Review of RGM’s BA&S

EcclesiaDiscens.

Puritan Board Freshman
She would say she is doing all of that, since she has the approval of the only channel that really matters--her church. Parachurch organizations can go pound sand for the most part. At best they can only marginally help the church.
Would you hold this same standard for a member of a CREC church?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Would you hold this same standard for a member of a CREC church?
As long as the CREC church isn't requiring them to sin in doctrine or practice, yes. I would urge them to join a safer church, but if they took an oath and the church isn't requiring them to sin, then yes.

Of course, that raises the question to what degree the CREC is a real church. The difference is that the CREC looks like a church and acts like one. Parachurch ministries, while acting like a church, don't look like one and don't have any of the marks.
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
I just wasn’t sure. To preface a question with something like "any self-identified complementarians here"—as if there might be some here who are not—on a forum like Puritan Board I found to be a little odd. Just asking.
Ha, ok, when you put it like that! I just wondered if anyone who'd read Rachel Miller's post would be able to comment on the views expressed there. (Getting to the Root) I think the first few bullet points should be uncontroversial:

* men and women are distinct and complementary
* husbands are leaders of their families
* wives should submit to their husbands
* marriage should be between one man and one woman
* sex should be within the bonds of marriage
* abortion is wrong
* motherhood is a blessing
* only qualified men should be ordained in our churches

Then there are some more views:

* patriarchy is “a universally recognized (except by modern Westerners) feature of the world, and the resulting attempt to live with the grain of nature.”
* “Patriarchy is not merely a matter of ‘thus saith nature,’ but all the more, ‘thus saith the Lord.’”
* Women ... have begun the process of asking “has God really said?” At first, they have tried to get beyond submission and authority ...
* There aren't good women theologians because it is unnatural
* Women are not permitted to lead in the church because they are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general. This is not only a matter of individual gifts but also of a kind of sexual hierarchy
* [It is concerning when someone] defines men and women as substantially equivalent and that the “co-laboring” ... in Scripture is a partnership of ontological equals.

I suppose what I was hoping for was, someone who could say, "I'm a complementarian and ..." looking at the second set of views, either something like "... I don't recognise these as complementarianism" or something like "... of course, that's just complementarianism 101."
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Some of those quotes are so random. Like drive-by shots. Matters of gender and sexuality are often shaped by modernity and postmodern thought in a fallen world, despite one‘s spin or bias. I think some of those quotes are uncharitable in tone. But who am I to cast a stone. Let’s just say there’s a reason Ms. Byrd (and RMG) has received the support she has and I think it’s legitimate, despite my other areas of concern.
Ha, ok, when you put it like that! I just wondered if anyone who'd read Rachel Miller's post would be able to comment on the views expressed there. (Getting to the Root) I think the first few bullet points should be uncontroversial:

* men and women are distinct and complementary
* husbands are leaders of their families
* wives should submit to their husbands
* marriage should be between one man and one woman
* sex should be within the bonds of marriage
* abortion is wrong
* motherhood is a blessing
* only qualified men should be ordained in our churches

Then there are some more views:

* patriarchy is “a universally recognized (except by modern Westerners) feature of the world, and the resulting attempt to live with the grain of nature.”
* “Patriarchy is not merely a matter of ‘thus saith nature,’ but all the more, ‘thus saith the Lord.’”
* Women ... have begun the process of asking “has God really said?” At first, they have tried to get beyond submission and authority ...
* There aren't good women theologians because it is unnatural
* Women are not permitted to lead in the church because they are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general. This is not only a matter of individual gifts but also of a kind of sexual hierarchy
* [It is concerning when someone] defines men and women as substantially equivalent and that the “co-laboring” ... in Scripture is a partnership of ontological equals.

I suppose what I was hoping for was, someone who could say, "I'm a complementarian and ..." looking at the second set of views, either something like "... I don't recognise these as complementarianism" or something like "... of course, that's just complementarianism 101."
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
Some of those quotes are so random. Like drive-by shots. Matters of gender and sexuality are often shaped by modernity and postmodern thought in a fallen world, despite one‘s spin or bias. I think some of those quotes are uncharitable in tone. But who am I to cast a stone. Let’s just say there’s a reason Ms. Byrd (and RMG) has received the support she has and I think it’s legitimate, despite my other areas of concern.
For the moment, I'm not too worried about the tone of these quotes. I'm more interested in the content.

Does complementarianism include these beliefs or not?
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

If complementarianism does not include these beliefs, then why do complementarians not support Christians who object to them?

If complementarianism does include these beliefs, then why is it acceptable to call it biblical?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
For the moment, I'm not too worried about the tone of these quotes. I'm more interested in the content.

Does complementarianism include these beliefs or not?
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

If complementarianism does not include these beliefs, then why do complementarians not support Christians who object to them?

If complementarianism does include these beliefs, then why is it acceptable to call it biblical?
I will repeat what I said previously. In doing so, I don’t totally support or totally disavow their sentiments. (I’m happy none of them are in my denomination as to needlessly complicate things). I think this is a debate where sides and terms are so contemporary they needn’t be personally confessed or affirmed.

Like I said, “Matters of gender and sexuality are often shaped by modernity and postmodern thought (and responses to it) in a fallen world, despite one‘s spin or bias.” If you need me to expand on why that’s so relevant, and even vital, to this discussion, I will do so.
 
