Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CBMW disagrees with the founding basis of Intervarsity

In view of the discussion which has developed concerning Intervarsity and John Piper, I think it is best to refer to this article by CBMW to understand that the disagreement is explicit. In this article Jeff Robinson has done an excellent job of articulating the egalitarian position of Stacey Woods as well as CBMW's disapproval of Stacey's position.

For background, Stacey Woods was born in Australia, attended a Plymouth Brethren assembly, came to the United States and studied at Wheaton and Dallas. He became the general secretary of the Canadian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 1934. InterVarsity was founded in the USA through the leadership of Stacey Woods and others in 1941.

Now, here is what the CBMW article has to say about Stacey Woods' original position on women in ministry.
    IVP’s practice, if not its profession, is clearly egalitarian and it has been so from the beginning.

    The publishing company was founded in 1941 by C. Stacy Woods as a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). From the outset, the 20-member board of trustees that holds IVCF and IVP accountable resolved to support complete freedom for women in ministry.

    "InterVarsity is not a church but is a parachurch that transcends many specific denominational convictions on secondary matters such as the role of women in ministry--which has never been a creedal statement," IVP publisher Bob Fryling said. "However, we do have a rich orthodox theological heritage which does govern all that we do in InterVarsity.

    "In terms of practice, InterVarsity had to decide at its outset whether or not to allow women in ministry…[Founder Woods] and the board decided to give women complete freedom in ministry within IVCF which has been our position and practice for 65 years."

Robinson goes on the present the views of CBMW,
    But the fact that IVP is not a church by no means excuses it from following scriptural mandates on God-ordained gender roles as they relate to leadership, Stinson said.

    "The fact that InterVarsity is a parachurch does not allow them to disregard what the Bible says even on what the organization considers a secondary matter," Stinson said. "If IVP is engaging in an activity that is governed by Scripture, then it is required to perform that activity within biblical parameters."

    Through the years, IVP has not swerved from a commitment to publish works built on the assumption of complete freedom for women in the ministry. In recent years it has published such egalitarian works as Slaves, Women & Homosexuals by William Webb, The Trinity & Subordinationism by Kevin Giles, and Gender & Grace by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen among many others. Read the rest of the article here.

I was very disappointed to read Stiles' closing paragraph on InterVarsity.

    There is still time for IV to turn things around. I'm hopeful. It's been done before. Just look at what the leadership of Al Mohler did for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. But if IV continues to be forgetful of its mission, confused about the gospel, fearful of the world, and pragmatic about ministry, there is little hope for IV to ever become again what it once was: a force for truly evangelical gospel ministry.
Stiles appears to forget that the roots of InterVarsity in North America were always egalitarian. I find it astonishing that he could have worked for InterVarsity for 30 years and not known that InterVarsity was intended to be an egalitarian organization from the begining in the 1920's and 30's, some time before the feminists of the 1960's provided the impetus for CBMW to come on the seen. In comparison to InterVarsity, CBMW is a Johnny-come-lately organization bound and determined to stir up as much unnecessary strife as possible wherever it can.

22 comments:

Rachel Marszalek said...

Very interesting to read this about IVP. When they came to our theological college to sell their books I didn't go because from the titles they were publishing I assumed they were taking a certain complementarian view of women in ministry. Now that I know that their intention, at least, has always been towards egalitarian emphases, I will consider them again.

Blake said...

Huh, could have fooled me. I would have thought the "founding basis of InterVarsity" was a commitment to Jesus expressed in missions and evangelism.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Blake,

A quibble. :-) Of course it was! But it was also explicitly egalitarian. And that is what CBMW disagrees with.

IV was founded to spread the gospel and teach young people about God. CBMW was founded for what reason?

Mabel said...

Good question, Suzanne.

Brian Krieger said...

Sue:

To be fair, you did mix two articles there. Robinson is pointing out that complementarian thought is singled out as counter IV (by those in IV) while open theism is being allowed in (and embraced by some there). Stiles is saying that IV is leaving it’s fundamental gospel-centric roots. As a matter of fact, with the sole exception of the following line:

An egalitarian stand on women in ministry is so sacrosanct that complementarians are unwelcome in IV.

