The Lotz/Chapell/Keller/James matrix...

Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. From our discussion, it became apparent that my concern with Covenant not zealously dealing with believers who reject biblical headship led to my identifying too closely the position held by Bryan Chapell and Covenant Seminary and the very different position held by Anne Graham Lotz. I regret this error. Please read the post keeping this clarification in mind.

Today the Washington Post ran a short piece by Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, that resembles the current doctrine of sexuality held by reformed evangelicals and their institutions such as Bryan Chapell/Covenant Seminary, Tim Keller/Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and Carolyn Custis James/Reformed Seminary (Orlando). Put these leaders in a room, make them talk together, and although they may not agree on every detail, their central thrust would be egalitarian and feminist.

And whereas Ms. Lotz may not agree entirely with the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do," her only quibble would be with the "non-ordained" bit. I'm guessing she's more straightforward than the men, and would not agree to that final Pharisaical barrier. She's already preaching and teaching; for her, elders meetings are small potatoes.

Here then is Ms. Lotz's brief article titled, "For Billy Graham's Daughter, Bible Crystal Clear on Male-Female Equality." After you've read it, come on back and read the following text--my response to Ms. Lotz.

* * *

Ms. Anne Graham Lotz writes:

The Bible states that in the very beginning of the human race God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1:27-28) In other words, the Biblical record is clear: God created men and women equal. Period. Dominion over everything was given to the woman as well as to the man. The woman was not created inferior to the man; nor was the man greater than the woman.

However, when sin entered the human race, one of the consequences was that men and women became separated from God. And that basic broken relationship distorted the Divine order in many ways, one of which was that men began to rule over women (Genesis 3:16).

At the beginning of her attack upon Scripture, Ms. Lotz writes as if she's a friend of Scripture, categorically stating, "the Biblical record is clear: ...dominion over everything was given to the woman as well as to the man." Wrong...

While woman does function with man as vice-regent over the rest of creation, God Himself bars Ms. Lotz's sex from exercising dominion over man. Further, this is not the result of the Fall, when sin entered the world, but of the order in which God created man and woman. It was (and still is) man first, then woman. And flowing from His order of creation, God our Creator explicitly prohibits woman from exercising authority over man. Why?

Not because woman bears less of God's Image and is unequal to man, but because God has attached to each sex an order of authority and submission that He forbids us to deny or defy. Thus God's Holy Spirit commands: "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:12, 13).

As many have pointed out above, this order of God's creation of the sexes is a central theme of Scripture. It's revealed by God in Jesus Christ taking the flesh of a man, not a woman; it's revealed by Jesus' choice of twelve men as His Twelve Apostles; it's revealed by God's command that wives submit to their husbands "in everything;" it's revealed by Adam naming Eve (again, before the Fall); it's revealed by original sin flowing from Adam, who ate second, not Eve, who ate first; and it's revealed by Jesus commanding Christians to "Pray like this: Our *Father*, Who art in Heaven..."

It's sad to watch the daughter of a prominent Christian evangelist lashing out blindly at the clear teaching of the Word of God, rebelling against the boundaries God has decreed for her sex. No doubt, it's very hard to stand against the rabid egalitarianism and feminist ideology that have wormed their way to the heart of our culture.

But really, if we're going to start picking and choosing which biblical commands we want to obey, there's a much better place to start than the place Ms. Lotz has chosen. I'd nominate the command Jesus placed at the beginning of the straight and narrow path of Christian faith: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

(Thanks, Skip.)

Comments

Adam and Eve are given dominion over creation, but not over each other. Nowhere in scripture is the man given the command to exercise authority over the woman.

Uh huh. And so when the woman is told to submit to her husband in Eph 5, I guess that's null and void because, after all, it never tells a man to actually make authoritative decisions that the woman must submit to. She is to submit, but no authority is to be exercised.

With my very limited knowledge, I feel that I would have been able to defeat Mrs. Lotz' arguments in a debate pretty easily. It was frustrating reading this article.

Even more frustrating though was reading some of the comments... particularly the one about the teacher who is going to use this new refreshing information to enlighten her students.

My favorite part of the article was that Mrs. Lotz says Jesus' greatest miracle was bringing Lazarus back to life. Really? Is that greater than the resurrection?

Bringing Lazarus back to life is a great story, but without the resurrection, we're kinda screwed.

>With my very limited knowledge, I feel that I would have been able to defeat Mrs. Lotz' arguments in a debate pretty easily.

These sort of arguments don't get traction because they are intellectually coherent or powerful but because rebellious men and women desire a fig leaf to allow them to conform to the popular culture and their fallen desires. See Light's comments for another example of the above.

I want to echo what David Gray said in regards to why these false doctrines get traction. It is not a matter of Scripture but of sinful rebellion that fuels this idea. A Christian of the most average Biblical aptitude can see the clarity of the Word on this issue. Moreover, spineless preachers that are afraid to confront the culture with the gospel and charge that no different doctrine be taught allow this sort of thing grow wild in the church.

...and it's revealed by God leading through Joseph and not Mary. If there was ever a chance for God to demonstrate leading a family through the wife/woman, this was it -- Mary the bearer of the Son of God, Mary the chosen, blessed one, Mary the receiver of the Holy Spirit in a way like none other... But when it came to leading the family, it is Joseph, over and over, spoken to in a dream to lead and protect his family.

"These sort of arguments don't get traction because they are intellectually coherent or powerful but because rebellious men and women desire a fig leaf to allow them to conform to the popular culture and their fallen desires."

It's all too evident that the evangelical church is simply following the Episcopal Church, but is just a generation or so behind it. Watch for our evangelical "celebrities" to discover the "beauties" of homosexual "love" in another ten to twenty years (if not less).

Tim, you said, "Bryan Chapell/Covenant Seminary, Tim Keller/Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and Carolyn Custis James/Reformed Seminary (Orlando). Put these leaders in a room, make them talk together, and although they may not agree on every detail, their central thrust would be egalitarian and feminist."

