Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

 

On July 27th, 2009 Mike Seaver and I started a 10 session debate on Women in Ministry where I was able to ask Mike questions on his position, he answered my questions and then we each had one response.  Mike is still considering whether he will continue with another 10 sessions where Mike will ask me questions and I get the privilege to answer his questions on women in ministry.

Today I would like to summarize the 10 sessions that I had with Mike.

Mike Seaver

First of all I would like to say that I really have enjoyed Mike.  He is a very likable soul with a heart for serving Jesus.   I haven’t found a lot of complementarians who have been as gracious as Mike.  Also most pastors aren’t interested in public debate so for Mike’s agreement to work with me in a bridge-building kind of debate was very much appreciated.

1.  My first question to Mike is about whether 1 Cor. 14:34-35 was referring to a law that was established before or after Paul wrote his two passages on women?  If God’s “law” was written after Paul’s words, then I asked why God allowed women to freely use their gifts without restriction in the Old Testament?

Mike’s response from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is that although he believes this passage to be about the restriction of women’s public display of discerning and judging prophetic words, he believes that this passage should not be used to restrict women’s teaching in a church.  It isn’t that he doesn’t believe that women have restrictions on teaching, but that this passage isn’t the one that is restricting women’s public teaching.  This fact is a big bridge building concession by Mike as 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as been used by many hierarchists to restrict and silence women’s public ministry.

Regarding what 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 actually means, Mike isn’t exactly 100% sure.   Mike cannot identify where the “law” is located that is referred to in 1 Cor. 14:34 but he does believe that it was established somewhere in the Old Testament.  Mike speaks about “possibly”, “likely”, “probably” and “I think” concerning a “law” that would regulate women’s ministry.

2.  In my response, I brought out the fact that God’s law is always clear and distinct.  God is clear about His law because He wants to keep us away from sin and therefore sin must be  clearly identified.  The fact that no one can identify any “law” where God says that women are to be silent in the assembly is a serious flaw in the complementarian argument.  I also brought out the fact that it is a Christian mandate to work on our maturity in judging truth from error because we have been told that in the future we will be judging the world and judging the angels.

I also pointed out to Mike that although he said that there was a “general pattern” of male leadership a “pattern” does not qualify as a law.

In Mike’s rejoinder he says that he is just trying to follow the meaning of the passage and not trying to be mean to women.  Mike seems to think that I believe the passages are “unclear” and therefore have no meaning.  This is not true.  I believe the passages are clear after a careful study of the inspired words and the inspired grammar in the complete context.  I just believe that the complementarian position has made the passages appear unclear because they have taken the passages out of their context.

3.  In my second question to Mike I question him why there is no second witness to a supposedly “law” that forbids women from teaching the Bible to men.   I bring up the fact that every other law is established with a second or third witness at the minimum and so I question Mike on God’s way to establish a charge of sin against a person.

Mike answers by denying that a law needs to be established by a second witness.  Mike moves away from my question by saying that no Scripture needs to be repeated while I was establishing God’s law of a second or third witness for a judicial matter.

Mike then admits that the Bible never says “godly women who teach right doctrine are not allowed to teach men” although he does believe that there is a “pattern” of male leadership.   The fact that Mike admits that there is no universal prohibition against all women’s teaching to men is a very important admission and certainly comes across at this point as a bridge building admission.

4.  In my response to Mike, I write that 1 Timothy 2:12 is unworkable as a universal prohibition against women teaching men in the church because of the inspired words and inspired grammar and because there was no such a “law” that stopped any godly woman in her teaching for the entire Old Testament period.  I also wrote that there is no regulation on what would be sin i.e. if a man was listening to a woman teach without her seeing him, would that make her in sin?  I also challenged Mike to provide even one other universal law that had not been established by a second witness.  I corrected Mike’s misunderstanding about my claim to a second witness.  I was only claiming that a judicial matter established by a law that would be used to bring guilt of sin had to have a second witness.  I was not claiming that everything in the Scriptures was repeated.  I also showed that 1 Timothy 3 could not be used as a prohibition against women anymore than it could be used to prohibit single men or married men without children from desiring the work of an overseer.  I also postulated that if women’s gifts are not valuable to men themselves, then these gifts by necessity would be inferior gifts.

