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 →