“It’s no wonder that many young evangelicals are becoming egalitarians.”

"Upon the announcement that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has hired Dr. Karen Swallow Prior as a research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, my Twitter feed exploded....It didn’t take long, though, for tweets of disproval to trickle into my thread from those upset that a conservative seminary would hire a woman as a professor." - John Ellis

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

As with most controversial issues, there's an ignorance problem on this one. And Twitter is making things much worse. The reason is that, on just about any topic, there are more poorly informed people than there are well-informed people.

We're all generalists about most things. We have to be. There is too much knowledge about too many things for us to do otherwise. This is not a "problem," really, it's just reality. The problem is the ugly combination of a) not knowing you don't know what you need to know on the issue at hand and b) arrogantly making dogmatic assertions, and defending them with vitriol, anyway.

Part a. of that combo isn't completely avoidable for any of us either. Sometimes we think we have a well informed opinion and only discover later that we really weren't even close. It will happen sometimes. But part b. of that problem...  How much of a genius does one have to be to figure out that, given how much there is to know on just about any topic, there's a good chance that we're missing something on the topic of controversy?   ... and that the missing something could be pivotal?

Proverbs calls the sort of folks who make dogmatic and vehement but ill-informed pronouncements (and attacks) on Twitter "fools" (Prov. 19:11,18:13, 19:9... and many more.)

A topic that needs some attention in our churches is why and how Christians should interact thoughtfully (rather than reflexively) with controversy.

On this particular dustup, there is nothing in sound, conservative, complementarian theology that would forbid a woman from being a school teacher--at any level from K to post-grad.

Ron Bean's picture

When young evangelicals scratch their heads as they see some men denouncing women taking up a church offering, praying or reading Scripture in worship services because they think it looks like they are exercising authority, they may have a reason to question us.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

TylerR's picture

Editor

Marsden's pithy definition that "a fundamentalist is an evangelical who's angry about something" really does hold up well. By that definition, there are plenty of fundamentalists out there, each with their own "sacred" issues that rob them of their sense of balance, fairness and charity. They become angry, embittered, and like bitter Gollums they lurk in the shadows, muttering to themselves and storing away tweets and book excerpts. They take these, toss them into their bubbling cauldrons and create casseroles of slander, suspicion and paranoia.

These Gollums then become increasingly more and more tiresome to their more balanced comrades, as their "precious" issues become the focal point for all their hopes, fears and dreams. Everything is increasingly refracted through the lens of "the precious," and they  gradually lose credibility except to sycophants. Thus, even if they do have a valid point or two, it's all so buried within the toxic casserole of hatred that it'll never be taken seriously.

If the shoe fits ...

There is a better way.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

TylerR wrote:

Marsden's pithy definition that "a fundamentalist is an evangelical who's angry about something" really does hold up well. By that definition, there are plenty of fundamentalists out there, each with their own "sacred" issues that rob them of their sense of balance, fairness and charity. They become angry, embittered, and like bitter Gollums they lurk in the shadows, muttering to themselves and storing away tweets and book excerpts. They take these, toss them into their bubbling cauldrons and create casseroles of slander, suspicion and paranoia.

So, wait.  LOTR is really about the fundamentalist vs. modernist controversy? Fascinating.

josh p's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

When young evangelicals scratch their heads as they see some men denouncing women taking up a church offering, praying or reading Scripture in worship services because they think it looks like they are exercising authority, they may have a reason to question us.

i agree with most of this but I think women leading public prayer is highly questionable based on 1 Tim. 2:8 as well as how the passage was understood historically. 

Bert Perry's picture

I must admit that even when women missionaries come to share their stories, I've struggled a bit with that.  I've come to the conclusion that what's really excluded is the teaching ministry, since women are referred to in singing ("everyone has", etc..), prophecy, and the like, but I do fess up that I've struggled with that.

What I don't struggle with is in concluding that, whatever my differences with others, I need to avoid impugning motives.  I'm even (mostly) extending this to the "liberal" churches, as one thing I've learned in interaction is that a lot in the mainline churches don't "fess up" to ignoring Scripture.  They'll explain around it, but usually not reject it altogether.  We might infer a need to update how we present Sola Scriptura/1st Fundamental.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

To John's piece and the whole notion is this: are you seriously saying that you are going to base your theological position on your feelings? 

Those fundies/complemenatrians/whatever are soooo mean! I think I'll be an evangelical (egal, whatever) instead.

Really? 

Come on. If the depth of your theological convictions is your emotions, what will it take to sway you from your new position.

And who are really the angry ones? 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Don, perhaps a good way to understand this is to remember all the times that we will hear "you shouldn't do this because it will hurt your testimony if you do."  What John and others (myself included) would tell you is that if your testimony includes uncharitable and slanderous statements about theological opponents, the likelihood that they're going to come to that theological position declines in exactly the same way as if they saw you drunk.  

There is also a "what am I going to put up with?" question, where people who (like myself) who are complementarians consider which is worse; a church which gives too much authority and leadership to women, or a church which tacitly approves vicious attacks by its leaders on theological opponents.  I am thankfully not in the position where I need to make this decision right now, but I was back in 2010 to a degree, and it wasn't a hard decision to make.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

I'm not commenting on whether it was right or wrong, what I'm commenting on is the line, "no wonder young evangelicals are turning into egals"

If your theological position is based on feelings, it isn't much of a position.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joel Shaffer's picture

I'm not commenting on whether it was right or wrong, what I'm commenting on is the line, "no wonder young evangelicals are turning into egals"

If your theological position is based on feelings, it isn't much of a position.

Or maybe young evangelicals are taking Jesus' words seriously: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”" (John 13:34-35)  Maybe it's because they see little or no evidence of self-sacrificing love for brothers and sisters in Christ in how they handle doctrinal conflict.  Maybe if they saw more of II Timothy 2:24-25 they might actually see evidence of some of these complementarian's genuine faith.  (And the Lord's servant[a] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth).  Maybe some of these young evangelicals are actually reading their Bibles and realize that you can't separate your theology from love.  

Dr. Francis Schaeffer once said, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.”  In fact, Schaffer himself almost abandoned Christianity when he was a missionary in Europe in the early 1950's because he saw no evidence of love among his fellow fundamentalist Presbyterians. He wasn't basing it on some shallow emotional feeling, but the actual fact that a group of people had separated their Theology from their Ethics.  The Apostle Paul doesn't allow himself or his audience to separate Truth from Love in I Cor 13:1-3 either.   In fact, all of the knowledge and proclaiming of God's truth means absolutely nothing without Love.  Young Evangelicals who would leave conservative evangelicalism and would join a community of faith that is egalitarian doesn't necessarily show their shallowness, rather it may show they are mindful how essential Love is to the nature of Christianity.  

Mark_Smith's picture

you "independent fundies" be so concerned about what Southern Baptists do all of a sudden. It seems the battle ground is in the SBC right now (abuse, Beth Moore, CRT) so you all can sit in the cheap seats and take pot shots.

Three weeks ago I was at an SBC regional function where I decided to stay (against more than a few wayward glances I'm here to tell you) at a women's leadership breakout section. I was shocked to learn it was 100% egalitarian. The speaker, who was a man by the way, spent 40 minutes saying that women can and should do anything and everything in a church. Including preaching. The women were agreeing and amening. Plenty of testimonies at the end about how women leadership was needed to right the church. When it was over, I went and asked our pastor (who was not in that meeting, he was with the male leaders breakout) if he knew what was happening with the women... he kind of shrugged and said "I'm not touching it."

That is no made up story. It it real and it is live.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't believe most people here are "independent Baptists." I'm GARBC. Many people have similar affiliations. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

you "independent fundies" be so concerned about what Southern Baptists do all of a sudden. It seems the battle ground is in the SBC right now (abuse, Beth Moore, CRT) so you all can sit in the cheap seats and take pot shots.

Preach it.

I'm independent, but I'm seeing a lot of cross-pollination between the toxic and unhealthy teachings of masculinity and warped complementarianism in both Independent and SBC Baptist life.  I support Mark's resistance to the capitulation of egalitarianism and theological liberalism, but spinning biblical positions into 'patriarchy' and defending the worst excesses of male leaders in the past is hardly a strategy that's going to be productive.

"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

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, it really has to do with caring about brothers in Christ, and really what Joel notes about the fruit of the Spirit.  Can we call people to repentance graciously?  That said, I'm GARBC too.  Another reason to care about the SBC; SBC churches could, or might not, be a viable destination if the churches we're at go south.  Nice to have options.

