To Refill the Core

I get what he’s saying but I still disagree with Carl Trueman on this one. To summarize, Trueman is confused as to why The Gospel Coalition is complementarian (men and women are equal but have different, complementary roles in the church) but all fuzzy on baptism since there are baptists and Presbyterians in the Coalition. More to his point, The Gospel Coalition is supposed to be focused on the gospel and isn’t the role of women in the church a secondary issue but baptism a primary one?

The reason complementarianism is important is because of the hermeneutical issues that surround it. Trueman makes a very good point that there are shades of egalitarianism that run from “the Bible is wrong on this” to those who says “you’re reading those texts wrong.” So, Trueman reasons, why exclude those who still hold to inerrancy but don’t agree with how complementarians are interpreting certain passages? I don’t know what Trueman has been reading on this but the egalitarians I’ve read employ a hermeneutic principle that can be used to justify a whole bunch more than ordaining women. The premise I’ve read is that the situation in Paul’s day was that women were uneducated and therefore not fit to lead in the church. But today women are educated and therefore good candidates for leadership in the church if they meet the other criteria.

The problems with that approach are numerous and therefore it can be used to justify anything. Instead of uneducated women, put in thieves. Sure Paul said that if a man does not work he cannot eat but back in Paul’s day if you stole from someone it meant that you were taking food off their table. Today if you steal a little from work, no one is hurt since the company makes so much money… Do you see? There are no bounds on this thing. I agree with The Gospel Coalition on this because of the hermeneutical land mines of allowing egalitarianism equal footing.

So yes, there are hermeneutical differences between the baptists and paedobaptists but we’re well aware of those differences and whichever side you’re on, the ‘errors’ of the other side don’t leak like the egalitarian error does. Denying the inference that baptism replaces circumcision isn’t likely to lead to denying the physical return of Jesus. However, a hermeneutic that says that the situation Paul was addressing in his day is different that what we see today and therefore the explicit requirements and prescriptions in the Bible don’t apply to us could lead in any number of dangerous directions.

The Gospel Coalition is about more than just setting “aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel”, as Trueman says, they are about the health of the church. And qualifications for church leaders has a lot to do with the health of the church. I was at the very first Gospel Coalition conference which was held at Trinity University’s chapel and I got to hear what Carson and Keller wanted to do in putting the Coalition together. They were concerned about the doctrinal hollowing out of the evangelical church in America. Carson gave a good talk on how evangelicalism used to be doctrinal but we’ve tended to put that aside and focus on techniques. The Gospel Coalition is supposed to help the American evangelical church regain her doctrinal core. And while we may differ on the doctrine of baptism, no one in the Coalition is going to say that baptism is optional or a practice for a different age. Complementarianism is important because within evangelicalism, egalitarianism is new and rests on a hermeneutical loophole.

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  • […] of thoughts. Carl Trueman asked why The Gospel Coalition takes a stance on complementarianism. I commented on that. Doug Wilson commented not so much on Carl’s question but on an illustration Carl used to […]

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