In Mike’s rejoinder he again misunderstands my position and tries to say that I am claiming that 1 Timothy was not necessary for the church as it was only written to one man.  Mike apparently has not yet been able to think outside the box in order to grasp my argument.  Perhaps this is why it was difficult for him to try to refute what I was saying.  Again Mike misrepresents me by claiming that I am saying that if any Scripture is not repeated then we should just throw it out.  Mike then tries to answer my challenge to find one universal law that isn’t repeated.  Unfortunately Mike failed in his attempt as the “law” he produced about the communion meal was not an unsubstantiated law.  Not only is the prohibition repeated in the passage but Pastor Dave writes:  “The reason that drinking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner is a sin (in the context of 1 Cor) is because it was sinning against two universal laws, the law to love each other and the law to love God. It was also breaking other universal laws to do with greed and gluttony.”  So the prohibition was in itself a repetition of an earlier universal law. Once again there is a failure to prove that there is another universal law that is not repeated in the Scriptures.  I do give Mike credit for trying to answer my challenge.

Mike also tries to prove that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is not a quote from an earlier Corinthians letter to Paul because there is no quotation marks around the quote.  Unfortunately for Mike he appears to be unaware that the New Testament manuscript was written without any marks so there were no quotation marks around any quote.  Mike also tries to disprove my assertion that if women’s gifts are not valuable for men themselves then their gifts are inferior gifts.  Mike merely answers that some women don’t feel that their gifts are inferior.

5.  In my third question to Mike, I ask Mike if there is a law that forbids men from listening to women teach the Bible.  I also asked Mike if men are not allowed to listen to women teach then how will they be able to do their job of correcting error?

Mike responds by saying that just as a woman is not to be teaching a man, men are also not to place themselves under a woman’s teaching.  Mike believes that men do not need to evaluate a woman’s teaching unless she is preaching a sermon and since women are not allowed to preach, men don’t have to worry about evaluating her teaching.  Mike responds that women should be able to do the work of evaluating other women’s teaching.

6.  In my response to Mike, I write that listening to a person’s teaching does not place you under their authority.  Leading and teaching is a position of servanthood not a position of taking authority over a person.  I respond with the fact that the Word of God is the real authority, not the teacher.  I also asked where in the Bible it forbids women from preaching a sermon to women?  Mike had said previously that women were not allowed to preach a sermon and so I asked him to prove that.  I also asked him how it is that he believes that women are allowed to evaluate other women’s teaching when the evaluation and judging was supposed to be the place of men alone?  I also challenge Mike to consider that nowhere in the Scriptures does it say that men listening to women teach the Bible is going against the Scriptures.  I said that he is adding something into the Scriptures that is not there.

Mike again appears to not understand my position as he says that I am appealing to an authority system. This is not the case at all with my argument.  Mike is adding into what I have said.  Mike then explains that he didn’t say that women cannot preach to other women.  The problem is that in his previous argument he said that men only needed to evaluate women’s preaching not their teaching and since women do not preach, then the men are not needed in evaluation.  So on one hand he says that women don’t preach so men don’t need to judge their preaching and then he says that women can preach to women.  Isn’t the preaching then something that men need to judge no matter who the women are preaching to?  Mike doesn’t seem to have any answer to this problem.

Mike says that the men should be the overseers of women.  It is just that women should oversee women’s teaching (and preaching!)  Yet Mike says that a man can sit listening to a woman teach if his purpose is only to evaluate her.  Is this a sin?  Mike says he doesn’t think it is a sin depending on his motive.  So now an action is or is not a sin depending on the heart motive of the action.  I wonder if this works for all sins?

