Byrd's "Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood"

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I’m seeing a strong foundation for a good review. You should have at it...
A few thoughts. And I may be offering really ignorant views about one or more of these since I've never really read much specifically complementarian stuff.

1. Several years ago, after reading some material by a complementarian woman who has been involved with CBMW from the start, I was struck by the extent to which there was agreement with second wave feminism. I'd have to go back and try to find it again, but that was my takeaway, for what it's worth. My understanding is that the word "complementarian" was coined because there was no suitable substitute for patriarchy. And what they're selling (or at least some of them) isn't patriarchy. Some of the women may oppose the classic "have it all" feminist mentality in the sense that you must strive for that, but do they oppose the idea that a particular woman might want to have it all? To me, those who are into things like quiverfull, homeschooling, and family-integrated churches have gone beyond comp into patriarchy since those are all rather traditional things. Complementarianism is a late 20th Century thing that wants to keep women out of the pulpit on the basis of a few Bible verses but which doesn't want to appear to be too radical and out of step with society otherwise. (I suppose ESS is a way of trying to get beyond the proof texting.)

2. Is ESS really essential to CBMW's efforts? Hasn't that only come to the fore in recent years? Wasn't Ligon Duncan the head of CBMW about 10-15 years ago? Was it being pushed back then? (I'm assuming he's against it.)

3. I don't see how what the likes of Byrd (and maybe even Pruitt, although it has been a few years since I've followed them closely, and he has said he doesn't agree with her on everything, but I'm not sure if he's said where they actually disagree) aren't engaging in what amounts to biblicism with their stance against women in ministry. That despite the fact that they would probably decry biblicism elsewhere, especially when it is Baptists and dispensationalists harping on a few proof texts. Practically everything else has been conceded to the feminists. (He says he's against androgyny when it comes to clothing or "outward adornment." So I guess there's that. Although what he (and most of us) consider to be gender appropriate clothing is probably a broader thing than it was in the past.) Basically, what it seems to boil down to for "thin complementarians" is that gender roles or whatever you want to call it pertain to church and home and practically nowhere else. It seems that there is a refusal to argue from natural law or the natural order and that their case is based on maybe a couple of Bible verses that refer to things like "husband of one wife" along with their confession, maybe. Is Mrs. Byrd against "house husbands?" Is Rev. Pruitt?

I can tell you that most people look at women in boardrooms, in Governor's mansions (remember the enthusiasm for Palin?), and maybe even in the White House one day soon and they will think that the idea of a man ruling the household and the church is, at best, a holdover from a bygone age and one that needs to end. Are we to believe that a woman President is going to submit to her husband in the household? I suspect that in the end it will be patriarchy or "thick comp" on one side and various shades of egalitarianism on the other.

I have my doubts that "thin complementarianism" will exist in another generation. All of the "action" is with various charismatic and pentecostal churches these days. We're told that everybody else is plateaued or declining. And with few exceptions, charismatic and pentecostal churches are egal. (I'm not sure that it matters that at least some of them are for women preachers based on "prophetic" gifting that shouldn't be quenched rather than explicitly feminist views.) Will the Southern Baptists be far behind now that Beth Moore is openly cheerleading for women pastors? It seems to me that either there will be a split, or they will get "woke" on this issue. Those kinds of women's classes have probably served as a sort of safety valve that has kept women from demanding women pastors. For a lot of people, on a practical level, that kind of study is more important than public worship is. What would happen in many of the churches if the pastor were to come in and give lessons instead?

4. Remember when women in combat was an issue in the early 1990s? Are many people even bothered by that anymore? And a lot of girls "doing everything the boys can do" is pushed by the fathers.

5. If we're going to judge a book by its cover, I'd think that few people who are anywhere close to being confessionally Reformed (or even just conservative) are going to be cheered by some of the endorsements for "Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" that are prominently displayed on Amazon. McKnight and Beaty are feminists. I'm not sure about the other two, but the people she is trying to reach (presumably, people in NAPARC type churches and conservative evangelicals in general, such as Southern Baptists) may not get fired up about them either.

6. Would those who ignited the ESS controversy a few years ago had pursued the controversy to the extent that they did if they didn't also disagree with other things that CBMW teaches?

7. I've never been a John Piper fan. And I think he's gotten it really wrong with some pronouncements and opinions through the years. But I can appreciate him wrestling with the issues and taking some heat rather than just pointing at a handful of Bible verses as justification for keeping women out of the pulpit and living like a feminist otherwise.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
To be fair, no. Larnin' does make a difference.
I was referring to arguments about certain names. She quotes people who are questionable at best, so she must be questionable too. That was basically the point I was making about the endorsements earlier. Some people won't give it a hearing if the wrong people like it. If Beaty and McKnight like the book, then it must be wrong. Unless some folks from our tribe also like it, we've got to dismiss it. This goes the other way too, especially with survivor blogger types.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I’m seeing a strong foundation for a good review. You should have at it...
Well, that would require actually reading the book, or at least it should. But I'm sure I wouldn't be the first person to pen a review of a book without reading it. I'm thinking it should probably be read in conjunction with her "Why Can't We Be Friends?" as well.

