‘Complementarianism’ costs Cru director

The organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ has demoted a campus director for refusing to allow women to lead Bible studies attended by both women and men.

By Bob Allen

The director of University of Louisville’s chapter of Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, has been demoted after refusing to allow female staff to teach Bible studies to mixed-gender audiences.

According to World Magazine, Daniel Harman’s views on women in ministry apparently weren’t a problem during his eight years as a Campus Crusade missionary in Eastern Europe, but that changed after he moved to the Louisville post in 2009.

Harman, a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., contends that Cru’s policy requiring that male and female campus staff share teaching duties violates Bible verses like 1 Timothy 2:12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

Southern Seminary houses offices of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which promotes a “complementarian” position that says while males and females are created as equals, the Bible assigns leadership roles in the church and home to men.

Denny Burk, associate professor of Biblical studies at Boyce College, Southern Seminary’s undergraduate arm, commended Harman “for standing upon the truth of God even at great personal cost” in a blog Dec. 1.

Cru spokesman Mark DeMoss told World that Harman’s removal wasn’t over theology but rather his refusal to abide by the ministry’s policy. Burk labeled that explanation “nonsense.”

“Cru’s policy represents an egalitarian view of ministry roles, and that stance is irreducibly theological, Burk wrote. “Daniel was demoted because of theological conviction, not because of an arcane dispute about Cru’s bureaucracy.”

Burk said from time to time he will hear people argue that complementarianism applies only to the local church and not parachurch groups like Campus Crusade, an interdenominational ministry started in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright now on 1,140 college campuses nationwide.

“This has never been a compelling argument to me,” Burk said. “It is true that parachurch groups are not the church. They cannot baptize or administer the Lord’s Supper. There is a worthwhile discussion to be had about the existence and role of parachurch organizations in relation to local churches.”

“At the very least, I think everyone should agree that parachurch orgs should never adopt ministry practices which would undermine the teaching and discipline of actual churches,” Burk continued. “For that reason, the complementarian/egalitarian issue cannot be skirted by groups like Cru.”