A recent chapel talk by Cedarville University's new president has sparked discussion over campus changes related to his complementarian view of gender roles.
In his March 10 chapel talk, Thomas White discussed the concept of headship based on 1 Corinthians 11:2–16. "We operate with the presupposition of inerrancy. So what I tell you today is not something that I wrote, I made up, or I started," he said. "I'm just going to preach to you what the text says."
Cedarville, which recently weathered a turbulent year of disagreements and resignations, has also restricted classes in the women's ministry program—functionally, every Bible class in the fall schedule taught by a woman—to only female students, according to alumni and a university representative.
"In courses where we seek to equip women for women's ministry in the local church, classes have been reserved for women in order to accomplish this goal most effectively," said Mark Weinstein, spokesman for the university.
Weinstein declined to say how long the classes have been restricted. Cedarville alumna Sarah Jones said the course was co-ed as recently as the late 2000s, when Joy Fagan taught many women's ministry classes. Fagan has since left the university because she did not feel like a good fit, she told Religion News Service (RNS) in December.
Other alumni who were students between 2005 and 2012 confirmed that women's ministry classes and general education Bible classes by female faculty were open to students of both sexes during that time.
The school's complementarian theological emphasis could be codified as early as this summer, according to the Ventriloquist, an independent student publication at Cedarville.
The Ventriloquist reports that in a Jan. 27 meeting, White proposed adding several points to the doctrinal statement, including an affirmation of complementarianism and one man–one woman marriage.
The Ventriloquist also reports on a university-wide reorganization that eliminates associate and assistant vice president positions so that many areas of the college are directly under the administration of the presidential cabinet.
Weinstein declined to comment on the reorganization, but said the university would post a statement soon.
White told RNS in December that any recent changes at the university reflect past values, not a new shift. "At Cedarville, there's no major change happening, no major shift at the institution. We've been conservative since [our founding]," he said.
[Photo courtesy of Jeremy Mikkola - Flickr]