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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Does complementarianism include these beliefs or not?
Complementarians, by definition, are those who can affirm the Danvers statement: https://cbmw.org/about/danvers-statement/

The definition is pretty broad, so as a result, there is a vast variety of views, forming a spectrum from "thin complementarianism" to "thick complementarianism." See Naseli's review for an explanation of the spectrum: https://cbmw.org/2020/05/04/does-an...covering-from-biblical-manhood-and-womanhood/

Patriarchy is rarely defined well, so some variants look no different from thick complementarianism, whereas other variants are gross overreaches of authority or assumptions of authority that men do not have.

The concern of some thick complementarians and those who identify as patriarchalists is that the thin complementarianism presented by Byrd, Miller, et. al either leads to egalitarianism, or--especially for some of those identifying as patriarchalists--that thin complemenatarianism in general is already too much of a compromise with feminism.
 
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CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
Complementarians, by definition, are those who can affirm the Danvers statement: https://cbmw.org/about/danvers-statement/

The definition is pretty broad, so as a result, there is a vast variety of views, forming a spectrum from "thin complementarianism" to "thick complementarianism." See Naseli's review for an explanation of the spectrum: https://cbmw.org/2020/05/04/does-an...covering-from-biblical-manhood-and-womanhood/

Patriarchy is rarely defined well, so some variants look no different from thick complementarianism, whereas other variants are gross overreaches of authority or assumptions of authority that men do not have.

The concern of some thick complementarians and those who identify as patriarchalists is that the thin complementarianism presented by Byrd, Miller, et. al either leads to egalitarianism, or--especially for some of those identifying as patriarchalists--is already too much of a compromise with feminism.
Ok, thank you for this.

So would you say those bullet points are consistent with affirming the Danvers statement?

Neither Miller and Byrd call themselves thin complementarians btw, so I'm not sure it's accurate to say that that's what they present.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Neither Miller and Byrd call themselves thin complementarians btw, so I'm not sure it's accurate to say that that's what they present.
They might not identify as it, but if they affirm the views defined as thin complementarianism, then those are the views that they present.


So would you say those bullet points are consistent with affirming the Danvers statement?
I can't answer with any expert opinion, so probably best to wait for someone else to answer that question, or you can look at the statement and see if the propositions are consistent or not. If you need an exposition, Grudem and Piper's book (the Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) is available somewhere online, where a large variety of questions are answered in the final chapter (and the first chapter/introduction) that might help clarify what is considered complementarian and what is not. Shooting from the hip, some complementarians take a more ontological approach, others do not, so the last two bullets (edit: though I guess it depends on what "leadership position" means) are likely consistent with the statement (although, as we discussed on FB, "ontology" has to be understood as mode of being, rather than category of being; if they are different categories of being, then that would be inconsistent with the Danvers statement). The first bullet depends on what is meant by "patriarchy." I don't know about the other two bullets without doing a careful review of the Danvers statement.
 
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CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
although, as we discussed on FB
Ah, it is you then! I wanted to ask to check. Friendly hello.


I can't answer with any expert opinion, so probably best to wait for someone else to answer that question, or you can look at the statement and see if the propositions are consistent or not. If you need an exposition, Grudem and Piper's book (the Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) is available somewhere online, where a large variety of questions are answered in the final chapter (and the first chapter/introduction) that might help clarify what is considered complementarian and what is not. Shooting from the hip, some complementarians take a more ontological approach, others do not, so the last two bullets are likely consistent with the statement (although, as we discussed on FB, "ontology" has to be understood as mode of being, rather than category of being; if they are different categories of being, then that would be inconsistent with the Danvers statement). The first bullet depends on what is meant by "patriarchy." I don't know about the other two bullets without doing a careful review of the Danvers statement.
Ok, thank you for this.

So if I can summarise so far:

Complementarianism likely includes these views:
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

Complementarianism may or may not include this view depending on how you define patriarchy
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature

It's unclear whether complementarianism includes these views:
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians

(Unless there is an expert waiting in the wings to clarify further.)
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ah, it is you then! I wanted to ask to check. Friendly hello.




Ok, thank you for this.

So if I can summarise so far:

Complementarianism likely includes these views:
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

Complementarianism may or may not include this view depending on how you define patriarchy
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature

It's unclear whether complementarianism includes these views:
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians

(Unless there is an expert waiting in the wings to clarify further.)
Those statements are unclear. They would need to be clarified before most would even be willing to give an opinion. You do see that, no?
 

CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
Those statements are unclear. They would need to be clarified before most would even be willing to give an opinion. You do see that, no?
I am actually really hoping that someone will clarify that they don't mean what they look like they mean on a plain reading. Please do go ahead and clarify if you wish? I'm not sure where the hesitation comes in. On the one hand I hear this board is full of complementarians. On the other hand I hear it might take an expert to explain. How much clarification is needed in order to make these views biblical?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
My questions would be (with probably some level of ignorance on my part, which has never kept me from entering the fray)...
It’s probably a matter of extent and degrees as far as where one may fall, like alluded to by Afterthought.

* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
My wife assumed my last name upon marriage... ? I’m not sure if that helps???
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
what else do you have in mind?
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
Well, how would God define unnatural in this context. Theologian is a very high educational/academic standard. How would that be achieved? Would teaching and instruction enter the equation?
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
How about a Girl Scout troop? What is the standard/barometer in which we discern here? I would think we would want to build on what’s been revealed and what is potentially preferable as a starting point. We should start with First Things as far as what’s been revealed. I’m assuming the speaker has attempted to work that out. Has God spoken or revealed himself directly or indirectly on this matter?
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.
That is loaded. I would need those terms to be further clarified and defined before I would even touch it. Elect souls trump non-elect. There is no equivalency there. I don’t want a man in charge of a day care room. So there is a distinctiveness. There is no superiority. There are general differences and distinctions in design. And there are distinct roles, and levels of accountability and responsibility.

What would we even do with a man who aspires to take charge of a room full of 6 month year old babies? That would be truly unnatural.


If God is silent on something specific (especially an area limited to a more modern context), does that mean anything is preferable or permissible ? Does everything have to be spelled out word for word in scripture or is there a little room for inference?
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well, how would God define unnatural in this context. Theologian is a very high educational/academic standard. How would that be achieved? Would teaching and instruction enter the equation?
That's probably where a lot of people on both sides get hung up. In the above sense, which goes back at least to Peter Lombard, only the most elite academics can be theologians, which rules out women (and most men). In today's usage, everyone from RC Sproul to Wayne Grudem says "everybody is a theologian, whether he admits it or not." In that case, women have to be theologians (as do we all).

Both sides in the debate are trading on ambiguous terms.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
That's probably where a lot of people on both sides get hung up. In the above sense, which goes back at least to Peter Lombard, only the most elite academics can be theologians, which rules out women (and most men). In today's usage, everyone from RC Sproul to Wayne Grudem says "everybody is a theologian, whether he admits it or not." In that case, women have to be theologians (as do we all).

Both sides in the debate are trading on ambiguous terms.
I thought of that. But I think in his heart of hearts, he knew that not everyone could be RC. I appreciated his sentiment though and he definitely instilled a desire for learning and knowledge.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
On the other hand I hear it might take an expert to explain. How much clarification is needed in order to make these views biblical?
I really hope that you didn't take my mention of "expert" woodenly literal like that. I only meant that I could answer the question no more than you could (I would also have to compare to the Danvers statement and read Grudem and Piper's book), and so someone who knew more about the position than I do would be better for answering, and that if you read the sources (I did far too long ago to remember the relevant info for answering these quesetions), I'm sure your questions could be answered.


So if I can summarise so far:

Complementarianism likely includes these views:
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

Complementarianism may or may not include this view depending on how you define patriarchy
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature

It's unclear whether complementarianism includes these views:
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
So long as the qualifications that I gave in my post are kept in mind with the summary, yes, that is a fair summary, but also, it is not complementarianism that includes those views: instead, complementarians can hold those views and be called complementarians. Complementarianism is the Danvers statement, and various complementarians have their own views while affirming the statement, as Naseli pointed out and as the primary source of Grudem and Pipder's book explains (this is the terminology that they use, if I recall correctly).
 
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alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
For the moment, I'm not too worried about the tone of these quotes. I'm more interested in the content.

Does complementarianism include these beliefs or not?
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.

If complementarianism does not include these beliefs, then why do complementarians not support Christians who object to them?

If complementarianism does include these beliefs, then why is it acceptable to call it biblical?
As has been mentioned above the term "complementarian" is unhelpful and a distraction. It's an ideological term which sprung out of a response to feminism. I understand that it serves as a shorthand but I would argue that if we are to properly, and Biblically, discuss these issues we shouldn't get caught up with trying to define complementarianism, per se. Since it first appeared on the scene the debate has subtly shifted to focus on what is and isn't complementarianism rather than focusing on what is and isn't Biblical. Complementarianism has produced its own sub-culture and identity and by focusing on this issue above others has produced an imbalance in what is taught in the church. It has become an interpretive lense for understanding the Bible and I think that's wrong.

With that said I would ask in reference to those bullet points: how is it acceptable to say they are not Biblical? Which of those points would not have been uncontroversial with conservative Christians 50-70 years ago? The only one I would take issue with, and specifically with how it is worded, is the second. I think the language of this point is very modern. I don't think our grandparents would have consciously examined all relations between men and women in terms of "authority and submission", i.e. a woman asking herself in every situation she finds herself during an ordinary day "how does this express authority and submission between the sexes?". But I also think that there would be basic assumptions about the role of men and women in society which would be manifested in day to day life. For example, the housewife who goes to the butcher on Monday would have been greeted courteously by the butcher, referred to as "Mrs Jones" (a sign of respect, especially towards women, which has been lost). She would have reciprocated. The butcher- a man- would sell her- a housewife- the meat for her to go home and cook for her family which they would eat in the evening when the husband returned home from work. This very ordinary system of relationships and roles is a reflection of the natural and Biblical order: the man is the provider who goes out into the world to work, the woman is the caregiver whose sphere is the home.

