More anonymous support for New Frontiers fails to convince

An anonymous comment by someone going by the alias "sporado" has been put on my post 42: Lessons in rubbing salt in wounds from New Frontiers as a defence of New Frontiers that accuses my of "slanderous opinions".

Sadly for "sporado" the defence is as shaky as the understanding of law. Slander is defined as "Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation."

So this is what I am accused of:

* terry virgo was the speaker on 11 june. jack hayford spoke a month or so ago and the video is online. 

Oh dear, it seems that I was mistaken. I thought the video from Jack Hayford was a taster of what was happening on June 11th, but it looks now as if it was from an earlier 300leaders conference. In my defence the website still does not seem very clear. On the about page it still says "The next event is in March 2011, and Jack Hayford will be the speaker." Still to have been confused as to which date Jack Hayford was the speaker is hardly libel.

Of course the problem for "sporado" (who seems to be missing capital letters on their computer) is that the history of Jack Hayford was the only thing that stood against the total male bias of the 300leaders conference. As I pointed out in my post Terry Virgo has been making the Male Headship values of New Frontiers clearer than before. Terry Virgo explicitly states that Women should be submissive to their husbands and that the Church should be led by male elders.

* women are welcome to these events as are men. pause the jack hayford video at 1:07:18 and you will see plenty of people who are definitely female. hardly the testosterone fuelled man-fest that your rhetoric suggests.

So let us be clear on how welcome women are and what they are welcome as:

  • The 300leaders.org web site has the following features:
    • The strap line for the conference on the home page is: “With 300 Men” (Judges 7:7)
    • Not a single woman's name is mentioned anywhere on the site
    • There is not a single image including a woman
    • All the speakers are men
    • The key image is of men at war with "300 leaders" made to look like it has been written in blood.
  • 300leaders.org makes it clear that this is leadership training for and by New Frontiers.
    • New Frontiers clearly state that women cannot be leaders. They hold as their value 8:

‘A church led by male elders (one of whom is clearly understood to be gifted to be lead elder) who are ordained by the Holy Spirit, recognised and confirmed through apostolic ministry. These men are to be helped in fulfilling their calling through ongoing fellowship with trans-local ministries.’

  •  
    • New Frontiers clearly state that their value 7 is to be:

A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, 

  •  
    • As I have pointed out in the past New Frontiers do not have women to speak at their main conferences unless they are the wives of their senior team and are only speaking on "womens" issues, so far as I know no male blogger has ever attended one of these talks and written about it.
    • As for the "testosterone" look again at the poster that 300leaders.org uses on the website and as a backdrop behind the speakers

300-men7481

The obvious conclusion is that women may be permitted to attend (presumably as a sign of "joyfull female submission") but that women will not be welcomed as equals and not welcome as leaders of the Church.

That conclusion is supported by the numerous emails I have had over the years from women within New Frontiers about how they are treated and the roles that are open to them.

"sporado" continues:

many of your slanderous opinions about new frontiers are way off the mark. is such uninformed rhetoric adherent to the Methodist code of conduct?

A few points:

  • Unlike "sporado" I do not hide here anonymously. 
  • As I have already mentioned I cannot write slander as slander is oral. 
  • I believe the above points make it very clear that the conference is targeted at men in the way it is presented and because New Frontiers clearly state that it is for leaders and the leaders of their church must be men. I see nothing that means my opinions are "way off the mark" or "uninformed rhetoric".
  • Yes, I absolutely agree that unlike "sporado" I am accountable for what I write. I invite "sporado" to follow this up with:
    • My Superintendent Minister: but oh dear that is a woman so presumably "sporado" does not believe she can be a leader and so can hardly respond satisfactorily on behalf of the Church (in fact she is extremely capable and will read this post and let me know very clearly if I overstep any marks).
    • Maybe "sporado" would like to go further up. Perhaps as this relates to another Church "sporado" might like to contact the Secretary for External Relationships. Except, oh dear, Christine Elliott is also a women (and been doing an excellent job for many years).
    • So perhaps "sporado" should go to the top, to the President. But sadly for "sporado", this year our president is Revd Alison Tomlin and our Vice President is Deacon Eunice Attwood. So despite the excellent job they are doing presumably they don't count.

More seriously, if you think I have broken the Methodist Guidelines, please do tell me or get in touch with the Church directly. I will see that it will get followed up by the Methodist Church and if they choose to respond to you I am fine with that. Of course they might also choose to ignore anonymous and ill-informed rubbish like "sporado" spouts.

"sporado" have a nice day.

12 thoughts on “More anonymous support for New Frontiers fails to convince

  1. Methodist Preacher

    All the stuff I hear about New Frontiers from people I love and trust is positive – especially from one particular young lady. Sometimes people get things slightly wrong. I long for the day when we all get it slightly right.
    Dave you have much to give. If you are looking for problems in the way in which Christians look at things don’t you think we have enough difficulties in Methodism to keep us busy for a good few years?
    Being obsessional about another denomination detracts, not augments this otherwise intesring blog.