Stiles’ article is devoid of egalitarian/complentarian comparison and focuses solely on IV’s (beginning of a) departure from "follow[ing] the outline of God, Man, Christ, Response."

I have to say that it’s disappointing to see such a miscommunication on your part. It seems that you are trying to discredit someone fallaciously.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Brian,

No, I am not being fallacious. I am focusing on one point. Some people find it offensive that I focus on a single issue much of the time. I understand that.

Unfortunately, some people in missions and other agencies consider that the issue of female poverty is the most pressing issue our world faces today, since it affects the nurture of children.

I believe that Carolyn McCulley is among these.

Yes, I have a narrow focus. I am not misrepresenting anyone, and I have linked to the relevant articles.

I believe that female participation in decison-making and leadership is a pressing issue and Christians should be concerned about ameliorating this situation.

Brian Krieger said...

Sue:

I said nothing about you focusing on one sole issue. I don’t find it offensive even though you might (although at that point, you might ask yourself your own question from a couple of comments ago). What I was trying to point out is that you state in your ending paragraph:

Stiles appears to forget that the roots of InterVarsity in North America were always egalitarian.

But nowhere does Stiles argue that the roots of IV are not egalitarian. His whole essay was that the roots of IV are rooted in the gospel and that they have tracked away from that. You took the “roots” information from the CBMW article and then erringly attached the CMBW article (and, I suppose, argument) to Stiles. You indicate with the connecting line that Stile’s article is saying that IV is leaning egalitarian now, leaving its roots. The thing is that nowhere in his essay does Stiles argue that IV’s roots are not egalitarian. His whole argument is that IV’s roots are in the Gospel and given their inclusion of Roman Catholics, a mantra of “deeds not creeds” and embracing McClaren, Bell, Chalke, etc.

You make a fallacious claim because you set up with an article by a different author who argues that IV should allow complentarian views to be represented and end with Stiles’ ending paragraph about IV’s abandoning its gospel-centric roots, but saying that Stiles denies IV’s egalitarian roots. Stiles’ argument had nothing to do with the CBMW article or its argument.

Mabel said...

Brian,
I personally would not put the egalitarian stand on equal footing with the complementarian stand simply because if complementarians are to take up leadership positions, they will actively and forcefully bar women from certain ministries. While this is not a salvation issue, it is the most serious issue outside of salvation in that one gender can prevent another gender from using their God given talents to preach, lead, teach, to expand the Kingdom of God. Egalitarians, on the other hand, believe the field of service is open to everyone, man and woman. It is a serious Kingdom issue.
Knowing what I know now, praise God my 2 kids were involved in IV while at KU.
Mabel

Brian Krieger said...

Mabel:

I agree mostly, actually (‘cept I’m on the other side of the egal/comp line). But many to most would argue that since it is a non-salvific issue, it is a “tier 2” issue that should be dealt with in the church (sorry for the dangling prep), not in a parachurch ministry. I think that is Robinson’s argument. Plus, if one stakes a claim on comp/egal being a delineation that IV holds as not salvation-oriented, but just a tick below and would therefore be dangerous, it would stand to reason that open theism (Pinnock and Boyd) and trajectory hermeneutics (Webb) would fall in that same category, given they are at odds with a biblical view of God and the claims of the bible itself (or so I would see it).

Of course, that is a tad at odds with IVP’s publisher Bob Fryling:
"A great step forward on this would be to not vilify the opposing position as being unbiblical but in humility to recognize that different, very mature believers come to different convictions that should be discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect for each other and the Word of God."

In the end, I do agree with Robinson in that a parachurch organization should be less inclined to elevate any tier two church issue to tier one (which, in the end, it sounds like IV does…..though I have very little experience with IV at all outside of anecdotal).

Compared with Stiles’ argument that there is confusion over the gospel, a “deeds not creeds” mentality (social gospel), that ”all the while IVP cranks out books that promote the same theology loved by my old religion department and chip away at the very foundation on which IV's mission stands…. books on open theism and postmodern contextualization.

