Covenant's Kaleo Center and the James: lessons learned...

As the dialogue on this blog concerning Covenant's College's Kaleo Center's conference on gender and the church comes to an end, a few observations are in order.

It is a great disadvantage to do the work of professing and fathering at a distance and by E-mail. Covenant students need on-site professors who will profess the biblical doctrine of sexuality with joyful abandon--not parsimoniously with a defensive attitude saying more what that doctrine doesn't mean than what it does mean.

These professors are physically present, and therefore in the perfect position to answer the question, "What is submission?"

Their answer should not come only in a classroom, but also in their homes around the dining room table. It's there in the hurlyburly of life that submission will become clear to Matthew, Heather, Stephanie, and hundreds of others who arrived at college thinking that feminism has questions that only twenty or thirty year olds hear.

When Covenant's Kaleo Center invites the James to campus to deal with the much-controverted question of authority and submission in marriage, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to read the signs and know where the Kaleo Center is trying to lead the campus. The headliner is a woman and she is approved of and promoted by the main evangelical feminist organization? Well now, let me see: I wonder what that means?

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think it means that she ought not to speak at Covenant since every confessional commitment of Covenant's ecclesiastical authority is opposed to the teaching of this evangelical feminist organization on the meaning and purpose of sexuality. Yes, to me it's that simple: Carolyn Custis James' books are sold by the organization and they use her to speak at their national conference so we cannot trust Mrs. James to teach our students the meaning and purpose of Christian marriage, sexuality, submission, authority, etc.

But some point out that while she was at Covenant Mrs. James took a second to affirm that she was willing to submit to Scripture's teaching concerning men alone being called to serve as pastors and elders, so she's obviously orthodox in her doctrine of sexuality.

Maybe an analogy will help make my point.

Let's say by some perverse error I was invited by the administration to be the keynote speaker at a conference on gender and the church at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, or Wheaton College where the community ethos is overwhelmingly feminist. And it was clear by the administration's invitation which direction they wanted to move their institution although, of course, nothing was ever said directly to me about their goal.

Still, I could read the tea leaves and prepared accordingly. The administration chose me for what I do best: address audiences hostile to biblical patriarchy in such a way, and with credentials carefully modulated to the end, that when I leave those I've spoken to have begun to question their feminist orthodoxies.

I show up with my wife in tow and she has a pierced nose which serves my purposes admirably giving the appearance that we aren't simply boringly normal Christians living in simple submission to Scripture but something more in keeping with the campus ethos--sort of exotic and bleeding edge like.

My wife starts out her message by speaking about the experience of men down through the ages suffering at the hands of rebellious wives who refuse to submit to their husbands. She tells the story, for instance, of a well-known theologian whose friend came in the front door of their home one day to find his wife standing over him in fury, grasping a clump of his hair in her hand. And she multiplies such stories and quotes until, as she brings it to a conclusion, the audience is gasping in despair wondering if any feminist rhetoric can possibly justify such wickedness.

Then I move onto the platform and pick up from where my wife left off. Nothing direct, you understand--everything carefully nuanced in such a way that my critics won't be able to get much of a toe-hold. But every professor present knows what I'm professing.

The students, though? No, the students all got high SAT scores and many of them think themselves wise beyond their years. So it's the work of a moment to throw them off my scent. I reassure them that I'm in complete harmony with their institution's feminist commitments by talking about Galatians 3:28 for a few seconds, demonstrating the equality of the sexes before God. A few short spurts of talk about the sexes having equal value, about the image of God being equally resident in both woman and man (and of course I say it in that order), and other such rhetorical flourishes.

After about a minute or so in that direction, I've built a bullet-proof shield against being accused of undercutting the campus ethos. So then I get to work. After the talk, a young woman raises her hand and asks me what she should look for in a husband?

I respond tongue-in-cheek that she shouldn't seek a husband who is weak and believes in the equality of the sexes as a way of covering up his own inadequacies...

