The Ordination of Women:
An Issue among ‘Spirit-filled’ Churches
from the African Diaspora

By Antipas L. Harris


Should women be ordained in the Pentecostal churches within the African Christian Diaspora?

Thesis Statement

In this paper, I will describe the ecclesiological problem of women’s ordination from a case study that I observed in Berlin, Germany. I wish to claim that the issue of excluding women from ordination is a result of a sociological contrivance that oppresses women. The churches safeguard the issue under the canopy of theological claims. It is appropriate for the churches, which exclude women from ordained ministry, revisit this problem theologically. In this essay, I will exploit the issue using the Wesleyan quadrilateral approach for the analysis. I hope to submit a systematic and an intelligible argument that explains why the Pentecostal churches should treat women equally as men in the area of ministerial ordination.

Case Study

The Council of Christian Communities of an African Approach in Europe cosponsored an African Christian Diaspora Conference with Humbolt University, Berlin, Germany, Rostock University, Rostock, Germany, and University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. On September 11-15, 2003, the conference was held in Berlin, Germany. The theme was “The Berlin-Congo Conference 1884-The Partition of Africa and Implications for Christian Mission Today.” The council invited me to present on the situation of the African American Churches. More than 100 delegates were present for the conference. Pastor Johannes Wilson and Archbishop Madelia Oku-Adagame were both among the delegates present. Pastor Wilson and Archbishop Oku-Adagame are also board members of the Council of Christian Communities of an African Approach in Europe. Both are pastors of Pentecostal churches. Wilkins is Pastor of an independent Pentecostal church in northeast Germany. Oku-Adagame is Archbishop of Born Again Christ Healing Church International and Pastor of the Mission House in Hornsey, London. Wilkins is originally from Sierra Leon and Oku-Adagame is originally from Nigeria.

On Friday afternoon during general assembly Dr. Niki Cerela, an anthropologist and assistant professor of Africana Studies at a State University, presented a paper on the churches of the Aladura in Africa. According to the presentation, women of the Aladura are not allowed into the fellowship during menstrual period. This ruling is their Christian interpretation of Leviticus’ temple laws (See Lev. 11-15).

Any preaching Aladuran woman can minister to the congregation but only during their permitted time to enter the congregation. Therefore, the preaching women exercise their gifts in the villages away from the church setting when they are menstruating. They might be approved to speak in the church when they are not menstruating. Women, furthermore, might become ordained ministers only after menopause, according to the presentation.

Dr. Cerela’s presentation commented on the church’s unique, seemingly oppressive views on women and the ministry within the policies of the Aladuran church. This presentation sparked flames of responses all over the conference room. Some were from the leaders of the Aladuran church who sought to justify their policies. We were a bit surprised that in the midst was the current Prima, son of the late founder of the movement, from the Nigerian Church of the Aladura. Others were particularly interested in the movement because it is charismatic in nature, and though it restricts women’s ministry, it does not make sweeping claims that women are not allowed to preach.

Cerela’s account was in defense of the oppressive treatment of Aladuran women. Her reading of the situation left the listeners with the inclination to criticize the Church of the Aladura for misogynist polity. The Prima raised his hand. When permitted to speak, he introduced himself and fiercely commented that the presentation was a western-centric reaction to a church within a society that is satisfied with itself. He confidently said that the presentation did not correctly interpret the situation from a Nigerian perspective.

“The women,” commented the Prima, “are respected and considered sacred vessels. They bear the children. It would be too much on a woman for her to bear the responsibility of ordination during the flowering of her age.” By this statement, the Prima evaded the issue of prohibiting menstruating women in the sanctuary because of the claim that they would defile the “Lord’s House” with their impurity. Astoundingly, he was not pressed on this point.

The discourse heated when Pastor Johannes Wilson decided to grace the podium with his prepared comments. With complete confidence, he said, “At creation God created man first. The man is the head of the woman. God created the man to be the leader. A woman might be able to preach, but she is not supposed to have authority over the man. That is what the bible says. A woman should not pastor. The man is the head. That is why pastoring is a man’s job.” The crowd sighed and began to whisper in division. However, Wilson, though somewhat out of context with his comments, was confident that he had spoken “the truth.” He added, “Look at Jesus’ twelve disciples. They were only men. Jesus did not send women to carry out the great commission.”

When Wilson sat down, Archbishop Madelia Oku-Adagame boldly stood up to counter his argument. She said, “Wait a minute! My Lord said, ‘There is neither male nor female.’ God can use anybody God wants to and whenever God wants to if they only submit to God. Hallelujah! What gets me is that people are always saying, ‘the Bible said this and the Bible said that.’ Tell me, what did the Spirit say? ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (II Corinthians 3:6).”

Theological Argument Concerning the Ordination of Women

John Wesley said that in theological analysis, scripture should be primal, but scripture, tradition, experience, and reason should be used together as tools for developing intelligent theological conclusions. While some Pentecostal churches have used scripture and traditions in their carved out theological position against women’s ordination, they have not done so without flaw; furthermore, they have not considered the important roles of experience and reason together with scripture and tradition in the development of their position. First, I will address the problems with the Sola Scriptural approach. It has been particularly important for Pentecostals because the movement has identified itself as “People of the Bible.” Often black Pentecostals are quoted saying, “If the Bible said it, I believe it.” However, the contemporary genius of biblical hermeneutics says that many claims for “what the Bible says to us” are in fact only interpretations of the Bible. These interpretations vary depending on the interpreter.

The dominant history of biblical interpretation has been in the hands of men who sociologically have interpreted scripture through gender-bias hermeneutics that present biblical Christianity in a way to justify the exclusion of women from ordained ministry. Feminist critiques, such as that of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, have uncovered the biases of a male dominated history of biblical interpretation, advocating a “remedial and revisionist aim” (Schussler Fiorenza: 21). The feminist revisionist theologians argue, “Biblical texts have been patriarchalized by interpreters who have projected their androcentric cultural bias onto biblical texts. Consequently, the Bible must be “de-patriarchalized” because, correctly understood, it actually fosters the liberation of women” (Schussler Fiorenza: 23).

Furthermore, it is difficult to make interpretive judgments on “what the Bible says” without considering the historical context within which the Bible was written. Most of the societies surrounding Bible times were patriarchal. Moreover, androcentric records have blinded interpreters from the significance that women have played in the history of these societies and in the earliest Church. Schussler Fiorenza says, “By not problematizing the androcentric frame and patriarchal models of historiography in general and of early Christian history in particular, one can not but reinscribe into contemporary biblical interpretation the historical marginality or insignificance of women” (83). The question worth exploring has to do with the liberating power of God that is counter-cultural. Some Christians are willing to embrace the liberation of Christ from slavery. Yet, many Christians, as illustrated in the case study, still struggle over the liberating power of Christ for women who from biblical times until now have suffered similar kinds of oppression as slaves.

If Pentecostals are committed to an allegiance to “what the Bible says,” they must consider all of “what the Bible says,” whether one is for or against the ordination of women. Mary Hayter warns, “If the Bible is to be authoritative in matters of faith and conduct it must be the Bible rightly interpreted” (2). One must take into account the historical context of the passage; yet one should not make a conclusion based on history alone. The passage must be held in dialogue with a contemporary context. One must consider its relevance to a contemporary context in relations to an understanding of the mission of God in the world.

J Bright warns that, furthermore, when one selects passages of the Bible that seem to support a favored position on an issue over a disfavored position, we risk “no more than a vast collection of proof texts which one may call upon at discretion in order to support one’s own arguments or confute those of one’s opponents. That is a misuse of the Bible’s authority” (41, 47). If one chooses to value scripture at all in the process of making an intelligent, theological conclusion, one must confront all passages of the Bible concerning the issue. Specific to the issue of women in the church the Bible, on the one hand, suggests that the woman is subordinate to the man (Genesis 3:16; I Corinthians 11:2-16 and I Corinthians 14: 33ff). One the other hand, there is evidence in scripture that women held leadership roles among the people of God i.e., Miriam (Exodus 15: 20-26), Deborah (Judges 4-5), Esther (Book of Esther), Junia (Romans 16:7), and Chloe (I Corinthians 1:11). The main New Testament passage used for the newly found liberty in Christ for women is Galatians 3:27f. How does one responsibly develop a theology using the Bible alone when the Bible is unclear on an issue?

