by Al Maxey

Issue #483 ------- April 15, 2011
Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers
are people who do things right. Both roles are crucial,
but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in
top positions doing the wrong thing well.

Warren Bennis {b. 1925}

Women in Public Ministry
May Women Serve in the Church as
Elders, Deacons and Preachers?

Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), in his well-known study: "The Women's Movement: Political, Socioeconomic, and Psychological Issues," made the following somewhat controversial assertion: "Biologically and temperamentally, I believe, women were made to be concerned first and foremost with child care, husband care, and home care." This rigid perspective was very much reflective of the "settled norm" of a number of societies of Dr. Spock's day (especially of our own). This thinking was also quite evident in many churches, with women being relegated to almost "second-class citizenship" in the kingdom of God!! Men "graciously" allowed them to sit in the Sunday assemblies, but they had better keep their mouths closed (except when singing) and "be in submission" to the men. They could teach little children, but as soon as a 10-year-old boy was baptized, the woman was removed from the classroom (she can't teach a "man," you know). She could teach other women, but no man could hear the sound of her voice (or they would both go to hell). By way of example, check out the list of speakers and topics at the recent Contending for the Faith lectureship: Profiles in Apostasy #2. The talks given by the men have links where one may go to see the videos of their presentations. The classes taught by the women are NOT linked -- this is to "safeguard" against some unsuspecting man clicking on that link and actually hearing a woman teach (which could cost him his soul). Ridiculous!! I knew of an elder a number of years ago who would sit in the hallway outside the classroom where a woman was teaching the Ladies' Class so he could "check up on" what she was teaching. He wouldn't sit inside the classroom, however, as that would constitute "being taught by a woman." Oh, how our Father in heaven must grieve over us at times! We've taken a couple of passages written by Paul in which he deals with the need for brethren of diverse backgrounds (Jews and Gentiles, specifically) to accommodate some of their practices and behaviors to the cultural and religious sensitivities of their fellow believers in Christ, and we have twisted them to suit our own sectarian agendas!! That same principle of cultural sensitivity, by the way, is seen in the command to Gentiles to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from the meat of strangled animals" (Acts 15:29), and in the command to Jews not to impose their convictions about circumcision upon the Gentiles. Not a one of these accommodations (even though they were commanded at that time among those peoples) were designed to be universally binding as everlasting decrees! Such is also the case in the matter of women "being silent" in the public assembly. This was a temporary accommodation to the culture and custom of the day for the purpose of peaceful coexistence in Christ until greater spiritual growth and maturity could occur ... nothing more.

Unfortunately, due to a seriously flawed methodology (or hermeneutic) for approaching the understanding of the inspired Scriptures (CENI -- command, example, necessary inference -- with its attendant "law of silence" and "law of expediency"), as well as a "restorationist" mindset that gravitates toward legalistic patternism with respect to the practices of God's people today (especially within the so-called "worship service" on Sunday), we have forfeited our liberty in Christ, returned to "redemption by regulation," and succeeded only in dividing ourselves into countless feuding factions. Along with this has come the suppressing of the right of a good many of our brothers and sisters to make full use of their God-given abilities in service to the Body. This is unconscionable! Shepherds, it is time to begin maturing your flocks so that you might lead them out of their religious ruts and unto those greener spiritual meadows that our Lord has prepared for us. We have grazed on Tradition long enough, and we are famished ... it is time to feast again on Truth. Shepherds, it is your responsibility to lead (not drive) your sheep to that place, and to get them there without killing them in the process. Not an easy task, but that is your calling.

Yes, this means change is coming! A frightening thought to many shepherds as well as sheep! However, this must be change NOT simply for the sake of change, or to be like our religious neighbors, but responsible change that brings us more in tune with God's will for His people. God never intended for His children to become fixated upon a certain stage in their spiritual development, but rather to grow and expand in their spiritual comprehension and in their worshipful expression and in their service to one another. There are no fences around LOVE. The walls have come down. We are free to be led by His Spirit into all He has called us and gifted us to be ... and that applies to both men and women! Are there genuine differences between men and women -- distinctions decreed by divine design as to purpose and function, both in the family and in the church? Of course there are, and this will be noted below. However, the irrefutable reality is: the overwhelming majority of the distinctions in place and enforced within our congregations today are not of God, but of men. We must honor God's distinctions -- those of mere men need to be discarded, or at the very least demoted from their elevated status as terms of fellowship and conditions of salvation.

May a woman be a deacon (or, more correctly, a deaconess) in the church of our Lord Jesus? The apostle Paul states that Phoebe was (Romans 16:1-2). I would refer you to my article about this marvelous Christian servant in: Reflections #299 -- Our Sister Phoebe: Deaconess of Cenchrea. Our English word "deacon" is simply the transliteration of a Greek word signifying a "servant; one who serves" -- more specifically: one who rendered service freely and willingly, as opposed to a "slave" (which is a different Greek term). The reality is -- the Body of Christ has always had very effective female servants who ministered to (rendered service to) their fellow believers in various capacities commensurate with their God-given abilities. Tabitha was a servant of the Lord and of His people. So was Lydia. So was Priscilla. Each one served with distinction in the distinctive areas of service to which God called and equipped them! Whether they were sewing seams in garments or sowing seeds of grace, they served!! In our congregations today we have many women serving as deacons, and, yes, some of this service involves some degree of leadership. Women are not only secretaries and office managers, but also children and youth ministers, counselors, custodians, providers of food and clothing to the community through church pantries, preparers of the weekly Communion, and the list goes on and on. Are these women servants?! Is there leadership involved in some of these areas? Yes, they are ... and yes, there is!! If we'd just cease our quibbling and squabbling over whether a "deacon" holds an "OFFICE," and simply realize they are responsible men and women called and equipped by God for SERVICE, I think we'd discover most of our concerns and conflicts were without any biblical foundation.

May a woman be a "preacher" within the church of our Lord Jesus Christ? May women proclaim the "good news" about what God's grace has accomplished for us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son? Well, it might come as somewhat of a shock to some among us, but the very first proclamation of good news wasn't by Peter on the day of Pentecost, but rather by the women at the tomb on resurrection morning who were commanded by the angel to "go and tell" the good news that HE IS RISEN. These women then went forth and shared that message with the men! I guess they didn't get the memo that women were to "remain silent" in the presence of their superiors!! Priscilla apparently didn't get the memo either, for she clearly was involved in "mission work" with her husband, and is most often even listed first when the two are mentioned (which suggests to some scholars that she may actually have been the more active in the proclamation of the gospel). She certainly "taught a man" when she helped explain the Lord's will more perfectly to Apollos. I guess Phillip's four daughters didn't get the memo either, for Acts 21:9 says that these four women "prophesied." In other words, they were either fore-tellers or forth-tellers of God's Word. Either way, they were sisters-in-Christ, members of His One Body, who were speaking forth God's Word ... and, yes, I think it would be quite a stretch to suggest they only taught cradle roll classes and Ladies' Bible classes!!

To be a prophet (spokesman) of the Lord, one must speak out for the Lord ("prophesy"). In Joel 2:28-29, a passage that Peter says was evidenced on the day of Pentecost, we read -- "I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even upon My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days." Yes, the will and message of God were spoken by both men and women. They BOTH had been given the Spirit for the express purpose of sharing the good news of God's grace, and the NT writings make it clear that BOTH men and women took an active role in doing just that. Our problem today is that our Sunday assemblies have evolved to something very much foreign to what they were in the first century. "Pulpit Ministers" did not exist as they do now. I'm not suggesting that such a position is necessarily wrong, I'm just saying that in the first century there wasn't a "paid professional" for every congregation. Such persons, to be perfectly honest, are far more "pastors" than "evangelists" in function. The message of God's grace, during the time of the early church, was spoken by one and all (every day) as they went about their daily lives and as they interacted with their families, friends and co-workers. Their assemblies were to encourage one another and stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not to "preach the gospel" year after year to those who were already saved. Back then, both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile evangelized -- they spoke for God the message of God. Yes, women were preachers -- and by being so, they fulfilled the prophecy of Joel, as well as the mission of the church. If we today would cease our quibbling and squabbling over who is "authorized" to stand behind a wood PULPIT in a brick building on Sunday, and simply realize that God has called us all to PREACH (to share the good news with others) in our daily lives, many of our problems would vanish rather quickly.

