Is Complementarianism merely personal conviction?

Is Complementarianism merely personal conviction?

This post is a response to Randy Stinson’s article titled Is Complementarianism a Merely Personal Conviction?

In Randy Stinson’s article it appears that there is a lot of fear that comes through even to the point of suggesting that if one is an egalitarian they will be affected negatively for their entire life, even to the extent that they may not remain in the Christian faith.  I would like to unpack some of the key points of Randy Stinson’s article to look at the underlying message to see how it brings a divisiveness into the body of Christ.  Mr. Stinson gives a very telling statement at the beginning of this article:

I believe it is possible for someone to be wrong on the gender issue, but still be a believer.  So being an egalitarian does not mean you are not a Christian, but it does cripple the discipleship process for that person for the rest of their life. [emphasis is mine]

I personally do not ever recall reading egalitarian Christians questioning the salvation of their complementarian brothers.  Rather than dividing from their brothers, egalitarians generally start with the thought that these are our brothers in Christ and the debate is only on the secondary issues of faith.  However complementarians are more and more being pushed towards questioning the salvation of egalitarians.  Note Mr. Stinson doesn’t say that egalitarians who are evangelicals are our brothers and sisters in Christ but rather he says that it is “possible” for egalitarians to be believers.  He then makes a very bold statement that egalitarians are crippled in their walk with the Lord.  His use of this word picture is designed to draw the conclusion that the egalitarian viewpoint is a disease that one can survive but with great damage to our faith.  Mr. Stinson then goes on to draw a line in the sand with assumptions that are not only unproven but which are extremely divisive.  He lists six points that he says are key areas of Christian theology and practice that are apparently crippled by the egalitarian belief:

1.  The authority of scripture is at stake.

Mr. Stinson greatly overstates his case in this point and draws the reader to the conclusion that egalitarians do not hold to the authority of God’s word.  While he says that the Bible “clearly” teaches that men and women have distinct and complementary roles in the home and the church he does not mention the fact that a growing number of evangelical Christians who strongly hold to the authority of scripture read the hard passages of scripture in their context and see something that is not so “clear” at all that there are differing spiritual roles for men and women.  These same Christians hold tightly to the authority of the scripture and they do not teach people to disregard God’s word but rather they teach that we should all read the hard passages in their complete context because God’s word must not be interpreted in a way that causes one scripture to contradict another.

2.  The health of the home is at stake.

Here Mr. Stinson equates the foundation of the home as one person – the husband, whereas scripture reveals that the one-flesh union of husband and wife brings a unity of authority to both mother and father. (Deut. 21:18-20; Leviticus 19:3 where Mother is even placed before Father; and Ephesians 6:1, 2)

Mr. Stinson also says the egalitarian view is disobedience and “they will not have the proper foundation upon which to withstand the temptations of the devil”.  Where is such a thing listed in scripture?  There is no scriptural reference for Mr. Stinson’s claim.  However there is an example of a wife going against her husband and taking her individual authority to pursue peace with King David whose servants had been insulted by her husband.  The story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 25 and Abigail is said to be intelligent (1 Samuel 25:3) and one who had discernment (1 Samuel 25:33).  She took authority over a matter and did not tell her husband who is described as a fool, a character trait that matches his name.  Her wise action which was done in direct conflict with her husband’s foolish decision actually saved her family.

This hinders the sanctification of married couple…

Where is this found in scripture?  The only “sanctification” that is found in scripture regarding married couples is in 1 Corinthians 7:14 regarding an unbelieving mate.

1 Corinthians 7:14  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

Notice here that scripture lists first of all that an “unbelieving husband” is sanctified through his wife.  Paul also says that an “unbelieving wife” is sanctified through her believing husband and the purpose is for the benefit of the children.  Sanctification in the marriage is not listed in scripture as coming through a husband as if he was a leader of a subordinate person (the wife) but rather sanctification in marriage comes through a believing spouse whether a wife or a husband.  Every other reference to sanctification is personal and has nothing to do with marriage.  Mr. Stinson is very wrong in equating the sanctification of the marriage as having anything to do with complementarian belief and practice.

and also introduces confusion about basic parenting issues such as raising masculine sons and feminine daughters.

Mr. Stinson as well as his organization called CBMW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) makes much of teaching about spiritual masculinity and spiritual femininity yet the bible teaches nothing about the spiritual way to raise masculine sons or feminine daughters.  Christianity is not about following Jesus in a feminine way or a masculine way.  All of us are to follow Jesus in the same spiritual way.  We are all to be humble and to practice submission as Jesus did.  The teaching that there is a feminine way regarding spirituality and a masculine way to spirituality is foreign to the scriptures.

3.  The health of the church is at stake.

Just like the home, if the church disobeys the teaching of 1Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11 and disregards the structure that God put into place for the community of faith from the beginning, then the church will be weakened.  If the church is weakened in its convictions, it will be less effective in accomplishing its mission.

Here Mr. Stinson implies that 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2 are a “structure” that God put into place for the community of faith.  Where is this “structure”?  1 Timothy 2 has no hierarchical structure listed.  In 1 Corinthians 11 the inspired “order” of 1 Cor. 11:3 is not an ordered list of hierarchy nor does the rest of the passage list any authority of the man over the woman.  Rather 1 Cor. 11:11 shows that the male does not operate independently of the female nor the female independent of the male (no hierarchy here at all).  In fact verse 12 shows that first in creation did not bring preeminence just as the fact that the man now comes through the woman show that she is now preeminate.  The preeminence is solely in God himself.

Mr. Stinson also does not show how the egalitarian view of scripture weakens the church of its convictions in the essentials areas of faith or how the church is less effective in its mission of evangelization and discipleship.

4.  Our worship is at stake.

Here Mr. Stinson makes a point that God “named Himself” father.  God did not “name” Himself Father.  His name is “I AM”

Exodus 3:13  Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
Exodus 3:14  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 3:15  God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

“Father” is not God’s name, it is his relationship with us.  While I do not advocate calling God “mother”, God has revealed in scripture his character that has motherly qualities.  Yet to us, he has decided to be known in relationship to us as a Father.  God is not “Father” because he is male.  God is neither male nor female.  God is Spirit and there are no “body parts” in God that could make Him male.  Rather, God is “Father” because this is the way that he choses to express his relationship to us.

The very nature of our triune God is revealed in a biblically ordered marriage.

Where does scripture say this?  If the “triune God” is revealed in a biblically ordered marriage, who in the marriage relationship is the one corresponding to the Holy Spirit?  Marriage is a one-flesh union of  two equals.  It is two people becoming united into one flesh.  Marriage is not three persons united into one flesh.

5.  Bible translations are at stake.

…my concern is that in the name of gender equality, the Bible is undermined and the very words of God end up being revised.

The English language has evolved so that words previously used in earlier generations do not have the same meaning today as they did in an earlier time.  The Greek word for generic humans was translated into English as “man”.  In the past it was understood that “man” meant human (meaning men or women), but today the word of God can be held back from being being crystal clear when the term “man” is seen in our day as meaning male only.  If we use what is today a male term when a generic term is meant in the original Greek, would that be a good thing for the next generation?  Is it wrong to “sharpen up” the English if the original intent of the Greek word is kept intact and made clearer?  We should be far more concerned about keeping the clarity and faithfulness of the original languages than we should be concerned that the English word is changed.

