Our Current Complementarian Brouhaha – Finding a Way Forward

"Dr. Mohler engaged in unnecessary hyperbole when he warned of open calls to return to pre-CR days and undo our conservative stands. Many who hold hard complementarian views paint anyone who does not agree with them as egalitarians." - SBC Voices

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm inclined to agree with Mohler on this ... Have I missed a third alternative between complementarianism and egalitarianism? I'm sure there are attempts to blend, but seems to me they're really just temporary pausing places on the road to one or the other. When it comes down to it, either the NT allows women to be in teaching and elder roles over men or it doesn't. It's a pretty binary situation.

Bert Perry's picture

I'm seeing the article as pointing towards needless divisiveness over the issue.  I can't make a call on Mohler's tweet because I really cannot see the context, which is very often a given with only 280 characters.  But regarding Miller's case, he's not as much decrying one side or the other of the debate as decrying how it's being addressed--sometimes a full on genetic fallacy, sometimes merely rhetoric which is harsher that it ought to be given the level of theological understanding given.

Or, reason # whatever on why not to engage in significant theological debate on Twitter, and quite frankly something that's warned about here with ten times the character limit, no?

Another thing that makes the debate more difficult is that there are some difficult passages--very often connected with common words like "diakonos" or "apostolos", which have both a church and a secular meaning.  So what is the reality there?  Does it override what we would infer from X, Y, and Z?  Because the testimony of Scripture is not as easy as "God said it, I believe it, that settles it", perhaps a bit of gentleness and patience ought to be addressed here.

(and keep in mind that I'm writing as one who would tend to refuse even the diaconate to women....I'm not going with the Methodists of my youth here)

And precisely that meekness and gentleness is what Miller is pleading for, I think.  He, like Aaron and I, is on the more "conservative" side of the argument, but he's painfully aware of the damage ad hominem attacks do to the entire movement.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think the writer dismissing the content of what Mohler said on the grounds of "it's divisive" is itself divisive. 

... sort of like when politicians call arguments they don't like "politicizing."... Though I'm sure this writer is more sincere! 

They ought to form a working group or something and see if they can hash something out.

There's enough ambiguity about "deaconesses" to make that a liberty thing, but the issue of pastors/elders, and authoritative teachers... Mohler's right that it's a big deal. There isn't really any nondivisive way to say it. 

dmyers's picture

Miller's "can't we all get along" plea is weak sauce.  I agree that both sides in the SBC should be civil and disavow ad hominem attacks.  But just because there are two sides and both have engaged in either hyperbole or ad hominem attacks (which are not the same thing and are not necessarily equally "bad") does not mean that there is a moral equivalence between the two sides or that it doesn't matter which side is correct.  Mohler's tweet addressed the issue:  the hermeneutic that allows women to preach in church on Sunday as long as they don't carry the title "pastor" boils down to the same, as far as I can tell, as the liberal hermeneutic that the Conservative Resurgence fought to drive out of the SBC's leadership and seminaries.  It's a pick and choose approach that puts personal likes and dislikes ahead of the authority of scripture as the Word of God.  If I'm personally offended at those misogynist passages about women's roles in the church and the home, I'm entitled to dismiss them as inapplicable.  Same for those anti-gay passages, or whatever contemporary issue.  (The only difference between the rank liberal and the conservative-in-name-only is the relative amount of work they put in to camouflage their revisionist interpretation with acceptable-sounding historical or linquistic or other rationales, although Beth Moore now seems to rely exclusively on sex-baiting.)  Mohler didn't call any names or attack anyone's character.  Moore, on the other hand, specifically described all "hard" complementarians in the SBC as sinners, powermongers, misogynists, sexists, arrogant, and abusers or abuser sympathizers/protectors.  Slanderous stuff.  But Miller calls out Mohler by name for his rhetoric while only mentioning Moore as being on the other side, without specifically linking her to her offensive and reprehensible name-calling.  I don't know whether to doubt Miller's claims to have personal views closer to "hard" complementarianism or assume he's simply afraid to criticize Moore directly because she's a woman.

