John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore, and Greg Gilbert at a panel of the 2012 Together for the Gospel (April 2012):

Tim Keller, Don Carson, and John Piper at the Gospel Coalition council members’ meeting (May 2012):

If you are new to this subject, here are some resources I would recommend starting with:

1. John Piper and Wayne Grudem “50 Crucial Questions About Manhood and Womanhood.” This is a free PDF that gives concise answers to 50 questions. This is the place to start.

2. If you want to hear the audio or read the notes of a weekend seminar, looking at passages and objections and application in more depth, take a look at this free seminar by John Piper.

3. For introductions written by women, consider Carrie Sandom, Different by Design: God’s Blueprint for Men and Women and Claire Smith, God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women.

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Comments:


47 thoughts on “How Important Is Complementarianism?”

  1. Brad says:

    Hi Justin,

    I was wondering what you thought of Carl Trueman’s recent post on this subject? Also, do you know of anyone who has responded directly to Trueman?

    Thanks,
    Brad

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Doug Wilson offered a response: http://www.dougwils.com/Sex-and-Culture/get-him-winding-some-bandages.html

      My views would be reflected by the videos above. Carl’s take is bound up with his views on evangelical partnership and cooperation, too.

      1. Andrew says:

        Just wondering what you would make of John Stott and his teaching? Would he have been allowed into the Gospel Coalition with his views which although complementarian also seemed to allow for women to be in leadership to a greater degree than John Piper would agree with?

        The problem with this debate is that the coalition seem very black and white on this issue (as with others) when in reality it is a lot more nuanced.

      2. JR says:

        Justin, I think Carl’s take is more important that you’ve taken it. I’m a complementarian, as Carl is, but most of the leaders in TGC have raised this issue to an inappropriate level, on par with the Gospel itself. I do appreciate Carson, Keller and Piper coming along to clear up some of the distortions of complementarian thought. That was well needed.

        At the risk of overgeneralizing, my observation has been that it seems like the prebyterian complimentarians associated with TGC (Trueman, Horton, Duncan, etc.) have a more balanced view of the topic than most of the Baptist complementarians. (Wilson is neither of these). Any thoughts?

  2. Mike says:

    Trueman’s question is how important is baptism.

    1. JR says:

      No, it’s not. Trueman’s point is that if we are able to co-labor for the Gospel with those who have a different understanding of the doctrine of baptism, why should we divide on a matter less theologically and historically important, ie, complementarianism.

  3. Mark says:

    Complementarianism is a misnomer. A better term is “patriarchal hierarchialism” (Stanley Gundry). It’s essentially hierarchical (whereas all Christians, egalitarians included, believe men and women are complementary).

    I don’t think we can really logically follow patriarchal hierarchialism through. A woman can teach, but not to men (what about 14 year old adolescent boys? 13 year olds? What’s the cut-off?). She can’t teach in 1 Cor, but she can prophesy (yet Reformed folks usually say “prophesying” is preaching. So how can she not teach, yet she can prophesy in Acts 2 and 1 Cor 12-14, and yet she can’t teach men?). She’s equal to men, but she can’t lead men. Huh? Men can do everything in a church setting, but women can’t — huh?

    There are passages where women’s work is restricted, of course (e.g. 1 Tim 2:11). These are best interpreted as situationally specific, though, not as universal prohibitions. And patriarchal hierarchialists frequently ignore the ones where women collaborate with Paul, as deacons, even as an “apostle.”

    And then there’s Miriam, Hulduh, Deborah — and others. Did God put aside the law when He made these ladies leaders (in their obviously different contexts)?

    “complementarianism” is not important; it denies half of humanity the ability to use their God-given gifts. It’s sexist and misogynistic. It repels many people from wanting to consider Christianity. We look (and are!) backwards and antiquated when we espouse patriarchal hierarchialism. (That’s not why we should reject it; we should reject it only on biblical grounds.)