Around 10 years ago, my now moribund blog got some notice because I had gotten involved in a few controversies. (While the posts got greater exposure than I expected, I was denounced or dismissed by most Calvinistic people in the SBC, even by some names that might surprise some, but me and the others on my "side" were vindicated just a few years later after the "right" people started saying the same things that we were saying.) If I had been so inclined, I could have continued that, but to a certain extent it could have involved dealing in rumor and innuendo. For example, in a later controversy, there was a case where someone wouldn't provide information to me, even though it could have been done in a way where he could have remained anonymous. So it would have just been a rant. (We don't know anyone who does that, do we?) Plus, I take way too long to write things.
 
Last edited:

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I was referring to arguments about certain names. She quotes people who are questionable at best, so she must be questionable too. That was basically the point I was making about the endorsements earlier. Some people won't give it a hearing if the wrong people like it. If Beaty and McKnight like the book, then it must be wrong. Unless some folks from our tribe also like it, we've got to dismiss it. This goes the other way too, especially with survivor blogger types.
This is sad but true; I've seen bad reactions/immediate bias to or refusal to buy a book I published because one of the commendations is by someone who was persona non grata because on the wrong side of a controversy unrelated to the book.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
To be fair, no. Larnin' does make a difference.
Some fundys do have larnin', even from places like TEDS, as he does. But he is not a fundy anymore, at least not in terms of separation, etc.

I'd rather read a fundy like Kevin Bauder over most Southern Baptists, and maybe over a good many evangelical Presbyterians these days. But admittedly, he is a rarity.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Simply because there are fallacies doesn't mean that I am not concerned otherwise. It is because I am concerned that I point out the sloppy thinking.
How would you properly show that a person's sources are influencing their thought? Aimee very often takes the egalitarian reading over the complementarian reading. While it is strictly a logical fallacy to argue about the sources that a person cites, is it not also true that people are organic and tend to promote and absorb the things they have read, which can lead to promoting a system of thought to one's readers that is contrary to even what one holds? If it is possible to (perhaps unintentionally) sow the seeds of egalitarian thought for others to consistently develop, how would one improve Naselli's argument to show this?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
How would you properly show that a person's sources are influencing their thought?
I don't know. That's not my argument, so it is not my burden to prove.
While it is strictly a logical fallacy to argue about the sources that a person cites, is it not also true that people are organic and tend to promote and absorb the things they have read, which can lead to promoting a system of thought to one's readers that is contrary to even what one holds?
Maybe. It's not a very strong line of argumentation, and if you were to use it, you would have to rigorously analyze all the sources and show influence and borrowing.
If it is possible to (perhaps unintentionally) sow the seeds of egalitarian thought for others to consistently develop, how would one improve Naselli's argument to show this?
I'm seeing a lot of "possibles" and "unintentionally" here. That's my point. It's a weak line of argumentation.
 

BottleOfTears

Puritan Board Freshman
Oh, I agree. I wasn't arguing with you. Just wanted to make a point about homeschooling. It looked like a bit of a broad brush.

As to the rest, I haven't been part of the discourse for many years, having lived out of the States, for the most part, since 2006. So my take on all this is similar to my take on Aimee Byrd and Rachel Miller: so much of this conversation feels largely irrelevant to my situation, since I'm not really hearing the ones that they are responding too. Like what you've mentioned above: I'm perhaps vaguely aware of those things, but, except for politics, have never actually met anyone who fits into those categories--even my friends back in the States.

So I mostly just ignore it, putting in my POV when I feel the need and when I don't understand something.
Oh no that's fair, I see what you mean now.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That's the question I kept asking people and no one wanted to answer it.
I ask because there has been some sort of "call to action". Seems to me it's the duty of those in the OPC to not just write reviews and issue directives for action to everyone but to actually use the means in their own sphere to address this.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Has the Rev. Castle or anyone in the OPC taken action by filing charges?
Mr. Castle is exercising his right to informal influence via blogging. Filing charges is an example of formal action. Machen's writing articles and books in his day is another example of informal influence; and yes, a person's office or credentials can allow for more such influence by one person than for another. At the end of the day, both of the current-authors are engaged in the same exercise: namely, informal influencing of opinion.

1) the court of original jurisdiction for an individual is the congregation.

2) if any charges would be brought, some sin must be specified and Scripture adduced.

3) Mrs.Byrd is laity, and so has not taken vows to uphold the Standards. However, she has stated she intends no violation of the doctrinal standards of the OPC; and she claims to have sought the counsel of the session that is over her in the Lord. So, is there an accusation present that the church (some part thereof) is derelict in its ministry?

4) if the blogger (a minister in the Presbytery of the Southeast) or anyone else outside the Presbytery where the congregation Mrs.Byrd is a member wanted to prefer charges or complain against the actions or non-actions of a party, they would have to persuade their Presbytery to bring a complaint against the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic to the G.A.

