Newfrontiers want to welcome radical feminists

This years "Together on a Mission" conference has now finished and we see a new reshaped Newfrontiers emerging. A new structure with Apostles and Apostolic Spheres (and yes it is all a load of balls as they ignore the Biblical precident for women as apostles in Junia Romans 16:7 – for the best series on this see the amazingly detailed work by Suzanne Maccarthy who destroys the various (and conflicting) arguments put forward for either Junia not being a woman or not being an apostle).

Anyway beyond the new structure we see this from Adrian Warnock's report on one of the sessions:

3. Affirming Leadership Ensure that our churches are environments that are equally liberating for both men and women. We must not change our theology. But we must live consistent to it. We are complementarian which means we believe that men and women are equal but different. We must make sure that we do not stress the difference more than the equal. We must make sure that we recognize male and female gifts, and that we train women as well as men. Keller says “The real challenge is to do things in such a way that even a radical feminist if she was to come into our churches would feel the freedom of the Kingdom of God.” The Apostle Paul speaks of his fellow workers and around half of them are women. How many of us can say the same? We do need to help men to be men. ht TOAM Session 4 David Stroud on the future of UK Newfrontiers.

Remember that Newfrontiers is defined by a number of core values. Of these two are particularly relevant.

Value 7:

‘A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed.’

Value 8 now reads:

‘A church where elders are honoured a servant-leaders caring for the flock and providing appropriate spiritual disciplines where necessary.'

Sadly in the new launch of Terry's website these "resources" have been moved around and no longer seem to have the text that used to go with them. But in 42: Lessons in rubbing salt in wounds from New Frontiers I quoted value 8 as:

‘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.’

So has something changed?

When David Stroud says:

We are complementarian which means we believe that men and women are equal but different.

Does the New Newfrontiers

a) Still support their value 7 that wives should submit to their husbands?

b) Still support male only elders and apostles?

c) Still invite only Men to speak to their National Conferences (except when speaking to sessions just for women)? All the speakers that Adrian Warnock has mentioned are men and the conference program overview mentions only men (just checked and all the main session speakers are men, there are some women listed for seminars but no indication what these are or who they are for).

d) Only have men as Church planters (usually or always supported by their wives who are nevertheless not considered elders of these Churches).

When David Stroud says:

Keller says “The real challenge is to do things in such a way that even a radical feminist if she was to come into our churches would feel the freedom of the Kingdom of God.”

I would like to know from some radical feminists how much they will feel the freedom of the kingdom when they come into a Church that requires them to submit to their husband and specifically denies them the opportunity to respond to God's call to leadership as an elder or an apostle?

I would like to know from anyone in the New Newfrontiers how welcoming they think radical feminists will find them.

15 thoughts on “Newfrontiers want to welcome radical feminists

  1. Dave

    Another Twitter response this from @boudledidge:
    @dave42w even if they want to stress the ‘equal’ side of things more, the still huge emphasis on ‘different roles’ will win out.

    Reply
  2. Hannah

    I don’t identify with some aspects of radical feminism so don’t know if I would consider myself part of that group but as a strident feminist and a Christian it does not go far enough for me. I DO think that it is a step in the right direction and possibly an acknowledgement of the criticism they have received about their approach to gender issues but obviously the core beliefs have not changed. I would really like to see more of a liberating environment for women – training and discussion which does not focus solely on marriage, home and family for a start (although I know churches are improving with this, there is great variance between churches). For me, the ‘equal but different’ mantra is still a major sticking point.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Hannah,
    I suspect that Newfrontiers work on a different definition of “Radical Feminism” to you :-) I suspect that means it is a lot easier for someone to be a “Radical Feminist” in the eyes of Newfrontiers than it is in many others.
    How do you feel about the difference between “core beliefs” and “liberating environment”? Do they have to be aligned? Can you have a “liberating environment” without changing theology?
    Is “equal but different” an oxymoron as “separate but equal” was shown to be?

