Monday, April 10, 2006

Grudem on male leadership in heaven

A while ago I downloaded Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem. I now cannot find it available on the internet in its original easily accessible PDF format. However, that may be a temporary problem, I'm not sure.

In any case I have a serious question here. I was not previously aware that there was there would be a hierarchical relationship between men and women in heaven. But this is the logical fulfillment of Grudem's teaching. First, he says that male and female are part of creation order, and God saw that that was good. Therefore, there will be male and female in heaven. Then, he says that a hierarchical relationship between men and women is part of creation order.

    Adam's headship in marriage was established before the Fall, and was not a result of sin. page 29
And then, the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones in heaven as a "permanent reminder of male leadership among God's people."

    The Bible says people will not marry in heaven, but it does not say there will be no male and female in heaven
    We must be careful not to claim more than the Bible teaches. It says that in the resurrection people "neither marry nor are given in marriage," but nowhere does it way that we are not male and female in heaven. In some way we will be "like angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30), but Jesus does not specify just how we will be like angels - except that we will not marry.

    Several considerations argue that we will still be male and female in the age to come: Jesus was a man after His resurrection, and it is our own bodies that will, like Jesus' body, be raised from the dead on the last day. Moreover, our identity as male and female is something good, not part of sin or the curse, for "male and female" was part of the way God created Adam and Eve and said they were very good. (Genesis 1:31). So it seems that to be fully human requires that we be either man or woman. In the age to come, God will restore His creation to what He first intended, by removing the effects of the Fall and the subsequent curse. (Romans 8:18 - 25). But our identity as either male or female is so integral to our personhood that it seems unlikely that our gender will be abolished in the age to come. page 169

    The maleness of the apostles established a permanent pattern for male leadership in the church.

    The highest human leadership among God's people in the New Covenant is simply not egalitarian. Even in the age to come, Jesus said, there will be a place of high authority for His twelve apostles. "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twleve thrones, judging the twleve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:28). And in the heavenly city we will see a permanent reminder of male leadership among God's people, for "the wall of the city had twelve foudations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:14) ...

    The most unique, foundational, authoritative leaders in the church were all men. At its very foundation, the church of Jesus Christ is not an egalitarian institution. It has 100 per cent male leadership. page 172
As a former Brethren I am surprised by this blanket statement against egalitarianism in the generic sense, and the outright enthusiasm for hierarchy. The Brethren are not in favour of officially elevating any men to a position of authority above other men. Only the word has authority. Since our earthly existance is flawed this has led to Brethren men using the word to exercise authority over other men and women, in unregulated ways. However, the ideal of a Spirit led church in which we "call no man father" (Matthew 23:9) has carried on.

I find both the notion of eternal hierarchy in heaven, and the notion of eternal sexuality, to be oddly our of step with the Victorian Christianty I was reared in.

I will further examine this book on Evangelical Feminism to see exactly what Grudem has to say about the eternal subordination of the Son.

For more on this topic see The Eternal Subordination of Christ and of Women.

I cannot help but see an increasing rapprochement between this kind of theology and Islam, whose name means 'submission'. In complementarian teaching, the highest ideal of Christianity appears to be eternal submission.


Light said...

The linchpin for female subordinationists like Grudem is the Creation account. They consistently (and incorrectly) read hierarchy into the pre-fall environment. They hold very tightly to this, because if they let go, their entire case crumbles. I suspect Grudem is going to be awfully surprised when he gets to Heaven and learns the practical application of "He who is first shall be last."

I just finished reading The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. I don't know if Friedman is a Christian or not, but he makes some observations in this book that I find track alongside the gender roles debate. Friedman observes that those societies which enjoy the greatest standard of living, the greatest innovations, and the greatest economic climate have several things in common: they allow more freedoms in general and don't have rigid dictators controlling everything from the top down. They also allow full participation of women in all spheres of society. Friedman maintains that if we are going to bring 3rd world countries into the 1st world, it can only be done by fully educating and utilizing the talents of women. He also sees happening right now, across the global horizon, a diminishment of hierarchy. Instead of hierarchy, he observes the growth of egalitarian community and internally motivated cooperation, where people are judged by their talents and what they bring to the table, not by race, caste, religion, ethnicity, or gender.

In my opinion, Friedman's observations are accurate. More to the point, those phenomena in my opinion are society's practical outworking of the gospel as it affects the dominion mandate given to mankind in Genesis. Rigid hierarchy is ineffective; cooperation, equal opportunity, and the removal artificial barriers of race, gender, etc., is far more effective in creating a better world and building strong communities.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks for mentioning this book. The whole question of the permanence (and ultimate good) of hierarchy is seriously challenging this Brethren brain of mine.

Patchouli said...

Thank you, Suzanne, for bringing this to my attention. I am overwhelmed and challenged by all of this information.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I hope it is not a burden to anyone - knowing what complementarians really think. However, I find it quite cultish, not at all classic fundamentalism, which seems sane in comparison.

Light said...

Suzanne, I always assumed that fundamentalists were complementarians. You seem to be suggesting they are not. Can you clarify your understanding?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think the Brethren had an ideal of egalitarianism among men. That means that they did not value hierarchy as an ideal. Women were silent in the church and supposedly obedient in the home. I can't say that I would know much about that in general. However, women were not different from men in nature, gifts or fulfillment. No one received a gift of being an elder so men and women were the same there.

In practise the Brethren system was oppressive, but there was no sense that there would be male and female in heaven. Headship also was only between man and wife, not between all women and all worthy men.

The Brethren today may be very complementarian in some ways but I don't think they have most of the thinking about eternal subordination that goes along with it.

Peter Kirk said...

"Jesus was a man after His resurrection". Can Grudem or anyone else justify this? Of course I agree that he was human. But is it anywhere stated that he was male? Or is this a presupposition? Admittedly it is a presupposition I would have agreed to until a few minutes ago I read the John Drane quotation in another posting. But is it justified? I suppose Grudem might quote Acts 17:31, but this is in a passage where ἀνήρ anēr is used elsewhere (vv.21,34) apparently in a gender generic sense. The only other possible use of ἀνήρ anēr with reference to the resurrected Christ is Ephesians 4:13. (Luke 24:19 is spoken to the unrecognised resurrected Christ but the speaker has only the vaguest idea about the resurrection.)