5) those charges would have to identify a violation of the Constitution by a Presbytery, be it doctrinal (with the Standards in play) or in regard to proper order and discipline (a BCO matter). To my knowledge, the OPC does not treat sin as anything but a personal offense (groups don't sin, but the individuals in a group bear the responsibility for their participation

6) if some party within the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic wished to charge the pastor or Session of Mrs. Byrd's congregation--as they have no standing in that congregation to bring a charge against her--this would again entail specification of sin against individuals, or violation of the Constitution, amounting to misfeasance of a court or office, dereliction of the ministry entrusted.

The OPC is a church organized in such a way that it's governing bodies function as courts. And properly functioning courts work within what is known generally as principles of Due Process. People who are not accountable to everyone else are accountable to their own masters, Rom.14:4. This may cut two ways, as it limits the extent of influence but also of interference in formal relations. Informal influence and interference (no formal accountability or common jurisdiction) are matters of another kind; we deal with such almost daily. PB interaction is an example of informal relations.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
A book review explaining Byrd's hermeneutic and call to action by OPC minister Rev. Bennie Castle:

I don't know if there is a formal name for a kind of approach where the reviewer says correct things but they are aimed in the wrong direction.

I used to think that OPC ministers were uniformly careful thinkers but this review proves the opposite and is, sadly, too consistent. This review is a mess.

It's not right. It's not even wrong.

It tries to be flowery whipping us up into things that no Christian should ever disagree with.

"The Spirit of God inspired the Scriptures!!"

Yeah!! That's right! How dare she argue otherwise?!

Except that, sad to say, she doesn't

I actually hate to think what kind of regular mishandling of the Scripture this Pastor practices on a regular basis given his inability to handle a text from a lay-person and come to the kinds of conclusions he does. It's got the depth of Dana Carvey's Church Lady in its observations.

If anyone wants a serious review of Aimee's work then Mark Jones at The Calvinist International has provided what I believe is a good review.

Due to the furor aroused by this work, I listened to the book last week (I have to listen as I can't see well enough to read).

As I stated I agree with Mark Jones' review. I think Mrs. Bryd's approach is distracting and will undermine her aims. I believe she has three basic points she is trying to get across:

1. That there is no principle of women generally submitting to men. Wives submit to their husbands but women, in general, are not to have (as the central focus of their identity) looking for ways in which to affirm "male leadership" in every man they meet.

2. That women don't have to be the leaders in the Church but it doesn't imply they should not be throughtful, contributing members of the Church. They can do more than nursery and children's Sunday School and have an important perspective that ought to be sought out.

3. That we ought to prioritize the Church over the parachurch.

There are a few ways in which I found myself wincing throughout:

1. The yellow wallpaper motif was distracting and unnecessary. It serves as a metaphor for they ways in which we have constrained our thinking about what men and women can and can't do. As one example, I've interacted with one Brother frustrated that there is an idea that if you are quiet and introverted you are not a man. The problem with this metaphor is that she keeps using it as if she feels a need to bring literary quality to her work and employs it even to describe how Americans are keen to prioritize the parachurch over the Church.

2. As noted in multiple reviews, Mrs. Byrd allows egalitarian authors to do the heavy lifting for any controversial point made and doesn't provide any countervailing argument to the contrary. As such, her arguments are speculative and imaginative at times bordering on the absurd. A passing comment about Phoebe becomes the occasion for the notion that she must have been a central figure in the early Church. I think her aim is more modest (to establish the idea that women can be contributing, thinking participants in the Church) but the overwrought arguments about passing references undermines her case. Deborah, Phoebe, Junia, etc. She pushes to the center what the Bible mentions in passing. They are important but not central. They are contributing but it doesn't mean they are "inner circle". I've told others that I think she'll end up failing to influence the very people she was hoping to reach with this book because of this decision to utilize egalitarian scholarship as the central place to support her overall aim. I don't think she's egaliarian herself but I found myself thinking that she felt like she had to offer some sort of strong scholarly argument and grabbed arguments in a slap-dash manner that don't fit together very well. If, for instance, she's as consistently insidious as the former reviwer noted, she would have a much tighter argument but it all seems to hold together very tenuously.

3. She ends up re-creating the same problem she is critiquing in her book about "CBMW-like" movements. The Scriptures are not, primarily, a manual about manhood and womanhood. What they have to say about God and what God requires of man certainly involves things that we need to heed and learn about what it is to be a man and a woman but the Scriptures don't operate as a manual. Those who focus on those topics tend to distort the Scriptures mostly in the way they train people to think that the principle aim of a person reading the Scriptures is to figure out, daily, how they are to "be a woman" where the Scriptures have much more to say to us as we read them and the Spirit sanctifies us. Her critique of the approach of many is on point here but then the book tends to descend into that distortion itself in the way it handles texts and pushes the issue of men and women "contributing" to the foreground and uses speculative and imaginative thinking of the the scholars she cites to distort the meaning of the text.

