The Divide That Is There by S. M. Hutchens

The Divide That Is There

S. M. Hutchens on Egalitarian Christianity

Reduced to essentials, my critique (see Symposium, Touchstone 12.3, May/June 1999) of the Christian Women’s Declaration was that its call for cooperation in evangelism and church renewal was futile, or nearly so. This is because the theological and practical divide between its signatories who believe women can be ordained to the pastoral or presbyterial offices and those who don’t is too wide to accommodate cooperation in efforts requiring close agreement on what the gospel is, and what therefore success in its promulgation would look like.

I knew this assertion would sound radical and indigestible, so I summoned C. S. Lewis to my help, for this is just what he says, in so many gentle words, in his little essay “Priestesses in the Church?” There he makes it clear that a church with female presbyters does not have the appearance of being Christian at all. (His duplicity with the tiresome and unreasonable Hutchens seems to have been overlooked by my critics.) The institution, in other words, is foreign to Christianity, analogous to the substitution of a circle for the cross as its principal symbol. Those who advance it have misunderstood the gospel at a fundamental level.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.


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