Clear Complimentarianism

I don’t know who David Gushee is, but he is an egalitarian who has done complentarians a service. He has written an article in which, as he says, he wants to “ask you some questions aimed to help you keep the application of your approach as biblical as possible.” Before I read the article, I was afraid he would caricature the position and then try to force us to extremes. He doesn’t, not at all. He seems to really understand the position and with charity reminds us of some of the abuses and pitfalls we face. Here’s a summary of his questions:

  1. Are you successfully communicating to young men the conviction that a complementarian perspective must elevate rather than diminish the dignity of women, and therefore inculcating a moral commitment on their part to act accordingly?
  2. Are you absolutely clear on which positions of Christian service (you believe) are barred to women?
  3. Once you have determined what positions of Christian service are barred to women, you have therefore also determined which positions are permitted. Are you active in encouraging women to pursue the positions that are permitted?
  4. When women occupy positions of church leadership that parallel those of men, are their positions named equally and are the individuals involved treated equally?

Again, he isn’t attacking with these questions, he’s really helping us make sure we don’t misuse (intentionally or otherwise) the position. I might add a fifth point, not a question:

5. Ensure you know the bounds of the Biblical restrictions. Complentarianism doesn’t extend to the work place or public office.

[HT: Paulo]

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  • Hi Tim…hope you’re having a good week….just wondering, which Scriptures do you find to determine that complimentarianism doesn’t extend beyond the church? I have read people who say it does….like Tim Bayley, a PCA pastor from Indiana. This is kinda confusing to me. Thanks, Kim

  • Hi yea Kim! Yea, I’m having a very good week. Except for twisting my ankle in St. Louis and then getting my finger slammed in the car today in Indianapolis. :) I’m fine in both cases.

    Anyway, you ask a great question. First, this comes from my Baptistic view of the relationship between Church and State. A free church seems to be more in line with the Biblical example than a blending of church and state. Second, the Biblical restrictions apply to specific offices. Namely, teaching and eldership. I think it is a stretch to apply the male requirement in the office of elder to a more general restriction on leadership in general. Paul is clearly addressing himself to the church in those places. Empresses were around in Paul’s day and he didn’t mention them when he said “be subject to the governing authorities.” (Rom 13)

    That may be an argument from silence but it is only part of the bigger picture.

    Hope that is helpful!

  • Hey Tim . . . Dave Gushee’s actually a friend of mine. He was a professor at Union University (where my wife was attending) and an elder at our church when we lived in Tennessee (a church which holds to a complimentarian view when it comes to eldership, btw). He’s since moved on to Mercer University.

    Anyway, even in matters in which he and I differ, I’ve always really appreciated his even-keeled approach to issues like this. Top-notch guy, and a top-notch scholar.

  • Thanks for that update Rae. What you describe is the impression I got from his article. We need more theologians like that.

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