In conclusion, I found that I could agree with what she was trying to accomplish (to an extent). I agree that women have important perspectives. They are created in the image of God, are intelligent, and see things that men miss. I find her use of sources troubling as well as the methodology used to establish certain points. That said, I think the notion that she's denying the Gospel (a la Galatians 2) as the reviewer noted is laughable to scorn. If anyone ought to be brought up on charges, it is the OPC minister who has violated the 9th Commandment in his complete and utter overstatement of the case. I've got serious reservations about her work but more serious reservations about that review from an OPC minister. I hope his Presbytery will be sufficiently embarrassed by the utter folly of some of the breathless exaggerations and convince him to take it down.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know if there is a formal name for a kind of approach where the reviewer says correct things but they are aimed in the wrong direction.

I used to think that OPC ministers were uniformly careful thinkers but this review proves the opposite and is, sadly, too consistent. This review is a mess.

It's not right. It's not even wrong.

It tries to be flowery whipping us up into things that no Christian should ever disagree with.

"The Spirit of God inspired the Scriptures!!"

Yeah!! That's right! How dare she argue otherwise?!

Except that, sad to say, she doesn't

I actually hate to think what kind of regular mishandling of the Scripture this Pastor practices on a regular basis given his inability to handle a text from a lay-person and come to the kinds of conclusions he does. It's got the depth of Dana Carvey's Church Lady in its observations.

If anyone wants a serious review of Aimee's work then Mark Jones at The Calvinist International has provided what I believe is a good review.

Due to the furor aroused by this work, I listened to the book last week (I have to listen as I can't see well enough to read).

As I stated I agree with Mark Jones' review. I think Mrs. Bryd's approach is distracting and will undermine her aims. I believe she has three basic points she is trying to get across:

1. That there is no principle of women generally submitting to men. Wives submit to their husbands but women, in general, are not to have (as the central focus of their identity) looking for ways in which to affirm "male leadership" in every man they meet.

2. That women don't have to be the leaders in the Church but it doesn't imply they should not be throughtful, contributing members of the Church. They can do more than nursery and children's Sunday School and have an important perspective that ought to be sought out.

3. That we ought to prioritize the Church over the parachurch.

There are a few ways in which I found myself wincing throughout:

1. The yellow wallpaper motif was distracting and unnecessary. It serves as a metaphor for they ways in which we have constrained our thinking about what men and women can and can't do. As one example, I've interacted with one Brother frustrated that there is an idea that if you are quiet and introverted you are not a man. The problem with this metaphor is that she keeps using it as if she feels a need to bring literary quality to her work and employs it even to describe how Americans are keen to prioritize the parachurch over the Church.

2. As noted in multiple reviews, Mrs. Byrd allows egalitarian authors to do the heavy lifting for any controversial point made and doesn't provide any countervailing argument to the contrary. As such, her arguments are speculative and imaginative at times bordering on the absurd. A passing comment about Phoebe becomes the occasion for the notion that she must have been a central figure in the early Church. I think her aim is more modest (to establish the idea that women can be contributing, thinking participants in the Church) but the overwrought arguments about passing references undermines her case. Deborah, Phoebe, Junia, etc. She pushes to the center what the Bible mentions in passing. They are important but not central. They are contributing but it doesn't mean they are "inner circle". I've told others that I think she'll end up failing to influence the very people she was hoping to reach with this book because of this decision to utilize egalitarian scholarship as the central place to support her overall aim. I don't think she's egaliarian herself but I found myself thinking that she felt like she had to offer some sort of strong scholarly argument and grabbed arguments in a slap-dash manner that don't fit together very well. If, for instance, she's as consistently insidious as the former reviwer noted, she would have a much tighter argument but it all seems to hold together very tenuously.

3. She ends up re-creating the same problem she is critiquing in her book about "CBMW-like" movements. The Scriptures are not, primarily, a manual about manhood and womanhood. What they have to say about God and what God requires of man certainly involves things that we need to heed and learn about what it is to be a man and a woman but the Scriptures don't operate as a manual. Those who focus on those topics tend to distort the Scriptures mostly in the way they train people to think that the principle aim of a person reading the Scriptures is to figure out, daily, how they are to "be a woman" where the Scriptures have much more to say to us as we read them and the Spirit sanctifies us. Her critique of the approach of many is on point here but then the book tends to descend into that distortion itself in the way it handles texts and pushes the issue of men and women "contributing" to the foreground and uses speculative and imaginative thinking of the the scholars she cites to distort the meaning of the text.

