Point of Contact

Since my first post on Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian on August 10, 2018 at least three additional women (primary witnesses) have spoken up claiming first-hand experiences with sexual misconduct and harassment from DrB. Many other individuals have also spoke up with second-hand knowledge (secondary witnesses) of events regarding DrB’s sexual misconduct and harassment toward women.

Currently, all four women who are primary witnesses are claiming anonymity. I don’t blame them. The environment in which they speak up has proven itself hostile toward [some of] these women.

Patterns are revealing themselves. Both primary and secondary witness accounts detail similar sexual misconduct from DrB and Bill Hybels. Accounts also point to some overlap in time. Meaning, similar sexual misconduct from both men occurred around the same time. Coincidence? Only Bill and DrB can answer that.

A third pattern has revealed itself: the pattern of the cover-ups that have enabled these men to continue their sexual misconduct with immunity. Bill is linked to one major Christian institution, Willow Creek Community Church (WCCC). Since March 2018, the public has become aware of how WCCC has for years covered up for Bill. DrB is linked to not one but three major Christian institutions. Primary and secondary witness accounts detail how all three of these institutions have for years covered up for DrB’s sexual misconduct toward women.

One institution dismissed DrB’s female accuser as a temptress. Another gave DrB a slap on the hand by dismissing him of his responsibilities for a short period time, for about 5 months. The third institution dismissed his actions with, “Oh, DrB is just being DrB. He’s just being himself. He’s just being French.” When those excuses were not used, references to his age and senility were used instead.

Women, both primary (women/people who directly received sexual misconduct or other type of abuse) and secondary (people who heard about DrB’s behavior from others) witnesses, have been met with verbally hostile attacks for speaking up against DrB. It is difficult to discern who is a safe person to speak to. Recent events reveal that there are some individuals who are seeking accountability for Bill but because of their affection for and personal friendship with DrB are either silent or are verbally hostile toward women who speak up against DrB. The double standard is shameful for the movement that seeks accountability for abusive leaders and abusive structures at WCCC.

I’ve been asked if Willow Creek has reached out to me, ESMartin, if WCCC has asked for my help to connect them with the two primary witnesses linked to my blog. No. No one from Willow Creek has reached out to me. Willow claims to be reaching out to the victims of Bill. Even though Willow is aware of my blog posts regarding DrB, they have not reached out to me.

Sarah Carter has co-founded a group to assist women who have been abused by clergy. She has not reached out to me. Steve Carter, who has an idolatrous following of individuals who recently referred to him, while he was still on staff at Willow, as “savior” and “redeemer”, has not reached out to me. Even though Steve is no longer on staff at Willow, his idolatrous following continues. And still, this super “hero” has not reached out to me. Steve did contact me two years ago to demand—in his typical passive-aggressive, bully, manipulative, and tantrum-throwing ways—that I remove my posts about him. Sound familiar? This is typical character of Willow Creek leaders. No, I did not remove my posts about him; they are still available on my blog.

I did receive an email from Wheaton College regarding my posts about DrB. Wheaton College stated to me that they take allegations seriously and have asked for my assistance in connecting them to primary witnesses—specifically, women who have experienced sexual misconduct from DrB.

When Wheaton College contacted me, I took the opportunity to ask Wheaton College to verify if and when did Wheaton remove DrB from his teaching responsibilities for one semester as a form of reprimand for his sexual misconduct toward women—as my intel (secondary witness) informs me. I also asked Wheaton College if they intend to hold DrB accountable for his actions. Wheaton did not respond to my inquiry. I didn’t expect Wheaton College to respond to my inquiry; but, I still had to ask. For now, I consider Wheaton College’s lack of response as a confirmation of the “time out” from teaching they imposed on DrB—until I hear otherwise from Wheaton College.

Also, during DrB’s tenure at Wheaton College, his sexual misconduct toward female students was common knowledge among the female and male student body—as my intel (secondary witness) informs me.

Wheaton College responded to my inquiry by re-iterating to me that they want to “hear” the allegations against the “retired” professor, DrB. I greatly appreciate Wheaton College opening up an inquiry to “hear” the allegations against “retired” DrB. Only time will tell how Wheaton College will respond to the current inquiry. I hope they do more than “hear” from the primary witnesses. Unfortunately, precedence does not allow me to have much hope.