6.  The advance of the Gospel is at stake.

Ephesians 5 calls husbands and wives to relate to one another as a picture of Christ and the church.  The picture involves the humble, sacrificial leadership of the husband…

Jesus is both God and man.  As God he is Lord and Master and King.  As the human Son, he is the husband of the church.  This picture of Christ and the church is shown to be one of a unified body with Christ as the one who serves the church by giving her food.  Jesus service is manifested through humble sacrifice to give himself for the church.  The husband is to serve his wife in the same way, but scripture never once calls the husband the leader of the wife.  Neither does the scriptures say that the husband is to have a sacrificial “leadership”.  What complementarians have done is added a word to the inspired scriptures.  Without the addition to the text, the husband is pictured as serving his wife and giving himself up for her.  The husband is never pictured as being a leader but is pictured as being a servant.

and the joyful, intelligent submission to that leadership by the wife.

When our tradition adds “leadership” to sacrifice, we have in effect watered down and devalued God’s word in accordance with our tradition.  We have also watered down the scriptures which say that Christians are to submit to one another.  Submission is a “Christian” characteristic, not a feminine characteristic.  The tradition that only the woman is to submit to the man takes away a key part of Christian maturity.  We submit to one another, not only for the other person’s edification, but so that we may receive from that one the benefit of the other person’s gifts.

Romans 15:2  Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

Should a husband submit to his wife’s gifts?  Should a husband please his wife for her good and for her edification?  Common sense says that we are heirs together in Christ (1 Peter 3:7) and as heirs together we can benefit from each other’s gifts.  We cannot benefit from these gifts unless we submit to receive the gifts.  Submission then is a Christian virtue, not a female virtue alone.

Deviation from biblical teaching on manhood and womanhood distorts the picture of Christ and the Church, and hinders the advance of the gospel.

Not only is there no biblical teaching on “manhood” and “womanhood”, but there is nothing in scripture that says that the gospel is hindered by the church who has women taking their place alongside the men or by the home that has a united authority of Father and Mother.  What this teaching does is attach the gender issue to the essential issue of the Gospel and this is wrong.

Why is this issue so important? Because the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be severed from the methods he has authorized to spread it. Homes and churches in which manhood and womanhood are prized advance the Gospel and the glory of God more accurately than any other kind of home or church.

Here is where the complementarian message has added itself into the gospel.  Randy Stinson is essentially saying that the gospel preached by complementarians is “more accurate” than the gospel preached by egalitarians.  In essence the complementarian view of “men only” leading in public teaching is part and parcel of the gospel message.  One then cannot preach the full gospel that is necessary to save us unless one is also preaching concerning male-only leadership.  No wonder so many complementarians are seeing egalitarians as heretics and as unsaved religious people who they must fight against.  This is divisive and harmful to the body of Christ.  In the last several years, the position of CBMW, of which Randy Stinson is president, has been increasingly antangonistic towards their egalitarian brothers and sisters in Christ.  The position has been preached that egalitarians can be saved, but they must repent of being egalitarians.

In the past there have been groups who have attached their own personal preferences to the gospel.  Some claimed that one could not be saved unless one spoke in tongues.  Now we have a group who are claiming that belief in male leadership is necessary as part of the gospel.  This is an ungodly addition to the gospel. CBMW is guilty of dividing sheep against sheep by adding conditions to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  May there be repentance from this divisive work before it further harms the body of Christ.

76 thoughts on “Is Complementarianism merely personal conviction?

  1. May there be repentance from this divisive work before it further harms the body of Christ.

    Call me a pessimist (I’ve been called far worse), but I don’t think any of us are holding our breath till this happens on any large scale.
    There is no possible Biblical wiggle room out of “not so among you”, or the Golden Rule, or “love does not demand its own way”. Those who deny these basic principles taught by Jesus and Paul are not fit to be leaders or teachers, and should be severely reprimanded and told to be silent until they learn the truth.
    Oh, for the day when the proud are finally humbled!

  2. I guess I must be an eternal optimist.  I believe that if the leaders of the church are not willing to be humble and to stop beating their fellow slaves, that Jesus Himself will take away their “lamp stand” and in their place he will set up ones who know their place as godly servants and teachers who have true humility.  True servants of Jesus lift up the sheep to mature them and grow them and they do not muzzle the sheep or hedge them in to stop them from using their gifts for the common good.  I believe that God can and will raise up godly leaders and teachers who will be true shepherds who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sheep.

  3. Oh, thank you for this! I was more than willing to be quiet about gender differences until two things became glaringly obvious:

    1. They indirectly plant the poisonous idea that we are not part of the real Body of Christ.
    2. They are now promoting the eternal subordination of the Trinity and lessening Jesus Christ and His Sovereignty.

    Now, in my studies and intereactions, I have found that Christian egals spend more time studying scripture deeply than all the comps I was with in a very hard comp mega church for 16 years. Especially  women! I have never seen anything like it. They are not waiting to see what some famous pastor says, they are digging in and studying the Greek, etc. And they are wonderful about directing people to study on their own.

  4. Lin,
    This is also what has prompted me to take action and call for discipline. When they touch my Jesus by taking away his equal authority in the Godhead and when they dare to add complementarianism to the gospel they get my dander up.  And when they call egalitarians to repent merely for being unashamed to follow Jesus in using our gifts for the common good of the body of Christ, they have my attention.  I will stand up for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been abused by those who apparently consider themselves a privileged class of Christians.  This attitude must stop and the more people are outraged at this kind of treatment of the Trinity and the body of Christ the better.  Modern Pharisees must not divide the body of Christ into two classes of Christians.

  5. Hi Cheryl.  Thanks for all your hard work.
    I read Stimson’s linked article and then got to wondering what femininity is according to the CBMW.  So I skimmed a few articles over there, including Elisabeth Elliot’s chapter in RBMW, and the impression I get is that they’ve confused Christianity with cultural conservatism.  So it is not OK for men to have facial scrubs but it is OK for women to get their nails done. Well, I don’t like men to be effete either but this business about women and make-up reminds me of a story I read years ago.  There was a Christian women’s conference on in Europe somewhere.  The Danish women were scandalised by the American women (because they were all wearing make-up).  The American women were scandalised by the Danish women (because they were all smoking cigars). 
    Elisabeth Elliot doesn’t seem to realise that feminists aren’t a homogeneous bunch.  She credits them all with believing that the only differences between men and women are “a matter of mere biology” and being interested only in “questions of authority or power or competition or money”.  Oddly, after describing the differences between male and female roles among the South American Indians among whom she worked – differences that she must, at some level, have realised are culturally conditioned because most of them are so foreign to Westerners – she then urges us not to, “swallow the feminist doctrine that femininity is a mere matter of cultural conditioning, of stereotypes perpetuated by tradition”.  Here the word “mere” is the only thing that makes her statement passably true.
    So yes, I agree with you that fear is probably what is underlying a lot of CBMW rhetoric; that and nostalgia for the good old days when women knew their place, divorce was relatively uncommon and most men (and, no doubt, plenty of women) agreed that a battered wife had probably been “asking” to be beaten.
    Lately I’ve been wondering about people like David Koresh, Jim Jones and Wayne Bent. Does anyone know what these fellows’ position on women (and/or male authority) is or was?  Did they preach the subordination of women?  Is that part of how they managed to get so many of their female followers to have sex with them?  I ask because my understanding is that sexual abuse seems to be much more common in  families where the father is traditionally authoritarian and Scripture is used to justify a “me first—you submit” attitude toward women

  6. You know,  maybe these guys are so worried about being emasculated because they serve an emasculated Jesus?

    I just put up a post on my blog, linking back to this post asking this question.  I embedded an old TV commercial of Robert Conrad daring you to go ahead and try to knock off an Everready battery from his shoulder.  Isn’t God’s will and God’s Word the same way?  What God do they serve?  I guess when you demote Jesus, this is what happens.

    Why do I easily envision Cheryl Schatz with the Word — like an Everready battery on her shoulder (with all the theological punching power of Robert Conrad and Rocky Marciano), and I can’t dream of Stinson or any in his camp doing likewise?  In the end of things, it seems that all they really have is hierarchy.  Even the Word of God is subject to it.  This is their God?  He who speaks and the earth melts?