Brian Krieger said...

Mabel:

You said:

…in that one gender can prevent another gender from using their God given talents to preach, lead, teach, to expand the Kingdom of God.

I would say that isn’t true (I know, you’re shocked ;-). Just to cut to the chase, women aren’t barred from preaching, teaching or expanding the Kingdom of God in a complentarian view. Within the church? Yes, there are limitations God placed. And I know you don’t agree, but just because one doesn’t get to use her (or his) gifts the way she (or he) desires doesn’t mean it is a prevention of the expansion of the Kingdom of God nor does it mean that it is an offensive prohibition.

I know you see it as a human-derived……nay, a man-derived (ha ha) argument, but complentarity is biblically-based, i.e. God can prevent. As in God can prevent me from being an elder, God can prevent the Israelites from choosing a priest from any clan, God can prevent me from marrying a non-believer, etc.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Brian,

You have raised a lot of good points, so I am going to put up my response as a new post. Thanks for the thoughtful interaction.

Lydia said...

"But nowhere does Stiles argue that the roots of IV are not egalitarian. His whole essay was that the roots of IV are rooted in the gospel and that they have tracked away from that. "

Brian, The same points could be said about the CBMW and it's contributors. They have lost their first LOVE and focus on this issue to the detriment of the basic Gospel. Same with SBTS. They have made complimentarian/patriarchy a primary salvic issue.

Lydia said...

"Plus, if one stakes a claim on comp/egal being a delineation that IV holds as not salvation-oriented, but just a tick below and would therefore be dangerous, it would stand to reason that open theism (Pinnock and Boyd) and trajectory hermeneutics (Webb) would fall in that same category, given they are at odds with a biblical view of God and the claims of the bible itself (or so I would see it)."

Now you are quoting Grudem and the other boys who accuse everyone of Open Theism who do not agree with them. They accuse folks who do not agree with their teaching of ESS of being Open Theists! I take it as a compliment! (Not speaking about Boyd and Pinnock but of those who have been outspoken against ESS)

And Grudem loves to accuse many who disagree of 'trajectory hermeneutics'.

It sounds good...who would want to be those things? But it pays to question those accusations closely. They don't always line up. For example, I could say that our current beliefs about slavery are a result of trajectory hermeneutics.

Blake said...

Suzanne: CBMW was founded for what reason?

We can ask the same question of CBE.

Mabel: I personally would not put the egalitarian stand on equal footing with the complementarian stand simply because if complementarians are to take up leadership positions, they will actively and forcefully bar women from certain ministries.

I'm a complementarian and was in an IV chapter on the leadership team with a few other sisters in Christ whom I appreciated very much for their gifts and leadership. I would never have replaced them for any other male in the chapter and I played my part on more than one occasion to get female's put in positions of leadership. There is no conflict between my actions and my complementarianism because IV is parachurch.

Mabel: While this is not a salvation issue, it is the most serious issue outside of salvation in that one gender can prevent another gender from using their God given talents to preach, lead, teach, to expand the Kingdom of God.

I would argue that there are plenty of non-salvific issues in the congregation more pressing than the comp/egal debate such as the congregation's missiology, Christology, pneumatology, doctrines about the sacraments, hermeneutics, discipleship program and worship structure.

Brian: But many to most would argue that since it is a non-salvific issue, it is a “tier 2” issue that should be dealt with in the church (sorry for the dangling prep), not in a parachurch ministry.

I agree that it is a secondary issue, but secondary issues are still issues that every congregation is forced to make decisions on. Even parachurch ministries have allow women in leadership or not. Every group of believers takes a stand on this issue in practice if not also in confession. IV can't avoid the issue anymore than a church can. I tend to view secondary issues as being the factors that determine whether or not one should stay with a church or denomination but are not of themselves determinate of a group's salvation or orthodoxy.

Brian: I do agree with Robinson in that a parachurch organization should be less inclined to elevate any tier two church issue to tier one (which, in the end, it sounds like IV does…..though I have very little experience with IV at all outside of anecdotal).