    Reply
  2. Alan Molineaux

    Grudem
    I fail to see how anyone can defend Newfrontiers against accusations of being male focussed when it comes to leadership. 
    I attended one of their conferences a few years ago and heard Wayne Grudem speak on the subject. Terry spoke afterwards and hailed it as excellent bible teaching. 
    I was amazed because it was so very poor. 
    The final straw came when he answered the question ‘How do you view women who write books if you believe they should not teach?’
    An interesting question given the writings of Wendy Virgo. 
    His answer was ‘When it comes to reading a book written by a woman I prefer to see it as just having a chat over coffee’. 

    Reply
  3. Dave

    David,
    a) Sorry but I do not believe that “male headship” is a slightly wrong issue. The impact of male headship is widespread and very damaging to individuals and society. I have seen dreadful suffering first hand from this.
    b) I am currently feeling rather wound up onm this issue by the experiences of two friends suffering the result of male headship and blogging about it in the last few days. That particularly brought it to the surface for me. See
    http://pambg.blogspot.com/2011/06/women-are-people.html
    and
    http://ontoberlin.blogspot.com/2011/06/street-harassment-on-sunny-saturday.html
    c) While I make a stand against male headship I cannot pretend to do it comprehensively. Note that my blog is only part of my “voice” a fuller picture would include twitter, facebook, my preaching etc. In the wider picture I do not only stand against New Frontiers on this issue.
    d) I do not blog about Methodism all the time for a number of reasons. That includes concerns for confidentiality, respect for what others are doing (if “the minister” does all the writing it presents an unhealthy and inaccurate picture”), wanting to look outside “Methodism” to be challenged about my faith and my discipleship.
    e) As a minister under the discipline of the Methodist Church I have firm values about what I believe it is appropriate to write about the Methodist Church. You and I disagree about this but I am not about to change my policy for my personal blog.
    f) I believe that there are many problems around. Some are widely aired and there is no shortage of publicity for the difficulties the Methodist Church faces. I do believe that the twin problems that I try to address with New Frontiers (the continual redefinition of Evangelical and Male Headship) do not get aired widely enough.
    g) I get many more supportive comments and emails than I get complaints that I mis-represent New Frontiers and attack them unfairly. The emails are frequently from women who find their voice is ignored on this issue.

    Reply
  4. Dave

    Alan,

    “I was amazed because it was so very poor.”

    This is a common theme. The supporters of Male Headship talk up a storm about the importance of Scripture and the value they place on it. But the quality of the studies is generally appalling, very cursory, very selective, lacking in context & scholarship and all of that wrapped in absolute certainty.

    Reply
  5. Alan Molineaux

    You are correct Dave
    There were other things he did with scripture that belied his want to offer ‘deep’ bible teaching.
    In fact what he did could be better described as sophistry.
    His scripture use, examples, and conclusions did not link in the way that he suggested.
    I have to say I was saddened by the applause he received
    BTW have you seen the Mark Driscoll/Paul Reed exchange at the Redeem Cities conference in Belfast (Vimeo)
    The Newfronties congregation seem to revell in the rudeness of Ps Mark to Paul. Very sad

    Reply
  6. Hannah

    ‘His answer was ‘When it comes to reading a book written by a woman I prefer to see it as just having a chat over coffee’.
    Alan, that is so sad and so telling. It really throws up a lot of doubts about the insistence they have on saying they believe men and women are of equal worth and value. I have to say that on watching the latest video from TV about male elders, so much of what he said could immediately be called into question and I’m no expert theologian. I was surprised, I think, that what he was saying about gender and the Bible could be demolished so easily, basically.
    I hadn’t seen the exchange between Driscoll and Reid and just read about it on a blog post I found. Paul and his wife are great friends of my church and visit us a couple of times a year, when they *both* generally preach. Driscoll was pretty rude to him (although you kind of expect that!).

    Reply
  7. PamBG

    Women are welcome as long as they know their place which is “properly submitted”.
    Methodist Preacher, one simply can’t have “equality for some people but not all people”. Now I understand why the Galatians verse about all being equal seems suspicious to you.
    All are equal except women and who else? The working class? Brummies? Black people? Jews? Arabs? No, all are equal in the eyes of God, no matter how nice the people are who preach the inequality of women. If one class of person can be less than, then any class of person can be less than.

    Reply
  8. Al

    I read your post about this beforehand, it’s very interesting. I was an ex NFI-er, I’m also female. As a first hand witness, your thoughts and images of how NFI is very correct. Maybe even worse. I haven’t been with a church under the NFI for 5 years. So I have no idea how they treat women now, as it seems, just the same.

    Reply
  9. Luke

    I attend a new frontiers church and, along with my wife, both share some concern about viewpoints on women, particularly owing to our educational upbringings, which are in direct conflict.
    But, even so, I am really sad to see the at once angry and occasional petty tone (e.g. lack of capital letters!) between people who ultimately are on the same side.

    Reply
  10. Michael

    Rubbish talk about NF. I attend a Nf church in a middleeast countries. Ordinary ladies were rostered to preach in services as men also. What garbage are you guys talking about?

    Reply
  11. Dave

    Michael,
    I suggest you read a bit more of what I have written and what New Frontiers have as their official policies.
    New Frontiers Churches vary a little. However, they are generally consistent in not allowing women to be elders, not allowing women to be pastors and only allowing women to teach women unless their teaching is under the authority of their husband.
    New Frontiers are generally consistent in teaching that wives should submit to their husbands.

    Reply

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