News - GC Religion Professor Explores Wisdom About Gender Equality in New Edition of "Ordaining Women"

GC Religion Professor Explores Wisdom About Gender Equality in New Edition of "Ordaining Women"

Dr. Ben WaymanStories about hidden treasures intrigue us, like the winning lottery ticket discovered in a jeans’ pocket or the Picasso painting picked up for two dollars at a yard sale.

Hidden treasures intrigue author Ben Wayman too, especially treasures that belong to the holy preserve of the gospel. The prospect of finding overlooked valuables moved him to dust off Ordaining Women by B.T. Roberts, the “father of Free Methodism,” and explore its nooks and crannies for gems of wisdom about gender equality in the church.

He succeeded.

This fall, Wipf & Stock Publishers will release Ordaining Women: New Edition with an Introduction and Notes by Benjamin D. Wayman.

When he is not leading class as assistant professor of religion at Greenville College, Wayman searches church history for treasures that have value in today’s world. Ordaining Women was first published in 1891. Wayman uncovered these jewels just in time for its 125th anniversary:

  • Room for growth – Ordained in the Free Methodist Church, Wayman frames attention to gender equality in terms of that denomination. “The Free Methodist Church needs to concern itself with being a church worthy of receiving women as the leading pastors of our local churches. We're not there yet.”

“Not there yet” describes denominational leadership as well. Wayman cites the findings of a recent doctoral dissertation on leadership in the Free Methodist Church written by Beth Armstrong. Armstrong states that in 2015, women filled only seven percent of senior and solo pastor positions in the Free Methodist Church, and there has never been a female in the church's most influential position: bishop. Wayman notes that at the most recent general conference, the Free Methodist Church re-elected its three bishops - all exemplary leaders - but the church has not yet elected a woman to help lead the denomination in a manner that would fulfill the full range of Roberts' vision.

  • Broad appeal – Failure of Free Methodists to fully embrace the treasure of Ordaining Women reflects failure of the global church to do the same. Typically the book has found its way into the hands of women who struggle with the call to ordained ministry. On closer look, Wayman sees a message with broader appeal.

“This is a book for the full church,” he says. “Men need it as much as women, probably more so.”

  • Distracted by feminism and tradition – According to Wayman, women's ordination is neither a 'feminist' question nor a 'special interest' question, but a gospel question. “The gospel is that Christ has made possible a new world,” explains Wayman. “This book invites us to reimagine how this new world applies to the inclusion of women in ordained ministry.” 

As Wayman sees it, the greatest obstacle to women’s ordination is not Scripture, but Tradition. “As Wesleyans, Tradition matters a great deal and it should come to play in our theological imaginations. So it's important that Roberts rightly shows that 'tradition' can be deeply mistaken and prejudiced; he cites Christianity's longtime endorsement of slavery as one example.”

  • Careful Scholarship – In the original, Roberts cited references in 28 footnotes, but did not include a full bibliography. Wayman and his research assistant Tyler Merrill reconstructed that bibliography and created a more complete picture of Roberts’ case for women’s ordination with 153 footnotes. “The breadth and depth of Roberts’ scholarship and careful consideration of the subject is impressive,” said Wayman.

We may rightly regard Ordaining Women as Roberts’ life work. It brings his learning, mature insight and prophetic vision to the table – a true treasure, by Wayman’s estimate. He hopes that its brilliance, carefully restored in this new edition, will find increased value in the eyes of treasure seekers today.

The book is scheduled to be released in November 2015 and will be available on and other major booksellers. To pre-order the book, contact your favorite bookseller or order directly from Wipf & Stock by email ( or by phone (541.344.1528). 

Learn more about Ben Wayman’s explorations in church history:

He Says, She Says, The Gospel Says

Make the Words Your Own: GC Professor Benjamin Wayman Publishes Guide to the Psalms

Religion & Philosophy Professor Ben Wayman Publishes Diodore the Theologian


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This story was published on August 04, 2015

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