Afraid of the mirror? On evangelicals and wagon-circling

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Andrew K's picture

Not a fan of 9Marks or CMBW, but I do find it odd here that Tyler downplays the changing tone on LGBTQ issues as found in Du Mez, Barr, Bird, and others in the "smash the patriarchy" clique. (To say nothing of the embrace of mysticism, critical social theory categories, and other things I've been seeing from them that raise the eyebrows.)

From Du Mez's article: 

"We can spend our lives asking what right belief & obedient discipleship looks like in all these areas, & we should. But I’m going to do so in conversation & communion with my LGBTQ sisters & brothers in Christ. Because of the gospel."

The LGBTQIA+ issue is the biggest objection to the Christian message that I deal with among my students every year. It's hard and confusing and meets a great deal of resistance due to all the cultural noise. If you don't consider opening a side door for this tiger cause for some alarm, I'm not sure what would qualify.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

A huge barrier to navigating these cultural changes in a Christian and biblical way is a habit that opposite perspectives have in common: the conflation of concepts like 'orientation' and 'desire' and 'attraction' with the concept of 'conduct.'

From a Christian perspective the attitudes and beliefs we choose are conduct, just as much as outward behaviors. But attractions and temptations (and 'orientations') are not conduct. Promoters of anti-traditional sexual ethics have conflated orientation and conduct for relatively obvious reasons: if humans can't help themselves and/or can't be happy without obeying their urges, the new sexual ethic (really only new since before the 1960s) is an easier sell. And there's the influence of Freud: not obeying urges can turn you into a wacko, so the pop-psych goes.

What's a lot less clear is why conservative evangelicals would want to conflate temptation and conduct, attraction and sin. But many of them do it on a regular basis.

Between the muddling on the social left and the muddling on the social right, it's no wonder we seem to have a perpetual mess on the topic.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

I am not deeply conversant in the work of either Du Mez or Barr--though I think I've commented here on the views inherent in the titles of their books--but it does strike me that they do have a point that when we conflate cultural prerogatives with the Gospel and Biblical truth, what we do is to reduce emphasis on what is actually Gospel and Biblical truth.  There are most likely other issues at hand, but when we "take shortcuts" to do this, we hamstring our ability to speak coherently about things like homosexuality and the difference between the sexes.

The irony in what (little) I've seen of Du Mez and Barr is that they fall into the exact same trap, in my (not humble enough) opinion.  I remember reading about "Jesus and John Wayne", and thinking "what on earth kind of caricature of church culture is this?"  It simply does not register for me.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Not a fan of 9Marks or CMBW, but I do find it odd here that Tyler downplays the changing tone on LGBTQ issues as found in Du Mez, Barr, Bird, and others in the "smash the patriarchy" clique. (To say nothing of the embrace of mysticism, critical social theory categories, and other things I've been seeing from them that raise the eyebrows.)

I follow Du Mez and Bird pretty closely so I've seen it in Du Mez, but not in Bird.  And I wouldn't say that Tyler is downplaying them.  Often times, those with whom we have sharp disagreements with help us see our own social biases and blind spots when it comes to scripture, which is the point that he's making. 

 Why do you think I still hang around Sharper Iron? There have been many times where  interacting with those here have exposed some blind spots that I hadn't considered when it comes to race, poverty, and politics.  

 

Andrew K's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:

I follow Du Mez and Bird pretty closely so I've seen it in Du Mez, but not in Bird.  And I wouldn't say that Tyler is downplaying them.  Often times, those with whom we have sharp disagreements with help us see our own social biases and blind spots when it comes to scripture, which is the point that he's making. 

Absolutely. I would love it if that crew would allow their cultural biases on sexual ethics to be challenged by the global church, such as conservative African Protestants or the Chinese church. As it is, I consider them guilty of the very thing they accuse others--overly influenced by their cultural milieu. 

Of course I believe you can learn from people with whom you sharply disagree, and the point about how culture affects our reading is well-taken--even banal. 

But to the issue at hand, can you imagine even 20 years ago (10?) calling someone a "conservative Christian" who consider not just people who confess to SSA, but reject the created order entirely (Transgender and Queer!?) "brothers and sisters in Christ"? And this from a "fundamentalist"?

It's a hard pill to swallow.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I gave her a "conservative" label because she has not yet made up her mind on these matters. Some would cast her into outer darkness based on her honest questions, from her article. As a pastor, thinking of Du Mez as a "normal Christian" whose PhD in history is quite beside the point in this context (she isn't a theologian), I am unwilling to tar her with a "liberal" designation at this juncture.

