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Last Sunday, in speaking to the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., about refining, embracing and articulating their unique identity, I urged them to not apologize for reaching the truth about issues such as gender equality ahead of many other congregations — especially other Baptists. A non-Fundamentalist approach to faith and practice is needed and will be welcomed by many, I assured them.

I said something to the effect of: “Don’t hide your uniquely bright candle under a bushel basket.”

There is no doubt — despite strong opposition from Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics and leaders in other denominations — that the affirmation of women in full Christian service is going in one direction. Like the battle for racial equality, it can be painfully slow. But it is sure, because — like the race issue — it is right.

Religion News Service is reporting that, in a narrow vote, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) decided to permit women to serve on local church councils — although they cannot be ordained as bishops. Another slow, late step in the right direction.

When the next steps come will largely depend on how long the sure-to-fail resistors keep control — such as found in this quote from RNS, based on Charisma News Service’s coverage of the assembly debate.

“The issue is, did God know what he was talking about? And whether we like it or don’t like it … if our rules, our standard, is biblical text, then we have to be faithful to biblical text even in a contemporary society that sees it as bigoted or old-fashioned,” said Britt Peavy, senior pastor of West Ward Church of God in Douglas, Ga.

Let’s see. Was he talking about the earth being a few thousand years old? Racial inequality?

Same song. Different verse. Wrong again.

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