Wednesday, January 27, 2010

High Functional Load

There have been some excellent comments on my last two posts here and here so I would like to respond as best I can. I think this one states the problem well,
    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).
Here is my response. I do not think that InterVarsity, as an egalitarian organization, holds that the egal/comp debate is salvific. However, it has to hold as a strong position on this issue just the same, because otherwise the leadership of some of its staff would be undermined. So, although the debate does not relate to how Christians come to Christ, it does relate to how the organization functions. It would not be possible to run an organization with female leadership, if both points of view were held in equal regard. This issue has a high functional load for the organization.

I acknowledge that many complementarians do not feel that parachurch leadership must be organized in a complementarian fashion, and I appreciate their openness. However, the original discussion brought up complementarians such as John Piper and Al Mohler, who, I am convinced, do not approve of female leadership in parachurch organizations. I make this assumption because a central tenet of CBMW is that women are not designed to lead men from creation.

I consider Piper and Mohler as men who hold to the basic articulated tenets of CBMW. I think this is fair. Likewise, I do not assume that all other complementarians share CBMW's views.

Regarding the acceptance of Clark Pinnock's theology by InterVarsity, I believe that it is in the nature of InterVarsity, as an organization on a secular campus, that they interact with Christians of a wide range of belief, including those who function within the "liberal" range. Clark Pinnock, in particular, graduated with honours from Toronto, the school I later attended. He spoke at our InterVarsity chapter at that time. He is, in a sense, one of InterVarsity's fledglings. Whatever you may think of his theology, he is known to InterVarsity staff and has always been a part of the larger family.

It is my opinion that some of the theologians who are accepted by InterVarsity come from within. They operate in the academic world as scholars in the field and have respect as academics and faithful Christians. I realise that they represent a greater range of belief than some consider evangelicals should. I can't resolve this now.

In further thoughts on complementarianism. I have some basic beliefs. First, I do not think that it is a great suffering for women who aspire to leadership to not be allowed to be leaders in the church. However, I do believe strongly that not having women leaders in the church is an enormous and outrageous suffering for women who attend church. Susan Hunt of CBMW articulates this position well.
    Men do not intend to inflict more damage on women. Many just do not know how to deal with women in crisis appropriately and compassionately. It is difficult for men to understand the emotions of these women; but other women can be the interpreters of those feelings. When I admitted this, my emotions became productive. I realized that women, including myself, must be the advocates to church leaders for emotionally and physically bruised women.
Quite simply Susan Hunt states that women are to be the defenders of women. This is a simple fact of life. Women need women leaders in decision-making positions, in positions of authority in the church. This is a basic human need.


believer333 said...

Very well said. However, I disagree with this statement somewhat.

"First, I do not think that it is a great suffering for women who aspire to leadership to not be allowed to be leaders in the church."

Depends upon what you mean by "aspire to leadership". If a person has a specific calling upon one's life, such as gifts involving teaching and speaking forth God's Word (includes preaching), then to not be allowed to grow in this gift hugely impacts that person's life. It can quite well be that the 'guts' of ones life are ill for as long as one is not allowed to function as who they are in Christ. I say this as one who has lived it and am not more fully functioning in my gifts than ever before for a long period of time. The difference is as if I were living with an inner sickness (constrictions) in my life and just managed around it until finally freed and life became fuller and more as it should be lived.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that when we consider how God relates to humanity and what "salvation" means, we have to consider who exactly is a human being. If followed to its logical end, complementarian teaching leads to women being not quite as human as men. I'm not saying, and would never say, that all complementarians believe that women are subhuman. It's just that that's where the path leads, whether they wish to acknowledge this or not- most especially if they drag the supposed eternal subordination of the Son to the Father into the argument. So I see the question as indeed a first order issue. This was not the only thing, but it was one of the most pressing things that caused me to leave Evangelicalism.


EricW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EricW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EricW said...

I suspect that the issue of patriarchalism/complementarianism in the Evangelical Church (and perhaps the rest of the Christian Church, too) is for those Christian women who understand the issue as great an issue as segregation and equality was and is for Blacks in America.

That doesn't seem like a "tier 2" issue to me, but maybe it does to some patriarchal males who are sitting in tier 1.

Maybe where a person stands on the importance of this issue depends on where they sit.

Donald Johnson said...

I am a male, and it does not feel too good to sit on top. I do not want to hold anyone down. I agree that if I had to choose whether to be on top or bottom, I would rather be on top, as that has more freedom, but why do I have to make that choice?

Lydia said...

"I make this assumption because a central tenet of CBMW is that women are not designed to lead men from creation.

At no time was the evidence of their teaching more shallow than when they got caught in a corner during the Palin candidacy.

Of course, she could be VP, they said, but she could not lead any of her male staff in a Bible study. They really danced around with that one...mainly because Palin is a conservative and Christian. They just did not know what to do with her when it came to the comp arguments.

Of course, the hard core Pats like Voddie Baucham said she should be at home tending to the kids. Mohler looked positively liberal compared. :o)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I'm travelling for the next few days so won't have time to comment till Monday. See you then.

EricW said...


Not for Women Only Panel Discussion

On Friday, April 23, 2010, the faculty of Northern Seminary are sponsoring a panel discussion entitled, "Not for Women Only: Affirming the Equal Calling of Women and Men to the Ministry of the Gospel." The event is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.

There is tension in scripture regarding the relationship of gender and ministry and all are invited to come and learn how others with a high view of scripture navigate these important questions.

Through panel discussion and the fielding of audience questions, members of Northern's faculty will 1) Present their own journeys toward supporting the equal partnership of males and females in church ministry and 2) Respond earnestly to audience questions.

Faculty participating in the discussion include: Jeff Hubing, Claude Mariottini, Ricky Freeman, Alistair Brown, Charlie Cosgrove, and Tracy Smith Malone.

(FYI - here is Dr. Mariottini's blog, which is how I found out about this: