Tuesday, December 18, 2007

CBMW 1: Kostenberger on The Crux of the Matter

David Kotter introduces a series of articles by Dr. Kostenberger on the Gender blog today. I looked at one of them. Here are some excerpts,
    While there were precursors of egalitarianism, an egalitarian school of biblical interpretation did not fully take hold until a few decades ago. However, nineteen centuries of virtual unanimity in this matter constitute strong presumptive evidence that the “historic” reading of the relevant texts is valid.
Is this how biblical interpretation is to be decided?
    Scott Baldwin, in a recent comprehensive study of the term αυθεντεω, leaves no stone unturned in examining all the available instances of this term in ancient literature. In short, he concludes that there is not a single unambiguous reference where the word means “domineer.”
Actually there is only one example which predates the epistle and it is published on the CBMW website. It reads,
    BGU 1208 (first century B.C.): "I had my way with him [authenteō ] and he agreed to provide Calatytis the boatman with the full payment within the hour."
The next example reads,
    Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos III.13 [#157] (second century A.D.): "Therefore, if Saturn alone takes planetary control of the soul and dominates (authenteō ) Mercury and the moon ..."
Kostenberger doesn't deal with this evidence in any way at all.

Next, Kostenberger writes about 1 Tim. 2:15,
    Arguably, 1 Tim 5:14–15 thus makes explicit what appears to be implied in 1 Tim 2:15: “childbearing” is merely a pars pro toto (a “part standing for the whole”), encompassing a woman’s entire range of marital, familial, and domestic responsibilities; and by adhering
    to this role, women will be “preserved,” i.e. from Satan, contrary to Eve, who, when stepping outside her God-ordained sphere, was not preserved from the serpent but fell into transgression (verse 14).
I have enormous difficulty believing that this was the uniform interpretation for this verse over the last nineteen centuries. I think rather the contrary. Women believed that if they went to a convent, they would be preserved from Satan.

On the comparison between female subordination and slavery Kostenberger writes,
    First of fall, it should be noted that, unlike female subordination, slavery is never in Scripture substantiated from the created order. In other words, slavery is considered by the biblical writers as a socioeconomic institution, albeit flawed, while the principle of female subordination is supported, not merely by an appeal to societal conventions, but by pointing to creation (cf. esp. 1 Cor 11:8–9; 1 Tim 2:12–13).
So Kostenberger argues for female subordination, because it is definitely and absolutely part of the pre-fall order of creation. This point, however, is not proven. In fact, there is enormous doubt about this interpretation since up until the reformation, Gen. 3:16 read,
    thou shalt be under thy husband's power (Douay Rheims from the Vulgate)
It was then, not part of the created order, but part of the curse, that woman was to be subordinate. It was because women was deceived that she was to be subordinate.

Kostenberger is clear that those who disagree with him are not radical feminists but Gordon Fee and F. F. Bruce.

However, he concludes by saying,
    Rather than embracing the radical feminist agenda and subscribing to the notion that women will only be able to live up to their potential if exactly the same church functions are open to them as to men, we affirm that Scripture teaches that man and woman are equally created in God’s image; that man and woman are equally saved by grace through faith in Christ; that man and woman are fellow-heirs of grace, of equal worth in the sight of God.
Since most complementarians believe that women have the same potential as men, women are, indeed, constrained from living up to their potential if they are not allowed to fill all the functions that men fill, functions for which they have the potential?

Dr. Kostenberger teaches that men are in positions of authority over their wives, thus denying that the only time husbands are given authority over their wives is in the reciprocal command in 1 Cor. 7. Complementarians deny fundamental aspects of the scriptural commands regarding marriage.

Complementarians bind the female half of the human race to submission to the male half and thus deny the equal dignity of man and woman before God. Many complementarian women say that in this case they will be judge of when their husband is exercising authority over them "in Christ" and when he is doing it in the flesh. In this way some complementarian women set themselves up as judges over men.

I have blogged before about articles on the gender blog, and staff from the CBMW assured me that they would interact with my writing. To this date they have not.


Charity said...


I was beginning to write this comment when I realised that I had misread your last paragraph. I read "...staff from the CMBW assured me that they would not interact to my writing, and was going to ask if they gave reasons.

I continue to read with interest as I see that in fact they have said that they will interact. I wonder how long it will take them...

Bon courage

Peter Kirk said...

The last paragraph is also true of me, so this is not a gender thing, they just refuse to interact with anyone who disagrees with them.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Isn't this interesting. And I thought I was the only that was getting the cold shoulder. CBMW requested a copy of my DVD "Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?" almost two years ago and I have written several emails to them trying to engage them in dialog on the exegesis in the DVD set and they will not answer the exegesis. Instead they threw the DVDs in the garbage and they apparently have no problem in continuing to say that no egalitarian has ever given an answer for 1 Timothy 2:13. The answer is in my DVD set but of course they can continue to say whatever they want as long as they deal with the opposition by throwing any material into the garbage that doesn't agree with them. I guess it is just easier for them instead of working hard at refuting the opposition. Sigh! All this appears to me is a claim that they have refuted everyone while quietly ignoring or garbaging every piece of evidence they don't like. In my eyes this just isn't honest. I would expect more from them as I do believe they are brothers in Christ.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

No luck so far. They gave me a false impression, I guess.

Actually I was rereading this post and had to chuckle at the typo that I copied off the CBMW website.

The boatman was named Catalytis, not Calatytis. I used cut and paste for that.