That statement, reverend, is a slanderous untruth. You can provide NO evidence of what you say "their central thrust would be."

>That statement, reverend, is a slanderous untruth.

Well at least you appear to have sense enough to consider egalitarian and feminist to be proper terms of disparagement.

Brother Anthony, The statement you called "slander" is a predictive statement, an educated guess. It may be that, once this group actually assembled in a room, the Holy Spirit would lead one or more of these men and women to repent of lacking a heart for guarding this part of the good deposit, and that they would turn and faithfully represent Scripture's doctrine of sexuality. If so, I'd not have been guilty of slander, but bad prognostication.

Where slander might be the right word to use is in weighing my accusation that Ms. Lotz's article is egalitarian and feminist, and that it is a good representation of the sort of witness that is characteristic of reformed evangelicalism, as well as Redeemer, Covenant, and their leaders.

* * *

For our good readers, here's a question: Is "A woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do" an accurate summary of the Biblical witness concerning the nature and purpose of sexuality? Likely the way each of us answers that question would predict whether we think this post slanderous or not.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, "Anthony" of the above comment is Anthony Bradley, Assistant Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary.

thanks Tim... I posted my thoughts about this article on my blog, and now another Ohio State student hates me. She has a very good reason to hate me since my response to this article was very mean and sarcastic... but, whatever. She told me that she looks forward to proving my thoughts on women in authority, and on childbearing wrong. I can't wait for her to prove me wrong.

25 years old and I'm already tired of fighting this fight. I'm getting bitter Tim.

oh yeah, this verse was dropped on me today.

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

... no comment.

"Is "A woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do" an accurate summary of the Biblical witness concerning the nature and purpose of sexuality?"

Short answer: no.

I think the chief Biblical principle here is that woman are not to "teach or have authority" over men in the church. I Tim. 2:12. Teaching and exercising authority are routinely done by church members who are not ordained officers (small group leaders would be the best example, but also adult sunday school teachers, some ministry leaders, etc.). Thus, saying that "women may do anything a non-ordained man may do" is to say that women may teach and have authority over man so long as they are not ordained, which is not faithful to the Biblical witness which is that God has designed men for the roles of teaching and authority in the church.

"And one day, He will welcome into His heavenly home every woman who has claimed Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. And the equality, respect, and status she has longed for will be hers. Forever. "

What equality is desired? What status is longed for? Our desire as men and women is to be out from under authority. We make our own decisions and nobody has any right to tell us no. This is not new. Adam and Eve also had this desire for equality with God, and so they ate the forbidden fruit. They did not receive equality with God. They did not receive the status of independence that they desired. Their desire to be out from under God's authority caused their ultimate separation from Him and His paradise.

In Heaven as well as on earth, God the Father rules for all eternity. Contrary to what Anne Graham Lottz says, at that time we will learn the truth of God's fatherhood, and no man or woman will claim equality with the ruler of the universe. Nobody will be thinking about how much respect they deserve.

For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." - Romans 14:11

...at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth - Php 2:10

If we proceed in our rebellion against God, we too will be separated from him as Adam and Eve were. Let this be a warning to those who fight against God's authority.

"How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. "Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. "So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. "For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." Proverbs 1:22-33, NAS95.

"He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain." "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 'You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" Psalms 2:4-12, NAS95.

Dear Alex,

Do not become bitter, dear brother, but continue to grow in love and compassion for those being led astray into rebellion against God.

Fight the good fight. Do not grow weary. Be nourished and strengthened by the Word of Truth.

With love,
-your brother Joseph

Dear Alex,

This is a spiritual war, dear brother. If you allow Satan to convince you that of yourself you are less than completely depraved and blind to the truth, then you will be just as bad if not worse than your opponents. He will tell you that you are the only one, and he will make you feel righteous for the stands that you take. He will tell you that you are better than they are. And if you do not resist him you will become a bitter, blind, self-righteous Pharisee. And you will cease to be useful for the Kingdom and will become destructive. The liar who has this world in bondage would have you captive too. Stand firm and resist him. He will run, and being reminded of your vulnerability, you will have compassion on those who have fallen into his snares. Fight the lies he's telling you with the Word of Truth, and you will see clearly to fight the lies he's telling the world around you. Remember from whence you've come, and remember that it is God who has saved you by His power and grace. There is no room for boasting.

Jack's Pipe- I think that if you read a hierarchical authoritarian view into Ephesians 5 you can surely say that men have authority over their wives, but I think Eph 5 is addressing a proper understanding of submission for both men and women, not specifically man's authority over women, but Christ's authority over both men and women. Men submit to the Lord, women submit to men and to the Lord. Eph 5:21 says submit one to another. The primary command here for me is not to exercise authority as you stated, but to love ones wife, as Christ loved the Church... which points to Christ giving his love for the Church and so, that we should give our lives for our wives. Wives are told to respect their husbands. Love and repsect are what stand in contrast here, not authority and submission. Submission, in proper succession, is revealed as an instrument to point both man and women toward a right understanding of Christs Lordship, a theme which fits well in the context of Ephesians. Womens submission to man would seem to rightly be interpreted as respect. Mans response might properly be humility, which reveals itself in love toward the women. In this process, husband and wife are rightly submitting to Christ and Gods good order. I am not sure where the exercise of authority is found in this passage. To read hierarchy into this passage seems to go beyond a plain reading of the text. The passage is about right relationship between husband and wife. If authority means to rightly love her, than I might concede your point, but I think that she might as well, especially in the context of a lovinng relationship. Help me see where I have it wrong.

Michael Fogas

thanks guys... my words on my previous comment were a little bit strong. there's no way i'm giving up. there are times when the hurtful comments bother me. i'm not used to being called sexist, but it is worth it when people realize the truth, which is definitely happening.