In conclusion, I found that I could agree with what she was trying to accomplish (to an extent). I agree that women have important perspectives. They are created in the image of God, are intelligent, and see things that men miss. I find her use of sources troubling as well as the methodology used to establish certain points. That said, I think the notion that she's denying the Gospel (a la Galatians 2) as the reviewer noted is laguhable to scron. If anyone ought to be brought up on charges, it is the OPC minister who has violated the 9th Commandment in his complete and utter overstatement of the case. I've got serious reservations about her work but more serious reservations about that review from an OPC minister. I hope his Presbytery will be sufficiently embarrassed by the utter folly of some of the breathless exaggerations and convince him to take it down.
Did the review really say she was "denying the gospel"? If so, I didn't pick up on that in my reading. I thought the linkage to Gal 2 was looser than that. Am willing to be corrected on this.

I thought the case he made was stronger than I would have, but he made some solid points.

As to the three "basic points" above, if that's all that Byrd is contending, I don't think that should even be controversial. Those are baldly true. I also agree with your "wince points."

I feel like there's something else that bothers me, though. Something that does seem drawn from the spirit of modern theory in some sense. Maybe I could simply state it as the "privileging of identity''; a concept which shares something from intersectional theory, wherein one's "identity," as a woman in this case, allows one special insights or perspectives into truth that aren't available to others, and hence represents some untapped source of wisdom and insight, the lack of which is keeping the church from being all that Christ wants her to be.

I can't say that this is fully false, in some sense. Maybe it's even somewhat true. But I'm very suspicious of this perspective, for some reason. Something about it seems problematic to me.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I don't know if there is a formal name for a kind of approach where the reviewer says correct things but they are aimed in the wrong direction.

I used to think that OPC ministers were uniformly careful thinkers but this review proves the opposite and is, sadly, too consistent. This review is a mess.

It's not right. It's not even wrong.

It tries to be flowery whipping us up into things that no Christian should ever disagree with.

"The Spirit of God inspired the Scriptures!!"

Yeah!! That's right! How dare she argue otherwise?!

Except that, sad to say, she doesn't

I actually hate to think what kind of regular mishandling of the Scripture this Pastor practices on a regular basis given his inability to handle a text from a lay-person and come to the kinds of conclusions he does. It's got the depth of Dana Carvey's Church Lady in its observations.
You either did not read his review or you are just the intellectual slouch you accuse him of being. Either way, your comments here are unbecoming an ordained servant in Christ's church.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I read it carefully. I'll let the reader decide who is intellectually lazy and intemperate in their rhetoric.
My point is that you might have disagreed with his argumentation and conclusions by a thoughtful interaction with what he wrote instead resorting to personal attacks. That is what you did. And that is, by its very nature, lazy and intemperate.
 

BottleOfTears

Puritan Board Freshman
As to the three "basic points" above, if that's all that Byrd is contending, I don't think that should even be controversial. Those are baldly true. I also agree with your "wince points."

I feel like there's something else that bothers me, though. Something that does seem drawn from the spirit of modern theory in some sense. Maybe I could simply state it as the "privileging of identity''; a concept which shares something from intersectional theory, wherein one's "identity," as a woman in this case, allows one special insights or perspectives into truth that aren't available to others, and hence represents some untapped source of wisdom and insight, the lack of which is keeping the church from being all that Christ wants her to be.

I can't say that this is fully false, in some sense. Maybe it's even somewhat true. But I'm very suspicious of this perspective, for some reason. Something about it seems problematic to me.
I think how we handle this sort of thing is really key in discussions like this. Because, as you say, there is a certain amount of truth in many things Aimee says, if we notice problematic elements, tendancies, or even just weaknesses, we cannot merely offer a blanket condemnation as in doing so we would accidentally be arguing against many true things as well, potentially causing some, in reaction, to embrace some of the more problematic elements.

In the case of intersectionality, we have to be careful not to deny the usefulness that multiple perspectives can offer us, as well as the culture and boundary crossing nature of the church, while at the same time critiquing more problematic elements. Pointing out potential problems with a skewed view of identity could be useful in a review, reading in a complete "intersectional" theology and disregarding every valid point made in the book because of it would not.

What can easily happen is that we set up a false binary discussion where people who are actually very close in what they believe find themselves on the opposite side, and neither side is willing to do anything that could be interpreted as conceding ground. Those who see themselves "in the middle" are left kind of confused and thinking "I don't agree with either side completely".

It seems that many reviews or discussions of Aimee's book do something similar to this, and then in response, those who appreciate the book see the actual valid criticisms as small potatoes compared to all the ridiculous stuff thrown Aimee's way. So the actual things worth discussing are often never discussed in a reasonable fashion, it's just arguments about who commited the worst 9th commandent violation. Even when a rather decent review such as the one produced by Mark Jones appears, it is refused a response because of the reviewers apparent association with those who have been slandering (I have zero idea of the truth on this matter). I believe Aimee actually wants a discussion, but it's becoming increasingly more difficult more people to write something more measured and even then the discussion is often side tracked into specifics of Natural Theology instead of what is discussed in the book itself. I also think that the more Aimee gets misrepresented or slandered, the more likely she is to percieve something as an attack or a malicious misrepresentation even when it is an honest mistake or disagreement. If an innocent person gets labelled like that, discussion will become next to impossible.