I have sent the contact information of Wheaton College to the two primary witnesses linked to my blog, as Wheaton asked of me. With this post, I invite primary witnesses, or their representatives, to email me if they wish for me to provide to them the contact information of the person leading the inquiry on behalf of Wheaton College.

DrB is aware of the public allegations now circulating on the internet and on Facebook via my blog, ESMartin. As his way of reaching out to bring this “turmoil to an honorable end”, he is making a few requests: 1) That ESMartin “pull down the personally offensive blogs and FB page”, 2) that “ESMartin retract the allegations as fictive material”, and that 3) “ESMartin express a general apology for whoever suffered harm”. DrB stated that members of his family are very upset, not because of any sexual misconduct on his part, but because of the public allegations of the woman/women. Meaning, it’s the fault of the whistle blower[s], not the fault of DrB, that his family is upset. Also, DrB is accusing the woman/women of speaking out of resentment and retaliation against him for loss of [her] ministry opportunities at WCCC. Does all of this sound familiar? Bill/Willow Creek responded with the same and practically identical accusations and attacks against Bill’s accusers. Another pattern reveals itself.

My intel (secondary witness who heard it directly from DrB) informs me that DrB has advised Bill to own up to whatever he needs to own up to. Based on the preliminary response from DrB, DrB does not intend to follow his own advice.

Instead of succumbing to DrB’s requests, I am going to do something else…and I need your help.

Seeking accountability for DrB’s actions is proving itself to be a much more daunting task than seeking accountability for Bill. DrB is linked to not one but to three major Christian institutions which have covered up for him for decades. Additionally, some, not all, individuals who are seeking accountability for Bill and WCCC have a close friendship with DrB; so, they are either silent about DrB or extremely hostile toward the women raising allegations against DrB. Also, the women can’t go to DrB. DrB has already revealed his defense which is to deny and attack and try to invalidate his accuser(s). Where may the women go to raise allegations against DrB and seek accountability for his actions?

I extend my gratitude to those of you who have contributed with your comments on my blog posts to the effort of exposing DrB and seeking accountability for his actions. With this post, and as my response to DrB’s requests, I am expanding the purpose of my blog.

  1. I am inviting primary and secondary witnesses to email me with your accounts for the purpose of exposing DrB and seeking accountability via safe and appropriate and, of course, government-protected venues. Your identity will be kept confidential and shared only with your prior permission
  2. I am inviting primary and secondary witnesses to email me with your accounts for the purpose of exposing and seeking accountability for the three major Christian institutions who have covered up for DrB and covered up for themselves regarding DrB’s sexual misconduct, and who have done so for decades.Your identity will be kept confidential and shared only with your prior permission.
  3. And third, I am inviting primary and secondary witnesses to email me with your accounts regarding pertinent abusive behavior from DrB against women. Accounts are starting to surface from primary witnesses indicating that coupled with sexual misconduct, DrB directed abusive behavior toward women in the form of emotional, intellectual, psychological, moral, and spiritual abuse.Your identity will be kept confidential and shared only with your prior permission.

I look forward to hearing from you and to connect you with the group of individuals who are currently in the process of gathering data in order to expose DrB and seek accountability for his actions and the actions of his enablers.

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The First Time…

After posting my article this past Friday, I was notified that on this past Saturday morning, yesterday, another woman spoke up with practically an identical experience. Exposing this particular founding elder will be difficult for many to comprehend and even more difficult to accept and extremely difficult to deal with the after-math. I respectfully extend my gratitude to those who have left comments of support for the voices now speaking up.

To continue on this very difficult task, below is a follow-up account from Anonymous Woman–the same woman from my previous post. I publish the following with her permission.

The first time he did something perverted to me was in-front of a storefront. I picked him up at his home and drove out for lunch. He took me to a restaurant he recommended in his neighborhood of Wheaton. I am not from Wheaton and am not familiar with the area. It is however, his neighborhood. I drove but he navigated. He directed me where to park and as a way to introduce me to his neighborhood, he gave me a round-about tour of the block on our way to the restaurant.

As we were approaching the restaurant and had gone around the block, we were walking on the sidewalk approaching the storefront in reference. He tenderly took my arm and we walked with locked arms. I was surprised and a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t make a big deal of it, and interpreted his action only as he extending friendly affection.

Up ahead I could see a poster displayed behind the glass of the storefront. It was a naked man, wearing only a Speedo with his legs wide open for everyone to see his frontal package tightly packed-in by the Speedo. I was mortified! I was also very embarrassed that he and we had to see this thing.

