Review of RGM’s BA&S

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
New review in New Horizons. Sounds like similar criticisms as those directed at Byrd.
Here‘s a portion....

Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society, by Rachel Green Miller. P&R 2019. Paperback, 280 pages, $13.50. Reviewed by OP elder Michael A. Chartowich.

”....She then argues that in Scripture many of the attributes normally ascribed to men (strength, assertiveness, providing) are also said of women, and ones normally ascribed to women (gentleness, responsive, helping) are also said of men. This is true in many cases, but I found myself left with many questions. What then is masculinity and femininity? Why did God make men and women different? Why does he call men to lead in marriage and the church? Miller rejects many stereotypes, but spends little time building a positive case for masculinity and femininity.

Parts four through six address marriage, the church, and society. Miller makes several good points in reinforcing her argument that sometimes we wrongfully go beyond what Scripture teaches. I believe that she rightly rejects the idea, held by some, that all women are called to submit to all men in some general way rather than just to their own particular husband and church leaders. She also challenges the suspicion that some church leaders show when women want to learn theology. As part of the body, women should also learn theology to be protected from false doctrine and not be limited to only hospitality and children’s ministries. Some complementarians, however, will likely differ with her in several places. For example, Miller does not believe that women have a biblical calling to be particularly oriented toward the home. She also implies that prohibitions against women teaching men theology at co-ed Christian conferences or in co-ed adult church groups are extrabiblical.

Some of Miller’s methods of biblical interpretation are problematic. For example, she uses the context of one passage to interpret another. Referring to Titus 2:5 and 1 Timothy 5:14, she says, “First Timothy gives us the context for these passages” (252). She then cites 1 Timothy 5:13 and implies that Paul’s directions to focus on the home were a result of the widows being busybodies and not be- cause women have a unique orientation to the home. Whether or not this is true in 1 Timothy, it does not follow that this was also happening in Crete when Paul wrote Titus 2:5.

In conclusion, Miller does a good job of exposing some unbiblical ways of viewing men and women. However, her questionable interpretation of some key texts (and her neglect of others) detracts f rom the overall persuasiveness of her thesis.”
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
So why would these women want to remain in the OPC? I never understood why people who break from their denomination in doctrine and practice, or at least seem to want to push the envelope in that direction, don’t seek a religious home elsewhere? There are plenty of churches more accommodating to this line of thinking as highlighted in the prior quoted portion.

“Her major is history. What is her background that would make her qualified to write a theology book? This goes for men too, why should I put (in) the time for these books that is just some laymen like me.”
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
So why would these women want to remain in the OPC? I never understood why people who break from their denomination in doctrine and practice, or at least seem to want to push the envelope in that direction, don’t seek a religious home elsewhere? There are plenty of churches more accommodating to this line of thinking as highlighted in the prior quoted portion.
I've gone down that line of inquiry many times. I suspect it has something to do with the liberal tendancy of never being content to simply join themselves to people and groups who are like-minded but also feel compelled to make all those who are not like-minded conform to their own opinion. In the minds of feminists and egalitarians, conservative Reformed churches are at the very least defrauding women of their rightful place in the body or even worse, actually oppressing them. If one really believes that is the case, one will naturally feel emboldened to tear down the "patriarchy" in the name of "justice." How exactly that takes shape will depend on the context.
 
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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
In the minds of feminists and egalitarians, conservative Reformed churches are at the very least defrauding women of their rightful place in the body or even worse, actually oppressing them. If one really believes that is the case, one will naturally feel emboldened to challenge the status quo in the name of "justice."
I would prefer they just leave. It would be a be a joyous occasion to bid them good riddance.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ok, this endorsement perplexes me. I’m not looking to open up criticism toward Carl Trueman. From what I know and have heard from him, I always believe him to be very solid and sound on matters of doctrine, theology and church history. I thought he maintained his objectivity without compromise in his recent exchanges with Aimee Byrd, which is why I find his endorsement of Miller’s book a bit surprising and kinda disappointing.