She teaches at Calvin College, and I would think the administration would take appropriate action if she did formally renounce the bible's position on sexual ethics.

We must remember she isn't a theologian. On the LGBTQ issue, think of her as a Christian with honest questions. Save the pitchforks and torches for another day.

Incidentally, none of this is related to the article's question.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Andrew K's picture

TylerR wrote:

I gave her a "conservative" label because she has not yet made up her mind on these matters. Some would cast her into outer darkness based on her honest questions, from her article. As a pastor, thinking of Du Mez as a "normal Christian" whose PhD in history is quite beside the point in this context (she isn't a theologian), I am unwilling to tar her with a "liberal" designation at this juncture.

She teaches at Calvin College, and I would think the administration would take appropriate action if she did formally renounce the bible's position on sexual ethics.

We must remember she isn't a theologian. On the LGBTQ issue, think of her as a Christian with honest questions. Save the pitchforks and torches for another day.

Incidentally, none of this is related to the article's question.

Pitchforks? Outer darkness? 

I'm sorry, did someone imply she or the others weren't Christian? If so, I missed that. I have friends well to the left of her whom I consider believers. But I wouldn't call them "conservative Christians" and gloss their errors either.

She's a public figure with a published body of work. She's playing theologian here and on other issues, and she needs to be held responsible for what she says.

As for having not made up her mind, does anyone here really have any doubts? I would say her mind is well made-up, judging by what I have read. I have more respect for people who don't play coy. You don't make a clear, public statement like the one I quoted without having a pretty good idea where you stand.

And Calvin? Trust me, I have a lot of friends and connections at Calvin. I know quite a bit about what's going on there and it's not looking great.

Finally, saying this isn't related to the article's question is a bit of a headscratcher. Sure looks related to me.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Very well. Take care.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Andrew K's picture

TylerR wrote:

Very well. Take care.

You too! :) 

Mark_Smith's picture

Great post. Can you help us who have never read Barr or Du Mez, and who never will, what the ultimate aim of their belief system about gender roles is? This is the key to me. Look, so many use "complementarian" beliefs to subjugate or demean women. Yes. But let's be honest. Women in the USA work jobs, read widely, get any education they want, etc., even in the most conservative of churches (I know there are some exceptions). We can debate the role of women in the home and work force, but when it comes to the church, that is a different line to cross. It is a high scriptural bar to pass if you are going to claim women can be the leader of a church, or the main preacher/teacher. When someone like Leeman writes I am sure he is mainly concerned about women's roles in church, and not the "John Wayne" fallacy.

Jay's picture

Tyler is dead accurate in his article and I really appreciated it.

Watching CBMW's treatment of both Barr and Du Metz has been enough to turn me off from anything they say anymore, particularly after CBMW went after Barr's husband's church of 30 people in a quest for the almighty dollar.

Burk, in particular, has a lot of stones to turn around and bait Du Metz with questions about her personal spiritual positions after he recruited Andy Naselli (of all people) to savage her book for Eikon.  I find it hugely ironic that Naselli is himself accused of all types of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse towards people at Bethlehem College and Seminary but I'll just note that and move on.

Furthermore, when the guys pointing the finger at Du Metz and Barr on issues pertaining to homosexuality are guilty of supporting heretical ideas about God Himself and promulgating that through the entire SBC (including rewriting Bible Translations to suit their doctrine), my advice to them is to be quiet and clean their own house out first.  I don't care about Barr/Du Metz nearly as much as I do the literal false teachers at CBMW, who are people that move in my church circles.

Why anyone takes these guys seriously is really beginning to confound me.

"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

Andrew K's picture

Jay wrote:

Tyler is dead accurate in his article and I really appreciated it.

Watching CBMW's treatment of both Barr and Du Metz has been enough to turn me off from anything they say anymore, particularly after CBMW went after Barr's husband's church of 30 people in a quest for the almighty dollar.

Burk, in particular, has a lot of stones to turn around and bait Du Metz with questions about her personal spiritual positions after he recruited Andy Naselli (of all people) to savage her book for Eikon.  I find it hugely ironic that Naselli is himself accused of all types of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse towards people at Bethlehem College and Seminary but I'll just note that and move on.

Furthermore, when the guys pointing the finger at Du Metz and Barr on issues pertaining to homosexuality are guilty of supporting heretical ideas about God Himself and promulgating that through the entire SBC (including rewriting Bible Translations to suit their doctrine), my advice to them is to be quiet and clean their own house out first.  I don't care about Barr/Du Metz nearly as much as I do the literal false teachers at CBMW, who are people that move in my church circles.