  7. Cindy K,

    I lifted this quote from your article:

    Evangelicals who promote “outbreeding the competition” over evangelism of the unbeliever. We are to retreat into little monastic communities and withdraw from culture, partly through fear and partly through piety.

    Hey, that sounds like the Amish, who have been withdrawn for generations. And any fool can see how this approach “overcomes the world”, eh? 😉

    Good thoughts.

  8. 1. I think this is a heartfelt admission by Stinson how he feels and since published by CBMW how they feel.

    2. While I would not be so strident, I do think his points (the authority of Scripture, the health of the home, the health of the church, our worship, Bible translations, and the advance of the gospel) are correct.  It is just that I come to opposite conclusions that he does, egal conclusions.  In each of these areas, if one is not mostly agreeing with egal conclusions, things will be diminished from what they could otherwise be in terms of Kingdom advance. 

    3. However, and this is important, people have a right to their own conclusions, this is soul liberty.  We can discuss, explain our reasons to each other, and part ways.  I am thankful for religious liberty in the West and hope the rest of the world will have it.  I would not want to try to force my egal conclusions on anyone, rather, I would invite them to accept them.

    4. I can be wrong, but God is faithful.

  9. “and the impression I get is that they’ve confused Christianity with cultural conservatism. ”

    Janice, you hit the nail on the head.

    But it is changing. More and more are seeing the rotten fruit that came from putting Republicanism and a conservative lifestyle on the Throne instead of Jesus Christ. This ‘lifestyle’ includes the wife’s role and lots of hierarchy within the Body.

  10. Elisabeth Elliot has always confused me on this issue.
    She taught men on the mission field. Just not educated western men.
    She also does not use her current husband’s last name. I have NO problem with this but many comps have a huge problem with women who do this, as I well know. She has a good reason not to use his name but it really does sort of negate a big part of her teachings on the comp lifestyle for women. I always get the feeling there are rules for rest of us that aren’t for them. I could give you a ton of examples of this.

  11. Don, You are a perfect example of someone who can disagree without implying that they may not be saved because of their teaching. I pray they will do the same some day.

  12. Here is my understanding on being saved.

    1. Salvation is a personal experience between God and an individual, when they accept Jesus as Messiah.  A church cannot grant salvation or take it away.

    2. We are to confess our salvation.  This helps us recognize others who are saved, so we can join a body of believers.

    3. We are to accept another’s confession of salvation, except in the face of evidence to the contrary.  Such evidence, for example, would be a repudiation of a previous confession of salvation or continuing unrepentant sin.

    4. However, we are to be gracious.

  13. Janice #5,

    So I skimmed a few articles over there, including Elisabeth Elliot’s chapter in RBMW, and the impression I get is that they’ve confused Christianity with cultural conservatism.

    This is very well said and something that I also picked up on.  A soft or gentle answer from a man is confused with the softness of his skin so that both are considered feminine.  Yet Jesus had a gentle spirit and no one could accuse him of being feminine.  I find their take on “masculine” and “feminine” to be confusing because they blend spiritual things together with cultural issues.  Also the idea that egalitarians are only interested in power and authority is so far off the mark, I wonder if they have any ability to see outside their own view at all.  Your comments and questions were very thought-provoking!

  14. Cindy K,

    Great post on your blog!

    You know,  maybe these guys are so worried about being emasculated because they serve an emasculated Jesus?

    Well, it appears to me that Jesus wouldn’t pass CBMW’s required “manhood” rules.  I am certain he would be way too soft for them and just as Jesus offended the Pharisees for breaking their man-made laws, he appears to not be tough enough for their standard “biblical manhood”.  Consider this prophecy about Jesus:

    Isa 42:1  “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
    Isa 42:2  “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

    I also loved your thoughts about Everready batteries.  What a great analogy about the word of God!

  15. Janice #5,

    Welcome to our blog community!  CBMW does rely on dogma and fear to maintain a power base.  Dogma that very few will check out for themselves by doing their own critical thinking.

    Fear, because it takes guts to go against the flow of centuries of patriarchal abuse.  It’s much easier to just accept what your “betters” tell you the scriptures mean, rather than becoming a Berean and searching them for yourself to see if these things are so.

    Wistful nostalgia for the “good old days” that never were, is part of the fabric of conservative Americana.  In her book, “The Way We Never Were-American Families and the Nostalgia Trap”, author Stephanie Coontz dismantles American conservatism’s love affair with a glorious past that never existed.

  16. Don,

    I love your point form.  It very much appeals to the logical way I think.

    I agree with you that Stinson’s article was a heartfelt (and revealing) expression of how CBMW and Stinson feel about egalitarians.

    I also think that the issues that Stinson brought up (the authority of Scripture, the health of the home, the health of the church, our worship, Bible translations, and the advance of the gospel) are important issues.  But are hierarchists crippled by their view in these areas?  I don’t think that this is necessarily so.  As long as they don’t use their views to reject, belittle and condemn other believers, I personally think that a complementarian can love Jesus with all their heart and advance the gospel.  Where they may run into problems is when they are confronted with what unbelievers see as a prejudice against women.  If they are upfront by saying that the church must be prejudice against women bible teachers and women leaders because they believe the bible mandates this, they will see many unbelievers reject Jesus because of their stand.  This is not a good thing.  However I have seen that most comps will deny that women are held back in any way and unbelievers can see right through this inconsistency.  In this way their evangelism will be hurt if they focus on the gender “role” prohibitions because educated men and women today see this as prejudice in its truest form.

    Are complementarians crippled by their view of marriage and male leadership?  Many marriages are just fine and complementarian husbands who really love and respect their wives, while they agree in principle with the comp position that the husband makes the final decision, personally they do not follow through with overriding their wife’s will and they work hard on coming to mutual decisions instead of holding the trump card over their wife.

    Are complementarians crippled in their advance of the gospel?  I do not think this has to be the case at all.  Since gender issues are not part of the gospel, there should be no reason why a complementarian cannot evangelize and win the lost for Christ in an effective and winsome way.  However they will certainly run into problems with discipleship if they push the complementarian way as the only Christian way.

    Are complementarians crippled in their view of the church?  I believe that many complementarians who are loving and kind to the body of Christ have found ways to acknowledge and use the gifts of women for the benefit of men.  Some have no problem in allowing women to teach as long as women do not go behind the physical pulpit.  Women have been allowed to teach by some who consider themselves complementarians if these women stand behind a music stand on the main floor.  Many women will humble themselves to use a music stand as long as they are allowed to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ.  Many complementarians have learned how to set aside man-made traditions (the pulpit is not found in scripture) and encourage both men and women to learn from each other.  These kinds of churches and these kinds of pastors who do not separate themselves from egalitarians are ones who CBMW is especially afraid of.

    It is the hard-core complementarian (hierarchist) who puts down Jesus in the Trinity, adds the complementarian view to the gospel and questions the salvation of other believers because of secondary issues of faith that must be strongly resisted in these areas.  These are the complementarians who are the most vocal and who seek to divide the church by forcing egalitarians to either repent of the “sin” of the egalitarian view or be considered as an enemy of the church.

    3. However, and this is important, people have a right to their own conclusions, this is soul liberty.  We can discuss, explain our reasons to each other, and part ways.  I am thankful for religious liberty in the West and hope the rest of the world will have it.  I would not want to try to force my egal conclusions on anyone, rather, I would invite them to accept them.