Hi Michael,

Just as God shows his love for us by disciplining us, I would say that to rightly love her is to properly hold authority, which includes discipline. Of course, there are many other things that go into love, but I'm afraid you are turning a blind eye to the obvious point here: the submission and respect of the wife assume the authority of the one she submits to.

-Joseph

Michael Fogas--

First, you seem to be trying to draw your conclusions about authority in the home solely from your (mis)reading of Ephesians 5. What about all the other passages that reinforce the idea that the husband exercizes authority over his wife?

Second, just replace the words "child" or "student" or "employee" for wife and the words "parent" or "teacher" or "employer" for husband (as does Paul in Ephesians 5) and you'll see how absurd your argument is. Are you seriously saying that these are to be understood biblically as relationships of "mutual submission"? Is that how you raise your kids and deal with your boss? Yikes.

David L.- I made no broad sweeping conclusions about authority in the home, not sure where you got that. I am working to rightly read Ephesians 5. You state that I misread the passage and point ambiguously toward all the other passages that say this or that- Please make your case. I would love to constructively discuss this issue, minus the rhetoric, minus the obstinance, etc. I am working to rightly read the text. Gods word is not relative, I believe that the Holy Spirit has spoken in absolute terms. Both the NestleAland and the UBS read 5:20 as the break and progress the next section of Eph 5 with vs 21 starting the thought, which is- submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives submit to your husbands etc, etc, etc, Husbands love your wives. There is no way to get around the mutual submission in this particular passage. If you want to address another passage, I am wide open to discussing it. I think it is ill advised to move words around, in the way that you stated. Maybe to make limited points, but not to construct entire doctrinal systems of such weight.

Joseph, please define your terms- Discipline and authority- I might agree with your point, but I am very interested in the way you exercise these responsibilities. What do you believe the Bible teaches in these areas, specifically for men in relation to women, and from where do you draw those conclusions? I would be interested to understand your perspective. Thanks.

Michael Fogas

Dear Michael,

We are to submit ourselves to one another, each according to the positions of authority or subordination God has placed us in--husbands in authority and wives subordinate to that authority, masters in authority and slaves subordinate to that authority, parents in authority and children subordinate to that authority, etc.

Here's a post that explains this text more fully:

http://timbayly.worldmagblog.com/timbayly/archives/026247.html

I found Wayne Grudem's recent book "Evangelical Feminism" helpful as well as D.G. Hart's "Deconstructing Evangelicalism." I believe those bad, bad Bayly boys are pointing us in the right direction. Although I do not know Lotz, I am a classmate of Tim's, I have heard and read Chapell, and heard and read James. Some of the unrest in the PCA currently is caused by their influence and the fact that men will not stand up and be biblical spiritual leaders according to Scripture. I listened to a MP3 from a "Redeemer Model" church in my area and 25 minutes of the 30-minute sermon was spent apologizing that the text being preached on (submission of the woman) was in the Bible! BTW, the Eph. 5:22ff. texts are not talking about "mutual submission" based on Eph. 5:21. Rattlesnake 6

I will read your work on Eph. Also, do you believe that there should be masters and slaves? You sandwiched that one between husband and wife and parent and child. I hope that you say no, but I am interested in how you defend a plain reading of Eph 5 and then change your hermeneutic in Eph 6?

Let me clarify, I am in accord with your basic premise. Yet, I am far from convinced that Christian men in general have a right understanding of what it means to be in authority, or to discipline- but, we are most deficient in understanding what it means to love. In many ways your posts and reader responses here reinforce that perception.

Please comment on your view of Eph 6. Thanks!

Michael Fogas

Ron, it is appropriate for the Church to apologize for the abuse of women and the bastardization of the term "submission". We represent today the historic Church. Today, the Church in Asia, S America and Africa does not need to hear an apology for the systematic and historic abuse of women and minorities,(not in the context of Christianity)- but our cultural context demands that we deal with popular misconceptions which are rooted in factual historical events. Truth is no less true in this context, but we must work to break down the barriers and misconceptions that have become an offense. We are not working to reconcile culture to Christianity, but to destroy the barriers that hinder the Gospel Call from being heard by those who the Lord is saving. Your post demonatrates that you may not have accurately read your community context, and it seems dubious to believe that Redeemers message in your city should be applicable to you, when they are dealing with an entirely different community of people. They are trying to reach people who God is calling to himself, who are confused by the hypocrisy of abuse and oppression represented by the Church, which dooes not comport with the Christian message of a loving God. Paul wrote many specific letters, not just a few broad based letters for the entire Church. He addressed specific people. I am hopeful that Redeemers shephard knows his sheep and knows what it is that hinders then from hearing the grace of the gospel and entering back into the field.

By my estimation, the problem is that men have no idea what it means "to stand up for and to be biblical spiritual leaders". I would guess that many of us are more identified with David's mighty men, than we are with the Lamb of God. God's love is revealed in sacrifice, John 3:16.

In relation to Eph 5, it is easy to say that something is wrong, but hard to say why something is right. I would be interested to know how you read Eph 5. As far as my reading is conerned, as I look for the referent of "one another" it is clear that Paul is addressing Christians. We are told to be kind to "one another", to forgive "one another" etc.... To submit to "one another"5:21 ff. There is nothing implicit here that men are not to submit to women, it is more clear in the context that Christians are to submit to one another. Yet, this is followed by a proper understanding of our orderly practice of that submission. Of note, is that in Greek, 'idios' peculiar or particular, is used to qualify husband- saying in essence that wives are to submit to their particular husband the one to which they are united. Child to parent, slave to master etc. There is clearly as sense of both mutual submissionn and properly ordered submission within particular relational contexts.

How do you read that Ron? And, I would love to know what your biblically rooted view of submission is?

Michael, you wrote, "it is appropriate for the Church to apologize for the abuse of women and the bastardization of the term 'submission'" and "our cultural context demands that we deal with popular misconceptions which are rooted in factual historical events." You also spoke of "the hypocrisy of abuse and oppression represented by the Church."

