Interesting development at NIU. Daniel Patz produced a response to the alarm raised over the woman preaching in the NIU chapel the other day. I am not quite sure how to characterize this. Apology? Damage control? “Sorry if you’re offended?”
Perhaps some reaction to whatever it is might be helpful. It is not that I think you need the benefit of my opinion, but rather that issues of complementarianism/egalitarianism have long been an interest of mine. I’ve debated the issues at length on an old forum sponsored at one time by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (One thing we should say – the names for this issue are most unwieldy – too bad they couldn’t have come up with something more catchy!) This particular instance reveals the weak side of many professing complementarians – when push comes to shove, they will weasel around.
I am quoting the statement in its entirety, but will interact paragraph by paragraph. I provide the link above so readers can verify that I am quoting the statement entirely in its form as copied from the linked site on 2014.4.24.
Earlier this semester, I asked Dr. Lina AbuJamra to share her testimony for the benefit of our students; she did so on Tuesday, April 22. Dr. AbuJamra has an incredible story. Her family emigrated from Lebanon when she was a child, and her life was powerfully impacted by Northland Camp both as a camper and as a staff member. She is a brilliant and godly woman. She is a pediatric ER doctor in Chicago, a Christian author, a popular women’s speaker and a Northland board member. Dr. AbuJamra is both fiery and passionate and serves as an outstanding role model for our students as a disciple of Jesus. I shared with Dr. AbuJamra my position on women and preaching; she agreed and told me that she would not preach. I trust Dr. AbuJamra’s heart. She is a godly woman, and I have much respect for her. She has a great message to share, and she shared some very needed things with our students and staff yesterday.
As an opening statement, this sounds more like a defense, than an apology. “The woman preacher concerned has an inspiring story, I wanted our students to hear it.”
Apart from being personally jealous of how good of a communicator she is, I do agree that the tone and direction of her testimony was more than I anticipated and expected. I am not referring to its rich biblical content, but that it was closer to what we call preaching or heralding the Word than I was comfortable with in that setting. This is true especially given how we have traditionally used chapel in the history of Northland.
Quite clearly the woman was preaching. There really was no doubt about it, everyone could see it, right from the very beginning. She had a folksy introduction, but mentioned “getting into the Word in just a minute.” It is hard to imagine not anticipating this would happen, but let’s suppose that Dan Patz was as surprised as anyone else when it did happen.
How does it serve as an apology here to say, though, “being personally jealous of how good of a communicator she is” or “rich biblical content” – what do these phrases communicate? Isn’t it an attempt to pacify any negative reaction that might arise from apologizing for that same “rich biblical content”, i.e., preaching that went on?
While the Lord used this to bless many students and staff (they have shared this with me), I also know that there have been some concerns. Are we embracing a form of egalitarianism? Are we going to encourage our lady students to be preachers? No. We are, however, wanting to teach all of our students, including women, to think well, to love God’s Word, to serve others, and to connect with others in all types of settings.
And this, “While the Lord used this to bless many students and staff (they have shared this with me)” – what is the relevance? If this woman was preaching, contrary to the Lord’s word, was the Lord actually using it? Or perhaps someone else?
The college chapel setting is not the church; this is different than a local church congregational gathering. Often we consider chapel as a type of convocation. This was communicated in the introduction (not on livestream) to students on Monday and Tuesday morning.
“Not a church” – this is a defense, plain and simple. We precede the session with allegedly Christian songs (“worship”) and prayers, we have a speaker invoking the Scripture to make points, but since it isn’t a local church congregational gathering, we are perhaps supposed to be somewhat less critical? He is going to say he is concerned about this, but why offer this statement prefacing his concerns, if not to offer a defense of his actions?
However, I am concerned that we don’t practice or communicate something that we most certainly do not believe. I do not believe God has called women to the primary teaching and preaching ministry of the church as elders/pastors. I believe this, because I believe everything that Paul taught in the NT on this subject. I am strongly complementarian in conviction, and I do not believe women should preach in Northland chapel. I do believe that God does brilliantly gift women to know God’s Word and to communicate it effectively in so many ways.
Interesting. “I am a complementarian. A strong complementarian.” As such, “I do not believe women should preach in Northland chapel.” Good. But then why add this, “does brilliantly gift women to know God’s Word and to communicate it”? This sounds like wanting to establish complementarian credibility or profession without insisting that it be rigorously practiced.
Dr. AbuJamra wanted to minister to students from the testimony of her life and the Word of God. I think she blessed many, many people. Dr. AbuJamra shares my complementarian conviction as well. If there is anyone to blame, it would be me for not better considering the setting and context – both to her, as well as to the students and staff. I am grateful for God’s faithful and patient teaching as I strive to lead for His glory.
Well, fair enough, he takes the blame on himself, but he keeps coming back to justifying qualifications: “I think she blessed many, many people.” Why is that relevant?
I hope Daniel Patz is a complementarian. It would have been better, in my opinion, to say, “You know, we blew it. Please forgive us.”
Instead, it sounds a lot like an attempt to pin the blame on outside observers for being so judgemental and easily offended, not taking into consideration the great blessing that our speaker provided, notwithstanding that her “tone and direction” was “more than I anticipated and expected” and “closer to what we call preaching or heralding the Word than I was comfortable with in that setting”.
If it was preaching, say so, and apologize.
If it wasn’t preaching, what’s the big deal?