Lydia: The same points could be said about the CBMW and it's contributors. They have lost their first LOVE and focus on this issue to the detriment of the basic Gospel. Same with SBTS. They have made complimentarian/patriarchy a primary salvic issue.

InterVarsity has no more made a tier two issue into a tier one issue than SBTS, CBMW or CBE has. InterVarsity is a student-led ministry. As such the comp/egal debate is decided by the students in their chapters. The organization of IV (it's staff) are the egalitarians who have willing associated themselves with the CBE. CBE and CBMW are organizations for Christians who have a collective interest in promoting understanding for their respective doctrinal positions. Pastors do not belong to these organizations because they only preach the glories of comp/egal and the damnation of the other. They preach the gospel and are concerned with missions and evangelism among other things. I'd be surprised to find one pastor in either organization that literally associates salvation with one's stance on this issue. I'm aware that some are suspicious of others' salvation, but most Baptists admit there are Christian Catholics even if they are suspicious (or worse) of the Catholic Church.

Brian Krieger said...

Sue:

I appreciate the surrejoinder in the post after this one. Just to make sure that I didn't draw attention from the point of my rejoinder (though, I suppose, I cannot technically make a rejoinder), I thought I would revisit it here. You accuse Stiles of being ignorant of the founding egalitarian climate of IV and is somehow tying his argument to CBMW and/or complementarianism. Given your language (I find it astonishing that he could have worked for.....), it appears you are trying to simply discredit Stiles' in an attempt to then render his argument invalid. That is what I would say is a fallacious evaluation on your part given he makes no argument whatsoever that denies an egalitarian root.

If you hold to Open Theism or Traj. Herm., that's fine, state so and engage those points. In fact, you began to engage his argument in your recent post (though you are still trying to combine the two arguments). Your claim against him here (that he is claiming the roots of IV are not egal) is simply false.

Brian Krieger said...

Blake:

Yes, it is an extremely important issue (I agree with Robinson that it reflects one’s view of Christ to us). And the parachurch must allow or not allow women in ministry (thus thrusting their core view to the center). As a parachurch, though, IV is, in essence, calling themselves a denominational ministry (i.e. taking a sacrosanct view of egalitarianism to the exclusion of other bible-based views…….all the while affirming, in a way, open theism). That seems at odds with IV (the way I understand it wants to function) as a parachurch organization that doesn’t espouse one view and demonizing another. I agree on a level with Sue’s connection (though tenuous) between allowing women in leadership positions and complementarian teaching. Meaning allowing complementarian teaching would strain IV’s egalitarian stance (and possibly cause confusion). Or that’s how I understand it. Great stuff!

Lydia said...

"There is no conflict between my actions and my complementarianism because IV is parachurch."

What is a church? I am assuming you are organizing it by authority structures and not an organism of believers.

"I'd be surprised to find one pastor in either organization that literally associates salvation with one's stance on this issue."

Are you serious? Many make "roles" a salvic issue all the time. After all, women are saved by childbearing, right?

Blake said...

Brian, I'm not sure that I'm making my point clearly enough. What national IV subscribes to and supports, what they publish and what the higher ups do does not reflect IV the ministry. IV the ministry is student lead and will be however complementarian/egalitarian, open theist/traditional, or calvinist/arminian even as the students themselves choose to make it. That's why I made the free church comparison.

The Southern Baptist Convention may turn people off for what some of their leaders say/do or the Baptist Faith and Message or whatever issue people may have with the SBC, but when it comes down to it the SBC is strongly invested in maintaining local church autonomy. There do exist in the SBC many churches that disagree on many points over the "official" proclamations of the national body. There are egalitarian SBC churches. Short of serious violations of what are deemed to be tier one issues the SBC national, state and regional bodies have no authority over the local churches. IV chapters are similar in that they do not spend their time writing doctrinal statements and seeking those statements to be approved by IV staff. IV chapters choose their own leadership structure and engage the campus the way they see fit. Complementarians are not barred from ministering in IV and there are even staff in IV that are a kind of liberal complementarian.