These assertions remind me of a friend of mine who was on a gender-study panel some years ago at a nearby church. He told me they concluded that the church had a lot to repent of regarding its treatment of women in the past but that the Bible does teach separate roles for women & men. "That sounds pretty balanced," I said. The more it sunk in, though, the more I wondered what, specifically, these things "the church" should repent of actually are.

First, "the church" isn't a monolith, and I see no reason for one church in a college town today to make a public gesture of apologizing for what a 1930s-era rural church in West Virginia, for example, may have taught about women (or anything else, for that matter). Many men are brutish and look for an excuse to act brutishly, but the church has never officially excused or enshrined brutishness in any of its confessions, so far as I know. What "factual historic events" are you thinking of?

As for those who want to apologize--is it for being unfaithful to the biblical revelation or is it for being politically incorrect? What are these offenses, specifically, that "the church" is guilty of and needs to apologize to the secular, unbelieving world for? There is absolutely no reason to apologize for teaching that women are "the weaker vessel" or that, since man was created before woman, he exercizes authority over her and she submits to him. One may want to argue about the practical manifestations of this relationship, but the fact is quite clear from Scripture.

On the other hand, do you think biblical churches should be "apologizing" for the way mainline denominations have completely forsaken the Gospel by installing women and unrepentant homosexuals in the highest positions of power, by teaching that sin isn't sin or that we can make ourselves acceptable to God by doing social work? Should the Southern Baptists apologize for the Episcopals? Do you think that those to whom these apologies are being addressed really want to hear what the Bible says? Or do they want a message that eases their conscience and tells them all is well? At any rate, there truly is an abandonment of the Scriptures in Christendom today, but, for the most part, it's not where the biblical witness of sexuality is being proclaimed.

Second, you throw out phrases like "the Christian message of a loving God" and "God's love is revealed in sacrifice," as if your understanding of them is unquestionably correct. God is love, but what this culture understands as love (puppy dogs and ice cream, Hallmark cards, a pat on the head and a lollipop) is so far removed from both the biblical meaning of the word and what it has historically meant as to be a different concept entirely. Yes, God's love is revealed in sacrifice, but that's only part of the whole truth. The writer of Hebrews says that God's love is revealed in discipline, which is unpleasant at the time, yet you don't hear that repeated too often these days, do you? Behavior that causes its recipient any slight discomfort, emotional or physical, can't possibly be love. Thus, you suggest that writers on this blog aren't showing love properly because (I guess) they don't preface their arguments with all manner of deference, circumlocution and hedging. Is love defined, biblically, as the absence of rebuke, or even disagreement? Our culture understands love as a warm & fuzzy emotion, but God tells us that love is service and action. You must learn to perceive love in the interactions on this blog, or you'll be stuck with a pallid notion of what it is.

I can see the disagreement described in the post and comments, but I think this post suffers from a lack of charity. Your language, Mr. Bayly, is far more harsh than it should be for a disagreement like this, especially in context of a blog hosted by WashingtonPost.com.

A.G. Lotz is contrasting the biblical value in women with the undervalue found in false religion, and you jump on her for not clarifying that women are in submission to men, saying she's attacking the Bible and "lashing out blindly at the clear teaching of the Word of God." That blog post is not the place for that, in front of pagans who can't discern the difference between your reasonable argument (despite your language) and the man who lords over his wife immorally.

Michael Fogas, the differences between Ephesians 5 & 6 should be obvious. Chapter 5 contains commands about the spiritual and physical conduct of Christians, and then makes specific application to husbands and wives. Chapter 6 doesn't advocate slavery, it deals pragmatically with a common type of relationship in which some Christians found themselves. There is no change in hermeneutic between Tim's reading of Ephesians 5 & 6.
Also, the command to the wife to submit to the husband contains the implicit command to the husband to LEAD. What would be the point in telling the wife to submit if there were no actual decisions and leadership that she was really supposed to submit to? To love her is to lead her rightly and in godliness. Too often "mutual submission" is employed to justify cowardice and laziness on the part of the husband who realizes that it is much easier to abdicate his responsiblity than to carry it out faithfully. Love and respect ARE authority and submission.

Phil W, there is a difference between being intense and being uncharitable. The reason for the intensity is simply this: that this is a deadly serious issue with enormous consequences and when someone carefully picks and chooses certain verses to emphasize their point and ignores other texts that call their statements into question they have done violence to scripture and there is no excuse for it. That selective cut n' paste approach to scripture is pure poison in that it nearly always avoids the scriptures that most desperately needs to be taught because they cut squarely against the grain of our current culture.

David L- I appreciate the depth of your questioning. Most of my posting above is dealing specifically with the interpretation of Eph 5. Exegetically speaking, I am interested in hearing the interpretation that Tim, Jack's Pipe and any others who use this passage to posit the right, biblically defined exercise of the authoritative rule of men over women. To me, this post is one of many pounding the war drum. It screams, "Submit, submit, submit!" While at the same time, none of these men seem to be articulating a right framework for understanding the context of that submission. Tim Bayly and many others here prop one another up in an extremely divisive manner. I am not expunging myself from the same, but work to promote a more balanced exposition. Rattling the saber of right doctrine is offensive and does not accuratly represent the graciousness of our Lord, and all that he has done for those who are members of his covenanted family. I recognize that Truth can be hard and sharp, but my understanding is that we let the Word of the Lord do the cutting or strike the blow, it is NOT the role of the messanger to be the offense. Many many times, the response I receive, as I advocate truth in love, is that the Gospel is offensive. But I am compeled to consider that this Gospel which has saved even the most righteous man, whose works are empty, is Good News!

About that Church who has apologized for the offensiveness of the submission passages in the scripture- I am certain that the pastor there knows the congregation before him better than we do. My hope is that this sort of sermon represents an extended demonstration of humilty, which fits into the larger context of relationships that you and I are unaware of. This extended apology is tiling the soil, working to soften the heart of the listeners, and- as far as we can tell, considering the denominational identity of that fellowship, has come through a deep searching of Gods will for that man preaching and for that congregation.

