Our Wesleyan heritage has been supportive of women in leadership throughout our tradition. Though not always lived out, here is a good article explaining this history. Written by Craig L. Adams you can read the entire article here.
In part he says:
“I guess it is a paradigm shift for a lot of people but, the fact is that the Methodist acceptance of women in ministry was well ahead of the modern, secular feminist movement — and is, in that sense, unrelated to it! The more radical, Bible-thumping, revivalistic branches of the Wesleyan movement accepted the idea of women in ministry long before the official acceptance of this by the United Methodist Church.
As proof I offer this passage from Binney’s Theological Compend Improved (1874): “Woman’s Sphere in the Church.”
This early egalitarian attitude toward gender & women in ministry is characteristic of the Wesleyan tradition and should be seen as part of the fruit of a progressive-revelation perspective on the Scriptures. The rejection of the practice of slavery by John Wesley and the earliest Methodists is another.
There is really a difference in how Scripture functions in Wesleyan theology as contrasted with other perspectives.
In a recent article on the Church of the Nazarene’s Holiness Today site, Al Truesdale (emeritus professor of philosophy of religion and Christian ethics at Nazarene Theological Seminary) writes about “Why Wesleyans Aren’t Fundamentalists.” He says that the fundamentalist approach is to see the content Scripture’s revelation as divinely revealed information: thus,