An Egalitarian Chapel Message at DTS?

I listen to the chapel podcast from Dallas Theological Seminary from time to time, and I was very interested to hear a recent sermon delivered by Carolyn Custis James. Her message was titled “The Role of Women in Both Ministry and Life,” and she preached about the role of women in ministry (and in theological education) in light of Genesis 1 and 2 and the book of Ruth.

She argued that Genesis 2 must be read in light of the grand vision of humanity depicted in Genesis 1. Whereas Genesis 2 depicts the woman’s role as a “helper” to the man, Genesis 1 emphasizes that both sexes were created in the image of God and given the responsibility to rule over God’s good creation. No one on either side of the gender debate would disagree with the latter point. But is she suggesting that the equality of Genesis 1 somehow eliminates any notion of the role distinctions that might be depicted in Genesis 2?

She also argued that, in the book of Ruth, Ruth has deep theological conversations with Boaz and that Ruth instructs Boaz based on her insightful reflections on the Jewish law. I think that Custis James’ reading of the Ruth narrative is not very convincing and that she is making more of the dialogue between Ruth and Boaz than the biblical author intends. But my real question is this. Is Custis James saying that the book of Ruth commends an egalitarian view of gender roles?

Even though Custis James never really declared herself an egalitarian, her interpretation of the biblical text appears to imply egalitarian conclusions. Was this an egalitarian sermon?

You can watch a video of the sermon for yourself above or you can listen to the sermon below.

[audio:http://www.dts.edu/download/media/20080325.mp3]

If you have no idea what egalitarianism and complementarianism are, then read this article by Bruce Ware.

72 Responses to An Egalitarian Chapel Message at DTS?

  1. Brett April 9, 2008 at 12:17 am #

    Are we supposed to be surprised about this? I only ask b/c I’m not exactly sure of DTS’ view of women in ministry. I know they are conservative, but frankly I know many conservatives who lean towards egalitarianism.

    Honestly, I find strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the debate. And honestly, I think both sides of the debate have an inconsistent hermeneutic in approaching the problem. The complementarian screams about how the woman is not to teach in the church or be in a leadership position based on biblical data, but inconsistency in their hermeneutic comes when they don’t greet one another with a holy kiss (used 5 times in the NT, 3 times with the imperative) or when they don’t make their women wear head coverings. The egalitarian screams about equal rights and how we are all equal, but they don’t see the intent of not having women in leadership in particular contexts or functioning in different roles than males in other contexts.

    Bottom line, both sides fail in my opinion, and I have read the defenses on both sides of the spectrum. I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist church where women couldn’t take up the offering, pray from the pulpit, or pray in a Sunday school class. This is ridiculous. I also grew up with an egalitarian mother who failed to see that men and women each have strengths and weaknesses that are bound to their sexes, and believed both were meant to do the same things. I personally think its a contextual thing, but nobody really cares about that. They think since the church has primarily been complementarian throughout the centuries then that must mean it’s right…I’m glad they don’t say that about other things.

  2. Brett April 9, 2008 at 12:20 am #

    Holy cow, her husband is the president of RTS? Now I find that very surprising!

  3. Luke Britt April 9, 2008 at 8:36 am #

    is her name hyphenated? if so, she is soooo liberal.

  4. Darius April 9, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    Good point, Luke. 🙂

  5. Benjamin A April 9, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    As her father said to her, “you see things (in the text) I don’t see”. And I would have to add, the reason Dad didn’t see it in the text is because it wasn’t in the text.

    I would agree with Dad.

  6. Crito April 9, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    I would like to know whether or not someone opposed to her speaking in chapel would also disagree with a woman doing open air preaching. Neither are local church contexts and both involve teaching men, so I think these are grey issues for complementariness.

  7. Celucien Joseph April 9, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    What kind of question is this? Was this an egalitarian sermon?

  8. Brent April 9, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    she is making more of the dialogue between Ruth and Boaz than the biblical author intends
    “you see things (in the text) I don’t see”. […] because it wasn’t in the text.

    But who decides what is important? Isn’t this situation in the book of Ruth significant – more than we give it credit for, perhaps – in a highly patriarchal culture? I think Curtis James’s suggestion deserves more merit and consideration than it is getting.

  9. Crito April 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Overall her point sounds ok. Women should be educated and heard in theological circles because they (a) have a unique perspective and because (b) in doing so they fill the role of helpmate. Her Ruth interpretation aside, I think evangelicals can agree with her overall argument. Does anyone not agree with this? As for her Ruth argument, she may see things in the text that Samuel (or whoever wrote Ruth)didn’t intent, but why should this a problem?

  10. Bryan L April 9, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    If she is preaching egalitarianism it’s not that surprising to me. I mean, it’s really only a matter of time before egalitarianism completely overtakes the traditional patriarchal view in the church and the seminary. Slowly it will work it’s way in like yeast and eventually there will be no more major patriarchal seminaries. Either they will change or they will die off and close. Even if they still retain the name of complementarianism they will still look more like egalitarianism. You can’t stop the Spirit (which is what I believe this is). That’s why charismatic Christianity is growing so much and so fast everywhere despite the opposition against it from certain quarters of the church.