Contemporary culture, for better or worse, has taken offense to the historical Churches misuse of power, for the systematic abuse of women, and for the oppression of the weak. I believe that you are wrong about your view of the Church, we are called to be a monolith. We are called to unity in Christ. But we are failing at that in a monumental way- For reasons way out of our hands. That is really inconsequential though, the fact that contemporary culture is offended by what they know of the historical church, that is our problem. People don't want to hear us justify the historical transgressions of our forefathers, people are confused about the fact that doctrinal differences caused Europe to be soaked in blood after the reformation. They are confused how Puritan ministers could have been responsible for executing 47 people (mostly women) on supernatural/intangible evidence, or how a Southern Presbyterian Minister, Dabney, used the scriptures to validate a system of belief that made one man inferior and subject to another. These are a few things that come to mind as far as why we are legitamately called to a public apology, in the context of a congregation made up of those who are offended by the hypocrisy of the historical Church. This hypocrisy, today, is compounded by the widely held view that fundamentalism/liberalism is Christianity. While most Churches have been teaching that God demands we live righteous lives and though in the best of circumstances, the presentation of the gospel is not an implicit works based salvation, most infer that sort of legalism. The world has been looking on to see a Church filled with people that are really quite broken and regularly failing to meet that standard. The resurgence of conservative Christianity is a great sign, people are recognizing that works fail to redeem. So, in a culture that thinks that works based salvation is Christianity, yet so many Christians have failed to obtain that standard, actually, quite the opposite, the Church has been behind a great deal of abuse annd oppression, we must apologize that we have failed! Yet- that is the point- we have failed, thus in our own failings debunking works as our hope for salvation, pointing ALL OF US, each and every one of us toward our need of the Gospel of Grace, found in Jesus! I agree with you, we are not to apologize for the scriptures, but we should be apologizing for the historical failures of our fore-fathers and their misinterpretation of the scriptures, this apology is a catalyst or jumping off point for that which has always been true, these events testifying to what is universally true, our falleness and need for a savior

Sorry for the length of the post- What do you think?

Michael Fogas

>But I am compeled to consider that this Gospel which has saved even the most righteous man, whose works are empty, is Good News!

And that good news offends those who will not humble themselves and repent.

>About that Church who has apologized for the offensiveness of the submission passages in the scripture- I am certain that the pastor there knows the congregation before him better than we do.

There is no context in which apologizing for God's revealed truth is appropriate.

>Contemporary culture, for better or worse, has taken offense to the historical Churches misuse of power, for the systematic abuse of women, and for the oppression of the weak.

For starters this is a trendy assertion but how has the historic church systematically abused women? Which figures in the historic church bear responsibility for this systematic abuse? Calvin? Luther? Aquinas? Augustine? Chrysostom?

Michael,
It is not my intention to enter into a detailed blog back-and-forth argument about the issue of biblical submission (wives to husbands; Jesus to his parents)which is clear. Unfortunately, it seems like you and your ilk identify submission on the woman's part with tyranny on the man's part setting up a false dichotomy.
I believe I have about as much urgency to apologize for the misuse of the term submission as I do for slavery. We fought a war over slavery in which more than 25,000 Americans died at the Battle of Gettysburg alone. Isn't that a statement?
But more to your point: In over 25-years of pastoral ministry (cross-culturally: Holland, Canada, & the USA) I would like for you to give me some very specific examples of what you really mean. Honestly, I haven't seen it and I am a pastor that is intimately involved in his congregation. Where the issue has come up in biblical counseling with married couples I've addressed it biblically, but that hardly qualifies for a universal apology from the Christian Church. Certainly, not everyone has abused this and, as I say, I am not aware of specific examples that have touched me or my colleagues personally. Why don't you enlighten us--or are you just dealing in generalities and speculations?
I'm totally unclear why you are so certain that Asia, S. America, and Africa have nothing to apologize for. Interesting, but very very vague.
As far as not having read my culture's context I must admit that I laughed out loud--and long--when I read that. Hysterical! You really have a set, Michael. But I'll tell you what. When you've cleaned up after as many suicides as I have, delivered as many babies as I have, been shot at, held the hands of patients dying from AIDS, buried a son and a father, and spoken with those who represent culture, then we'll talk.
Eph. 5:1-21 is a separate pericope. Instead of spending your time blogging why don't you buy some decent commentaries?
Rattlesnake 6

Ron, Sounds like you have been through a great deal. I think if you read the posts above, you will see answers to your questions, but in short-

1) consider the voting rights of women in the US and there is a systematic representation of inequality. Biblical submission is a much more nuanced reality than the dichotomy you accuse me of propogating. I am somewhat sure that historically though, the Church has not taught men to be strong biblically informed leaders. That is my impression- Said with humility and a willingness to understand if I am false

2) Ii is interesting that you brought up the Civil War- The sad reality is that the Southern Presbyterian Church did seemingly little in dealing with slavery. I am not sure how your point demonatrates a repentant heart (the essence of an apology) for either the Southern Church or the Church today, who is accountable for that which our forefathers are responsible for. It is not that we are to keep our tails tucked and walk with our heads low in a dejected fashion, but when question, we must openly acknowledge the Churchs failings and apologize to those who find it offensive. Humility does not disolve truth.

3) I am unclear what you want specific examples of?

4) Asian, African and S. American culture are uniquely affected by Western European history. I am not sure that the same issues we are seeing here in the US are being brought against the Churches there? Peoples issues with the Church in those places will be contextually different. THere are proabably things to apologize for, but the issues are different than what we are dealing with.

5) As far as your life experience goes, it sure sounds like you have been through alot. I have no desire to compare tragedies with you brother. I have a particular vantage point which is no less significant in the overall dialogue. My position is quite flexible actually. I am seeking input and understanding from brothers who can inform me of my blind spots. I understand that Gods work in our lives is a process of sanctification, of success and failure- I am not sure of which ilk you place me, other than extremely teachable and engaged by Gods word. And as far as commentaries go, I am willing to take suggestions, I would even let you send me the ones that you recommend.

Lord Bless you brother, Michael Fogas

After spending three years (2001-2004) at Covenant Theological Seminary and receiving my M.Div. there, I am in complete agreement with Tim's statement about the theology fostered by Covenant's president. Though President Chapell may be quick to define himself as complementarian, the institution he is responsible for does very little to promote the biblical doctrine of sexuality.

On a number of occasions I heard professors declare that chauvinism, not feminism, is the main problem in the church today. The work of complementarian authors (including Piper/Grudem and their "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood") was denigrated as "demeaning to women."

After a lecture on 1 Corinthians 11 which neglected to address any implications of this passage for women today and focused mainly on how men should respect women, I spent some time speaking with the professor. He said he had been asked by Covenant's administration to develop a course on the roles of men and women and would appreciate any input. When I suggested that feminism, not chauvinism, was the problem in the church today, he seemed surprised.

I left exasperated and realized then that the academy, and specifically Covenant, are a long way from the church and the souls within her. Not once in a marriage and family counseling class did I hear any approaches that were sex-specific. Not once during my three years of course work for the M.Div. were headship and submission mentioned. In general, biblical headship was caricatured and biblical submission was ignored. And the message was clear institutionally, also: women pursued M.Divs as stepping stones to higher theological degrees so that they might teach theology-and not in a Titus 2 sense-and they audited homiletics courses.

The combined weight of all of Covenant's teaching (or lack of teaching) most definitely gave the impression that she and her president were convinced egalitarians, promoting and practicing the idea that "a woman may do anything a non ordained man may do." Covenant's whole approach to ministry and life was sex-neutered.

Very interesting comments about Covenant seminary, Andrew.

If the teaching of Covenant Seminary is the same/close to the same today as it was 3 years ago, I would have to disagree with Andrew. My experience as a current Covenant student is that the Seminary is consistent with the teachings of the denomination, which are complementarian.

As a man who did not grow up in the PCA or the Church for that matter, who went to a liberal arts college in the West that was filled with socialist, radical feminist and homosexuals, I am sensitive to the language used to convey this message and the implications of that language. I thought on this long and hard last night and came to this conclusion.

It seems to me, that while Covenant communicates a complementarian view of women's roles in the home and in the Church, with all of the submission and authority that go along with that, they do it in a gentle and humble manner, acknowledging the weight of offense which is present from historical abuses of power. This abuse of power in the West flows forth from institutions dominated by white males. Tim and some others here, tend toward a ramrod approach with truth, positing what is true with little humility and with language that is quite obtuse. Highly educated and very articulate, they bring truth to bear like a bunker-buster bomb, attempting to obliterate their opponents and then demand that we see this as loving. These tactics are much more exciting than a gentle approach, but hey, that's what sells movies right. My sense is that they capitalize on controversy.

Andrew, I don't know you, but I wonder if you misread the message at Covenant because it was presented with humility and grace, which is quite a contrast to how most leaders in the Church communicate the same message on submission. If you were expecting the professors at Covenant to convey what is true in the same obtuse tone that many here employ, which is often the same language used in the Church, throwing scripture references like hand grenades, screaming, "Submit! submit! submit!", then what you heard at Covenant may have sounded like a different language all together.

Consider the favorite books of many of our Church leaders; they are historical biographies about war, which I enjoy as well. While great generals fight wars, peace is reached through diplomatic efforts after the battle is won. Christ won the battle 2000 years ago. As ambassadors for Christ, it is time to change our language from those who are waging war, to the language of a diplomat. I do not believe that we must make concessions, water-down or deny what is true to make this stand. Let the Word of the Lord be the offense, let Christ be the offense, not the man who proclaims it.

Michael Fogas

I think Michael F. brings up an excellent point, and it has certainly given me a lot to chew on and think about:

"Let the Word of the Lord be the offense, let Christ be the offense, not the man who proclaims it."

Thankyou Michael.

Michael,

If you're having a different experience at Covenant than Andrew did, then fine. But by protesting to the use of strong language on this blog employed in the defense of scripture against leaders who enjoy the following and readership of Lotz, who are so blatantly seek to lie about the truths of scripture (in the national media for crying out loud!), then you don't yet understand the good teaching you think you're receiving there.

I suggest, however, that you understand your professors perfectly, and like many of them, refuse to submit yourself to the authority of scripture as pertains to sexuality. If you understood what is at stake in the matter, then your outrage would lead you to different conclusions about this blog's approach. You'd probably fault them for being too much the gentlemen. But as it is, your eagerness to fight about fighting reveals your feeble regard for the authority of God's Word in the matter. God Himself is being attacked, and you scold the bravery of faithful men?

Shame on you.

I have been following this comment thread for the past few days with interest. As a Covenant student myself, I would agree with Michael. I have not heard anything in class that resembles egalitarianism or feminism, and every course I have taken has been presented with an air of humility and submission to Scripture. I also know that the professors have caused some suspicion and grief by encouraging their students to read and converse with those who disagree charitably but critically. In other words, they refuse to escalate the discourse beyond a level that is beneficial for those who might be listening. In doing this, I believe they have promoted an atmosphere of unity and humility virtually unrivalled anywhere. (And I do not mean the kind of unity which the PCUSA or ECUSA strives for on a denominational level.)

I believe that the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is complementarian, but I do believe that Paul's thought especially is much more nuanced than we have given him credit for.

I am disappointed in Jody's comments towards Michael because they represent an unwarranted and (dare I say) uncharitable elevation of discourse. Acknowledging the need for humility in conversation with our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ is in no way on par with refusal to submit oneself to the authority of Scripture. He encourages a bold humility that I believe says volumes more about his heart and theology than the volume of his voice. I appreciate Michael and Rev. Bayly's hearts for guarding the purity and peace of the church, and I count them both as brothers.

