This is an updated post from March 2007.
Should egalitarians be fought as enemies of the gospel?
CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) posted audio tapes from Different By Design conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2007. I was amazed at the way that they connected the gospel to the gender issue in such a way that they charged those who do not hold to patriarchy and male-only leadership with not holding to the gospel. I would like to present some audio clips from the first tape by Russell Moore in this post and reflect on his comments.
Audio files show Christian women treated unfairly
The complete audio file is no longer available on the CBMW site (cbmw.org) how it is available in full at Dr. Russell Moore’s website here. The first speaker from the February 2007 conference is Dr. Russell Moore who was the dean of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky and is now the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention since 2013.
Dr. Moore starts out by stating that evangelical feminism is winning the debate in our churches. The clips below are very short, so it won’t take long to get through them. The shortest clip is only a few seconds long, and the last clip which is the most jaw-dropping clip is just over 1 minute. Below is audio clip #1.
Dr. Moore then asserts that Christians who hold to the egalitarian viewpoint do not have an exegetical argument and have largely abandoned (trying to use exegesis). Hear Clip #2 below.
Biblical and Exegetical with Respect
I would respectfully disagree with Dr. Moore. I have read many excellent biblical exegetical arguments from evangelical egalitarian sources. In 2006 our ministry also produced a careful and respectful verse-by-verse exegesis of the hard passages of scripture in our 4 DVD series called Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free? It was extremely important to us to recognize that as Christians we need to work hard to rightfully divide the word of truth. We believe that Scripture is God-breathed and we do not advocate disregarding any parts of the Bible. All Scripture has been given by God for our learning and our correction. Have egalitarian Christians abandoned an exegetical argument on the gender issue? Absolutely not! Those who hold tightly to Scripture do not have to abandon it to reject patriarchy.
Dr. Moore then says that women who teach the Bible in the media, like teaching on DVDs, are taking a pastoral role that isn’t allowed to them and men who watch and listen to women teach the Bible on DVDs are more willing to let women teach them. Listen to Russell Moore’s comments on clip #3 below.
Women not allowed to teach the Bible using Media?
It is interesting that Dr. Moore appears to be very against women teaching Scripture using various media. Should women stop teaching the Scripture? No. We are in a battle against the enemy, and we must not be silent. We cannot stop teaching the gospel if we are to be faithful to Christ. Women who teach the Bible on DVDs as I have done on my WIM series are following Christ using the gifts that He has given us. Should women be forbidden to teach using the media? It appears that Dr. Moore believes so. Why? He says that this debate is not a secondary issue but is an issue of the gospel. He says that it is not an intramural debate where brothers and sisters in Christ can disagree on a secondary issue. Rather according to Dr. Moore and CBMW, the gender debate is not a secondary issue but a core issue of the gospel. Listen to clip #4 below.
More important than the doctrine of God?
Dr. Moore goes on to say that we as a church have treated the doctrine of God as a more important issue than the “male headship” or gender issue. However, Moore disagrees with this position. He says that brothers and sisters who are together on the doctrine of God are not really together if they disagree on the gender issue because open theism (a view that denies God’s full knowledge i.e. the teaching that God is not omniscient) is not worse than evangelical feminism. Listen to Russell Moore’s audio clip #5 below.
How sad that the gender debate can be considered in the same category as open theism. How this must hurt the heart of God when a brother in Christ is willing to separate from other brothers and sisters in Christ over a secondary issue, instead treating the gender issue as a core issue of faith. This is not a core issue of faith but an issue where sincere brothers and sisters in Christ can differ without breaking fellowship. Those who are charging egalitarians with serious doctrinal error and with dismissing the gospel just because they believe that women are allowed to use their spiritual gifts without restriction,have moved over into a divisive and unloving stance. This should not be.
The last clip brings a great sadness to my heart.
Egalitarians shaking their fists at God?
Evangelical feminists are not necessarily lost? Perhaps some of them can be saved? It is just so sad to hear Dr. Moore state that those who hold to the egalitarian argument are holding to a belief that seems right to them because they are shaking their fists in the face of authority. He says that lives are at stake. He says that the gospel is at stake.
Beloved, our brothers in Christ are seeing this issue as an in-house spiritual warfare. We are the enemy to them, and they are out to win because they believe they are fighting the battle for the gospel.
Women teaching the Bible is not a battle for the gospel
This is not a battle for the gospel. We believe in the gospel just as strongly as Dr. Moore and CBMW does. In fact, the core of our ministry is the defense of the faith, and we have been instrumental in leading many Jehovah’s Witnesses to Christ by presenting the gospel to them. But when one adds conditions to the gospel that the Bible does not add, then there will be an attack on those who do not hold to those conditions.
I say that it is time that our brothers in Christ stop treating us as the enemy. Where is the love for others in the body of Christ who do not think as they do? Jesus said that they would know us by our love. Our love MUST be for the body of Christ. Complementarians need to learn to love us and do it for Jesus’ sake.