    Don, I agree with you here.  We are to be gracious and kind and speak the truth with love but we are not to force others to come to our conclusions through threats, coercion or other un-Christlike ways.  We are also not to divide over this issue but are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ with a deep respect and love as they too belong to Christ.  If we must separate because they will not allow us to use our gifts without our being forced to be prejudiced against men, then we go in peace and pray for their eyes to be opened.

  17. Lin #10,

    I too see so much confusion in the complementarian camp when they allow some “special” complementarian women to do things that they actually speak against for all women.  I am glad that Elisabeth gets to do all she does for men.  I am glad that she has slipped through CBMW’s cracks and wish more women were able to slip through the cracks.

  18. I do not see most non-egals as having a crippled faith, I see them as having a diminished faith; they are not all God wants them to be, but they can certainly advance the Kingdom.

  19. Don, your answer shows that egalitarians are not questioning the salvation of complementarians and we are not the ones initiating a charge of not being true Christians.

    I had an email from someone who said that it was egalitarians who were responsible for dividing the church and being divisive.  I would like to see the evidence of this.  I have experienced the exact opposite.  In fact it is egalitarians, in my experience, who are the ones who are working on peace making and reconciliation.  If there are complementarians out there who have been peace makers and who have worked to keep the peace, I give them much credit.  I just haven’t met them yet.

  20. “I had an email from someone who said that it was egalitarians who were responsible for dividing the church and being divisive”

    This is what they are being taught. There is a lot of repeating what has been taught instead of really thinking it through. The idea is that even studying this issue with an open mind is divisive and will divide the church. In practice, most egals who attend comp churches just work where they can. If they cannot, they leave. How is that divisive?

    It is divisive to say that Christian egal teaching is allowing Satan into the church. This was said at the same conference where Bruce Ware taught about unsubmissive wives triggering abuse from husbands.

    There is also a lot of reptitition of the teaching that this issue leads to homosexuality being accepted into the church and in ministry positions. This is simply illogical. Being a woman who wants to use the gifts the Holy Spirit gives for the edification of the church is not a sin. Homosexuality is a sin and is clearly taught as a sin in scripture. The other reason it is illogical is because homosexuality has been rampant in Patriarchal cultures throughout history and still is.  A friend of mine, a missionary in Afghanistan, was astonished at how prevalent homosexuality was there, even under the Taliban! It is just hidden better.

    We must be prepared for lots of false accusations because they do not want to engage actual content of scripture. And they do not want their followers to see this as a secondary doctrine and that we should have charity toward others who disagree.

  21. One of the many ways one can feed one’s pride is to make a fuss about whatever one is working on.  I am working on this big and important project, so I must be big and important.  If people do not listen to me-me-me things will get much worse, etc.  We need to be careful to assess things correctly and not inflate them (or deflate them) just because we are working on them.

    Also, we need to be very careful in disfellowshipping someone.  At the very least, we need to get with them and ask them how they understand the verses that seem to us to be relevant to a concern we might have.  If it is one of the puzzling verses, we need to be careful as one can be faithful yet not agree with us.

  22. Lin,

    It is divisive to say that Christian egal teaching is allowing Satan into the church.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly.  In my opinion these kinds of words are “thought stopping” words meant to produce fear in any kind of communication with egalitarians.  There are so many who are willing to say that CBMW has all the answers and they trust their word and are unwilling to look at the issues themselves in order to engage an egalitarian.  We are broad brushed into the enemy’s corner without so much as a second thought.  I find this very sad because of the extreme divisiveness.

    I do not believe Christians should “disfellowship” each other over secondary issues of faith.  Differences of opinions are opportunities to:

    1.  Understand the other person’s viewpoint
    2.  Sharpen our own viewpoint and either make adjustments to our view or solidify our view by measuring it against the challenge of the other person.
    3.  Love and appreciate one another in spite of our differences and thus we have an opportunity to demonstrate patience in a mature way.

    Calling other Christians degrading names and attacking their character because of their beliefs on secondary issues of faith is never a good thing.  If we find ourselves doing these things, we should do a self examination to see what our own heart motive is.

    Recently I heard that it is said real men are not primarily gentle.  I strongly disagree with that.  Mature Christianity is expressed in gentleness because this is part of the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit.

    Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    Gal 5:23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    Those who wish to separate male and female by spiritual characteristics appear to make “kindness” and “gentleness” as female fruit while “courage” is said to be a mature male trait.  Yet Paul shows us through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration that there is one “fruit” of the Spirit and we are all to have these characteristics that come as fruit from the Holy Spirit no matter what our gender.  I also believe that those who go through the troubles and trials of this life and who allow the “fruit” of the Spirit to grow in their lives are most certainly all “courageous”. 

    My desire is that I will not be afraid to courageously step out in faith even if no one goes with me, yet always working hard to be gentle and compassionate to those who have not yet seen the things that have been made so clear to me.  I may have a long way to go, but I am willing to stay the course and not give up.

  23. Cheryl #22,

    The day has indeed arrived when egalitarianism is no longer just a secondary issue in the church universal.  Over at Denny Burk’s blog, he has posed the question:  Is Egalitarianism a Heresy? (Mon 11 Aug 2008).  It’s hard not to conclude that the push is on to make one’s gender stance a litmus test for orthodoxy.

    So “courage” is said to be a mature male trait huh?  Corrie ten Boom had more courage in her little finger than several macho-men combined.  I submit that the most vocal proponents of “Biblical manhood” over at CBMW would have folded after 90 days in a Nazi concentration camp.

  24. Greg,
    I can’t say that I am shocked from reading through the Denny Burk’s blog post.  This is where CBMW has decided to take the debate in recent years and it is removing their credibility with those who sit on the fence.  How can an organization declare other evangelical Christians as heretics and liars over this secondary issue in the body of Christ?  When we are being mistreated by the body, we are suffering.  The bible says that when one part of the body is suffering, the whole body suffers.  I believe that Jesus cares about this suffering and he will do something because it is HIS body.

    How can anyone read this kind of abuse and see egalitarians as the ones who are dividing the body instead of laying the blame with the ones who call Christians as heretics and liars?  Has anyone read anything like this from the egalitarian camp?  I have never seen egalitarians say that complementarians are heretics and liars and Satan’s pawns.  Has anyone out there seen this kind of vitriol coming from the egalitarian camp?  It is shameful and I believe it is the end result of CBMW’s hierarchical teaching.  I also believe that God is allowing these men to go this far so that the true “fruit” will be seen.  People’s eyes are being opened and what we are saying about the divisive nature of the hierarchical teaching is being vindicated by the attitude shown by complementarians such as Denny Burk and his blog article that you pointed us to.

  25. Guess who the Don was at Touchstone blog, as mentioned in the comments under this Burk blog?

    Any guesses?

  26. Maybe what we’re seeing now is God “hardening hearts”. When people keep pushing Him away He eventually gives them a boost in the direction they want to go.

  27. Well, I just read the comments. My heart is bleeding.

    Don, Thank you for your constancy and not responding in kind to the name calling and attacks. You did not even get angry and leave! Your demeanor in the midst of all that was a blessing to me. (Even if I did not understand all the Jewish sects stuff :o)

    It was vicious. The arrogance and hatred coming from, not only the author, but the commenters there makes me fear for what is coming for the church and those who believe in mutual submission for all believers and those of us who want to be able to proclaim the Word of God to anyone regardless of gender.

    All I can see anymore, coming from this position, are people who want power and authority over others. What a long way we are from Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.

  28. Vicious is probably an understatement concerning the attitude from the comments on that blog article that I linked to.  I just finished reading all of the comments myself now.  Don kept his cool and acted in a Christ-like manner.  The ones who call themselves complementarians showed their attitude as anything but Christ-like.  This is the separation that was meant to come.  They are separating from us but anyone who loves Jesus and loves the brethren can see the hateful attitude coming from that “community”.