Todd Gwennap

So these two questions remain in my mind after reading all this:

1. What historical examples are there of the Church as the Church oppressing women?

2. How does Covenant Theological Seminary teach her students to rejoice in God's Word when it speaks about sexual distinctions? There is a difference between teaching a thing and being happy about it: how are the pastors of the PCA being trained to joyfully teach that God made men men and women women?

All this talk about tone and humility is detracting from the main point--if the Bible says, "A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, then Eve..." then should we preach this as though we were ashamed of it?

Dear Michael and Todd,

It occurs to me that your posts are further signs of Covenant's failure. But, perhaps it is not Covenant's failure that has led to significant blind-spots in your discernment. Just like me, you grew up with feminism influencing every aspect of our culture: entertainment, government, academia. It has formed you and you may not realize how it has perverted you--as all sin does. Not until faithful pastors using the witness of the Scriptures to expose the heresy of feminism was the veil lifted from my own confused mind and heart. Feminism had formed my views of self, relationships, sex, masculinity, femininity, marriage, society, and even God Himself. For this I have repented and continue to repent as I lead my wife, family, and church.

Though seemingly less important than all the previous points of influence though important to our discussion, feminism had also formed my views of rhetoric. Here feminism has won the day: our Bible's are sex-neutered, generic masculine pronouns are misogynistic, and a it-doesn't-matter-what-you-say-just-how-you-say-it attitude railroads every conversation.

Let me ask you a question: How can you not be offended at the very men of the Bible and their brash tone? Have you ripped Galatians from your Bibles, brothers? You must scoff at Paul's tactics and dismiss his rhetoric as an "uncharitable elevation of discourse." Thankfully, though, Paul is being nuanced. If he were a humble professor today he'd have us read the opposing views and join us for a chai-latte while we discussed, right?

I hope you gentlemen come to understand this before you stand before a congregation and succumb to the ear-tickling temptation every pastor faces. Yes, humility with great prayer all throughout...but humility before God (not just humility toward other men) will lead you to fight like a Marine at times.

Pride on the other hand might just make you search for that nuance.

If you're desire is to be nuanced, I suggest you paint or compose music.

>1. What historical examples are there of the Church as the Church oppressing women?

Spot on. He's refused to address that question despite making the claim.

"Highly educated and very articulate, they bring truth to bear like a bunker-buster bomb,"

Which is exactly how Scripture brings truth to bear, over and over and over and over again. Witness the highly educated and very articulate Paul's remarks to the Ephesian elders, or his punch in the neck to the Corinthians. Or Stephen's speech in Acts 7. Perhaps the worst "offender" in this area was our Lord Himself (e.g. Luke 13).

Perhaps the epitome of feminist influence is the inability to speak clearly and directly. We must instead couch it in vagueness and make it known that we really don't like what we're saying all that well, but it's sort of what the Bible says, so we'll qualify it all the while. And the result is that people are circumspect about taking any of it seriously.

Andy- The beauty of Covenant Seminary is that professors live very openly before the students. Beyond a proclamation of truth, such as, "Rejoice in God's Words!" which I hear regularly (I can't name a professor who has not said that!), there is a clear emphasis on the study of God's word, in the power of the Holy Spirit! Covenant professors are men who have committed their lives to the study of God's word, in the original languages, under the tutelage of great theologians we all admire, those who represent our shared theological convictions (John Calvin and others), and with the guidance of the Westminster Confession as our common confession of faith. The study and preaching of God's Word is paramount.

But beyond all of this, I would say the greatest teaching tool of the Covenant Faculty, is that they teach us to rejoice in God's Word, by rejoicing in God's Word! There are no apologies made for gender distinctions, only a rejoicing in the fact that together, men and women in all their uniqueness and perversions, complimenting one another, are a more full, yet still in process, expression of the image of God in man (consider Anthony Hoekema, Created in God's Image, Chapter 3 and 5) We rejoice in these distinctions quite prolifically, especially with our brothers who are engaged and soon to be married. Also, I would say that the professor's marriage relationships (though I only know from a distance) reflect clearly a rightly ordered love and respect for one another, under the headship of Christ. Our faculty seems to greatly rejoice in the Lord. This fact is a stronger teaching than many words.

As for women being oppressed by the Church, I encourage you to go to the local coffee shop and get into some discussions with college students. They will give you a popular perception of how women have been oppressed. You may think that they are wrong, but you will understand their position non-the-less.

As for the preaching of the Word, I am not yet qualified to answer. I refer you to the Holy Spirit. I pray that what ever you do, it is filtered through much prayer, wise counsel, study and conviction, seasoned with grace, that the Lord might receive the glory!

Michael Fogas

>As for women being oppressed by the Church, I encourage you to go to the local coffee shop and get into some discussions with college students. They will give you a popular perception of how women have been oppressed. You may think that they are wrong, but you will understand their position non-the-less.

Unimpressive. After referring to "the weight of offense which is present from historical abuses of power" of which the church is guilty you decide not to defend your own words. Instead you tell us to hang with some college students at a coffee shop so we can understand the popular culture.

Absurd.

While I have only been at Covenant for a semester, I can give a few examples of how Covenant trains men to be men and women to be women. Last semester, Anthony Bradley (fellow worldmagblogger and commenter on this thread) offered a semester-long course entitled masculine spirituality, and I assure you, he is as committed as this group is to men being men and women being women. There is also a gathering of men in the seminary once a semester called Brats, Bonding, and Brotherhood designed to encourage brotherhood and masculinity among the men called to lead other men.

As for Andrew's questions, I find them offensive and somewhat condescending (if saying that does not make me effeminate). I have never been and never will be ashamed of anything Scripture says. Will I apologize for not ordaining women? Never! The overwhelming testimony of Scripture and creation forbids this. Will I boldly proclaim truth? Absolutely! Will I fight like a Marine to protect (God-willing) a congregation from theological error? Without one ounce of trepidation!