As we approached the poster, the idea quickly popped into my head to cross the street in order to avoid the poster. Instead, I hurried up my step and I looked away toward the street as I talked trying to recalibrate myself and re-focus on the conversation. When we were about one step past the poster, I began to feel relief that it was all over. That’s when it happened.

While our arms were locked, he stops us and starts to walk backwards telling me, “Look, look! I want you to see this.” My heart was pounding in horror. I was hoping he was referring to something else, not the poster. I didn’t know what to do. I did know I didn’t want to go back there no matter what it was he wanted me to see. I pressed forward and told him, “Come on. Let’s keep walking.”

But, we were in locked arms and he pulled me back saying, “Look, look!” I turned to look at him. He had that gloating grin, the same one I described in my previous post. He was pointing at the poster with his other hand but his eyes were fixed on my eyes. Again and again, I pressed forward telling him, “Come on let’s go!” But he would not let me go. By this time, we were no longer locked in arms, but he had his hand firmly on my elbow, holding me back and pulling me back, preventing me from walking forward, and forcing me to look at the poster.

As he was looking at me and searching for my eyes, I was looking away, looking at the sky, the sidewalk, the street, everywhere but that darn poster or his eyes. He wouldn’t let go of me. I finally looked and said, “There, I looked, now let’s go!”

He burst out laughing and forced me to look at his eyes after I looked at the poster. Finally, he loosened his grip on my elbow and we were able to keep walking.

I have many disturbing accounts that I need to share to hold this man and Willow Creek accountable. I have chosen to share this particular account at this time because of what I have been reading lately regarding the pattern of obsession over nudity and [neo-] pornography and indecent exposure among sexual predators and among Willow Creek senior leaders. And this account fits the pattern.

I didn’t make the connection then. Now, after the scandal broke, so many pieces are falling into place. Then, I had too much respect for him. Now, I am repulsed at the mere thought of him or mention of his name.

I thank you all in advance for your patience and for your support as I navigate this very difficult situation. Speaking up about a man I have looked up to, a man so many of us have looked up to, carries a heavy burden…a burden I have chosen to carry and have chosen to carry alone. I stand on my own integrity. I stand on my own word.

I will continue to share my experiences and will continue to seek accountability over this man. This man needs to be stopped and many more, not one or two or three more, but many more current senior leaders, staffers, and volunteers need to resign if Willow Creek is to have a real chance of a redemptive fresh start.

The founding elder I am speaking up about is Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, a.k.a. Dr. B, founding elder and co-founder of Willow Creek, and mentor and advisor to Bill Hybels and many other past and current senior leaders, staffers, volunteers and members at Willow Creek.

For any woman out there who has experienced any form of sexual perversion from Dr. B or any man out there who has witnessed or been influenced by his sexual perversion, please seek a safe place to communicate your story and to make it public. Since multiple private efforts to hold him accountable have not worked, it is time to go public as Scripture demands, Matthew 18:17.

There are many more stories out there that need to be heard. For exposing Dr. B, the negative ramifications on various Christian institutions are great. But the church can no longer afford to protect him in order to protect all the good he has done. We as Christians should never have to make the decision to protect a sexual predator in order to protect the good he has done. And women should never ever have to pay the price for that decision.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I moderate the comments, so if you would like to make a private comment, simply state so and I will not make your comment public.

Systemic Sexual Perversion in the Foundation of Willow Creek Commmunity Church

On March 23, 2018, along with the rest of the world, I found out about the allegations against Bill Hybels regarding sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Like so many others—and because of my gratitude and respect for Bill and Lynne and their family—I also hoped it was all one big misunderstanding and that it wasn’t true. However, I quickly stepped into my egalitarian responsibilities, which includes—among many other egalitarian responsibilities—“listen to the witness of the women.” Jesus did. The New Testament church did. So must we.

I was shocked and saddened at the allegations against Bill. However, I was not surprised at how Willow Creek has mishandled the situation before and since March 2018. Nor was I surprised at the systemic problem of abuse of power and of sexual perversion.

Others have written on the abuse of power and on how the elders and senior leaders have mishandled the allegations before and since March 2018. Scott McKnight has written a comprehensive and well detailed summary, which I highly recommend reading, click here for his article. However, no one has tackled the systemic and prevalent problem of sexual perversion that goes back to the foundation of Willow Creek.