    I really admire John Piper and Wayne Grudem, but they are way off on this one.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Mark, all of these questions are addressed in the 50 Questions booklet. One of the telling signs against egalitarianism, in my opinion, is that there is hardly any consensus among the revisionists about what passages like 1 Tim 2:11ff mean. (And note that Paul appeals to the creation account, not to the situation as you mention.)

      I think “complementarianism” is a fine name. It points to a distinctive that egalitarians cannot answer: in what ways are men and women essentially complementary rather than the same in ways that go beyond physical/biological characteristics. In other words, as Piper says, egalitarians really cannot answer the question of what it means to grow up to be a man and not a women without a mere appeal to plumbing.

      1. Mark says:

        Hi there, Justin — yes, Paul certainly does appeal to the creation account to address that situation; I don’t deny that. Yet it seems to me that his appeal to the creation account mandates, in fact, that we take this as situationally specific.

        1 Tim 1:6ff: people who don’t have a correct understanding of the bible are misrepresenting the biblical teaching, and so the church needs to be on guard against false teaching.

        1 Tim 2:11-12: therefore, women in particular (who — unlike men — wouldn’t have previously received instruction under the Jewish system, and who now as Christians are receiving instruction) need to continue learning first. Perhaps they were among the ones who (excited about now being taught) were a bit overeager to start instructing, yet before they were adequately prepared.

        1 Tim 2:13-14: they should not imitate their mother Eve who was deceived. Eve hadn’t received instruction properly. She was not present when God told Adam to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17). Furthermore, Adam hadn’t properly instructed her: when confronted by the serpent, she adds to the commandment something God hadn’t said (“neither shall you touch it” Gen 3:3 — absent from Gen 2:17). Eve, having been inadequately instructed, was the first to be deceived (Paul’s point in 1 Tim 2). Thus the women in question in 1 Timothy, likewise inadequately instructed, should first learn before becoming teachers themselves.

        Of course more could be added, but I’ll leave that point at that — I’m just saying that an appeal to the creation account doesn’t therefore make something universal (here, it doesn’t render a universal prohibition).

        When you have things like Gal 3:28, and accounts such as the women who receive privileges to minister before men (the woman at the well, first to be told by Jesus that He is Messiah and 1st to announce it as such; the women at the tomb, first witnesses to the resurrection), when you have Phoebe, Junia, Phoebe — these all being women that Jesus and Paul partnered with — we have a canonical context to account for.

        I think “complementarianism” makes the position sound better than it is. There’s nothing complementary about the fruit it produces. The fruit is: a man can do anything in church and outside of church, but women’s opportunities are dramatically reduced. In church, she can teach children, work in the nursery, serve coffee. But what happened to Gal 3:28? Where’s the liberty there?

        I trust that those in the videos (e.g. Carson, Keller, Piper) and others hold this position to honor God’s Word (to avoid a “loosening” in how we receive the Bible, as Keller articulates). But the fruit is completely lopsided — in no way complementary (it gives only affirmation to men’s tasks in church and prohibits only women) — and thus the fruit has to be called sexist (whatever the intentions of the complementarian person). That’s my opinion.

        1. Mark says:

          P.S. I love Reformed theology, by the way. I think that it is only improved when complementarianism is removed.

          Some good books:

          How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals

          http://www.amazon.com/Changed-Mind-about-Women-Leadership/dp/0310293154/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346230200&sr=1-1&keywords=how+i+changed+my+mind+about+women+in+leadership

          Also:

          Paul, Women, and Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Craig Keener)

          Beyond Sex Roles (Gilbert Bilezikian)

          Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Philip Barton Payne)

        2. Wesley says:

          “The fruit is: a man can do anything in church and outside of church, but women’s opportunities are dramatically reduced. In church, she can teach children, work in the nursery, serve coffee.”

          Seriously?! That’s your take on the Comp. position Mark? Based on the amount of teaching readily available out there right now on what Comp. ACTUALLY is, one would have to assume you are here simply being willfully ignorant of the topic. I’m not saying YOU are ignorant, but you are clearly choosing to remain in a mis-informed position on the subject. And please, all and any who see the need, stop quoting Gal. 3:28 – a verse about salvation and our standing before God in Christ – and making it apply to gender. By that logic, God wiped out what He created in the garden and called good by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Is that really your argument bro?