This pattern would be replicated throughout society: in who occupied positions of work outside the home, positions of authority, of leadership in society. A fitting term for this pattern is patriarchy. And patriarchy is Biblical. Is there any doubt that patriarchy is woven through the fabric of society and relationships throughout the Bible? Most of the time it is unspoken in the sense that there is no positive command to organise society on patriarchal grounds because that is the reality. But there still are positive commands given in Scripture by the Apostle. Now patriarchy may be taken to extremes by certain people and those people may wish to make those extremes definitional but we needn't concern ourselves with fringe elements. We needn't even consciously advocate for "patriarchy" (though I think at the current time we do), but merely recognise that the pattern throughout Scripture is patriarchal and anything which would seek to undermine that is unBiblical.

As I see it complementarianism has two fundamental flaws: 1) it is, as I said above, a modern movement that seeks to lay an ideological paradigm over all Scripture. I believe it is a movement that first constructs the doctrine and then seeks exegetical support from Scripture rather than arising naturally from Scripture into a systematic doctrine. That is not to say that what it teaches is necessarily wrong (even most of the time) but that the methodology is biblicist, seeking proof texts for specific propositions rather than seeking to produce a holistic Biblical anthropology and, as a result, 2) as the culture surrounding the church has become ever more egalitarian and radical, complementarianism has become narrower and narrower in its focus, retreating to defending the little ground it still holds: the roles of husband and wife, and church office. Because of its ideological approach, and its biblicist method of exegesis, complementarianism has no theology to counter most of what is happening today. It has no true theology of men and women and male and female relations. It has no theology for how society is to be ordered. I think this might have been what caused the whole ESS fiasco: an attempt to come up with a theological underpinning for their doctrinal positions. But for whatever reason- mediocrity, an unwillingness to challenge much of what is now accepted within the culture of the church- they ended up embracing a heresy repudiated centuries ago.

Ultimately all complementarianism actually has is a few passages which speak to the husband and wife and to the qualifications for office. Scripture addresses these areas specifically because they are of particular importance to the Christian who, being in the world but not of the world, is most concerned with those spheres of life which are directly related to the Christian walk. Christianity throughout history has sometimes been the dominant cultural influence in a particular society and sometimes utterly at odds with the surrounding culture (as was the case when Paul wrote). But even when a society is culturally Christian there is still the distinction between the visible and invisble church; the visible church and the society at large. But these directives given by the Apostle are not arbitrary: they are rules grounded in being, in ontology, in the creational and the natural order. Whilst preferable that these principles extend throughout society, it is obvious that cannot always be the case. The civil sphere is not under the control of the church and the church has to accept it will often be at odds with it. What the church has direct control over is the ecclesiastical/spiritual sphere: the ordering of the visible church and the discipline of its members.

Because complementarianism lacks a theology of Man it has had to retreat ever further as the surrounding culture becomes increasingly hostile to Biblical teaching. This is why complementariasnim has already failed and unless a true, holistic Biblical anthropology is rediscovered by the church, then these last remaining bulwarks of male authority will soon topple. In practice male headship in the family has already fallen. Male headship and authority has been so twisted and subverted that it no longer means what it always has meant and so we can have people affirming male headship whose behaviour and attitude is utterly contrary to it.

On the issue of women holding positions of leadership "in general" am I right in assuming you are referring to secular positions of leadership? If so I think this is an example of an area to which I referred: the distnction between the church and civil society. Whilst preferable that women not hold positions of leadership in society, at times they will do so just because the civil and ecclesiastical spheres do not always walk hand in hand throughout history. This situation of course is recognised in Scripture itself where we have Queens (who are referred to as nursing mothers of the church) and there are female judges raised up (as a judgment on the weakness of the men of the time). We see this ongoing throughout human history. John Piper's advice in this area, given at the time of the 2008 presidential election, was that it would have been better for Sarah Palin to remain in the home as an example of godly womanhood. I think that is the safest and most Biblical position to take. And I say that as someone who thought highly of Mrs Palin (at that time) and who believes Mrs Thatcher to be one of the greatest prime ministers Britain has ever had. Sometimes life confronts us with scenarios and choices which are not ideal and we must strive to make the best choice we can. I would have voted for Mrs Thatcher every time but I also believe that it would have been more appropriate and Biblical that a man had been in her place to do the work which was necessary. However there was no man willing or capable.
 
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CathH

Puritan Board Freshman
As I see it complementarianism has two fundamental flaws: 1) it is, as I said above, a modern movement that seeks to lay an ideological paradigm over all Scripture. I believe it is a movement that first constructs the doctrine and then seeks exegetical support from Scripture rather than arising naturally from Scripture into a systematic doctrine. That is not to say that what it teaches is necessarily wrong (even most of the time) but that the methodology is biblicist, seeking proof texts for specific propositions rather than seeking to produce a holistic Biblical anthropology and, as a result, 2) as the culture surrounding the church has become ever more egalitarian and radical, complementarianism has become narrower and narrower in its focus, retreating to defending the little ground it still holds: the roles of husband and wife, and church office. Because of its ideological approach, and its biblicist method of exegesis, complementarianism has no theology to counter most of what is happening today. It has no true theology of men and women and male and female relations. It has no theology for how society is to be ordered. I think this might have been what caused the whole ESS fiasco: an attempt to come up with a theological underpinning for their doctrinal positions. But for whatever reason- mediocrity, an unwillingness to challenge much of what is now accepted within the culture of the church- they ended up embracing a heresy repudiated centuries ago.
This, I completely agree with. Complementarianism is an ideology in search of a theology, and unfortunately both its ideology and its theology are deeply flawed.