The women who have raised allegations against Bill have requested for Bill’s misconduct to be investigated and for the investigation to go back to Bill’s college years. To make such a request, these women must certainly know something that the rest of us don’t know. Additionally, during these last few months since the scandal made news, more and more stories are surfacing regarding the sexual misconduct and mishandling of inappropriate sexual behavior of several senior leaders dating back years.

Today, five months after the scandal broke, I still hear Willow Creek defenders dismiss the experiences of women. They accuse the women of exaggerating and making a big deal out of nothing. “There is nothing wrong with a hug.” “There is nothing wrong in a compliment for having toned fore-arms.” Here’s one that many of us recognize, “These women are a bunch of flirts!” Translation: they are “temptresses”, which is the typical and default patriarchal attack against women. These attacks come out of the lips of professed ‘egalitarians’ at Willow Creek.

Very few people are aware of the kind of “extended” or “awkward hug” women at Willow have survived. Such details have not been made public by the media—not that I’m aware of. Below is a detailed and highly graphic and very disturbing account of one such “awkward hug” from a founding elder at Willow Creek—not Bill Hybels. The witness chooses to remain anonymous and asks for privacy. I am publishing her personal account with her permission as detailed below.

I arrived at his home around lunch-time for one of our typical meetings. His wife was upstairs resting in her bedroom. When I entered the living room to greet him and give him a hug, he puts his left hand behind my back. I tried to give him my typical side hug which keeps my breasts from touching the person I hug. But that didn’t happen.

He instead pulls me firmly against him and my breasts are pressed up against his chest. I was taken by surprise and hurriedly tried to pull away. I did so briefly, but then he pulls me back in firmly. Again, I tried to pull away. Again, he pulls me back in. It happened at least three times and very quickly. He was bouncing my breasts up against his chest as if he was dribbling a basketball quickly and in short intervals. All the while, he had a gloating grin on his face, enjoying the bouncing of my breasts up against his chest. I finally was able to put both my hands between our chests and pry myself away from him. My elbows and forearms hurt due to the pressure I had to exert in order to finally be able to pry away.

I was furious! And when he saw my furious facial expression, his gloating grin changed to ‘concern’. He asked me, “What’s wrong? Are you in pain? Are your breasts tender from your period?”

I was not in pain, I was furious! After fondling my breasts up against his chest, he tried to divert the “awkward” moment and the conversation to his ‘concern’ for my tender breasts and my period.

Throughout the years I interacted with him, he said and did several sexually perverted things to me before and after the “awkward hug” incident. I would tell him and clearly communicate to him that I did not feel comfortable having intimate conversations with him about my sexuality. Yet, he would repeatedly try to engage me in such conversations and other sexually “awkward” incidents.

Since the beginning of that year, the year of the “awkward hug”, I had been growing weary of our friendship. His attitude toward me that year had been growing extremely hostile and I didn’t know why. Later that year, I made the decision to end our friendship after he exposed himself to me in his underwear (incontinence diapers). That was “the last straw” that led me to end our friendship. I have had little interaction with him since. The “awkward hug” incident took place in early/mid 2014.

What I didn’t know then, and I know this now from reading up on the current scandal, is that in early/mid 2014, the first investigation of Bill’s sexual misconduct was wrapping up. The accusers of Bill Hybels contacted this founding elder prior to the start of the first investigation to ask him for his advice. He advised the women to seek “two or three witnesses”, 1 Timothy 5:19, as Scripture requires in order to bring forth an allegation against a senior leader. From the investigation, the elders made the decision that Bill had not done anything inappropriate. Around the time the elders were acquitting Bill, this founding elder gave me the fondling “awkward hug.” Only recently did I put together these pieces of the perversion puzzle.

This founding elder did not mention to the women accusers, as far as I know, that the Old Testament accepts a woman’s account of sexual abuse as a stand-alone account and without the requirement of “two or three witnesses”. This scriptural passage, Deuteronomy 22:25-27, is a counterbalance to and a more pertinent passage to address sexual abuse than his advice to seek “two or three witnesses”. The founding elder would have been aware of the Old Testament passage and should have shared it with the women who approached him—considering he is a biblical scholar and a ‘friend’ to the women who approached him about Bill’s misconduct.

Things get worse. As founding elder, this man has served as mentor to Bill and other senior leaders at Willow throughout the years since the founding of Willow Creek.

