The writers and preachers who comprise The Gospel Coalition regularly prattle on about how they’re boldly faithful in adhering to biblical sex roles because they support “complementarianism” in our highly egalitarian day and age. Of course, “complementarianism” is actually an absurd mockery of biblical sex roles, because it essentially boils down to “women can do whatever they want in society as long as they’re not pastors.” Women can be cops, truck drivers, firefighters, lawyers, judges, doctors, surgeons, etc. They can hire and fire men, and can spend their day in offices, warehouses, and factories supervising and ordering men around.
Of course, no Christian society has ever allowed women to do these things, as these are men’s roles. But TGC says that not only can women do all these things, Jesus wants them to, and any man who opposes them doing these things is a sexist who doesn’t understand the Gospel. Yes, TGC types assure us, God wants women to be cops and firefighters and surgeons and even MMA fighters. But, for some odd reason, He doesn’t want them to be pastors, and so they can’t endorse women’s ordination.
But that’s not actually true. What they really mean is that, as of right now, they can’t come out and openly endorse women’s ordination. But they most certainly aren’t opposed to women’s ordination. Oh, some of them may not think it’s ideal, but that’s probably mostly for job security reasons. After all, if women start preaching, why would evangelical churches need to hire men to preach like women? Sure, not all women can be as soft and feminine as John Piper, but certainly some of them can.
So, while TGC types aren’t openly and aggressively promoting women’s ordination just yet, they’re certainly doing so quietly and gradually. And, surprise, surprise, it’s all part and parcel of “pursuing racial reconciliation” and “embracing multi-ethnic churches.” For Christians, it’s becoming plainer every day: you can have multiracial churches, or you can have Christian orthodoxy. But you can’t have both. And The Gospel Coalition’s choice is clear.
Back in March, The Gospel Coalition proudly sponsored the Just Gospel 17 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was organized by black preacher Thabiti Anyabwile and his Front Porch organization, a black group. The conference was supposed to be about “justice,” and when black people say something is all about “justice,” what they mean is that it’s all about black people and how they’re suffering horribly from “racism” in 2017. You can see why The Gospel Coalition was proud to sponsor it. They not only sponsored Just Gospel 17; they also livestreamed the entire conference.
During the conference, a panel of women decided it was time to broaden the pursuit of “justice,” and they pretty much openly called for evangelical churches to start ordaining women. You can read all about it at the link in the preceding paragraph. Better yet, click on the YouTube video embedded in the article and hear it for yourself. That article was published back in March, immediately after the conference, but to this day no one at TGC has apologized for livestreaming the panel or conference, or issued a disclaimer to make it clear that they don’t support women’s ordination.
And as far as I can tell, no other Christian blogs or websites have criticized TGC for their part in promoting women’s ordination. Which TGC evidently took as a good sign, as they’re now getting a bit bolder in their support for women’s ordination. They recently published How the Country’s Largest White Presbyterian Church Became Multiethnic. It’s a very long, very flattering article about Hope Presbyterian Church in Memphis, which decided several years ago to commit slow-motion suicide in the name of “diversity” and “racial reconciliation.” (So long and flattering, in fact, that D.G. Hart rightly called it a “puff piece.”)
The author of the article, someone called Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, is a senior writer for TGC, and also a contributing editor of Christianity Today magazine, which long ago embraced women’s ordination. That TGC would hire as a senior writer someone who is a contributing editor at a magazine that actively promotes women’s ordination is another clear indicator that the people at TGC don’t think women’s ordination is any kind of big deal.
Zylstra can’t find enough good things to say about Hope Church, which was founded by a Rick Warren clone in 1988, and in just 20 years grew to become the biggest church in Memphis, as well as the biggest Presbyterian church in the country, with 7,000 people attending each weekend. But in 2010, only 1% of its members were black, while Memphis is 60% black. So the Rick Warren clone decided something had to be done, and he was ready to retire anyway, so he recommended that the church hire a black man to take his place. (Because, obviously, none of the scores of white men who had labored in the ministry for years at Hope Church deserved to become head pastor.)
So the church hired a black preacher away from his multiracial church in Houston, and they went on a mission to become a church that “looks like Memphis.”
So Strickland and Morris set out to do what had never successfully been done before—to convert a white megachurch into a multiracial congregation.
They’re doing it.
Today, one out of five people who attends Hope is black. Of the 106 staff, 18 are nonwhite—including the senior pastor. The congregation sings hymns, contemporary Christian, and black gospel. Members work in predominantly black, underresourced neighborhoods in north Memphis together through Hope’s community development corporation. They attend biannual three-day urban plunges and regularly spend eight weeks eating dinner with someone of another ethnicity.
Gosh, it all sounds so spiritual, and it no doubt makes women and preachers feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
But in these thousands of words of flattery, Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra forgot to mention a couple things. (Actually, I would bet that she mentioned them, but one of the TGC editors deleted them before publication.) For one thing, when most people who read TGC read about an evangelical Presbyterian church, they assume it’s a PCA church, or possibly OPC. No doubt most people who read this article assumed that Hope Church in Memphis is a member church of Presbyterian Church in America.
But it’s not. It’s actually a member church of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination. Is the EPC any different than the PCA? Well, yes, at least in one very important way – the Evangelical Presbyterian Church allows each member church to decide whether or not to ordain women as elders and pastors.
The other little detail the author forgot to mention? Not only does Hope Presbyterian Church belong to a denomination which allows women pastors, they’ve got a woman pastor themselves. Her name is Jessica Morris:
Assistant Pastor Of Ministry
All Staff, Preaching & Teaching Team, Women’s Ministry
Although born in Tampa, FL, Jessica considers Memphis (and Hope Church) her home. In high school Jessica fell in love with the youth group here at Hope Church and has ben hooked ever since. She earned her BS in Psychology from Crichton College while working as a Senior High Intern. After earning her undergraduate degree she came on staff as the Girls Senior High Director. In 2010, Jessica felt the call to seminary and in December 2014 she earned her Masters of Divinity with honors. Jessica was ordained in 2015 as the first female pastor at Hope Church and is passionate about preaching and teaching the Word of God as well as investing in people’s lives. Jessica lives in Midtown with her husband, Tommy, and their two girls.
Now, do you see why I’m pretty sure Joe Carter or someone else edited out any information about which denomination Hope Presbyterian Church belongs to, and the fact that they have a female pastor? It’s because they don’t want people to know two things – 1) TGC is gradually giving in on women’s ordination and 2) this “racial reconciliation” garbage always leads to heresy and open rebellion against God’s word.
One more time: you can have multiracial churches, or you can have Christian orthodoxy. But you can’t have both.