My Conviction on All Things Gender

A couple of the commenters on my previous post have asked what my thoughts are on the gender debates. So I am happy to accommodate and to describe my own convictions on this seminal issue.

In short, I am a complementarian. That is, I believe that “God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and believing community, God has created men and women with distinct but complementary roles.”

So I affirm that the scriptures teach that all men and women are created in the image of God with equal dignity before God. Christian women and men are indeed “fellow-heirs of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7) and have an equal share in the blessings of salvation (e.g., Galatians 3:28).

Yet God has created man and woman to have distinct roles in the church and in the home. These distinctions of masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order and are not a result of the fall (e.g., Genesis 2:16-18, 21-24).

The Old and the New Testaments reveal a principle of male headship in the family and in the church (e.g., Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). This means that there is a Biblically prescribed patriarchy that must be observed in the church and in the home.

The brevity of this explanation leaves much to be desired and in fact may raise more questions than it answers. So I direct the interested reader to The Danvers Statement for a fuller description of what I believe the Bible teaches about gender.

In the current evangelical gender debates, I am very concerned that egalitarians are marshalling exegesis and hermeneutical approaches that distort the Bible’s teaching on gender. These distortions affect not merely the gender question, for the gender debate is inextricably related to the way one understands the Trinity (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:1-3) and the Gospel itself (Ephesians 5:32).

I believe Russell Moore’s essay is important because it describes a leftward tilt among the so-called “evangelical” femininists. If not in this generation of “evangelical” femininist approaches, I suspect that succeeding generations of “evangelical” femininists will lay aside commitment to the evangelical doctrine of inerrancy.

This appears to be the current trajectory of egalitarian thought, and it is troubling indeed.

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Moore on the Leftward Drift of Evangelical Feminism


Russell Moore (left) and Molly Marshall (right)

My friend Dr. Russell Moore has written a piece for gender-news.com about the leftward drift of the evangelical feminist movement. His essay focuses on the group Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), and their feature of Molly Marshall in Mutuality magazine.

Molly Marshall is the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and an outspoken egalitarian advocate. She has often been criticized for holding views that are decidedly non-evangelical (see here for an example). Ironically, she formerly held a professorship at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where Moore is now the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Moore draws attention to the fact that “gender issues” in the church are not side-arguments about the meaning of a few proof-texts of the Bible. At the heart of the gender debate is an argument about God and the Gospel. For this reason alone, Moore’s article deserves your careful consideration.

The title of Moore’s article is “Evangelical Feminism Lurches Leftward: Is Molly Marshall an ‘Evangelical’ Feminist?”

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Peter Leithart on Study of Evangelicals

Peter Leithart comments on a recent study of Evangelicals conducted by Berkeley sociologist Manuel Castells. Leithart’s wit is classic:

“[The study found that] ‘doctrinal evangelicals’ are ‘less educated, poorer, more influential among housewives, more often residents of the South, significantly more religious, and 100 percent of them consider the Bible to be inerrant.’ Ignore the shockingly patronizing comment about credulous housewives, and ignore the fact that, actually, we don’t know anything of the kind about the educational levels or economic status of evangelicals. That 100 percent figure is what stands out in high comic relief. I’m no sociologist, but it seems to me that if you select a group defined by their commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, and then survey them about their commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, you are likely (let us say, 100 percent likely) to find that a high proportion of your sample is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture.”

Touché, Dr. Leithart!

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Defending Southern Baptist Calvinists: Tom Ascol Continues His Response

Tom Ascol continues his response to Dr. Steve Lempke’s paper here, here, and here. The substance of Ascol’s response looks good.

But I would add that not only are we required to represent our opponents’ views accurately (as Ascol argues), but we must also engage them with a winsome and humble spirit. To that end, I hope that we can have more of an irenic tone in this debate.

“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome e, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition . . .” -2 Timothy 2:24-25

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Southern Baptists and Calvinism

The conversation concerning Calvinism continues among Southern Baptists. At least that is a part of Steve Lemke’s aim in an April 2005 paper titled “The Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicals” (pp. 12-17). Among other things, Lemke makes the controversial suggestion that the Calvinism outlined in the popular acrostic TULIP amounts to hyper-Calvinism (p. 14). He writes, “While we all know five point Calvinists who are effective evangelists and missionaries, it is a common intuition that those with a theology of hard Calvinism are not apt to be as evangelistic as others” (p. 16). Lemke is the Provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Joe Thorn responds to Lemke’s essay on his blog in a post titled “Hyper Calvinism Criticism.” He basically argues that the Calvinism of the TULIP acrostic “is not what has been historically understood as hyper-Calvinism.” His is a good summary of the concerns contained in Iain Murray’s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching. Also, Tom Ascol has posted part one of his response to Lemke’s paper. Ascol has a substantive piece, but it has a decidedly acerbic tone.