Similar to Moore's approach are the comments on the previous filing on this issue that defended Moore's slander because some in the SBC are or have been abusers or supposed misogynists.  

dmyers's picture

Two things on the merits of Miller's argument from the BF&M.

First, I doubt that he's correct that "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture" is properly interpreted as being silent regarding non-pastor women preaching.  If there is any "legislative history" on the provision, hopefully there's some illumination to be provided there.  But if all we have is the plain text of the BF&M provision, how much sense does it make that the reference to the office of pastor was meant to be understood hyper-literally to mean only someone with that title, rather than more broadly as someone exercising the core functions of a pastor -- i.e., preaching to a church body?

Second, it seems to me that he's wrong to dismiss the provision about male/female roles in the home as inapplicable.  How does a woman preach to an audience that includes her husband without running afoul of the command to submit to him?  Or is the claim that it's ok for a woman to preach to men as long as her husband isn't present?  Does Moore (or her husband) even comply with that very limited restriction?  If not (and I'd be surprised if they do make sure he's never in the audience), then it's all just a rationalization for her to do what she wants.  

Probably another issue here is Moore's dedication to a "God told me" approach to life.  You can't argue against any preaching she does because she knows God called her to do it.  If you do oppose her preaching activity, you're going directly against God (as well as being a sexist misogynist power-mad abuser).

Jay's picture

But just because there are two sides and both have engaged in either hyperbole or ad hominem attacks (which are not the same thing and are not necessarily equally "bad") does not mean that there is a moral equivalence between the two sides or that it doesn't matter which side is correct.

I don't think there are two sides.  There are some that clearly think that women should be preachers and pastors.  There are some that agree that Moore is acceptable even if they disagree with the first group and say women shouldn't be pastors or preachers.  There are others who are opposed to women being anywhere near a pulpit, and there are probably some who think the only place women should be is in the nursery, children's church, or sitting silently in the pews.

This is a messy debate with very few clear "groups".  Let's not oversimplify this.

Also, some SBC friends noted that Beth Moore's position is roughly identical to Sproul, Stott, Fee and F.F. Bruce.  So think about that too.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

WallyMorris's picture

Whatever elements of Beth Moore's theology that are "conservative" are lingering holdovers from her past. Her current views on continuing revelation (mainly to herself) will eventually weaken and then eliminate whatever conservative theology she has.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

GregH's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Whatever elements of Beth Moore's theology that are "conservative" are lingering holdovers from her past. Her current views on continuing revelation (mainly to herself) will eventually weaken and then eliminate whatever conservative theology she has.

Fundmentalists complaining others claiming continuing revelation is for sure the pot calling the kettle black. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a fundamentalist preacher claim that God talked to him or directed him... Maybe you are consistent in your condemnation Wally but if you are looking for people to criticize on that point, you could start a lot closer to home.

WallyMorris's picture

Greg: What you say about some pastors/preachers saying something similar to Moore is true, but I suspect most of them do not rise to the level Moore has in emphasizing how much God reveals to her that is outside of Scripture. I also know some who use that terminology but in a more careless way of talking about the Lord's leading them and not so much new revelation. Additionally, I am not "looking for people to criticize".

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

GregH's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Greg: What you say about some pastors/preachers saying something similar to Moore is true, but I suspect most of them do not rise to the level Moore has in emphasizing how much God reveals to her that is outside of Scripture. I also know some who use that terminology but in a more careless way of talking about the Lord's leading them and not so much new revelation. Additionally, I am not "looking for people to criticize".

Dunno, maybe she is worse. I have no dog in the fight. I do appreciate her stand on evangelicals and their political hypocrisy during/since the last election. She has paid dearly for that as one of the few evangelicals (men or women) who have the guts to take a stand on that issue.

dmyers's picture

In general, there are two basic sides:  egalitarian and complementarian, as Aaron noted above.  And in this specific situation, there are two basic sides:  Moore should have been allowed to preach on Mother's Day or Moore shouldn't have been allowed to preach on Mother's Day.  Even in the linked article, there are two spokespersons identified by name:  Moore and Mohler. Let's not over-complicate this.

I'm not aware of Sproul ever teaching Moore's position.  I'd be interested in a citation of some sort instead of a vague generalization.