    I’m just saying…

    BTW Brent, good question. It reveals the hermeneutical issues at work in this debate.

    Bryan

  11. John April 9, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    I am a student at DTS. I missed this chapel, but that is unfortunate, because for once I would have applauded. I think we should start calling God “she” instead of “he” (and I am a man). I think complementarianism is patriarchal and characterizes the type of rigid fundamentalism that is on its way out (thank god). Its about time! I pray there will be more sermons and that DTS’ whole creedal statement will be altered. Is it really Christian to create a list of propositions, that are ultimately divisive and completely questionable theological formulations that others must conform to in order to be in “our” club? I think not. I just hope that DTS doesn’t take a turn toward a Paige Patterson-like fundamentalist cleansing before I get out.

  12. jeremy z April 9, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    ladies and gentlemen please stay tuned to the Mrs.Dennyburk.com blog coming to you this Spring.

    Weird…..God’ spirit actually moving and people surprised by it? hmmmm…….something must not be right about this.

    blessings.

  13. Denny Burk April 9, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    Dear Anonymous DTS “Student,”

    I allow all kinds of goofy comments on this blog. But I don’t allow such comments from Anonymous commenters. Own your comments.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  14. Ferg April 9, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    i am fascinated at how people who are against women teaching “the men” of the church, find it acceptable for them to teach 17 year old teenagers in a youth group setting who are possibly the most impressionable people in the congregation. it’s also strange how they can teach when they are on mission trips to people of different nationalities, just make sure it’s not in your own church. sometimes they can lead the music (which i think is a huge act of warfare – although probably not in a church that i’m describing), and maybe say things from the front, just make sure she doesn’t teach.
    the main thing that frustrates me about this is if you don’t think women should be in ministry, don’t let them be – don’t let them teach any men, don’t let them lead worship. however, what most churches do is they just make it out that once it’s not from the very front to the whole congregation it;’s ok. if you believe in something – follow it through.
    by the way, i fully acknowledge women teaching and i have been blessed by some incredible women of God by what they have to say. I will fully encourage my wife to be to pursue her gifts rather than patronise her by saying she may have stuff to teach the ladies, but definitely not the men. unfortunately, she’s beneath them.

  15. Rob Masters April 9, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    Denny,
    I have heard about Dallas being more like this but to see it and here it from this video shocked me. It seems to me the Presbyterians are not this welcoming of her!

    Rob Masters

  16. Denny Burk April 9, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    Ferg,

    I doubt that anyone reading this blog is opposed to women in ministry. Who are you talking about that would oppose women in ministry?

    Denny

  17. jeremy z April 9, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    Women in ministry = women in the church who are preachers, pastors, teachers, and elders.

    That is what we are talking about.

    Are you still opposed to women in ministry?

  18. Denny Burk April 9, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    I have never been opposed to women in ministry.

  19. Brett April 9, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    What then are you opposed to women doing Denny?

  20. Brett April 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    DTS student: Just type your name in b/c all of us would like to hear your input on the situation. Just put your first name or something…I’m sure nobody will know who you are anyways.

  21. John April 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Denny and others,
    I would appreciate it if you would print my original post, rather than me coming up with it again. As stated previously, I am a DTS student who is deeply dissatisfied with both the quality of my education at DTS and increasingly with the narrow ideology of Dallas seminary. If I wasn’t 40,000 into the program and about to graduate I would transfer somewhere else, but that is not an option. My hope now is to go to another institution of higher learning who are more willing to entertain critical matters, provide a rigorous academic curriculum, and not provide a bachelor’s degree concealed as a master’s.

    That said, with reference to the present discussion, I sincerely hope that DTS would move away from some of the absurd, fundamentalist positions it holds to, complementarianism as case in point. As “Ferg” above has stated, it is rather two-faced to make the affirmation that biblically women can’t pastor (senior, etc.) or minister to men, when in practice it happens all the time. In fact, how odd is it that DTS is complementarian and yet we have female professors (who are just as capable and intelligent as the men) who teach Hebrew (e.g. the BIBLE!)? This seems to be a supreme example of how silly this game we play is. Moreover, this sort of discussion within broader protestantism is almost completely isolated to the narrow strictures of “evangelicalism” and her “defenders” whatever that means.

    Also, Denny, I would like to say that I have serious reservations about your recommendation of Piper’s new book on your “recommended reading.” I note this reservation because Piper fundamentally undermines the entire Third Quest in the opening pages and uses careless language for a scholar to make sweeping generalizations that prejudice the lay person against reading critical Jesus scholarship. Is it really valuable to have a theology so narrowly defined that members of your church have to sign off on a doctrinal statement 38 pages long? Just some fodder for thought, but you being a NT scholar (and a respectable one, I appreciate your thesis on the articular infinitive) might want to read his new book a little more closely before recommending it.

  22. Denny Burk April 9, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    Okay, John. Your comments are there for all to see (numbers 11 and 21).

    Why do you think God should be called a “she”? Do you think the orthodox Trinitarian language to be unbiblical?

  23. John April 9, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    I think God should be called “she” as a corrective, God is not he, contrary to Calvinist lingo you cannot “emasculate” God (a former calvinist myself).