Jim Hamilton has posted some pointers to help Baptists debate this issue more peacefully. His thesis builds upon R. Albert Mohler’s notion of theological triage, a theme I have addressed in this blog on more than one occasion (here and here). Hamilton contends that the difference between Calvinists and Arminians is not one that should divide Baptist from Baptist. The title of his essay reads as follows: “Calvinism and Arminianism: A Debate over First or Third Order Issues?” Hamilton is an assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Understanding the Blogs

In his daily blog on OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto brings our attention to a useful little essay by Steven Den Beste. In the essay, Den Beste says that all blogs fall into one of two basic categories. He writes:

“Blogs are as different as the people who write them, but you’ll find two fundamental themes, with each blog being somewhere on the axis of how much of each appears. For lack of better terms, I suppose you could refer to them as ‘editors’ and ‘writers’.

“One form of blog is the ‘informal portal’. The general idea is to find cool stuff, link to it, and perhaps add a few words describing it. The link is the point; the words are there to encapsulate and sell the link. These people are organizers, searchers, they’re the web’s editors. They become popular to the extent that their readers like their judgment.

“The other theme is writing. The idea is to actually create something new and add it to the collective data stream. There may be a link involved or may not be, but it’s the writing which is the point. The subject matter may be critical or trivial; it may be driven by current events or by private experience or by the whim of the blogger. Sometimes a link is relevant; sometimes it inspires the writing. Sometimes no link is needed at all” (source).

One of my favorite ‘editor’ blogs of late is Justin Taylor’s Between Two Worlds. I guess I like his so much because we seem to have all the same interests: the Bible, Theology, and Politics. He is very well read, and I’m finding myself giving him hat tips more and more (I even learned the technical term “hat tip” from him!). Other notable editors that I like include the Drudge Report (of course) and Best of the Web.

Probably my favorite ‘writer’ blogger is Russell Moore, Academic Dean of Southern Seminary. He contributes almost daily at Touchstone Magazine’s “Mere Comments” blog and at The Henry Institute website. Another writer that I enjoy is R. Albert Mohler.

We might also mention Op-Ed “writers” whose printed work appears on the web. My favorite is Peggy Noonan on OpinionJournal.com. A good daily round-up of online Op-Eds appears on the Real Clear Politics website.

There are two staples that I have found very helpful in my daily news reading: “Today’s Headlines” in the New York Times and the “print edition” page of the Washington Post. You can pretty well predict the top stories on the morning news programs by reading these daily editions (especially the New York Times).

Well, this is a little bit of my daily diet. I hope it’s helpful to you.

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What Do They Know That We Don’t?

At first blush, the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court looks like a welcome development. All indications are that he is an originalist in his approach to constitutional interpretation—that is, he believes the constitution to have a fixed meaning grounded in the original intention of the framers.

Yet it also looks like Roberts fits the description of a so-called “establishment conservative”—meaning, he will show some degree of deference to the traditions of the high court. To this effect, Time magazine speculates:

“Roberts may agree in spirit with those who see the past 50 years of jurisprudence as too expansive and too intrusive but respect too much the way the law is shaped to ride in and blowtorch it. He may just prove willing to conserve even opinions he faults” (source).

So it may be that Judge Roberts is a judicial conservative. But does it not remain to be seen the extent to which he will be willing to overturn past precedent? This is precisely the concern raised by a handful of conservatives such as Fred Barnes and Ann Coulter, who are not certain that Roberts would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Nevertheless, a bevy of well-known religious conservatives have lauded the Roberts nomination (see article in CT). For example, both James Dobson and Tony Perkins have expressed their approval of this nominee.

My question is, what do they know that we don’t know? I am trying to understand how folks like Dobson and Perkins can be so certain that Roberts will prove to be a good pick. Is it not possible that Roberts could turn out to be an establishment conservative who is unwilling to overturn a precedent like Roe v. Wade?

My hope is that George Bush knows something that we don’t know. So far in every situation, the President has remained true to his promises. If he has remained true to his pledge to nominate conservative judges, then he must know something that the rest of us don’t.

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New Plame Memo: A Big Splash at the Washington Post?

The headline of a story in today’s Washington Post reads “Plame’s Identity Marked As Secret.” The first paragraph of the story goes on to state the following:

“A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked ‘(S)’ for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified.”

At first blush, this information looks very damning for Karl Rove. It’s the kind of headline that makes a really big splash on the front page of a newspaper. Yet one finds critical qualifications buried in the text of the story.

First, the memo was apparently written by a State Department intelligence analyst and was intended for then Secretary of State Colin Powell, not Karl Rove.

Second, though Valerie Wilson’s name appears in the paragraph marked as secret, it is not at all clear that her own status was marked as covert. It looks like her name appears merely as background.

For readers who bother to read the whole article, there’s not much of a splash after all.

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