    Reply
  4. Hannah

    Haha yes, I did think that their definition of ‘radical feminist’ would probably be different to mine. For them, I probably am most definitely ‘radical’ if not in the eyes of all radfems :)
    I am not convinced that there can be a truly liberating environment without changing theology. I think that *many* women (such as those who identify as complementarian but might have a more egalitarian attitude towards roles in the church, the workplace etc despite preferring male preachers, elders and headship from their husband) would find such an environment freeing and a major improvement on what may have been taught in years gone by, but it remains that many other women would still not feel liberated by the teaching because it might limit their gifting and calling (eg preaching, management etc). The promotion of ‘roles’ is still going to be restrictive for many. I also wonder whether it will continue to marginalise single and childfree women (not singling this out as a NF problem; it is a church-related problem in general) as people who are not fulfilling their ‘role’ as expected and are not under the headship of a husband.
    I very much feel that ‘equal but different’ is too much like ‘separate but equal’. If you are stopping some people from exercising their gifts and living their lives to the fullest then I don’t think this is equality.

    Reply
  5. PamBG

    We must make sure that we do not stress the difference more than the equal.
    This is a nonsense concept.
    There is no way to avoid stressing the difference when you refine the concept of “equal” into the context of “God’s Kingdom is hierarchical and only men get to the top of the pile”.
    Be honest and say that God created men to rule over women. And then deal with the consequences of that honesty. Stop the Alice-in-Wonderland dissembling.

    Reply
  6. Priest

    Value 8 now reads:
    ‘A church where elders are honoured a servant-leaders caring for the flock and providing appropriate spiritual disciplines where necessary.’
    Sadly in the new launch of Terry’s website these “resources” have been moved around and no longer seem to have the text that used to go with them.

    You’ve made an accusation based on a mistake you’ve made:
    http://www.terryvirgo.org/Articles/265961/Terry_Virgo/Resources/Media/Series/17_Values_Elders_A_Team.aspx

    Reply
  7. Charity

    I found that link too, Priest, but the text of the values doesn’t seem to be on that page and I can’t find it on the Newfrontiers site either. I expect Dave has had the same problem.

    Reply
  8. Priest

    Hey Charity, the text is between the graphic and the video box. Value #8 reads,
    ‘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.’
    What I’ve noticed is that Terry has been putting out regular interviews in which he goes into more detail about each value.

    Reply
  9. Charity

    Thanks Priest, but I still can’t find all the text of the 17 values all in one place as it used to be.

    Reply
  10. Dave

    Priest,
    I made no accusation. I simply noted that the original link where I had found value 8 no longer works and that I couldn’t find the text any more. That was a choice made as part of the website restructure so that the page has moved from
    http://blog.terryvirgo.org/8a-male-elders/
    to
    http://www.terryvirgo.org/Articles/265961/Terry_Virgo/Resources/Media/Series/17_Values_Elders_A_Team.aspx
    When I wrote this post I couldn’t find the new location.
    You probably make an excellent conspiracy theorist :-)

    Reply
  11. Priest

    Dave, you wrote:
    “Value 8 now reads:
    ‘A church where elders are honoured a servant-leaders caring for the flock and providing appropriate spiritual disciplines where necessary.’
    Sadly in the new launch of Terry’s website these “resources” have been moved around and no longer seem to have the text that used to go with them. But in 42: Lessons in rubbing salt in wounds from New Frontiers I quoted value 8 as:
    ‘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.’
    So has something changed? ”
    I think in the excitement you probably experienced when you noted a ‘change’ in one of newfrontiers core values, you failed to realize you made a mistake, brother ;-)

    Reply
  12. Dave

    Priest,
    The change in the text is very minor compared to the change Dave Stroud is potentially announcing.
    Yes Dave Stroud’s indications of some possible change is exciting although as I point out in my other post there are still significant problems in his speech.

    Reply

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