With that said I would ask in reference to those bullet points: how is it acceptable to say they are not Biblical? Which of those points would not have been uncontroversial with conservative Christians 50-70 years ago?
In reference to those bullet points. Depending on which ambiguity you embrace, they could be uncontroversial, or they could be very objectionable to our parents and grandparents, going back in the Scottish church to at least the Reformation. Like this:

* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
Possible response: As Reformed Christians, we don't rely on our perceptions of 'the grain of nature' to regulate our lives, because we have special revelation, the Scriptures. "The grain of nature" in some cultures means you never hit a woman. "The grain of nature" in other cultures means that domestic abuse is entirely acceptable. Thankfully we have a revelation which frees us from conforming to what seems natural to fallen man.

* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
Possible response: As Reformed Christians, submission and authority is only one of multiple ways of thinking about how men and women relate. Scripture teaches us to relate to each other as brothers and sisters, neighbours, friends, church members, etc, in contexts which require us all to love, serve, teach, and admonish one another. It is not only not wrong, but necessary, to go beyond submission and authority.

* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
Possible response: Only as unnatural for men. Human nature is fallen, but human nature is restless until we find rest in God. It's impossible for humans to be non-theological, whatever level of expertise you might or might not achieve in an academic discipline called theology. It takes grace for anyone to be a good theologian. We understand this when we think in generic or men-only terms, but somehow when it comes to women we're suddenly not talking in terms of sinful/redeemed nature, but as if men's nature is so different from women's nature that knowing about God becomes something that's natural for men and something unnatural for women. This is egregiously wrong.

* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
Possible response: Scripture does not permit women to hold office in the church. Scripture does not prohibit women from holding positions of leadership in general.

* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.
Possible response: What does ontological mean again? What does substantial mean here and what does equivalent mean? The Westminster standards state that men and women are equally created 'with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it ... they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.' If 'substantially' refers to 'substance' or 'essence' or 'nature' then men and women are substantially equal. I'm not going to hazard a guess on which meaning of 'ontological' to attempt to work with here.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
* Patriarchy is a feature of the world that goes with the grain of nature
Possible response: As Reformed Christians, we don't rely on our perceptions of 'the grain of nature' to regulate our lives, because we have special revelation, the Scriptures. "The grain of nature" in some cultures means you never hit a woman. "The grain of nature" in other cultures means that domestic abuse is entirely acceptable. Thankfully we have a revelation which frees us from conforming to what seems natural to fallen man.
I think you are confusing nature with culture. Some cultures are advanced, some are savage. I don't argue we should use the surrounding culture to determine our theology. But nature is not relative. We are humans, we have a nature. We were created in a particular way: men and women in particular ways respective to either sex. This is revealed in the Creation order, in the way humans interact across all cultures and also by special revelation. The nature of Man was not changed into something wholly new as a result of the Fall: we remained men and women, fallen but still human. In the most general sense Man was created to rule, Woman to submit to that rule.

* It is wrong to go beyond submission and authority in thinking about how men and women relate
Possible response: As Reformed Christians, submission and authority is only one of multiple ways of thinking about how men and women relate. Scripture teaches us to relate to each other as brothers and sisters, neighbours, friends, church members, etc, in contexts which require us all to love, serve, teach, and admonish one another. It is not only not wrong, but necessary, to go beyond submission and authority.
I would agree with you here. I suppose I was so focused on the immediate issue being discussed and that's how I understood this point. What I would add here is that even in these various relationships which are not intrinsically ones of authority and submission, the distinction of the sexes and respective responsibilities do come into play. For example: women do not pray publicly. Public prayer is restricted to men whether they hold office in the church or not. This is not an issue, per se, of "authority and submission"- the man praying is not exercising a personal, direct authority over each woman present- but it is one of teaching authority, which is vested in men, and quiet submission of the women to male authority in a general sense. Male and female Christians, again, are brothers and sisters in Christ yet there are restrictions on how men and women may interact with one another. Propriety must be maintained, for instance. So I think even in those areas where authority and submission is not forefront (not being exercised personally and directly) our maleness and femaleness is still involved in our relationships as men and women.

* It is unnatural for women to be (good) theologians
Possible response: Only as unnatural for men. Human nature is fallen, but human nature is restless until we find rest in God. It's impossible for humans to be non-theological, whatever level of expertise you might or might not achieve in an academic discipline called theology. It takes grace for anyone to be a good theologian. We understand this when we think in generic or men-only terms, but somehow when it comes to women we're suddenly not talking in terms of sinful/redeemed nature, but as if men's nature is so different from women's nature that knowing about God becomes something that's natural for men and something unnatural for women. This is egregiously wrong.
I'm referring specifically to public theologians: men within the visible church who either teach in seminaries or produce literature to be used in the training of pastors and the edification of the laity. If you wish to refer to all believers as theologians in a general sense then that is fine but I think it is proper (and avoids confusion) to reserve the term, in conversations on theology, to those men who produce work which teaches the visible church. This traditionally referred to those men who were almost always ordained pastors, even if they did not have a charge. Whether it is proper for men who do not hold an official position in the visible church to be taking it upon themselves to be writing theological works in order to teach the church is a matter for discussion but I do not believe it is proper for a woman to do so. That does not mean Christian women cannot produce Christian literature. But literature which is intended to teach doctrine- theology- should be reserved to men. The books produced by Byrd and Miller, for example, would fall squarely in the teaching bracket.

* Women are not permitted to hold positions of leadership in general
Possible response: Scripture does not permit women to hold office in the church. Scripture does not prohibit women from holding positions of leadership in general.
Not by positive command, no. Whether Scripture teaches an ethic which, ordinarily, prohibits women holding office outwith the church is a different matter. I think many Christians, traditionally, would have believed it does.

* It is problematic to define men and women as substantially equivalent and ontological equals.
Possible response: What does ontological mean again? What does substantial mean here and what does equivalent mean? The Westminster standards state that men and women are equally created 'with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it ... they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.' If 'substantially' refers to 'substance' or 'essence' or 'nature' then men and women are substantially equal. I'm not going to hazard a guess on which meaning of 'ontological' to attempt to work with here.
Perhaps ontological is the wrong word for what I am meaning. If so, perhaps you could offer an alternative. When I say ontological I mean that there is a hierarchy in nature: God, Man, Woman "forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: the woman is the glory of the man." As Gill explains: "...[the glory of God in the man] chiefly lay in the power and dominion he had over all the creatures, and even over the woman when made...man was first originally and immediately the image and glory of God, the woman only secondarily and mediately through man. The man is more perfectly and conspicuously the image and glory of God, on account of his more extensive dominion and authority." I do not mean anything to do with their substance, essence or human nature. But I also do not mean that men and women are equal in a general, or total, manner. All are equal as regards salvation "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." But as regards order of creation and natural station there is a hierarchy.
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Very well done Alex. I think Aimee needs to interact with more thoughtful voices on these issues.

I think you are confusing nature with culture. Some cultures are advanced, some are savage. I don't argue we should use the surrounding culture to determine our theology. But nature is not relative. We are humans, we have a nature. We were created in a particular way: men and women in particular ways respective to either sex. This is revealed in the Creation order, in the way humans interact across all cultures and also by special revelation. The nature of Man was not changed into something wholly new as a result of the Fall: we remained men and women, fallen but still human. In the most general sense Man was created to rule, Woman to submit to that rule.



I would agree with you here. I suppose I was so focused on the immediate issue being discussed and that's how I understood this point. What I would add here is that even in these various relationships which are not intrinsically ones of authority and submission, the distinction of the sexes and respective responsibilities do come into play. For example: women do not pray publicly. Public prayer is restricted to men whether they hold office in the church or not. This is not an issue, per se, of "authority and submission"- the man praying is not exercising a personal, direct authority over each woman present- but it is one of teaching authority, which is invested in men, and quiet submission of the women to male authority in a general sense. Male and female Christians, again, are brothers and sisters in Christ yet there are restrictions of how men and women may interact with one another. Propriety must be maintained, for instance. So I think even in those areas where authority and submission is not forefront (not being exercised personally and directly) our maleness and femaleness still is still involved in our relationships as men and women.



I'm referring specifically to public theologians: men within the visible church who either teach in seminaries or produce literature to be used in the training of pastors and the edification of the laity. If you wish to refer to all believers as theologians in a general sense then that is fine but I think it is proper (and avoids confusion) to reserve the term, in conversations on theology, to those men who produce work which teaches the visible church. This traditionally referred to those men who were almost always ordained pastors, even if they did not have a charge. Whether it is proper for men who do not hold an official position in the visible church to be taking it upon themselves to be writing theological works in order to teach the church is a matter for discussion but I do not believe it is proper for a woman to do so. That does not mean Christian women cannot produce Christian literature. But literature which is intended to teach doctrine- theology- should be reserved to men. The books produced by Byrd and Miller, for example, would fall squarely in the teaching bracket.



Not by positive command, no. Whether Scripture teaches an ethic which, ordinarily, prohibits women holding office outwith the church is a different matter. I think many Christians, traditionally, would have believed it does.



Perhaps ontological is the wrong word for what I am meaning. If so, perhaps you could offer an alternative. When I say ontological I mean that there is a hierarchy in nature: God, Man, Woman "forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: the woman is the glory of the man." As Gill explains: "...[the glory of God in the man] chiefly lay in the power and dominion he had over all the creatures, and even over the woman when made...man was first originally and immediately the image and glory of God, the woman only secondarily and mediately through man. The man is more perfectly and conspicuously the image and glory of God, on account of his more extensive dominion and authority." I do not mean anything to do with their substance, essence or human nature. But I also do not mean that men and women are equal in a general, or total, manner. All are equal as regards salvation "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." But as regards order of creation and natural station their is a hierarchy.
 
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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
What puzzles me enormously, and is perhaps a thread drift, is why, in my church past- which has been entirely male church leadership except for a PCA with humble, serving, feminine, deaconesses- I've gotten so much blatant and subtle negativity about wearing an inconspicuous headcovering that I don't push on anybody. I can't figure out why staunch Complementarians can be so against them.