    On the latter question, I don’t know that the Trinitarian language is “un”biblical, what I question is whether any of the author’s of Scripture had made the leap from Binitarian to Trinitarian (so the late CFD Moule). I take it they were on their way, so to speak, but I don’t think they were there yet. So then my question becomes, if Paul was not trinitarian, certainly not in the post-Chalcedonian way, then ought we to take that into account somewhere in our theology and certainly in our praxis?

  24. Ali April 9, 2008 at 10:32 pm #

    John, I appreciate your right to your own perspective, but your attribution of the phrase “emasculate God” to Calvinist lingo makes me suspect you have rejected an entire bundle of theological positions that don’t necessarily depend on one another. It might be worthwhile to slow down and separate them out if you want a real discussion.

  25. John April 9, 2008 at 10:47 pm #

    Let’s go back to square one then, for clarity’s sake. I think as a valuable corrective that God should be referred to in the pronominal gender of feminine in English as a corrective to the reigning patriarchal ideology that has held sway for centuries. While Jesus can rightfully be referred to as “he” for the obvious reason that he was male…the nature of God transcends gender, God is neither male nor female. It might be more adequate to say that if humanity is created in the imago dei then arguably God is both male and female baring of course the corpiality and genitals.

    Next, Denny what do you think of my response regarding your trinitarian question? Do you think Paul would have understood, much less affirmed a Chalcedonian trinitarian formulation? If not, how does that in practical terms work out in the way Christians deal with each other, especially regarding the doctrinal differences?

    Also, Denny what are your thoughts regarding Piper’s “What Jesus demands” in light of my comments above?

  26. Paul Lamey April 9, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    John said, “I think we should start calling God “she” instead of “he” (and I am a man).”

    Christ said, ‘Our *Father* who art in heaven’ (Jesus was a man as well).

  27. Brett April 9, 2008 at 11:10 pm #

    John,

    You will fit in quite well here with myself, Bryan L, Paul, and Ferg.

    You bring up great points, and I can tell you have been studying a while. To my knowledge, DTS is extremely weak in matters of Bible exposition and systematic theology, but extremely strong in regards to NT and OT studies and world missions (I here Dr. Young there is outstanding) and historical theology. It seems like you’re a man who has sat under men such as Bock, Wallace, Hoehner, Chisholm, and Johnston. Would I be correct? I only ask b/c the students I talk to there who do not focus on these areas seem like the only thing they’re equipped to do is be Sunday school teachers…just my opinion.

    You will be delighted to know (and you probably already do) that I know people at DTS who are in the same boat as yourself in regards to these issues. I can’t imagine it being extremely fundamentalist with the things these guys tell me they learn from certain profs. Maybe certain departments are fundamentalists, but not all. Personally, I feel like the OT and NT departments there cannot be beat by anyone in the country (not Fuller, Denver, Southern, etc), and I considered going there for this reason. To my knowledge, you don’t get the typical classical dispensational crap with those guys that you would get with other profs in different departments…though I could be wrong.

    Basically, on this blog you will find a mix of guys leaning towards fundamentalism and guys leaning toward liberalism (at least that’s how they would label one another!). I certainly welcome your comments about God’s gender and objection of Trinitarian language by NT authors…b/c I believe they’re right. Most people don’t understand the concept of contextualization and God’s acquiescence. We pick and choose which verses we want to follow, and the verses in reference to women not being in leadership fit well with our systematic theology and cultural contexts, so we rigidly follow them. However, we will never dream to greet one another with kisses, nor make our women wear head coverings. It’s sort of like a doctrinal or proof-text buffet line…if you will.

    By all means, please continue. I find it quite refreshing that a man like you could come out of DTS with this line of thinking.

  28. Denny Burk April 9, 2008 at 11:18 pm #

    John (Is that really your name?),

    1. I don’t have any problem at all with Piper’s brief chapter on the quests. He was just trying to give a brief explanation of his methodology, not a comprehensive refutation of over 200 years of historical Jesus scholarship. Remember, this is a popular book, not a scholarly one.

    2. The short answer to your question is “yes.” I think Paul would have affirmed what we know of as the Nicene and Chalcedonian definitions (had he heard them in the way they were later articulated). But I think your question is a little bit off the mark. The question is not what doctrinal formulation Paul might have affirmed had he known it. The central issue is whether the Nicene and Chalcedonian formulations are faithful summaries of what the Bible does affirm (or perhaps we could say necessary implications of what the Bible affirms). I think that they are.

    That being said, the Bible uses and affirms patriarchal language for God. If the Bible is normative, shouldn’t we use the language it uses to refer to God? God is always a “he” in the Bible. Specifically, he’s a Father.

    If the Bible is partriarchal, shouldn’t we be as well?

    Thanks,
    Denny

  29. Brett April 9, 2008 at 11:35 pm #

    Denny,

    I have a hard time believing an exegete to make the last comment you made. The Bible is a lot of things that we are currently not. The Bible is polygamous, shouldn’t we be as well? The Bible accepts slavery, shouldn’t we as well? If the Bible says to greet one another with a kiss, shouldn’t we do this as well?