In the reformation, Martin Luther was convinced that the church should make its doctrinal claims Sola Scriptura. Pentecostals have adopted this claim. They have been resistant to questioning the “written Word.” Pentecostals, therefore, have been called “People of the Book” (Ma: 54; McClung: 607). The ambiguity of biblical hermeneutics that emerges from contemporary scholarship, however, forces one to acknowledge that doctrinal claims should not depend upon scripture alone.

In addition to the flawed application of scripture, some Pentecostal churches have relied upon church traditions that were highly influenced my social contrivances that resulted into of theological ambiguities concerning women’s roles in the church. In the survey of Church history, women were commissioned for several different roles in early centuries. Yet, some of the functions of those roles remain unclear. The early Middle Ages account for women’s ministries such as canonesses, abbesses, nuns, women bishops and women priests. However, the most ambiguous roles are those of the “women bishops” and “women priests.” Gary Macy, professor of religious studies a the University of San Diego, writes, “Apart from living chastely, the form of life which “women bishops” and “women priests” entailed is unclear” (7). Some traditions argue that these positions held no other function than the wife of a male bishop or priest. Yet, contemporary scholarship has found reasons to insist that these offices may have held independent clerical positions (Cooke and Macy: 8).

Different traditions hold different doctrines on the issue. While the Roman Catholic Church has not ordained women, it has demanded that its male priests remain celibate. The church values the ministries of women, such as abbess and nuns. Many of its great spiritual leaders and teachers such as Julia of Norwich, Claire, Teresa of Avila, and Mother Teresa are remembered for their important work in the history of the Catholic Church. Many women have been declared saints just as men and some even are remembered by official festivals held in their honor (i.e., October 15th is “the feast of St. Teresa of Avila). Yet, the church’s official position is that women may not be ordained as priests. The Reverend David Maloney gives account of the ruling of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published January 27, 1977. According to him, the document declares,

The constant tradition (of the Roman Catholic Church), according to which only men are ordained priests, come from Christ and the apostles, and the Church is bound to follow that norm because Christ intended it to remain permanently as a norm for the Church”(Maloney: 7-9)

The church does not seem to use scripture to warrant this claim. There is no claim of the speaking of the Spirit on the issue. Even, reason is not exercised to produce this conclusion. As presented in Maloney, refusal to ordain women in the Roman Catholic Church is a norm that is passed down by tradition (Maloney: 9). The church is committed to its on tradition, disregarding any other method for theological development.

The Anglican Church, perhaps influenced by the rich heritage of women leadership as Queens in England, has been open to the value of women leadership in their churches and do ordain women to priesthood. Interestingly, though Roman Catholics and Anglicans have common ecclesiological ancestry, each has different commitments pertaining clerical ordination. The Anglican Church both ordains women and men priests and permits its clergy to marry. In the opening sentence of the “World Anglican Journal”1999 edition the reporter states, “The ordination of women as priests remains the main obstacle to the union of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches” (

Like Anglicans, Pentecostals traditionally have not accepted the value of Roman Catholic views in the area of celibate priests. The Catholic Church’s views on the issue of women ordination, moreover, might not have proper relevance to the Pentecostal context without raising the relevance of celibate male priests. An even stronger relationship between the Pentecostal movements and the broader church history of major traditions on this issue might be the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Pentecostal movements do not share a common major church tradition as their ancestor. The movement has evolved through Spirit-renewals in almost every denomination. One might say that the movement, as a unit, is the product of many traditions. This might even shed light on why so many conflicting views on the issue of women ordination. Pentecostal movements that develop out of many church traditions share common value emphasis on the workings of the Holy Spirit and the freedom of the Holy Spirit to liberate people from demonic powers. An appropriate way to respond to this issue with probable productivity, therefore, might be to take seriously a major tradition that has valued the working of the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Church, for example, has valued the work of the Holy Spirit perhaps more intentionally than both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church.