Why anyone takes these guys seriously is really beginning to confound me.

I don't follow and have no interest in the CBMW individuals, and have been on record opposing ESS ever since I heard about it. I don't know why you would move in church circles with people who flirt with Arianism (like Owen Strachan), but that's up to you, I guess. I wouldn't.

Oddly enough, however, I do recall certain parties on SI showing some partiality to ESS themselves when the whole thing blew up. They certainly weren't calling it heresy, at least.

We don't have to choose tribes when serious matters are in play. Both can be wrong.

Mark_Smith's picture

Andrew K wrote:

 

Jay wrote:

 

Tyler is dead accurate in his article and I really appreciated it.

Watching CBMW's treatment of both Barr and Du Metz has been enough to turn me off from anything they say anymore, particularly after CBMW went after Barr's husband's church of 30 people in a quest for the almighty dollar.

Burk, in particular, has a lot of stones to turn around and bait Du Metz with questions about her personal spiritual positions after he recruited Andy Naselli (of all people) to savage her book for Eikon.  I find it hugely ironic that Naselli is himself accused of all types of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse towards people at Bethlehem College and Seminary but I'll just note that and move on.

Furthermore, when the guys pointing the finger at Du Metz and Barr on issues pertaining to homosexuality are guilty of supporting heretical ideas about God Himself and promulgating that through the entire SBC (including rewriting Bible Translations to suit their doctrine), my advice to them is to be quiet and clean their own house out first.  I don't care about Barr/Du Metz nearly as much as I do the literal false teachers at CBMW, who are people that move in my church circles.

Why anyone takes these guys seriously is really beginning to confound me.

 

 

I don't follow and have no interest in the CBMW individuals, and have been on record opposing ESS ever since I heard about it. I don't know why you would move in church circles with people who flirt with Arianism (like Owen Strachan), but that's up to you, I guess. I wouldn't.

Oddly enough, however, I do recall certain parties on SI showing some partiality to ESS themselves when the whole thing blew up. They certainly weren't calling it heresy, at least.

We don't have to choose tribes when serious matters are in play. Both can be wrong.

What is ESS?

AndyE's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

What is ESS?

I normally see it as EFS (eternal functional subordination) of the Son to the Father. ESS probably means eternal submission and subordination.  During the incarnation, Jesus as human submitted his human will to the Father's will.  Is that a reflection of the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father, is the Son eternally submissive to the will of the Father, or was this just temporary during the incarnation?  That's the debate. A major part of the debate concerns the divine will -- is the will part of the essence of divinity and thus singular or part of the person and thus plural?  One of the main verses used in favor of EFS is 1 Cor 15:27-28.

For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:27 (ESV)

I currently lean in the EFS direction, but I'm about to read a book that takes the contrary position because I want to double check my thoughts on this.

Andrew K's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

What is ESS?

 

I normally see it as EFS (eternal functional subordination) of the Son to the Father. ESS probably means eternal submission and subordination.  During the incarnation, Jesus as human submitted his human will to the Father's will.  Is that a reflection of the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father, is the Son eternally submissive to the will of the Father, or was this just temporary during the incarnation?  That's the debate. A major part of the debate concerns the divine will -- is the will part of the essence of divinity and thus singular or part of the person and thus plural?  One of the main verses used in favor of EFS is 1 Cor 15:27-28.

 

For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:27 (ESV)

I currently lean in the EFS direction, but I'm about to read a book that takes the contrary position because I want to double check my thoughts on this.

Yeah, I think ESS was an early term thrown around that stuck in my head, before it hardened into EFS. 

Jay's picture

Liam Goligher was probably the one person who kicked this entire argument off back in 2016.  For those who aren't familiar with it, you can start here:

https://www.reformation21.org/mos/housewife-theologian/is-it-okay-to-tea...

https://www.reformation21.org/mos/housewife-theologian/reinventing-god

Denny Burk insists that complementarianism does not require ESS, but most of the major players and/or founders of CBMW believe and teach it openly like Bruce Ware, Owen Strachan, and especially Wayne Grudem (he writes about it at length in his Systematic  editions, especially in the newer edition that just came out this year.  There's also some really eye opening statements on Grudem's website).  

This is before you see some of the stuff coming out of CBMW itself about how complementarianism is necessary because of natural law and how complementarianism must be true because of anatomy.  

CBMW has even said they intend to make natural law a larger part of their framework and argument instead of focusing on Scripture.  That was in a 2020 Eikon (CBMW journal).

 

"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