    This is biblical hermeneutics 101 bro! The Bible, the entire Bible, is contextualized and was written to particular people in a particular time period. Just because the Bible says something doesn’t automatically mean that we should affirm that and make it true in our own lives. This is nothing but a fundamentalist argument that you lay out in regards to this issue…sort of a “The Bible says it, that settles it” mentality. I am honestly appalled that a legitimately educated NT scholar could make such an argument, especially considering you teach a hermeneutics class!

  30. Ali April 10, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Wow, Brett. Calm down. I know it’s difficult to accept, but people who don’t have the same opinions as you can still have thought seriously through the issues without resorting to “The Bible says it, that settles it” (at least in the way you seem to be implying).

    The OT and the NT are written in different contexts, both of which included knowledge of female deities. God could quite reasonably have revealed himself with both masculine and feminine titles and pronouns in those contexts if he so desired. It was a concept many Hindus accepted about some of their gods centuries ago, so today’s context has does not have a monopoly on such understandings.

    With these thoughts in mind, it is far from simplistic for Denny to draw his conclusion, i.e. since God consistently referred to himself as masculine in contexts that would lend themselves to a revealation of God as feminine and masculine, we should do so in our context.

    I’m under no illusions that I’ll convince you, but I do dislike unfounded accusations of simplistic thinking.

  31. Brett April 10, 2008 at 12:34 am #

    Ali,

    I wasn’t criticizing Denny’s position in regards to this issue, I was criticizing his last remark when he said, “If the Bible is partriarchal, shouldn’t we be as well?”. I was only doing this because he made it sound like it’s such a simplistic issue, which it certainly is not. You are accusing me of believing Denny hasn’t thought through or studied the issues, which I never ever said or thought. I think Denny is well-informed about nearly all the issues he brings up and I highly respect his opinion. However, Denny’s last comment sounded very similar to a “The Bible says it, that settles it” way of thinking, and this is what I was critical of, because it’s not that simple and I don’t believe Denny should use such an argument.

    Because there is evidence of a couple of female deities does not prove your point at all. It is agreed upon by all that the Ancient Near Eastern and 1st century Palestinian cultures were patriarchal. Because of a couple of female deities in ANE literature doesn’t mean that therefore God would have revealed himself with feminine titles and pronouns. And just FYI, female imagery is often depicted of God the Father in the Bible. Jesus even uses it for himself in Luke 13:34. Also, it is strange that it did not take one gender to encapsulate the image of God, but rather two. Femininity is part of who God is, and we would all do well to remember that. Do you think God is a male? John’s Gospel says he’s spirit, so how can a spirit be male or female? What we have is God meeting people where they are at, and in patriarchal societies to refer to God as a “she” is looked upon with less respect and the supreme deities are always male (Baal, El, Chemosh, Dagon).

    I don’t believe I’ll convince you or anybody on here for that matter on this issue, but I do dislike inconsistent hermeneutics and uninformed dogmatism.

  32. S Glahn April 10, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    I serve on the adjunct faculty at DTS, and I have the distinct privilege of teaching the class on “The Role of Women in Ministry,”–a class for which I require one of Carolyn’s books (one of eight my students read) because it has the most civil (i.e., Christlike) tone of anything I’ve seen on either side of the debate, and I think it’s essential for students to engage in debate with courtesy rather than vilifying people who are trying to approach the text honestly. Carolyn Custis -unhyphenated- James is quite aware of some of the biases many egalitarians have brought to the text; she’s also quite aware of some of the biases complementarians have brought to the text. If I had to label her, I would call her a “complegalitarian.” She upsets both sides… She’s not a member of CBE or CBMW. What she is–a woman trying to get Christ-follwers on both sides to quit automatically labeling each other without actually listening with open hearts and to talk in a civil tone to and about each other. She does see stuff, legitimate stuff, in a text that it would appear should be approached with both male and female eyes based on God’s command for men and women together to have dominion, which is ultimately about bringing God glory. Not everyone draws the line between the two camps at women speaking publicly, especially in a non-church setting. Some draw it at ordination; others draw it at being an elder/holding church office. So perhaps we need to clarify what the labels even mean before we apply them.

  33. jeremy z April 10, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    If the Bible is partriarchal, shouldn’t we be as well?

    This is a tough line of logic to follow. If the Bible says something that does not directly imply we be it.
    We cannot always take the literal translation and interpretation.
    For example in Revelations: John describes hell as darkness, but later he describe it as a fire pit and a lake of fire. To me at least how can hell be dark and then be light?

    Also Jesus uses a lot of similes, which means their is a symbolic interpretation.

    NAU 1 Timothy 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
    Paul in 1 Tim 2.12 uses the verb: didasko
    (to teach) as an indicative and not in the imperative case. This verb is not a command, but a suggestion and an instruction to a particular context.

    Just some food for thought.

  34. Darius April 10, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Brett, I think you miss the clear distinction between the mention of a subject and the condoning of it in the Bible. For example, polygamy is mentioned many times, but NEVER condoned. Patriarchy is mentioned many times, but it is ALSO advocated by the Biblical writers. Slavery is mentioned (usually in the negative sense in the OT and in a more neutral sense in the NT) but what one must remember is that the slavery in the NT is NOT the same thing as 19th century slavery in this country. Basic hermeneutics requires context. Come on, your simplistic take on the Bible is what is truly appalling. 🙂

  35. Celucien Joseph April 10, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    Gentlemen,

    Let’s try not to attack Denny’s character here. I do not agree with him all the time but let’s treat him as a christian brother, a scholar indeed. Let’s discuss this issue respectfully with a christ-like spirit.