Incidentally, the Eastern Orthodox Church does not ordain women. It, also, does not prohibit its priests from marriage. The problem with the Eastern Orthodox Church has pertained to its contradicting concern for social action. Stanley Harakas describes the “reawakening of the long-dormant tradition of Eastern Orthodox social consciousness and concerns” (9). In his book, he describes centuries of Bishops that have led the Eastern Orthodox Church in movements of social concerns. These concerns, however, seem focused on world hunger, traffic safety, public policy, race relations and human rights (see Harakas). However, the ecclesial hierarchy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, similarly to that of the Roman Catholic Church, is historically male dominated. Any of its theology for social action has focused on the liberation within the structures of society, beyond the structures of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The church has not changed nor even seems to recognize the oppressive theology that governs its hierarchical structure. An institution that advocates the liberation of social structure must do an introspective-evaluation for internal structures of oppression. The Eastern Orthodox Church demonstrates a need to reconsider the oppressive social contrivances that it promotes when it prohibits the ordination of women. Therefore, a mere adaptation of an Eastern Orthodox tradition on this issue is insufficient for any movement that values the Holy Spirit’s prophetic voice in broader areas of social injustice.

While some Pentecostal movements (often called Spirit-filled churches) have valued the prophetic experience towards social liberation, many of them have not utilized the experience of prophecy to liberate women from their exclusion in ordained ministry. A major African American Pentecostal headquarters, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, of Memphis, Tennessee, opened its pulpit to the civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. From its pulpit, King preached his final prophetic sermon against racial and economic injustice. Ironically, even the Church of God in Christ has not changed its doctrine that prohibits the ordination of women ministers. It is fitting that a movement that takes seriously the experience of the Holy Spirit to cause “sons and daughters to prophesy (proclaim)” (Acts 2:17) demonstrate the same quality of experience in its ecclesial structure.

Why not ordain men and women to prophesy (proclaim or preach)? There are many competent women for preaching. I have been to churches and church conferences where men and women preached. In my judgment, some of the women’s homiletical abilities have been incredibly powerful. Other than by obvious gender differences, there has been little difference between the homiletical abilities of either. In some cases, women’s speaking abilities, pulpit confidence and presence, and proof of preparedness to deliver a sermon has been better than men.

It is inadequate to judge the effectiveness of preaching by gender differences. I cannot argue here from empirical data. There are several accounts, however, where within African American history people have benefited in their spiritual walk or Christian journey from women evangelists and pastors. For example, we hardly hear of the roles that women have had in the spiritual experience of black slavery. According to C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya, many slave women preached the gospel in the worship services held on the plantations (270-280). Their roles as preachers helped to sustain the spiritual life of the oppressed slaves day to day (Israel: 3).

By the end of the eighteenth century during the great religious revival era of camp meetings when Freewill Baptists, Christian Connection, and Methodists allowed women to preach and exhort more freely than before; women preachers emerged in large numbers. Between 1800 and 1845, women preachers in several denominational churches were accepted as evangelists, but not as ordained ministers. The male dominated hierarchical structures of the Black Church could not resist the effectiveness of women ministries. These women were, however, free to preach from the pulpits of churches (Israel: 3); yet, the prominent social structures that prohibited the liberation of women in society crippled the Black church such that it was unwilling to affirm them in ordained ministry. In essence, by permitting women to speak but prohibiting their ordination, the church remained guilty of gender oppression.