    While they are the ones separating from us by their vicious attacks and name calling, Jesus is the one who uses this division to show where the fruits of the Spirit really are.  Those who have eyes to see will see.  Anyone who can attack a brother in Christ over a secondary issue of faith in the way that they did to Don shows that they do not have the love for the whole body of Christ.  Jesus said that they will know us by our love.  That means that we can alsoidentify those who do not love.  Remember all those who are reading these comments, that this is not about the essentials but about a secondary issue of faith.   Anyone reading the comments on that blog who do not blush with shame towards the brothers who were doing the name-calling, in my opinion needs to repent and go back to their first love.  Those who LOVE Jesus will LOVE their brothers.  It isn’t an option but a must.  When one names the name of Christ but acts in this repulsive manner they are proving that they do not have the love of God in their life.  I fear for them because this is the time that the church is being judged.  Those who resist the Holy Spirit’s work in discipline because of their lack of love may well find themselves outside the door.  All those who do not have love and who do not LOVE the truth will fall for the lie.  This is God’s work in judging the church, but it is so painful to watch the separation happening.   Very, very painful.

  29. On the various Jewish sects in the 2nd temple Judaism(s), we know about the Sadducees and Pharisees and Essenes and Zealots and Herodians and the Way.  The Pharisees had 2 main schools, Shammai and Hillel, their debates are recorded in the Mishnah.  The school of Hillel evolved into orthodox rabbic Judaism after the temple was destroyed, all the rest were wiped out by 100 except the Way evolved into Christianity once the gentiles came in.

    On love, this is the MAIN sign of a believer, esp. love of the brethren.  See 1 Cor 13 and elsewhere.  God dealt with me when I thought that being right was more important than love.

  30. This 1985 paper by Harold Bussell (which I found through the link at Cindy’s post on evangelical Christians’ vulnerability to cults states,

    A close examination of every major cult today, with the exception of Eastern cults, reveals that they all began in an evangelical church or with a leader from an evangelical background. …
    Their foundation always began with an identity by opposition. …
    Evangelicals also tend to couple their definitions of spirituality with leanings toward legalism. … We often forget that perfect communities come about at the expense of human freedom. …
    We have failed to distinguish between biblical absolutes and cultural issues. Morally, the Bible is always absolute; culturally, it is relativistic. Fornication was wrong in Jerusalem and in Corinth; however, whether one could eat pork depended on in which city he lived. This gives a sense of security on the surface but not a security rooted in God’s word and grace. Cults are usually legalistic and hold high standards against the use of tobacco and alcohol and against other worldly habits. …
    We seek out those who will reinforce our own likes and dislikes. The result is a blindness to the richness of diversity God offers to us within the body of Christ and a blindness to our own tendencies mentally to write off the other members of the body of Christ. We subtly remove … our responsibility to “love one another (John 13:35). Each cult offers both uniformity and identity by opposition

    I’m Australian.  When I was a kid we used to say that whatever the Yanks are doing we’ll be doing in 20 years’ time.  I think we’ve caught up more than I’d like.
    Until March this year I thought the only churchly male vs. female issue here was whether women should be ordained but at a meeting planning activities with a group of theology students who were going to visit one of the men present said he was feeling hesitant about allowing female students to speak at the local university.  When I asked why he cited 1 Timothy 2:12 which surprised and disturbed me.  If he’d said he was hesitant about the women speaking at a church service I might have let it slide but to get twitchy about women speaking during an outreach at a secular university struck me as decidedly peculiar.
    Since then I’ve googled far and wide, discovered the complementarian/egalitarian divide and learned that in the USA this verse has been used to justify the dismissal of at least two women from church run organisations.  In one case it appears possible that the verse was used as a strategem to get rid of a woman who had a history of causing problems.  In the other case it appears that the verse was used  truly ideologically, i.e., the authorities at that institution really believe that no woman, no matter how well qualified in her subject, should teach any man.  My understanding is that because both women were working for church run organisations they have no recourse under US law.
    What I see is a new kind of opposition identity being formed.  Its roots are in (sexual) politics.  It reminds me of the fascination with end times stuff that was going on 20 odd years ago, before the USSR fell apart, when people were planning to go bush and grow their own food so they could survive the Tribulation without using a Bankcard.  The ones I knew were so obsessed that they seemed to have no energy left for growing in Christ and helping to fulfil the Great Commission.
    So now lots of people are thinking everything will be all right if we can just get women to believe (or at least act as though they believe) that helping (ezer) their husband means doing, in all circumstances, whatever their husband wants them to do.  What complete rot!  What better recipe could you have for producing a bunch of self-absorbed, self-delighting, authoritarian bullies hardly distinguishable from Wahabi Muslims?  That they’re also saying that people who think differently are heretics is just another sign that sections of the complementarian crowd are on the road to being just another weirdo cult.   

  31. Yes, it’s a cult.

    And this scripture is still true:

    4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ..

    20 If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another. (1 John 4)

    It is the spirits we are to test (1 John 4:1), and the teachings we are to examine (Acts 17:11, (2 John 1:10). The male supremacists are showing no concern for our spirit and cannot refute our teachings. “But Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.” (3 John 1:9)

    [Hmmm, in searching for scriptures to describe them, wonder why the verses mostly come from John, “the beloved disciple”?]

  32. Don,

    Do I sense some type of repentance?  😉

    BTW my sisters are here for a visit and will leave on Thursday morning as we leave to go down to Idaho to have a Matthew 18 meeting with Matt Slick.  If I am not on line very often the next week, this is why.

  33. Daz right, Cindy K! Gotta preach while it’s still legal.

    Don: You can always say you didn’t learn anything new, so you’re off the hook. (And aren’t men always saying, “Ha! I already knew that!” anyway?)   🙂

    Cheryl: I’ll bet you’ll be SO happy when that meeting is over! Regardless of outcome, you will have done the right thing and gone the extra mile.

  34. On a previous thread, I referred to an audio download from Walter Martin that I had listened to that day:

    I’m amazed at how much of what he said stuck with me.  The sermon centers around Matt 24 and defines what a cult is, and it was just a crystal, crystal clear message.  He applied Scripture to very contemporary issues in a manner I so rarely hear anymore.  The matter of intramural debate that he used as an example (in ’79) was that of eschatology, and I wonder what he would have to day about this issue and the implications of all the peripherals (such as the Trinity issue)?

    Therein, he says that we had better get back to teaching the essentials of the faith and get away from all of this carrying on over the non-essential stuff, otherwise we would not have the love for one another in the Body and we would not be able to evangelize the lost. I could not agree more with him.

    I guess this is why this whole gender thing irritates me so much — because it has been interwoven into essentials of the faith, as Lin aptly notes.  The preaching of Jesus Christ and the Cross has become much more about dresses and submission.  That is not the preaching of the Cross.

    Someone wrote to me last night about how grieved they were over how Don was treated on that treadstone thread or whatever it was — and I just again heard Walter Martin quoting 2nd Corinthians 11:3 ~ “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”  (Do you think it does apply to this issue????  It almost makes me wonder if God was not looking right at us from his timeless perspective, moving Paul’s heart and mind to choose these very words.)

    Now that I don’t even have to pull out my Majority Text and my Lexicon anymore, I went to and looked up 2 Cor 11.  I was surprised that in addition to the word for “simple, singular and frank,” I looked and saw the “kai” (and).   It is not only just the simplicity of that is in Christ.  It says “and the cleanliness, purity and chastity” that is in Christ.  It’s straight and simple Greek there also, not always the case with the complex language of Paul. 

    (BTW, that was another side point of ignorance that was put to Don over there in that blog when someone clearly demonstrated that they had far less training in Greek than Don did.  Paul’s Greek is complex and as complex as James’ language.  Anyone who has taken upon the task of learning Greek learns very quickly that John is very comfortable conversation and that Paul and James are like advanced college level, both in language and in content.  That particular critic demonstrated his own ignorance in that particular comment.  But in 2 Cor 11:3, it’s straight and simple.)

    God bless anyone who chooses to follow a particular course.  God bless those who eat meat sacrificed to idols and those that don’t.  Wear a head covering or don’t wear one and be blessed and rejoice.  But whatever my conviction and the Holy Spirit’s leaning on my own heart or one someone else’s, we are all called to liberty and love.  And we all get it wrong and we all mature as we grow, but the overriding goal and motive should be love for one another in Christ.  There was none of that on that blog thread.

    I felt sick when I saw that someone told Don to be gracious as he was about to be eviscerated (gutted).  Every source was challenged (back to the well-documented paterfamilias and Roman secular law stuff again), his epistemology was challenged (which I found to be quite shocking), and in the end was called names — one of which I have not heard used seriously since I was in high school 25 years ago.  I felt better having read all the comments because Don was not eviscerated in any sense.  They didn’t have the goods to do it, so it degenerated into name calling.  Don didn’t seem upset at all, even in pointing out the name calling.

    Bussell’s article got it right — they want uniformity through opposition (an article written in ’85?).  They certainly do not appear to want unity through love.  Christ’s love in us, freely shown to one another in liberty, is the ONLY way that it will happen.   Anything else, if it is not “cultic” or “thought stopping” to begin with will eventually end up becoming so.  And that is not unity but is rather static totalism and death to liberty.

    It breaks my heart to consider what will happen to the church.  The whole body suffers — as if we have some raging infection.  At least that is my optimism talking, as the alternate means that we are not of the same body.  Only Jesus knows our hearts and souls.  Why are so many professing Christians obsessed with this?  Has it always been this way and I’ve been unaware?  Or is it worse and more widespread?

  35. It is good to remember that Stinson is one of the original group that coined the term ‘complementarian’ and started CBMW. He has a vested interest in his pocketbook as to what he says, promotes and writes on the CBMW Blog. He is going to toe the party line, and since he created the party line, he knows it well. And we might also remember that he had to be pretty convinced within his own thinking that he was correct in his Biblical doctrines regarding men and women in order to start such a really rather radical group. Such a person likely will not even give a 10 second consideration to an opposing view. 🙂

  36. And BTW I was absolutely floored that Mere Christianity allowed such horrific slanderous words to remain on their comments.  Its one thing for forums like CARM or CW (although equally wrong) but for a much more public community representing a Christian magazine, to be so blatantly unChristian in their dialogue is putting out a really bad example for the public view.

  37. If you did not already know, it is getting nasty out there for egals, so be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Mat 10:16

  38. Kick some aner?  ROFLOL!


    I heard NOTHING of this gender business until the mid-nineties.  (I grew up egal and dropped back to “no women pastors or elders” to be conservative.)  I never had one clue that any Christian even took this stuff all that seriously.  Since then, I’ve only seen it increase, largely through my peer group and then into para-church organizations that never dreamed would ever take such a position.  People have always been legalistic about dress, and there are examples like Elizabeth Elliot (and George Elliot, for that matter) who were role models outside of my own denomination.  There have been women missionaries, etc. 

    That’s another reason why I don’t understand Stinson in particular, professing that this is all a late 20th Century perversion, or even one of Enlightenment thought (such as was suggested back on that Mere Christianity thread).  Why was I taught what is essentially now considered “egal” by both old men and women (Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic and Pentecostal) who were in their ’80s (back in the ’70s), teaching me what they had learned?  If these are all modern teachings resulting from late 20th century feminism and perhaps from women’s suffrage, who corrupted these men and women in their Victorian/Edwardian days and their Victorian parents before them?  Stinson uses some odd mathmatics and history.

  39. “I felt better having read all the comments because Don was not eviscerated in any sense.  They didn’t have the goods to do it, so it degenerated into name calling.  Don didn’t seem upset at all, even in pointing out the name calling. felt better having read all the comments because Don was not eviscerated in any sense.  They didn’t have the goods to do it, so it degenerated into name calling.  Don didn’t seem upset at all, even in pointing out the name calling.”

    There is another aspect to this that really concerns me. I know blog comments are not the best place to do Matthew 18 but when Don was called names and cussed at, he used the Matthew 18 process and he was right in doing so. Anyone else notice the reaction? They did not think the commenters who did such things were at fault. And these are folks who are presenting themselves as biblically educated.

    This concerns me because of the big push for church discipline right now in the reformed movement. Is that what it will look like? Because for those who considered themselves theologically correct, they sure did not recognize basic sin.

  40. Cindy, What I am seeing was never taught in the SBC when I was a kid. My mom taught men all the time in an inner city church and no one thought a thing about it.  So did my grandmother back in the early 1900’s.  She was college educated  (Latin, Greek) where many in her rural home (men included) were not so she taught many bible studies at church and in her home.

    It was a given they were not pastors but they did teach men and it was no big deal.

    I think women had more opportunities to share their spiritual gifts back when society and the church thought they were ‘unequal’.

  41. The non-egal arguments used by CBMW and co. are new and becoming strident.  They are basically a reaction against the flow of freedom that they noticed.  I think the stridency is because IF they are wrong, then they would need to repent.  We saw the same reaction with the US slaveholders in 1850s.

  42. Don,
    The fight includes not giving an inch.  It appears that their rationale is that if they give an inch they have lost the war.  This is what is at the heart of what I am facing right now.  He is between a rock and a hard place.  Will he do the Christian thing or not?  That remains to be seen.  Ego and tradition are a difficult thing to let go of even if one sees that they have blown it.  Giving an inch appears to be admitting defeat.

  43. Stinson wrote “…my concern is that in the name of gender equality, the Bible is undermined and the very words of God end up being revised.”

    This statement is incoherent and therefore wrong.  There is an assumption that the words of God are in English, so when a translator makes a different choice than Stinson would make, that translator is “revising” the Bible.  This is not the way it works, folks!  In fact, besides being fundamentally wrong, it is very arrogant for Stinson to make this claim.

    The words of God in Scripture are in Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek.  Most agree that the original manuscripts were inspired, what best represents those is a discussion, but there are methods to do our best to reconstruct those original manuscripts.

    How best to translate text in one language to another is an art, not a science, which is why machine translation is not very good at it.  There are disagreements about how some verses should be translated, this is a far cry from “revising” Scripture.  Besides that, English itself evolves, who speaks KJV English today except in church, but it was the common tongue back then.

  44. Don,

    ‘We saw the same reaction with the US slaveholders in 1850s.’

    Do you have any recollections about how the Baptist Church recovered itself after losing the slavery war.

  45. “Do you have any recollections about how the Baptist Church recovered itself after losing the slavery war.”

    More focus on foreign missions. The Women’s Missionary Union was formed in 1888 but they had been very active before that.

    Lottie Moon went to China after the Civil War.

  46. Praying for you, Cheryl.

    I see Rocky Marciano and a big Gospel Everready battery on your shoulder as you counter whatever powers, principalities and spiritual wickedness you might have to face.  I have several psalms in mind for your protection, care and deliverance.  I rejoice to see the Lord be yet again and always the glory and lifter of your head.

    May God’s strength find you  as you contend against this zeitgeist of harsh rejection of fellow believers.  May you model love in a powerful way, demonstrating the difference between uniformity as opposed to Christian unity in the love of Jesus.

    Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug from me and know you are dearly loved.

  47. Cindy,

    Thank you for your kind words!  I will go with that encouragement knowing that the Holy Spirit will be there as my strength – my real battery power.  There are things that I need to learn from this experience and I need to be courageous and not give up.