Things get even worse. I recently found out that this founding elder and biblical scholar is currently mentoring and/or advising Heather Larson, Steve Carter and other senior leaders at Willow and is helping Willow navigate thru the current scandal of sexual misconduct surrounding Bill Hybels. I have been informed that he was very upset at Steve, Heather, and the elders for issuing apologies a few weeks ago. [Update: Steve, Heather, and the elders resigned earlier this week.]

I have never spoken publicly about the sexual perversion this founding elder has directed at me. However, I have shared privately my experiences with a few individuals. I have made attempts to share my experiences beyond my close friends. The difficulty I find when trying to expose this founding elder is that when I attempt to speak to someone who might be in a position to do something about this man—there seems to be none—and who is or might be also aware of his perverted side, I am met with excuses. “Oh, he is just being himself.” “That’s just how he is.” “He’s old and forgetful.”

I’m aghast at how easily others dismiss his perversion as no big deal and with disconnected excuses as “old and forgetful”. No one seems to be willing to expose him. No one. Which means, he will keep doing what he’s been doing for decades and he will keep enabling sexual perversion in other senior leaders as he has been doing for decades and by that make impossible any attempts to “clean up” Willow Creek.

Given the account of Anonymous Woman above, clearly, there is more to an extended or “awkward hug” than simply a woman feeling “uncomfortable”. Clearly, there is much more sexual perversion beyond Bill Hybels. The depth and extent of that sexual perversion will continue to be re-outlined by the personal accounts of women as their stores surface. And, their stories will continue to surface as long as Willow Creek continues to deny and prolong enacting real change to address their structural problems and moral deficiencies.

 

 

 

Priscilla – Bishop of Rome

Prischilla priest-34132_1280

“Had the New Testament Christians used titles that were in practice by later Christians, Priscilla would have been recognized as the Bishop of Rome.” (paraphrased)

-Dr. David M. Scholer

A woman bishop?

Not just any bishop, but the Bishop of Rome.

The significance of Rome is that it became the headquarter of Christianity, after Jerusalem, when the church’s membership and overseers became increasingly Gentile due to the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Today, Rome is still the religious center for the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) where the Pope resides and from where the Pope carries out his oversight of the RCC throughout the world as the primary overseer. The Bishop of Rome is a title given to the Pope as the primary overseer of the RCC.

Dr. David M. Scholer, former professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary who passed away in the year 2008, spoke the paraphrased quote above during his class at Fuller Seminary titled, “Women, the Bible and the Church.” Dr. Scholer wrote an essay which summarizes the content of his course. The essay may be downloaded from the Fuller Seminary website, “Women in Ministry: A Biblical Basis for Equal Partnership“.

Priscilla: Paul’s Co-Worker

New Testament Christians rarely used the term “leader” to refer to Christian leaders as we know today. The term “leader” in the New Testament was primarily used for teachers, priests, and other religious overseers of Judaism and for the Gentile government and military officials of the non-Christian Roman Empire. The New Testament Christians distinguished themselves by not typically using the term “leader”, instead they used the term “servant” on themselves. They did not use the term “servant leader”. That term would have been incongruous and incompatible—an oxymoron—since the Christians were using the term “servant” to distinguish and contrast their structure of relating to one another in mutuality based on calling, giftedness, and graces as “servants” of God and/or Christ from the authoritarian, hierarchical, and, to some extent, apartheid “leader”-ship and “ruler”-ship style of Judaism and the Roman Empire. See Mark 10: 35-45 for Jesus’ contrast between the authoritarian leadership style, or “ruler”-ship, of the Gentiles to the “servant”-hood of his followers. This scripture also contains a correlation between “ruler”-ship and positions of power and honor.

In addition to the term “servant”, Paul used the term “co-worker” to relate to fellow Christian “servant”s (or leaders as we would refer to them today). The term has a connotation of mutuality and partnership without hierarchy. Like the term “servant”, “worker” reflects the work, or service, offered to the lordship of God and/or Christ.

The term “co-worker” is used instead of titles. New Testament Christians did not use titles, for the exception of once or twice, because titles were used in the hierarchical systems of Judaism and Roman Empire to recognize, stratify, and elevate respective individuals in their positions of authority, rulership, power, and honor. Positions with titles were not necessarily sought or acquired for the purpose of servant-hood, but for the purpose of acquiring power and honor…. and to be served. Jesus rebuked such purposes and prohibited his “servant”s from using titles in order to avoid the distraction of power and honor and avoid usurping authority and honor that belong to God, see Matthew 23: 1-12, Matthew 20: 20-28, Mark 10: 35-45. Jesus and the New Testament Christians observed and noted how the leaders of both Judaism and Roman Empire usurped God’s authority and honor in order to elevate themselves. Jesus gave his disciples instructions on how to avoid doing the same and the practical instruction Jesus gave was to avoid using titles.

Paul used the term “co-worker” several times in his letters to refer to prominent “servants” and church founders who helped shape and establish the New Testament church such as Priscilla, Aquila, Timothy, Paul, Apollos, Titus, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement among others, including himself. These individuals were apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers; but Paul referred to them only as “co-workers”. Paul and Peter were both Apostles, and their service (or leadership as we would refer to it today) was so highly regarded that their teachings and writings are still regarded as scripture. The Christians at Corinth, specifically the self appointed pseudo-philosophers, elevated Apollos as an individual holding a high status similar to that of Paul and Peter, 1 Corinthians 3:9. Clement was recognized by post New Testament Christians as the second Pope after the martyrdom of Peter. Paul compared the service of Euodia and Syntyche, who had primary oversight over the church at Philippi, to the service of Clement—Pope #2, Philippians 4: 2-3. Titus and Timothy were both church planters, pastors, and teachers—church planter was a general description of an apostle; and, both served as primary overseers of their respective churches. For serving as primary overseers of their respective churches both Titus and Timothy were recognized by post New Testament Christians as bishops, Timothy as Bishop of Ephesus and Titus as Bishop of the Island of Crete.

Worthy of note, Onesimus, who was not recognized by Paul as “co-worker” but as “son”—also a description Paul used for Timothy—was the former slave of Philemon. Onesimus after receiving his freedom devotes himself to church service for which post New Testament Christians recognize him as Bishop of Ephesus following the martyrdom of Timothy.

Priscilla and her husband Aquila both were church planters, or apostles, pastors, and teachers, as well. Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth; Priscilla and Aquila were both already Christians when they met Paul. Together they planted the church in Corinth. Later, Timothy and Titus served in Corinth as pastors. A few years after planting the church in Corinth, Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila left for Ephesus to plant a church. Later, Timothy served in Ephesus as pastor for which he was recognized by post New Testament Christians as Bishop of Ephesus, as previously noted. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, Priscilla and Aquila had the primary oversight of the church in Rome, Romans 16: 3-5.

Priscilla and Aquila: 5x-Priscilla , 2x-Aquila

Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned seven times in the New Testament and are always mentioned together. Two times Aquila’s name is mentioned first (Acts 18:2, 1 Corinthians 16:19), five times Priscilla’s name is mentioned first (Acts 18:18, 18:19, 18:26, Romans 16:3, 2 Timothy 4:19). Cultural practice always names the husband first before the wife, in fact, this reversal in naming doesn’t happen anywhere else for a married couple in the Old Testament nor New Testament. The significance of Priscilla’s name mentioned before her husband’s reflects Priscilla’s prominence and primary oversight in ministry. Even though Priscilla and Aquila are ministry partners, for Paul to mention her name first he is recognizing her as the primary overseer of the church in Rome, therefore Priscilla was the one serving as Bishop of Rome. Additionally, Luke in Acts also mentions Priscilla’s name first which reflects that not only Paul, but also Luke, and the Christian church as a whole, would have recognized Priscilla’s prominence in the church.

Priscilla: The Baker

How did Priscilla, Bishop of Rome, become the baker and tea server of the Aquila and Priscilla partnership?

When I was in the Calvary Chapel, the couple was known as Aquila and Priscilla, not as Priscilla and Aquila. By mentioning the husband first, the Chapelites, as well as so many other gender-hierarchicalists, disregard the prominence that Paul, Luke and the New Testament church ascribed to Priscilla.

Chapelites explained that Aquila was the teacher, not Priscilla; Priscilla was the hospitable one responsible for the culinary and fellowship details of their meeting with Apollos. After pointing out to the Chapelites that Luke mentioned Priscilla before Aquila in Acts 18:26 where Luke recorded that “Priscilla and Aquila” invited Apollos to their home to “explain”, or teach, to him “the way of God more adequately”, the Chapelites updated their response and recognized that Aquila was the primary teacher, not the sole teacher to Apollos. This response is not consistent with Priscilla’s prominence as a servant, but certainly an improvement from not recognizing her as a teacher at all. However, her recognition as a teacher includes the following qualifier from the Chapelites, “but she taught Apollos under the authority of her husband”, which is also not consistent with Priscilla’s prominence.