May a woman serve as a shepherd/elder/overseer within the church of our Lord Jesus Christ (and, as noted above, since in our culture and society the position of "the minister/preacher" is more "pastor" than "evangelist," this question, in my view, applies to this function as well)? Based upon my own study of this matter -- and I have studied it intensely for years -- I have to say that it is my understanding that women may NOT serve in this capacity within the Family of God. I realize that this statement will upset some of you (although it may relieve others), but let me explain why I believe this to be so. It is certainly NOT because I regard women as inferior in some way. Far from it. In my own estimation, women are God's greatest creation by far!! One theologian observed, "When it came to the creation, God saved His BEST work for LAST -- Woman!!" Woman was not created to be trampled on by men; they are not possessions or objects designed for our pleasure. They are to be our life-partners ... beside us, not beneath us; next to our hearts ... cherished ... treasured!!

Woman was created for man; that is a fact (1 Cor. 11:9). It is also a fact that man was charged with loving and nurturing her; meeting her needs before his own, just as Christ did with the church (His bride). And, just as Christ is head of the church, so is man head of the woman. Now, I know what you're thinking ... but you'd be wrong. I used to think this was about "authority" -- that man had authority over the woman. I've completely rethought that, and now believe it has much more to do with origins and distinctive functions and purposes. I have dealt with this in great depth in Reflections #216, and I would plead with you to please read that article carefully and prayerfully. God's design was that the man would take the lead within his family, and that he would especially take the spiritual lead as he led his wife and children into deeper and more intimate relationship with the Lord. The church is also Family. In this Family of God, I firmly believe God intends the men to step up and accept their God-given responsibility as the spiritual leaders. They are to be the shepherds of the flock, with their task being to nourish and cherish the flock, just as the man nourishes and cherishes his wife and children! When men default, and women assume that function, there occurs a displacement in the divine order, which can only lead to varying degrees of dysfunction.

Throughout religious history women have been both deified and vilified, honored and harassed, allowed to serve, on the one hand, and forced into submission and silence, on the other. Needless to say, this has not helped relieve the natural tension between the sexes. The beauty of the Christian faith, however, is in the special spiritual leveling that has come to the children of God the Father. "There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Yes, there are natural distinctions that are still evident; men are still men, and women are still women, after all. Paul is not suggesting a unisex scenario; the sexes still are to be distinct, and that includes God-ordained responsibilities that are unique to each. Nevertheless, the superior/inferior dichotomy that too frequently characterizes the secular and spiritual interaction and interrelationship of the sexes is forever abolished in the sacrifice of our Savior, who broke down those walls of distinction and demarcation. Slave and free, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, male and female "are all ONE in Christ Jesus!"

So, just how much, and in what areas, should our women be allowed to serve in their congregations? It is my judgment that the answer will vary from congregation to congregation. What might be deemed acceptable in one congregation, another may not yet be ready to embrace! As in all things, our choices must bring glory and honor to our Father, edification to the body of believers, and the furtherance of the gospel of grace to those who sorely need to hear and embrace it. A good thing can become a bad thing if it divides disciples. Our unity, harmony and oneness should never be sacrificed for the sake of some change that only a portion of the saints support, even if that change is inherently good. Too often, well-intentioned disciples rush reform! Needed reformation does not often come quickly, and rarely painlessly; it requires the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job! If a group is not yet ready, but is willing to study the matter, then "preach the Word ... with great patience and instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2). No, don't allow the "hard-heads" to hold the congregation hostage to their own will, and to hinder any forward progress (which they will do if they can); Paul forbids yielding to them for even an instant (Galatians 2:4-5). But, if genuine brethren are genuinely concerned about some proposed change, then be patient ... as long as all parties are willing to continue to study the matter with open Bibles and open minds.

Never .... I repeat -- NEVER .... be party to division in the Body of Christ. Some division, of course, is unavoidable. When we preach Truth, some will simply not tolerate it. They want their ears tickled, or they want tradition elevated above Truth. We dare not yield to such coercion, even though our stand for Truth will cause some to no longer walk with us. But, in other areas involving the normal growth and development of a body of believers, we must recognize that not all progress at the same rate. Thus, be patient ... but be persistent. Stagnation is not an option; we must move forward; we must also grow and progress; but let us do so in such a way that we may all advance together, as much as is humanly possible.

Yes, change is coming to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is coming far more quickly in some locations than others ... but it IS coming. Much of this change is long overdue!! Most all of it will be met with resistance on the part of those who simply can't tolerate leaving their personal comfort zones. We must love these brethren and be patient with them and continue to instruct them -- up to a point. Reform must never be retarded, however, because a handful refuse to budge from their ruts. Bring them along if you can, but move along if you can't! In all things may LOVE be our guide, may UNITY be our motivation, and may CHRIST be our focus. If this be true, we will not go too far astray in our spiritual journey!

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

(A 193 page book by Al Maxey)

One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism

(A 230 page book by Al Maxey)

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Readers' Reflections

From an Elder's Wife in New Mexico:

Dear Brother Al, "Emerging Women's Roles" was a great article, but you forgot something. Yes, it is very important for shepherds to know their flock, just as you wrote, but it is even more important for these leaders to know God's Word. If sheep want something that is contrary to the teachings of God, should shepherds give it to them? No! Shepherds must not change the will of God, regardless of what some within their flock may want.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, Truth is always in conflict with anything other than Truth. I totally agree that the leadership should lead the congregation, but it should not lead them to a NON-Truth. If we are to change, if we are to move, then Lord help us if we move more toward tradition than toward the Truth revealed in His Word.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, You just may have covered an issue of as great an importance as that of women's roles in your latest Reflections! That being: the tendency of elders to use a "top down" style of leadership, rather than a "shepherding" style, in handling all aspects relevant to the local congregation. Should they ever become a "Board of Directors," making management decisions for their congregations, devoid of input from the members, or consideration of the members, then there will be some serious problems.

From a Minister in California:

Dear Brother Al, Good article (as usual). I remember sitting in a three session class at Pepperdine years ago where the presenter talked about his congregation on the east coast, and all the study they had done on some issue. However, when they implemented the changes, it destroyed the congregation! We (the leaders) went through a study of women's roles some years ago where I had been preaching, and I then presented the fruit of our study to the congregation. The ladies there were given the freedom (with the blessing of the elders) to participate far more than they had ever been given in the past. None of the ladies really wanted to step up and participate, however, so we decided to just leave it alone and didn't force any changes. None of the women really wanted to serve Communion, or to pray or speak in public. Looking back on it -- we, as leaders, had addressed a "problem" that really didn't exist!!

From an Elder in Alabama:

Dear Brother Al, Thanks for your helpful article and insights!! I agree that sensitivity and connectivity must exist in order to create an atmosphere of being "led" and not "driven" concerning the role of women. Sadly, however, the women of our churches have been ignored and shunned for so long I fear that even if we all came to understand the fullness of the New Testament role of women that none would step forward to serve!! I hope that in my small part of the world I can get connected and gently lead in the direction you have described, and thus begin to see the ladies take their proper public roles of service ... gladly and freely. Thanks again for all your work!!

From a Reader in Arizona:

Dear Brother Maxey, It is so refreshing to have you reintroduce the topic of the role of our sisters in our gatherings. For a group of churches that have had such an ungodly pride in our knowledge of the Scriptures, it is a sad irony to be so ignorant of what these writings actually teach. Thank you for exposing this, and for also calling attention to the great failure of shepherds to connect with their sheep. Brother Maxey, your weekly Reflections are truly encouraging! I only regret that I did not begin receiving them earlier!

From a Leader with Eastern European Mission:

Brother Al, Please continue to hold firm in your "freedom and grace" ministry. I am certain the Lord smiles and nods His head as He reviews your Reflections each week!! I appreciate you, Al.

From a Minister in Missouri:

Brother Al, I heard your talks at The Tulsa Workshop, and I wanted to write and say Thank You for sharing God's Truth and for the challenge you placed before us there. Your presentations were thought-provoking, and I was inspired by them. May the Lord shower you with blessings and grace all the more as you fight this worthy fight for Him. Keep it up!! Also, Thank You for adding me to your Reflections mailing list. One of your fellow elders suggested to me, while we were at the workshop in Tulsa, that I subscribe to these articles. By the way, I met you before (several years ago) while you were still preaching in Honolulu, Hawaii. My wife is from Hawaii. Have a blessed week, brother.

From a Reader in Alaska:

Dear Brother Maxey, Your presentations at The 2011 Tulsa Workshop brought me great joy and learning. I believe that the true church of Jesus Christ is freeing (liberating), but that too many congregations get bogged down with tradition, which limits the liberty Christ brought to His church!! God be with you and with your work for Him!