  36. Celucien Joseph April 10, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    I meant to write : “I do not agree with him most of the time”

  37. Ferg April 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    Denny, Apologies for delay – time difference from ireland; being at work and all that. in relation to no. 16, I think Jeremy kindly spoke for me when he said
    “Women in ministry = women in the church who are preachers, pastors, teachers, and elders”.
    My comment was not directed at you, it was purely an expression of my current frustrations with the reformed baptist church i attend and their hypocritical view on the role of women. My wife to be is on staff, is half way through an ‘MTS’ (ministry training strategy) course, she along with me lead a christianity explored group, she leads sunday evening services, she helps out significantly with the youth group including speaking to them, she attends preachers conferences amongst other conferences – YET she is not allowed to teach. she is not allowed to ‘lead’ the men. I find this outrageous as that is what she does for most of the time in the youth group. she reads the bible and prays and leads the Sunday evening service, but God forbid she teach the men.
    like i said in my original post, if you don’t agree that women should be relatively equal with men in ministry, then make sure they’re not. don’t dare say she can teach the most impressionable people in the church (17 yr old guys) but can’t teach older men. it reaks of fitting the bible in to their own agenda.
    i hope this makes sense and i apologise denny if it seemed like my original post was directed at you. i have no idea what your views on women in ministry are.

  38. Crito April 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Ferg,

    With all respect:

    (1) At best you prove that certain complimentarians are hypocritical about their position. This is kind-of a hasty generalization, dont you think? It certainly doesnt follow that everyone is or more importantly that one must be hypocritical. But of course their are some churches which practice their complimentarian views inconsistently. But why does this prove the position wrong. It seems only to prove they practice it wrongly, perhaps. (2) I think you might be begging the question about whether or not equality assumes identical roles or social standing. There are good arguments from equality and submission of the son and from the submission of children to parents that this is a bad assumption. (3) Whether or not you find something to be outrageous is beside the point, isnt it? This is an emotional appeal. It might be outrageous to you and also biblical, which I suspect is the case.

    Thanks,
    Crito

  39. Brett April 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Darius,

    Is polygamy ever condemned? Is slavery flat-out condemned in all contexts? I know how slavery was in the 1st century and in the ANE, and people like to downplay it and say it wasn’t bad and everything. This is actually a myth. It may not have been as harsh as the slavery we once had in America, but it cannot be sugar-coated one bit. There is actually evidence of slave parents killing their children b/c they didn’t want them to grow up in that type of lifestyle (ISBE on slavery).

    Patriarchy is advocated by the biblical writers…so what? War is advocated by some biblical writers and is antithetical to Jesus’ teachings. You can’t undermine the human element of Scripture and the theological diversity amongst it’s authors. There is ample evidence during Jesus’ ministry and post-Christ about the more prominent role women were to play in the people of God. Jesus goes against the culture (Mary and Martha, woman at the well, etc) in regards to this issue at times. Bottom line: just because the biblical authors advocate patriarchy doesn’t mean it’s a universal truth for all peoples at all times to be patriarchal. The Bible is contextualized, and those cultures just so happened to be patriarchal. We also have matriarchal societies, does that mean they’re wrong? We would do well to study other cultures and realize the ANE, 1st century Palestinian, and American cultures are not God’s ideals for all peoples.

    Basic hermeneutics requires context? That’s what I’ve been preaching bro! I don’t just mean the context of a passage, but realizing the entire Bible was not dropped out of the sky from heaven but is contextualized in its very essence. Is it inspired, yes, but it’s also very human. Pete Enns’ book helps a ton on this issue I believe.

    And I believe in anything but a simplistic take on the Bible, so I don’t know where you get that claim. If anything, I think the Bible is extremely difficult to interpret and understand and must be wrestled with time and time again. The systematic theologians are the ones guilty of having a simplistic take on the Bible. The complementarian view fits nice into their “systems” (boxes) b/c they can string a dozen proof-texts together and come out with a nice little doctrinal summary…and this is bad hermeneutics.

  40. Brett April 10, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    S Glahn,

    Thank you for your input here. You certainly have the authority to speak to this situation, and it is much appreciated. Custis James now has my attention in this area, and I believe I will check some of her books out. I think we would all benefit from a woman’s interpretation of Scripture b/c they offer viewpoints and nuances that men can never see. It’s the same with international people in different cultures. It is the epitome of pride to believe that we white, middle-class males can exhaust the text without ever having light shed on it from our sisters, or our brothers and sisters around the world. Thanks for speaking up, and I don’t know why nobody responded to you. Maybe b/c somebody who actually knew the situation and has authority to speak on the issue has laid to rest the false assumptions that the rest of us had.

  41. Brett April 10, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    By the way, which book is it you require your students to read? I would like to purchase it. Thanks

  42. Darius April 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Brett,

    What I meant by “simplistic” is your apparent “surface-level” reading of parts of Scriptures. Yes, polygamy IS condemned, albeit implicitly.

