“Dr.” Jeanene Reese of Abilene Christian University
Elmwood Church of Christ in Lafayette, Indiana
A few days ago the Shelbyville Road congregation received an invitation from the Elmwood Church of Christ in Lafayette, Indiana, to attend a seminar conducted by “Dr.” Jeanene Reese of Abilene Christian University. The letter of invitation said, “Your congregation is invited to attend a seminar on Ephesians presented by Dr. Jeanene Reese, on February 1, 2003, Saturday. Her topic is Living a Life Worthy of My Calling.”
When we received the invitation along with a brochure advertising the event, I emailed the brethren at the Elmwood congregation to get verification and to state scriptural objections to their plans, if they were planning what was advertised. The invitation did not say, “Your ladies are invited”; but it said, “YOUR CONGREGATION” is invited! There was no mistake. The seminar is open to men as well as women. Jeanene Reese is going to lecture to a mixed audience of men and women. When I called to get confirmation that the seminar was indeed open to men as well as women, I was told by a sister of the congregation that Reese was going to be teaching with the men, not over the men.
On January 15 Gayle Crowe, the preacher at the Elmwood congregation for the past sixteen years, called me. Some, he said, had warned him not to call me; but against the suggestions of others, he called anyway. I am glad he did, for it gave me an opportunity to learn what a weak-kneed, spiritual wimp he is. He said that the seminar was principally for women, but men would be allowed to come. He doubted very seriously that there would be many men present. But he said that “Dr.” Jeanene Reese had men in her classes at Abilene Christian University and that it was decided to open up the seminar for men as well.
Brethren, how can those who claim to be Bible believers and followers of Christ put a woman in a position of authority teaching over men? No godly woman would put herself in a position as that! Paul clearly said, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15.) A woman, any woman, is not to teach over a man, nor is she to dominate him. The passage is as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 1st century, notwithstanding the changes in culture, country and time. Paul showed that a woman is not to teach over a man based on the order of creation and Eve’s having been deceived in the first transgression. If the inspired Paul could transcend culture, country and time in giving reasons why a woman is not to teach or usurp authority over man, then culture, country and time cannot delete the divine dictate that a woman cannot teach, nor have dominion over a man!
The Elmwood Church of Christ has apostatized from God’s word. Their eldership (made up of, if I have their names correct: Rick Swinson, Bill Bell, Joe Matthews and Don Vice) and preacher (Gayle Crowe) are responsible. The Elmwood congregation cannot be considered a loyal congregation of God’s people. If there are any faithful in the congregation they need to rise up in the strength of Israel’s God and remove the leadership, or leave the apostates to wallow in their own digression. If they have gone this far, it is probably too late to rescue any.
Brother Crowe thinks that church autonomy grants them the right to violate God’s word. I asked Crowe if it would be a sin for the Shelbyville Road congregation to use mechanical instruments of music in worship. HE WOULD NOT ANSWER on the grounds of AUTONOMY! I asked him if it was a sin to use mechanical instruments of music in worship. HE WOULD NOT ANSWER. He said that it would not be appropriate for Elmwood, but he would not make a judgment about others. What a gracious and loving fellow! That’s the kind of “love” and broadmindedness that is taking the church down the digressive road. But I am not traveling that route.
Crowe told me that Reese would speak on Saturday, but not on Sunday. I asked him, “Why not?” If she could teach and usurp authority over men on Saturday, then she could also violate God’s word on Sunday! What difference does a day make when it comes to rebelling against God?
When I mentioned that the church there was going contrary to the practice of churches of Christ in allowing a woman to teach over men, he denied it. He said that when he went to Harding Graduate School (That ought to tell you something.) a woman taught the Greek classes. Even though that is a school, not the church, I say, “So what! Schools can violate God’s word too and do!” I remember in the early 70’s Harding College had a chapel program in which a girl got up and spoke on what Christ meant to her in the girls’ dorm. I registered my objection to the Chairman of the Bible Department, Joe Hacker, and to the President, Clifton Ganus, but no confession of wrong or correction was made of the matter. They attempted to defend it. Schools can be wrong just as churches can be wrong.
I asked Crowe if he would be willing to defend his practice in a public discussion. He declined, but mentioned that Carroll D. Osburn who was not opposed to women teaching over men had spoken at Westlake Church of Christ in Indianapolis, Indiana, on the subject. I said, “Yes, but without opposition.” I asked Crowe if Elmwood would sponsor Osburn, if he would come, in a debate with me. Crowe politely said that he needed to answer another phone call.
The best thing that the Elmwood Church of Christ of Lafayette, Indiana, could do is to cancel the seminar and repent of their plans and advertisements. If that does not happen, the best thing for her to do is to change her name, because she brings shame to the name of Christ. The best thing for the rest of us to do is to mark and avoid them for causing divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Rom. 16:17-18).
Vol. 56, No. 12
January 20, 2003