Even if no one is attacking others, where the focus is in discussion can also hurt matters. If "opponents" centre discussion on a relatively minor area while ignoring valid points in a relatively major area, discussion becomes a spiral of what-aboutism. Think of the Trinity debate. People throwing Trinitarian Orthodoxy out the window to back up their views on male-female relations doesn't look very appealing to those trying to pick a "side". People to this day still refuse to listen to anyone who professes ESS opine on other topics because their priorities seem so out of whack. Then if anyone tries to point out that they may be making a good point regardless, it just sounds like what-aboutism and reinforces the idea that people care more about women submitting than they do about how accurate their doctrine of the Trinity is.

I actually think there are problems even beyond this. Take a look at the reaction to the Mark Jones review. I don't have so much issue with said review in-and-of itself, but rather the way it has often been treated. I might be misreading things here, but people generally didn't see it as a useful contribution to an ongoing discussion, but almost as the silver bullet that they've been waiting for, which is arguably at odds with the review itself. Now, to be fair, a lot of the reaction was merely relief at someone writing a review who didnt sound incredibly outraged, but I also suspect that some people simply disliked the tone of the other discussions while agreeing with the majority of the content. No one wants to be sharing an angry review around, but dropping in the Mark Jones review when Aimee's book comes up in discussion is pretty reasonable.

But why do I say silver bullet? I think that a lot of people don't care whether or not Aimee is making any valid points. They are mostly concerned with elements of feminism coming into the church and see her book, and by extension Aimee herself as a threat. This is not to say these people want to slander Aimee, they would of course be opposed to that. But they also don't see any issues with current views on male female relations in evangelicalism. If pushed, they would probably concede that, yes, purity culture could be a bit legalistic and, yes, Doug Wilson-types say some weird stuff sometimes but they wouldn't go out of their way to make a fuss about it. So they see no need for a book like Aimee's, it may say some nice stuff sometimes, but the risk just isn't worth it.

Aimee wants a discussion where things get fleshed out a bit more and problematic elements are done away with. I have never seen her books as portraying themselves as The Final Word on such and such an issue, but rather as a beginning of a discussion that she thinks would be useful. I am often sympathetic to many things she points out in her books, though I am more on the Trueman part of the Byrd-Trueman-Pruitt scale if you will. I think that some of the problems in her works would be eliminated via more books by some others. I don't think she would be opposed to this at all, rather I think she would be delighted.

Sadly, it seems that many don't think a developmental discussion is necessary here, and see Aimee not as a useful voice that brings a bit of balance, but as a danger that needs to be dealt with. Enter Mark Jones review, stage left. Finally, a reasoned article that will sort this mess out. Retweet it on Twitter... and done. Complementarianism is saved.

I jest, but I believe here we come to the real aspect of disagreement currently. I think we can move beyond discussing "how slanderous is this one review I found" which honestly is not very edifying or helpful, and into the vastly more useful argument about whether much discussion actually needs to be done. Note, I am not asking about whether one agrees completely or even at all with Mrs Byrd on these issues, but rather whether (or how much) current views need to be analysed and modified/fleshed out.

Only then can we decide on how to tackle the real meat of discussion, that is, the subjects and ideas Aimee brings up in her book. I would hope that most would see that at the very least some fleshing out needs to be done, even if it is just the retrieval of existing ideas. I think Mark Jones has gone in that direction, which is one of the reasons his review is far more useful than the others. In fact, re-reading his review, much of what he says in his last few paragraphs concords with this idea as well as other things I have brought up.
Complementarianism is sometimes about ideology, not reality. Revision needs to take place in some circles, and I would like to see a strong condemnation of ESS from all complementarians. In my view, the issues before us, in terms of the role of men and women in the church, need to be done carefully and in a context where authors are not approaching these questions from a preoccupation with teachings in their own contexts. This book is perhaps too preoccupied with CBMW, and in particular Piper and Grudem. Thinking against such a foil means the texts may not be approached attentively but rather they are being subjected to the demands of the debate. Or maybe the author isn’t allowed to develop their positive case well because of the polemical concerns.

In the end, we have a bold and provocative book by an author who wishes to liberate the church from what she perceives to be unbiblical views on male–female roles. I admit that I do not write from a female perspective, and some women may feel unjustifiably silenced in their churches in various ways. As a pastor this book makes me think about my own church context and whether women feel valued. Yet, a lot of her views have been already stated in the many books on this topic out there, which means the distinctiveness of this book is perhaps the polemical tone towards CBMW (hence the title of the book). For this reason, I worry this type of book will entrench party–lines more than develop sympathetic understanding. Whether supporters and opponents of Byrd’s project in the current climate have the ability to read both critically and sympathetically is an interesting question. But I think the biblical–theological case in this book needs filling out in more detail, and in a way that doesn’t basically re-state what has been offered already in recent decades. I also feel she’s (perhaps unwittingly) been squeezed into the demands of a debate where the church has not offered in recent decades the right theological tools for us all to work with. This issue is a truly difficult task before the church, and I pray God will raise up future authors (male and female) who can guide us on these admittedly sensitive (but hugely important) topics.
So what does everyone think? Do we need much theological development in this area? Who are those best suited to the task? Does much need to be changed? And how useful is what Aimee Byrd has written towards said development?
 

