Let me give my top quotes form Others…
“If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”
- Together For the Gospel:
TGC is often criticized for its’ complementarian position. Why is this issue so central for you?
Every generation has to work out the application of the gospel in the teeth of particular societal trends. One of the trends in Western culture is the breakup of marriage and family. At a time when more than sixty percent of the children in our inner cities are born out of wedlock, when countless numbers of children will never have a relationship with a stable father, it is imperative that faithful proclamation of the gospel in our time speak to questions surrounding marriage and the family—and it is not possible to do that in a robustly biblical fashion without saying something about Scriptures’ instruction on men and women.
Moreover, there is a hermeneutical factor that must be frankly faced. I know full well that many dispute this point, but in my judgment, the kind of hermeneutics on which evangelical egalitarianism is based is so weak and disturbing that it opens the door for numerous other distortions of Scripture to multiply.
1. The rejection of biblical gender roles has dire implications for evangelical theololgy. The hermeneutics of egalitarianism are a blemish leading to theological cancer.
Bill Farley – CHRISTIANITY is a patriarchal religion. That means that it is father-centered. But patriarchy is in steep decline. According to a recent report, for every male attending an evangelical church in North America, there are two females. The ratio is one to four in the African-American church. If this trend is left unreversed, the Church as we know it will not survive. When men abandon church and home, it is a sign that the wheels have come off. That is because male servant leaders energize the Christian church and family.
 William P. Farley, Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing Company, 2009. 125
Five Reasons Why I Stand by this Distinction in Role Between Men and Women in Ministry
- Because the sense seems plain to me and not terribly complicated in 1 Timothy 2:12-13.
- Because this fits with the overall picture of complementarity in Genesis, Jesus’ ministry, and Paul’s and Peter’s teaching on marriage.
- I have never seen any other texts that contradict this meaning. What the other texts do (like Galatians 3:28 and Acts 2) is refine our applications and protect us from abuses.
- The aim of the New Testament is to redeem sin-distorted relationships between men and women. But it redeems them by removing the distortions of headship and submission, not by leveling all distinction in role.
- Since I see this distinction in the Bible, I believe it is good for women and men, and for our society as a whole, and for the glory of God.
“It is my best and most sober judgment that this position [egalitarianism] is effectively an undermining of—a breach in—the authority of Scripture…It seems to me and others (many who are younger than myself) that this issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism is increasingly acting as the watershed distinguishing those who will accommodate Scripture to culture, and those who will attempt to shape culture by Scripture…Of course, there are issues more central to the gospel than gender issues.
However, there may be no way the authority of scripture is being undermined more quickly or more thoroughly in our day than through the hermeneutics of egalitarian readings of the Bible. And when the authority of Scripture is undermined, the gospel will not long be acknowledged. “
Thoughts on Egalitarians vrs Complementarians by Kevin DeYoung
- Historically, opening the door to egalitarianism in one generation leads to bigger errors in the next. I know slopes aren’t always slippery, but this one seems to be. Once your hermeneutic allows for egalitarianism, it becomes hard to stand firm on homosexuality. I’m not saying that all egalitarians believe homosexuality is acceptable, only that blurring gender roles and overstating the implications of Galatians 3:28 has often slid, over time, into an acceptance of sexual immorality.
- The role of men and women is a huge issue for our day. Our millennial views matter, but in terms of ministering in and to the culture, where we stand in gender issues matters more. There is so much confusion on manhood and womanhood, that wherever we can speak clearly and with one voice that’s a good thing.
- Complementarianism tends to signify a number of other important convictions. I don’t know any complementarians who don’t also affirm:
- Inerrancy, penal substitution, and eternal punishment.
- In other words, if someone is a Calvinist and a complementarian I can generally assume a lot about their theology.
- These are not the two most important issues of the faith, but they are two issues that if embraced in our day, almost always include a lot of other important theological beliefs.
Egalitarians can also believe in the sort of core doctrines listed above, but it is far less automatic. The Calvinist/Egalitarian package is different from the Calvinist/Complementarian package in more ways than one.
- Practically, it is very difficult for groups and organizations and movements to make both complementarians and egalitarians happy. If a new movement tried to embrace both views, how would this work? It is simpler and better for the long-term peace of an organization to take a stand on this issue. Cross-denominational movements can allow for different views of baptism, because they don’t ever have to baptize anyone.
Ligon Duncan III writes:
The church’s confidence in the clarity of Scripture is undermined, because if you can get egalitarianism from the Bible, you can get anything from the Bible.
When the biblical distinctions of maleness and femaleness are denied, Christian discipleship is seriously damaged because there can be no talk of cultivating distinctively masculine Christian virtue or feminine Christian virtue. Yes, there are many Christian ethical norms that are equally directed and applicable to male and female disciples, but there are also many ethical directives in the NT enjoined distinctly upon Christian men as men and Christian women as women.
Consequently, commitment to evangelical egalitarianism opens the door for two competing but incompatible ethical norms and ideals within the individual, family and church. If the egalitarian impulse wins out, the church is compromised precisely at the point where paganism is assaulting the church today. For, as Peter Jones has brilliantly demonstrated, paganism wants to get rid of Christian monotheism by getting rid of the Creator-creature distinction. And one way paganism likes to do that is through gender confusion-hence, the bi-sexual shaman, the sacred feminine, goddess worship, etc. Paganism understands that one of the best ways to prepare the way for pagan polytheistic monism over against the transcendent Creator God of the Bible is to undermine that God’s image in the distinctiveness of male and female, and in the picture of Christ and the church in marital role distinctions, and in the male eldership of the church. Egalitarianism is just not equipped for that fight, and in fact simply capitulates to it.