    I will post more on the weekend when I get home from the meeting.

  48. Note from my Matthew 18 meeting with Matt Slick (CARM):

    I have posted my public statement regarding the conclusions from this Matthew 18 meeting here

    Any further discussion of this matter, please email me privately as this brings to a close a very public disagreement and I will not be commenting further in a public way.

  49. What I did appreciate about the meeting we had was having the opportunity to meet Ryan, the new apologist at CARM.  I really appreciated his attitude and his demeanor.  I pray that God will help him to make a positive impact in a godly way in the calling that he has.

  50. Copies from my blog post that is being taken off but some of the comments I want preserved.  This is from Lin:

    This is off topic a bit but what you wrote, Don, reminded me of things I witnessed many times in mega church and para church organizations. The Matthew 18 process was always emphasized to deal with conflict among staff but rarely carried out. People saw how it was dealt with and were just taught not to go there. One reason Matthew 18 does not work in many situations is because of the teaching of hierarchy. People are busy looking at the caste system and if the brother was sinned against by another with a higher title or position within the church then they could not advance the process because they were not to ‘question’ or impune the character of the ‘leader’ by such accusations.

    I have been watching with interest this new found interest in church discipline from the reformed movement. At one conference, the Matthew 18 process was taught. Everything was fine except they ADDED a step to the process. The extra step was to take it to the elders before it went to the whole church. Sounds ok. Sounds logical, even pragmatic. But it is NOT in scripture. And scripture does not specify who the witnesses need to be except other believers.

    The extra step is fine if the elders are godly men chosen according to biblical precepts. But my experience is that many are chosen for more pragmatic reasons and this renders the extra step, added by the reformed group, null.

    I wrote a satire on one incident I really did  witness. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. :o)

  51. This is a copy of Ryan’s comments:

    It is also a reminder to me to not to respond in kind.

    I think this statement from Lin is a good reminder.  The promotion of the truth will be all the more powerful if our response to criticism is simply to address ideas themselves and not the attitudes, feelings or behaviours of our opponents. Let’s focus on keeping up the high quality of discussion on this board doing this very thing, demonstrating what mature Christ-like character ought to look like, and remind ourselves to lay our emotions and desire for justice at God’s feet through prayer.

  52. Don’s comment:


    It is true that 1 Tim 2:12 is the most famous verse used to restrict women in ministry (often with the claim that some translation is the clear teaching of Scripture) but there are other verses that are also used to do that and I am sure you know this.  1 Cor 14:34-35 (women be silent), 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:6 (husband of one wife) are some others used by non-egals, as well as using inconsistent or non-primary meaning translations of Rom 16:1 on Phoebe and Rom 16:7 on Junia.

    I wish it was a simple as one verse.

  53. Greg’s comment:


    For me it is pretty simple actually, from the book of Acts Chap. 15. The text makes it pretty clear to me that God was long finished with writing in stone out of the thick darkness atop Mt. Horeb.

    In verse 20, and then repeated in verses 28 & 29, I am assured that there are only 4 things that I am to refrain from in my Christian walk, and that sitting under a gifted woman teacher of the Bible is not among them.

    What then do I do with a personal letter from Paul to his protege Timothy saying that he “Suffers not a woman to teach…”?  I use common sense and the context of false teaching to conclude that it was never intended to bar Godly women from preaching & teaching Christ crucified.

    Don,  I know that you have been magnificent in defending the sisterhood of believers from the depredations of patriocentric dogmatists and I salute you for it.  All I am saying is that I think we have overlooked Acts 15 as a pivotal manifesto of the freedom we have in Christ and his new covenant.

  54. Ryan writes:

    Greg Anderson writes:

    For me it is pretty simple actually, from the book of Acts Chap. 15. The text makes it pretty clear to me that God was long finished with writing in stone out of the thick darkness atop Mt. Horeb.

    In verse 20, and then repeated in verses 28 & 29, I am assured that there are only 4 things that I am to refrain from in my Christian walk, and that sitting under a gifted woman teacher of the Bible is not among them.

    Greg, I don’t think it is quite that simple. When the apostles concluded “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality,” surely they didn’t mean to say that they were free from the moral commandments such as those requiring them not to murder, steal, covet, lie, etc. Indeed, after listing these few restrictions which they were to communicate, the apostles make it clear why they don’t have to repeat all of the moral requirements: “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).

    The apostles were only addressing the issue of those ceremonial and judicial laws which were stipulated to separate the Jewish people from other non-Jewish people. In other words, all that was being said here was that Gentiles were not required to follow Jewish customs, aside from a few of the food laws and an emphasis on avoiding all sexual immorality, not that they were freed in any way from the transcendent moral requirements given by Moses.

    On the issue of women in ministry, while there are clear verses which seem to be very clear on the treatment of men and women in the Kingdom of God, it is these difficult passages listed before which people use to oppose it and restrict women. Therefore, the best way to prove a view to be correct is to show how it fits with both the verses which seem to agree as well as those which seem to disagree.

    Hope that helps…


  55. Don writes:

    I appreciate your point.

    I might understand Acts 15 somewhat differently.  The context is gentiles and what do they need to do to be saved.  Do they need to join the Mosaic covenant?  No, as the Mosaic covenant does not save anyone, as pointed out by Peter in v. 11.  Do they need to be circumcised and join Abraham’s covenant?  This is a little trickier, but no, as they are in Jesus and Jesus was circumcised they are already IN Abraham’s covenant.  And if “circumcision” is referring to the traditions of Pharisees on conversion v. 5 (which it might) then no again, as James points out both Jews and gentiles will worship God v. 17 per Amos quote so there is no requirement for Jewish coversion.

    So Jews and gentiles are saved by accepting Jesus and accepting the Spirit in them v.8 & v 11.

    But what will it take so Jewish believers will not be grossed out by being with gentile believers?  (They might be saved, but do I have to sit next to them or go to the same church with them?)  These are the 4 minimal requests, from a Jewish POV these were gross things that exemplified what it meant to be a pagan, so please stop doing these worst things from the Jewish POV so that Jewish believers in Jesus can be with you in fellowship.  Remember, they are trying to make it as easy as possible on the gentiles v. 28.

    But this does not talk about what a church is to do for leaders or what a family is work, that is elsewhere in Scripture.

  56. Ryan writes:

    @Don #14:

    I realize that this is getting a bit off the original topic for Cheryl’s post, but I’d like to carry this one through.

    Don, I like how you showed earlier that the Pharisees and other Jews were requiring something for salvation that wasn’t to be a requirement.  However, to say only that “Jews and gentiles are saved by accepting Jesus and accepting the Spirit in them v.8 & v 11? is missing the whole idea of Jesus’ statement, “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.”  Both Jews and Gentiles in OT times were saved by faith looking forward to God’s future work.  However, until the way was made clear, Gentiles were separated from Jews in some way unless they also physically became Jews under the covenant of Moses.  I can’t say I fully understand all of this yet, but this does seem to be the case.  Feel free to correct me from scripture.

    As I read Acts 15, the Jews who believed didn’t understand there was a fulfillment of the ceremonial and food laws which were previously intended to separate Jews from Gentiles such that they were done away with when the way was made known and the veil was torn from top to bottom.  These were no longer to separate Jews from Gentiles.  However, we have a similar practice which all who profess to believe ought to do which is baptism.  Baptism separates those who believe from those who do not believe and it separates these two groups from fellowship together in Christ.  Baptism is a sign like physical circumcision (though much easier and universal to include both men and women), representing inner workings of the heart.  To say that someone is not saved because they have not been water baptized is insufficient.  It may be that this person has not yet had an opportunity to do so (ie. you need water to carry it out like you needed a knife or flint stone for circumcision).  But if such a person was negligent or refusing to do so, that is more serious as it communicates a heart condition which is not healthy.