          1. Mark says:

            Wesley (bro) — hi — of course I agree that the patriarchal hierarchicalist (“complementarian”) teaching is that women can do more than “teach children, work in the nursery, serve coffee” — they can also teach women and serve tea. And in more liberal churches, cake.

            Seriously, it’s not much more than that. Too bad if they have teaching or leadership gifts — God obviously didn’t mean for those to be used on adult men, right? What could a man learn from a woman, after all?! Better to use them on boys and early adolescent males (when they’re most open and able to be shaped). How does that make sense?

            I’m being playful, but I don’t deny gender differences. You seem to think I’m doing that. Maybe some egalitarians do; the ones I know don’t. I think that women and men are marvelously different in their giftedness. I think women (as a group) tend to be more gifted in being receptive to others, responsive, and are so often gifted to listen well (to take the others’ perspective, in a deep and meaningful way). I think men tend to be more gifted (as a group) in the sheer force of our initiative, in our task-orientation, in our ability to compartmentalize and categorize things.

            But just because men tend to have certain gifts and women tend to have certain other gifts, doesn’t mean that the Bible assigns rigid roles to them. The thrust of the NT seems to suggest otherwise. That’s certainly how I read it. (And it’s not a matter of biblical faithfulness; it’s a matter of biblical interpretation.)

            1. Mark says:

              P.S. and of course Gal 3:28 is meaningful In terms of sex roles! That’s part of the point! Slaves and free men can both have access to God, and also can be elders and deacons. Jews and Greeks can both approach the throne, for themselves, and for others, even as ministers. And men and women, too.

              1. Jim says:

                Well said, Mark.

              2. Wesley says:

                “Slaves and free men can both have access to God, and also can be elders and deacons. Jews and Greeks can both approach the throne, for themselves, and for others, even as ministers. And men and women, too.”

                Eisegesis at it’s best. Paul is NOWHERE here addressing roles either in the home or in the church (though he does address them elsewhere). To describe this verse in ANY way other than the free access of ALL (male, female, slave, free, etc.) to justification by faith in Christ, thus freeing them from the law, is to place a worldview on the text that is not there. What is Paul talking about it Galatians?! Gender roles? Or is he warning this church against returning to a law-based system of justification that can never save them? It is biblically and exegetically unfaithful to say this text has anything to do with gender roles either in the home or in the church. Again, Paul DOES address these issues in specific ways in other texts i.e. 1 Tim. 2:12 ff, Eph. 5, etc.) It absolutely robs your position of credibility to argue the Egal. position from this text in my view.

              3. Wesley says:

                Justification by faith levels all kinds of social barriers.
                Right with you here. The gospel absolutely did (and continues to) level social barriers: slave, free, male, female, Jew, Greek, etc. which were prevalent then as they are now in society. That said, what do you do with passages like 1 Tim. 2 and 3 that then create “barriers” of sorts; not of social structure but orthopraxy. Your ever widening view of context doesn’t apply then in saying that “if we just step back far enough contextually” then Paul IS saying there are no gender distinctions. Do the same thing with the 1. Tim. passages and see if you can show how here Paul is now contradicting himself (and really, the Holy Spirit is) by then saying there ARE distinctions created good by God.

                “Or are you perhaps misunderstanding it? Isn’t that a worthy question, in light of the evidence?”
                I am a convinced Comp. but this is not a “closed handed” issue for me. I always want to learn and grow more and HAVE in fact read a number of Egal. authors.

