Cru Leader Demoted Over Refusal to Let Females Teach Bible Study

The campus director of Cru's University of Louisville chapter was recently demoted after he refused to allow female staff to teach Bible studies in a mixed-gender setting.

As first reported by World Magazine, Daniel Harman was stripped of his title as Missional Team Leader of the Louisville chapter of Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) when he disagreed to fully carry out the ministry's policy that male and female staff share in leadership duties, including teaching the Bible.

Since assuming the position as a campus leader of Louisville in 2009, Harman has allowed women to speak on ministry-related topics to mixed-gender audiences but has stopped short of letting women on the staff teach the Bible to men. Harman, who is currently studying for his Master of Divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes Scripture doesn't permit women to teach men.

When one of woman on this staff asked Harman if women could teach the Bible at Cru meetings before both men and women, according to the World report, Harman replied that they could not. Cru regional officials were made aware of Harman's position and they urged him to accept the organization's policy of "men and women leading together." They said that unless Harman changed his position after a three-week period, he could no longer serve as Missional Team Leader. When Harman decided that he could not follow the policy, Cru demoted him.

Telephone and email requests for comment by The Christian Post to Harman, who remains on staff at Cru where he has served for 11 years, were not returned.

Harman's case is an example of how the egalitarian vs. complementarian debate which continues to be a contentious issue is now playing out in campus ministry.

To justify why they believe women should not teach the Bible to men or hold ministry leadership positions, complementarians often point to a passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, in which Apostle Paul says, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."

A spokesman for Cru contended to World that Harman's demotion was about the inability to follow policy-not theology: "A local campus leader for Cru in Kentucky was asked to relinquish his current leadership position, not because of a theological disagreement, but rather, because of a failure to abide by the terms for holding a position of leadership within Cru."

However, Denny Burk, associate professor of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of Harman's Southern Baptist school, disagrees.

"Cru's policy represents an egalitarian view of ministry roles, and that stance is irreducibly theological. Daniel was demoted because of theological conviction, not because of an arcane dispute about Cru's bureaucracy. Certainly Cru has the right to set their own policies. I hope their constituency knows that it excludes consistent complementarians," Burk wrote in a Dec. 1 blog post.

In Burk's opinion, parachurch groups like Cru should not adopt ministry practices that undermine the teaching of churches.

"For that reason, the complementarian/egalitarian issue cannot be skirted by groups like Cru."

The Christian Post was not able to reach Cru for comment by press time. A statement by Cru to World Magazine referred to the matter of women's role in ministry leadership as a "secondary issue."

"Cru is passionate about connecting men and women to Jesus Christ," the Cru statement read. "While believers understandably have different beliefs on a wide variety of theological issues, Cru has chosen not to allow secondary issues to become primary passions and divert us from proclaiming Christ to the world."

Meanwhile, the leadership page on the Cru website lists only names of men leaders while the international leadership page lists some names of women leaders. Only two of the eight board of directors are women, including Vonnette Bright, who co-founded the ministry in 1951 with her late husband Bill. 

CP had also contacted the female staff of the Louisville chapter of Cru for comment. One declined comment while another said she had to talk to Cru regional officials before providing comment.

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