Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Complementarianism?

John Piper, Tim Keller and Don Carson talk about why The Gospel Coalition is complementarian and why this is an important issue. The video is 17 minutes so it is not a quick watch and it covers some deep issues but I think it is worth your time. If you are not going to watch and interact with the video, please don't comment.

Why Is TGC Complementarian? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

I think Piper is at his best here and his best point is this one:

"We live in a culture where for the last 30 or 40 years, the collapse of the meaning of biblical masculinity has not produced a beautiful egalitarian society," Piper observes. "It has produced a brutal masculine society."

That is exactly true. I have been toying with a post about this but egalitarianism in the church and more broadly feminism in the culture has not made life better or happier or more fulfilling for women and it certainly has not been beneficial to families and especially not children. The only people it has benefited are those in the swelling population of child-men, men who reap the benefits of an egalitarian society but don't do much to contribute. It is the cruel irony of feminism that the primary beneficiary of feminism has been the most irresponsible of men.

This is an interesting video. Piper is right on the mark most of the time, again where he speaks of how we handle 1 Tim 2:13 or Ephesians 5 (at around the ten minute mark) and what that implies about how we handle Gospel texts as well as a powerful statement about how our unwillingness to stand against the culture on this issue speaks to whether we will stand for other issues.

I think they stretch the point a bit in places but I obviously believe this is an important issue Some suggest that these questions are divisive and distract us from the more important stuff. I reject the idea that we should ignore issues like this and just concentrate on the "big stuff". If God deigned to reveal and preserve something, He did so with a reason. As Carson points out, the relationship between husbands and wives is so deeply interwoven with so many other issues (esp. Christ and the church) that if we start to miss this issue we will start to miss other issues and pretty soon the church devolves into an anything goes religious club that does good work but misses the big truths that the church is founded on (for evidence of this see pretty much every "mainstream" and egalitarian denomination).

This is an unpopular  topic but one that demands more than platitudes and "I thinks". How we handle these passages speaks volumes about how consistent we are about other passages.

1 comment:

Arlan said...

Keller's point that an interpretative loosening is required to extract egalitarianism is very on point. It is my biggest inhibition to endorsing egalitarianism. I've never yet seen anyone reconcile it with the Biblical text in credible manner.

Piper's concept of "protecting" the Gospel or putting a hedge around it is altogether too reminiscent of pharisees building a hedge about the Law. The gospel needs no protection, for it is the power of God.

The characterization of culture's "brutal masculinity" is worth some consideration, but not in a gospel context. The gospel is not proved by its pragmatic outcomes.

"Manhood" and "what it means to be a man" are egocentric identity plays - the Bible never asks anyone to be a man. What we are to be is always in relation to God, not to our selves and our selfness.

Caron's endorsement of the cultural program continues to miss the point. Jesus never preached his gospel to "the culture." A lucky accident of English is that the definition of "culture" overlaps with the definition of yeast, or leaven. "Culture" and "worldly" are nearly synonyms. The cultures of this world - all of them - are condemned to destruction and can be regarded by Christians as half dead already.

Piper's allegation that "you'll cave on other issues" makes logical sense but not historical sense. People are not consistent, for good or for ill, and it is unjustified to accuse a man of one fault merely because he exhibited another.

Carson picks up this idea and is still wrong. Not trembling at the Word of God? We can fire this off at anyone who interprets any scripture differently than we do. Mere theatrics.

A bit later Carson touches on some of the teaching in the Bible that rely upon marriage metaphors and rightly says that a proper understanding of marriage affects all of these. It does - or at least it should. But all of God's truth is captured in one Person, Jesus Christ, and as such there is one blood in any truth.

I see these men as somewhat analogous to the drafters of the US constitution. They are endeavoring to create an organization of truth and light. They rightly recognize aspects of truth and light. But in trying to incorporate this truth and light into an organization - an army, if you will, marshaled against this present age - they are mistaking the source and power of the truth and light.

This is manifest in the frequent references to ecclesiology and culture, neither of which are of much concern to the New Testament authors (with the caveat of ecclesiology as referenced in this conversation - church organization as such).