When we were in SGM in the 90s one of the pastors told my best friend several years in, that when a woman wears a headcovering it is a spirit of legalism trying to make inroads into the church. She defended me, and another pastor there told me to my face that he knew I wasn't legalistic because in certain settings I wore jeans and sneakers. It was wierd. They were as gung ho Grudem-Piper- CBMW as any group can be.

But here we have a command given by Paul using the same Greek word in verse 2 and 23 for a practice delivered over/handed down, applied to both headcovering and communion, the former symbolizing a husband's authority over his wife, and all the CBMW exposure I ever had was not neutral about coverings, but against.

I tend to think that as long as you kick those verses out as for back then, and for that culture 2000 years ago but not for us, instead of admitting they are a sign to the angels, you will continue to get women kicking out other verses as also for back then in that culture. I think the two are tied together, and Complementarians trying to remove one and keep the rest is an exercise in futility. Any women with a few brain cells kicking together can make the connection that if 1 Corinthians in outward symbolism no longer applies, neither does the rest of that passage. Or other similar verses.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
You touched on something important. And this is why I reject this debate and these terms. Complementarianism I reckon is a modern culture war-oriented movement. I never really even heard or considered the term until I casually listened to MoS. I hope I dont offend anyone when I say this (and Im open to correction) but It seems like the men concerned about this debate are from churches/circles that take more of an active interest in politics and/or are more reactionary to the culture (which could lead to extra-biblical emphasis/almost mandates and loss of focus on vital theology and doctrine). That's my quick take.

Being a member of the OPC has helped me to see that over-correction or overreaction is not necessary if we just hold fast to our biblical and theological tradition. Having experience in the NRC has given me respect for head coverings. It seems to be there is much biblical merit, possibly mandate. I cant understand why these men would take the position they did with you.

Are Ms. Green and Ms. Byrd both former Baptists? I believe Byrd is...... I dont think she's writing from an OPC mindset as much as a former culture-warrior mindset.

Im not saying members of the OPC do not take a rabid interest in politics, but its never encouraged from our literature or the pulpit. Machen set the tone I believe.


What puzzles me enormously, and is perhaps a thread drift, is why, in my church past- which has been entirely male church leadership except for a PCA with humble, serving, feminine, deaconesses- I've gotten so much blatant and subtle negativity about wearing an inconspicuous headcovering that I don't push on anybody. I can't figure out why staunch Complementarians can be so against them.

When we were in SGM in the 90s one of the pastors told my best friend several years in, that when a woman wears a headcovering it is a spirit of legalism trying to make inroads into the church. She defended me, and another pastor there told me to my face that he knew I wasn't legalistic because in certain settings I wore jeans and sneakers. It was wierd. They were as gung ho Grudem-Piper- CBMW as any group can be.

But here we have a command given by Paul using the same Greek word in verse 2 and 23 for a practice delivered over/handed down, applied to both headcovering and communion, the former symbolizing a husband's authority over his wife, and all the CBMW exposure I ever had was not neutral about coverings, but against.

I tend to think that as long as you kick those verses out as for back then, and for that culture 2000 years ago but not for us, instead of admitting they are a sign to the angels, you will continue to get women kicking out other verses as also for back then in that culture. I think the two are tied together, and Complementarians trying to remove one and keep the rest is an exercise in futility. Any women with a few brain cells kicking together can make the connection that if 1 Corinthians in outward symbolism no longer applies, neither does the rest of that passage. Or other similar verses.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
What puzzles me enormously, and is perhaps a thread drift, is why, in my church past- which has been entirely male church leadership except for a PCA with humble, serving, feminine, deaconesses- I've gotten so much blatant and subtle negativity about wearing an inconspicuous headcovering that I don't push on anybody. I can't figure out why staunch Complementarians can be so against them.

When we were in SGM in the 90s one of the pastors told my best friend several years in, that when a woman wears a headcovering it is a spirit of legalism trying to make inroads into the church. She defended me, and another pastor there told me to my face that he knew I wasn't legalistic because in certain settings I wore jeans and sneakers. It was wierd. They were as gung ho Grudem-Piper- CBMW as any group can be.

But here we have a command given by Paul using the same Greek word in verse 2 and 23 for a practice delivered over/handed down, applied to both headcovering and communion, the former symbolizing a husband's authority over his wife, and all the CBMW exposure I ever had was not neutral about coverings, but against.

I tend to think that as long as you kick those verses out as for back then, and for that culture 2000 years ago but not for us, instead of admitting they are a sign to the angels, you will continue to get women kicking out other verses as also for back then in that culture. I think the two are tied together, and Complementarians trying to remove one and keep the rest is an exercise in futility. Any women with a few brain cells kicking together can make the connection that if 1 Corinthians in outward symbolism no longer applies, neither does the rest of that passage. Or other similar verses.
There are more than a few reformed theologians who seemed to have significant brain cells who did not see a contradiction with head coverings being cultural and women being silent in public gathering as being perpetual. Those reformed writers were even prior to the label complementarian being born. I say this as one who is not settled fully on the head covering position.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
What puzzles me enormously, and is perhaps a thread drift, is why, in my church past- which has been entirely male church leadership except for a PCA with humble, serving, feminine, deaconesses- I've gotten so much blatant and subtle negativity about wearing an inconspicuous headcovering that I don't push on anybody. I can't figure out why staunch Complementarians can be so against them.