7.  In my fourth questionto Mike I asked him by what authority do men have to stop women from using her gifts for the benefit of the entire church?  If  God gives her authority to speak out with her gifts by his command in 1 Peter 4:10, 11 then how can men contradict that?  I asked Mike for a verse that instructs pastors or elders to stop women from using their gifts?

Mike answered by saying that there was no such verse giving men the instructions to stop women from using their gifts for the common good.  This was a good admission by Mike in a bridge building way.  Mike says that men are not to stop women from using their gifts but it is okay for God to stop women.  He didn’t given an example of how God stops women whom he has gifted and authorized to speak.

8.   Inmy responseto Mike, I said that I was very glad that Mike admitted that men are not to stop women from using their gifts as the Bible instructs us not to judge the servant of another.  I suggested that if men had a conscience problem in listening to women teach the Bible, they should just quietly removed themselves without fuss or disruption and let those men whose Bible-trained conscience does not bother them to benefit from her teaching.  I said that only the gifts that do not benefit all are restricted.  I also said that a woman’s gifts do not become evil when a man walks in the door where she is teaching.

Mike responded by saying that he didn’t think that it was a conscience issue.  He didn’t think that men should listen to a woman teach even if they have a strong conscience on this matter.  Mike then identified women teaching the Bible to men as a sin issue but not quite on the same gravity as homosexuality but still a serious issue.  Mike says that egalitarians (and myself) dismiss Bible passages that teach against women teaching the Bible. Fortunately Mike is wrong in this area.  I for one do not dismiss these important passages.  Ijust interpret them in their complete context instead of taking a verse or two out of the context where God inspired them.  Mike then said that women commanded not to teach men is an instruction that needs to be obeyed.  He doesn’t say who is responsible for making sure that women obey since he has previously said that men are not instructed to stop women from teaching men.

9.  In myfifth question to Mike, I asked him if God contradicts Himself?  If God through Paul gave permission for all to prophesy in the congregation, how can God turn around and forbid women to speak and teach in the assembly?  I asked Mike whose commands are we supposed to obey?  God’s commands that tells us to use our gifts for the common good or man’s command that stops a woman from benefiting men with her gift of teaching?

Mike responds by saying that God cannot contradict Himself.  Mike then tries to separate prophesying from preaching and teaching.  Mike says that God is okay with women prophesying but He is not okay with them preaching and teaching.

10.  In my responseto Mike,  I showed from the lexicons that prophesying is preaching and expounding and proclaiming God’s message.  I also challenged Mike with the fact that there is no universal prohibition for women to not judge prophecy.  I showed from the scripture where women are to judge because in the next life we will judge the world and the angels too.  I also showed that in the weighing of the prophetic message that this was done in a question and answer discussion/debate format which was open to all.  These are Christian activities that we are all encouraged to participate in for they help us grow and mature.  I challenged Mike to give me even one clear verse that prohibited women from judging or from the duty to test all things?  I also challenged Mike to show me a clear verse that says that women are to prophesy and interpret tongues only for other women and children?  I ended my response with this:

Indeed we are called to build bridges.  This is the time to build bridges towards our sisters in Christ who have been called to ministry.  Is it not a time to love them and affirm their gifts instead of stifling them and holding them back from serving the body of Christ?

Mike responded by saying that it was not his intention to answer every question due to his time limitation in his job as pastor.

Mike then chose to answer the question on prophesy as a meaning of expounding the word and preaching.  He said that there was different kinds of prophesying and some would exclude women.  Mike said that if Paul wanted to group together prophesying and teaching then he could have, but Mike says that Paul didn’t do this, so women can’t teach men.  Mike says that I am calling “love” what he is calling “disobedience to the Scriptures”.  He says that he cannot invite his sisters in Christ to do what he believes the Bible forbids.