    Genesis 2:24 “A man will… be united with his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

    Throughout the OT, prominent men of God who took more than one wife almost always had familial trouble (Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, etc.). Thus, the Bible implies that God did not condone polygamy.

    Regarding slavery… it is always looked on as evil (though a culturally necessary one) in the OT, and in the NT, where use of the term “slavery” referred more to indentured servitude, the Biblical authors UNDERSTANDABLY took a more neutral approach.

    “War is advocated by some biblical writers and is antithetical to Jesus’ teachings.”

    Actually, war (even genocide) was advocated by God.

  43. Quixote April 10, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    I want to ask a question that I’ve pondered for a long time, and I want serious responses; so if you can’t be serious, please refrain.

    Is it possible for a highly-educated, literate, articulate, intelligent woman to also be overtly attractive? Most of the women I see who are very successful in academia or politics or even business have a very “male” look to them…or “plain” at best. I have my theories as to why this is, but does anyone else have thoughts?

  44. Quixote April 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    About the video: I don’t know who the gentleman is in the “11 o’clock” corner, wearing the white sweater vest, but he sure looked uncomfortable during the speaker’s closing prayer…eyes open, looking around, smiling, moving, thumbing in his Bible…was this the first time a woman spoke on this subject at DTS?

  45. jeremy z April 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    I loved Quixote question. Simply brilliant.

    Unfortunately here in California this assertion is not accurate. It is amazing what what plastic surgery can do.

  46. Paul April 10, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    Quioxte,

    thanks for the chuckle. I can think of plenty of exceptions to your rule, but I was amused none the less.

    Darius,

    (re: posts # 34 & 42) man, don’t make me agree with you again. It makes me feel like I’m losing liberal points.

    I have nothing of substance to add here on my own. That said, there are plenty here who probably think I have nothing of substance to add anywhere. 😛

  47. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Darius #43,
    As far as the implicit condemnation of polygamy that you’ve found in the Bible, that is all a matter of you looking for it and deciding it would be in there before hand. After all someone wanting to prove polygamy as not morally wrong but maybe neutral and even some times blessed by God would only have to point to the fact that God’s people were the 12 tribes of Israel all a result of polygamy (in fact Jesus comes from Judah, not Benjamin or one of Joseph’s 2 tribes). And the Davidic kingdom that continued through Solomon, a result of polygamy.
    God could have decided to not bless those situations or only choose to continue the people of God through one family or something like that but he didn’t.

    And to point to the familial trouble is irrelevant. I could point to Jesus’ familial trouble too and what would that prove? Isaac had two sons from one wife and look at the problems they had. Look at Noah and his 3 sons. Look at Adam and Eve. The pointing to familial trouble doesn’t hold much water and in the hands of other people could prove opposite things.

    And as far as your view on slavery in the Bible I think you are reading it with particular rose colored glasses. If it is looked on as evil then what do you do with the fact that God gives specific commands with how to deal with slaves, and doesn’t reject slavery right out? What do you do with verses like Exod 21:20-21? Don’t even bother going to the NT because the apostles had plenty of opportunity to command no slavery in the church but did not do so and instead commanded slaves to act a certain way towards their master toward their slaves. And please don’t try the comparison with American slavery. Roman slavery was definitely no picnic.

    My only point here is that again these are all hermeneutical questions and depend on what you view as legitimate evidence in this discussion and how the evidence should be read.

    Bryan

  48. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    Quioxte:
    Yes!! Of course. There are a whole lot of them. What kind of circles do you travel in?

    I’m assuming you are a woman from some of the past things you’ve said. Am I right? If so, do you think as a woman that it’s not possible? (If you’re not a woman then please disregard that comment.)

    Bryan

  49. Barry April 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    Quixote,
    The man in the 11 o’clock position is affectionately known as “Chaplain Bill.” He’s been at DTS, leading the chapel worship, for quite some time. He typically gives a benediction or reading to close the service, so it’s likely he was finding that in his Bible. who knows?

    Also, for all the “contextualization” responses, which, to my mind attempt to just “stir the water till it’s muddy” (and thus NO accurate interpretation can be found), let’s not forget that Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2 are rooted in Christ and the Church and pre-fall creation order, respectively. To my mind, this says that Paul knew of “contextualization” and thus rooted his assertions in that which is transcultural or “trans-contextual.”

    Not to be overly picky (OK, maybe a little), but she mentioned in her prayer that “we cannot be image-bearers unless we know You.” That’s actually not true. Every person, lost or saved, bears the imago dei. In believers it is being restored, but in every person the image has been “defaced, but not erased” (cf. Dr. Lanier Burns-a favorite DTS prof of mine).

    One more: claiming that this is the work of the Spirit is poor. My personal reply to such nonsense is simply to say that the same Spirit who inspired Paul to pen such words will not inspire the Church to contravene them. Perhaps it is a spirit, alright . . . the post 1960’s feminism “spirit of this age” and not the Holy Spirit.

    Anyhow, that’s my take.

    Barry

  50. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    Thanks for your take Barry.

  51. Barry April 10, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    You’re welcome, Bryan L. Any good tunes to recommend?