                “If the “complementarian” position is so full of Gospel liberation for women, please show it. Where’s the blessing? Where’s the affirmation of women’s created nature? Where’s the beauty of redemption in the complementarian point of view?”
                I believe YOU are the one who has chronicled just a few examples in your last response of the beauty of the Comp. position. The difference is we see those examples differently. I see them exemplifying what i believe and you see them exemplifying what you believe. In my view the bible as a whole, as well as Jesus, Paul, and the early church, hold women in high regard and equally created with the imago Dei. I question how you can look at the plain role distinctions in Eph. 5 for instance though and say these are”stop signs” for women and “trump cards” for men and not part of God’s design for us to work and live in ways that complement each other.

                “I think you’re annoyed because you see my point.”
                Nope.

                “The “comp.” point of view affirms differences between men and women, but the differences are affirmed in order to deny women opportunities to use their God-given gifts.”
                Here i think we just have to agree to disagree. We’re just arguing from different sides and coming to different conclusions. You begin with the assumption that woman have God given gifts of preaching therefore they MUST be able to override/ignore/rationalize Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim. or at least see it as a mis-understood text.
                Conversely, i’m arguing that Scripture clearly teaches that men are to be both the spiritual heads of their homes and the church, and that the head of the home and elder are the only roles restricted to women irregardless of their spiritual gifting. I’m not going to be a member at a church with a female pastor or work alongside that ecclesiolgy, but i don;t think at all that this means those pastors or people in those churches aren;t saved or don’t believe the gospel.
                One of the main points the TGC guys keep making is that Egals DO believe the gospel and are saved, but that the hermeneutic applied to the Scriptures to reach that position places one on a dangerous trajectory that could (though not necessarily) eventually simply affirm the goodness of what the bible calls sin viz. homosexuality. That is one logical and very possible end of the very hermeneutic used to land at the Egal. position.
                I doubt we’ll maybe ever agree on this, but i’ll be happy to share a seat beside you at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and laugh at where each of us had some things wrong. Deal?

              4. TL says:

                Well said, Mark.

                It is important to read the Scriptures studiously with an eye for context as well as sensing the intent of the author. The ending of Galatians 3 is often dismissed as merely saying that Paul is saying that all could come to Jesus. But anyone always could come to become Jews and honor God through the Law. There was never any restriction on who could or could not come to believe in the God of the Jews. There were never any restriction on who could believe in the coming Messiah. Even the despised Samaritans looked forward to the Messiah. In fact around the time of Jesus, Herod’s Temple (destroyed in 70AD) had a huge outer court specifically for believing gentiles.

                What Paul was saying is that everyone, by the Spirit (Gal. 3:1-4) in Christ would be full inheritors and full heirs according the promise to Abraham, based on faith. This would effectively remove all the walls and divisions that the Law and the Jews on their own raised between people. In Herod’s temple unlike the earliest temples, there were dividing walls between women, gentiles and unblemished Jewish males. Unmaimed Jewish males were the only ones who could come into the court area outside where the priests served. Only Levitical priests were allowed in the first outer court and the inner court. Only the High Priest was allowed in the Holy of Holies.

                In Ephesians and in Hebrews we are told that all can safely approach the throne of God (the Holy place), and that all are recipients of the most Holy Spirit of God. No more walls of restrictions and limitations. All are to be full inheritors. The Law and its divisions, as well as the Jewish leaders and their added divisions are of no more consequence. Through Christ faith has come and our differences though still there, no longer matter. It is the Holy Spirit who will decide who is to have what gifts and ministries (1 Cor. 12). We are no longer ‘under guard’ or ‘under a tutor’. There is only one High Priest to be in our lives and that is Christ who now sits at the right hand of the Father.

            2. Wesley says:

              “..the patriarchal hierarchicalist (“complementarian”) teaching..” You lost me right here. These are NOT the same thing! Yes i read the rest but through more closed ears, if that makes sense. One of TKO’s great points in any polemic is that you should be able to state the opposing viewpoint in such a way that they would say, ‘yes, that’s absolutely what i believe.’ You have yet to do this in this thread. You either present a caricature or completely mis-represent the Comp. position.

              1. Mark says:

                Re: Gal 3:28 — no it’s not specifically addressing gender roles; i wrote that it’s “meaningful” in terms of them. And if you read it not only in it’s local context (paragraph, chapter, book of Galatians) but in it’s Pauline context, and larger NT context, and overall canonical context — then it certainly does have *implications* for how we understand gender and ministry. That is my point. Justification by faith levels all kinds of social barriers. This is connected to the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet 2:5, 9) — a related implication of justification by faith.

                You obviously dislike what I’m writing, but you (and other “complementarians”) cannot demonstrate how it’s right for God to supposedly be complementarian and simultaneously have a Deborah, a Phoebe, a Priscilla, a Junia, a woman at the well, a team of women at the resurrection who are the ones who announce the resurrection to the as-yet unaware male apostles, etc. Did God break His own law? Or are you perhaps misunderstanding it? Isn’t that a worthy question, in light of the evidence?

                If the “complementarian” position is so full of Gospel liberation for women, please show it. Where’s the blessing? Where’s the affirmation of women’s created nature? Where’s the beauty of redemption in the complementarian point of view? All I see are stop signs posted all over the church building, but applying to *women only*. How is men being able to do everything, and women being denied many opportunities, in any way complementary?

                I think you’re annoyed because you see my point. The “comp.” point of view affirms differences between men and women, but the differences are affirmed in order to deny women opportunities to use their God-given gifts. Hence the appropriate term patriarchal hierarchicalist. I know that “complementarianism” is made to sound wonderful, but the reality isn’t.

                I know you’re trying to be faithful to the Scripture, but you should yourself read more (or something!) from the egalitarian point of view. Those of us who hold it (Evangelical, Reformed, biblically conservative people like myself) are not all of one mindset, as you repeatedly imply. Contrary to popular opinion, we can read, think, and even peel bananas (while enjoying women who preach!).

              2. TL says:

                I disagree. Having lived the patriarchal and hierarchical mindset, there is very little difference other than wording. If men take this concept of supreme rights to leadership to heart they will end up in the patriarchal setting. If women take this concept of limitations of life to heart they will end up looking very much like patriarchal traditionalists. How traditional and how patriarchal depends upon the personal character of the men who embrace this. But there are little to no limitations as to how far they can take it.

              3. Jim says:

                TL makes an interesting point: the “slippery slope” argument cuts both ways. Supposedly egalitarian interpretation leads to heterodoxy (liberalism). It is just as possible that complementarian interepretation leads to heteropraxy (abusive relationships). Both sides should probably avoid slippery slope arguments.

        3. Justin Taylor says:

          Mark,

          Re: your reinterpretation of 1 Tim 2. Lots I’d want to say about all of the assumptions that you have to import into the text, but I’ll keep it to just one: in your revision Adam actually sins (deceives Eve) before the real fall.

          JT

          1. TL says:

            While I can see where you could build that into what Mark said, but I think that is adding something not inherent into what Mark is saying. In actuality Scripture is silent on where the woman got the idea to not touch the fruit. IMO we should be silent on it also though we can all take guesses. But guesses on something Scripture is silent on cannot make something we should build upon.

            Eve was deceived by the cleverness of the serpent. That is written and we can stand on it. We should all beware of being deceived.

            1. Wesley says:

              “While I can see where you could build that into what Mark said, but I think that is adding something not inherent into what Mark is saying.”

              The irony of this statement is painful. JT’s whole point (and mine) is that “adding something not inherent” to the text is the very thing Mark is doing to reach his conclusions.

              1. TL says:

                Yes, the irony is not lost. It is amazing that sometimes what one accuses another of doing is also exactly what they are doing as well. In this particular subject there are huge amounts of assumptions and add ins that change what is being said in Scripture to something else entirely.

          2. Mark says:

            This is an interesting question to consider, JT — for clarity, I am not ascribing sin to Adam — but however one deals with it, something is amiss. Somehow Eve has God saying something that we’re not told He said.