My final response is that if God truly does forbid women from teaching the truth of the Bible to men then these men have failed to show how such a law has been established and upheld.  And they are the ones who should be correcting us.   I also want to know why God shows a prejudice towards men in that He forbids some of His gifts from being used for their benefit?  There are many more questions than answers in the complementarian position and there are major contradictions that complementarians must deal with.  It is a serious matter to charge women with sin merely for using their God-given gifts for the benefit of all without a spirit of prejudice.

It was a good debate although Mike completely failed to prove that there was a functioning universal law that gives clear boundaries around women’s gifts.  I trust that as these kinds of debates continue, people who read the debates will recognize the weakness of the complementarian argument.  Complementarians who cannot answer questions from the complete context of the passages should ask themselves why?  If we are not to judge the servant of another especially when God’s women servants are doing godly work, then we should question whether men will be judged by God for doing what He has not authorized them to do.  If we come to these hard passages and see in the inspired context something other than a universal law stopping all godly women from benefiting their brothers in Christ with their gifts, then we will stand before God to give Him an account for our obedience to Him.  No man is to stand in the way of another servant of God doing godly work lest he finds himself fighting the Holy Spirit and His work.

31 thoughts on “Evaluating the Schatz/Seaver debate

  1. I have a few questions for Pastor Mike:
    1. Can a woman write a book that contains teachings of the word of God. If she does, can men read her book? If a man reads her book, does that make her a sinner, because she is then teaching the men, not audibly, but visually? Is the bible’s supposed prohibition refer only to “sermons”, “preachings” “teaching” by speaking, but not by writing? And if the prohibition covers writing, shouldn’t there be a disclaimer on the cover of the book “men, do not read” because she does not want to sin by teaching a man through her written word?
    2. Similar logic. Can a woman speak of God and all things christian on the radio? what if men are listening to her “teaching” “preaching”, wouldn’t that make her a sinner? If a man wants to listen to her and more importantly, learn from her on the radio, would that not make her a sinner? Some men may not agree with you that they should not listen to a woman “teach” and they gladly listen to, and learn from the woman in the radio broadcast, wouldn’t that make the woman speaker a sinner none the less?
    3. How about blogging? Cheryl is clearing teaching the word of God in this blog, and Pastor Mike is reading her blog, isn’t it the same as “listening” to her teach? or is blogging not covered in this prohibition? Maybe “teaching” is only “teaching” if someone is in a “classroom” and there is a black board, and the teacher is standing in front of students, who are sitting down?
    4. If there is a “conversation” or “discussion” where matters of the Bible is explained, in a party setting, or during some social function, is that not teaching because it is not in a church, or in a classroom, or comes with an announcement that so and so is “teaching” a class? or it is not covered because the woman is just having a conversation with a man, or men, and she is not standing, on Sunday morning, in a sanctuary, up on a stage, and behind a pulpit? Are these the conditions to be met for that to qualify as a “sermon” and “preaching”? Most people associate a “sermon” with those qualifications.
    5. Shouldn’t Jesus make himself more clear when he gave the Great Commission that all (not just men, and correct me if you think Jesus only meant men) should “go and make disciples…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” Should women only lead women to Christ, but men can lead both men and women to Christ? If a woman can lead a man to Christ, and as soon as he is saved, all of a sudden he is to cover up his ears if she begins to explain, or “teach” him the word of God? Is she to, in lightning speed, quickly find a man to do that job lest she sins? didn’t Jesus, in the Great Commission, demands that we “teach…everything He has commanded us”? Are you telling women to disobey the Great Commission? Or is there a blue Great Commission and a Pink Great Commission?

    Seriously, I am not being facetious. These are actually questions in my mind that so far, no-one has addressed. Pastor Mike, you are making a christian woman’s life quite impossible, trying to not step on any of these land mines. Unless, if a woman is to just quietly live her life, catering to the husband and raising children, not knowing much, and if she does know something, make sure she is careful where she says them, only participating in a Pink Great Commission, certainly not writing a book, not doing a radio show, and above all, not blogging, and she will be so very virtuous in the eyes of you, but how about in the eyes of God?

    Mabel Yin

  2. Have you been preaching or teaching in this debate? If so, then is Mike in sin for engaging you in this debate according to his beliefs? I do wonder where they draw such lines. Is it if there is a pulpit involved?

  3. Lin,
    You ask very good questions. The thought had also occurred to me that I would be teaching in the debate and would that be a sin for Mike to read? If we are to follow Mike’s application of the Scriptures, then it seems like Mike would have had to employ a woman teacher to debate me. Mike’s argument seems to be that women are the ones who are to evaluate women’s teaching so that men don’t have to hear women teachers and risk breaking the command.

    However Mike did make a provision for a man to listen to and judge the teaching of a woman in order to correct him. But would it be a sin for a man to hear the teaching but fail in his “male role” of correction? Mike has not been able to correct me. In fact he has not been able to answer the challenges I have given him. So when does it become a sin for him? I suppose that this will now become an issue where CBMW will have to judge since apparently they are the only ones who can interpret the incomplete complementarian law which never makes clear the division between the what should be considered good and what is now evil or sinful. Trouble is CBMW doesn’t have the answers either. It is all a grey area where no one seems to know what is sin or what is not.

    It all comes down to what Paul described as a unclear sound coming from a bugle call that is not understood. This describes the complementarian position to a tee. They have forsaken the biblical way of establishing a law and are now stuck with trying to work out a command that cannot be reconciled with the spirit of God’s law.

  4. #1 Mabel,
    Hi Mabel, and thanks for joining in the discussion. Your post ended up in my spam box for some reason. I think it was due to a typo in your email address. Anyway it has been rescued and posted in the order that the comments came in.

    Your questions are very appropriate. After all if a woman is in “sin” for teaching a man then if she risked teaching the Bible on the radio, or writing about the Bible in a book or even blogging as I am doing here, and there is anyway that a man might read her teaching then that would make her in sin for making her teaching available where a man might be tempted to read or listen. If we follow this teaching to its logical conclusion then we would be severely restricting women’s effectiveness to even reach out to women in a public manner.

    It appears to me that there are more questions than answers and perhaps a whole ball of yarn to unravel that these men hadn’t considered.

    Thanks for posting your questions! I would also recommend that you post them on Mike’s blog too on our last debate post http://rolecalling.blogspot.com/2009/09/building-bridges-schatz-and-seaver.html Mike to approve each comment so he won’t be able to say that he didn’t see the questions. 🙂

  5. Cheryl,
    Excellent summary of the debate. The comp argument lies crumbled, and I pray the Spirit will move powerfully in the hearts and minds of all those who would quench her, that all who are called by our great God would be given encouragement from all brothers and sisters in Christ, for His sake.
    What a fantastic resource this blog is. Many thanks and blessings.

  6. Cheryl,

    Have you ever considered Dr. Kenneth Bailey’s use of chiamus regarding I Corinthians? It appears equally as plausible as the gloss or insertion possibility in Ch. 11 & 14 IMO.

  7. Kay,
    The problem with Bailey’s use of chiamus in 1 Corinthians is that there are several things that are not answered by this approach. The first is that I haven’t seen him deal with or identify “the law” from verse 34.

    Secondly the speaking in the assembly is said to be “shameful” which is a very strong word meaning something that is filthy. This is not only unlike Paul but it makes the passage outside of a parallel since the other silencing of people in this chapter is never said that their talking out of turn is “filthy”.

    Thirdly he seems to gloss over the fact that verse 36 starts with a term that provides a contradiction to the verses immediately proceeding. In other words the saying from verses 34 & 35 is contradicted in verse 36. If Paul had written verses 34 & 35 from his own instruction, why did he write verse 36 in such a way as to contradict his own command?

    These things are all unanswered by anything else that I could find except for the view that verses 34 & 35 are a quote from the Corinthian letter that Paul refutes.