Now is there anyone reading this analogy who doesn't see the parallels to Covenant College's Kaleo Center's invitation to Carolyn Custis James to address the matter of gender and the church? Mrs. James is married to the president of Reformed in Orlando. Trusting in her essential orthodoxy, we're lulled into feelings of security and let our guard down. Mrs. James just published the lead article in the denominational magazine. We're lulled into feelings of security and let our guard down. Mrs. James' husband begins the weekend by reading a list of the worst quotes he could find from church history indicating that every period of church history is simply one more time of gross suffering by women under repressive male authorities who demean women. We're AWAKENED! Hear, hear! What is this? Stand up and listen! Houston, we have a problem!

Having been softened up by Mrs. James' husband, we're ready again to be reassured so the headliner begins by taking a minute to say she affirms what the denomination confesses, that women alone should be pastors and elders. But then she's off and running.

Brothers and sisters, I've been around this issue of biblical sexuality for a long time now and there are some certainties that must be stated at the conclusion of this matter.

First, Carolyn Custis James is no friend of Scripture's teaching on the biblical doctrine of sexuality. She's no blunderbuss against that doctrine, but rather a stealth bomber. She speaks at both feminist and patriarchal venues, but the venues that are feminist are hard in their commitments whereas the patriarchal venues are soft.

Second, while I'm sure that because it exists under the auspices of Covenant College, the Kaleo Center is officially patriarchal (or complementarian which is surely the label they would choose), I'm equally sure that commitment is intentionally being moved in the feminist direction. Again, the movement is not direct but indirect. Still, movement it is.

Third, within the faculty of Covenant College, there are some professors who are faithful in this matter. There are many others who, although they are personally committed to biblical sexuality, know the cost of their public profession of that doctrine and have chosen not to pay that cost. And then there are the professors who have long since turned their back on the biblical doctrine of sexuality and are simply proponents of the reigning ethos of almost every academic community in the western world: feminism. And I'm guessing that, like every other academic institution in the western world, if there's a department where this conformist ideological commitment to feminism is strongest on Covenant's campus, it's the English department.

Where to now? Well, Covenant College has a new administration and we hope and pray that their commitments are not demonstrated by the commitments of the Kaleo Center evident in their recent conference. Time will tell and we must pray for them.

Comments

I came across this C.H. Spurgeon quote again and thought it might be a good one to share here. I am already ducking for cover....

"They were the first to see their risen Lord, and we will try to learn something from them tonight. It should be an encouragement to those members of the church of Christ who are neither pastors nor teachers that, if they live very near to God, they may yet teach pastors and teachers. Get clear views of our Lord, as did these holy women, who had no office in the church and yet taught the officers, for they were sent to bear to the apostles the tidings that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. Not first to them who were the heads of the church, as it were, but first of all to lowly women did the Lord appear, and the apostles themselves had to go to school, to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to learn that great truth, "The Lord is risen indeed."

Dear Karen, why would you be "ducking for cover" after submitting this comment? The implication is that David and I would disagree with you and Spurgeon. Not at all.

As I've said countless times, quoting Hemingway, "It's the mark of a man that he marries the woman he loves instead of the woman who loves him." And then I apply this by saying that a man should marry a woman who will stand up to him in his sin, and not simply coo and whimper at him.

Women teach and confront and rebuke their husbands all the time, but without exercising authority over them. It's one indication how ridiculous feminism is that feminists think they've invented something when they talk about women learning theology, women teaching their husbands, women confronting their husbands in sin--and my personal favorite, men crying.

Thank you for posting this wonderful comment. It's true.

Hi,

Would someone post a list (obviously it can't be comprehensive) of major colleges and seminaries where the "community ethos is overwhelmingly feminist?" Also, could you define exactly what that means?

Bayly's...I'm on board with you in your positions here on feminism and its inroads into the church. I'm just ignorant of where those inroads have been made in terms of our institutions of higher education.

Thanks,

Chuck

Dear Tim,

This is an example of why I have struggled with your many comments on this blog regarding women in the past few weeks.

