Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)
Christian Leadership, Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Female Leaders
McZeal, Cynthia, "The Influence of Views Regarding Scriptural Authority on Female Leadership: The Independent Baptist African American Denomination" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3130.
The purpose of the proposed exploratory research study is to examine how different views on scriptural authority regarding female leadership impact women in leadership in the Independent Baptist African American denominational church. The research is necessitated by the extant complementarian-egalitarian debates on scriptural authority regarding female leadership in the selected religious denomination, the high view of scripture amongst evangelicals, and the increasing growth of women’s influence on the evangelical church. There have been little, if any efforts, to understand how various views regarding scriptural authority affect women in leadership in the Independent Baptist African American Denominational Church setting. The main research question for the study was, given the framework of the Independent Baptist African American denomination, how do the different views on scriptural authority regarding female leadership impact women in leadership? The research methodology was qualitative and explorative, encompassing in-person interviews and focus assemblies with female leaders in the Independent Baptist African American denomination. The debates on whether women should lead were deemed part of free expression within the church environment. The collected data were transcribed and analyzed through thematic analysis. The results showed that while egalitarian, complementarian, and high views of scripture existed in this denomination, such ideas did not affect the work of female leaders materially. Female leaders were instead influenced by their own opinions on the authority of scripture about female leadership. Thus, it was recommended that leadership training and mentorship accommodate female leaders who are ideologically inclined to only serve under male headship, as well as those who believe in unfettered access to leadership positions in the church.