25.8.09

In response to many questions, do I have a problem with Grudem and Piper?

I feel concerned about the extra-biblical stuff, like the lists of jobs which Piper draws up regarding what women should do for careers.

If the hierarchical complementarianist 'men and women are equal, yet role-differentiated' gender paradigm of Grudem, Piper and CBMW is so biblical, why can’t it stand up to scrutiny? Why do CBMW and DesiringGod have to answer so many questions for churches about what women can and can not do? Why are so many of the answers that they give not in the Bible?

Why when these theologians discuss submission, do they use the term subordinate? For example, when I was doing research on the theology for and against women bishops, I looked at Grudem and Rainey’s ‘Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood’. They describe how the ‘Biblical View of Submission …requires her to submit to him…, while no passage indicates that a husband should be subordinate to his wife.’ I think that in the casual exchange of the word submit for subordinate, significant problems lie. These two words are not synonymous because the former is theological and about ‘dying to self’, the latter is worldly, denoting inferiority.

How can these theologians claim that their interpretation of God’s word is God’s word, in effect they claim to speak for God? It is as if when you disagree with them, you are disagreeing with God. Evangelical egalitarians endorse the authority of Scripture, but not the authority of human interpreters. To dispute an interpretation is not to dispute with God himself.

Egalitarians do not embrace secular feminist agendas, it is not secular humanism that motivates us, but the Bible and Egalitarians embrace sexual differentiation and do not argue for a unisex society or church, we want for the equal contribution of women as women and men as men, complementing each other.

Egalitarians embrace what the creeds say about the Trinity: the divine three persons are one in being and authority and “co-equal.” Of relations in the trinity in eternity, the Father is attributed the beginning of action, the fountain and source of all things; the Son, wisdom, counsel, and arrangement in action, while the energy and efficacy of action is assigned to the Spirit. I do not think this equals “authority and submission,"and I believe some hierarchist-complementarian theologians redefine Trinitarian theology to fit their opinions on women in ministry.

About women and men, interpretation acknowledges that in Paul's world the subordination of women occurred and Paul subverts patriarchy by saying that in a Christian marriage husbands serve wives with agapē love, to the point of giving their life. The case is not stated so strongly for women of whom this was expected anyway, instead they are to remember that when they submit to their husbands, which means putting his needs before her own, they are actually serving Jesus in doing this; he is their Lord. The challenge for both hierarchists and egalitarians is how to apply these words.

Christians might come to see that the partnership understanding of marriage advocated by Jesus and Paul as the ideal, is the most enriching.

Christians might discover that allowing women to use the charismata that Paul insists are given without discrimination to men and women, will enrich the life of the church.

4 comments:

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rachel
As in a previous comment on another post, I would focus on the complementarians' erection of a superstructure of rules on the basis of the concept of female submission as the weak point in their paradigm. A true New Testament church has minimal rather than maximal rules because it is governed by the freedom for which Christ has set us free rather than the rulebook which Christ never wrote.

But I take issue with you on one (minor) thing: I see little if any distinction between 'subordinate' and 'submit' and suggest there is no great problem with them being used synonymously. Whether one is ordering one's life under the authority of another, or placing one's mission under the direction of another, the effect is pretty much the same thing!

David Ould said...

These two words are not synonymous because the former is theological and about ‘dying to self’, the latter is worldly, denoting inferiority.
I think part of the problem is that you are assuming that these words are being used in these ways. You are reading statements about "inferiority" when they actually don't exist.

As for the Creeds, if we are to embrace as we must, then we must embrace their totality. It was not for no reason that we received

God from God
True God from True God.
Begotten...

Those statements speak both to the homoousion of the Son but also to his subordination - His Sonship.

To deny this is to be the one who "redefines Trinitarian theology to fit their opinions on women's ministry".

i would suggest:

1. A more generous and fair reading of what is actually being claimed by complementarians and what is not.
2. A clearer understanding of the trinitarian legacy that the Nicean and Chalcedonian Fathers left us. They were eternal subordinationists. They believed in the homoousion of the Son and also in His Sonship. They would have thought it bizarre that anyone suggest that the Father submit to the Son or that the Son send the Father.

Rachel Marszalek said...

This was helpful from Suzanne who describes how Augustine says 'For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power...'

Those teaching ESS and then relating it to the women issue seem to me to teach that the Father has inherent authority and the Son has submission and that this is then to be copied in marriages. (Man to Father, Wife to Son).

It has just dawned on me like some kind of epiphany, if Christ is eternal: the Logos, then Suzanne's explanation that '...the Son sends as well. He is with the Father in the sending,' makes complete sense.

I'm also reminded of this from Jesus' lips:
John 14:26
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

This becomes:
John 16:7
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

In eternity, Jesus and the Father are together doing the sending, is this why Jesus can then say 'I'? This could get into discussions about the filioque clause, which makes part of our creeds but not of the Eastern Orthodox expression of Christianity. Is not ESS more like Eastern orthodox Christianity because of its hangups with a chain of command. I wonder if I might have overstated the case there, so forgive me, I'm thinking aloud.

I think that there is a perichoretic mutuality in the persons of the trinity. I think that this is reflected in the mutual submission which occurs between a husband and a wife in a marriage, which is up to them to work out on the basis of their God-given giftings. This is how my marriage works. One-flesh, equal, trying our best with the help of God's grace to put the needs of our partner before our own, working out our God-honouring giftings and callings and releasing the other to fulfil such callings for it is for the benefit of all, treating each other in the knowledge that God's grace is sufficient and because of this my husband does not construct a railing around the balcony on which I play, he trusts I am hedged in by God's Word (see W Virgo Influential women p. 156).

Suzanne goes on to explain:
For Augustine, as for the NT writers, it was key that the priest and the sacrifice be the same person. How is woman both priest and sacrifice? I don't see any comparison possible from Augustine as to how the Father and Son relationship resembles the husband and wife relationship.

I repeat:
I don't see any comparison possible from Augustine as to how the Father and Son relationship resembles the husband and wife relationship.

This is exactly what I don't understand either and it really bothers me, this leap.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Hi Peter
I think 'submit' 'subordinate' is just a case of semantics and subtleties.

For me this helped:
'In a fallen world, the term "subordination" immediately implies hierarchy, top-down authority, power over another, subjugation, repression, inequality.' (Beliefnet)

When I think of submission, I think of Christianity and our call each to submit to the other, when I think of subordination I think of the world and its hierarchies, its 'lording it over' habits.

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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions