Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary faculty allowed no one to oppose feminism...

Error message

Almost thirty years ago, the administration and faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary sent a copy of these letters to every student in an attempt to shut down discussion of womens ordination on campus or in the classroom. When the letter went out, I had finished my M.Div. the previous May, but my brothers David and Nathan were still finishing theirs up. The environment had already been stultifying, but this letter made it even worse.

This is always the way of the destroyers. At first they claim they want dialog, but once they've gotten rid of God's Truth, they're notoriously intolerant of dialog and shut down any voices of diversity. Only perversity is allowed.

Keep in mind that this is the seminary not just of the Bayly bros, but also of Scott Hahn and Marcus Grodi and Tim Keller. And if you think that's ironic, imagine John Piper at Fuller...

One other thing: David Wells was a leading faculty member when the faculty sent this thing out. No member of the faculty spoke out against Gordon-Conwell's union shop of feminism when we were there. No one.

* * *

December 3, 1984

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
So. Hamilton, MA 01982

Dear Student:

The mission of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is to prepare men and women for ministry at home and abroad. The Seminary undertakes this task as a training partner with the church so that what is learned on campus may be complemented by the spiritual nurture and the exercise of ministry available through the church. 

It is our joy to have on campus 663 women and men, called of God, and endowed with the Spirit's gifts, preparing for different ministries. We must remind ourselves that we seek to build a community in which all of Christ's people, regardless of ethnic origin or gender, will be accepted and approved. A careless act, or conversation, can do great harm to the unity of the Seminary community and to the cause of theological education and Christ's Kingdom. The Faculty has prepared, and endorsed, the attached statement on "Women and Men in Theological Education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary". The Administration joins me in commending it to you for your careful study and prayerful thought.

It is my personal hope that you will join with me and the Faculty in reaffirming your own commitment to seeing that all students are given full opportunity to fulfill their calling and ministry.

Thank you.


Robert E. Cooley

REC:mec enclosure

Then David Wells, Roger Nicole, Gordon Fee, Doug Stuart, and their colleagues added this:


Gordon-Conwell welcomes both men and women to its degree programs, seeking to build a community in which all of Christ's people, regardless of ethnic origin or gender, will find warm acceptance.

Not only has Christ called women and men of all races to serve him, but the Holy Spirit has also distributed gifts without respect to gender or ethnic origin. With the different gifts come different ministries. Ministry is primarily a spiritual calling and secondarily an ecclesiastical office. The Seminary, because it is not a church, is not in a position to ordain anyone. It leaves to denominations and churches the decision as to which of these ministries should be formalized by ordination.

Our responsibility as a community is so to relate to one another that Christ's call can be pursued and the Spirit's gifts developed without impediment. Discussion and reflection on any issue, including the Lord's call and the Spirit's gifts, must be carried on in a context of mutual support and encouragement. Words and actions which sow discouragement and undercut those who are different from us are not acceptable, however disguised they might be in biblical terms, theological language, or pious attitudes.

We, therefore, want to reaffirm and renew our own commitment to seeing that all our students are treated with dignity and all are given full opportunity to learn of Christ and his Word without having to suffer the pain of insensitive words and thoughtless actions, particularly in connection with the call to ministry and the exercise of spiritual gifts. It is our earnest hope that you will join us in this commitment.

The Faculty

It was only a couple years later that Allen Bloom finally got a publisher to issue his The Closing of the American Mind. Having taken degrees both at UW-Madison and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, it was clear to me that Bloom's jeremiad applied more to Gordon-Conwell than it did to UW-Madison. There was no opposition to abortion at Gordon-Conwell. No opposition to feminism. As I said, it was a stultifying environment.

Finally, among a number of things in the text worth comment, did you notice this one:

(T)he Holy Spirit has ...distributed gifts without respect to gender...

Quite devious, aren't they? Precisely where in Scripture does the Holy Spirit tell us He gives gifts "without respect to gender?" I'm waiting...

And the men who chose to be so carefully wrong trained your pastor. Is it any wonder that one of those men--Gordon Fee--is the main force behind the destruction of the Bible through the removal of thousands of words the Holy Spirit inspired?

Words like 'man' and 'brother' and 'son.'

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!