  52. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    Don’t really know what you listen too.

    I haven’t heard anything new that I’m really excited about although I’m looking forward to the new Death Cab for Cutie coming out.

    Oh, the new Killswitch Engage cd is pretty good. Not for the faint of heart though
    : )

    Bryan L

  53. Barry April 10, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    To be sure, you (Bryan L) have the most eclectic taste in music that I have ever seen. Didn’t I read that you are a drummer? Anyhow, that’s a bit off topic here. Getting back on track, let me say, “Wahoo! Go white, middle class, protestant, reformed, complementarian, Republican, Bush-loving, war-mongering, red state, redneck, inerrancy-loving, Piper and Mohler idolizing, Denny Burk loving men!”

    Barry

  54. Ferg April 10, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Crito,
    thanks for the response. I’m not particularly sure what your point is, or if i articulated mine well enough. I never said women should be equal, women and men have very different gifts….men are usually pragmatic, women are usually more emotionally driven; therefore most times its not a good idea to have a woman as a central leadership figure as they don’t decisively deal with conflict very well as they invest there emotions too heavily in either side. men are usually better at this (we’re cold hearted!!!). i do not think we are fully equal – even as i go into marriage in three weeks, i know i am the head of my household to come and i have extra responsibility as a result of that. however, i know that God speaks to my wife to be and i will listen to her intently on what she has to say about Jesus. I think the church should be like this to their Godly women. why not hear what they have to say from the front? (i can argue scripturally about it if we want). perhaps using the current church i go to is a bad example, but i do find that most churches who do not allow women to speak, DO allow women to facilitate youth ministry and therefore are speaking to teenage guys. or are allowed to speak on mission trips to foreign men.
    i think sglahn has a good point when she said that definition is needed. all i know is, and again I will say, that i want my wife to be to pursue her giftings to the fullest extent that God has given them to her to bring glory and honour to his name.

  55. Brett April 10, 2008 at 6:33 pm #

    Barry,

    Your last statement was HILARIOUS! That being said, why does contextualization muddy the waters?

  56. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Barry,
    Yeah I can play drums but I’m nothing great. I’m pretty average and sometimes sub-par. But I’m ok with that : ) I don’t even own a drum set any more since I sold both my acoustic and electronic when I got broke and need some Christmas money last December (stupid commercialization of Jesus’ birth!!)

    Regarding your last comment: LOL

    Good times.

    Bryan

  57. Barry April 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Brett,
    I am glad you got my humor. regarding contextualization, quite often it is employed so as to be able to say “We can’t know what the author meant” which practically leads to the implication: “do what you want to do,” or “pick the side you like best.” Con. leads to an interpretation that on occasion sounds like the interpreter “knows” what Paul would have said were he not restrained by such “barbaric patriarchy,” which is an exegetical fallacy to say the least: How can we know what he would have said (in a different context) unless he writes it for us? Also, this tends to undercut the sufficiency of Scripture, albeit unintentionally I am sure, in that it places the interpreter above the text of God’s word rather than in humble submission to it. I hope that makes sense. I will sign off here; I have to go home and read Ephesians 5 to my wife and keep her down.

    Barry

  58. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    Don’t forget 1 Peter 3:7 Barry. That one’s good for reminding them we’re stronger than they are and why they should stay barefoot and in the kitchen. I like to qote it to my feminist wife whenever she gets snappy with me
    : )

    Bryan

  59. Barry April 10, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    You mean barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Snappy indeed.

    🙂

  60. Bryan L April 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    No the pregnant part is more the case if your Catholic. Protestants like to use birth control to the glory of God (unless they’re the “quiver full” types).

    Hallelujah, thank God for birth control!!

    : )

    Bryan

  61. Quixote April 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Byran,

    I’m not saying it’s impossible for a woman to be brilliant AND beautiful…I just haven’t seen it. Can you give me some famous examples? Maybe everyone’s definition of beauty is different.

    Have you seen the movie “21”? I’ve never seen an MIT student who looks like Kate Bosworth.

  62. Bryan L April 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Quixote:

    You said, “I’ve never seen an MIT student who looks like Kate Bosworth.”

    Do you hang out at MIT or are you just guessing what MIT students look like?

    Either way without doing any research someone off the top of my head that I can think of who is famous is Natalie Portman. She from Harvard. She’s not exactly ugly.

    Just do a Google search on actresses who have degrees and you should find plenty of stuff.

    Of course movies will always make the main character someone really beautiful but there are plenty of famous beautiful people who are also really smart.

    That was probably the weirdest question/topic I think I’ve seen brought up here yet.
    : )

    Bryan

  63. Darius April 11, 2008 at 3:53 pm #

    Have you ever heard Natalie Portman speak about anything of substance? If you had, you wouldn’t chalk her up in the brilliant column. Having an Ivy League degree doesn’t mean a lot (this is the time where liberals jump in and make a joke about Bush :)).

  64. Quixote April 11, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Bryan L,

    Actresses don’t count!!! But you sort of proved my point. Thanks. (FYI: I don’t hang out at MIT, but I’ve seen a few students and none are Bosworthesque.)

    I said that no ladies in stellar Academia or Politics or even Business (although I may rescind the business category) are
    also beautiful. Please prove me wrong.