When I suggest that Paul's thinking is nuanced, I simply mean that we must acknowledge that Paul was not writing to counter the effects of 20th-century feminism. We have to acknowledge that Paul wrote to a different culture in a different time to a different group of people experiencing different situations. Does this relativize Scripture? Absolutely not! I just think there must be more to our exegesis than ripping one verse out of context and co-text and the original language and using as a hammer to bash home a point with which I do not disagree.

And I do not think it is a mistake to encourage humility and civilized discourse. I (and Michael, if I may speak for him) am not a heretic. I am not an unbeliever sent to infiltrate the PCA with feminism. I shudder at the thought that any of my brothers and sisters could think that of me. I encourage humility and gentleness because I am you brother--a man who daily prays that His mind would be submitted to Scripture. I am not trying to get anyone's sheep to abandon the Gospel. Do I blush at Paul's language in Galatians? Absolutely not! I only ask that you not consider me a Judaizer...

So if you do not disagree, do you agree? And if you agree, what's being taken out of context? "I do not permit a woman to teach" means "I do not permit a woman to teach."

The pattern of apostasy always seems to follow a similar course. The first generation doesn't intentionally intend to bring in something sinister, but scolds the church on the need to be more open to different ideas. In short, they go wobbly, one concession leading eventually to another. And then another generation arises and the wobble continues until it becomes a drift. Is this not the story of everything from Old Princeton to Fuller Seminary to the Episcopal church to the World Council of Churches?

David - Consider these systematic abuses of women for which men in the Church are responsible and should repent.

1) 50% of marriages in the Church end in divorce. Conservatively, 25% are the responsibility of men. That means that a very large percentage of men are abandoning their traditionally defined role as provider/leader and are leaving their wives to fend for themselves. This could easily be seen as a systematic abuse/abandonment of women by men.

2) Consider the high level of pornography abuse by men in the Church. Statistics point toward a very large percentage of Christian men struggling with this issue. The objectification of women by men in the Church could be considered the systematic abuse of women, but more so, an overt offense to God, defiling and making an idol of the image of God found in women. This is really a heart issue that each guy will have to work out, but I would say that it has reached epidemic proportions and is systematic.

3) Pre-industrial revolution (18th century), the family unit (father, mother and children) functioned to meet the needs of the family. They worked together laboring in the vicinity of the home, as a team. The role of mother and father were co-extensive. Both man and women functioned as economic earners. In the village; stores, offices, bakeries, laundry services and workshops were located in the front of the house. Husband and wife shared the labor and equally provided for the family. Women often ran the businesses. When industrial labor became the norm, men began to leave the home and women were left in the home to do domestic life. Very quickly there became a dichotomy between the public and the private sector, with greater value placed on the public/wage earning sector. Today, while attempting to uphold these traditional roles for women as normative(domestic chores, including child rearing), the church has actually doctrinized them as biblical, isolating women to roles that are completely outside of the public sector (generally accepted as more important), demanding they acquiesce to these God given role distinctions. This role of wife and mother as isolated to the private sector, bound to domestic responsibilities, is a phenomenon propagated by the industrial revolution, not the Bible. It seems possible to call that systematic oppression. (Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth).

Andrew, I spent the 1990's living out of a backpack and dry bag in the mountains of the Western United States, Edward Abbey was my hero. He is certainly no feminized man, while he was a pagan, only so was I. During 9/11 I was on a river in the Artic (Beaver Creek), carrying a 454 Ruger to defend myself against grizzly bear attacks. I was a bit nervous after having been attacked by a griz the previous summer on the Tazlina River in the Chugach Range. I never saw media coverage of the World Trade Tower's falling, because I hadn't owned a television since 1987. I never watched TV much, but my father, who was a Lt in the Marine Corps, who I personally consider to be a hard man, kept us busy with chores. I am sorry to say, your premise of me being blindly feminized may not be true. I will consider the potential as I reflect more on the discouraging nature of this dialog.

In the Lamb, Michael Fogas

Jack, I really must end this as classes start tomorrow and I have to prepare for Gods call in ministry, whatever that may be.

I agree with your last post. I say we must hold fast to God's Word, with our confessions and the teachings of those very wise and well spoken men who have passed before us as guides to keep us from going adrift. I am not sure what the answer is to avoid that, but I am convinced that whatever we do, we must bring truth to bear in love (not puppy dog, warm fuzzy kind of love) I admit, I need my elders to lead the way, but not at the expense of what seems to me to hold the whole thing together- that is the Gospel of grace. May the glory be the Lords.

michael,

Not one of those examples is "women being oppressed by the church." In the first two instances you are dealing with men clearly in rebellion against the teachings of the church. And statistically these days women are more likely to leave their husbands than the reverse (although in most cases whoever does it is in rebellion).

Your description of patterns of family life and work are hard to square with historic patterns as documented in contemporary descriptions, particularly here in the US. To suggest that division of labor by sex is an artifact solely or primarily of the industrial revolution is not born out by such contemporary descriptions. And even if you had been accurate in your understanding of non-industrial familial patterns it still in no way would constitute "women being oppressed by the church." But at least you tried to provide an answer. Thanks.

Jack's Pipe,

The point of my last post was in fact that I DO agree with the complementarian position. And I agree that "I do not permit a woman to teach" means "I do not permit a woman to teach." Yet you have still ripped one fraction of a verse out of context and co-text and an entire corpus of Paul's writing. I am not saying that you have interpreted incorrectly. I only ask that we consider that there is more to proper and biblical exegesis than ripping parts of verses from the English translation.

I have appreciated the dialogue over the past few days, but like Michael, classes start this morning, and I'm going to be swamped with preparations for ministry. Thank you, brothers, for your zeal for the peace and purity of the church.

Todd Gwennap

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