That quote by Spurgeon is not placing the boundaries of instruction around wives to husbands. Spurgeon talks about laymen, and in this case lay women, knowing something theological and sharing it, by God's command, with those who are the leaders in the church. In fact, there is no indication, of which I am aware, that either of the Marys were married to the disciples they "instructed." Your reponse took the Spurgeon quote into a realm he isn't talking about. You have put your own spin on it. And then you have praised it after you took it completely out of context. I will repeat the question I asked several days ago:

Is it possible for a woman to understand theological things and instruct men about them or the application of them without placing themselves in authority over those men? I think about King Lemuel's mother. She instructed her son, whoever he was, as to the kind of woman he should seek as a wife. The canon of Scripture includes a woman's instructions to her son and, as everyone here knows, the Proverbs 31 woman has become an icon for womanhood. But the Holy Spirit chose to impart this truth to all of us through a woman's instruction to a grown son. I do not believe this is wrong. Both of these passages seem to show that God has used women to impart spiritual truth to men, even to men today. So I am confused.

Is there something you believed happened during the fall that caused women to be inherently flawed and unable to have the same insights as men? I sense this in the posts here.

I am not trying to be rebellious in my questionning....I am sincerely trying to understand what I perceive to be a view that is foreign to me.

Sincerely,
Karen

Dear Karen,

Since you think I wouldn't agree with a woman rebuking or exhorting or correcting a man other than her husband, let me be explicit about that, also.

Some years back, when I was Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I was asked by a religion reporter from a major newspaper whether I thought women should ever correct or teach men. I responded that the day before a dear widow in our church had corrected me in something I said in my sermon, and that it was inconceivable to me that such exchanges between men and women were not constant throughout church history. Again, what is it about feminists that they think this is something new to those who hold to the biblical command of not allowing women to exercise authority over men, but to be silent?

It all has to do with things such as context, motivation, tone of voice--you know, whether or not it's an exercise of authority.

And yet, we're missing the real question of our time: what application does the order of Creation and the commands of Scripture (that women not exercise authority over men but be silent -1Timohty 2:12,13) have for our lives? Or again, what application does Sarah obeying her husband and calling him "Lord" (1Peter 3:6) have for our lives? Or again, what application does man being the image and glory of God but woman being the glory of man (1Corinthians 11:7) have for our lives?

After all, it is those questions that fly in the face of the spirit of our age.

Warmly,

Tim Bayly

Dear Karen,

One more response to some of the things you've written.

You wrote:

***Is there something you believed happened during the fall that caused women to be inherently flawed and unable to have the same insights as men? I sense this in the posts here.***

I respond:

The subordination of women is a function of God's created order--not the Fall. Arguments can be made that the Fall added something to this subordination, but those arguments are not the essential matter. Rather, the statement of Scripture, that women are not to exercise authority over men but to be silent, **because Adam was created first, and then Eve** is essential.

Now it's highly unlikely that God would decree across all time that men have certain functions that women not have without His providing men gifts for that function. You know, "women will be preserved through the bearing of children" (1Timohty 2:20) and the woman has brea.ts and a womb.

Furthermore, it's hard for me to imagine how you could ask such a question without specifically focussing my attention on the Scriptures that most closely bear on your inquiry--namely, 2Corinthians 11:3 ("...the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness"); 1Timothy 2:14 ("And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."); and 2Timothy 3:6 ("For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses...").

Why no mention of these statements by God's Holy Spirit when asking questions related to the gifting of men and women relative to theological truths? Are these texts the only ones in Scripture that, having no application in real life, are not profitable?

Now, I'm not going to exegete them here since I am a pastor and cannot spend all my time answering inquiries both public and private. But I will point out that those who defend Carolyn Custis James seem reticent to cite any particular Scripture dealing with women and God's created order, let alone apply that Scripture in any way that goes against the spirit of the age.

It's time for us to talk about how we can honor and observe and implement and affirm and submit to the teaching of Scripture concerning sexuality, instead of always fiddling around the edge and picking at what we perceive to be its loose threads.

Sincerely,

Tim Bayly

Golly gee Beaver, it would just be terrible for our little kiddos to hear an actual opinion from someone. They might actually have to think and then consider the weight of the biblical texts that speak to this author's comments. That would be horrible, because they will never meet anyone after graduation that will disagree with them so why prepare them for this. What they need is to be convinced that there is just one narrow stream of biblical faithfulness that includes Tim Bayly and everyone to the right of him.

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