Sex roles based on misinterpretations of a few scriptural passages lead gender-hierarchalists to misinterpret all scriptural passages about women and to revise biblical history in order to fit women into a subordinate role of authority between men and women and between husbands and wives. Case in point, gender-hierarchicalists, such as the Chapelites described above, degrade Priscilla’s prominence and position of responsibility, or leadership and authority, in order to “put her in her place”—sort of speak—as subordinate woman and wife.

I once attended a church, not a Calvary Chapel, that recognizes Priscilla’s prominence in the church compared to Aquila but instead of degrading her to a position under Aquila they make her into Aquila’s sister. This particular church is not able to recognize Priscilla as Aquila’s wife because as wife her prominence is contrary to their gender-hierarchical view of marriage as husband over wife in spiritual, doctrinal, and decision-making matters.

The Distraction of Titles

Chapelites falsely accuse egalitarians, specifically women egalitarians, of raising awareness of lack of women in senior leadership positions, specifically in areas of spiritual, doctrinal, and decision-making oversight such as senior pastors, teachers, and elders, as selfishly ambitious and driven by the desire to hold positions of power and honor. That particular false accusation is actually an accidental and unwilling acknowledgement, a slip up, by patriarchalists that those positions which they reserve for men only are indeed positions of power and honor. It is a slip up because no effort to envelope those positions with benevolence the attributes of power and honor in those positions will always manifest themselves.

The highest calling for a follower of Christ is to bear witness to the Truth and to Jesus as Messiah, or as commonly known, preach the gospel of Jesus. All believers are called to this higher calling. With spiritual gifts, and their corresponding titles and positions, a believer bears witness. The spiritual gifts, and their corresponding titles and positions, are available to all believers according to the choosing of the Holy Spirit. No person is denied any particular gift, and its corresponding title or position, based on ethnicity, class, or sex, Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 12, 14.

The challenge egalitarians present to gender-hierarchicalists is that they point out how gender-hierarchicalists have turned the witnessing of the gospel, which is entrusted to all believers, into a system of subjugation with principles and practices that serve and keep in power an elite group by limiting certain positions of high responsibly, or authority, to only that particular elite group. In this case, the elite group is the men and the subjugated group is the women. This particular system of subjugation is based on sex, but a system of subjugation based on ethnicity and/or class are also created. Galatians 3:28, Matthew 23: 1-12, Matthew 20: 20-28, and Mark 10: 35-45 point to the strict prohibition of creating systems of subjugation based on ethnicity, class, and/or sex among the follower of Christ.

The New Testament church realized what a distraction and danger “ruler”-ship and “leader”-ship titles and positions of power and honor posed to the life of the new community and to the witnessing of the gospel. The use of titles in systems of human subjugation prompted the New Testament believers to reject the use of titles within their community and instead used terms such as “servant” and “co-worker” in order to emphasize “servant”-hood and mutuality in the new community of Christ-followers. The New Testament church did have “servants” who had more authority and responsibility than others, but those individuals were recognized based on calling and gifting and graces given by God, not by sex nor ethnicity nor socio-economic status, Galatians 3:28, I Corinthians 12, 14.

What now?

Some churches and Christian groups stay away from using titles in order to avoid the distraction of power and honor but also to avoid offending gender-hierarchicalists who regard certain positions and titles to be limited to men only. Not using titles may be impractical, especially for large churches. The benefit of using titles is that the congregation is made aware of who in the church has what responsibilities which make it convenient for church members to know who to seek for pertinent assistance. However, when a church limits certain positions of spiritual, doctrinal, and decision-making authority to certain groups based on sex, ethnicity, or socio-economic status then those positions turn to positions of power and honor and the church creates a system of subjugation. Chapelites and other gender-hierarchicalists who refer to themselves as ‘complementarians’ insist that men in authority are to be servants and benevolent, but a serving and benevolent system of subjugation is still a system of subjugation.

The New Testament has no more than two references to the use of titles and in both cases the title is acknowledged on a woman. For further study on women in senior or ordained ministry in the medieval and early church see works by Gary Macy such as The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West and also works by Dorothy Irvin; here Irvin is referenced in an article by Catherine Clark Kroeger, “Bitalia, the Ancient Woman Priest.”