    If Bailey has written on the place of “the law” in verse 34 I haven’t seen it just as I haven’t see where he dealt with the contradictory wording of verse 36.

    So because I am one who wants to pay attention to each inspired word and each inspired grammar, I myself do not consider that the chiamus view fits. The grammar of refutation, the addition of the term shameful (fillthy) and the appeal to the oral law are very serious problem areas without making this a quote from the Corinthians.

    I hope this helps!

  8. “So when does it become a sin for him? I suppose that this will now become an issue where CBMW will have to judge since apparently they are the only ones who can interpret the incomplete complementarian law which never makes clear the division between the what should be considered good and what is now evil or sinful.”

    I find it difficult to see how Biblically they justify setting themselves up in this way, as judges over what is right and wrong in matters the Bible does not dictate.

    I hope the debate continues Cheryl!

  9. Cheryl,
    Thanks for pointing out the details – right on as usual. Suppose I shouldn’t have stayed awake reading so late last night until all the fine points disappeared…. );

  10. I have laid off of this debate for the most part because I pretty much know how it’s going to go. Still, even a cursory reading of the posts seems to make one thing abundantly clear: Mike refuses to even consider let alone carefully explore the contextual and grammatical challenges in your questions. He is forever stuck in the “this is what I’ve been told/taught and it must therefore be true” paradigm. Pretty much what I expected.

  11. Kay,

    Ya, I am a detail person, but I too can miss lots when I am up late. I have spent a lot of nights fixing errors at 2 and 3 am and I am starting to think that it was at 2 and 3 a.m. the night before that those errors were made! At least I’m done the late hours for now as my project is finished.

  12. Interesting that my spam word today is “grace”.

    About Mike…he can’t admit anything because in the position that he is in with his church, he could not remain a pastor and be an egalitarian. So learning things outside the boundaries of what he has accepted as truth could become a very serious issue.

    I think this is why he is considering not continuing with our debate. The next part of the debate would give me the last word and that wouldn’t be comfortable when he hasn’t managed to get his point across yet. It just gives me more opportunity to show that his view is not the “clear” view that he thought it was.

    But we should remember to think about what it would be like to be in Mike’s shoes. Changing his view would cost him many things including a job, possibly his friends, his standing in his denomination and with CBMW (they featured him as a writer on their blog). On top of that there is his ego and a feeling of shame for believing something that didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    I also believe that the truth is a good enough reason to change no matter what the consequences, but I have a deep compassion for those whose lives would be turned upside down by changing their view.

    So how can we pray for Mike and for others in his shoes? We can pray that the seed that has been planted will go deep within his heart. We can pray that Mike will not have peace when he remembers all the things that he was unable to answer. We can also pray that God will reveal to Mike how His Word is fulfilled in the freedom of God’s women “sons”. Lastly we can pray for courage for Mike to accept truth as God opens his heart regarding what he has heard. Many will close their hearts to the truth about women because they have comfort in their position and persecution awaiting outside their safety zone. Let’s pray that Mike will be one of the ones who values truth much more than comfort.

    If Mike does come back for the next round, let’s surround him with prayer. God can do what seems impossible to us.

  13. I have been in those shoes. My take on his reluctance to continue is that he indeed is having second thoughts about his position. A person convinced that they are right plows ahead undaunted; a person unsure of their convictions hesitates and evaluates. Reflection is always good, yes? I could not blame him or ridicule him one bit for stepping back and deciding how he personally must proceed in light of the arguments he has been presented with through this dialog.

  14. Cheryl, you’re correct when you say that if you are convinced that some doctrine is the very truth of God’s Word, and you actively stand firm for it, it can be costly, in many ways. I know this from experience, not only in terms of the equality of men and women in Christ, but also in terms of the Law and Gospel controversy. And so let me tell you a little more of my own story. Some years ago, I was ordained and served as both a deacon and adult Bible teacher in a little Calvinistic Baptist; I also served two terms as Moderator of a group of Presbyterians, Christian Reformed, and Calvinistic Baptists gave presentations and discussed how the Gospel was to be applied to the intellectual, moral and socio-political issues of today. In the latter group, my historical premillennialism was tolerated, but when certain members started promoting Theonomy (i.e., the modern Christian was bound to observe the moral and civil law of the OT), I stood firm for the New Testament teaching that we are only bound by the Law of Christ, which involved our living by the teaching and example of Christ and his apostles, as illuminated and applied by the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Cor. 9:19-23). For this, many denounced me as an antinomian, a despiser of God’s Word, a liberal, etc. And then six months later, in a controversy about “women in the church,” I was the first to stand up and argue for the Egalitarian position. The negative response to this was even worse, with some wanting me to be removed as Moderator and to go through a “heresy trial,” such as they conducted in Presbyterian churches. And believe me, this wasn’t fun to experience or deal with. But not only was I committed to Christ and his Gospel, but faithfully living by the Reformation principles that I had thought we all agreed on and sought to live by: That Scripture is the final rule by which all Christian doctrine and practice is to be measured and judged; and that the Church is to constantly reform its beliefs and practices according to God’s Word, as so led by the Holy Spirit. However, I soon discovered that when you tried to apply this to the “set and preferred interpretation” of the majority, people didn’t like it and strongly resisted any call to renewal and reform. And Mike Seaver, in his case, may be facing a similar situation if he both changes his position and actively promotes the truth. So we shouldn’t be to harsh on him.

  15. Wow, Frank, that is quite a story! Yes it is a hard thing to change a tradition that we have learned but which is in error. There is something inside us that wants to hold on to the familiar. So letting go of error is a difficult process, but so is holding on tight when you are standing firm for truth and there are those who want to tan your hide! Thank you so much for sharing that story with us!

  16. Cheryl, I don’t know if the pain of the memories was the cause, if it was a confusion caused by failing memory, or just the vanity of the flesh trying to expressing itself, but I need to make a correction or two to my story. Though it is true I served two terms as Moderator, I was not Moderator when I took heat for my presentation on Egalitarianism; and I was not the only one threatened with a “heresy trial”; there were actually about seven of us that the Theonomists, who were also strong complementarians, wanted to eliminate because of our stance we stood as an obstacle in their attempt to take over and dominate the group. My presentation just happened to be the excuse they needed to make their power move. The end result was that our group, which we had hoped would accomplish so much, was disbanded. And I’m telling you this because when I came back later and reviewed what I first wrote, the Spirit impressed on me that I must acknowledge my errors and get the story straight, so that I would not appear to be braver than I actually had been, nor had been the only one who had suffered. I always want to be a man of truth, honesty, integrity and honor, never deceiving or misleading anyone in any way. So I hope you will forgive me my errors and accept this correction. Thanks.

  17. Frank,

    You are indeed a man of honor! I accept your explanation and I understand as my own memory fails me at times. Don’t you just hate getting older? My insides are not so old yet, but the mirror keeps me in line with the truth.

  18. Thanks, Lin, for welcoming me into the club! Is the motto still, “We must enter the Kingdom of God with great difficulty, and everyone who seeks to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” which was given by Paul, the founder of our club? If so, then count me in; absolutely! And may I suggest the following as our club song:

    GIVE ME THE WINGS OF FAITH TO RISE, by Issac Watts

    Give me the wings of faith to rise
    within the veil, and see
    the saints above, how great their joys,
    how bright their glories be.

    Once they were mourning here below,
    and wet their couch with tears;
    they wrestled hard, as we do now,
    with sins, and doubts, and fears.

    I asked them whence their victory came;
    they, with united breath,
    ascribed their conquest to the Lamb,
    their triumph to his death.

    They marked the footsteps he trod;
    his zeal inspired their breast;
    and following their incarnate God,
    possessed the promised rest.

    Our glorious Lord claims our praise
    for his own pattern given;
    while the long cloud of witnesses
    show us the same path to heaven.

  19. Frank,

    If this is the faux-heresy club, I’m another card-carrying member. I winced with pain as I read your story (both the first posting and the correction/explanation). It seems to me that those who hold worldly power will do anything to keep it, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. This is the exact opposite of the integrity you showed in your correction/explanation, and I commend you.

    As far as that hymn goes, it’s so true, and a great choice for a theme song. It isn’t always easy to be a Christian, especially one who holds egalitarian views. I’ve been accused of heresy by some folks, and I attend an officially egalitarian church! But I know that under all the accusations, power grabs, and disingenous manipulations (even in officially egalitarian churches) are hurting people who are in need of compassion and healing. They just might not realize it, or might not want to do the often dirty work of looking inside at their garbage, instead of all the external arguments.

  20. PS: That statement in no way excuses any of them for their actions! Sometimes the most compassionate thing to give someone is a swift kick in the hindquarters, particularly if they are using their position to tear people down, not build them up.

  21. Frank,
    Good words and a good song!

    I can also see from your story that you argued your position from the Scriptures. Having someone confront us and even say that we have heresy in our teaching isn’t a bad thing if they are speaking in love and can prove their point from the Scriptures and correct us. But those who will denounce us and are not able to correct us from the Scriptures in context and without contradiction have no leg to stand on. I believe all of your retractors were legless!

  22. Well, I guess I am in good company after all, Cheryl. It’s great to know there are so many members in our illustrious club! But all kidding aside, I appreciate the words of empathy and support. I think the hardest thing for me in those debates was that, among the Theonomists who opposed me, were some who had been fellow Bible college students and close friends up until that time. I can’t adequately express, in words, the feelings of betrayal and desertion I felt then

    And you are correct Cheryl that, in contending for the truth, I argued and reasoned from the Scriptures to the best of my knowledge and ability. It amazed me that when I was disputing with them about the Law and the Gospel, the Theonomists never really interacted with what I had said nor demonstrated where I had failed to properly interpret the Scriptures. And yet in the second debate, as I look back now, they nailed me to the wall primarily because of my failure, as they saw it, to adequately deal with 1 Tim. 2:12-15. And on this point, as much as I might hate to admit it, they were right. I did not deal with certain key points of that text with the degree of consistency and thoroughness that Cheryl has done in her debate with Mike Seaver.

    However, I learned my lesson; I learned to be more thorough and consistent in my study of different interpretations of texts, the biblical and rational basis of theological constructs, etc. So there’s nothing with making mistakes in our initial contending for truth, provided that we quickly recognize them, quickly correct them, and not repeat them in later presentations.

  23. Frank,

    I think that when we do our very best, we don’t need to be ashamed. God looks at the heart and he will teach us where we lack.

    Thank you also for such a good word about my work!

  24. When I was a kid, I clearly remember those who argued ’till their dying breath that the races weren’t equal, and used the Scriptures to support their claim. Of course most people would now say that was an erroneous interpretation of Scripture.

    One would think that the complementarians (Good grief, who coined such a word anyway? – It wasn’t Jesus) would figure out that they too are now seen by most people as being in a similar position. This is pretty much a done deal in much of American Christianity.

    I find it most interesting when I post such opinions on blogs the nasty responses that I receive. Now who could be posting such responses, since Jesus tells His followers to “love your neighbor as yourself”? My personal experience is that there are those who do, and then there are those who spend so much time arguing over things such as why women are somehow not equal that there is little, if any, time left to love their neighbor, or even to know their neighbor.

  25. Welcome Sam to my blog!

    Wow, good point about making time to know and love our neighbour! And for sure you shouldn’t get any nasty responses on your comment here, my brother.

  26. Borrowed this quote from Molly’s Adventures in Mercy blog.
    Thought it fit well.

    “Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.” –Mark Twain

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