    I think this is more clear when we understand faith as an action word like trust, intending that we believe so we obey.  How will anyone (even ourselves) know we have saving faith in our heart if it is not evidenced in our actions?  And if we continue through the tests of life and see no evidence of that faith in our actions, what good is such faith?  Further, if the evidence proves the contrary, then it makes evident something about the heart condition which would
    otherwise not be known.

    These are the 4 minimal requests, from a Jewish POV these were gross things that exemplified what it meant to be a pagan, so please stop doing these worst things from the Jewish POV so that Jewish believers in Jesus can be with you in fellowship.  Remember, they are trying to make it as easy as possible on the gentiles v. 28.

    Was sexual immorality something that believing Gentiles would be free to do if it weren’t for the sensitivities of the Jewish believers?

    Looking forward to your response.

  57. Don writes:

    Yes, one needs to strive to obey all commandments of all covenants one is in.  Do not enter a covenant (e.g., marriage) if you do not intend to keep your vows, for example.

    You cannot divide a covenant up, the Bible says it cannot be done, if in the Mosaic covenant, keep all those commandments that apply to you and that you can do.  Many Messianic Jews try to do this, they keep Sabbath and kosher and I do not see this as wrong, they are honoring God by what they do.

    There is some 1st century context that is useful to understand some of the NT.  Most gentiles were pagan but some were called God fearers and were allowed in the temple up to the court of the gentiles.  In effect they were on the road to becoming a Jewish convert and stopped part way.  This was allowed, they could go to synagogue and learn, see Acts 15:21.

    Mikveh baths were a part of 2nd temple Judaism.  This is where the idea of baptism of believers came from.  The Jews would do this to be ritually pure to enter temple areas.  It was also the very last step of conversion of a gentile, when they came up out of the mikveh bath they were considered Jewish with all rights and responsibilities.  Before that they needed instruction, to be circumcised if male and to pay for a temple sacrifice, this last was changed to a contribution after the temple was destroyed.

    Being baptised is one of the early acts of obedience of a believer and is a public declaration of the inner transformation.  This is also where Jews are freed from the being in the Mosaic covenant by dieing in baptism (Rom 6:4, Col 2:12) to enter the new covenant see Rom 7:1-6, which is a better covenant, e.g.,  God commandments are written on one’s heart and not just stone or paper.

    Yes, faith and trust are implied in the Hebrew and Greek, it is English that makes them seem different, but it is good to point out what it means Biblically.

    On sexual immorality, see 1 Cor 5:1.  There was a concept among pagans about sexual immorality, but it was not the same as the Jewish concept.  The Jews are asking to meet the commandments of the Jewish understanding.  Recall that some gentiles might be new believers.  Paul teaches not to be immoral also.

  58. Greg Anderson writes:

    Ryan  & Don,

    I never remotely meant to imply that I am free of any moral constraints.  Murder, theft, adultery, and other sins, are universals that must not be engaged in under any circumstances, and Paul argues that even the heathen world has a conscience that bears this out (Romans 2).

    The main gist of my comment earlier, was primarily a defense of women in ministry based on what I still see as a manifesto of freedom in Acts 15 for all people, whether 1st century Jew or 21st century gentile believer.  I also see this same manifesto, or at least a corollary of it in Galatians 3.

    So far as church governance goes, I believe that what’s written in 1 Tim. are nice suggestions, but they are by no means written on stone tablets and absolutely binding.  Some churches follow the autocratic Moses model, while still others opt for a representative checks and balances approach.  E.W. Bullinger (hardly a liberal theologian) had this to say:

    3. To Timothy were given the earliest instructions for orderly arrangement in the church, these instructions being of the simplest nature, and as Dean Alford well observes with regard to the Pastoral Epistles as a whole, the directions given “are altogether of an ethical, not of an hierarchical, kind”.  These directions afford no warrant whatever for the widespread organizations of the “churches” as carried on today (Bullinger 1799).

    Source: Bullinger’s  Companion Bible , first printing 1922.

  59. Don writes:

    I agree the gospel gives freedom and this is more than just freedom from being a slave to sin, it means choices and is one of the principles of the Kingdom.

    I have the Companion Bible and it has many insights I like.

    Gal 3 is the most egal statement for centuries, it was quiet unprecedented, no wild Greek philosopher went that far.

    I agree the Bible does not discuss big church hierarchies, I prefer rule at a local church myself.

    Acts 15 has a specific context, given in v. 1 and it is important to understand the whole chapter in that context.  It does not talk about Jews, only gentiles.

  60. tiro writes:

    I think a heretic was originally one who differed from the accepted and Pope authored doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. Thus a protestant is considered a heretic. Thus Luther was considered a heretic … but only by the Catholic church

    Those who think they are the ones to establish the acceptable doctrines for the body of Christ in general, are then making themselves the Popes of the church in general with full rights to call anyone who disagrees with them a heretic. Of course this is ludicrous, arrogant and divisive.

    An individual denomination can, if they wish to be popish, decide what the acceptable doctrines are for their denomination. Anyone of their denomination who did not accept them could be called a heretic and ostracized. But it would be improper to call those of other denominations a heretic since they are outside the ‘authority’ of that denomination. However, most churches today recognize that with so many denominations, it is foolish to think non salvic and debatable subjects can be required beliefs to hold over all Christians. Who is to decide? Christ has already decided what is required for salvation. We are foolish to go beyond that.

  61. Lin writes:

    “Who would then decide which is the “orthodox” position on each non-essential?  Seems to me that this would make everyone a “heretic” in someone’s eyes. Who would then decide which is the “orthodox” position on each non-essential?  Seems to me that this would make everyone a “heretic” in someone’s eyes. ”

    Well, this is exactly what we have seen in history even from the Reformed church that decided Ana Baptists were heretics for re-baptizing and refusing to allow their babies to be baptized. This thinking on non essentials is dangerous. Even the Reformed church burned these ‘baptizing heretics’ at the stake.

  62. As a matter of looking to the greater good I have already taken off several posts on this blog. I do not have time for disputing over words and if those who mock and attack have an issue with me, they can contact me directly through email.

  63. This is my first time here and it looks like this website has a lot of great resources for digging into the controversial gender role texts. I’m looking forward to reading more of what’s offered.

    I just wanted to put forward a thought in a spirit of humility, that as a newcomer reading some of the comments, I sensed some of the same attitude of pride in the egal camp that was being pointed out in the comp camp as well.

    Although I understand that the heart of some of the comments is to be biblical faithful, some of the comments I’ve read went a little far, I think: questioning the manhood (“90 days in a concentration camp”) and the motives (“relying on dogma and fear”, “vested interest in his pocketbook”) of some in the comp camp. I have many comp friends who are incredibly loving and humble in how they live out their convictions, so I wouldn’t be so quick to paint them as being insecure or power-hungry. Like most of us here, I think the heart of many of our comp friends is to be faithful to Scripture, even if they read it in a different way.

    We ought to argue our points scripturally without resorting to the same name-calling that we’re preaching against.

  64. Jay,
    Welcome to my blog!

    I think this post brought out some intense feelings because it was about attitudes and judgments made against part of the body of Christ.

    Although I try hard not to edit out material by posters here, I do agree that as much as possible we all try to deal with the scriptural issues. But I do understand the emotions that come out from those who have been abused.

    I also agree that there are many, many Christians who are complementarians who are lovely people who would not harm a flee and who and trying as best they can to be faithful to the scripture. Part of the purpose of this blog is to help such ones to have a place to research the other side knowing that my first priority is faithfulness to the scriptures.

    I do appreciate your comments and I hope that you will find yourself at home here.

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