This week CBMW (the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) released two audio tapes from the February 2007 “Different by Design” Conference held in Minneapolis Minnesota. (http://www.cbmw.org/media/differentbydesign.php) I was amazed at the way that the gospel was connected to the gender issue in such a way that those who do not hold to patriarchy and male-only leadership were charged with not holding to the gospel. I would like to present some clips from the first audio tape by Russell Moore in this post and reflect on his comments.
The source of the following audio clips is from CBMW’s audio files (http://www.cbmw.org/media/differentbydesign.php) The first speaker from the February 2007 conference is Dr. Russell Moore who is the dean of theology at the Southern Baptist theological seminary in Louisville Kentucky.
Dr. Moore starts out by stating that evangelical feminism is winning the debate in our churches. The clips below are very short so it won’t take long to get through them. The shortest clip is only 11 seconds long and the last clip which is the most jaw-dropping clip is only 1 minute 18 seconds.
Dr. Moore then asserts that Christians who hold to the egalitarian viewpoint do not have an exegetical argument and have largely abandoned (trying to use exegesis).
I would respectfully disagree with Dr. Moore. I have read many excellent biblical exegetical arguments from evangelical egalitarian sources. In 2006 our ministry also produced a careful and respectful verse-by-verse exegesis of the hard passages of scripture in our 4 DVD series called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” It was extremely important to us to recognize that as Christians we need to work hard to rightfully divide the word of truth. We believe that scripture is God-breathed and we do not advocate disregarding any parts of scripture. All scripture has been given by God for our learning and our correction. Have egalitarian Christians abandoned an exegetical argument on the gender issue? Absolutely not! Those who hold tightly to scripture do not have to abandon scripture at all to reject patriarchy.
Dr. Moore then says that women who teach the bible in the media, like teaching on DVDs, are taking a pastoral role that isn’t allowed to them and men who watch and listen to women teach the bible on DVDs are more willing to let women teach them.
It is interesting that Dr. Moore appears to be very against women teaching scripture using various media. Should women stop teaching scripture? No. We are in a battle against the enemy and we must not be silent. We cannot stop teaching the bible if we are to be faithful to Christ. Women who teach scripture on DVDs as I have on my WIM series are following Christ using the gifts that he has given us. Should women be forbidden to teach using the media? It appears that Dr. Moore believes so. Why? He says that this debate is not a secondary issue but is an issue of the gospel. He says that it is not an intramural debate where brothers and sisters in Christ can disagree on a secondary issue. Rather according to Dr. Moore and CBMW, the gender debate is not a secondary issue but a core issue of the gospel.
Dr. Moore goes on to say that we as a church have treated the doctrine of God as a more important issue than the “male headship” or gender issue, however he disagrees. He says that brothers and sisters who are together on the doctrine of God are not really together if they disagree on the gender issue because open theism (a view that denies God’s full knowledge i.e. the teaching that God is not omniscient) is not worse than evangelical feminism.
How sad that the gender debate can be considered in the same category as open theism. How this must hurt the heart of God when a brother in Christ is willing to separate from other brothers and sisters in Christ over a secondary issue, instead treating the gender issue as a core issue of faith. This is not a core issue of faith but an issue where sincere brothers and sisters in Christ can differ without breaking fellowship. Those who are charging egalitarians with serious doctrinal error and with dismissing the gospel just because they believe that women are allowed to use their spiritual gifts without restriction,have moved over into a divisive and unloving stance. This should not be.
The last clip brings a great sadness to my heart.
Evangelical feminists are not necessarily lost? Perhaps some of them can be saved? It is just so sad to hear Dr. Moore state that those who hold to the egalitarian argument are holding to a belief that seems right to them because they are shaking their fists in the face of authority. He says that lives are at stake. He says that the gospel is at stake.
Beloved, our brothers in Christ are seeing this issue as in-house spiritual warfare. We are the enemy to them and they are out to win because they believe they are fighting the battle for the gospel.
This is not a battle for the gospel. We believe in the gospel just as strongly as Dr. Moore and CBMW does. In fact the core of our ministry is the defense of the faith and we have been instrumental in leading many Jehovah’s Witnesses to Christ by presenting the gospel to them. But when one adds conditions to the gospel that the bible does not add, then there will be an attack on those who do not hold to those conditions.
I say that it is time that our brothers in Christ stop treating us as the enemy. Where is the love for others in the body of Christ who do not think as they do? Jesus said that they will know us by our love. Our love MUST be for the body of Christ. Complementarians need to learn to love us and do it for Jesus’ sake.
What is your opinion? What do you think of these quotes?
In closing I would like to quote a short piece from a blog article by Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds
The article is regarding controversy and how we as Christians need to treat others who disagree with us. Justin quotes John Newton, writing in a letter on controversy (The Works of John Newton, 1:273-274):
It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defences were seasonable and expedient, they appear to be so in our day, when errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the Gospel is either directly denied, or grossly misrepresented.
And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which at most are but of a secondary value.
This shews, that, if the service is honourable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made!¦
Amen! We all need to work at keeping that humble, tender spirit especially towards fellow Christians who are also members of the body of Christ even as we expose error.