Amanda Smith (1837-1915), a Spirit-filled, African American woman evangelist traveled from the United States to South Africa to Liberia and to India preaching and discipling new converts. Adrienne M. Israel informs that Rev. Smith was responsible for initiating the message of “sanctification” among the African Methodist Episcopal Churches in northeast United States of America (51). She had gifts to attract people to listen to her preach the Word of God. An observer who was present at one of Smith’s services at the Mountain Lake Park Camp Meeting in Maryland recalls,

The pressure for seats in and around and near the pulpit was almost crushing. … Until after ten o’clock, this gifted and holy woman of God poured out her bright brain and loving heart on that audience…The crowd lingered to the late closing. It was impossible to make room for an altar service… (Christian Standard: 5).

In her own Autobiography, Smith recalls that when she preached, “the fire seemed to fall on all the people” (112). Perhaps, “the fire” (presumably, Smith is speaking of the Holy Spirit) was free to fall because there was openness to women leadership and hearing the gospel through the voice of women. Israel notes,

Smith’s career developed out of the black religious heritage from the era of slavery, trends among Methodists, the late-nineteenth-century holiness revival, and the temperance movement, all of which either directly or indirectly encouraged public leadership roles of women (3).

Furthermore, born in Hazelhurst, Georgia, in 1891, by 1925 Ida B. Robinson became one of the first known African American female bishops. She was founder of the Pentecostal church, Mt. Sinai Holy Church of America. According to Harold Trulear account of Elder Minerva Bell’s (Bell is the author of the Mt. Sinai Holy Church’s history) interview with someone named Mary Jackson, Bishop Robinson claimed that during prayer the Holy Spirit spoke to her to “Come out on Mt. Sinai and loose the women” (Goff and Wacker: 313).

Trulear, in his article entitled “Ida B. Robinson: The Mother as Symbolic Presence,” captures the motherly nature of the office of pastor (Goff and Wacker: 309-324). In his description of Robinson, he highlights the appropriateness of her femaleness in the office of a Bishop. He says,

The concept of church birthing, in contrast to church building, is consistent with the mother symbol of Ida B. Robinson and with the notion of life affirmed in the black religious tradition (Goff and Wacker: 314).

According to Trulear, this metaphor of birthing and mothering churches was the driving forces that led Robinson’s concern with issues relating to the quality of life. The mother symbol for the office of “pastor” helped Pastor Robinson to structure her church. She avoided the tendency to reduce church leadership to organizational management and institutional maintenance (315). Through the metaphor of her gender, she was compelled to the nurturing of persons, with specific attention given to the development of mature individuals in both the personal and communal spheres. Concisely stated, Rev. Robinson was pastor as mother. She understood new converts as new children to be reared in holiness. After every sermon, she would sing her theme song: “This is the church of Mt. Sinai. Oh you can’t join it. You’ve got to be born in it. This is the church of Mt. Sinai” (Goff and Wacker: 315). According to Trulear, for the members of the Mt. Sinai Holy Churches of America these mothering qualities and birthing image helped to cultivate good life for individuals within the Mt. Sinai Holy Churches and the community life of these churches (315).

Of course, the stories of Smith and Robinson and their experiences as evangelist and pastor/ Bishop, alone, are not substantial enough to make a theological analysis on the issue of ordination of women. Two women cannot represent the concept of “women in the ministry.” To borrow from the language of Harold Trulear, the historicity of these and other stories requires deeper “investigation, their complexity mandates analysis, and their efficacy pleads for imitation” (Goff and Wacker: 324). These stories, however, are important part of the History of Christian experience. These women’s ministries are equally accountable as the stories that any male ordained ministry might contribute.

In light of a corrected view of scripture, critical view of tradition balanced with an objective view of experience, reason suggests that not only is the Spirit capable of using women but also has used women in significant ways that have not been recognized by the church at least in the same manner as men. It is amazing that the Holy Spirit has used women, such as Amanda B. Smith and Ida B. Robinson, to convince people of the gospel, despite the gender limitations that they face from a patriarchal society. God might do even greater work through women when the social contrivances adopted by many churches to restrict women are changed in order for them to be privileged to ordained ministry.

