AUGUST 30, 2012

Denny Burk recently posted an interesting and provocative piece regarding the relationship and importance of complementarianism and inerrancy to the Gospel.

I have two responses to Denny Burk’s post which is summed up in the following quote:

“The gymnastics required to get from ‘I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,’ in the Bible, to ‘I do allow a woman to teach and to exercise authority over a man’ in the actual practice of the local church, are devastating to the functional authority of the Scripture in the life of the people of God.”

1.  To practically equate complementarianism—as The Gospel Coalition defines it—with an accurate definition of the Gospel and inerrancy, I find to be borderline idolatry and heresy, and a position that cannot be defended or argued from Scripture. This argument coming from the same people who will not equate social and economic justice with a wholistic definition of the Gospel (and certainly not inerrancy) simply proves that much of what we call biblical Christianity is simply cultural Christianity, and the passing on of someone’s biases, prejudices and preferences, in the name of or under the ruse of—orthodoxy.

By the way, I am a complementarian, if believing that the Bible teaches that a female cannot be a senior pastor because of God’s design, makes one a complementarian. I fully believe what the 2000 BFM states, and it does not preclude a woman from teaching a man in a public setting. If that’s what it teaches, certainly FBC Dallas under Dr. Criswell was in violation each week with his wife regularly teaching men.

2.  How do you get from, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all, for to one is given…different kinds of tongues…And God has appointed these in the church…varieties of tongues…For he who speaks in tongue does not speak to men but to God…in the spirit he speaks mysteries…He who speaks in tongues edifies himself…I wish you all spoke in tongues…for if I pray in tongue, my spirit prays…I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all…If anyone speaks in tongue [and there is no interpreter]…let him speak to himself and to God…do not forbid to speak in tongues (I Cor. 12:7, 10, 28; 14:2, 4, 5, 14, 18, 27, 39)—to—“I forbid you to speak in tongues privately or publicly, with or without interpretation, and if you do so, you can’t serve as an IMB missionary, and you have psychological, emotional or demonic issues and influences effecting your private devotions”? I don’t know for certain, but it would not surprise me if Burk and Duncan can do the “gymnastics” required to get there. And if they can get there and consider themselves inerrantists, so can the egalitarian get from I Timothy 2:12 to egalitarianism and yet be an inerrantist and hold a proper view of the Gospel.

The way we got there is by employing the same thinking, hermeneutic, rationale and personal and cultural preferences and biases on the text as Lig Duncan has done here, and Burk affirmatively quotes him here.

If evangelicals can ignore the clear teaching of Scripture and arbitrarily decide to “forbid speaking in tongues,” why can’t the egalitarian do the same thing with the 1 Timothy 2:12 passage? I know you would say, “Not so”! Evangelicals arrived at their position on forbidding tongues based on careful and critical exegesis. “This is what my egalitarian friends say as well. I’m sure you are aware that those who conclude that same-sex marriage and monogamous homosexual relationships are not sinful also claim they reached those conclusions through careful and critical exegesis.

Therefore, I conclude where I started: To equate complementarianism and inerrancy (of which I wholeheartedly believe in) with an accurate understanding or definition of the Gospel is idolizing the doctrines of inerrancy and complementarianism to a height that the Bible does not elevate their doctrines and consequently distorts the true Gospel. It further removes our focus on the Gospel from where Jesus placed it; and that is on the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14, 15). An accurate view of gender roles in Scripture is not a “gospel” essential, nor does it threaten one’s belief regarding inerrancy. That is a cultural Christian perspective, not a biblical Christian perspective.

I have no problem with Burk and Duncan advocating a robust complementarianism as it relates to the office of the Senior Pastor. My disagreement with them lies in the fact that they appear to argue that their positions are inextricably combined with the Gospel. Not only do I find this position without biblical merit, but an unjustified indictment against all of the churches that I’m aware of (predominately African American) that at a very minimum allow a female annually on Sunday morning to address the congregation at the regular preaching hour on “Women’s Day” and many who allow women to speak/preach intermittingly throughout the year. What Burk and Duncan are advocating is robust Fundamentalism masquerading as the Gospel.

If I understand Burk and Duncan correctly, those of us who allow this do not have a proper understanding of the Gospel, and we threaten belief in inerrancy. Pleeeeeezze! These are the very reasons we allow these practices, because we believe they are biblical.