Denny Burk wrote a post about Christianity Today’s list of “50 Women to Watch: Those Most Shaping the Church and Culture.” The list ran the gamut in terms of theology and practice. His biggest problem with the list was the mingling of complementarians and egalitarians. He writes:
The article doesn’t include much of a discussion about differences among evangelicals about gender roles. Even though there are both complementarians and egalitarians on the list, the article seems to assume an egalitarian framework. In general, it regards high-achieving women excelling in their respective fields as something to be celebrated. Make no mistake, everyone celebrates women excelling in roles that the scripture commends, but egalitarians continue to disagree with complementarians about what those roles are. In short, the report highlights the influencers without trying to sort out the differences that complementarians and egalitarians have over these issues.
In the course of the discussion in his comments, Burk makes clear that he doesn’t believe anyone should celebrate what a woman does if it is outside of the “roles that the scripture commends.”
As I read the discussion, the clear message I got was even if men and women are coming to true salvation knowledge of Christ, it is not to be celebrated if they are coming to Christ through the teaching of a woman. (Go read the comments yourself and come back and tell me if I’m misrepresenting what he was saying over there.) Burk clearly believes we should only celebrate the ministry accomplishments of women if they are functioning in what he deems is their Biblical sphere.
Ten people are out on a boat. A storm comes up and they fear for their lives. The only person on board who knows Christ and can articulate the Gospel is a woman.
If I’m reading here correctly, it would be wrong for the woman to step out of her “biblical sphere” as defined by Mr. Burk and preach the Gospel to those who are about to perish. It would be better if they perish without hearing the Gospel rather than a woman step out of her “biblical role” and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to the lost.
Is that really what I’m reading here?
No. I’m afraid you have a misunderstanding of the compelementarian position. I would encourage you to read some good books by complementarians so that you can get a feel for what we are actually saying. I recommend Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by Grudem and Piper.
Thank you for your reply. I really don’t think you answered my question. It is a legitimate question based on the comments I’ve seen above. Are women called to proclaim the Gospel or not? If your answer was “No” then why can the woman proclaim/preach the Gospel in the boat but not elsewhere?
I’m very familiar with the comp/egal debate. I’ve been studying it for years trying to sort out my own beliefs and experiences. I write about it on one of my blogs when I’m able to get the time from the rest of my life. You might be surprised to discover how well versed in these issues many of us commenting on this thread are. But then I suspect that you probably don’t read blogs written by your brothers and sisters in Christ who hold to a different perspective. The fact that you automatically assume that commenters don’t know the topic and should read RBMW tells me a lot.
So, no, I don’t have a misunderstanding of the complementarian/patriarchal position. I can thoroughly explain it and believed it for many years. But I have to say that your responses here to some of the pointed questions you’ve received have surprised me even after all I’ve read over the years. Your views are much more troubling than most comps that I’ve read.
And, no, I’m not a flaming liberal feminist. I’m pretty conservative in most of my theology, worship preferences, and general lifestyle. I grew up Baptist and am now of the more Reformed persuasion, mostly because of the women in the church issue. But reading here what you’ve written, I wonder if I would even pass your test of being a true Christian. Your parameters are such that as a longterm comp who now leans heavily toward egalitarianism after spending many years wrestling with these issues from the Scriptures, I don’t even know if you would call me your sister in Christ.
And, frankly, I find it astounding that you can discern the validity of my walk with Christ, the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, and God’s amazing works in my life time and again just because I don’t fully embrace complementarianism any longer.
Ever heard of Elizabeth Eliot,she was the only woman who knew the gospel in the are she was ministering too.She taught the men there just like Priscilla.She ensured they became the leaders of the church.
That is complementarianism.If you get your definition from RHE she has basically tampered with it to promote her wicked agenda.
That is not complementarianism the way it is currently taught and promoted by many prominent leaders in the movement. The inconsistencies (such as the one you cited with EE teaching men overseas but not being allowed to teach men in America) are what finally forced me to really look at complementarianism and evaluate it. I saw WAY too many inconsistencies and theological gymnastics. EE is held up as an example of comp, but she did many things that young women today are either discouraged from doing or are told flat out they shouldn’t be doing.
My comp definition does not “come” from RHE. It comes from reading widely on both sides of the debate. I find it so funny how often people try to shut down this discussion by either saying someone needs to read RBMW or else they throw out a controversial name as if that will make it all go away.
My experience has been that the average lifelong complementarian (by default) in the pew can cite a few verses re: why they believe this way. They cannot accurately articulate the egal view because they have never studied it in any depth. They only parrot that egals are dangerous people who have thrown off the authority of the Scriptures. The average egal who came to that view by conviction can not only articulate the egal view in great depth, but can also explain the comp view better than 90+% of the comps out there.
It’s a simple yes or no question.
The same could be asked about the church in China. If men aren’t taking the initiative, or if there are no men to do so, is it sinful for women to do it?
Refusal to answer the question suggests you find yourself in a sticky place. You’re not fooling anyone by saying they don’t understand the complementarian position.
I never got an answer from Denny Burk although he responded to many other comments after mine. The only answer I got was that I didn’t understand complementarianism.
So I ask again… Should the woman in the boat proclaim/preach the Gospel to the men about to perish?
If so, why can’t she proclaim/preach the Gospel elsewhere (like from a pulpit)?
If not, are you honestly telling me that Jesus would really rather see men damned to hell for eternity than to hear the Gospel from the lips of a woman? The same Jesus who sent the women forth from the tomb to tell the men that He was alive?