years ago, while teaching at a seminary in Africa, this question often came up:
Should women be pastors? If not, why are they in seminary? Some pastors took
this to another level, and one Sunday a pastor preached against women seeking
admission into seminaries. They are not to do so because it is for men. While
this may sound ridiculous, it is important for the African church to address.
are two recent events that lead me to say this. First of all, I was teaching in
Cameroon a few weeks ago and in my class were a few women who are seeking to be
involved in Christian ministry. During the course of the class, some of the men
raised the question whether it is proper for women to be in seminary. Second, I
met a respected Christian lady who declared to me that she has a problem with
the Bible because it is against women. It encourages men to take advantage of
women and not allow them to hold positions of power. Two things stand out:
There are some pastors who do not see the need for women to seek any
theological education, and there is a growing number of young educated women in
Africa who are increasingly becoming unhappy with the Bible because they are
being taught that it is against women.
agree that we ought and must give women in Africa the best theological
education possible. Here I provide a few biblical reasons why African women
should pursue theological education in preparation for Christian ministry.
according to Genesis 1:26-28, man as male and female is created in the image of
God. This means that man and woman are equal before God in the sense that both
bear the image of God. Both were given the command to rule over creation, and
if it is important for men to be educated to rule, so too it is for women.
the great commission is for men as well as women. The commission is to “make
disciples of all nations” and the means to making disciples is by baptizing and
teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. Carrying out of the Great Commission
necessarily includes teaching people to obey the things that Jesus commanded.
If then women are to teach in obedience to the Great Commission and the content
of their teaching is what Jesus had commanded (as we find in the Bible), it
would be foolish to argue that women should not get the best theological
education possible to prepare them for such an honorable task. Therefore,
seminaries should prepare women and men in the best way possible for service in
the progress of the Great Commission. We train both men and women to bring
glory to God by faithfully and effectively making disciples by baptizing and
we will look in vain for information on Jesus excluding women in his teaching
ministry. From the account in Luke 8:1-3, we cannot say that each time Jesus
was teaching the twelve, women were excluded. The evidence seems to suggest
that even though the 12 are mentioned in particular, women were also present
when Jesus was traveling and teaching. Yet, it is important to note that the 12
in particular had a more unique task, a task which not everyone (man or woman)
shared. It also becomes clear to us that in his teaching ministry, Jesus taught
women (a counter-cultural practice) not for the purpose of them getting a
particular job and not because they had received a particular call but simply
for education’s sake. Two examples
of Jesus not discriminating in his teaching are the Samaritan woman (John
4:1-45) and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). In the case of the Samaritan woman, we see
that Jesus was engaged in providing a Samaritan woman a good theological
education. She had wrong views on theological matters and Jesus corrected them.
He taught her well and treated her with respect. Her questions were answered well.
The results of this work were immediate. Was she not in her response carrying
out the Great Commission just as the twelve and the 70 and the 72 had done? But
she needed to have the right beliefs in order to do the work well.
from the ministry of Jesus, we can see that he taught both men and women. There
is no indication that he thought of women as not deserving of theological
education. He gave his full attention to teaching them, though his actions were
counter-cultural. We are indeed following in the footsteps of Jesus as we continue
to provide quality theological education for women today for the purpose of
good Christian ministry.
these are some reasons from the Bible why we should continue to provide solid
theological education for women in Africa, there is also a pressing and
potentially very destructive reason that should cause us to push this issue
even harder. It is the women-empowerment movements that are not only addressing
social issues among women in Africa, but that go further to tell them that the
root cause of their oppression is the Bible.