When we were in SGM in the 90s one of the pastors told my best friend several years in, that when a woman wears a headcovering it is a spirit of legalism trying to make inroads into the church. She defended me, and another pastor there told me to my face that he knew I wasn't legalistic because in certain settings I wore jeans and sneakers. It was wierd. They were as gung ho Grudem-Piper- CBMW as any group can be.

But here we have a command given by Paul using the same Greek word in verse 2 and 23 for a practice delivered over/handed down, applied to both headcovering and communion, the former symbolizing a husband's authority over his wife, and all the CBMW exposure I ever had was not neutral about coverings, but against.

I tend to think that as long as you kick those verses out as for back then, and for that culture 2000 years ago but not for us, instead of admitting they are a sign to the angels, you will continue to get women kicking out other verses as also for back then in that culture. I think the two are tied together, and Complementarians trying to remove one and keep the rest is an exercise in futility. Any women with a few brain cells kicking together can make the connection that if 1 Corinthians in outward symbolism no longer applies, neither does the rest of that passage. Or other similar verses.
Evangelicals and the CBMW folks have a big whole in their interpretation of Paul's teaching on headcovering. They treat 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 in precisely the same way egalitarians treat 1 Timothy 2:11-14. In both passages, Paul's arguments are theological and not cultural. Egalitarians treat both of them consistently—"It's just cultural, so it doesn't apply to us today." Evangelicals on the other hand want it both ways. They like Paul in 1 Timothy 2 when he appeals to the Garden for why women must not teach in the church but when Paul does the same thing in regard to headcovering, they do a 180—"It's cultural; doesn't apply to us today." Egalitarians are right to point out their inconsistency here. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
There are more than a few reformed theologians who seemed to have significant brain cells who did not see a contradiction with head coverings being cultural and women being silent in public gathering as being perpetual. Those reformed writers were even prior to the label complementarian being born. I say this as one who is not settled fully on the head covering position.
In the history of the church, there are many more with at least as many brain cells that affirmed both as perpetual. But in any case, it is a faulty appeal to authority.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
About 35 years ago my darling pious Christian niece went off to "Christian college". Gordon Conwell. Her Mom, my Aunt, worked herself to the bone getting up at 5 AM to help with tuition. I was about 30 and had begun wearing a head covering. Back then a lot of women in the Charismatic type circles I was in wore them. Derek Prince believed in them. It was easier then, less backlash than from the Reformed and Calvinist Baptists for me later, even when we say nothing.

By senior year darling niece had been throughly brainwashed. I won't blame the college, she knew better. But one popular professor started with headcoverings to explain why so much of Paul's teaching was cultural. It was important to be respectful back then, to not cause offense, and of course they didn't have modern birth control. But those things were for then, including prohibitions on fornication. It was all step by step logic. Niece was living with "gonna be a missionary" boyfriend the year after college. He backslid all the way and got an office job in NYC, and she ended up married to somebody else. The only way I could coherently debate her position was from the view that head coverings are perpetual, as is all the rest. ( Didn't help, people choose deception.)

There are blog articles and quotes here that imply that Aimee says something that is an open door to egalitarianism if you take her first step. The first step may seem innocuous, even logical or fair, but it leads to feminism.

Maybe they are right. What do I know. But having lived through it up close and personal with a niece who looked to me as her older sister, I could say the same exact thing about anybody Reformed who claims head coverings are cultural. The things being said about Aimee I could say about you, not from just intellectual exegesis but from up close emotional grief that her Mom and I went through. How many other students at that college, whose parents thought it was Christian, were exposed to an evil prof tying together supposedly cultural mandates and fornication?

Please do not think I am accusing any person here of such a trajectory! I am NOT!!! But consider, when you discuss how Aimee handles certain passages and it bothers you, how a wolf in sheep's clothing can use your position against coverings to change modern standards of righteousness ( and not just women in leadership) compared to culture in Paul's day.

We live in evil times. Pray for revival.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
In the history of the church, there are many more with at least as many brain cells that affirmed both as perpetual. But in any case, it is a faulty appeal to authority.
I will simply provide others interested in quotes here, given the OP I will digress. The likes of Calvin, Henry, and Durham were likely very far from the charge of being inconsistent on this topic. And again, I am still unsettled as to my own conclusion, but my household currently does not practice coverings. And by the way, there is nothing wrong with appealing to our forefathers, given they are using scripture as their authority. And yes they can be flawed, but if being flawed means ALWAYS flawed then we better trash all our books minus the Bible.

1.
https://www.puritanboard.com/thread...s-against-women-headcoverings-pre-1900.82178/

2.
https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/womens-covering.91616/post-1120859
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
And by the way, there is nothing wrong with appealing to our forefathers, given they are using scripture as their authority.
Brother, there is of course nothing wrong with appealing to them. But that involves actually putting forth their actual arguments from the Scriptures. Asserting that a position has merit merely because great men have affirmed it is the textbook definition an argumentum ab auctoritate.
 
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G

Puritan Board Senior
Brother, there is of course there is nothing wrong with appealing to them. But that involves actually putting forth their actual arguments from the Scriptures. Asserting that a position has merit merely because great men have affirmed it is the textbook definition an argumentum ab auctoritate.
I gave links to their arguments as opposed to placing pages of post to this thread that is not about physical head coverings.
 
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