S. M. Hutchens is not known for pulling his punches when it comes to egalitarianism. He’s a strenuous opponent who charges egalitarianism with falling outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. In a recent post on the Touchstone blog, he writes the following:
‘To the best of my judgment, egalitarianism is as significant and seductive an error as Arianism; it is an anthropological heresy that infects theology proper through the attack on Christology it necessarily entails. I claim no special authority to make this judgment, but simply join mine, whatever it might be worth, to that of greater men, and submit it to the Church.’
Readers of this blog will not be surprised to find out that I agree with this assessment of egalitarianism. But Hutchens renders a judgment on egalitarians that deserves some comment. First his words, then mine.
‘I should hope that by now I have made it clear that the egalitarian who believes in his creed has placed himself outside the house entirely, at fundamental variance with Christian teaching:
‘. . . á¼”Î¾Ï‰ Î¿á¼± Îºá½»Î½ÎµÏ‚ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Î¿á¼± Ï†á½±ÏÎ¼Î±ÎºÎ¿Î¹ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Î¿á¼± Ï€á½¹ÏÎ½Î¿Î¹ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Î¿á¼± Ï†Î¿Î½Îµá¿–Ï‚ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Î¿á¼± Îµá¼°Î´Ï‰Î»Î¿Î»á½±Ï„ÏÎ±Î¹ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Ï€á¾¶Ï‚ Ï†Î¹Î»á¿¶Î½ ÎºÎ±á½¶ Ï€Î¿Î¹á¿¶Î½ ÏˆÎµá¿¦Î´Î¿Ï‚.
‘This is Revelation 22.15. All “lovers and makers of lies” are Outside. I believe egalitarian teaching to be a lie, with all that follows from that.
‘This passage is eschatological; it speaks of final things. It does not say that anyone who disagrees with Touchstone, much less Hutchens–who regards his own labilities to be as great as any other man’s–will go to hell, but that falling in love with a lie will keep one outside the City of God, and in the wicked company his Maker and Judge thinks he deserves.’
I am in complete agreement with what Revelation says about the final destiny of liars. I am not as confident about my ability to apply this truth to individual egalitarians. Yes, egalitarianism is a grave doctrinal error. And yes, I regard it as a lie when it is believed and promoted in knowing contradiction to biblical teaching. But aren’t there instances in which people embrace error without doing so in knowing contradiction to biblical truth? The human condition is complicated enough and desperate enough to lead me to answer that question with a yes.
That being said, however, un-knowing contradiction of biblical truth doesn’t make the error any more acceptable to God or any less dangerous to the church and God’s people. That is precisely why Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It is obvious that Jesus’ tormentors were in un-knowing error as they crucified him. But it is equally as obvious that their ignorance in no way made them less liable to God’s judgment. That is precisely why Jesus prays for their forgiveness.
How this all gets sorted out at the judgment, I leave to God. What remains for us is to keep ourselves and our beliefs under the light of God’s truth as it is revealed in the Bible. Those who will not bear this scrutiny certainly fall into the category of “liars” spoken of in 1 John 1:6: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Egalitarians who deny the Bible’s teaching or who look for hermeneutical strategies that make the Bible’s teaching irrelevant on this matter need to heed Hutchens’ warning. There is much at stake.