            1. Mark says:

              For example, we can think of Eve’s understanding as an immature understanding (there’s nothing sinful about being immature or not fully grown — children aren’t sinning because their conceptions of the world and morality and God are in some ways inadequate; Jesus as a child learned things, but in his immaturity (attested by the fact that He grew in His understanding) He didn’t sin.

              So, yes, your comment shows a need for refinement on my part. But the fact is that we’re not told that God said what she utters. It’s reasonable to see this as an immature understanding. My point still stands, as the essence of what I’m saying is that she was deceived partly owing to her inadequate understanding. (My case is not about how that happened or how that should be understood.)

              Further, Paul says in 1 Tim 2:12, “I permit no woman to teach,” but what is rendered thus in English is in Greek a present active indicative verb. Therefore, we could also translate it: “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach.” This admits of a possible future change — such as when women (who are perhaps those involved in vain discussions and using the law unlawfully in ch.1) have more adequate understandings of theological matters. They are, after all, finally just being allowed to learn like men.

              But I do appreciate your critique, JT. It helps me make my point better.

              On a related point: I agree with TL — the complementarian camp here is not without their own set of assumptions. I’d be interested to hear of the many assumptions you think I’m “importing” into the text, JT.

              1. Mark says:

                In the end, we can say that Paul’s point is that the woman was deceived first, but things are reversed by “the childbearing (or the birth of the child),” the Messiah. [*Not* that she is saved by giving birth!] Woman may have been first in deception, but she was the chosen vessel through whom the Messiah came. So, woman isn’t to be seen permanently as the deceivable one who cannot teach (as if men were so immune to deception; by my count, 99% of church heretics have been men — this is my commentary, of course). Woman was used in humanity’s fall, but gloriously in humanity’s redemption. Praise the Lord!

              2. TL says:

                Mark,
                I like your reasoning that Eve was approaching the issue with immature understanding, which also Adam was. Although Adam had an edge in that he had just named all the creatures God had created, which is how he came to understand that being alone was not good, something God had told him. Yet, obviously that understanding still needed some development or he wouldn’t have stood by saying nothing while the woman struggles with the serpent’s conversation. In naming all the creatures he would have had some understanding about the cleverness of the serpent that Eve did not know about although that doesn’t mean he would have been more able to dialogue with it. It is also true that we have no record of God having told her to not touch the fruit of the tree, but we also do not have a record of all the things that were said to both of them. There had to be some interesting discussion between God and the man while naming all those creatures. The only thing ascribed to sin is the eating of the fruit, which they both did in disobedience. The difference of their means of disobedience is that the woman disobeyed from being deceived by the cleverest of all creatures and the man disobeyed willfully and knowingly. From this we learn that it doesn’t matter how we end up choosing wrongly, it is the choosing wrongly that will bring the consequences.

                You are correct that Paul’s statement in 1 Tim. 2 is clearer in the Greek than in English. There is only indication that Paul is admonishing the women involved in the vain discussions and using the Law unlawfully, and no indication that he is making some sort of new law for the New Covenant.

            2. Wesley says:

              Crazy! Where else do we see someone adding to the laws of God in order to “help” everyone obey better? Oh yeah, the Pharisees! However good her heart, Eve is doing exactly what Revelation 22:18 forbids.

              1. TL says:

                Many have assumed the same, Wesley. But how does one prove that. Did she say she did that? Did God say she did that? Did God ask her why she did that or indicate in any way that she did that? God was certainly up front in asking her why she choose to eat of the fruit, which is the provable disobedience. But God said nothing about anything else to the woman, other than a rescuer to rescue them from the results of their sin would come through her seed.

                Something to think about seriously instead of just jumping on words.

  4. Wesley says:

    I think in all the ‘hurlyburly’ that has resulted both of this issue alone [Comp/Egal] as well as the questions Trueman aka. ‘Carl-bomb’ has raised, as to why this issue is propped up as being so significant with the TGC and T4G is what the Don says when the question is turned to him on the second interview viz. that culturally speaking, this issue needs an emphasis here and now that baptism does not. They may both cause divisions of sorts, but – given our current cultural environment – the question of baptism is not destroying families and churches the way a lack of understanding of biblical-manhood and woman-hood is. True?

