Archive | Christianity

Complementarianism? What’s in a name?

Over the last several weeks, the evangelical interwebs have been astir with debates about women preaching and complementarianism. I have noticed in much of this discussion that there seems to be much confusion about what complementarianism is. As a result, some of us have been trying to address this confusion in hopes of shedding some light on the matter (see here, here, and here).

But that is not my purpose in this short post. Rather, what I would like to do is make a brief historical point about the origin and referent of the term complementarian. While it was common for older commentators to point out that Adam and Eve were a complement to one another1, the exact term complementarian did not appear in theological discourse until the late 1980’s. Some writers have therefore given the impression that the entrance of the term into the lexicon marked out a theological innovation—a peculiar expression of baby boomer theology that is soon to peter out when the baby boomers are no more. In this kind of analysis, the term reduces to a sociological descriptor rather than a theological one. Continue Reading →

A Clarification about a New Book on the Trinity

Mike Bird and Scott Harrower have recently edited a new volume of essays titled Trinity Without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology (Kregel, 2019). One chapter in the book engages with an essay I wrote many years ago on Philippians 2:6. The chapter is titled “There Is a Method to the Madness: On Christological Commitments of Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son,” and it is written by Jules A. Martínez-Olivieri. I am not going to engage the whole essay, but I do want to offer a brief clarification regarding the following paragraph from Martínez-Olivieri’s chapter. Continue Reading →

Confronting Purity Culture or Christian Sexual Ethics?

Katelyn Beaty has penned an Op-Ed for The New York Times with a provocative title and subtitle:

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS HAVE SEX?
Purity culture was harmful and dangerous. But its collapse has left a void for those of us looking for guidance in our intimate lives.

I won’t rehearse the whole argument of Beaty’s piece. I simply encourage you to go read it for yourself before pressing on with my comments here. I read Beaty’s op-ed with great interest and was genuinely grateful to see her confront the consent-only ethic of the wider culture. Her personal story of disillusionment with this approach to things is actually gut-wrenching to read. It is a message that readers of The New York Times would do well to consider. Continue Reading →

Can broad and narrow complementarians coexist in the SBC?

Tom Schreiner is a world class New Testament scholar who has published extensively about complementarianism and egalitarianism. He’s also a Southern Baptist pastor with decades of experience in church ministry. Today, he weighed-in on the intramural debate that Southern Baptists are having about women preaching. I think what he argues here really gets to the heart of the issue. Schreiner writes: Continue Reading →

The so-called “pastoral accommodation” of homosexuality is actually complete acceptance of it

Some evangelical churches that profess to hold a biblical view of homosexuality are nevertheless accepting practicing homosexuals into membership based on an approach called “pastoral accommodation.” In a recently posted paper, Lee Irons describes this approach and argues against it. Here’s his description of the problem: Continue Reading →

Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching

In evangelical debates over women in ministry, two biblical texts have always stood as a prima facie obstacle to the egalitarian view:

1 Timothy 2:12 “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
1 Corinthians 14:34 “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.”

At first blush, these two texts seem to settle the matter in favor of the complementarian position. After all, this is the sense adopted in the vast majority of English translations. How could they all be wrong? Clearly Paul does not intend for women to be teaching/preaching within the church, right? Continue Reading →

Albert Mohler answers: “Should women preach in church?”

Albert Mohler weighs-in to current conversations about roles of women and men in ministry. In this episode of “Ask Anything Live,” he answers three key questions:

  • “Should women preach in church?”
  • “What is the progression from rejecting biblical teaching about women to accepting LGBTQ revolution?”
  • “Can a woman serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention?”

He answers the first and third questions with a “no.” He says, “If you look at the denominations where women do the preaching, they’re also the denominations where people do the leaving.”

On the second question, he outlines the progression as we have seen it historically in the mainlines. The hermeneutic that leads one to affirm female ordination will usually lead one to affirm LGBTQ identities.

This is a really helpful contribution from Dr. Mohler, and I encourage you to listen to it.

Should churches allow women to preach to men?

Yesterday, Owen Strachan weighed-in on a long-standing conversation evangelicals have been having about the role of women in ministry. Strachan addresses in particular an intra-complementarian debate about whether women should preach to the gathered congregation. This particular angle is occasioned by recent remarks from Southern Baptist women indicating that they plan to be preaching Sunday morning worship services on Mother’s Day. Strachan concludes: Continue Reading →

All Flesh Is Like Grass

I received news of Rachel Held Evans’ death on Saturday morning. Ironically, I was sitting in a session of our CBMW west coast conference when the text came from my wife. We had been praying for Rachel and her family for the last couple weeks. Nevertheless, I was stunned. Immediately after receiving the news and before the next session was to begin, we led the entire CBMW conference in prayer for Rachel’s husband and children. 

The news really was a punch in the gut for me. Rachel and I never met each other in person, but we were not strangers. The New York Times obituary includes these lines:

Ms. Evans fearlessly challenged traditional authority structures, which were often conservative and male. She would spar with evangelical men on Twitter, brazenly and publicly challenging their views of everything from human sexuality to politics to Biblical inerrancy.

That was us. We had countless online interactions and debates over the years. I did a search Saturday night on my twitter feed and read through some of the old threads. I had forgotten about so many of them. They were direct and concerned fundamental issues of the faith. We were often at loggerheads. Continue Reading →

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