Burk & Trueman agree: feminism no "erosion of fundamental Evangelical commitments..."

(I)f a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:14b)

"Seminary profs who make nice with feminists remind me of the Apostle Peter at a church potluck." - Anonymous (attributed)

Denny Burk has written a very polite and respectful response to Carl Trueman's defense of the egalitarian feminists' bona fides as faithful inerrantists (about which David and I commented in this and this post). A good summary of Burk's making nice is this commendation of Roger Nicole he gives in the middle of his post:

Roger Nicole remained a convinced egalitarian and an evangelical stalwart all the way to the end. We can think of other individuals for whom egalitarianism has not and likely will never lead to an erosion of their fundamental evangelical commitments.

It's notable that, in his follow-up to the original post defending feminists' doctrinal integrity at the point of the doctrine of Scripture, Trueman joined Burk in tipping his hat to the late Roger Nicole. Why such obsequiousness toward the late Roger Nicole who, having recently departed this world, no longer has a dog in this fight?

Because more faithfully than any other theologian of the last half of the twentieth century, Dr. Nicole defended the Evangelical Theological Society's confessional commitment to inerrancy. Among professional exegetes and theologians Dr. Nicole was Mr. Inerrancy himself...

David and Nathan and I studied under Dr. Nicole at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary back in the early eighties, accumulating maybe ten classes with him between us. Beyond our classes, we were quite close to Dr. Nicole personally, and remained so over the years.

Sadly, Dr. Nicole did not end as Mr. Inerrancy, but he decayed in his obedience to the Lord and His Word to the point that he also did more to destroy the professional exegetes and theologians' doctrinal commitment to Scripture's authority, infalliblity, and inerrancy than any other member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) during the past fifty years.

How?

When David, Nathan, and I studied with Dr. Nicole, he was a somewhat lackluster proponent of the reigning feminist ideology of the seminary where he taught. Gordon-Conwell had long had a policy of allowing woman students to get an M.Div. in preparation for teaching and exercising authority over men and Dr. Nicole supported that policy. But it was hardly noticeable studying under him and those of us who argued the matter with him attributed his support for the policy largely to his baptist diffidence about the doctrine of ordination. We thought that was the weakness that allowed him to support woman's ordination.

Yet back then, Dr. Nicole was not promoting neutered Bible translations. No one within Evangelicalism had the audacity to speak in favor of such a trampling on the Word of God at that time. Nor was Dr. Nicole attacking the economic subordination of the Son to the Father in his lectures on the Trinity. Nor was he denying that the husband was the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church.

Then Dr. Nicole took his library down to the warm climes of Reformed in Orlando and, at ETS meetings, we met and talked each year. I asked my dear father in the doctrine of Scripture how he was getting along at Reformed and, with some considerable pride, he told me how Reformed was giving him its woman students to advise. He was so proud that Reformed was allowing him, a well-known feminist, to be the major faculty influence on their female students.

Continuing on at the seminary where Carolyn Custis James' husband presided as President (he's since moved up to Gordon-Conwell), Dr. Nicole continued to deteriorate in his commitment to Scritpure. It was so very sad to watch.

I remember the day when, during an ETS Q&A session following a paper opposing the NRSV's neutering of thousands of words of Scripture, Dr. Nicole stood and spoke, making it plain to all his colleagues listening that Mr. Inerrancy believed in the removal of Greek and Hebrew words from the text of Scripture if those words and the usage they represented were offensive to feminists. I was heart-sick listening to him. I couldn't imagine how a man who had taught me more than any other man concerning the doctrine of Scripture could decay to such a point that he was prepared to turn his back on thousands of words of God's Word while still claiming to hold to the plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible.

So began our work to get "World" magazine to publish an article exposing this betrayal of the Word of God's authority being promoted by Evangelical so-called "inerrantists" like Nicole, Gordon Fee (another of our profs at GCTS), and Don Carson. The rest of that story is well known and the battle is largely lost. At this point I'm guessing over fifty percent of Evangelicals use sex-neutered Bibles (one of the most popular, the New Living Translation, published by my dear in-laws at Tyndale House Publishers).

