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When Southern Baptists recently asserted that women's ordination is an unscriptural capitulation to the values of a postmodern culture, they used fighting words for denominations that claim a Wesleyan/Holiness theological heritage.

Before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was organized in 1845, holiness female preachers—conservative, Bible-quoting women who cherished traditional family values—crisscrossed this country holding revivals, starting colleges, and spearheading rescue missions. They were ordained to ministry a century before the civil-rights movement wedged open the door for female ministers in mainline denominations like the Methodists and Presbyterians. The Church of the Nazarene, Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Evangelical Friends, Free Meth odists, the Salvation Army, and the Wesleyan Church all take their Bibles seriously and share a long heritage of ordaining women.

The Wesleyan/Holiness view of women's ordination is founded not on modern feminism but on four scriptural cornerstones.

First, creation. Women are created as equal inheritors of God's image, and the subsequent subjugation of wom en is a sinful consequence of the Fall. Faith and new life in Christ restore the created intention of God and eliminate this distortion.

Second, public proclamation. Both testaments record the faithful and fearless service of women, including prophets like Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and the Corinthian women who were told to cover their heads when they prophesied. Jesus ...

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