Castle

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know if there is a formal name for a kind of approach where the reviewer says correct things but they are aimed in the wrong direction.

I used to think that OPC ministers were uniformly careful thinkers but this review proves the opposite and is, sadly, too consistent. This review is a mess.

It's not right. It's not even wrong.

It tries to be flowery whipping us up into things that no Christian should ever disagree with.

"The Spirit of God inspired the Scriptures!!"

Yeah!! That's right! How dare she argue otherwise?!

Except that, sad to say, she doesn't

I actually hate to think what kind of regular mishandling of the Scripture this Pastor practices on a regular basis given his inability to handle a text from a lay-person and come to the kinds of conclusions he does. It's got the depth of Dana Carvey's Church Lady in its observations.

If anyone wants a serious review of Aimee's work then Mark Jones at The Calvinist International has provided what I believe is a good review.

Due to the furor aroused by this work, I listened to the book last week (I have to listen as I can't see well enough to read).

As I stated I agree with Mark Jones' review. I think Mrs. Bryd's approach is distracting and will undermine her aims. I believe she has three basic points she is trying to get across:

1. That there is no principle of women generally submitting to men. Wives submit to their husbands but women, in general, are not to have (as the central focus of their identity) looking for ways in which to affirm "male leadership" in every man they meet.

2. That women don't have to be the leaders in the Church but it doesn't imply they should not be throughtful, contributing members of the Church. They can do more than nursery and children's Sunday School and have an important perspective that ought to be sought out.

3. That we ought to prioritize the Church over the parachurch.

There are a few ways in which I found myself wincing throughout:

1. The yellow wallpaper motif was distracting and unnecessary. It serves as a metaphor for they ways in which we have constrained our thinking about what men and women can and can't do. As one example, I've interacted with one Brother frustrated that there is an idea that if you are quiet and introverted you are not a man. The problem with this metaphor is that she keeps using it as if she feels a need to bring literary quality to her work and employs it even to describe how Americans are keen to prioritize the parachurch over the Church.

2. As noted in multiple reviews, Mrs. Byrd allows egalitarian authors to do the heavy lifting for any controversial point made and doesn't provide any countervailing argument to the contrary. As such, her arguments are speculative and imaginative at times bordering on the absurd. A passing comment about Phoebe becomes the occasion for the notion that she must have been a central figure in the early Church. I think her aim is more modest (to establish the idea that women can be contributing, thinking participants in the Church) but the overwrought arguments about passing references undermines her case. Deborah, Phoebe, Junia, etc. She pushes to the center what the Bible mentions in passing. They are important but not central. They are contributing but it doesn't mean they are "inner circle". I've told others that I think she'll end up failing to influence the very people she was hoping to reach with this book because of this decision to utilize egalitarian scholarship as the central place to support her overall aim. I don't think she's egaliarian herself but I found myself thinking that she felt like she had to offer some sort of strong scholarly argument and grabbed arguments in a slap-dash manner that don't fit together very well. If, for instance, she's as consistently insidious as the former reviwer noted, she would have a much tighter argument but it all seems to hold together very tenuously.

3. She ends up re-creating the same problem she is critiquing in her book about "CBMW-like" movements. The Scriptures are not, primarily, a manual about manhood and womanhood. What they have to say about God and what God requires of man certainly involves things that we need to heed and learn about what it is to be a man and a woman but the Scriptures don't operate as a manual. Those who focus on those topics tend to distort the Scriptures mostly in the way they train people to think that the principle aim of a person reading the Scriptures is to figure out, daily, how they are to "be a woman" where the Scriptures have much more to say to us as we read them and the Spirit sanctifies us. Her critique of the approach of many is on point here but then the book tends to descend into that distortion itself in the way it handles texts and pushes the issue of men and women "contributing" to the foreground and uses speculative and imaginative thinking of the the scholars she cites to distort the meaning of the text.

In conclusion, I found that I could agree with what she was trying to accomplish (to an extent). I agree that women have important perspectives. They are created in the image of God, are intelligent, and see things that men miss. I find her use of sources troubling as well as the methodology used to establish certain points. That said, I think the notion that she's denying the Gospel (a la Galatians 2) as the reviewer noted is laughable to scorn. If anyone ought to be brought up on charges, it is the OPC minister who has violated the 9th Commandment in his complete and utter overstatement of the case. I've got serious reservations about her work but more serious reservations about that review from an OPC minister. I hope his Presbytery will be sufficiently embarrassed by the utter folly of some of the breathless exaggerations and convince him to take it down.
Brother, you are in Virginia as am I. You are welcome to come to my church and worship with any time you are in the Lynchburg area.

First, as to intellectual laziness, my point about the Scripture and the Spirit goes deeper than the superficial slogan we all agree with. My critique of Mrs. Byrd trades on two poles of the doctrine of canonization. First, she writes that the Scriptures were compiled by committee. She then goes on to "discover" in the story of Huldah the contribution of a woman's voice to that compilation. This twin move allows her to say that a woman's voice was part of God's process of canonization.

But the confessional doctrine is otherwise, as I labor to show in the article. The catholic doctrine of canon is that the Scripture bears all the marks of divinity of itself. The reception of the canon by the church is based upon the authenticating witness of the Spirit in the hearts of the Church.

When we look at the story of Huldah, without any axes to grind, we see that the confessional doctrine of canonization is exactly what happens in the narrative. Josiah and the priests recognize the book as God's Word by reading it. The book is already authenticated before they go to Huldah. Huldah plays no part in authenticating the book as God's Word. Rather, she, as a prophetess, applies it to their lives much like a pastor does today in his sermon. This was an extraordinary time and so her being a teacher is an extraordinary circumstance which I don't want to go off on here.

All this is to say, if you read my review and thought my only contention is that the Spirit inspired Scripture and Mrs. Byrd somehow denies this in some inchoate way, then you missed my point. And missing my point falls more so on my shoulders as an author than it does on yours as a reader, but it still falls to you to try and understand what I am doing in this article.

Secondly, my invitation to come worship with us still stands. But you need to watch the snide insinuations about my ministry which you have never attended. I wrote a review of a book directed at ordained men. I tried to show the deeper system of doctrine in the Confession and how Mrs. Byrd's book contradicts, not the individual doctrines of the confession, but the system underlying it. If you missed my point, then go back and reread or ask. But do not imply that I am mishandling the Word of Life in the feeding of my sheep whom I labor for based upon a misunderstanding of an admittedly thorny topic.

Be better than that and use manly rhetoric.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
but almost as the silver bullet that they've been waiting for
Bingo. I think there is misunderstanding on both sides. Those on Aimee's side tend to think that all CBMW types are semi-Arians. They aren't, though CBMW allows for that. Those on Jones's side think Aimee's concerns simply reflect the worst of feminism.

I got it full bore on twitter last week simply because I criticized the argumentation in one paragraph of Naselli's review. I didn't even say Naselli's larger point was wrong, only that his logic was sloppy. The complentarians (or patriarchalists or whatever) went into full meltdown mode.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I think that a lot of people don't care whether or not Aimee is making any valid points. They are mostly concerned with elements of feminism coming into the church and see her book, and by extension Aimee herself as a threat. This is not to say these people want to slander Aimee, they would of course be opposed to that. But they also don't see any issues with current views on male female relations in evangelicalism. If pushed, they would probably concede that, yes, purity culture could be a bit legalistic and, yes, Doug Wilson-types say some weird stuff sometimes but they wouldn't go out of their way to make a fuss about it. So they see no need for a book like Aimee's, it may say some nice stuff sometimes, but the risk just isn't worth it.
You've accurately described where I am in this discussion. Though saying "a lot of people don't care whether or not Aimee is making any valid points" may be overstating it. For myself, I would say that whatever valid points she makes, they are incidental to the errors in her hermeneutics. Even a broken clock is right two times a day. But the categories she introduces to interpreting the Bible represent an error far outweighing anything positive about her work. She is claiming that the entire way we interpret the Bible needs to be changed. That is huge. Nothing can be more important than orthodox hermeneutics and nothing can be more dangerous than getting that wrong. And I believe she does.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This is truly an alarming statement. Regardless of the poster's rank or status, is this kind of invective really to be tolerated here on the PB?
Maybe, maybe not, but that's very gentle compared to some of the rhetoric I've received from people here over the years. Not judging PB, of course, just some of the people.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Maybe, maybe not, but that's very gentle compared to some of the rhetoric I've received from people here over the years. Not judging PB, of course, just some of the people.
It's also comparable, and perhaps even gentle compared to what Ms. Byrd and other women who've spoken in this area receive here and elsewhere in the reformed community.
I know your mother taught you that two wrongs don't make a right. Accusing a minister of the OPC of mishandling the Word of God on a weekly basis is slander. Plain and simple. Rich (@Semper Fidelis) should withdraw the offending remark. He perhaps owes an apology to Mr. Castle.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I know your mother taught you that two wrongs don't make a right.
Right, it doesn't. Jacob's post which I quoted did not say that the statement was justified. He pointed out that he's received this sort of engagement here; and I think it's important to note that Ms. Byrd has too. -- I guess I'm more of a traditionalist about these things -- I don't think it's noble for men to be more careful when dealing with one another than they are when dealing with women. I think it's good to be equally careful with Ms. Byrd and other women here.

I didn't personally read the original review or follow that part of Rich's post; I appreciated his engagement with the substance of the book which notes some issues but also some good aims.
 
Top