Dr. Nicole's decay only worsened. After coming out publicly in favor of the feminists' bowdlerization of Scripture, Dr. Nicole went on to change his position on marriage and family life. Back in his Gordon-Conwell days, he had been a firm proponent of the Biblical command to wives to submit to their husbands, but now his rebellion against God's order of Creation spread like leaven to marriage and family life; and Dr. Nicole became an enemy of the submission of wives to their husbands.

But Dr. Nicole's decay worsened again. If you follow the trajectory of rebellion corrupting feminists, you can predict it's path with some accuracy. Soon Dr. Nicole was speaking of the economic subordination of the Son to the Father as "heresy." Hearing this, at the next ETS meeting I asked dear Dr. Nicole to make a motion to remove me from membership in ETS because, holding to the economic subordination of the Son to the Father, he believed I was a heretic. Sweetly, Dr. Nicole declined my request, explaining to me that maybe I was not yet a full-blown heretic but was only "flirting with heresy." He went on to state that Jesus' submission to His Father was limited to "His incarnate" state.

Now dear brothers, think about this. Men like Denny Burk and Carl Trueman trot out this very man to justify their argument that feminist rebels often are doctrinally orthodox!

I ask you, what insanity; what betrayal of our calling; what cowardice possesses us that we are prepared to defend the godly orthodoxy of a man who wants to eviscerate Scripture of its thousands of male inclusives; who is in defiance of the Living God's order of Creation; who publicly repudiates the Apostolic command that woman not teach or exercise authority over man and that she be silent in the Church; who defies the Living God's Order of Creation applied to marriage and family life in His declaration that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, and that the wife must submit to her husband; and who says those who look forward to the day when God will be all in all (1Corinthians 15:28; see also 1Corinthians 3:23) are "flirting with heresy?" Is this a nightmare we're living in? Does ETS have one--even one--Issachar left in its membership?

Here are men at Machen's Westminster and Southern Seminary's Boice College defending "the fundamental Evangelical commitments" of these men, and Carl Trueman says these men are good "inerrantists!"

Well, as my brother David put it so well, if deleting thousands of words in God's Word, ordaining women to the pastorate and eldership, denying the husband is the head of the wife, and denying God remains the Head of Christ is what inerrancy and the Evangelical Theological Society have come to in this evil day, we must not walk away. It's time to run!

Sexuality is the confessional issue of our day. It does no soul any good to sit under men who claim to occupy the seat of Moses and yet make a studied avoidance of this gap in the wall bloodied with the bodies and souls of millions of sheep.

As I said to a Westminster Philly prof who's a dear friend earlier today, it's easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than an egalitarian feminist to hold to inerrancy. But hey, if Mr. Inerrancy himself is defended by Burk and Trueman, we need to begin to ask ourselves why we would expect otherwise?

Jonathan Edwards enrolled in an upstart pastors training college founded as a reform to Harvard's embracing of the Arminian error; and while he was there, Edwards and his father were involved in fighting even within the fledgling Yale to oppose incipient Arminianism present already at its founding; and before he died, Edwards was on his way to become president of the next pastors training institution founded to reform the errors of Harvard and Yale.

The name of that institution was Princeton and Carl Trueman professes at Machen's Westminster. Get the drift?

Men aspiring to pastoral ministry need to be trained by godly men whose principal concern is not to make nice with colleagues who have embraced the feminist heresy, but to guard the good deposit passed on to us by faithful men who are not ashamed of the Fatherhood of God writ large over His Creation.

 

 

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

As I learn more of the Scriptures, I am seeing fewer and fewer areas that do not apply closely to the Gospel, and fewer areas more crucial than sexuality to the modern church. 

I've been going over Trueman's and Burk's posts as well as some of the pieces they have linked to.  Trueman's second piece is as craven as anything I've read on this.  Burk linked to an article in JBMW with Mark Dever where Dever delineates the difference between the first generation of Complementarians and the "young, restless and Reformed crowd".  

