Let me say, first of all, what this post is not intended to be: a discussion of the biblical or theological merits of egalitarianism. I’m sure some of that discussion will come in here – it is almost unavoidable. But the SBC and most of the commenters here are complementarians.
Let me state my views clearly.
- I am a complementarian because that is what the Bible teaches – from Genesis to Revelation. I have written several posts here exegeting passages on the topic.
- Egalitarianism is a compendium of bad hermeneutical practices – if you want to know how NOT to do exegesis, look at the egalitarians. Every bad hermeneutical practice one could imagine is employed in their “treatments” of the scriptural passages on the relationships of men and women.
I say this not to insult or belittle – but just to be clear where I am coming from. I am not an egalitarian and cannot understand how someone who has a Bible can come to that position.
But my question is not about the merits of the doctrine, but how we should respond to those who hold to egalitarianism. In what is often called theological triage, how do we handle this doctrine?
Two recent events spurred my thinking on this.
1) I read a Twitter exchange in which a friend used the label “liberal” to describe someone because he was egalitarian. He was clear that the liberal term was within the context of the SBC (terms such as liberal and conservative are always relative terms).
2) At the same time, I was doing ministry in Taiwan – at an interdenominational missionary fellowship. These people are passionate, missional Christians who live their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And many of them are also egalitarian. Great missionaries serving our King passionately and effectively who hold to this faulty scriptural interpretation.
Should we shun them simply because of their beliefs on this issue?
I have written in some detail about my own theological triage rubric, developed before I heard of Dr. Mohler’s. I divided doctrinal truth into 4 categories. (A search of “Brick Walls and Picket Fences” will take you to this series.)
Brick Wall doctrine is essential to the Christian faith and we must refuse to partner with those who deny these fundamental doctrines.
Picket Fence doctrine is essential to the operation of churches and denominations, but not to the gospel. We bless one another and call one another brother (or sister) but we have our boundaries – separate homes, churches, denominations.
Personal Space doctrine (Mohler’s tertiary issues) are those which do not even divide us into separate churches or denominations.
I have seen some who would make divergence on the Women in Ministry issue a Brick Wall issue, questioning the commitment to Christ and the gospel of those who hold such views. This is extreme. Others say it should only be a Personal Space issue – one on which no division is necessary. But “live and let live” seems to be inadequate here. It seems logical to me that we classify it as a Picket Fence issue.
Here is the discussion. For those of us who hold to the biblical position of Complementarianism, how do we respond to those who stray from this teaching?
- Should they remain in fellowship as Southern Baptists?
- What attitude should we have toward them?
Talk amongst yourselves. I’m going to the beach in Kenting, Taiwan while you are sleeping tonight. I won’t be around to discuss. But I’ve been thinking about this issue and wanting to throw it out there.
NOTE: For you egalitarians, I imagine you might be offended at my descriptions. But I do not intend for this to be a debate on egalitarianism and I wanted my complementarian friends to know that I am “one of them” as they discuss this issue. I hope the discussion can stay focused on not on the issue itself (which is clearly stated in the BF&M) but on how we should treat divergence on the issue.