    But I never said that actresses aren’t pretty. Duh. Nor did I say they can’t be smart. Geena Davis is a Mensa member! But she’s an actress, and only played a president on TV. :o)

  65. Bryan L April 11, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Well Darius when you get your Ivy League degree and I hear you talk about something of substance then maybe I’ll take your point about Portman serious.

    Quixote:
    Sorry but I feel the topic is kind of silly and a waste of time so I’m gonna sit the rest of this out.

    Later.

  66. Quixote April 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    Bryan,

    That’s cool, but I was very serious in mentioning the topic. And since when did “waste of time” prevent you or anyone else from debating on this blog?? :o)

    I feel that many women dress and look a certain way albeit subconsciously in order to fit in to the male-dominated arena in which they are trying to succeed. It’s almost as if women think that men won’t taken them seriously if they look like women. I partly blame feminism gone awry, and I partly blame men. But since you bailed on the topic, I guess I’m left with my theories (the aforementioned and others) and no examples of beautiful, brilliant women to prove me wrong. No worries.

  67. Quixote April 11, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    PS: Like I said previously, I’ve wondered about this topic for awhile, but I decided to comment on it in this thread, since it was about gender roles: complementarianism and egalitarianism. Seemed to fit. At least my theories on the subject did, but we never got to talk about those because people just seemed to think I was being funny with my original comment asking for examples. Oh well.

  68. Sue April 12, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    Ferg,

    You say that women are more emotionally driven but you do encourage men to listen to women. I am glad for that.

    I worry that men who do exegesis without really listening to women fall into error.

    Here are two examples,

    Kostenberger writes,

    While the senses “source” and “pre-eminent” have been proposed for kephalē, no passage is extant where that sense is favored by the context. In fact, every time one person is referred to as the “head” of another person in both biblical and extrabiblical literature, the person who is the “head” has authority over the other person and kephalē conveys the notion of authority.

    Grudem writes,

    I once looked up over 2,300 examples of the word “head” (kephal¯e) in ancient Greek. In these texts the word kephal¯e is applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority:

    * the king of Egypt is called “head” of the nation

    But here are the exact quotes that they are working from,

    the whole family of the Ptolemies was exceedingly eminent and conspicuous above all other royal families, and among the Ptolemies, Philadelphus was the most illustrious; for all the rest put together scarcely did as many glorious and praiseworthy actions as this one king did by himself, being, as it were, the leader of the herd, and in a manner the head of all the kings. Moses 2:30

    If, then, any one proves himself a man of such a character in the city he will appear superior to the whole city, and if a city show itself of such a character it will be the chief of all the country around; and if a nation do so it will be the lord of all the other nations, as the head is to the body occupying the pre-eminence of situation, not more for the sake of glory than for that of advancing the interests of those that see.

    For continual appearances of good models stamp impressions closely resembling themselves on all souls which are not utterly obdurate and intractable; (115) and I say this with reference to those who wish to imitate models of excellent and admirable beauty, On Rewards and Punishment 114

    The person that is “head” is specifically “pre-eminent.” That is a fact. The head, however, is not the authority over the one that he or she is the head of. He is a model of excellence to be imitated because he is “pre-eminent.”

    This is the very best example that Grudem could find to prove that kephale meant authority over, and it only shows pre-eminence, which Kostenberger denies.

    Why? I just don’t understand how people can say the exact opposite of what is true. Is this because I, as a woman, am too emotional, that I don’t see that the examples prove authority instead of pre-eminence, as Kostengerger argues. Is it because K is man, and I am a woman, that what he says is accepted as true?

  69. pastorsteve April 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    Denny,
    As an alumnus of DTS, I can say that I am disappointed but not surprised. This theology has come in covertly into the seminary. I once had high esteem for the seminary while I attended but that has all changed. I think the biggest blame will fall on the shoulders of the president. Things have changed fastest theologically under his leadership. History will show the complete story but I am convinced the last great chapter was written for the school. Money and student enrollment is the greater focus than the doctrinal fidelity or the creed to “preach the Word”. Oh I know, there isn’t preaching in the seminary (cause it isn,t the church) but – beg to differ.
    At least once a month, a woman preaches in chapel. Although they aren’t following the old exegetical method from the school’s rich history.

    Thankfully God is sovereign and Jesus will build His church.

    In Christ,
    Steve

  70. Brent April 17, 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    I like how sweeping (and insulting) generalizations like “men are practical and women are emotional” just fly under the radar. Ridiculous.

  71. Sue April 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    Thank you, Brent.

    I have never seen one tiny bit of proof that men make better decisions than women or are better exegetes. We know that females score slightly higher on some verbal assessment tools – they are better at spelling and foreign languages. Therefore women should make up the bulk of exegetical studies and text crit. I think I sometimes expect men to perform at too high a level in this area and am often disappointed. 😉

  72. Benjamin A April 18, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    Brent and Sue-

    Obviously you both value being practical over against being emotional.

    Question: What makes being emotional some kind of insult?

    Since man was made in the image of God, and woman was taken from man (thus they were created- male and female); emotions obviously are part of being in the image of God. Why have you determined that being emotional is an insult?

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