Endorsements
“There is a very real danger in our current cultural moment that the polarization that characterizes the political landscape might well come to exert an unfortunate influence on both the rhetoric and the content of discussions among Christians on a number of controversial topics. The temptation to respond to one extreme error by adopting its mirror image is strong but rarely, if ever, correct. And there are few topics in the public square that are more divisive than the relationship between the sexes. It is therefore a pleasure to commend this book by Rachel Miller, which eschews the cheap extremism and bombastic rhetoric that characterize conservative Christian responses to feminism and plots not a middle way but a biblical way through the subjects of authority, submission, masculinity, and the like. She is not interested in making the Bible fit 1950s ideals of what men and women should be; rather, she wants to help the reader to think about what the Bible actually means in the present. This is a refreshingly sane read.

—Carl Trueman
, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Yes, it would be nice if the Devil just left us be. But it would seem he is hell-bent on our destruction.
[W]here God builds His church, the devil will be sure to have his chapel. - James Ussher. James Ussher and a Reformed Episcopal Church: Sermons and Treatises on Ecclesiology. Moscow, ID: The Davenant Institute. 2018.
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
So why would these women want to remain in the OPC? I never understood why people who break from their denomination in doctrine and practice, or at least seem to want to push the envelope in that direction, don’t seek a religious home elsewhere? There are plenty of churches more accommodating to this line of thinking as highlighted in the prior quoted portion.

“Her major is history. What is her background that would make her qualified to write a theology book? This goes for men too, why should I put (in) the time for these books that is just some laymen like me.”
What kind of woman is welcome in the OPC, would you say? It's just possible that "these women" want to remain in the OPC because it is the church home that best fits their theology as expressed in the Westminster Confession, so I'm just wondering what additional qualifications are necessary for a woman before they're expected to seek a religious home elsewhere.

What makes people think that BA&S is a theology book, incidentally? Have you read it?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
They are very welcome. I get the impression they would prefer a more progressive denomination. Is that not their position? If they are pleased with the standards set in the OPC is that clear or are they concerned?
What kind of woman is welcome in the OPC, would you say? It's just possible that "these women" want to remain in the OPC because it is the church home that best fits their theology as expressed in the Westminster Confession, so I'm just wondering what additional qualifications are necessary for a woman before they're expected to seek a religious home elsewhere.

What makes people think that BA&S is a theology book, incidentally? Have you read it?
 
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CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
They are very welcome. I get the impression they would prefer a more progressive denomination. Is that not their position? If they are pleased with the standards set in the OPC is a that clear or are they concerned?
That is probably not the impression someone should get if they listened to what Miller and Byrd say when they affirm (and defend) the OPC's Confession of Faith.

But could you clarify for me, do you say that Miller and Byrd are welcome? Or only a certain (different?) kind of woman who meets unspecified criteria that Miller and Byrd do not?

Why, for example, does another man with OPC affiliation say here,
I would prefer they just leave. It would be a be a joyous occasion to bid them good riddance.
What kind of woman is welcome, and what kind of woman should "just leave" and "good riddance"?
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I would prefer they just leave. It would be a be a joyous occasion to bid them good riddance.
Regardless of who you are talking about, no church needs pastors, elders, deacons, or laypeople who are happy to wish souls for which Jesus died good riddance.

I probably would find much to disagree with in this book if I read it, though I'd doubtless also agree with a good bit. It's not my preferred reading and I have other things that I think profit more to engage with. On the same principle, I'm going to withdraw from future engagement with this board. You are all sincerely dear to me, no more problematic than any other group of people in life (and much less problematic than my own self!) -- but I am weary of seeing statements that demean the cost Christ paid and the church's mission to every soul -- every one of which is worth more than the whole world -- and wondering if I ought to feel responsible to say something and if it's worth having a controversy that will take time and is not pleasant, because of how the statement might affect some one reading or how the mindset might hurt someone in real life. I've had my own opinions and mindsets changed here also -- and have been grateful. But this is not the church -- though it does represent to a lot of people what the confessing church might believe. There are enough problems to engage everywhere else in life and opportunities for myself to change there also. God bless you all. (I will continue to get the prayer requests in my email and pray for each one of them.)
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Where there is difference and error it should be addressed and worked through, ultimately through church discipline if necessary. The solution to disagreement and error is not division and schism and wishing folks off on other denomination which wouldn't exist as an option if not for schism and division.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
What kind of woman is welcome...
Women who "dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess to worship God," and women who are determined to follow the Apostle by "learning quietly with full submission" (1 Tim. 2:9-11).

...what kind of woman should "just leave" and "good riddance"?
Refer to the post quoted, to which my post was a response. "Feminists and egalitarians" who believe that "conservative Reformed churches are at the very least defrauding women of their rightful place in the body or even worse, actually oppressing them," have no place in Christ's Church, unless of course they repent of such a belief. I wouldn't think I would need to defend that assertion.

Regardless of who you are talking about, no church needs pastors, elders, deacons, or laypeople who are happy to wish souls for which Jesus died good riddance.
"They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us" (1 John 2:19).

I'm not talking about women who struggle with biblical patriarchy. See above. I'm talking about feminists and egalitarians.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think they are creating more confusion than clarity in their contributions and proposed areas of reform. If these 2 particular ladies/authors do not believe the OPC is lacking in these areas I would hope they would be clear and explain exactly what they are proposing. If there is dissatisfaction, I’m assuming it would lie with them. Nobody is showing them the door but many would ask that their intentions be made specifically known. Is this an OPC problem and what would they like to see implemented in response ? Either these are biblical matters requiring denominational clarity and response or mere matters of Christian liberty, no?
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
If Miller and Green are misrepresenting (for lack of a better term >) complementarianism, whether accidentally or no, I’m not sure how their books don’t generate more heat than light. Does our denomination wind up taking a bit of a hit, especially in these confusing times, as a result?
Is it wrong to see the author’s content (on biblical matters such as these) as a reflection on the denomination as a whole to some degree?

i don’t see how complementarianism in its most basic, pure, biblical and equally accountable form before God and man is not good.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Ok, this endorsement perplexes me. I’m not looking to open up criticism toward Carl Trueman. From what I know and have heard from him, I always believe him to be very solid and sound on matters of doctrine, theology and church history. I thought he maintained his objectivity without compromise in his recent exchanges with Aimee Byrd, which is why I find his endorsement of Miller’s book a bit surprising and kinda disappointing.


Endorsements
“There is a very real danger in our current cultural moment that the polarization that characterizes the political landscape might well come to exert an unfortunate influence on both the rhetoric and the content of discussions among Christians on a number of controversial topics. The temptation to respond to one extreme error by adopting its mirror image is strong but rarely, if ever, correct. And there are few topics in the public square that are more divisive than the relationship between the sexes. It is therefore a pleasure to commend this book by Rachel Miller, which eschews the cheap extremism and bombastic rhetoric that characterize conservative Christian responses to feminism and plots not a middle way but a biblical way through the subjects of authority, submission, masculinity, and the like. She is not interested in making the Bible fit 1950s ideals of what men and women should be; rather, she wants to help the reader to think about what the Bible actually means in the present. This is a refreshingly sane read.

—Carl Trueman
, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
I think at least some of that has to do with the ESS controversy. Via her blog, (and the Aquila Report) Mrs Miller had been heavily involved in that. Plus, I think Dr. Trueman does think that some of complementarian teaching has less to do with the Bible than it does with macho American 1950s stereotypes than it does with the Bible.

When it appears that an OPC minister and his wife seem to be gung ho for Critical Race Theory, these ladies are arguably rather harmless by comparison. That's not to say that their overall trajectory looks promising. But to be sure, some of what they are opposing probably needs to be opposed, at least to some extent.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
So maybe we need to blow up the term if it has too much baggage. I would think we could get 99.9% biblical consensus on God created gender distinctions and the way men and women should compliment each other in marriage, etc.

The Church order is pretty set, so not sure how anything can get slipped in that’s going to challenge centuries of biblical standards and tradition. But at least we could cut through the grey and the muddy whether applied or incidental.

I don’t think macho+ is being taught in the church, but the macho- should be taught as that probably enters the realm of sin. And women can be guilty of being domineering and unreasonable and unsatisfied, etc. ..... we can go all day on this. If we stick to biblical basics, this, like the race stuff, will fall in line. It all comes down to whether Jesus is enough, if He’s not, we will fill the hole with all kinds of disordered(depraved) thoughts, practices and behaviors.


I think at least some of that has to do with the ESS controversy. Via her blog, (and the Aquila Report) Mrs Miller had been heavily involved in that. Plus, I think Dr. Trueman does think that some of complementarian teaching has less to do with the Bible than it does with macho American 1950s stereotypes than it does with the Bible.

When it appears that an OPC minister and his wife seem to be gung ho for Critical Race Theory, these ladies are arguably rather harmless by comparison. That's not to say that their overall trajectory looks promising. But to be sure, some of what they are opposing probably needs to be opposed, at least to some extent.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Systematic Sin? I worry about the terminology that pastor uses. If he’s not feeding his congregation with Reformed teachings that transcends all settings (Urban) and adversities (Police brutality) isn’t he derelict in his duties and responsibilities?
I think at least some of that has to do with the ESS controversy. Via her blog, (and the Aquila Report) Mrs Miller had been heavily involved in that. Plus, I think Dr. Trueman does think that some of complementarian teaching has less to do with the Bible than it does with macho American 1950s stereotypes than it does with the Bible.

When it appears that an OPC minister and his wife seem to be gung ho for Critical Race Theory, these ladies are arguably rather harmless by comparison. That's not to say that their overall trajectory looks promising. But to be sure, some of what they are opposing probably needs to be opposed, at least to some extent.
And remember Pilgrim.... #TrollingIsSin! You led me to sin. I’m just kidding, I only read a few of his tweets and came across that pinned # on his page.

He seems to be a good guy but he is wasting the opportunity God has placed him to espouse temporal ideology that will have little true or even good impact. The gospel is so much more potent.

If he did a little homework on ‘the system‘ he would know he’s feeding into the further corruption of it and the enslavement of mankind. A sinful system cannot be resolved if it’s run by men with sinful hearts.
 
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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
Another one of these ridiculous threads I see.
Yet again, I have come across too many on the blogosphere, by pastors, e.g. *cough* Bayly *cough* Wilson, etc. with enough clout who promote these bizarr-o stereotypes that I find Miller, et al justified in their rejection of it.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Really? I didn’t know that.
Yes. And to be honest, after his "handling" (through Twitter, of course) of the shooting of the synagogue in California by an OPC member, in which he practically slandered the OPC and that pastor*, I wasn't all that sad or surprised that he left. I don't mean to sound harsh or bitter. I just think our denomination will be better off for it. Just scroll to a random tweet on his Twitter feed. Doesn't matter the date or year. There is a 95% chance it will be something about race. To say he is obsessed is an understatement.

But we should get back on topic.

——————————
*Yes, he did "clarify" his tweet afterward. Didn't change much, though. He clearly spoke from his heart the first time.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Another one of these ridiculous threads I see.
Yet again, I have come across too many on the blogosphere, by pastors, e.g. *cough* Bayly *cough* Wilson, etc. with enough clout who promote these bizarr-o stereotypes that I find Miller, et al justified in their rejection of it.
But is that all Miller is doing? This is all for Wilson? He’s not on my grid.... Why is he on hers? She’s a member of the OPC. If this a problem in the OPC I think it should be addressed, but I dont think thats where Byrd and Miller are coming from. It sounds like they want women to have a more active leadership role in church. I think both men and women are losing their biblical foundations due to sin in general not false teachings on the matter, I think we need to stay focused. The Bible shows that both men and women are capable of great evil. I think we need to worry about what’s in front of us. I don’t think we need a book that speaks to Piper and Wilson or a few ex-PCA guys. This is a P&R publication.
 
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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Graduate
But is that all Miller is doing? This is all for him? He’s not on my grid.... Why is he on hers?
Their influence, hence why I said 'clout.' I really wasn't aware how much until you see a bunch of complementarians willing to sit down with FV Gospel deniers or other rank Pelagians trying to fight an elusive enemy. This is one area I disagree with James White partnering with Wilson.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Just for clarification, Mika Edmondson left the OPC for the PCA.
Good to know. I had linked to them here a few times before, mainly because I had rarely if ever seen any mention of them by OPC or likeminded folks despite her being 1/3 of the controversial "Truths Table." Some might say that you can't go after an elder because of what his wife is doing, but many would say that part of what fueled the Lee Irons controversy about 15 years ago was what his wife was doing. (But getting into that would take us too far afield here.)
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I know I'll get hammered in some quarters for opining about some of this without having read the books in question. (I have read many blogs, etc. of theirs and think I have a pretty good grasp overall of what they are saying.) But I don't think I'm alone in having a sense of deja vu here. I'm reminded of Carolyn Custis James going on and on about ezer about 15 years ago while also insisting on her conservative evangelical and comp bona fides. If you look at her blog, etc. now, (defending Rachel Held Evans and so on) as well as her husband's current place of employment, I think most will concede that she's (and he?) ended up pretty much where the critics predicted.

All that to say that I'd be somewhat surprised if both ladies are still in the OPC in 10-15 years time if nothing has changed with regard to the OPCs stance on this and if they continue to draw from the egal well.

Unless the OPC congregations I've known (admittedly few) are anomalous, they are rather immune from the "A woman can do anything an unordained man can do" refrain that we hear in the PCA, perhaps in part because the PCA's BCO isn't part of their consititution, if I recall correctly. The OPC generally doesn't think there is anything at all that an unordained man can do in worship. I don't think I've ever even seen a RE do anything unless the pastor was away and there is no other TE available. I've never seen anyone teach adults in Sunday School who wasn't either an elder or a man under care. But my only experience there is in a church that was doing good to have 60 in attendance, so perhaps it isn't quite that "extreme" elsewhere.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Their influence, hence why I said 'clout.' I really wasn't aware how much until you see a bunch of complementarians willing to sit down with FV Gospel deniers or other rank Pelagians trying to fight an elusive enemy. This is one area I disagree with James White partnering with Wilson.
White is friends with Michael L. Brown, so Wilson isn't a very big stretch by comparison.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I held off saying anything here, because I've already said my piece on RGM and AB. I think basically they ought to be left alone to sink or swim. I wish them well, and hope their (even now, quite modest) moderating influence on extreme leanings does them and the OPC proud.

I held off saying anything when there was a bit of condescension (in my opinion) shown to the fairer sex.

I even held off saying anything when it was first written, "good riddance" to a pastor (and family) when he took another call, and left behind a congregation that misses him, and which he served competently.

But now I'm going to pipe up, and say: YES, it matters if a man is forced to account for his wife's words or actions. This is not 2020 B.C., it's not 1620 A.D., it's not even 1920. And while probably a rational connection may be made between the old matter of MistyIrons and the present, the fact is that her public advocacy of SSUs was not part of her husband's trial for contravening the Confession's teaching on the moral law. That was on him, even if her outspokenness was an embarrassment to the presbytery and denomination, and a possible catalyst for action.

To my knowledge, Rev.Dr. Edmondson maintained a strict, confessional public ministry while he was pastor in my presbytery. He also ruled his own house well, and had a good reputation to those outside. He never had a bad word said against him in Presbytery, nor any hint of heresy or malpractice. What anyone may think or have thought or shared in private, I'm happy to say it did not taint our public conduct.

1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

Furthermore, the accusation must be an offense, a charge, backed by evidence, of sin, of failure to maintain Confessional doctrine, or failure to adhere to the Book of Church Order, the latter two being constitutional documents in the OPC.

Otherwise, a man may teach the Bible and interpret it as best he can with the Spirit's help, or even failing to listen to the Spirit. His congregation and elders must hold him to account on silencing the Spirit as they may judge, not the "public."

If his views in interpretation are different from another man's, or even from the majority, that of itself is no reason to attack him, or question his ministerial office.

A man's politics may differ from another man's, or even the majority of his peers. And that is not impermissible. It could be hard (how should I know?) to be a theological conservative and a political liberal; but there should be no "political test" (compare w/ "no religious test" in the COTUS) for holding office in the church.

I recommend keeping as much as possible one's politics out of the pulpit. But again, if politics was ever in pastor ME's preaching (again, how should I know?) the Presbytery never heard a complaint about it "infecting" his ministry of the Word.

If it sounds like I'm defending Mika, let me be clear: I am, and I don't care who is bothered by that. I probably disagree with him in various ways outside of the church. Not that we had those issues come up in our conversations. I would have liked to have heard him sounding a bit less open to certain trends in public discourse and in hermeneutics; but the price we pay for our own liberty of conscience is allowing for the same liberty in others, and more reliance on prayer and the Holy Spirit to move another's heart in a direction we'd like.

No man is above criticism. A man's public statements allow those statements--and how they may reflect on his fitness--fair game for people with alternate views.

For all the criticism of well-known figures like TimKeller (PCA) or JohnPiper, who has ever said they should be judged by the opinions of their wives, their elders, or anyone around them?

It is disrespectful to Mika, and I want it on the record that--whatever our differences--I stood by him for the principles of equitable dealing, one standard for the lot, and the rights of the minority.
 
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