NOTE: The item below was submitted by Dr. Matthew Ebenezer, a member of the Board of Directors of the WRF and a teaching elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of India. Dr. Ebenezer currently serves as Principal of Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Dehradun, India. In response to the many posts on the WRF website regarding women in ministry, Dr. Ebenezer has submitted this document which is the policy statement of that institution with respect to seminary training for women.
Policy Concerning the Training of Women Students at PTS
● That some have concerns about training women theologically as this may lead to ordination.
● That some have questions about the practice of allowing women to “preach” or lead in devotions in class or in corporate student gatherings.
● That the Faculty and members of the Board come from different traditions, though evangelical and Reformed, have varying understandings of the role of women in office or worship.
● That we need to watch against cultural influences that are not compatible with the Word of God, whether from a conservative or a liberal perspective.
● We affirm that women have a role in the ministry of the Church and in the wider ministry of the Kingdom of God.
● We affirm that it is important to reach the women of India with the gospel of Christ.
● We affirm that only the truths of God’s Word can set women free from the ignorance and superstition that they pass on to the coming generations.
● We affirm that the gospel alone can liberate women from their subservient position in the society and give them dignity and self-respect.
● We affirm that due to our peculiar cultural situations, women are better equipped than men to reach other women.
● We affirm that due to the above factors, giving theological training to women is an urgent need.
● We affirm that there are ample opportunities for theologically-trained women to minister both in the church and in various missions.
● We affirm that it is the duty of the church, rather than the Seminary, to determine the role of women in ecclesiastical ministry, which is a controversial and disputed topic even among those who believe in the full authority of the Bible.
● We affirm that irrespective of the nature of the particular ministry of its graduates, a basic role of a Seminary is to equip them with knowledge, values and skills to minister.
● We affirm that preparation for ministry requires opportunities for all students to practice various skills such as interpreting and communicating the Word.
● We affirm that although religious exercises including preaching are conducted regularly at the Seminary, it is not a church. What takes place in classrooms and chapel do not include the exercise of authoritative preaching and teaching, which lies in the sphere of the church. Academic exercise is not equal to church ministry.
● We affirm that differences of opinion and interpretation among God’s people on these issues must be dealt with in a charitable manner, affirming our oneness in Christ than causing divisiveness.
Keeping in mind particularly various contextual and cultural considerations, PTS is committed to training women candidates for appropriate ministries both within and outside of church. Our policy on training women does not reflect any position on the ordination of women to the office, which we consider to be an ecclesiastical issue.