2007April9, Monday

A Female Methodist Pastor and “John Knox” Gender Polemics

Posted in Anecdotes at 9:09 by Trey Austin

I attended Erskine Theological Seminary. It was a wonderful experience for me. Whenever anyone asks me where they should go to seminary, that’s always at the top of my list, not just because that’s where i went, but because it’s a great school.

At Erskine, there are lots and lots of people from all different denominational traditions who attend (in that sense, it’s a very “Catholic” seminary). However, Erskine is the ARP Church‘s only denominational seminary, but the interesting thing is that a minority of ARP ministers actually go there; the majority of people who do attend, in fact, are Methodists. This makes for some lively discussions on lots of issues, not only because of the issues of free will and predestination, but especially since the ARP Church does not ordain women to the eldership or to the ministry. I have had many lively discussions with female Methodist pastors about women’s ordination, and many of the female Methodists who attended Erskine tried to “influence” the ARP women who attended the seminary (for counselling or Christian Ed. stuff) about the nature of ministry. None of the ARP women i knew were ever more than amused.

One time, though, i was in RJ Gore‘s Systematic Theology class, and we were on a break in between sessions (in a three hour class, you have to take breaks!). There was a Methodist woman pastor from Savannah named Lois sitting behind me, and somehow, when we were talking, the topic of gender roles in the Church arose (it was usually the Methodists who made the digging comments about how Presbyterians hate women and think they’re incompetent—absolutely not true in either case, but that’s usually what they’d say). Lois said, “You know, you’re gonna be real surprised when you get to heaven, and Jesus comes out in high heels!”

Now, for the life of me, i didn’t know what to think at this comment. I could only see two possibilities: (1) Jesus is really a woman, and i won’t have known it until i get to heaven; and (2) Jesus is a cross-dresser. Honestly, i didn’t like either option.

So, in the most gentle and humble spirit-of-John-Knox i could muster, i said, “You know, you’re gonna be real surprised when you get to heaven, and Jesus won’t let you in!”


  1. Austin Storm said,

    Doh! Not the best comeback, but no less bizarre than what she said.

  2. Amber said,

    lol I would have had a hard time keeping my mouth shut too.

    speaking of Erskine, did you know Dr. Mark Ross? He filled our pulpit here for a few weeks and we thought he was GREAT.

  3. Trey Austin said,

    Austin: well, at least i didn’t call her church a “monster” like the real John Knox would have. 🙂

    Amber: i absolutely do know Dr. Ross. He’s a really great professor and pastor. Glad to see you’ve had some further contact with some good ARPs. 🙂

  4. Tim Prussic said,

    That’s a riot! I wouldn’t have been able to respond – I’d have been doubled over in room-filling laughter.

    Are you now holding justification by gender recognition, Trey?

  5. tempe said,

    Dr. Ross is a great teacher and preacher.

    Trey, you’ve told me the Lois story before (as I’ve told you the story about how she “preached” in preaching class by reading a children’s book, something about “I’ll love you for ever and always” and somehow tried to make an analogy about the love of God), but I was wondering if you remembered the story (my favorite) about “Wild” Bill, the older Methodist guy (he looked like Santa) who, once during Dr. Fairbairn’s theology class (after Dr. F. had painstakingly explained the doctrines of grace for nearly an hour), exclaimed, “This just flies in the face of John 3:16.” We awarded Bill the prestigious John 3:16 at Erskine, awarded annually to those who choose to forgo solid exegesis in favor of a-contextual proof-texting in order to preserve sacred pet doctrines.

  6. Trey Austin said,


    I remember you telling me about her doing that. She was full of that kind of stuff.

    I also remember you telling me about Bill’s rants in class.

    Did anybody ever tell you about Scott’s rant in R.J.’s systematics class? The crazy thing about that one was that several Calvinists and several Arminians were debating, and Scott just started screaming at the top of his lungs, “SHUT UP!!! SHUT UP!!!” Needless to say, R.J. didn’t take too kindly to having someone other than him trying to run his class.

  7. tempe said,


    I was there for that episode. I had forgotten about it. The thing is, though, I don’t remember “Scott.” Can you refresh my memory?

  8. Trey Austin said,

    Don’t you remember? He was the Southern Methodist or Free Methodist guy. I don’t remember which. I can’t remember his last name. He was a bit shorter than you are. He had kind of salt and pepper hair. I don’t know how else to describe him. He was from around Seneca, i thought. Anyway. That was something i hadn’t experienced before. I’d pay money just to see R.J.’s face again! 🙂

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