  5. Marisme says:

    “egalitarians really cannot answer the question of what it means to grow up to be a man and not a women without a mere appeal to plumbing”

    Definition of biblical manhood = Jesus
    Definition or biblical womanhood = Jesus
    Definition of God’s child = Jesus

    Sorry, but I’m not reeling from a so-called culture war of womanhood and manhood. Maybe because I had two loving parents – a father and a mother who loved their children and God. And they were not perfect models of a what complementarians define as the ideal.

    Seems to me this role playing is the result of both a Western mind-set that seeks to categorize and systematic theology that needs to define and categorize. The problem with that is that we cannot categorize God … I AM WHO I AM … I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. And He will do what He chooses … and so will His Spirit.

    Did God have it wrong when he placed Deborah as leader of Israel (a theocracy at the time and, therefore, she was both a civil and spriritual leader)? Was Priscilla wrong to teach Apollos, an apostle? Or maybe it was ok for Priscilla to teach Apollos because her husband was with her (sorry, but Scripture didn’t define that loophole and neither should we) … or because they weren’t in church (Scripture doesn’t list that caveat either). Do we simply dismiss God’s hand in this or try to find a way out of the apparent mystery, instead of embracing a profound celebration of God’s Spirit in both genders?

    This constant emphasis by TGC on complementarianism and authority roles harkens the imbalanced shepherding movemnet with their very defined male authority structure. I’m not saying that TGC is as far down the road as they were, but it seems to be getting close.

    1. Wesley says:

      “Definition of biblical manhood = Jesus
      Definition or biblical womanhood = Jesus
      Definition of God’s child = Jesus”

      Marisme – if you listen to the first round-table in particular from T4G, you are making Piper’s point for him in such a statement. The very “flattening” of gender as though there were no difference aside from plumbing is what the Comp. position believes goes against God’s good design of men and women. You simply cannot conflate the admonition of Scripture for all God’s children to be Christlike and gender. In two places you could make an argument for such a statement: 1: yes, Jesus is the definition of a biblical man and 2. yes, in general, all Gods children should seek to be like Jesus. But you cannot say then that Jesus shows us what biblical womanhood looks like b/c you immediately skip right over the fact that Jesus was a man, and move on to character, morality, etc – that is absolutely NOT gender. It just isn’t. The command to be Christlike does not strip us of our gender, but tells us how to live within it! There is fundamentally no logical framework for what you are trying to present then in such a 3-fold statement.

      “Seems to me this role playing is the result of both a Western mind-set that seeks to categorize and systematic theology that needs to define and categorize. The problem with that is that we cannot categorize God … I AM WHO I AM … I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. And He will do what He chooses … and so will His Spirit.”
      Once again you jump from talking about gender to talking about God. These are not the same thing clearly. No Comp. is trying to categorize God – He is absolutely transcendent. But to say that, in His good design, God did categorize men and women, creating them equal in value but with different and complementary roles, is simply saying what Scripture shows us. All of your examples then you give from the Bible of women probably fit nicely into a Comp. understanding – here, you’re fighting against the ‘hierarchalist’ who is not in the building. Studying the difference between hierarchalist and the Comp. would, i think, relieve some of the tensions you currently see.

    2. TL says:

      “This constant emphasis by TGC on complementarianism and authority roles harkens the imbalanced shepherding movemnet with their very defined male authority structure. I’m not saying that TGC is as far down the road as they were, but it seems to be getting close.”

      You are so right. Having lived through the Shepherding Movement myself, the similarities to hierarchal complementarianism is uncanny. It really looks like it was completely borrowed from the Shepherding Movement and just spruced up a little so the average person would not recognize it.

      Sorry, but “been there, done that”. And it did not help my walk with the Lord.