From a Reader in China:

Dear Bro. Al, Thanks for another great and timely Reflections. Every now and then you send one my way that directly coincides with something I am studying, and the issue of women's roles arrived at a perfect time for me! For those among us who declare that Paul's command for women to "keep silent" (1 Cor. 14:34) is still relevant today, I'd like to know: do they also desire the gift of prophecy (vs. 1), speak in tongues (vs. 2), interpret tongues (vs. 13), have everyone prophesying (vs. 24), have revelations (vs. 25), or do they just rip that one verse out of its context to suit themselves, while ignoring the rest of the chapter?! Likewise, if they believe 1 Tim. 2:11 is binding, then do they also require men to lift up holy hands (vs. 8), disallow women to elaborately style their hair (vs. 9), disallow the wearing of gold and pearls and fancy clothing (vs. 9)? Or, do they yet again rip one verse out of context and throw the rest away? Brother Al, I do not like this tendency I see in the Church of Christ faith-heritage to snag one verse out of context and then summarily dismiss or ignore the surrounding verses!! Thanks once again, brother, for yet another great read!! God bless you!

From a Reader in Washington, D.C.:

Dear Bro. Maxey, I applaud your efforts to tackle this particular topic. It is my opinion that Jesus my Lord and Savior weeps when He hears how some of His men (children of God) view women (children of God), and what they think these women were truly created for! It hurts me deeply to see the damage being done by the misconception that God created us (women) for the sheer pleasure of men (how absurd). What type of god would do that?! Our God, who is loving, kind, gentle, understanding, longsuffering, and peaceful, would never consider creating and/or fashioning women just to serve men! We all have a purpose in life. Our role (men and women) is to serve the Lord by the way we love and treat each other. Love is the key to all. I'm so very grateful that there are men like you!! May He continue to bless you and your family abundantly!

From a Reader in Australia:

Dear Bro. Al, I am a long time subscriber of your Reflections, but a rather lazy interlocutor, I'm afraid. I had hoped to meet you while studying in the United States (I was at Abilene Christian University), but never made the trip to The Tulsa Workshop, or into your home state of New Mexico! Now I am back in Australia, but perhaps we can meet during a future trip to the States! I thought perhaps the following information might be useful to your reader who inquired as to the origins of CENI and its later adoption into the hermeneutic of the Churches of Christ. In his paper Hermeneutics in the Churches of Christ [Restoration Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1 (1995)], Dr. Thomas Olbricht suggests that one of the earliest statements that clearly brings the three principles together in one place is made by the Puritan writer Edward Dering (1540-1576), who declares that conclusions drawn from Scripture on the basis of "proportion, or deduction, by consequence, ... is as well the Word of God as that which is an express commandment or example." Your reader will likely find Dr. Olbricht's paper helpful, if he hasn't yet seen it. Let me thank you once again for your efforts in these Reflections. I know your hard work is paying dividends!

From a Reader in California:

Dear Bro. Maxey, The following article -- "The Law of Exclusion" by David Lawrence -- is the best historical explanation that I have read on this subject. I hope this helps the reader in Florida who inquired about the origin of the CENI hermeneutic.

From a Reader in California:

Dearest Brother Maxey, Thank You for your most recent Reflections!! Women's roles is a sensitive subject, but it seems that if we are all "Family," and if there is neither ____ or ____ in Christ, then when we come together to encourage one another, any one of us should be allowed to do so, regardless of gender. That said, I must admit, however, that I still cringe when I see a female preacher on the TV, "in charge," as it were, of a large congregation!! Yes, I've become more "liberal," but there are limits!! As for the reader asking about the origins of CENI -- I did some research and found a hermeneutic attributed to John Wesley that resembles CENI in some ways. It is called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Perhaps you might devote a future Reflections to a review of this. Having said that, I thought your hermeneutic, that you outlined and talked about in your first speech at The 2011 Tulsa Workshop, was spot-on!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I appreciated your article on gender inclusiveness, and I agree with you that, even though this is a pressing issue, it cannot be shoved down the throats of our members just to satisfy those wanting gender inclusiveness "NOW." It is something that must be taught with a lot of love and understanding of where many of our brothers and sisters have come from. I believe you are absolutely correct about the next fellowship-wide split. It will occur over gender inclusion/exclusion, and I believe it has already begun. All of the other issues we see in our fellowship will basically pale against this one over the next several decades. I only hope the Lord will allow me to stay around to see full gender inclusion become the norm rather than the exception. A few of our congregations over the last 12-14 years have gone to full gender inclusiveness, while a larger number are now moving into partial gender inclusiveness! The congregations with full gender inclusion are not well-known, but they are running smoothly and growing in numbers!! If some wish to locate a congregation in their home area that is more gender inclusive right now, check the following sites: Where The Spirit Leads, a site that I have created ... Half The Church, a site by Dr. Stephen Johnson, who is Associate Professor of Preaching and Ministry in the Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University ... Gender Justice and Churches of Christ. Grace to you and peace, Al.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I read Issue #482 of your Reflections with interest in view of the gathering storm over women's roles! It seems when we discuss this we concentrate on what our sisters can and cannot do "in the assembly." In fact, that subject (what we can or can't do in a building) is the source of most of the conflicts within our Movement. Is it not ironic that we spend so much time debating about assemblies when little mention is made of them in Scripture and most of our Christian life is spent outside of them (or should be). But, we have made the "worship service" (oh, how I deplore that phrase) the be-all and end-all of the Christian walk. What about the "role of women" as we live daily for Christ in our cultures and societies?! It seems to me that our concerns are hugely lopsided in favor of the assembly, as opposed to seeking, serving, saving and discipling. Once we step outside our "church buildings," the things that disciples (both men and women) can do is practically limitless!! Are there differences in the roles of men and women in the ekklesia? I suspect there are. However, I believe such concerns will fade into insignificance if we will just focus on living daily like Jesus Christ, and on the overarching mission He has given us! Bro. Al, Thank You for your courageous forays into controversy, and for your stand against the mindless traditions and doctrines of men!!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, When I received Reflections #471 -- Our Purpose for Assembling -- I gave a copy of it to one of our elders here. To make a long story short, the elders agreed with your conclusions in that study, and the preacher preached a sermon about our reasons and purposes for assembling. For some time thereafter we noticed a decline in people referring to our assemblies as a "worship service," and of any mention of our coming together to "worship." I pray the Father's continuing favor upon you and Shelly.

From a Reader in Georgia:
[Her father is a very well-known leader within
the legalistic Contending for the Faith faction]

Brother Al, I just read The Maxey-Broking Debate on Patternism. Talk about a "hidebound legalist" -- that's Darrell Broking!! You did an absolutely awesome job of defeating all of the "rules and regs" that he and David Brown and my father delight in and -- sad to say -- live for. I confess that I skipped a lot of Darrell's ranting. It was the same old "diatribal dreck" I was subjected to at the kitchen table morning, noon and night by my father!! But your rebuttals and affirmatives, Al, were such enjoyable reading!! Fresh air!! Birds singing! Scent of newly mown grass! Glorious sunshine! Blooming flowers! "His mercies are new every morning" -- and His mercies were what you showed consistently in your part of the debate. Poor ol' Darrell, stuck in the steely trap of legalism, could not see one inch beyond the jaws of the trap that has kept him enslaved -- and yet, he no doubt believes that you are the one in the trap!! Thank you so much, Al, for "fightin' the buzzards." I'm convinced that this is your personal calling from the Lord. God bless you and keep you, Al, and may your life be long. I love you, my friend!!

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Brother Al, Wise words and long overdue!! Women do indeed possess certain unique gifts and abilities that often escape a man. Perhaps we would do well to heed the wisdom of women on some things in lieu of so quickly dismissing their contributions for fear that we might violate perceived cultural role-distinctions! Yes, God has clearly defined the role of women, and as long as we don't elevate our self-imposed traditions to the level of Holy Writ, we can be a closer family by embracing their talents. We have all heard in countless lessons what a woman CAN'T do, but I have never heard a homily or sermon on what a woman CAN do. Well, maybe it's time!!

From an Elder in Indiana:

Dear Bro. Maxey, I have been an elder in the Lord's Church, serving in a Christian Church congregation, for around 36 years. I came across your web site today and I wanted to compliment and encourage you with regard to your obvious heart for unity!! I looked through some of your writings and was encouraged by your fresh look at issues that can and have created disunity. I can't wait to dig deeper into your writings and teachings! I am excited for this opportunity. Many years ago I came across two Christian brothers who have very similarly challenged my thinking as a Christian and servant leader within His Church. They are Dr. Jack Cottrell and W. Carl Ketcherside. I now look forward to getting to know you better as I reflect upon your teachings!! May God bless you and your work for the Kingdom.

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