We need masculine male Christians and feminine female Christians, and that kind of discipleship requires an understanding of and commitment to complementarianism. Hence, denial of complementarianism compromises Gospel discipleship.
From Why “Together for the Gospel” Embraces a Complementarian Gospel
Dr. Joel Beeke tells this story:
Why Do You Have to Be So Precise?
Richard Rogers, the Puritan pastor of Wethersfield, Essex, at the turn of the sixteenth century, was riding one day with the local lord of the manor, who, after twitting him for some time about his “precisian” ways, asked him what it was that made him so precise.
“O sir,” replied Rogers, “I serve a precise God.”
If there were such a thing as a Puritan crest, this would be its proper motto. A precise God–a God, that is, who has made precise disclosure of His mind and will in Scripture, and who expects from His servants a corresponding preciseness of belief and behavior–it was this view of God that created and controlled the historic Puritan outlook. The Bible itself led them to it. And we who share the Puritan estimate of Holy Scripture cannot excuse ourselves if we fail to show a diligence and conscientiousness equal to theirs in ordering our going according to God’s written Word. (Puritan Papers Volume 2, 246-47)
The question at hand is whether or not egalitarian doctrine itself tends toward the erosion of fundamental evangelical commitments such as inerrancy, the doctrine of God, and penal substitutionary atonement. Is the egalitarian blemish benign or potentially malignant?
While I believe that paedobaptists are wrong in their interpretation of Scripture, I do not believe that their hermeneutic carries with it the seeds of malignancy. I cannot say the same for egalitarian hermeneutics. I believe along with many others that egalitarianism is a potential malignancy. I think Lig Duncan has said it best:
The denial of complementarianism undermines the church’s practical embrace of the authority of Scripture (thus eventually and inevitably harming the church’s witness to the Gospel). The gymnastics required to get from “I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,” in the Bible, to “I do allow a woman to teach and to exercise authority over a man” in the actual practice of the local church, are devastating to the functional authority of the Scripture in the life of the people of God.
By the way, this is one reason why I think we just don’t see many strongly inerrantist-egalitarians (meaning: those who hold unwaveringly to inerrancy and also to egalitarianism) in the younger generation of evangelicalism. Many if not most evangelical egalitarians today have significant qualms about inerrancy, and are embracing things like trajectory hermeneutics, etc. to justify their positions. Inerrancy or egalitarianism, one or the other, eventually wins out.
I know that this latter charge is difficult for egalitarians to hear—especially those that remain committed to evangelical faith. Nevertheless, the existence of egalitarian evangelicals does not mitigate the dangers of egalitarian approaches to Scripture in subsequent generations. Again, it is the potentialities of egalitarianism that make it so deadly, not its expression in any particular evangelical. And we have seen those potentialities played out so many times in history.
Several years ago, Mark Dever published an article in JBMW in which he compared the relative weight of the complementarian issue to that of baptism and church polity. In doing so, he invoked his continuing love and admiration for his mentor Roger Nicole, who was an egalitarian. Dever’s remarks are worth quoting at length:
“Well then” you might say “why don’t you leave this issue of complementarianism at the level of baptism or church polity? Surely you cooperate with those who disagree with you on such matters.” Because, though I could be wrong, it is my best and most sober judgment that this position is effectively an undermining of–a breach in–the authority of Scripture…
Dear reader, you may not agree with me on this. And I don’t desire to be right in my fears. But it seems to me and others (many who are younger than myself) that this issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism is increasingly acting as the watershed distinguishing those who will accomodate Scripture to culture, and those who will attempt to shape culture by Scripture. You may disagree, but this is our honest concern before God. It is no lack of charity, nor honesty. It is no desire for power or tradition for tradition’s sake. It is our sober conclusion from observing the last 50 years.
Paedobaptism is not novel… But, on the good side, evangelicals who have taught such a doctrine have continued to be otherwise faithful to Scripture for 5 centuries now. And many times their faithfulnesses have put those of us who may have a better doctrine of baptism to shame! Egalitarianism is novel. Its theological tendencies have not had such a long track record. And the track record they have had so far is not encouraging.
Of course there are issues more central to the gospel than gender issues. However, there may be no way the authority of Scripture is being undermined more quickly or more thoroughly in our day than through the hermenuetics of egalitarian readings of the Bible. And when the authority of Scripture is undermined, the gospel will not long be acknowledged. Therefore, love for God, the gospel, and future generations, demands the careful presentation and pressing of the complementarian position.
I think Dever is right. Wisdom is vindicated by her children. A quick glance at the historical record shows that the children of egalitarianism have not fared well over the long haul. The same cannot be said of those with differing views of baptism and the Lord’s supper.
I love Carl Trueman. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that to be the case for of all the times I’m pointing to his material. He is an unabashed complementarian and a brother in the Lord. But on this point we disagree. The rejection of biblical gender roles has dire implications for evangelical theololgy. The hermeneutics of egalitarianism are a blemish leading to theological cancer. The hermeneutics of variant protestant baptismal views are not.
For more about how egalitarian hermeneutics undermines biblical authority, I recommend the following book:
Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006).