe to Melchizedek who was a priest of the God Most High. As king of Salem he brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram (Genesis 14:18-20). Jesus Christ was a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6, 10).

But how was Melchizedek different? He was a king and a priest. He knew the God Most High. And he was only relation ally connected to Abraham (still called Abram at that time).

Here in Genesis we have the illustration of two channels of God's working - in the emerging patriarchal line of Abraham and immediately in the God- fearing ministry of Melchizedek, who might have been a convert of Abraham in the first place, or perhaps he was given specific divine and direct revelation by God Himself.

It is not too much to suggest that the relationship between Abraham and Melchizedek prefigures and anticipates the two redemptive structures about which Ralph Winter wrote.

3.2. Priests and Prophets. The regular priesthood of the Levitical tribe was established by Moses. Worship in Israel flowed through a regular structure.

But there was frequently a prophet, a Nathan to say, "Thou art the man" (2 Samuel 12:7). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Zechariah and others operated outside the lines. Again the two redemptive ways of God's working among the people of Israel are suggested by this Old Testament reality.

3.3. The School of the Prophets. This may not have been the Moody Bible Institute of Antiquity, but there were apparently roving bands of prophets, perhaps in a mentoring type of loose academic structure, sufficiently observable that Amos was not one of them (7:14 margin; Keil & Delitzsch 1980, X:312).

"Sons of the prophets" is a term that appears in Second Kings 2:3, 5 and 4:38. In my mind, this is an antecedent of the sodalities that clearly appear in New , Testament times.

3.4. The Israel/Judah Historical Drift Syndrome. There is within religious structures the tendency to drift, for values and integrity to erode, for cultures to deteriorate and be replaced by newer ones. This process was strikingly illustrated in the deterioration of Israel and the ascendency of Judah. As Israel drifted into sin and apostasy, God's favor shifted to Judah. Renewal and revival movements recur repeatedly in the Old Testament as in the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah. Many times a new structure emerges alongside the deteriorating one. As Israel slid backward, Judah came forward (2 Chronicles 30:1-27).

Often in church history, the historical drift/renewal-revival process has created new structures, most notably the Reformation in Christianity. "The institutional church has been notoriously bent on drifting from God's agenda of holiness and world evangelization" (Cook 1998:1).

Frequently, in the language of this paper, the new structures were sodalities which have later become modalities. Luther's movement, which he never intended to lead away from Rome, was surely a sodality before it became a Lutheran modality (Newman 1902:49-50), and if it is not a biblical pattern, all Protestantism is delegitimized.

Likewise, the history of the Christian revivals is extensive and powerful. Often these convulsive movements in the Christian church (which by definition, if the church is being revived, it has apostasized to some degree) create new sodalities and modalities.

3.5. lntertestamental Evangelists. The proseletizing movement has generally been underestimated for its impact between the testaments (Blouw 1962:55). Ralph Winter notes:

Very few Christians, casually reading the New Testament, and with only the New Testament available to them, would surmise the degree to which there had been Jewish evangelists who went before Paul all over the Empire, people whom Jesus himself described as traversing land and sea (Matthew 23:15] to make a single proselyte (Winter 1974:121-122).

The intertestamental proselyting teams do not constitute a biblical pattern, but they do suggest a Jewish sodality pattern which Paul may have emulated.

3.6. Synagogues. Synagogues as described in the New Testament (Matthew 4:23, 6:2, 5, etc.) "started as a paratemple and became the primary worship structure" (Cuccaro 1998b:notes). The duality of structure is again evident; Jesus visited and ministered in both the synagogues and the temple (Luke 4:16; 19:45-47).

3.7. The "Not With Us"" Sodality. Dr. Arnold L. Cook, President of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, observes that even in the time of Jesus there were those unassociated with the Savior who were doing His work (Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50).

Furthermore, I would suggest that Jesus, Himself, blessed the con- cept of differing structures when He reproved His disciples for stopping those doing His work, but not following "His group" (Cook 1998:2).

Earlier comments from this Canadian church leader make clear that he believes sodalities are biblical.

We need to remember that systematic theologians historically have been strong on "the attributes of God and the works of God" and desperately weak on "the purposes of God." Hence they struggle with the possibility of a God-ordained two-structure system. They also tend to ignore the fact that many churches evolved from a "sodality" into a "modality" known as a denomination (Cook 1998:2).

3.8. Missionary Band One. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit indicated that Barnabas and Paul were to be set apart for the work to which they were called. Later John Mark is mentioned (verse 5) and later friends (verse 13). This seems to be a clear founding of a church-related sodality under the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit.

3.9. Missionary Band Two. Things happened in the first sodality, as they still do. In Acts 15, there was a sharp division between Barnabas and Paul (verse 39). As a result, Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. And Silas joined Paul's team - sodality number two, born out of conflict, but undoubtedly preaching the gospel with great power.