It is, furthermore, reasonable for society and the church to affirm the leadership roles of women based on their effectiveness as leaders in history in broader categories than in the history of the Church. Women have played significant leadership roles that have benefited society, for example, in abolitionist and civil rights movements, the medical field, in astronomy, in education etc. Abigail Adams (1744-1818), Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870), Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), Mary Lyon (1797-1849), Catherine Beecher (1800-1878), Harriett Tubman (1820-1913), and Rosa Parks (1913- ) were only a few courageous female advocates that led revolutionary acts in history. Abigail, the wife of President Adams, led preliminary advocacy for women’s rights to vote in America. Mary Wollstonecraft led in a struggle for women’s rights long before the Women Rights movement began in 1920; she founded a school for women. Emma Willard founded seminaries for women’s preparation in the ministry. Sojourner Truth was a female slave abolitionist and minister. Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist who was so bold to lead the Underground Railroad until slavery was abolished. Rosa Parks led the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white man forty years ago on December 1, 1955; she was tired and weary from a day of work.

In many cases, it seems that women might have been bolder than the men. Interestingly, no man is reported to have resisted segregation to the extent of initiating the Civil Rights movement. Men such as Martin King are the most noted for their work in the movement. However, it was the courageous voice of a woman that pierced the heart of injustice when she spoke up and said, “No!” What if Rosa Parks had not spoken up? What if she had succumbed to society’s oppositions? First, she is female. Second, she is black. Yet, her resistance to social contrivances that were against her gave way to the civil rights movement that has produced the social liberation that we enjoy today. One might say that God used the voice and actions of a woman. Why would we not want to ordain the voice that God uses? By excluding women from ordained ministry, we fail to affirm the voice of God that speaks through her for the good of society and for the good of the church.


It is, moreover, insufficient conclusion to determine a theological claim on the issue of women’s ordination based solely on scripture, tradition, experiences, or reason. However, when all four are held together as sources for doing Pentecostal theology, an intelligent theological conclusion is that women should indeed be permitted into ordained ministry. Exclusion of women in ordained ministry is a conformation to a social contrivance. This problem has influenced the way that a patronized society has read scripture, interpreted the effectiveness of the Christian tradition, discerned the movement of the Spirit in experiences, and listened to the power of reason. The exclusion of women in ordained ministry cannot be warranted on the bases that majority of traditions within Christian history have submitted. Experience and reason are important in developing a theological response to this issue.

As so-called “People of the Book,” Pentecostals might learn from feminist revisionists that the Bible when “de-patriarchalized,” actually advocates the liberation of women (Schussler Fiorenza: 23). This “de-patriarchalization” within Pentecostal circles might provide a clearer understanding of the consistency of the move for women liberation in the Spirit-filled church with Paul’s claim, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” This liberation should certainly begin in the ministry of the Spirit, as claimed by the Spirit-filled churches, also called Pentecostal churches.

Ella and Henry Mitchell make the profound point on the issue of women in ministry that it seems most fitting to move beyond the deep bias of societies and follow the abundantly evidence of God’s work in Jesus Christ as the church’s pattern of operation (15). They identify the most important characteristics of Jesus’ earthly ministry to have been grace and compassion, justice and equality, and the freedom to become fulfilled children of God (Mitchell: 15). If the Pentecostal churches would follow these principles today, they would liberate women in the church to serve with equal opportunity to exercise their God-given gifts in the vocation of ordained ministry. In addition, I believe that Pentecostals might be more effective in discipleship than any former institutional church in the history of Christian traditions if they resist social constraints, including the gender biases, within its church structure that submits it to societal norms.

The Case Study

In the case study above, several issues emerge. However, I have only chosen to respond to one of them. However, it is interesting that the church of the Aladura, as presented, relies on Old Testament laws for Christian practice: menstruating women are not allowed in the sanctuary of their churches. One might wonder to what extent is the Church of the Aladura consistent in its adapting temple laws to its Christian practices. For example, are castrated men, midgets, eunuchs allowed in the sanctuary of the churches? These were all mostly males who where prohibited in the Temple according to the temple laws of Deuteronomy 23:1. This question, however, is not addressed in the case study or in my recollection of the seminar in Berlin, Germany.