What is so very disheartening is that Dever sees it, he sees the decline from the collegiality of the first generation to the heated rhetoric of the second.  He sees that the younger generation is more adamant because they are facing an implacable foe that has no pretense to collegiality.  While Dever sees it but refuses to acknowledge the implications, Trueman sees it as well, but waves it off with a, "pshaw, the parachurch need not concern itself with such matters".

Disgusting.  Pathetic.

Speaking for my wife and me, it's been God's sex-specific commands that have been some of the biggest tests of our faith. To the point that, take away the steps of faith we've taken in learning to submit to God's Word regarding our sex and I'm not sure there would be any faith left.

I look at those who say these things are of secondary importance and I think, how can they not call these women (especially) to the obedience of faith??? How can they think that is kind, if it turns out that these matters represented the great divide between faith and unbelief for these women and these teachers stood by and let them slide away into unbelief?

The precious souls of the women around us are worth the mockery and humiliation we get when we proclaim God's Word in these matters. It is worth any cost to call them to faith, starting with our precious wives.

Are these men really trying to say that one can hermetically seal off ones views of sexuality from ones views of inerrancy? Or are they making the much more sensible case that these errors, while damaging, destructive and indicative of sin do not keep one from trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, and therefore do not keep them out of the kingdom? I was blessed to have Dr. Nicole during his time at RTS. It is certainly true that I found his agreeableness personally agreeable but oftentimes frustrating when he would not take much of a stand on anything. The most combative I ever saw him was at a rather odd place. He was teaching a class on 20th Century Reformed Theologians, and had listed 20 or 30 names on the board. Students were invited to pick which they would like to give a presentation on. When it came my tim to pick I said, "Dr. Sproul (who taught at RTS at that time) would be mortified if he knew his name were on here and Dr. Gerstner's is not." Dr. Nicole graciously allowed me to give a presentation on the work of John Gerstner. After I gave that presentation Dr. Nicole spoke strongly against Dr. Gerstner, faulting him for being so polemical. Weirder still, when Dr. Gerstner would visit RTS, the two of them would act like long lost brothers. My experience has been that when theologians get old they either get soft or cranky (though Dr. Gerstner, being one of a kind, did neither). Which direction Dr. Nicole would go was apparent decades in advance. It was a shame, and as noted, damaging and destructive. That said, he is all better now. And I for one look forward to hearing his melodious accent saying to me, "What a pleasure to see you again my dear bruzzer."

Ditto.

Love,

RC, Tim's and my father took us to PCRT in the 70s when it was held at College Church in Wheaton, the church we grew up in. We went because of Dad's friendship with Dr. Nicole. It was there that I first heard your dad--and actually, I believe those were the only times I've ever heard him preach in person. I remember a former CT editor harrumphing after a PCRT I missed because of being in college, "Sproul's sermon was nothing more than a poker lesson." As a college student eager to flee the Wheaton scene, it made me wish that I'd attended that PCRT--not because I had any desire to learn poker, but because I was intrigued by the way your dad had upset the CT editor and probably the Wheaton establishment as a whole, given the attitude of the editor.

Love.

Do you know what that means? I can't figure out what he must have meant by poker lesson. When I was a boy a brochure was made for a PCRT that had a picture of my dad, Dr. Boice and Dr. Nicole. But the names were mixed up between Dr. Nicole and my dad. We had the pic on our fridge, and because of that I grew up believing these three were the biggest Reformed heroes in the world, beneath of course the theologian's theologian, Dr. Gerstner. 

When I asked him what he meant by it being a "poker lesson," he said that instead of preaching a sermon your dad gave an extended illustration based on poker.

Over the years I realized that this man, a former pastor, was constantly critical of Christian leaders in the way that only a former pastor can be. I suspect he was critical of the sermon because he resented your dad. The illustration was just his excuse for criticizing. I remember his comment more because I found it disillusioning about the man than because of what he said about your dad's sermon.

Love.

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