3.10. Other Bands Formed. Mellis is helpful at this point.

You wish you could peek behind the curtains and see many other teams forming. Maybe we do get a glimpse of this in passages like Second Timothy 2:9-12. Tychicus was "sent" out with Paul's blessing; [Was this The Tychicus Evangelistic Association in nascent form?] Crescens and Titus have "gone"; [Was this Missionary Band Three?] . . . Luke was in and out of Paul's team. So apparently were Timothy, Titus and John Mark. . . Paul, who was responsible for so much of the New Testament formal teaching. . . was demonstrating its function [the sodality] at every step (Mellis 1976:14-15). The honest inference of this material is that there were functional sodalities in the middle of these New Testament events.

3.11. Interchurch Support. The Philippians particularly wanted to help Paul (4:14). Winter again proves insightful.

He was, true enough, sent out by the church in Antioch. But once away from Antioch he seemed very much on his own. The little team he formed was economically self-sufficient when occasion demanded. It was also dependent, from time to time, not alone upon the Antioch church, but upon other churches that had risen as a result of evangelistic labors (Winter 1976:122).

Paul's sodality had an interchurch support base.

3.12. Rome Recruits. I have mentioned the significant role women played in the church at Rome. It could also have been a staging ground for Paul's missionary journey to Spain. Arthur Glasser sees a sodality "within and between" congregations. Paul and his band were a disciplined, mobile group that performed an evangelistic, church-planting function."One purpose of his letter to the church at Rome was to draw it into his forthcoming mission to Spain (Romans 1:5; 15:24)" (Glasser 1973:62,63).

Interestingly, the sodalities of the New Testament focused on the missionary mandate.

What we have is some pretty good references in the Old Testament, a definite intertestamental antecedent, an incident in Jesus' ministry, several clear references in Acts plus the powerful testimony of church history. But, going back to our question, are sodalities biblical? The answer has to be a yes, an emphatic yes, especially those sodalities which build the church of Jesus Christ.

4. A Guarded Conclusion

In 1986, Leslie Andrews, at the conclusion of her paper about A.B. Simpson and his views of women in ministry, asked two poignant questions,

The question before The Christian and Missionary Alliance. . . is, "Is there a place for everyone?" If the answer is yes, the next ques- tion is, "What is that place?" (1986:238).

The answer to Leslie Andrews' first question is a resounding yes. The answer to her second question is complementarian not egalitarian. Since the Alliance takes the Bible seriously, and holds a high view of Scripture, women will not be ordained within its ranks and structures. They may again have increasing and influential non-ecclesiastical ministries in all parts of the world.

The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), a sodality and unrelated to The Christian and Missionary Alliance, is a worldwide church-planting missionary society. They are, in our terms here, a sodality planting modalities in the various countries in which they work. Their published solution to the struggle we have been discussing is as follows:

Clarification of TEAM's Practice Concerning Women in Ministry .

(adopted at June 1992 Board meeting)

Women are equally responsible with men to evangelize the lost and to teach. Missionaries are encouraged to use their gifts in ministry as authorized by the elders of the national church or the Field Council where no church is established.

 TEAM makes ministry assignments on the basis of its understanding of God's order regarding authority and accountability. While we recognize the equality of men and women, roles in ministry are not always interchangeable. It is TEAM's practice to assign responsibility for leadership of the church to spiritual men.

 Gifted women are frequently involved in evangelism and church planting and sometimes are required to assume roles of leadership in the work. However, when the church establishes its constitution, the leadership is given to capable, biblically qualified men who would direct the ministry including the positions of elder or pastor in a local church (CBMW News, November 1995:11).

The final appeal must be Scripture. Nonchurchly or antichurchly parachurch groups should be dismissed out of hand. The parachurch entities of which America has its thousands and the Alliance has its share are biblical only as expressions of the church of Jesus Christ.

None of the possible biblical expressions of sodality ministry examined here has exhibited female leadership. That is not to say it might not have been that way. In church history women have often led in various formats.

In the end, no one better summarizes the issue than A.B. Simpson.

 woman has, according to the Scriptures, perfect liberty to speak and testify or preach the Gospel whenever the Holy Spirit qualifies her and sends her to do so; but that she has no right to exercise the official ministry of the Church or govern it as an ecclesiastical ruler. This ministry and leadership are given to man, and not to woman. It does not lower her at all; she is the equal of man, but, just as in the Trinity the persons of the Godhead are all equal, and yet there is a due subordination on the part of the Son and the Holy Ghost, so it is in the Church of Christ. Man has his place, and woman has her subordinate place of equal influence and spiritual ministry. She is always strongest in her own true, modest place (Simpson 1895:79).

Existing sodalities should continue to provide ample opportunities for engaging women in ministry. And new sodalities will undoubtedly form. The kingdom of God extends as Jesus Christ builds His church - in the formal ecclesiastical structure and in the more informal and less-structured sodalities. As it has been, so it will ever be until the whole church from every structure is called forth to meet the Heavenly Bridegroom.


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