Regarding seeing pockets of egalitarian theology in the SBC, that doesn't surprise me at all, because we need to remember that Paige Patterson and the rest of the conservative resurgence, for whatever other virtues or vices they possess, did to a degree shove complementarianism down the throats of an egalitarian minority--one famous example being Jimmy Carter.  Given that Southern Baptists tend to stick there generation after generation, should we be surprised that a number of egalitarians decided to simply lay low and see if the resurgence passed or self-destructed?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

TylerR wrote:

I don't believe most people here are "independent Baptists." I'm GARBC. Many people have similar affiliations. 

Tyler, how does GARBC make you a "dependent Baptist"? You don't have autonomy? How?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

Here are the terms as I use them:

  • All Baptists, if they understand their ecclesiology, are autonomous. So, the label "independent Baptist," with just this context, is meaningless - sort of like "I'm a married husband."
  • So, to me, the phrase "independent Baptist" means a church that has no ties to an association or denomination at all - sort of like IFB. They have "pastor's fellowships," but their churches are wholly independent and not tied to an association.

I don't know what Mark meant by the term "independent Baptist," but I assume he meant something like "IFB."

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

TylerR wrote:

I don't believe most people here are "independent Baptists." I'm GARBC. Many people have similar affiliations. 

Thousand pardons. I meant posters on SI that are not SBC but who are Baptists.

Mark_Smith's picture

What I meant is people like you running down the SBC gleefully saying how misogynist, etc. they are, acting like your GARBC is immune to the criticism. Also, since you are not SBC, you likely are not in the meetings, watching the SBC convention and other programs such as the recent Care conference, where you can see Rachel D and Beth Moore live and in action. It is clear as day when you do that they are looking for more than to have a teaching ministry in Moore's case. They are looking for wholesale change, and I would say they want egalatarianism.

Jay's picture

where you can see Rachel D and Beth Moore live and in action. It is clear as day when you do that they are looking for more than to have a teaching ministry in Moore's case. They are looking for wholesale change, and I would say they want egalatarianism.

Then you're either willfully ignorant or sadly uninformed.  Or, more likely, paying attention to liars and slandering fearmongers.  

Both women are on the public record as being complementarian AND being committed to the leadership of male-only pastors.

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

where you can see Rachel D and Beth Moore live and in action. It is clear as day when you do that they are looking for more than to have a teaching ministry in Moore's case. They are looking for wholesale change, and I would say they want egalatarianism.

Then you're either willfully ignorant or sadly uninformed.  Or, more likely, paying attention to liars and slandering fearmongers.  

Both women are on the public record as being complementarian AND being committed to the leadership of male-only pastors.

Yes, I know. I have watched them a lot though.... radar is up and rotating.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

What I meant is people like you running down the SBC gleefully saying how misogynist, etc. they are, acting like your GARBC is immune to the criticism. Also, since you are not SBC, you likely are not in the meetings, watching the SBC convention and other programs such as the recent Care conference, where you can see Rachel D and Beth Moore live and in action. It is clear as day when you do that they are looking for more than to have a teaching ministry in Moore's case. They are looking for wholesale change, and I would say they want egalatarianism.

Since when have I said that the GARBC is, or ought to be, immune to criticism?  Honestly, don't you know me better than that, Mark?   Let's draw a picture; on my church's wall are the pictures of dozens of ABWE missionaries.  That does not insulate ABWE from criticism of how they've handled things like the Donn Ketcham case.    I am a Michigan State alum.  Obviously I do not hold my fire regarding the Nassar case because of that affiliation!  In my GARBC, I am working on a child protection policy for my church which basically assumes a culture that will tend to do the wrong thing in certain predictable ways.  I'm calling it out specifically in the policy so that church members will be likely to see it.

Instinctively defensive of institutions of which I'm a member?  I think not.  

Reality is that both Moore and Denhollander endorse, enthusiastically, complementarian theology.  Like myself.  What they were campaigning for at ERLC (and elsewhere) is not that this would be abandoned, but rather that perspectives would be admitted which would allow those in leadership to see the problems in the SBC (and the GARBC, though "our turn" isn't as big in the papers yet).  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.