To Lydia and Brian, IV is not a church or denominational ministry because they do not touch the sacraments and do not deal as exhaustively with issues of pneumatology, judgment, ecclesiology and missiology as a church/denomination does. They are a student lead ministry affirming a rudimentary creed that exists to convert the university and disciple believers. Open theism, comp/egal and all these other issues do not come into the practical outworking of IV to the extent that people should have the alarm they are expressing.

Lydia: Are you serious? Many make "roles" a salvic issue all the time. After all, women are saved by childbearing, right?

You wanna provide names to back that up? I have explicitly heard Driscoll say that while he is suspicious of egal churches he does not equate the position with salvation. Piper and Mohler would be in the same boat if you asked them directly. I don't know a single person that believes that one can literally be saved by childbearing. Southern Baptists, including the really conservative fundamentalists, would never admit to anything that even hints at salvation by works including childbearing. All of them would only confess to salvation by grace through faith. Unless you can come up with examples of people stating exactly the position you are accusing them of, I think you are reading too much into their complementarianism however chauvinistic it may be.

Lydia said...

"Piper and Mohler would be in the same boat if you asked them directly. I don't know a single person that believes that one can literally be saved by childbearing."

You have not learned the game well, Brian. First of all, they would NEVER say it is a works salvation directly.

But they go on to teach it AS works salvation.

You cannot say one is equal but then say they are unequal in role. They tried that with segregation and it was a sham. Same with comp...even coining the word "complimentarian" to try and make it sound equal. But it is heirarchy pure and simple. Man on top, woman on bottom.

Just like Ware and others SAY at first that Jesus is equal to God but then go on to say thousands of words that teach Jesus is always subordinate to God for all eternity past and future. Even though Jesus IS God, He is somehow a lesser God to them even outside the Incarnation.

You gotta learn the game.

So what does the childbearing verse mean to you? How would you, as a comp, interpret that verse in context?

Blake said...

It's only a "game" because you want it to be. It's not a game your or they are going to win or lose so I'm not sure why you call it a game to begin with. I disagree that they teach it as works salvation even if they won't admit it. They teach it as an ideal and norm but allow for exceptions. Driscoll is loath to admit the exceptions because people always want to think they are the exception, but he has stated they exist and what some of them are.

The segregation comparison is very tired. Supposing segregation never happened or we were in medieval Europe, what would your argument be then if you couldn't appeal to the clear sinfulness of segregation? The Church is filled with sinful people and its going to stumble as it reaches and over reaches for Biblical ideals (whatever those may be). More problematic than this is how western centric egalitarianism is. Complementarianism is by and large ascribed to by nearly all Christians outside of Western society. Those churches are blooming significantly better than comp and egal churches alike in the West, yet egals seem to presume to be morally superior on this issue than the whole rest of the Church.

I'm knew to the ESS debate but my initial reaction is why can't it just be a mystery how Jesus is both equal to and subordinate to God? The Trinity is a mystery and the nature of Christ is a mystery why does it need to be figured out? Let God be mysterious and ambiguous and apparently contradictory. I'm not interested in worshiping an idea I made sense of.

The childbearing verse only means to me that women who have children are blessed (by which I'm not implying that women who don't/can't aren't). I'm not a pastor or a Bible scholar so I have very little interest in debating the rightness or wrongness of that interpretation or any other interpretation. I've got better things to do in my own field than debate a minor point on a tier 2 issue.

E said...

It is not a tier 2 issue.

"There is not...male and female...in Christ Jesus."

This is as much a part of Paul's Gospel as righteousness by faith.

Efforts to dismiss or ignore the anti-Gospel nature of patriarchalism are very tired.

Don said...

Everyone who is a believer and not RCC nor EOC thinks they got at least some things wrong. So it is a fair question as to whether they got the gender question wrong also, I think they did; I think they were influenced by the pagan society they lived in and were before becoming believer way back when.

I find it very problematical to read verses to put myself over another functioning adult. Serving yes, deciding for them, no; this is a boundary violation.