Pastor Johannes Wilson, also, seems committed to certain passages of the Bible. He bases his objection to women’s ordination on patriarchal readings of scripture. One might note that he only quotes the passages that seem to esteem male dominance. He then reads into the passages the issue of women ordination.

The Pentecostal might ask, in ordained ministry, what is the authoritative voice-the preacher or the Word being preached. If the voice of the preacher is the authoritative voice, then the authority of the gospel is reduced to human authority. If the Word being preached is the authoritative voice, then the issue of gender discrimination in ordained ministry based on a biblical claim that the “man is the head” appears less valuable. If the latter is true, Wilson’s argument for male ordination grounded in his scriptural claims contained in the quotation that follows are weakened: “she (the woman) is not supposed to have authority over the man… A woman should not pastor. The man is the head. That is why pastoring is a man’s job.” One might ask, what is the goal of preaching-to get people to follow the preacher or to spread the gospel with intentions to convince people to follow Jesus? A normative Pentecostal view is that the purpose of preaching is to fulfill the Great Commission: Go into all the world making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey whatever I have commanded you...”(Matthew 28:19). In essence, the goal is to make disciples for Christ and not followers of people.

Alas, I concur with Archbishop Madelia Oku-Adagame’s position on women’s ordination but her method of argumentation weakens her argument. I believe that God is free to call whomever God chooses to preach, and that genders and ethnicities should not exclude one from ordination. The archbishop says,

My Lord said, ‘There is neither male nor female.’ God can use anybody God wants to and whenever God if they only submit to God. Hallelujah! What gets me is that people are always saying, ‘the Bible said this and the Bible said that.’ Tell me, what did the Spirit say? ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (II Corinthians 3:6) (Excerpt is taken from case study).

The method of arguing reveals an emotive response rather than a critical theological response to the issue. First, she quotes Paul and names him the Lord: “My Lord said, ‘There is neither male nor female.’” Secondly, she uses Scripture to argue against the usage of Scripture: “What gets me is that people are always saying, ‘the Bible said this and the Bible said that.’ Tell me, what did the Spirit say? ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (II Corinthians 3:6)” Thirdly, she relies on what the Bible says about the Spirit to value the speaking of the Spirit against the Bible.

I believe that my theological response is equally as passionate as the archbishop is; yet it is more theologically convincing than hers. I have not violated my faith commitments as a Pentecostal minister. In addition, the theological argument against the social problem of women’s ordination is academically intelligible and is appropriate to the cases study offered above.



Bright, J., The Authority of the Old Testament (London 1967)

Cooke, B. and Macy, G. (editors), A History of Women and Ordination V1: The Ordination of Women in a Medieval Context (The Scarecrow Press, Inc.: Lanham, Maryland, and London, 2002)

Goff, James R. and Wacker, Grant, Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders (University of Arkansas Press: Fayetteville, 2002)

Hayter, M., The New Eve in Christ (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI, 1987)

Israel, Adrienne M., Amanda Berry Smith (Scarecrow Press, Inc: Lanham, Maryland and London, 1998)

Lincoln, Eric C. and Mamiya, Lawrence, H., The Black Church in the African American Experience (Duke University Press: Durham, N.C., 1990)

Maloney, David, M., The Church cannot ordain Women to the Priesthood: Declaration Of the Congregation fro Doctrine of the Faith (Franciscan Herald Press: Chicago, IL, 1978)

“Mountain Lake Park,” Christian Standard, 23 July 1891

Mitchell, Ella P. (editor), Women: To Preach or not to Preach (Judson Press: Valley Forge, PA 1991)

Schussler-Fiorenza, But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (Beacon Press: Boston, MA, 1992)

Smith, Amanda Berry, Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored Evangelist (1893) (first reprint-Chicago: Afro-American Press, Division of Afro-American Books, Inc., 1969)