  6. Marisme says:

    Wesley

    “Once again you jump from talking about gender to talking about God. These are not the same thing clearly. No Comp. is trying to categorize God – He is absolutely transcendent. But to say that, in His good design, God did categorize men and women, creating them equal in value but with different and complementary roles, is simply saying what Scripture shows us. All of your examples then you give from the Bible of women probably fit nicely into a Comp. understanding – here, you’re fighting against the ‘hierarchalist’ who is not in the building. Studying the difference between hierarchalist and the Comp. would, i think, relieve some of the tensions you currently see.”

    Believe me, I am glad God categorized us as males and females. What wonderful creative differences exist!

    Hierarchies – When information, content and resources are in the hands of one group (males), then hierarchy is crouching at the door. In the comp church this group is made up of male pastors, male assistant pastors and male elders. Women in their leadership roles are not called pastors (words matter). Final decisions are in the pockets of males. That is not to say that I believe all or any churches represented by TGC celebrities (said in fun) exhibit a hierarchical practice.

    Tension – The ‘tension’ you ascribe to me comes from Scripture (I alluded to this with Deborah and Priscilla … and I could add Huldah, Junia, etc…). I really don’t consider this tension. I am thankful for the wonderful roles God gave to these women. I, like you, am seeking to understand God’s word … in its entirety, context included. But, I don’t think my understanding of the roles exemplified in the women above “fit nicely” into the complementarian position.

    Categorization – I am merely suggesting that we seem to too quick to define and categorize absolute roles for males and females when God, in my opinion, provides enough examples to question our categories. Therefore, my jump for gender to God (as you mentioned) is not really as faulty as you suggest – that is, if we are to have the mind of Christ (i.e. God).

    Regarding my trilogy of definitions … I was making the point that instead of spending so much effort trying to crystallize manhood/womanhood, we should be more concerned with “when another person meets me, have they met Jesus?” I think we can both agree on that.

    Finally, I want to say that I appreciate tha tone of your response and that you refrained from “blasting me out of the water”.

    1. TL says:

      “Regarding my trilogy of definitions … I was making the point that instead of spending so much effort trying to crystallize manhood/womanhood, we should be more concerned with “when another person meets me, have they met Jesus?” I think we can both agree on that.”

      Very well put.

  7. Don Johnson says:

    My take is that gender restrictionists are trying to use essentially the same arguments of slave owners about the Bible promoting a kinder gentler kind of slavery. What they did then and what is being done now is an attempt to sanctify sin. And the response to sin is always to repent.

    Jesus came to set the captives free and that includes women restricted by the gender restrictionists.

  8. Victorious says:

    Re: The Shepherding Movement

    Took a long time for repentance for loving power over others, but eventually Mumford came around. Hopefully comps will see their error and repent of the desire to lord it over others as the gentiles loved to do. Jesus specifically said it should not be that way with us. And adding “fluffy” words to make it more palatable just isn’t working; nor should it.

  9. Marisme says:

    “Having lived through the Shepherding Movement myself, the similarities to hierarchal complementarianism is uncanny. It really looks like it was completely borrowed from the Shepherding Movement and just spruced up a little so the average person would not recognize it.”

    “Took a long time for repentance for loving power over others, but eventually Mumford came around. … And adding “fluffy” words to make it more palatable just isn’t working; nor should it.”

    TL, Victorious

    Your mention of Mumford eerily evoked the image of Mumford, Simpson, Prince, Basham and Baxter writing the script for others to recite. Now we have another group of well-known male teachers giving a directive regarding authority. Essentially the messages are the same – a very defined chain of command through which God works and through which truth is vetted … history repeating itself despite small differences.

    Have we learned nothing from Jesus? Authority and power should neither be claimed or imposed. It does too much damage to both initiator and follower. Truth itself determines the authority of the individual. Authority is granted, not imposed upon followers.

    Have we learned nothing from Jesus

  10. Gary says:

    Let’s just be up front about this. Mark Driscoll has given most (all??) complementarians a bad name. His views are way over the top. ie – woman can’t have jobs outside the home, are never to give advice to their husbands, etc.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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